[Link] Lifehack Article Promoting LessWrong, Rationality Dojo, and Rationality: From AI to Zombies

by Gleb_Tsipursky1 min read14th Nov 201571 comments

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Nice to get this list-style article promoting LessWrong, Rationality Dojo, and Rationality: From AI to Zombies, as part of a series of strategies for growing mentally stronger, published on Lifehack, a very popular self-improvement website. It's part of my broader project of promoting rationality and effective altruism to a broad audience, Intentional Insights.

 

EDIT: To be clear, based on my exchange with gjm below, the article does not promote these heavily and links more to Intentional Insights. I was excited to be able to get links to LessWrong, Rationality Dojo, and Rationality: From AI to Zombies included in the Lifehack article, as previously editors had cut out such links. I pushed back against them this time, and made a case for including them as a way of growing mentally stronger, and thus was able to get them in.

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What the article is actually mostly promoting is Intentional Insights (6 links from the text, embedded video, 2 links to merchandise) much more than it's Less Wrong (one link), Rationality Dojo (one link, name mentioned in text), or "Rationality: From AI to Zombies" (one link).

2Gleb_Tsipursky5yThat count is a bit off, as Less Wrong is directly mentioned in the text and has two links, whereas Intentional Insights is not mentioned in the text. But sure, the article also happens to be highlighting Intentional Insights. After all, the large majority of readers on Lifehack would be better served in improving their rationality by going to InIn's website, as there is a much smaller inference gap there than on LW itself. After they become more advanced, that's the time to send them to Less Wrong, Clearer Thinking, CFAR, and other advanced rational thinking venues.
3gjm5yOh yes, I missed one link-with-name to Less Wrong; my apologies. I didn't claim that InIn is mentioned in the text so I'm not sure what you're suggesting is "off" there -- but if you open up the page, the first three bits of non-advertisement text you see are from the video at the start, and they are (1) "Intentional Insights: Are you In?", (2) "www.intentionalinsights.org", and (3) "3 Steps to Living Intentionally" -- that last being a phrase I have never heard anywhere other than in InIn promotional material. So it's not like InIn is starving for mentions in the text. For the avoidance of doubt, I am not saying there's anything wrong with promoting your organization. That's what startup founders do, and there are good reasons why. I just think there's something ever so slightly misleading about describing something as an article "promoting X, Y, and Z", when actually the main thing it's promoting is something else.
5Gleb_Tsipursky5yAh, I see that the concern was with the title. I was excited to be able to get links to these included in the Lifehack article, as previously editors had cut out such links. I pushed back against them this time, and made a case for including them as a way of growing mentally stronger, and thus was able to get them in. So perhaps a longer explanation regarding that would have helped. I'll edit the post to reflect that.
3Gleb_Tsipursky5yThanks for catching that! Fixed the link, much appreciated :-)

You're creepy and artificial. Ella is creepy and artificial. This post is creepy and artificial. The About Us page of Intentional Insights is -very- creepy and artificial. And what makes this all bizarre is that the creepy and artificial is recursive - there's something creepy and artificial about the way you're creepy and artificial, in that it is so transparent and obvious that it cannot possibly be unintentionally transparent and obvious. The way you keep selling yourself, selling your company (which itself is selling you), selling merchandise sell... (read more)

I can understand your dislike of Gleb's approach and even see many of your concerns as justified; do you really think your actions in this thread are helping you get what you want though? They certainly won't make Gleb himself listen to you, and they also don't make you sympathetic to onlookers. To the extent that you have issues with Gleb's actions, it seems like pointing them out in a non-abusive way for others to judge would be far more effective.

0OrphanWilde5yYes. I tried two other tactics first. I addressed him as a fellow rationalist, and also as a fellow user of Dark Arts, and he was completely unresponsive to those tactics. This way is better. It starts the weight of public opinion in the correct place, and allows him to prove his guilt or innocence on his merits.
-7Gleb_Tsipursky5y
8Viliam5yThere is an important discussion we could have had about this topic, but your comment is absolutely not the way to do it. You just wrote "I despise you" in many words.
1Lumifer5ySo what? LW isn't a "safe space".

That may be the case. But even Lukeprog preferred to be given feedback in a nice wrapping, because after all we are still primates and will appreciate it more.

