Some directions I would go with this question myself:
How does shared cultural narrative affect human behavior, and is it more reliable than money?
Can money buy commitment? Personal development? Deep confusion and questioning about one’s ethical choices?
What’s the connection between money and relationship-building? (Especially with regards to fundraising.)
Can money buy coordination? How much coordination would it be able to buy? How reliable would it be?
What is a thing that is NOT money that can result in coordination, better shared narratives, personal development, a commitment to ethics, etc.?
I just want to say this is the best question I’ve seen asked online in a while.
I’m sorry this comment doesn’t have anything much to add other than:
Wow this question is amazing, and I wish more people would ask it, and I’m better for having read it. So thank you for asking it.
My personal understanding of rationality is that Rationality(tm) was always open to being discarded along the way to attaining the 12th virtue.
If you speak overmuch of the Way you will not attain it.
To be clear, I still highly value truth-seeking, model-building, winning, etc. I just don’t know what ‘rationality’ is actually trying to refer to these days. Maybe it feels small and incomplete to me, given my current perspectives.
I feel like Circling isn’t that much stronger than meditation on this particular axis. You might be characterizing “mental universe” as very different from “interpersonal universe,” but to me they’re very similar—because in both cases you have to use your subjective experience as the medium of “evidence delivery” so to speak.
I think someone should maybe write a post describing how meditation is a form of empiricism, and then it should follow as a pretty easy corollary that Circling is also a form of empiricism.
I gave some of those details above. I don’t have further thoughts.
One of the founders of Circling Europe sincerely and apropos-of-nothing thanked me for writing this post earlier this year, which I view as a sign that there were good consequences of me writing this post. My guess is that a bunch of rationalists found their way to Circling, and it was beneficial for people.
I’ve heard it said that this is one of the more rationalist-friendly summaries of Circling. I don’t know it’s the best possible such, but I think it’s doing OK. I would certainly write it differently now, but shrug.
At this point I’ve done 1000+ hours of Circling, and this post isn’t that far off from what I currently believe about Circling.
I’m less clear on the connection between Circling and ‘rationality’ because I have lost some touch with what ‘rationality’ is, and I think the concept ‘rationality’ is less personally meaningful to me now.
I do believe that Circling has a deep connection to epistemics, belief formation, and belief updating, and can teach us many things about how those things work. Similar to meditation, Circling can guide people to understanding perception and seeing through their own perceptions (the lens that sees its lens that sees its lens etc).
I believe the pitfalls are still more or less accurate, but I wouldn’t quite frame them the way I did. I think I was catering to a rationalist audience then. But yeah I don’t really personally agree with the perspective I took.
RE: how to learn about Circling. Right now I would recommend heavily people start with something like Aletheia or Integral-style Circling and then go on to try official Circling Europe events in Austin or SAS. Or maybe online at Circle Anywhere. For my first experience, I would try going to ‘official’ events and avoid ‘wild west’ style events / events with independent facilitators. That’s my personal opinion.
I appreciate seeing this post here! I am very interested in this sort of topic, generally.
I’m confused why the post has such a low karma score. If nothing else, it seems like a useful reference for human anatomy.
One thing this post suffers from is, like, it’s overwhelming for a noob to look at. Personally I’d much rather just hire someone to teach me all this in person, if at all possible.
That said, it still seems like a great reference for parts of human anatomy, and it contains a very interesting hypothesis. I wish LessWrong talked more about this stuff, as it seems very important for humans and how humans think.
Writing about anything RE: biology, life, anatomy, etc. seems difficult because it’s all very 3D in nature, and it’s best to have good visualizations. Which are not always available. That said, I am grateful that you put all this together. It seems like it took a lot of work. And I hope to see more in the future.
Worth noting here that the Schedule at MAPLE is very conducive for creating these low-stakes contexts. In fact, inside the Schedule, you are always in such a context…
There is a world-saving mission at MAPLE, but at MAPLE, it does not define people’s worth or whether they deserve care / attention or whether they belong in the community. I think the issue with both the EA and rationalist community is that people’s “output” is too easily tied to their sense of worth. I could probably write many words on this phenomenon in the Bay community.
