Mob and Bailey 2023-05-25T22:14:52.377Z
Board Games and Prediction Markets 2023-05-17T21:14:33.210Z
Screwtape's Shortform 2023-04-28T03:17:14.764Z
Meetup Tip: Conversation Starters 2023-04-17T18:25:56.441Z
Berkeley, California, USA – ACX Meetups Everywhere Spring 2023 2023-04-10T21:57:41.461Z
Boston ACX Spring Schelling Point Meetup 2023-03-28T21:16:27.272Z
Staggering Hunters and Other Board Games 2023-03-27T20:25:38.205Z
Staggering Hunters 2023-03-27T19:11:50.333Z
Meetup Tip: The Greeter 2023-03-24T20:31:10.218Z
Rationality Taboo, The Game 2023-03-21T00:56:51.483Z
Skill Acquisition 2023-03-21T00:49:21.506Z
Meetup Tip: The Next Meetup Will Be. . . 2023-03-17T22:04:05.273Z
Meetup Tip: Nametags 2023-03-10T21:00:49.546Z
Basic Facts Beanbag 2023-03-09T00:05:12.096Z
2022 Survey Results 2023-03-08T19:16:47.224Z
Math Games With Bad Drawings and Other Board Games 2023-03-06T14:25:05.447Z
Double Crux in a Box 2023-03-06T14:22:24.835Z
Group Wiki Walk 2023-03-03T15:10:53.024Z
Puzzle Cycles 2023-02-24T21:35:09.052Z
Why Do We Believe 2023-02-17T20:58:17.387Z
Calibration Trivia at Aeronaut 2023-02-12T23:40:40.366Z
Humans Can Be Manually Strategic 2023-01-30T22:35:39.010Z
2022 Unofficial LessWrong General Census 2023-01-30T18:36:30.616Z
2022 Less Wrong Census/Survey: Request for Comments 2023-01-25T20:57:30.853Z
Two Truths and a Prediction Market 2022-12-23T18:52:10.734Z
Prediction Market (Mis)Uses 2022-11-07T02:29:56.254Z
Book Swap 2022-09-19T02:33:55.478Z
ACX Book Review Discussion 2022-09-08T14:22:20.514Z
Double Crux In A Box 2022-08-26T03:24:12.675Z
Oops It's Time To Overthrow the Organizer Day! 2022-08-18T16:40:53.864Z
Cambist Booking: Discussing What We Value 2022-08-15T18:24:33.446Z
Troll Timers 2022-08-12T00:55:16.110Z
Dissent Collusion 2022-08-10T02:43:20.029Z
The Falling Drill 2022-08-05T00:08:26.069Z
Cambist Booking 2022-08-04T22:40:51.361Z
Calibration Trivia 2022-08-04T22:31:00.955Z
Running a Basic Meetup 2022-08-04T21:49:40.878Z
Write a Thousand Roads to Rome 2018-02-08T18:09:21.192Z


Comment by Screwtape on Staggering Hunters · 2023-06-03T04:03:06.471Z · LW · GW

Interesting! I'm quite curious how the discussion went. The groups I've run this with tend to talk about game design and how to give it more variety.

Comment by Screwtape on Mob and Bailey · 2023-05-26T19:09:40.383Z · LW · GW

Gotcha, that makes sense. Thanks for clarifying!

Comment by Screwtape on Mob and Bailey · 2023-05-26T18:42:55.978Z · LW · GW

I think I disagree with the prevalence of situations where it's really useful to act like a group is an individual person, but I'm not sure that's your claim exactly. It's possible we're in agreement. Step one of this essay is to crystalize the idea of the Mob, this crowd that can look united but is actually different once you look closer. The conversation between Amy, Bob, and Bella is a caricature but I have seen conversations that resembled it. Sometimes it feels like Twitter is designed to create them.

Once the idea of the Mob & Bailey is in your toolbelt, then yeah, dealing with them once they've started is a useful topic (though on the small scale, you can catch yourself midway through an argument and go "Okay, hang on, I'm going to specifically address Bella for a moment here-") and it can segue into how organizations are structured. I claim the platonic Mob & Bailey is seen when there isn't a clear structure or where there are lots of people aligned but outside the formal structure, like a political party or a religious group. If I need to convince the United Nations to do something then maybe I start by drawing up their org chart (both formal and informal) but like, I don't think investigating the social structure of Deists as a group is going to be helpful. 

