Discussion of "What are your contrarian views?"

post by Metus · 2014-09-20T12:09:50.492Z · LW · GW · Legacy · 20 comments

I'd like to use this thread to review the "What are your contrarian views?" thread as the meta discussion there was drowned out by the intended content I feel. What can be done better with the voting system? Should threads like these be a regular occurence? What have you specifically learned from that thread? Did you like it at all?


Usual voting rules apply.


Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Scott Garrabrant · 2014-09-20T18:05:46.072Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think that the interesting part of these things is the actual posts and the responses to them, not the votes. I think it should work more similarly to CMV (Change My View) on Reddit. Have a thread (maybe just the open thread) where people are encouraged to post where the say something that the expect many people on Lesswrong might disagree with, and people try to convince them.

I also think that the value of the votes is much better if there are upvotes and downvotes. Unfortunately this could be bad for karma. Perhaps each post should have a poll in it, and people upvote just based on how interesting the conversation is.

I also think there was a problem with people posting underspecified claims. Words like "feminism" and "can" have many sometimes contradictory definitions.

Replies from: Azathoth123, Gunnar_Zarncke
comment by Azathoth123 · 2014-09-20T18:39:26.942Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Disagree, I think the main benefit of the thread is defeating Asch Conformity type effects. Hence the voting system is useful.

Replies from: gjm
comment by gjm · 2014-09-20T21:21:57.505Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I am puzzled by the downvote on Azathoth123's comment here. I think it's not the only mysterious downvote I've seen on his comments recently. If this is because someone who doesn't like his opinions on race and sex and suchlike thinks he should be punished for it: Please stop; you will not do anyone any good this way.

Replies from: Vulture
comment by Vulture · 2014-09-21T19:32:18.214Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I guess this kind of thing is why we try to avoid talking about that stuff on Less Wrong.

Replies from: gjm
comment by gjm · 2014-09-21T21:00:45.982Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Maybe. But another possibility is that this kind of thing is because we try to avoid talking about that stuff on Less Wrong. In other words, that it's not that some politically motivated people are punishing others for having Incorrect Views -- but that someone who thinks LW is an inappropriate venue for discussions involving race and gender and so forth is hitting everyone involved with punitive downvotes in the hope of making them shut up.

It would be particularly ironic if it turned out that (1) this is happening and (2) the motivation is to try to make LW a more reasonable and less angry place and (3) the actual effect is simply to make more people on LW feel attacked cross, which will doubtless tend to make them less reasonable and more angry.

(Some weak evidence for this hypothesis -- I mean just #1, not the further elaborations #2 and #3 -- is that I'm seeing what look like obviously unreasonable downvotes aimed at (at least) both me and Azathoth123, and I think we've been the most active participants in the recent discussion of (alleged) sexist bias. ChristianKI has also been a frequent participant and has also had a bunch of downvotes, but I happen not to have noticed any as obviously unreasonable as some of the ones Azathoth123 and I have received so I can't rule out the possibility that he came by his downvotes honestly, so to speak. I should perhaps mention for the avoidance of doubt that whoever's throwing a lot of gratuitous downvotes at Azathoth123, it isn't me. I downvote rather little on LW and in the recent sexism discussions I think I have downvoted one comment. It might possibly be two.)

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2014-09-20T19:44:17.508Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I like the suggestion of using a poll, but that is even harder on the poster than adding the special notice. Also: The karma-incentive on contrarian ideas is beneficial.

comment by ShardPhoenix · 2014-09-20T23:40:56.999Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Personally I avoided voting on top-level posts at all in the last thread because I think the system is confusing. As some others pointed out there I'd rather upvote interesting posts (in the context of being a thread about unusual ideas) rather than the ones I disagree with.

Replies from: satt
comment by satt · 2014-09-21T16:18:52.501Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I tried to avoid voting on anything, because I couldn't decide how to handle the non-top-level comments. When people go beyond baldly asserting things, and start having actual debates in subthreads, things get muddy.

Replies from: None
comment by [deleted] · 2014-09-21T16:51:10.622Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think you're supposed to vote non-top-level comments the regular way.

comment by Ixiel · 2014-09-21T00:11:25.949Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't know about advancing the mission, but I had a lot of fun reading it. It also is a good barometer of what is or isn't contrarian. I wasn't the only one who had a view I thought was contrarian but ended up being pretty normal.

Also, is there a way to redeem karma for money or something? I like learning people's opinions of my views but -worrying- about losing points seems wrong.

comment by DanielLC · 2014-09-21T18:02:36.035Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I asked someone on there to explain two of the views they listed. They declined, because they lost points from another one they explained.

I wonder if it's due to people just following the recent comments and not realizing it's on that thread.

Replies from: None, Jiro
comment by [deleted] · 2014-09-21T19:36:26.892Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I did it, first because I thought the special rules about voting only applied to top-level comments, and second because there's a difference between contrarian views and Usenet-grade crackpottery.

