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Freeze Discussion

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Elliot Temple on December 10, 2019

Messages (32)

Popper's Best

Starting off on a Popper's Best Compilation from the Fallible Ideas reading list here: https://fallibleideas.com/books

Will share stuff as I read. So far I've read Beginning of Infinity and about half of Fabric of Reality. I've also listened to and watched every DD thing I could find, including the physics videos which I didn't understand but found fascinating anyway (like the one arguing against the necessity of probability in physics).

If anyone has any DD links for me to read or listen to/watch, please do share. I'll be going through older stuff from archived discussion groups and Setting The World to Rights and quoting it here as I learn too.

Freeze at 8:20 PM on December 10, 2019 | #14785 | reply | quote

I suggest finishing FoR ch. 1, 3-4, 7-8 before reading Popper.

curi at 8:24 PM on December 10, 2019 | #14786 | reply | quote

#14786 Will do.


> We know that any protocol for dealing with conflicting opinions that refers to the attributes of the source rather than the content of each opinion, is anti-rational. The conventional ‘mommy knows best’ rule is one such. So is any protocol that depends for its action on one party being physically stronger than the other. A rational decision-making procedure has the property that its outcomes are independent of the participants' status and power; so a rational family is one whose behaviour would be essentially unchanged if the tables were miraculously turned and the children had all the legal rights, economic power and physical strength on their side.

Freeze at 10:34 AM on December 11, 2019 | #14791 | reply | quote

Currently Reading

Starting on Eli Goldratt's *It's Not Luck* now. I enjoyed *The Goal*

Freeze at 6:18 PM on January 27, 2020 | #15273 | reply | quote

What are your questions about *The Goal*? Criticisms? Discussion tree with the stuff you learned?

Anonymous at 6:26 PM on January 27, 2020 | #15275 | reply | quote

#15276 What did you think about it?

Anonymous at 6:45 PM on January 27, 2020 | #15277 | reply | quote


Will respond to the above stuff tonight. Currently reading this piece by AdG responding to some criticisms of his approach by another biogerontologist.

Freeze at 1:14 PM on February 28, 2020 | #15671 | reply | quote


This was also interesting. I wonder if EA will pick SENS up and get it more funding.

Freeze at 3:12 PM on February 28, 2020 | #15676 | reply | quote

#15676 The comments mention two notable reasons EA people don't support anti-aging health research. Both are horribly wrong and are representative of how the EA movement in general is full of dumb people pretending to be smart who have no Paths Forward.

1) worrying about animal rights/welfare

2) thinking they know of an even more important cause: what if our AGIs murder all of us? plus, what if the Earth is hit by a meteor or plague that causes extinction? aging deaths won't make humanity extinct so they're relatively unimportant. besides, caring about people dying now is short term thinking and those deaths are just a drop of water in the ocean when you think about what will happen in the universe in the next trillion years.

curi at 4:04 PM on February 28, 2020 | #15678 | reply | quote

#15275 No discussion tree. The stuff I was most interested in was the idea that complex systems have chains of attached links and that the system would only be as strong as its weakest link. I want to figure out how to identify bottlenecks in companies irl.

It's interesting to think that I could help someone be 10% more efficient, and it could be absolutely useless for the bottom-line often, simply because they aren't a bottleneck. In the same way, someone being lazy or unproductive might not even matter if they aren't a bottleneck. So identifying bottlenecks seems key to improving any system. The other point that stood out to me was how when the bottleneck machines in the factory were down, it represented lost time for the entire factory, which was much more expensive than the cost they were actually accounting towards that (of just running the machine on its own and missing just its production in isolation).

Also interesting how the author was a physicist turned business analyst/consultant. Kind of like how DD is also a physicist + philosopher. It seems like applying the physics/science mindset to analyzing and solving systems leads to interesting perspectives and useful models.

The other thing that stood out to me was how the accounting practices the company had were measuring the wrong thing, and Alex actually had his positive results *undervalued* because of the flawed accounting practices. In the end it seems like he got to explain that, but in the middle it sucked to see how the accountant almost got accused of tampering when he used the more accurate kind of accounting method. Also goes to show they were measuring so many silly things like how long people are working or how long machines are running, with no regard for bottlenecks or actual profit metrics/sales.