Which, again, we might just agree on. If I want to talk the U.S. Military (a group) into doing something, then I might start by talking to the Secretary of Defense (a person) or I might start by talking to a middle-manager in charge of trainings (a person) or talking to an inventory manager (a person). The reductio ad absurdum version of talking to The U.S. Military (a group) might be standing on the front lawn of the Pentagon with a megaphone. That's unlikely to get me what I want. I've got some ideas on how to deal with talking to things like the U.S. MIlitary (not great ideas, but ideas) but the megaphone thing just doesn't work.

Comment by Screwtape on Mob and Bailey · 2023-05-26T18:26:14.057Z · LW · GW

Yeah, I do think the original Motte and Bailey can exist. If you're sitting across a table from one person and they seem to equivocate between two positions, this post is not really addressing that problem. The art of Internal Family Systems meets Double Crux is left as an exercise for another day I guess.

Comment by Screwtape on Mob and Bailey · 2023-05-26T18:22:15.387Z · LW · GW


There's a concept in software design called Personas. A persona is a stereotype of a user; "Bill, a veteran mechanical engineer who uses our software for work" is one persona, "Alex, a novice hobbiest who saw our software on a youtube video" is another persona. I like working with personas since they're good intuition pumps. I can guess that Bill wants keyboard shortcuts and compact buttons, while Alex wants tooltips or even to have the buttons labeled. The way I've worked with personas is that the ideal persona is contemplated as a singular person, and it works best if they are actually a real person. Do a survey, find a median user, get their contact info and actually have a conversation with them. If you solve a problem for that median user - a person who, again, ideally isn't just a hypothetical but is a human being whose hand you can shake - then it's pretty likely you solved a problem that other people have as well.

For this essay, my first target persona is "Screwtape, but from five years ago." I'm pretty confident if I handed this to past!me, past!me would go "oooh yeah that makes sense, I'll do that instead." My second target is a relative of mine who keeps arguing with "democrats" without much success. "Democrats believe X, because Y, but Y is false!" ". . . You know that you can be a Democrat and think X is false, right?"

Lets say you agree with Mob and Bailey, but you still want to convince a group of something. Stop, think for a couple of minutes by the clock. What does that actually look like? 

Some of the time for me, I want a big organization to do something or change what it does; maybe I want the U.S. Military to invade Albuquerque or something. Convincing random people that Albuquerque is full of bad vibes isn't very productive. Because the U.S. Military is fairly solidly structured, I can talk to specific people and ask who has decision-making power, then talk to those people (or their influences in a Themistocles' Infant Son approach) and then if I win Albuquerque gets invaded. Note that you could describe this as "convince the U.S. Military" but that other things which also get described as "convince the U.S. Military" wouldn't work; if one by one I talk every single boot camp sergeant into thinking Albuquerque is a den of scum and villainy then Albuquerque probably doesn't wind up invaded.

Sometimes the goal looks like more and more of the group members being convinced. There's maybe a tipping point where the group starts reinforcing the new belief, but if every individual in the group is convinced that's kind of a win. Like, if tomorrow every single U.S. Senator woke up convinced that polyamory was obviously correct and the importance of our found families was an applause light, that would probably be a self-reinforcing state the way that the traditional family was an applause light for a long time. Here, I think it's important not to get so distracted by the forest that you miss the trees. Senators want different things for different reasons and have different starting conditions. Maybe you split up the senators into personas and make arguments to each of them; here's an argument based on individual rights, here's an argument with historical or biblical premise, here's an argument based on sociological outcomes.

I am not proposing to go full symmetric weapon rationalist dark arts here. Tying it back to the original post, I'm noting that people can believe something for different reasons and the way that we group people is usually very lossy. If Dean believes that zoning boards and current housing policy are bad because it's an infringement of rights, and Emma believes zoning boards and current housing policy are bad because it drives up housing prices, trying to write one argument that will convince both of them seems needlessly hard. 

Looking at your example of Alice, Bob, and Charlie who are all pro-choice, I wouldn't try and send them all the same text. That sounds needlessly hard. If I did have to send them all the same message, that message might say "Alice, I think you should change your mind because X. Bob, I think you should change your mind because Y. Charlie, I think you should change your mind because Z." Is there a reason you have to do it the hard way?