Replies from: Azathoth123
comment by Azathoth123 · 2014-09-21T20:31:39.118Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I did it, first because I thought the special rules about voting only applied to top-level comments

I believe they do.

comment by Jiro · 2014-09-22T19:55:46.686Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

They lost points because they weren't rational. The top level post says you should post ideas that you believe that others do not, but I think that implicit in that is that you should post ideas that are reasonably well thought out and supported. His weren't.

(As a practical matter, ideas that are not only contrary but which correspond either to 1) common misunderstandings, or 2) common crackpot claims are rarely if ever well thought out and supported. Why this is so is another question.)

Replies from: Azathoth123
comment by Azathoth123 · 2014-09-23T01:20:26.632Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I actually made a good faith attempt to explain special relativity to him, it was when he shifted from "confused physics student mode" to "crackpot mode" that I gave up and started downvoting.

comment by Slider · 2014-09-20T21:59:14.943Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

People won't vote posts to the negatives and being karmaslapped by being the majority opionion feels weird.

comment by Slider · 2014-09-20T21:56:39.340Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Posts that got a lot of upvotes and downvotes appear very same as ignored posts. A 50%/50% splitter woudl appear perfectly neutral.

Replies from: Vulture
comment by Vulture · 2014-09-21T19:34:46.523Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Try hovering over the point total, and it'll show the positive votes ratio. It's not perfect, but it helps.

comment by RPMcMurphy · 2014-10-06T20:50:31.574Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In the domain of "Augustinian devils" ("the hard sciences") I'm not a contrarian at all, but in the domain of "Manichean devils" I'm a contrarian in that I'm sometimes a conspiracy theorist. The primary conspiracies are the ones that result from omnipresent top-down ordering of society, which are aided by a complete lack of comprehension of political organization.

It seems fairly well settled, for example, that the origination of the United States' central bank (the Federal Reserve System), was a well-planned conspiracy that orchestrated control in a manner perfected by the active Rothschild legacy's London representatives. Less controversially, throughout every political season, there are microcosms of conspiracy that are eventually well-known to the participants of "both sides" (or, more realistically, "all sides"). I wait until I have at least some evidence, since low-functioning brains are regularly conspiracy-believers about things that clearly (or very probably) contain no conspiracy. However, in dealing with Manicheaen devils, I am always open to the idea of a conspiracy that goes beyond the mundane and expected "honorable" strategic levels. (If I wasn't open to this idea, I'd have to conclude that libertarians, even rational minarchists such as EY, don't want liberty, or else they would have it. Admittedly, the other alternative would be for the universe itself to be malevolent.)

In the prior senses, I'm a "conspiracy theorist" (who has seen the direct inner workings of a conspiracy previously thought by rational people not to exist). So, when one comes up against a powerful group of well-financed sociopaths who have well-trained killers in their employ (such as in Stalin's Russia), what is the "rational" course of action? I guess it would have to be to be quiet, and try not to attract enough attention that killing you is of a greater benefit to your enemies than the minor cost it would incur. ...Or to cast the sociopaths from their positions of power. The two are mutually exclusive, and a failure at one is a failure in the other.

In any case, that's my contrarianism with the people of LW, especially those who invoke "Godwin's Law" and ask that we all remain calm and dispassionate as the cattle cars go by (or, in the USA, as the "for theft" prisons are built and crammed full of innocent people). BTW: It's appropriate to criticize the prisons as "for theft" rather than profit, and to criticize traffic ticket writing as "stealing" rather than "revenue generation." We don't call it "revenue generation" when an armed robber points a gun in someone's face.

That's the situation our republic is currently in. I wouldn't be the least surprised if the sociopaths who have made America into a big prison are dominant on this board, and have been so since the very beginning. Their strategy is to encourage time-wasting ideas that don't directly threaten them. Only direct, concerted attack (politically, or physically) threatens them. All other things are totally "safe" and not only allowed, encouraged. This is because a physically weak but otherwise philosophically pure political enemy is the greatest blessing in the world: such enemies help you divide your opposition into cowards and ineffectual idiots. The Libertarian Party is mostly in the latter camp, but the few operatives who are needed to keep it under control can clearly see which is which.

Orwell was right.

comment by AABoyles · 2014-09-24T18:53:32.570Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The fundamental rule of the post was "Upvote anything you do not agree with." This is an unintuitive action. Unfortunately, that instruction was buried in the middle of the introductory paragraph. With a discussion title like this one, people want to jump straight into the fray, so they may disregard the text entirely. As such, I'd argue that we needed a formatting tweak:

Write the rule on its own line. Make it bold.

Also, if you're worried about substantive conversation overtaking meta-conversation, add a "Don't ask why" rule (although that will be fairly unpopular). Many of the contrarian views are flatly and completely against the site's majority. Opening a thread on why that's the case just turns that comment thread into a shooting match of everyone against the commenter.