Controlling your life and methodology [Fallible Ideas podcast] [curi Video]

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B RYTHARIUS commented on YouTube:

This video was great. You should try to remove the long pauses in between sometimes its so long that it’s distracting even when I listen at 2x speed. It’s just a minor thing that doesn’t require much to fix anyway.

I replied:

Sorry about the pauses and thanks for letting me know. This was recorded a while ago in Audio Hijack using a feature to stop recording after 2s of silence (and automatically resume recording when I talk again). Looking at this episode now with waveforms, I see there are some longer pauses due to slight background noise not being detected as silence (also there’s an occasional louder background noise such as a cough or siren). I’m (re)posting all the podcasts from Curiosity – Podcast that were never on YouTube. I’ll watch out for this problem when making new videos.

My recent podcasts used Descript to remove silences which hopefully worked better (those are the ones with waveforms and transcripts on screen instead of the white text on a red background). Livestreams aren’t edited so those may have long silences. I’ve been editing some other videos in Final Cut like the CF grammar tree videos for my other channel

I guess you don’t care and would continue to not wanna care about this stuff but longer replies makes it look as though you’re putting in more effort and thus you are low social status. A famous YouTuber will just reply with something short like “will fix this going forward”

Controlling your life methodology notes:

  • You don’t control your life by default
  • Controlling your life requires understanding your situation
    • Your culture, your genes, the world, etc.
    • What control do other things have over your life?
    • What can you do about these other factors?
  • What steps do you have to take to gain control over your life?
  • What are the threats to controlling your life and what are the solutions to the threats?
  • Learn the skills to implement solutions to threats
    • These are hard skills
    • You can fool yourself and be biased
    • You need skills for introspection and honesty to keep checking yourself
    • If you don’t look into these things, you won’t have much control over your life
  • There are lots of influences of your life, like parents, school, media, cultural leaders, etc.
  • Rebelling is not taking control; it’s playing into the dynamic
  • Learning to think better is a requirement
    • Honest introspection
    • Critical analysis of your own thoughts and behaviors
    • You are unaware of your own bias
  • The default situation is to be a puppet of static memes, culture, parents, teachers.
  • Most people who do a little philosophy are just barely over the cut-off for being willing to try
  • ET finds the lack of interest and strong feelings about taking control over your life interesting and a bit shocking
  • ET is just the messenger on these issues not the cause
  • Most people don’t have the skill to evaluate experts
  • Most people do not want to think for themselves and end up ruled by bias
  • Judge experts by looking at the state of debate
    • Who is open to debate and who is not open to debate?
    • Who has unanswered criticisms that they can’t or won’t answer?
    • Who has been scrupulously answering all criticism?
    • Who has been addressing follow up questions?
    • Preliminary questions and follow ups are necessary when books don’t offer clear solutions
    • Methods of organizing debate are relevant
    • Rules governing which questions they answer
    • Which criticisms do they ignore? How do they decide what to ignore? Bias?
    • Lack of methodology should result in negative judgement
  • The further away from philosophy you get the less these methodologies matter
    • More controversial issues require more methodology and methodological criticism
    • Example: car mechanics don’t need much methodology for resolving disagreements because the issues are less controversial
  • Great people want to take more control over their life early in life
    • Will usually result in not having done much formal education
  • Many people recognize that a PhD in philosophy doesn’t make you smart or good at thinking
  • Just because the traditional tracks don’t work doesn’t mean you should give up
  • You can go read books and look for good thinkers
  • Look at a variety of thinkers and ideas and use your own judgement
  • Interacting with experts should be open to dissent instead of passively listening and being tested (like school)
  • Just because the problem is hard doesn’t mean you can ignore the issue
  • Without good judgement you will go through life pursuing falsehoods
  • If you think you are already an expert, then write out your ideas and deal with objections
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What’s your opinion of that stuff?

I really like the content of this podcast. I’m just starting to wrap my mind around some of these things.

I have just started to try to do a bit of introspection and am finding that honesty is hard. One thing that seems to emerge from looking into some of my ideas is that my interests are scattered/disconnected. It seems like I don’t know what to want. Or I don’t seem to value very many things in practice, other than some really standard normal cultural things (e.g. relaxing, being healthy, wanting money). One of my goals with listening/reading your material, and the stuff you recommend, is finding motivation to really want good things. So, I’m looking into what some good things to want are. I’m trying to think of reasons to want to take control of my life. I like the ideas in Atlas Shrugged and have been reading in Virtue of Selfishness, in this regard. Those books are good at motivating me to the extent that I can be motivated.

