[Link] A community alert about Ziz

post by DanielFilan · 2023-02-24T00:06:00.027Z · LW · GW · 124 comments

This is a link post for https://medium.com/@sefashapiro/a-community-warning-about-ziz-76c100180509

The start of the post is copy-pasted below. Note that the post is anonymous, and I am not claiming to have written it.

Some people in the rationalist community are concerned about risks of physical violence from Ziz and some of her associates. Following discussions with several people, I’m posting here to explain where those concerns come from, and recommend some responses.

TLDR (details and links in the post body)

Even seemingly minor pieces of information might be helpful here, since they could add up to a clearer picture when combined with other information that also seems minor. If you want to share information privately, you can email me at sefashapiro@gmail.com, or submit information anonymously through this form.

This is a complicated situation that I don’t fully understand, and it’s likely that I’m getting some facts wrong. I’ve talked to a lot of people in an attempt to piece together what happened, and I’ll try to update this post with corrections or important details if they’re brought to my attention.

Please keep in mind, as I am trying to keep in mind myself, that every observation is evidence for more than one hypothesis, that things are often not what they seem, and that it’s useful to make the effort to think about both what’s appropriate to do in the world where your best guesses are true, and what’s appropriate to do in the world where your best guesses are wrong. Split and commit [LW · GW] is better than seeking confirmation of a single theory.


Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Raemon · 2023-02-26T19:58:32.009Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

One thing I'm interested in more info on, not quite related to the OP, is whether SquirrelInHell/Pasek's other mental techniques listed on bewelltuned.com are basically good, or are hazardous in some way. If there are people in this thread who've dug into the details here, or tried their Motor Cortex techniques, I'd like to hear about that.

Their Tuning Your Cognitive Strategies post is one of the most impactful techniques I've tried, that I highly recommend. When I recommend it, people periodically ask "wait, isn't this the person who committed suicide after interacting with Ziz? How do you know their techniques are safe?"

Their Cognitive Strategies and Emotional Processing posts seem extremely straightforwardly useful, and pretty straightforwardly not-harmful to me. I haven't tried their muscle cortex stuff because it seemed both more effortful and less obviously useful. I could imagine it turning out to also be straightforwardly good, or I could imagine in veering into weirder territories.

They stated that bewelltuned.com was where they put stuff that they were confident was safe/good, but, idk how much stock to put in that.

Replies from: Hivewired, SaidAchmiz
comment by Slimepriestess (Hivewired) · 2023-02-27T00:47:57.040Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've read everything from Pasek's site, have copies of it saved for reference, and i use it extensively. I don't think any of the big essays are bad advice, (barring the one about suicide) and like, the thing about noticing deltas for example, was extremely helpful to me. I also read through her big notes glossary document in chronological order (so bottom to top) to get a general feel for the order she took in the LW diaspora corpus. My general view though is that while all the techniques listed are good that doesn't stop you from using them to repress the fact that you're constantly beating down your emotions [LW · GW], and getting extremely good at doing that by using advanced mental hacking techniques just made the problem that much worse. Interestingly, early Ziz warns about this exact thing. bewelltuned in particular, while being decent content in the abstract, does seem particularly suited to being used to adversarially bully your inner child.

comment by Said Achmiz (SaidAchmiz) · 2023-02-26T23:35:06.173Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That website says:

Note 1: all the top-level skills have very, very strong effects. If you learn them, you will have no trace of doubt about whether they work, and about whether they have really improved your life.

Are we to understand from this that the author of this document learned the skills, was consequently certain that the skills worked and improved their life, and then… committed suicide?

It seems clear that an epistemic error was made somewhere in that progression.

Replies from: Raemon
comment by Raemon · 2023-02-27T02:20:19.165Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Sure, but, like, people can discover things like "exercise is good for you" or "eating healthy is good for you", and nonetheless have unrelated problems that cause them to commit suicide (they can even end up committing suicide due eating-disorder-related reasons), so, sure an error happened somewhere, but that's not very strong evidence that the error is related to having discovered and got excited about exercise being good for you and eating healthy being good for you.

(Tuning your cognitive strategies paid off for me immediately, in a straightforward way that made sense)

Replies from: Kaj_Sotala, adamzerner
comment by Kaj_Sotala · 2023-02-27T08:46:16.743Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think there's a thing where people with a lot of mental problems tend to get very enthusiastic about various therapy-type techniques and genuinely get a lot of benefit out of them. But then they still have massive problems because their original problems were so humongous to begin with, even if they improve a lot they're still worse on mental health than the median person. (This has historically also described me, even though I have also been getting better over the long term.)

Even if they are genuinely making steady progress, that progress might not be fast enough to ensure that an unexpected shock or a set of adverse consequences won't bring them down.

comment by lc · 2023-02-24T00:25:07.314Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

What the fuck

Replies from: tailcalled
comment by tailcalled · 2023-02-24T09:08:05.813Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Conflict (especially about whether one should breed animals to have extreme bodies and then lock them up in tiny unsanitary cages so they can grow up and then slaughter and eat them) + a strong commitment to/philosophy of escalating all the way for incentive reasons are the main ingredients I think.

Replies from: Ratios
comment by Ratios · 2023-02-25T12:55:58.205Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't think it's that far-fetched to view what humanity does to animals as something equivalent to the Holocaust. And if you accept this, almost everyone is either a nazi or nazi collaborator.

When you take this idea seriously and commit to stopping this with all your heart, you get Ziz.

Replies from: lc, tailcalled, Richard_Kennaway
comment by lc · 2023-02-25T21:35:36.884Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

When you take this idea seriously and commit to stopping this with all your heart, you get Ziz.

No, you don't, because Ziz-style violence is completely ineffective at improving animal welfare. It's dramatic and self-destructive and might express soundly their factional leanings, but that doesn't make it accomplish the thing in question.

Further, none of the murders & attempted murders the gang has committed so far seem to be against factory farm workers, so I don't understand this idea that Ziz is motivated by ambitions of political terrorism at all. Reading their posts it sounds more like Ziz misunderstood decision theory as saying "retaliate aggressively all the time" and started a cult around that.

Replies from: Ratios
comment by Ratios · 2023-02-25T22:25:47.007Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In both cases, the violence they used (Which I'm not condoning) seemed meant for resource acquisition (a precondition for anything else you must do). It's not just randomly hurting people. I agree that it seems they are being quite ineffective and immoral. But I don't think that contradicts the fact that she's doing what she's doing because she believes humanity is evil because everyone seems to be ok with factory farming. ("flesh-eating monsters")

"Reading their posts it sounds more like Ziz misunderstood decision theory as saying "retaliate aggressively all the time" and started a cult around that.

This is a strawman.

Replies from: tailcalled, lc
comment by tailcalled · 2023-02-25T22:48:35.472Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

While "retaliate aggressively all the time" does seem like a strawman, it is worth noting that Ziz rejects causal decision theory (a la "retaliate aggressively if it seems like it would cause things to go better, and avoid retaliating if it seems like it would cause things to go worse") in favor of some sort of timeless/updateless decision theory (a la "retaliate aggressively even if it would cause things to go worse, as long as this means your retaliation is predictable enough to avoid ever running into the situation where you have to retaliate").

Meanwhile other rationalist orgs might pretend to run on timeless/updateless decision theory but seem in practice to actually run on causal decision theory.

Replies from: localdeity, lc
comment by localdeity · 2023-02-25T22:58:32.591Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

For an example, see the "rationalist fleet" post.  Among other conflicts, it describes getting into a drawn-out conflict with a roommate/subletter (who by Ziz's account was pretty abusive), ending with the below; it seems pretty illustrative of Ziz's thought-process (and has nothing to do with veganism):

We all had reports to make to CPS. We called the landlord. The nanny reported him for driving drunk to Uber. I went to the police again, showed them my bruise, they still said I couldn’t prove anything. I thought I had a deontological obligation not to let him profit by aggression meant to drive me out of my home for resources. I wondered if this was enough. I felt like maybe I was deontologically obligated to stay there, but, fuck. The door didn’t really close anymore. There was a hole in it. I heard his child was taken away, and was satisfied with that. Then I heard he got him back. I considered whether to show up at fuck o’clock in the morning and put something in his car’s gas tank to destroy it. Murphyjitsu: bring a charged cordless drill to create a hole if it was one of those gas tank caps that locked, and actually look up what things will destroy an engine. (Not done with Murphyjitsu here). But I decided to leave this as a story that I could tell.

Up until writing this, I never gave him any further indication it was me who caused this.

If you combine the logic of "I must retaliate hard enough that the person, had they known this would happen, wouldn't have acted badly in the first place" (regardless of whether the person even knows about the revenge), with a propensity to escalate (I suspect destroying the car engine would inflict economic costs significantly greater than whatever rent-payments were involved), an obvious disregard for breaking laws and destroying property, and a further disregard for "morality" (described elsewhere, like in the "journey to the dark side" post) such that even committing murder is on the table... then it's not especially surprising that they'd conclude that, say, killing Jamie's apparently-abusive parents a decade after the abuse was "deontologically obligatory".

comment by lc · 2023-02-25T22:56:41.033Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Meanwhile other rationalist orgs might pretend to run on timeless/updateless decision theory but seem in practice to actually run on causal decision theory.

