Tsuyoku Naritai! (I Want To Become Stronger)

  • The purpose of confessing your biases and flaws is to focus on fixing them
  • There should be no pride gained by the mere confessing of flaws
  • The important thing is to confess your flaws and then work on fixing them, a little bit at a time

Something To Protect

  • Rationality is not an end in itself - it is a means to some other goal
  • Rationalists must have something that they value more than rationality
  • Rationality should be useful
  • Science beat religion because it could produce better technology, not because it could produce more convincing explanations for natural phenomena
  • The relationship between loving Truth and loving usefulness is complicated
    • If you love Truth 100%, you find it impossible to update your beliefs, because Truth isn’t constrained by mere accuracy
    • If you love usefulness 100%, then you can find yourself taking up false beliefs because they’re useful to you in the moment
  • People tend to grow as rationalists when they have something to strive for, something that is more important than their own lives
  • Part of the aesthetic of rationality is subordinating rationality itself to some other goal

Trying To Try

  • There is a big difference between being satisfied with success and being satisfied with a plan for success
  • Almost any level of effort will convince us that we’ve tried our hardest if trying our hardest is what we have set out to do
  • Instead of asking yourself, “What can I do?” ask yourself, “What needs to be done?”
  • Don’t try your hadest. Win, or fail

On Doing the Impossible

  • The word impossible has two meanings
    • Mathematically proven to be impossible
    • Not immediately apparent how to do the thing that is being described
  • Any time you don’t understand a domain, the problems in it will seem impossible
  • Remember that confusion and impossibility are two different things, and confusion only exists in the map, not the territory
  • Attempting to do the impossible is not for everyone
    • Extraordinary talent is mere prerequisite
    • Need to have extraordinary talent, and also be willing to wager years of your life on something that might not work out
  • Perseverance has multiple timescales
    • One form of perseverance is working 14-hour-days
    • Another form of perseverance is working for a problem 2 hours a day for years at a time
  • To do things that are impossible, you have to
    • Not turn away from the problem (seconds)
    • Work at the problem (hours)
    • Stick to the problem (years)

Shut Up And Do The Impossible

  • There is a level of effort that is higher than “tsuyoku naritai” – “isshokenmei”
  • “Isshokenmei” is a making a “desperate effort”, as if your life and the life of your loved ones were at stake
  • However, both tsuyoku naritai and isshokenmei involve making increasing amounts of effort within a given system or set of beliefs
  • There is another level, “extraordinary effort”, which involves stepping outside the belief frameworks that you currently have
  • Making an extraordinary effort involves attempting to solve problems in ways that no one else is doing, ways that may lead to ridicule or censure
  • To make an extraordinary effort, you have to set out to solve the problem, no matter what
  • Even then, there is no guarantee of victory – even after making an extraordinary effort, you might still lose and the problem might remain unsolved
  • Losing will hurt, since making an extraordinary effort requires the commitment of a large amount of resources
  • If you’re goint to put forth an extraordinary effort, you had better make sure that the problem is worth it