Author Topic: Against TFYS  (Read 2279 times)

Sexy St. Nigel

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Re: Against TFYS
« Reply #30 on: November 09, 2012, 11:06:35 pm »
My impression of GA's argument is this;

Thinking for yourself is not to be held up on a pedistal of intellectual awesomeness. It's problematic that (in my opinion in the same way as 'just be yourself' isn't on its own always good advice) TFYS is such a commonly bandied about phrase/idea because it implkies that doing so is enough to make all the smart thinkings and good choices happen. The phrase TFYS doesn't in itself imply the importance of other thinking skills that we need.

People say THINK FOR YOURSELF with the implication that independent thought = good thought, and that's problematic.

I say it with the implication that your stupidity* is not my problem.



*not you personally, the general "you".
“I’m guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk,” Charles Wick said. “It was very complicated.”

“People get used to anything. The less you think about your oppression, the more your tolerance for it grows. After a while, people just think oppression is the normal state of things. But to become free, you have to be acutely aware of being a slave.”
― Assata Shaku

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Re: Against TFYS
« Reply #31 on: November 10, 2012, 07:35:06 am »
Having an introspective temperment, it shouldn't be surprising that I take the TFYS to be a personal, internal struggle.

In Thinking Fast and Slow (which I finally finished, and I believe Can and I agreed to offer up a critique of it at some point), it was shown in a series of experiments that when faced with a difficult question that would require effort and energy (physical energy -- the brain sucks up a lot of resources when it's focusing hard on a problem), a natural tendency for people is to substitute an easier question in its place without conciously realizing they're doing it.

So, my interpretation of TFYS is the struggle to actually think about the matter at hand, and not resort to substitutions, fallacies, heuristics or biases to answer the question for me.

I basically agree with you, but I think it's important to draw a line between valuing thinking for yourself as a method of being less wrong than you would have been with all of the standard biases and valuing thinking for yourself as its own end. Heuristics and biases aren't intrinsically bad; the problem with them is that if you don't pay attention to what biases you're walking around with you eventually end up with a really dysfunctional set of them. "Thinking for yourself" describes the task of grooming & pruning your own biases so that your automatic, unthinking responses work for you. A state where all decisions are made manually seems about as desirable as having to consciously control your heartbeat.
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Bebek Sincap Ratatosk

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Re: Against TFYS
« Reply #32 on: November 10, 2012, 09:32:28 am »
So then perhaps we're really discussing two separate "TFY" concepts?

There's the TFY which is code for "You're brainwashed, thats why you came to conclusion Y. If you think for your self you will come to conclusion X.

Then there is TFY,S! which is more about actual independent thought, questioning everything and expunging as much bias as possible. Conclusions may not be the goal... perhaps its more about thinking about, questioning and poking at all thought and all bias.

Bias and heuristics can be useful in making the decision making process automatic... but even well groomed biases and heuristics won't necessarily point you in the direction of the 'truth'/right answer... for varying values of truth and right ;-)
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Re: Against TFYS
« Reply #33 on: November 10, 2012, 12:25:23 pm »
So then perhaps we're really discussing two separate "TFY" concepts?

There's the TFY which is code for "You're brainwashed, thats why you came to conclusion Y. If you think for your self you will come to conclusion X.

Then there is TFY,S! which is more about actual independent thought, questioning everything and expunging as much bias as possible. Conclusions may not be the goal... perhaps its more about thinking about, questioning and poking at all thought and all bias.

Bias and heuristics can be useful in making the decision making process automatic... but even well groomed biases and heuristics won't necessarily point you in the direction of the 'truth'/right answer... for varying values of truth and right ;-)

The S in TFY,S could have some nice implications too. Is the person being told to TFY because they're a schmuck or is the schmuck the nature of any one of us, to be realised and acknowledged through critical thought. From Bob Wilson to Crowley ' the fool' has been a strong archetype in philosophy and occult.

Horriffically overthinking it itt. I regret nothing.
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Sexy St. Nigel

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Re: Against TFYS
« Reply #34 on: November 10, 2012, 03:40:50 pm »
Having an introspective temperment, it shouldn't be surprising that I take the TFYS to be a personal, internal struggle.