What semi-inteligent humans natively do without thinking all that hard is closer to "updateless" decision theory than causal decision theory, and people who think that fancy decision theories imply radically different optimal behavior on the part of regular people are usually gravely misunderstanding what they actually say. The Zizians are an example of this.

comment by lc · 2023-02-25T23:02:44.902Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In both cases, the violence they used (Which I'm not condoning) seemed meant for resource acquisition (a precondition for anything else you must do).

This is such an unrealistically charitable interpretation of the actions of the Ziz gang that I find it hard to understand what you really mean. If you find this at all a plausible underlying motivation for these murders I feel like you should become more acquainted with the history of violent political movements and cults, the majority of which said at some point "we're just acquiring resources that we can use for the grand revolution" and maybe even meant it.

But I don't think that contradicts the fact that she's doing what she's doing because she believes humanity is evil because everyone seems to be ok with factory farming. ("flesh-eating monsters")

Hating humans and therefore doing mean things to them is compatible with a lot of behavior, but very few of those behaviors are "taking the plight of animals seriously and fighting for them with all of your heart." Taking the plight of animals seriously and not doing obviously counterproductive or insane things in the name of "helping" them are one and the same, for me, and I don't know what else it could be.

This is a strawman.

Is it tho

Replies from: Ratios
comment by Ratios · 2023-02-25T23:37:59.995Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

You seem to claim that a person that works ineffectively towards a cause doesn't really believe in his cause - this is wrong. Many businesses fail in ridiculously stupid ways, doesn't mean their owners didn't really want to make a profit.

Replies from: lc
comment by lc · 2023-02-26T00:32:06.420Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If a businessowner makes silly product decisions because of bounded rationality, then yes, it's possible they were earnestly optimizing for success the whole time and just didn't realize what the consequences of their actions would be.

If a(n otherwise intelligent) businessowner decides to shoot the clerk at the competitor taco stand across the street, then at the very least they must have valued something wayyyyy over building the business.

Replies from: localdeity
comment by localdeity · 2023-02-26T01:19:06.578Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If an otherwise intelligent businessowner decides to shoot the clerk at the competitor taco stand across the street, then at the very least they must have valued something over than building the business.

Or the businessowner's thinking process is damaged (despite being intelligent—these coexist a lot more often than we would like), and they sometimes do useful things and sometimes act counterproductively.  You could view this as "they sometimes act in a way that soothes a damaged part of their mind, which they value more highly than building the business".  Which way of viewing it is more helpful?

I think the "damaged thinking" view would more likely predict that, when they're soothing the damaged part of their mind, they don't think through the consequences very thoroughly, while the other perspective—"they're 100% rational, and their values include doing some of this weird stuff"—predicts they always understand the consequences.  Now, you could add in another assumption: "They place high value on not thinking through the consequences of certain actions."  (I guess you can ultimately explain any behavior pattern by making enough assumptions about what they value.)  I don't have a strong position here on the best way of modeling it.

comment by tailcalled · 2023-02-25T13:26:08.927Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Not necessarily because you might also commit to stopping it in a non-escalatory way. For instance you could work to make economically viable lab-grown meat to replace animal products.

Hence the other key ingredient in Zizianism is commitment to escalating all the way, which allows things to blow up dramatically like this. (And escalating all the way has the potential to go wrong in most conflicts, not just veganism (though veganism seems like the big one here), e.g. I doubt the landlord conflict was about veganism.)

As an analogy, if you were dealing with the Holocaust, you could try to directly destroy all Nazis, or you could try to mitigate against the Holocaust in less escalatory ways (e.g. trying to have Jews emigrate from Nazi territories, which I imagine could be done either with the cooperation of Jews as in the Danish case, or with the cooperation of Nazis as in the Madagascar plan).

Replies from: Ratios, NicholasKross
comment by Ratios · 2023-02-25T15:36:26.981Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I agree with your comment. To continue the analogy, she chose the path of Simon Wiesenthal and not of Oskar Schindler, which seems more natural to me in a way when there are no other countries to escape to - when almost everyone is Nazi. (Not my views)

I personally am not aligned with her values and disagree with her methods. But also begrudgingly hold some respect for her intelligence and the courage to follow her values wherever they take her.

comment by NicholasKross · 2023-02-25T17:04:52.058Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

(Nitpick: historians seem to generally think that the Madagascar plan wasn't even really on the table for most of the Nazi leadership.)

Replies from: tailcalled
comment by tailcalled · 2023-02-25T17:28:00.419Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Fair, I didn't know much about the Madagascar plan, it's just something I had heard someone bring up once.

comment by Richard_Kennaway · 2023-02-25T13:39:51.873Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I eat meat and wear leather and wool. I do think that animals, the larger ones at least, can suffer. But I don’t much care. I don’t care about animal farming, nor the (non-human) animal suffering resulting from carnivores and parasites. I’d rather people not torture their pets, and I’d rather preserve the beauty and variety of nature, but that is the limit of my caring. If I found myself on the surface of a planet on which the evolution of life was just beginning, I would let it go ahead even though it mean all the suffering that the last billion years of this planet have seen.

Bring on the death threats.

Btw, I think that Zizzism was — I should say “is” now that she has been reported as still alive — about a lot more than animal welfare, although that was a part of it. But I will have to peer once again into the cesspit to confirm that.

Replies from: Ratios
comment by Ratios · 2023-02-25T17:06:32.387Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I downvoted for disagreement but upvoted for Karma - not sure why it's being so heavily downvoted. This comment states in an honest way the preferences that most humans hold.

Replies from: lc, npostavs
comment by lc · 2023-02-25T21:24:06.950Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well I downvoted, first because I find those preferences pretty abhorrent, and second because Richard is being absurdly confrontational ("bring on the death threats") in a way that doesn't contribute to discussion. The comment is mostly uncalled-for gloating & flag planting, as if he's trying to start a bravery debate.

Any of those things seem to me sufficient enough reasons to downvote, and altogether they made me strong downvote.

Replies from: FeepingCreature, Aiyen, Richard_Kennaway
comment by FeepingCreature · 2023-02-27T08:12:35.924Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This is just human decision theory modules doing human decision theory things. It's a way of saying "defend me or reject me; at any rate, declare your view." You say something that's at the extreme end of what you consider defensible in order to act as a Schelling point for defense: "even this is accepted for a member." In the face of comments that seem like they validate Ziz's view, if not her methods, this comment calls for an explicit rejection of not Ziz's views, but Ziz's mode of approach, by explicitly saying "I am what you hate, I am here, come at me."

A community that can accept "nazis" (in the vegan sense) cannot also accept "resistance fighters" (in the vegan sense). Either the "nazi" deserves to exist or he doesn't. But to test this dichotomy, somebody has to out themselves as a "nazi."

Replies from: SaidAchmiz
comment by Said Achmiz (SaidAchmiz) · 2023-02-27T20:51:33.932Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes, and also it’s a matter of maintaining the Overton window. Allowing perfectly ordinary and morally unproblematic (at worst!) things like “eating meat” and “wearing leather and wool” and “not caring about wild animal ‘suffering’” to be regarded as something one can’t admit for fear of ostracism is nothing more nor less than allowing one edge of the Overton window to move—toward Ziz.

Hence: strong upvote and full agreement for Richard’s comment.

comment by Aiyen · 2023-02-26T06:45:07.428Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

How functional can our community be without pushing back against people like Ziz? Richard’s comment seems to be a way of doing so, and thus potentially useful. It’s fine if you disagree with him, but while I agree the comment was flag-planting, some degree of flag-planting is likely necessary for a healthy discussion. Consider the way well kept gardens die by pacifism (can’t link on my phone, but if you’re not familiar with it there’s an excellent Yudkowsky post of that name that seems relevant). Zizianism is something worth planting a few flags to stop.

Replies from: DanielFilan
comment by DanielFilan · 2023-02-26T07:07:40.302Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

How functional can our community be without pushing back against people like Ziz? Richard’s comment seems to be a way of doing so, and thus potentially useful.

This is basically the politician's syllogism:

  1. We must do something.
  2. This is something.
  3. Therefore, we must do this.

In general, the politician's syllogism fails because not only must we do something, but we must do something that works and doesn't cause side effects that are worse than its benefits and doesn't have too high opportunity costs etc. In this case, it's valuable for people to "push back against people like Ziz", but it's disvaluable for people to have awful values (like not caring about animal suffering despite believing it to be real), and to be hyperbolic and confrontational (as in "bring on the death threats" or describing a poorly thought-out blog as a "cesspit").

Replies from: Aiyen, Richard_Kennaway
comment by Aiyen · 2023-02-26T07:42:27.828Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Good analogy, but I think it breaks down. The politician’s syllogism, and the resulting policies, are bad because they tend to make the world worse. I would say that Richard’s comment is an improvement, even if you think it might be a suboptimal one, and that pushing back against improvements tends to result in fewer improvements. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good is a saying for very good reason.

The syllogism here is more like:

  1. Something beneficial ought to be done

  2. This is beneficial.

  3. Therefore I probably ought not to oppose this, though if I see a better option I’ll do that instead of doubling down on this.

