Fucking Goddamn Basics of Rationalist Discourse

post by LoganStrohl (BrienneYudkowsky) · 2023-02-04T01:47:32.578Z · LW · GW · 96 comments
  1. Don't say false shit [LW · GW] omg this one's so basic what are you even doing. And to be perfectly fucking clear "false shit" includes exaggeration for dramatic effect. Exaggeration is just another way for shit to be false.
  2. You do NOT (necessarily) know what you fucking saw [LW · GW]. What you saw and what you thought about it are two different things. Keep them the fuck straight.
  3. Performative overconfidence can go suck a bag of dicks. [LW · GW] Tell us how sure you are, and don't pretend to know shit you don't.
  4. If you're going to talk unfalsifiable twaddle [LW · GW] out of your ass, at least fucking warn us first.
  5. Try to find the actual factual goddamn truth [LW · GW] together with whatever assholes you're talking to. Be a Chad scout, not a Virgin soldier.
  6. One hypothesis is not e-fucking-nough. [LW · GW] You need at least two, AT LEAST, or you'll just end up rehearsing the same dumb shit the whole time instead of actually thinking.
  7. One great way to fuck shit up fast [LW · GW] is to conflate the antecedent, the consequent, and the implication. DO NOT.
  8. Don't be all like "nuh-UH, nuh-UH, you SAID!" [LW · GW] Just let people correct themselves. Fuck.
  9. That motte-and-bailey bullshit [LW · GW] does not fly here.
  10. Whatever the fuck else you do [LW · GW], for fucksake do not fucking ignore these guidelines when talking about the insides of other people's heads, unless you mainly wanna light some fucking trash fires, in which case GTFO.

96 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by So8res · 2023-02-04T02:35:56.196Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

1 min read

finally

comment by Raemon · 2023-02-04T02:57:55.643Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Strong downvoted mostly to apply some token resistance in the direction away from "Logan gradient descends into maximal fun-ranty-monkey-engagement-incentives."

Replies from: BrienneYudkowsky
comment by LoganStrohl (BrienneYudkowsky) · 2023-02-04T02:59:29.689Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

😂

Replies from: BrienneYudkowsky
comment by LoganStrohl (BrienneYudkowsky) · 2023-02-04T03:36:03.766Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

but Ray are you really so sure i should not be the one to turn The Sequences into a collection of belligerent tiktoks? i've been covering the same beat for ten years what if it's time for A CHANGE?

Replies from: Raemon
comment by Raemon · 2023-02-04T03:37:03.887Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I mean it's not obviously wrong, just seemed like someone should put some token effort of resistance.

Replies from: RobbBB, Duncan_Sabien
comment by Rob Bensinger (RobbBB) · 2023-02-04T03:51:50.615Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Counter-argument: only 699 more karma till this is the most upvoted post on LW

Replies from: Nathan Young
comment by Nathan Young · 2023-03-02T20:13:36.054Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Nice.

comment by [DEACTIVATED] Duncan Sabien (Duncan_Sabien) · 2023-02-04T03:46:42.668Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I was watching the votes; there was plenty of resistance already from what I could see

(You, of course, can see more than I)

Replies from: Raemon
comment by Raemon · 2023-02-04T03:50:44.416Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

not unless I go out of my way to take actions that the LW team has agreed not to do unless there is a specific vote-abuse-moderation reason to consider taking.

Replies from: Raemon
comment by Raemon · 2023-02-04T05:23:56.182Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

To (sort of) resolve a bet among the LW team, I am interested in hearing (honest introspective) answers to what the people who agree-voted this thought of thought of themselves as agree-voting with.

Replies from: tomcatfish
comment by Alex Vermillion (tomcatfish) · 2023-02-04T22:53:06.828Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I didn't agree-vote but I want to bet on

Rot13 because I can't get spoilers to work: Crbcyr nterrvat jvgu gur cbyvpl nf n tbbq bar, juvpu vf frcnengr sebz gur abezny hcibgr bs "Lrnu V yvxrq guvf"

[edit: These instructions on inserting spoiler tags [LW · GW] do not work]

Replies from: Unnamed, Raemon
comment by Unnamed · 2023-02-05T03:43:49.687Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

For me, spoilers work if I type >! to start a line, but not if I copy-paste

I typed those two characters before this sentence

>! I copy-pasted those two character before this sentence

Replies from: ambigram
comment by ambigram · 2023-02-05T04:38:26.488Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Copy-paste doesn't seem to work in general, I had to retype the markdown formatting for my comment.

comment by Raemon · 2023-02-04T23:08:43.907Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Re: spoiler tags – those instructions are for LessWrong docs, I think they either don't work or require something different for markdown. (Probably look up markdown spoiler block syntax and the internet will point you in the right direction)

Replies from: habryka4
comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2023-02-04T23:45:43.810Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The instructions say (and I think this should still work): 

In the Markdown editor, surround your text with :::spoiler at the beginning, and ::: at the end.

Replies from: Vaniver
comment by Vaniver · 2023-02-05T02:12:53.279Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

IMO you should have :::spoiler tested that in your comment::: .

Replies from: tomcatfish
comment by Alex Vermillion (tomcatfish) · 2023-02-05T18:53:31.961Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes, that's what I did the first time, haha

<1 minute edit: (The comment by Vaniver does not show as spoiled on my screen)

comment by Aella · 2023-02-04T02:38:59.375Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

why does lesswrong suddenly feel good and homey

Replies from: lc, TAG
comment by lc · 2023-02-04T03:07:33.892Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I've been impressed lately by how, while the EA forum has become basically overrun with useless scandal discussion, LessWrong has stayed virtually unafflicted. I think I'm the only person who ever commented about the Bostrom fiasco (in a shortform), and I feel bad about that and won't do suchwise again. We must preserve our garden of autistic truth seeking and alignmentposts.

Replies from: sil-ver
comment by Rafael Harth (sil-ver) · 2023-02-05T12:46:53.498Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

And (as a data point in the same direction) I hadn't even heard about the Bostrom fiasco until I read your shortform, and never heard of it since.

Replies from: Benito
comment by Ben Pace (Benito) · 2023-02-05T19:12:23.603Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Glad to hear.

comment by TAG · 2023-02-04T02:57:03.816Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Combination of technical success, social success, and PR success, I assume.

comment by LoganStrohl (BrienneYudkowsky) · 2023-02-04T01:48:42.096Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

(This is a parody post of Basics of Rationalist Discourse [LW · GW] by Duncan Sabien.)

