Posts

What authors consistently give accurate pictures of complex topics they discuss? 2019-08-21T00:09:52.057Z · score: 34 (11 votes)
Discovering Your Secretly Secret Sensory Experiences 2014-03-18T10:12:25.381Z · score: 21 (22 votes)
Useful Personality Tests 2014-02-11T11:18:39.009Z · score: 9 (10 votes)
What should normal people do? 2013-10-25T02:28:50.885Z · score: 23 (24 votes)

Comments

Comment by seez on What's up with Arbital? · 2017-03-29T18:26:03.288Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · LW · GW

This post seems like an overly brief and vague description compared to what I was hoping for and would guess the community would be interested in.

Comment by seez on The decline of violence as a lens for understanding effective altruism · 2015-01-09T01:15:13.553Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Pinker indicates that a number of factors were important. You think technology is the most powerful. Why?

Also, just because technology has had the greatest absolute impact on human wellbeing (hasn't done much for non-humans, yet) doesn't mean it's the most efficient. In fact, I think it's very likely that it isn't the most efficient. Because it's often a win-win, many people will contribute to creating and using it, unlike the sacrifices many EAs advocate for. They might contend that through sacrifice, a given individual can achieve far more that ey could by focusing on technology, although those altruistic individuals may (or may not!) remain rare enough that technology has a great overall impact.

Comment by seez on 2014 Survey Results · 2015-01-04T11:10:11.341Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Could someone explain or link to an explanation of the significance of the feminism-digit ratio connection? Why is it exciting?

Comment by seez on Has LessWrong Ever Backfired On You? · 2014-12-18T23:02:58.070Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Can you provide a link to the article, if you remember it?

Comment by seez on Could you be Prof Nick Bostrom's sidekick? · 2014-12-15T23:54:38.420Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

In case I wasn't clear, I see nothing wrong with seeking a personal assistant for Bostrom amongst EAs and LessWrongers. Obviously, many people in those groups might be very interested in the job. I'm sure it will be an interesting opportunity for whoever gets it. My objection was to the tone. I'm glad if people didn't find it as alarming as I did, but I was aware of some additional controversy, expressed both publicly in the comments and privately. And of course, there is no downvote on Facebook.

I can see how it could come across as 'hero worship', except that Bostrom is indeed a widely-recognised world-leading academic at the highest ranked philosophy department in the world. There are sound reasons to be respectful of his work.

Yes, by all means, be respectful of Bostrom's work! Luckily, there's a lot of room between "worshipful" and "respectful" to aim at. Lots of hero worship, perhaps even most of it, is directed at people who are legitimately awesome (as I personally believe Bostrom is)! And since LW has already been accused of excessive hero worship, with varying degrees of thoughtfulness, to an extent that has turned people off the site, I think it's worth considering extolling the virtues of those we admire in a more conventional manner, especially in large public forums.

I completely believe that no innuendo was intended. That's why I thought it would be helpful to let you know that at least to some people, it came off that way.

Comment by seez on Could you be Prof Nick Bostrom's sidekick? · 2014-12-10T00:50:30.288Z · score: 16 (22 votes) · LW · GW

I think this ad makes LW and EA look cultish, because this ad sounds like hero worship and sexual innuendo. I was especially troubled to see this link on the EA Facebook page, where many potential/new EAs who don't know who Bostrom is, have lower weirdness tolerance, and have still-forming understanding of effective altruism, could see it.

Conscientious and discreet... Able to keep flexible hours (some days a lot of work, others not much)...Has a good personality 'fit' with Bostrom... Willing to do some tasks that are not high-status... Willing to help Bostrom with both his professional and personal life (to free up his attention)...

I showed this to a few smart young people, the type EAs want to reach out to, and they said it sounded "sketchy" "unprofessional" and "kind of like prostitution." Maybe it's totally fine and even attractive for LW, but I think EA leaders trying to recruit really need to be more thoughtful about their language. I think a different description should have been written up for that forum.

