Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

Comment author: hg00 20 September 2016 05:49:55AM *  3 points [-]

Drugs are prescribed based on a cost-benefit analysis. In general, the medical establishment is pretty conservative (there's little benefit to the doctor if your problem gets solved, but if they hurt you they're liable to get sued). In the usual case for amphetamines, the cost is the risk of side effects and the benefit is helping someone manage their ADHD. For you, the cost is the same but it sounds like the benefit is much bigger. So even by the standards of the risk-averse medical establishment, this sounds like a risk you should take.

You're an entrepreneur. A successful entrepreneur thinks and acts for themselves. This could be a good opportunity to practice being less scrupulous. Paul Graham on what makes founders successful:

Naughtiness

Though the most successful founders are usually good people, they tend to have a piratical gleam in their eye. They're not Goody Two-Shoes type good. Morally, they care about getting the big questions right, but not about observing proprieties. That's why I'd use the word naughty rather than evil. They delight in breaking rules, but not rules that matter. This quality may be redundant though; it may be implied by imagination.

Sam Altman of Loopt is one of the most successful alumni, so we asked him what question we could put on the Y Combinator application that would help us discover more people like him. He said to ask about a time when they'd hacked something to their advantage—hacked in the sense of beating the system, not breaking into computers. It has become one of the questions we pay most attention to when judging applications.

I'd recommend avoiding Adderall as a first option. I've heard stories of people whose focus got worse over time as tolerance to the drug's effects developed.

Modafinil, on the other hand, is a focus wonder drug. It's widely used in the nootropics community and bad experiences are quite rare. (/r/nootropics admin: "I just want to remind everyone that this is a subreddit for discussing all nootropics, not just beating modafinil to death.")

The legal risks involved with Modafinil seem pretty low. Check out Gwern's discussion.

My conclusion is that buying some Modafinil and trying it once could be really valuable, if only for comfort zone expansion and value of information. I have very little doubt that this is the right choice for you. Check out Gwern's discussion of suppliers. (Lying to your doctor is another option if you really want to practice being naughty.)

Comment author: fr00t 22 September 2016 04:48:45PM *  0 points [-]

In general, the medical establishment is pretty conservative (there's little benefit to the doctor if your problem gets solved, but if they hurt you they're liable to get sued)

If they don't give me what I want after I say the correct sequence of words I won't be returning to them.

It's easy to find a doctor who will work with you.

Comment author: PeerInfinity 29 May 2011 11:22:01PM 4 points [-]

To me, it still feels Wrong to not feel bad when bad things are happening. Especially when bad things are happening to the people you know and interact with.

I suspect that the reason why it feels Wrong is because I would assume that if someone you know was in a really bad situation, and they saw you not feeling bad about it, they would assume that you don't care about them. I was assuming that "feeling bad when bad things happen to someone" is part of the definition of what it means to care about someone. And I'm naturally reluctant to choose to not care.

oops, I just realized... if the rule is "only have emotions about situations that were within my immediate control", and you know that the other person will feel upset if they don't see you feeling bad about their situation, then that counts as something that's within your immediate control... though something about this seems like it doesn't quite fit... it feels like I'm interpreting the rule to mean something other than what was intended...

Also, I'll admit that I have almost no idea how many people believe "if you aren't sad about my bad situation then that means you don't care about me", and how many people don't believe this. I'm still not sure if I believe this, but I think I'm leaning towards "no".

but if you happen to have the "gift" of "sadness asymbolia", then you can go ahead and show sadness about other people's bad situations, and not experience the negative affect of this sadness. And of course it also has all those other benefits that Will mentioned.

"fear asymbolia" also seems like it would be extremely helpful.

Something also feels Wrong about enjoying sadness. If you happen to enjoy sadness, then you need to be really careful not to deliberately cause harmful things to happen to yourself or others, just for the sake of experiencing the sadness.

and yet somehow "nonjudgemental acceptance" doesn't feel wrong... these mindfulness techniques seem like an entirely good idea.

Comment author: fr00t 01 June 2011 12:23:31AM *  3 points [-]

Something also feels Wrong about enjoying sadness. If you happen to enjoy sadness, then you need to be really careful not to deliberately cause harmful things to happen to yourself or others, just for the sake of experiencing the sadness.

