There are so many variables here. I think most people underestimate the violence involved in a high speed motor vehicle crash. Years ago, I was involved in EMS and responded to a lot of crashes. If we eliminate a) crashes without seatbelts worn (1), and b) crashes without frontal airbags (cars without frontal airbags are relatively uncommon these days, I’d say that most survivable TBIs were caused by either a) side impacts, with the head hitting the window glass, or b) the airbag itself (2). Of those two, the low-to-intermediate-speed side impact is the only one where a helmet would make much difference. Some cars now come with side-curtain airbags, which would help a lot with this.
No doubt, many other crashes result in TBIs, but the forces are so extreme that a small helmet isn’t going to help. It’s really stunning to see what happens in high-speed impacts.
(1) Without seatbelts, even intermediate-speed impacts result in so much chaotic movement that people tend to fly around inside (or outside) the car and airbags don’t help that much. You don’t want to be in an ejected-from-vehicle event.
(2) Airbags can definitely cause TBIs by themselves, especially if you’re seated very close to them. It’s basically a small explosion going off in your face. It’s better than hitting the steering wheel or windshield, though.
It seems like diet is a good case of where it might be better to satisfy than optimize: it’s clearer that some things are bad than that other things are optimal.
I think that long-term goals should be qualitative and subjective, and supported by short-term goals that are quantitative and objective. I like my short-term goals to be achievable within 12 weeks at the outside, and preferably much less.
One reason for this is that as I learn by pursuing and achieving short-term goals, my outlook on the long term changes. Another reason is that the pursuit of long-term goals is hindered by getting stressed out over specific numbers or metrics, and made easier by pushing the edge of my subjective performance envelope. In other words, if I’m always trying to perform such that I feel mostly positive (which isn’t necessarily the same as feeling good!) close to the point where I start to fail, I’m building a long-term positive association with my goal while incrementally improving.
This is easiest for me to illustrate with athletic goals. One of my long-term goals for 2015 is to feel physically light and subjectively strong. One of my short-term goals in support of this is to do 10 reps of the strict overhead press with 95 pounds at a bodyweight of 150 or less. Right now this seems subjectively hard, but I know from experience that I am probably less than 8 weeks from achieving it. When I get there, I’ll make another short-term goal based on how I feel subjectively about the long term goal. This is probably too big a short-term bite for an area of practice in which one has little experience; I have many years of physical training experience to go on in making these goals. Some years ago when I had a long-term goal of getting back into coding, my short-term goals were things like “learn how to split a string in Python”: something that I should be able to achieve in one sitting.
The shooting sports have a lot of attributes that appeal to different mental aspects of rationality:
they require careful observation of internal mental states
academic knowledge can directly contribute to success (such as knowing a lot about human vision)
lots of opportunities to indulge in obsession over microimprovements
pre-event, post-event and on-the-fly computational skills are immensely useful
unusual conscious states, such as time slowdown, are relatively easy to achieve without chemical assistance
Potential drawbacks: associated in the USA with right-wing politics; distrusted by liberals; expensive; requires ownership of dangerous tools.
In the event that exercise becomes a persistent habit, what is optimal changes a lot over time as you age and as you improve.
Speaking from the perspective of having exercised 5-7 days a week for over 20 years now, doing both strength and endurance work, I can say that my interests, capabilities, and my response to exercise has changed in fascinating ways over that time. Most people don’t stick with an exercise program long enough to even really understand it, let alone wear it out, but if you do, what you do will probably change a lot.
I realize that’s a pretty vague statement, but while I think your advice is pretty good overall, the idea of optimal is not something that stays fixed over long periods of time.
Rebecca Newberger Goldstein writes philosophical fiction. She is my favorite contemporary literary fiction author. Her biographies of Gödel and Spinoza are also brilliant.
In his 1985 paper he seems to be arguing that he uniquely extends the Church-Turing thesis.
Deutsch claims in the article to have proved that any physical process can in principle be emulated at arbitrarily fine detail by a universal quantum Turing machine. Is this proof widely accepted? I tried to read the paper, but the math is beyond me. I’ve found relatively little discussion of it elsewhere, and most of it critical.
I always recommend that people who are even remotely interested in this kind of stuff take a wilderness medicine course. Wilderness medicine is all about decision making under conditions of limited time and information, so it seems like the kind of thing that would interest LWers.
Well, one answer may simply be that militaries are class-and-tradition-laden bureaucracies that are hostile to change. Certainly this has been the experience of the US when attempting to build a western-style NCO corps into the militaries of allied developing nations.
