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Group Rationality Diary, August 30 - September 12

3 Post author: Dahlen 30 August 2015 06:11AM

This is the public group rationality diary for August 30th - September 12th, 2015. It's a place to record and chat about it if you have done, or are actively doing, things like:

  • Established a useful new habit

  • Obtained new evidence that made you change your mind about some belief

  • Decided to behave in a different way in some set of situations

  • Optimized some part of a common routine or cached behavior

  • Consciously changed your emotions or affect with respect to something

  • Consciously pursued new valuable information about something that could make a big difference in your life

  • Learned something new about your beliefs, behavior, or life that surprised you

  • Tried doing any of the above and failed

Or anything else interesting which you want to share, so that other people can think about it, and perhaps be inspired to take action themselves. Try to include enough details so that everyone can use each other's experiences to learn about what tends to work out, and what doesn't tend to work out.

Archive of previous rationality diaries

Comments (14)

Comment author: Vaniver 05 September 2015 04:04:30PM 9 points [-]

After ~2 years of having a manual treadmill at my desk, which functioned as a standing desk because walking was effortful and standing was not, I bought a powered treadmill and just finished installing it and mounting my monitor. Initial tests are very encouraging; as expected, walking is mindless and doesn't interfere at all with reading / browsing the internet.

Typing and using the mouse are a bit of a pain, mostly because I don't have a flat surface for those at the appropriate height. Am considering going with a split keyboard / trackball mouse instead.

Comment author: WalterL 02 September 2015 03:13:56PM 9 points [-]

Using Medifast, and daily exercise, I've lost enough weight that I am technically no longer obese.

Comment author: MrMind 07 September 2015 10:07:34AM 1 point [-]

Do you care to elaborate about the parameters of exercise? Even in PM, if you prefer.

Comment author: WalterL 07 September 2015 06:35:57PM 2 points [-]

I walk for about 45 minutes every day. Its not much, but when I started I could never have done it. Each week I go a bit further down the road before turning around.

Lately, as I've grown thinner, I've added pushups and situps (5 and 30 respectively) done before my daily walk, hopeful that I'll be able to improve the # of those as I grow lighter and stronger.

Comment author: AspiringRationalist 31 August 2015 02:48:56AM 9 points [-]

My wife and I recently started using Habitica (formerly called HabitRPG). The extent to which each of us is engaging in good habits and doing tasks we plan on doing is now visible to each other in the form of character levels and hit points (but the specific items are not). This makes it possible for us to hold each other accountable for improving ourselves without having to nag.

Overall I've gone from making good use of ~10% of my free time to making good use of ~30%. I've still got quite a ways to go, but this is significant progress.

Comment author: Dahlen 30 August 2015 06:26:21AM 5 points [-]

Bias in action: I practice my singing by doing voice recordings with my phone and then listening to them for feedback. (2 years and going, the improvement has been tremendous, I went from ashamed to somewhat proud of my singing voice.) I've been noticing myself physically clench up while listening to pieces of particularly... uncertain quality. It's a state of muscle tension that tends to accompany a mental state of defensiveness about my performance. As if I'm exerting effort in an attempt to squeeze every drop of appreciation from my perception. I certainly don't mean to get so insecure about it that I have to dupe myself into liking what I hear, but it happens outside of my control.

I notice this most of the time, and reminding myself to relax muscularly usually helps with perceiving the quality of my practice more accurately.

Does anyone else get this in various other contexts?

Comment author: [deleted] 30 August 2015 10:43:27AM 2 points [-]

How do you measure accuracy separately?

Comment author: Dahlen 01 September 2015 11:24:05PM 3 points [-]

A more accurate impression is basically always one that notices more mistakes. Besides, after some time passes every flaw in my performance becomes painfully obvious to me, most likely because the piece is no longer in my recent memory and therefore probably no longer subject to this unconscious attempt to gloss over mistakes.

And of course, after a while, you just develop an intuition for this kind of thing.

