The Craft And The Codex

post by Paperclip Minimizer · 2018-07-09T10:50:14.131Z · score: 13 (8 votes) · LW · GW · 7 comments

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comment by lifelonglearner · 2018-07-10T00:53:36.299Z · score: 15 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Here's a comment by Montfort that I liked from the SSC comments:

I can sort of buy the idea of the comments as a dojo – but there’s no personalized instruction or membership fees or belts or anything. The learning here is extremely self-directed, success is hard to judge objectively, and commenters come and go all the time. Still, even just an empty building with some mats where people can show up and practice is something.

That is, if you wanted to design a place to practice “rationality” skills from the ground up, I’m not sure it would look like this. But the blog and comment section can serve multiple purposes at once.

I have competing intuitions about just how much structure and scaffolding is useful for practice. I don't think schools do a lot of things right, but at least here in the US, we can count on them getting people to be literate and able to do basic arithmetic. I'm wondering what a "minimum set" of rationality techniques would look like, things you could teach to people at scale.

comment by Raemon · 2018-07-10T01:37:54.440Z · score: 15 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

My personal take is that SSC totally counts as a dojo (or at least "serious practice") for Scott. The comments don't seem like they especially count as a dojo. Some individuals in the comments who are more effortful/careful may count as doing serious practice.

If we're doing the martial arts metaphor, I think it's more like Scott is (seriously) practicing Tai Chi on a street corner where anyone can join, rather than anything systematized.

comment by Paperclip Minimizer · 2018-07-10T10:53:37.022Z · score: 7 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

More generally, commenting isn't a good way to train oneself as a rationalist, but blogging is.

comment by cousin_it · 2018-07-10T11:31:36.614Z · score: 9 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Not sure about rationality, but blogging certainly makes you better at writing what your audience wants. That's not always a good thing though. I'm pretty sure Scott's audience has made him more political, he wasn't that way before. It's like one of those pranks where all students agree to act attentive when the professor walks right and act distracted when the professor walks left, so by the end of the lecture the professor is huddled in the right corner without knowing why. A better test of rationality would be noticing when it happens to you :-)

comment by Paperclip Minimizer · 2018-07-11T20:53:27.761Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Never heard of a prank like this, this sound weird.

comment by Patrick Cruce (patrick-cruce) · 2018-07-09T14:36:51.101Z · score: 7 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

First off, Scott’s blog is awesome.

Second, the example of dieting comes to mind when I think of training rationality. While they’re not much connected to the rationality community, they are a large group of people focused on overcoming one particular aspect of our irrationallity. (but without much success)

comment by lexande · 2018-07-11T22:58:24.014Z · score: 8 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yeah, Lesswrong sometimes feels a bit like a forum for a fad diet that has a compelling story for why it might work and seemed to have greatly helped a few people anecdotally, so the forum filled up with people excited about it, but it doesn't seem to actually work for most of them. Yet they keep coming back because their friends are on the forum now and because they don't want to admit failure.