Another answer might be that it’s already possible in principle: somebody has probably already mentioned this, but one can go from a NCO role into an officer role; the traditional term for this is “mustang officer”.
Another answer might be division of labor: traditionally, western military officers are required to gain a lot of breadth in their careers, both through academic education and through assignment to different types of field commands, logistical positions, and political positions. This poses a (common) problem for officers who have a personality type that wants depth in one type of military occupation; that role is more traditionally a senior NCO role. It may be, however, that this type of division of labor produces the most effective fighting force; I don’t know.
I don’t think it’s correct that the structure described here fits militaries cross-culturally, except in name. In the US and most Western European military structures, the senior NCOs are the critical link. The degree of authority and autonomy given to senior NCOs in the west is fundamentally different from that in most other military structures. I can’t comment on this from personal experience, but every US military service member I’ve known who has served extensively alongside militaries outside the US, Canada, or Western Europe has commented on this, and they argue that this is what makes western units so dominant even in battle conditions where technological superiority is not the deciding factor. Senior NCOs carry institutional knowledge in military occupations that is lost to officers due to the latter’s typical requirement to serve in a wide variety of commands, and they’re the prime movers in both logistical and tactical planning up to a fairly large scale. Every officer I’ve known has commented on this fact as well.
Furthermore, every soldier is taught the basic principles of tactical planning and has it drummed in that anyone might have to become the leader when higher ranks are killed in battle.
Other militaries have a structure much more in line with what is described here, and tend to either fall apart completely without direct officer leadership, or to never even reach a semblance of battle-competency in cultures where officership is mainly a class-based phenomenon that doesn’t select for strong leaders.
I realize that LW collectively doesn’t like unreferenced definitions, but in this case maybe it’s OK… a friend of mine whose PhD is in decision theory explained aleatory uncertainty to me as the uncertainty of chance with known parameters: if you roll a normal six-sided die, you know it’s going to come up with a value in the range 1-6, but you don’t know what it will be. There’s no chance it will come up 7. Epistemic uncertainty is the uncertainty of chance with unknown parameters: there may not be enough data to know the bounds of an event, or it may have such large and random bounds that trying to place them is not very meaningful.
Just logged in for the first time in a month… the reason I think it helps is that he now uses the terminology himself: he talks about believing or not believing things based on evidence fairly frequently, and occasionally talks about testing things. Small steps.
We have a nine y/o boy (an only child, by choice), and the one thing that seems to have made a difference specifically with rationality (for some value of “rationality”; children are not the first examples of the attribute that come to mind) has been constantly trying to phrase things in terms of simple scientific method: what do you think? why do you think that? what evidence do you have for that? how would you test that?
I suggest that people go check out the Less Wrong Fitocracy group. Lots of people of all different fitness levels busting ass and making progress in almost every way you can dream up. Experience is everything when it comes to fitness. Pick something that looks doable and give it a few weeks, months, or years.
A decent place to start would be The Investment Answer, which is a pretty conservative, simple investment strategy. Then branch out from there. Most retirement planning software makes big assumptions about return rates and the linearity of markets; you need to make sure you’re aware of that when using it. Most of them are based around Modern Portfolio Theory and the Efficient Frontier, so it’s a good idea to be aware of that and its weaknesses.
So much of personal finance planning revolves around your personality type and desires; for atypical personality types it can be a bit tricky to fit yourself into generalized models. You definitely need to think seriously about stuff like how mobile you want to be, what your risk tolerance is, whether you have dependents, etc etc.
Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha
This is a book about the technical aspects of meditation. I haven’t finished it yet (nor put it into practice), but it seems like a very low woo-factor book on introspection practice.
History and Philosophy of Science.
Just out of curiosity, what kind of lifestyle and investment strategy are you planning to support a long-term life of the mind on $1M USD? Or is millionaire more of a figure of speech representing “a whole lotta money”?
If you make 5% a year on that and live a very frugal lifestyle in a low-cost area, you could do OK, but medical expenses, children, inflation, etc could hurt your capital considerably. I think you’d need a good bit more than $1M to have a large safety margin.
Rebecca Newberger Goldstein’s “36 Arguments for the Existence of God”. Easily one of my top-10 favorite books ever. Beautifully written and hilarious (a particularly difficult combo for an author to pull of, IMO), a non-linear, recursive loop through the lives of several atheist characters who are inextricably tied to religion in one way or another. The author has quite an interesting life history: philosopher, biographer of Gödel and Spinoza, famous novelist, currently married to Stephen Pinker, among other things.