I've talked a lot about the idea that some people speak one way, and others another way. Naturally, this is a spectrum, and each of us uses some of both. Indeed, depending on the topic, one person might be at one extreme end of this spectrum for one conversation, while being at the other extreme for another. (Scientists, I imagine, are very "nerdy" when talking about their work, but can be as political as anybody else when it comes to things that, in contrast to their work, they don't need to actually be right about; they can afford to sacrifice accuracy in exchange for social capital.)

Here are some examples of conversations. In each, a normal (hence, political) person will say something, and we will then have the opportunity to respond in their own language, garnering status and establishing ourselves as a potentially useful ally or dangerous enemy, or, in contrast, we may answer as a nerd, showing that we are blind to what's really going on, which will lower our status. We'll (justly!) be considered a political NPC, really.

Trump is Dumb (nerdy reply)

A "Trump is dumb, isn't he." (Here, B perceives A's subtext as "Trump is dumb," ie, B perceives no subtext at all (by the way, note that A's sentence is not really a question, is it.))

B "Possibly, but there's plenty of Bayesian evidence suggesting otherwise if you take into account his income, education, the accomplishments of his close family members, and so on."

Trump is Dumb 2 (politically savvy reply)

A "Trump is dumb, isn't he." (Here, B perceives A's subtext (correctly) to be "I am now signaling my membership in those groups which recite this line, and disassociating myself from those groups which would never recite this line, including nerdy thinkers who (even if held the same belief) would express their beliefs in a more nuanced way, since reality is nuanced and nerds are monochrome speakers who only ever describe reality, rather than also using subcommmunication, ie, using statements which appear to communicate about one piece of reality, but which are actually communicating information about a different piece of reality, namely, the political position of certain people.

B "Makes me embarrassed that my favorite color was ever orange." (Note that on the surface, this is a total non sequitur (ever noticed how much "normal" and political conversation seems to use non sequiturs?), but, if you look at the subtext, it's an on-topic reply. A presented information about tribal membership credentials, and B did precisely the same thing, therefore, on the important level, the topic hasn't changed at all. The key is this: any generic insult will do, since that effectively communicates accurate information about the true topic of conversation: tribal membership. You could say Trump's nose looked like a tomato with barely anything seeming out of place, since it would send the same message about tribal membership. In a very real sense (see my post about the "true essence of honesty"), saying these words (that Trump's nose looks like a tomato) is even true, because it's not communicating any information about Trump's nose (though you can see why some might think it does), and the information that it does communiate (one's tribal affiliations) is completely accurate. The result? The words are not true, but saying the words is true.

My Co-Workers are Idiots (nerdy reply)

A "God, my co-workers are such idiots." (B interprets this as an attempt to most precisely describe A's co-workers' qualities ('cuz that's what humans are all about, right, precisely describing things? (hint: that's what nerds are about (it's why they correct themselves unnecessarily, for example))

B "Possibly, though from what you've told me, I might describe more as careless than idiotic and, frankly (no offense), it's possible that a more objective representation of the events would reveal them to be acting reasonably on some level, despite what seems on the surface to be carelessness." (A may now justly throw up their hands in despair that B is both so clueless as to say something like this and then, on top of that, is also so clueless as to not be embarrassed about it)

My Co-Workers are Idiots 2 (politically savvy reply)

A "God, my co-workers are such idiots." (B interprets this as a generic putdown of the co-workers. It's not even necessarily a general dislike, since a dislike suggests a stable opinion or feeling, and this is nothing more than a roundabout way of expressing something that is felt in the moment. A might say similar words to express a negative feeling they might have about a loved one)

B "I mean, you are a really great worker, you know what I mean?" (raising A is as good as putting down B; status is relative like that. Additionally, it's better that B says that A is "a good worker" than that B "does such great work." Most people don't think their work is "about" the work; they focus on the work politics. So...how to say...a "worker" as a concept refers to their membership in a certain tribe, and saying that they're a "good" member of that tribe suggests that they fulfill the norms of that tribe well, and, as a result, have/deserve high status. The key is to see that "worker" doesn't mean "a person who works" in this case, but rather refers to tribal membership. Someone who does great work might not be a "good worker," you see? Not even if they interfere with the work in other ways; if they keep to themselves and don't help buy gifts or pizza, they're not a "good worker" even if they take nothing from anybody and also do great work.

