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ZankerH comments on Welcome to Less Wrong! (2010-2011) - Less Wrong

42 Post author: orthonormal 12 August 2010 01:08AM

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Comment author: ZankerH 09 September 2011 11:53:53PM 7 points [-]

Hello, I've been reading articles on LW for some time, but even if I've slowly began to grasp what you're teaching, the community in general seemed so far above me in terms of however you want to measure intellectual capacity, I didn't even feel entitled to post. Might as well start here.

We'd love to know who you are, what you're doing

I'm a 21.7 years old university student from Slovenia, Europe. My interests are primarily maths, physics and computer science. Biological sciences interest me somewhat, but my knowledge in that area is on a layman's level. For philosophy, politics or social sciences I've never cared much. My passing interest in arts has been described as true random in taste by those with an affiliation to a particular genre, and I have little artistic talent myself. Professionally, I study electrical engineering and instruct high-school mathematics to pay for my living costs. My hobbies include Free software activism (helping in local communities, mostly), programming, backyard astronomy and mountain biking. I've been reading a lot of science and science fiction material since I was a child.

what you value

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how you came to identify as a rationalist or how you found us

Although the environment I grew up in isn't traditionally religious, most people ascribe to what can only be described as irrational beliefs and practices. No organised belief system, either, just little bits of 'wisdom' like "only clip your nails on Thursdays, during the day", "when you sneeze, don't think about your descendants", "sleep with your socks under your pillow", and so on. Even during my early youth, I was frustrated by the fact that there were these actions I was supposed to perform that made no sense, and the only explanation I was provided for them was "they bring luck" or "doing it otherwise is bad luck", and I wasn't provided any explanation for that. At the age of 12, I catalogued most of these practices that I suspected were complete nonsense (I even gave some the benefit of the doubt) and conducted a semi-scientific experiment, doing the precise opposite of what I was supposed to do for a month - this is why I excluded some of the non-obvious ones to me at the time, like "don't talk under a doorway", because in my model, the more sense it made, the stronger the consequences of disobeying it would be. Unsurprisingly, nothing tragic or out of the ordinary happened during my month of covert disobedience - and I considered one month to be the limit of long-term consequences at the time. I considered this conclusive proof that everyone in my family circle suffered from collective insanity. However, to my surprise, they were completely unwilling to be talked out of it, or to even talk about it at all. This frustrated me immensely, and I grew distant from my family with years. A few months ago, in an internet discussion over irrational beliefs, an LW member directed me to this site for an explanation of some psychological concept - I can't remember precisely which.

Comment author: lessdazed 10 September 2011 12:42:32AM 6 points [-]

"when you sneeze, don't think about your descendants"

Advocates of this would have much better results if they never said anything. The next time i sneeze, there's a good chance that I think of descendants, much higher than if I hadn't read this.

Comment author: Normal_Anomaly 08 October 2011 10:10:42PM 0 points [-]

Welcome to Less Wrong!