At the very least, it's very unconventional. Ads for personal assistants usually mention specific duties like "answering emails" and "preparing food," not just all-purpose service, so that people know what they are getting into.

tl:dr This ad sounds sketchy to me, and I really wish it wasn't linked on the EA Facebook group, where it can scare off new/potential EAs

Comment by seez on Rationality Quotes September 2014 · 2014-09-18T17:15:21.228Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Definitely getting her HPMOR for her 10th birthday :)

Comment by seez on Rationality Quotes September 2014 · 2014-09-14T01:33:40.181Z · score: 17 (17 votes) · LW · GW

A conversation between me and my 7-year-old cousin:

Her: "do you believe in God?"

Me: "I don't, do you?"

Her: "I used to but, then I never really saw any proof, like miracles or good people getting saved from mean people and stuff. But I do believe in the Tooth Fairy, because ever time I put a tooth under my pillow, I get money out in the morning."

Comment by seez on Bragging Thread, June 2014 · 2014-06-08T23:10:27.507Z · score: 49 (49 votes) · LW · GW

I finished my thesis!

Comment by seez on Brainstorming for post topics · 2014-06-02T16:58:27.011Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The original had a typo. It's fixed now. To clarify, I am concerned that especial attention is paid to tech skills and how they can be used. I would like to see greater focus on other diverse skills.

Comment by seez on Brainstorming for post topics · 2014-05-31T23:33:02.693Z · score: 15 (15 votes) · LW · GW

Some questions I'd love to see addressed in posts:

How much can we raise the sanity waterline without transhumanism (i.e. assuming current human biology is a constant)?

Is the sanity waterline rising?

What is the best way to introduce rationality to different groups of people/subcultures?

Does LW and other rationality reading material unnecessarily signal nerdiness so strongly that it limits its effectiveness and ability to spread?

What are the best things someone with very low tech skills can do for the rationality movement, and for the world?

If LW is declining/failing, why is this happening, could this have been prevented, and are other rationality-related communities infected with the same problem?

Comment by seez on May Monthly Bragging Thread · 2014-05-20T08:16:47.707Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It wasn't my first time, but it was my first time having to work that hard for someone's attention professionally. He not only had power, he also had incentives not to take me on (not enough time, high-risk low-reward, sets a precedent of accepting younger students, etc.). Dr. C has definitely become friendlier to me recently, although I still find him harder to charm than most of the people I work with. I think part of that is that yes, it works for him to make people a nervous and concise. I think he's also just socially awkward as well.

Comment by seez on Calling all MIRI supporters for unique May 6 giving opportunity! · 2014-05-06T22:47:32.127Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

In Silicon Valley. With a group of people who know about LessWrong but are dubious about its instrumental value.

Comment by seez on Calling all MIRI supporters for unique May 6 giving opportunity! · 2014-05-06T22:09:32.402Z · score: 17 (17 votes) · LW · GW

Seriously! I just overheard someone say "wow, maybe all that rationality stuff actually does help them do better."

Comment by seez on May Monthly Bragging Thread · 2014-05-05T22:51:34.345Z · score: 15 (15 votes) · LW · GW

Getting my first adviser, Professor C, was a nightmare that made me miserable for a month. I really wanted him as my adviser because I think he is one of the only good scientists in my field and my department. I also had long-term plans to ask him to advise my later degree. I met with him once, and showed him a vague, decent research proposal. I focused more on being charming than on the research, because this had been working well for me with the other professors I knew. Unfortunately (and fortunately!) C is more focused on the science. He told me he would think about it, then email me back in a week. He never emailed me. I emailed him. He didn't respond. I emailed him. He didn't respond. I despaired, decided I had ruined my career and destroyed my chances of succeeding in the field I love by making him dislike me and now having no advisor, and emailed him again. He didn't respond. After six weeks of this I told a different professor what had happened, who told my C ignores most emails, even from other professors, and it's really hard to interpret his lack of response. He recommended that I just show up at his office and try to talk to him again. I worked desperately hard, trying to create a proposal so good it would redeem my earlier failure and weird stalking in C's eyes. I became completely obsessed, didn't sleep, read every paper in my entire subfield, thought and talked it over for a week, thought of five original questions, of which three were "important," wrote the proposal with every important point underlined and put in bold, and finally put on my most professional blazer and went to C's office. When I found him and showed him my proposal, I was literally shaking. He agreed to be my adviser right away. He seemed kind of confused about the whole thing, and said he just forgot to answer my emails. Sigh.

