How to actually change your mind | Eliezer Yudkowsky

How to actually change your mind | Eliezer Yudkowsky

🚀 The Book in 3 Sentences

🎨 Impressions

How I Discovered It

Who Should Read It?

☘️ How the Book Changed Me

How my life / behaviour / thoughts / ideas have changed as a result of reading the book.

✍️ My Top 3 Quotes

The map is not the territory.

Algebra trumps authority.

Non-fiction conveys knowledge, fiction conveys experience.

📒 Ideas

Probabilistic decision VS personal

  • Probabilistic decision defines how we would act in situation of high level of uncertainty.
    • If we have requisite time to make decision, we call on computer power and mental control.
    • Probabilistic theory precisely defines borders of new belief, takes into account new givens.
    • It uses background knowledge as a groundwork and new piece of information for it as building blocks for new belief.
  • Where when I make a decision relying only on my brain capacity, I mold beliefs to match the preferences and act accordingly.
    • Thus, all decision that lack probabilistic calculations are biased.
  • [[выбор и решение]]

Beliefs must gauge the things they really are

[[Мы не более чем набор убеждений о мире]]

  • A person is never entitled to his opinion.
    • “I don’t know”, is also out of question.
  • All we are, is our desires, and in rare cases, choices we make.
    • I might own a choice, but if I can, I might choose preferences.
    • Remember that they are biased for the most time.
  • Instead of preferences, anchor your choices on beliefs about the world.
    • It’s the best estimate of what the world really is and what you must decide.

Check and double check, be modest and reserved about your results

  • It is called scientific humility, you must learn a way to practice it even when you are absolutely alone.
    • Check your results and don’t rationalize. Be as harsh with yourself as you can, without damaging your self-esteem.
    • If you can backtrack your research, proofread multiple times your piece.
    • During exam time, recheck calculation, even if you are sure in them.
  • It should be done all the time, test, and question your result.
    • But only if you have time for this.
  • If you encounter new information, don’t let it disappear in a flow.
    • Updated your belief of the world and act on it accordingly.
    • Change patterns of behaviour or calculations.
  • [[What is rationality#^09f321]]

Do better, look for third alternative

  • When faced with equally logical choices we tend to choose the one the most convenient at the moment.
    • The defensible position of approach we have chosen that also has personal benefits will be our choice.
    • We will never look twice for another way. But usually there are some.
    • It’s call the third alternative.
  • If I ask myself a question, wherever there is another superior alternative to my current policy. Would I be glad for it, or I would feel the reluctance to let go?
    • The answers “yes” and “no”, is a clue that there is the third alternative, you can look.
    • You need to purposefully look for it.
  • Did you spend at least five minutes brainstorming and generating creative ideas, thinking of better alternatives?
    • Set a timer, 5-10 minute and begin to work.
      • ==Actual physical clock is recommended.==
    • Without a clock, it will be a black hole for your effort.
    • This activity is not like rumination, it has to have predefined limits.
    • [[What are knowledge creation systems#^c4cf09]]
  • [[What is rationality#^be0bb6]]
  • How to do better? What questions to ask? Where to look?
    • Of you really want to do better, and you don’t feel sorry for your cherished beliefs, and ready to go the whole mile, then you should to it.
    • Close your eyes, and look for what hurts the most, which argument is hurting the most, or which is the weakest point in your belief that crumbles after soft touch?
    • Then break it on purpose, forcefully and without regret.

Arguments are soldiers, politics is war

[[Аргументы это солдаты, а спор война]]

  • Have you ever considered politics as war.
    • Some famous politician once said that war is logical extension of politics.
    • It doesn’t need to be especially bad or good, just war is politics and politics is war.
    • It was Bismark as far as I can remember, but I can be wrong about that.
  • So if we continue on this path of politics is war, then logically we can conclude that instead of soldiers and bullets we have points, a position and arguments.
    • Arguments are our soldiers and munition.
    • Once we chose a position, we must provide as many sound arguments as we can.
    • Attack all arguments that are in favour of your opponent, and refute all his attack by counterarguments.
    • Don’t weigh evenhandedly both sides, use logic and reasoning to select one and stay with it.
    • Stay loyal to your preferences.
  • Don’t treat all arguments as in favour of one and against the other.
    • There are some premises that can be applied to both side of opposition.
    • Keep scrupulous track of them in your notebook and use to balance your argumentation.
    • Don’t treat discussion as a form of combat or sport with only black and white colours.
    • It consists of all shades of gray.
  • If you have to argue about something, pick the strongest position of the most influential advocate and build your opposition against it.
    • Debate against weak points is meaningless. Weak will fall apart without your intervention.
    • The least convenient path is the only valid one.

