A Kick in the Rationals: What hurts you in your LessWrong Parts?

by sixes_and_sevens 1 min read25th Apr 2012194 comments


A month or so ago I stumbled across this.  It's a blog piece by one Robert Lanza M.D., a legitimate, respected biologist who has made important contributions to tissue engineering, cloning and stem cell research.  In his spare time, he is a crackpot.

I know I shouldn't give any of my time to an online pop-psychology magazine which has "Find a Therapist" as the second option on its navigation bar, but the piece in question could have been *designed* to antagonise a LessWrong reader: horrible misapplication of quantum physics, worshipful treatment of the mysterious, making a big deal over easily dissolvable questions, bold and unsubstantiated claims about physics and consciousness... the list goes on.  I'm generally past the point in my life where ranting at people who are wrong on the internet holds any appeal, but this particular item got my goat to the point where I had to go and get my goat back.

If reading LW all these years has done anything, it's trained me to take apart that post without even thinking, so (and I'm not proud of this), I wrote a short seven-point response in the comments lucidly explaining its most obvious problems, and signed it Summer Glau.  It got removed, and I learned a valuable lesson about productively channeling my anger.

But this started me thinking about how certain things (either subjects or people) antagonise what I now think of as my LessWrong Parts, or more generally cause me distress on an epistemic level, and what my subjective experience of that distress is like so I can recognise and deal with it in future.

I've seen a few other people make comments describing this kind of distress, (this description of "being forced to use your nicely sharpened tools on a task that would destroy them" seems particularly accurate).  Common culprits seem to be critical theory, postmodernism and bad philosophy.  I've also noticed some people distress me in this fashion, in a way I'm still struggling to characterise.

Who else has this experience?  Do you have any choice examples?  What hurts you in your LessWrong Parts?