If you're trying to discredit an idea, pretend to espouse it, while undermining your own credibility.

If you're trying to support an idea, attack it while undermining your own credibility.

If you're trying to "keep people on their toes," occasionally say wrong things, but don't lead people to expect that nothing you say is trustworthy or folks will just ignore you.

If you're trying to become a respected academic, engineer, or businessperson, protect your credibility.

If you are trying to keep people from finding something out, lose your credibility as badly as possible, and then publicly say the thing you're trying to hide.

Etc. So what are your goals?

Indeed. But most people share a lot of goals. People are rather homogenous, and credibility is often seen as a fairly universal instrumental goal. Many of the scenarios you listed are rather uncommon goals, much as suicide is pretty uncommon. Why is why I asked, entirely? There's a trivial sense in which it is, but there's a trivial sense in which it's not.

So what are your goals?

To never, ever lie.

This post is for sacrificing my credibility!

by Will_Newsome 1 min read2nd Jun 2012347 comments


Thank you for your cooperation and understanding. Don't worry, there won't be future posts like this, so you don't have to delete my LessWrong account, and anyway I could make another, and another.

But since you've dared to read this far:

Credibility. Should you maximize it, or minimize it? Have I made an error?


Don't be shallow, don't just consider the obvious points. Consider that I've thought about this for many, many hours, and that you don't have any privileged information. Whence our disagreement, if one exists?