Replies from: Duncan_Sabien, Kaj_Sotala, adamzerner, CronoDAS
comment by [DEACTIVATED] Duncan Sabien (Duncan_Sabien) · 2023-02-04T02:01:07.547Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Hot take: this is not a parody; this is the actual message of the other post, just not trying to be cautious/reserved/gentle/pragmatically persuasive. My heart sings.

Replies from: Vladimir_Nesov
comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2023-02-04T04:43:58.208Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Since my disagreement with your post is about the general practice of turning advice into norms, not as much about the advice itself, I think this post is superior on object level, ignoring the style gloss.

Another point in favor of this post is that nuance is poison, it introduces costs all around that are often not worth the benefits of nuance, which could be obtained in other ways, such as with modular abstractions. So it's like technical debt, a temporary solution in search for an opportunity for refactoring, not something to celebrate for its own sake.

Replies from: LVSN, Duncan_Sabien
comment by LVSN · 2023-02-04T10:09:35.596Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

"Nuance is poison"? Come on

I'm not sure what you mean by modular abstractions but I expect to agree that it's the way to go

Replies from: Vladimir_Nesov, Zantarus
comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2023-02-04T10:25:35.941Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Nuance is lines of code, it's complexity of implementing communication. It is cost that comes with value of clarifying ideas, but it's still a cost, both for the writer and for all the readers. It's feasible to achieve unnecessary levels of clarity with additional nuance.

Clarity can be improved in other ways. It's possible to simplify the intended message itself, by choosing to communicate something different, letting go of most aspects of the underlying issue for purposes of communication, making use of more central meanings of relevant concepts. This goes in hand with creating/popularizing unfamiliar concepts that can then be used as building blocks for communicated ideas. Modular code with short functions, each meaningful on its own, built on good libraries. And refactoring of that nuanced spaghetti code that works very well in most cases.

Replies from: AllAmericanBreakfast, LVSN
comment by DirectedEvolution (AllAmericanBreakfast) · 2023-02-04T19:21:08.758Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yeah, a lot of the time nuance feels either like CYA loophole-closing or overexplaining.

Not to complain about a good post, but just as one example from Duncan's original, he has a sentence that goes:

In normal social contexts, where few people are attending to or attempting to express precise truth, it's relatively costless to do things like:

  • Use hyperbole for emphasis
  • Say a false thing, because approximately everyone will be able to intuit the nearby true thing that you're intending to convey
  • Over-generalize; ignore edge cases and rounding errors (e.g. "Everybody has eyes.")'

Which I think you could reword as:

Normally, it's fine to exaggerate and be imprecise, because you can count on your audience to know what you mean. You can say "everybody has eyes" without your buddy retorting "WHAT ABOUT PEOPLE WITH ANOPHTHALMIA???"

It's interesting to write this comment because I can feel the same impulse in myself to cover my ass:

  • I want to change "reword" to "almost losslessly reword"
  • Give a defense of why there might be some big advantage to the original language, somehow
  • Explain blow by blow why I think the changes I made are fine

But mostly that's just trying to anticipate and defeat downcomment complaints without looking like I hadn't thought of them. And that's something the writer does to protect themselves, not to aid the reader.

Replies from: pktechgirl, Duncan_Sabien
comment by Elizabeth (pktechgirl) · 2023-02-04T23:09:33.765Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yeah, a lot of the time nuance feels either like CYA loophole-closing or overexplaining.

 

I agree that defensive writing exists, is usually worse than non-defensive writing, and that you can frame some of the defenses as nuance (although I don't think that's the only place nuance comes from). But I feel like this comment frames defensive writing as a flaw of the author, and I don't think that's fair. LessWrong can be an absolutely miserable place to post, defensive writing happens because authors have a justified fear of being ~attacked. I think if you want posters to write less defensively the intervention point should be calming down the comments and otherwise providing psychological safety. 

You could argue that defensive writing by and large doesn't work. I used to think this, and I still think it does a bad job at preventing bad top level comments. But it makes it more likely another commenter gets your point and corrects the bad commenter without your involvement, which is very valuable. 

Replies from: AllAmericanBreakfast, Vladimir_Nesov
comment by DirectedEvolution (AllAmericanBreakfast) · 2023-02-05T05:05:36.014Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

But I feel like this comment frames defensive writing as a flaw of the author, and I don't think that's fair.

I agree that is a potential takeaway from my comment. I also agree that it's not fair to overly criticize authors when that reaction toward defensiveness may be because they're correctly anticipating a harsh PONDS [LW · GW] response from their readership. I do have empathy for the problem.

When I read the blog posts I really enjoy, it seems to me those authors manage to write in ways that come across as non-defensive, with exaggerations and humor and "you know what I mean" implications. They rely on me to fill in some of the blanks, and that's part of the fun of their posts and part of what keeps my attention. 

When I write defensively, I feel like way too much of my mental energy is going into combatting phanom future commenters and not enough to the object-level of the post. And when that gets overwhelming I just delete it or leave it in drafts. I have a large graveyard of dead posts.

I used to have a lot more fun writing, enjoying the vividness of language, and while I thank LessWrong for improving many aspects of my thinking, it has also stripped away almost all my verve for language. I think that's coming from the defensiveness-nuance complex I'm describing, and since the internet is what it is, I guess I'd like to start by changing myself. But my own self-advice may not be right for others.

Replies from: GWS, pktechgirl
comment by Stephen Bennett (Previously GWS) (GWS) · 2023-02-06T08:11:58.770Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I used to have a lot more fun writing, enjoying the vividness of language, and while I thank LessWrong for improving many aspects of my thinking, it has also stripped away almost all my verve for language. I think that's coming from the defensiveness-nuance complex I'm describing, and since the internet is what it is, I guess I'd like to start by changing myself. But my own self-advice may not be right for others.

I have about a 2:1 ratio of unsubmitted to submitted comments. The most common source of deletion is no longer really caring about what I have to say, the second is fending off possible misinterpretations. So I definitely understand just giving up. This seems like it'd make me pretty down on anticipated critique, but I think a good 5-10% of those comments would be net negative so it's not like it's all downside.

