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Comment author: buybuydandavis 03 May 2015 11:34:27PM 0 points [-]

Also, who thinks LW is highly moderated?

I don't. Is there all sorts of moderation going on that I'm not aware of?

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 04 May 2015 11:51:44AM *  2 points [-]

There are about 30 accounts banned during the whole history of LW.

Most of them are spammers, who created their accounts, posted one or ten spam comments, subsequently had their accounts banned and comments removed. (The comments of the banned users have to be removed separately; banning the user merely disallows them to log in again.)

For curious people, the spam does not seem related to LW context. There were spam accounts promoting:

  • iPhones,
  • wedding rings,
  • silver earrings,
  • silver necklaces,
  • a Korean casino,
  • astrological service,
  • a computer games website,
  • jackets, caps, and handbags,
  • fake passports and driving licenses,
  • a collection of links without description that I didn't click,
  • some generic text ("I like this website, thank you, also look at my website") followed by a link that I didn't click

The number of non-spam users banned is less than one per year.

In addition to banning users, moderators can also remove individual comments. I don't have a good statistics for this. But I suppose that if this ability would be abused, the users would complain in their other comments.

Comment author: DeVliegendeHollander 20 April 2015 11:15:10AM 0 points [-]

The most hilarious version is - and I am guilty of doing it - when asked "what is your biggest fault?" answering like "sometimes I am too perfectionist and cannot leave good enough alone" or something similarly ridiculously servant-like ass-kissing. I think it goes back to many programmers being low status marginalized nerds all through from childhood to college, and the chance of a REAL JOB with real respect is something they may feel very grateful for.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 04 May 2015 11:29:08AM 0 points [-]

Reminds me of a joke:

(at a job interview)
Q: "What is your biggest fault?"
A: "Sincerity."
Q: "Well, I don't think that sincerity is a fault."
A: "Well, I don't give a fuck about what you think."

Comment author: DeVliegendeHollander 20 April 2015 10:00:50AM 1 point [-]

Have you ever thought about this: one of the core aspects of specifically human social intelligence as opposed to other species is to read emotions from each others faces, and humans have more facial muscles to express these emotions than other species, yet, an "alpha male" will usually have an expressionless, stony face? And men who have expressive facial mimics (Rob Schneider, maybe Steven Buscemi etc.) come accross as kind of submissive? So one of the most core human characteristics is not used by the highest status folks?

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 04 May 2015 11:26:31AM 0 points [-]

Uhm, countersignalling? "I am so powerful that I do not need this ability."

Specifically: "I am so powerful that I do not need the abilities that make cooperation easier; others obey me anyway."

Comment author: Elo 08 April 2015 10:35:37PM 1 point [-]

Did you at least talk about interesting things?

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 13 April 2015 06:50:47AM 3 points [-]

Depending on the day. But most of the time, yes. As a chatting club, we were rather okay. As a rationalist group... not so much.

Comment author: DeVliegendeHollander 03 April 2015 07:40:05AM 0 points [-]

The eternal conflict between exploration and exploitation.

I vaguely remember having read one article about this, but was not aware it is a big topic. Got linx?

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 03 April 2015 11:37:40AM 1 point [-]

I didn't have any specific article in mind. It is just a topic that I am aware of in my life. For example, I love learning new things, but instead of using them I often just jump to learning another thing. Which seemed like widening my options, until a few years later I realized that I keep forgetting the old things and that I actually never used most of them. Thus learning is an enjoyable hobby for me, but to make it useful, I have to go beyond mere learning.

There is such thing as "learning too much", or more precisely, being so obsessed by learning that you never actually use what you learned. (The problem is not much knowledge per se, but zero application of that knowledge beyond mere signalling.) And this is a mistake that probably many smart people do, and you can get a lof of applause for promoting it as the most noble way of life. On the other hand, as Steve Jobs alegedly said: "Real artists ship."

Of course there is also the opposite mistake of doing some stuff every day for years, and never taking time to learn how to do it better. But among educated people this is considered a low-status mistake, while learning many useless things is a high-status mistake.

