That Thing That Happened

by [anonymous]1 min read18th Dec 201285 comments


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I am emotionally excited and/or deeply hurt by what st_rev wrote recently. You better take me seriously because you've spent a lot of time reading my posts already and feel invested in our common tribe. Anecdote about how people are tribal thinkers.

That thing that happened shows that everything I was already advocating for is correct and necessary. Indeed it is time for everyone to put their differences aside and come together to carry out my recommended course of action. If you continue to deny what both you and I know in our hearts to be correct, you want everyone to die and I am defriending you.

I don't even know where to begin. This is what blueist ideology has been workign towards for decades if not millennia, but to see it written here is hard to stomach even for one as used to the depravity caused by such delusions as I am. The lack of socially admired virtues among its adherents is frightening. Here I introduce an elaborate explanation of how blueist domination is not just completely obvious and a constant thorn in the side of all who wish more goodness but is achieved by the most questionable means often citing a particular blogger or public intellectual who I read in order to show how smart I am and because people I admire read him too. Followed by an appeal to the plot of a movie. Anecdote from my personal life. If you are familiar with the obscure work of an academic taken out of context and this does not convince you then you are clearly an intolerant sexual deviant engaging in motivated cognition.

Consider well: do you want to be on the wrong side of history? If you persist, millions or billions of people you will never meet will be simultaneously mystified and appalled that an issue so obvious caused such needless contention. They will argue whether you were motivated more by stupidity, malice, raw interest, or if you were a helpless victim of the times in which you lived. Characters in fiction set in your era will inevitably be on (or at worst, join) the right side unless they are unredeemable villains. (Including historical figures who were on the other side, lest they lose all audience sympathy.).

Remember: it's much more important what hypothetical future people will consider right than what you or current people you respect do. And you and I both know they'll agree with me.

While sympathetic to this criticism I must signal my world-weariness and sophistication by writing several long paragraphs about how this is much too optimistic and we are in grave danger of a imminent and eternal takeover by our opponents. The only solution is to begin work on an organization dedicated to preventing this which happens to give me access to material resources and attractive females.

Ciphergoth proves to be the lone voice of reason by encouraging us to recall what we all learned on 9/11:

However, we must also consider if this is not also a lesson to us all; a lesson that my political views are correct.

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[-][anonymous]8y 29

I don't think discussion of that thing is appropriate on lesswrong. People get mindkilled about the subject and don't end up in agreement with me about how we should deal with the thing. Moreover, seeing a bunch of people who are either too stupid to see the truth or who are just being contrarian about it will put off new members and make us look to outsiders like a guvat.

Can we not practice rationality on something uncontroversial, like that other thing?

[-][anonymous]8y 20

Can we not practice rationality on something uncontroversial, like that other thing?

That other thing where LessWrongers end up agreeing with you? Ha! That people here don't realize that is controversial is evidence of x-ist bias of the site.

7Error8yThis particular (relatively) new member, rather than being put off, feels this thread is made of 128% pure concentrated awesome, especially the parts of which vocal appreciation is likely to improve my status in the community.

Posting about this thing is not about this thing, but about signaling concern for this thing in order to raise one's status. If one were to actually care about this thing, one would immediately direct all but one's minimal living expenses and cryonics fees towards this thing. If you ever go to a movie you obviously do not really care about this thing.

[-][anonymous]8y 12

I'm glad you brought this up, Konkvistador, but I'd like to solidify my status as a member of this community by casting suspicion on you.

While sympathetic to this criticsm I must signal my world-weariness and sophistication by writing a several long paragraphs about how this is much too optimistic and we are in grave danger of a imminent and eternal takeover by our opponents. The only solution is to begin work on an organization dedicated to preventing this which happens to give me access to material resources and attractive females.

Your style is superficially represtentative of our tribe, but in your comments elsewhere, we can see that you disagree with us on Obvious Facts in a way that reveals your low moral character.

Let`s remember that Rallying Slogan, and that inspirational forward-looking excuses to shun Konkvistador. In fact I think his vile ideology has become too common around here, and we need someone suspiciously similar to me to step up and purge our community in a friendly sounding way.

