Frame Control 2021-11-27T22:59:29.436Z


Comment by Aella on Related Discussion from Thomas Kwa's MIRI Research Experience · 2023-10-07T00:15:35.712Z · LW · GW

I've been dating Nate for two years (tho wanna clarify we are not doing marriage-kids and we're both actively looking for more serious other partners).

Nate is profoundly wonderful in many ways, like often surprises me in new ways of wonderfulness, and has raised my standards in partners. He's deeply caring, attentive, competent, hilarious, and of course brilliant.

Also, many of the complaints about him in the comments resonate with my experience, particularly your description above. I often find that in disputes I feel dismissed, I perceive him as having a significant lack of curiosity about my worldview (and believe he's explicitly said he's not curious about perspectives he anticipates to have no value to him). 

Iirc he's explicitly said he doesn't respect my thinking (edit: he clarifies he respects it in some areas but not others), and from my perspective this radiates off him whenever we fight. I often feel like I have trouble trusting my own mind, I doubt myself, and despite my best attempts I somehow come out of disputes thinking I must be the one who's wrong. It's weird to have a partner who's so shockingly good in so many ways, yet we have maybe the worst fights I've ever experienced in romantic relationships. (Though he says other girls he's dated don't have this problem and I am unusual)

On one plus side, I've found him to be very good at installing concrete changes if you can articulate them to him. A few times I managed to have a specific request about how I'd like him to say things differently, and if he agrees to do so he updates fast, thoroughly, and permanently. 

I feel conflicted about posting this here because ??? should this be personal/private ?? but I'm having some sort of massive relief and feeling like actually I'm not insane. And also I am invested in (though not hopeful about) something changing here cause it would be good for our relationship and I assume also MIRI, which I like and believe in. 

(I talked to Nate before posting this comment and he was encouraging)

Comment by Aella on Fucking Goddamn Basics of Rationalist Discourse · 2023-02-04T02:38:59.375Z · LW · GW

why does lesswrong suddenly feel good and homey

Comment by Aella on Fucking Goddamn Basics of Rationalist Discourse · 2023-02-04T02:38:41.095Z · LW · GW
Comment by Aella on Quis cancellat ipsos cancellores? · 2021-12-21T19:37:50.691Z · LW · GW

I can confirm this. There's a transcript from the interview somewhere, I can dig it up if you want.

Comment by Aella on Quis cancellat ipsos cancellores? · 2021-12-21T07:03:40.860Z · LW · GW

Yeaaah the response was weird. One, I deliberately only kept it to facts; I didn't address his tone or the leadup or his framing, I was pretty bare bones like "the concrete claims are wrong." I have a little annoyed if he thinks that's frame control he has no idea. I suspect he might be seriously misunderstanding my writings on frame control.

But also like... for example this paragraph

"Many of the substances one can imagine employing here — most saliently, rohypnol, the date rape drug; but also others — would put people into compromised states in which they could not consent to further sexual activity imposed on them by people who may not even have known that their sexual partner was thus compromised."

Afaik this isn't information from the anonymous source, this is pure speculation on the author's part where he independently brings up a date rape drug as a suggestion, and also speculates that "drug roulette" is used in conjunction with sexual activity, and where the context is such where there's no consent involved and the participants would take advantage... And then to go and dismiss all this with "the drug roulette and house rules stuff was hearsay and i represented it as such" feels to me super inconsistent, apparently intentionally misleading, and confusing. I don't know how to model the mind that would say both these things. 

Comment by Aella on Quis cancellat ipsos cancellores? · 2021-12-20T06:41:38.981Z · LW · GW

I posted it to Facebook first. I was friends/roommates with Persephone, discussed the post beforehand, and offered (or she asked, maybe?) to post it publicly there to get readership so she could also preserve her anonymity. This was scary for me at the time, as afaik I'd seen no negative discussion about Brent like that, and I was new to the community and didn't know the temperature/how people would react. Walking into a new community and being the conduit for a bomb dropping on one of its members is not a comfortable experience. I don't regret it though!