Comment author: DeVliegendeHollander 02 April 2015 07:50:20AM *  1 point [-]

Here is an interesting thing. EY often warns people not try long chains of reasoning as probability drops with every step, or don't try to think too far ahead. But things like choosing a career or partner are precise those things where you cannot just think one or two steps ahead i.e. where you can predict with some reasonably high probabilty, you have to think far ahead while you know you don't really have much a chance predicting how things will work out.

This is one of the cases where I think Taleb's anti-fragility shines, it is hard to filter out the good stuff from all the overly brilliant showing-off from his books but this is the good stuff part. That the idea is not so much to plan ahead but to make the kinds of choices that are resilient or even gain from surprises that you did not foresee at all.

ESR calls it maximizing the breadth of your option tree as in, not choosing narrow paths. Choosing so that in the future you have many choices, many options available. So when the unforeseen, unpredicted happens, you have many options to deal with it. This is probably what anti-fragility is. Basically avoiding commitment to a narrow path as long as possible.

But alas, this also have huge drawbacks! Avoing commitment to narrow paths can often mean languishing in lukewarm tepidity, as highly achieving people have always chose narrow paths and worked their butts off to go ahead on them as narrow paths concentrate the effort more. And avoiding commitment is means you are a generalist and if you want to live in a city, that sucks, cities, high pop densites want specialists. Usually. And having options can very well be a bad thing, psychologically, paradox of choice, akrasia and all that. I know a guy who never rented his apartments, always bought them on mortage and the idea being that he does not have the willpower to save up voluntarily, but if he is committed to paying a mortgage then he will do it, and that builds equity better than voluntary saving, and it pushes him to get better jobs and negotiate harder. Precommitment.

So maximizing future options is both a very good and very bad idea.

l habits that give you a multiplier on what you were already doing, such as using space repetiton or pomodoros, avoiding planning fallacy or other biases

This always confuses me. Are most people entrepreneurs here or what? I don't need better time management because I don't have enough tasks to fill out my workday and if I could I wouldn't as it would not result in a raise or promotion as they are generally not visible ones. I don't need to memorize anything, I can just look things up as I need them. I speak two foreign languages (English is foreign to me) and I never memorized words, I just read books with dictionaries until it sticked. The planning fallacy happens to people who plan aggressively, but why the hell would people want to do that, really, why do Silicon Valley programmers do that, why is their environment so competitive or why is mine not? I just make a comfortable guess and multiply it by three to six, based on how many other tasks there seem to be or how my holiday planning looks like. Works all the time. You don't need complicated planning if your planning is already lazy as fsck. Why do I see most methods here are all about avoiding being cocksure while I rarely had that problem because being undecided about everything was far more comfy and lazy? I feel like somehow the methods are optimized for a very competitive, confident, driven, accomplishment-oriented approach. Probably it requires that you feel that you get rewarded for things you do. This was always missing for me, in my life experience in what you and what you get is really loosely related. Or a goal-rich, target-rich environment.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 02 April 2015 12:24:04PM 0 points [-]

The eternal conflict between exploration and exploitation. Keeping your options is what keeps the good options within your reach, and prevents you from going too far in the blind alleys. But at the end, if you have walked through the whole shop and didn't buy anything, you leave empty-handed. At some point you gotta have a job (or other source of income) and people are going to pay you for something specific.

I think this is even more complicated when people are not explicitly aware of the skills they really have. They may feel like they don't specialize in anything, when in fact they do. For example I have a friend working in IT whose programming skills are not very impressive: he can do simple things in many systems, but is not very good at math, cannot write complicated algorithms, and is not really nerdy enough to spend evenings obsessing over some technical details. Yet somehow his career was at least as successful as mine. Because what he lacked in programming skills, he compensated by great communication and leadership skills. But he didn't realize this was his real strong point; he identified with being a programmer, because that's what most of his friends were. It took him a few years to fully realize that he is more fit for a role of a manager or consultant in an IT company, and that instead of trying to learn yet another programming language (he somehow believed that his lack of mathematical skills could be fixed by finding the "right" programming language; which is a delusion many bad programmers and IT managers seem to share), he should rather find a position where he gets paid explicitly for doing what he is good at. This more or less doubled his salary, and he is no longer worried about not sufficiently understanding some abstract things his nerdy friends debate about. -- So he actually was a specialist all the time, but in a skill he didn't think about as essential for his job.

