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Comment author: army1987 21 April 2014 08:08:28PM 0 points [-]

You are allowed to pick the good pieces and ignore the bad pieces, instead of buying or rejecting the whole package.

This is known as cafeteria Catholicism. (I had only heard that used as an insult, but apparently there are people who self-identify as such.)

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 22 April 2014 01:42:16PM 4 points [-]

It reminds me of Transactional Analysis saying the best way to keep people in mental traps is to provide them two scripts: "this is what you should do if you are a good person", but also "this is what you will do if you become a bad person (i.e. if you refuse the former script)". So even if you decide to rebel, you usually rebel in the prescribed way, because you were taught to only consider these two options as opposites... while in reality there are many other options available.

The real challenge is to avoid both the "good script" and the "bad script".

Comment author: brazil84 19 April 2014 05:56:55PM *  5 points [-]

People with borderline personality disorder generally lack "insight," i.e. they are typically unaware that they have BPD; will deny having it; and will get extremely defensive at the suggestion they have it.

One can contrast with, for example, obsessive/compulsive disorder sufferers who usually do have pretty good insight.

So a survey based on self-reporting is not going to be very helpful.

Anyway, I doubt that there are many people on this board with BPD. This is based on my interactions and observations.

Also, this discussion board doesn't seem like it would be very attractive to someone with BPD since it doesn't offer a steady stream of validation. For example, it's common on this board for other posters, even those who agree with you on a lot of stuff, to challenge, question, or downvote your posts. For someone with BPD, that would be pretty difficult to handle.

The main mental issue I sense on this board (possibly disproportionate to the general population) is Asperger's. There also seems to be a good deal of narcissism, though perhaps not to the point where it would qualify as a mental disorder.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 21 April 2014 12:25:15PM *  1 point [-]

So if a person with BPD would discover LW and decide they like the ideas, what would they most likely do?

My model says they would write a lot of comments on LW just to prove how much they love rationality, expecting a lot of love and admiration in return. At first they would express a lot of admiration towards people important in the rationalist community; they would try to make friends by open flattery (by giving what they want to get most). Later they would start suggesting how to do rationality even better (either writing a new sequence, or writing hundreds of comments repeating the same few key ideas), trying to make themselves another important person, possibly the most important one. But they would obviously keep missing the point. After the first negative reactions they would backpedal and claim to be misunderstood. Later they would accuse some people of persecuting them. After seeing that the community does not reward this strategy, they would accuse the whole LW of persecution, and try to split apart their own rationalist subcommunity centered around them.

Comment author: ErinFlight 19 April 2014 11:08:58PM 14 points [-]

Last week, after a lot of thought and help from LessWrong, I finally stopped believing in god and dropped my last remnants of Catholicism. It is turned out to be a huge relief, though coping with some of the consequences and realizations that come with atheism has been a little difficult.

Do any of you have any tips you noticed about yourself or others after just leaving religion? I've noticed a few small habits I need to get rid of, but I am worried I'm missing larger, more important ones.

Are there any particular posts I should skip ahead and read? I am currently at the beginning of reductionism. Are their any beliefs you've noticed ex-catholics holding that they don't realize are obviously part of their religion? I do not have any one immediately around me I can ask, so I am very grateful for any input. Thank you!

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 21 April 2014 12:02:35PM *  4 points [-]

What others already said: Don't try to reverse stupidity by avoiding everything conected to Catholicism. You are allowed to pick the good pieces and ignore the bad pieces, instead of buying or rejecting the whole package. Catholics also took some good parts from other traditions; which by the way means you don't even have to credit them for inventing the good pieces you decide to take.

