Valentine

I was a co-founder of CFAR in 2012. I'd been actively trying to save the world for about a decade at that point. I left in 2018 to seriously purify my mind & being. I realized in 2020 that I'd been using the fear of the end of the world like an addictive drug and did my damnedest to quit cold-turkey. I'm now doing my best to embody an answer to the global flurry in a way that's something like a fusion of game theory and Buddhist Tantra.

Find my non-rationalist writing, social media, and projects at my Linktree.

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Glad you liked it!

No, I hadn't encountered these folk. Thanks for the referral!

You might like Perri Chase's breakdown of what's wrong with modern business and how to do business differently. (That's a Facebook Live replay link.) That video was what gave me the missing piece of the puzzle to work out how to build actually effective training spaces.

(I then went on to take her courses in "Magic Led Business" — but (a) I don't advise most LWers to go that route and (b) I don't think a Beisutsu dojo needs to be a business to work really well.)

This strikes me as a core application of rationality. Learning to notice implicit "should"s and tabooing them. The example set is great.

Some of the richness is in the comments. Raemon's in particular highlights an element that strikes me as missing: The point is to notice the feeling of judging part of the territory as inherently good or bad, as opposed to recognizing the judgment as about your assessment of how you and/or others relate to the territory.

But it's an awful lot to ask of a rationality technique to cover all cases related to its domain.

If all that people did as a result of reading this post was notice the word "should" in their thoughts and start tabooing it, that would be a huge boon IMO.

I just really like the clarity of this example. Noticing concrete lived experience at this level of detail. It highlights the feeling in my own experience and makes me more likely to notice it in real time when it's happening in my own life.

As a 2021 "best of" post, the call for people to share their experiences doesn't make as much sense, particularly should this post end up included in book form. I'm not sure how that fits with the overall process though. I don't wish Anna hadn't asked for more examples!

I really, really liked this idea. In some sense it's just reframing the idea of trade-offs. But it's a really helpful (for me) reframe that makes it feel concrete and real to me.

I'd long been familiar with "the expert blind spot" — the issue where experts will forget what it's like to see like a non-expert and will try to teach from there. Like when aikido teachers would tell me to "just relax, act natural, and let the technique just happen on its own." That makes sense if you've been practicing that technique for a decade! But it's awful advice to give a beginner.

This post extended my thinking about the expert blind spot. I hadn't noticed that this would apply to things like the tradeoffs involved in an academic career. I remember encountering these pitfalls and getting weird advice about how to navigate them.

Thinking in terms of the gravity turn helped a lot of this click together for me.

It's such a simple, clear metaphor.

I also found it an engaging read. Perhaps because I related to it so well from my own academic background. But as style goes, I think it's solid.

My only criticism is that as a visual piece, the meat of this post comes across as a wall of text. It might have been nice for the author to find ways of breaking it up a little more. Modern online audiences aren't used to reading books anymore!

But that's pretty minor in the scope of things. I think it's basically great as is.

Partly I just want to signal-boost this kind of message.

But I also just really like the way this post covers the topic. I didn't have words for some of these effects before, like how your goals and strategies might change even if your values stay the same.

The whole post feels like a great invitation to the topic IMO.

I didn't reread it in detail just now. I might have more thoughts were I to do so. I just want this to have a shot at inclusion in final voting. Getting unconfused about self-love is, IMO, way more important than most models people discuss on this site.

I suppose, with one day left to review 2021 posts, I can add my 2¢ to my own here.

Overall I still like this post. I still think it points at true things and says them pretty well.

I had intended it as a kind of guide or instruction manual for anyone who felt inspired to create a truly potent rationality dojo. I'm a bit saddened that, to the best of my knowledge, no one seems to have taken what I named here and made it their own enough to build a Beisutsu dojo. I would really have liked to see that.

But this post wasn't meant to persuade anyone to do it. It was more of an offering of tools and a path in case it already fit someone's desire.

And who knows, maybe someone secretly is working on this, or even has constructed something of a "Bayesian Conspiracy" secret society that I just don't know about!

If someone has taken up the path this post lays out, I'd enjoy hearing about it.

I also would have liked clarification questions about how to do the things I talked about. And I still welcome those, for whatever that's worth.

———

I would write this post very slightly differently today. In rereading it this morning I have no regrets. I quite like it. But my style has refined a bit and I've learned a few things.

The main difference is that I see how I could have clarified the whole thing with examples. I've built things, and seen things built, according to most of these principles. Even though they're not rationality dojos, and some of them are in service to woo, I think it would have conveyed the overall idea a lot more vividly if readers could have felt the kind of embodied aesthetic clarity I'm talking about. That might have made it easier to extrapolate what to do for a Beisutsu dojo.

Here are a few other, more minor, differences that stand out for me:

  • I've come to learn that most people can't consciously orient to the Void until they've learned how to operate within their embodied range. I get the impression that it can come across like some kind of mindfulness magic that might be woo. It's really quite simple — arguably the simplest thing in all of existence — but that doesn't make it accessible. So I'd be inclined to emphasize self-regulation a bit more (instead of relegating that to a single section on soothing one's body) and then hint at the contrast between being calm and listening to the Void.
     
  • Speaking of body regulation, today I'd point folk here toward Irene Lyon in addition to, and maybe instead of, Luis Mojica. I love Luis's stuff, but he can meander into political frames and gives off a woo vibe. I think he navigates both of those very skillfully, but Irene just nails the basics very cleanly and has an overwhelming abundance of free info on her YouTube channel.
     