I also enjoyed the situation with Alex and his son on the hike when the author modelled how any slow kid in the line would slow down everyone else and so anything anyone else could do to improve the slowest person's speed would speed up the whole line. I also vaguely remember a point where he described how variations in positive and negative led to accumulations of negative impact or something.

#15277 I think it's interesting. I never thought about violence in this way before; as something that interferes with someone's ability to handle reality as they deem best. I'm wondering if contracts are also irrational for the same reasons that promises are irrational. If I make a contract to do something in the future, I'm giving a guarantee that it will still be the moral thing for me to do when that time comes.

> A free society is better for everyone than a slave society. Partial slavery makes things worse, too. And even the ruler of a slave society or criminal gang would be better off being a productive, cooperative member of a free society. Life is better when it’s not adversarial and one doesn’t have enemies. And being even a partial slaver is dehumanizing and alienates you from the values you should be striving for in life – reason, justice, production, happiness.

I've always been interested in the liberalism arguments curi has mentioned that describe how slavery is bad for the slavers. This seems to touch a bit on that. I used to think that bad guys had an advantage because they could take hostages, kill people, steal from others, or torture people for information, and that good guys have to deal with moral boundaries and need to win despite having their hands tied morally. But now I'm realizing that the reality is that bad morality is linked to bad ideas and irrationality, so the good guys are actually advantaged, especially in the long run (maybe even in the short run? I don't know).

DD also mentions this in his RSA optimism talks where he explains that enemies of civilization must necessarily be wrong, therefore they are less creative and resist criticism. This makes the good guys more innovative and gives them the advantage of creativity and speed. They can make progress faster than the bad guys because they can improve their moral ideas and make infinite progress. If the bad guys could do that too, they wouldn't be enemies of civilization for long, because they would learn that it hurts their own interests to be adversarial to other people. curi mentioned somewhere that ideas rule the world and that resonated with me. The fact that islam can convince people to commit suicide and kill a bunch of others, AND the families of the suicide bombers actually feel proud and blessed to have a relative who died so nobly and improved the fate of the entire family (spiritually), terrifies me. I hope we can spread good arguments about these ideas so that people can improve their lives and the world.

Anonymous at 11:54 PM on February 28, 2020 | #15684 | reply | quote

Correction to above comment

#15684 Whoops, I had lost the comment partway through, but I had copied it so I pasted it and continued writing. I forgot to re-input the title and author name though. The above comment is me, Freeze, and the title should be "Replies to #15275 and #15277"

Freeze at 11:55 PM on February 28, 2020 | #15685 | reply | quote

#15684 Contracts allow trade over time instead of just immediate trade X for Y today. So e.g. I can sell you widgets with weekly deliveries for a year. This lets you plan your business around having widgets available all year. And it lets me hire more people to produce them with much less concern about producing more than demand because I know how many widgets you'll be taking. Contracts can be broken but they have penalty clauses because it's disruptive to break them – e.g. I get stuck with too many people making too many widgets that no one wants to buy, so if you break the contract you still have to pay enough to make up for that problem.

Contracts also allow e.g. I hire a security guard for a time period, a month or even a day, and he doesn't just leave in the middle of the job.

Planning ahead has difficulties/costs/downsides but the upsides in terms of coordinated action can be big.

What's moral to do is often determined by whether you have agreed to do X or not, especially if it's a written contract with a lot of wealth involved. You should generally follow your agreements and contracts. Why agree to something when the future is uncertain? Because in return for committing yourself, people will trade you stuff, like their advance agreements to things.


The good guys can take hostages, torture people for information, kill people, and so on. In most situations they shouldn't because those actions are usually bad ideas (destructive and make things worse).

curi at 1:45 PM on February 29, 2020 | #15688 | reply | quote

> It's interesting to think that I could help someone be 10% more efficient, and it could be absolutely useless for the bottom-line often, simply because they aren't a bottleneck.

This comes up in other fields, e.g. "premature optimization" in software. Lots of programmers talk about figuring out what's actually slow and optimizing that, but 90%+ of code doesn't need optimizing.