But I never had access to the mittenscautious accounts, and I never had contact with the other poster who had their accounts published. My participation organizing anything was limited almost entirely to making the initial facebook link post.

If you scroll up I summarize it in a tweet just a bit above here

Comment by Aella on Occupational Infohazards · 2021-12-19T21:11:46.472Z · LW · GW

Re the postscript, I go over the claims here

Comment by Aella on Quis cancellat ipsos cancellores? · 2021-12-19T21:01:57.558Z · LW · GW

This post is almost entirely factually incorrect, but to go point-by-point

1. For the parties I throw - I assume the person is referring to some of the parties in 2017, as those were the ones that had "a lot of sex"? I agree consent wasn't very clearly set out, but I'm not sure I regret this. I've never had anybody express to me the concerns laid out in the post, this is the first time I'm becoming aware events I've thrown have had a negative impact on people. I do genuinely not want this to happen and am now thinking about what and how to change about my events in the future. But I haven't thrown events with sex in them for years, so I'm guessing I need to be more careful if I decide to do this again? Happy to have feedback from people who've attended my events, here. 

2. I've never played drug roulette or seen drug roulette played at one of my parties, this is a blatantly incorrect claim. I have joked about playing it numerous times, though; maybe someone heard me joking and misunderstood it as me saying I'd done it before? (edit: to be slightly more clear, I have speculated out loud about the specifics of how we could do this if we wanted to, for fun, but I've never claimed that I had actually done it before or made any actual plans for doing it)

3. "you are never allowed to talk about it with anyone." - also blatantly incorrect? Absolutely incorrect if it applies to drug roulette, cause I've never done it, but I also have never said this about any other activity to my recollection.

4. "Also, there is reason to believe that one of the things Aella enjoys doing is consensual non-consent torture, designed to break people." This is mostly true, but misleading! I'd just say "consensual torture" - there's no façade of nonconsent like you'd see in kink play. I just straightforwardly tie people up and hurt them, after very clearly explaining everything, and they're able to stop any time. Usually it lasts around 20-30 minutes, and I've never done it twice on one person. I've also had it done to me! It's mostly just a really interesting experience to be in a lot of pain and see what your mind does, and to meditate on the experience of coping with that intensity. The purpose is definitely not to 'break' people. I'm more than happy for all the people I've done this with to talk about their experiences. I've also been very upfront about doing this with everybody.

5. The mention of attempting to cancel Joscha Bach was not an attempt to cancel, it was more talking about gut feelings, and fails to mention that I made a followup post about this saying "I officially retract my very public yelling about bad JUJU, say while i do have strong bad juju it seems like this isnt really matching onto other people's experiences, and im considering it to be a false positive, and i want to make this public and say you should downgrade the extent to which you consider my juju guiding in this example and possibly others"
(sorry Joscha I didn't mean for you to see this, everybody said very nice things about you and I updated in that direction)

6. Idk if I've tried to "cancel" MAPLE/OAK? You can read the facebook posts in question here and decide for yourself if this seems like a 'cancellation' attempt. This had nothing to do with the director stepping down, I wasn't aware that happened.

7. Trying to cancel Leverage? Probably the closest to the truth. I do think Leverage seemed to get pretty bad by the end and people should take that very seriously. 

8. No, I was not mittenscautious. I did not gather the stories, set up the inbox, I did not make the medium account. The most I did was be the first one to share the post on my facebook page. I was roommates with Persephone at the time.

9.  "My intuitive read of this sequence of events, at the time as well as now, was: 1. Brent did something bad. 2. CFAR initiated an investigative process to determine what was to be done. That process reached a certain result. 3. Aella contested that result, and initiated an investigative process of dramatically lower fidelity, but higher memetic virulence. 4. Due to the strength of Aella’s frame, CFAR capitulated and ceded de facto control of the community to her."