If you talk with other religious people, they will probably try the following trick on you: Give you a huge book saying that it actually answers all your questions, and that you should at least read this one book and consider it seriously before you abandon religion completely. Of course if you read the whole book and it doesn't convince you, they will give you another huge book. And another. And another. The whole strategy is to surround you by religion memes (even more strongly than most religious people are), hoping that sooner or later something will "trigger" your religious feelings. And no matter how many books you read, if at some moment you refuse to read yet another book, you will be accused of leaving the religion only because of your ignorance and stubbornness, because this one specific book certainly did contain all answers to your questions and perfectly convincing counterarguments to your arguments, you just refused to even look at it. This game you cannot win: there is no "I have honestly considered all your arguments and found them unconvincing" exit node; the only options given to you are either to give up, or to do something that will allow your opponents to blame you of being willfully ignorant. (So you might as well do the "ignorant" thing now, and save yourself a lot of time.)

Don't try to convince other people, at least not during the first months after deconversion. First, you need to sort out things for yourself (you don't have a convincing success story yet). Second, by the law of reciprocation, if the other people were willing to listen to your explanations, this in turn gives them the moral right to give you a huge book of religious arguments and ask you to read it, which leads to the game described above.

Basicly, realize that you have a right to spend most of your time without thinking about Catholicism, either positively or negatively. That is what most atheists really do. If you were born on another planet, where religion wasn't invented, you wouldn't spend your time arguing against religion. Instead, you would just do what you want to do. So do it now.

Comment author: Lumifer 18 April 2014 02:00:19AM *  1 point [-]

So maybe he just meant that in some situations the "objectively right" action is to lie to voters, without actually recommending that politicians go out and do it

I'm confused. So would he recommend that the politicians do the "objectively wrong" thing?

All of that looks a lot like incoherence, unwillingness to accept the implications of stated beliefs, and general handwaving.

The fact that most people would botch applying a theory does not show that the theory is wrong.

So the problem is that the politicians can't lie well enough?? X-D

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 18 April 2014 02:43:19PM 1 point [-]

So the problem is that the politicians can't lie well enough??

Actually... yes.

More precisely, I would expect politicians to be good at lying for the goal of getting more personal power, because that's what the evolution has optimized humans for; and the politicians are here the experts among humans.

But I expect all humans, including politicians, to fail at maximizing utility when defined otherwise.

Comment author: Lumifer 18 April 2014 02:00:19AM *  1 point [-]

So maybe he just meant that in some situations the "objectively right" action is to lie to voters, without actually recommending that politicians go out and do it

I'm confused. So would he recommend that the politicians do the "objectively wrong" thing?

All of that looks a lot like incoherence, unwillingness to accept the implications of stated beliefs, and general handwaving.

The fact that most people would botch applying a theory does not show that the theory is wrong.

So the problem is that the politicians can't lie well enough?? X-D

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 18 April 2014 02:26:21PM *  1 point [-]

So would he recommend that the politicians do the "objectively wrong" thing?

For a wrong outcome B, you can usually imagine even worse outcome C.

In a situation with perfect information, it is better to choose a right outcome A instead of a wrong outcome B. But in a situation with an imperfect information, choosing B may be preferable to having A with some small probability p, and C with probability 1-p.

The lesson about the ethical injuctions seems to me that we should be aware that in some political contexts the value of p is extremely low, and yet because of obvious evolutionary pressures, we have a bias to believe that p is actually very large. Therefore we should recognize such situations with a large p (because that's how it feels from inside), realize the bias, and apply a sufficiently strong correction, which usually means to stop.

Comment author: Lumifer 17 April 2014 04:48:54PM 1 point [-]

Dilbert workplaces are contagious and so very common.

I have a working hypothesis that it is, to a large degree, a function of size. Pretty much all huge companies are Dilbertian, very few tiny one are. It's more complicated than just that because in large companies people often manage to create small semi-isolated islands or enclaves with culture different from the surroundings, but I think the general rule that the concentration of PHBs is correlated with the company size holds.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 18 April 2014 12:20:43PM 2 points [-]

I worked mostly for small companies, and Dilbert resonates with me strongly.