Let`s not forget, slogan taken out of context to justify my proposal.

4MrMind8yI upvoted you, so please let's get into a happy affection spiral by voting each other on every comment, just because being in the tribe is cool! For (your take on)[D]!
3ChristianKl8yCould you link to the full proposal to give people who don't follow the conflict in detail the context they need to understand?

Well, good thing you've shown your superiority to both sides by making a meta comment about the discussion rather than contributing to it.

[-][anonymous]8y 13

I make a meta comment about how your meta comment can be applied to itself.

8Jay_Schweikert8y"Sorry, that accusation expires after one use per conversation." []
6FiftyTwo8yWell yes, thats because I'm better than them.
6[anonymous]8yAren't we all!
0[anonymous]8yI'm probably not.

Since the news is so heavily inflated by both green and blue bias, I do not follow it. This is a sign of many virtues and is an example that you all should follow, but I understand that you will not as you lack the virtues that I value highest--in particular the virtues you value are clearly inferior.

Because of the path that I have chosen which lifts me above both the blues and greens, I have no idea what it is that happened and I would appreciate it if someone would inform me about The Thing.

However my immense virtue allows and requires me to only engage in discussion of The Thing which is unrelated to Blues and Greens, and even to Reds, who, while avoiding many common mistakes of blues and greens should really just wash their hands of the whole thing LIKE I DO. So if anyone says anything that I interpret to be blue or green or even red (or purple or orange, but let's be honest who is purple or orange?) I will be totally justified in raining verbal abuse on them and leaving the discussion, and will still be the officially neutral and unbiased member of the discussion.

I was like you once (though better perhaps, because I did it earlier) but then I transcended such egocentric pseudo-virtue and reached the true apex of apolitical virtue: faith respecting apologetic detachment.

The critical turning point was when I realized that naive Thing-following of the part of the masses was actually a critical element in the cohesiveness of our civilization. By ignoring Things, and emotionally disengaging from naive Blue/Green loyalty I was actually subtly defecting on the constituent civic elements of our goodarchy for the sake of scoring points in a silly meta-political status game.

Tragically, my self modification in this regard was so successful that I could no longer participate in good faith in the hallowed and respectable rallies of the Blues nor could I non-ironically march with the Greens in their enthusiastic chariot parades... even as I now respect both of these activities. However, to authentically respect the rustically charming virtue of my people's simplistic social forms I have found myself hanging to the side and modestly cheering for the good hearted participants on both sides of this ancient (and ultimately adaptively balancing) social di... (read more)

7Eugine_Nier8yI would like to point out that the position you're arguing for could reasonably be called meta-Green. The meta-Blue position would be to attempt to destroy the whole Blue-Green political system on the grounds that it's irrational. As a meta-Green myself, I agree this would be a bad idea, but now that I've pointed this out, you should have an easier time marching non-ironically with the Greens.
5fubarobfusco8yI must express deeply cynical suspicion that "meta-Greens" are either ① trying desperately to erect a sophisticated, academy-compatible veneer to justify the unjustifiable actions of object-level Greens; or ② as Clever Arguers, rationalizing defenses for their deeply ingrained Green upbringings, which they are not yet enlightened enough to question.
1Eugine_Nier8yI must express an objection that you seem to be using cynicism and ad hominem to avoid addressing the substance of my argument.
3magfrump8yYou didn't tell me anything about the Thing, and mentioned both the greens and blues, therefore I am totally justified in insulting you in any and every way one could possibly imagine, up to including physically violent threats which, due to context, you have agreed will never be admissible evidence in any court of law even if you are later attacked in the specific ways I describe. Since these insults are your fault, they are in no way indicative of a societal problem surrounding me or similar people but are in fact indicative of problems that You and people you associate with are well known to have always had.

Expression of concern for your mental health and your adherence to prescribed medications. Friendly conviviality deploying a charming mixture of blue and green political shibboleths to deflect the substance of your Thing-related obsession. Flattery of the forum itself and its moderators for their provision of such an open and caring environment. Request for someone who knows him well to visit magfrump to attend to potential mental health needs.