Also untrue. I'd just moved to the bay at the time and barely knew anyone. I think the only substantial commentary I provided here was some comments on a facebook thread (edit: Duncan linked it here, you can find my comments by ctrl-f "Ok I am late to the party") where there were hundreds of other comments. I would be absolutely shocked if I had any impact whatsoever on CFAR making any decision. I doubt they even knew who I was. I think I probably was more against Brent's cancellation than the median here (edit: I was still for it, just the majority were 'very' for it; I was more tempered with the intensity of the boot); the author of this article and I had a conversation at the time where he asked me to donate money to Brent as iirc he had already done, and I seriously considered it (edit: but decided against, after talking to some people who knew Brent). Unfortunately I think the author blocked me on FB (or deleted it) so I can't find those messages.

10. "“Why is she doing this? This is undermining my frame. I’m trying to do something and she’s fucking it up.”"
I'm pretty sure I didn't say this, I think I said something more like the Lesswrong comments I made on the post itself, which you can read. 

"She said: “yeah, I don’t really mind being the evil thing. Seems okay to me.”" 
I wouldn't say this to most other people, because there's an association with 'being evil' that I don't mean, and I don't want them to assume. This association is the thing implied here when taken out of context. I assumed the author understood, but now I suspect there was a misunderstanding.
The thing I actually meant you can read in my blog post here, ctrl-f "evil"

11. "And that’s all I have for you. I don’t know how else to end; if this were a cancellation, it might include a bit of “frame control” to try to tell you how to receive all of this and what to do about it. (The end of “Brent: A Warning"

I think he might be implying that I'm doing frame control in that article, except I didn't write the end of that article. edit: to clarify here in case it was unclear, I do support the banning of Brent from the community, given the level of harm I believe he did to young women. Also, this seems like a misunderstanding of what I meant by 'frame control', which might be my fault for being unclear.

Anyway; I'm not sure exactly why this post was written? If I have actually caused damage to people I do want to know, and if anyone feels comfortable telling me they were hurt by me I would value that information. But most of the claims here are concretely wrong, and I'm left mostly confused about what's going on and why.

Comment by Aella on Frame Control · 2021-11-29T17:00:25.742Z · LW · GW

Yeah, great point. I think my frame control post is overly simplified and not 100% representative of my full worldview, because I don't have the energy or skill required to put "actually everything is just narrative tho" in there and still maintain my point. 

As far as I have the capacity to understand about myself, the 'reclaiming' post was true. It happened seven years ago now, and I still haven't had the issues come back I did prior to that reclaiming moment, and I've had no further detection of unhonored or ignored pain. 

But uhhh I'm not sure if I have the clarity right now to stab further at my intuitions around this. I've got a blog post brewing specifically in response to your sort of question and I suspect it'll take a while before it's ready. But I simultaneously want to burn frame control with fire, and also believe it's not inherently bad. Or something. 

Comment by Aella on Frame Control · 2021-11-29T16:42:36.456Z · LW · GW

I stand by the thing I was trying to communicate in point 1, though I might have communicated poorly. I have met many people who are well established, very smart, who are not socially submissive, who still make the little moves that demonstrate vulnerability. I think Eliezer does this, for example.

Comment by Aella on Frame Control · 2021-11-29T16:12:06.487Z · LW · GW

To try to parse for me here, what I took away from each point:

1. "Where are the concrete claims that allow people to directly check"
2. Discomfort mixing claims about frame control with claims about Geoff, as lots of bad claims or beliefs can get sneaked in through the former while talking about the latter
3. I had a lot of trouble parsing this one, particularly the paragraph starting with "Uncharitable paraphrase/caricature:". I'm gathering something like "unease that I am making arguments that override normal good truth-seeking behavior, with the end goal being elevating my [aella's] ability to be a discerner about things"

So re: one, this... seems true. I would prefer a version of this with concrete claims that allow people to directly check, and am interested in help generating this. I am driven by the belief that there is something - there seems to be a clear pattern of 'what is my reality' I've seen in me and multiple other people close to me, and there's something that causes it. That's about as concrete as I have the capacity to get. To me, the whole thing seems elusive by nature, and I had an option of "write vaguely about an elusive thing" or "not write about it at all." 

