I don’t want to come off as attacking you, but I wonder about the validity of your wife’s evidence. From what I understand Japanese culture strongly discourages any discussion of personal weakness, so it seems likely that the fact that your wife hasn’t heard of anyone experiencing wrist pain doesn’t tell us much about whether they’re experiencing it or not.
Hm, I’ve read Sarno, but given your framing on his work—do you think this model predicts that general-purpose stress reduction techniques such as mindfulness meditation should alleviate RSI (and other chronic pain)? I’d be interested to see if there’s any research on that.
Also thanks for the data point, you’re the second rationalist I know who has publicly said they’ve overcome their pain with Sarno or Sarno-like methods. I notice that I am confused....
I think it’s important for you to make more prominent the fact that you have an unusually strong preference against wearing a helmet, because for someone like me for whom wearing a helmet is basically costless I think the evidence you found pretty clearly indicates that I should wear a helmet, since I can get a 3x reduction in mortality risk at no cost. Other than that, fine, I concede :p
Also I know you don’t want to put more time into this, but I found this post to be pretty hard to follow overall (though the conclusion was clear). I could maybe edit if you care.
Fixed your images and a bunch of obvious typos :)
Also, great post! I’m still digesting it so I don’t have much to say, but a lot of this resonates, and it’s always useful to me to see people write down their explicit models for things I’ve spent a lot of time thinking vaguely about.
Seems like calling it ‘Open and Welcome Thread’ rather than just ‘Open Thread’ may have resulted in fewer posts last month. It’s also just an awkward name and (like almost all post titles) doesn’t display in full on my phone. I’m in favor of changing the title back, but keeping the part in the post body about introducing yourself.
This is an open question, so what you see is the entirety of the post. Hopefully forthcoming answers will provide the content you’re looking for! :)
*wiggles fingers* <3
Update: There is now a Facebook event here and a doc of logistics and music here!
It was 16 when I took over the house a little over a year ago, currently down to 10 permanent residents, which is the lowest it’s ever been while I’ve been here.
Yup, and it turns out the idea proposed in the OP is actually way more complicated than it sounds. For one thing, it’s unlikely that a single person would be very well-suited for all of the jobs listed (e.g. I am good at the ops/logistics stuff but shy away strongly from the conflict resolution type stuff). But more importantly, it’s unlikely that everyone in the house would be happy enough with every decision the housekeeper made that they would be able to function as autonomously as described. This happens even if the housekeeper is entirely competent at all of their tasks, because people will just have conflicting tastes about things like decorating—this is basically inevitable in a larger house.
I also think it helps people have buy-in to their house if not literally all of the tasks are assigned to one person. At Event Horizon, the ‘housekeeper’ isn’t in charge of cooking house dinner or running events, which lets more people do something tangible for the house as a whole (besides just a chore), and leads to a diversity of events tailored to what different subgroups in the house want to do. We also have monthly ‘virtues’ which just means that everyone volunteers to do something nice for the house, which can range from ‘replace some light bulbs’ to ‘draft a proposal for a new house system’ to ‘make it so we have a library.’ I think this is pretty important.
Bottom line I agree that some version of this thing is likely a good idea for most larger houses, but it’s a part of working out systems for house governance, which is a really complicated task. I’m hoping to write a mini-sequence in the coming year on what I’ve learned about running a rationalist house, but I don’t currently feel equipped to write an authoritative section on house governance systems because we are still very much in the middle of working that out.
(I will note for completeness sake that though running Event Horizon is definitely enough work to be someone’s full-time job, it’s never been paid enough for that to be practical for anyone, so I’m not totally sure what house leadership would look like if someone was putting all of their working effort towards it.)
Habryka and I are running one at my parents’ house in Madison WI on December 21. There’s a private Facebook event that I can’t make unprivate but I also made a LW event. Email or message me if you want details :)
Grocery line: This basket is too heavy. But maybe my physical limitations are all in my head and I should just get over it. Stop being so tired. Look there’s candy! It’s so pretty I bet it tastes so good I want it. No, remember, candy makes you feel bad (*remember the physical sensation of eating too much candy*). Is the person behind me mad at me for taking up too much space on the conveyor belt? Does he think I’m stupid or inconsiderate or poorly dressed? How fast can I make this transaction? In what order should I put these things in the grocery bag? What if I suddenly forget my PIN number and can’t pay? Am I being degrading by not having a conversation with the cashier?
Youtube: I’m not a regular watcher of Youtube, but the most recent thing I discovered was the genre of videos akin to “the Hamilton soundtrack but every time they say his name it gets 10% faster.” I also like in-depth analysis of movies and TV shows—even ones I’ve never seen, if the reviewers are entertaining.
I’m in pain most of the time.
I’m unusually prone to anger and have a lot of rage fantasies, and I want to scream and break things unusually often (when I was in school I would often break my pencil in half when I got angry, because it was inconspicuous but still helped a little).
I barely have any episodic memory stretching back more than one year at any given time, and >90% of my memories are bad memories, despite me having had a pretty good life.
I dissociate a lot (and have since childhood), including dissociating basically every time I look in a mirror, because I’m like, “who is that? what is that? who are these people around me? how did I get here?“. As a result I have a constant sense of suspicion that nothing is actually real. This only goes away when I’m really wrapped up in what I’m doing and not thinking about the fact that I’m a human in a physical body in a physical world, but it’s easy to be jolted out of that.