Replies from: DanielFilan
comment by DanielFilan · 2023-02-26T19:52:15.321Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It could be that Richard's comment is actually good. I still think that the argument I quoted fails to establish that, for the same reason the politician's syllogism doesn't work.

comment by Richard_Kennaway · 2023-02-27T09:29:10.073Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Given Ziz's explicit calling for people to die, I don't think there is anything hyperbolic about my "bring on the death threats". Ziz's blog is not "poorly thought-out", it is a condensed nugget of evil. I am not the only one here to have observed this.

So here we are.

Replies from: lc
comment by lc · 2023-02-27T09:49:02.474Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

LessWrong is not her blog.

Replies from: Richard_Kennaway
comment by Richard_Kennaway · 2023-02-27T09:51:30.743Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Of course it isn't. Her blog is sinceriously.fyi and that is what I was referring to.

Replies from: lc
comment by lc · 2023-02-27T09:52:57.351Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

So go tell her, is my point.

Replies from: Richard_Kennaway
comment by Richard_Kennaway · 2023-02-27T09:57:31.568Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I understand from what was posted here that she is currently, or at least recently, in police custody under suspicion of murder. [ETA: Correction: in custody for obstructing police investigation; separately, under suspicion of murder.] Anyway, I'm addressing the LW audience, not Ziz. You know, the people who are disagreeing with what I said but (according to the karma) not on average disagreeing with my having said it.

comment by Richard_Kennaway · 2023-02-27T09:14:04.706Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

first because I find those preferences pretty abhorrent, and second because Richard is being absurdly confrontational, as if he's trying to start a bravery debate.

Things have already started. There is already a confrontation. Flags are already planted. Death threats have already been made (i.e. by Ziz, not against me).

Replies from: Viliam
comment by Viliam · 2023-03-04T15:19:40.647Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I see your point, but I think that buying Ziz's rhetoric tools is a mistake. This seems like a case of "do not argue with a crazy person, because from outside it will seem like two crazy people arguing".


Yes, Ziz keeps making death threats left and right. And seems responsible for a few actual deaths.

But also, Ziz seems to successfully drive people crazy (and murderous, or suicidal) with their crazy beliefs and arguments. That seems to me like a reason to reject the frame [LW · GW], rather than join it.

When Ziz screams things like "according to my superior decision theory, using my doubleplus good split personality brain, I have decided to kill you all, because in my crazy imagination you have attacked me first" (not an exact quote), responses like "no, I will kill you" or "I am ready to die" mean buying her frame... that this is somehow about survival, decision theory, and killing. Instead of, merely a crazy person generating a word salad peppered by rationalist keywords and threats of violence.

If a random homeless guy started yelling at you that he wants to kill you, how would you react? I would probably just ignore him, tell everyone "careful, there is some crazy homeless guy, possibly violent", and maybe call the cops. I wouldn't try to steelman his words, or adopt his frame.

How is Ziz meaningfully different from that?

Replies from: Richard_Kennaway, Aiyen
comment by Richard_Kennaway · 2023-03-04T18:17:18.716Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It depends on which "that", a crazy but harmless ranter in the street, or a crazy and dangerous ranter in the street. According to accounts here, Ziz is the latter sort. Heed the words of Hunter S. Thompson: "You can turn your back on a person, but never turn your back on a drug—especially when it's waving a razor sharp hunting knife in your eye."

My comment is something I judged needed to be said at some point, and not just in response to Ziz, who is not the only one equating the eating of meat to the murder of humans [LW(p) · GW(p)]. According to that comment by FeepingCreature, vegans regard those indifferent to animal suffering as "Nazis" and see themselves as the resistance to Nazis. I do not know which side FeepingCreature takes.

If you see yourself as resisting "Nazis", what does that suggest you will do to a "Nazi"? We know what Ziz wanted to do to anyone she saw as evil: throw them out the airlock. As Insanity Wolf would scream at you, "KNOW SOMEONE EVIL? WHAT ARE YOU DOING ABOUT IT?"

Replies from: Viliam
comment by Viliam · 2023-03-04T21:35:52.636Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If those vegans started making death threats against specific people around me, I would want them treated like crazy, too. (With a possible exception for making threats against people working directly in the pain factories. There I would probably say "none of my business".)

The proper reaction to Ziz, in my opinion, would be to print a collection of their death threats, and ask a judge for a restraining order. If you succeed, then whenever Ziz comes close to a rationalist meeting or something like that, just call the cops and say "here is a person violating their restraining order". I would assume that the situation would be clearly legible for the cops. No need to explain who you are, who is Ziz, and why do you consider them a danger.

Oh, one more thing that rubbed me the wrong way when reading this thread: It seems like a few people are buying the frame that Ziz is some kind of consistent slightly-superhuman intelligence, operating by actual algorithms, following precommitments, and playing a 4D chess against the rest of the world... like some kind of Roko's basilisk incarnated.

From my perspective, it seems like a crazy person making up bullshit theories, making random threats, but actually not following on most of them. All the theories and precommitments are just rationalizations for acting impulsively. Someone pisses them off, they invent a reason why the person deserves to die (according to timeless acausal mumbo jumbo), and publish it on a blog. Later, they may invent another reason why in this specific case they decided it is actually better ignored (according to timeless acausal mumbo jumbo), or just pretend it didn't happen.

The Insanity Wolf is there for their followers, driving them to madness and suicide. I do not have much data, but I would expect Ziz to actually act strongly hypocritically in real life. Like, in the extremely unlikely situation where one of their followers would find the courage to yell at Ziz "AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING ABOUT IT?", I would expect the answer to be that Ziz is a special case ("double good"), and the rules for mere mortals do not apply to them (according to timeless etc.). Either that, or immediate physical violence against the follower, with a later explanation why they deserved that ("because they were attacking the only double-good person in the world, which makes them clearly evil, and Ziz has a strong precommitment to punish evil").

Replies from: lc
comment by lc · 2023-04-14T05:22:10.423Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

One starts to wonder how many completely qualitatively different worlds and ideologies are out there right now in the minds of schizophrenics, cultists, politicians and homeless people, each totalizing and completely enrapturing in their own way, all ultimately batshit insane.

Replies from: Viliam
comment by Viliam · 2023-04-14T10:06:10.772Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

There is the general concept of "bubbles", which people usually use to refer to internet communities, but the thing existed long before internet. Social class is a giant bubble. Different political tribes. Birds of a feather flock together. It probably started when people started living in groups larger than 150; maybe sooner.

I find it fascinating how "normal" people live in different realities. For example, someone is attracted to abusive partners, and they believe that literally all individuals of the opposite sex are abusive. You can't convince them otherwise, because they know that abusive people can pretend to be nice (which makes the theory unfalsifiable), and it is their personal experience that each partner they had sooner or later turned out to be abusive. What's more, their best friend has exactly the same experience! -- But when you look at this from outside, it's like no, you are constructing the reality you live in. Among many possible partners, you instinctively choose the one with most red flags. (Sometimes you rationalize it: the person without obvious red flags is certainly hiding them, which makes such person more dangerous.) And of course your best friend has a similar experience; that's why you chose each other to be best friends! Someone else can live on the same street, but in a completely different universe.

Yes, the universes of crazy people are even more diverse. There are practically no limits; the Earth can be flat, people are actually lizards with masks, the entire political situation is all about persecuting you, evildoers use microwave radiation to drive everyone mad, etc.

Then there are cults, which is basically systematized craziness / bubbles.

But if you talk to random"normal" people, their worlds are sometimes also quite interesting.

comment by Aiyen · 2023-03-04T18:05:11.622Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Strongly upvoted. This is a very good point.

comment by npostavs · 2023-02-25T17:32:42.406Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I haven't voted at all, but perhaps the downvotes are because it seems like a non sequitur? That is, I don't understand why Richard_Kennaway is declaring his preferences about this.

Replies from: Richard_Kennaway
comment by Richard_Kennaway · 2023-02-27T09:48:32.128Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Because there is a great want of people saying this. Someone must plant this flag, given the forest of flags already waving on the side of the enormous suffering of everything from cows to cockroaches to bacteria to Bing. But it doesn't feel like waving a flag when everyone around you is waving the same one. It feels like the flags are just reality itself [LW · GW].

I notice that while there are a lot who disagree with my post (manifested by the agreement-downvotes), its karma has bobbed up and down since I posted it and currently stands positive.

comment by Gordon Seidoh Worley (gworley) · 2023-02-24T01:39:22.565Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The possible involvement of Daniel Blank is the most surprising to me. As the linked article notes, Daniel seems like about the least likely person to commit a homicide. I've not had contact with him in a few years, but I recall Daniel as sensitive, serious, and caring, and a person who would go out of his way to avoid causing someone else harm. I don't know what's happened in the intervening time to lead to his involvement here.

Replies from: ChristianKl, edmund-nelson, Dagon, Richard_Kennaway
comment by ChristianKl · 2023-02-24T14:35:03.867Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Part of the process that Ziz seems to advocate involves inducing alternative personalities in people. The process that unleashed the Maia personality in Chris Pazek led in Ziz's words to their suicide. 

This process could easily lead to a personality being active in a person that has very different characteristics among various axis than the personality you knew years earlier.

