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Comment author: pvs 28 March 2017 03:49:21PM 3 points [-]

Hello, I'm a math-cs undergrad and aspiring effective altruist, but I haven't chosen a cause yet. Since that decision is probably one of the most important ones, I should probably wait until I've become stronger.

To that end, I've read the Sequences (as well as HPMOR), and I would like to attend a CFAR workshop or similar at some point in the future. I think one of my problems is that I don't actually think that much about what I read. Do you have any advice on that?

Also, there are a couple of LWers in my college with whom I have met twice, and we would like to start organising meetups regularly. Would you please give me some karma so that I can add new meetups? (I promise I will make up for it with good contributions)

Thanks!

Comment author: Grothor 29 March 2017 04:12:17AM 1 point [-]

I think one of my problems is that I don't actually think that much about what I read.

Do you mean that you don't put much thought into deciding what to read, or that when you read something you don't reflect on it?

Comment author: PhilGoetz 10 February 2017 10:21:47PM 2 points [-]

That's a good point--if a type of question on an IQ test shows variability from year to year, do psychologists say it's a bad type of question and remove it from the test?

Comment author: Grothor 12 February 2017 04:06:35PM 0 points [-]

They do, but there are also efforts to develop tests that measure other important aspects of cognition, which have an important bearing on things like how well you can function in society and how much of a risk you are to other people (these tests are, more or less, measuring what the rationality community might refer to as rationality). See, for example, What Intelligence Tests Miss: The Psychology of Rational Thought by Keith Stanovich.

Comment author: Sandi 08 February 2017 10:15:13PM 0 points [-]

I'm not 100% clear as to where the non-ambitious posts should go, so I will write my question here.

Do you know of a practical way of finding intellectual friends, so as to have challenging/interesting conversations more often? Not only is the social aspect of friendship in general invaluable (of course I wouldn't be asking here if that was the sole reason), but I assume talking about the topics I care and think about will force me to flesh them out and keep me closer to Truth, and is a great source of novelty. So, from a purely practical standpoint (although I don't deny other motives), I want to improve this part of my life.

Sporadic discourse with my normal friends often pops up in unsuitable conditions and with underequipped participants. Meeting the right type of person in real life takes a huge sample and social skills. Focused forums, like this one, contain the right type of people and are very useful, but lacking in one-to-one personal and casual conversation (neither method is superior, I'd prefer a mix of both to the current imbalance).

Fun fact about me (or a thinly vailed plea for a diagnosis): Often when I'm bothered by a problem or simply bored, my mind will conjure vivid conversations with one of my friends and have us argue this problem. I never actually aim for it to happen, it's as spontaneous as normal thinking. I have no proof, but I'd say those imaginary conversations are more productive, because my imaginary listeners will disagree or misunderstand me, raising important points or faults in my reasoning. Whereas with normal thinking, I agree with myself the wast majority of time.

Comment author: Grothor 09 February 2017 02:18:07AM 0 points [-]

(Also, the place to ask this sort of question might be the current Open Thread: http://lesswrong.com/r/discussion/lw/ol5/open_thread_feb_06_feb_12_2017/)

Comment author: g_pepper 08 February 2017 11:30:21PM 1 point [-]

Do you know of a practical way of finding intellectual friends, so as to have challenging/interesting conversations more often?

Depending on where you are in your life and education, you could consider enrolling in graduate school. I found that I tended to have intellectual conversations with my fellow students and professors in graduate school. Plus you will have at least one common interest with your fellow students - whatever subject you are studying in school.

Grad school is too big of a commitment just to find intellectual friends. But, if you have an interest in grad school to advance your education or career, then meeting intellectual friends is an added benefit.

Finally, even if you are working and do not wish to go back to school full time, many universities offer a master's program that you can enroll in on a part-time basis. As a part-time student you will have less contact with your fellow students and therefore fewer chances to make friends, etc., but this can be overcome with a little effort to socialize, attend events, host small dinner parties, etc.

Fun fact about me (or a thinly vailed plea for a diagnosis): Often when I'm bothered by a problem or simply bored, my mind will conjure vivid conversations with one of my friends and have us argue this problem.

I do this too. I don't think that it is abnormal - I agree with you that it can be a useful way to think through issues. I once worked with a more senior engineer who was also a personal friend and mentor. But, his job was demanding and he was always quite busy. So, when I needed his help to solve some problem, I would think about what sorts of questions he would ask, so that I could be prepared to answer them - basically, I would play out the (probable) conversation in my head ahead of time to avoid wasting his time. More often than not, this process would yield the answer to the problem, and I would end up not having to bother him at all.

