All of vali's Comments + Replies

The first time I read the sequences, they were earth-shattering revelations that upset my entire life. The second time I read them, I could only make it few a few posts, because everything they said was obvious. So one gain for me is that existential/religious questions no longer bother me. I got answers that satisfied me, and I've moved on with my life. I suppose you could argue that I could have found the same answers somewhere else, but honestly, I doubt it.

Another big change is how I argue with people. One of my favorite Less Wrong ideas is the Taboo ... (read more)

Are you serious? What exactly is the positive emotion of berating yourself? If you really mean it, I guess you simply have no idea about what a positive emotion feels like.

I worded that poorly. The idea I was trying to convey was that you can either work to strengthen a certain trait, or work to remove whatever is preventing you from having that trait. I'm going to retract that idea, since the more I think about it, the less sense it makes.

Also, chocolate cakes don't exist; there is simply the absence of non-chocolate non-cakes. And it feels really go

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This might be just another definition among many, but I think it is worth to look at the details. Emotions happen when some chemicals are released into our blood system. So I could translate "happiness is simply the absence of unhappiness" as: there are chemicals people release when they are unhappy, but there are no specific chemicals for happiness; the feeling of happiness is the feeling of not having those unhappiness chemicals in our bloodstream. This would be a testable prediction. I am not 100% sure about biology, but I guess it would be false. In which case we could try more generous interpretation, such as: Yes, there are specific chemicals for happiness, but they are released to the bloodstream automatically in the absense of the unhappiness chemicals. Again, a testable prediction. Again, I think even this would be false. I didn't mean to imply this. Useless thoughts don't go away just by realization they are useless; they are preserved by the power of habit. Anyway, I was not sure if my reply wasn't too aggressive, so I am happy you reacted this way.

Last time I posted on one of these rationality journals it was about 9 months ago. I said I was going to go on a couple month long bike trip. I'd been having a lot of trouble setting and meeting goals, and after failing so many important goals ended up pretty depressed, so I decided to just not set goals anymore and just peddle my bike for a while.

My bike trip ended up being just three days, as I got bored rather quickly. It turns out that just biking all day was not as mentally stimulating as I had hoped it would be. The bike trip wasn't a complete waste;... (read more)

A few years ago I wasted three continuous months of completely free time just by reading internet. These days it's like: "oh, I wish I had a week just for myself and my plans". But yeah, I am afraid of what a lot of free time could possibly do again. Which is why I wish only for one week, not three months. Problem is, it is technically much easier to get three months (quit the job, find a new one three months later) than one additional week of vacation. The important thing is to realize that you cannot solve this problem without learning to avoid internet. So make that your #1 priority, and focus on it fully. I tried something similar recently, and now I only read internet on weekends. Even that feels like too much; I should try to make it just one day of the weekend. (Previous diaries: here [] and here [], 5 weeks already.) Are you serious? What exactly is the positive emotion of berating yourself? If you really mean it, I guess you simply have no idea about what a positive emotion feels like. Also, chocolate cakes don't exist; there is simply the absence of non-chocolate non-cakes. And it feels really good, trust me. There is some half-truth in that saying, and it is this: positive and negative emotions don't mix well. If you win a lotery and break your leg at the same time, the pain from the broken leg will probably consume all your attention. Negative emotions can push away the positive ones. Therefore, to be able to focus on the positive emotions, you first have to get rid of the negative ones. It's like if you want to hear the birds singing, first you have to turn off your radio. But that doesn't mean the singing of the birds is merely the absence of the radio. That feels to me like instead of turning off the radio, you turn on the TV even louder. And then you don't hear the radio. (But you also don't hear the birds. But
I remember reading your initial post planning the trip, so I'm glad that you followed up with it and let us know how it worked! I'm also glad to see that it worked out in the end even if it wasn't really in the way that you expected. I would love to see more follow-up posts by people a few months later.

Reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from the quotes thread.

At home there was a game that all the parents played with their children. It was called, What Did You See? Mara was about Dann’s age when she was first called into her father’s room one evening, where he sat in his big carved and coloured chair. He said to her, ‘And now we are going to play a game. What was the thing you liked best today?’