Are most people entrepreneurs here or what?

I think entrepreneurs are a minority here, but still a larger fraction that in the general population. Also other types of people need motivation and efficiency while working relatively alone, for example PhD students.

I don't need better time management because I don't have enough tasks to fill out my workday and if I could I wouldn't as it would not result in a raise or promotion as they are generally not visible ones.

Do you have any goals outside of your work where being more productive could help you reach them better? My promotion options are also rather limited (and as far as they exist, this website seems more relevant than LW). But I also have other goals, where productivity helps. I am doing the productivity stuff for myself, not for my boss.

The planning fallacy happens to people who plan aggressively, but why the hell would people want to do that ... I just make a comfortable guess and multiply it by three to six

I most frequently think about planning fallacy when correcting the estimates of my colleagues at work. For example, last week: We had to do 3 critical things, each of them requiring the same resources for at least 1 day. So my colleague immediately sends an e-mail to the customer promising that it will be done in 3 days. Which in reality means 2.5 days, because then we have to travel to the customer, fill the paperwork, install the stuff, and hope that nothing goes wrong. And it assumes there will be no non-trivial bugs in a project that wasn't maintained for a month, doesn't have a proper documentation, and two programers who worked on it, including the previous team leader, have left the company during that month. And my colleague just doesn't care: she sends the promise to the customer, puts my e-mail in the copy, and the problem is "solved". She doesn't even tell me; if I would miss the e-mail, she would only tell me on the third day. So me and a few helpful coworkers voluntarily stayed at work for 12 hours a day, fix a few horrible bugs, completed the stuff in 3.5 days (that included waiting half day until a broken server was fixed), delivered the result to the customer... and the next day I am invited to the CEO where my colleague blames me for failing the customer and for "making her look stupid". (And the only thing that saved my ass was completely unrelated to my skills or work, it was a random office-politics advice from internet that I decided to test experimentally at work a few days ago, and luckily it worked.) -- Uhm, okay, this is not really about planning fallacy, but about a completely fucked up system. But planning fallacy apears here all the time. Pretty much all deadlines we have ever made were unrealistic, and all of them were done like this: "don't think about details, just make a very simplified model, imagine the best-case scenario for that model, and write it down as the official estimate".

I feel like somehow the methods are optimized for a very competitive, confident, driven, accomplishment-oriented approach. Probably it requires that you feel that you get rewarded for things you do. This was always missing for me, in my life experience in what you and what you get is really loosely related.

Heh, my work experience also suggests that what I do and what I get is loosely related, and I think this years-long experience also has contributed to my laziness. (It is hard to get motivated when your uncosciousness insists that what you do it completely unrelated to the outcome, and it is hard to make yourself think otherwise when you have a ton of experimental evidence supporting that.) But I think the life outside of the work doesn't have to be like this. If I decide to make a computer game in my free time, it is up to me. I do have a computer and a development environment, I know programming, I do have a few hours of free time every week... and it is my choice how to use them.

Comment author: MathiasZaman 02 April 2015 09:49:54AM 6 points [-]

The biggest change, I think, is that I no longer feel alone. Not in the sense of not having anyone in my life, but rather that I now know people who think in roughly the same way I do about roughly the same things I do. To put it in jargon, I have, for the first time, an in-group, a tribe. This is not an effect you should underestimate.

I have also changed my life in some ways and my outlook on the world has grown more realistic, I think. I think about things differently and am more willing to make trade-offs rather than just be paralyzed with indecision. I'm more attentive to opportunities (in all areas of life) and I'm more willing to go for those opportunities.