"Least likely person to do X" is an interesting concept. People who deal with a shadow that has an attribute they despise often overcompensate to fight that shadow. That shadow might provide a substance based on which the alternative personality that acts very differently can be built.

Replies from: Duncan_Sabien, Hivewired
comment by [DEACTIVATED] Duncan Sabien (Duncan_Sabien) · 2023-02-25T04:46:19.408Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

"Least likely person to do X" is an interesting concept. People who deal with a shadow that has an attribute they despise often overcompensate to fight that shadow. That shadow might provide a substance based on which the alternative personality that acts very differently can be built.

I feel complicated about this; in a world where everyone is doing split-and-commit (or something similar) by default, this feels straightforwardly good to note.

But like. In this world, this feels like fodder for "you should interpret evidence that someone is unusually unlikely to X as evidence that they're actually quite likely to X, given some trigger."

And I think this is the sort of thing that is true in some very small minority of cases and an outright (and false) weapon all the other times.

I think we should be real careful about interpreting evidence against X as evidence of X, even given that the psychological structure you just described is one that exists.

Replies from: ChristianKl, edmund-nelson, Viliam
comment by ChristianKl · 2023-02-26T11:11:16.277Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I do agree that it's not an easy subject to speak about. 

There are two separate issues at hand: 

  1. What happens if you have multiple personalities
  2. Suppressed anger and its effects 

Sometimes abused children develop multiple-personality disorders where they develop new personalities to deal with situations where the characteristics.

I have one friend who has the multiple-personality disorder and is able to switch between them. According to him, he often faced situations where a person was used to dealing with one of his personalities and really surprised when he switched to another personality that has different personality characteristics. 

The technique that Ziz advocates seems to intentionally created something that's similar to multiple personality disorder and I would expect that the same pattern hold where at least one of the personalities is able to do things that are far outside of what the old unified self would do. 

I think good evidence that someone is unlikely to cause harm is about observing that they have functional strategies for taking care of boundary violations. If someone's reaction is instead to ignore their own needs, repress any anger that comes up and go out of his way to avoid causing someone else harm, that strategy is not stable. 

Many people would have thought that Mother Thresa is the "least likely person to doubt in God", but that's what she did. Her outward presentation of extreme belief in God was not something stable. 

It's a mistake to take the fact that someone is extreme along an axis as evidence of stability. 

comment by Edmund Nelson (edmund-nelson) · 2023-02-25T10:30:33.790Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That's fair from a mental POV, but Daniel Blank physically has poor hand-eye coordination and bad reflexes, meaning that if he tried to shoot somebody he'd be extremely likely to miss at all but the shortest of ranges. (the murder in question was definitely gunshot based)


While he could be a part of the conspiracy his ability to have physically committed the actual act is questionable. 

comment by Viliam · 2023-03-04T15:30:44.749Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Is this an empirical question? Like, could you gather 1000 people, measure how violent they are, then somehow summon their shadows, and measure again?

My guess would be that the shadow is on average more violent than the original person, but it is not true that less violent person = more violent shadow. (I would probably expect something like: each shadow gets a bonus +5 on violence compared to the original person; including people who already started very violent.)

comment by Slimepriestess (Hivewired) · 2023-02-24T19:06:51.879Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The process that unleashed the Maia personality 

I think that this misidentifies the crux of the internal argument Ziz created and the actual chain of events a bit. 

imo, Maia was trans and the components of her mind (the alter(s) they debucketed into "Shine") saw the body was physically male and decided that the decision-theoretically correct thing to do was to basically ignore being trans in favor of maximizing influence to save the world. Choosing to transition was pitted against being trans because of the cultural oppression against queers. I've run into this attitude among rationalist queers numerous times independently from Ziz and "I can't transition that will stop me from being a good EA" seems troubling common sentiment.

 Prior to getting involved with Ziz, the "Shine" half of her personality had basically been running her system on an adversarial 'we must act or else' fear response loop around saving the multiverse from evil using timeless decision theory in order to brute force the subjunctive evolution of the multiverse. 

So Ziz and Paseks start interacting, and at that point the "Maia" parts of her had basically been like, traumatized into submission and dissociation, and Ziz intentionally stirs up all those dissociated pieces and draws the realization that Maia is trans to the surface. This caused a spiraling optimization priority conflict between two factions that ziz had empowered the contradictory validity of by helping them reify themselves and define the terms of their conflict in her zero sum black and white good and evil framework.

But Maia didn't kill them, Shine killed them. I have multiple references that corroborate that. The "beat Maia into submission and then save the world" protocol that they using cooked out all this low level suicidality and "i need to escape, please where is the exit how do i decision-theoretically justify quitting the game?" type feelings of hopelessness and entrapment. The only "exit" that could get them out of their sense of horrifying heroic responsibility was by dying so Shine found a "decision theoretic justification" to kill them and did. "Pasek's doom" isn't just "interhemispheric conflict" if anything it's much more specific, it's the specific interaction of:

"i must act or the world will burn. There is no room for anything less than full optimization pressure and utilitarian consequentialism"


"i am a creature that exists in a body. I have needs and desires and want to be happy and feel safe"

This is a very common EA brainworm to have and I know lots of EAs who have folded themselves into pretzels around this sort of internal friction. Ziz didn't create Pasek's internal conflict she just encouraged the "good" Shine half to adversarially bully the evil "Maia" half more and more, escalating the conflict to lethality.

Replies from: elityre, ChristianKl
comment by Eli Tyre (elityre) · 2023-02-25T21:17:18.708Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I have multiple references that corroborate that.

Can you share? I would like to have a clearer sense of what happened to them. If there's info that I don't know, I'd like to see it.

Replies from: Hivewired
comment by Slimepriestess (Hivewired) · 2023-02-25T23:53:15.667Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

things i'm going off:

the pdf archive of Maia's blog posted by Ziz to sinseriously (I have it downloaded to backup as well)
the archive.org backup of Fluttershy's blog
Ziz's account of the event (and how sparse and weirdly guilt ridden it is for her)
several oblique references to the situation that Ziz makes
various reports about the situation posted to LW which can be found by searching Pasek

From this i've developed my own model of what ziz et al have been calling "single-good interhemispheric game theory" which is just extremely advanced and high level beating yourself up while insisting you're great at your emotions [LW · GW]. There is a particular flavor of cPTSD that seems disproportionately overrepresented within the LW/EA community umbrella, and it looks like this:

perfectionist compulsion to overachieve
constantly thinking with a rich inner world
high scrupulosity blurring into OCD tendencies
anxiety with seemingly good justifications (it's not paranoia if...)
an impressive degree of self-control (and the inability to relax fully)
dissociation from the body

this is a mode of a cPTSD flight response. Under the cPTSD model, "Shine" could be thought of as a toxic inner critic that had fully seized power over Pasek and had come to dominate and micromanage all their actions in the world while adversarially repressing anything that would violate Shine's control (it would have felt unsafe to Pasek to actually do that because this is all a trauma response and the control is what keeps u safe from the traumatic things happening again). This is how Pasek was able to work 60-80 hour weeks while couch surfing and performing advanced self modification. Or, to put it in Empty Spaces terms: she had an extremely bright and high RPM halo. This seems to be a common trauma pattern among rationalists and people with this sort of trauma pattern seem to be particularly drawn to rationality and effective altruism.

Into this equilibrium we introduce Ziz, who Pasek gets to know by telling Ziz that she thinks they're the same person. (ways to say you're trans without saying you're trans). Ziz is if nothing else, extremely critical of everyone and is exceptionally (and probably often uncomfortably) aware of the way people's minds work in a psychoanalytic sense. Pasek's claim of being the same as Ziz in a metaphysically significant way is something Ziz can't help put pick apart, leading Pasek to do a bunch of Shadow work eventually leading to her summoning Maia.

So there's a problem with crushing your shadow into a box in order to maximize your utilitarian impact potential over a long period, which is that it makes you wanna fucking die. If you can repress that death wish too and add in a little threat of hell to keep you motivated, you can pull off a pretty convincing facsimile of someone not constantly subjecting themselves to painful adversarial inner conflict. This is a unstable nuclear reactor of a person, they come off as powerful and competent but it wouldn't take much to lead them to a runaway meltdown. Sometimes that looks like a psychotic break, and sometimes that looks like intense suicidal ideation.

So Ziz can't help but poke the unstable reactor girl claiming to be a metaphysical copy of her to see if she implodes, and the answer is yes, which to Ziz means she was never really a copy in the first place.

In many not really but pretending to be healthy adults, the way their shadow parts get their needs met is by slipping around the edges of the light side social narrative and lying about what they're actually doing. There's a degree of "narrative smoothing" allowed by social reality that gets read by certain schizo-spectrum types as adversarial gaslighting and they'll feel compelled to point it out. To someone who is firmly controlled by their self-narrative interacting earnestly with Ziz directly feeds the inner critic and leads to an escalating spiral of inner adversariality between a dominating and compulsively perfectionist superego and the more and more cornered feeling id.

