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

Comment author: Nebu 25 March 2009 04:06:21PM 3 points [-]

I think a common situation is the manager/idea-generator relationship. An idea generator is a person who spends a lot of their working time simply "thinking", and there is no apparent output to their task until the very end, when they output an idea. A programmer trying to design the right algorithm to solve a given problem is one example of an idea generator.

Often, the manager will want to have some sort of feedback on the progress, and have an estimate of the time remaining to completion. The idea-generator, however, has no idea how long their task will take. They might find the solution this afternoon, or they may spend months brainstorming on it.

And so the manager may "assign" responsibilities like writing daily reports on what was found so far, filling in time sheets, etc. to alleviate their nervousness from seeing nothing produced. Bureaucracy like this is just taking the idea-generator's mind off of the real problem at hand, and can slow things down.

Comment author: B_Frank 26 March 2009 01:05:11AM 3 points [-]

We might say there are two kinds of "responsibility." School teaches people to be responsible to authority; the other kind is being responsible for eventual outcomes (such as truthfulness) by asking questions and challenging authority.

An example would be something I read recently about the institutional mindset held by journalists at newspapers: older editors and managers are practically begging young reporters for new ideas... the problem is the type of people who go to work for a newspapers now tend to want responsibilities (and security) given to them.

Meanwhile a lot of people who never finished their homework or followed their assignment guidelines were distracted from school by new technologies -- sites like this -- and learning from the proliferating information available online.

In response to Cached Selves
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: timtyler 23 March 2009 07:16:07PM 3 points [-]

Throwing out religion would be like throwing out folk medicine - you lose all the traditional knowledge about which plants are good for what. In both cases, it's best to squeeze out the cultural juices before consigning to the dustbin of history.

Comment author: B_Frank 24 March 2009 01:10:23AM 3 points [-]

I'm not sure who you're addressing this to.

It appeared to me that "squeezing out the cultural juices" was precisely what Eliezer was doing when he talked about the Old Testament, the kind of society it originated in, the way people have always tried to irrationally defend religious beliefs, and the process by which science has repeatedly devastated those defenses.

Freeing ourselves from beliefs doesn't mean ridding the world of all of the related literature and artifacts. I've never heard anybody advocate the complete elimination of all knowledge that was ever believed in religiously (any more than not practicing folk medicine means eradicating those species of plants, along with whatever information there may be about how many people lived/died because/despite of their application).

And what's wrong with being consigned to history? That's where scientific knowledge tends to end up, after all.