Comment by Screwtape on Mob and Bailey · 2023-05-26T17:39:23.461Z · LW · GW

The target audience is people who feel like their interlocutor is using Motte and Bailey, when what's actually happening is they're trying to talk to a group and not separating out the individuals. Each individual person who knows what Motte and Bailey is who adds Mob and Bailey to their mental toolbelt is a point scored for this post, and every frustrated argument someone would have had of the form "You all said Y, but five minutes ago you all said X! Argh!" which instead has the form "You Bob said Y, and five minutes ago you Bella said X. I'm going to respond to Bob first, then I'll respond to Bella after" is a victory for this post.

I'm going to type up a longer version in response to Ben's reply here, but I think it's fine to argue with one person and have others be convinced as "splash." Another way to put this is if you start by responding to a specific argument, then you can maybe convince everyone who holds the original argument. E.g. "Lots of people think whales are fish, because they live in the ocean. I think this is wrong because whales have warm blood and fur, making them mammals, and that's more important." If someone thinks whales are fish because of a different reason, you may need different arguments. Though beware the idea that just because people make the same argument that they do so for the same reasons! 

Comment by Screwtape on Mob and Bailey · 2023-05-26T17:15:18.355Z · LW · GW

Somehow I completely failed to think of the line "the first rule of Tautology Club is the first rule of Tautology Club" and I want you to know that reading it made me laugh. Thanks :)

Comment by Screwtape on Screwtape's Shortform · 2023-04-28T03:17:15.050Z · LW · GW

When I've tried to do rationality practice, (as distinct from skills practice) a lot of the time what I do is set up toy problems and try to solve them. Essentially this is like trying to learn to ice skate by strapping on skates, wandering onto the ice, and falling over a lot while figuring things out. I try and pay attention to how I'm solving the problem and deliberately try different things (randomly jumping around in thought space instead of just hill climbing) ideally to find things that work better than what I'd been doing. 

A number of my Meetups In A Box follow this pattern. Skill Acquisition is the most blatant, but Calibration Trivia, The Falling Drill, and Puzzle Cycles are doing the same thing. Here's a challenge that's trying to require a particular skill, keep trying and failing and trying and failing and in theory gradually you'll get better. 

One of the important missing pieces is more teaching of the skill. This came to mind when Raemon posted Tuning Your Cognitive Strategies and reminded me of his comment on Puzzle Cycles suggesting that (paraphrasing) he'd be interested in the combination. Going back to the ice skating example, I learned to ice skate in part by watching other people ice skate and with some people who were good at it showing me the motions slowly and then watching me do it and pointing out my mistakes. I haven't posted this variation because I'm not confident I know how to write it in a way that's better than "Read this article. Now do these puzzles. Anything clicking for you?"

Teaching how to think is harder than teaching how to move in some ways, particularly in that it's harder to watch and observe exactly what's going wrong. 

(Tangent: I'm tempted to suggest that a useful skill while learning is verbalizing what's going on in your head and saying it out loud, because that gives a hypothetical teacher a window to spot this kind of thing. Verbalizing what's going on in your head might or might not be useful apart from learning, but having ever taught cognitive subskills (math, card evaluation, programming) getting people to talk through the problem out loud and in detail is helpful for noticing what mistake they're actually making in a way that I could visually see if I was teaching martial arts.)

Teachers are also harder to scale than challenges. I could mail a copy of Zendo to every meetup. I can't mail a CFAR instructor to every meetup. (Yet, growth mindset.) I. . . can hypothetically mail a copy of Tuning Your Cognitive Strategies to every meetup, which tries to walk someone through the skill by written instruction. 

There's something I really want to exist between written instructions on the skills and challenges for the skills. I think instructions and challenges are together greater than the sum of their parts. 

Comment by Screwtape on "Rate limiting" as a mod tool · 2023-04-23T15:47:35.862Z · LW · GW

A second order effect I'm a little worried about is rate limits create an incentive to mix threads.

If there are two people who make different points in comments and I want to respond to them, ordinarily I would reply to each of their comments and the discussion stays organized. If I'm rate limited and there are two people I want to respond to, maybe I write both replies in a single comment under one of them and mention the other.

One answer to that is asking people not to do that. One answer is eh, it's not that bad, sometimes that kind of mixing happens even without rate limits and it's fine. Another might be doing word count limits instead of comment limits.

I don't think this is a big issue. I did think it was worth mentioning while you were looking for feedback.

Comment by Screwtape on Moderation notes re: recent Said/Duncan threads · 2023-04-20T15:03:34.518Z · LW · GW

How technically troublesome would an allow list be?