That is all to say that there is a model of EA burnout going around LW right now of which numerous recountings can be found. I think a severely exacerbated version of that model is the best fit for what happened to Maia, not "Ziz used spooky cult leader mind control to split Pasek into two people and turn her trans thus creating an inner conflict" ziz didn't create anything, the inner conflict was there from the start, it's the same inner conflict afflicting the entire EA egregore.

comment by ChristianKl · 2023-02-25T00:06:36.845Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Do you have any indication that Pasek was trans before they spoke with Ziz?

Pasek couch-surfed at my place for a few days around a LessWrong Community weekend he attended and we had deep conversations then. I think that was 1-2 years before he got into contact with Ziz.

At that time he was using heavy optimization pressure on himself. In my memory, he had some logging where he wrote something every hour to measure his productivity. He was also heavily into timeless decision theory-based utilitarian consequentialism at that time. 

I'd buy it that there was an internal conflict at the time. I believe that process that Ziz proposed took that internal conflict and create the Shine and Maia personalities out of them. 

If a person is putting an extraordinary amount of effort into being nice (which is what Gordon Seidoh Worley observed) there's likely an internal conflict. What Ziz is doing allows transforming that internal conflict into two parts, one that's very nice and one that's opposed to being nice.  

This is a very common EA brainworm to have and I know lots of EAs who have folded themselves into pretzels around this sort of internal friction. 

Usually, people who do that have a lot of akrasia. Pasek is different in that they managed not to have that. Most people would be blocked by internal friction from doing the kind of productivity optimization that Pasek did. 

I think that Pasek was smart enough to know that it's good to give the part of him that "i am a creature that exists in a body. I have needs and desires and want to be happy and feel safe"  things to satisfy it. That part wanted to be happy, so they did some body work intervention to feel happy (and wrote on the blog that someone that didn't solve the issue and that people aren't really seeking happiness). That part wanted that they identified themselves publically as Maia, so they did that. That part wanted to transition, so they took hormones. 

The only "exit" that could get them out of their sense of horrifying heroic responsibility was by dying so Shine found a "decision theoretic justification" to kill them and did. 

Shine did find a justification. The way they committed suicide however was not done in a way that sounds like TDT was involved. They could have written an actual suicide note to the people that cared about them and send it the day they died but they didn't. 

Replies from: Raemon
comment by Raemon · 2023-02-26T01:14:03.253Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Random fact: I just assumed Pasek was trans, based on some vague writing style / username, and then one day met with them on Google Hangouts to discuss some AI stuff, and they brought up that just yesterday they had decided/realized they were female. I brought up "uh, oh, I had just kinda assumed you were a trans woman this whole time" and they said "well, bayes points to you I guess".

I separately knew Ziz but I think didn't know there was a connection there at the time.

Replies from: ChristianKl
comment by ChristianKl · 2023-02-26T10:41:22.412Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

and then one day met with them on Google Hangouts to discuss some AI stuff they had decided/realized they were female

Do you know when that was?

According to Ziz the connection in the beginning used to be that they exchanged emails. From speaking to one of Pasek's roommates about his death, there was zero mention of Ziz so I don't think Pasek talked to other people about his connection to Ziz. 

Replies from: Raemon
comment by Raemon · 2023-02-26T18:22:11.423Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Early 2018

Replies from: ChristianKl
comment by ChristianKl · 2023-02-27T01:04:37.026Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

According to Ziz's timeline her first contact with Pazek was after Pasek commented on her blog in Dezember 2017.

Looking through messages from Pazek for his writing style, there's a certain kind of positivity in their writing style.

He wrote Ziz at the time You say all the right things! I cannot marry you right now but let’s be best friends forever.  In June 2016 Pasek wrote me "I've recently been doing a little project in which I talk with random LW users on Skype. (This has turned out to be a lot of fun!) So if you feel like it and have the time - please let me know and we an arrange to talk sometime.", so that behavior seems to be older. 

This is an untypical style of communicating and there are likely some transwomen who choose that style to signal their feminity. 

Pasek didn't adopt it for that signaling purpose. At the same time factors that pointed toward trans might also made that communication style attractive to him. Another explanation for him communicating like that is that it's what he learned to fit-in in Japan where a lot of politeness is called for. His conscious analysis also likely pointed into the direction of this style being useful for connecting with people.

comment by Edmund Nelson (edmund-nelson) · 2023-02-25T10:39:22.255Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Knowing what I know about Daniel, I could easily psychologically manipulate him into doing terrible acts if need be. I can easily see a person who is a master of being a cult leader (which Ziz is a top tier cult leader) mentally breaking Daniel. He (at least was) a socially awkward person who took things extremely literally and was easy to push around. He's definitely up there on the "easy" category, and cult leaders like Ziz need somebody like that. Going over Ziz's tactics, while Daniel is unlikely to have developed multiple personalities, he'd easily enter a few of the states Ziz mentions.  


However I have no clue how Daniel would physically be able to commit certain acts his hand eye coordination is bad, and he's physically not very strong. If he tried to knife me to death he'd get knocked out by my overhand right or heel hooked into submission well before he got enough stabs in (I'm not a great boxer), 

Replies from: lahwran
comment by the gears to ascension (lahwran) · 2023-02-25T16:48:44.682Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I imagine him being manipulated into giving them a place to live. I have trouble imagining him being manipulated into conspiring towards a specific goal of murder. I wouldn't be surprised if the police care little for such a distinction.

comment by Dagon · 2023-02-24T01:48:05.832Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Religion is a helluva drug.  

Replies from: tailcalled, None
comment by tailcalled · 2023-02-24T08:58:08.599Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

AFAIK most religious people don't start suddenly committing homicide. It more seems like the relevant factor is specific to Zizianism, which appears to compel people who adopt it to take extreme actions, even if they are sensitive, serious, caring, and would go out of their way to avoid causing someone else harm.

Or perhaps, especially if they are like that? I had interacted with somnilogical a while ago, and I was quite suprised that ey had joined Zizianism as that was not my impression of the kind of person ey were. But I didn't interact hugely much with somni so I may have misjudged em.

Replies from: TAG
comment by TAG · 2023-02-24T14:55:25.895Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

People can do bad things if they think something much larger is at stake. Some but not all religions suggest that. Some non religious philosophies do as well, notably utilitarianism. Many, but not all, utilitarians solve the problem by not fully believing in it. Zizians adopt extreme utilitarianism about animal welfare.

comment by [deleted] · 2023-02-24T05:11:52.572Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This place is so good at pushing people to invent them, isn't it?

Replies from: Aiyen
comment by Aiyen · 2023-02-24T16:05:01.056Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It is-for a certain type of unstable person. Ziz would likely have come up with different crazy ideas without Less Wrong. Compare Deepak Chopra on quantum mechanics: he pushes all manner of “quantum” bullshit, yet you can hardly blame physics for this, and if physics weren’t known, Chopra would almost certainly just be pushing a different flavor of insanity.

comment by Richard_Kennaway · 2023-02-24T21:32:55.698Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I know nothing about Daniel Blank, but the picture of him in the full article looks…odd. What am I looking at here, Williams Syndrome? He and most of the others look like people I wouldn’t want to sit next to on a bus.

Replies from: eukaryote, gwern
comment by eukaryote · 2023-02-25T22:25:39.187Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I get that we all want understanding in a situation like this but let's not go after people's appearances, cripes. Most people look weird in one way or another and are gonna be fine to sit next to on a bus. Come on.

comment by gwern · 2023-02-24T22:30:59.615Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

You can have lazy eye without Williams Syndrome (it is very common and WS is very rare), and I would be surprised by WS: he's missing some of the more striking WS features like goblin teeth or a wide face or sunken nose aside from the wide lower lip, and since it's an intellectual disability, that would be a rather surprising thing for people who 'have spent many years around the rationality community' (eg WP notes that out of a sample of >300, the highest reported raw IQ was 112). Plus, people with WS are strange in many ways, so I'd expect people who knew him to describe that instead of just generally saying "very prone to being sucked in by charismatic and manipulative Dark Triad types" - people can be fatally gullible without having Williams Syndrome, you know.

As for the other photos: no one looks good in a mugshot, not even models.

Replies from: edmund-nelson, Richard_Kennaway
comment by Edmund Nelson (edmund-nelson) · 2023-02-25T10:53:09.192Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Daniel was definitely strange in many socially awkward ways

comment by Richard_Kennaway · 2023-02-25T15:03:34.755Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ok, not Williams Syndrome. There's more going on in his face than the strabismus, though, and I am unsurprised by the further comments on his physical and mental character from Edmund Nelson.

Replies from: gwern, pktechgirl
comment by gwern · 2023-02-27T02:10:29.426Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Nelson's description [LW(p) · GW(p)] mostly just reads 'autism spectrum' to me. (High prior probability unlike WS, poor theory of mind, literalness, gullibility, small/weak/poor health, all pretty ordinary, nor is facial oddness odd for many genetic/developmental disorders including all of the autisms.) Williams Syndrome is very different, to the extent that people sometimes try to describe it as 'the opposite of autism', which illustrates the hazards of trying to make diagnoses online based on cursory information...

comment by Richard_Kennaway · 2023-02-24T17:48:40.881Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

On the one hand. [? · GW]

And on the other hand. [? · GW]

Replies from: gworley, MondSemmel, Raemon, maia
comment by Gordon Seidoh Worley (gworley) · 2023-02-25T00:00:16.778Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Actually, this makes me think of something.