In the big picture it's unsurprising that importance is unevenly distributed and making progress on important stuff is more valuable.

curi at 1:47 PM on February 29, 2020 | #15689 | reply | quote

A line from an anime

Watching this anime on Netflix called Cagaster of an Insect cage and a character is asked,

> Did you actually love [her]?

He replies:

> People use love as an excuse to stop thinking. It's almost as stupid as talking about God.

Freeze at 4:04 PM on February 29, 2020 | #15690 | reply | quote

Cool Inventor


Invented a way to non-invasively detect and even predict "silent" heart attacks, something that no other technology has managed to do reliably. Apparently his tech can also predict a heart attack 6 hours in advance.

Freeze at 4:30 PM on March 2, 2020 | #15710 | reply | quote

Freeze at 6:11 PM on March 2, 2020 | #15711 | reply | quote

#15711 It says:

> LASIK surgery has gone from an expensive questionable novelty to a cheap, routine, safe cosmetic surgery

I doubt he's actually researched this and I don't think it's safe enough to be correctly viewed as routine.

Anonymous at 7:13 PM on March 2, 2020 | #15712 | reply | quote


#15712 Yeah when I read that I wasn't sure. His use of the word cosmetic also confused me.

Freeze at 8:09 AM on March 3, 2020 | #15717 | reply | quote

Article on Marketing to Pregnant Women


I remember reading this a few months ago and it struck me recently so I searched for it again to post here.

> As the marketers explained to Pole — and as Pole later explained to me, back when we were still speaking and before Target told him to stop — new parents are a retailer’s holy grail. Most shoppers don’t buy everything they need at one store. Instead, they buy groceries at the grocery store and toys at the toy store, and they visit Target only when they need certain items they associate with Target — cleaning supplies, say, or new socks or a six-month supply of toilet paper. But Target sells everything from milk to stuffed animals to lawn furniture to electronics, so one of the company’s primary goals is convincing customers that the only store they need is Target. But it’s a tough message to get across, even with the most ingenious ad campaigns, because once consumers’ shopping habits are ingrained, it’s incredibly difficult to change them.

> There are, however, some brief periods in a person’s life when old routines fall apart and buying habits are suddenly in flux. One of those moments — the moment, really — is right around the birth of a child, when parents are exhausted and overwhelmed and their shopping patterns and brand loyalties are up for grabs. But as Target’s marketers explained to Pole, timing is everything. Because birth records are usually public, the moment a couple have a new baby, they are almost instantaneously barraged with offers and incentives and advertisements from all sorts of companies. Which means that the key is to reach them earlier, before any other retailers know a baby is on the way. Specifically, the marketers said they wanted to send specially designed ads to women in their second trimester, which is when most expectant mothers begin buying all sorts of new things

> “We knew that if we could identify them in their second trimester, there’s a good chance we could capture them for years,” Pole told me. “As soon as we get them buying diapers from us, they’re going to start buying everything else too. If you’re rushing through the store, looking for bottles, and you pass orange juice, you’ll grab a carton. Oh, and there’s that new DVD I want. Soon, you’ll be buying cereal and paper towels from us, and keep coming back.”

They were looking for moments when people are particularly susceptible to having their purchasing habits changed.

> In the 1980s, a team of researchers led by a U.C.L.A. professor named Alan Andreasen undertook a study of peoples’ most mundane purchases, like soap, toothpaste, trash bags and toilet paper. They learned that most shoppers paid almost no attention to how they bought these products, that the purchases occurred habitually, without any complex decision-making. Which meant it was hard for marketers, despite their displays and coupons and product promotions, to persuade shoppers to change.

> But when some customers were going through a major life event, like graduating from college or getting a new job or moving to a new town, their shopping habits became flexible in ways that were both predictable and potential gold mines for retailers. The study found that when someone marries, he or she is more likely to start buying a new type of coffee. When a couple move into a new house, they’re more apt to purchase a different kind of cereal. When they divorce, there’s an increased chance they’ll start buying different brands of beer.

> Consumers going through major life events often don’t notice, or care, that their shopping habits have shifted, but retailers notice, and they care quite a bit. At those unique moments, Andreasen wrote, customers are “vulnerable to intervention by marketers.” In other words, a precisely timed advertisement, sent to a recent divorcee or new homebuyer, can change someone’s shopping patterns for years.