Maybe the default is everyone gets three comments on a post. People the author has banned get zero, people the author has opted in for get unlimited, the author automatically gets unlimited comments on their own post, mods automatically get unlimited comments.

(Or if this feels more like a Said and/or Duncan specific issue, make the options "Unlimited", "Limited", and "None/Banned" then default to everyone at Unlimited except for Said and/or Duncan at Limited.)

Comment by Screwtape on Moderation notes re: recent Said/Duncan threads · 2023-04-18T16:00:53.939Z · LW · GW

If the lifeguard isn't on duty, then it's useful to have the ability to be your own lifeguard.

I wanted to say that I appreciate the moderation style options and authors being able to delete and ban for their posts. While we're talking about what to change and what isn't working, I'd like to weigh in on the side of that being a good set of features that should be kept. Raemon, you've mentioned those features are there to be used. I've never used the capability and I'm still glad it exists. (I can barely use it actually.) Since site wide moderators aren't going to intervene everywhere quickly (which I don't think they should or even can, moderators are heavily outnumbered) then I think letting people moderate their local piece is good.

If I ran into lots of negative feedback I didn't think was helpful and it wasn't getting moderated by me or the site admins, I'd just move my writing to a blog on a different website where I could control things. Possibly I'd set up crossposting like Zvi or Jefftk and then ignore the LessWrong comment section. If lots of people do that, then we get the diaspora effect from late LessWrong 1.0. Having people at least crossposting to LessWrong seems good to me, since I like tools like the agreement karma and the tag upvotes. Basically, the BATNA for a writer who doesn't like LessWrong's comment section is Wordpress or Substack. Some writers you'd rather go elsewhere obviously, but Said and Duncan's top level posts seem mostly a good fit here. 

I do have a question about norm setting I'm curious about. If Duncan had titled his post "Duncan's Basics of Rationalist Discourse" would that have changed whether it merited the exception around pushing site wide norms? What if lots of people started picking Norm Enforcing for the moderation guidelines and linking to it?

Comment by Screwtape on Meetup Tip: Conversation Starters · 2023-04-18T03:59:56.666Z · LW · GW

My current icebreakers: 

  • How did you find the community?
  • What are your obsessions or particular interests?
  • So, what do you usually do for fun?
  • Read any good books lately? I'm always looking for recommendations. 
Comment by Screwtape on Calibration Trivia · 2023-04-03T17:51:33.038Z · LW · GW

You are correct that's a mistake, one which I believe is now fixed. Thanks for pointing it out!

Comment by Screwtape on Meetup Tip: Nametags · 2023-03-14T21:29:49.763Z · LW · GW

Thank you for the addition! This is now added under Quick Tips. Anything else you'd suggest?

Comment by Screwtape on Double Crux In A Box · 2023-03-13T18:25:47.023Z · LW · GW

Your suggestions have been added to the list, thank you!

Comment by Screwtape on 2022 Survey Results · 2023-03-09T19:42:51.418Z · LW · GW

The warning is appreciated! I'm an O. S. Card fan so I have to have a high tolerance for long cliffhangers XD

Comment by Screwtape on 2022 Survey Results · 2023-03-08T19:40:10.467Z · LW · GW

Does anyone have a better idea of how to draw the EA/ACX/LW community overlap? The community overlap fishing expedition felt like it was pretty shaky.

Comment by Screwtape on 2022 Survey Results · 2023-03-08T19:37:37.370Z · LW · GW

Future survey discussion thread!

Obvious things I'd do different if I was going to do this again are to have a longer Request for Comments period, to be more careful with what answers allowed write-ins, and to post about this at least once on other sites. Oh, and if I knew I was running it I'd do it in December the year of, not February the year after.

Some people said thanks for reviving the census in the Further Comments field. Even with the low responses I felt like this was fun and useful for me. I can also see a lot of ways to make this easier to run the second time, from having some tools set up now to print the mean and distribution to being able to copy and edit the google form instead of writing my own up while looking at the old one in another screen. All of that means I'm inclined to try again next year.

When writing this survey, I leaned towards making it very familiar and similar to past surveys so I didn't include some questions I otherwise would have. There's a lot of good questions I'd add now that I've done the basics once.

Comment by Screwtape on The Falling Drill · 2023-03-05T18:19:52.694Z · LW · GW

Updated with some variations around using your field, or doing this mid discussion.