I remember that I used to write with vigor - I'd really enjoy flushing out what it is I thought and letting the words pour from my fingers. At some point, I think it was in high school, I got a writing assignment back from the teacher and the sum total of the comments were (paraphrased) 'Very clear voice, no one could have written this but you! B-.' I've never gotten good marks on writing assignments, but that one in particular has stuck with me. While it's hilarious, it's amusing to me in the sort of way that also makes me disinterested in writing. I really do feel like I've lost a big part of that spark. Very little of it has to do with that one particular comment, but more a general erosion of expected charity. If I anticipate that my words will be taken badly, then the space of ideas I can explore are either limited to the mundane or it requires a gargantuan effort to construct the well fortified arguments necessary to repel the hypothetical critic.

At the risk of giving you advice that I myself regularly fail to follow: perhaps ignore the critics?

I know it doesn't wash away the cumulative effects of any curmudgeons, but I do appreciate what you wrote here.

Replies from: AllAmericanBreakfast
comment by DirectedEvolution (AllAmericanBreakfast) · 2023-02-06T15:15:53.679Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

'Very clear voice, no one could have written this but you! B-.'

An open-faced shit sandwich. That's some standup comedy gold :D

perhaps ignore the critics?

At least filter them! You're trying to draw a signal from yourself and the world, then condition and analyze it. Good critics help you troubleshoot the circuit, or test the limits of the device you've built.

A successful critic understands who the author was trying to help, and bases their criticism on helping the author achieve that goal.

I like the framework of "true, helpful, and kind." Usually, I've seen it as "strive for at least two." Another way to look at it is "be at least OK at all three."

comment by Elizabeth (pktechgirl) · 2023-02-05T08:32:02.391Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I used to have a lot more fun writing, enjoying the vividness of language, and while I thank LessWrong for improving many aspects of my thinking, it has also stripped away almost all my verve for language. I think that's coming from the defensiveness-nuance complex I'm describing, and since the internet is what it is, I guess I'd like to start by changing myself. But my own self-advice may not be right for others.

 

This is so sad. 

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2023-02-05T02:36:22.842Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That's also a good example of my concern with turning advice like this into norms. There are obvious malign interpretations of what the advice is saying, and I don't trust norms to keep their interpretations reasonable, to pay sufficient attention to the nuance. Under such malign interpretations, this can be advice to write defensively, and in the form of norms the defensive writing would be mandatory. Also, you'd need to explain yourself if you don't do it. It's no longer merely a risk that you are attacked if you didn't preemptively disclaim everything possible and impossible, but a norm.

comment by [DEACTIVATED] Duncan Sabien (Duncan_Sabien) · 2023-02-04T19:36:41.631Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It feels like CYA if you don't care about truth.

I go into this a good bit in Sapir-Whorf for Rationalists [LW · GW]; basically, if you find the distinction tedious, it's strong evidence that you're either blind to the meaningfulness in the first place, or you just don't care.

The "everybody knows what we're really trying to say" mentality is demonstrably false; misunderstandings of precisely this form are legion; there are children and autists and people-from-other-cultures and people straddling the border between technical and non-technical uses and on and on and on; motte-and-bailey is essentially everywhere; using words like "everyone" sloppily makes it harder to convey "literally actually everyone" and it's not like it's hard to just say "most people" or whatever.

When people are like "c'mon, relax, this was in fact already clear" what they are primarily saying is "I and my ingroup got it and everyone else can go hang," and usually "everyone else" encompasses a lot of people.

Replies from: Raemon, AllAmericanBreakfast
comment by Raemon · 2023-02-04T21:37:49.668Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It feels like CYA if you don't care about truth.

Flagging I also disagree with this (also seems to obviously be failing rule #10).

I'm a bit confused about this, because, like, I'm sure you know that time is short, there are lots of (true) things to talk about, going infinitely deep on precisely specifying any given thing is clearly unworkable even if you pick the specific sub-hill of "be LessWrong" to die on rather than the broader hill of "maximize truthseeking.". I assume you pick some point on the curve where you're like "okay, practically, that was enough precision", which is just higher than mine.

When I imagine bringing this up my Duncan-sim says "yes I know that and can pass your ITT and integrated it", but, I don't really know why you're making the tradeoffs you do.

There's a hell of a lot of stuff I want to learn, and it honestly seems anti-helpful to me, on truthseeking terms, to spend the amount you do on nuance, when there is so much other stuff I need to think about, learn, discuss and reason about.

Replies from: Duncan_Sabien, Duncan_Sabien
comment by [DEACTIVATED] Duncan Sabien (Duncan_Sabien) · 2023-02-04T21:44:45.268Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Separately:

it honestly seems anti-helpful to me, on truthseeking terms, to spend the amount you do on nuance, when there is so much other stuff I need to think about, learn, discuss and reason about.

See the linked Sapir-Whorf bit, especially Nate's tweetstorm; I am not, in fact, "spending" effort on nuance; most of the time the nuance is genuinely effortless because I'm just straightforwardly describing the world I see and saying things that feel true.

If it feels particularly effortful, or like one is injecting nuance, then I think this usually means that one's underlying thoughts and models aren't nuanced (at that level).

Over and over, the actual guidelines post tries to make clear "a big important piece of this puzzle is just being open to requests that the conversation get more nuanced or more precise, as opposed to expecting to hit convergence with your partner on the first go (or tying yourself into knots trying to do so)."

Replies from: interstice
comment by interstice · 2023-02-05T14:26:50.412Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If it feels particularly effortful, or like one is injecting nuance, then I think this usually means that one's underlying thoughts and models aren't nuanced (at that level).

Having nuanced thoughts and models is not a free action either though, so I don't think this necessarily speaks against the marginal effectiveness point. And speaking in a nuanced way will not be effortless for your listeners if their own models don't already possess that nuance.

comment by [DEACTIVATED] Duncan Sabien (Duncan_Sabien) · 2023-02-04T21:40:14.011Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

See my more direct reply above; this was a very gentle experiment in trying to meet the conversational norms it seemed to me DirectedEvolution was explicitly advocating for. I feel like the results of the experiment underscore my point/are in support of my core position.

comment by DirectedEvolution (AllAmericanBreakfast) · 2023-02-04T21:06:21.301Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

You're accusing me of not caring about truth.