Comment author: MarsColony_in10years 30 August 2015 11:30:35PM *  4 points [-]

Black swans: When exploring something new, large chunks of hypothesis space are hypotheses you haven't even thought of yet. Often these unknown unknowns add up to more than 50% probability. I don't think we tend to appreciate this fact enough on LW, so I thought I'd share a story. I had a professor in college who would give the class actual engineering problems that cost real companies many tens of thousands of dollars, and give us an hour discuss it before trying to guess the answer. I always enjoyed those games, so I'll present my little mishap in a similar format.

I was getting my 3D printer up and running again after over a year of inactivity (due to computer problems, then the Windows 10 update). The leading software had changed, so I installed it and did my best to put in print settings that were reasonable for my printer. I noticed that test prints would start out fine, and then get stringier and stringier as it printed subsequent layers. The first couple layers were 100% dense, but it seemed like there was more empty space than plastic in the upper layers. PLA filament slowly absorbs water from the air, so one thing I was worried about was that it had absorbed moisture over the past year, and that it would boil off inside the printer. However, rather than jumping to conclusions and spending several days dehumidifying the plastic filament, I performed several tests. I wanted to rule out alternatives, like the extruder motor skipping steps by trying to push stiff filament through the extruder nozzle before it had a chance to melt. I turned up the nozzle heat to make this less likely, but it is possible to get similar effects if the driver chip has to turn itself off for an moment to avoid overheating.

When there are many competing hypotheses, the most efficient experiments are ones that rule out entire classes of hypotheses at once. After a print, I had to physically push about a centimeter of filament into the nozzle before anything would be extruded out the other end. Otherwise, all I got was the slowly oozing drips, jut like an inactive hot glue gun. I marked the filament every centimeter, and watched it closely over a half hour of printing a tiny tower at low speed. The filament was indeed fed into the extruder nozzle at a constant rate, with no skipping. So, whatever the problem was, I reasoned that it had to be downstream of that. I noticed that I was confused, since the filament being fed in had to be going somewhere after all. I started to wrack my brain for things that could be going on inside the nozzle to extrude plenty of filament at first, and then not enough.

Maybe the molten filament just before the print was baked dry, but as the print continued and new filament was melted, the steam would force a bit of extra plastic out of the nozzle. Eventually the steam would have to come out of course, but if it reciprocated between extruding plastic and gas this might explain the observed behavior. The only other thing I could think of was that the filament itself was doing something strange somewhere, but I couldn't form a coherent concept of exactly what it might be doing, so I assigned a 75% probability to the moisture hypothesis.

Solution, encrypted with a Caesar cipher shifting all letters 13 characters: Orsber guebjvat gur erry bs svynzrag va n ohpxrg jvgu n qruhzvqvsvre naq tbvat gb orq, V qrpvqrq gb ybbx bire nyy gur frggvatf bar zber gvzr. Nyzbfg vzzrqvngryl, V qvq n snprcnyz. Gur cevagre gubhtug V jnf hfvat 3 zz svynzrag, juvyr gur npghny svynzrag qvnzrgre jnf 1.75 zz. Nf n erfhyg, vg jnf srrqvat svynzrag vagb gur abmmyr zhpu zber fybjyl guna vg arrqrq gb or qbvat. Boivbhfyl sbe lbh gb cerqvpg guvf fcrpvsvpnyyl lbh jbhyq arrq n yvggyr xabjyrqtr bs 3Q cevagvat, ohg gur zber trareny ulcbgurfvf gung gur srrq engr jnf gbb ybj vf boivbhf va ergebfcrpg. Znlor V jnf whfg biregverq ng gur gvzr, ohg gur jubyr vqrn bs fgrnz pnhfvat plpyrf bs bire-rkgehqvat naq haqre-rkgehqvat abj frrzf pbzcyrgryl vafnar. Jul jbhyq vg tb va plpyrf naljnl, va bccbfrq gb whfg pbafgnag ohooyrf va gur rkgehqrq svynzrag? Jul jbhyq V unir gb rkgehqr n pragvzrgre bs svynzrag nsgre gur raq bs gur cevag orsber V fgnegrq trggvat nalguvat ohg bbmvat svynzrag qevccvat bhg bs gur raq bs gur abmmyr? Znlor nyy bs lbh vzzrqvngryl jbaqrerq guvf, naq znlor vg jnf boivbhf jura V jnf cevivyrtvat gur ulcbgurfvf, ohg V bayl whfg oneryl pnhtug zl zvfgnxr.