At first she chattered: ‘I played with my cousin . . . I was out with Shera in the garden . . . I made a stone house.’ And then he had said, ‘Tell me about

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Incidentally, while I love that quote (and used the game in my MLP fanfiction []), the book it comes from is not one I'd recommend. I'm also not sure how empirically valid it is (i.e. does asking this game actually make the children more curious and perceptive?), and am not sure what balance parents should strike between questions and answers. Other stories of childhood development seem to focus on parents always surprising their children with new things to notice and think about; the example that comes to mind is Feynman's father often bringing things to his attention [], and a question game may be suboptimal for that goal.
Sounds a bit like the What do you see games that we play. And a bit like the Why-game (which always in the end leads to "because of physics" or "because somebody wants it"). But not all games work for all children.

I used to think that making failure more costly might be a good source of motivation as well. I ended up failing out of college and spending several months in a haze of depression and total apathy about life.

I'm doing a lot better now, but I've learned my lesson, and no longer use negative incentives as sources of motivation. For a person of my mindset, there is no such thing as "failure so costly one can't help but succeed."

Using "make failure so costly you can't help but succeed" sounds like an approach where good results would have a stronger than average survival effect.

For theft: Everything I own that is expensive stays in my backpack, which never leaves my back. I have full weatherproof gear, so I'm not worried about rain either. If anyone enquires about my job history gap, I'll tell them I was traveling.

If you want to change some aspect of your life, like ditching everything you own and walking off into the sunset, all I can say is that you have to want it, and want it bad. At some point I got so depressed and fed up with my life that walking away became easy, because nothing I was leaving behind was worth it. I wa... (read more)

How do you plan to not get robbed (backpack and/or bike) while you're asleep? I suppose you will lock your bike somewhere while you sleep, which is probably? reasonably secure for one night at a time. The best way I can think of to prevent backpack theft is to physically attach it to yourself in such a way that moving it will wake you, but even that doesn't necessarily prevent someone from opening and rooting through it.

Things I currently enjoy doing include modding video games, playing video games, reading books, and writing books (the last has been on hold for a while.) I'd like to try and expand on these interests. For example, read books I wouldn't normally read, and instead of fiddling with other people's programming, make more of my own. I majored in computer science, and I really enjoyed many of my early classes, so I know there is still plenty for me to explore there. The internship I had last summer was OK as well. Same with writing; I wrote roughly half a ... (read more)

My current life plan, which revolved around graduating college, failed miserably, so I ditched it. I'm going to bike about a 1000 miles, then reassess why what happened happened, and what I'm going to do next.

My current thoughts are as follows; It was a mistake to go to school when I did. I went because I was scared, and didn't really know what to do with my life. I thought college was a good idea because it would buy me time to figure myself out a bit more. Sadly, this only works out if school doesn't make you depressed and apathetic about life. Whil... (read more)

If you decide to go this route, I would strongly recommend looking for something where you can multitask exploring your interests with working. As hamnox mentions, a job can eat up a lot of time, even if it doesn't require much effort. Hotel night clerk sounds like a pretty multitaskable job, but be careful about the negative effects of working night shift (my understanding is that you can counteract these by carefully managing how much light you're exposed to during the rest of the day). Out of curiosity, what other interests do you hope to pursue?
You're living the dream. That's amazing, and I don't want to do anything to discount that. You've done well in breaking your previous bad habits, and I think you certainly are smart and dedicated pull this off. What are your plans for sleep, weather, thieves, and explaining the job history gap? Improvising is half of what makes runs like that exciting, but it's probably better to have a plan in advance for the more predictable issues. Just because there is a plan doesn't mean you have to stick to it. Your failure mode sounds a lot like what I just got out of doing, and yours is a more coherent explanation of why I can't do college right now than I've managed to articulate. You go [insert appropriate gender noun]! Your bike ride sounds similar to the fantasy I had about packing up (Well, mosting throwing away) everything I own and driving off to see more exciting places. I'd say the bike is a better idea because it provides a focus for your energy and gas is expensive, but I really do appreciate having a steady place to sleep and guard myself from weather's whims. I'm currently stuck somewhere between 1 and 2. My job doesn't take much effort on my part, but I've become increasingly aware that it does take a good amount of time out of my day that I could be spending on things I actually want to do.
Won't continuous biking and not being tied to a geogrpahic area make it harder to make friends? Unless you mean making friends with people you meet and practicing friend-making, in which case this may be a good way to go about it.
Hey, something like that worked for that guy []!
This sounds like the start of an interesting story! Please keep us updated as often as you can manage, I for one would love to read about it. That said, I have to point out that not staying too long in any one place is also isolation in a sense, which may not be what you were going for. (Also, don't neglect personal hygiene.)