Comment by Screwtape on Cambist Booking · 2023-03-05T18:07:40.522Z · LW · GW

Updated with some of the feedback. The distinction between the Record (where you remember your values) and the Deck (which has things you value written is made clearer. The rules now say to get dealt one card and to trade the cards, so you're always holding something new and your Record is a chained series where you can work through the intermediate steps to compare your start and your end. Also, a couple of variations are introduced.

Comment by Screwtape on Calibration Trivia · 2023-03-03T17:16:45.077Z · LW · GW

Updated with a couple of variations and a link to a google drive folder with multiple question sets. The True/False version is from the comments and suggestions people left. The range version is from Ben Orlin's Outrangeous.

Comment by Screwtape on Puzzle Cycles · 2023-02-24T21:35:42.000Z · LW · GW

Someday I actually will run this with a big jigsaw puzzle. I don't expect that to be good, but I do enjoy watching chaos. If your group does it, please send me a video.

Comment by Screwtape on 2022 Unofficial LessWrong General Census · 2023-02-07T15:18:53.611Z · LW · GW

I'm probably too late to answer you but for the next person to ask; if you want a lot more legal immigration and a little more enforcement, I'd call that leaning more open. If you want a little more legal immigration and a lot more enforcement, I'd say that's leaning more restricted.

Comment by Screwtape on 2022 Unofficial LessWrong General Census · 2023-02-01T03:40:58.632Z · LW · GW

Thank you for taking it!

That is the phrasing for P(Global Catastrophic Risk) that's been used consistently since 2012 I believe. 

Comment by Screwtape on 2022 Unofficial LessWrong General Census · 2023-02-01T03:36:20.630Z · LW · GW

That does offer more info than just a No response. I'm not going to change that on a live survey that some people have already taken, but that could make sense for future censuses.

Comment by Screwtape on 2022 Unofficial LessWrong General Census · 2023-02-01T03:29:16.024Z · LW · GW

That I feel a bit embarrassed for missing. Thank you for pointing it out; since the question asks for which range the respondent had hopefully everything got answered right. I updated the description.

Comment by Screwtape on 2022 Unofficial LessWrong General Census · 2023-02-01T03:23:58.970Z · LW · GW

Yep, it's the David Friedman book. It's very roughly a bit like Ra, but instead of a swerve into high octane space magic it has some awkward wizards who express affection through academic research.

Comment by Screwtape on 2022 Unofficial LessWrong General Census · 2023-02-01T03:14:58.930Z · LW · GW

I want to do a good job on this one. The decision to mostly re-use previous questions was a deliberate attempt to return to the Scott Alexander era, and my main changes were in trying to avoid what I see as the flaws in 2017 and 2020. 2017 used special software that wound up with software issues, so I went back to Google Forms. 2020 didn't get seen by very many people, so I made an effort to get this one more visibility. So far nobody has mentioned a software issue and we already have more responses than 2020, so I'm feeling relatively good about how it's going. 

The goal of having a clear return to form overrode most of the new questions I wanted to explore. The remnants of that are the "Do You Organize Less Wrong Meetups?" question (I'm curious what percentage of people who read LW go to meetups, and what percentage of people who go to meetups run them!) and the "Most Important Lesson" question that I plan to feed directly into Meetups-In-A-Box activities to emphasize those lessons. In the end I decided I wanted the census to look familiar and reliable, so the new questions in Section 10 are mostly goofy and everything else is pretty standard.

"Demand" seems a bit stronger than I wanted to communicate but we might have a difference in connotations. It's now called the Unofficial General Census, which might lower that somewhat. I was going for "encourage" rather than "demand." Still, if this attempt flops and people subtract some of my Calling For Stag Hunt points, I would find that reasonable and fair. I'm also happy with the amount of endorsement; this census isn't official, I'm not associated with the LessWrong team, most surveys shouldn't wind up in front of the whole site, but this census isn't blocked or dis-endorsed either.

Comment by Screwtape on 2022 Unofficial LessWrong General Census · 2023-01-31T06:24:25.580Z · LW · GW

"Unofficial" is now in the post title, post description, and the title of of the Google form. Let me know if there's other changes you or the rest of the LessWrong team would like.  

The extent of support that was particularly useful was having a the visibility front page brings, which it seems this now has. Thank you to whoever did that.

Comment by Screwtape on 2022 Unofficial LessWrong General Census · 2023-01-30T20:15:17.364Z · LW · GW

I'm open to suggestions on titles and phrasing! I am not claiming to be a member of the site administration. I am claiming the lineage of the LessWrong Demographics Census, which I do not believe was ever actually run by the official LessWrong team.

