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What are Michael Vassar's beliefs?

by Chris_Leong1 min read15th May 202017 comments


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I've heard Michael Vassar's name mentioned a few times within the community. Why is he so well-known and what are his main ideas? I am particularly interested in the ideas that seem to have made him community famous.

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Michael Vassar was once MIRIs president when it was still SIAI. Afterwards he founded MetaMed which employed a lot of other rationalitsts. He gave a TedX talk on ideas behidn MetaMed.

I meet him last year a few times in Berlin and the conversations with him were very intellectually stimulating.

He thinks that there's a strong infowar going on. He considers cybernetics (control theory, I'm not sure whether he used the word cybernetics) as a tool of war.

Paraphrased: "We didn't have an atomic war as people expected after WWII, but we had an infowar and now most people are like zombies when it comes to their ability to think and act indepently"

According to him anybody who spents more then 2-3 years in the Bay Area gets mindkilled by pressures for political correctness and can't think straight anymore. That was his reason for leaving the Bay Area for Berlin at that time.

I have heard the ideas from the Immoral Mazes sequence from Vassar. Vassar is acknowledged by Zvi has having been on of the influences that resulted in him writing that sequence.

Vassar has original ideas on lot of subjects. It seems that him talking with people frequently results in people in tearing down Chestertons fences, sometimes for good and sometimes for bad (and I have the impression sometimes bad enough for some people to consider Vassar dangerous).

There was a previous thread about this.

He writes some of his beliefs down on Twitter.

There are cancerous memes that use emotional blackmail i.e. look how much these people will suffer if you don't provide more glucose to the cancer. Negotiating with terrorists is a bad plan, even if the terrorist is a selection effect and not a conscious agent.

See chapter 5 here https://www.dli.org/Files/Other/Heart%20of%20Compassion.pdf

Why is he so well-known?

He is extremely charismatic and confident and seems to accidentally produce cultishness around him wherever he goes.

What are his main ideas?

Unimportant. He is not community famous for his ideas, but for his personality and "reality distortion field".

But he believes that Hanlon's Razor is nigh-universally false and the public sphere of discourse is a Hobbesian war of all against all.