For the second point, I think I agree with your words but there's something in me that... disagrees with the vibe? Or something? I'm not sure. And for what it's worth, I've been brewing on this topic for many years, and made a few serious attempts to write it out well before the whole Leverage thing. Geoff feels kind of incidental to me. Maybe I am wondering if you perceive this as more central-to-Leverage than I perceive it.

But to understand better: if I'd posted a version of this with fully anonymous examples, nothing specifically traceable to Leverage, would that have felt good to you, or would something in it still feel weird?

Third, I'm not sure I understand due to parsing problems, but... I think I have uneasiness about it too? I had discussions with a few people before posting this and expressed things that sounded similar to what I imagine you're trying to point at. I'm worried the concept is too fuzzy to be used judiciously, or that the self-protective mechanisms required to identify and react to frame control are very close to poison. I don't know what to do about this exactly; I have another blog post brewing I'm hoping might help. But I think I believe frame control is dangerous enough that it's worth 'throw maybe dangerous defenses out there in response'. I am very interested in figuring out how to hone those defenses so they don't backfire.

Comment by Aella on Frame Control · 2021-11-28T04:47:46.855Z · LW · GW

I'm slightly confused, because (unless I'm missing one) only one of my examples given was in reference to the live conflict. Unless maybe you mean the generalized timing of the post as a whole, or the other examples given for other events/people unrelated to the community but still ongoing? I am probably not down to post another two separate posts, as writing this was a lot of effort, and I'd probably feel sad if someone else did it for me. Would it just make more sense for me to unlink or remove the one example?

Comment by Aella on Frame Control · 2021-11-28T03:46:24.701Z · LW · GW

I like the rule, and if it's possible to come up with engagement guidelines that have asymmetrical results for frame control I would really like that. I couldn't think of any clear, overarching while writing this post, but will continue to think about this.

And you're right in that the concept of frame control will get inevitably weaponized. I am afraid of this happening as a result of my post, and I'm not really sure how to handle that.

Comment by Aella on Frame Control · 2021-11-28T03:38:40.020Z · LW · GW

Ahhh these are fantastic examples that clearly map onto frame controllers I know and I didn't think of it when writing this post; really great points.

Comment by Aella on Frame Control · 2021-11-28T03:37:11.865Z · LW · GW

I think there's a difference here I didn't really touch upon in the post; I think it's possible for someone to clearly know a lot more than you, but still make their moves salient. For example; I know two men who are friends, both high status, have 'followers', are very smart, and hold extremely similar beliefs. One is the one I mentioned who I had a long talk with, and I consider him to have been doing frame control. The other similarly advocated for his own beliefs, wasn't open to mine, but his frame was much more salient; he was clear about his moves, and didn't feel like he was implicitly asking me to submit to him, or something?

Or they can make clear moves to equalize; I know many people with far more expertise than I do who do very subtle social moves constantly to hand power and respect back to me, somehow without pretending that they don't know more than I do. I'm thinking of this one guy I respect a lot who is a teacher and coach and has a podcast, and he has way more experience and wisdom than me. I had lunch with him once and walked away with the sense that he had just... handed me his heart? Somehow he seemed to be actively imbuing me with power and surrendering himself before me, and at no point did it feel like he was attempting to conceal his own abilities or self-efface to make me comfortable. It was incredible.