For the moment, I've put up a sentence in the opening of the census stating that I'm a user, not an administrator.

Comment by Screwtape on 2022 Unofficial LessWrong General Census · 2023-01-30T20:09:07.715Z · LW · GW

The request for comment post is here.

If any member of the LessWrong administration team asks me to remove this or retitle this, I'll cheerfully comply. Ben Pace, one of the site admins, was aware of my intent to do this before I put up the Request for Comment and his response was to send me a Google Doc full of brainstormed questions. I took that as light encouragement to go ahead.

As to what absolutely should be done: I'll bet you ten bucks at 5:1 neither the 2009 or the 2011 censuses were run by a site administrator or received official advance agreement by the mods. I am not claiming to be a member of the site administration. I am claiming the lineage of the LessWrong Demographics Census.

Comment by Screwtape on 2022 Unofficial LessWrong General Census · 2023-01-30T20:01:17.012Z · LW · GW

I know that at least one administrator (Ben Pace) was aware of my intent to run the census if there were no objections from the LessWrong team prior to me putting up the Request For Comments. Ben sent me a Google Doc of brainstormed census questions in response. I made a request for comments post. I agree most people probably didn't see it, but don't know how to fix that without asking for more visibility, which I did. I didn't get told not to do it or that there was a decision not to give this more visibility, that part didn't get addressed. If anyone from the LessWrong team asks me to retract the census then I'll retract this census.

I am unaware of any rule, official or unofficial, that the census should be done by someone with more than 1000 karma. I don't actually think karma score is the right metric here, but if that rule officially exists then I'll retract this census.

In November of 2022, SurfingOrca offered to run the census. This also stayed as a Personal Blog, so likely not many people saw it, but by my count eight different people (including Ben and yourself) commented on it and everyone seemed positive. As far as I know, this effort has not been published. If your objection is based on karma score I have about ten times as much as SurfingOrca, but I don't actually think karma score is the right metric here. Still, if SurfingOrca has a census ready to go, I'm willing to defer to the person who started working on this in November 2022 instead of starting in January of 2023. If SurfingOrca announces one that's up and ready in the next ~48 hours, I'll retract this census and offer to merge any data this one has as best as I can.

The 2020 General Census was the last census done, run by B Jacobs, who also has less than a thousand karma. B Jacobs was aware of my plans to run the census this year and made no objection, advising me to make the privacy options clear and that it would be helpful if I could get the administration's assistance. Still, they had the torch last, and if B Jacobs objects and would prefer to run it then I'll retract this census.

I disagree that my request is an awful move. The status quo is no census. I don't think anyone has argued that the census should not be run. I don't think that anyone in particular is currently responsible for the census; there exists no person whose job title is "Less Wrong Census Administrator." It's not quite "Somebody Has To And No One Else Will" mode, because nobody actually has to and several people have offered. Nobody else did though, and since I did this at the end of January after talking to an admin and giving a week of RFC it's not like I'm blocking anyone else who was visibly about to do it.

Comment by Screwtape on Basics of Rationalist Discourse · 2023-01-28T05:06:33.393Z · LW · GW

You are correct and that is an important distinction I blurred in my own head, thank you.

Comment by Screwtape on Basics of Rationalist Discourse · 2023-01-27T22:13:39.965Z · LW · GW

I had read the expansions. We might be in practical agreement on 5. I would say if you're debating in the comments of a Less Wrong thread, following 5 is positive expected value. You'll avoid escalations that you'd otherwise fall into, and being defected against won't cost you too much. It stands out to me because other rules guidelines (say, 2 and 8) I would be comfortable abiding holding myself to even if I knew my interlocutor wasn't going to follow them. It's when you're having higher stakes discussions that leaving yourself open in good faith can go badly. (Edited when it was pointed out to me that they're always referred to as guidelines, never rules. This is in fact a useful distinction I let blur.)

I agree that when starting out 0 is likely to require energy, like, more energy than it feels like it should to do something like this.  "Expect good discourse to require energy until you become very used to it, then it should feel natural" is a weaker message but is how I am interpreting it. (I am trying and failing to find the sequences post about rules phrased as absolutes that aren't actually absolutes, such that it stays your hand until need actually weighs you down.)

I will be sure to direct your attention to the objection post once I write it. It is partially written already and did not start life as an objection, but it does apply and will be finished. . . someday.

Since I haven't said so yet, thank you for writing this and giving me a link to reference!

