[SEQ RERUN] Your Price for Joining

post by MinibearRex · 2013-04-03T02:45:39.608Z · score: 4 (5 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 2 comments

Today's post, Your Price for Joining was originally published on 26 March 2009. A summary (taken from the LW wiki):


The game-theoretical puzzle of the Ultimatum game has its reflection in a real-world dilemma: How much do you demand that an existing group adjust toward you, before you will adjust toward it? Our hunter-gatherer instincts will be tuned to groups of 40 with very minimal administrative demands and equal participation, meaning that we underestimate the inertia of larger and more specialized groups and demand too much before joining them. In other groups this resistance can be overcome by affective death spirals and conformity, but rationalists think themselves too good for this - with the result that people in the nonconformist cluster often set their joining prices way way way too high, like an 50-way split with each player demanding 20% of the money. Nonconformists need to move in the direction of joining groups more easily, even in the face of annoyances and apparent unresponsiveness. If an issue isn't worth personally fixing by however much effort it takes, it's not worth a refusal to contribute.

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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 The Sacred Mundane, 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.


Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2013-04-03T21:14:28.592Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think EY just mistakes the mental calculations involved. Who is thinking that they're in a position to bargain with groups of thousands or millions? The org does what it does, and you decide whether you think adding your shoulder to their wheel is the most effective use of your time.

A simpler explanation is that nonconformists don't wish to conform, and would rather do whatever they do their way. Some people value autonomy more than others, are more annoyed with what they see as inefficiencies, and more uncomfortable with a lack of control. On the flip side, some people are more driven to join a group, to belong, and are happy to do what they're told.

comment by MinibearRex · 2013-04-04T05:37:35.265Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't think EY actually suggests that people are doing those calculations. He's saying that we're just executing an adaptation that functioned well in groups of a hundred or so, but don't work nearly as well anymore.