It makes sense to me that I need to investigate who I am much more to find out about what drives the choices I currently make. And it makes sense that my ideas, especially those that come most naturally to me, are almost entirely put there by cultural norms and expectations. There are disagreements within the culture and there are subcultures but I basically follow well defined patterns that conform to some traditional ideas. As of now, I consider myself to be in investigation mode regarding this stuff and regarding the alternative ways of thinking and being.

With regard to the state of debate topic, I would say that is a big reason why I have been able to increasingly convince myself that you are unique intellectual. That you are doing something really different from any of the others I have seen. In addition, the more I review your stuff and look at the things you have said the more your worldview seems deeper and more consistent than anyone else’s.

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What are you finding hard about it?

I wish anyone was willing to debate me. I like debating and miss it.

Famous and prestigious people use the excuse that they’re too busy to debate anyone. Which is true, but then they just stop there. None of them have a written policy saying who they do debate, how those people are selected, why they think that’s rational, how low social status people with good ideas could be heard, etc.

I have suggested such a policy to some people, such as Robin Hanson, Jordan Peterson and the Less Wrong community, but I’ve found people unwilling to seriously consider or discuss the matter. Since they have no policy currently which tells them to listen or discuss, or guides their decisions, they have nothing but their integrity (and intuition if it’s good) preventing them from being biased and unreasonable, and that seems to be inadequate. The current social status cost of having no Paths Forward is approximately zero.

If Paths Forward became popular, then the social status cost of having none would be high, and many social climbers would start trying to do it or at least pretend to. That would give some leverage to rational smart people who don’t do social climbing but who can win debates. I’m far from the only person in the world who no one listens to, but who is capable of winning some debates with some popular intellectuals. A lot of errors could be corrected. And a more rational intellectual landscape would reduce the pressure on people to do social networking, get university degrees, etc.

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People without reputation/prestige/etc. won’t debate me either. A lot of them don’t think they have anything important/serious to say and they’re busy. Also they tend not to like facing challenging questions or talking about meta issues like organized debate methodology – they just seem to want a disorganized discussion where they can flake at any moment. The thing I don’t like about that is people arbitrarily quitting in the middle with no conclusion about the topic. So I don’t get to finish the debate I was trying to have. Also what tends to happen is the early parts of debates repeat discussions I’ve had in the past, and then they quit before there’s much if any unique stuff. Also attempts at debate can turn into teaching not debating because people don’t know what they’re talking about. And most of them aren’t willing to read books and study prerequisites mid debate and really aren’t my peers. Teaching is OK but isn’t debating, doesn’t work well with people flakey people who don’t care a lot, and is really problematic when it’s ambiguous between teaching/debate and they try to go back and forth between the two different activities.

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I think honest introspection is hard for me because I have been telling myself a confused story since I was fairly young. That story is that I’m really interested in finding out the answers to all the big questions in life and about the universe. That story directly contradicts my low motivation and lack of time spent correcting errors in thinking. To compensate, I have haphazardly gone around listening podcasts or reading books about the ‘big ideas’, but haven’t done any of the detail work to try and fully understand those ideas. I have had thoughts in the past like, with all the time spent on podcasts/pop science I could have probably actually learned a lot of basic science, instead of just having vague familiarity with terminology.

Basically, I have big problems with massive/ridiculous overreaching and wanting to continue overreaching. I do have interest in learning the more foundational skills too. At this point, I’m trying to continue fostering interest in things that are closer to my skill level. I think you said spending time on things helps develop your interest. I have been finding that to be the case to an extent with grammar.

I think I have also have automatized tons of conflict avoidance lying and pacifying behavior lies. Like just telling myself things are going okay, rather than face problems. And it seems like I’m super far away from having the basic skills to do this kind of thing effectively. It feels like its just really hard to bootstrap honesty and motivation but I guess this is a gradual process. I do think that gradualism can work and it’s the only way I can see working so I will just keep trying to whatever extent I can muster. All I can do is build from the limited skills and good traits I already have.

Lastly, I’m very skeptical of myself. I can’t tell if what I’m saying to myself is lie even when I mull it over. I can hardly trust the things I say/write in real time, at all. So, as I think things, its hard to tell what’s an automatic/scripted deception and what’s more truth oriented.