5magfrump8yI'm actually kind of touched by your concern here.

It should be obvious to any True Bayesian that the author is a Frequentist Pig who misuses the Art of Statistics to persuade the ignorant. For example, I cite a statistic that the OP never referenced and show how it could be misleadingly interpreted. It is blatantly obvious that the author has insufficient understanding of quantum mechanics to continue this discussion. Since I have read several Wikipedia articles on the subject, I am qualified to point out irrelevant facts and claim that they show the author's misunderstanding of quantum mechanics, despite the original post having nothing to do with the subject. I would now link to my dissertation on the subject, but my dissertation is really only a blog post and I haven't actually written that blog post yet since that would require me to clarify my vague and inaccurate thoughts.

The original post is evidence of the falling standards in this community due to the increase in new members ever since that other event.

Thankyou for reminding me why I love lesswrong.

5BlazeOrangeDeer8yAlso for showing me what Lesswrong's version of r/circlejerk looks like
-2wedrifid8yIf "circlejerk" meant "Creative expression of several posts worth of core lesswrong rationality material in an easy to read, relaxed and enjoyable format" rather than "A word for male group masturbation used in metaphorical sense" then I wouldn't dismiss your claim as obnoxious and inaccurate.
4Caspian8yBlazeOrangeDeer would be talking about this parody subreddit []. Sometimes the parodies are in a similar "meta" style to Konkvistador's post.
2[anonymous]8yAn unrelated generic New York Times article []. Paper beats blog!
2Dre8yHow about a news show? []. Best watched without sound.
[-][anonymous]8y 8

An inspirational quote I found while researching this subject to confirm I am right:

Our fight, of [A] against [B] over [C], is but one battle in the ancient war over [F], along the great divide between [D] and [E]. Many do not realize how many of our apparently mundane conflicts are, in reality, battles in this ancient war. Today is a crucial day in this war, so we must not give up, and we must not lose hope, or someday [D] may lose [F] forever. Fight, fight!

For [D]!

8Oligopsony8yI note that this is isomorphic to any reasoning that successfully persuades my present self to cooperate with my community of temporal selves, whether on collectively selfish matters or otherwise. Why do you hate {discipline|cooperation|TDT|puppies}? I must conclude that rather than expressing propositional content your ideology is a will-to-power on behalf of high-conscientiousness self-communities such as yourself by attempting to disarm my tribe of the ability to pass a marshmallow test, thus leaving more marshmallows for you. I do not judge you for this, but I wish our culture could be a little more honest with itself and be sanctimonious about my values instead.
0[anonymous]8yI'm somewhat confused about how serious you are with this.

I'm as serious as a heart attack... about tricking you into breaking form.

(Puts on shades, skateboards into sunset.)

6DaFranker8yI must remark my admiration for your tour de force, as expressing my support for you and your achievements signals that I am within what must now be seen as the cool camp. This support comes to reinforce your upper hand on the other camp, despite the fact that your previous victory was entirely tangential to the thing that happened.
6MrMind8yAh, but I can prove my superior understanding by pointing to this thing, which is neither [D] or [E], but from the reference I once read, which probably was peer-reviewed by a respected panel of experts, I can tell you that it shares features from both [D] and [E]. This does not mean that I do not agree with a member that has much more karma than me, it just means that the category used here might suffer from x bias. So we should really apply that theorem from this chapter of Jaynes' book, to obtain that after all [D] is the correct bayesian option. Please upvote me, I'm so smart!
1Multiheaded8yIronically (as you were probably unaware of this), Oligopsony had already made [] a more or less serious steelman of this argument about a year ago. Attempting to summarize, grand ideological narratives and seeming political extremism might have high expected utility if you care about boosting or suppressing a self-reinforcing trend along some axis. Therefore, to be more TDT-agenty in this regard, you'll have to commit to defending the undesirable/unpopular consequences of a desirable trend or attacking the desirable/popular consequences of an undesirable one - if you correctly measure how inevitable the causation is and how likely they would've been to arise without the trend's progress. So you end up e.g. defending the Jacobin terror when you're merely against slavery, or opposing intervention in domestic abuse when you're merely in favour of traditional marriage. And then everyone reasonable calls you a far-Blue nutjob and laughs at your slippery-slope nonsense.
[-][anonymous]8y 7


