I’m finally managing to finish my “basic” training in rationality, which is to mean finish studying “Rationality: A-Z” (I had studied the first half years ago, but I foolishly stopped when I got to the part about reductionism, which was unbelievably stupid of me even with all the reasons the led to me doing so). I plan to continue studying even more material once I’m done with it, to train myself in instrumental rationality and everything else I can find to make myself as smart as I could possibly be. I’m very satisfied with my progresses, the first half of the sequences helped me improve tremendously years ago, and now I can see myself improving again.
But, even while I am still at what I think is just the beginning of my improvement, I’m noticing more and more a rather serious problem.
To put it politely, I hate how people think, now.
I know it’s really unfair because I didn’t know any better mere weeks ago, and years ago I was a good textbook example of an intelligent person who’d keep mainly using his intelligence to rationalise whatever questionable decisions he made, but I just can’t help it.
I notice logic leaps, cognitive missteps and dumb conclusions of people who are considered smart, deep and expert on stuff while they talk on the radio or on other medias and I get angry.
I notice idiotic ideas, as well as practices of thoughts that are the cognitive equivalent of shooting yourself in both knees, spreading inside ideologies I deeply care about, because the evils they fight are very real and demonstrated by science, but now I can see how all the truth is hopelessly getting mixed up with stuff that’s just stupid or wrong, and that the intelligent people that once introduced me to these ideologies are absolutely incapable of judging and criticising any bad idea that’s coming from their own side, and I get livid.
Half the time I hear someone talking I have to choose between politely tearing apart the majority of what he said, growing more and more annoyed, or just shutting off my attention and think about something else while pretending to listen to them.
And all this is just when I have to deal with intelligent people.
I can’t comprehend how a stupid person thinks unless I just stop thinking of him as an actual human being, switch off my empathy completely and just model him as a badly designed computer program with a bunch of floating beliefs in his memory and no analytical or critical skill whatsoever. If I try doing it the intuitive way, using empathy and telling my brain to think like him, my brain just keeps running out of suspension of disbelief as I can’t avoid thinking that, no matter how much I could believe that political party/religion/philosophy x is right, I’d still recognise that blatantly idiotic part of it as a very, very stupid idea the first time I’d heard it, since even before rationality I’ve never actually been stupid enough to believe something that even at surface level was just plain dumb, so I can’t even understand why he’s doing what he’s doing, forget predicting it.
And all this is really starting to weight on me. I think my mood has changed for the worse in the last weeks.
If you have read HPMOR, I think I’m starting to feel like professor Quirrel, and my brain has started to actually think the words “avada kedavra” when I hear something particularly stupid and hateful. I wouldn’t do that even if I could get away with it, but, emotion-wise, I have to consciously remind myself reasons why to kill someone that stupid wouldn’t just be a net positive gain for mankind and wouldn’t just spare us a waste of oxygen. The me of several years ago would have just smirked and nodded at this kind of thoughts, but I want to be smarter than the old me, and smarter than professor Quirrel as well.
I’m sorry if that was longer and more emotional than what strictly necessary, I wanted to communicate exactly how I feel and really needed to say these things to someone. I’ll try to go straight to the point now.
I think that rationality is completely worth it, I don’t regret at all studying it, I don’t want anyone to think that I regret studying it or suggest not studying it, and I will continue to move forward and improve myself. But I also think that the smart thing to do is look for ways to cheat and avoid paying this “price” as well.
So, what I want to know is:
Did other people who already learned rationality went through this as well?
If so, does it continue or eventually you just get used to other people being insane and you don’t emotionally mind it that much anymore? I can’t remember being this annoyed at people when I had read the first half of the sequences.
Do you know of or have you tried any particular strategy to not being annoyed or feel… disinterested in other people? If so, did it worked? Could you suggest any material that explains it in more details?
What do you currently do when you have to deal with the kind of problem I have described? (If your answer to this is similar to 3. you can just skip this)
Can you suggest me any material or strategy to effectively model and predict stupid people’s behaviour?
And, on a side note:
6. Can you recommend me any reading material or training you think it made you smarter or better at predicting the world or other people? I have checked some of the posts about it on this side but still thought it was worth asking. If you know of posts and lists about this, linking those would also be a huge help.
Thanks to everyone who will choose to answer this, I’ll really appreciate any help and information I can get.
Edit 04/11/2020: I stress tested some of the advice I could apply right away, by watching a 45 mins video of interviews made at a Covid-19 deniers mass protest.
I got angry about twice and got a really odd look from the person who was with me because I said out loud something about the most annoying kitten I ever saw, but I have to say my mood was a lot better than when I usually tried to just not get angry at people.
What seemed to work the most was:
Thinking about people with very bad epistemology and beliefs as the victims of a bad epistemology infective process.
Trying to understand why they believed what they believed and why they thought the way they thought. I finally managed to form predictions and make models with moving, detailed parts. Every time I noticed I was confused about why someone believed something I just kept trying until I had a model I could really understand and wasn’t just “non-sentient entities that resemble real people have been observed to exhibit stupidity number x”. It’s the first time in my life I managed to reach the level of empathy with that type of mental processes, to understand why they didn’t felt their world-view was weird rather than just remind me that people believe weird things.
This question has been really useful to me already, I expect its usefulness will shot up a lot further as I read the materials people suggested me.
I really wish to thank everyone for the excellent advice, and please do feel free to still post advice on 6. if you wish to!