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Comment author: fiddlemath 30 December 2014 05:50:43PM 4 points [-]

I've been collecting other analogues of open mode vs. closed mode. I have a strong suspicion that they're all facets of the same underlying mental stance.

  • In brainstorming, generating vs. filtering seem to be open and closed, respectively.
  • In writing, drafting vs. editing.
  • The believing game vs. the doubting game.
  • In social settings, vulnerability vs. filtered interaction
  • In improv acting, "yes and" vs. rejecting ideas

And maybe even relaxed vs. tensed muscles, though this seems more tenuous to me. On the other hand, dancing in closed mode is just kind of embarrassing, while dancing in open mode is really fun.

This keeps coming up in creative and performance settings, and they often need reinforcement and extra explanation. The analogue of open mode makes new ideas more possible, and the analogue of closed mode makes checking ideas more possible. Both are generally valuable, but they seem to interfere with each other. (For instance, in brainstorming, it's always tempting to generate and critically assess ideas at the same time, but it just doesn't work!)

Newbies at almost anything are tempted to stay in the closed mode, because they're afraid that they're going to mess up somehow; but only in open mode are you likely to make new mistakes to learn from. Improvisation is nearly impossible in closed mode.

In all of these cases, I find the analogue of open mode to be much more fun, though often hard to maintain.

In response to Mistakes repository
Comment author: zslastman 09 September 2013 09:28:46AM *  15 points [-]

Not stepping back and thinking strategically about where to go and why before beginning a PhD program.

Because of a deteriorating relationship and problems in my current lab, I felt completely overwhelmed by the prospect of choosing a PhD. I was being told by my superiors that I had loads of potential and therefore had to get into the most prestigious institute possible. I therefore copped out of the difficult task of doing a PhD and essentially allowed my supervisor (who I knew was incompetent) to choose one for me. I never asked myself if I really wanted to do the research I was being pushed towards, if labwork was a rational choice for someone with my skillsets, or, more importantly, if I wanted to do a PhD at all.

Imagine my embarrassment when I start reading lesswrong and discover that stories like this about grad school are a stock example of irrational behavior...

Comment author: fiddlemath 27 November 2014 04:53:51PM 1 point [-]

I also second this mistake.

Comment author: fiddlemath 04 December 2013 06:50:22PM 16 points [-]

Census'd! And upvoted! But an upvote isn't really quite strong enough to demonstrate my appreciation for this work. Thank you.

Comment author: Vaniver 16 September 2013 01:27:25PM 4 points [-]

Some of the professors I encountered felt like celebrities because I had happened to read one of their papers once. Of course, this didn't help me at all when it came to introductory courses where most of the material was memorization, but now that I'm taking upper level courses dealing with primary source material it's finally beginning to pay off. But even now, those introductory courses are leeching my GPA, and are going to effect my graduate admissions process.

Admission to graduate school is easy to hack, especially if you know the people in the field. Decide now on a short list of people you'd like to be your advisor, and talk to your professors about them. Work your way up to emailing / calling them, but an introduction from a professor that likes you will go far. If a professor says "I want Ishaan to be my graduate student," you will be admitted.

Comment author: fiddlemath 17 September 2013 07:59:23AM 4 points [-]

Seconded. This seemed outrageous and unthinkable to me before I was in grad school; now that I've been to grad school, I recognize it as obviously true.

Work your way up to emailing / calling them, but an introduction from a professor that likes you will go far.

Well-known professors get cold-emailed pretty frequently by prospective students, and are largely ignored. An introduction from a professor that likes you, in a related field of study, will get you pretty far.

Of course, you won't get those introductions without having a professor that likes you; the easiest way to get a professor to like you is to demonstrate interest, and start to build expertise, in the field you want to do work in. Start reading papers, ask your professors questions about research, or just pointers to relevant research. If you want to do math or CS or theoretical X, make serious attempts at solving interesting problems. If you're in a lab science, ask to help with relevant experiments at your university.

I did not do these things when I was an undergrad. Doing them would have made a serious difference; I've seen that difference in grad students since then. If you seriously want to do graduate research, this stuff is at least as important as your grades. It's good practice and good signaling.

Comment author: [deleted] 14 September 2013 11:07:42PM 1 point [-]

while still supporting the idea of "be a

A misformatted link at the end of that?

In response to comment by [deleted] on Games for Rationalists
Comment author: fiddlemath 16 September 2013 05:48:03AM 0 points [-]

Nope, just terrible editing. :j Thanks.

Comment author: Error 12 September 2013 09:22:10PM *  1 point [-]

I've wanted to try Zendo since hearing about it here on LW. Is there anywhere it can be played online? The obvious Google searches are failing me.

I like the idea of the players working together, too.

[ETA: A much simpler game that's good rationality training might be Clue. Drawing correct inferences on incomplete information gets surprisingly important if you're playing with reasonably good players, and it seems to me the skill should generalize.]

Comment author: fiddlemath 14 September 2013 12:25:23AM *  1 point [-]

I'd actually argue that Zendo is simpler than Clue, just less familiar. Specifically, the gameplay mechanics themselves are about as simple as they can be, while still supporting the idea of "be a game of induction".

Is there anywhere it can be played online?

Actually, forums work out pretty well, and chat rooms (IRC, say) work excellently... because you can just use a family of text strings as koan space, instead of physical configurations. It's lacks some visual and tactile satisfaction, but it works online and is free. (Examples: on lw, on Board Game Geek, on the DROD forums.)

Comment author: fiddlemath 12 September 2013 06:29:50AM *  5 points [-]

Zendo is often described as "Science: The Game." (More discussion here)

Lots of biases come up. You quickly learn to avoid positive bias if you play this often. You start to deal with confirmation bias and illusory correlation and neglect of sample size. Almost any bias that affects hypothesis generation and testing affects how well you play Zendo, and you can run through single rounds in as little as 10 or 15 minutes. I cannot recommend it enough.

If you're serious about using it for didactic purposes, have players work together, collaborating aloud. This way, you can cover some of the social biases, and have a clearer record of what people were thinking and when they thought it. (If you're really serious, record the play session, and show insight-generating clips as you go. When you play as the master, you get to see these all the time.)

Comment author: fiddlemath 10 September 2013 03:18:01AM *  1 point [-]

Problem lacks specification: ought we assume that Omega also predicted TNL's number? Or was that random both to me, Omega-past, and TNL? Omega predicting correctly in 99.9% of previous cases doesn't determine this.

(eta: Ah, was answered on the Facebook thread; Omega predicted the lottery number. Hm.)

Comment author: fiddlemath 07 September 2013 09:30:12AM *  0 points [-]

Yes, one should vigorously enact risky, positive-expectation plans. I think that's clear to this audience.

How do you vigorously enact risky plans while acknowledging their uncertainty? This is psychologically much more difficult.

Things described around LW as productivity hacks will help. But the feeling of optimism and the acknowledgement of a risk are different things. I experience optimism as pleasant, motivating, and an aid to focus. It'd be awesome to feel optimistic about positive-EV risky plans, in general. Do you know ways to do this?

Comment author: fiddlemath 09 July 2013 04:59:38AM *  17 points [-]

It struck me last night that, if you really wanted to get good predictions on what will happen in the rest of the story, you can just reread the whole thing, look for any potential plot devices that haven't already been triggered in some central way, and figure out how those things might be used. There's not a lot of story left; Eliezer said this arc, a couple of intermediate chapters, and one final plot arc.

I haven't got the time to do this myself, but it seems doable. If you want to really solve everything, set up a collaborative spreadsheet or something, and start hacking away. :)

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