Comment by Aella on Zoe Curzi's Experience with Leverage Research · 2021-11-22T22:01:27.215Z · LW · GW

Here's anonymous submission of Leverage's Basic Information Acknowledgement Checklist document. The submitter said "The text of this document has been copied word for word from the original, except with names redacted."

Comment by Aella on My experience at and around MIRI and CFAR (inspired by Zoe Curzi's writeup of experiences at Leverage) · 2021-10-22T19:08:17.222Z · LW · GW

I don't have an object-level opinion formed on this yet, but want to +1 this as more of the kind of description I find interesting, and isn't subject to the same critiques I had with the original post.

Comment by Aella on My experience at and around MIRI and CFAR (inspired by Zoe Curzi's writeup of experiences at Leverage) · 2021-10-22T00:11:25.366Z · LW · GW

as a tiny, mostly-uninformed data point, i read "if you realized how bad taxation is for the economy, you'd never stop screaming" to have a very diff vibe from Eliezer's tweet, cause he didn't use the word bad. I know it's a small diff but it hits diff. Something in his tweet was amusing because it felt like it was pointing to a presumably neutral thing and making it scary? whereas saying the same thing about a clearly moralistic point seems like it's doing a different thing. 

Again - a very minor point here, just wanted to throw it in.

Comment by Aella on My experience at and around MIRI and CFAR (inspired by Zoe Curzi's writeup of experiences at Leverage) · 2021-10-18T19:55:41.799Z · LW · GW

Also fwiw, I took psychedelics in a relatively memetic-free environment. I'd been homeschooled and not exposed to hippie/drug culture, and especially not significant discussion around enlightenment. I consider this to be one of the reasons my experience was so successful; I didn't have it in relationship to those memes, and did not view myself as pursuing enlightenment (I know I said I was inwardly pursuing enlightenment in my above comment, but I was mostly riffing off your phrasing; in some sense I think it was true but it wasn't a conscious thing.)

LSD did not permanently lower my mathematical abilities, and if I suggested that I probably misspoke? I suspect it damaged my memory, though; my memory is worse now than before I took LSD. 

And sorry; by 'everything being ok' I didn't mean that I literally think that situation will end up being the ones I want; I mean that I know I will be okay with whatever happens. Very related to my endurance of pain going up by quite a lot, and my anxiety of death disappearing.

Separately, I do think that a lot of the memes around psychedelics are... incomplete? It's hard to find a good word. Naive? Something around the difference between the aesthetic of a thing and the thing itself? And in that I might agree with you somewhere that "seeking enlightenment" isn't... virtuous or whatever.

Comment by Aella on My experience at and around MIRI and CFAR (inspired by Zoe Curzi's writeup of experiences at Leverage) · 2021-10-18T18:54:30.252Z · LW · GW

fwiw as a data point here, I spent some time inwardly pursuing "enlightenment" with heavy and frequent doses of psychedelics for a period of 10 months and consider this to be one of the best things I've ever done. I believe it raised my resting set point happiness, among other good things, and I am still deeply altered (7 years later).

I do not think this is a good idea for everyone and lots of people who try would end up worse off. But I strongly object to this being seen as virtuous as obsessive masturbation. Sure, it might not be your thing, but this frame seriously misses a huge amount of really important changes in my experience. And I get you might think I'm... brainwashed or something? by drugs? So I don't know what I could say that would convince you otherwise.

But I did have concrete things, like solving a pretty big section of childhood trauma (like; I had a burning feeling of rage in my chest before, and the burning feeling was gone afterwards), I had multiple other people comment on how different I was now (usually in regards to laughing easier and seeming more relaxed), I lost my anxiety around dying, my relationship to pain altered in such a way that I am significantly more mentally able to endure it than I was before, I also had a radically altered relationship to the physical environment (my living space looked very different before and after), and I produced a lot of art that I hadn't been producing before. Maybe this one is less concrete, but some part of me feels really deeply at peace, always, like it knows everything is going to be ok and I didn't have that before.