The most specific change I can point to is that I use my free time a lot better. Used to be that I just sat around playing videogames I didn't really enjoy in full. I can now notice when that is happening and stop doing it, which is a huge improvement on several levels. (Sometimes I then start playing a game I'll probably enjoy a lot more or continue learning to program Python or work on my math skills in Khan Academy.)

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 02 April 2015 11:07:35AM 2 points [-]

Almost the same for me (just replace Python with Android or Unity, and "playing videogames I don't really enjoy" with "reading websites I don't really enjoy").

Comment author: DeVliegendeHollander 01 April 2015 09:32:11AM 8 points [-]

Less than a month in I guess, but not drinking booze (drank for 20 years) and more vigorous in my training. I was always an atheist but I now understand better why.

I don't really understand when Scott Alexander writes new people expect superpowers. Are there any? Did anyone do anything really unusual with it? I don't really expect a huge change, because rationality is all about aiming the arrow better, but it does not change how strong you pull the bow or how many arrows you have in the quiver.

I am probably of the minority who does not read HPMOR. I just don't understand the point, why mix two incompatible worlds. Isn't rationalism obviously a better candidate for SF than F? Like Larry Niven's Neutron Star? Or that is precisely the point? I like my fantasy irrational and my sci-fi rational, it just feels like the proper way how things should be... I probably lack a certain sense of humor here.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 01 April 2015 09:20:31PM 0 points [-]

I don't really expect a huge change, because rationality is all about aiming the arrow better, but it does not change how strong you pull the bow or how many arrows you have in the quiver.

To continue in your metaphor, a small improvement in aiming can in some situations significantly increase the ratio of arrows that hits the target. Of course assuming that precision was the problem, instead of e.g. distance or lack of arrows. Returning from the metaphor, the benefits of (LW-style) rationality probably also depend on what kind of problems you solve, and what kind of irrational things you were doing before.

What would be the kind of situation where one gets a lot of quick gains from rationality? Seems like a situation where people have to make decisions which later have a big impact on the outcome. (Not the kind where the smart decision is merely 10% more effective than the usual decision; unless those 10% allow you to overcome some critical threshold.)

Decisions like choosing a school, a carreer, a life partner, whether to join a cult, or move to a different city, etc. Or possibly creating useful habits that give you a multiplier on what you were already doing, such as using space repetiton or pomodoros, avoiding planning fallacy or other biases, etc. -- Either doing a few good big changes, or developing reliable good habits. (Also, avoiding big bad changes, and getting rid of bad habits.)

Comment author: Epictetus 31 March 2015 07:52:57AM 1 point [-]

Status isn't an end in itself. There are benefits associated with status. Higher status has more benefits. On the other hand, it takes a lot of effort to increase one's status and the enterprise is fraught with uncertainty. Playing the status game has its own opportunity costs and trade-offs.

At the high end, one runs into the Sword of Damocles. Being king has its perks, but it is a high-risk, high-stress position. There's always someone gunning for your spot, lying in wait to pounce when you show weakness. It's not even certain that the benefits of the position are worth the risks involved and the high chance of failure when pursuing it.

It seems to me that most people are willing to settle for a certain status depending on how good the benefits are and the difficulties involved in getting there. Once settled, they'd be fine with improving their status if it can be done cheaply, but may not think it worth expending a lot of effort.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 31 March 2015 04:22:12PM 1 point [-]

it seems to me that most people are willing to settle for a certain status depending on how good the benefits are and the difficulties involved in getting there.

It is also my impression that people who "prefer being low status" are actually just afraid of possible punishment for claiming too much status.

Suggested experiment: Select a group of people who "prefer being low status" and let them interact with each other for a long period of time. Prediction: Some members of the group will gradually become more comfortable with acting high-status within the group.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 31 March 2015 04:09:38PM 3 points [-]

What do you suppose are the dominant positive outcomes of your meetups?

Meeting interesting people.

Unfortunately, at the meetups I've organized we didn't get further.

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