I got the second adviser because I got the first one. He emailed his colleague Professor K recommending that K meet with me. Otherwise I would not have stood a chance of catching K's attention, since he does not take early-stage students and does not teach at my school. I wanted a paying position as a research assistant in K's lab, in addition to him being one of my official advisors, but K was expressing ambivalence about the idea. I basically wrote an extended research proposal/contract, stating exactly what I wanted to do, how I was going to do it, what I expected of him, and what I wanted in return. He agreed, and said he deeply admired my audacity, and that my display of confidence made him feel more confident about my ability, and that I was the sort of intense and serious person he wanted in his lab. This is one of the academically boldest things I have ever done, but I had a strong sense that he would appreciate that sort of behavior.

I write all this because I'm not really sure what made the difference. I certainly acted bolder than I usually do, and I've noticed that most of the good things I do follow bursts of very intense misery and feelings of insecurity that I channel into desperately hard work. I'm never surprised when I do well, though; the insecurity is this sort of instrumental self-imposed drama I use. I wish I could work desperately hard without such a seemingly mentally unhealthy process, but so far I haven't found any better personal motivators than my intense fear, even dread, of failure and the desire to protect my sense of my own identity as a smart, successful person.

Comment by seez on Calling all MIRI supporters for unique May 6 giving opportunity! · 2014-05-05T03:32:16.389Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Oh, yeah. I thought you meant you put it on the LessWrong Facebook group, not the MIRI Facebook page.

Comment by seez on Calling all MIRI supporters for unique May 6 giving opportunity! · 2014-05-05T03:07:45.049Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

er, you did? I don't see it.

Comment by seez on Calling all MIRI supporters for unique May 6 giving opportunity! · 2014-05-05T01:13:21.957Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

And ask people to bump it so it stays near the top.

Comment by seez on Calling all MIRI supporters for unique May 6 giving opportunity! · 2014-05-05T01:11:45.643Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

In addition, and in case people forget, you may want to post this on the LW Facebook page, both now-ish and right before the event starts.

Comment by seez on May Monthly Bragging Thread · 2014-05-04T21:03:43.578Z · score: 25 (25 votes) · LW · GW

I got the two top scientists in my field to both agree to be my advisers. One of them, not an effusively friendly person, said my research proposal was extremely interesting, new, and important. I cried a little, but luckily I don't think he saw.

Comment by seez on Email tone and status: !s, friendliness, 'please', etc. · 2014-05-04T02:40:40.670Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If you're really struggling, you might try looking over some emails that have been sent to you by a well-liked successful person of similar status that you admire and know well. Then, you can emulate zir tone until you get habituated to it and do it naturally.

Comment by seez on Email tone and status: !s, friendliness, 'please', etc. · 2014-05-04T02:35:12.233Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, sounds nervous and self-effacing to me. Also overly emotionally loaded for a simple message. Good test though!

Comment by seez on The Cryonics Strategy Space · 2014-04-26T17:59:26.974Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

This thread should be getting more comments and upvotes. It seems vastly more original, useful, and central to the core mission of LW than many recent discussion posts that have gotten more attention, including my own. What's up with that?

Comment by seez on The Cryonics Strategy Space · 2014-04-26T03:09:31.667Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I agree... I don't really see why anyone would have problems with their utility functions if they e.g. knew they were going into liver and kidney failure and going to die in the next 24-72 hours.