Here's how I'd line up our two opening lines to demonstrate why:

Me: Yeah, a lot of the time nuance feels either like CYA loophole-closing or overexplaining.

You: It feels like CYA if you don't care about truth.

Frankly, I think my standards are just fine. Every time you make a statement, you're betting on whether or not you put enough nuance in it for the other person to understand you. In a friendly discussion, you can expect your debate partner to ask for clarification when they misunderstand you.

This discussion feels unfriendly to me. Specifically, it means that I anticipate that not only will you object to things I say that you disagree with, which is fine, but that you will continue your track record of accompanying those objections with personal attacks against me. While I'm perfectly fine with having a thorough discussion of our points of disagreement, I am absolutely unwilling to have such a discussion with an internet stranger if that discussion will have an unfriendly tone. If you care to reword your comment in a non-unfriendly manner, I will be happy to continue our conversation. Otherwise, this will be my last comment in this comment thread, though I will read a reply if you choose to make one.

Replies from: Duncan_Sabien
comment by [DEACTIVATED] Duncan Sabien (Duncan_Sabien) · 2023-02-04T21:39:03.438Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In other words, you would've preferred I said something more nuanced, such as "It sometimes is the case that things feel like CYA because the person doesn't care about truth (though often there are other reasons; this isn't an accusation)."

Which is my M.O. most of the time, but you were advocating against nuance so I tried being a little less nuanced than usual and BAM—super strong objection.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

(You might perhaps use the experience you just had, reading my comment above, to boot up some degree of empathy for those requesting the nuance that you think is extraneous.)

Replies from: ambigram, AllAmericanBreakfast
comment by ambigram · 2023-02-05T04:23:44.385Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

...I don't think the issue here is nuance. My attempt at a non-nuanced non-unfriendly version would be more like "It feels like CYA because those nuances are obvious to you, but they aren't actually obvious to some other people." or maybe "It feels like CYA because you are not the target audience."

As someone who is perhaps overly optimistic about people's intentions in general, I don't really like it when people make assumptions about character/values (e.g. don't care about truth) or read intent into other people's actions (e.g. you're trying to CYA, or you're not really trying to understand me). People seem to assume negative intent with unjustifiable levels of confidence when there can be better alternative explanations (see below), and this can be very damaging to relationships and counterproductive for discussions. I think it might be helpful if we move away from inferring unknowable things and focus more on explaining our own experiences instead? (e.g. I liked the part where DirectedEvolution shared about their experience rewriting the section, and also Duncan's explanation that writing nuance feels genuinely effortless).

Example of an alternative interpretation:

...basically, if you find the distinction tedious, it's strong evidence that you're either blind to the meaningfulness in the first place, or you just don't care.

There is a third possibility I can think of: something may be meaningful and important but omitted because it is not relevant to our current task. For example, when we teach children science, we don't teach them quantum mechanics simply because it is distracting when learning the basics, and not because quantum mechanics is irrelevant or unimportant in general. I personally would prefer it if teachers made this more explicit (i.e. say that they are teaching a simplified model and we would get to learn more details next time) but I get the impression that this is already obvious to other people so I'd imagine it comes across as superfluous to them.

Replies from: Duncan_Sabien
comment by [DEACTIVATED] Duncan Sabien (Duncan_Sabien) · 2023-02-05T05:19:22.278Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This is good comment but I'm already sort of at my limit; going to try to focus just on DirectedEvolution.

Replies from: ambigram
comment by ambigram · 2023-02-05T06:08:00.382Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Noted, and I appreciate the response.

comment by DirectedEvolution (AllAmericanBreakfast) · 2023-02-05T04:48:03.987Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I disagree. My issue with your comment is not that it lacks nuance. It's that it read as a personal attack against me, an ad hominem. Below, I write an edited version of your original comment that has little-no more nuance than the original - perhaps less - but also was not an ad hominem. I strikeout the parts that felt like ad hominems to me, and replaced them with wording that I think roughly captures the (as you say, un-nuanced) meaning of your sentences without coming across as an attack. Of course, I won't do as good a job of reflecting your intended meaning as you would, which is why I hope that in the future, you'll remove the ad hominems from your writing on your own.

It feels like CYA if you don't care about truth.

I disagree, nuance is damned important for truth-seekers.

I go into this a good bit in Sapir-Whorf for Rationalists [LW · GW] basically, if you find the distinction tedious, it's strong evidence that you're either blind to the meaningfulness in the first place, or you just don't care. to explain why I think we ought to be strict and explicit about the precise distinctions we're drawing. 

The "everybody knows what we're really trying to say" mentality is demonstrably false; misunderstandings of precisely this form are legion; there are children and autists and people-from-other-cultures and people straddling the border between technical and non-technical uses and on and on and on; motte-and-bailey is essentially everywhere; using words like "everyone" sloppily makes it harder to convey "literally actually everyone" and it's not like it's hard to just say "most people" or whatever.

When people are like "c'mon, relax, this was in fact already clear" what they are primarily saying is "I and my ingroup got it and everyone else can go hang," and usually "everyone else" encompasses a lot of people.

If you had made a comment roughly along these lines, we could have had a productive debate, using the amount of nuance that seemed appropriate to us both.

Replies from: Duncan_Sabien
comment by [DEACTIVATED] Duncan Sabien (Duncan_Sabien) · 2023-02-05T05:14:34.290Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'll offer up the edit "It feels like CYA when you don't care about [the particular delineations of] truth [involved]." (Sort of an "everyone faster than you on the highway is reckless, everyone slower is holding up traffic" claim; truth you don't care about but feel obligated to account for.)

Look. Inasmuch as you can claim that my CYA line was a direct attack on your character (it wasn't intended as such and I think you're stretching to make it so, especially since the comment went on to elaborate), you had already launched a similarly direct attack on mine, taking the discourse that I was arguing is crucial and important and calling it, variously, CYA loophole-closing, over-explaining, and in-service-of-self-protection rather than aiding the reader.

And this is sort of generally the point: you think I was the first one to break norms, whereas I was genuinely just trying to mirror you back to yourself. Your comment had a lot of implications about why people want nuance that were uncharitable and not universal; the discussion felt unfriendly to me from the moment of your comment being dismissive.