-2Lumifer5yMaybe my standards are skewed, but nobody called anyone a fucking moron or expressed a desire to see him die in a fire.
0OrphanWilde5yIf it's left to a random person to say something, what they say might just fall short of the idealized version of the discussion you never actually started. And he's been selling here for a year and a half. And if you're also Villiam_Bur, you've been here since his beginning, when you chewed somebody out and deleted their account for (I assume, since the comment is deleted, but the context suggests it) accusing him of buying upvotes off some site. I'll dryly observe that some priors really should have been updated based on that very uncommon accusation.
3Viliam5yWhat you described feels kinda familiar, but my memory refuses to bring more details now. Sorry. So, as you already know, I opened the discussion explicitly. (Yes, I am Viliam Bur. Recently I decided to be a bit more careful about using my name online; no big security, just a little trivial inconvenience. The date of changing the username is more or less the date when I de facto stopped being a moderator.)
8Ella5yI'm quite disheartened by your response. I really don't know your issues about me. The article from Intentional Insights are quite helpful to improve rational thinking. I do believe if we think rationally, we think logical and put our actions into logical manner. When we think and rationalize our every actions and set aside overwhelming emotions, I'm quite sure that we lead our life satisfactorily. I do not know your propositions that gave you an insight that I'm a narcissist in any way or a sociopath. What are your sylogism of your attacks. My point of view if we learned froma science-based research organization on how to improve thinking, chances are we think and act in a logical way. If we learn to think logical. We act logical. We know that are actions may affect other people and so the society. If the people in the world would think and act like this, I can see a better world without a narcisist, extremist, sociopath and people that speak, act and attack from all presumptions. I am Ella and I'm nothing against you and I'm a fan and a believer of the studies from a science based organization, Intentional Insights,
3Gleb_Tsipursky5yElla, sorry that my introduction of you to Less Wrong coincided with this burst of negativity against Intentional Insights and that you're caught in the backlash. Hope the actions of this one person don't cause you to disengage from Less Wrong altogether. There are many really smart people here with wise things to say!
0NancyLebovitz5yCould you give an example or two of how you're thinking more rationally and how your life is better as a result?
-7OrphanWilde5y
4Dagon5yI don't find it creepy, and it seems quite genuine to me. However, this is a not-uncommon complaint about thoughtful living and use of system 2 for topics that are typically chosen purely by system 1. To some, the ability to dispassionately consider possible futures is kind of freaky, bordering on alien. I'd like to be able to engage with the fear and negative reaction, but instead I tend to just dismiss it. Sorry.
5OrphanWilde5yHe comes across as genuine? He comes across to me as somebody who is so obviously not genuine that I'm left wondering whether his lack of genuineness is genuine. Have you looked at Intentional Insight's About Us page?
4Dagon5yI wonder if we mean different things by "genuine". I find it quite easy to believe that his actual desires and his stated goals are the same, and I find him relatively transparent in his theories about how to other-optimize [http://lesswrong.com/lw/9v/beware_of_otheroptimizing/]. I'll gladly admit that it's not my thing, but that's different from thinking that it's evil or creepy.
3Gleb_Tsipursky5yI generally try to be consistent between my actual desires, my stated goals, and my actions, which exhibit my revealed preferences [http://lesswrong.com/lw/15c/would_your_real_preferences_please_stand_up/].
4Gleb_Tsipursky5yI'm sad you feel this way. As I stated below, the "About Us" page lists testimonials of people who benefited from Intentional Insights content, and experts who endorse the content. This is pretty standard for nonprofit websites. Do you complain about CFAR's testimonials [http://rationality.org/testimonials/] ?
6gjm5yJust to be clear: is InIn a nonprofit? ... Aha, this page [http://intentionalinsights.org/crowdfunding-campaign-find-your-purpose-using-science] on the website says it's a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. It might be worth making that more explicit somewhere easier to find, because one thing I thought on looking over the website was "huh, that's interesting: they seem to be trying hard to give the impression of being a nonprofit without actually saying in so many words that they are; I wonder why".
5Gleb_Tsipursky5yThanks for pointing that out. The curse of knowledge is such a powerful fallacy, and we fell prey to it. I had the website revised to insert mentions of InIn being a nonprofit on the front page, and on the About Us page. Here's the link [http://www.guidestar.org/organizations/47-1699064/intentional-insights.aspx] to our Guidestar profile for anyone interested.
2Lumifer5yI would probably characterise International Insights as cargo cult marketing, blindly following the Three-Ring Binder[1]. It says "advertise on the social networks" so, by golly, we'll advertise on the social networks! etc. They built the sticks-and-mud control tower and are doing the parade ground drill. The airplanes with cargo should arrive any time now. [1] "You just have to find a sufficiently virulent business plan, condense it into a three-ring binder - its DNA - xerox it, and embed it in the fertile lining of a well-traveled highway, preferably one with a left-turn lane." -- Neil Stephenson, Snow Crash.