0[anonymous]8yHitler? No you are Hitler you Communist!
0[anonymous]8yGodwin's Law!
[-][anonymous]8y 5

What are we getting at here? A thing happened, and predictably, people attempt to recruit it as a soldier. Your meta-commentary is entertaining, but what's the point?

We're just making fun of people treating any news as evidence for the superiority of their tribe. Then making fun of ourselves for asserting the superiority of our tribe by making fun of others.

I think the serious use of this post is to look at your own thinking, notice you're doing those mocked things, and stop.

3[anonymous]8yI am not used to this level of meta. EDIT: and thank you for clearing that up.
1MixedNuts8yYou're welcome. But that's just two levels. If this confuses you, either you should read Hofstadter and Death Note and MoR, or you shouldn't.
1DaFranker8yAgreed, but I think taking levels in (analysis/understanding of) meta is just overall too useful to not at least try. Those three are also excellent recommendations whether or not you understand meta well.
0Bruno_Coelho8ySo, the whole point is about LWers making fun of people who make fun of everyone else who disagree with him(blue/green) in a particular point. Konk should put this on the text.
1MixedNuts8yMaking fun of Blues who make fun of Greens, and also making fun of LWers who make fun of the above. And that would spoil the joke.
1DaFranker8yI just realized that if you interpret nyan's original comment at the top of this thread as being about the meta, then it sounds like he's one-upped all of this with further meta-fun.
5[anonymous]8yI'm not actually talking about any particular thing or policy.
8MrMind8yLet's ban the serious tag and live happily ever after in a superposition of humour and serious meta-comment.
3[anonymous]8yI am convinced by this proposal but in order to save face I must now explain how this is what I had in mind the entire time but was misunderstood by the simpletons here.
0J_Taylor8y[Serious comment] I posted this [] a while ago. I think it is still very relevant. Seriously.
3[anonymous]8yOk, but what are you getting at? Is this just a bit of meta-fun, or am I missing the point? Am I spoiling the party by asking questions?
4TimS8yThis is why I hate meta. It encourages discussion that isn't aimed at solving any particular problem.
2DaFranker8y...except this particular meta is. It's aimed at solving the particular problem that MixedNuts already described very well []. Arguably, "meta" discussion is just like everything else; Sturgeon's Law [] applies, and 90% of meta is crap meta (or meta-crap? Kekeke). That good 10% is usually more useful at solving a bunch of problems than tackling each problem one by one without meta would be.
0TimS8yFair enough. It's possible that my reaction here is based on a combination of not closely reading the link and therefore misinterpreting Konkvistador's intended message. In fact, if one doesn't read the link, the non-meta version of Konkvistador's message is fairly consistent with his known policy preferences / methods of historical analysis. In short, it's probably a good thing that I didn't have time to respond to this post this morning, before the comments gave it appropriate context.
0[anonymous]8yDon't quite see which policy preferences you are talking about. I certainly hope so! Not much point in writing parody if you can't make fun out of oneself.
0TimS8yI realize now that this wasn't your intent, but this: made me think of this discussion [] we had about historical trends. Not your fault that American TV uses blue for one of the political parties, specifically the one that you like less. But it created inferences in my mind, since I hadn't read the link closely. (see also this [] , which suggested to me that this issue is still very much on your mind). This isn't really a local failure mode. I think I do well at avoiding this particular failure, and your specific application [] of the general principle was well received (based on karma). That's why I said that this meta doesn't seem to be aimed at solving any particular problem.
-1[anonymous]8ySure, but you can use it amuse yourself or even do some cheap signalling.
1TimS8yI thought that cheap signalling was bad. If signalling of a virtue is cheap, people will signal even if they lack the virtue - creating substantial waste and disguising those who actually have the desired virtue.
1wedrifid8yIf signalling a virtue is cheap then the waste may not be all that substantial after all and the problem is primarily the difficulty in detecting actual virtue. For creating substantial waste look to signals that are costly but nevertheless important enough to be signaled heavily. Like higher education degrees and male peacock's feathers.
0TimS8yFair enough. I don't take much from Hanson, but I agree that insincere signalling is not something we should reward - I personally think that insincere signally is mildly immoral - at about the level of basic Dark Arts rhetoric []. Regardless of the moral valence, if one does something only for signalling value and not because one intrinsically desires the result (e.g. how some folks treat attending classical music concerts), then I suspect one would be personally happier if one would stop the signalling behavior - not that this is always practical.

