nancylebov (nancylebov) wrote,
nancylebov
nancylebov

What would you like to know how to do?

Procedural Knowledge Gaps
I am beginning to suspect that it is surprisingly common for intelligent, competent adults to somehow make it through the world for a few decades while missing some ordinary skill, like mailing a physical letter, folding a fitted sheet, depositing a check, or reading a bus schedule. Since these tasks are often presented atomically - or, worse, embedded implicitly into other instructions - and it is often possible to get around the need for them, this ignorance is not self-correcting. One can Google "how to deposit a check" and similar phrases, but the sorts of instructions that crop up are often misleading, rely on entangled and potentially similarly-deficient knowledge to be understandable, or are not so much instructions as they are tips and tricks and warnings for people who already know the basic procedure. Asking other people is more effective because they can respond to requests for clarification (and physically pointing at stuff is useful too), but embarrassing, since lacking these skills as an adult is stigmatized. (They are rarely even considered skills by people who have had them for a while.)

This seems like a bad situation. And - if I am correct and gaps like these are common - then it is something of a collective action problem to handle gap-filling without undue social drama. Supposedly, we're good at collective action problems, us rationalists, right? So I propose a thread for the purpose here, with the stipulation that all replies to gap announcements are to be constructive attempts at conveying the relevant procedural knowledge. No asking "how did you manage to be X years old without knowing that?" - if the gap-haver wishes to volunteer the information, that is fine, but asking is to be considered poor form.

Topics include cooking, flirting, orientation, exercise, buying stocks, making a will, remembering alphabetical order, jump-starting stalled cars....

It seems like it would make more sense to comment at Less Wrong rather than here (keep the conversation in one place), but I'm not going to insist. Setting up an account there might seem like more trouble than it's worth (and formatting for comments is in Markdown (see help button at lower right of comment box) not html, you might prefer familiar company, or there might be a reason I'm not thinking of.

This entry was posted at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/468356.html. Comments are welcome here or there. comment count unavailable comments so far on that entry.
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