post by WilliamJames · 2014-11-12T00:55:35.047Z · LW · GW · Legacy · 49 comments


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comment by Quirinus_Quirrell · 2014-11-12T03:16:57.925Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I am not any person named in the linked page, though I have met some or all of them. I am not affiliated with MIRI in any way. I did not post the linked page and I do not know who did.

The linked page is obvious slander. But its creation is a serious matter; the author is threatening to manufacture evidence. Thus, it should be handled the same way as a death threat: with an investigation to determine who sent it. The site is hosted on EasyWeb; the domain name admin contact details point to a proxy called myprivacy.net, but the author is not very technically sophisticated (the page was authored in MS Word) so an appropriate subpoena might suffice to identify them.

Also, Mendes & Mount might want to make a public statement as to whether or not they represent MIRI. The page mentions them by name, but they're located in the wrong state (New York) and none of the practice areas listed on their web page are relevant.

comment by Kawoomba · 2014-11-12T14:01:58.934Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The more serious it is publicly taken, the more incentive for the author (who could be some guy in Eastern Europe for all we know, well beyond the reach of any legal recourse) to redouble his/her efforts. Someone has spent a considerable amount of time and effort to make the biggest possible splash. Publicly making waves about it is just playing into the splasher's hands.

So I advocate no public engagement on this matter whatsoever, doubled with a consultation with a specialized (not a run-of-the-mill) lawyer. Also, I'd look into the account who made the original post. The posting history (just one other post with "concerns") and then this random "stumbled on this slanderous noname internet site"-type post, coupled with the ludicrous slant ("doesn't look good"!?) would make me wager at considerable odds that OP is involved in the matter. Good news, in that case: check your IP logs, turn the IP address over to the police (if that's what the lawyer advises, which he probably will). Since the account had some activity in the past, I doubt the poster consistently used a proxy.

comment by Slider · 2014-11-12T17:36:04.455Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I understand fabricating evidence is bad. I understand that libel is bad. But I don't see how threatening to libel is that bad (on top of the actual libel).

comment by ike · 2014-11-12T05:02:50.948Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

... Why are we trusting anyone named Quirinus_Quirrell again?

comment by Alicorn · 2014-11-12T04:57:58.609Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I have removed the link in this post. If it reappears, please let me know and I'll ban the post entirely.

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2014-11-12T06:10:19.269Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
comment by gwillen · 2014-11-12T07:01:24.981Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't really see how "post slandering MIRI is downvoted into oblivion and receives not a single positive comment" is strong evidence of a problematic metacontrarian trend. (And needless to say, I agree that Alicorn's action is correct.)

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2014-11-12T07:09:32.704Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That's a fair point. I should wait for that to materialize before expressing my pessimism about it.

ETA: And here it is: http://lesswrong.com/lw/l8j/important_information_about_miri/blld?context=1

comment by James_Miller · 2014-11-12T01:43:23.152Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The linked article constitutes libel and unless and until proof is provided this post should be removed. If everything stated in the linked article were true only an MIRI insider would know it, which cuts against the conspiracy thesis. For my book Singularity Rising I talked to a lot of people about Eliezer and his organization and no one, not even the people who had a low opinion of Eliezer, even hinted at what's suggested in the article. I find it almost inconceivable that what's going on in the linked article is true and yet Peter Thiel, a man likely to play a big role in the next U.S. Presidential election, still associates with and gives money to MIRI.

comment by [deleted] · 2014-11-12T01:50:10.697Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

and yet Peter Thiel, a man likely to play a big role in the next U.S. Presidential election

What's that about?

comment by James_Miller · 2014-11-12T01:53:43.877Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

He is been getting a lot of media coverage for his latest book and in some of it he has talked about politics. My bet is that he will be a big financial supporter of Rand Paul.

comment by [deleted] · 2014-11-12T06:16:33.388Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Seeing as he funded ron Paul, that's not surprising. It's quite optimistic to say that would be a "big role in the next U.S. Presidential election" though ;)

comment by gjm · 2014-11-12T01:47:59.058Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

WilliamJames, would you care to explain why you find these "revelations" credible? (Or, if you posted this as a joke, why you find it amusing?)

comment by Vulture · 2014-11-12T01:32:39.103Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This is the most ludicrous slander I have ever read. I also have no idea what the point is supposed to be. It's not funny, it's not remotely believable, it doesn't seem to be making any kind of larger point, and it looks like a really slapdash job anyway. I can't figure out why anyone would bother making this.