We sometimes see with rationalists and utilitarian EAs do something like the same thing we worry about with AI: unaligned optimization that produces outcomes we don't like. Unfortunately, because humans disagree on norms/ethics/values, it's kind of hard to know the difference between "going off the rails" and "correcting a massive oversight or collective moral failing", especially from the inside.

Replies from: sharmake-farah
comment by Noosphere89 (sharmake-farah) · 2023-02-25T00:37:06.105Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm gonna add an even more pessimistic hypothesis: That the disagreements around values are fundamentally irresolvable because there is no truth at the end of the tunnel.

Or, one man's "going off the rails" is another man's "correcting a massive oversight or collective moral failing", and these perspectives can't be reconciled.

comment by MondSemmel · 2023-02-25T15:05:32.770Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Also related: Scott Alexander on epistemic learned helplessness: https://slatestarcodex.com/2019/06/03/repost-epistemic-learned-helplessness/

comment by Raemon · 2023-02-24T20:13:00.460Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Not quite the main point here, but, my brain has always failed to really cache "Reason as a memetic immune disorder" as a useful concept. When I look at the Memetic Immune System tag, I'm not quite sure how all the posts are supposed to relate to each other. I'd be interested in someone writing up a tag description that actually uses "memetic immune system" in a sentence and gives some examples of how the posts relate.

Replies from: Benito, Richard_Kennaway, localdeity
comment by Ben Pace (Benito) · 2023-02-24T20:46:26.212Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In my head this is related to Scott's Robustness to Relative Scale [LW · GW]. Reasoning is great, but if you take a particular agent and scale up the part of it that does explicit reasoning by 100x whilst leaving the rest at the same power level, then it may overpower other parts of the system designed to keep it in-check. 

To tell an overly specific concrete story of how this might happen:

"I have some self-deception processes that inspire my reasoning, and I have some ethical conscience part that also inspires my reasoning. My reasoning is now good enough to always beat the ethical conscience arguments if it wants to, so when I'm motivated to do that cognition, I always win. My reasoning got better, and now when my selfishness and my conscience butt heads, my selfishness always wins the argument."

Replies from: sharmake-farah
comment by Noosphere89 (sharmake-farah) · 2023-02-24T21:06:31.832Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

One of the bigger issues is that when we make moral judgements on others, we probably don't realize that we are imposing our own values, and that this is all we can do.

This cashes out in 2 pessimistic claims:

  1. Fundamentally unbridgeable divides between values exist, as well as their intensity, and this is poor from the perspective of compromise.

  2. Rationality increases don't have anything to do with terminal goals changes.

comment by Richard_Kennaway · 2023-02-25T20:19:41.802Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Faith is the defence of reason against the passions.

The memetic immune system is the defence of the passions against reason, for while True Reason is eternally perfect, it is not so when attempted by our fallible minds.

We can be as mistaken in our reasoning as in our passions, and both must work harmoniously together.

I'd rather see a shorter, commoner single word for "memetic immune system". WWCW? (What Would Chesterton Write? Or C.S. Lewis, or Aquinas in English translation.)

Replies from: Viliam, Aiyen
comment by Viliam · 2023-03-04T15:43:59.575Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Adding Up to Normality [? · GW]?

Common sense?

Ignoring base rates? -- in the sense that if you just invented a clever theory why good is actually bad, and bad is actually good, consider that the prior probability of this being true (and you being the first person who noticed that) is smaller than the probability of you making a mistake in the clever argument.

Maybe even tails coming apart [LW · GW] -- in the sense that arguments that seem rational are in general more likely to be true, however the correlation may disappear at the extremes, and the marginal value of taking one more idea in an already too long unlikely chain seriously may be negative.

comment by Aiyen · 2023-02-26T07:49:08.402Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well said! Though it raises a question: how can we tell when such defenses are serving truth vs defending an error?

As for an easier word for “memetic immune system”, Lewis might well have called it Convention, as convention is when we disregard memes outside our normal mileu. Can’t say for Chesterton or Aquinas; I’m fairly familiar with Lewis, but much less so with the others apart from some of their memes like Chesterton’s Fence.

comment by localdeity · 2023-02-24T20:54:52.528Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

With a couple of minutes' thought: A memetic immune system is whatever allows or rejects new memes as one encounters them, and kills previously accepted memes.  Reason is a piece of it that, among other uses, kills falsehoods.  That means it kills protective and comforting lies, approximations to the truth, etc., which might have had their purposes in the past.  If, for example, your reason is strong enough to kill "I should behave well because God will punish me if I don't", but not strong enough to come up with a good moral framework to replace it, then you may have a problem while that situation persists.

Replies from: sharmake-farah
comment by Noosphere89 (sharmake-farah) · 2023-02-24T21:03:23.149Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Re reason: The real issue is that whenever we make moral judgements, we probably don't realize that we are imposing our values on it.

That's why from the perspective of a fanatic like Ziz doesn't believe they're irrational, primarily because the Zizians and LW have fundamentally unbridgeably opposed values.

comment by maia · 2023-02-27T18:47:26.465Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't think "taking ideas too seriously" is what went wrong here. Their actions are just too insane and frankly random and nonsensical to fit that model.

Replies from: SaidAchmiz, Raemon
comment by Said Achmiz (SaidAchmiz) · 2023-02-27T20:53:24.984Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

“Taking ideas too seriously” is unlikely to be what went wrong with Ziz, but I do think that it’s a large part of what went wrong with all the misguided individuals who’ve allowed themselves to be drawn into Ziz’s orbit, have adopted Ziz’s bizarre perspectives, etc.

comment by Raemon · 2023-02-27T23:33:47.123Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

My guess is that "taking ideas seriously" played a role in the chain somewhere, but some of the ideas are about how to think-internally, or the second-order effects of having taken something seriously.

comment by andrew sauer (andrew-sauer) · 2023-02-24T00:38:04.618Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Who is Ziz and what relation does she have to the rationalist community?

Replies from: DanielFilan, hairyfigment
comment by DanielFilan · 2023-02-24T01:20:37.251Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ziz is a blogger at sinceriously.fyi. She used to hang around the rationality community a fair bit (I met her at a CFAR/MIRI workshop). She has since decided that some figures and institutions in the rationality community are worth protesting (see e.g. this protest at a CFAR reunion, "Jack LaSota" is Ziz). More, possibly biased information is available at zizians.info.

Replies from: lsusr
comment by lsusr · 2023-02-24T04:47:38.382Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ziz's blog is openly, obviously evil. And not in a fun, trolly way—or even inadvertent mundane evil. Boringly explicit evil, with literal endorsement of the Star Wars Sith religion.

Replies from: gerald-monroe
comment by Gerald Monroe (gerald-monroe) · 2023-02-24T18:47:42.398Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Would it be evil from the perspective of someone with priors who believes animal lives are equal in value or greater than humans lives?

Presumably Zizians don't believe they are evil.

Replies from: lsusr
comment by lsusr · 2023-02-24T20:09:23.884Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Here's a quote from Ziz's post My Journey to the Dark Side.

Reject morality. Never do the right thing because it’s the right thing. Never even think that concept or ask that question unless it’s to model what others will think. And then, always in quotes. Always in quotes and treated as radioactive. Make the source of sentiment inside you that made you learn to care about what was the right thing express itself some other way.

Here's a quote from Ziz's post Neutral and Evil.

If you’re reading this and this is you, I recommend aiming for lawful evil. Keep a strong focus on still being able to coordinate even though you know that’s what you’re doing.

An evil person is typically just a neutral person who has become better at optimizing, more like an unfriendly AI, in that they no longer have to believe their own propaganda. That can be either because they’re consciously lying, really good at speaking in multiple levels with plausible deniability and don’t need to fool anyone anymore, or because their puppetmasters have grown smart enough to be able to reap benefits from defection without getting coordinated against without the conscious mind’s help.

Replies from: gerald-monroe
comment by Gerald Monroe (gerald-monroe) · 2023-02-24T20:13:21.382Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

So this morality would be one of "optimized selfishness"? "Do whatever is best for me, knowing that means it will be on balance evil"?

The morality of Bernie Madoff?


Replies from: Raemon
comment by Raemon · 2023-02-26T20:02:21.997Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

FYI I don't think this is the right summary. Ziz's morality is something more like "society's conception of good is corrupt, therefore you should be prioritizing unlocking yourself from society's frame". 

They have a bunch of complicated worldview relating to how to do this. I do think they go off the rails, and given how many people ended up either committing suicide or getting involved in ways that seemed to make their life worse, I do not recommend trying to follow their worldview and understand the details of it. 

But I wanted to flag this because, if you start with an assumption "Ziz is cartoonishly Star Wars Evil", and then you start reading any of their content, you might notice "oh wait this isn't as cartoonishly Star Wars Evil as it sounded at first glance, maybe there's something to this." And then you might frogboil yourself into taking it too seriously.

(I might have slightly more nuanced advice on how to relate to Ziz for people I'm having an in-depth 1-1 conversation with, but, this is the default advice I feel good about sharing in a low-fidelity way)

Replies from: gerald-monroe
comment by Gerald Monroe (gerald-monroe) · 2023-02-26T22:10:46.006Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thanks.  I'm imagining a strident infohazard sign warning not to even think about Zizianism.  