When you deeply grok that you are not the world, I don't think it's likely that relishing emotional turbulence will encourage you to deliberately cause harmful things to happen.

What it may (hopefully) do is encourage you to be more curious and less risk-averse. Personally, I have found that I tend to slip into a sort of autopilot, where I stagnate, become emotionally numb, and lose effectiveness as a person. Unfortunately this also causes me to lose the impetus for introspection. In periods of clarity, I can easily see that emotion is a tool I should be using, but I've gotten so good at ignoring it, I feel trapped.

So this article was particularly relevant and helpful to me. I'm also interested in more specific strategies/affirmations/examples for reconciling emotion as a feedback mechanism rather than a source of anxiety to be swept under the rug.

Comment author: fr00t 15 February 2011 11:38:22PM *  2 points [-]

I would like to request a recommendation for a text that provides a comprehensive introduction to Lisp, preferably one with high readability.

Comment author: apophenia 08 February 2011 12:20:25PM 2 points [-]

There's lots of ways to keep track of expenses. I'd long been doing that in an excel spreadsheet.

Once you have them, you need to look at them in a cost-sensitive way. I don't see how writing down numbers accomplishes that.

Comment author: fr00t 10 February 2011 07:14:22PM *  2 points [-]

Surely some people can better apply intuition to regular numbers? I actually just tried this graphing method and it didn't do anything for me at all. I actually caught myself trying to divide the ratio of area back into numbers.

I've never needed more than a text document for working these things out... and only if there is more information than I can keep track of in my head. For example, if I'm considering purchasing a $100 pair of jeans I might weigh the value against, say, 13 ribeyes, or opportunity cost of 5 hours at work.

I also keep a loose running estimate of expenditures to ensure I have a surplus over any period longer than a few weeks.

Comment author: MartinB 08 February 2011 04:57:37PM 0 points [-]

I don't dare to cook anything that involves handling raw meat

This thread just confirms the benefits of being a vegetarian.

Comment author: fr00t 08 February 2011 08:37:09PM 2 points [-]

Pish posh. I have admittedly horrendous sanitary procedures, and though I handle and cook raw meat at least 4 times a week I've never once gotten sick.

Pork actually should have a little bit of rose inside; I only cook my chicken until this is just gone (or even faintly visible). I routinely eat steak rare as can be, and tuna essentially raw.

Comment author: Matt_Simpson 08 February 2011 04:50:46PM 4 points [-]

This article is supposed to be a life changer when it comes to shaving. I haven't tried all of the suggestions, but the ones I have tried have improved my shaving experience.

Comment author: fr00t 08 February 2011 08:22:10PM 1 point [-]

I second the recommendation to learn the art of wet shaving. If you're frugal about it you can make an initial investment of around $75 and have it amortized over a few years compared to cartridges.

The real benefit is that the shaves are much better, and more importantly, it has become an enjoyable ritual that starts my day off with a little class and luxury.

Comment author: ArisKatsaris 03 February 2011 06:29:05PM 1 point [-]

Bongo, you didn't understand my objection: In the classical Newcomb, Omega explains the rules to you when he appears, and there's one uncertain element (the contents of the opaque box). You determine the strategy, which by Omega's predictive power has already been entangled with the uncertain contents of the box.

In the transparent Newcomb, you either don't know the rules (so you can't precommit to anything, and you can't commit to any strategy in which Omega2 wouldn't require the opposite strategy) or you know the rules in advance and therefore you can determine the strategy, which by Omega's predictive power has already been entangled with the uncertain element of whether he'll appear to you, and with how much money in the boxes.

In the problem that's posed on this thread however, there's no uncertainty whatsoever. You exist and that's certain. The entanglement has been already resolved in favor of your existence. You don't need to satisfy your mom's expectations of you in order to keep on existing. You don't need to become a musician if your dad expected you to be a musician, You don't need to be a scientist if your mom expected you to be a scientist. In ANY universe where you get to decide a strategy, YOU EXIST. Or you wouldn't be deciding anything.

People hopefully do understand that instead of "Omega and Prometheus speak of their predictions" we can quite easily have "Your mom and dad tell you of their pre-birth expectations for you"

If anyone here honestly thinks that by failing their parents' expectations they'll stop existing, then they're literally insane. It's exactly the same as with them foiling Prometheus' expectations.