In Thinking Fast and Slow (which I finally finished, and I believe Can and I agreed to offer up a critique of it at some point), it was shown in a series of experiments that when faced with a difficult question that would require effort and energy (physical energy -- the brain sucks up a lot of resources when it's focusing hard on a problem), a natural tendency for people is to substitute an easier question in its place without conciously realizing they're doing it.

So, my interpretation of TFYS is the struggle to actually think about the matter at hand, and not resort to substitutions, fallacies, heuristics or biases to answer the question for me.

That explains so, so , so much.
“I’m guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk,” Charles Wick said. “It was very complicated.”

“People get used to anything. The less you think about your oppression, the more your tolerance for it grows. After a while, people just think oppression is the normal state of things. But to become free, you have to be acutely aware of being a slave.”
― Assata Shaku

Bebek Sincap Ratatosk

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Re: Against TFYS
« Reply #35 on: November 10, 2012, 06:43:32 pm »
Having an introspective temperment, it shouldn't be surprising that I take the TFYS to be a personal, internal struggle.

In Thinking Fast and Slow (which I finally finished, and I believe Can and I agreed to offer up a critique of it at some point), it was shown in a series of experiments that when faced with a difficult question that would require effort and energy (physical energy -- the brain sucks up a lot of resources when it's focusing hard on a problem), a natural tendency for people is to substitute an easier question in its place without conciously realizing they're doing it.

So, my interpretation of TFYS is the struggle to actually think about the matter at hand, and not resort to substitutions, fallacies, heuristics or biases to answer the question for me.

That explains so, so , so much.

Agreed. I hadn't really thought about it before. One more thing to consider when posting a response... Am I thinking of the same question, or an easier one. I think I fell victim to that in the porn/prostitution discussion.
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Sexy St. Nigel

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Re: Against TFYS
« Reply #36 on: November 10, 2012, 07:08:17 pm »
Having an introspective temperment, it shouldn't be surprising that I take the TFYS to be a personal, internal struggle.

In Thinking Fast and Slow (which I finally finished, and I believe Can and I agreed to offer up a critique of it at some point), it was shown in a series of experiments that when faced with a difficult question that would require effort and energy (physical energy -- the brain sucks up a lot of resources when it's focusing hard on a problem), a natural tendency for people is to substitute an easier question in its place without conciously realizing they're doing it.

So, my interpretation of TFYS is the struggle to actually think about the matter at hand, and not resort to substitutions, fallacies, heuristics or biases to answer the question for me.

That explains so, so , so much.

Agreed. I hadn't really thought about it before. One more thing to consider when posting a response... Am I thinking of the same question, or an easier one. I think I fell victim to that in the porn/prostitution discussion.

I just dropped out of an insanely irritating conversation on my housemate's FB page because one of his friends absolutely cannot address the point from the OP. I don't think his brain will allow him to actually look directly at it.
“I’m guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk,” Charles Wick said. “It was very complicated.”

“People get used to anything. The less you think about your oppression, the more your tolerance for it grows. After a while, people just think oppression is the normal state of things. But to become free, you have to be acutely aware of being a slave.”
― Assata Shaku

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Re: Against TFYS
« Reply #37 on: November 12, 2012, 04:34:45 am »
Then there is TFY,S! which is more about actual independent thought, questioning everything and expunging as much bias as possible. Conclusions may not be the goal... perhaps its more about thinking about, questioning and poking at all thought and all bias.

I might be coming at this from too utilitarian of an angle. I think of TFY as something that has both pragmatic benefits and as something that's fun to do in its own right, like higher math and strategy games. You certainly need some minimum level of math to function effectively, but it would be weird and selfish to convince people to learn higher math just because I personally enjoy it.

I see the value in practicing independent thought, but it doesn't follow from that that other forms of thought are valueless. I think it's an error to disregard the "social mode" of thinking - humans are social animals, and social signaling matters. People really do soak up thoughts and opinions just as they emit them, and that's okay. That's how people work.

As an individual, you can improve on this somewhat by being selective as to which ideas you internalize. As a member of society, you can improve on this somewhat by being selective as to which ideas you encourage or discourage in others. Everyone does both all the time; to a greater or lesser degree, we think for each other, in a very literal sense. It isn't something that can be avoided short of dropping out of society, and even that has the "silence indicates approval" thing going.