Comment by seez on The Cryonics Strategy Space · 2014-04-25T07:41:27.636Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I'm interested in suicide cryonics (not personally, just conceptually). Why do you say that's inadvisable? Would you recommend it for someone who had e.g. a deadly illness that would kill them in the next few weeks?

Comment by seez on The Cryonics Strategy Space · 2014-04-24T21:50:26.820Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I understand that this wasn't the focus of the post, but wouldn't the best Monopoly strategy be to keep always winning until no one ever wants to play Monopoly with you again? Because you goal isn't to end this game without losing friends, it's to minimize total Monopoly-playing time without losing friends/

Comment by seez on How do you approach the problem of social discovery? · 2014-04-21T23:50:59.690Z · score: 17 (17 votes) · LW · GW

Can you explain more about how you do this?

Comment by seez on How much does where you go to college affect earnings? · 2014-04-11T03:28:59.733Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

There's a significant difference in income between the average high-IQ person who tries to be an investment banker vs. a politician or professor. The figure I saw was the average for people who made it that far, not people in the news, who make far more than that (the richest investment bankers have a net worth of over a billion). The other two professions are also extremely competitive at the top (most people who try never become professors or congresspeople. I would guess that becoming a member of congress is the most competitive.

Comment by seez on How much does where you go to college affect earnings? · 2014-04-09T19:24:47.896Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It is compared to other careers that are available to smart people who test well. The average pay of a college professor is around 81k. Congresspeople get around 174k. Junior hedge fund portfolio managers make upwards of 600k, including their bonuses. Third year investment banking associates make 250-500k. And of course, they make more as time goes on, so these people are usually way younger than your average professor or congressperson.

Comment by seez on How much does where you go to college affect earnings? · 2014-04-09T09:15:38.092Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I wonder if students at the top elite schools are more likely to go into comparatively low-paying jobs like academia, philanthropy, or politics, compared to more students at second tier schools going into high-earning careers. I'd be very interested to see the % in each sector breakdown for differently ranked schools.

Comment by seez on Observational learning and the importance of high quality examples · 2014-04-06T20:52:06.536Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I meant more like a study that showed this? Because if you are mimicking confident body language effectively, you should begin to both feel and look confident. Also, copying someone can signal empathy and good listening, not that they are the leader. Complementing body language can be more damaging (i.e. if someone is displaying aggression, you complement with submission, or vice versa). I think the danger of mimicking is accidentally mimicking low status body language, but this might be unlikely since we usually pay more attention to confident, success people with attractive body language.

Comment by seez on Observational learning and the importance of high quality examples · 2014-04-06T20:10:17.762Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Can you give an example or evidence of how mimicking is a low status signal (besides when their body language shows low status)? I hadn't heard this before.

Comment by seez on Observational learning and the importance of high quality examples · 2014-04-06T08:37:16.475Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

If social skills are best learned through observation, then why are they so unevenly distributed amongst people who aren't hermits?

Or rather, I think they are learned as a child the way language is learned. It's a subconscious process that occurs naturally when those skills are observed by a young child. However, with social skills at least, different people seem to plateau in their development at different places, and further observation doesn't always lead to further improvement.

Most people know someone with excellent social skills, yet that person continues to outperform them. There are several reasons this could be the case. The skilled person (S) might be using skills that affect observers who are not consciously aware of the skill and its effect. This could involve subtle actions, such as skillful use of body language, more involved psychological manipulation, etc.

In some cases, becoming aware of those strategies may help observers employ them as well. This seems to be the premise of a lot of PUA blogs, as well as social skill self-help books. However, one notable pattern I've observed in these social skill advice dispensing media is that they all instruct their audience to actually practice the actions they describe, whether it's complimenting five people a day, purposefully taking a bold stance in a meeting, or negging a hot girl. Whatever the quality of the specific advice, actual physical practice is usually emphasized. Social skills workshops and therapy seem to often be taught in with a repetitive "observe and repeat" pattern.

