One of the most salient differences between groups that succeed and groups that fail is the group members' ability to work well with one another.

A corollary: If you want a group to fail, undermine its members' ability to work with each other. This was observed and practiced by intelligence agencies in Turing's day, and well before then.

Better yet: Get them to undermine it themselves.

By using the zero-sum conversion trick, we can ask ourselves: What ideas do I possess that the Devil¹ approves of me possessing because they undermine my ability to accomplish my goals?

¹ "The Devil" is shorthand for a purely notional opponent whose values are the opposite of mine.


This was observed and practiced by intelligence agencies in Turing's day, and well before then.


9Viliam_Bur7yOne Devil's tool against cooperation is reminding people that cooperation is cultish, and if they cooperate, they are sheep. But there is a big exception! If you work for a corporation, then you are expected to be a team player, and you have to participate in various team-building activities, which are like cult activities, just a bit less effective. You are expected to be a sheep, if you are asked to be one, and to enjoy it. -- It's just somehow wrong to use the same winning strategy outside the corporation [], for yourself or your friends. So we get the interesting result that most people are willing to cooperate if it is for someone else's benefit, but have an aversion against cooperation for their own. If I tried to brainwash people to become obedient masses, I would be proud to achieve this. This said, I am not sure what exactly caused this. It could be a natural result of thousand small-scale interactions; people winning locally by undermining their nearest competitors' agency, and losing globally by poluting the common meme-space. And the people who overcome this and become able to optimize for their own benefit probably find it much easier to find themselves followers than peers; thus they get out of the system, but don't change the system.

Open thread, July 16-22, 2013

by David_Gerard 1 min read15th Jul 2013305 comments


If it's worth saying, but not worth its own post (even in Discussion), then it goes here.

Given the discussion thread about these, let's try calling this a one-week thread, and see if anyone bothers starting one next Monday.