They can capture someone for years or decades just by catching them at the right transitionary moment in their life.

> As Pole’s computers crawled through the data, he was able to identify about 25 products that, when analyzed together, allowed him to assign each shopper a “pregnancy prediction” score. More important, he could also estimate her due date to within a small window, so Target could send coupons timed to very specific stages of her pregnancy.

> One Target employee I spoke to provided a hypothetical example. Take a fictional Target shopper named Jenny Ward, who is 23, lives in Atlanta and in March bought cocoa-butter lotion, a purse large enough to double as a diaper bag, zinc and magnesium supplements and a bright blue rug. There’s, say, an 87 percent chance that she’s pregnant and that her delivery date is sometime in late August. What’s more, because of the data attached to her Guest ID number, Target knows how to trigger Jenny’s habits. They know that if she receives a coupon via e-mail, it will most likely cue her to buy online. They know that if she receives an ad in the mail on Friday, she frequently uses it on a weekend trip to the store. And they know that if they reward her with a printed receipt that entitles her to a free cup of Starbucks coffee, she’ll use it when she comes back again.

> In the past, that knowledge had limited value. After all, Jenny purchased only cleaning supplies at Target, and there were only so many psychological buttons the company could push. But now that she is pregnant, everything is up for grabs. In addition to triggering Jenny’s habits to buy more cleaning products, they can also start including offers for an array of products, some more obvious than others, that a woman at her stage of pregnancy might need.

> Pole applied his program to every regular female shopper in Target’s national database and soon had a list of tens of thousands of women who were most likely pregnant. If they could entice those women or their husbands to visit Target and buy baby-related products, the company’s cue-routine-reward calculators could kick in and start pushing them to buy groceries, bathing suits, toys and clothing, as well. When Pole shared his list with the marketers, he said, they were ecstatic. Soon, Pole was getting invited to meetings above his paygrade. Eventually his paygrade went up.

Freeze at 4:19 PM on March 3, 2020 | #15726 | reply | quote

#15769 What do you think about the article?

curi at 10:54 AM on March 6, 2020 | #15770 | reply | quote

#15726 Purchasing habits aren't the only thing adults don't change much. Also reading habits, writing habits, discussion habits, philosophy, ~everything. This is a big problem people must face to get involved with FI in a way that changes much.

Related to https://curi.us/podcast/how-people-act

curi at 10:58 AM on March 6, 2020 | #15771 | reply | quote

#15770 i think its good

i like this part

> IWT students focus on Big Wins instead of minutiae.

> IWT students don’t worry about saving $2 or $3 on lattes, knowing that in the grand scheme of things, that money is largely meaningless — plus, as cognitive misers, we have limited cognition and attention, so each additional thing we try to focus on means an overall reduced amount of willpower and attention.

> If you had to use your limited willpower to cut back on $2 a day of something you love, versus learning how to negotiate a $10,000 salary increase, which would you rather do?

> Minutiae-focused people try to focus on everything, rarely prioritizing. They obsess over their monthly spending as much as turning the oven light off, never understanding the futility of trying to trick human nature. They use phrases like “I just need to…” and “Yeah, I really should…” and “If I just try harder this month, I should be able to…”

putting your effort into big things, instead of small things, seems better.

if you buy a 3 dollar latte every day, that would be $1095 per year. if u have like 20k debt, then it would be helpful to stop having lattes, but if lattes are something you really like, then why not focus on trying to get more money from your job so u can afford those lattes?

some times i put to much effort in trying to respond to things, so this time im trying to keep it short, instead of kind of forcing my self to respond to the entirety of it.

> Once you adopt this frame, you’ll see it everywhere. You’ll see people dutifully trying to cut back on small daily expenditures, then getting frustrated when it adds up to very little…and they yo-yo right back to their former behavior. You’ll see them sporadically jumping from expert to expert, like others jump from diet to diet, searching for the one “magic bullet” that will solve all their problems — all the while, never understanding the mechanics of what actually works.

> Ironically, if you suggest that they focus on doing a few Big Wins (e.g., learning how to negotiate their salary, or earn money on the side), the very same people will claim they’re “too busy” to do that. Indeed.

huh, so the ppl who spend a bunch of time focusing on small things supposedly dont have that much time to do things, which is even more reason they should focus on bigger more important stuff.