There's a way in which I consider what I did wireheading, like really successful wireheading, but I think people often... fail to imagine wireheading properly? And the husk of wireheading, where you're sort of less of a person, is really terrifying. I agree that the husk-of-wireheading view makes psychedelics seem more sinister.

Comment by Aella on My experience at and around MIRI and CFAR (inspired by Zoe Curzi's writeup of experiences at Leverage) · 2021-10-18T18:35:49.302Z · LW · GW

I perceive you as doing a conversational thing here that I don't like, where you like... imply things about my position without explicitly stating them? Or talk from a heavy frame that isn't explicit? 

  1. Which stated intentions? Where she asks people 'not to bother those who were there'? What thing do you think I want to do that Zoe doesn't want me to do? 
  2. Are you claiming I am advocating violence? Or simply implying it?
  3. Are you trying to argue that I shouldn't be conflict oriented because Zoe doesn't want me to be? The last part feels a little weird for someone to tell me, as I'm good friends with Zoe and have talked with her extensively about this.
  4. I support revealing problems so people can understand and solve them. I also don't like whatever is happening in this original article due to reasons you haven't engaged with.
  5. You're saying transforming an attempt to discuss abuse into scapegoating silences victims, keeps other ppl from evaluating the content, and simplifies it a bid to make someone the enemy. But in the comment you were responding to, I was talking about Leverage, not the author of this post. I view Leverage and co. as bad actors, but you sort of... reframe it to make it sound like I'm using a conflict mindset towards Jessica?
  6. You're also not engaging with the points I made, and you're responding to arguments I don't condone.

I don't really view you as engaging in good faith at this point, so I'm precommitting not to respond to you after this.

Comment by Aella on My experience at and around MIRI and CFAR (inspired by Zoe Curzi's writeup of experiences at Leverage) · 2021-10-18T18:22:25.973Z · LW · GW

As I mentioned in my post, I am good friends with Zoe and I sent her my comment here right after I posted it. She approved.

Comment by Aella on My experience at and around MIRI and CFAR (inspired by Zoe Curzi's writeup of experiences at Leverage) · 2021-10-18T18:17:36.224Z · LW · GW

I feel like here and in so many other comments in this discussion that there's important and subtle distinctions that are being missed. I don't have any intention to conditionlessly accept and support all accusations made (I have seen false accusations cause incredible harm and suicidality in people close to me). I do expect people who make serious claims about organizations to be careful about how they do it. I think Zoe's Leverage post easily met my standard, but that this post here triggered a lot of warning flags for me, and I find it important to pay attention to those.

Comment by Aella on My experience at and around MIRI and CFAR (inspired by Zoe Curzi's writeup of experiences at Leverage) · 2021-10-18T00:46:23.330Z · LW · GW

I'm not sure what you're trying to do here - call on Zoe as an authority to disapprove of me? Would it update you at all if the answer was what you doubted?

Comment by Aella on My experience at and around MIRI and CFAR (inspired by Zoe Curzi's writeup of experiences at Leverage) · 2021-10-18T00:41:46.950Z · LW · GW

I don't think "don't police victims' timing" is an absolute rule; not policing the timing is a pretty good idea in most cases. I think this is an exception. 

And if I wasn't clear, I'll explicitly state my position here: I think it's good to pay close attention to negative effects communities have on its members, and I am very pro people talking about this, and if people feel hurt by an organization it seems really good to have this publicly discussed. 

But I believe the above post did not simply do that. It also did other things, which is frame things I perceive in misleading ways, leave out key information relevant to a discussion (as per Eliezer's comment here), and also rely very heavily directly on Zoe's account at Leverage to bring validity to their own claims when I perceive Leverage as have been being both significantly worse and worse in a different category of way. If the above post hadn't done these things, I don't think I would have any issue with the timing.

