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Comment author: bbleeker 16 January 2017 10:22:18AM *  3 points [-]

It also made me think of the inner ring by C.S. Lewis, especially this part:

“If you go that way you can be somebody. You will have to make compromises and you will have to turn your back on your friends. But you will be a member of the club and you will get promoted and you will get good assignments.

EDIT: fixed typo.

Comment author: RomeoStevens 17 January 2017 07:26:18AM 1 point [-]

Thank you for linking this, and one of his core points is worth thinking about: that most such inner rings do not have any worthwhile thing being used as its proxy measure for centrality. That academia manages to maintain any semblance of meritocracy at all given the incentives around it is a surprise and blessing.

Comment author: RomeoStevens 09 January 2017 11:10:45PM *  1 point [-]

I have a fairly compact handle that I like which is 'does the group encourage you to replace your internal compass with theirs or to sharpen your own?'

caveat for not being able to tell the difference due to more subtle considerations in some cases, but this screens off most of the harm.

Comment author: RomeoStevens 08 January 2017 05:38:16AM *  0 points [-]

Generating an exo-brain/conceptverse for myself helped me level up by seeing the upstream skills that underlie many subskills more clearly and then practice them, which is much more efficient than practicing lots of highly specific skills. I would advise against feeling like they need to hang together coherently. Trying to generate such a 'perfect system' seems to mostly be a waste of time as your ontology/knowledge representation schemes will change a lot as you improve your mind.

Here's one instantiation of such that I still use sometimes: http://conceptspace.wikia.com/wiki/List_of_Lists_of_Concepts

Comment author: DavidRV 31 December 2016 08:34:35PM 0 points [-]

Would you mind giving an example or two of how you've done deliberate practice? I always have trouble finding ways to exercise mental skills when I'm not being forced to use them.

Comment author: RomeoStevens 31 December 2016 09:58:39PM *  0 points [-]

At first I set a 2 minute timer, chose one particular type of frame and just noted each mental event that matched. So Mental imagery was just noting "image" each time I caught a mental image. Sometimes they are much too fast or changing as you try to catch them, that's fine. There was no sense of rushing to keep up or worry if one didn't arise for awhile (though that sometimes seemed to warrant noting as "blank image"). I increased slowly to 5 minutes and did the other types of frames. After some comfort was built I tried multiple types at once, "image", "talk", "image", "feeling" etc. just noting as they arose. I did this for 1 month.

I used various habit type loading things to maintain the habit for a month, then practiced it more sporadically since then. The benefits seem to be permanent.

Comment author: RomeoStevens 28 December 2016 10:53:27PM 0 points [-]

I don't think exploration neglect comes from just too little explicit optimization for it. It is a skill and also has some prerequisites. Open/closed mode feels very analogous: https://vimeo.com/89936101

In response to Your inner Google
Comment author: RomeoStevens 24 December 2016 06:59:12AM 0 points [-]

Ahhh! Finally I have a good analogy for negative capability! You are learning to browse the first page of results dispassionately.

Comment author: MrMind 23 December 2016 10:38:21AM 2 points [-]

I have tried stack tracing my own brain on things like ugh fields and they mostly come out of procedural uncertainty. On the other hand, cravings have so far resisted any attempt at deconstruction.
Does anyone have a sharper inner view?

Comment author: RomeoStevens 23 December 2016 07:12:29PM *  1 point [-]

The second taxonomy along with dropping of the intention to fix is what worked well on cravings for me. I told myself that this is a long term project and so the need to alter cravings could come later, I just wanted to see the process clearly. The most obvious were cravings for certain foods, where the event was a mental image along with some sort of echo of the taste/texture followed immediately by associations of where the closest place I could obtain it are.

Comment author: malcolmocean 23 December 2016 05:36:21AM 2 points [-]

"A few minutes a day for 3 weeks caused a noticeable effect that has endured."