Comment by Screwtape on Basics of Rationalist Discourse · 2023-01-27T20:59:37.908Z · LW · GW

I want to say that I really like the Sazen -> expansion format, and I like the explanation -> ways you might feel -> ways a request might look format even more. 

1 to 4 and 6 to 9 I just straightforwardly agree with. 

My issue with 5 should properly be its own blog post but the too-condensed version is something like, those cases where the other person is not also trying to converge on truth are common enough and important enough that I don't blame someone for not starting from that assumption. Put another way, all of the other rules seem like they work even if the other person isn't doing them, or at least fail gracefully. Following an unarticulated version of rule 5 has ever failed me badly before. I don't know exactly what would falsify this claim and acknowledge that it might just be one or two highly salient-to-me examples, but if at the end of the conversation someone is going to smile at you and hand you a pen and ask you to sign something then I don't think assuming your interlocutor is also aiming for convergence on truth is a good idea.

It is possible that kind of conversation is not covered under what you're thinking of by a rational discourse. 

With 10, I think I'm quibbling over phrasing. Holding to the absolute highest standard feels like it translates to never doing it, which is correct on the margin. 

The most interesting disagreement I have is with 0. Years after adopting them, many of the changes I've made to how I communicate have become close to free. It is harder now to do the wrong thing, to make an ad hominem or to say I'm a hundred percent sure, in much the same way that I have to make an effort to stop myself from looking at my card in Hanabi (because when I draw a card and add it to my hand, the vast majority of card games have me look at that card!) or the way I have to make an effort to fall off a bicycle when my body knows how to balance and keep moving. I think the 0th guideline is a useful nudge in the right direction, but suspect that if I stick to these guidelines for the next five years, I will feel like it takes less energy to follow them than to break them.

Comment by Screwtape on 2022 Less Wrong Census/Survey: Request for Comments · 2023-01-25T22:42:02.244Z · LW · GW

Counterargument: previous surveys specified to remove the percent sign. Assume some people will add it when they were told not to, and some people will leave it off if told to add it. Keeping the same format means that we could do things like take the average of all surveys, past and present, and the instruction-following population's answers will work just fine.

I predict people are very roughly equally likely to make the mistake in either direction and currently plan to stay consistent with previous surveys.

(To be clear, if one format was better than the other, I'd just make a note to convert the data whenever we wanted to compare between years. Since both formats seem fine to me, avoiding the trivial inconvenience of conversion seems worth it.)

Comment by Screwtape on 2022 Less Wrong Census/Survey: Request for Comments · 2023-01-25T22:34:56.567Z · LW · GW

Your suggested Right Thing seems a decent idea. We could also put both definitions on that question, each with their own bullet points.

The other option is to use the 2020 questions, which did not give examples but covered a little wider of a spread. Looking at the different ways this question has been asked over the years, I'm tentatively leaning towards this option.

Comment by Screwtape on 2022 Less Wrong Census/Survey: Request for Comments · 2023-01-25T22:23:06.634Z · LW · GW

Updated with finer grained answers, which should be easy to convert into the old "Yes, No."

Comment by Screwtape on 2022 Less Wrong Census/Survey: Request for Comments · 2023-01-25T22:20:44.778Z · LW · GW

I have fixed those two questions. I will fix any more that get pointed out or that I happen to spot.

Comment by Screwtape on 2022 Less Wrong Census/Survey: Request for Comments · 2023-01-25T22:17:39.780Z · LW · GW

There used to be lots of IQ questions, which seems to have culminated in this delightful subsection back in 2013. (Search for "Can we finally resolve this IQ controversy that comes up every year?") I have included the basic five questions, because I defaulted strongly towards keeping any question that was asked on at least three previous surveys. Also, I find the reported average to be baffling, at least somewhat convincing, and really funny.

Comment by Screwtape on 2022 Less Wrong Census/Survey: Request for Comments · 2023-01-25T22:10:09.680Z · LW · GW

One observation per comment is actually preferable to me! It means I can reply to each observation to argue with it state that it's been done or that I've considered it and decided to keep it, forming a nice little to-do list for me.

Comment by Screwtape on 2022 Less Wrong Census/Survey: Request for Comments · 2023-01-25T22:08:20.075Z · LW · GW

Hint text has been added.

I also swapped the unit to years, which is easily compared to past answers.

