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This conversation, from Feb 11, 2018, relates to my video:

Scholarly Criticism: Jordan Peterson’s Sloppy Cite (+quotes, research)

The conversation was with the admin of Real Peer Review, which posts criticism bad scholarship in academia. They posted my video and we got into a discussion about a point of disagreement. It was a friendly debate and they thanked me for the discussion at the end.

Unfortunately, the admin account was banned the next morning (fuck Twitter) before I could save the conversation, which deleted all their posts. So here's just my side of the conversation. I think it's interesting enough to post even though there are parts missing. Most of it should still make sense.

Yes! I wrote JP a letter related to that! https://t.co/OEwLwF21sR I particularly dislike JP's repeated comment, in multiple venues, that you can tell if anti-depressants work for you by taking them for a month. (That's anecdote, not science.)

If either of you can point me to a correct rebuttal of Szasz (who wrote The Myth of Mental Illness), let me know...

People have mind-related problems, but they are not illnesses, they are different things. It's a category error – which psychiatry has used to try to justify the use of force outside of the criminal justice system.

There are, of course, genuine illnesses of the mind, like Alzheimer's. Those are not called "mental illnesses", just illnesses. It's only called a "mental illness" when it's not a medical issue.

I agree they are medicalizing morality and this confuses the issues. What was Szasz wrong about, though? You said some of his points are valid and seem to suggest some are mistaken.

I think he was right about everything, all his books are wonderful, and no one has refuted what he said. Non-specific accusations of excesses, written down by no one, are not a serious way to figure out the truth of the matter – which I care deeply about.

"Mental illnesses" are "diagnosed" by looking at and judging behavior (including communication), not medically. Life problems, including (mis)behavior and genuinely self-destructive deviance, are not biology or medicine. Do you have a counter-example which refutes a Szasz quote?

It's hard to comment on everything claimed by any psychiatrist. For now, let's stick to: depression, schizophrenia, autism, anxiety. Hopefully we're on same page about major topics here. So what's the logical argument that depression or anxiety must be biological and/or genetic?

Szasz and I deny your premise and empirical claim. You could give a cite, but I'll reply that 1) correlation is not causation 2) you don't have a medical test to identify schizophrenia 3) you can't identify schizophrenics at autopsy ... 1/2

4) you can't even correlate ventricles to schizophrenia without a way to determine who has schizophrenia (but psychiatrists disagree about that b/c the diagnostic criteria are vague – schizophrenia is under-defined).

If you'd like to discuss the matter in detail, to a conclusion, on a real forum, I'll be happy to. You just changed the topic from your claim about current evidence to about potential future evidence. 1/2

I would rethink things if unexpected facts came up. I don't expect certain facts in future. Like we don't expect to discover that gravity stops in the year 2022, but we'll both update our thinking if that happens. What'd change my expectations is addressing the reasoning for them

Szasz and I have evaluated that evidence differently than you have. We have a different framework, a different way of thinking. That's the thing which is really at issue.

suppose i'm right that schizophrenia is (mis)behavior, deviance, unwanted behavior, etc. in that scenario, would you expect it to have any correlation with some other things, including medical problems? (answer: yes!)

For those who want to read more, @DM_Berger and I have continued the conversation at https://t.co/jjeGatSDnN

can't fit my reply on twitter: https://t.co/OMZ4Qlmvkn

a few hardware bugs doesn't change the fact that many apps can be run on millions of different pieces of hardware, successfully. there is massive scope for hardware details (aka biology) to not matter to results.

if an adversary was programming something to take advantage of human brain hardware bugs, i bet they could come up with something. that doesn't stop most brain software from being best understood by looking at the software level rather than at hardware.

(i am a programmer too)

There are complex, poorly understood brain hardware glitches. But that's not what psychiatry is about. It's about stigmatizing, suppressing and controlling unwanted behavior with the authority of medical-scientific credentials. It's about social and moral issues.

Many medical interventions 4 life problems r unwise. Ppl use icecream 4 breakups, but that doesn't use reason to resolve issues. As long as it's 100% voluntary, whatever. Voluntary SSRIs merely fail 2 solve problem of getting better moral knowledge. Involuntary psychiatry is evil

For example, Rosemary Kennedy's unwanted behavior was living her life in a way that could potentially harm the family reputation. This was unwanted by Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr., who got her lobotomized. Unwanted is a moral value judgement, which can be mistaken in ways bugs aren't.

yes portability can take effort, but it does work well in many cases (e.g. different ios devices with different cpus). it's always possible b/c, key point, computation is a thing in and of itself, with its own properties.

you can write an idea in a book. this demonstrates some independence!

what things of the past? they do e.g. lobotomies and electroshock, today, slightly renamed and slightly modified. https://t.co/gdqTLI3VP5 https://t.co/6jO3HOqOqR https://t.co/1BQbawn0zK

U can't judge things by non-blinded anecdotes w/ sample size 1 & no rigorous methodology for tracking results. There are other interpretations of such experiences besides antidepressants work, e.g. ppl may try harder 2 get life together at same time they take antidepressants

twitter UI sucks. i put 3 links. third one turned into preview. u expected the last link to be the one previewed, but twitter had edited my msg text confusingly. Anyway, ECT is not problem solving. It doesn't use reason. And there's no good explanation 4 what it fixes.

I also believe many uses of ECT which are claimed to involve "full patient consent" do not actually involve full, voluntary consent. No problem if you don't want to get into that though, we can focus on genuine voluntary cases.

No I'm not. I just got one PDF linked. That's it.

Theres many causal mechanisms where antidepressants play role. E.g. makes u itchy, u enjoy scratching itches, cheers u up a bit, starts ball rolling 4 progress. Theres hundreds of stories like this, some plausible. Correlation can't differentiate these stories from standard story

No I'm not a dualist just cuz I said hardware and software are different.

There are good reasons for people to (classical) liberalize their religions. There are all kinds of connections between rational thinking and good life outcomes. People run into pieces of that – their current approach leads to problems – so they try to make some improvements.

Yeah those ideas were dumb and based on bad ideology such as ageism and anti-technology mindsets. If you could point to a falsification of anything I believe, I'd appreciate it.

Nasty, controlling memes don't control all aspects of life or thought, and there are transmission errors anyway. And over time human cultures have created some defense mechanisms, figured out some ways to use reason. That's a major part of what civilized society is.

I'm happy to extend criticisms. I don't like any of the talk therapies either.

Trials are inadequately blinded (if it actually works you can't do blind trials, ppl will notice being happier & an active placebo would be a treatment). & if you don't know causality you can't tell what differences in patient situation or societal environment will change results

Ppl like all kinds of things, including cutting themselves, so why not mind-affecting drugs? Some people do like other mind-affecting drugs! The reason the success rate on antidepressants appears higher is b/c of massive pressure, bias, selective attention, limited alternatives

Negative views of video games and porn aren't mainly coming from self-reports. & self-reports of children in particular – the main victims of screen time limits, TV and video game ratings, etc – are unreliable (often manipulated by others).

Yeah I think there's lots of scope to think outside one's culture, make objective progress, etc. Also plenty of room to be passive and irresponsible and coast, go with the flow, let cultural memes run your life.

We don't have the final, perfect explanations about those things, but we do have (flawed, partial) explanations related to the causal mechanisms. These explanations have some nice features like there's no known decisive, logical refutation for why they can't possibly work.

No, the blinding problems with various internal illnesses are not the same as the blinding problems with antidepressants. When the drug is supposed to cause a mental state, and that's the point, you can't blind properly.

People with certain problems are pressured to take antidepressants and pressured to make it work somehow (or appear to work). Both by friends/family and by "medical" authorities. You have to hide behavior people think signals depression or get pressured to do normal "treatments".

They are claimed to have noticeable effects before research outcomes get surveyed. Blinding is a big problem with pain med research. But not for all drugs.

Looks like what most people believe, and doesn't address what I believe.