Comment author: Grothor 09 February 2017 02:16:34AM 1 point [-]

I do this too. I don't think that it is abnormal

Same here. I find that simulating other people's reaction to my arguments, mistakes, or work that I've done is helpful. When I want to find logical errors in my arguments, I imagine explaining them to someone with a strong background in philosophy. When something isn't working well in the lab, I imagine explaining the situation to someone with experience, and if I feel embarrassed or like they're about to offer a super obvious solution, it usually means I've made some silly mistake. Also, getting back to Sandi's question, some of the most helpful people for me to simulate are people that I met through the LessWrong meetup in Austin.

you could consider enrolling in graduate school

My classmates in grad school are often, but not always, a good source of more productive intellectual conversations. There is still sometimes an issue of differences in the style of thinking that people appreciate, or the kinds of topics they're interested in. And, of course, just because someone has had enough success in graduate school to stick around and be a friend for a few years doesn't mean they don't succumb to a variety of biases that can make it harder to have the kinds of conversations you're seeking.

Comment author: Thomas 06 February 2017 09:22:33PM *  0 points [-]

Your first idea should be elaborated. But it is quite sound.

Your second idea is wrong. Above geostationary orbit and not moving relative to the Earth surface, means an escape orbit.

Still, I would prefer a non - atmosphere solution. But yes, your first idea is also good albeit a little undeveloped.

Comment author: Grothor 06 February 2017 09:44:49PM 0 points [-]

It's not an escape orbit, it's just a more eccentric orbit (unless it is much higher). Still, you are correct that my second solution will not work (see my second edit).

I started solving the trajectory for an exponentially decaying air density and a drag force that scales linearly with density and quadratically with velocity, but I did not immediately see the solution to the resulting differential equation, nor did I see a clever trick for avoiding the calculation. I'll look at it again later.

Comment author: Thomas 06 February 2017 08:59:35AM 0 points [-]
Comment author: Grothor 06 February 2017 09:07:57PM *  1 point [-]

Air density drops with increasing altitude. The object dropped from a higher altitude reaches a higher speed before reaching the denser air where object B is dropped. I'm not sure if a realistic density profile will allow object A to arrive first, but it is easy to show that there is some air density profile which will cause this to happen. I suspect that a necessary condition is that object A is already above the terminal velocity at object B's initial height when it reaches that height.

Or, if you interpret "free fall without any initial relative velocity against the planet" to say that it is stationary with respect to both the Earth's center of mass and the Earth's surface, then drop B from a geostationary orbit, and A from a higher position, where it will have insufficient angular velocity to be in orbit. It will fall to Earth, while B's orbit will decay.

Edit: It is permitted to assume that they are dropped over the equator, since the problem says "Central Atlantic".

Edit 2: Wait, I did this wrong. If object A has a rotational velocity of 1/day, and it is at an altitude higher than a geostationary orbit, it will be in some larger more eccentric orbit, so it won't fall to Earth any sooner than object B.

Comment author: Grothor 06 February 2017 06:24:46PM 1 point [-]

I recently had a dream in which an unspecified organization was anticipating trouble from an unspecified group of people. One member of the organization remarked that, should things get bad, they had seven gay 400 lb game theorists that could be called in on a moment's notice.

What sort of problem is solved by the deployment of unusually heavy game theorists? Does it matter that they are gay? What kind of organization would have such resources at its disposal?

Comment author: CellBioGuy 03 February 2017 06:23:37AM *  3 points [-]

People like to think of their brains as some kind of separate regulating thing compared to the rest of their bodies. They're not. Everything is mushed together in a common mileu and the sheer degree of crosstalk between your nervous system and everything else is enormous, through both the general chemical environment and fibers that have nothing to do with the consciously available senses.

Humans did not evolve sitting around writing theses. They evolved spending energy in an active way, possibly with wide variation from day to day. It is completely unsurprising to me that there is an amount of energy use that makes one feel clearer and more productive compared to the sedentary graduate student, and that that can vary from person to person and over time in the same person as their physiological state adapts and changes.

Comment author: Grothor 04 February 2017 05:22:48PM *  1 point [-]

It is completely unsurprising to me that there is an amount of energy use that makes one feel clearer and more productive compared to the sedentary graduate student, and that that can vary from person to person and over time in the same person as their physiological state adapts and changes.