What is interesting is more than such infohazards are possible.  If you think about it, the cheapness of modern communications and rapidly improving AI may allow for the creation of infohazard weapons - media content that often kills humans.

But yeah, thanks for the warning.  "Zizianism" is some dangerous stuff I and other mere humans should avoid studying closely.  Leave that information in a sealed box.

Replies from: SaidAchmiz, Viliam
comment by Said Achmiz (SaidAchmiz) · 2023-02-26T23:30:45.178Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

To offer a contrasting viewpoint:

I’ve read some of the stuff on Ziz’s website. In my experience, there were a few scattered bits here and there that were sensible (those were the things that were basically restatements of views found in plenty of other places, e.g. most of this post—until the last handful of paragraphs, where it goes off the rails—is an insightful analysis of one of the fundamental problems related to NVC and similar techniques… but of course plenty of other people have written about this sort of thing).

The rest was just very obviously wrong and insane. I found myself utterly baffled by the notion that anyone could even be tempted to take any of it seriously, or believe it, etc. My reaction wasn’t “oh no, this sounds disturbingly plausible!”; it was “wow, this is sheer nonsense—the deranged ramblings of a very obviously mentally disturbed individual”.

Now, not everyone reacts to this stuff like I did—obviously! But the right takeaway, I think, isn’t “this ‘Zizianism’ is dangerous, mere humans shouldn’t consider it too closely”. Rather, the takeaway is a question: “what mental quirks make some people incapable of seeing this for the insane absurdity that it is?” Why do some people find this stuff plausible? And: by what means can we identify such tendencies in ourselves, and counteract them?

Replies from: lc, Hivewired
comment by lc · 2023-03-04T17:57:59.129Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ziz's tendency towards inscrutable metaphors and loaded jargon serve essentially the same purpose as typos in a spam email - it's meant to filter you out. If the hypnotic language made more literal sense, it would bring in people who weren't especially susceptible in particular to Ziz's brand of rhetoric, and thus might not be good recruits for her criminal organization.

comment by Slimepriestess (Hivewired) · 2023-02-27T01:01:32.302Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

it captures the sort of person who gets hooked on tvtropes and who first read LW by chasing hyperlink chains through the sequences at random. It comes off as wrong but in a way that seems somehow intentional, like there's a thread of something that somehow makes sense of it, that makes the seemingly wrong parts all make sense, it's just too cohesive but not cohesive enough otherwise, and then you go chasing all those hyperlinks over bolded words through endless glossary pages and anecdotes down this rabbit hole in an attempt to learn the hidden secrets of the multiverse and before you know what's happened it's come to dominate all of your thinking. And there is a lot of good content that is helpful mixed in with the bad content that's harmful, which makes it all the harder to tell which is which.

the other thing that enabled it to get to me was that it was linked to me by someone inside the community who i trusted and who told me it was good content, so i kept trying to take it seriously even though my initial reaction to it was knee-jerk horror. Then later on others kept telling me it was important and that i needed to take it seriously so i kept pushing myself to engage with it until i started compulsively spiraling on it.

Replies from: SaidAchmiz
comment by Said Achmiz (SaidAchmiz) · 2023-02-27T01:09:14.180Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

it captures the sort of person who gets hooked on tvtropes and who first read LW by chasing hyperlink chains through the sequences at random.

Hmm, no, I don’t think so.

I first read LW (well, it was OB at the time, but same deal) by chasing hyperlink chains through (what would come to be called) the Sequences at random. And I’ve read my share of TV Tropes. So this doesn’t check out.

Whatever the culprit quirk is, it’s clearly got nothing to do with whatever it is that makes people… read things by clicking on hyperlinks from other things.

the other thing that enabled it to get to me was that it was linked to me by someone inside the community who i trusted and who told me it was good content, so i kept trying to take it seriously even though my initial reaction to it was knee-jerk horror. Then later on others kept telling me it was important and that i needed to take it seriously so i kept pushing myself to engage with it until i started compulsively spiraling on it.

Hmm, I see. Would you say that the problem here was something like… too little confidence in your own intuition / too much willingness to trust other people’s assessment? Or something else?

(Did you eventually conclude that the person who recommended Ziz’s writings to you was… wrong? Crazy? Careless about what sorts of things to endorse? Something else?)

Replies from: Hivewired
comment by Slimepriestess (Hivewired) · 2023-02-27T01:26:52.278Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Hmm, I see. Would you say that the problem here was something like… too little confidence in your own intuition / too much willingness to trust other people’s assessment? Or something else?

that was definitely a large part of it, i let people sort of 'epistemically bully' me for a long time out of the belief that it was the virtuous and rationally correct thing to do. The first person who linked me sinceriously retracted her endorsements of it pretty quickly, but i had already sort of gotten hooked on the content at that point and had no one to actually help steer me out of it so i kept passively flirting with it over time. That was an exploitable hole, and someone eventually found it and exploited me using it for a while in a way that kept me further hooked into the content through this compulsive fear that ziz was wrong but also correct and going to win and that was bad so she had to be stopped.

Did you eventually conclude that the person who recommended Ziz’s writings to you was… wrong? Crazy? Careless about what sorts of things to endorse? Something else?

The person who kept me hooked on her writing for years was in a constant paranoia spiral about AI doom and was engaging with Ziz's writing as obsessive-compulsive self-harm. They kept me doing that with them for a long time by insisting they had the one true rationality and if i didn't like it i was just crazy and wrong and that i was lying to myself and that only by trying to be like them could the lightcone be saved from certain doom. I'm not sure what there is to eventually conclude from all of that, other than that it was mad unhealthy on multiple levels.

EDIT: the thing to conclude was that JD was grooming me

Replies from: SaidAchmiz, Richard_Kennaway
comment by Said Achmiz (SaidAchmiz) · 2023-02-27T01:58:20.814Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I see, thank you.

comment by Richard_Kennaway · 2023-03-04T20:45:36.492Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Insufficient defence of the passions against reason [LW(p) · GW(p)], then?

Replies from: Hivewired
comment by Slimepriestess (Hivewired) · 2023-03-06T19:15:54.354Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

something like that. maybe it'd be worth adding that the LW corpus/HPMOR sort of primes you for this kind of mistake by attempting to align reason and passion as closely as possible, thus making 'reasoning passionately' an exploitable backdoor.

comment by Viliam · 2023-03-04T15:57:40.461Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I believe that reading about Zizianism is not dangerous. Actually meeting Ziz and debating them for a long time is. (Reading is only dangerous indirectly, as it may make you curious.) Kinda like a difference between reading a Scientology book, and joining an actual Scientology organization.

One of the tricks Ziz uses is redefining the meaning of the words (including words such as "good" and "evil", or even "person"). This works much better if you are overwhelmed, and do not have enough time to track the relations of Zizian jargon with actual words. The trick works -- and this is what many cults do -- by attaching your cached [? · GW] connotations [LW · GW] of the old words to the new ones.


As an example, imagine the word "good". If you are like me, you probably do not have an exact definition, but you still have a vague idea that "good" is somehow correlated to helping people and anticorrelated to hurting them. And you probably have a cached thought like "I want to be good (perhaps unless the cost is too high)".

Now imagine that Ziz gives you a very complicated argument why "good" should be redefined to... something very abstract and complicated, based on many incorrect assumptions... but in effect, not too dissimilar from "obeying Ziz unconditionally".

The problem is, if your cached thought "I want to be good" automatically attaches to this new meaning of "good" (effectively becoming "I want to obey Ziz unconditionally"). This is more likely to happen if you are tired, for example if Ziz convinces you to do experiments with sleep deprivation while listening to their bullshit philosophy. (It will not happen automatically, but more like, Ziz pressuring you endlessly to accept the new definition of "good", then telling you "would you rather be good or evil?", until you tired brain gives up and you say "okay, okay, I want to be good", and then probably you immediately get told that in order to signal your sincerity about goodness, you have to do X, Y, and Z, otherwise you are an evil hypocrite. -- This is how I imagine it; no personal experience with Ziz, I just know a thing or two about cults in general, so I can complete the pattern.)

It is unlikely to happen if you merely read Ziz's blog. Because there is no social pressure, no sleep deprivation, no Ziz debugging your objections in real time. At any moment, you are free to conclude "this is bullshit", and there will be no one screaming at your face.

Replies from: Richard_Kennaway, TekhneMakre, gerald-monroe
comment by Richard_Kennaway · 2023-03-04T21:02:10.920Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

At any moment, you are free to conclude "this is bullshit", and there will be no one screaming at your face.

Unless you've studied until the screaming comes from within you. In the present context, try the "Morality" section. (For reasons, I designed that page so that the subsections cannot be directly linked to.) And then the "Pure Insanity" section.

I didn't dream up the contents of that page. I just took ideas that are in the air of the LW/EA/rationalsphere (and some other places, but mostly from there), and simulated "taking ideas seriously" turned up to eleven. It's intended as a vaccine, not a pathogen, but anyone who may be susceptible to taking ideas seriously might be wise to avoid looking.

Replies from: Viliam
comment by Viliam · 2023-03-04T21:53:41.076Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I didn't dream up the contents of that page. I just took ideas that are in the air of the LW/EA/rationalsphere (and some other places, but mostly from there), and simulated "taking ideas seriously" turned up to eleven.


