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Comment by j_smart on How my social skills went from horrible to mediocre · 2015-05-21T12:22:01.087Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

tl;dr: Claiming your information is really hard to communicate doesn't make me think it's actually inherently difficult (Mind Projection Fallacy) - it makes me think you either don't understand it well enough to communicate it but were motivated to post this as a status grab, or you're intentionally being deceptive. My recommendation from a social perspective, if you're actually interested in communicating the info is to claim not that it's really hard, but that you haven't figured out a way to communicate it effectively. Lay out the key principles as best you can, and preferably as well exactly why you think this info is key or at least known to the productive, high status people you cite.

What I want to convey is really hard (and perhaps impossible) to convey succinctly: that's why nobody's been able to do it successfully before! There are tens or hundreds of thousands of people who have known it. Bill Gates knows it, Warren Buffett knows it, Bill Clinton knows it, Freeman Dyson knows it. But it comes close to being impossible to externalize –historically people have learned how to do it by carefully observing others who can do it, generally as mediated through in-person interactions, and failing that, very careful reading of historical documents by great thinkers from the past.

I think this is an example of the status signalling Lumifer is talking about. For a start, calling communicating your viewpoint really hard is a pretty clear mind projection fallacy - the fact that nobody has done it well is not an indication of some inherent difficulty in the problem, but simply reflective of the fact that no one has found a good way to communicate it yet. We have documented thousands of years of attempts at heavier than air flight and for a long time it seemed so difficult that many smart people thought it was impossible, but in the last few weeks I've watched students build planes and ornithopters out of foam, tape, paper, sticks, and rubber bands.

Claiming that you've got some secret, as yet undisclosed information, but that you're sure some of the richest, smartest, most powerful, and most famous people in our society have has several possible possible antecedents that I think would occur to most people listening to the claim, and can be grouped into roughly three levels of expected utility from listening to you:

  1. You actually know the claimed information, have somehow divined signals that the information is known to the high status individuals, and are willing to share that information for free without concern to your own status

  2. You know the claimed information, but are confused or deluded as to its importance, though still willing to share it

  3. You have no particularly strong insight, but are claiming to, and invoking the high status individuals to lend authority to your argument to lure in people for some nefarious purpose.

Now, given that (unless I've missed several colorful chapters of your background) you have no way of actually knowing that they know, and absolutely no way of knowing unless they have at least figured out a way to communicate that they know what you know - which they would have to have done without also finding an effective way to communicate the actual knowledge to avoid contradiction.

This discounts scenario 1 relative to 2 and 3.

Now, given your history of posts here, I'm willing to discount scenario 3, but note that without that information, the claims made in that paragraph signal more strongly that you're either deluded or deceptive, neither of which is going to induce someone to listen to you.

However, discounting three, still leaves us with scenario two as the most likely - you're deluded in the importance of the information you're claiming to have. At this point, the only counterweight of evidence against you being just stupid is your own claims of intelligence which would obviously have doubts cast on it, or the weight, again of other information we've received from you in the past - your own measure of authority or status.

Bluntly, if you hadn't written your posts on mathematical ability previously and recently so that they were fresh in my mind at reading this and which have you tagged in my head as "someone with some insight I don't have", reading your claims that high status individuals believe what you believe would have caused me to dismiss this post entirely. That is, if I had the anti-kibitzer turned on, that claim would have convinced me you have nothing of real value to share.

I would have formed an impression of you of someone with at most some novice-level insight, but who had gotten carried away with it and convinced himself it was the One True Secret, and been motivated to post it here as a rationalized status grab cloaked in the purported desire to share that info freely - especially given that you're also claiming you don't actually know how to share that information. This is the root of the perception that this is a status grab

It is only the curious combination of the previously established authority I'm willing to lend you, and your own claim to have a broken or impaired sense of other people's status motivations and how your own claims affect their perception of you that has me at least likely to read through any follow up post to this.

Of course, this state of evidence also nicely fits the hypothesis that you're playing one level higher than me and are really good at deceiving people who deliberately train to discern useful sources of information from motivated promises of information - that one just has a low enough prior probability that I'm not convinced of it... yet :-P

Comment by j_smart on Welcome to Less Wrong! (7th thread, December 2014) · 2015-05-20T02:21:15.860Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Hi all,

I'm a recently graduated aerospace engineer. First came upon LW via HPMOR a couple years ago, been through the Sequences once since then, currently going through Rationality: A to Z mostly as a refresher.

Gravitated toward aerospace as a sort of proto existential risk mitigation effort, but having spoken with Nick Beckstead via 80,000 hours and comparing the potential of various fields to mitigate X-Risk within the next ~100 years which resulted in my discounting space development relative to other fields, currently more open to other avenues.

Very interested in learning more computer science, and applied mathematics more generally, but part of what makes me strongly prefer LW over other communities interested in the same is the strong focus on effective, economical implementation of ideas

Comment by j_smart on How my social skills went from horrible to mediocre · 2015-05-20T01:41:54.321Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Can you be more explicit about what it was in your study of data science that led you to notice your blindspots, or more generally what the "very powerful" ways of thinking about the world you found were? You mention the Wisdom of the Crowds, but it sounds like there was something in particular that made you realize the opportunity for growth.