(You were also explicitly agreeing with someone who, a comment earlier, had said that nuance is poison.)

You would like, I think, for me to care about how you felt unfriendlied-toward. Do you care about how I did?

(I note that I was slightly more cavalier than I would ordinarily be, because we're under a post titled "Fucking goddamn basics;" I think this is not an unreasonable call to have made. I think that calling the previous comment an ad hominem attack is a bit of a motte-and-bailey; it is certainly nowhere near a median-bad instance of the class, even if we label it a member.)

Replies from: AllAmericanBreakfast
comment by DirectedEvolution (AllAmericanBreakfast) · 2023-02-05T05:56:36.517Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

you had already launched a similarly direct attack on mine, taking the discourse that I was arguing is crucial and important and calling it, variously, CYA loophole-closing, over-explaining, and in-service-of-self-protection rather than aiding the reader.

I agree that this is a natural way you could, and I see did, respond to my original comment. I apologize for that.

My intention was different. I'll explain what it was in the hopes that it will decrease the tension.

I don't think the bit I quoted from your original post was all that unusually (by my lights "overly") nuanced by LW standards, and I tried to gesture in that direction by prefacing with "not to complain about a good post." But obviously that did not correct for the unfriendly tone that I managed to project anyway.

The only reason I picked it out was because the topic of the commend thread was comparing the style of this post with the style of yours. When I said that the writing had a CYA feel, I meant that empathetically, strange as that may sound. I perceive that LW writers write anxious, and I experience this myself.

That may be me typical-minding, but I have also heard other writers talk about feeling defensive about the comments they'll get, so I don't think it's just me. Amping up the nuance for the purpose of avoiding attacks in the comments leads to too much of the wrong kind of nuance, even if a lot of nuance is a good thing. When I call this "covering your ass," I meant "because you're legit afraid that you really need to do so because the internet can be really damned mean," not "stop being a pansy and drop the nuance." Obviously this is a case where more nuance, among other things, would have been helpful!

Having a sample of your writing quoted, criticized, and labeled with terms like "overexplaining" and "CYA" just doesn't feel good. I should have  known better. I can also see why, despite it having been meant as a reference to the writing style only, it came across as a criticism of you as a person, and why your own response to me felt like "mirroring" rather than like "escalating."

When you made your first response to me, I had not seen myself as being critical toward you as a person, even though I do see why you perceived it that way now. When I read your first reply to me, it seemed to me like a big escalation. I now understand better where you were coming from and how you felt when you responded that way.

Personally, I am ready to let the personal side of things drop if you are, but we can also continue the discussion. I think your response above was helpful and constructive.

Replies from: Duncan_Sabien
comment by [DEACTIVATED] Duncan Sabien (Duncan_Sabien) · 2023-02-05T06:02:31.366Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think the last note we need is:

I also apologize for the (strong) (reasonable for you to object to or feel defensive about) implication that I thought you specifically don't care about truth generally. There is definitely no call for someone in my position to make a judgment like that. Sorry for the clumsy wording.

comment by LVSN · 2023-02-04T10:36:58.469Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think we agree. 

A while ago I had a sense that writing should be nuanced, dramatic, and true. I no longer think in these exact terms. Now I just say that you should try to be as leading (the opposite of misleading) as possible; leadingness captures basically everything I wanted from that trinity.

comment by Zantarus · 2023-02-04T14:54:59.522Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

What do you define between nuance and ambiguity is in this context?

Replies from: LVSN
comment by LVSN · 2023-02-04T15:30:50.529Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm sorry? Do you want to know how I define the words 'nuance' and 'ambiguity' and then explain important differences between the two? 

I would guess that you think ambiguity is bad in principle; I don't expect that I'll feel the same way after I reach reflective equilibrium about it.

comment by [DEACTIVATED] Duncan Sabien (Duncan_Sabien) · 2023-02-04T05:21:08.158Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I direct your attention to 1, 3, and 4 of the above post, all of which are pointed at stuff like your second paragraph.



 

Replies from: Vladimir_Nesov
comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2023-02-04T06:05:45.660Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That seems apt in the way I expect you to intend/interpret these points (a concern separate from the one about norms), but I don't agree with them in such sense. That illustrates my expectation for how norms get out of hand: the way other people start interpreting (and enforcing) them is often different from the intended sense, especially if the intended sense is importantly nuanced. Norms round off their mission statement to the nearest available idea, which is often not that great [LW · GW].

comment by Kaj_Sotala · 2023-02-04T11:28:23.009Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think it'd be great if the first sentence in every point here would link to the corresponding elaboration in Duncan's post.

Replies from: BrienneYudkowsky, Mo Nastri
comment by LoganStrohl (BrienneYudkowsky) · 2023-02-05T18:15:46.236Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

i've added this. i sort of dislike it aesthetically, but i think this post is a genuinely valuable resource and i worry that once Duncan's post is no longer on the front page, people will no longer be clear on why i'm cursing at them.

comment by Mo Putera (Mo Nastri) · 2023-02-05T11:14:30.113Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I agree with this comment, and I'm confused why it's so disagreed with (-6 agreement karma vs +11 overall). Can anyone who disagreed explain their reasoning?

comment by Adam Zerner (adamzerner) · 2023-02-04T19:21:08.611Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It reminds me of This is a motherfucking website.. Was this post inspired by it? Is "Motherfucking X" a meme I don't know about (there's also one about a blog)?

comment by CronoDAS · 2023-02-04T20:15:58.074Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I laughed out loud reading it.

comment by Tapatakt · 2023-02-04T15:44:21.270Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Working on translation into Russian ;)
EDIT: Done

comment by JenniferRM · 2023-02-05T06:55:33.773Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Parody is great!

3- Performative overconfidence can go suck a bag of dicks.

4- If you're going to talk unfalsifiable twaddle out of your ass, at least fucking warn us first.

These are my favorites, because you don't even have to go looking at the other suggestions to find suggestions they violate. Performative overconfidence about performative overconfidence is a perfect little closed loop of self contradiction, and there's no warning about "talking unfalisifiable twaddle out of your ass" in the course of spouting twaddle out of your ass <3

(And least presumably it is twaddle... I have to admit I'm not sure how exactly I'd falsify a claim that something is "twaddle" or not.)

