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Peter_Twieg comments on Ugh fields - Less Wrong

152 [deleted] 12 April 2010 05:06PM

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Comment author: Peter_Twieg 14 April 2010 06:52:58PM 1 point [-]

I agree with your basic analysis of how the "ugh field" works, but I wouldn't be so quick to categorically label it as a problem - cultivating an "ugh field" could also be an effective anti-akrasia technique if honed properly. What if you manage to train your usual (wasteful) displacement activities to trigger the "ugh field", so that your new "displacement" activities become what you originally intended to do to begin with?

I'd like to think that I've encountered some success by basically doing this myself - I probably avoid seductive time-wasters just by having a visceral reaction of disgust for even considering them. It's not perfect, but it's a habit I think can be cultivated in the right direction.

Comment author: AnnaSalamon 15 April 2010 12:22:01AM 7 points [-]

My experience is that ugh fields are invariably unfortunate in their effects. While it might indeed be useful to have a disgust reaction to candy or video games, the "ugh fields" seem not to be visceral disgust, but visceral, conditioned-pain-induced tendencies to cut off thought. Shadows you hide from in your own mind.

My experience is that the more ugh fields I can clear out, and the better I can get at not accumulating them, the more I can actually honestly think, can notice choices rather than just feeling stuck, and can find myself with energy to take on new projects. That is, there seems to be a general property of "having a clear mind" or "facing things" vs "hunkering down with willful tunnel vision lest I run into something painful", and allowing or clearing out an ugh field around an email or a broken conversation or whatever it is affects my overall state, not just that one area.

Comment author: pjeby 15 April 2010 12:42:16AM 5 points [-]

That is, there seems to be a general property of "having a clear mind" or "facing things" vs "hunkering down with willful tunnel vision lest I run into something painful",

Yep, that's pain or gain in a nutshell, and it's why I've said so very many times here that negative emotions cloud rational thinking in a way that positive emotions do not. And that, as soon as the negative emotions are out of the way, people tend to go, "Oh, I see what I should do now."

(The "ugh field" is a nice metaphor for describing those phenomena, though.)

Comment author: Nanani 15 April 2010 01:46:42AM 3 points [-]

While it might indeed be useful to have a disgust reaction to candy or video games, the "ugh fields" seem not to be visceral disgust, but visceral, conditioned-pain-induced tendencies to cut off thought.

In my experience, this only ever happens with a specific candy or game. For example, If I lose repeatedly and humiliatedly in an online game, I might develop an ugh field that ultimately prevents me from even thinking about popping on to play it, but the corresponding comfort activity is far more likely to be "play a different game" than "go study some math instead".

Comment author: Vladimir_Nesov 15 April 2010 09:40:51AM 1 point [-]

More generally, every bad phenomenon has fringe cases where it has positive instrumental value (unless it's an Unfriendly AI), but that doesn't invalidate the concept of bad phenomena.

Comment author: Document 23 April 2010 04:45:26AM 0 points [-]

Possibly related:

Ergh. That was a really difficult paragraph to write. My past self is always my own most concentrated Kryptonite, because my past self is exactly precisely all those things that the modern me has installed allergies to block.

from EY, The Sheer Folly of Callow Youth.