Fake Reductionism - Eliezer Yudkowsky

  • Fake reductionism is a subset of fake explanations
  • With a fake reduction, you do not actually have the decomposition of the phenomenon you’re looking at - you only know that it has been decomposed
    • It’s been explained by “science”, but you don’t know the explanation
  • The reason that people feel a sense of existential emptiness after phenomena have been explained by science is because they don’t have the scientific explanation in their minds - they have nothing
  • The easy way to counteract this is to avoid using “it’s been explained” as a stop-sign for inquiry
    • If it’s been explained, what’s the explanation?
  • Just because it’s been explained by science doesn’t mean it’s boring

Savanna Poets - Eliezer Yudkowsky

  • Equations are interesting, but they don’t have the same level of drama that legends and religion do
  • Fiction should be about humans, not about natural phenomena explained by science
  • Humanity needs a new set of “Great Stories” which take into account the fact that we’re not pre-civilization beings sitting around a campfire

Steering Towards Forbidden Conversations - Nate Soares

  • Every awkward conversation that Nate has had has actually turned out to be helpful
  • What are the signs of a forbidden conversation
    • Pausing to remember which specific version of yourself you should show to the person you’re having the conversation with
    • When the idea of having the conversation feels bad
  • The best way to deal with having forbidden coversations is to steer towards them
  • Notice the aversion and train yourself to feel enjoyment in overcoming it
  • Remember the enjoyment you feel when you overcome aversion and use it as a reward for next time

Staring Into Regrets - Nate Soares

  • How do we mine regrets for useful tools?
    • Don’t think about what you should have done
    • Think about how you should have thought
    • Think about the process that led you to the action that you took
  • 2 options when looking at past regrets
    1. Mistake was unavoidable - you made the best decision that you could have under the circumstances
    2. There was an error in your pattern of thinking that you can fix or have already fixed
  • Either you fix your pattern of thinking or you accept the error as unavoidable - there’s no gain in “if only” thinking
  • Once you realize that you could have avoided regrets by thinking differently, you can ask yourself if you could have avoided mistakes pre-emptively by changing your pattern of thinking ahead of time
  • This leads to applied rationality - change your thinking ahead of time to avoid mistakes
  • Aversive memories, used in this fashion, aren’t traps, they’re valuable resources that show you where you can improve your patterns of thinking