Of course it's an issue worth resolving. Where is the contrary claim coming from? I expressed skepticism of a dangerous category of solution about which a lot of big claims are made, based on correlation research with little regard for good explanations of causes.

There are many, many possible interventions. What exactly is the argument that partially-brain-disabling drugs are a good intervention? People were told it would work by authorities and some of them then said it worked. Not good enough! Need to discuss causal mechanisms.

I'm in favor of rational problem solving – figure out actual problems in one's life and use reason to figure out things to do about them. But most people don't really like that – it requires e.g. criticism – so they get to muddle through life with whatever else.

The purpose/function of anti-depressants is to disable some aspect of normal brain functioning. That's why they have words like "inhibitor" in their names. No one has identified the problem at a hardware level, so have no clue how to fix it medically, even if that's possible.

It's crucial 2 figure out why someone is "depressed". What has gone wrong in their life? Typically there's a million problems & poor introspection & reasoning skills. Life is hard but ppl can get better at it. & they can tolerate most problems, as all antidepressant takers do

If someone wants a more spectacular or memorable change, they have many options. Which to use depends on their preferences. Many people want to put the problem in the hands of some experts instead of taking personal responsibility for figuring it out. That often means drugs.

There are many, many different ways of talking – and thinking. Most of them aren't very good. And I certainly don't expect people to magically change their values, preferences or habits the moment they become aware of them. That's not how reason works.

That is a narrative which many people currently find comfort in. But it isn't an approximate, incomplete model of the mind plus explanation of how antidepressants could possibly do what they are claimed to.

I have a (non-final) model and explanations. All the rivals including antidepressants do too! They couldn't have decided to try those drugs instead of random substances without some reasoning. But they mostly leave the explanatory models unstated to make it harder to criticize!

Other lifestyle changes were not tracked with scientific rigor. If you can state the model which is compatible with antidepressants working as claimed, I could point out why it isn't merely incomplete but can't possibly be right.

Look the standard model is "the brain has a bunch of different workstations which are specialized to different tasks. depression is when some fuck up. antidepressants cause some results in the brain which are similar to what the functioning workstations cause".

that is not a very good story about how antidepressants work. there are better ones. but they aren't the main focus. focus is correlation research instead of improving these stories to actually make sense and give a framework to fit research into.

to make progress on these things, one must consider tons of ways to improve that story, & subject them to meticulous criticism, esp 4 decisive flaws (e.g. logical issues). Also question incomplete parts for any story that could possibly fill in the gaps better than "idk, somehow"

one of the problems with the model is the different workstations part, which conflicts with certain epistemology ideas about universality and general intelligence. these can be considered independently and, if accepted, have consequences.

i don't think empirical research is the right way forward on this issue. research always takes place within an intellectual framework. there are framework problems in need of fixing.

whether they are singletons of modular depends on the level of abstraction you're looking at. same with brain. many ppl believe in e.g. language learning center of brain (high level of abstraction module).

"since you like the brain/computer analogy" this is why i stated: "Preemptively, because I always get the same reply about this: I am not talking about brains being metaphorically like computers, and human intelligence being analogous to software. I am speaking 100% literally."

single things or modular. "of" is a typo.

If you want to present a story without modularity, that's fine. Those exist. The story needs to be written and critically considered.

A key epistemology problem is: how can knowledge be created? The only known answer is evolution. Evolution as the method of human intelligence is a single general purpose method. Its form is: guesses and criticism. This has no built in topical limits.

No, most bad ideas are rejected without testing b/c they have internal contradictions, bad explanations, etc. Testing only makes sense when you have a coherent thing which survives other criticism and says testable stuff. Psychiatry isn't there yet.

In order to say they are being helped by drugs, you need to know what you mean – have a story of what the drugs do and how it could possibly help. Otherwise you don't know the meaning of the empirical data – haven't yet comprehended it.

All data sets are logically compatible with infinitely many explanations, including ones that contradict whatever your conclusion is. This epistemological problem has to be dealt with before one can move on to focusing on research.

What else could possibly account for the behavior of squirrels and wasps other than computation? Where are the alternatives? Computation is not a thing that has any rivals, it's a basic part of physics.

The correlation of the molecule and the positive reports is logically compatible with the molecule controlling reporting behavior, or doing so much unrelated harm that people have to develop robust coping mechanisms that often work for original issue too, etc, etc.

The solution to this logical issue is to look for good explanations and create criticisms of large categories of explanations of the data. But without stories about what's going on, there's no way past the basic logical issues.

The people in the field broadly don't know or ignore this, & therefore don't make progress. They aren't doing the required next step – serious explanatory story analysis – b/c of ignorance of epistemology – the field that says how to create knowledge of anything including science

Philosophy, including e.g. scientific method, is mostly not empirically falsifiable. It is criticizable though. Putting forward testing claims or actionable advice is not my goal here. My goal is to analyze the fundamental issues properly.

As a matter of logic, of course lying is possible. It's not the only mechanism but it suffices. You can't get around fundamental epistemological-logical issues without doing philosophy. More controls and reports for experiments can't fix this for you.

Sure that one is extravagant. That has no bearing on whether or not it demonstrates the logical point. I will be happy to discuss more plausible stories after basic logical issues are settled and we have some shared understanding of what kinds of stories we should even be seeking

rejecting it as non-falsifiable is the wrong level of analysis. i said any data set is logically compatible with infinitely many causal explanations, including ones that contradict your conclusion. this is true. that you can criticize some sample explanations is irrelevant.

i was giving examples of explanations which do not contradict the data. the point being the data doesn't do all the work for you. you need things other than data. which means you need to take steps like listing and analyzing them.

i agree. systematic lying is one of the many things best addressed using non-empirical arguments. that is, one needs an epistemology in addition to their science research. and it better be stated and subjected to critical scrutiny.

there's no way around this. & the standard thing scientists do is refuse 2 take personal responsibility for epistemology issues (not their field), & also refuse 2 outsource the matter 2 any specific philosophy experts/papers/claims. so theres no real way to debate it or fix stuff

they already know most philosophy is crap. they don't have the solution. they try to get on with their research anyway. but their research depends on epistemology, whether they state and consider the epistemological assumptions they make or not.

Self-reports can be used when you have an explanation of why they're an adequate proxy for the thing you want to measure. The explanation of what's going on must be written down and critically analyzed (e.g. for bias problems). It's an important source of error, not a side issue.

My proposal seems nebulous to you b/c it'd take millions more words to seriously explain the details of what I mean. And my goal here isn't to propose something.

I've been trying to make some fundamental logical points in epistemology. There ARE solutions in epistemology. I'm not saying there's no solution. I'm saying that those solutions are the right starting point, and they matter and have implications.

If you gloss over epistemology with common sense and pragmatism, you will go wrong. Epistemology matches current common intuitions in some ways and is very counter intuitive in other ways.

There are multiple epistemological approaches to addressing potential lying or magical explanations. Some are wrong, some have consequences or requirements other than simply letting you ignore the issue and move on.

If there was no solution besides a technology we don't have, we would be screwed. You are motivated to try to gloss over and ignore these issues b/c you think they are insoluble. I am not b/c I know Karl Popper (primarily) solved them.

Many issues cannot be settled scientifically. That doesn't make them hopeless. There are rational methods for considering ideas besides the scientific method. The short answer is: demand explanations and criticize them. Magic and arbitrary lying are short on good explanations.