It probably depends on power differences and communication taboos, which in turn correlate with the company size. In a large company, having a power structure is almost unaviodable; but you can also have a dictator making stupid decisions in a small company.

Comment author: ChristianKl 16 April 2014 12:04:33PM 4 points [-]

According to the Wikipedia article: "People with BPD feel emotions more easily, more deeply and for longer than others do."

To me that doesn't seem like the LW crowd, what would make you think that there's an overrepresentation?

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 17 April 2014 10:45:22AM *  7 points [-]

Because it's a group of people who are excited for years about a rule for calculating conditional probability?

Yeah, I'm not serious here, but I will use this to illustrate the problem with self-diagnosis based on a description. Without hard facts, or without being aware how exactly the distibution in the population looks like, it's like reading a horoscope.

Do I feel emotions? Uhm, yes. Easily? Uhm, sometimes. More deeply than others? Uhm, depends. For longer than others? I don't have good data, so, uhm, maybe. OMG, I'm a total psycho!!!

Comment author: shminux 16 April 2014 04:51:27PM 8 points [-]

From personal observations

"Do your job and do it well"

most emphatically does not top the list. Certainly you have to do an adequate job, but your success in a corporate environment depends on your interpersonal skills more than on anything else. You depend on other people to get noticed and promoted, so you need to be good at playing the game. If you haven't taken a Dale Carnegie course or similar, do so. Toastmasters are useful, too. In general, learning to project a bit more status and competence than you think you merit likely means that people would go along with it.

Just to give an example, I have seen a few competent but unexceptional engineers become CEOs and CTOs over a few short years in a growing company, while other, better engineers never advanced beyond a team lead, if that.

If you are an above average engineer/programmer etc. but not a natural at playing politics, consider exploring your own projects. If you haven't read Patrick McKenzie's blog about it, do so. On the other hand, if striking out on your own is not your dream, and you already have enough drive, social skills and charisma to get noticed, you are not likely to benefit from whatever people on this site can tell you.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 17 April 2014 10:36:03AM *  7 points [-]

Perhaps we could be more specific about the social / political skills. I am probably not good at these skills, but here are a few things I have noticed:

Some of your colleagues have a connection between them unrelated to the work, usually preceding it. (Former classmates. Relatives; not necessarily having the same surname. Dating each other. Dating the other person's family member. Members of the same religious group. Etc.) This can be a strong emotional bond which may override their judgement of the other person's competence. So for example, if one of them is your superior, and the other is your incompetent colleague you have to cooperate with, that's a dangerous situation, and you may not even be aware of it. -- I wish I knew the recommended solution. My approach is to pay attention to company gossip, and to be careful around people who are clearly incompetent and yet not fired. And then I try to take roles where I don't need their outputs as inputs for my work (which can be difficult, because incompetent people are very likely to be in positions where they don't deliver the final product, as if either they or the company were aware of the situation on some level).

If someone complains about everything, that is a red flag; this person probably causes the problems, or at least contributes to them. On the other hand, if someone says everything is great and seems like they mean it, that's possibly also a red flag; it could be a person whose mistakes have to be fixed by someone else (e.g. because of the reasons mentioned in the previous paragraph), and that someone else could become you.

Extra red flag is a person who makes a lot of decisions and yet refuses to provide any of them in a written form. (Here, "written form" includes a company e-mail, or generally anything that you could later show to a third party. For example in the case when the person insists on something really stupid, things get horribly wrong, and then suddenly the person says it was actually your idea.) -- One nice trick is to send them an e-mail containing the decisions they gave you, and say something like "here is the summary of our meeting; please confirm if it's correct, or please correct me if I'm not".

Sometimes a person becomes an informational bottleneck between two parts of the company. That could happen naturally, or could be a strategy on their part. In such case, try to find some informal parallel channels to the other part of the graph. Do it especially if you are discouraged by the given person from doing so. For example, if they say the other part is stupid and blames them for all troubles of your part. (Guess what: He is probably telling them the same thing about your part. So now he is the only person the whole company trusts to fight for their best interests against the other stupid part.)