After reviewing these concepts alone, in my head, I was able to become familiar enough with them to use them in real time. I could hear a statement, repress my nerdy interpretation of it, and generate a correct political response on the fly. This in-the-field testing greatly impacted me. People responded much more positively. While I feared that it'd seem like I was changing the subject (which was how it seemed to my nerdy perspective), they gave no hint of this, suggesting that finally (finally!) we were really speaking the same language, we were in sync at last. From these first faltering steps has since come great progress. Conversations are more positive and filled with more energy. I can persuade people and impress them. Apparently I'm funny now. I've been told it's hard to imagine I wasn't always social.

This is satisfaction and power both, and I now have a very slightly clearer idea of what it would take to get more people on board with important EA-style plans and other such things. I've despaired at time that most of our greatest thinkers can't talk well, or seem so obviously nerdy. Indeed, that I know of, we have not a single great speaker in the whole rationalist community despite our bevy of magnificent writers, and I think this places some hard limits on our ability to grow in influence. If the rationalist community can become socially competent, I think it will grow easily and quickly. At the end of the day, for most people, the "product" is the community, not the ideas we share, so, we will be judged for our people's mannerisms and "cool" factor, not for our lines of thought.

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While I think you are picking up on some correct social dynamics, I would encourage you to be hesitant about trying to recruit people or acting unilaterally on your current understanding and do community outreach. There are many levels to this game, and a lot of the most competent people have developed strong allergic reactions to people who are trying to consciously apply social techniques to influence their opinion. A lot of the reason why we do have a lot of good people in the community is precisely because we tend to stick more to the object level and tend to have conversations that are more based on logical than associative relations.

Ben Hoffman has a lot of writing on this (he calls it scribe culture) as has Paul Graham and a few other writers in the community. You would destroy a lot of trust that people have in this community by unilaterally starting to use the kind of social patterns you described in your post. Do whatever you want in your personal life, but be careful about burning the commons and the unilateralist curse when doing community outreach and representing the community.

In order to cause only true beliefs, you must understand both languages and then speak in the language of your interlocutor. As long as you talk nerdy to nerds and political to politicals, I'm not sure I see how trust might break down. That seems like a perfectly sustainable dynamic to me, but one of greater appeal and more general value.

Indeed, that I know of, we have not a single great speaker in the whole rationalist community despite our bevy of magnificent writers

Valentine is a great speaker.

Julia Galef's TedX video has >400k views. She also makes a good speaker.

If the rationalist community can become socially competent, I think it will grow easily and quickly.

That sounds like causing eternal september on purpose.

It's probably fair to say Julia's good. I wasn't aware of this valentinue figure; can you recommend a video of them speaking?

Valentine (or Michael Smith which is is official name) is a CFAR instructor. I heard him speak at the LessWrong Europe community camp and my impression of his skill comes from that experience and his in person charisma. As far as I know there isn't a good video of a speech of him online.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fyWuNx6y-jk shows him speaking about CFAR in a Q&A style but it's not really a speech format and I don't think it gives you a good impression of his actual charisma.

Valentine is interesting because he gets the problem of his charisma resulting in people believing him too much and not engaging in enough critical thinking.

Thank you, he speaks about some very interesting things. It's possible that, as you say, he has great in-person speaking power.

This sounds like a fun and potentially useful exercise: go out and actually communicate with people this way.

I see a potential risk that this may be a partially correct but incomplete description of reality. Like, nerds are at level 0, the politicals you describe are at level 1, but maybe some other people are at levels 2 and higher... and maybe when interacting with them, acting on level 1 could cause more harm than acting on level 0 (e.g. because when you appear more competent, your accidental bad moves will be interpreted as intentional).

Yet, if that is true, I don't see any way to get from level 0 to level 2 that wouldn't pass through level 1 first. It's just, you should be careful not to practice the level 1 on any stuff that actually matters.

In kinda reminds me of "pick-up artists". They can be a useful intermediate phase for people who started with absolute zero in social skills. Yet in general they are perceived as creeps. So you may want to go through that phase, but you don't want to remain there, and you definitely don't want to be remembered as having been there.

