All of Upset_Nerd's Comments + Replies

What I've learned from Less Wrong

I guess that our situation isn't that uncommon unfortunately. I hope you'll also be able to improve your mind state similar to what I've done. I recommend reading PJ Ebys comments here on Less Wrong since he's mentioned a large amount of his important ideas in them. You can also PM me if you'd like.

4pjeby11yIt's ridiculously common, actually. In the next Guild newsletter I've written about the impact of social signaling emotions on our motivation, and the unintended consequences of same in our non-evolutionary environment -- where we're all basically the tribal chieftains or feudal lords of our lives, even though we were mostly raised to be serfs. (I'll probably do an LW post at some point on this same topic, though with less how-to and personal stories. But first I gotta finish the training CD.. which incidentally discusses how to apply the Litanies of Gendlin and Tarski to motivational issues. Fun stuff, having a little Guild in my LW and a little LW in the Guild. ;-) )
How to Save the World

Sorry for being late with my answer.

SASS is PJs terminology, it stands for Significance, Affiliation, Stability, and Stimulation. The exact categories aren't that critical, the important idea is that they represent the terminal values all humans seem to have hard wired into them so to speak.

So what I meant is that it's important to know why you're motivated into doing action X. If it is because you've learned that you'll gain SASS by doing X then everything is fine. That's operating under what PJ calls "positive motivation" and you'll feel as if... (read more)

How to Save the World

Considering my recent personal experience (which I mentioned here) with removing a huge hidden negative motivation from my life I'd say that the absolutely most critical thing is to find out why you want to save the world.

If you find out that it's actually because you feel some kind of SASS threat if you don't try to save the world, I'd strongly suggest trying to directly remove that feeling anyway. The risk here is of course that after you've done it, you might find out that you never actually wanted to save the world to begin with. However, considering h... (read more)

1Louie11yExcellent point (I think). What's a SASS threat?
What I've learned from Less Wrong

This sounds very similar to the argument against atheism where the believer is afraid that he might start to do a whole bunch of horrible things if he'll no longer fear punishment from God.

What I've noticed in my case is that yes, I now do think I could feel like a good person even if I do bad things to others. However, I now genuinely don't want to hurt other people. In a way it feels like this is the first time in my life where I'm actually able to really care for and empathise with other people since I no longer have to be so preoccupied with myself.

1pjeby11yYep. Motivation is not symmetric. What used to boggle my mind about this, is how it could be that our brains are built in such a way as to seemingly automatically believe that motivation is symmetric, even though it isn't. My working hypothesis is that the part of our brain that predicts other minds -- i.e. our built-in Theory Of Mind -- uses a symmetric model for simplicity's sake (i.e., it's easier to evolve, and "good enough" for most purposes), and that we use this model to try to predict our own future behavior when anticipating self-modification.
What I've learned from Less Wrong

Just wanted to add that I also felt very inclined to disengage with PJ on many occasions, something which I also did for long periods. That feeling was the very thing that kept me stuck and not being able to make a change.

Now from my new vantage point I can see what was going on. The crucial part was my rule that in effect said that I should start to feel like a bad person as soon as I started thinking about taking a major initiative on my own. It made me feel uncomfortable and I unconsciously felt an urge to find some kind of authority figure whom I could... (read more)

0pjeby11yBtw, it'd be awesome if you shared this comment on the Guild forum as well, and I would like to be able to use it in future training materials. I mean, sure, I tell people that this kind of thing is going to happen, but it's easier to absorb hearing it from somebody else.
0wedrifid11yI've disengaged with PJ from time to time but never when he's been giving advice. I suspect it is a different scenario. :P
What I've learned from Less Wrong

I actually just started to get my new identity at the end of last week. And the big realization that I'm allowed to feel like a good/likeable/worthwhile person no matter the circumstances was made just about 50 hours ago.

The reason you might get the impression that I've had it for a longer time is that for many months I've been pretty clear on what my new identity would be like on a rational level. I've been expecting many of my new behaviours to turn out as they've now did for example. The big difference is that now I finally get to know what it feels like to have this new identity, and of course, that I'm able to implement it in practice. :-)

What I've learned from Less Wrong

Thanks :-)

And I agree in that I don't think I could have made this change without any kind of dramatic incident; I'm pretty sure that it would never have happened on it's own since my behaviour was stuck in a kind of stable equillibrium.