[Serious comment]

This is funny and all but I worry that by mocking political signalling we miss that there are real substantive discussions to be had. Blue/Green values offs are obviously wrong, but there are empirically resolvable issues that come under the realm of "politics" and by rejecting all forms of "political" discussion we remove our ability to talk seriously about it.

E.g. Gun control (which I assume this is in reference to) is a controversial issue in the US, but the question of whether policy X is likely to be effective at... (read more)

Except that people's attachments to values and rights, as well as the legal pragmatics surrounding them, have real-world consequences that impact the answer to that empirical question.

6[anonymous]8yNo it isn't. This also reveals Amerocentric assumptions.
3Emile8yConsidering you've lost some sleep over American tribal politics [] before, it's not a completely unreasonable assumption.
1[anonymous]8yOh not at all. Just pointing out it is an Amerocentric one.
1FiftyTwo8yI'm not american, but I'm aware most of he sites users and several of the ones prominently involved in this discussion are and american politics excessively dominates media everywhere, especially online, so it seems a reasonable inference.
1[anonymous]8yRight I say so elsewhere, but in this case I wasn't referring to the debate.
0ewbrownv8yI tend to agree with your concern. Discussing politics is hard because all political groups make extensive use of lies, propaganda and emotional appeals, which turns any debate into a quagmire of disputed facts and mind-killing argument. It can be tempting to dismiss the whole endeavor as hopeless and ignore it while cynically deriding those who stay involved. Trouble is, political movements are not all equal. If they gain power, some groups will use it to make the country wealthy so they can pocket a cut of the money. Others will try to force everyone to join their religion, or destroy the economy in some wacky scheme that could never have worked, or establish an oppressive totalitarian regime and murder millions of people to secure their position. These results are not equal. So while it might be premature to discuss actual political issues on Less Wrong, searching for techniques to make such discussions possible would be a very valuable endeavor. Political trends affect the well-being of hundreds of millions of people in substantial ways, so even a modest improvement in the quality of discourse could have a substantial payoff. At the very least, it would be nice if we could reliably identify the genocidal maniacs before they come into power...
5[anonymous]8yI didn't understand this at first but now its clear. Improving the discourse on LessWrong would have an impact on actual policy. Needless to say I fully support anti-democratic coups by rationalists so lets start hoarding weapons and decide which country to start with! Due to geographic convenience and control over Silicon Valley which is vital to existential risk reduction a Protectorate of California sounds nice to me. Maybe we can outsource the boring parts of running the state to Apple. On the slim chance however that you think a higher level of discourse on LessWrong would lead to us just pointing out the irrational side to the general public or something as silly as us voting the right way actually mattering then the value of such information is remarkably low.
-1ewbrownv8yWow, look at all the straw men. Is there an actual reasoned position in there among the fashionable cynicism? If so, I can't find it. One of the major purposes of Less Wrong is allegedly the promotion of more rational ways of thinking among as large a fraction of the general population as we can manage to reach. Finding better ways to think clearly about politics might be an especially difficult challenge, but popularizing the result of such an attempt isn't necessarily any harder than teaching people about the sunk costs fallacy. But even if you think raising the level of public discourse is hopeless, being able to make accurate predictions of your own can also be quite valuable. Knowing things like "the Green's formula for winning elections forces them to drive any country they control into debt and financial collapse", or "the Blues hate the ethnic group I belong to, and will oppress us as much as they can get away with" can be rather important when deciding where to live and how to manage one's investments, for example.
