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AnnaSalamon comments on Beware of Other-Optimizing - Less Wrong

79 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 10 April 2009 01:58AM

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Comment author: AnnaSalamon 10 April 2009 03:03:09AM 14 points [-]

I agree with you that power brings blinders (as well as bringing some useful sorts of vision: I've watched more than one person improve their self-understanding, and their understanding of why organizations are structured as they are, once they got in a position of responsibility).

I also agree that people who have something work for them often run around recommending it way too much, with way too little attention to the person in front of them.

That said, when I get advice from people or books, and when I actually try the advice, it often works. Enough so that I should be ditching my current habits and trying out new forms a lot, if I want to actually be effective. I would have thought this would obtain for most people (and that most of us stay consistent in our habits for much the same reason that we stay consistent in our initial disagreements with epistemic peers -- inertia, fear of a status hit from changing, that sort of thing). But maybe people vary here?

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 10 April 2009 09:56:21AM 18 points [-]

If you could take ALL the advice from productivity blogs and have it ALL work for you, wouldn't it require less than a month to ascend to godhood?

Comment author: SoullessAutomaton 10 April 2009 12:05:40PM *  17 points [-]

If you could take ALL the advice from productivity blogs and have it ALL work for you, wouldn't it require less than a month to ascend to godhood?

Unless many of them are multiple ways to accomplish the same thing and therefore not cumulative even if they do work.

Comment author: AnnaSalamon 10 April 2009 10:19:19AM *  11 points [-]

I'm not saying it all delivers promised miracles for me, I'm saying that enough of what I try works enough better than what I was doing as to be easily worth the costs of experimenting. There's nothing particularly optimal about my current habits; what works for others is often a better guide to what will work for me than is "what I happen to already be doing" (especially if the other is skilled at what they do, and/or is generalizing from what works for a large set of people); and the data and freedom that comes from trying new things and from watching the results helps. Also, most of the reason I don't do more real habit shifts is stuff in the vicinity of fear/inertia, given that it often helps when I do (and this has held even in some (most?) cases where someone insisted I really should change some particular trait/habit, and I insisted that they were wrong, though I realize this is a dangerous thing to say). I realize YMMV.