LMD Does Max Tutoring Video Activities

I am going to work my way through the Max Tutoring Videos and post my answers for the exercises in this topic.

My goal is to investigate where I should focus my learning next. I’m not sure that I’ll do all of the activities. I don’t think my goal requires it, but I intend to do a bunch.

I have skipped most of the exercises from the first two videos because I was familiar with/had done them already.

From Tutoring Max #2 at 1:57:15: Write down what you think overreaching is and how it works

I wanted to capture a casual recall. I wrote a quick paragraph off the top of my head with minimal editing.


You are overreaching when the rate at which you are making errors exceeds the rate at which you can correct them. This can happen when you are trying to do things too far beyond your skill level. This is bad because it prevents you from learning from your failures because you do not have the context for understanding your mistakes, e.g they aren’t helpful to your learning. You might not even recognise that you are making errors. Doing things too hard for you can discourage you from continuing learning.

In the following I compare to ET’s tree in Tutoring Max #3 @ 57:29:

Sentence 1


You are overreaching when the rate at which you are making errors exceeds the rate at which you can correct them.

ET has:

When the error rate is significantly above the error correction rate, then errors build up and up.

Good but ET says an error rate that is significantly above the error correction rate. So when is it significantly above? It seems like any error rate that exceeded the correction rate would have the same consequence of potentially unbounded error accumulation.

Is it that, if your error rate is just a bit above, you may still be able to understand some of the errors? In that case they will still accumulate if you don’t course correct, but you might still understand a lot of them. If your error rate is significantly above; you’ll likely not even notice the majority of your errors, let alone be able to understand them.

Sentence 2


This can happen when you are trying to do things too far beyond your skill level.

ET has:

People do stuff that’s too complex and “sophisticated” and “clever”.

I guess if ‘complex’ etc. stuff means complex relative to your current skill level then it’s almost the same idea. I think the spirit of ET’s point here though is stuff that is socially percieved to be complex, ‘sophisticated’ and ‘clever’. Not just stuff that, given ones current knowledge, is objectively more complex.

Sentence 3


This is bad because it prevents you from learning from your failures because you do not have the context for understanding your mistakes, e.g they aren’t helpful to your learning.

ET didn’t put a node in his tree that has a direct parallel to this. Also, I think what I wrote could definitely be improved.

Sentence 4


You might not even recognise that you are making errors.

ET has:

They fail a lot and don’t realise it.


Sentence 5


Doing things too hard for you can discourage you from continuing learning.

There isn’t one of ET’s quite like this. The closest might be:

This leads to people lowering their standards. They accept non-solutions as solutions.

I’m pretty happy with how I did. I thought I would miss a lot more key features of the concept. I don’t think that I got anything majorly wrong.

I try to focus people on more important issues like errors rates significantly above error correction rates. This also gives a margin for error so we don’t have to worry about variance or inaccurate-error-rate-measurement much. And people sometimes succeed despite some errors which can make errors less problematic when there aren’t a bunch of excess errors, only a few.

I wasn’t trying to give precise statements delineating exact boundaries of what is or isn’t a problem. People don’t really need to know that. They need to look for and try to solve some of their larger problems. If they make 10 errors and solve 0-2, that’s a good indicator of a (meta) problem that probably merits attention. I want people to start by thinking and caring about that scenario, and trying to watch out for it (in themselves and others), because it’s common and does a lot of harm.

It looks like you didn’t pay attention to the word “too” in my sentence. You seem to be looking for an answer to “how complex/sophisticated/clever?” and came up with something like “complex/sophisticated/clever relative to current skill level”, which you read as implied/unstated. But there’s already a modifier word in the sentence, which gives more information about this issue, which you didn’t mention.

Here is my summary understanding of your comments on my sentence 1 comments:

Elliot says ‘significantly’ because he is trying to focus on the more important issue of a large error rate over error correction rate. People don’t need to know precisely ‘when is it significantly above?’, they need to know that a situation in which they are only able to correct some small fraction of their errors is common, is bad, and indicates some larger problem that should be worked on.

Yup I see.

I agree, I missed that. And given my question on significance in sentence 1 it’d make sense that I’d be looking for an answer to that question.

From 28:10 in Max Tutoring #4

Tree diagram for:

You can find more stuff which is similar or related and work on that.

and from 42:10 in Max Tutoring #4

After you throw a small, red ball, while you sing, you should stamp your feet loudly, and you should clap your hands energetically, if it’s still daytime.

This is wrong. I made a similar mistake to max in that I had ‘throw’ as a child of ‘while’ and not ‘after’. There are other mistakes too.

