All of thejash's Comments + Replies

Can you report back any consensus here? I can't make it (nowhere near there), but am pretty interested in the answers and ideas...

A recording would also be of interest, if people were open to it.

Only downside is sort of obvious--they're pretty tight on your head, but I can wear them comfortably all day.

I use classical conditioning on myself with genres of music to either help me focus or to relax. Basically I just always (and only) play a certain type of music when I'm working, and then switch to another type of music when I want to start winding down for the day.

I use these two stations because they have no words or commercials: (work): (relax):

It definitely helps me. Sometimes if I forget to turn off the music I end up working way too late. Also, it's incredible how the focus and desire to work... (read more)

I can speak for this method; it really works, at least for me. On a sidenote, I'm looking for a good pair of passive noise-cancelling headphones. Which ones do you use?

I went to the very first rationality workshop in May of 2011, and it was literally life-altering. See here for my review and discussion about it in the context of a similar post for the workshops that happened earlier this year:

It was just an error of omission. The company is called Addepar. For a variety of reasons, the website doesn't do the best job of describing what we do, but it is being fixed.

If you are a good programmer, the company I work for is looking to hire. We pay very well and offer great perks and benefits (catered breakfast/lunch/dinner, infinite snacks, they buy whatever you want to help you work better, completely flexible work hours and vacation days, plus everything else like health insurance, etc).

Also, the people are great (some even read LW), the work is fun, and the upside is huge. This company is working on a huge problem that will have a significant positive impact in the world, and has the resources to tackle it. There... (read more)

Is there a particular reason you don't identify the company?

Also a Pittsburgh one:

We will be having a presentation on "anthropics" by Katja.

I forgot to create the meetup post. Sorry about that!

Someone else above asked for the negatives as well. Didn't we all submit suggestions for improvement and criticisms last year? Are those publishable? If you don't have permission, you could just email people for permission to publish their criticisms. You can definitely publish any of my comments.

The survey was anonymous, so this is hard to ask permission to share individual comments, since I don't know who wrote them (and folks were assured that their submissions were confidential). You (since you're on the minicamps google group) could email that google group and collect criticisms, and publish them. Someone else could ask me for folks' email addresses and then do the same.

I can definitely understand your perspective. I pretty much ONLY read the negative parts of reviews--if there is NOTHING bad, that is a bad sign in itself.

I also commented positively below, but since you asked, here are my complaints about the last minicamp:

  • A little disorganized. Apparently knowing about the planning fallacy does not make you immune to it ;) I suspect this will be fixed for this year.
  • Large number of college students (graduate and undergraduate). I would have liked to see a wider range of attendees. Again, this was probably partly d
... (read more)

I helped make some of the food last time. I would call that menu "college random" ;) It was basically left as a problem for us to solve.

I assume that this time they will have it straightened out (and is probably part of the higher price), but I am also curious.

I'd love to know this - heck, I'd teach a diet course if anyone is interested (those at the last NYC mega-meetup listened to an hour lecture/qa of my nutritional philosophies :)

Sort of. I meant to say that I decided to make explicit long term, medium term, and short term goals, regularly check their progress, estimate their difficulty and likelihood, and also had a better sense of the space of other opportunities, all as a direct result of minicamp (there was a session or two on goals, sessions on estimation and prediction calibration, and in general while there I realized that I sucked at seeing opportunity costs).

After I did all those things, it effectively resulted in a systematic decision and planning process, since I had a much better sense about what tasks had the highest expected payoffs for my goals, and I simply work on those first.

I attended minicamp last year, and I followed up with almost all of the attendees since then. I have had periodic Skype chats to see how it impacted their lives, so I can pretty confidently say that the minicamp:

  • Had a dramatic positive impact on some people
  • Had a significant (noticeable) positive impact on almost everyone
  • Had no noticeable negative effects on anyone

It definitely had a positive impact on me, but I represent more of a median result than an outlier. Since minicamp, I:

  • Sold my company, and am on track to make more money in the time since

... (read more)
I'm curious to hear more about that point. Do you mean to say that you explicitly implemented a system that designated how to make those kinds of decisions?

