Raghu Veer S

📕Read ✍🏽Write 👨🏼‍💻Code 🚶‍♂️Flâneuring Interests:- Philosophy & Mathematics. Go here to know more about me and what I do: raghuveer.net


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The Haters Gonna Hate Fallacy

I can understand the sentiment of being subtle, articulate, and precise as long as it remains within the bounds of "nitpickers gonna nitpick" or "dislikers gonna dislike" stage, but if you are treading in the realm where you have (or can possibly cultivate) haters, I don't think focusing on presentation works. Also, IMO, if the emotions have already gotten to the stage of being hateful, you might as well stand your ground and say what you have to say instead of selling nuance and subtlety as a point. The reason I say this is because it is a great heuristic to follow when you are already aware of the theme driving your writings; and more often than not the untrue cases(5%) that you mention are not going to change, while the ones who are already well accustomed to the topics and your style are probably only going to be more interested if you stand your ground. The classic example of this would be someone like NNTaleb, whose cult has only grown since he started being more unabashed about his ideas. Not to mention the number of death threats he gets on mainstream twitter alone and who knows how many via other sources. I think the best solution is to follow the heuristic(I mean haters gonna hate heuristic) and be courageous in your writing style, helps offset a lot of other issues such as stress, anxiety, and what not.

Why haven't we celebrated any major achievements lately?

I feel that framing matters here. For eg. Look at how the words tradition and celebration complement one another in some of these situations. In the case of Olympic fireworks or Times Square gathering, how much effect does the instinct to preserve a long-standing tradition come into play? but when you look at scientific accomplishments it is too disparate and of varying significance to even be equated with the likes of Olympics or a New Year’s Eve. I have a strong feeling that to be celebrated, an event must either form a part of an existing (celebratory) tradition or create a new one, which is also why I feel Nobel(Old) and Twitter trends(New) are an equally interesting celebratory methods unless one wishes to restrict the definition of celebrations to rallies and fireworks. In this case the former being traditional/ceremonial, and the latter unconventional/momentous like the railroad project or light bulb of modern times, which is seen through the occasional burst of congratulatory enthusiasm in the form of a hash tag or likes.

If there were an interactive software teaching Yudkowskian rationality, what concepts would you want to see it teach?

Have you used Syntorial, the synth-learning/tutoring software? I think it makes great use of adaptive interactivity(learning), which I feel tools like brilliant or explorable explanations, although great in terms of UX, lack severely. In fact, I have also found Syntorial to be very effective in terms of memory-related things like remembering patches etc. I think it has that neat quality of helping with both learning/doing and remembering what you learn. Maybe you could look into that too for some inspiration.

My guide to lifelogging

Neat. I too have been logging for quite sometime now, the biggest cost initially for me was with Storage, but I've found some neat ways to handle the storage issues: 1) If you are on your desktop, create a private stream on YouTube using OBS --- obviously helps you save diskspace while also helping you maintain privacy and providing unlimited storage as these are basically just youtube videos that are kept private. 2) If you own a tripod, you can record your sleep patterns and do the same by mounting your smartphone on it and hooking it up to your PC and streaming it to YouTube privately. 3) Obviously Go Pro is the best all-purpose recording device as Mati says, but I am not much of an underwater person, so I use my smartphone for everything, which I feel is the second best as you can use the YouTube's go live feature to record yourself with private mode on.

Apart from that I would say, always carry a small pocket notebook and a pen incase your phone's battery dies on you or something like that. Also write everyday, blog! (Not Twitter), because reconstructing the thought process from an elaborate medium is much much easier than Twitter. If it is you who is going to revisit it later, you don't just want to sympathize, you want to empathize; and pithy sentences(280 chars) are bad for that. I've tried. I realized it after reading Montaigne's Essays and a nice little book called the Diary of a Nobody by guy named George Grossmith. There is so much that can be extracted from that as opposed to Meditations where you can feel for Marcus but forget it so easily that you never get to ponder about what would Marcus be doing right now, which can be done with Montaigne or the other guy.

