Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

B_Frank comments on Cached Selves - Less Wrong

174 Post author: AnnaSalamon 22 March 2009 07:34PM

You are viewing a comment permalink. View the original post to see all comments and the full post content.

Comments (75)

You are viewing a single comment's thread.

Comment author: B_Frank 24 March 2009 03:12:42AM *  5 points [-]

How can you tell whether one's self might be getting hijacked or if it's getting rescued from a past hijacking?

E.g. I've been a long-time OB reader but took a couple of months off (part of a broader tactic to free myself of a possible RSS info addiction, and also to build some more connections with local people & issues via Twitter). I brought OB back into my daily reading list last week, read a few of Robin's posts and wondered where Eliezer was at...

Now I find myself here at LW, articulating thoughts to myself as I read and catch up, feeling impelled to comment... After a couple of hours I find I'm saying to myself that this is really great and I should rearrange my daily routine yet again -- maybe cut down on the Twitter use -- to spend regular time here becoming more rational.

So: hijacked by LW or rescued from Twitter? Are there any objective measures that could be used?

(I'm relating a personal experience but I don't want to give the impression I'm just looking for help with this particular situation. I'm wondering more generally.)

Comment author: JenniferRM 02 May 2010 11:53:41PM *  0 points [-]

I think you've stated a major part of the solution at the end of your own post in the form of a question. That is: seek objective measures to help discriminate between options.

A lot of specific cognitive biases are related to framing effects where some idea becomes anchored in a person's mind and is subsequently adjusted until it feels "good enough". A nice way to cut through this, where feasible, is to seek some common numerical basis for discriminating between options and independently estimating their value. Investments and bets are the standard place for this.

If you don't want to drop down to dollars per minute or a similarly banal measure you could specify more abstract goals. For example, you could aim to "practice thinking clearly and at length" as one goal, but another might be "exposure to novel trends". Then compare each course of action against the goals and try to figure out what kind of "reading diet" would accomplish your specified need the best. Its distinctly possible that if you took this more systematic approach you'd realize some totally different plan would makes a lot more sense... certain kinds of learning might work better if you visit a library with a clever plan for consciously exploratory reading, but other goals might lead you to meetup.com to find local people you could relate to in a much more personally nourishing way.

In line with the original post, seeing yourself as someone who stops to attempt "objective valuations" before committing to a plan would probably be a useful "positive habit" to cultivate that might help to cut through some of the fog inherent to impulse driven behavior :-)