It is hard to convey in mere words what MAPLE has managed to do here. There is a clearer separation between “your current output level” and “your deserving-ness / worthiness as a human.” It was startling to experience this separation occurring on a visceral level within me. Now I’m much more grounded, self-confident, and less likely to take things personally, and this shift feels permanent and also ongoing.
Upon re-reading this post, I want to review this sentence:
In my experience, being in an SNS-activated state really primes me for new information in a way that being calm (PSNS activation) does not.
I think this is true still, but I also suspect being in a certain calm, open PSNS state is also good for integrating new information.
I don’t understand this fully yet. But some things:
Many therapeutic modalities attempt to get me into a particular open, peaceful, “all-seeing”, perceptive state. Often related to compassion + curiosity. Referred to as “Self” in IFS. From here, I have been able to integrate many things that were previously “too hard” or “overwhelming.”
In Circling, I have sometimes been basically doing CoZE and going right up to the fence of my fears. Maybe looking at someone actively caring about me / understanding me while I feel shame / fear / self-judgment. For me, this is a very activating situation, like reaching the peak of a roller coaster. From here, I have made some of my biggest updates / experienced my largest releases. And I attributed that to the level of activation / fear, in contrast with the “drop”—there’s this big juxtaposition between my feared/projected/storied reality and what is happening in front of me right now.
These phenomena are mostly still mystery to me.
I think growth-training programs actually do work for the former.
E.g. My CFAR workshop wasn’t something I decided to go to because I was thinking about training leadership. But it none-the-less helped unlock some of this “entry level leadership” thing. Much of the same happens with Circling and other workshops that help unblock people.
So far what seems to work here is training programs that do any kind of developmental training / leveling up. Ideally they work on you regardless of what stage you happen to be and just help propel you to the next stage.
Of course, not all the people who go through those programs end up interested in leadership, but this is probably fine, and I suspect trying to pre-screen for ‘leadership potential’ is a waste of effort, and you should just ride selection effects. (Similar to how people who emigrate correlate with having skill, resourcefulness, and gumption.)
I feel very compelled by this! I would love to help figure out how to approach this bottleneck. I have some ideas.
My sense is that there are some useful funnels already in place that one could take advantage of for finding potential people, and there are effective, growth-y training programs one could also take advantage of. There are maybe bottlenecks in money + space in specific training programs + getting the right people to the right training programs.
It feels tractable to me. I feel like there are lots of levers to play around with.
Pieces I suspect may be load-bearing:
Honest selection effects. This means sending accurate, honest messages, to attract people who are good fits and pass under the radar of those who aren’t. (With some flexibility at the edges, as some people might be on the fence / seem like not-fits but only on the surface; those people can run some cheap experiments, like visiting for a few days.)
There needs to be a bigger point to it all. I don’t think this can all just be for the sake of “my own health” or “I feel less stress with a schedule” or something like this. These personal motivations don’t stand up to enough pressure. At MAPLE, everything is ultimately for the sake of training awakening and leadership. You signed up in order to grow in these ways, and so you’re devoting yourself to the training. And more than that, the point of training is to become a person who can help others / do good things when you leave—someone who can be of benefit, be reliable, is trustworthy, is compassionate. You’ll sacrifice some optionality if there’s an inspiring, higher purpose to the sacrifice. If it only feels like “well I guess I could give up on some sleep in order to exercise because it’s good for me...?”, then it could often go either way. When there’s a higher purpose that’s bigger than me, there’s always a North Star to be following, even if I’m not always on track.
Reasonable, skillful leadership. This thing probably doesn’t work very well if decisions are all based on consensus or something. So you’d want to find at least a few pretty reliable, trustworthy, reasonable people to lead / hold the important roles. Power should be spread around, but it seems fine for there to be a “final say-so” person, who exercises end-of-the-line power, but does so infrequently. There are various ways to play with this. The important thing is having a few good leaders (maybe even just one? but this feels less robust to me), who people would be willing to follow, and they should divide roles between them in a sensible way. One person can be end-of-the-line decision-maker tie-breaker (probably the person with the Vision).