Comment by Screwtape on 2022 Less Wrong Census/Survey: Request for Comments · 2023-01-25T22:02:13.833Z · LW · GW

Wikipedia calls the branches of Islam "Branches or Denominations" and the article on Judaism suggests Commonly used terms are movements, as well as denominations varieties, traditions, groupings, streams, branches, trends, and such." Nitpickery appreciated, I'm currently happy with the divisions.

The family-religion question does have this issue. If I was going to change it, I'd change it to "What is your family's religious background, as of when you were growing up?" That makes it fit the question above it, but risks making it harder to compare across years. I'm currently lightly leaning towards leaving it as-is, figuring the value of comparison is worth it.

Comment by Screwtape on 2022 Less Wrong Census/Survey: Request for Comments · 2023-01-25T21:55:10.050Z · LW · GW

I have taken the detailed description format (copied more or less verbatim from previous censuses) as a warning from those who have gone before me. Besides, while Google Forms doesn't really know how to handle the percents in either format, I know how to sort numbers into buckets in Google Sheets easily so I could find out "half the respondents answered between 80% and 90%" or the like.

I just checked, and Google Sheets thinks the average of "50, 40" is 45 and that the average of "50, 40%" is 25.2. I plan to stick with the current instructions for giving probabilities.

Comment by Screwtape on 2022 Less Wrong Census/Survey: Request for Comments · 2023-01-25T21:46:56.491Z · LW · GW

I trust the new heading, "Section 9: Other Traditional Less Wrong Census Questions, Which Used To Be Called More Complicated Probability Questions," is perfectly satisfactory to all concerned.

Thank you for the second set of eyes by the way!

Comment by Screwtape on 2022 Less Wrong Census/Survey: Request for Comments · 2023-01-25T21:33:42.073Z · LW · GW

I feel like it's fine for the question not to apply to non-religious people. Combined with the Religious Views question, it's a quick sequence of "are you religious? if yes, what kind? if no, keep going, Moral Views will still apply to you." If the question included what religion someone last identified with, then you could wind up with "Are you religious?" getting four Athiests and one Theist, then "What religion, including the last religion if you're now atheist?" getting five Catholics.

Hindu is not a denomination, you are correct, and that's a case of me copying a previous answer and not thinking about it carefully enough. My inclination is to look up the largest denominations of Hinduism, Buddhism, etc, and split those out as well. That way it's easy to compare to past surveys (since you can add the different kinds of Buddhism together) and also now is consistent about all being denominations. People with experience or knowledge of the non-Christian variations, I'm open to suggestions, otherwise I will likely go with what Wikipedia suggests.

Comment by Screwtape on 2022 Less Wrong Census/Survey: Request for Comments · 2023-01-25T21:24:30.817Z · LW · GW

I've updated it to be "Alone, With Parents/Siblings, With Partner/Spouse, With Roommates, or Other" and to allow checking multiple boxes. That does change the wording on a question we've used in the past, but I think it's safe.

Changing it from Pick One to Check All That Apply feels more likely to throw off comparisons to past data. It feels better, because it's obviously possible to live with a parent, your partner, and roommates all at once, but it is also not how we've done it in the past. I'm currently leaning toward making it Check All That Apply ("It's wrong but it's tradition" is not the defense I want to give for a decision made for the Less Wrong Census!) but haven't done it yet. Anyone reading this, feel free to weigh in?

Comment by Screwtape on 2022 Less Wrong Census/Survey: Request for Comments · 2023-01-25T21:17:56.450Z · LW · GW

I agree and it's been updated. That was purely me missing a dropdown when adding a lot of questions to google forms one after another.

Comment by Screwtape on 2022 Less Wrong Census/Survey: Request for Comments · 2023-01-25T21:16:57.537Z · LW · GW

I agree and it's been updated. I read it as "what academic field does your work fall under?" but that does make the computer trifecta a little odd. This is one of the ones I got from previous surveys, so we have a little risk of throwing answers off by changing the wording, but I think it's safe enough.

Comment by Screwtape on Solstice 2022 Roundup · 2022-12-04T05:00:56.429Z · LW · GW

We're one week away from the NYC megameetup. As of right now, everyone who registered should have an email with more information. If you haven't seen that, try your spam folder, and if you don't see it get in touch. There's also now a facebook messenger thread, which not everyone got added to because going from names to facebook accounts isn't always obvious. If you want in on that, you should also get in touch on facebook.

Overnight registrations are closed. Day registrations, for anyone who wants food and games and unconferences, are open and planned to remain open.