9Joined Jul 2019


Reading on how to maintain motivation?

80,000 hours has "The Motivation Hacker" in their career guide: https://www.amazon.com/The-Motivation-Hacker-Nick-Winter-ebook/dp/B00C8N4FNK. I've been reading it and it's a) easy to read and b) makes sense. Can't personally vouch for results.

The Moral Circle is not a Circle

As an overall trend, people act in their self-interest. At best people act in their long-term self-interest. So if you want to convince people of something, appeal to their self-interest. This may need to be an indirect appeal.

The Moral Circle is not a Circle

Many of the processes we pejoratively call "cognitive biases" are actually true. Either in the sense of being useful heuristics for everyday circumstances, or in the sense of just being generally true (ie the prototypical grandma being right and a PhD scientist being wrong).

For example, hyperbolic discounting is completely rational in the face of uncertain risks. This is clearly the case when planning for the far future. While one might care about future beings in an abstract sense, it doesn't make sense to include their well-being in ones decision making as it has been discounted to approximately zero. As an extreme example: I fully agree that humans outside my light-cone have the same moral worth as those inside my light-cone, but since I can never effect those outside my light-cone (assuming they exist, which is not something we will ever know) I don't factor them into moral decisions.

What book(s) would you want a gifted teenager to come across?
  • Mistakes were Made (but not by Me), Tavris and Anderson. Definitely the most easy-to-read book on self-deception and cognitive biases I've ever read. So probably a good first book for people.
  • The Righteous Mind, Haidt. Part I gives a good intro to cognitive biases, and the moral foundations are a good framework
  • Superforecasters, Tetlock.
Please May I Have Reading Suggestions on Consistency in Ethical Frameworks

I'm not sure that internal consistency should be the highest priority. If it is, that implies constraints on the applicability of a moral theory (ie some questions will be undecidable). Which may be fine, just be aware of that tradeoff.

Impossibility theorems are pretty common in mathematics. Arrow's Impossibility Theorem will apply to many ethical frameworks. Where it doesn't, other impossibility theorems (Godel, Gibbard, Holmstrom) are likely to apply. If nothing else, reading up on this class of theorems may be interesting.