Ok, I now think it's possible that you were right about the "average" founder, but for a different reason--it only depends on what assumptions we make about the distribution of rationality within the set of all founders. I'm not really interested in that right now.

However, I am assuming that the audience of LW is MORE rational than average. They should be LESS risk averse, because "A risk averse agent can not be rational" (source: )

Thus, I believe that it is somewh... (read more)

Risk aversion, as it applies to wages and startups, is measured in money not utility. If you spend money only on yourself it has diminishing returns: the first $50K has a huge effect on your happiness, while the $50K that takes you from $5M to $5.05M much less. So you'd be quite rational to be risk averse in terms of money, preferring a certainty of $1M to even odds of $3M. (I give away 30% of my money, and if I suddenly earned a large amount I would probably give away more. Charity doesn't have diminishing returns until you're giving huge amounts of money, so I'm not very risk averse.)

I went and read that paper. I don't think it says that at all. Their exact conclusion is:

"An individual with a coefficient of relative risk aversion of 2 and assets of $0.7 million would choose employment at a market salary over becoming an entrepreneur. With lower risk aversion or higher initial assets, the entrepreneurial opportunity is worth more than alternative employment"

I didn't understand relative risk aversion, so I looked it up. Here is an example:

"[if you have constant relative risk aversion utility and] If you would give up 2%... (read more)

This is why I said "average" venture-backed founder. You may have tons of assets such that losing/gaining 10% is not a big deal, or you may be naturally less risk-averse than the average person. Some level of risk-aversion is rational, and it's not obvious to me if people are naturally over or below that level. it's also not obvious to me at all that people on LW would have unnaturally low risk-aversion.

Yup, definitely tinnitus, thanks! My hearing isn't that great, so this is probably related.

It's not that meaningful to assign a single number, true. I gave my speed for "normal" text--comments, blogs, newspaper articles, "light" books (business/best-sellers), fiction (if I have to/feel like reading it quickly). When I read scientific papers, the speed drops considerably until I am used to the terms used in the field.

Thanks a lot for that comment though, I have less incentive to try training it further now... I am pretty surprised that anything could decrease significantly from trying to train it though. I would suspect o... (read more)

One possible explanation is simply awareness. If you naturally develop a technique, you may not be consciously aware of it at all. But take some training, and all of a sudden your conscious brain is butting in going "this is the way to do it". And, well, your CPU is going to be less efficient than a well-optimised RPU (Reading Processing Unit)
I can only speculate, but I would guess that the techniques she was taught in the speed reading class were less efficient than whatever she was already doing without thinking about it, so she regressed towards the average speed for a person with speed reading training, which was lower than where she started. She said that her reading speed decreased noticeably while reading similar text in similar situations, although of course it's possible that she was experiencing selective perception.

None that I've noticed It's actually quite nice not to feel personally liable when other people are doing stupid things anymore.

If you're willing to generalize from one data point, I say go for it :)

If you DO go for it, note that most of the benefit came from watching the first two seasons, so if you don't experience any change after that, it probably isn't worth pursuing. Also, I watched it with a bunch of friends who all clearly enjoyed it, so that might be a good detail to replicate if possible.

Also if you try it, let me know how it turns out, I'm really curious.

I've seen the first two or three seasons, and it didn't cure me. :(

I sometimes (every few weeks) hear a pretty loud, high pitched sound. It eventually (within a minute) fades. No idea if that is normal or not, but it just occurred to me that it might not be.

I read at about 1100 WPM. I had no idea that people sounded out words in their heads until about two years ago, when I was speed reading an article about speed reading and realized I was speed reading. I am curious how much faster it is possible to go? Can anyone here go significantly faster? I want to know if it's worth training further.