Using commitments wisely. If the leaders all have buy-in (because they put in the most effort, money, etc.), but the followers don’t, the thing will probably fall apart. Get commitments from people, preferably in writing. And then make sure commitments really mean something, in general. Include integrity in your list of virtues. Leaders should consistently demonstrate they care about commitments (big or small) and that when they themselves break commitments, they take that seriously. People should not break their commitments, but also they shouldn’t be shamed if they do. A broken commitment is like a death. It’s no one’s fault, but it’s also worth trying to prevent. Occasionally, it may be correct to break a commitment, but there should be an acknowledgement of its suboptimality (e.g. perhaps it should have been differently made originally, or never made).
Feedback culture. It should be welcome and encouraged and also normal to give and receive feedback from each other, daily. Ideal feedback should be kindly given, rather than given out of annoyance, superiority, disappointment, shaming, or guilting. Feedback is ideally received as a gift. It is OK to fail in giving/receiving feedback well, because people can give feedback on how you give/receive feedback. At MAPLE, it’s part of the written commitment that you will give/receive feedback. (Part of me suspects this works so well at MAPLE because of the meditation training, which helps people feel more equanimous and calms egoic reactivity. If meditation training is important for growing the skill of giving/receiving feedback easefully, that might be a major constraint.)
Financial viability. One thing about Dragon Army that I didn’t like was that Duncan seemed to be holding most of the financial burden, and his willingness and ability to provide financial support seemed cruxy to the thing staying afloat. Now I understand better that it’s possible to fundraise for projects like this and also apply for grants. My sense now is that if people don’t want to give you money for such a project, maybe it’s better to just not do it? On the other hand, if your project has visionary and trustworthy leadership—then you can probably find people interested in funding it, even if they’re not directly involved. If your project is inspiring and beneficial to others, you’ll probably find donors. I think it’s better not to rely on the residing community members as the only source of financial support. (Leverage seems to work this way?)
I see great need for some way to indicate “not-an-accident but also not necessarily conscious or endorsed.” And ideally the term doesn’t have a judgmental or accusatory connotation.
This seems pretty hard to do actually. Maybe an acronym?
Alice lied (NIANOA) to Bob about X.
Not Intentionally And Not On Accident
Thanks! This was helpful analysis.
I suspect my slight trigger (1/10) set off other people’s triggers. And I’m more triggered now as a result (but still only like 3⁄10.)
I’d like to save this thread as an example of a broader pattern I think I see on LW, which makes having conversations here more unpleasant than is probably necessary? Not sure though.
I acknowledge that it’s likely somehow because of how I worded things in my original comment. I wish I knew how to fix it.
Yeah I’m not implying that System 2 is useless or irrelevant for actions. Just that it seems more indirect or secondary.
Also please note that overall I’m probably confused about something, as I mentioned. And my comments are not meant to open up conflict, but rather I’m requesting a clarification on this particular sentence and what frame / ontology it’s using:
If you’re experiencing “motivational issues”, then it stands to reason that it might be useful to keep an eye on which thoughts are leading to actions and which are not.
I would like to expand the words ‘thoughts’ and ‘useful’ here.
People seem to be responding to me as though I’m trying to start an argument, and this is really not what I’m going for. Sharing my POV is just to try to help close inferential gap in the right direction.
Basically, as far as I know, System 1 is more or less directly responsible for all actions.
You can predict what actions a person will take BEFORE they are mentally conscious of it at all. You can do this by measuring galvanic skin response or watching their brain activity.
The mentally conscious part happens second.
But like, I’m guessing for some reason, what I’m saying here is already obvious, and Abram just means something else, and I’m trying to figure out what.
My inferential distance from this post is high, I think. So excuse if this question doesn’t even make sense.
I think I don’t understand what you mean by ‘thoughts’ ?
I view ‘thoughts’ as not having very much to do with action in general. They’re just like… incidental post-hoc things. Why is it useful to track which thoughts lead to actions? /blink