Thinking is speaking. Muddled language equals muddled thinking

  • Essentially it’s the same idea expressed by several prominent figures.
    • In [[How to speak How to listen]] by Adler.
    • In [[How to Take Smart Notes]] by [[Sonke Ahrens]]
    • In an essay [[beyond smart by Paul Graham]]
  • Orwell speculates that human evil intertwined with muddled thinking, which grows out of muddled language.
    • As soon as you destroy ambiguity from, it clears.
    • One way, is not to use passive voice outside printed and reviewed article.
  • Influence of the language of the way we think, and a method of politics, influence our behaviour. Read these two essays:

[!NOTE] George Orwell Read this book
[[George Orwell Politics and The English Language — George Orwell]]

  • Orwell speculated that muddled thinking is the cause of muddled language.
    • Thus, he concludes muddled language is the cause of human evil.

In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible. Things like the continuance of British rule in India, the Russian purges and deportations, the dropping of the atom bombs on Japan, can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed aims of the political parties. Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness. Defenceless villages are bombarded from the air, the inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: this is called pacification . . .

  • If you wish to read something about probabilities, read this one:

[!NOTE] Judea Pearl
[[Probabilistic Reasoning in Intelligent Systems — Judea Pearl]]

Spent arguments

  • Consider said argument as shot bullet or dead soldier. Do not overuse it.
    • If you refute with it opponent’s attack, you can’t use it for the second time.
    • It looks like as if you double count your evidence. And we are talking about qualitative argumentation, not quantitative.
  • If a case arises in which you can’t counter, downshift your position.
    • Integrate all points from the opposing side and yours into the final argument and see who stands where.
    • Evidence may still be in your favour, but without downshifting, it’s difficult to keep composure when presented with a strong counter opinion.

Thinking is speaking. Muddled language equals muddled thinking

  • Essentially it’s the same idea expressed by several prominent figures.
    • In [[How to speak How to listen]] by Adler.
    • In [[How to Take Smart Notes]] by [[Sonke Ahrens]]
    • In an essay [[beyond smart by Paul Graham]]
  • Orwell speculates that human evil intertwined with muddled thinking, which grows out of muddled language.
    • As soon as you destroy ambiguity from, it clears.
    • One way, is not to use passive voice outside printed and reviewed article.

A box and a diamond

  • Imagine you have in front of yourself two boxes. #20min ^395267
    • One is plain box with no marks on it, this box in heavier when you lift it.
    • Second is stamped all over, and rattles when you lift it.
      • It also has many signs and portents of long travel, say from Africa.
    • What line argumentation you’ll choose to prove that diamond is in one of them?
    • First thing, you don’t know where the diamond is. It’s fifty-fifty chance of success.
    • You must build your argumentation and reason why you choose one or another.
    • There are several approaches to build your line of reasoning.
      • Inductive.
      • Deductive.
      • Abductive
    • Clever arguer leaves out of the picture point not in his favour and includes all that proves his position, even if they weak, but not too weak.
  • [[Critical thinking#^39c9c5]]

True rejection

  • Any complex matter, that is linked to other elements, and influence them through itself, can’t be reviewed easily.
    • Rejection of something is a gruesome process, especially when not a single agent is involved.
    • Not matter how deep is the shared pool of ideas, there is always left something underlying and not said.
    • Thus, when a proposed idea sounds controversial on even harmful to the cause, ask yourself if my disdain for it comes from bias.
      • [[Crucial Conversations Tools for Talking When Stakes are High#^ba59b5]]
    • What is the real reason for my rejection?
      • Don’t talk and speculate from the position of personal gain.
    • Don’t attempt to ask this question in public when your idea is subjected to rejection. It will cause the conversation to degenerate very fast.
      • Instead, ask all the important questions
      • [[Crucial Conversations Tools for Talking When Stakes are High#Important questions to ask when working with the pool or in the pool]]
        Yudkowski suggest looking the article by Gilbert Tafarodi and Malone. “You can’t not believe everything you read

