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[Link] First principles thinking and better, more creative solutions to problems

0 sleepingthinker 24 February 2017 09:51PM
Comment author: Viliam 15 February 2017 01:07:35PM *  0 points [-]

Similar to the idea "willpower is limited only if you believe that willpower is limited" is this TED talk by Kelly McGonigal who seems to say that "stress damages your health only if you believe that stress damages your health". I would be interested in you opinions.

My current model (based purely on speculation) is that in similar situations at least two different aspects are involved. That there is something that is a limited resource, but that the way how your mind frames the situation can influence how quickly this resource is consumed. For example, the same activity done voluntarily will consume less of the scarce resource that if you do it against your will; or doing an activity for a reward will consume less of the scarce resource than doing the same activity to avoid puishment. That the scarce resource is related to the internal conflict, and a different perception of the situation can reduce the internal conflict. -- But as I said, this is just speculation.

Comment author: sleepingthinker 17 February 2017 10:05:57PM 0 points [-]

My opinion is that you body has a limited capacity to do anything. For example if you are weight training, you might improve year by year, but eventually you will hit a limit of what is humanly possible and won't be able to make any gains.

Willpower is probably similar (but in a much shorter timespan). Willpower has to be a limited resource, since by doing different activities you consume energy and thereby have less energy available to do other things. The fact that you have less energy impacts your willpower.

However on the other hand, the human body is capable of much more than you think. That's where the effect of the second wind comes in. At some points you are able to muster up your last amounts of energy and push through, right at the time you thought you were done.

Comment author: gjm 16 February 2017 02:40:28AM 0 points [-]

"Sugar" and "carbohydrate" are not synonyms (starch is a carbohydrate but not a sugar), but sugar is indeed a carbohydrate. I do not know why EngineerofScience thinks "carbohydrate" was a wrong answer on that quiz.

Comment author: sleepingthinker 17 February 2017 12:16:27AM 0 points [-]

I said "basically". :)

Starch is a polysacharride, the Greek word for sugar is sacharr. Starch is made up of long-chains of glucose, and glucose is sugar. The body breaks down the polysacharrides it ingests down into simple sugars like glucose. So whatever the original form, it always ends up being sugar.

But yes, what you say is also correct. All sugars are carbohydrates, but not all carbohydrates are sugars (like starch for example, but even starch can be further broken down into sugars)...

Comment author: EngineerofScience 12 February 2017 10:14:56PM *  0 points [-]

One thing I have noticed relating to this in school is that on tests sometimes I put down an answer on a quiz that I know is wrong because the teacher will give me points if I put that. For example, on a Physical Education quiz the teacher briefly talked about how sugar affects the human body. One of the questions was multiple choice and it said "Sugar is a..." and I selected carbohydrate even though I knew it was wrong because that is what we were taught.

Comment author: sleepingthinker 15 February 2017 11:32:53PM 0 points [-]

The words sugar and carbohydrate are basically synonyms. Carbs can be broken down into glucose, galactose, fructose and mannose, which are called monosacharrides aka simple sugars. Sacharr is the Greek word for sugar. So I am not sure why you think you put down the wrong answer,

Comment author: sleepingthinker 07 February 2017 09:33:58PM 0 points [-]

Well, if you look at it most stories since prehistory have a similar structure. Guys like Vladimir Propp or Joseph Campbell analyzed old stories and came up with basic elements that almost all of the different stories shared.

George Lucas was actually inspired to create Star Wars by reading Campbell's "A Hero with a Thousand Faces".

This shows that all stories share a common structure, so it is hard to be totally original. However the structure is so versatile that it allows a huge number of different stories to come out and seem fresh and original.

We have to separate this from what Hollywood is producing today. Studios have gotten lazy and are just chasing after the big bucks. So instead of taking a risk on something new, they instead invest in a plethora of sequels, reboots and sequels to reboots. I think that's where the problem is, not in being able to come up with anything new.

In response to Crisis of Faith
Comment author: sleepingthinker 06 February 2017 08:59:55PM 0 points [-]

The problem with faith is that for many people it has become a part of their identity. The brain cells are intertwined and when someone attacks their faith, their self-protection mechanism kicks in and their rational thinking turns off.

It's basically like Plato's Allegory of the Cave, where prisoners choose to disbelieve the real world and go back to their own fake reality.

Comment author: helldalgo 01 December 2016 05:12:48PM 20 points [-]

I have about six of these floating around in my drafts. This makes me think that maybe I should post them; I didn't think they were that interesting to anyone but me.

Recently, I spent about ten hours reading into a somewhat complicated question. It was nice to get a feel for the topic, first, before I started badgering the experts and near-experts I knew for their opinions. I was surprised at how close I got to their answers.

Comment author: sleepingthinker 06 February 2017 08:43:57PM *  0 points [-]

I am the same way, although I think that I have much more than 6 drafts of these types of posts. :) I have hundreds in fact! I often start writing on something, and then switch to a different topic without finishing my essay on the first one!

It's the first time I see the concept of a "fact-post", however in my experience writing posts on history is a good practice for this. Of course, "history" is often biased and many history books have slants based on ideologies, biases or other perspectives, but there are such things as dates, names, events...etc. which are facts and if you start putting them in chronological order, you can arrive at good fact posts.