>I find this human tendency totally astonishing. This is why you see people who have been working out for 3 years but haven’t lost much weight at all. Yet when you suggest they try getting a personal trainer — even for a week — they say, “I could never do that! It’s too expensive.” Same with diets. And money. And relationships.

people spend potentially hundreds of hours working out, not losing weight, but if you tell them to at least try a personal trainer, they say its to expensive, and instead they stick with the same thing that is not working for them and is taking a bunch of their time.

> and cut costs mercilessly on the things you don’t care about. Do these things and you’ll be ahead of 99% of other people.

> THEY SAY: “No, you can’t buy those jeans. No, you can’t afford those shoes. No, you can’t take that trip. No, no, no.”

> I SAY: Who wants to be told what you CAN’T do with your money? For too long, money experts have been telling us all the things we’re not allowed to do, instead of telling us what we CAN do. Guess what? I want to live a rich life. I WANT to buy nice things. I want to travel to Vegas, or San Francisco, or LA, to visit my friends and go out. I WANT to buy a round of drinks for my friends or send a nice gift to my family. So if you want to buy $300 jeans, or a $1,000 weekend in Vegas, great! Instead of judging you and making you feel guilty, I’ll show how to do it — how to live a rich life by spending EXTRAVAGANTLY on the things you love, as long as you cut costs mercilessly on the things you don’t — just like my friend who spends $21,000/year going out.

that seems good cuz it trys to help you do stuff that you want to, instead of stopping you from doing the stuff that you want to. its like goal orriented i think, like your following this plan *because you want to have money*, instead of following it *because your afraid of not having money*.

idk if im putting to much effort into this, im kind of worried that the more effort i put into this might mean the lower chance i will comment on other stuff cuz i like set my bar to high, and that could make me not want to do stuff that is lesser effort.

when i first started writing this i was fine with just my first 3 paragraphs being all and posting that, but then i started reading more cuz i was interested, then started replying to more stuff. so that might be a good way to do it, like reply to part of it, if you dont have interest in it, stop replying, if you are liking it, keep replying.

> There’s a limit to how much you can save — but not to how much you can earn. You can’t outfrugal your way to being rich.

i like that.

i think the article is more like heroic, trying to help you have a lot of money and do the stuff you want to do, rather than just trying to stay afloat, the other advice it talks about seems to be about trying not to lose, rather than trying to win.

> As Clotaire Rapaille wrote in his terrific book, The Culture Code,

>> “Years ago, Tufts University invited me to lecture during a symposium on obesity…

>> Lecturer after lecturer offered solutions for America’s obesity problem, all of which revolved around education. Americans would be thinner if only they knew about good nutrition and the benefits of exercise, they told us. Slimming down the entire country was possible through an aggressive public awareness campaign…

>> When it was my turn to speak, I couldn’t help beginning with an observation.

>> “I think it is fascinating that the other speakers today have suggested that education is the answer to our country’s obesity problem,” I said. I slowly gestured around the room.

>> “If education is the answer, then why hasn’t it helped more of you?”

>> There were audible gasps in the auditorium when I said this, quite a few snickers, and five times as many sneers. Unsurprisingly, Tufts never invited me to lecture again.’”

he showed that education was not really the problem, and then for pointing out that major flaw in all the speakers ideas, he wasnt invited to speak again.

internetrules at 2:38 PM on March 6, 2020 | #15778 | reply | quote

#15778 Do you see any sort of conflict or clash between:

> IWT students focus on Big Wins instead of minutiae.

And FI ideas (also some of them normal standard ideas, not unique to FI) like learning (small) prerequisites before doing advanced (big) stuff? Or not overreaching? Or caring about getting the basics right, and all errors, instead of not worrying about "small" errors?

curi at 2:12 AM on March 7, 2020 | #15785 | reply | quote

#15770 I think I messed up big time on interpreting the article's ideas vs FI. This post of mine is not very good. Any feedback is appreciated:

The quoted text says that the more we do the more our willpower and attention gets reduced. Small tasks or projects are important when they help us with our development. In the article, bettering our routines rather than just preventing the bad routines literally means making more money:

> — plus, as cognitive misers, we have limited cognition and attention, so each additional thing we try to focus on means an overall reduced amount of willpower and attention.