Looking isn’t seeing

  • Robert Pirsig in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle maintenance speculated on seeing in teaching context.
    • Too often, we think that we don’t possess an ability to make something worth and original.
    • It’s not because we actually lack an ability, but most likely we think that we don’t know enough to say original. [[Critical thinking could not be taught#^c8779e]]
    • But even this isn’t true. What we really are trying to achieve when doing something original is we are searching something worth retelling.
    • Which at the core, just repeating somebody’s work, which in turn not our work and this also stops us to achieve anything.
    • Stop repeating what you’ve already heard, just tell/write what you see.
      • To do that, you don’t need to look at the whole picture, just a piece of it.
      • For example, you need to hand a paper on the topic of didactic qualities of certain tool.
      • Don’t look on the net, who said what. Put on paper what you see. Start small. From one feature, the most used by you. And go forward.
      • Or another example, I am trying to build a digital garden. I looked many and many gardens, fell to a trap of copying somebody else’s work. But never thought, really thought, what could be done with existing tools.
      • In the end I’ve built a garden on WP engine, and it looks splendid.
    • Start small, narrow down to one brick, and see originality.
  • Nice point to add why we must use our words in notes. [[Пиши заметки своими словами]]

Disease of too many links

  • Too often we fall to a trap of making connection in places that only seem to be connected.
    • We are afraid to make leave a note or a piece of knowledge without connection. That was the case with me, when I was doing baby steps in note-taking.
    • With time, I’ve found a balanced mapping.
    • The reason the graph is useless is because of all noise that in produces with excessive links.
    • They are the same as highlighting must be added sparingly.
  • We tend to look at the graph as at our brain, with everything connected to everything, but the most important graphs are the ones where blank connection exist. Not fully connected graph is the graph that conveys the most knowledge.
    • People try to be profound by constantly comparing one with another, until the moment the graph is fully connected and totally useless.
    • The remedy is specific knowledge and further research.
    • As soon as you understand the topic, you begin to see things for what they really are, and the most crucial comparison is subtractive comparison. Not how things are alike, but how they not alike.
    • Many think that such narrowness it is a sign of something, say it might be considered lowly and not deep enough.
    • But poets, for example, don’t think like that. They need exact word for exact purpose. Too broad meaning brings ambiguity to the poem.
    • Links that we use in our vaults must connect certain things and disconnect the others.
      • Nothing bad about narrowing the scope by excluding some possibilities and intensifying propositions.
      • Links are poetry, if you have too broad linking you end up with something that is too noisy and vast and in the end isn’t true. And this is bad poetry.
    • [[Связывайте заметки друг с другом]]

Cult of note-taking

  • Imagine yourself finding a pen, nice pen it is, no doubt.
    • You wish to sell it later and can assign any price you wish, high or low.
    • You can sell it for that price, but if you keep it and use it to write thoughts, ideas, notes, then, who can doubt its worth?
    • Most people, when they come to my chat, begin with asking question how to do and what to do. Though most of them consider themselves quite proficient in note-taking, after all, they have been doing it all their lives.
    • Later, after some time, it turns into doubt. Is my Zettel, could be called Zettel, or it’s something else?
      • What worries people generally is a form, not the content and quality of the thought.
      • To resolve this kind of cognitive dissonance they are willing to pay enormous amount of money, perform somersaults and wear clown shoes.
      • Because they worry what does it look, instead of doing.
    • Use techniques, don’t mention them, don’t ask what is better and whose zettel is more zettelish.
  • [[Культ заметковедения]]

📚 Related Books

  • [[Thinking Fast and Slow]] Yudkowsky mentions sunk bias and other financial biases in the late part of the book, he suggests reading Slovic’s summary article on “Rational Actors or Rational fools: Implication of the affect heuristic of behavioural economics”