Comment by Aella on My experience at and around MIRI and CFAR (inspired by Zoe Curzi's writeup of experiences at Leverage) · 2021-10-17T23:32:10.564Z · LW · GW

Scott's comment does seem to verify the "insular rationalist group gets weird and experiences rash of psychotic breaks" trend, but it seems to be a different group than the one named in the original post.

Comment by Aella on My experience at and around MIRI and CFAR (inspired by Zoe Curzi's writeup of experiences at Leverage) · 2021-10-17T23:17:41.996Z · LW · GW

I... think I am trying to attack the bad people? I'm definitely conflict-oriented around Leverage; I believe that on some important level treating that organization or certain people in it as good-intentioned-but-misguided is a mistake, and a dangerous one. I don't think this is true for MIRI/CFAR; as is summed up pretty well in the last section of Orthonormal's post here. I'm down for the boundaries of the discussion being determined by the scope of the problem, but I perceive the original post here to be outside the scope of the problem. 

I'm also not sure how to engage with your last sentence. I do have theories for what is going on (but regardless I'm not sure if you give a mob a theory that makes it not a mob).

Comment by Aella on My experience at and around MIRI and CFAR (inspired by Zoe Curzi's writeup of experiences at Leverage) · 2021-10-17T21:35:28.698Z · LW · GW

I find something in me really revolts at this post, so epistemic status… not-fully-thought-through-emotions-are-in-charge?

Full disclosure: I am good friends with Zoe; I lived with her for the four months leading up to her post, and was present to witness a lot of her processing and pain. I’m also currently dating someone named in this post, but my reaction to this was formed before talking with him.

First, I’m annoyed at the timing of this. The community still seems in the middle of sensemaking around Leverage, and figuring out what to do about it, and this post feels like it pulls the spotlight away. If the points in the post felt more compelling, then I’d probably be more down for an argument of “we should bin these together and look at this as a whole”, but as it stands the stuff listed in here feels like it’s describing something significantly less damaging, and of a different kind of damage. I’m also annoyed that this post relies so heavily on Zoe’s, and the comparison feels like it cheapens what Zoe went through. I keep having a recurring thought that the author must have utterly failed to understand the intensity of the very direct impact from Leverage’s operations on Zoe. Most of my emotions here come from a perception that this post is actively hurting a thing I value.

Second, I suspect this post makes a crucial mistake in mistaking symptoms for the cause. Or, rather, I think there’s a core inside of what made Leverage damaging, and it’s really really hard to name it. Zoe’s post seemed like a good effort to triangulate it, but this above post feels like it focuses on the wrong things, or a different brand of analogous things, without understanding the core of what Zoe was trying to get at. Missing the core of the post is an easy mistake to make, given how it's really hard to name directly, but in this case I'm particularly sensitive to the analogy seeming superficial, given how much this post seems to be relying on Zoe's post for validation.

One example for this is comparing Zoe’s mention of someone at Leverage having a psychotic break to the author having a psychotic break. But Zoe’s point was that Leverage treated the psychotic break as an achievement, not that the psychotic break happened. 

Third, and I think this has been touched on by other comments, is that this post feels… sort of dishonest to me? I feel like something is trying to get slipped into my brain without me noticing. Lots of parts the post sort of implicitly presents things as important, or asks you to draw conclusions without explicitly pointing out those conclusions. I might be… overfitting or tryin to see a thing because I’m emotionally charged, but I’m gonna attempt to articulate the thing anyway:

For example, the author summarizes Zoe as saying that Leverage considered Geoff Anders to be extremely special, e.g. Geoff being possibly a better philosopher than Kant.

In Zoe’s post, her actual quote is of a Leverage person saying “I think there’s good reason to believe Geoff is the best philosopher who’s ever lived, better than Kant. I think his existence on earth right now is an historical event.” 

This is small but an actually important difference, and has the effect of slightly downplaying Leverage.

The author here then goes on to say that she doesn’t remember anyone saying Eliezer was a better philosopher than Kant, but that she guesses people would say this, and then points out probably nobody at MIRI read Kant. 

