# [SEQ RERUN] You're Calling *Who* A Cult Leader?

post by MinibearRex · 2013-03-31T04:18:40.926Z · score: 2 (3 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 17 comments

Today's post, You're Calling *Who* A Cult Leader? was originally published on 22 March 2009. A summary (taken from the LW wiki):

Paul Graham gets exactly the same accusations about "cults" and "echo chambers" and "coteries" that I do, in exactly the same tone - e.g. comparing the long hours worked by Y Combinator startup founders to the sleep-deprivation tactic used in cults, or claiming that founders were asked to move to the Bay Area startup hub as a cult tactic of separation from friends and family. This is bizarre, considering our relative surface risk factors. It just seems to be a failure mode of the nonconformist community in general. By far the most cultish-looking behavior on Hacker News is people trying to show off how willing they are to disagree with Paul Graham, which, I can personally testify, feels really bizarre when you're the target. Admiring someone shouldn't be so scary - I don't hold back so much when praising e.g. Douglas Hofstadter; in this world there are people who have pulled off awesome feats and it is okay to admire them highly.

Discuss the post here (rather than in the comments to the original post).

This post is part of the Rerunning the Sequences series, where we'll be going through Eliezer Yudkowsky's old posts in order so that people who are interested can (re-)read and discuss them. The previous post was Tolerate Tolerance, and you can use the sequence_reruns tag or rss feed to follow the rest of the series.

Sequence reruns are a community-driven effort. You can participate by re-reading the sequence post, discussing it here, posting the next day's sequence reruns post, or summarizing forthcoming articles on the wiki. Go here for more details, or to have meta discussions about the Rerunning the Sequences series.

So rather than guess any further, I'm going to turn this over to my readers. I'm hoping in particular that someone used to feel this way—shutting down an impulse to praise someone else highly, or feeling that it was cultish to praise someone else highly—and then had some kind of epiphany after which it felt, not allowed, but rather, quite normal.

Always safer to be a critic than to earnestly praise something and open yourself up to sneering by critics.

On the other hand, some of what may be taken as distancing yourself from the prophet may just be the natural, most efficient way to accurately identify yourself. "I like him, except for a, b, c."

comment by Elithrion · 2013-03-31T17:20:14.859Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Is using "whom" uncool or something? Maybe I'm just elitist (in a bad way) for liking it.

comment by Qiaochu_Yuan · 2013-04-01T00:06:02.281Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Whom use, even correct use but especially incorrect use, can signal an excessive concern with pedantry.

comment by jklsemicolon · 2013-04-01T00:31:09.495Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Whom use...can signal an excessive concern with pedantry

Speaking of pedantry, I have no doubt that you meant:

"Whom" use

comment by Elithrion · 2013-04-01T00:42:48.977Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Alternatively, if it's done by someone whom you already know decently well, and who you know isn't really a crazy obsessive pedant, it can instead signal a liking of international or British English over American.

comment by Tyrrell_McAllister · 2013-04-01T20:57:57.675Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It's possible to avoid the "whom" and be grammatical: "*Who* is Being Called a Cult Leader By You?".

comment by Kindly · 2013-04-01T21:32:38.250Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

"If there's something strange in your neighborhood, who is gonna be called by you? Ghostbusters!"

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2013-03-31T23:08:39.851Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I use "who" for the subject form or when "whom" sounds awful.

comment by Elithrion · 2013-04-01T00:36:45.519Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

That sounds like good policy, although there may be significant variation in what sounds awful to different people (specifically, "whom" is generally more popular outside the US). "Who" is probably the safer choice when in doubt, admittedly.

comment by Tyrrell_McAllister · 2013-04-01T20:57:01.265Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It's possible to avoid the "whom" and be grammatical: "*Who* is Being Called a Cult Leader By You?".

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2013-03-31T21:48:06.449Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm pretty sure it should be "who", since the title is an inversion of "Who are you calling a cult leader?".

comment by shminux · 2013-04-01T18:33:25.212Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

"call" here is a transitive verb, so the following object is in the accusative case, and "whom" is a the appropriate declension of "who". Of course, there are almost no traces of declensions in modern English, hence the confusion.

comment by Elithrion · 2013-03-31T22:35:32.610Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Nope, in fact that one should also be "Whom are you calling a cult leader?" Who is the subject form, i.e. it's supposed to be used when it's the "who" person that is doing the actions. In this case, though, the subject is "you", who is doing the action ("calling" someone something), and the object is the someone being called something ("whom").

comment by Zaine · 2013-03-31T23:10:42.118Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

For sake of colloquial informality some purposefully adopt incorrect grammar. Regardless of whether that was the intent, such is the effect; a better question:

"Does informality conveyed through use of colloquialisms benefit the author's purposes more than correct use of grammar?"

The above line of enquiry presumes correct grammar is desirable - a separate but sound debate prerequisite answering the former question.

comment by jmmcd · 2013-04-01T23:12:46.629Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm hoping in particular that someone used to feel this way—shutting down an impulse to praise someone else highly, or feeling that it was cultish to praise someone else highly—and then had some kind of epiphany after which it felt, not allowed, but rather, quite normal.

I think there is a necessary distinction between matter-of-fact praising someone highly, and engaging in various sucking-up behaviours such as echoing particular forms of words, or quoting-as-authority. The latter do leave an unpleasant taste and in those cases I can understand the "cult" reaction.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-04-01T06:52:53.395Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Amusingly, the web page accusing Paul Graham of being a cult leader is down for the count, and despite my best efforts I can't find a Google or other cache of the actual text of the original post.

It's almost as if... someone... deliberately removed it.

+$\\epsilon$ evidence for paul-graham-being-an-apparently-damn-successful cult leader.

comment by BlazeOrangeDeer · 2013-04-03T09:29:47.626Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

In fact, the best indicator of being a masterful cult leader is that no one suspects you! wait...