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tomme 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: tomme 14 March 2012 08:14:10PM 5 points [-]

Hi there,

I am a high school senior who is interested in science, particularly in natural sciences. One day I hope to further our understanding of...well, anything you can think of!

My lifestyle, which I adopted after carefully analyzing my goals, is pretty spartan: I eat a strict diet, I exercise often, I only read certain things and so forth.

I discovered the transhumanist movement a few months ago. I have decided to join lesswrong.com because I think that I stand to learn a lot from this community and, maybe, even bring something to the table.

Comment author: Bugmaster 14 March 2012 08:21:02PM 1 point [-]

I only read certain things

What kinds of things, out of curiosity, and why do you read them and not other things ?

Comment author: tomme 14 March 2012 08:38:03PM *  2 points [-]

Nonfiction because: my faulty brain sometimes mistakes fiction for reality(e.g., I used to believe that Santa is real) and cognitive economy - there is a finite amount of knowledge I can store, so I would rather make sure it's accurate, truthful, useful knowledge.

Comment author: Bugmaster 14 March 2012 08:48:35PM 1 point [-]

Nonfiction because: my faulty brain sometimes mistakes fiction for reality...

In this case, how do you know what is fiction (and therefore you shouldn't read it) and what is not (and therefore you should read it) ?

and cognitive economy - there is a finite amount of knowledge I can store, so I must be sure that it is accurate knowledge.

Can you elaborate ? I'm curious about the topic because I've heard this statement from several of my friends, but I can't quite wrap my head around it.

In the interests of full disclosure, I personally do read fiction: primarily because I find it enjoyable, but also because it sometimes enables me to communicate (and receive) ideas much more effectively than nonfiction (f.ex., HPMoR).

Comment author: Incorrect 14 March 2012 08:53:48PM 2 points [-]

Can you elaborate ? I'm curious about the topic because I've heard this statement from several of my friends, but I can't quite wrap my head around it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interference_theory

New memories can interfere with the recall of old ones if they are similar.

That doesn't necessarily mean fiction is likely to cause problems.

Comment author: Bugmaster 14 March 2012 09:36:17PM 0 points [-]

That doesn't necessarily mean fiction is likely to cause problems.

I guess it depends, in part, on how similar the knowledge you deem important is similar to works of fiction. To use a trivial example, I doubt that any work of fiction would cause me to forget what 2 + 2 is equal to.

Comment author: tomme 15 March 2012 01:01:19PM 0 points [-]

In this case, how do you know what is fiction (and therefore you shouldn't read it) and what is not (and therefore you should read it) ?

I look for background info on the piece I consider reading and read its abstract.

Can you elaborate ?

See the reply below. I'm not good at explaining this stuff.

Horace wrote that the purpose of literature is "to delight and instruct". It delights precisely because it's instructive and it's up to you to decide whether you only need precise information(nonfiction) or embedded information(fiction).

Comment author: Bugmaster 15 March 2012 10:54:02PM 1 point [-]

I look for background info on the piece I consider reading and read its abstract.

What about pieces that blend truth and fiction, such as historical novels or most newspaper articles ?

See the reply below. I'm not good at explaining this stuff.

Fair enough, but I'm still curious. Do you participate in any activities that you find enjoyable, but ultimately not very useful in the long term ? I'm not trying to be glib here; I genuinely want to learn about your way of thinking.

Comment author: tomme 16 March 2012 10:26:35AM 1 point [-]

What about pieces that blend truth and fiction, such as historical novels or most newspaper articles ?

I don't usually read those kinds of pieces.

Do you participate in any activities that you find enjoyable, but ultimately not very useful in the long term ?

No, I only take part in activities that have some long-term benefit.

Comment author: Bugmaster 16 March 2012 05:53:08PM 0 points [-]

No, I only take part in activities that have some long-term benefit.

That makes sense. What algorithm are you using to decide which activities have some long-term benefit ?

Comment author: tomme 16 March 2012 07:10:55PM *  0 points [-]

Pros&Cons and projected outcomes.

Comment author: Bugmaster 16 March 2012 11:05:34PM 2 points [-]

Right, but how do you evaluate pros and cons, and project outcomes ? Obviously you wouldn't take an action that has more cons than pros, and therefore has a poor projected outcome, but that doesn't tell me much.

For example, what made you decide to begin spending time on writing posts on Less Wrong, as opposed to spending that time on reading quantum physics books, or lifting weights, or something ?

Comment author: Peacewise 13 April 2012 03:44:55AM 0 points [-]

tomme, welcome to lesswrong, gday I'm Peacewise.

re

I used to believe that Santa is real

Fair crack mate, "Santa" is a standard fiction/lie perpetrated by society and parents, hardly something to be used as evidence of a "faulty brain". In fact its more likely to be evidence that your brain was and is functioning in a developmentally normal state.

I suggest you reconsider your position on fiction, since you state

so I would rather make sure it's accurate, truthful, useful knowledge

there is indeed plenty of accurate, truthful and useful knowledge within the realm of fiction. Shakespeare has plenty of accurate and useful knowledge about the human condition, just to give you one counter example. "Out damned spot, out " by lady Macbeth is an example of how murder and the guilt caused by the act of murder affects the human mind. (Macbeth, Act 5, scene 1.) Lady Macbeth cannot get the imagined blood stains off her hands after committing murder.

Humans are subjective creatures, by experimenting with fiction you'll be looking into the human condition, by avoiding fiction you are dismissing a large subset of truth - for truth is subjective as well as objective.

Comment author: tomme 13 April 2012 04:30:54AM 0 points [-]

I suggest you reconsider your position on fiction

I now believe that fiction could be useful because it conveys experience. For example, The Walking Dead, the Tv series I am watching at the moment, has a complex interplay characters, as it shows how humans interact in a plethora of situations.

Most people don't have that in mind when they bump into fiction. But, as I said, if you don't have enough experience, and you need a quick dose, sometimes fiction can help you.