6Gleb_Tsipursky5yActually, we do have some airplanes arriving, if we equate airplanes to getting the rationality message out there to broad audiences, which is the whole point of Intentional Insights. A clear example is the placement of the above article in Lifehack, where it has been shared over 1K times, or this presentation [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0iHOK-Ke82k] to a humanist community group in Columbus, or this article in Salon [http://www.salon.com/2015/09/12/get_donald_trump_out_of_my_brain_the_neuroscience_that_explains_why_hes_running_away_with_the_gop/] . Our Advisory Board [http://intentionalinsights.org/advisory-board] has attracted experts in the field of judgment and decision-making [http://indecisionblog.com/2013/01/03/research-heroes-hal-arkes/], education, and social work. We are doing exactly what we set out to do, so I think we can reasonably state that the airplanes are arriving. And yes, we are using a Three-Ring Binder used by self-improvement groups and marketing gurus. That's the strategies we chose to follow in order to get rationality out to a broad audience. So we are not blindly following that model, but quite intentionally and agentively, using the kind of methods that will achieve our goals.
1OrphanWilde5yYeeeup. I was giving him too much credit. He's not intentionally bad at this, he's -oblivious- to how bad he is at this.
1NancyLebovitz5yI'm not crazy about Gleb, but he doesn't ping my emotional immune system the way he does yours. I'm inclined to think there's some pattern-matching going on, and people are carrying different sets of patterns. I'm not saying that you or I are necessarily right or wrong, but it's really hard to convey to someone else what's going on with that sort of pattern-matching. Just asserting that your pattern-match is completely obvious doesn't work. One of my best friends is revolted by LW. We've spent some time on what the issue is, and we haven't been able to figure it out.
-3Gleb_Tsipursky5yTo many, the possibility of considering what they are thinking and feeling as distinct from their own selves is freaky and bordering on alien.
1Gleb_Tsipursky5yWow, that's pretty hard-core stuff. I see that you have some issues with what I'm doing, and I'm sad to see that. My aim is to be as transparent about what I'm doing as possible - raise the sanity waterline for the broad population out there. Ella is an aspiring rationalist who was introduced to Less Wrong through Intentional Insights content and is enthusiastic about rationality. She is from Albay in the Phillipines, which might the cause for your perception of her - please don't judge people by their ability to write well in English. In fact, many of the people who engage with Intentional Insights content are from developing countries, as we collaborate with international skeptic and reason-oriented organizations such as Atheist Alliance International [https://www.atheistalliance.org/resources/intentional-insights-project.html]. Sad to see you being so disparaging to aspiring rationalist newbies. I suggest you consider carefully the impact of your words and actions, and how they come off to others, especially newcomers. Thanks!
2OrphanWilde5yThe extent of Ella's interactions with LW to this point have been entirely praising how you and your writings have somehow mysteriously improved her rationality - if she's an aspiring rationalist, she should spend less of her time considering how great you are, and spend more of it examining her own mind. Her comments share a lot in common with the compliments of yourself filling Intentional Insight's About Us page, really.
-2Gleb_Tsipursky5yAs I think I stated before, Ella is enthusiastic about rationality and was introduced to it through Intentional Insights, which she is also enthusiastic about. She's from Albay in the Phillipines, so please don't judge her by her English. She's a newbie to Less Wrong, and she is starting to engage with it by focusing on what she knows best. It's not surprising that she has a positive opinion about my activities, is it? The "About Us" page lists testimonials of people who benefited from Intentional Insights content, and experts who endorse the content. This is standard for nonprofit websites. Do you complain about CFAR's testimonials [http://rationality.org/testimonials/]? I'm sad to see you responding this way to efforts for raising the sanity waterline for a broad audience.
-1OrphanWilde5yNo, no it isn't, since you do.
1Gleb_Tsipursky5yI'm confused by your point. I also noticed you chose not to respond to the point about CFAR's testimonials. Are you backing down from that claim?
-1OrphanWilde5y...I seem to recall a reasonably-popular post on LW not too long ago talking about people relying on debate tactics. I found myself disagreeing with it because I'd never met somebody who actually argued like they were in a debate, tracking points, with victory depending on whether or not you left points unaddressed. I found the whole thing vaguely ridiculous, predicated on a style of argument I had never encountered, in spite of years spent arguing on the internet. I'm updating now. People who think debate rules apply outside debate club do exist. Now, to dissect what I just did, I combined an admission that I was wrong about something, with a note that I was updating my beliefs - both extremely positive things on Less Wrong. And I did so in the context of eviscerating anything like a point you might have thought you had, by linking your behavior to a recently-noted poor practice in rationality. I established my own virtue while cutting yours down; if I had thought your point was worth avoiding due to its danger to my position, I would simultaneously have cut off any ability of you to bring up the point again without looking even more pathetic and losing even more face. That is artfully executed Dark Arts. It wasn't a danger, incidentally. The reason I didn't respond to it is that it wasn't worth responding to. Bluntly, if you can't tell the difference between endorsements of yourself personally and endorsements of your organization, you're not running an organization at all, you're running a cult of personality. Which ties into another thing - if Ella is an independent person... well, I say the word "independent", but she behaves more like an extension of yourself, reflecting even your style of writing/speech. Which is to say, she behaves like a member of a cult.
-1Gleb_Tsipursky5yCongratulations on your artfully executed Dark Arts. I hope any Less Wronger can see through the Dark Arts. Endorsements of Intentional Insights content created by me is endorsements of me personally? That is a very strange thing to say for an aspiring rationalist. There's a difference between the person and her/his actions. Thanks for the accusation of me being a cult leader. I appreciate the sentiment, but it places me on too high a pedestal [http://lesswrong.com/lw/4d/youre_calling_who_a_cult_leader/], I think.
-5OrphanWilde5y