Comment author: Dahlen 01 September 2015 11:41:29PM 2 points [-]

Might have gotten better at calibration. I've been bookmarking about 55 items of various prices on a wishlist, and wanted to figure out their total price. I could have made an Excel document with all the prices, but I lazed out of it and assumed their average price was 400 (of my local currency), and computed a total from that. Eventually I did make the spreadsheet. Lo and behold, the calculated average really was 400.48! It's probably my most accurate estimation to date. (Sure enough, n=1, but other instances of calibration haven't been so accurate as to be this memorable.)

Now, to actually get to earn the money for that total price...

Comment author: [deleted] 01 September 2015 11:27:32AM *  3 points [-]
  • transferred control of my burgeoning potential criminal enterprise to someone else who can run it as a legitimate, prosocial thing. Many sunk costs and social inhibitions were overcome

  • identified that fluctuations in my mental state accompany drops in my LessWrong karma. I post crazy when I am crazy. It's a new helpful indicator for me.

  • identified my interests. My interests are summarisable as the 10 S's: Sex, Sleep, Safety, Sanction, Sanity, Sanitation, Swap, Study, Salad and Stretching. Isn't it odd that I can describe them with 10S's?

  • started a new diet to cope with gastrointestinal issues

  • become transparent about my schedule and things I do so I'm accountable and transparent.

*maittaining inbox zero and sms zero with a turnaround of about 1 day. Gotta do that for today just now!

  • overcome several addictions: junk food, sugar, (almost) validation, (almost) porn/masturbation, youtube, internet, smartphone, staring, (almost) overexercising, lip licking

*made progress in networking with potential research collaborators (set up several meetings)

*stopped attending classes (I don't have the attention span to learn in lectures but I go for the social validation and habit)

  • met a girl, asked her out, got a date

  • stopped replying to txt messages from girl I kinda like but has issues that would be difficult to surmount

  • stopped watching those terrible motivational things I used to, or all that junky music!

  • avoiding female friend who's a total bitch to people are aren't around her (but not me?) and says it's because they probably bitch about us but I think she's wrong

  • hanging out with this hottie in my classes instead. She's got a boyfriend but she's so cute!

  • got an appointment with a neuropsychologist

  • got moved to weekly appointments with psychologist since I was batshit insane over the last week or so (and lost half my LW karma!)

  • ALMOST decided to give my psychologist the name of this account which would probably be good for my treatment, but extremely shameful to me. Really ambivalent about this one. Could come back to bite me...

*eating healthy, sleeping earlier most days, exercising regularly and being less OCD about toilet seats and used clothes

  • turned down meeting a friend after he wasted my time the previous day

  • told a friend I miss her checking up on me and she said it made her day but then she wanted to meet and suddenly know that she's interested in me again I don't want her but said I wanted to meet her anyway even without weird unfair conditions like I used to make

  • met vice-president of a major political party and he took me contact details down after I jokingly expressed interest in an area related to something I work in. Maybe I'll get a cool policy gig! Or maybe I'll ruin my future because I'm hardcore partisan in the eyes of some now probably (even though I don't really care for ideologies or parties, it's just pragmatic for my personal gain and interests).

Comment author: Dahlen 03 September 2015 02:12:17PM 0 points [-]

met a girl, asked her out, got a date

I thought you said you had a wife?...

Comment author: [deleted] 04 September 2015 09:18:23AM 0 points [-]

I was making light of the hurtful comment above implying that I shouldn't have kids (meaning I'd make a bad parent, or that I'd be passing on bad genes, or that I can't).