Why don't we try really doing things

‘More Dakka’ by Zvi starts as a review on Eliezer Yudkowsky’s book Inadequate Eqilibria, and then turns to apply ideas of The Thing and the Symbolic Representation of The Thing by Zvi, and Scott Alexander’s Concept-Shaped Holes Can Be Impossible To Notice to expand on whys and hows of the problem that I can only vaguely name as “Why don’t we try really doing things”. I do recommend reading all three posts, it was a feel-good delta knowledge for me. Here I will focus on ‘More Dakka’ which expands on why we do not try seemingly obvious solutions, or attempt and never finish.

People express gratitude. We are told it improves subjective well-being in studies. Our subjective well-being improves a little. We could express more gratitude, with no real downsides. Almost all of us don’t.

If something is a good idea, you need a reason to not try doing more of it. No, seriously. You need a reason.

do more of what is already working and see if it works more

Doing the Thing instead of the Symbolic Representation of The Thing is harder because:

  • You need to realize the thing might exist at all.
  • You need to realize the symbolic representation of the thing isn’t the thing.
  • You need to ignore the idea that you’ve done your job.
  • You need to actually care about solving the problem.
  • You need to think about the problem a little.
  • You need to ignore the idea that no one could blame you for not trying.

And then he explains each one in more detail. It looks like a bunch of small inconveniences that together form a learned helplessness buffer that prevents any actual work getting done.

Something possibly being slightly socially awkward, or causing a likely nominal failure, acts as a veto. Rationalizations for this are created as needed.

Some such worries are real. […] But they’re mostly trying to halt thinking about the object level, to keep you from being the nail that sticks up and gets hammered down. When someone else raises them, mostly they’re the hammer. The fears are mirages we’ve been trained and built to see.

↑ This is one of my goals: Getting to the object level, asking ‘why?’ and ‘what can be done to overcome this obstacle?’ until the Thing is really done.