My memory of faces might ... (read more)

I'm unusual in that I really think I remember very early moments. My earliest memories aren't of me being a kid, but of just, out of the blue, seeing grainy black/white static.
I talked to a person a few months ago who mentioned that her reading speed decreased noticeably from its very high starting point when she took speed reading lessons. It's only one data point, but it may be worth keeping in mind if you're thinking of training your ability. How meaningful is it to assign a single number to your reading speed anyway? I would estimate that mine varies by at least a factor of ten or so depending on what I'm reading (I might top 1100 WPM at the high end, but only for very basic text.)

high pitched sound

Sounds like tinnitus. (I have this, but less often than you, and I wouldn't describe it as loud. A friend of mine has it constantly since he went to a loud rock concert as a boy.)

I have VERY few memories of my life before I was 11.


When I was 8 or so I thought it was strange that I didn't have any memories from before I was about 4. Based on that, my interest in science and space travel, and my general weirdness, I decided that I was probably a space alien changeling. (Note: I no longer think this.)


I also had an uncomfortably strong level of empathy specifically towards people doing something that would make me uncomfortable, in a social sense. When I watched someone talking and embarrassing themselves in class for example, it felt like my insides were trying to escape my skin.

This actually went away after watching all of the seasons of The Office (the American version).

However, I'm pretty sure I feel an abnormally low amount of empathy for other emotional states in other people (both positive and negative, this was unaffected by watching The Office)

Finnish actually has a word for this feeling - myötähäpeä (a literal translation would be something like "co-shame" or "shared shame"). Me and some people I know have occasionally wondered if Americans generally experience it less, because American TV shows seem to have a tendency to produce enough myötähäpeä to make them unwatchable more frequently than shows from other countries do.

Have you found any negative consequences from this exposure therapy?

Please write an article about "practical decision analysis". I tried to learn about this briefly before, but didn't learn anything useful. I must be missing the right keywords and phrases that are used in the field, so I would definitely appreciate an overview, or anything that helps improve everyday decision making.

Up-voted for the great links at the end about diet and nutrition as related to longevity. I've been looking for something exactly like that (a relatively scientific overview of nutrition as related to living as long as possible) for a long time.


Just a few quick points, to help:

The main problem is that the article is all over the place. Next time, try to pick a single coherent thing that you want to say, and just say that, in as few of words as possible, with as much evidence (in the form of links to either LW, or outside sources, preferably scientific) You present far too many questions in the introduction, each of which are far too vague to actually be answered or discussed in a coherent way.

The pictures add nothing. I can think of no other LW post that uses pictures like this (though I could... (read more)

Above, emile broke it down to:

"Current reasons to vote on a post: A: Agree/disagree with the conclusion B: Think the post is well argued / badly argued C: Think the post is witty / appeals to applause lights"

Separating into agree/disagree and upvote/downvote changes it into A and B+C, as emile pointed out.

However, none of us really want karma to be about C. Maybe we could do better with a simple rewording? "good argument/poor argument" vs "upvote/downvote"? Wording could go in place of the icons, or as hover text.

I agree that unrealistic projects have long time horizons. They ALSO require lots of people and capital. Starting a NEW, long-term project is NOT a task cut out for a young person--you need connections and experience for it to have a good chance of succeeding.

The candidates who want to work towards these unrealistic goals SHOULD--but they should do so in a way that is more likely to succeed. In this case, a better use of the person and $100K would be giving him a job at SpaceX (which Thiel is an investor in), and using the $100K to hire another person... (read more)

I understand your confusion re the seeming contradiction re Laura Deming's desire to promote a long-term research orientation vs getting technologies out of the lab and into the market sooner. I know Laura very well. Do not bet against her. Ever. Look up "implacable" or "relentless" in any dictionary and that's her. She has developed a pragmatic strategy to change the entire way we fund scientific research. There's a reason for the seeming contradiction that can be easily explained to anyone who understands how markets work. I can't go into details but it is one of many sub-components of the main funding structure. It makes use of shorter-term opportunities that crop up to generate revenue that would be re-channeled back, as additional funding, into longer-term research. Note the "IP" in the title of her proposed fund. Her strategy, which will surely change as she gains experience, is impressive because, for someone who just turned 17, she included so many powerfully aligned, pragmatic proprietary incentives that balance the shorter-term need for large amounts of funding with longer-term focus of research. Crazy yes, for a 17 yr old, to undertake... until you get to know Laura. When you do, it's not hard to see why The Thiel Foundation chose her. But know what's crazier? Death. Death is also banal, horrific and pathetic. Go Laura!