  • The strategy of teaching by embodiment is solid, but it's a strategy. Today I have a better sense now of exactly what the constraints are. I think it's okay to teach because you're trying to teach. But you still need to orient to the Goodhart puzzle somehow. Teaching so as to practice the Art is one way to keep motives pure. I think it's great as an example strategy. Today I'd frame it that way.
     
  • I would describe the "devotion to truth" dimension with more softness today. There's a tone of forcing in how I wrote about it in this post, which I now see would incur adaptive entropy. The point is more that there are things we avoid admitting to ourselves, and ways that we prefer fantasies and familiarity over looking at what's real. The core of devotion to truth is about choosing to walk a path where we come to prefer seeing what's real over any and all illusions. I now think that's better done by unraveling the reasons we don't automatically do this, instead of somehow forcing ourselves to look at the truth despite inner protestations.
     
  • I have a similar criticism of the guess I made about pressure-testing the Art. The general idea seems great, but all the examples are based on high-intensity effort. I now see the challenge I issued (about 80/20 boosting the vitality of dojo participants over one hour) as highly adaptive-entropic: If that were doable, why didn't it happen on its own without the challenge? Not to say it was an inherently bad idea, but things like it seem to ignore an awful lot of context and practice goal-fixation. I'm honestly not sure how to fix this though. I think "How to pressure-test one's rationality" is a mostly unsolved problem.

———

As something of an aside, regarding the comments section:

I'm a little saddened that the whole of the comments section became kind of scattered and unintelligible due to deleting one user's profile.

There were just a few threads involving that person, but when they were removed all the replies to them in those threads became top-level comments to the OP.

I think that meaningfully damaged the ability to follow discussion of this post thereafter.

I don't know if conversation would have been any different without that effect.

But it seems worth noting for the sake of the review, since it (maybe) affects the ability to follow what points people had discussed about this post before.

I'm just not familiar with snare traps. A quick search doesn't give me the sense that it's a better analogy than entropy or technical debt. But maybe I'm just not gleaning its nature.

In any case, not an intentional omission.

The thing that this post doesn't really do, which I do think is important, is actually work some (metaphorical) math on "does this actually add up to 'stop trying to directly accomplish things'?" in aggregate?

I like your inquiry.

A nitpick: I'm not saying to stop trying to directly accomplish things (in highly adaptive-entropic domains). I'm saying that trying to directly accomplish things instead of orienting to adaptive entropy is a fool's errand. It'll at best leave the net problem-ness unaffected.

I have very little idea how someone would orient to system-wide adaptive entropy without doing things.

My suggestion is more like, back off on trying to accomplish things directly, and instead focus on what pathway increases slack. It's about removing the "instead of" via prioritizing slack over any predetermined outcome.

But that aside:

I like your point. I don't know how someone would even begin to answer it, honestly. It seems so… overwhelming to me? Like it's crushingly overdetermined. Kind of like asking whether heterosexual interest is actually widespread rather than just a cultural meme: I haven't gone and done the empirical work, but it sure seems absurd to need to before taking it as a premise.

And my mind draws a blank when I ask how to "count" it up vs. some alternative pathway. The scale of counterfactual that seems to ask for looks computational insurmountable to me.

But those are descriptions of my limitations here. If someone can figure out how to do the "math" here, I'd be interested to see what they do.

 

I could definitely see this being the case. But, also, I could (metaphorically and literally) build a kludgy inefficient steam engine with tons of waste heat and tons of hacky solutions to pump that waste heat around and dump pollution into the air... and this might still, in fact, gets people faster from one city to the next, which enables tons of global trade, which eventually gives us the surplus resources to build more efficient trains and find less polluting solutions and engines that work without hacky workaround.

Yep. And there's an analog in adaptive entropy: it's sometimes possible to apply a lot of force in a predetermined direction that gives you the leverage needed to end up net lower-entropic.

Signing up for monastic meditative training can be an example.

But that "can" is pretty important. In a highly adaptive-entropic system, the thinking process that justifies the application of force is usually part of the entropy. I think we see this with folk who try to get "really serious" about meditation and end up doing a mix of (a) failing to keep up with the habit and kicking themselves and (b) incorporating their meditative accomplishments into what they were entropically doing before.

I suspect the world is in practice too highly entropic for just about any force-based move to get us to a better slack equilibrium. I think this is why Eliezer and some others keep painting pictures of doom: If your only available moves all feel made of force, and you're in a highly entropic system, then nothing you can see to do can solve the problem-ness.

But yes, this is an empirical claim. Maybe there's some heroic push somewhere that'd make a difference. And maybe being aware of adaptive entropy will make a difference in terms of what heroic moves to make!

But… well, it sure looks obvious to me that the roots of all this problem-ness are the same ones that bias people toward wanting heroic action to happen. The actions aren't a problem, but the bias will keep sneaking in and nibbling the slack.

So I'm standing for the voice of "Sure, we can look. And maybe it'll be worthwhile in some sense. Just notice where in you the drive to look is coming from. I think that matters more in the long run."

Just curious:

Do you mean "Do the impossible, which is to listen"?

Or "Do the impossible, and then listen"?

Or something else?

Ah. Yeah, I'd prefer people don't feel bad about any of this. My ideal would be that people receive all this as a purely pressure-free description of what simply is. That will result in some changes, but kind of like nudging a rock off a cliff results in it falling. Or maybe more like noticing a truck barreling down the road causes people to move off the road. There's truly no reason to feel defective or like a failure here even if one can't "move".

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