This approach, once accepted, has consequences like using it to analyze everything including "SSRIs work somehow" (which is like "work by magic"). So either the explanation can be improved beyond "somehow" and then considered, or the idea can be rejected along w/ sapient gravity

heavy lying claims, outside of some exceptions (e.g. known biases), tend to contradict our explanatory mental model of what society is like and what people are like. it contradicts our overall understanding of the world. this sort of conflict with other knowledge is typical.

it could logically be that most things we think we know are mistaken. normally we don't question everything (too much work), but we can question any given thing. it's instructive to take questions and doubts further sometimes.

the scientific method is not falsifiable. empirical falsification has limited value when dealing with philosophy, logic, morality. falsification is not an intellectual starting place, it comes from epistemology which is prior.

the correctness of the method "demand all ideas be falsifiable or reject them" is not itself open to empirical falsification. that approach is self-refuting.

getting back to lying: you need an understanding of people. when and why do they lie? if you had zero understanding then you wouldn't have any way to judge if they are lying in reports. all kinds of background knowledge gets drawn in here to address the matter.

given various background knowledge about people, & various methods of thinking/reasoning, then you can reject "lots of lying" in many cases. e.g. ask where is the explanation of why they are lying or how they decide which lie to tell? this criticizes a naive "maybe lying" claim

i am not claiming they are lying, i am claiming that none of the research data is incompatible with them lying. it takes more than data – it takes philosophical method – to reject lying or magic. the point was then to pivot into discussing methods.

& to get from there to explanations mattering – which is the thing i opened with. you've now started to talk about some explanations related to depression. but without yet enough detail for careful analysis. got a reference which lays one out well which you see no refutation of?

i happen to think self-reporting is plagued by biases and lies, primarily b/c ppl lie to themselves all the damn time, but also b/c they commonly try to avoid communications to others that others disapprove of. (e.g. some ppl didn't want to say they are trump voters to pollsters)

however i have explanations of what people are like & why – mental models and stories – which are independently checked against many other things i know, fit many principles, etc. arbitrary "maybe lying or magic" stuff, without detail, is easy to criticize for lack of reasoning.

when more detail is added, then those details can be criticized. making up viable stories, while being wrong, is actually hard when every aspect is getting criticized.

Logical compatibility with data is not the proper standard for belief. Instead it's roughly: what problem does this idea solve? how does it solve it? any criticism saying why it can't work? any criticism that's a bad problem to solve?

all 4 of those things are explanation oriented. empirical falsification is less fundamental, it's governed by a prior framework. it comes up e.g. in a "why it can't work" reason. e.g. "your idea relies on X theory of physics to work, but X was refuted by experiment Y".

antidepressant research focuses too much on correlation – on finding some data that doesn't contradict their claims – which isn't useful. instead of on carefully writing out what causal mechanisms are imaginable (given, yes, existing science) & using logic 2 start ruling some out

Story: it's a culture where lying is highly stigmatized, so most ppl don't lie most of the time. So, unless special exceptions are brought up, it won't be 62% liars. Much less. This is independently checked in various ways, e.g. the infrequency of ppl being caught lying

where r carefully considered proposed mechanisms written down, good enough 2 survive non-empirical criticism & b worth testing? & every study of "we drugged ppl, they self-reported it worked" is finding some correlation data that doesn't mean anything without explanatory context

if you want a fuller answer to that matter you could read Popper and Deutsch https://t.co/aj7zu3XInD or ask on the FI forum ("Discussion" link on top) which is more suitable than tweets.

is there one you don't see anything wrong with and can link to details of?

The appropriate thing to do in that case in write down what things from what columns, which is then itself an explanation, in its own right, which may or may not be any good.

This link doesn't address the basic issues: what is depression? what are the actual problems and observed human behaviors and symptoms? how do monoamines affect that? what is the causal chain to get from the chemicals to high level stuff? it doesn't lay that out.

brought about how? you're not giving any explanation of what's going on.

Yes. You can simplify some parts with unknown as long as the category of thing you're saying can account for the results and makes sense. But you need to actually explain it in order to have some context in which to interpret research data, and to provide a target for refutation.

The hardest part is how it gets from signals outside the mind to changes in the mind (in other words, how it crosses the gap from hardware to software). This is actually easy in general b/c you just program the software to check certain inputs and do things based on them.

But humans are trickier b/c they interpret all inputs according to changeable ideas. Different people interpret the same inputs in different ways. So the explanatory story has to get into culture, ideas, etc and relate them to the chemicals. Or deny that and give alternative.

It's logically impossible to interpret data without an explanation. Your choices are to try to state the explanation and make it not suck, or to hide it and assume it without analysis.

You're having trouble giving an explanation b/c you're focusing on certain difficult details which are not necessary to a simplified, bigger picture explanation.

maybe. but that's your problem, not mine. i'm not the one claiming biological explanations are the answer here. i think depression is ppl getting overwhelmed with life, having hard problems, getting stuck, that kinda thing. my explanation starts and ends in the mind.

no research refutes this, & it has no crucial explanatory holes where we can't figure out how it could work. meanwhile you want to claim some complicated stuff with brain chemistry, etc, etc. ok but then it's on you to figure out how that could work. (or on the experts saying it)

e.g. u could say: we aren't born with a blank slate. we have some preprogrammed interpretations of different inputs to the brain. we can change these, but most ppl are lazy and leave the defaults. they build up complex emotional-behavioral reactions on top of the defaults

depression is when there is a hardware malfunction that causes certain inputs to the mind which are viewed and reacted to very negatively. the complex interpretation was developed in the past when those signals were rare, and wasn't designed designed to be changeable.

the reason it works across different ppl semi-reliably is b/c so many ppl (not all) stuck to the inborn defaults. antidepressants get the brain hardware to stop sending the negative signal (or lack of positive signal, whatever).

there are various things wrong with this explanation, but at least it is an explanation. it's the type of thing needed at the very start.

I haven't tried to produce a method, let alone done testing, and I don't agree efficacy has been measured very well. Again: you cannot judge victory via mere correlation, it requires explanation.

You don't see any connection between unsolved problems + pessimism about solving them and being sad/unhappy/etc? People like success and dislike failure. A problem is an unwelcome thing; a solution is better by their own values. Basic stuff. I think you know this.

yes, making a viable explanation of depression involving biology is hard. i was just trying to demonstrate what an explanation looks like, not make a correct one. i don't know a correct one and i have theory reasons not to expect one ever.

where is the better one than the crappy example i wrote?

you literally don't even know what you did or didn't get – or should or shouldn't want – without an explanatory framework to interpret those things within. you are constantly using hidden, unstated explanations which are being shielded from critical discussion.

this is 100% the norm and is one of the reasons 90% of science is trash.

sure. lots of ppl don't get depressed so that doesn't contradict what i'm saying.

i wasn't trying to give an explanation of how things inherently must be, just of a somewhat common thing that comes up for some people in our culture. lots of people, for cultural reasons, take various kinds of adversity, failure, struggle, etc, quite badly.

OK. Not an issue for me. I don't think depression is due to inherent reasons.

it's not mysterious. you stated why. b/c they have a different attitude ("BANZAI"). some ppl interpret a problem like "oh no, now i'm gonna suffer" and some ppl are like "ok a challenge, i can do this, or at least die trying". different attitudes, different results.

this isnt exactly it. this is low resolution version of type of thing going on. this is a type of thing that could possibly have results like those observed. there is no gap here where you can't see any way it could possibly work at all. whereas biology story isn't that developed

ppl learn attitudes from parents, schools, books, tv, etc. also think of their own. result is: complex, varying ppl with some commonalities of attitudes across portions of groups. what's the problem? u know how this works. u cud easily tell example stories about ppl getting ideas

we could zoom into details about how Joe was bullied at school and didn't have control over his own life to solve the problem (e.g. stop going to a school which permits violence), and then what sort of rationalizations joe developed to cope with life.

life is so complex u need to look at overview and also survey some details. takes too long to cover anything. you can check any areas you suspect of being problematic though.

the results of people encountering certain ideas has significant variance, but it's not purely arbitrary and random either. the ideas have some content which can be evaluated using e.g. reason. the ideas can be more or less logical which affects uptake. can have some manipulation

ppl's paths vary. i can only give examples of the kinds of things that actually happen, not someone's full life story. u keep saying it doesn't have to happen that way. true. so what? that doesn't stop it from happening and doesn't prevent there being reasons for that to happen.