More seriously, I like how, despite being a dumpster fire of self contradiction, there's still something to admire here in a humanistic sense.  The small clean contrast between the semantic content and the way the rules are instantly violated by exhortations to follow them seems educationally valuable.

Like the story about the logical positivists is that they somehow collapsed under the weight of their own scorn for bullshit, because their tools, taken seriously, and aimed at their tools, found their tools to be full of flaws and to have been admixed with a lot of the bullshit they were trying to escape... 

And yet I love the logical positivists because bullshit is bad, and I have occasionally called myself a neo-logical-positivist because the logical positivists were on the right track and headed towards the correct attractor (even if they weren't there yet in the 1930s).

Similarly, here, despite it being a parody... this is also pointing at the "least wrong attractor". Apparently we are still not there, but hopefully we are closer? :-)

EDIT TO ADD: Obviously I strongly downvoted this. Raemon is wise. Is there some underappreciated high quality thing you've written elswhere on LW that I could go read and give a compensatory upvote?

comment by lc · 2023-02-04T02:58:31.280Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

"Yes; Mr. Strohl? Someone's calling on line 10"

Hello , based department ? - YouTube
Replies from: TrevorWiesinger
comment by Dagon · 2023-02-04T17:27:15.372Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I sometimes enjoy a good rant, but this feels a little too intentionally-confrontational-without-actually-identifying-a-target.  Not quite passive-aggressive, as there's no passive.  More aggressive-but-safe.  3/10, would not like to see more of it.  

That said, I REALLY am looking forward to the future uses, where it becomes a norm to comment on posts with a link to this (rather than Duncan's) and a number.  Take your damned upvote.

comment by Alex Flint (alexflint) · 2023-02-04T14:34:39.277Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
  1. You don't get to fucking assume any shit on the basis of "but... ah... come on". If you claim X and someone asks why, then congratulations now you're in a conversation. That means maybe possible shit is about to get real, like some treasured assumptions might soon be questioned. There are no sarcastic facial expressions or clever grunts that get you an out from this. You gotta look now at the thing itself.
Replies from: SomeoneYouOnceKnew
comment by SomeoneYouOnceKnew · 2023-02-09T02:15:17.770Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Can you link to another conversation on this site where this occurs?

comment by johnlawrenceaspden · 2023-02-08T14:15:04.091Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

At last, a readable translation into the prestige dialect.

comment by shminux · 2023-02-04T05:34:32.338Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Excellent rant, 10/10. My instinctive pushback:

  1. Ugh, you mean, don't say things you believe to be false in the moment you say it. It's okay to fib a bit for effect.
  2. You don't know what you saw, and you don't remember what you thought about it in the moment. All you have is slowly fading and constantly reprocessed memories. There is no way to keep it all straight, though you might as well try, subject to acknowledging above caveats.
  3. Unless you are you (Logan), or Scott or Eliezer, and maybe a few other people, you tend to feel very sure of something when you state it.
  4. Again "unfalsifiable twaddle out of your ass" feels like truth to most people.
  5. Yes, try to be accurate, and fail, and hopefully realize that you failed. The Scout mindset is impossibly hard, though it is a noble thing to keep trying.
  6. It's not terrible to start with one hypothesis if you can test it. If you are a programmer debugging some algorithm, you check your hypotheses one at a time, usually. Or maybe one subspace of hypotheses at a time.
  7. Figuring out which is which is usually the hardest part. Sometimes you can just have a smoke despite all those other smokers dying from lesions.
  8. No argument there. (See Duncan's post)
  9. It feels like motte and bailey is often figuring out the domain of applicability. "God is love"... with a few provisos that only become clear after extensive discussion. (Also see 1.)
  10. Yeah... "my shitty model of you is more accurate than your own". Most of the time we are not even aware that this is what we believe.
comment by Shoshannah Tekofsky (DarkSym) · 2023-02-04T05:41:32.910Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Should we have a rewrite the Rationalist Basics Discourse contest?

Not that I think anything is gonna beat this. But still :D

Ps: can be both content and/or style

Replies from: lahwran
comment by the gears to ascension (lahwran) · 2023-02-04T09:26:47.168Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

rewrite contests are, in general, a wonderful idea, if you ask me.

comment by SomeoneYouOnceKnew · 2023-02-09T01:54:17.868Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

(Porting and translating comment here, because this post is great):

Goddamn I wish people would just tell me when the fuck they're not willing to fucking budge. It's a fucking waste of time for all parties if we just play ourselves to exhaustion. Fuck, it's okay to not update all at once, goddamn Rome wasn't built in a day.

comment by MSRayne · 2023-02-25T01:33:13.800Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

This is not Reddit. I don't think posts solely for the sake of humor deserve this many upvotes, particularly not when they're full of inappropriate, unprofessional language like this. I strong downvoted and I'd rather never see anything like this on LessWrong again.

Replies from: localdeity
comment by localdeity · 2023-02-25T01:52:04.508Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Resisting the urge to reply with the text of the Navy Seal copypasta...

It's not solely for the sake of humor.  It does re-state Duncan's guidelines pretty faithfully; one could say it summarizes them, and if anyone finds the re-statement more memorable or that it gives them another view on the situation they hadn't considered, it may actually be useful.

comment by Lord Dreadwar · 2023-02-06T12:11:14.185Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Upvoted for quality parody. I read this as a probably much-needed rebuke of some internal community drama somewhere (just an initial impression that might well be uninformed), but taken purely at face-value, I'm not sure I agree with the overall thrust of the post and associated commentary, at least when presented as basics of rationalist discourse (although I might be biased, as I am in favour of turning the Sequences into a series of belligerent TikToks myself, which I noticed a reference to in the comments; I can only assume this has been a recurring suggestion).

Specifically, I think there is a distinction that needs to be made between good epistemic hygiene and associated pro-social norms of discourse within the rationalist community (in which careless usage of terms like "gaslighting" would be clearly harmful and inappropriate, to pluck an example that particularly resonated with me from Duncan Sabien's original post), and instrumentally rational techniques best employed when interfacing outside the community (including performative overconfidence and hyperbole). Some of the communication strategies slated here are simply methods of winning, so I would suggest a distinction between "suggested basics of discourse between rationalists to maintain community cohesion and foster a high-trust environment" and "basics of discourse as (potentially 'dark') arts used by rationalists."

comment by Jensen · 2023-02-05T06:23:42.070Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Sorry, this is cringy. 

