↑ comment by JenniferRM ·
2018-03-16T11:20:20.807Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
Uh... I can try to unroll the context and thinking I guess..
I think in my head I initially associated the name with childhood memories of a vaguely Investigative TV News Program that was apparently founded in 1986.
Also, it appears to be the name of an entire genre of magazines that includes things like New Statesmen which makes it a bit tricky to google for details about the thing itself, rather than the category of the same name.
It seemed plausible to me, given the general collapse of the journalism industry, that the old 1990's brand still existed, had moved to the Internet, mutated extensively, and was now reduced to taking potshots at people like Scott in order to drum up eyeballs?
(Plausibly the website could be co-branded with a TV version still eking out some sort of half life among the cable TV channels with 3 or 4 digit numbers, that could trace its existence back to 1986?)
None of what seemed plausible to me is actually true.
The old thing named Current Affairs apparently died in 1996, and was briefly revived in 2005 and then died again. The new thing started in 2015, and has nothing to do with the old thing.
Since I was surprised by the recency of the founding of the new incarnation of "something named Current Affairs" it seemed to me that other people might be confused too, so I linked to the supporting evidence.
Also, when Scott speaks indirectly of the callout, he makes a "request not to be cited in major national newspapers". But the name here is so maddeningly generic that I have difficulty even Googling my way to reliable circulation numbers.
Is it actually major? Do they even have a paper print format? I'm still not sure, and don't really care. Maybe Scott was fooled into thinking they matter too at first?
Basically, my model at this point, given the paucity of hard data, is that this new Current Affairs could easily be nothing like a "major national newspaper" but rather it could just be like two or three yahoos in a basement struggling to be professional journalists in an age when professional journalism is dying, and finding that they have to start trolling virtuously geeky bloggers to stir up drama and attract eyeballs to their website to make ends meet.
The circulation numbers and actual ambient reputation potentially matter, because if they are very low then who cares if some troll hasn't read Scott's old essay very carefully, but if many high quality eyeballs were reading the inaccurate summary and criticism, then the besmirching insinuations could hurt Scott.
In the meantime, maybe this will be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. When strangers get into fights in real life, it isn't totally uncommon for them, years later, to end up great friends who know each other's true measure :-)Replies from: Evan_Gaensbauer, tcheasdfjkl
↑ comment by Evan_Gaensbauer ·
2018-03-20T20:50:15.256Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
tl;dr this is in fact kinda a big deal and there is more context I'll put in another post
I wanted to feel like you did. But tcheasdfjkl is right. They aren't a few yahoos in a basement. They're an online and print magazine with nine permanent staff and offices in London and New York. And their editor violated tacit discussion norms in the rationality community when debating Scott online. And they regularly publish critical opinion pieces on topics of interest to the rationality community, such as anti-ageing, effective altruism, and technology companies. And Scott was thrust onto a national stage which got him cited in the New York Times, and one way or another he received enough hate mail for the near future it appears he won't be going out of his way to challenge journalistic coverage in major national online/print publications. Correcting misinformation like Scott does is a public service. It's the sort of thing which demonstrates the public the value of this whole "rationality" things and could draw them in. Slate Star Codex meetups are a big deal too now. And Scott has been shut down because all pretense of collaborative truth-seeking was pulled out like a rug from under Scott's feet. Nathan Robinson of CA is the first journalist with a bigger audience than Scott's to do something like this, so this could be a lot of people's introduction to SSC. It's the sort of thing the rationality community isn't used to, and we can learn lessons from it to become savvier. I think we can learn more than just debating politics for public-facing projects out of the rationality community, e.g., how do we build a working trust-based relationship with other communities focused on AI safety/alignment with very different cultural/communication norms than us?Replies from: JenniferRM
↑ comment by tcheasdfjkl ·
2018-03-17T01:53:47.730Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
Huh, I didn't know about the older TV program or the generic term "current affairs magazine". Thanks for explaining the context that made you feel you were misled! That said, I still think that's really a stretch and I don't think the magazine's name is meant to mislead.
I think also throughout your comment you generally disparage Current Affairs unfairly ("two or three yahoos in a basement", "trolling", "taking potshots", "fooled into thinking they matter"). I don't think they're taking potshots any more than Scott is taking potshots when he quotes people he think are being obtusely wrong. I think there's a legitimate disagreement here between Scott and Nathan Robinson which gets snarky but also is substantive and reasonable.
Re: "major national newspapers", it looks like that's referring to this: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/08/opinion/student-mobs.html
(I didn't know that when I saw this phrase on SSC, but just now I finally looked up the exchange between Scott and Nathan Robinson, and it actually all started with Robinson critiquing a David Brooks column.)