This makes sense, I think. Some socially awkward people are clueless about their faux pas, but many struggle with excessive self-consciousness, often "overthinking" the situation until anything they do comes out strained. A solution for this is to perform a skill so many times it moves from challenging to subconscious, or from System II to System I. Models do this, practicing their best smile until it's the one they make when the camera is on them.

Overall, I feel like social skills are far more procedural than observational for adults. One interesting subset of strategies involve observation and practice at the same time. Mimicking body language makes people like you more. Sort of similarly, people often become more skilled in many dimensions when they think of themselves as actors acting out the part of someone who has that skill. For example, the advice to "think like a trader" reduces loss aversion. I know people who find it easier to go into social situations as if they are a scene from a play they are acting out. I'm not sure what the long-term psychological effects are, but it does seem to help a lot in the short-term.

So, I'm skeptical that a database of exceptional examples and explanations (although fun to collect) would be useful to people who could not be more easily helped by general advice they can already find on the internet. A database of simple strategies that have been rigorously demonstrated to improve social skills might be worthwhile.

I'm guessing that the best way to learn would be through some sort of software that could converse with you and provide immediate, specific feedback about one's deviations from socially normal or optimal behavior, although such software might well lead to excessive stylistic conformity. Another option might be one that led an individual to local maxima give zir current style. I know this is sort of on the way.

Comment by seez on College discussion thread · 2014-04-04T20:13:50.059Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Taking AP's on your own is totally doable. My school didn't offer any and I took six. In my experience, as nydwracu said, AP Psych is easy. So is Environmental Science and English Lit (if you do well on the english sections of the SAT). World History is interesting, and easy if you like memorization. I've heard Human Geography is easy too. The AP exams of languages that are commonly spoken as first languages in the US (Spanish, Chinese) tend to be harder than the ones that aren't (Latin, German) because native speakers drive the average up (it's not exactly graded on a curve, but they don't want too many people to get 5's, far as I can tell). The language ones can very often get you out of the language requirement in college, which frees up a lot of time.

Comment by seez on College discussion thread · 2014-04-01T09:59:43.888Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I would say REMEMBER THE SUNK COST FALLACY (in fact, get it tattooed on your hands so you're forced to look at it whenever you're typing some boring paper you don't care about). If a subject is surprisingly uninspiring, college is a great time to realize that isn't what you want to be doing for the rest of your life.

The majority of my best friends and I ended up in suboptimal majors, even though we realized they were suboptimal in time to switch. What's sad is that we all knew about the sunk cost fallacy, and even discussed it, but didn't take our realizations seriously enough soon enough. Eventually it will be too late to change (at least without taking extra time) but there's usually a window where you will have misgivings, but will want to squish them furiously so you don't have to go through the mini crisis of faith.

Listen for those misgivings, and take them seriously when they pop up. Look at the long-term benefit of doing something else, not just the short-term logistical and psychological hassle it'll cause.

This might all seem super obvious, and it was to me, but I still did it all wrong, and short of projecting "SUNK COST FALLACY" across the sky like a rationalist Bat-Signal, I'm not sure what more I can do for you.

Comment by seez on Group Rationality Diary, March 16-31 · 2014-03-24T03:30:36.518Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It can, but we at least find procrastination more problematic for finishing assignments well than overly hasty or shoddy work.

Comment by seez on Group Rationality Diary, March 16-31 · 2014-03-17T05:22:03.982Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Some of my friends and I have started betting on our productivity, with smaller prizes for the person who starts the bet. We will be working together, and Friend A will say "I bet I can write the next 500 words of this essay in less than 20 minutes." Friend B replies "no way, this essay is too hard." Then A will say "Bet you I can. Let's set a timer, and if I fail, I'll buy you dinner, but if I succeed, you'll buy me a coffee."

We also race on assignments for prizes.

Comment by seez on Shoulds can be changed to Cans · 2014-03-16T09:42:02.277Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

You should be precise with your language. You can tell little old ladies to walk faster. "Should" and "can" mean different things. How about we just enjoy our abilities and use our words correctly?

