Books that have had the biggest impact on my life/thought

In roughly chronological order: 1. J.R.R. Tolkien: The Hobbit / The Lord of the Rings 2. Eliezer Yudkowsky: The Less Wrong Sequences 3. Michele Boldrin & David K. Levine: Against Intellectual Monopoly 4. Olivia Fox Cabane: The Charisma Myth 5. Marshall Rosenberg: Non-Violent Communication 6. Eugene Gendlin: Focusing; Connirae Andreas & Tamara Andreas: Core Transformation Tolkien, because...

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Cognitive Core Systems explaining intuitions behind belief in souls, free will, and creation myths

A book I’m currently reading, Cognitive Pluralism, cites research suggesting that human infants as well as many non-human animals (particularly primates) are born with four “hard-coded” core reasoning systems: A Core Object System which identifies cohesive and continuous objects (as opposed to say liquids or heaps), enables tracking of such objects, and causes us to expect...

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Relationship compatibility as patterns of emotional associations

Much of relationship compatibility comes down to a fuzzy concept that’s variously referred to as “chemistry”, “clicking”, or just feeling good and comfortable in the other’s presence. This is infamously difficult to predict by any other means than actually spending time around the other. OKCupid-style dating sites, with their extensive batteries of questions...

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Fixing the 4X end-game boringness by simulating legibility

4X games (e.g. Civilization, Master of Orion, for this discussion I’m also counting Paradox-style grand strategy like Crusader Kings, Europa Universalis, Stellaris) have a well-known problem where, once you get sufficiently far ahead, you’ve basically already won and the game stops being very interesting. There have been various attempts to fix this, but the problem remains. (Extra...

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Chapman, Kegan & sosiaalinen ja moraalinen kehitys

Luin vihdoin David Chapmanin tiivistelmän psykologi Robert Keganin sosiaalisen ja moraalisen kehityksen mallista, ja totesin että tämähän on yllättävän kiinnostava kuvaus monista nykypäivän yhteiskunnallisista dynamiikoista. (Ainakin mikäli pitää paikkansa.) Mallin mukaan ihmisten moraalinen kehitys etenee viiden askeleen läpi. Askeleet 1-2 ovat relevantteja lähinnä vain lapsille,...

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Core Transformation

So I went to my head to ask myself: what is the one thing that I’ve been trying to get from all of my romantic relationships? What is the common theme that unites all of my fantasies? What is the thing that I desperately find myself craving for even now? That one “if only I could have that, then everything would be fine” thing? Initial associations: Trust. Safety. Someone who...

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Moving on

I expect this to be my last breakup post (about this particular breakup, at least :P). After having processed all the pains I’ve discussed in previous posts, there was just a final one left, one that’s in a sense the simplest. It’s that I have tremendous respect and admiration for my ex. She combines a brilliant intelligence, a fiery loyalty to her principles, and a stark...

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Re-interpreting meanings

After I made my last breakup post, siderea left me with some excellent thoughts about it. While there were a lot of good points, these were the parts that resonated the most. She started by describing the reaction that many people have to her:   … a lot of people, male, female and otherwise, fall “in like” with me very quickly, because for a lot of them, I...

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On perceived connections

Writing about this seems to be useful, both for me and some other people, so more on breakup pain: The fact is that I don’t have very much experience of long relationships, and that I haven’t had many deep friendships either. At this moment I feel like I only have one really deep friendship, and I don’t get to see that person nearly as often as I’d like. I’ve long...

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Letting go – but not *too* much

Dealing with breakup pain, part twenty million: I mentioned in a previous post that dealing with loss seems to come in stages. Grief is not grieving after one thing: rather there are many different things one has to come to terms with, all tangled up with each other. The most recent pain I had in the last few days involved repeatedly recalling various good moments we had. It felt unclear to me...

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No, I don’t think we need more existential terror

There’s a popular narrative that goes roughly like this: most of human history has been dangerous and uncertain, and that’s the kind of environment our minds work the best in. The reason why so many people these days are bored and depressed is because we’ve made the world *too* safe, we would actually be healthier and happier if the world was somewhat more dangerous and not so...

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On tangled and layered grief

A thing you’d think I’d already have figured way earlier, but only became obvious to me after this latest breakup, is that there are stages of grief (other than the anger-denial-etc. ones).   A number of times, I’ve felt like I’d already gotten through the pain… Only for it to come up again, with me getting increasingly frustrated – “didn’t I...

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Meditation instructions for self-compassion

I really liked, and have gotten a lot out of, the self-compassion advice in the book The Wisdom of No Escape and the Path of Loving-Kindness. First, on the general attitude and approach: When people start to meditate or to work with any kind of spiritual discipline, they often think that somehow they’re going to improve, which is a sort of subtle aggression against who they really are. It’s a...

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On my burnout

I’ve said a lot about depression, self-compassion, and breakup blues. I haven’t said much about burnout. I have that too. Have had for years, in fact. This is just the first time that I’ve had a chance to stop and heal. I did a day of work last week, the first one I’ve done since the end of November. It went well. It felt good. So I thought I would try to get a full...

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Self-compassion

Often when we are in pain, what we really want is some validation for the pain. Not advice. Not someone trying to make that pain go away (because it discomforts them). But someone to tell us that it’s okay to be in pain. That the things that bother us, are valid and normal reasons to feel bad about. Much of self-compassion seems to be the same. Not trying to stop being in pain. Not trying...

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Disjunctive AI scenarios: Individual or collective takeoff?

In this post, I examine Magnus Vinding’s argument against traditional “single AI fooms off” scenarios, as outlined in his book “Reflections on Intelligence”. While the argument itself is not novel – similar ones have been made before by Robin Hanson and J Storrs Hall, among others – I found Vinding’s case to be the most eloquently and compellingly put so...

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Working on self-compassion: befriending my childhood self

For some reason, I’ve always felt an instinctive dislike towards my childhood self. I generally like kids, but if somebody had magically produced a copy of the person that I was at 5 or 10 and asked me to look after that kid for a while, my automatic reaction would have been “no, I don’t like that kid”. I’ve also had somewhat of a bad self-esteem for a long, long...

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On being a triad and a team

For a few months this fall, I was part of a poly triad which ultimately didn’t work out… but the moments when it did work, worked. So well in fact, that I suspect that any relationship with only two people involved will from now on feel somehow lacking to me, no matter how good otherwise. There were two of us guys involved with one gal, with the guys starting out as strangers to each...

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Suddenly, a taste of freedom

So a few days back, I mentioned that after getting rid of my subconscious idealized assumptions of what a relationship “should” be like, I stopped being so desperate to be in a relationship. And some time before that, I mentioned that I’d decided to put the whole “saving the world” thing on hold for a few years and focus on taking care of myself first. As a result,...

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Finding slices of joy

Three weeks ago, I ran across an article called “Google’s former happiness guru developed a three-second brain exercise for finding joy“. Yes, the title is kinda cringe-worthy, but the content is good. Here are the most essential five paragraphs: Successfully reshaping your mindset, [Chade-Meng Tan] argues, has less to do with hours of therapy and more to do with mental...

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