Edit: Whoops, I didn't read to the end. Apparently this is an attempt at blackmail. I still don't see what the point is, though, since MIRI will hardly stop fundraising just to prevent this obviously fabricated "leak". Maybe the creator of the page is hoping that rationalists will conclude that there is some truth to the accusations on the basis that they wouldn't bother to blackmail MIRI with them if they were false? But if that was the goal, you'd think they could come up with more plausible or creative accusations.

comment by Natha · 2014-11-12T03:41:27.133Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's poorly written too, like some grade school gag. If it's meant to be taken seriously, it is pretty amateurish...

comment by gwillen · 2014-11-12T02:33:07.843Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Given (my assumptions about) the base rate of the alleged crime, it doesn't seem very credible to me that "numerous MIRI employees, board members, and donors" are all guilty of it. If the accusation were that one person had committed a serious crime and the rest of an organization were covering it up, that would seem at least plausible; but the notion that MIRI is somehow secretly a criminal syndicate does not seem to pass the laugh test.

comment by Vulture · 2014-11-12T03:29:04.226Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's probably better not to directly quote the accusations here.

comment by gwillen · 2014-11-12T06:54:44.714Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Reasonable; redacted a bit out of an abundance of caution.

comment by Kawoomba · 2014-11-12T14:03:37.114Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The remaining quote still suffices to find the website, FYI.

comment by joaolkf · 2014-11-13T13:27:12.462Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In cases where it might not suffice, the quote and your comment do. I suggest deleting it and sending a private message. I wouldn't had found the page if not for your comment.

comment by Vulture · 2014-11-12T14:40:57.992Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Since the post we're commenting on is a link to the same website, that ship has probably sailed.

comment by drethelin · 2014-11-12T06:23:54.610Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think you're probably underestimating the base rate.

But in that that context it also wouldn't really be anything worth covering up.

comment by gwillen · 2014-11-12T06:58:37.622Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Per Vulture's comment, I have removed the specifics of the (ludicrous) accusation from my comment, and the link in the original post has now also been removed.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2014-11-12T01:32:01.708Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yeah, right. Sorry, but obvious trolling+slander is obvious trolling+slander.

comment by Paul Crowley (ciphergoth) · 2014-11-16T14:32:29.221Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

A thought for the people who put this page up, and for anyone else considering similar shenanigans: remember that MIRI does not endorse CDT. They are prepared to bear considerable costs in this branch of reality where you decided to act against them, to reap the rewards in the branch where you thought about acting against them, realised how they would react, and thought better of it.

comment by [deleted] · 2014-11-12T01:18:36.676Z · LW(p) · GW(p)


comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2014-11-13T00:09:50.734Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Deleted for guessing of perpetrator names in advance of evidence. (Though usually I would encourage assigning probabilities to things.)

comment by MarkusRamikin · 2014-11-23T07:06:23.973Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Interesting. I can still read the comment if I read it from your own comments page.

EDIT: May I ask why downvote? I thought noticing something not working as intended was a good thing.

comment by Halfwitz · 2014-11-13T01:07:23.322Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

On reflection, I agree that posting names was bad. If a similar situation comes up, my official policy will be to post a cryptographic hash precommitment for each name. In other words, I won’t bother.

comment by AABoyles · 2014-11-12T04:16:39.704Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you haven't visited the page, don't. It isn't worth your time.

comment by shminux · 2014-11-12T03:09:22.471Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

OP or at least the link in it should be removed promptly to not provide the troll with any free SEO.

comment by DanArmak · 2014-11-12T17:46:31.893Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Maybe an op should rename this post to something that better describes it, if it's going to stay up. Google rank and other SEO influence isn't negated by downvoting this page.

comment by Unknowns · 2014-11-25T21:01:36.487Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Tim Tyler posted a link to the page on November 11 (due to time zone differences, shortly after this post), and someone posted a review of MIRI referencing it on GreatNonprofits.org on November 13 (the day after). That may give some indications of the person responsible.