This reminds me that I have limited energy to work on many things at once. But the quote also reminds me, that if I want to get better with FI, that I should be efficient and plan ahead with what I learn so it doesn't go to waste. By planning ahead I mean what use does learning an idea have towards a bigger goal or purpose of mine? If it doesn't have a use then I just wasted my time or I don't know enough about my plan or goals.

Anonymous at 2:42 AM on March 7, 2020 | #15790 | reply | quote

Somewhat tangentially to #15790

>> so each additional thing we try to focus on means an overall reduced amount of willpower and attention.

The more skills you can develop so you can do them *without* focusing, the more powerful you become. This is common for some skills like walking, touch typing, and some grammar like subject-verb agreement and figuring out the word ending and helper verbs to use for the verb tense you want (and what tense you want is also usually decided without focus).

curi at 2:50 AM on March 7, 2020 | #15792 | reply | quote


I interpreted the IWT "Big Wins" advice as approximately what I already knew/believed long before encountering IWT but used different words to describe. Maybe I'm misinterpreting IWT but if so I don't have much to say about IWT and I'm just talking about my own ideas.

Here's my version:

If you run your financial life trying to closely match your earning and spending (which I call running close to the edge) it's a pain in the ass that'll drag you down. You'll constantly have to look for little areas to save money, find yourself short and have to scramble when unexpected expenses come up, buy things inefficiently because of how much money you do or don't have at the time, struggle to reach savings or debt repayment goals, and other problems. Running close to the edge takes a lot of attention and skill not to fuck up.

If you create a wide margin between what you typically spend and what you earn, then lots of those problems go away. Your financial life is much easier and takes less attention and skill to manage successfully. Savings can be automatic - whatever the margin happens to be, always large just variable. You have extra money when unexpected expenses come up, and you can buy things more efficiently (like when they're on sale instead of when you happen to have enough money).

You create a wide margin between what you typically spend and what you earn with a few significant decisions. Choose a career that pays high relative to cost of living in the area you live in. Take action to improve your pay at work by selecting roles and speaking up in ways that lead to higher pay. Apply high value skills to earning money on the side rather than low value skills (consult on the side rather than drive Uber on the side). Don't live in a flashy house or drive a fancy car to impress others.


I don't think any of that conflicts with FI.

Learning to handle small financial decisions before you have to make big decisions is a great idea. Kids should have practice making small earning and spending decisions before having to decide things like a career and where they're going to live.

But neither the IWT "Big Wins" advice nor my version are talking about kids. They're talking about adults already living on their own. Maybe (probably) those adults should've had more & better practice with small stuff before going out on their own. But for good or ill those people are already deciding on someplace to live, some way to earn money, and some way to get around as well as whether to buy small stuff like lattes. Given they *are* deciding on big stuff now, it makes sense to focus on getting the big stuff as right as possible.

Spending isn't an error unless it causes some other problem in your life. Setting up your life such that small spending decisions don't cause you problems either way isn't ignoring small errors, it's preventing them.

Your career, what you focus on for creating value, and big spending decisions like what kinda house you live in and what kinda transportation you have are the basics of an adult life, not advanced. Getting those right is what allows you to have extra money to do more advanced stuff like investing.

Andy Dufresne at 6:10 PM on March 7, 2020 | #15805 | reply | quote

> Spending isn't an error unless it causes some other problem in your life. Setting up your life such that small spending decisions don't cause you problems either way isn't ignoring small errors, it's preventing them.

Yeah. Another way to put it is that an hour lost on a non-bottleneck work station *is harmless*, aka is not an error. Set things up so lattes (or whatever minor luxuries you like) are not a bottleneck. Set it up so they are irrelevant to success rather than being an error.

curi at 12:27 PM on March 8, 2020 | #15810 | reply | quote

Grammar Series: Post 1

I'll be spending 15 minutes a day learning about grammar and posting about it here. I'll likely make multiple posts per day so I will link these posts to the grammar thread for further discussion there, and they'll sort of be archived here to track my progress.

Reading: Fallible Ideas Grammar

Some of my initial goals: Be able to understand clauses and use commas correctly. Evaluate sentences word by word and understand the meaning of each word. Test myself objectively and track my progress over the next month.