This is my tree for the Szasz paragraph in Tutoring Max #4. I had seen Elliot’s video on paragraph trees before so I had some insight into the concept already, like having the conclusion or topic as the root node.

Mine differs from Elliot’s in that sentences 5 and 6 aren’t a child but a sibling of 4, and all are a child of 3. (My sentences are numbered different that Elliots too I didn’t include the ‘presumption of competence’ node.)

5 and 6 and 4 still seem to me like equal consequences of 3, given 1 and 2. 4 seems more detailed and concrete than 1 and 2. But it doesn’t seem like 1 and 2 only make sense to say in the context of 4, if that makes sense.

Here is my version with simplified sentences that I used to help make the final one.

Making paragraph trees I think would be a good thing for me to start doing next.

In Tutoring Max #5 Max and Elliot discuss The Choice by Eli Goldratt. I decided to re-read the first chapter so I could get some extra value out of their discussion. I also practised memorising important ideas as I was reading and made notes of them only when I was done.

The Choice - Eli Goldratt - Chapter 1 Notes/Big Ideas from memory:

  • Living a good life is living a meaningful life, not an easy life.

  • Thinking clearly, thinking like a scientist, is how you live a meaningful life. e.g. A meaningful life is an examined life.

  • You aren’t born being a good thinker. It is a skill that you must practise and acquire. It is a muscle that you must build.

  • Humble Arrogance. Knowing that you are ignorant, but knowing that you are capable of understanding.

  • The scientist’s approach treats all ones attempts to act in the world as one treats prototyping. You are ignorant, and you should not expect what you know to work first time. Since you should have no expectations of success at first, you should not be disappointed by failure. You should be energised by the opportunity to learn where your knowledge is wrong.

  • Everyone has more than enough brainpower. But there are obstacles to them using it. The most important one is that people think that reality is complex. Thinking that reality is too complicated to understand, will stop you from trying to understand it.

  • Your preparedness determines the opportunities you see. The opportunities you see determine your range of choice. What freedom of choice does one have who is not prepared?

  • The choice is the choice to invest in overcoming the obstacles to thinking, it is the choice to prepare.

  • Reality when understood, is embarrassingly simple.

  • You already know a lot of what you need to know to understand most problems about people.

From Tutoring Max #6


Imagine a typical paragraph. Each letter is a sentence. Assign chances to each letter that they’re the parent of ‘F’.

A. B. C. D. E. F. G. H.

My answer and comments about feelings and about my answer before checking:

A: 30 B: 5 C: 10 D: 10 E: 15 F: 0 G: 10 H: 20

I really have no idea. In the szasz paragraph the conclusion was the second clause in the first sentence.

The question has made me feel very confused initially. I understand the question but not how to approach it. Seems like paragraphs could be anything.

I guess there are standards to paragraph writing that I don’t know. I have heard from Elliot that the first sentence is sometimes the ‘topic sentence’ and that you can check whether your paragraph is still on topic if the last sentence makes sense in context with the first sentence? I can’t remember where I heard this and I guess I’m wrong somewhere.

After checking Elliot’s:

Okay so mine is similar to Elliots in that I had the first sentence rated highly and then the sentence directly before ‘F’ rated kinda high and then in a decending-ish order as you go back toward the first sentence.

Unlike Elliot I had given the sentences after ‘F’ some value, and especially the last one. Elliot does say ‘you also want to look at the next one or two sentences’ but does not include that in his answer.

As my comments indicate this was a pretty low confidence answer based on loose details I could remember. I remember feeling pretty confused and helpless.

In Tutoring Max #6 Elliot and Max analyse paragraphs in Elliot’s essay on lying using paragraph trees. I have blurred my trees to avoid spoilers.

A piece of advice that Elliot gave regarding describing relationships between sentences was helpful for me: (Disclaimer: this quote is me doing manual dictation on Elliot’s speech in the video, not from his writing, so it may contain formatting errors or content errors)

[I think it’ll work better in general to use complete sentences for relationships, especially early on, instead of like high level concepts.]

My Trees:

at 27:35:

People often claim that all lies are conscious and intentional. If you don’t lie on purpose, you’re not lying at all. That’s incorrect, and typically a dishonest belief. By that standard, it’s almost impossible to lie to yourself. How do you fool yourself if you consciously know that you’re lying?

My paragraph tree (blurred):

This was correct.

At 46:34

A lie is a communication (or a belief, for lying to yourself) which you should know is false. If you hold something behind your back and tell someone it’s an apple, when it’s an orange, that’s lying. If you don’t know what it is, and you claim it’s an apple, that’s lying too – by saying what it is, you falsely imply that you know what it is.

