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Comment author: JohnReese 27 December 2016 02:10:38AM 2 points [-]

Hmm. Sounds like Open Monitoring (meditation) would have this as a side-benefit. Hypothesis: increasing non-judgmental awareness would lead to increased self-regulatory capacity. Perhaps consistent practice of any discipline that improves awareness would have a spillover effect?

Comment author: Benquo 09 December 2016 06:36:39PM *  1 point [-]

That makes a lot of sense - I have a lot of unfinished drafts, but I think my "morning pages" workspace is just my brain. I often find myself rehearsing little speeches about various topics, refining them, saying stuff in my head and then assessing whether it's right. This isn't something I talk about a lot, or something that would have occurred to me as relevant when advising someone who's trying to get better at writing, but I effectively get huge amounts of practice "writing" that people who don't do this don't get.

I suspect this is a big source of variation from person to person in writing/communication ability, that "morning pages" is sort of a hack for. If you don't automatically verbalize a bunch of your thoughts before they're ready to share, making time to do so (e.g. "morning pages") can help close the practice gap.

(A friend has reported an analogous "superpower" where they tend to automatically imagine future scenarios such as how an interpersonal interaction might go, which lets them rapidly iterate on plans using "inner simulator" before taking the comparatively expensive step of trying one out in practice. (ETA: The commonality here is that we both have mental processes that seem to automatically, effortlessly, as background processes, precalculate a lot of stuff in ways that just doesn't happen for other people unless they make a deliberate effort. This leads to other people seeming inexplicably bad at a thing, when the truth is we just unknowingly put a lot more work into it.))

My recommendation is that once you get past the idle verbalization (if you're me) or morning pages stage, making clearer more specific claims is something that you can also do in private until you're ready to do it in public.

In response to comment by Benquo on Be secretly wrong
Comment author: JohnReese 09 December 2016 07:01:44PM *  1 point [-]

"(A friend has reported an analogous "superpower" where they tend to automatically imagine future scenarios such as how an interpersonal interaction might go, which lets them rapidly iterate on plans using "inner simulator" before taking the comparatively expensive step of trying one out in practice.)"

Hmm...I tend to do this too, and assumed it was a common cognitive ability. Getting accurate sims of the future is nontrivial and hard though...a problem that gets worse if one starts extending the simulation temporally. I agree this is a good idea generally speaking...but there is a tradeoff here...every sim needs data to constrain future versions and for model refinement, so I suspect there would be situational constraints on how many such iterations one can run internally. After all, paralysis by analysis is a thing.

Comment author: James_Miller 03 December 2016 06:21:08AM 2 points [-]

The key to deciding if we need a leader is to look at historically similar situations and see if they benefited from having a leader. Given that we would very much like to influence government policy, Peter Thiel strikes me as the best possible choice if he would accept. I read somewhere that when Julius Caesar was going to attack Rome several Senators approached Pompey the Great, handed him a sword, and said "save Rome." I seriously think we should try something like this with Thiel.

Comment author: JohnReese 06 December 2016 07:52:32PM *  2 points [-]

If I remember correctly, history records Caesar as having been relentlessly successful in that campaign?

Comment author: JohnReese 29 November 2016 12:50:32AM 2 points [-]

I tend to find joy upon *spotting puppy dogs out and about * befriending said puppy dogs albeit briefly * digging into fries and mayonnaise after weeks of healthy food * seeing an elderly couple walk hand in hand (yes, I can be sentimental) *completing every singe good workout *consuming good tea. Always.

Comment author: arunbharatula 10 November 2016 06:54:19AM 1 point [-]

Can you recommend any mindset manuals?

Comment author: JohnReese 10 November 2016 08:23:21PM 0 points [-]

Sure. For mindfulness based approaches anything by Jon Kabat-Zinn should be helpful...I recommend "Full Catastrophe Living". There are some useful hacks in other popular books but I am not keen on recommending stuff that may not live up to the hype. Reading up on the affirmations literature might also help. It is a tool used both in the everyday sense, as well as in hypnotherapy etc. Hope this helps.

Comment author: btrettel 09 November 2016 06:17:18PM *  -2 points [-]

I would have liked to, but they rejected my application. (Edit: I imagine I'm getting downvoted because I mentioned this. Note that this is not complaining. I tend to view application processes as close to lotteries, so I don't take this personally.)

The topics of the conference interest me greatly. Right now I'm planning on hosting some futurist related discussions through the Austin LessWrong group while coordinating with a local futurist group.

If you will attend and have the opportunity, I'd be interested in seeing a summary of your experiences at the conference.

Comment author: JohnReese 10 November 2016 12:28:04AM 0 points [-]

Hiya!, Oh ok. Sorry to hear that. I will be attending - yes. That's a great idea, let me post a summary of what it was like and what I learnt from it in Dec. Thanks for the suggestion. All the best with your futurist group. Any themes you find interesting in particular?

Comment author: JohnReese 08 November 2016 09:41:53PM 2 points [-]

Any LWers attending Envision 2016?

