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Does anyone else sometimes "run out of gas" when trying to think?

Yes. I have ADHD. Sometimes it’s like my brain just refuses to cooperate. This is more common when I have been stressed or haven’t had enough sleep. I’m a software engineer, and so it’s very obvious to me while working. It’s like the code loses all meaning, or more specifically I can’t keep track of all of the different contexts.

ADHD for me feels like I lack the ability to have background processes. It feels like most people have all of these background thought that stick around, like “I need to check on the food in an hour,” or “once I’m home, I need to look up that address,” etc. I don’t, or at least mine is severely faulty.

“Attention Deficit” doesn’t really explain it. It’s more like attention regulation. My attention is pretty binary. When I am into a thing, it can be all-consuming, and then suddenly it’s gone. I have a bunch of projects that I have just abandoned ¾ of the way through.

ADHD can also make me naturally impatient. I get bored easily, and once I’m bored with something it’s a struggle to stick with it. That impatience can also manifest as thinking I know how someone is going to finish their sentence, and if they are going into detail, my natural inclination is to interrupt to get to the point. I’ve had to learn to be careful about not doing that, and to listen actively and when my brain stopped paying attention in the middle of someone’s sentence, I just fess up to it and ask them to repeat that last bit.

It’s not all a detriment though. I’m good at improvising, and I’m pretty damned clever. I’ve built up discipline to mostly slow down and verify my work. When I am able to focus, getting into a flow state is pretty easy, especially when working on something interesting.

My medication helps me get past those rough days. Not all the time. Sometimes, I just can’t work. On those days, I try to stick with light tasks, and make up for it later.

So yeah, I don’t know if any of this sounds familiar to you. If so, maybe you should talk to your psychologist about getting tested for ADHD. If not, I hope that it helps to know that others out there have uncooperative brains too.

Examples of positive-sum(ish) games?

My intuition is that there are an (effectively) infinite number of ways that people can cooperate to their mutual benefit above which they can achieve alone. This is true on the individual-level such as two people building a shelter. It’s also true on the level of societies where economies generate wealth and value.

On a more physics-level, potentially fusion? I mean you’re giving up mass for energy, but I suppose that would depend on your definition of a game. My view on games is that this wouldn’t apply, as there are no players, but I’d also include your magic free energy machine in that. Games require at least one player.

A zero-player game is more of a system. Whether it is positive value generating really depends on what your parameters are. After all in some respects f(x) = x + 1 would be a positive-sum system.

If you’re talking energy as your system, then dark (vacuum) energy would be positive-sum. If you’re concerned about flour, then a watermill would be. Information products, such as software produce way more value than they take to create.

It really all depends on your definition and context.

Does taking extreme measures to avoid the coronavirus make sense when you factor in the possibility of a really long life?

1% is a pretty high estimate; however, It’s okay to value your life to an arbitrary degree. Yes, that breaks down outside certain bounds, but it’s okay to take precautions. It’s a scary situation. Just don’t forget to see to your emotional needs too.

I hope that you’re doing well. It’s nice to run into you.

  • Jason Kleinberg
A 'Practice of Rationality' Sequence?
Answer by UsticeFeb 14, 202015

I would add active and empathic listening, and nonviolent communication. By improving our skills at communicating and connecting with others, we improve both our effectiveness in cooperation as well as the quality of our relationships.

Illness anxiety disorder: how to become more rational?

I don’t think that more tests are necessary. You’ve had two doctors look, and you have had your chest imaged. The chance that it is cancer given two strong pieces of evidence against, given that your baseline risk is very low, is extremely low.

You’re privileging your hypothesis, and are only looking to conform rather than looking to disprove your hypothesis.

The problem isn’t your beliefs though. It sounds like you logically understand that you are very likely fine, but your aliefs are misaligned. Those are harder to change. More evidence isn’t going to do it though.

Do you have a psychiatrist or a therapist? That’s the doctor that I’d turn to in your situation.

Depending on your level of probing, is it possible that you’ve injured yourself causing some scar tissue in the muscle, with possible inflammation? If you probe the location often, have you considered covering it with some rigid material to block unthinking probing?

For anxiety like this, cannabis can be an option. It may help with the pain that you’re experiencing too.

Operationalizing Newcomb's Problem

After the experiment has ended, and I’m free to stay in the waiting room, or leave, I’ll stay for 10 minutes, and walk out having given the correct answer, and to hell with your extrinsic motivations! 😉

Seriously though, I think that I would stay the ten minutes regardless of what is in the bag. I’d either expect that they would eventually award the $200, or I would have enjoyed the experience enough that I’d probably just frame the $10 bill.

As to the possibility of that then being the true end of the experiment, I’m just not going to go down that recursive rabbit hole.

Personal musings on Individualism and Empathy

I've found I've become much happier as I honed my empathy while minimizing the assumptions that I make about others.

I'm pretty convinced that none of us really understand the vast majority of our own motivations. It therefore feels doubly useless to worry about that in others. It's better to just have a theory of behavior when looking at people most of the time. It allows you to really understand how others feel when they are just as lost and confused as me.

It's listening and communication over modeling. When someone tells you how they feel, just fullstop take them at their word as any starting point in modeling. It's a lot easier to like people this way, and it negates most fights.

Most fights come down to, "you're just not listening to me, damnit!" When you actually do that, and then show caring and compassion, it means most fights last minutes and never get intense.

Listening is caring.

How to notice being mind-hacked

I'm willing to accept your meaning when you say "mind hack," but each of your examples read as personal epiphanies. From the inside I think that it feels like, "Wow! Yeah!" It's generally preceded by simlier smaller moments.

I have worried about this when I encountered some of the neoreactionary ideas on here and related communities. I could see myself—given that I have seen people who have had such shifts in thought—being swayed by reasonable arguements, and adopting what I currently believe to be repugnant conclusions, and thus spreading darkness in the universe.

Ultimately, I decided that if I change my mind, then it will have been for some very good evidence, and I can only trust that my future-self carefully considered the evidence and was pursuaded. Every idea that can be banished by the truth should be.

I believe it's the optimal state to be open to ideas, but this leads to the question, "Should we be open to the idea that we shouldn't be open to ideas?" Are there some ideas that are so repugnant that no matter the evidence indicating that it's a more optimal state of the universe, it's better to not know it?

I think that there aren't, but there are ideas that one should be cautious with. Evidence can be misleading. It's why I talk to my son about things that I see right and wrong in the world. The Dunning-Kreuger Effect can be nasty. It's sometimes hard to know that you're wrong.

So for me, when I have "Wow! Yeah!" moments about something that I don't like, I have others who can point out flaws that I miss, but I won't guard further against it.

What self-help has helped you?

The three most useful for me:

Codependent No More — This really helped me get past some problematic behaviors in relationships. It helped me form a foundation without coersion. It showed me that having boundaries is healthy.

Nonviolent Communication — This one helped me learn techniques to talk about hard subjects with people without them getting defensive.

The Ethical Slut — This gave me language for ideas that I already had as well as guidance on how to do polyamory in a healthy way.

Do Animals Have Rights?

Slaves? Obligations? Seriously? This is an absolutist argument. It's the sort of argument that you'd hear for supporting slavery as society was changing away from the vile practice.

My guess is that once our society isn't dependent on animals for meat—and likely medical experimentation—the idea of animals having rights will be in the majority.

If animals have rights, then our only obligation is to respect those rights.

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