you're just refusing to take on board the logical issues with correlation and causation (you took X drugs and felt better at a later time – and you assume the drugs worked)

i think depression is cultural (an attribute of some but not all cultures), not an inherent thing about all minds. so no it doesn't have to be that way.

getting into where our culture's ideas come from, and why they are this way instead of some other way, is a big topic but there is a lot known about it, and it doesn't suffer from a retreat from explanation like the SSRI ppl.

some ideas contain persuasive arguments which persuade people. some ideas are backed up by pressure. do you understand these mechanisms for why a person might take on board an idea? do you see they are not arbitrary or random, even if not super consistent?

you can't tell me how they work in the most basic overview. just "it works somehow". no better than "god did it".

that is not a refutation of my position, nor an explanation of yours. so it doesn't matter. (and i meant logically possible cultures, not current ones on earth. and having an allele isn't cultural!)

we don't reliably know every detail of everyone's life. but there's no fundamental mystery here where we don't see how something could happen at all. that's a step up from having no explanation at all.

i did not make empirical claims about that. you're attacking stuff i already disclaimed. and why on earth would learning about violence make you violent? prima facie, the more you know about violence, the more you'll reject it! violence sucks.

you have to consider the mechanisms that will get someone to accept an idea. exposure to violent TV doesn't even present the idea "you should be violent" let alone e.g. give a persuasive argument or pressure ppl into it.

at low level, ppl do information processing of incoming ideas, and have some initial inborn (but changeable) ideas/algorithms/etc (which include some RNG). u can easily come up with pseudocode for how this stuff could work. not unimaginably mysterious.

at higher levels of abstraction we run into human concepts like logical analysis of ideas to see if they will work to accomplish our goals. so you can see, in the context of a person with certain understanding of logic, certain goals, etc, how they could analyze an idea.

you can drill down on the context and look at where they learned their understanding of logic, what alternatives they considered, etc. it's hard to track IRL but it's not mysterious to check what their teachers said, what ideas about it kept getting implied on TV, etc

overall, understanding the world takes effort and requires sophisticated tracking of different levels of abstraction and organizing the information. and we won't know everything, but that doesn't stop us from having some real understanding.

you're presenting a bunch of skepticism of understanding of much of anything about humans as a biased tool to defend the glaring lack of explanation for your favored ideas. but u don't really mean it. you deal with ppl and understand all kinds of things about them.

it doesn't require that. it's a shortcut b/c our culture knows a lot of stuff that is transmitted as common sense. you can replace particular pieces of common sense, if you want, with carefully thought out analysis. i've done this in various cases.

we know they're somewhat stable b/c approximately all the ppl have functioning general intelligence. this makes sense evolutionarily – the selection pressure was to get intelligence working.

you mean i related my ideas to existing knowledge which many ppl agree with and have thought about and failed to refute? yes that's a good thing.

while i don't know everything, i could spend literally months telling you how this stuff works in increasing detail. meanwhile you can't even get started with an initial explanation for your claims.

corporal punishment is not reason. it doesn't seek the truth about the right outcome and make that happen. it doesn't treat the conflict as a disagreement. all this stuff is irrational and is teaching the kid that irrationality is how life works and there's no escape

this gets into connections with epistemology, liberalism, and other major areas of knowledge. you can learn about all of them and put it together to understand what's going on and why. i have.

i am not claiming everyone is the same, so who needs "stable" (by which i think you meant the same for different ppl). biochemical is related to e.g. building the brain in the first place and setting up initial programming, and that is done based on genetic knowledge.

but that doesn't mean that genes are destiny. the genes program a flexible platform that allows for the creation of new knowledge – e.g. Critical Rationalism – that is not in our genes or chemicals.

all of those ppl are in different situations, not identical situations. of course you should expect variance, even if you don't believe in free will on RNG internal to the mind.

i think you're asking "why" at the wrong levels of abstraction (too low level). looking at higher level concepts is more enlightening here. low level matters you get answers like "b/c the laws of physics say so" (and why is physics that way? i don't know).

the original issue wasn't even why but how – what sort of mechanism enables it to happen at all? not "why did the mechanism get X result instead of Y result in this case?" but merely what is a reasonably typical scenario where X happens?

that's either incorrect or leaving out a dozen layers of abstraction and complexity which make all the difference to actual outcomes.

genetic evolution didn't program the way adults think. if that was in our genes, what would we have school for?

ppl create and refine methods of thinking, and use them to learn all kinds of things which they then factor into future thinking, in ways that are not determined by our genes. if u wanna think of it like a neural net, fine, but a generic general purpose one.

genetic evolution gives us the most basic API of function calls for thinking, on top of which we put dozens of layers. and our biology doesn't know how those layers work, so SSRIs can't control high level thoughts (thoughts in terms of layers near the topic of the complexity)

memes had selection pressure to figure out how to gain control of minds so they could control enough behavior to ensure passing on the memes to the next generation. in the past the world was full of static societies where ppl were controlled by memes, not genes.

hardware + initial OS installation doesn't have a chance at controlling much when there's very highly adapted software that is running on top of it, exploiting security flaws, calling whatever functions it wants, etc, etc

no they can't. that's like saying you could bias what my web browser does, without knowing anything about it, by changing some low level detail. you'd have no idea what to change to get what effect.

read "antidepressants" or "drugs" or whatever instead of SSRIs. same logic applies.

logic and good explanations have some level of stability to the kinds of variance you're talking about. there's convergence to truth, it's not all arbitrary.

genes can code for things like more/stronger pain signals when the butt gets a physical impact. but they don't know anything about higher level concepts like spanking or how to deal with parents. they can only affect basic stuff which has many layers of interpretation on top

you wouldn't be able to bias it in a designed, goal-oriented way if you couldn't read that code and figure out how it works. if you had to design your bias before the code was written, and you didn't even know what kind of app it would be, then you'd have very limited options.

genes are older than memes, let alone older than the 20th layer of memes. genes are so indirectly relevant, it's like an API you abstracted away so long ago you forgot everything about it. and the memes have code to handle gene variations and adjust the API to fit.

no good, you have to design everything before the browser has ever run. the vast bulk of gene evolution is very old.

converge to truth can increase without limit. we're making ongoing progress. but there are many open disagreements, unknown things, errors, etc, which limit convergence so far.

what really limits it is you only get to do things there is evolutionary selection pressure for, and once memes exist, very little of that (b/c they meet the selection pressures first). so basically you just get to exist, and then get pwned by memes, and that's it, no competition

why? which part?

the arguments for objective truth are not a matter of evidence. you can read books about them if you like.

i'm saying the right comparison involves you finalizing the CPU before the browser exists. of course you can exploit the browser, even through 50 intermediate layers, if you get to do a bunch of testing and use creativity to figure it out.

memetics as a field in general is utter crap, but that is not a criticism of what you get if you actually understand evolution and think things through logically, and read @DavidDeutschOxf

it's way too complex (& with too much variation in higher level software complexity btwn ppl) to realistically random walk to anything that works. would need a better dev and serious coding work environment to deal with the complexity level.

memes are within my expertise and are the kind of thing i've been making strong public claims about for over a decade which no one can/will refute.

Social Dynamics & Mailchimp Broke A Link

In my newsletter today (sign up!), I wrote:

I enjoyed reading a different perspective on social dynamics. It is broadly reasonable and reaches lots of my conclusions in different ways than the ones I'm more familiar with.

Unfortunately, Mailchimp (the big email sending service I'm using) modified the URL and broke it. And this link currently has more than double the clicks of the second most popular link. So hopefully some people will see this post and be able to view a working link (above). And here's a separate backup link.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)

Goldratt vs. Japan

I found out something really bad and disappointing about Eli Goldratt. He delayed translation of his books into Japanese for fear they'd be really successful, increase the trade imbalance, and generally help Japan get way ahead of the West. He delayed translation from around 1987 to 2000, by which point he thought Japan was stagnating and the West had caught up.

