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Comment author: JackV 09 August 2012 11:41:07AM 0 points [-]

FWIW, this is one of my favourite articles. I can't say how much it would help everyone -- I think I read it when I was just at the right point to think about procrastination seriously. But I found the analytical breakdown into components incredibly helpful way to think about it (and I love the sniper rifle joke).

Comment author: JackV 10 October 2014 10:53:30AM 1 point [-]

And a couple of years later, I've not adopted this full-time, but I keep coming back to it and making incremental improvements.

Comment author: JackV 15 September 2014 04:40:06PM 3 points [-]

This resonated with me instantly, thank you!

I now remember, I used to do something similar if I needed to make decisions, even minor decisions, when drunk. I'd say, "what would I think of this decision sober"? If the answer was "it was silly" or "I'd want to do it but be embarrassed" I'd go ahead and do it. But if the answer was "Eek, obviously unsafe", I'd assume my sober self was right and I was currently overconfident.

Comment author: JackV 02 July 2014 02:38:53PM 1 point [-]

For what it's worth, I quibbled with this at the time, but now I find it an incredibly useful concept. I still wish it had a more transparent name -- we always call it "the worst argument in the world", and can't remember "noncentral fallacy", but it's been really useful to have a name for it at all.

Comment author: JackV 07 March 2014 11:24:16AM 3 points [-]

I think this is a useful idea, although I'm not sure how useful this particular example is. FWIW, I definitely remember this from revising maths proofs -- each proof had some number of non-obvious steps, and you needed to remember those. Sometimes there was just one, and once you had the first line right, even if there was a lot of work to do afterwards, it was always "simplifying in the obvious way", so the rest of proof was basically "work it out, don't memorise it". Other proofs had LOTS of non-obvious ideas and were a lot harder to remember even if they were short.

Comment author: Kaj_Sotala 09 January 2014 08:12:18AM 46 points [-]

Furthermore, I imagine that this can backfire reaaaly hard: if you manage to develop a strong revulsion for unproductive activities but still can't force yourself to stop browsing reddit (or whatever your vice) then you run a big risk of hitting a willpower-draining death spiral.

That's basically what happened to me: I taught myself to feel guilty whenever I was relaxing and not working, but just the fact that I was feeling guilty about not-working didn't make me any more motivated to actually work. So I would repeatedly get into situations where absolutely nothing felt like worth doing, so I accomplished basically nothing and felt miserable for the whole day. Cue an extended burnout that took me several years to properly recover from.

Oddly, it feels like one key part of my recovery has been to train myself to feel as unguilty as possible about any recreational activity. That way, if I really need a break I can take one, but if I'm on a break I can also honestly ask myself whether my break has gone on long enough and whether I'd want to resume doing something more productive now. Though I'm sure if that's quite right either - it's more like I'm more able to trust that my motivation to do something relaxing will naturally fade after a while, to be replaced with a motivation to be productive again, without me necessarily even needing to watch myself. And of course, since I don't need to actively watch myself, the relaxation may happen faster since I can focus on it more fully. (Of course, sometimes it does take longer, and the key is to be completely fine with that possibility, too.)

The main mechanism here seems to be that guilt not only blocks the relaxation, it also creates negative associations around the productive things - the productivity becomes that nasty uncomfortable reason why you don't get to do fun things, and you flinch away from even thinking about the productive tasks, since thinking about them makes you feel more guilty about not already doing them. Which in turn blocks you from developing a natural motivation to do them.

So if someone did go by this mindhacking route, they should be very careful to avoid developing guilt. The guest who had developed a dislike for fritos didn't dislike them because eating them made her feel guilty: she disliked them because she had started noticing features in them that she felt were repulsive. Also, I suspect that "actively pay attention to the features in productive tasks that are desirable" is just as important an component as noticing the displeasing things in non-productive tasks. If we assume the opportunity cost model of willpower, then your motivation to do something is proportional to the difference in estimated value between that thing and the second most highly ranked thing, implying that increasing the perceived value of the productive things can be even more efficient than decreasing the value of other things. (Guilt in this model would act as a negative modifier to the values.)

Also closely related posts: Pain and gain motivation, It's okay to be (at least a little) irrational.

Comment author: JackV 09 January 2014 05:11:17PM 1 point [-]

FWIW I think of activities that cost time like activities that cost money: I decide how much money/time I want to spend on leisure, and then insist I spend that much, hopefully choosing the best way possible. But I don't know if that would help other people.

Comment author: BlueSun 02 December 2013 03:16:14PM 18 points [-]

The "known knowns" quote got made fun of a lot, but I think it's really good out of context:

"There are known knowns; there are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns; that is to say, there are things that we now know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns – there are things we do not know we don't know."

Also, every time I think of that I try to picture the elusive category of "unknown knowns" but I can't ever think of an example.

Comment author: JackV 02 December 2013 04:14:39PM 19 points [-]

I guess "unknown knowns" are the counterpoint to "unknown unknowns" -- things it never occurred to you to consider, but didn't. Eg. "We completely failed to consider the possibility that the economy would mutate into a continent-sized piano-devouring shrimp, and it turned out we were right to ignore that."

Comment author: Alicorn 01 December 2013 01:25:27AM 5 points [-]

Did he have a reason for this policy?

Comment author: JackV 02 December 2013 12:06:48PM 1 point [-]

FWIW, I always struggle to embrace it when I change my mind ("Yay, I'm less wrong!")

But I admit, I find it hard, "advocating a new point of view" is a lot easier than "admitting I was wrong about a previous point of view", so maybe striving to do #1 whether or not you've done #2 would help change my mind in response to new information a lot quicker?

Comment author: JackV 02 December 2013 11:59:56AM 13 points [-]


When he studied which psychological studies were replicatable, and had to choose whether to disbelieve some he'd previously based a lot of work on, Brian Nosek said:

I choose the red pill. That's what doing science is.

(via ciphergoth on twitter)

Comment author: satt 01 December 2013 11:27:45PM 25 points [-]

Visit with your predecessors from previous Administrations. They know the ropes and can help you see around some corners. Try to make original mistakes, rather than needlessly repeating theirs.

Donald Rumsfeld

Comment author: JackV 02 December 2013 11:51:43AM 9 points [-]

I don't like a lot of things he did, but that's the second very good advice I've heard from Rumsfeld. Maybe I need to start respecting his competence more.

Comment author: JackV 24 November 2013 10:03:38AM 6 points [-]

Do we make suggestions here or wait for another post?

A few friends are Anglo-Catholic (ie. members of the Church of England or equivalent, not Roman Catholic, but catholic, I believe similar to Episcopalian in USA?), and not sure if they counted as "Catholic", "Protestant" or "Other". It might be good to tweak the names slightly to cover that case. (I can ask for preferred options if it helps.)

https://fbcdn-sphotos-f-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-prn2/1453250_492554064192905_1417321927_n.jpg http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anglo-Catholicism

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