Comment author: fr00t 07 February 2011 10:50:23PM *  0 points [-]

This.

The only resolution for either scenario I can think of is that there is a very high chance that regardless of what you precommit to do here or otherwise, at the moment of decision, be compelled to choose to 1-box, or be unable to pull out.

But aside from that improbable outcome, these, along with transparent Newcomb, are nonsense; they're intractable. I can simply precommit to use the strategy that contradicts what Prometheus/Omega/Azathoth predicted, a la halting problem.

And because of the three, Azathoth is the one that most nearly exists, I am actually very likely to have children. An overwhelming majority of men actually do highly value sleeping with many women; the only reason this doesn't result in massive uncontrollable pregnancy is because Azathoth, being the slow thinker he is, hasn't had time to adjust for birth control. Plus I can't think of an outcome Azathoth would prefer to us creating AGI and proliferating across the universe.

Comment author: wstrinz 08 December 2010 04:14:08AM 9 points [-]

I've used the trolley problem a lot, at first to show off my knowledge of moral philosophy, but later, when I realized anyone who knows any philosophy has already heard it, to shock friends that think they have a perfect and internally consistent moral system worked out. But I add a twist, which I stole from an episode of Radiolab (which got it from the last episode of MASH), that I think makes it a lot more effective; say you're the mother of a baby in a village in Vietnam, and you're hiding with the rest of the village from the Viet Cong. Your baby starts to cry, and you know if it does they'll find you and kill the whole village. But, you could smother the baby (your baby!) and save everyone else. The size of the village can be adjusted up or down to hammer in the point. Crucially, I lie at first and say this is an actual historical event that really happened.

I usually save this one for people who smugly answer both trolly questions with "they're the same, of course I'd kill one to save 5 in each case", but it's also remarkably effective at dispelling objections of implausibility and rejection of the experiment. I'm not sure why this works so well, but I think our bias toward narratives we can place ourselves in helps. Almost everyone at this point says they think they should kill the baby, but they just don't think they could, to which I respond "Doesn't the world make more sense when you realize you value thousands of complex things in a fuzzy and inconsistent manner?". Unfortunately, I have yet to make friends with any true psychopaths. I'd be interested to hear their responses.

Comment author: fr00t 08 December 2010 08:01:53PM *  3 points [-]

The answer that almost everyone gives seems to be very sensible. After all, the question: "What do I believe I would actually do" and "What do I think I should do" are different. Obviously self modifying to the point where these answers are as consistent as possible in the largest subset of scenarios as possible is probably a good thing, but that doesn't mean such self modifying is easy.

Most mothers would simply be incapable of doing such a thing. If they could press a button to kill their baby, more would probably do so, just as more people would flip a switch to kill than push in front of a train.

You obviously should kill the baby, but it is much more difficult to honestly say you would kill a baby than flip a switch: the distinction is not one of morality but courage.

As a side note, I prefer the trolley-problem modification where you can have an innocent, healthy young traveler killed in order to save 5 people in need of organs. Saying "fat man", at least for me, obfuscates the moral dilemma and makes it somewhat easier.

Comment author: fr00t 22 November 2010 11:28:47PM *  5 points [-]

Nihilism may not be incompatible with happiness but after reading this post I still believe that I experience legitimate existential angst. It occurs at unpredictable moments, but more often exciting ones: during coitus, staring at a beautiful sunrise, listening to the climax of a beautiful piece of music; but also during mundane tasks like brushing my teeth. I experience an overwhelming sense of angst and meaninglessness. The feeling of arbitrariness, embodied as raw emotion, overwhelms all other sensation. Usually I am able to quickly recover, at least operationally.

I don't think I'm depressed and I've gotten better since the visceral discovery of nihilism back in high-school, but I suspect this will never go away.

Comment author: fr00t 20 November 2010 01:42:38AM 1 point [-]

I posit that these sequences and indeed any deliberation of abstract nature is super-stimulus. It was probably fairly stimulating for some ancestral man to connect the pain of having a rock fall on him to throwing a rock at a gazelle. But reading through hundreds of pages of information describing "the way" seem unlikely to improve my genetic fitness.

View more: Next