Goldratt's own words, from 4:04:45-4:07:45 in his 2005 audiobook Beyond the Goal (my emphasis):

For a long time, I didn’t allow my books to be translated into Japanese. Not because I don’t like them — the opposite is true — but because my opinion was that they are so much more advanced in production than the U.S. or Europe and the penetration of cost accounting is so much smaller in Japan (by the way, statistics show that they have one-seventh of the cost accounting people in their organizations that we have here in the states — one seventh) and they are in love with simple solutions rather than complicated solutions, sophisticated solutions, and that’s why the penetration of ERP [enterprise resource planning] for example in Japan is less than ten percent. I was afraid that if I will release my material into Japan, actively, they will go on it very quickly, they will increase the gap, and by that they will tilt even more the trade balance. If the trade balance will be tilted even more, the gap will become much bigger, I was afraid the whole economy of the world may go down the drain. Yes I know that these are maybe megalomaniac thinking, but I didn’t want it on my shoulders. So for a long long time, I refused to allow my books to be translated into Japanese.

About two years ago, I came to the conclusion that probably the gap had been closed. Now I am almost convinced that the gap is closed. So it’s about time to give this know-how. In June of this year, The Goal came out in Japanese, in Japan. They were waiting for it, because otherwise I cannot explain what happened. The first three months, 300,000 copies have been sold. The Goal is selling now in Japan more than Harry Potter! That’s not a joke, that’s a fact. And I got an article — translated article — from the number one business magazine of Japan two weeks ago about The Goal. By the way, The Goal appeared on the cover of that magazine. And in this article, there is a box of an interview with the President of Toyota. And he said he made The Goal mandatory reading to all his management. The mere fact that he came to this statement is another crack in the conformity. Now it’s allowed.

In what ways was Japan ahead? For big examples, think about how Toyota was beating Ford, and Japanese companies like Sony excelled in electronics. Not everyone is aware, but Japan today is considered the world's third largest economy, after just the U.S. and China. Japan was second until China's recent growth, and (unsourced on Wikipedia) represented 17.8% of the entire world economy at its peak in 1994.

The supposed harm of trade imbalances is junk economics. Apparently Goldratt never gave the matter much thought. That's disappointing because he's an advocate of win/win solutions and says there are no conflicts in reality. When you seem to see a conflict –?e.g. Japanese people would benefit from your book but you think there'd be a negative result – then there's a mistaken premise somewhere. It's a mistake – in Goldratt's own view – to accept lose/lose solutions or compromises. But that's what he did!

Goldratt's goal was to teach the world to think. He betrayed his goal by withholding educational material from people specifically because he thought they would learn a lot from him. He intentionally blocked progress because he wanted the West to maintain a position at the top.

He could have been wrong. Maybe his books wouldn't have made much difference in Japan. But his intentions were gross. And I think his books could have changed the world if released promptly in Japan. When finally released, they sold very well in Japan, got lots of publicity, and promptly resulted in adoption by major companies (like Toyota) and parts of the Japanese government.

What if they were released earlier? They could have made a much bigger difference. They could have prevented the stagnation of Japan which Goldratt saw later. They could have given Japan a bigger competitive edge – exactly what Goldratt feared – and thus spread to the whole world. The West learned a lot from Japan while trying to catch up (e.g. Just In Time and Lean). Goldratt's ideas could have been part of that, and that way they'd have much better adoption worldwide today, making the whole world much better off.

Goldratt didn't just delay Japan's progress, he missed out on a timing window when Japan – the country where he could most successfully get adoption for his ideas –?was acting as somewhat of a model for the rest of the world. And today software is super important, which lessens the relative importance of manufacturing, which is the area where Goldratt's ideas could most easily have a big impact.

The general consequences of a world with less wealth (due to lack of adoption of Goldratt's great business management ideas) include people dying due to less medical research and dying in many other ways. Wealth helps prevent deaths from heatwaves, cold, drought, tsunamis, hunger, inadequately funded police and much more. The specific, direct consequences of Japanese car companies being less successful include more Westerners dying in car accidents because they drive Japanese cars that aren't as good as they could be.

patio11 argued that Japan is part of Western society (I saw this later the same day I wrote this mini essay). I agree. Goldratt shouldn't have seen Japan as the other. Yes, there are some substantial differences between Japan and the English speaking countries that don't set us apart from France. But Japan Westernized and assimilated enough after World War II that I say to accept them, and I see the success of companies like Toyota and Sony as demonstrating the merit of Japan (rather than being exceptions). Goldratt himself was from Israel, another country I'm happy to credit as being Western, despite it having some differences from America. Anyway, Japan is certainly no threat. Japanese success should be celebrated without hesitation.

Sources and Details

Regarding dates, The Goal came out in 1984 and I found Spanish (La Meta), German (Das Ziel), and French (Le But) versions from 1987. (I also found a 1992 Italian version. I'm guessing the 1987 translations I found are the earliest years, but I don't know about 1992.) The Japanese version is from May 2001. (The English ISBN info saying 2000 seems to be incorrect.) The Japanese publication delay is 14 years from the first foreign language versions I could find, and 17 years from the English version.

I found some further discussion of the issue (emphasis added):

A Process Of On-Going Improvement (POOGI) – Part 36 by Dr. Lisa Lang (a TOC expert), 2008 or 2009, says:

For years, Dr. Goldratt refused to have his books translated into Japanese. He thought and felt that Japan was so far advanced that if it applied the improved processes of the Theory of Constraints, that the trade imbalance would further increase, threatening to destabilize the world economy. Six years ago, when the U.S. and European economies had closed the gap, and Japan had stagnated, he relented. In the first month of its release, “The Goal” sold a half-million copies. Since then, its sales are equal to the sales in the rest of the world.

Japan is adopting TOC at a much faster rate than the Western World. For example, last year Japan announced the requirement that all companies supplying infrastructure projects must use Critical Chain project management, the TOC methodology for managing projects (and delivering them in half the time).

Theory of Constraints is Gaining Awareness and Success in Japan. Is This the Quality Movement All Over Again? by Carol Ptak (Goldratt co-author and TOC expert), 2012, says:

Japanese adoption of the theory of constraints is growing at a rate that rivals the quality movement started by Dr. W. Edwards Deming. The founder of the Theory of Constraints (TOC), Dr. Eliyahu Goldratt, made several personal trips to Japan and allowed his books to finally be translated to the Japanese language. The most respected national newspaper in Japan, Asahi Newspaper (circulation 8M), runs a weekly regular article about TOC written by TOC expert Yuji Kishira....

The Theory of Constraints International Certification Organization (TOCICO) hosted the first international TOC conference in Japan in 2009 with a keynote from the Director General of the Ministry of Land Infrastructure, Transportation and Tourism on how TOC was used to complete infrastructure projects in less time and provide one day response to contractor requests. The impact of TOC on the country of Japan is so significant that immediately following the TOCICO conference a MLIT conference drew over 300 executives. Dr. Goldratt said, “Toyota changed factories in the world. In the future, people will say that MLIT Japan changed government management in the world. I want you to understand how important your activity is.”

Carol Ptak also quotes herself saying, "The United States could easily be trying to play catch up with Japan once again."

Book: Introduction to the Theory of Constraints (TOC) Management System by Thomas B. McMullen, Jr. (1998):

I recently had lunch with a manager in a large, well-known, brand-name Japanese company, a company recognizable both in consumer and industrial markets as a huge, powerful, and successful outfit, who has been translating TOC concepts into Japanese lately for use by his colleagues around the world. Dr. Goldratt, until recently, has said he was unwilling to assist in making translations of his TOC materials into Japanese due to a concern about balance of trade and power.

The Japanese Wikipedia for The Goal says (all translations from Japanese were done by a professional):

Due to the wishes of Dr Goldratt, permission for the publication of a Japanese translation of the novel was withheld until 2001.

It's sources are:

2014 article from The Goal's Japanese publisher:

At the time it was first published in 1984, Dr Goldratt is known to have said "if a Japanese version of the book were to be published, only Japanese companies will win and there will be great turmoil in the world economy". Given that it would be another 17 years before Dr Goldratt would give permission for the book to be translated into Japanese – it certainly has an interesting backstory.

