What are Michael Vassar's beliefs?
post by Chris_Leong
score: 19 (7 votes) ·
This is a question post.
9 Ben Pace
I've heard Michael Vassar's name mentioned a few times within the community. Why is he so well-known and what are his main ideas? I am particularly interested in the ideas that seem to have made him community famous.
answer by ChristianKl
· score: 25 (12 votes) · LW
) · GW
Michael [LW · GW]Vassar [LW · GW]was [LW · GW]once MIRIs president when it was still SIAI. Afterwards he founded MetaMed [LW · GW] which employed a lot of other rationalitsts. He gave a TedX talk on ideas behidn MetaMed.
I meet him last year a few times in Berlin and the conversations with him were very intellectually stimulating.
He thinks that there's a strong infowar going on. He considers cybernetics (control theory, I'm not sure whether he used the word cybernetics) as a tool of war.
Paraphrased: "We didn't have an atomic war as people expected after WWII, but we had an infowar and now most people are like zombies when it comes to their ability to think and act indepently"
According to him anybody who spents more then 2-3 years in the Bay Area gets mindkilled by pressures for political correctness and can't think straight anymore. That was his reason for leaving the Bay Area for Berlin at that time.
I have heard the ideas from the Immoral Mazes sequence from Vassar. Vassar is acknowledged by Zvi has having been on of the influences that resulted in him writing that sequence.
Vassar has original ideas on lot of subjects. It seems that him talking with people frequently results in people in tearing down Chestertons fences, sometimes for good and sometimes for bad (and I have the impression sometimes bad enough for some people to consider Vassar dangerous).
comment by Chris_Leong
· score: 3 (2 votes) · LW
) · GW
Are you able to expand any more on his thoughts about cybernetics/control theory? Plus can you tell me any more about what kind of Chesterton's fences are being removed? Are these internal beliefs or are people breing convinced to break social norms?
comment by ChristianKl
· score: 2 (1 votes) · LW
) · GW
As far as Chesterton's fences being removed, you might imagine that Bob has habit X. Then Bob gets told in a convincing way that he has habit X because it's what's benefitial in a hunter gather society or that the habit is based on some cultural battle where the stronger side preveiled in enforcing their cultural norms. That can both be internal beliefs or social norms.
The one more problematic case I heard about involved a person doing mind hacking and taking drugs to do so.
If I remember right Vassar suggested reading Norbert Wiener and being aware that DARPA funded the control theory research because they were actually interested in control.
When a persons behavior is strongly driven by the feedback of a control system, they won't be using their human cognition freely.
answer by Czynski (JacobKopczynski)
· score: 2 (4 votes) · LW
) · GW
Why is he so well-known?
He is extremely charismatic and confident and seems to accidentally produce cultishness around him wherever he goes.
What are his main ideas?
Unimportant. He is not community famous for his ideas, but for his personality and "reality distortion field".
But he believes that Hanlon's Razor is nigh-universally false and the public sphere of discourse is a Hobbesian war of all against all.
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