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Comment author: rthomas6 30 July 2014 04:19:33PM 1 point [-]

So this may be other-optimizing if you heed my anecdote, but contemplating my own swiftly approaching death (an idea I take from Stoicism) helps my procrastination. In the context of this article, I think it works because it decreases my impulsiveness by forcing me to view my time as a finite resource, thus reducing some (not all) hyperbolic discounting of rewards. When I get up in the morning, if I say to myself something like "I probably have less than 20,000 days left to live, and this is one of those days," I find it easier to do tasks that my rational brain knows are more valuable to me, versus tasks that generate immediate reward chemicals in my animal brain. This visualization idea drives the point home even harder. When I am dying, I don't want to look back on my life and see that I wasted days binge watching House of Cards or reading interesting articles instead of doing something worth writing an interesting article about. I think this technique gives an immediate reward through my recognition that I spent an extremely scarce resource efficiently, thus giving some immediacy to long-term goals.

Comment author: rthomas6 14 March 2014 04:33:23PM 1 point [-]

To get a meaningful answer I think you also have to look at all of the high-IQ people that don't generate a lot of wealth. What you really should look at is the correlation between IQ and wealth generation on average. My intuition says that there is a correlation but not a super duper strong one. (For instance I doubt having a 180 IQ results in more wealth generation than a 150 IQ.) I think cognitive empathy, or the ability to understand others' feelings and how they would react in a given circumstance, is just as important for wealth generation, if not more so. There are and have been functional autistic savants with very high IQ but low cognitive empathy that have not generated a lot of wealth.

I believe the ability to delay gratification, or think long-term, or whatever you want to call it, is more important than IQ for self-actualization. If you can't override your impulses and force yourself to follow your rational conclusions, what good is your reasoning faculty? To put it in Daniel Kahneman's terms, if you have difficulty getting your System 1 to use or go along with your System 2, it doesn't matter how powerful your System 2 is. The Marshmellow Test experiment is a good indicator of this. The children that had inherent abilities to delay gratification did better later in life by many different measures, including wealth generation.

Comment author: polymathwannabe 12 March 2014 08:17:23PM 2 points [-]

I'm 99% confident that dust specks in 3^^^3 eyes result in less lost utility than 50 years of torturing one person.

Comment author: rthomas6 13 March 2014 03:31:31PM *  1 point [-]

I agree with you (maybe not 99% certainty though), and I'm surprised more people do not.That is, assuming the original stipulation of the dust specks causing only a "mild inconvenience" for everyone, and not some sort of bell curve of inconvenience with a mean of "mild". People around here seem to grok the idea of the hedonic treadmill, so why don't they apply that idea to this situation? Assuming all of those 3^^^3 people all truly only have a "mild inconvenience", I would argue that from a subjective point of view from each individual, the utility of their day as a whole has not been diminished at all.

Actually, the more I think about it, the idea itself is poorly formed. It depends a lot on what sort of inconvenience the dust causes. If it causes 0.00000001% of the people to decide to shoot up a store or something, then I guess the one person being tortured would be better. But if the dust does not cause any sort of cascading effect, if it's truly isolated to the lost utility of the dust itself, then I'd say the dust is better.

Comment author: gothgirl420666 12 March 2014 09:27:23PM 0 points [-]

I changed my downvote to an upvote.

I think you're playing it wrong? You upvote if you disagree.

Comment author: rthomas6 12 March 2014 09:40:09PM 0 points [-]

I do disagree. Did you read the rest of my comment? I originally downvoted because the rules also say to downvote if someone expresses a preference disguised as a belief.

Comment author: solipsist 12 March 2014 06:45:29PM *  28 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: rthomas6 12 March 2014 08:55:13PM *  0 points [-]

What degree of certainty do you place on that belief?

Comment author: trist 12 March 2014 04:50:10PM 1 point [-]

I suppose my actual belief is that flush toilets are a mistake outside of urban areas, I don't have much experience with urban living or what other poop strategies could work with it.

Advantages, flush toilets:

  • Provide easy long distance transport of human waste in urban environments.
  • Exchanges weekly-to-yearly chores for purchased services.

Disadvantages, flush toilets:

  • Create additional dependency on water (and by extension outside water districts, electricity).
  • Turn (vast amounts of) drinking water into black water.
  • Create a waste product from human manure, which is a valuable resource (fertile soil) when dealt with properly.
  • Adds significantly to the cost of housing (especially outside sewer districts).
Comment author: rthomas6 12 March 2014 08:10:56PM *  1 point [-]

That clears things up a lot, and I changed my downvote to an upvote. EDIT: To be clear, I disagree with you.

