Sunday, July 5, 2015

Cognitive Trigger-Action Planning For Epistemic Rationality

I suspect that the overwhelming majority of good epistemic practice is best thought of as cognitive trigger-action plans to customize and internalize.

[If I'm afraid of a proposition] → [then I'll visualize how the world would be and what I would actually do if the proposition were true.]
[If everything seems to hang on a particular word] → [then I'll taboo that word and its synonyms.]
[If I flinch away from a thought at the edge of peripheral awareness] → [then I'll focus my attention directly on that thought.]

Before looking back through some of the Lesswrong Sequences, I installed the trigger-action plan "[If I notice that something I read feels important] --> [then I'll ask myself, "In what real-life situations is it important?" and design a trigger-action plan to impliment the insight.]" Sometimes I fail to identify a correct action, but I at least come up with some hypothesis for what the right trigger would be, so I can study my own experience of relevant situations.

(When I train a trigger well, I often find I'm done, anyway.)

You can gain a lot of abstract insights by reading, which can re-orient your mind and shift your whole approach to the world. You can learn some great hacks for problem solving by taking the right classes and workshops. But when it comes to advancing your own art in the ongoing context of daily life, CTAPs is the name of the game. It is the way to change your default responses to sensations of thought and emotion.

[If something feels key to advancing your art as a rationalist] → [stop, drop, and trigger-action plan.]

1 comment:

Radu Floricica said...

Reminded me of something so I looked it up. You may want to read "Planning and Implementation of Goals", by Gollwitzer, Fujita, Oettingen. Or whatever else they came up with in the meantime, things tend to move quite fast in cognitive psychology.