Why don't countries, like companies, more often merge?

Scale and Complexity? — Thinking in terms of variables and states works fine to some extent, but I think that it is always in the interactions between those variables that the states get screwed up(to a point of complete unrecognizability). And when you scale the number of variables, the interactions become too non-linear for effective management/monitoring of states. Cliched, but I feel disintegration of large is a more plausible event than coalescence of small, for with scale comes uncertainty and complexity.

How do you organise your reading?

Learnt this from my twitter/email exchanges with some productive people I know and it has been serving me quite well so far:

  1. Don’t read the referenced articles before you’re done with the original/current one. (Maintain a document of references if needed)

  2. If you already have more than 5 tabs opened on a same topic, switch to a new window instead of a new tab with just the current article. Helps with the distraction.

  3. Read in multiple-passes instead of a focused single-pass.

3.1. Pass 1: Skim through the structure of the post and the comment section for some context.

3.2. Pass 2: If you find it worthwhile, read through the post carefully and collate all the references and links in a document once you are through the post.

3.3. Pass 3: Skim through the references and embedded links to see if there is anything of value beyond what the original article had to provide. Look for the themes that inspired the original post.

3.4. Pass 4: Read through the ones that you found to be valuable i.e., the ones that had more(different) to offer than the original post.

3.5. Pass 5: Repeat 1 through 4.

(Note: If you are reading a paper or a book, during the 1st pass read through the Table of Contents, Bold faces, Headings, Abstract as part of skimming; Note all the jargons and key concepts in the second pass; and map these concepts and jargons to the known concepts during the 3rd pass; Now go through bibliography like in pass 4 and 5).

  1. Be well rested before any cognitively demanding task, it doesn’t matter if it is a blogpost or a paper. And I seriously can’t emphasise the endurance benefits of being well rested when it comes to cognitive challenges even as trivial as cursory reading.

  2. When reading try to read from the perspective of a specialist as opposed to a generalist, it helps with pruning the articles and tabs that you think are important but don’t serve beyond the session. You can still be a generalist, but the idea is to not be all over the place. This helps with the cognitive exhaustion and the feeling of being overwhelmed. A related idea would be to ask if I would still read it if I were to never talk about it ever to anyone. (Note: Also helps discern between curiosity and the laziness involved with evading responsibility in the name of curiosity).

  3. You can use tools like Zotero, Evernote, etc for quickly jotting down interesting points in case of a single pass read, but I would say instead of doing that go for multipass and when you are done may be try to write a small commentary post debating the key ideas to solidify your understanding and post it here. Or conversely engage right away by commenting in the comment section.

  4. Always timebox. Mine is usually 6pm-7pm everyday. If you are an infovore, you can make it everyday 7-9 or something like that. I do that because I have a pretty low capacity for consumption, but I can adhere to my own schedule. If you cannot try to time it with your office commute time etc.

The Echo Fallacy

I feel “self-fulfilling prophecy” does the same thing, but I like your term better — catchier, pithier, and more functional. :)

Are Humans Fundamentally Good?

Exactly this. Studying behaviours and averaging it has reduced us into easily categorisable beings. The complexity just goes out of the window when the question itself has a design constraint that the answer is expected to meet. My idea is that even if there is an irreducible unit to which you can be reduced to—which I don’t think there is—the temporally emergent aspect of interactions with a larger whole such as the society that are combinatorially so large as to be intractable just do not allow for a siloed theory/inquiry to explain it all.

What are habits that a lot of people have and don't tend to have ever questioned?

Culture-specific habits like eating with hands in India or with chopsticks in other South Asian countries. Could be considered a social norm but I don’t think they are, as these are mostly a matter of preference that can be changed without violating any social agreement.

how has this forum changed your life?

It definitely has taught me some epistemic humility, and especially after reading contents by people like Eliezer, Gwern, and Scott I realized the amount of introspection that I had to do to be able to come to terms with the knowledge deficit I had. I always had an emotional alignment with their content, but the fact that these guys could think the way they do, and all using the same set of tools that I have has made me less envious and more curious in general.

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