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

Comment author: maia 31 March 2014 03:31:28AM 0 points [-]

Typo:

Factors that cut against volunteering have social value

should be "having"

Comment author: maia 26 March 2014 12:42:00AM 1 point [-]

Ehh... As the other commenters are saying, it's unclear how it would promote rationality, or what its Ultimate Effect would be...

But I think you should do it anyway. I'd read it.

Meetup : Washington DC: Robin Hanson visits to talk about giving

0 maia 25 March 2014 05:47PM

Discussion article for the meetup : Washington DC: Robin Hanson visits to talk about giving

WHEN: 30 March 2014 03:00:00PM (-0400)

WHERE: National Portrait Gallery

Robin Hanson will be visiting to discuss the issues involved with giving now vs. giving later (for example, saving up as much money as you can and donating your estate to an effective charity when you die).

As usual, the conversation may drift to whatever folks are most interested in.

Discussion article for the meetup : Washington DC: Robin Hanson visits to talk about giving

Comment author: CCC 03 March 2014 02:03:33PM 6 points [-]

Only about 10 percent of new social programs in fields like education, criminology and social welfare demonstrate statistically significant benefits in RCTs

This is a higher rate than I'd expected. It implies that current policies in these three fields are not really thoroughly thought out, or at least not to the extent that I had expected. It seems that there is substantial room for improvement.

I would have expected perhaps one or two percent.

Comment author: maia 13 March 2014 02:26:35PM 2 points [-]

Remember, you expect 5% to give a statistically significant result just by chance...

Comment author: Barry_Cotter 13 March 2014 07:13:33AM 1 point [-]

In my career coaching work, one of the things I try to teach is how to spot these patterns of which way a market is going. This has some classic signs, and I can give plenty of examples of other industries in which this same pattern took place.

Examples would be appreciated. But this seems to be a case of trying to time the market and the usual objection applies; if you can time the market to within a year you can make huge piles of money. One of the contributors on HN, lsc of prgrmr.com talks about how he was calling the property bubble in the Bay area for years before it popped, and how if he had just got in at the frothy height of the dotcom bubble like everyone else, he'd still be ahead now on property, very far ahead.

Comment author: maia 13 March 2014 12:53:24PM 1 point [-]

I suspect that predicting trends in the pay for a certain career path doesn't need to be that precise in order to be useful. If you can predict the year in which it'll happen, you make huge piles of money. If you can predict the decade in which it'll happen, maybe you can't do that as well, but you could still make a choice to do something else.

Comment author: gothgirl420666 12 March 2014 09:14:37PM *  8 points [-]

This is really frustrating because I feel like the culture is constantly spamming two contradictory memes. Lumifer even explicitly gave me both of them upthread.

  1. Don't do something you don't truly enjoy, follow your dreams
  2. Don't do something that isn't practical, whatever you do, don't end up working at McDonalds

But in my case (and probably a substantial majority of people) I honestly think that the venn diagram between one and two might have literally zero overlap. Like, isn't the whole point of a job that it isn't fun, and that's why they have to pay you to do it? I tried to compromise by double majoring in something I am genuinely passionate about (art) and something practical (comp sci), but I feel like this is still not enough somehow...? Sometimes I think the only winning move is to get lucky and be born the type of person who has a natural burning desire to become an engineer.

Comment author: maia 13 March 2014 12:50:35PM 1 point [-]

Cal Newport's 'solution' to this is basically: Get good at something and then you'll enjoy it; expecting to enjoy anything that you are not yet good at is unrealistic. I think this probably isn't the entire story, because natural aptitude and enjoyment are real things that can cause you to like things more or less initially... But for me at least, this does explain a lot of my enjoyment of things. I find that there are some programming tasks I used to really hate doing, which I now dig into feeling fine, because I've gotten good at them. It probably depends on your personality and how you react to different incentives, as well.

Comment author: solipsist 12 March 2014 06:45:29PM *  27 points [-]

You (the reader) do not exist.

EDIT: That was too punchy and not precise. The reasoning behind the statement:

Most things which think they are me are horribly confused gasps of consciousness. Rational agents should believe the chances are small that their experiences are remotely genuine.