I don't think that anybody here is surprised by this. What's surprising is not that there is an amount of exercise that is required for me to feel alert and productive, it's that the relationship between my mood and my exercise seems to follow a single, simple, specific rule. You explain the reasons why this should be surprising in your first paragraph. To illustrate why this seems surprisingly simple, here is a list of things that seem not to affect my productivity, holding total work constant:

-Heart rate

-Duration

-Time of day

-Eating before or during the ride*

-How fatigued I am from the day before**

-Average Power

-Normalized power

-My functional threshold power at the time (a measure of fitness)

-"Training Stress Score"

The last three of these are metrics that are part of a physiological model. The model is somewhat simplistic, given the complexity of humans that you have mentioned, but the metrics have proven to be useful for athletic training (anyone who is interested in a more detailed description, which is still written for the layman, should check out Training and Racing with a Power Meter by Coggan and Allen). More to the point, there's no particular reason (that I can see) to expect total work to win out over any of the other things on this list.

But I do notice two things, having actually written down this list. First, each of these does seem to have a small non-zero effect. As I already mentioned, doing a little more than 1000kJ over a longer duration does seem to be okay, and my FTP does seem to shift my ideal amount of work a bit. Second, these are tightly coupled to each other. You can boil duration, average power, total work, normalized power, TSS, and FTP down to four variables, one of which is total work, and another of which will usually be 90% determined by total work. Furthermore, fatigue and how much I eat will have an effect on how much of a work I'm able or willing to do on a given day. This all means that it would be very easy to mistake a more complex relationship between some or all of these factors and my mood/cognition as a simple one, especially a simple rule that is bent slightly by external factors. I feel like this eliminates much of the confusion for me (the lesson here being that when I'm confused, I should stop, write down my confusion, and stare at it). However, it does not offer a strategy for venturing too far from the 900kJ rule without consequence.

Comment author: Grothor 02 February 2017 07:57:58PM 1 point [-]

When this sum hit the mainstream interwebz a while back, we had some discussion about it in the physics department where I work. The consensus was that it was misrepresented as a spooky non-intuitive fact about adding numbers, when really it's closer to a particular notation for assigning a finite value to a diverging sum that happens to be useful in physics*. Some of us were annoyed, because it feels like it's reinforcing this idea that math is impossibly opaque, a notion that we have to deal with on a regular basis when trying to teach physics to undergraduates.

Also, FWIW, I don't recall seeing this presented in my QFT class, but then again, I only took one semester.

*I think you're actually characterizing a it a little differently and a little more precisely, as a way of actually evaluating the sum, while subtracting off a term of order infinity, in a way that allows for certain kinds of manipulations that happen to be useful in physics.

Comment author: VincentYu 02 February 2017 11:12:16AM 1 point [-]

That's some neat data and observation! Could there be other substantial moderating differences between the days when you generate ~900 kJ and the days when you don't? (E.g., does your mental state before you ride affect how much energy you generate? This could suggest a different causal relationship.) If there are, maybe some of these effects can be removed if you independently randomize the energy you generate each time you ride, so that you don't get to choose how much you ride.

To make this a single-blinded experiment, just wear a blindfold; to double blind, add a high-beam lamp to your bike; and to triple blind, equip and direct high beams both front and rear.

… okay, there will be no blinding.

Comment author: Grothor 02 February 2017 04:17:49PM 2 points [-]

Could there be other substantial moderating differences between the days when you generate ~900 kJ and the days when you don't? (E.g., does your mental state before you ride affect how much energy you generate?

This could be the case, or there could be a common cause between the total work I do and my mood for the day. What makes me think this is less likely is that, when I'm following a training plan, the total work for the ride is largely determined days or weeks ahead of time. Then again, I will modify the day's workout on a training plan if I'm feeling shitty. Or it could just be that I noticed the pattern once when it happened by chance, then I expected it to continue, so it did (that is, it's more of a placebo than anything else). Then again, it wouldn't be hard for small effects like this to add up to the observed effect.

I actually did think about blinding it. I could modify some existing software to give me an intensity or duration that I don't know ahead of time, and that I don't have in front of me while I'm riding, and I could even not look at what it was until days or weeks later when I'm analyzing the results (or I could get even more hardcore and have someone else analyze it). The problem is that most of the motivation mechanisms I have for actually doing a worthwhile ride indoors require me to have access to a lot of this data. It would sort of be like trying to stay motivated in a game where you have no access to your score or whether you've eliminated another player.

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