Okay, this was all the dark side. From the light side, being nice to people and having small talk with them is generally useful. Remember facts about them, make notes if necessary (not in front of them). Make sure you connect with everyone at least once in a while, instead of staying within your small circle of comfort.

Comment author: Vaniver 14 January 2014 04:54:08PM 6 points [-]

These days, I ignore recommendations about new TV shows and books, preferring not even to learn the premises, thus dodging the temptation entirely.

This may only work if you have the values I do, but I've found that I now view "X show/book is so good" as being an anti-recommendation after reading Game of Thrones and Worm and starting to watch Breaking Bad. Generally, what people mean by "good" is "engaging," and "engaging" is orthogonal to what I want from the fiction I consume. If you combine "engaging" with "depressing" or "exasperating," that is enough to make it negative value for me.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 15 April 2014 10:26:04PM 3 points [-]

This made me realize I don't really have to finish reading Worms.

Thanks, I guess I owe you a few dozen hours of my life.

Comment author: Froolow 14 April 2014 03:22:04PM 10 points [-]

In the particular case of the first problem there may be a shortcut that is worthwhile exploring. As I see it, your problem is that you would like to know how much leisure time to allocate to improve your productiveness (including the possibility of zero leisure time). The ‘improving of productiveness’ is the important goal to you, not the philosophical distinctions regarding the optimal work/life balance. Since productivity is something approximately measurable, you yourself can optimise over this domain.

With that in mind, you can perform an experiment on yourself. Start by allocating an amount of leisure time you think is excessive, but not wildly so. You want to pick a number that means you will be completely relaxed when you attempt to perform productive work, such that your productivity is ‘100%’ (however you want to define that). When I was at university I needed between one and two hours a day, now I work a full-time job I need closer to three. I’d suggest based on my experience alone that two hours a day would be a good starting point. Force yourself to have this much leisure (but to optimise substantially, train yourself that activities like exercise, cooking and meditation are pleasurable). If you find yourself worrying about not benefitting the future, think to yourself, “I am currently engaged in an experiment on myself, the results of which could make me substantially more productive for the rest of my life. It is highly unlikely that the insights of a marginal two hours’ work will benefit the future more than the insights from this experiment.”

After the end of your first week of this, reflect on whether you think you could reduce the number of leisure hours you spent and maintain your productivity. In particular, you should reflect on whether you can achieve the same level of fun in a shorter space of time, or whether you can decrease your marginal fun without decreasing your productivity. For example, would a ten minute break each hour be more refreshing than a two-hour game of Civ? Reduce your leisure hours by a small fraction of their total value; maybe schedule ten minutes less leisure next week. Repeat. It is important you don’t decrease fun too quickly or too sharply; you need to have a slow-ish period of optimising your fun.

Eventually, you will come to the point where you cannot possibly decrease fun without cutting into productivity. Here you want to make the decreases in your scheduled leisure time much shorter, and try to track more closely the impact they have on your productivity, such that you can identify the point where a marginal minute would be better spent resting than working. Remember that productivity isn’t simply the ability to churn out mediocre code with few errors, but the possibility to have a ‘brainwave’ and capitalise on it. After all, Friendly AI only needs to be solved once! Personally, I think I would happily take an extra half-hour out of my day if it meant I could guarantee I would be working perfectly productively for the rest of that day, but if your cost (in time) is high for a marginal unit of productivity you might differ.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 15 April 2014 10:13:36PM *  0 points [-]

Determining the amount of fun time in advance seems like a good idea in itself.

This reminds me of how I have to set an alarm clock during meditation. If I don't... I will spend most of the time thinking "should I already stop, or should I continue?", which defeats the whole purpose of meditation. I suppose the same kind of worry can also spoil fun. So just set up an alarm... and until it rings, feel completely relaxed about not being productive.

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