2009 article from Nikkei Business:

“The Goal” was first published in the United States in 1984, but Dr Goldratt did not authorize a Japanese translation of the book until 2001.

The reason for the delay was that the international competitiveness of Japanese companies was far beyond that of most other countries and it was felt that there was a need to eliminate the trade imbalance by closing the gap. In other words, Japan was the goal of SCM [Supply Chain Management].

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (4)

Logic vs. 200 People

Production the TOC Way by Eliyahu M. Goldratt:

But it was an unfair fight; I had the logic and they were less than two hundred.

This is my favorite Goldratt quote so far. He, alone, thought he had the advantage because there weren't even 200 people against him, and he had logic on his side :D

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You're a Complex Software Project; Introspection is Auditing

(from this discussion)

you are a more complex software project than anything from Apple, IBM, etc.

your consciousness gets to audit the software and do maintenance and add features. the heart of the software was written in childhood and you don't remember much of it. think of it like a different team of programmers wrote it, and now you're coming in later.
you don't have full access to the source code for your audit. you can see source code for little pieces here and there, run automated tests for little pieces here and there, read some incomplete docs, and do manual tests for sporadic chunks of code.

and your attitude is: to ignore large portions of the limited evidence available to you about what the code does. that is, the best evidence of what the code says available is your own behavior. but you want to ignore that in favor of believing what you think the code does. you think the conclusions of your audit, which ignores the best evidence (your behavior – actual observations of the results of running code), and doesn't even know that it's a software audit or the circumstances of the audit, should be taken as gospel.

you find it implausible there are hostile software functions that could be running without your audit noticing. your audit has read 0.001% of the source code during the last year, but you seem to think the figure is 99%.

introspection skills means getting better at auditing. this can help a ton, but there's another crucial approach: you can learn about what people in our culture are commonly like. this enables you to audit whether you're like that in particular ways, match behavior to common code, etc. b/c i know far more about cultural standard software (memes) than you, and also i know what the situation is (as just described and more) and you don't, i'm in a much better position to understand you than you are. this doesn't apply to your idiosyncrasies, i know even less than you about those, but i know that and avoid claims about the areas where i don't know. on the other hand, i can comment effectively when you write down the standard output (as judged by category and pattern, not the exact bits) of a standard software modules, at length, and i recognize it.

for more info relating to intelligence, listen to my วิธีเล่นบอลให้ได้เงินทุกวันpodcast about it.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)

Expanding Our Limits


It must be that long before the technology was available we developed modes of behavior, measurements, policies, rules that helped us accommodate the limitation (from now on I’ll refer to all of them as just “rules” even though in many cases those rules are not written anywhere).

What benefits will we gain when we install the technology that removes the limitation, but we “forget” to change the rules?

The answer is obvious. As long as the rules that helped us to accommodate the limitation are obeyed the end result is the same as if the limitation still exists. In other words, we cannot expect to see any significant benefits.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comment (1)

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12 Rules for Life Typos in Rule 1

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan Peterson. Typos in rule 1:

The animals advance on each other, with increasing speed.

Delete the comma.

Its original brain just isn’t sophisticated to manage the transformation from king to bottom dog without virtually complete dissolution and regrowth.

Missing the word "enough" after "sophisticated".

Now evolution works, in large part, through variation and natural selection.

Delete "now" or put a comma after it.

The “fit” in “fitness” is therefore the matching of organismal attribute to environmental demand.

Should be plural "attributes" (or "an" organismal attribute).

When operating at the bottom, the ancient brain counter assumes that even the smallest unexpected impediment might produce an uncontrollable chain of negative events, which will have to be handled alone, as useful friends are rare indeed, on society’s fringes.

Delete the comma after "indeed".

Delete the comma after "alone". "As" is like "because" here, and see https://www.grammarly.com/blog/comma-before-because/

Most people have been subject to the deafening howling of feedback at a concert, when the sound system squeals painfully.

Delete the comma.

You will therefore continually sacrifice what you could otherwise physically store for the future, using it up on heightened readiness and the possibility of immediate panicked action in the present.

I think the text "the possibility of" should be deleted. This is redundantly talking about resources used for readiness and then, basically, readiness again (dealing with a possibility is a readiness issue). So maybe the second point should say actual panicked action rather than the possibility of it?

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (3)

Why Gobble?

Gobble delivers a weekly box of meal kits that you cook yourself. I'm paying for more than just food this way (e.g. delivery, meal selection, getting them to package the right amounts of every ingredigent). why?

  • food delivery is great

  • when i try to do my own cooking, there are a million recipes. i don't know which are good. gobble is reliable about choosing good recipes.

  • it's too much work for me to get all the ingredients (especially to cook stuff with the kinda variety and obscure ingredients that Gobble routinely uses, and which i appreciate trying)

  • when i buy ingredients, i get too much of lots of them. they come in larger amounts than i need. this means instead of thinking of gobble as costing more money, a lot of the difference is actually: gobble leaves me without leftover ingredients. with regular cooking, a lot of the savings goes into extra quantities of ingredients, rather than being actual cash saved. the value of leftover ingredients to me, in practice, in my experience, is considerably less than their cash value – they reasonably often spoil and get thrown out, or i have to cook more of the same meal before i want to have it again, or i try improvising and using them in some other meal and it doesn't turn out all that great.

  • the things i'm outsourcing to gobble are things i think are good to mostly outsource. i have better things to do and think about.

sign up for Gobble (their advantage over rival meal kit deliveries is they make their meals faster and easier to cook):

sign up (with this link, you get a discount and i get an account credit)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comment (1)

Monetary Privacy!?

“Preventing money laundering” is another way to say our financial system puts a huge amount of effort into preventing monetary privacy.

This is widely seen as obviously good. It's not. It has some apparent upsides and downsides. It violates a major principle, so it's presumably actually bad. It being bad doesn't mean we should get rid of it overnight; we have to figure out good ways to transition our system and alternative ways to solve the genuine problems that anti-money-laundering currently addresses.

The basic underlying tensions here is: privacy is helpful to criminals. But privacy is also great for non-criminals! And I don't think a trusted central authority knowing everything about everyone is the right way to handle crime, because the government can't be trusted that much and because there needs to be market competition in order to fight crime better.

I think it'd be best to stop blaming tools of crime which are also tools of non-crime – such as money and guns – and go after criminals more directly without causing a lot of collateral damage for the rest of society.

Making Progress and Jordan Peterson Quotes

Jordan Peterson on the Channel 4 Controversy and Philosophy of "How to be in the World" (emphasis added, and transcription may not be 100% exact):

My suggestion was, well, it’s a very complex problem, there isn’t a solution. But the solution to a very complex problem is you should be [a] better person than you are because then you’d be better at solving complex problems. And lots of them are coming your way, so bloody well get your act together. And that’s what I’ve been telling people. But it’s more than that because that’s merely burdening people with excess responsibility, let’s say, so that could be a crushing message: You’re not who you could be, you know, get your bloody act together, you’re whining away in the corner, and you’re no good to yourself and anyone else. You know, it’s harsh. But then there’s another element to that, which is: There’s way more to you than you think you are, and that you have something necessary and vital to contribute to the world, and if you don’t contribute it then things will happen that aren’t good, and that’s terrible for you and everyone else. So it’s not only that you need to do this because it’s your responsibility, but you need to understand that there isn’t anything better that you could do for yourself or anyone else. And people are dying to hear that message.

Problems are inevitable. Problems are soluble. Get better at solving problems. Get better at life. Get more powerful. Embark on the beginning of an infinite journey of rapid progress. It's rapid progress or death. There are no alternatives. Problems will keep coming – including big ones with big consequences for failure (including the extinction of humanity). Either make ongoing progress at problem solving or failure is inevitable. There is no power level which is safe forever, but at least making more progress as fast as possible is the safest thing to do, it's the only thing that can possibly work.