Comment author: JohnReese 08 November 2016 01:58:47AM 3 points [-]

Hiya! I am currently a postdoc in the neurosciences, with a computational focus. Dealing with the uncertainties and vicissitudes attendant upon one still plodding on along the path to "nowhere close to tenure-track". My core research interests include decision making, self-control/self-regulation, goal-directed behaviour, RL in the brain etc. I am quite interested in AI research, especially FAI and while I am aware of the broad picture on AI risk, I would describe myself as an optimist. On the social side of things, I am interested in understanding why people believe the things they do (in so far that I am not trying to figure this out as I dangle from the tree...) and my approach has always been one of asking open-ended questions to refine my model of "where someone is coming from" and this helps me have civil discussions with people whose views would be incompatible with mine. I am truly glad that civil discourse and collective truth-seeking are community norms here...one of my biggest pet peeves is that this is what "science'' should be about, as an enterprise, but in modern academia, one seldom feels as though one is part of such a community. Those who disagree, or have had much better times in academia are welcome to disagree. When I am not thinking about computational models, AI, ethics, or whatnot, I pretend to hoard crumpets, drink lots of tea and coffee and make trips to and from the DC Universe (the one that existed prior to Flashpoint). I discovered Scott Aaronson's fantastic blog a year ago, and this was followed by trips to SSC - and this is how I found LW. Love all 3 and now glad to join LW.

Oh, for some reason I am unable to see the button for voting on posts/comments...is there a Karma threshold to be crossed before one can vote?

Comment author: Sable 07 November 2016 10:25:39PM 0 points [-]

Welcome to lesswrong, and thanks for the advice. I'll take a look at what you suggested.

Comment author: JohnReese 08 November 2016 12:45:26AM 1 point [-]

Greetings. Thanks :) Hope at least some of it is useful!!

Comment author: JohnReese 07 November 2016 02:40:32AM *  8 points [-]

Greetings**, As someone who was once described as a self-control fetishist by a somewhat hedonistic friend of mine, I can report from experience on personal strategies. As someone whose doctoral work involved attempting to build a connectionist model of self-control, I would probably be inclined to highlight a couple of things from the literature. Let me try both. 1. The psychology literature on self-control/willpower would suggest that regardless of whether the "limited resource" model of Baumeister and colleagues holds up in the long run, there are some things one could do to strengthen and replenish "willpower". I have not examined this work in relation to the current replication controversy within the behavioural sciences, but I have encountered it in a few different contexts and attempted to theorise about it, so would like to include it here. http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/psp/96/4/770/

The basic idea appears to be that affirming core values or principles with the self as referent, would "boost" self-control. Of course, this is supposed to counteract depletion within a certain window, but not when the "self-control" system is pushed to fatigue. Another interesting context I have noticed it pop up is in military psychology and manuals for mindset training, where soldiers are given "affirmations" which typically include the military branch's code, a set of declarative , affirmative statements about membership and values associated with it etc, and this is prescribed as a means of combating fatigue in situations where focus and cognitive control are required (I need to re-read the source but if interested, check out work by Loren Christensen, Michael Asken et al.). My old modelling work (still unpublished...working on it) would have stuff to say and I would be happy to talk about it if that is ok and anyone is interested.

Now, from personal experience...I went through several years of extreme adventures in self-control... and self-denial. As a long-term meditator, some of it was part of the training. One could perform a little test. Perhaps try to eat a single crisp and put the bag back in the container. The body would naturally not like this as crisps tend to be tasty, and one would want more. Observing the wanting can help contain it. Similarly, observing the depletion of will can help in the sense that one can disengage from the task at hand and allow it to re-calibrate to functional levels. Otherwise, if ongoing control cannot be abandoned for any stretch of time, performing centering exercises taught to meditators, LEOs etc can help.

Exercise 1 - close your eyes, breathe deeply, and as you relax, try to detect and follow 4-5 different sounds in your environment. Do this for a couple of minutes. Exercise 2 - close your eyes, and detect different sensations you can feel...like your fingers on the keyboard, air circulation, how warm or cold the air in the room is, and keep at it for a couple of minutes. While not aimed at willpower as such, this should facilitate a relaxed alertness that would benefit the ongoing task.

Of course, these may not work for you..I'd be interested in finding out how it pans out if anyone wants to give it a shot. If they are already known, apologies for the redundant comment.

I also find that engaging in consistent practice of some sort, like say, a few proper repetitions of a Taijiquan form /day, is (anecdotally) correlated with having a higher degree of volitional control over decisions and willpower for cognitively challenging tasks. The practice does not have to be religious or involve chants or suchlike...I suspect it has more to do with relaxed alertness and positioning oneself at the edge of a "flow" attractor basin.

**I come in peace. New member. I do not know if the protocol is to publish a post introducing oneself. If such is the case, please let me know and I will do so. It is great to read the posts and discussions on LW and I am hoping to write some soon. Live Long and Prosper!

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