Things I’ve learned recently

August 2013

  1. In reality, Harvard is full of people who think that Harvard is full of people who are just there for the brand name. 


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Ben Landau-Taylor

“One of the most useful things that’s happened to me this year is that I got better at noticing when different systems were disagreeing.”

I would really like to know how to do this.

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Pablo Stafforini

Ben, maybe take a look at this Checklist of Rationality Habits, by Anna Salamon and Eliezer Yudkowsky, especially the third part.

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Satvik Beri

Ben: one way is to assign explicit labels to the different systems, the way Harry does in HPMoR.

A good way to find the different systems is goal factoring or a similar process: writing out common actions -> motivations -> deeper motivations until you get to things that feel intrinsic.

See e.g. http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2013/07/do-your-goals-conflict-with-your-personality/ or (self-promotion) http://satvikberi.com/2013/08/08/identity-factoring/

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Will Eden

Divia and I have gotten a lot of mileage out of the Internal Family Systems model of psychology. It recognizes the non-unitary and conflicting aspects of the mind, which I think is critical in any theory of psychology:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internal_Family_Systems_Model

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Satvik Beri

Ben K: your comment about “realizing soft skills are skills” seems pretty similar to Anna Salamon’s post “learned blankness”: http://lesswrong.com/lw/5a9/learned_blankness/

It may be useful to ask if there are any other abilities you mark as “ things”, which you therefore can’t do.

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Ben

Satvik, yes, that’s exactly what it is. The LW post itself has some good suggestions for other areas to look at, but I can’t come up with any other blank areas for me immediately (though I guess “soft skills” is pretty broad). I guess personality features are the closest thing–I feel like I have an appropriate model of how malleable personality can be, but I also don’t feel a pressing need to try changing anything personality-wise, so perhaps System 1 doesn’t quite understand that yet.

I’m not surprised if such areas are just hard to find, but do you have any suggestions for ways to find them? (Or blank areas that you think I might have? Crocker’s rules on this.)

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Satvik Beri

No blind spots of yours come to mind, but I’ll let you know if I notice anything (and will appreciate you doing the same.)

Noticing blind spots is, of course, hard. The method that worked best for me was caring intensely about something where success seemed impossible, but I absolutely had to succeed. From about 2008-2011 this forced me to run into a lot of my blind spots and accomplish several things I had previously thought were impossible at a rate I had not achieved previously or since. So, caring + external feedback may be a fairly efficient long-term method.

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