My thoughts on your disadvantages list:

  • Flush toilets do create additional dependency on water, however if one already has running water and depends on it for drinking and washing, how significant is the additional water dependency for flush toilets?
  • The reason flush toilets use potable water is an economic one. It is simply cheaper to use one unified water system instead of two, when someplace already has running water. The cost of the wasted drinking water is negligible compared to the cost of building a second plumbing system.
  • This point is the most interesting to me. I have no information on the usefulness of human manure, and would be interested to know if human manure would have a comparable market value to cattle manure or synthetic fertilizer. I am skeptical because of the tendency for human waste to carry human diseases.
  • I have no disagreements with this disadvantage, but simply feel that the vast, vast majority of people would be willing to pay for the extra cost in housing if they already had indoor plumbing.
Comment author: [deleted] 12 March 2014 05:05:49PM 0 points [-]

if a consumer hypothetically had access to the 1960 basket of consumer goods produced using 2014 technology

Can you elaborate on what this means. Do you mean that if we had more consumer goods of the year 1960, we would be as happy as the current middle class?

In response to comment by [deleted] on Irrationality Game III
Comment author: rthomas6 12 March 2014 05:13:58PM *  1 point [-]

If we could choose to buy a 1960-era consumer good (telephone, radio, house, car) that was manufactured using modern manufacturing techniques and modern technology, many of these goods would be significantly cheaper to produce than anything available on the current market, and buying these goods instead of modern goods would result in zero net loss of happiness for the consumer.

A radio, for instance, would look and act exactly like a 1960-era radio, but it could use digital technology, integrated circuits, etc. to make it work. The functionality and appearance of the goods are what remains the same as 1960.

Comment author: trist 12 March 2014 03:00:19PM 35 points [-]

Irrationality Game: (meta, I like this idea)

Flush toilets are a horrible mistake. 7b/99%

Comment author: rthomas6 12 March 2014 03:54:17PM 1 point [-]

How is this not just a preference?

In response to comment by Brillyant on Optimal Exercise
Comment author: RomeoStevens 10 March 2014 07:56:19PM *  0 points [-]

IME people take to high bar squatting pretty well with minimal instruction. Really the only issue people run into is the ankle/lower back problem. Get them in shoes and their form is good enough that I am confident they won't hurt themselves. About the youtube vids, yeah, I am not really satisfied with the guides on squatting (other exercise videos are fine). I might write a guide to highbar squatting.

Comment author: rthomas6 10 March 2014 08:39:59PM 4 points [-]

In my quite limited experience, the form for high bar squatting is easy to figure out, but people often fail to maintain proper form when lifting heavy weight, and they often don't realize it. I personally have done this several times, where I thought I had good form and then my workout partner would point out that I rounded my lower back at the bottom, or my knees buckled inward, or I used my lower back to lift the weight part of the way up. Unless you are exceptionally mindful of your own body, I think there's a lot of value in lifting weights with a partner who can critique your form.

Comment author: Brillyant 10 March 2014 03:01:31PM *  4 points [-]

Hm. Some thoughts, since I don't know if it is that simple...

I shared your sentiment (about personal trainers possessing about 1500 words of total knowledge) until I injured myself several months ago (cervical discs). I lifted weights fairly consistently for more than a decade with high intensity, using principles related to the ones you describe. I'm confident there are other factors—genetics, poor posture, non-optimal sleep position—that helped cause my injury (which led to an immediate 65-75% loss of pushing strength and dramatic atrophy on my right side), but I suspect my consistent vigorous weight training was a key culprit.

Generally, you're failing (in my view) to point out a physical trainer's role and value in teaching correct technique, which can alleviate risk of injury. You mention form a few times, but I think it is fair to say there is a significant difference between watching a Youtube video and having someone (who is trained) demonstrate the proper form in person, providing feedback and adjustment based on their observation.

Free weights are generally better than machine exercises

What does this mean? Newer machines are designed to limit risk of injury—promoting proper form and safe range of motion through their design—and I see very little basis to say free weights are "better". (It's a common adage in strength training circles, and I'm aware of the advantages of free weights vs. machines, but machine exercises are just fine—if not "better"—for basic strength training.)

•Optimal for looks •Optimal for time •Optimal for effort •Optimal for performance •Optimal for longevity

I like the distinctions you've made here, though I think the advice that follows comes nowhere close to encompassing the knowledge of good personal trainers.

Using your advice, you could optimize for the first four, but longevity would be a huge question mark (if by 'longevity', you mean consistent health and wellness as a result of your exercise routine).

I used to scoff at the idea of personal trainers. From what I could see, they were overpaid, personal cheerleaders who rattled off common sens-isms. Now, I've got an appointment for a cortisone injection in my spine scheduled for this week and a referral to physical therapy, both measures to try and help my strength return.

I'm starting to wonder if there isn't a bit more to personal trainers' knowledge of "Optimal Exercise" than this. (Or maybe you are just talking to lousy personal trainers?)

In response to comment by Brillyant on Optimal Exercise
Comment author: rthomas6 10 March 2014 08:23:45PM 1 point [-]

Why do you think you would not have injured yourself if you had a personal trainer? I agree that form is very important, and that the ideal way to learn it is to have a knowledgeable person there with you to critique your form. I also agree that the OP did not stress enough the importance of good form. However, if a workout partner knows what good form is, what value does a personal trainer add that a knowledgeable workout partner does not?

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