Thanks for this article, absolutely helpful to provide rational insights to improve my thinking, decision and actions.

previously editors had cut out such links

What reason was given?

2Gleb_Tsipursky5yThat the content was inappropriate for their audience.
3hg005yNothing more specific than that? Was it too long? Too many big words? Too conceptually difficult? Too much citing of scientific studies? Too many basilisk scandals?
2Gleb_Tsipursky5yLol on the basilisk scandals, I wish they had enough interest to explore that topic. Most of the feedback from those editors cutting the links was that it was "inappropriate." It's a short-hand for anything they don't think will resonate with their readers. When I asked why, they generally don't respond and I have to go with that if I want it published. Some say it's too difficult for their readers, in terms of long words and concepts. Some say the content and design of the website is offputting - and it's not a surprise, given that self-improvement websites often focus heavily on graphics, and LW is almost exclusively text-based.
-3hg005yOK, I'm gonna go ahead and go with the self-serving explanation that LW is mainly useful and enjoyable for people with 130+ IQ (25 percentile on LW survey [http://lesswrong.com/lw/lhg/2014_survey_results/]) unless someone gives me a convincing reason to believe otherwise.
4Gleb_Tsipursky5yI know personally people with an IQ just above average who get a lot out of Less Wrong.

The thing is that, in any community (what defines 'community' is up to you, although the the broadest definition is "having something in common", and that is not a good one) that both respects itself and is actually useful, it usually grows organically, attracting people who are interested in both heart and spirit, and it grows incrementally, with members being slowly added.

Rather than drafting people in, a good community will slowly evolve because it attracts interested people. I'd go on but I'd just be repeating "Wellkept gardens" so ... (read more)

1Gleb_Tsipursky5yYup, I don't want Eternal September either. My primary goal is to raise the sanity waterline broadly, through publishing articles for broad venues and getting people engaged with Intentional Insights content. For people who prove to be highly engaged with rational thinking and wish to advance further, those are the people I would direct to Less Wrong more explicitly.