Difference between revisions of "Sequences"

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[[Category:Introductory articles]]
[[Category:Introductory articles]]

Revision as of 10:37, 20 June 2011

A sequence is a series of multiple posts on Less Wrong on the same topic, to coherently and fully explore a particular thesis.

Reading the sequences is the most systematic way to approach the Less Wrong archives.

This page serves as an index into the sequences, but the order on this page is not the only or best order to read them in. Here is an alternative index of of sequences articles one might read to start getting into Less Wrong.

Core Sequences

Map and Territory contains some of the most important introductory posts and essays.

If you don't read the sequences on Mysterious Answers to Mysterious Questions and Reductionism, nothing else on Less Wrong will make much sense.

The most important method that Less Wrong can offer you is How To Actually Change Your Mind.

Video Lectures

The Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence is putting together a series of video lectures based on the Less Wrong sequences. The lectures are available on YouTube. There will also be audio-only versions. The series is a work in progress and lectures are to be uploaded on a weekly basis.

Major Sequences

Long sequences that have been completed and organized into a guide.

Mysterious Answers to Mysterious Questions

How to see through the many disguises of answers or beliefs or statements, that don't answer or say or mean anything. The first (and probably most important) core sequence on Less Wrong.

A Human's Guide to Words

Sequence guide: 37 Ways That Words Can Be Wrong
List of posts: A Human's Guide to Words

A series on the use and abuse of words; why you often can't define a word any way you like; how human brains seem to process definitions. First introduces the Mind projection fallacy and the concept of how an algorithm feels from inside, which makes it a basic intro to key elements of the LW zeitgeist.

How To Actually Change Your Mind

A mega-sequence scattered over almost all of Less Wrong on the ultra-high-level penultimate technique of rationality: actually updating on the evidence.

Organized into eight subsequences.


The second core sequence of Less Wrong. How to take reality apart into pieces... and live in that universe, where we have always lived, without feeling disappointed about the fact that complicated things are made of simpler things.

The Quantum Physics Sequence

A non-mysterious introduction to quantum mechanics, intended to be accessible to anyone who can grok algebra and complex numbers. Cleaning up the old confusion about QM is used to introduce basic issues in rationality (such as the technical version of Occam's Razor), epistemology, reductionism, naturalism, and philosophy of science. Not dispensable reading, even though the exact reasons for the digression are hard to explain in advance of reading.

The Metaethics Sequence

What words like "right" and "should" mean; how to integrate moral concepts into a naturalistic universe.

The dependencies on this sequence may not be fully organized, and the post list does not have summaries. Yudkowsky considers this one of his less successful attempts at explanation.

The Fun Theory Sequence

A concrete theory of transhuman values. How much fun is there in the universe; will we ever run out of fun; are we having fun yet; could we be having more fun. Part of the complexity of value thesis. Also forms part of the fully general answer to religious theodicy.

The Craft and the Community

The final sequence of Eliezer Yudkowsky's two-year-long string of daily posts to Less Wrong, on improving the art of rationality and building communities of rationalists.

Minor Sequences

Smaller collections of posts. Usually parts of major sequences which depend on some-but-not-all of the points introduced.

Map and Territory

A collection of introductory posts dealing with the fundamentals of rationality: the difference between the map and the territory, Bayes's Theorem and the nature of evidence, why anyone should care about truth, minds as reflective cognitive engines...

Seeing with Fresh Eyes

Some notes on the incredibly difficult feat of actually getting your brain to think about something (a key step in actually changing your mind). Whenever someone exhorts you to "think outside the box", they usually, for your convenience, point out exactly where "outside the box" is located. Isn't it funny how nonconformists all dress the same...

Subsequence of How to Actually Change Your Mind.

Politics is the Mind-Killer

Some of the various ways that politics damages our sanity - including, of course, making it harder to change our minds on political issues.

Subsequence of How to Actually Change Your Mind.

Death Spirals and the Cult Attractor

Affective death spirals are positive feedback loops caused by the halo effect: Positive characteristics perceptually correlate, so the more nice things we say about X, the more additional nice things we're likely to believe about X.

Cultishness is an empirical attractor in human groups: roughly an affective death spiral; plus peer pressure and outcasting behavior; plus (often) defensiveness around something believed to be un-improvable.

Yet another subsequence of How to Actually Change Your Mind.

Ethical Injunctions

Ethical injunctions are rules not to do something even when you believe it's the right thing to do. This is to protect you from your own cleverness (especially taking bad black swan bets), and the Corrupted hardware you're running on.

Related to the Metaethics sequence.

Joy in the Merely Real

If dragons were common, and you could look at one in the zoo - but zebras were a rare legendary creature that had finally been decided to be mythical - then there's a certain sort of person who would ignore dragons, who would never bother to look at dragons, and chase after rumors of zebras. The grass is always greener on the other side of reality.

Which is rather setting ourselves up for eternal disappointment, eh? If we cannot take joy in the merely real, our lives shall be empty indeed.

Subsequence of Reductionism.

Zombies Sequence

On the putative "possibility" of beings who are just like us in every sense, but not conscious - that is, lacking inner subjective experience.

Subsequence of Reductionism.

The Simple Math of Evolution

Learning the very basic math of evolutionary biology costs relatively little if you understand algebra, but gives you a surprisingly different perspective from what you'll find in strictly nonmathematical texts.

Challenging the Difficult

How to do things that are difficult or "impossible".

Coming of Age

How Yudkowsky made epic errors of reasoning as a teenage "rationalist" and recovered from them starting at around age 23, the period that he refers to as his Bayesian Enlightenment.

Positivism, Self Deception, and Neuroscience by Yvain

Priming and Implicit Association by Yvain

Priming may be described as the capability of any random stimulus to commandeer your thinking and judgement for the next several minutes. Scared? Don't be. There exist ways to defend yourself against these kinds of intrusions, and there are even methods to harness them into useful testing mechanisms.

Decision Theory of Newcomblike Problems by AnnaSalamon

Decisions need to be modeled with some structure in order to be scrutinized and systematically improved; simply "intuiting" the answers to decision problems by ad-hoc methods is not conducive to thorough analysis. For this, we formulate decision theories. This sequence, themed with an analysis of Newcomb's problem, is a consolidated summary and context for the many decision theory discussions found on LessWrong at the time of writing.

Living Luminously by Alicorn

Luminosity, as used here, is self-awareness. A luminous mental state is one that you have and know that you have. It could be an emotion, a belief or alief, a disposition, a quale, a memory - anything that might happen or be stored in your brain. What's going on in your head?

The Science of Winning at Life by lukeprog

This sequence summarizes scientifically-backed advice for "winning" at everyday life: in one's productivity, in one's relationships, in one's emotions, etc. Each post concludes with footnotes and a long list of references from the academic literature.

Intuitions and Philosophy by lukeprog

This sequence explains how intuitions are used in mainstream philosophy and what the science of intuitions suggests about how intuitions should be used in philosophy.

No-Nonsense Metaethics by lukeprog

This sequence explains and defends a naturalistic approach to metaethics called pluralistic moral reductionism.

Alternative Formats

The Sequences have been converted to eReader compatible formats by several projects.


Main article: Translations into other languages