Posts I repent of

by Will_Newsome1 min read20th Mar 201219 comments

25

Updated Beliefs (examples of)
Personal Blog

 

  • "Taking Ideas Seriously": Stylistically contemptible, skimpy on any useful details, contributes to norm of pressuring people into double binds that ultimately do more harm than good. I would prefer it if no one linked to or promoted "Taking Ideas Seriously"; superior alternatives include Anna Salamon's "Compartmentalization in epistemic and instrumental rationality", though I don't necessarily endorse that post either.
  • "Virtue Ethics for Consequentialists": Stylistically contemptible, written in ignorance of much of the relevant philosophy and psychology literature, contributes to norm of rewarding people who confidently proselytize on subjects of which they do not possess a deep understanding. Thankfully nobody links to this post.
All of my other posts also sucked but not to the extent that they're worth going out of my way to disavow.

 

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contributes to norm of pressuring people into double binds that ultimately do more harm than good

Could you give an example of how this might happen?

I think this post is a good example, and I now agree with Will that pushing people to confront such questions is harmful.

Why is this harmful?

I know I would appreciate it if someone pointed out whenever I wasn't taking an idea seriously, or when I wasn't letting my beliefs fully propagate.

I think this post is a good example

Your principle may have some merit but the example is a terrible one. That post was an experimental trolling attempt that was summarily downvoted to oblivion. If anything the fact that the author couldn't get himself taken seriously on that post when some of his others actually make headway suggests that lesswrong doesn't have too much of a vulnerability in that particular regard.

into double binds that ultimately do more harm than good

Is this claim a result of weighing harms against goods, or is it a result of listing some harms and declaring the question resolved?

Maybe you should edit "Virtue Ethics for Consequentialists" with an appropriate disclaimer.

All of my other posts also sucked

Curse of perfectionism?

Eh, I don't think so; I think some of my comments are pretty good, it's just that I only write posts when I'm really stressed. (I also mostly only write comments when I'm really stressed, but not always.)

This suggests giving yourself longer a mandatory editing period between writing a post and actually publishing it.

Unless, I suppose, you post as a way to handle stress, and simply writing and leaving text to revisit later wouldn't work as well?

But "Taking ideas seriously" was an awesome post. Given what we know now, it probably did more harm than good, but I wouldn't be able to walk around with something like that in my head and not post it for everyone to see.

Can you elaborate on what we know now that shows that the post probably did more harm than good?

I suspect it has to do with some LW users taking FAI seriously and dropping everything to join the cause, as suggested in this comment by cousin_it. In the following discussion, RichardKennaway specifically links to "Taking ideas seriously".

Yikes – "taking FAI seriously" is definitely not an obvious failure or harm!

I'd rather just not write posts than speculate about it, really. Any time spent writing posts I can instead use to try to convince other people to write posts, which I think my brain would also count as doing my part to avoid culpability for the predictable errors of others.

(Unrelated: Upon reflection, one of my posts was pretty okay, and I'd like it if someone did a second round of it soon, perhaps in the discussion section. Anyone who wants to do that, feel free to copy/paste.)

Any time spent writing posts I can instead use to try to convince other people to write posts, which I think my brain would also count as doing my part to avoid culpability for the predictable errors of others.

This is a good time to apply TDT/the categorical imperative, to your strategy and see what you get. ;)

Mixed strategy; thank the God Who is true randomness for randomness. (Though in practice false randomness would work just as well.)

This suggests giving yourself longer a mandatory editing period between writing a post and actually publishing it.

Yes. In sociology of science, there's apparently something called the 'equal-odds rule' which says that for a given scientist, you can't predict which of their publications will be the great publication, with no real effect of quality vs quantity - so it's probably a good idea to just publish as much as you can that passes your basic bar. (Which doesn't mean you should be sloppy about it, just means write a lot and let the ideas age like a fine wine.)

Thankfully nobody links to this post.

Actually someone did. But feel free to edit it out.

There are a number of comments I've made that would fit into this category, but I don't make real posts very much...