> Knowing how sentences work lets you be a better thinker and learner. People fluent in English intuitively know grammar. Usually their intuition works, but when something confuses them, then they get stuck. They don’t know how to consciously analyze sentences, step by step, to get unstuck. Analysis is also easier to communicate to other people than intuition is. Clear, precise, conscious understanding, in words, gives you a powerful tool for thinking (in addition to intuition, which is also valuable).

Build this analysis skill.

> Talking came first. Grammar rules (and writing) were developed based on how people talk. So grammar has many exceptions. English has a bunch of special cases that don’t fit the rules nicely. So remember that there are exceptions to most of what I say about grammar. But the main concepts of grammar are usually correct and still really useful.

So I should expect exceptions but still be willing to learn the rules and expect them to be useful in most situations.

> Because grammar imperfectly describes how people talk, experts disagree with each other about some grammar rules. Sometimes I’ll teach something different than what your teacher (or a book) said. I’ve looked at many different viewpoints and, using my philosophical expertise, made judgment calls about the most useful way to think about grammar.

I didn't know parts of grammar were contentious, so this is useful to me. I kinda ran into this at one point when I was editing a report for some commission work and I was googling a lot of things to figure out how to proceed. I came across contentious things like double spacing and had to make typographic judgment calls and explain them in the comments of the report.

> Part 1 covers simple sentences. Part 2 covers complex sentences. Part 3 covers a few more concepts for understanding sentences. Part 4 covers outlining and question-based analysis. Part 5 discusses organizing ideas in English and how English influences your thinking.

I'll work on Part 1 for now.

> There are four main steps for understanding simple sentences, and one more step for understanding complex sentences. Complex sentences involve multiple simple sentences joined together.

There are only two types of simple sentences in English. And they’re similar enough to share the same analysis steps.

I need to learn the difference between a simple and complex sentence

> The verb is the most important part of a simple sentence because it tells us what’s happening in the sentence. There are two types: action verbs and linking verbs. The verb determines which of the two sentence types you’re dealing with (action sentence or linking sentence).

I didn't know there were two types of verbs, so that's good to learn.

> Example actions: write, feel, sew, run, throw, eat, talk, play, think, love, hate, sit.

> Linking verbs link or relate two things. They describe or rename the first thing with the second thing. They’re sort of similar to an equals sign. The most common linking verb is “be”. (“Is” is present tense of “be” and “was” is past tense.)

Should there be a "the" after "Is" and an "its" after "is" in "is past tense"?

> A simple sentence only has one verb. In part 1, I use the word “sentence” to mean “simple sentence”.

> Example action sentence: I threw a red ball.

> Example linking sentence: The house is very big.

So a complex sentence would have two or more verbs.

> The first step for analyzing a sentence is finding the verb. The verbs in the examples are “threw” and “is”.

I'll keep this in mind when analyzing sentences.

> An action verb answers the question, “What action happens?”. A linking verb answers “What type of linking is this?”.

> Tip: If you’re not sure if a verb is action or linking, don’t get stuck worrying about it. It doesn’t make a big difference.

To summarize part 1 for myself: There are two kinds of simple sentences. There are action sentences, and linking sentences. The type of sentence is determined by the type of verb it contains, and all simple sentences contain only one verb. The process for analyzing both types of simple sentences is the same, which involves finding the verb first. Some examples of action sentences I can come up with:

* I ate the food.

* They took Constantinople.

* The dog chased the cat.

I looked up this list of linking verbs. https://www.quia.com/jg/2584186list.html

Are there only 20 linking verbs?

Some examples of linking sentences:

* I am blue.

* That tastes good.

* He feels angry.

Freeze at 11:49 PM on March 8, 2020 | #15815 | reply | quote

Total time spent on #15815: about 20 minutes.

Freeze at 11:49 PM on March 8, 2020 | #15816 | reply | quote

A thought on "taste" as a linking verb:

Is it only when something has a taste as an attribute of itself, similar to it "being" some way, that it's considered a linking verb?

For example:

* This cake tastes sweet. (linking verb)

* She tasted the cake. (action verb)

Freeze at 11:52 PM on March 8, 2020 | #15818 | reply | quote

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