Still it seems to me (maybe I am wrong here) that Ziz actually had to use the sleep deprivation et cetera in order to convince most people to buy the "up to eleven" version. Even people who take ideas more seriously than usual, often seek some kind of social approval before jumping off the deep end.

comment by TekhneMakre · 2023-03-04T17:47:45.788Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

effectively becoming "I want to obey Ziz unconditionally"

This is very important and subtle. A real leader absolutely must understand that there is such a thing as lack of common knowledge. Anyone who is acting as though the lack of common knowledge is just you being disloyal / intentionally dumb / etc., is trying to be a cult leader.

comment by Gerald Monroe (gerald-monroe) · 2023-03-04T21:00:19.428Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thank you for this post, and it suggests how we could know when an AI system is capable of similar manipulation, and when it can't.

For example, a system that is accessed via a browser tab that forgets everything after a token limit is obviously not capable of this.

However, a system connected to always on home devices or is given privileged access to your OS desktop (for example if 'cortana' can render itself as a ghostly human female that is always on top in windows, and is able to manipulate information in microsoft office applications for you) - and the machine has long term state so it can track it's brainwashing plans, it would be possible.

(it seems obvious that at a certain point, scammers and other hostile organizations would adopt AI for this purpose)

comment by hairyfigment · 2023-02-24T20:55:28.115Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

There's this guy Michael Vassar who strikes me - from afar - as a failed cult leader, and Ziz as a disciple of his who took some followers in a different direction. Even before this new information, I thought her faith sounded like a breakaway sect of the Church of Asmodeus.

Michael Vassar was one of the inspirations for Eliezer's Professor Quirrell, but otherwise seems to have little influence.

Replies from: Spiracular, Benito
comment by Spiracular · 2023-02-26T20:00:04.419Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

At the risk of this looking too much like me fighting a strawman...

Cults may have a tendency to interact and pick up adaptations from each other, but it seems wrong to operate on the assumption that they're all derivatives of one ancestral "proto-cult" or whatever. Cult leaders are not literal vampires, where you only become a cult leader by getting bit by a previous cult leader or whatever.

It's a cultural attractor, and a cult is a social technology simple enough that it can be spontaneously re-derived. But cults can sometimes pick up or swap beliefs & virulence factors with each other, when they interact. And I do think Ziz picked up a few beliefs from the Vassarite cluster.

I can dig up cases in Ziz's writing where Ziz has interacted with Vassar before, or may have indirectly learned things from him through Alice.

Doesn't make Vassar directly responsible for Ziz's actions. I think Vassar is not directly responsible for Ziz.

I do want to spell this out, because I'm reading a subtle implication here, that I want to push back against.

Replies from: Viliam
comment by Viliam · 2023-03-04T16:12:35.466Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

For example, many abusive partners reinvent half of the cult techniques on their own. If you are the right kind of personality, it is probably enough to carefully observe your victim, and gradually remove everything that empowers them. (Their parents disapprove of you? No more contact with the parents. An article about abusive relations that actually explains a lot? No more reading that specific website or a book. Ideas encountered in free time that you don't like? Invent lots of busywork, no more free time. Thinking too much? Create emotional drama, so that the victim thinks about made up problems instead.)

Cults are simply groups that stumbled upon the right combination of techniques, efficient enough to either keep their members trapped reliably, or to recruit new members faster than the old ones leave. It helps if you can copy some techniques from your previous cult, but it is not necessary. You can also copy from abusive parents, or if you are an abusive person yourself (and Ziz seems to be) simply learn from your previous experience.

Replies from: TekhneMakre
comment by TekhneMakre · 2023-03-04T17:45:34.946Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Great comment.

Thinking too much? Create emotional drama, so that the victim thinks about made up problems instead.

Especially this. A refinement: create an atmosphere of "honesty" (which caches out as perverse openness for thee, but not for me). Use your perverse openness to track when you are going down paths that might end in you breaking away. Selectively create drama and ultimatums and loyalty tests in those cases, which is more precisely targeted than just thinking too much. (This may sound crazy but it actually happens. See e.g. NXIVM; if you don't tell all your thoughts to Keith Raniere, you're resisting / in ethical breach / etc.)

comment by Ben Pace (Benito) · 2023-02-25T00:35:36.741Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I heard that LaSota ('ziz') and Michael interacted but I am sort of under the impression she was always kind of violent and bizarre before that, so I'm not putting much of this bizarreness down to Michael. Certainly interest in evidence about this (here or in DM).

Replies from: hairyfigment
comment by hairyfigment · 2023-02-25T08:01:21.102Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It sure sounds like you think outsiders would typically have the "common sense" to avoid Ziz. What do you think such an outsider would make of this comment [LW(p) · GW(p)]?

Replies from: tailcalled, Benito
comment by tailcalled · 2023-02-25T13:33:38.546Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Scott Alexander seems to have withdrawn some of his critiques of Michael Vassar.

Replies from: eigenwitch
comment by eigenwitch · 2023-02-28T01:47:00.759Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I recognize that there are privacy considerations that (probably) prevent it, but I would like to see more of a public accounting of the evidence that caused Scott Alexander to withdraw those critiques, along with what critiques remain, and what he thinks caused his & the community's initial view.

My impression was that Scott previously thought the hypothesis 'interacting with Michael Vassar can cause psychosis' was worth taking seriously (in this comment [LW(p) · GW(p)]), but then later decided this was mostly correlation not causation and apologized to both Michael and Jessica (in this comment [LW(p) · GW(p)]).

Insofar as this is a case of the community reflexively scapegoating, it seems like we ought to examine it more carefully; insofar as there are still possible cult-like/bizarre negative effects, it seems like we should investigate those too.

comment by Ben Pace (Benito) · 2023-02-25T21:10:55.568Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think mostly somewhat confused? 

Though I've never met her, from her writing and things others have told me, I expect LaSota seems much more visibly out-of-it and threatening than e.g. Michael does, who I have met and didn't seem socially alarming or unpredictable in the way where you might be scared of a sudden physical altercation.

Replies from: Buck, DanielFilan
comment by Buck · 2023-02-28T20:00:01.274Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think Vassar is alarming and unpredictable in a way that causes people to be afraid of a sudden physical altercation. For example, I have felt scared of physical altercations with him. If I recall correctly, he raised his voice while telling a friend of mine that he thought they were worse than the Nazis during a conversation in a hotel lobby, which freaked out other people who were in the lobby (I don't remember how my friend felt).

Replies from: Benito
comment by Ben Pace (Benito) · 2023-04-28T17:48:20.573Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Oops, I was unclear in my last line.

I was attempting to distinguish between someone getting angry with you and shouting at you and then punching you, and someone who is quiet and doesn’t look at you and isn’t talking much to you who then walks over and punches you.

Both are alarming. To me the latter feels more unpredictable and more alarming because I’m getting no info about when it will happen, but if someone is getting visibly angry and escalates and you don’t know where their lines are for conflict, then I can see that being more intensely alarming.

comment by DanielFilan · 2023-02-26T07:09:23.857Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

For what it's worth, when I've talked to Ziz, she didn't seem out of it, threatening, alarming, or unpredictable to me, and I wasn't scared of a sudden physical altercation.

Replies from: gworley
comment by Gordon Seidoh Worley (gworley) · 2023-02-26T16:52:25.206Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Interesting. I remember meeting Ziz once before they were fully out as Ziz, and it was clear to me that their vibe was "off" but given so many rationalists have weird vibes it was hard to make much of. It's easy with hindsight bias to try to give myself points for noticing what might happen, but actually that was pretty unclear to me right up until the CFAR protest happened and then lots of details about what had been doing on came out.

What I mean by vibe being off: many rationalists don't behave in normal ways and don't play into standard social scripts, so they fall into this weird space where it can be hard to predict what they will do and say in the next few moments so it can create something like an uncanny valley of social interaction. But I get this from lots of people who haven't been accused of homicide/accessory to homicide, so given the base rates it's hard to make strong predictions here.

Replies from: Raemon, DanielFilan
comment by Raemon · 2023-02-26T20:05:07.338Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think Ziz's early vibe was "off/weird, but not in a particularly unusual-for-rationalists-way." I definitely see the seeds of their worldview in their early writing/talking/in-person-interactions that make me not super surprised at how things turned out. But, I do think it's important that the vibe didn't feel threatening/alarming in a physical way.

Replies from: Hivewired
comment by Slimepriestess (Hivewired) · 2023-02-27T00:33:21.272Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

There was also definitely just an escalation over time. If you view her content chronologically it starts as out as fairly standard and decently insightful LW essay fair and then just gets more and more hostile and escalatory as time passes. She goes from liking Scott to calling him evil, she goes from advocating for generally rejecting morality in order to free up your agency to practicing timeless-decision-theoretic-blackmail-absolute-morality. As people responded to her hostility with hostility she escalated further and further out of what seemed to be a calculated moral obligation to retaliate and her whole group has just spiraled on their sense that the world was trying to timelessly-soul-murder them.

comment by DanielFilan · 2023-02-26T19:53:50.149Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I could well just be bad at reading vibes.