EDIT 2: After thinking about shminux's comment, I have to retract my original statement about you readers not existing. Even if I'm a hopelessly confused Boltzmann brain, the referent "you" might still well exist. At minimum I have to think about existence more. Sorry!

Comment author: maia 12 March 2014 07:05:23PM 1 point [-]

Could you be more specific about what you mean by that?

Comment author: gothgirl420666 12 March 2014 06:13:18AM *  2 points [-]

Also, you may have heard this before, but the video game industry for programmers is kind of a shitshow, because lots of people want to do it, enough so that they're willing to be paid less and endure crappy conditions. Being an indie developer might be a better bet, if you can make it work; I have no idea what the odds of success there are.

I did not know that, thanks.

Anyway, I would rather be involved on the artistic side, but I don't really know anything about that career path either, so.... ¯|_(ツ)_/¯

Comment author: maia 12 March 2014 04:17:40PM 4 points [-]

The iconic "working in video games is awful" story: EA Spouse

Comment author: Jaime 12 March 2014 03:00:47AM 6 points [-]

Question: what are the good ways to help a person in a stressful situation (work/relationships/life in general) ? What help would rationalist prefer, and how does that differ from someone who may be less rational in times of emotional turmoil? Thanks!

Comment author: maia 12 March 2014 05:25:31AM 7 points [-]

Have you tried asking them if there's any way you can help, and/or expressing generic sympathy?

"Hey, you seem to be going through a lot lately, are you holding up okay? Anything I can do?"

Comment author: gothgirl420666 12 March 2014 02:01:12AM *  5 points [-]

Request for some career advice:

I am planning on pursuing computer science as a double major (along with art). I'm doing this mainly for practical reasons - right now I feel like I don't really care about money and would rather enjoy my life than be upper-class, but I want to have an option available in case these preferences change. I enjoyed CS classes in high school, but since coming to college, I have found CS classes, while not profoundly unpleasant, to basically be a chore. In addition to this, my university is making it needlessly difficult for me to choose CS as a second major. This has lead me to rethink - is CS really worth it? After researching it a bit, it seems like CS genuinely is worth it. From what I hear, programming jobs pay very well, are easy to find, have good working conditions, and seem to relatively easily facilitate a 4-hour-workweek lifestyle, should one choose to pursue it. No other career path seems to be able to boast this.

Am I correct in thinking this? Is a computer science degree worth it even if it means a lot of drudgery during college? Conventional wisdom seems to be no - "don't try to major in something you don't enjoy" is something I've heard a few times. But that seems kind of idealistic.

The alternatives would be econ or math, both of which I am fairly unfamiliar with and find sort of interesting but don't exactly have a passion for.

For reference, my current preferred careers are, in order:

  1. something with video games (Lifelong Dream is to be in that hideo kojima or satoshi tajiri role where I am the man with the vision in charge but I don't even really know how you work your way up to that position?)
  2. something with art or illustration where i can be creative
  3. something with graphic design where i am less creative and am doing something boring like designing logos for people or whatever
  4. some sort of programming thing
Comment author: maia 12 March 2014 05:23:07AM 10 points [-]

Consider reading some of Cal Newport's writing on careers. Here's a possible starting point.

A lot of what he writes boils down to: "Do what you love to do" is a bit of a fallacy. Getting really good at something pretty much always involves putting in a ton of work, not all of which will be pleasant. But if you do that and get extremely good at what you do, then you'll get lots of jobs you'll enjoy, because 1) being good at what you do is fun and 2) if you provide lots of value to other people, they will provide it back.

IOW, just going after what is the most "fun" when you start doing it probably isn't the best idea. I wouldn't take the fact that your CS courses are a bit drudge-y as a slamdunk indicator that you shouldn't do CS by a long shot.

Also, you may have heard this before, but the video game industry for programmers is kind of a shitshow, because lots of people want to do it, enough so that they're willing to be paid less and endure crappy conditions. Being an indie developer might be a better bet, if you can make it work; I have no idea what the odds of success there are.

View more: Next