Thanks for sharing! ++ for “I tried the thing, this is how it went” post
It might be useful to know that I’m not that sold on a lot of singularity stuff, and the parts of rationality that have affected me the most are some of the more general thinking principles. “Look at the truth even if it hurts” / “Understanding tiny amounts of evo and evo psyche ideas” / “Here’s 18 different biases, now you can tear down most people’s arguments”.
It was those ideas (a mix of the naive and sophisticated form of them) + my own idiosyncrasies that caused me a lot of trouble. So that’s why I say “rationalist memes”. I guess that if I bought more singularity stuff I might frame it as “weird but true ideas”.
I found this a very useful post. It feels like a key piece in helping me think about CFAR, but also it sharpens my own sense of what stuff in “rationality” feels important to me. Namely “Helping people not have worse lives after interacting with rationalist memes”
Bar the lone soul on a heroic dissent, I don’t think most of us are able to keep meaningfully developing our worldview if there is no one to enthusiastically share our findings with.
Some version of this feels pretty important.
So a thing Galois theory does is explain:
Why is there no formula for the roots of a fifth (or higher) degree polynomial equation in terms of the coefficients of the polynomial, using only the usual algebraic operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division) and application of radicals (square roots, cube roots, etc)?
Which makes me wonder; would there be a formula if you used more machinery that normal stuff and radicals? What does “more than radicals” look like?
I’m noticing an even more granular version of this. Things that I might do casually (reading some blog posts) have a significant effect on what’s loaded into my mind the next day. Smaller than the week level, I’m noticing a 2-3 day cycle of “the thing that was most recently in my head” and how it effects the question of “If I could work on anything rn what would it be?”
This week on Tuesday I picked Wednesday as the day I was going to write a sketch. But because of something I was thinking before going to bed, on Wednesday my head was filled with thoughts on urbex. So I switched gears, and urbex thoughts ran their course through Wednesday, and on Thursday I was ready to actually write a sketch (comedy thoughts need to be loaded for that)
I’ve been writing on twitter more lately. Sometimes when I’m trying to express and idea, to generate progress I’ll think “What’s the shortest sentence I can write that convinces me I know what I’m talking about?” This is different from “What’s a simple but no simpler explanation for the reader?”
Starting a twitter thread and forcing several tweet sized chunk of ideas out are quite helpful for that. It helps get the concept clearer in my head, and then I have something out there and I can dwell on how I’d turn it into a consumable for others.
[...] and yet suppose that I were invited to write for a venue where my ideas would never be challenged, where my writing were not subjected to scrutiny, where no interested and intelligent readers would ask probing questions… shouldn’t I expect my writing (and my ideas!) to degrade?
I’m not completely swayed either way, but I want to acknowledge this as an important and interesting point.
Very useful comment, in that I have not previously imagined that this was your, or anyone else’s, normative view on responding to comments.
I’m quite interested in the rest of this. Though I did find the idea of Moloch useful for responding to the most naive forms of “If we all did X everything would be perfect”, I also have a vague feel that rationalist’s belief in Moloch being all powerful prevents them from achieving totally achievable levels of group success.
More or less. Here are some related pieces of content:
There’s a twitter thread by Qiaochu that ostensibly is about addiction, but has the idea “It’s more useful to examine what you’re running from, than what you’re running to.” In the context of our conversation, the Christianity and Rationalism would be “what you’ve been running to” and “what you’re running from” (for me) has been social needs not being met, not having a lot of personal agency, etc.
Meaningness is an epic tome by David Chapman on different attitudes towards meaning that one can take and their repercussions.
Regarding regarding examples and generalizing, I’ve been finding it that it’s really hard to feel like I’ve changed my mind in any substantive way, unless I can find the examples and memories of events that lead me to believe a general claim in the first place, and address those examples. Matt Goldenberg has a sequence on a specific version of this idea.
Hi, welcome to LW! Fellow deconverted christian here. I’ve both gone through some crisis mode deconverting from christianity, and some crisis mode when exploring and undoing some of the faux-rational patches I had made during the first crisis. Can’t wait for round three :)
I’m happy to give some more thoughts, though it might be useful for you to enumerate a few example beliefs / behaviors that you are adopting and now rethinking. “rationalist” is a pretty big space and there’s many different strokes for many different folks.
As a very general thought, I’m currently exploring the idea that most of my problems aren’t related to big picture philosophy / world-view stuff, and more matters of increasing personal agency (i.e “Do I feel stressed from not enough money?” “Am I worried about the security of my job?” “Can I reliably have fun conversations?” “Can I spend time with people who love me?” “Does my body feel good?” etc). Though admittedly, I had to arrive at this stance via big picture world-view style thinking. Might be useful to dwell on.
Thank you Gwern! This was it.
Knots by R.D Laing is full of really on the point examples of multi-step inferences that often get condensed into a single feeling. If this post interests you at all, I think reading said book will be useful.
This and the parent comment were quite helpful for getting a more nuanced sense of what you’re up to.
Point is: all of these models are operating at a pretty high level of abstraction, compared to the underlying physical reality. But it still seems like some abstract causal models are “right” and others are “wrong”.
Positive reinforcement for noticing getting nerdsniped and mentioning it!
Yeah. I guess the only place I can remember seeing it referenced in actions was with regard to assigning priors for solomonoff induction. So I wonder if it changes anything there (though solomonoff is already pretty abstracted away from other things, so it might not make sense to do a sensitivity analysis)
So Kolmogorov Complexity depends on the language, but the difference between complexity in any two languages differs by at most a constant (what ever the size of an interpreter from one to the other is).
This seems to mean that the complexity ordering of different hypothesis can be rearranged by switching languages, but “only so much”. So
are both totally possible, as long as |K1(hi)−K2(hi)|≤c
I see how if you care about orders of magnitude, the description language probably doesn’t matter. But if you ever had to make a decision where it mattered if the complexity was 1,000,000 vs 1,000,001 then language does matter.
Where is KC actually used, and in those contexts how sensitive are results to small reordering like the one I presented?