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

Comment author: patrissimo 09 September 2010 06:55:22PM 109 points [-]

I'm disappointed at how few of these comments, particularly the highly-voted ones, are about proposed solutions, or at least proposed areas for research. My general concern about the LW community is that it seems much more interested in the fun of debating and analyzing biases, rather than the boring repetitive trial-and-error of correcting them.

Anna's post lays out a particular piece of poor performance which is of core strategic value to pretty much everyone - how to identify and achieve your goals - and which, according to me and many people and authors, can be greatly improved through study and practice. So I'm very frustrated by all the comments about the fact that we're just barely intelligent and debates about the intelligence of the general person. It's like if Eliezer posted about the potential for AI to kill us all and people debated how they would choose to kill us instead of how to stop it from happening.

Sorry, folks, but compared to the self-help/self-development community, Less Wrong is currently UTTERLY LOSING at self-improvement and life optimization. Go spend an hour reading Merlin Mann's site and you'll learn way more instrumental rationality than you do here. Or take a GTD class, or read a top-rated time-management book on Amazon.

Talking about biases is fun, working on them is hard. Do Less Wrongers want to have fun, or become super-powerful and take over (or at least save) the world? So far, as far as I can tell, LW is much worse than the Quantified Self & time/attention-management communities (Merlin Mann, Zen Habits, GTD) at practical self-improvement. Which is why I don't read it very often. When it becomes a rationality dojo instead of a club for people who like to geek out about biases, I'm in.

Comment author: FatTonyStarks 09 September 2010 09:53:05PM 43 points [-]

I've disappointed in LessWrong too, and it's caused me to come here more and more infrequently. I'm even talking about the lurking. I used to come here every other day, then every week, then it dropped to once a month. This

I get the impression many people either didn't give a shit or despaired about their own ability to function better through any reasonable effort that they dismissed everything that came along. It used to make me really mad, or sad. Probably I took it a little too personally too, because I read a lot of EY's classic posts as inspiration not to fucking despair about what seemed like a permanently ruined future. "tsuyoku naritai" and "isshou kenmei" and "do the impossible" and all that said, look, people out there are working on much harder problems--there's probably a way up and out for you too. The sadness: I wanted other people to get at least that, and the anger--a lot of LessWrongers not seeming to get the point.

On the other hand, I'm pleased with our OvercomingBias/LessWrong meetup group in NYC. I think we do a good job in-person helping other members with practical solutions to problems--how we can all become really successful. Maybe it's because a lot of our members have integrated ideas from QS, Paleo, and CrossFit, Seth Roberts, and PJ Eby. We've counseled members on employment opportunities, how to deal with crushing student and consumer debts, how to make money, and nutrition. By now we all tend to look down on the kind of despairing analysis that's frequently upvoted on here LW. We talk about FAI sparingly these days, unless someone has a particular insight we think would be valuable. Instead, the sentiment is more, "Shit, none of us can do much about it directly. How 'bout we all get freaking rich and successful first!"

I suspect the empathy formed from face to face contact can be a really great motivator. You hear someone's story from their own mouth and think, "Shit man, you're cool, but you're in bad shape right now. Can we all figure out how to help you out?" Little by little people relate, even the successful ones--we've all been there in small ways. This eventually moves towards, "Can we we think about how to help all of us out?" It's not about delivering a nice tight set of paragraphs with appropriate references and terminology. When we see each other again, we care that our proposed solutions and ideas are going somewhere because we care about the people. All the EvPsych speculation and calibration admonitions can go to hell if doesn't fucking help. But if it does, use it, use it to help people, use it to help yourself, use it to help the future light cone of the human world.

Yet if we're intentional about it I think we can keep it real here too. We can give a shit. Okay, maybe I don't know that. Maybe it takes looking for and rewarding the useful insights and then coming back later and talking about how the insights were useful. Maybe it takes getting a little more personal. Maybe I and my suggestions are full of shit but, hell, I want to figure this out. I used to talk about LessWrong with pride and urge people to come check it out because the posts were great, the commenters /comment scheme is great, it was a shining example of what the rest of the intellectually discursive interwebs could be like. And, man, I'd like it to be that way again.

So damn, what do y'all think?