As in you set the intention to catch this sort of thing, and then that ended up happening a few minutes each day?

Or you spent several minutes each day deliberately practising it somehow?

Comment author: RomeoStevens 23 December 2016 06:16:06AM *  2 points [-]

Deliberate practice. Though there were some free flow through spontaneous ones after the first week or two.

Comment author: cousin_it 21 December 2016 01:23:16PM *  0 points [-]

I'd be very curious to hear any creativity tips that have worked for LWers in any fields (writing, drawing, music, etc.)

Comment author: RomeoStevens 23 December 2016 02:46:07AM 0 points [-]

This has hugely impacted my whole life https://vimeo.com/89936101

Triaging mental phenomena or: leveling up the stack trace skill

13 RomeoStevens 23 December 2016 12:15AM

Related: The 5-Second LevelAttention control is critical for increasing/altering motivation

Epistemic Status: sharing a hypothesis that's slowly been coalescing since a discussion with Eliezer at EAG and got catalyzed by Anna's latest LW post along with an exercise I have been using. n=1

Mental phenomena (and thus rationality skills) can't be trained without a feedback loop that causes calibration in the relevant direction. One of my guesses for a valuable thing Eliezer did was habitual stack traces causing a leveling up of stack trace resolution i.e. seeing more fine grain detail in mental phenomena. This is related to 'catching flinches' as Anna describes, as an example of a particularly useful phenomena to be able to catch. In general, you can't tune black boxes, you need to be able to see individual steps.

How can you level up the stack trace skill? Triaging your unwillingness to do things, and we'll start with your unwillingness to practice the stack trace skill! I like 'triage' more than 'classify' because it imports some connotations about scope sensitivity.

In order to triage we need a taxonomy. Developing/hacking/modding your own is what ultimately works best, but you can use prebuilt ones as training wheels. Here are two possible taxonomies:

Note whether it is experienced as

  • Distracting Desire
  • Aversion
  • Laziness
  • Agitation/Annoyance
  • Ambiguity/Doubt

Note whether it is experienced as 

  • Mental talk
  • Mental images
  • Sensations in the body

Form the intention to practice the stack trace skill and then try to classify at least one thing that happens. If you feel good when you get a 'hit' you will be more likely to catch additional events.

You can try this on anything. The desire for an unhealthy snack, the unwillingness to email someone etc. Note that the exercise isn't about forcing yourself to do things you don't want to do. You just want to see more clearly your own objections to doing it. If you do it more, you'll start to notice that you can catch more 'frames' or multiple phenomena at the same time or in a row e.g. I am experiencing ambiguity as the mental talk "I'm not sure how to do that" and as a slightly slimy/sliding away sensation followed by aversion to feeling the slimy feeling and an arising distracting desire to check my email. Distinguishing between actual sensations in the body and things that only seem like they could maybe be described as sensations is mostly a distraction and not all that important initially.

These are just examples and finding nice tags in your own mentalese makes the thing run smoother. You can also use this as fuel for focusing for particularly interesting frames you catch e.g. when you catch a limiting belief. It's also interesting to notice instances of the 'to-be' verb form in mental talk as this is the source of a variety of map-territory distinction errors.

There is a specific failure worth mentioning: coming up with a story. If you ask yourself questions like "Why did I think that?" your brain is great at coming up with plausible sounding stories that are often bullshit. This is why, when practicing the skill, you have to prime the intention to catch specific things beforehand. Once the skill has been built up you can use it on arbitrary thoughts and have a sense for the difference between 'story' and actual frame catching.

If other people try this I'm curious for feedback. My experience so far has been that increasing the resolution on stack traces has made the practice of every other mental technique dramatically easier because the feedback loops are all tighter. Especially relevant to repairing a failed TAP. How much practice was involved? A few minutes a day for 3 weeks caused a noticeable effect that has endured. My models, plans, and execution fail less often. When they do I have a much better chance of catching the real culprit.

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