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

Comment author: toonalfrink 26 May 2017 01:39:41AM 3 points [-]

Here's a thought experiment:

There's a social club in town. You're inspired by their online presence, so you decide to sign up. The website looks polished. You notice the agenda on the sidebar is full of events as you fill in the form to sign up. You send the form, and hope for the best. A few hours later, you receive an email. "Congratulations! You are eligible for the selection process." You rejoice. Then comes the selection day. There is a terrifying interview and you are tested for all kinds of things. Luckily, you make it through! The next day, you receive a phone call. A warm voice greets you. "Congratulations! Your initiation period starts now. For the upcoming eight weeks, there will be many social activities for the new initiates. We expect you to be there. On top of that, we will find you a house, and invite you to choose a role in one of our committees. You are also now welcome in our community space, which is open 24/7. All of that will end with the initiation ceremony when you receive your bracelet and become a full member."

Would you feel welcome in this club? Would you want to participate?

This is an exaggerated version of how student societies work in the Netherlands. I think there are a few elements in there that make it work. - For one, there is a clear explicit membership/nonmembership divide. This makes belonging less questionable, which reduces a lot of anxiety. - For another, there is a clear path for getting involved. Everyone has the same (sometimes grueling) initiation period through which they meet their first friends and get a handle. Then there are committees. - Third, roles being explicit makes it common knowledge who is doing what, which is enough of a positive feedback mechanism for doing small tasks.

Feels like there's a lot of low hanging fruit to gather by looking at existing communities.

Comment author: toonalfrink 25 May 2017 11:07:27PM 11 points [-]

For the next three months, I will embark on my own experiment of living in a high-standards high-group-activity environment. Specifically, a Buddhist temple.

The temple has an even tighter schedule. All residents wake up together at 5 am and go to sleep together at 10 pm. The rest is meditation, study and work, with 4 hours of free time. The weekends are free, so it adds up to being told what to do for 85 hours per week.

Over the years, I have stayed there six times for a week. The first days are usually a fight to adjust to the lower standards of living (the unpleasant valley). As the days go by, I become increasingly energized and sharp. When I leave, I'm in the best state I can be. Not even a CFAR workshop measures up to how much I upgrade in such a short time. And it's not the meditation. I've gone for days without really meditating and I would still upgrade.

This has led me to believe that something about our individualist style of living is profoundly wrong, at least for some people. Seems like a solution to many of our problems lies in collectivism. Think mental health, akrasia, huffelpuff virtue, etc.

I am really interested in how this is going to fly. Please do post updates. I would also love to share my perspective. I think I'll have some interesting data.

Meetup : Meetup 17 - Comfort Zone Expansion (CoZE)

0 toonalfrink 10 May 2017 09:59AM

Discussion article for the meetup : Meetup 17 - Comfort Zone Expansion (CoZE)

WHEN: 14 May 2017 03:10:00PM (+0200)

WHERE: meester treublaan 18 amsterdam

Something new for this week!

Much of the time, things that lie outside of our comfort zone are out there for good reason. They're things that cause us to anticipate danger, experience stress, and wrestle with uncertainty, and under many circumstances, it's good to avoid danger, stress, and uncertainty.

But there's a gray area between 'definitely good' and 'definitely bad' -- between comfortable and uncomfortable. It's an area chracterized by mixed experiences and filled with things we're not sure about, struggled with, or never dared to even try. They're outside our comfort zone, but it's not clear that they should be -- it's not clear whether they're actually Things We Ought To Avoid.

The Comfort Zone Expansion technique (CoZE) is a method for gathering data about this gray area. It asks that we stretch our comfort zone, in small, safe experiments, a little bit at a time. The idea is to calibrate our discomfort, loosening up and letting go of unhelpful inhibitions while preserving those that are helpful, appropriate, and useful.

We'll meet up in the same place as always to discuss CoZE and come up with ideas for experiments. Then we'll probably go outside, perhaps to the city center, to actually do our experiments!

See you coming Sunday!

Discussion article for the meetup : Meetup 17 - Comfort Zone Expansion (CoZE)

Meetup : Meetup 15 (for real this time) - Trigger Action Planning

0 toonalfrink 12 April 2017 12:52PM

Discussion article for the meetup : Meetup 15 (for real this time) - Trigger Action Planning

WHEN: 16 April 2017 03:10:01PM (+0200)

WHERE: Meester Treublaan 18, 1097 DP Amsterdam, Netherlands

I'll do it at some point.