I wouldn't go so far as to say that it's a zero sum activity, but there is a tension between how much of an individual's thought is "independent" vs. how much is "recieved" - by socializing each other, we leave each other less room to think for ourselves. That's a conflict we should recognize and be mindful of, and not try to cheat with simple answers like "never tell someone else what to think." I don't think any quantitative solution ("think this much for yourself, accept this much opinion from other people, and do that much shaping of others' opinions") will work, actually.
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Sexy St. Nigel

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Re: Against TFYS
« Reply #38 on: November 12, 2012, 04:41:43 am »
Then there is TFY,S! which is more about actual independent thought, questioning everything and expunging as much bias as possible. Conclusions may not be the goal... perhaps its more about thinking about, questioning and poking at all thought and all bias.

I might be coming at this from too utilitarian of an angle. I think of TFY as something that has both pragmatic benefits and as something that's fun to do in its own right, like higher math and strategy games. You certainly need some minimum level of math to function effectively, but it would be weird and selfish to convince people to learn higher math just because I personally enjoy it.

I see the value in practicing independent thought, but it doesn't follow from that that other forms of thought are valueless. I think it's an error to disregard the "social mode" of thinking - humans are social animals, and social signaling matters. People really do soak up thoughts and opinions just as they emit them, and that's okay. That's how people work.

As an individual, you can improve on this somewhat by being selective as to which ideas you internalize. As a member of society, you can improve on this somewhat by being selective as to which ideas you encourage or discourage in others. Everyone does both all the time; to a greater or lesser degree, we think for each other, in a very literal sense. It isn't something that can be avoided short of dropping out of society, and even that has the "silence indicates approval" thing going.

I wouldn't go so far as to say that it's a zero sum activity, but there is a tension between how much of an individual's thought is "independent" vs. how much is "recieved" - by socializing each other, we leave each other less room to think for ourselves. That's a conflict we should recognize and be mindful of, and not try to cheat with simple answers like "never tell someone else what to think." I don't think any quantitative solution ("think this much for yourself, accept this much opinion from other people, and do that much shaping of others' opinions") will work, actually.

Who is telling anyone to disregard the social mode?
“I’m guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk,” Charles Wick said. “It was very complicated.”

“People get used to anything. The less you think about your oppression, the more your tolerance for it grows. After a while, people just think oppression is the normal state of things. But to become free, you have to be acutely aware of being a slave.”
― Assata Shaku

Sexy St. Nigel

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Re: Against TFYS
« Reply #39 on: November 12, 2012, 04:45:46 am »
I am wondering where this idea that "Think for yourself, Schmuck" is an exhortation to disregard social norms (different from the social mode, really) and authority input (where "authority" is defined as a person or persons who has studied a subject in depth and reported their findings) in favor of opinions formed in a vacuum on one's lonesome has come from. GA, do you have any examples of what you are objecting to that you can share?
“I’m guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk,” Charles Wick said. “It was very complicated.”

“People get used to anything. The less you think about your oppression, the more your tolerance for it grows. After a while, people just think oppression is the normal state of things. But to become free, you have to be acutely aware of being a slave.”
― Assata Shaku

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Re: Against TFYS
« Reply #40 on: November 12, 2012, 01:33:31 pm »
I am wondering where this idea that "Think for yourself, Schmuck" is an exhortation to disregard social norms (different from the social mode, really) and authority input (where "authority" is defined as a person or persons who has studied a subject in depth and reported their findings) in favor of opinions formed in a vacuum on one's lonesome has come from.

Paul of Tarsus.

Or someone very much like him.
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Re: Against TFYS
« Reply #41 on: November 12, 2012, 03:03:27 pm »
I think the "disregard social norms" bit can be rephrased as, "don't believe something only because someone else said it."

It's kind of an extention of the fifth Pentabarf (forbidden to believe anything they read).

From a Bayesean perspective, it means, "don't forget your priors".

Ronald Reagan said, "Trust, but verify."

Less Wrong says, "how do you know what you know?"  or something to that effect.
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