Good question from Guy Montag yesterday --
I don't disagree with Pascal's Wager because there's a negative opportunity cost(years of religious servitude) involved. I disagree with it because it's doing a dishonesty to myself to pretend like I know something when I just don't have the knowledge to make a judgement call.
So I have a question for you. "Do you think it's better to base your beliefs on what brings you opportunity, or truth? "
I think I'm pretty demonstrably in the very-much-likes-truth camp. We could say that, and that's the end of the story.
I'm very much in the yes we have free will camp. Judgment and decisionmaking happen. Descartes said "Cogito ergo sum" -- "I think, therefore I am" -- I've taken a similar approach to free will.
Besides, on the off chance we don't have free will and the universe is purely deterministic, you haven't lost anything. Why argue against free will? Making that argument only does something significant if we live in a universe with free will. If it's all deterministic, your judgments are already settled and automatic. You gain nothing in the no-free-will universe because you have no choice in that universe. Asserting your free will -- heck, just call it "will" -- this can only be helpful.
It's like Pascal's Wager without the opportunity cost. Declaring free will costs nothing. If you're right, it's useful to acknowledge and assert your will. If you're wrong, well, you were going to be wrong anyways, eh?
So, ok. Me on free will -- "Does it exist? Yes."
But I do muse over the mechanics of it. Clearly physics and causality reign in the universe; indeed, the universe seems to simply be physics and causality.
I suppose this isn’t news to anyone, but as soon as I started ensuring I hit my fitness targets each day, the quality of thought, action, sleep quality, and achievement across the board improved.
It was just a short swim three days ago, and then very simple bodyweight exercises — jumping jacks, air squats, pushups, bicycle situps — but apparently it’s enough to trigger that totality-of-whatever-it-is that makes fitness give its huge boosts.
The Lights Spreadsheet is nice in that, when things are starting to get shaky, it’s possible to precisely nail where, and look for correlations and causation. No fitness = a big problem.
One observation I’ve made recently is just how big the fall-off is from peak morning performance to the last evening-time thinking of the day.
The odds of me badly mis-estimating my chances of working and then screwing off procrastinating, eating junk food, or rationalizing some bad decisions is almost zero in the first 4-6 hours awake, and still very low the next 4-6 hours.
It’s that last run of hours in the day, when fatigue has kicked in and the mind isn’t fresh — that’s where bad decisions come in.
The thing is, when your cognition is compromised, it’s often hard to be aware of that very fact. At least, that’s how it happens for me.
Here, this is a common situation lately — it’ll be somewhere from 7PM to 10PM and I’ll have one or two more “medium-sized” chunks of work I wanted to do for the day that aren’t done.
A guest post from the always-smart Noah Gibbs.
Any form of communication when transmitted or recorded, cuts out important parts of the experience. Audio, video, Skype, SMS...
This has always been true. We say "book smart" to describe the specific ways in books impoverish the learning experience - "book smart" opposes "street smart" because of the things you learn on the street but never from books.
As we learn more of these modern communications, we will discover how they impoverish our learning experiences, each in their separate ways.
This is the fourth published week of the "Lights Spreadsheet" -- tracking/controls on habits and productivity. This follows on the heels of Week 3, which was published yesterday.
The first thing I've got to say is, wow, this is so very useful for analysis. Combined with a bit of thinking and other things, I can see where the chain reactions that lead to fallings-off are.
I suppose the first thing to note down is that this is not quite the bloodbath it looks like. I inadvertently had a good opportunity to start working on my #2 biggest project, the one that I was holding off on getting started, and it got underway well.
This came at the cost of general admin (FinalVersion, Touch It Once/TIZ) and "Progress on Biggest Thing" (a project which is almost finished).
This is the third published week of the "Lights Spreadsheet" -- a tracking/control method for daily habits and production. Here were last week's results.
So, what happens with the fall-off? Here's my journal notes/weekly planning from before the week, from an entry titled "Doctrine/Plans for 1 May to 7 May" --
Thursday, 1st May to Wednesday, 7th May
In high-haggling countries, you almost always do better by having the exact amount of money you want to pay in your hand.
Vendors, merchants, and hawkers are torn between wanting to make a sale and profit, and wanting to hold out to get a higher amount.
But something about physically handing them notes or coins when making your offer makes it much more compelling.
When you say "50 dollars" as a bid on an item, it's easier to reject that in the abstract to hold out for more. But, "Here's a 50... it's all I've got... can I take the item?" -- this has a much, much higher success rate.
The following interview and links to resources are by Spencer Greenberg, a mathematician, quant hedge fund manager, and overall man on a mission to spread practical rationality into the world. His GiveGetWin Deal, “Decision Making Mistakes, Avoiding Bias, Challenging Beliefs, Evidence — How Do We Know It’s True, and What To Do About It?” will be 60 minutes including a class and Q&A designed to make you better at key decisionmaking in life. Use it to earn better, spend better, and live better. Here’s Spencer —
Clearer Thinking by Spencer Greenberg as told to Sebastian Marshall
I’m a mathematician by background. I focus on the mathematics of machine learning, trying to get computers to learn from data to make accurate predictions. I founded a quantitative hedge fund that uses machine learning to invest in the stock market: it learns as it goes, and updates itself as it learns from the data.
I also founded the Clearer Thinking Project with the goal of getting people to challenge their own beliefs, improve their decision making, and avoid bias. The original inspiration for this work comes from cognitive science, where over the last few decades scientists have discovered numerous ways our brains mislead us when we’re making decisions.
1. The whole landscape of Morocco is beautiful, almost hauntingly so. The trees, the buildings, the architecture… it’s majestic and inspiring.
2. The merchants and hawkers have such an interesting way of running their craft. You see how hawkers sell fruits, vegetables, spices — and you realize that it’s how merchants traded in produce for thousands of years. They’re stacked on the ground on a blanket, stacked so elegantly and carefully. It’s much more viscerally appealing than the modernity of supermarkets, at least while visiting.
3. Very few people speak excellent English. Everyone speaks French, mixed with a bit of Arabic. You can get around, but it’s not super convenient.
4. 95% of the people are very friendly and very nice. Like, very much so. They’re wonderful people.
5. Yet, similar to Vietnam, I feel like I can’t let my awareness / danger sense drop below 65%. Morocco is quite safe apparently, but the traffic is crazy with motorbikes down alleyways, poor signage, etc. And that’s not the tougher part — people try to give you less change than your purchase cost and overcharge slightly, it’s a constant haggling culture, and touts are trying to take advantage of you and give you bad directions.