I would find this simply unfunny if it was the basics of black nationalist or nazi bodybuilder discourse, but lets face it, lesswrongers are not black nationalists or nazi bodybuilders. The aesthetics of an object should ideally reflect its true nature; the minimalistic and monochromatic design of this website reflects the nature of this movement well. This post, not so much. 

Replies from: sil-ver, Viliam
comment by Rafael Harth (sil-ver) · 2023-02-05T12:51:59.235Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

So, I find it very stupid to downvote an expression of an aesthetic/tonal preference, which is why I strong-upvoted this comment to restore normalcy (to +2). This is what two-axis voting is for!

Do people feel the comparisons are needlessly inflammatory? Because I don't. They're probably apt descriptions of what Jensen pattern-matches this post to.

Replies from: BrienneYudkowsky
comment by LoganStrohl (BrienneYudkowsky) · 2023-02-05T18:17:37.741Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

i downvoted Jensen's comment because i think "this is cringy" is a super extra mind-killy sort of concept and i want less of it around.

Replies from: Benito
comment by Ben Pace (Benito) · 2023-02-05T19:14:46.710Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yeah, I think "cringing" is something a person does, and is not a property of a thing itself, and to impart it as a property of the thing itself is to commit the mind-projection fallacy [? · GW].

Replies from: Jensen, GWS
comment by Jensen · 2023-02-05T21:15:10.949Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think the interrater reliability of "cringyness" would be surprisingly high.

Replies from: Benito
comment by Ben Pace (Benito) · 2023-02-05T21:42:58.740Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Not a crux for me! What's "fashionable" amongst a group also has strong reliability, yet what's "fashionable" is something that radically changes very quickly and is primarily a fact about what the people have currently determined is fashionable, and not a fact about the piece of creative work that they're looking at.

Replies from: Duncan_Sabien, Lukas_Gloor
comment by [DEACTIVATED] Duncan Sabien (Duncan_Sabien) · 2023-02-06T00:23:18.312Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Not to mention that one's ability to correctly identify how the word ought to be applied is not the same thing as endorsement; there are studies showing that e.g. everyone can identify the "popular" kids, and there's tremendous interrater reliability on that identification, and yet this is utterly uncorrelated with who those same raters say they actually like or want to spend time with.

comment by Lukas_Gloor · 2023-02-06T01:28:46.144Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think "cringy" isn't analogous to "fashionable." Instead, I would say "cringy" is analogous to "acting so as to care about what's fashionable."

Yes, it might change what action specifically is cringy. But it's always cringy to do something that non-subtly signals how much you're a part of an in-group.

Used that way, it's not mind-killing at all to make people aware that they're signalling in-groupiness in a non-subtle way and therefore predictably turning off lots of people. 

Replies from: Benito
comment by Ben Pace (Benito) · 2023-02-06T01:56:54.954Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

You're misreading me denotationally if you think I said that cringey and fashionable are the same. I used fashion as an example to argue that just because something has a reliable referent in the minds of a population at a given time, doesn't mean it's a property that isn't largely content-free and determined in a fairly arbitrary and fickle way.

it's always cringy to do something that non-subtly signals how much you're a part of an in-group

No Lukas, that's false. For instance, I sometimes let people know that I went to music school for 7 years and have lots of music school friends, which comes along with the (true) implication that I'm part of an in-group of musicians — an in-group that I've dedicated a chunk of my life to — and normally the reaction either one of disinterest, or one of interest and enthusiasm, but not cringe.

Replies from: Lukas_Gloor
comment by Lukas_Gloor · 2023-02-06T10:17:53.274Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I used fashion as an example to argue that just because something has a reliable referent in the minds of a population at a given time, doesn't mean it's a property that isn't largely content-free and determined in a fairly arbitrary and fickle way.


I think I understood that part.

No Lukas, that's false. For instance, I sometimes let people know that I went to music school for 7 years and have lots of music school friends, which comes along with the (true) implication that I'm part of an in-group of musicians — an in-group that I've dedicated a chunk of my life to — and normally the reaction either one of disinterest, or one of interest and enthusiasm, but not cringe.

You're right that this example doesn't seem cringy. But if you shared a meme that said "seven ways you can tell someone went to music school" – that would be cringy.

So, my hypothesis is that cringiness is largely about signalling in-group membership in an "on the nose" way that only appeals to that in-group.

By contrast, saying "I went to music school for 7 years" is something you can make conversation with to someone who didn't go to music school.

This pattern may not capture all instances of cringiness, but I think it captures quite a lot of it. And, like with "caring about fashion," "caring about belonging of the in-group and bonding with other in-group members through cringiness" is an identifiable meta trait that people can pursue reliably even when the underlying signals keep changing.

Replies from: None, Kaj_Sotala
comment by [deleted] · 2023-02-06T14:58:52.999Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Cringe is an emotion that really has no place on a rationality forum. The cringe should be examined first and subsequently buttressed by statements that justify the reader's first line of defense.

comment by Kaj_Sotala · 2023-02-06T14:39:20.759Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

But if you shared a meme that said "seven ways you can tell someone went to music school" – that would be cringy.

That wouldn't seem cringy to me. Instead my reaction to it would be some mixture of affection and curiosity. Something like "oh I'm not part of this ingroup, but this meme is a way for them to connect over shared experiences and I can certainly relate to bonding with people through shared experiences; probably seeing this meme will make some former music school people happy and I feel glad for them. I'm curious about the kinds of unique experiences that people who went to music school had and I haven't had, maybe this meme will help me understand some of those".

comment by Stephen Bennett (Previously GWS) (GWS) · 2023-02-06T08:28:16.611Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If I'm reading this right, you object to Jensen's initial comment that uses "cringy" and that your objection is largely due to the fact that "cringy" is a property mostly about the observer (as opposed to the thing itself).

Do you think the same is true of "mind-killy" from logan's comment [LW(p) · GW(p)]?

This seems hypocritical to me. I think that your real objection is something else, possibly that you just really don't like "cringy" for some other reason (perhaps you cringe at its usage?)