The effect of this is it asks the reader to associate perception of Eliezer’s status with Geoff’s (both elevated) by drawing the comparison of Kant to Eliezer (that hadn’t actually been drawn before), and then implies rationalists being misinformed (not reading Kant).

This is arguably a really uncharitable read, and I’m not very convinced it’s ‘true’, but I think the ‘effect’ is true; as in, this is the impression I got when reading quickly the first time. And the impression isn’t supported in the rest of the words, of course - the author says they don’t have reason to believe MIRI people would view Eliezer as more relevant than philosophers they respected, and that nobody there really respected Kant. But the general sense I get from the overall post is this type of pattern, repeated over and over - a sensation of being asked to believe something terrible, and then when I squint the words themselves are quite reasonable. This makes it feel slippery to me, or I feel like I’ve been struck from behind and when I turn around there’s someone smiling as they’re reaching out to shake my hand.

And to be clear, I don’t think all the comparisons are wrong, or that there’s nothing of value here. It can be super hard to sensemake with confusing narrative stuff, and there’s inevitably going to be some clumsiness in attempting to do it. I think it’s worthwhile and important to be paying close attention to the ways organizations might be having adverse effects on their members, particularly in our type of communities, and I support pointing out even small things and don’t want people to feel like they’re making too big a deal out of something not. But the way this deal is made bothers me, and I feel defensive and have stories in me about this doing more harm than good.

Comment by Aella on Zoe Curzi's Experience with Leverage Research · 2021-10-14T05:50:18.843Z · LW · GW

Would you happen to have/be willing to share those emails?

Comment by Aella on [deleted post] 2021-10-13T17:54:20.453Z

Saw it immediately after I posted, will draft this ty

Comment by Aella on Common knowledge about Leverage Research 1.0 · 2021-10-13T01:25:54.342Z · LW · GW

Here's a long, detailed account of a Leverage experience which, to me, reads as significantly more damning than the above post:

Comment by Aella on Common knowledge about Leverage Research 1.0 · 2021-09-28T23:09:33.027Z · LW · GW

Yeah, 'cult' is a vague term often overused. Yeah, a lot of rationality norms can be viewed as cultish. 

How would you suggest referring to an 'actual' cult - or, if you prefer not to use that term at all, how would you suggest we describe something like scientology or nxivm? Obviously those are quite extreme, but I'm wondering if there is 'any' degree of group-controlling traits that you would be comfortable assigning the word cult to? Or if I refer to scientology as a cult, do you consider this an out-grouping power move used to distance people from scientology's perspective?

Comment by Aella on Common knowledge about Leverage Research 1.0 · 2021-09-26T05:39:05.807Z · LW · GW

Wanna +1 all these things are points I've heard from people who were at Leverage, also. I also have a more negative opinion of Leverage than might be implied by the points alone, for the record.

Comment by Aella on My attempt to explain Looking, insight meditation, and enlightenment in non-mysterious terms · 2018-03-21T16:57:20.830Z · LW · GW

I'm not sure if you've tried psychedelics. Psychedelics have very different effects on people, but I was very lucky; on me they produced exactly the effect you described - reducing my mental processes to far more granular levels. I did psychedelics enough that now this type of 'unfusing' process feels somewhere between 'default' to 'always present but sleeping' to me. I feel rendered mute when trying to talk about this, because this topic triggers a strong inability in myself to remain fused with the thoughts I am trying to handle. It also makes me cry, which makes discussions awkward.

I've spent a lot of time in rationalist communities trying (and failing) to talk about this topic (cause of the crying). Reading stuff like this makes me feel a lot of emotions and gives me a desire to be around you and Valentine and the others who are saying similar things.

Comment by Aella on Kenshō · 2018-01-20T07:05:51.880Z · LW · GW

-edit: did not know about the pm feature