For as long as I can remember, I have suffered from a lack of motivation. Trying to understand and fix this aspect of myself has been my project for the past several years. The following are my attempts to find a source of motivation.

Fear: Doesn't work. At first, the fear of getting a C in a class was enough to get me to study. Then it was the fear of failing the class. Then it was the fear of failing out of college entirely, which nearly happened. I gave up on this strategy two years ago.

Creating an environment that encourages productivity: I am sev... (read more)

Done it twice so far, using this as a guide. Fell asleep both times. That said, it was a positive experience, and I plan to make it a habit. Really helped be more aware of how easily distracted I am, and how often my minds runs in tracks, thinking the same thoughts again and again.

The Moral of the Story seems to be Harry finding an answer to the weakness, stupidity, and evil of others besides >hating them and destroying them.

EY has made it his life goal to creating an artificial intelligence that is friendly to humans. A mind that transcends us without hating us. Harry MUST triumph over Quirrel, and he must do so by being more moral, not more intelligent. Because if Harry wins by being smarter, then EY would be conceding that morality is a weakness, or at the very least that strength and strength alone will determine which ... (read more)

then EY would be conceding that morality is a weakness, or at the very least that strength and strength alone will determine which AI will win.

I'm pretty sure that he does believe that if an AI goes FOOM, it's going to win, period, moral or no. The idea that an AI would not simply be more preferable, but actually win over another AI on account of being more moral strikes me as, well, rather silly, and not at all in accordance with what I think Eliezer actually believes.


Harry MUST triumph over Quirrel, and he must do so by being more moral, not more intelligent.

That doesn't sound right. If you're looking for ways Harry could win, why not take Harry's advice and draw up a list of his relative advantages? He does have them - knowledge of superrationality, knowledge of science, ability to empathize with non-psychopaths, to name three - and they're likely to be part of the solution.

As of last week Eliezer didn't have any plans to include an allegory to FAI, and expected any such allegory to work very badly in story terms ("suck like a black hole").

Chapter 79 is out!

My first thought was that Quirrell is behind this, and he is trying to strip away Harry's friends and isolate him. It's pretty clear that Mr. Hat and Cloak is Quirrell (I can argue this elsewhere if you disagree), and we know that Mr H&C is behind Hermione's recent brainwashing.

The problem is that this plot ends with Quirrell blowing his cover. We can guess that Quirrell cast those spells protecting Draco in chapter 40, after learning that Lord Malfoy had threatened to give his entire game away as revenge against Harry should his so... (read more)

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The study had just 27 participants, and wasn't double blind. While it was an interesting experiment, I certainly wouldn't act on it, except perhaps to read another, similar experiment.

It doesn't seem like the cost of a self experiment here would be very high, and you are the only research subject that really matters to yourself...

Oftentimes, if I need to fall asleep I'll pick a really peaceful one. When I was younger, I had one where I was a full sized person in a world made entirely of legos, including tiny living lego people. I'd fall asleep, dreaming of building secret tunnels under the ocean, vast cities with towers a mile high, train tracks for the lego people that climbed mountains that rose above breathable atmosphere to reach secret veins of special legos. It was only during the day that floods, earthquakes and rival lego people threatened.

On a related note, I have such awesome ideas for a Minecraft mod.

This makes me think that a website where people anonymously describe their fantasies/daydreams would be really interesting.

I'm a very visual person. When I read books, my mind creates mental images and associates emotions with those images. If it's a really good book, the experience is very similar to dreaming. My conscious self is utterly submerged, and I live vicariously through the character. Six hours later (I'm a fast reader), the dream ends and I set the book down, and become myself again, and find I have visual slideshow of the entire book. I have never noticed a typo in a book. I remember virtually every fact about every book I've ever read, so long as it has so... (read more)

Hey, I have those too! I always assumed it was a natural outgrowth of normal kid fantasies (being a magical hero and facing evil, no meaningful relationships) that for some reason I just never gave up on. As I've gotten older I've noticed certain tendencies in the way my protagonist acts and relates to others that have given me insight into myself, and I've stopped using them as a sleep aid because sometimes the adventure was interesting enough that I would deliberately stay awake so I could keep generating the next part.