Overall, very neat and I'm glad it's being done, and some of the projects look promising. All of the people selected seem exceptionally bright.

However, it seems that some of the projects are so unrealistic as to be counter-productive. As the most glaring example, one person wants to "develop space industry technologies to solve the problem of extraterrestrial resource extraction."

Really? With $100K? I am fairly confident that the probability of that is extremely low. I think it would be better, in this case, if the individual went through... (read more)

My guess would be that the simplest answer is the most likely: a filter tight enough to weed out every completely unrealistic project, will necessarily also weed out at least some that are just within reach and have very high potential payoff. Most of our civilization's funding sources are attached to pretty tight filters; I think we could do with a few more on looser filters.

As for "unrealistic" projects, the thing is - many "unrealistic" projects have long time-horizons, so they need external funding in order to continue. But after some time, the payoffs can be huge. Agencies like DARPA are typically the agencies that fund projects that sound unrealistic, but we need more than just DARPA. And Thiel wants to demonstrate that maybe there are alternative ways of getting long time-horizon projects (like aging prevention) supported. In the words of Thiel Fellow Laura Deming...

I too have (accidentally) consumed less than 800 calories in a day (got caught up in something and lost track of time). I felt noticeably worse.

Does anyone know if/how much people can get used to such a diet? For people that fasted regularly (more than one day), is it always like that, or do you sort of get used to it? Being distracted by being hungry is a pretty big downside for me since I spend a lot of time programming, and distractions make me considerably less productive.

One day is not enough time to adapt to a major dietary modification. I'd suggest giving any change at least a week or two, but preferably a month, before deciding if you can tolerate it or not. And try out CR and IF independently, don't jump into both at the same time. ETA: If you go more than a week on IF and you still feel terrible, you (like most people, sadly) have larger metabolic issues to resolve first. So switching to a Weston A. Price traditional/paleo-ish or Perfect Health Diet setup, getting your health up a few levels, and then trying IF after that.
Anecdotally, I found it fairly easy when younger to do an IF diet. The first few times fasting for a day, the waves of craving/hunger could be fairly bad, and fasting for a second or third day was pushing it much too far, but overall it wasn't so bad. And it was fun eating double on the non-fasting days.
I fast once a month (sometimes more), generally the first sunday of the month. One does get used to doing that. I have also fasted for a week at a time, being one small meal each day. It isn't so bad especially if one is used to fasting for a day time period previously.
The feeling of hunger never disappeared, but it got easier to accept. Some days that were really busy at work flew by without a problem at all. It was easier for me when I was engaged in a task that demanded most of my concentration.

I would love to be there, but I'm pretty sure I'll be out of town this weekend. Is there any way we could reschedule? If not, I'm happy to wait for the next one as well.

If anyone else would like to reschedule the meeting, please contact soon.

Not to be annoying (as I often have questions like this as well), but I've found that Google is remarkably helpful in answering those questions. In fact, I tried two of the example questions and the answers seemed very reasonable to me:

I also use Google's suggestions (ie, by typing into Google Instant or Firefox search bar) to help phrase my question in the most common way, or to provide alternative related questions that might be more what I mean. For ex... (read more)

Khan Academy also has a sequence of videos on stock market basics.

Hi. I lurk because I haven't had time to read enough of the sequences, and because I usually read posts well after they are published. By the time I get around to reading an post, all of my arguments and counter-arguments are already presented for me in the existing comments. That's a big part of why I liked the site in the first place.

Agreed on all counts. Ironically, this is yet another example of everything I thought about saying already being said. But I suppose I will still add a hello, since that's what this thread asked for. Hello!