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Purposeful Anti-Rush

4 Elo 08 March 2016 07:34AM

Why do we rush?

Things happen; Life gets in the way, and suddenly we find ourselves trying to get to somewhere with less time than it's possible to actually get there in.  So in the intention to get there sooner; to somehow compensate ourselves for not being on time; we rush.  We run; we get clumsy, we drop things; we forget things; we make mistakes; we scribble instead of writing, we scramble and we slip up.

I am today telling you to stop that.  Don't do that.  It's literally the opposite of what you want to do.  This is a bug I have.

Rushing has a tendency to do the opposite of what I want it to do.  I rush with the key in the lock; I rush on slippery surfaces and I fall over, I rush with coins and I drop them.  NO!  BAD!  Stop that.  This is one of my bugs.

What you (or I) really want when we are rushing is to get there sooner, to get things done faster.  

Instrumental experiment: Next time you are rushing I want you to experiment and pay attention; try to figure out what you end up doing that takes longer than it otherwise would if you weren't rushing.

The time after that when you are rushing; instead try slowing down, and this time observe to see if you get there faster.

Run as many experiments as you like.

Experimenter’s note: Maybe you are really good at rushing and really bad at slowing down.  Maybe you don't need to try this.  Maybe slowing down and being nervous about being late together are entirely unhelpful for you.  Report back.

When you are rushing, purposefully slow down. (or at least try it)

Meta: Time to write 20mins

My Table of contents contains other things I have written.

Feedback welcome.

Confession Thread: Mistakes as an aspiring rationalist

18 diegocaleiro 02 June 2015 06:10PM

We looked at the cloudy night sky and thought it would be interesting to share the ways in which, in the past, we made mistakes we would have been able to overcome, if only we had been stronger as rationalists. The experience felt valuable and humbling. So why not do some more of it on Lesswrong?

An antithesis to the Bragging Thread, this is a thread to share where we made mistakes. Where we knew we could, but didn't. Where we felt we were wrong, but carried on anyway.

As with the recent group bragging thread, anything you've done wrong since the comet killed the dinosaurs is fair game, and if it happens to be a systematic mistake that over long periods of time systematically curtailed your potential, that others can try to learn avoiding, better. 

This thread is an attempt to see if there are exceptions to the cached thought that life experience cannot be learned but has to be lived. Let's test this belief together!

What are some science mistakes you made in college?

5 aarongertler 23 March 2014 05:28AM

Hello, Less Wrong!

This seems like a community with a relatively high density of people who have worked in labs, so I'm posting here.

I recently finished the first draft of something I'm calling "The Hapless Undergraduate's Guide to Research" (HUGR). (Yes, "HUGS" would be a good acronym, but "science" isn't specific enough.) Not sure if it will ever be released, or what the final format will be, but I'll need more things to put in it whatever happens.

Basically, this is meant to be an ever-growing collection of mistakes that new researchers (grad or undergrad) have made while working in labs. Hundreds of thousands of students around the English-speaking world do lab work, and based on my own experiences in a neuroscience lab, it seems like things can easily go wrong, especially when rookie researchers are involved. There's nothing wrong with making mistakes, but it would be nice to have a source of information around that people (especially students) might read, and which might help them watch out for some of the problems with the biggest pain-to-ease-of-avoidance ratios.

Since my experience is specifically in neuroscience, and even more specifically in "phone screening and research and data entry", I'd like to draw from a broad collection of perspectives. And, come to think of it, there's no reason to limit this to research assistants--all scientists, from CS to anthropology, are welcome!

So--what are some science mistakes you have made? What should you have done to prevent them, in terms of "simple habits/heuristics other people can apply"? Feel free to mention mistakes from other people that you've seen, as long as you're not naming names in a damaging way. Thanks for any help you can provide!


And here are a couple of examples of mistakes I've gathered so far:

--Research done with elderly subjects. On a snowy day, the sidewalk froze, so subjects couldn't be screened for a day, because no one thought to salt the sidewalks in advance. Lots of scheduling chaos.

--Data entry being done for papers with certain characteristics. Research assistants and principal investigator were not on the same page regarding which data was worth collecting. Each paper had to be read 7 or 8 times by the time all was said and done, and constructing the database took six extra weeks.

--A research assistant clamped a special glass tube too tight, broke it, and found that replacements would take weeks to come in... well, there may not be much of a lesson in that, but maybe knowing equipment is hard to replace cold subconsciously induce more caring.

Gender and Libido

10 NancyLebovitz 03 July 2011 02:20PM

There was a historical shift in beliefs.

But the one we’re concerned with is that women’s libidos went from being considered as powerful or more so than men’s to being essentially erased. Pre-Renaissance examples of horny ladies abound, from the Greeks onward; make your own list, but do include Chaucer. He’s such fun. This change in attitudes appears to have been religiously motivated, and based on the idea that women are more spiritual and sacred than men, meaning less horny. Again, make your own list of contemporary leftovers of this attitude; there are plenty.
By the 18th century, it was taken as read that a woman who did experience (or at least express) sexual desire was suffering from a disorder. One important 1775 study of the subject linked the problem to “secret pollutions”, i.e. wanking, and (I swear I am not making this up) eating too much chocolate. I guess that’d go a ways toward explaining this advertisement. Women were diagnosed with, treated for, and often operated upon for “nymphomania”, the dread condition that causes a woman to want sex. (Talk to your doctor; you may suffer from it yourself!) And yes, by “operated upon”, I mean clitoridectomy. And yes, that’s fucking appalling.

I find this very odd. How could a major cultural lineage be wrong about something so much a part of ordinary experience?

When I say wrong, I don't necessarily mean that we're right, or the ancients were right, though there's a lot of evidence that the Victorians were wrong.

My favorite theory is that people's amount of desire for sex varies sufficiently that there's enough noise to make it easy to see patterns that aren't there. I leave the possibility open that there was a change (possibly dietary) which affected libido levels differently between men and women.

People are sufficiently punitive about sex that there's going to be lies and misdirection to support the current theory about how people are supposed to be.