I’m not good at allocating my attention between competing sensory experiences. If I’m in a room where a lot of conversations are happening, I’ll try to follow the ones to my left and right in addition to the one I’m supposed to be in. I can’t work while listening to music or if people are talking or if I can see movement in my visual field, or sometimes even if my clothes are too tight. I lose my train of thought when I hear a baby or child.
I pay much more attention to what other people (mostly strangers) are thinking about me than I think is normal. Oli phrased it as something like, the world around me is made up of giant heads and their giant faces are staring at me all the time and judging me. (I think he said other people’s heads are 20x bigger to me than they are to him). I learned to walk and eat and open and close doors maximally silently because I hated bothering other people. If someone tells me off or even just corrects me I usually want to cry.
When I have a plan to do something, I rehearse it in my head over and over beforehand. Usually before big events that I’ve planned I have a nightmare the night before where I experience the entire next day but a bunch of things go wrong. The rehearsing also makes me feel kind of stuck, so e.g. if my implicit plan was to sit in bed and read, and one of my housemates starts a conversation with me when I walk into the kitchen to get water, I feel a ton of internal tension even if I’ve read the book before and the conversation is way better than sitting in bed, because it’s just not what I planned to do and I can’t adjust.
Honestly I just watched the video for the first time and I don’t think it needs an update; it’s still pretty painfully accurate :P
Hi Joshua, sorry I missed this comment! I’m not in Chicago anymore, though I’m still invested in the group’s success. I’ve been meaning to write up a postmortem of the version of Chicago Rationality that I ran (and later passed off to Peter), but I recently started working full-time so I’m not sure when I’ll get around to that—for now I can just say a couple of things here.
One is that I think Chicago is more spread-out than a lot of major cities, which makes it really hard to pick a good location—e.g., we initially had our meetups in Hyde Park, but we had very low regular attendance because most people weren’t willing to trek all the way down to the south side; and when meetups were moved to Harold Washington Library we basically lost all the UChicago students. Similarly Northwestern is way far from any central location you might pick, but in the opposite direction. This makes it really hard to sustain a core group of people who will regularly show up.
Another is sort of a catch-22, where because there’s not a lot happening in Chicago in terms of rationality or EA, there’s not a lot keeping really hardcore rationalists/EAs in the city. Like, I joined a version of Chicago Rationality in March of 2015 that only lasted for three months, at the end of which all four other members moved to the Bay to work for EA organizations. I think this was almost certainly the right call for all four of them, because they didn’t have strong roots in Chicago, weren’t well-positioned to earn to give, and were good fits for the culture and organizations they joined in the Bay, and most importantly because there was no community for them in Chicago and no way for them to have an impact there.
As for why I think there hasn’t been a lasting community in Chicago so far: Chicago isn’t flooded with programmers like some other cities—which is a big deal because programmers are way disproportionately into rationality/SSC—and it doesn’t have particularly unique industries that would draw rationalist-type people. Here I’m thinking of Seattle (which has sustained a large rationalist community), where lots of people don’t want to leave their jobs at Amazon, Microsoft, and SpaceX. (See also Paul Graham’s essay on cities, which led me to reflect on Chicago and find it to feel not at all ambitious, at least to me).
So those are my super rough thoughts on what it’s like to try to make a community work in Chicago. I definitely don’t think it’s impossible—there are communities in much weirder places with many fewer rationalists—but I think it’s important to keep these considerations in mind, and maybe using an atypical strategy to accommodate them.
For example, I can imagine that you might want to have weekly meetups switching off between three regular locations—one closer to Northwestern, one closer to UChicago, and one downtown. That way people who weren’t able to easily travel to the other locations could still make it to ~one meetup per month, which would allow them to feel like part of the community even if they’re not at every event. If the three locations each had a different host, this would also help with leadership redundancy (which I talk about in the post).
For the ‘not a lot happening in Chicago’ concern, I think you’d just want to be careful to not place all your eggs in a basket that’s likely to move away soon (like me, sorry). You need people who are committed to staying in Chicago and building a community there, rather than just excited about the thing but apt to leave for greener pastures. This means that while universities might be good places to find new members, you shouldn’t build your group such that it relies on students to survive.
Hope this was helpful, and sorry it was so long! Feel free to ask more questions :)
What is your pain
This is actually quite a personal question, and I don’t like answering it so I’m not going to.
As for what I’ve tried—briefly, I’ve tried most of the things listed above, other than somatic therapy (which I’m interested in trying), and acupuncture and surgery (which I’m not). I started off consulting the medical establishment about my pain at the age of five, and gradually branched out to alternatives when that didn’t work. I currently mostly use massage, some of the exercises I learned from physical therapy, and psychologically-based relaxation techniques.
Thanks for writing this; it’s so cool to finally hear what’s going on with Kocherga!
I know some of the people at CFAR are very interested in talking with you about your curriculum. It’s too late to apply now, but CFAR is running a workshop in Prague next month and would be super interested to see someone there who was familiar with Kocherga-style applied rationality. So if any of your alumni are able to get to Prague easily and would be interested in meeting up with people from CFAR, have them email email@example.com to see if they can set something up! Note though that I don’t work for CFAR, so take this all with a grain of salt.
Separately, I’d be interested to know if you’ve pursued any of the larger-scale funding options such as CEA. Kocherga seems like it plausibly could have gotten funded via the EA Community Building grants (although that’s not for sure due to its focus on rationality rather than EA). Note that a comparison to the Berkeley REACH would not be appropriate here because REACH did not exist yet when Stardust applied for the community building grant, whereas Kocherga has a long track record. In any case, it seems worth it for you guys to apply for grants. You’re clearly doing something valuable :)
Anyway, I’ve pledged $30/month. Best of luck!!