I suspect that another person could have triggered the change in me though by kind of forcing me through this process and not relenting even if I try to make them stop. I imagine that when then feeling completely exposed they could give me the basic need that I've always feared that I don't have and finally support me in re... (read more)

0wedrifid11yBeing misunderstood is annoying all right, for some more than others. I find that it mostly makes inclined to disengage - unless, of course, the misunderstander is maintaining active engagement with new information that I provide. I'm curious how long has your newfound identity has lasted? Weeks or months? I got the 'months' impression.
What I've learned from Less Wrong

I'm a member of his group so I've gotten personal assistance but what I've done is basically first diagnose my problems by using his so called RMI technique, which I'm pretty sure he's mentioned several times here in the comments, which basically just consists of sincerely questioning yourself about your problem and passively notice what comes to mind without trying to rationalize it away logically.

Through that technique I found out that I've unconsciously judged all my decisions in life for "goodness", that is I've constantly feared that I'll no... (read more)

2nikson11yVery strange, Upset_Nerd. I have been living my life more or less the same way as you have. When I read your post it sent chills down my spine. I thought I was the only one. Now we are two of a kind. :)
4wedrifid11yI must congratulate you. Trauma of some kind seems to be required for significant rapid changes to identity (and so behavior). You seem to have harnessed a negative, undesired trauma and executed positive considered change. That sort of navigation of human psychological quirks always impresses me.
7pjeby11yI think it's important to clarify here that the "rights" in this method are not directly about morality, but rather access or ability, like an ACL in a filesystem grants you the "right" to read a file. IOW, it's a method used to counteract learned helplessness and restore your ability to control a portion of your mind, rather than a method of moral rationalization. ;-) There are also four general categories of ACL: to desire, acquire, respond, and experience -- the D.A.R.E. rights -- and the one you described here is an E - the right to experience the feeling of being a good person. (You of course probably realize all this already from the workshops, but I can imagine what some people here are likely to say about the small bits you've just mentioned, so I'd like to nip that in the bud if possible.) Yeah, that's the essential insight of rights work, which is that the rules we learn for which emotions to have are not symmetrical. That is, a rule that says "X makes you a bad person" does NOT automatically imply to your (emotional/near) brain that the opposite of X makes you a good person. It only tells your brain to rescind your (access) right to feeling good when condition X occurs. Btw, feeling like a "good person" is normally an Affiliation-category need; it's not about judging yourself good per se, but rather, whether other people will consider you likable, lovable, and a good/worthy ally. (Again, I know you know this, because you already mentioned it on the Guild forum, but for the benefit of others, I figure I should add the clarifications.) Affiliation, of course, being the second of the S.A.S.S. need groups - Significance, Affiliation, Stability, and Stimulation. (Based on feedback here, and more recent personal experiences, I've renamed Status and Safety to better cover the true scope of those groups.) Anyway, if you multiply DARE by SASS, you get a sixteen-element search grid within which the access rights to X can be sought for and restored (relativ
What I've learned from Less Wrong

I've found out about PJ Ebys ideas and even though I just recently managed to use them to make a substantial change, I'm pretty sure it's the largest positive change in my entire life so far.

6Louie11yReally? Which idea of his helped you make that substantial change? Maybe I should take another look at his stuff. I've tried reading him before but found it to be a mix of obvious life insights + harmfully wrong motivational advice.
Shut Up and Divide?

You seem to be saying that you find some peoples scope insensitivity to be more discusting than actual human suffering, but that seems like a perfect example of a pretty severe case of scope insensitivity in itself?

1Eliezer Yudkowsky12yWell, first of all, I don't see how that's an example of scope insensitivity. Second, suppose a deadly flu virus starts sweeping a country. Getting upset and outraged at the existence of flu and human suffering is unlikely to change the universe's mind. On the other hand, an inefficient response to that and other problems, making them worse, is very much our own fault. So it looks to me like that is very much a defensible position.
5CarlShulman12yThis isn't nonsensical: modest reductions in the scope sensitivity of one Westerner can avert the suffering or death of many poor people, or increase the chance of a vast future [http://www.nickbostrom.com/astronomical/waste.html].
Open Thread: February 2010

I'm one of the lurkers that would really like to see such a discussion forum. Since a forums quality is almost solely decided by it's members a more general forum with the same user base as Less Wrong should easily be superior to most forums even on specialist topics. Maintaining the same high standards of discourse would probably be difficult though since I assume that the focus on rationalist topics here discourages non rationalists from participating, something which wouldn't be the case on a more general forum.