Once you start digging a bit deeper and writing more in depth history posts, you also start noticing your inherent biases a lot more. Oftentimes you might skip over some fact, event or name just because it doesn't fit with your internal vision of the world. For example, I have a hard time accepting that some dinosaurs had feathers, since I have already formed a preconceived ideal type of what dinosaurs looked like in my head and when I write about dinosaurs, i conveniently try to skip recent paleontological findings pointing to evidence that indeed some types of dinosaurs had feathers at least on parts of their bodies.

However since I write these things down, I am forced to internally confront this inherent bias and maybe over time it lessens.

Comment author: Jess_Whittlestone 01 December 2016 10:13:25AM 5 points [-]

Thanks for writing this up! One thing I particularly like about this technique is that it seems to really help with getting into the mindset of seeing disagreements as good (not an unpleasant thing to be avoided), and seeing them as good for the right reasons - for learning more about the world/your own beliefs/changing your mind (not a way to assert status/dominance/offload anger etc.)

I feel genuinely excited about paying more attention to where I disagree with others and trying to find the crux of the disagreement now, in a way I didn't before reading this post.

Comment author: sleepingthinker 05 February 2017 11:24:55PM 0 points [-]

Disagreements are not always bad, however what happens in the real world most of the time is that the disagreements are not based on rational thought and logic, but instead on some fluffy slogans and "feelings". People don't actually go deep into examining whether their argument makes sense and is supported by sound facts and not things like narrative fallacy.

In fact, when you point out to other people that what they are saying is not supported by any logical arguments, they get even more defensive and irrational.

[Link] Kahneman's checklist to avoid cognitive biases and make better decisions

3 sleepingthinker 05 February 2017 11:13AM
Comment author: Alexandros 27 November 2016 10:40:52AM *  65 points [-]

Hi Anna,

Please consider a few gremlins that are weighing down LW currently:

  1. Eliezer's ghost -- He set the culture of the place, his posts are central material, has punctuated its existence with his explosions (and refusal to apologise), and then, upped and left the community, without actually acknowledging that his experiment (well kept gardens etc) has failed. As far as I know he is still the "owner" of this website, retains ultimate veto on a bunch of stuff, etc. If that has changed, there is no clarity on who the owner is (I see three logos on the top banner, is it them?), who the moderators are, who is working on it in general. I know tricycle are helping with development, but a part-time team is only marginally better than no-team, and at least no-team is an invitation for a team to step up.

  2. the no politics rule (related to #1) -- We claim to have some of the sharpest thinkers in the world, but for some reason shun discussing politics. Too difficult, we're told. A mindkiller! This cost us Yvain/Scott who cited it as one of his reasons for starting slatestarcodex, which now dwarfs LW. Oddly enough I recently saw it linked from the front page of realclearpolitics.com, which means that not only has discussing politics not harmed SSC, it may actually be drawing in people who care about genuine insights in this extremely complex space that is of very high interest.

  3. the "original content"/central hub approach (related to #1) -- This should have been an aggregator since day 1. Instead it was built as a "community blog". In other words, people had to host their stuff here or not have it discussed here at all. This cost us Robin Hanson on day 1, which should have been a pretty big warning sign.

  4. The codebase, this website carries tons of complexity related to the reddit codebase. Weird rules about responding to downvoted comments have been implemented in there, nobody can make heads or tails with it. Use something modern, and make it easy to contribute to. (telescope seems decent these days).

  5. Brand rust. Lesswrong is now kinda like myspace or yahoo. It used to be cool, but once a brand takes a turn for the worse, it's really hard to turn around. People have painful associations with it (basilisk!) It needs burning of ships, clear focus on the future, and as much support as possible from as many interested parties, but only to the extent that they don't dillute the focus.

In the spirit of the above, I consider Alexei's hints that Arbital is "working on something" to be a really bad idea, though I recognise the good intention. Efforts like this need critical mass and clarity, and diffusing yet another wave of people wanting to do something about LW with vague promises of something nice in the future (that still suffers from problem #1 AFAICT) is exactly what I would do if I wanted to maintain the status quo for a few more years.

Any serious attempt at revitalising lesswrong.com should focus on defining ownership and plan clearly. A post by EY himself recognising that his vision for lw 1.0 failed and passing the batton to a generally-accepted BDFL would be nice, but i'm not holding my breath. Further, I am fairly certain that LW as a community blog is bound to fail. Strong writers enjoy their independence. LW as an aggregator-first (with perhaps ability to host content if people wish to, like hn) is fine. HN may have degraded over time, but much less so than LW, and we should be able to improve on their pattern.

I think if you want to unify the community, what needs to be done is the creation of a hn-style aggregator, with a clear, accepted, willing, opinionated, involved BDFL, input from the prominent writers in the community (scott, robin, eliezer, nick bostrom, others), and for the current lesswrong.com to be archived in favour of that new aggregator. But even if it's something else, it will not succeed without the three basic ingredients: clear ownership, dedicated leadership, and as broad support as possible to a simple, well-articulated vision. Lesswrong tried to be too many things with too little in the way of backing.

Comment author: sleepingthinker 03 February 2017 07:29:22PM 2 points [-]

As a newbie, I have to say that I am finding it really hard to navigate around the place. I am really interested in rational thinking and the ways people can improve it, as well as persuation techniques to try to get people to think rationally about issues, since most of them fall to cognitive biases and bad illogical thinking.

I have found that writing about these concepts for myself really help in clarifying things, but sometimes miss a discussion on these topics, so that's why I came here.

For me, some things that could help improve this site:

1) better organization and making it clearer to navigate

2) a set of easy to read newbie texts

3) ability to share interesting posts from other places and discussing them

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