Comment by seez on Intelligence-disadvantage · 2014-03-16T09:28:37.845Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Here are some examples of mistakes that intelligent people make

Looks like you mean "here are some examples of mistakes people on LessWrong still make."

Highly intelligent people such as great artists and writers, successful politicians and lawyers and drug kingpins, often depend on continued popularity, value social signaling extremely highly, know most people aren't rational, and don't rigidly follow rules.

However, I think it is interesting to consider whether there are qualities that are associated with intelligence, either biologically or through the way intelligent people are socialized, that are unintelligent in themselves. It seems like this is true with rationality; perhaps something about thinking rationally also causes people to, say, undervalue popularity to an irrational extent. I'm having a harder time thinking of examples that seem as likely with intelligence in general, although that's made trickier by having a vaguer definition of intelligence than rationality.

Comment by seez on High school students and epistemic rationality · 2014-03-15T20:12:39.345Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Posts that are not meetup spam should be encouraged if they add value. I'm not saying this post doesn't, I'm saying there are worse things than meetup spam.

Comment by seez on What attracts people to learning things that they consider neither interesting nor important? · 2014-03-14T19:40:31.025Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I've heard claims that engaging in activities that are neither interesting nor important has intrinsic value -- it helps build character, makes one grow as a person, or it just might turn out to be important.

If it builds character, makes you grow, or turns out to be important, then it is important, its importance is just surprising.

What people might actually be doing is operating with the knowledge that they are not good at distinguishing important information from unimportant information. Thus, it seems safer to try to learn as much as possible, in the hopes that that will include the important things.

Comment by seez on How much wealth is produced by high IQ people? · 2014-03-14T11:07:08.910Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Is 145 the right IQ threshold to be looking at? What about IQ ~130 people (98th percentile)?

What do you mean by this? The right threshold for defining someone as high-IQ? Maybe there is a correlation but it plateaus at a certain point.

Also, I'm curious, do you believe you can increase your mentees' IQ?

Also also:

Bill Gates famously scored 1590 on the SAT, at a time when many fewer people scored 1600 than people did in subsequent years. He also solved a notable problem in combinatorics as a a college sophomore.
Jeff Bezos graduated summa cum laude from Princeton in computer science Zuckerberg took a graduate course in computer science as a high school student. Drew Houston (Dropbox founder) started programming at age 5 and scored 1600 on the SAT. Steve Jobs tested at the 10th grade level in 4th grade. This is broadly consistent with "top tech entrepreneurs" having IQ ~145+ (99.8th percentile).

How so? Seems like it's only consistent for Gates, Houston, and maybe Jobs... For the rest, that just demonstrates cool but non-standardized facts about their programming prowess. Maybe Zuckerberg's class was easy. Maybe Bezos bribed the dean. Probably not, but right now the argument looks like "they got rich because they were talented computer scientists... and therefore they must be smart... and therefore being smart makes you rich."

Comment by seez on In favour of terseness · 2014-03-08T22:14:04.037Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Unless your idea is very obvious, most people will absorb it better if you offer examples.

Personally, I like long posts because I need time to an idea things through, and do that more efficiently while I am also reading about that idea, instead of reading it through then finishing and becoming vulnerable to the distractions of the internet again.

Comment by seez on In favour of terseness · 2014-03-08T22:10:42.304Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The other reason to contain as much of the arguments and counter-arguments as you can in the original is that people are far more likely to read the post than the comments and comment responses.

Also, if you don't include objections and counter-arguments, you run the risk that someone will read your post, think of an objection, fail to think of a counter-objection, and dismiss the idea, where s/he might have accepted it if you had included more.

Comment by seez on Rational Evangelism · 2014-02-26T21:30:26.242Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Interesting. Anecdotally, I got my father (who works in politics) interested specifically in "politics is the mindkiller." I think it spoke to his experiences and concerns more than other sequences.