1HalMorris8yI'm probably about to slip on a banana peel by not being ironic here, considering the fantastic positive karma scores people are racking up with irony but fools rush in and maybe I am one. I would like to think this is true because unless we find some way to improve the level of thinking among those people who elect our governments, we will either have to live with their mistakes, or attempt to overcome them through force or secrecy and subtlety (like the nice fantasy of Asimov's 2nd foundation). If we do the latter, we will probably, like most intelligentsia who tried to do the right thing for everybody's sake, sell our souls to the devil, and end up killing each other off as the Jacobins and Bolsheviks did (It's a historical and I think thought-provoking fact that they did just that - I hope I'm not surprising too many people with this statement) . Or maybe we will take it upon ourselves to control things via super technology, thereby bringing on the Singularity before we have any idea what is required for that to be anything but a disaster. But I fear that for most of us it seems that, "as large a fraction of the general population as we can manage to reach" is indeed a tiny minority. If that is so, I don't see how we can avoid the dilemma I mentioned above.
1Eugine_Nier8yI'm not sure about that. Where did most of today's ideas about politics and economics, specifically the ones influencing how politics and economies are run, come from? I would argue that they're third or fourth hand versions of ideas originally developed by small circles of "intelligentsia", similar to LW, several generations ago.
0HalMorris8yThis is largely true of course. We inherit our institutions from the past - some of them from professional thinkers, like scientists, or from Enlightenment philosophers by way to the generation of the 1770s and the writers of the U.S. Constitution, who they also read Seneca, Cicero, Cato the Younger, etc., and were influenced by the English thinkers who were stirred up by the struggles of the the 1600s. I'm just detecting very little urgency. I recently attended a Meetup where the saying they viewed it as important to get Level 5 thinkers to Level 6, and saw little point (or possibility?) in trying to facilitate moving from Level 2 to Level 3. There is at least one very broad and deep movement working to change the beliefs of the electorate in certain preconceived directions, and they have a lot to show for it. E.g.: according to []. When the USSR began to democratize, I think there was a missed window of opportunity and they went back to a new form of authoritarianism, from which I believe Berlusconi of Italy was able to take some lessons (i.e. from Putinism). This looked for a while like a turning back from Democracy in a nation (Italy) that had it for several decades.. During Russia's window of opportunity I think it arguable that the prevailing attitude was "Get the right ideas in the minds of the intelligentsia and that will do the job." I expect LWers would agree that "propagandising the masses" (with ideology that we can't even agree on) is a non-starter, but I'm looking to participate with somebody in trying to broaden the idea or practice, or at least acceptance of the fruits of, a critical search for reality. One problem seems to be a breakdown common sense about who it trying to tell the truth and who is propagandising, and I fear sometimes and in too many places / situations / social circles, the U.S. is looking more like a third w
0[anonymous]8yMocking political signaling is not the same as mocking substantative discussions. Not really.

In my last comment, I claimed that Mr. Konkvistador's choleric sound bites hurt the pocketbooks of working families, and that claim is even more true now. Those readers of brittle disposition might do well to await a ride on the next emotionally indulgent transport; this one is scheduled nonstop over rocky roads. As soon as you're strapped in I'll announce something to the effect of how I have begged Mr. Konkvistador's apostles to step forth and bring strength to our families, power to our nation, and health to our cities. To date, not a single soul has ag... (read more)

Comment about the tenuous relevance of friendly AI to that thing. Misuse of a term from mathematics or computer science to support my point. The number 3^^^3 appears for no particular reason.

1[anonymous]8yI point out your misuses, engage in even more blatant ones to do so.

Can you fix the spelling of my handle please? Thanks!

0[anonymous]8ySorry about that! A thanks to Alicorn for fixing it first.

Horrendously misspelled and grammatically incorrect of-topic musing that should be in one of the monthly threads.