(I wrote a bunch more words but deleted them - let's see how nondefensive [LW(p) · GW(p)] {offensive?} writing works out for me).

Replies from: Jensen
comment by Jensen · 2023-02-07T13:49:45.294Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

No, I would agree with Logan that calling something "cringy" is mindkilly, since it instills a strong sense of defensiveness in the accused. I'm not even sure that the cringiness I felt was rooted in the fact the post seemed fake, but it was real nonetheless. For this particular post, it seems that the average lesswronger doesn't think it seems cringy but I doubt I am alone in thinking this way. 

comment by Viliam · 2023-02-05T22:11:09.419Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Aesthetics of rationality -- what an interesting concept!

On one hand, it intuitively make sense. For example, obscurantist writing feels clearly anti-rationalist to me.

On the other hand, it feels like using this perspective too much leads to Hollywood rationality. The rational color scheme is grayscale, the rational font is sans-serif, the rational music is a rhythmic march, the rational speech is stark and technical, the rational taste is Soylent, the rational sex position is missionary, the rational emotion [LW · GW] is boredom, the rational writing style is textbook.

Also, the objection against sounding like a black nationalist or a nazi bodybuilder sounds to me more like classism than like a concern about rationality. (Although, some classes are statistically more rational than others.) Should we uphold the educated middle class norms of discourse? Maybe. Maybe not. Status is a concern, but so is fun. And I think the language did not hurt the clarity of the message, it rather helped it.

Here I think the following words of Constantine the Philosopher are appropriate:

ⱈⱁⱋⱘ ⱄⰾⱁⰲⰵⱄⱏ ⱂⱔⱅⱐ ⰻⰸⰴⱃⰵⱋⰻ
ⱄⱏ ⱃⰰⰸⱆⰿⱁⰿⱐ ⱄⰲⱁⰻⰿⱐ ⰳⰾ̅ⰰⱅⰻ,
ⰴⰰ ⰻ ⰲⱐⱄⰵ ⰱⱃⰰⱅⱐⱑ ⱃⰰⰸⱆⰿⱑⱙⱅⱏ,
ⱀⰵⰶⰵ ⱅⱐⰿⱘ ⱄⰾⱁⰲⰵⱄⱏ ⱀⰵⱃⰰⰸⱆⰿⱐⱀⱏ.

I would rather say five words
Speaking with my mind
That all brethren can understand
Than myriad words incomprehensible

Replies from: SaidAchmiz
comment by Said Achmiz (SaidAchmiz) · 2023-02-06T09:00:31.224Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The rational color scheme is grayscale, the rational font is sans-serif

You’re half right

Replies from: Jensen
comment by Jensen · 2023-02-07T13:46:15.889Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Gwern's site design is extremely "rationalist" to me, though I don't see that as a bad thing. The site itself looks beautiful.

Replies from: gwern
comment by gwern · 2023-02-07T19:27:18.384Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Which is interesting, because Gwern​.net​/​LW2 (there's a lot of overlap in their design) look little like Overcoming Bias does or LW1 did, and those were the heydays of rationalists. (In designing Gwern​.​net, I've tended to look to English Wikipedia & Art Deco, rather than anything one might associate with the Greco-Romans or the Logical Positivists - IMO, these websites do not look like Isotype or Bauhaus.)

comment by Xor · 2023-05-02T23:07:15.092Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The best part about this post is that you get to see how quickly everyone devolves into serious, rational discourse. 

comment by qbolec · 2023-02-05T08:28:26.242Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Who's the intended audience of this post? 

If it's for "internal" consumption, summary of things [LW · GW]we already knew in the form of list of sazens [LW · GW], but perhaps need a refresher, then it's great.

But if it's meant to actually educate anyone, or worse, become some kind of manifesto cited by New Your Times to show what's going on in this community, then I predict this is not going to end well.

The problem, as I see it, is that in the current way this website is setup, it's not up to author to decide who's the audience.

comment by [deleted] · 2023-02-04T14:51:24.536Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Interactions with irrationalists are always a waste of time, but you don't know whether someone is a rationalist or an irrationalist until you become a rationalist yourself. It's the rationalist who sets certain guidelines and the ones enforcing them during the interaction. Until you become a rationalist yourself, your interactions with irrationalists are just the process of learning the ropes if you are consciously or subconsciously working toward becoming a better rationalist, or you don't really care either way and interactions with irrationalist is just a hobby that gets your socks off. Let the people who want to just waste time, waste their time with others just like them.

A lot of new rationalists often forgets how much time they have in an average day and will happily guide irrationalists toward better thinking and processes. They often make the assumption that others want to become rationalists because they've experienced becoming rationalists themselves. A lot of irrationalists merely just want to make a statement and have others agree with the statement: "I am valid" Go ahead and tell them that they are valid and move on.

Replies from: TAG
comment by TAG · 2023-02-04T17:12:54.896Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Interactions with irrationalists are always a waste of time, but you don’t know whether someone is a rationalist or an irrationalist until you become a rationalist yourself.

So there are some people who have got past the "aspiring rationalist" stage?

Replies from: None
comment by [deleted] · 2023-02-04T17:21:45.476Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

There is no level ceiling in being a rationalist afaik. It's often clear after a few meaningful interactions, you can gauge how much of a rationalist that the other person wants to be. Why and when do people feel like it's a waste of their time talking to someone? For instance, I've interacted with a couple of homeless people in which most people wouldn't even bother spending any time interacting with them because of their assumptions based on circumstances. I interacted with them despite knowing some of them aren't really interested in having productive conversations, they just want to chitchat and pass time. I also enjoy chitchat and pass time with them when I was spending my time with them. For me, the main thing is curiosity on their circumstances. There would be so much to learn from the individuals about their circumstances just talking to them. Of course, there aren't any statistical significance in these takeaways, but it allows you to gauge certain stereotypes that you have been exposed to but never actually confirmed through your own personal experiences.

It was not a waste of my time because I had so much to learn from those conversations. On the other hand, I went to raves and parties to learn similar things. I've spent more time and years dealing with that crowd than the homeless, and after awhile I feel like I've learned enough. Now I've stopped engaging with that community because I feel like it's a waste of my time since I no longer find any enjoyment or fascination through such interactions.

comment by Aella · 2023-02-04T02:38:41.095Z · LW(p) · GW(p)