To be honest I suspect it may be interesting to hear what other people than either Phil or Eliezer have to say on the details of group selection applicability. It's a red flag for both of them.

For my part it strikes me that there is something rather different between the thing that Eliezer ridicules and the thing that species selection can be considered an instance of. There is also more to be said on what modern biology has to say on the subject.

It may also be worth seeing if there are contributors with suggestions on how to mellow out the group selection page without introducing any inaccuracies.

Group selection is a topic which breeds contention for some reason. For example I do not understand why Robert Sapolsky (top primate expert) seems to treat the subject with a tone of voice which is almost sanctimonious in these lectures:

Biology and Human Behavior.

It seems as if he has a muscle memory of getting bludgeoned by hours of arguments.

6Eliezer Yudkowsky9yCorrect. Species don't breed - they are not part of a sexually reproducing population - so the theory and simulations ruling out group selection against a countervailing individual selection pressure (invaders take over the gene pool under all realistic conditions) doesn't rule out species-level selection. Modus ponens to modus tollens, observed examples of species selection don't argue for group selection being realistic and Phil Goetz's entire argument is a nonsequitur. This was obvious to me at a glance but experience has taught me I do not enjoy arguing with Phil Goetz.
-1lessdazed9yI think it may involve dividing it into two pages, one about biases, the psychology of biologists, the failings of permissive science, etc. and one about natural selection. Failing to understand amoral stochastic systems may lead people to believe true things for bad reasons. We can criticize this even when and where they happen to be right.

Who owns LessWrong?

by PhilGoetz 1 min read29th Sep 201185 comments


The LessWrong wiki contains a biased and offensive entry on group selection.  I edited the wiki page, to append some points representing an opposing view at the end.  Eliezer removed my points, leaving only a link at the end.  He said he thought my points were wrong, but would not say which points he thought were wrong, or why he thought they were wrong.

Is it reasonable for me to restore my changes over Eliezer's edit, since he is unwilling to give reasons for his edit?  What sort of rights or privileges does Eliezer have over LW or LW wiki content?

(Please try not to turn this into a discussion of group selection.)

ADDED:  Please go meta, folks.  I am not trying to argue about this specific Wiki article.  I am not asking for redress.  Specifics about this wiki article are irrelevant.  I am asking whether this is still a benevolent dictatorship.

The relevant questions are not what the appropriate form of debate is, or anything about this wiki article.  The relevant questions are:

  • Who owns the domain?
  • Who created the Wiki?
  • Who owns the code?
  • Who pays for the servers?
  • If someone is in charge, what rights do they reserve for themselves?
  • At what point does the ratio of community contributions to Eliezer's contributions mean we have the right to claim some ownership?

The Wiki main page says, "The wiki about rationality that anyone who is logged in can edit".  Apparently that is a lie.  If I do not have as much right as Eliezer does to write a wiki post, I want that point explicitly spelled out.