You’re a puppet of other motivational forces. Like this is what happens when you unite the motivational forces that guide you; unite your own nature with your own culture and rise up above it. That’s what happens, is you end up acting this out in one way or another. And you might as well know it. This was Jung’s point. You can be the unconscious actor of a malevolent, tragic drama. Or you can wake the hell up. And you can decide that you’re going to be the hero of not only your story, but of everyone’s story. And then you can choose: which of those do you want? Now the problem with choosing, let’s call it the archetypically heroic path, is that you have to take responsibility. But the upside is, well, what the hell’s the difference between responsibility and opportunity. You can say, well, there’s no difference between responsibility and opportunity, so the more responsibility you take the more opportunity you have. Now maybe you don’t want that because you’d rather cower in the corner and hide. But the thing is that you probably wouldn’t rather do that because if you try it you’ll find that there’s nothing in it but self-contempt and misery. That’s a bad pathway: to pull back and to fail to engage in the world. You end up bitter and resentful and self-destructive and vengeful and then far worse. You can develop a liking for that. I wouldn’t recommend it.

You can let your life be run by your static memes, your culture, convention, tradition, ritual, religion, biology, other people's opinions, social pressures, your parents ... or you can run your own life. The choice is yours: choose reason or be a puppet. Pursue more control over reality –?rapid ongoing progress – or be controlled by forces you don't even understand, without even knowing what's going on. If you aren't taking control over your life, and learning all you can, and being as rational as you can, then you are being controlled quite thoroughly, and more than necessary, by forces beyond your understanding (especially memes – which are widely misunderstood, and to understand them you must read The Beginning of Infinity).

Reason is the only effective way to make progress and get control of your own life. Without reason, you'll do it wrong, because reason is the name for methods of thinking which are?good at correcting mistakes and actually getting things right.

People say "yeah, great" to this then don't do it. Well, actually do it. Learn about reason. Study it. Write about what you're learning. Discuss it and get criticism because you're going to get things wrong, and the set of mistakes you make will not be identical to the sets of mistakes other people make. You can discuss in the comments below.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)

Integrating Goldratt's Philosophy with Fallible Ideas

i do lots of stuff and mention it and ppl usually don’t follow along and do my cool new projects. sometimes a few ppl read or learn 1/4 of it, a bit late, and then don’t take it very far.

and they aren’t doing a stream of their own awesome projects either.

this is my overall impression.


well they are overreaching. they don’t have spare capacity to jump on opportunities as stuff comes up. they are booked up too much. if they only booked 50% of their time, then they’d have time available for cool opportunities as they come up.

in the name of efficiency, ppl will schedule all of their time, and then there’s no flexibility to get anything else done, and they miss out on tons of great opportunities. and they are often in crisis mode b/c they can't even do everything on their schedule, but they made promises to do those things, and then they have to take inefficient steps to deal with the crisis.

this is a ton like in The Goal, by Eli Goldratt, where factory work stations need excess capacity. and ppl intentionally try to get rid of any idle time in the name of efficiency. (read the book if you wanna understand this post better, and also b/c it's a really great book. there's tons of relevant stuff in the book which i don't go over here. also read his book, The Choice.)

this attitude ends up chasing lots of local maxima at the expense of global ones. that’s what busy schedules do too.

in The Goal, for example, they run robots 24/7 at their manufacturing plant so the robots won't be idle. but they end up producing too much of the stuff the robots can make, which makes things worse. and they have ppl at the heat treat oven go do other tasks while it runs, but then they're late to come back and lose super valuable time starting the next oven batch, so what they're doing is actually much, much worse than having ppl just sit around and wait by the oven and never be late to get the next load started.

paradoxically, ppl have their lives so full they never get anything done. which is exactly one of the main problems in The Goal.

it’s also like poor ppl who stay poor partly b/c, lacking spare money, they can’t jump on sales or bulk discounts very well. ppl who lack spare/idle time, b/c they are so time poor, end up using their time really inefficiently exactly like poor ppl use money inefficiently.

ppl often will make some attempt to free up time for a specific purpose. they want to do X so they manage to shift some time on their schedule from something else to X. but doing that never solves the problem of being overbooked in general, let alone giving one the excess capacity to jump on good opportunities and do things with longterm benefit (in the same way having excess money in the bank lets you use your money better).

i'm not advising you sit around doing literally nothing for long periods of time. but for most ppl it's really not hard to find things to do! most ppl have plenty of stuff they want to do. if you aren't doing anything for a while, don't rush to start an activity. give yourself time to think sometimes! and if you aren't doin much thinking right now or you finish thinking, ok, then consider your priorities and pick something good to do. also place a higher value on activities with flexible scheduling that are easy to interrupt and take breaks from, and activities that offer fast returns on investment so it's fine if you quit.

that's how i organize lots of my time. i avoid scheduled obligations and longterm commitments. instead of literal idle time, i have a lot of flex time where i have some things i can do, but also it's no problem to not do them if something else comes up.

examples of flex activities including reading, writing, playing games, watching videos, listening to podcasts, and having discussions. at a moment's notice i can redirect all my time away from those things and have all day to do something else, no problem. (it doesn't have to be something else, either. if i get really into reading something, and i'm learning a ton and excited by it, then i can redirect time to that. when i want to read something, i'm usually pretty much only limited by getting tired, not by my ability to free up time for it immediately. b/c of how i run my schedule, raw time is much less of an issue for me than for most ppl, so i have gotten to put a lot of thought into some more advanced issues of managing energy/attention/focus, which are where people's bottleneck should be. there are more hours in the day than hours per day you have the energy to do good thinking, so if time is your bottleneck you're doing something wrong!)

people managing their time, attention and mental energy very badly is also why Paths Forward seems so implausible to them. so to try to save time they actually act irrationally which is very destructive, especially for supposedly truth-seeking intellectuals.

also, in the majority of cases, concretizing plans in advance is premature optimization. don't tie down what you're going to do in advance when you have less information about what's best to do. in some cases you get benefits from partially deciding early (e.g. you can buy supplies for a project in advance), but you should usually avoid it. don't concretize plans early without a very clear reason it's beneficial, and only concretize to the extent needed to get the benefit, and be wary of activities that require a lot of concrete, advance planning.

ppl often push you for concrete planning, implicitly. cuz they are overbooked on concrete plans, they never get to the less concrete plans. so you have to schedule concrete plans with them in advance or you can't do anything with them. so their lack of idle time is causing every additional thing added onto their schedule to be concretized in advance (which is worse). the busy schedule itself is preventing the best activities and only letting lesser activities get onto the schedule! the busy schedule is causing tons of premature optimization.

making the right changes is so much more important than spending tons of time making tons of changes. it's not "efficient" to spend all your time that way, that's a local maxima. you'll get more productively accomplished, in a fraction of the time, if you do the right things. this is a theme of Goldratt which fits with FI well.

if flex time loses 10% against the local maximum to retain flexibility, and you do a different much better activity once a week (use the flexibility a minority of the time), you can come out way ahead.

e.g. you might play video games that are easily interruptible. this reduces your selection of games, so you get to play a slightly less ideal game on average. some days, as a result of doing this, you come out behind – play a less ideal game with no upside on that day. however in the bigger picture you come out ahead – the days where you gain a large benefit from the flexibility more than make up for the minor downsides.

don't screw up the important stuff b/c you were too distracted optimizing minor details! this is a big deal, and is in The Goal (having ppl wait around at the bottleneck work stations, spending most of their time idle, improves production b/c those work stations are so important that it's better to wait around for hours than to be a little late from multitasking.)

you can look at this in terms of local vs. global evaluation of results, or seen and unseen (Bastiat's take on the broken window fallacy and selective attention).

what's natural for me personally is to see that, right now:

1) play game with 9 value per hour, and have a 10% chance to interrupt it to do something worth 50 value per hour

is more points, now, than:

2) play game with 10 value per hour.

cuz i look at expectation value (a well known poker concept meaning the avg expected value of what ur doing, regardless of what happens today), so i even get the local case right. the expectation value is 90% * 9/hr + 10% * 50/hr which is 13.1/hr (that math doesn't cover the mixed case where you do it for a while then interrupt partway through, so the real advantage is smaller but, given reasonable assumptions about the unstated details, it'll still be an advantage. note: you do need to be careful with risk when dealing with expectation values, especially when dealing with high stakes all at once. e.g. i'd rather have a million dollars than a 50% chance of 2.1 million dollars, even though the second option is a little more money on average. the only way i'd take the second option, which comes out to 50k more on avg, is if i made a deal with a bank or rich guy. e.g. the bank gives me a million dollars plus 10k, and i pick the 2.1m choice and give them the full amount from it. then i get 10k more than if i picked the 1m option, and the bank comes out 40k ahead on avg, and they have enough money to deal with the variance.)