I'll answer this message later.

I could try this sometime.

For most people, all of these thoughts have the same result. The thing in question likely never gets done - or if it does, it's only after remaining undone for a long time and causing a considerable amount of stress. Leaving the "when" ambiguous means that there isn't anything that would propel you into action.

What kinds of thoughts would help avoid this problem? This is the domain of Trigger Action Planning/Plans or TAP(s), which is our topic of discussion for Easter Sunday. See you there!

Discussion article for the meetup : Meetup 15 (for real this time) - Trigger Action Planning

Comment author: toonalfrink 01 April 2017 05:52:55AM 0 points [-]

Hey guys,

Tim can't be there, and I'm pretty sick, so unless someone else wants to host it, the meeting is called off.

See y'all in 2 weeks!

Meetup : Meetup #15 - Trigger-Action Patterns

0 toonalfrink 29 March 2017 12:55AM

Discussion article for the meetup : Meetup #15 - Trigger-Action Patterns

WHEN: 02 April 2017 03:10:00PM (+0200)

WHERE: meester treublaan 18 Amsterdam, Netherlands

How do we do things on the most instinctive level? Understanding this helps us take better control over our behavior.

Discussion article for the meetup : Meetup #15 - Trigger-Action Patterns

Meetup : #13 - Focusing

0 toonalfrink 28 February 2017 08:52PM

Discussion article for the meetup : #13 - Focusing

WHEN: 05 March 2017 03:13:37PM (+0100)

WHERE: Meester Treublaan 18, 1097 DP Amsterdam, Netherlands

If you see yourself as a kind of robot, focusing is for you.

About 50 years ago, a guy named Carl Rogers was trying to fix psychotherapy. He studied different modalities (like freudian, behaviorist, etc), trying to find out which one was better. It turned out none of these therapies had better results than the others. Guess Freud was full of shit. But what did? There was one common factor among the group of clients that did recover. It was that when asked about their feelings, they did something like: "uhhh... not sure... I guess I feel... frustrated? No wait that's not exactly it. uh... maybe I feel unjustly inhibited? Nah... closer but that's not quite the thing either..." So Rogers took that thing and said: why don't we just try to teach that?

That thing is focusing. It's a way to query those deep subconscious beliefs that secretly impact everything you do in major ways. I (Toon) personally didn't really get the point of this, until I found out that pretty much everything that was wrong in my life was caused by not really being aware of my feelings. Now it's my favourite technique.

Don't be like Toon. Learn focusing.

Discussion article for the meetup : #13 - Focusing

Meetup : Amsterdam - Meetup #12 - Friendly AI

0 toonalfrink 15 February 2017 03:08PM

Discussion article for the meetup : Amsterdam - Meetup #12 - Friendly AI

WHEN: 19 February 2017 03:13:37PM (+0100)

WHERE: Meester Treublaan 18, 1097 DP Amsterdam, Netherlands

AI timelines have shortened. This meetup is dedicated to brainstorming ways to save, well, our lives.

Discussion article for the meetup : Amsterdam - Meetup #12 - Friendly AI

Comment author: toonalfrink 19 January 2017 02:17:37PM 1 point [-]

Indeed, intuitions are fallible. Though beware of the other extreme: writing off your intuitions altogether and trying to live solely based on logic. I've seen various people in the LW sphere try this, and it doesn't quite work. In some cases, like nutrition or social life, there is a bottomless pit of complexity. Trying to provably 'solve' such problems will lead to a bottomless pit of thinking, stagnation, and depression.

Logic is not a magic hammer either.

Meetup : #10: Making a difference

0 toonalfrink 14 January 2017 05:29PM

Discussion article for the meetup : #10: Making a difference

WHEN: 22 January 2017 03:12:00PM (+0100)

WHERE: Meester Treublaan 18, Amsterdam, Netherlands

(apologies to Tim for choosing this week's subject without consulting him) This week's theme will be 80.000hours, which is an EA-affiliated research group in Oxford that is figuring out for us how to do the most possible good with your career. Spoiler: you can matter a lot, but it's counterintuitive. Are you studying to become a doctor to save lives? You will on average save 3 lives over your career. If you become a Google employee instead, and give half of your income to charity, you might save 2000. If you plan to come, you are kindly requested to read up on 80k's career guide (https://80000hours.org/career-guide/). Buckle up though: it can be quite a life-changing read.

Discussion article for the meetup : #10: Making a difference

View more: Next