Is this dark arts and if it, is it justified?

by Gleb_Tsipursky 5y17th Nov 201443 comments

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I'd like the opinion of Less Wrongers on the extent to which it is appropriate to use Dark Arts as a means of promoting rationality.

I and other fellow aspiring rationalists in the Columbus, OH Less Wrong meetup have started up a new nonprofit organization, Intentional Insights, and we're trying to optimize ways to convey rational thinking strategies widely and thus raise the sanity waterline. BTW, we also do some original research, as you can see in this Less Wrong article on "Agency and Life Domains," but our primary focus is promoting rational thinking widely, and all of our research is meant to accomplish that goal.

To promote rationality as widely as possible, we decided it's appropriate to speak the language of System 1, and use graphics, narrative, metaphors, and orientation toward pragmatic strategies to communicate about rationality to a broad audience. Some example are our blog posts about gaining agency, about research-based ways to find purpose and meaning, about dual process theory and other blog posts, as well as content such as videos on evaluating reality and on finding meaning and purpose in life.

Our reasoning is that speaking the language of System 1 would help us to reach a broad audience who are currently not much engaged in rationality, but could become engaged if instrumental and epistemic rationality strategies are presented in such a way as to create cognitive ease. We think the ends of promoting rationality justify the means of using such light Dark Arts - although the methods we use do not convey 100% epistemic rationality, we believe the ends of spreading rationality are worthwhile, and that once broad audiences who engage with our content realize the benefits of rationality, they can be oriented to pursue more epistemic accuracy over time. However, some Less Wrongers disagreed with this method of promoting rationality, as you can see in some of the comments on this discussion post introducing the new nonprofit. Some commentators expressed the belief that it is not appropriate to use methods that speak to System 1.

So I wanted to bring up this issue for a broader discussion on Less Wrong, and get a variety of opinions. What are your thoughts about the utility of using light Dark Arts of the type I described above if the goal is to promote rationality - do the ends justify the means? How much Dark Arts, if any, is it appropriate to use to promote rationality?

 

Edit: After reading the comments, I see that this is not crossing into real Dark Arts territory in the traditional sense after all. I wasn't sure how LessWrong would perceive things, so thanks for your feedback!

 

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