This was also correct.

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From Max Tutoring #7

At 39:47:

Lying has to do with pretending, misrepresenting or faking. You can do those things with yourself or others. If you know something is false, and you say it, that’s lying. And if you choose not to consider whether it’s true or false, and then hide your ignorance (from yourself or others), then you’re pretending to have a more reality-based approach to life than you do, and lying about that when you falsely present yourself as knowing more than you do.

My Tree:

Correct Y/N: N

My Comments:

I’m not sure exactly how to explain why mine was different to Elliot’s, or what to do about that yet, so I’ll list some differences.

  1. My relationships don’t just express their local relation of the child with the parent node, but include info about the child’s relationship to the idea of conscious lies earlier in the essay.

  2. I didn’t have D as I child of C. The first instance of ‘it’ in sentence D is a pronoun referring to the thing being said in C. That should’ve made it obvious.

  3. I didn’t break D up into parts like ET did.

  4. I don’t have the same type of relationship of B to A. ET has it as ‘more info’ (not a quote). Mine is ‘consequence’

Regarding 1. I can keep relationships local.

Regarding 2. I can be more on the lookout for pronouns whose referents are between sentences.

This was meant to be posted yesterday and was just sitting here as a draft.

From Max Tutoring #8

At 24:09

From Szasz Manifesto

  1. Separation of Psychiatry and the State. If we recognize that “mental illness” is a metaphor for disapproved thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, we are compelled to recognize as well that the primary function of Psychiatry is to control thought, mood, and behavior. Hence, like Church and State, Psychiatry and the State ought to be separated by a “wall.” At the same time, the State ought not to interfere with mental health practices between consenting adults. The role of psychiatrists and mental health experts with regard to law, the school system, and other organizations ought to be similar to the role of clergymen in those situations.

Correct Y/N: Y

From Max Tutoring #10

At 2:53

  1. “Myth of mental illness.” Mental illness is a metaphor (metaphorical disease). The word “disease” denotes a demonstrable biological process that affects the bodies of living organisms (plants, animals, and humans). The term “mental illness” refers to the undesirable thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of persons. Classifying thoughts, feelings, and behaviors as diseases is a logical and semantic error, like classifying the whale as a fish. As the whale is not a fish, mental illness is not a disease. Individuals with brain diseases (bad brains) or kidney diseases (bad kidneys) are literally sick. Individuals with mental diseases (bad behaviors), like societies with economic diseases (bad fiscal policies), are metaphorically sick. The classification of (mis)behavior as illness provides an ideological justification for state-sponsored social control as medical treatment.

My tree:

Correct Y/N: N


My tree ended up pretty different from Elliot’s. I have been trying to figure out why my approach got me such a different tree.

One thing I did was I broke the paragraph up into sentences and tried to reconstruct how they could logically relate to each other, without paying much attention to how the original paragraph was structured. Perhaps I could pay more attention to structure of the orig paragraph was and check to see whether it’s looking too spread out. Like, I have nodes in this tree that are far apart but that in the para they are next to each other and make sense next to eachother, e.g “Individuals with brain diseases…” and “Individuals with mental diseases…”

From Max Tutoring #10

Analysing the first paragraph of the Declaration of Independence:

at 35:46

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

My Outline(s):

Core outline:
When it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve political bands and to assume [a new] station, respect requires that they should declare the causes [of the separation].

Restated core outline simpler:
[When a people declare independence and form a new government, they should explain why]

Main idea of the paragraph:
[We’re declaring independence and here is why]

Correct Y/N: Y


I interpreted ‘when’ as a conjunction joining the two clauses ‘respect requires that…’ and ‘it becomes necessary’. Elliot has ‘when’ as a relative adverb (modifying ‘becomes’?) and has an implied ‘then’ joining the clauses. I don’t recall encountering relative adverbs much. I’ll have to look into them.

I too omitted the fragment “The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,” after looking at a photo of the document and noticing it was more of a title. I had never seen a photo of the document before and I got interested and read about it a bit. It’s such a shame that it was stored in a sunlit spot for 35 years which caused it to fade dramatically. From the FAQ:

Why is the Declaration so faded?

This parchment has been proudly displayed over many decades, including 35 years of exposure to sunlight opposite a window in the Patent Office Building.

It seems so obvious to me that that would happen. It’s so stupid that that was allowed happen to such a historic document. Describing it as being ‘proudly displayed’ just seems like an excuse for a stupid mistake.

I didn’t check the details, but speaking generally: there’s more than one right (useful, reasonable, logical) way to do a paragraph tree. So different doesn’t necessarily mean wrong.

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