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Learning From Emergencies

Eli Goldratt Interview:

EG: The first one is: how do you invent? Invent powerful solutions to your real problems, to your environment. And most people think that, maybe, you have to be born with this ability to invent. What I’ve tried to show here is that every good manager is a fantastic inventor. But you don’t pay attention to it, and you waste all the inventions. Let me explain a little bit what I mean, okay? Every manager faces emergencies. And he reacts to emergencies. What can he do? As a matter of fact, a good manager will react quite well to emergencies, and he solves the problem. And what we have to realize is: whenever we react to an emergency we actually deviate from the standard rules. Always! What people do not pay attention to is that you don’t just deviate from the standard rules, you are actually following a different set of rules. And the point is: after the emergency is over, why won’t you take the time to verbalize the new set of rules that you just followed? Then think on the following; if I would have used this set of rules not just in emergencies, but in the normal day to day, what damages will happen? What undesirable effects will result, and how can I prevent them? Because, if you will now augment this new set of rules with what should be happening, in order that, when I’m using them in day to day life at the normal time they do not lead to anything negative, what you are ending up with is a set of rules that is so much better than your current rules. So much better, that even emergencies are handled as if there is no emergency. And that’s what I’ve shown in this book, if you notice. Okay, a pipe is broken. Emergency. Fine, you react to it. But then what is even Paul saying? He’s dying to go back to normal! Wait a minute, pay attention. Look at how much the situation is better now. Think, how can you use it on a daily basis, because then you get this huge improvement. And that’s what’s happening in this book.


EG: Absolutely! But what I’m saying is: this is always the case. For example, take ‘The Goal’. In the first chapter, he faces an emergency. As a matter of fact, the emergency is so big that the head of the division comes to say, “There is an order which you are late on. You must expedite it!” So they expedite it. And he’s bitching and moaning about it. At the end of the book he’s doing exactly the same for the big order that saves his bottom line. If he would have just stopped after the first chapter and said, “I’ve deviated from the rules of how we are running a plant. It did work, I did send the order earlier. What are the new rules that I’m following?”, he would have saved the whole book, and he would have invented it rather than Jonah. Because, let’s face it, the way that he handled his big order at the end is exactly the same concept that he handled the emergency in the first chapter. It’s always the case. So, if people would just pay attention to it, everyone becomes an inventor.

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The Choice Passage: Dealing With Conflict

The Choice by Eliyahu Goldratt and Efrat Goldratt-Ashlag (emphasis added).

"Father, I can assure you that there is no way you can convince me that people don't have conflicts."

He resorts to his pipe.

After a while he starts again. "Let me take a step back. Maybe we should discuss the differences and similarities between the words contradiction and conflict."

Since I don't know where he is heading, I keep quiet.

"Let's examine an example of how deep everybody's conviction is that there are no contradictions in the material world. Suppose that we have two different techniques to measure the height of a building. And when we use them to measure the height of a specific building we get two very different heights. Facing such an apparent contradiction no one would say, 'Let's compromise; let's agree that the height of this building is the average between the two measurements.'"

"What we would say is that somewhere along the line we have made an erroneous assumption. We'll check to see if, in the time that passed between the two measurements, additional floors were added. If that's not the case, we'll explore if our assumption—that each of the measurements was carried out properly—is correct. If they were, we'll look for an erroneous assumption in the techniques themselves; we'll explore the possibility that one of these two techniques is faulty. In extreme cases we'll even doubt our understanding of height. But we'll always look for the erroneous assumption and never contemplate the possibility of compromise. This is how strong our belief is that there are no contradictions in nature."

I'm not impressed. "A building cannot have two different heights, that's obvious. But a person can have two conflicting desires."

"Believe me, I know," he says. "I know that people may have conflicts. But that is also the situation in the material world. It is filled with conflicts. Reality doesn't contain contradictions, but it is full of conflicts.

"Can you explain the difference between a contradiction and a conflict?"

"Conflict is a situation where what we want is a contradiction." When he sees that doesn't help, he hurries to explain. "Take, for example, the wing of an airplane. On one hand, we need the wings to be strong. And in order to ensure the strength we should use thick supporting beams. But on the other hand, we need the wings to be light, and in order to ensure that, we should use thin supporting beams. A typical conflict. And like any other conflict, including conflicts between people, it will lead in good situations to some acceptable compromise, and in bad situations to a stone wall."

"Actually," I say, "in many situations a conflict will lead to a bad compromise. To a compromise that is bad because it is the cause of many undesirable effects. Come to think of it, I cannot think of even one example of an undesirable effect that is not the result of a conflict."

"No argument," he agrees. "What I'm suggesting is that we treat any conflict like a scientist treats a contradiction."

In the last ten years I've gained a lot of experience, most of it successful, in using his conflict removal method. So I allow myself to take over. "In other words," I say, "when we face a conflict, especially when we cannot easily find an acceptable compromise, let's do exactly the same thing we do when we encounter a contradiction; let's insist that one of the underlying assumptions is faulty. If, or should I say when, we pin down the underlying assumption that can be removed, we remove the cause of the conflict; we solve the conflict by eliminating it."

"Correct," he says. "So can you now verbalize the second obstacle that prevents people from effectively using their brainpower?"

Slowly I say, "I need a minute to organize my thoughts."

Yesterday I came to the conclusion that meaningful opportunities are opened when one sees how to remove a blockage, how to overcome an undesirable situation that I'm convinced I cannot change. Many times, the blockage is due to a conflict that does not have an acceptable compromise. From experience I know that as long as we think that the only way to handle a conflict is by compromising, we'll never think about the underlying assumptions and how to remove at least one of them; we'll never find the way to eliminate the conflict. And we'll never come up with the breakthrough; we'll never reveal the great opportunity that hides there. We'll just lower our expectations.

Confidently I say, "The second obstacle is that people's perception is that conflicts are a given and that the best we can do is to seek a compromise."

Bitterly Father remarks, "In academia we are encouraging that devastating mistake. Under the glorifying title of 'optimization' we invest considerable efforts to teach students, not how to remove conflicts, but how to waste time finding the 'best' compromise. What a waste of talent."

Consider the connection between conflict is a situation where what we want is a contradiction and the TCS concept of "coercion".

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Commentary Videos on 12 Rules for Life

I made videos where I read Jordan Peterson's new best-selling book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, and share my thoughts in detail. I went in blind and edited out the silences from reading; it's my raw thoughts as I read, which show you one of my processes for how I think things through and analyze them.

12 Rules Screencast part 1 talks most about whether animals are intelligent (I disagree with the book and explain my view). I also talk about writing techniques.

12 Rules Screencast part 2 discusses a wider variety of issues, many of which I believe are important criticisms of the book.

Scholarly Criticism: Jordan Peterson’s Sloppy Cite (+quotes, research) changes format. I made slides and focused on criticizing one cite about serotonin and the brain. It's shorter and more organized.

12 Rules Screencast part 4 finishes discussing rule 1 at a faster pace using notes and quotes instead of the book text.

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