EDIT: Originally I said Tim Tyler posted before this post, but it seems it was actually after and that he got it from here. In any case he just mentioned it in passing, while both this post and the review on GreatNonprofits had no purpose except to spread the link. So as I commented recently, the evidence basically indicates that WilliamJames is most likely responsible for the website.

comment by fractalcat · 2014-11-15T20:12:24.752Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Can someone post a ROT13ed link? I'm curious.

comment by ChristianKl · 2014-11-15T20:49:15.843Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Rot13 misses the point in this case. There no reason to have a link here to the material and would a violation of the expressed Mod opinion in this thread. There no reason to have more people see the libelous material.

Either you are intelligent enough to find the article on your own, or you can't read the gossip. At this point in time there's no google take down request against the article.

comment by Vulture · 2014-11-12T01:39:29.734Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Oh, and in addition to being moronic and slanderous, they also misspell "throes", which is a pet peeve of mine.

comment by WilliamJames · 2014-11-30T00:06:13.337Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The name of one of the rapists at MIRI was posted today.

Site says Dec 10th is the timing for next post.

comment by Unknowns · 2014-11-30T00:35:09.492Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Given your description right here ("one of the rapists", instead of just saying a name was posted), the textual similarities between the webpage and your post about connection theory (such as the numbered lists and the wandering descriptions), and your stated presence in the Bay Area, I am estimating a 95% chance you are the author of the website.

comment by Unknowns · 2014-11-13T06:34:32.007Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I estimate an 80% chance that the base rate for polyamorists, if known, would directly give rise to a probability of 50% or higher for the basic claim being true for three or more persons fairly closely associated with MIRI.

The vindictiveness on the linked page strongly suggests an insider; it is hard to imagine someone hating them that much, without at least having met them personally. Likewise, some of the expressions (such as "with the possible exception of one") are more suggestive of someone's actual belief, rather than a clever lie.

Overall estimating a 65% chance the webpage is basically correct in terms of the substance of the claims, although certainly false in terms of the black and white painting of the situation.

comment by gjm · 2014-11-13T15:58:01.752Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

an 80% chance that the base rate for polyamorists [...] would directly give rise to a probability of 50% [...] three or more persons.

Let's consider those numbers for a moment. I don't know what counts as "fairly closely associated with MIRI" but let's say there are 30 people who would count as being "fairly closely associated". (AIUI that's a lot more than, e.g., the number of people actually employed by MIRI.) If my calculations are right, this means that for Pr(true of at least 3) >= 0.5 we'd need to have Pr(true of any given person) >= 0.09ish.

The accusation, if my memory isn't misleading me, is that MIRI is a hotbed of child rape. So, Unknowns, are you 80% confident that about 9% of polyamorists are serial child rapists? Really?

comment by Unknowns · 2014-11-13T16:05:01.248Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I would consider that description to be part of what I called the black and white painting of the situation.

The substance of the claim is sex with a person under the age of consent, which in California is 18. Yes, it seems quite likely to me that 9% of polyamorists have had sex with 17 year old persons who wanted it. Many people would think this should be quite legal.

comment by drethelin · 2014-11-13T20:58:08.569Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I agree with this and almost made a very similar comment, but decided talking about it would piss people off, which I didn't feel like doing.

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2014-11-15T04:24:52.007Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

aaaand there's the meta-contrarian motivated credulity about things that really, really should have triggered more skepticism.

Overall estimating a 65% chance the webpage is basically correct in terms of the substance of the claims

It's not.

comment by drethelin · 2014-11-15T07:29:33.743Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This is of course what you would have to say either way, no?

comment by L29Ah · 2014-11-12T01:20:18.975Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Too fat ☹