HPMOR will probably be more effective with youngish people who a) have read Harry Potter, b) are familiar with the concept of fanfiction and c) feel comfortable reading long documents on the internet. Seems a bit limiting, although still a very good tool.

Comment by seez on Rational Evangelism · 2014-02-26T21:22:10.011Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think I see what you mean, but I would not consider that proselytizing. Or a sacrament. That seems more like really liking to signal that you care about the environment, and really not liking to feel guilty about drinking your cup of coffee.

When intense "tree-hugger" types tell them to throw away their cars and buy a cabin in the woods to save the environment, or lie down in the road in front of the trucks going to build the Keystone Pipeline, they usually nod awkwardly then go back to their lattes. Prosthelytizing and evangelism takes fervency and the commitment of resources. That's not what I've seen from wealthy liberals so far.

Comment by seez on Rational Evangelism · 2014-02-26T21:13:19.819Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It's not exactly that I don't think people on LW could win political power, but the impression I've gotten is that not very many are interested in it or have tried it. Working up through layers of government requires one to leverage a lot of very different skills than the ones emphasized on LW, which doesn't mean LWers couldn't do it but adds to the number of skills one would need to practice and excel at.

Sure, if you're a rich techy, support an LW candidate, IF you can find one. Good luck with that. Politicians still need to win over the support of a political party, spend their time networking and building alliances with others in power, reaching out to a large constituency, etc. People doing that travel all the time and work exhaustingly long days. Are they going to go to an LW meetup in their spare time? I think it's unlikely, and to my knowledge (and correct me if I'm wrong) it has not happened extensively in the past.

What expressed wasn't pessimism. I think it would be both possible and productive to reach out to new memespaces (hopefully avoiding the term "memespace" in the process). Even if a huge fraction, say 20%, of the people on LW moved into political positions, that would still only be 320 (using the most recent survey results) scattered around the whole world (obviously concentrated in some areas).

I don't think it is too bold to claim that the main memespace LW recruits from (youngish technophiles, mostly in America) have focused their lives thus far on different skills than the ones needed to reach political power. That's not to say they can't switch, but it makes it a little more difficult/unlikely.

ChristianKI, do you not think reaching out to other groups would be successful?

Edit: My main question is, do you think it is easier/more likely for a LWer to reach political power, or someone in power to be converted to LW? I think the latter would be easier if a LWer knew that person well.

Comment by seez on Rational Evangelism · 2014-02-26T10:01:44.533Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Them too, although I think they (social science and liberal arts majors from rich families at top schools, maybe?) would have similar reaction.

Comment by seez on Rational Evangelism · 2014-02-26T08:25:59.738Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe this is off-base, but it seems like a lot of the people who one might want to preach rationality evangelism to, like liberal science-supporting policy-makers and upper-class liberals are very wary of anything that sounds like prosthelytizing (I am not talking about atheist technophiles who haven't found LW yet. That's an easier audience). A lot of them are vague atheists/agnostics who have a vague sense that extreme doctrines about a vastly different future for the human race are scary and weird and fanatical. I think they would strongly reject religious evangelicals, and likewise an evangelical-seeming approach might backfire on them. Which is not to say that some evangelical techniques might not be helpful, just that they would have to be tweaked to fit liberal cultural norms (not sound too threatening, be introduced in a friendly rather than authoritative way, etc.)

I have been wondering about a large-scale attempt by LWers to write layperson-appropriate articles about LW topics in widely read media sources (Huffpo, Vice, Wired, maybe Cracked). Speaking as an ex-agnostic liberal, I found it very difficult to find LW, and really figure out what it was about, with almost no prior knowledge of most of the topics. If I had casually heard about transhumanism or existential risk, I would have looked up more about it (I know this, because that's what happened, eventually). I've never had luck introducing anyone to LW directly, but have been able to by sending them through HPMOR or some Peter Singer talks.

Comment by seez on LINK: In favor of niceness, community, and civilisation · 2014-02-24T06:54:17.385Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Link here.