I don't feel like the examples you brought are in a meaningful sense about politics. I see politics as being about interactions between more than two people.

If I look at the second example, there's a question of the relationship between B and the coworkers in question that you completely ignore. Depending on how that relationship looks like it might cost you social capital to not defend the coworkers.

Depending on your relationship between A and B it's not certain whether the compliment will be accepted as being sincere.

Another political answer might be "Are you currently looking for a new job? My friend is hiring".

As far as the first example goes, there's a risk that you signal with that kind of behavior that you are a person who doesn't think seriously about politics.

To the extend that you are actually interested in politics writing posts that talk about how you treat other people as not having agency is a fundamentally bad idea. The internet doesn't forget. While you don't post under your real name, to the extend that you want to engage in political action with other rationalists there's a good change that there will be people who can link your lesswrong account to your real identity.

Treating people as NPC also ignores on of the main problem with getting nerds to do politics. Yudkowsky wrote "Why Our Kind Can't Cooperate". The pirate party that was something like a nerd party in Germany failed because they didn't do well at cooperating with each others. When you start proclaiming that it's good to treat others as NPCs you are likely increasing the problem because it's a lot easier to cooperate with other people when you respect their agency.

As far as conceptual frameworks go I'm a German, and we Germans have Schulz von Thun with his Four Sides model. It's popular model for communication and I was even taught it in high school. There are certain nerds who only communicate on the matter layer and ignore the other layers. Thinking in terms of his model is a lot less creepy than the post you wrote above and the model also makes more useful distinctions between different kinds of transmitted information.

Hmm, I'm not sure that there is that much of a difference between saying someone is a "good worker" vs. saying that they do "good work". I agree in the general case what people really are looking for is their identity to be validated, but I don't know how often people actually identify as "workers". In contrast, I suspect most people would prefer to be told that they are "valued members of the team", rather than just being told that they, "do good work".

Nonetheless, I did find this post useful. It's one thing to know in the abstract that the purpose of statements is often not to communicate facts or make factual claims, it's quite another to put that in concrete examples.

I've glanced over a few posts of yours recently and I feel your caricature of nerds is quite off, if we mean something even remotely similar by that word. I've rarely met a nerd with that level of clearly autistic (conscious & subconscious) obliviousness to the fact that each message has several sides to it, and that the object-level information side is not all there is to what is going on in social settings. There are tribes and subtribes of smart people out there, who make a big deal of object-level truth but they are all also simultaneously playing the social game, too (hint: academia). And they do it quite proficiently as measured and judged by the (sub)tribe they choose to belong to. If belonging to your tribe implies you better pay attention to what kind of object-level-information leaves your face (or fingertips), then you will tend to do so across situations and with other people as well, sometimes quite deliberately and in a contratian manner at the entirely calculated cost of "defecting" against people who don't share that value.

I'm describing two extremes, really, so no one person embodies either extreme. The question to ask when talking to someone is not "Is this person a nerd or a normal?" but rather something more like "How nerdy vs political is this person about this topic?" and then adjust your speaking accordingly so that you can cause true beliefs

I totally got that part, I'm saying your writing heavily implies the assumption that nerds in general are oblivious to this insight of yours, rather than acting contratian on purpose by semi-conscious calculated choice. I definitely consider myself a member of the nerd spectrum, but I was never blind to these social transactions. If someone talks nonsense that is of the kind that signals group membership there are still many valid reasons to engage in an object-level discussion. I may try to signal to others of the SMART tribe, or even just to that person that I'm not his/her tribe and don't care to belong to it or spend time with any of them. I may try to dominate and ridicule my opponent, or I may try to genuinely engage, because some people can actually be saved from their folly. People sometimes deconvert from their follies and their religions - they never tell it to your face but sometimes you can plant a seed in just the right place and it happens a week later when the cognitive dissonance becomes unbearable.

EDIT: On the upside I should point out though that "How nerdy vs political is this person about this topic?" is not really a bad question to ask oneself before engaging. If you choose to defect by keeping your supposed object-level frame, make sure you are aware of the cost and the potential gains rather than going with your gut.