Consistent Glomarization should be feasible

by Stuart_Armstrong1 min read4th May 202011 comments



Glomarization is responding that one "can neither confirm nor deny" something. It has to be done consistently, to avoid problems like:

There's been a lot of talk on this list about honesty and meta-honesty. Glomarization is a minor part of this, I know, but there is a claim that:

Genuinely consistent Glomarization (i.e., consistently saying "I cannot confirm or deny" whether or not there's anything to conceal) does not work in principle because there are too many counterfactual selves who might want to conceal something.

Consistently Glomarizing with "OR"

The problem with Glomarizing in everyday life is:

So either you Glomarize very rarely (thus making it obvious when you've been up to something questionable), or you do it all the time (making you a terrible friend who refuses to share basic details of their life in a simple conversation).

A somewhat better answer would be:

Now, that's still socially awkward in many situations, but you can at least do it consistently to every query, while sharing most of your life in a conversational way. Note that this is superior to "or I did something I don't want to tell you about", because if you said that, then they merely needed to find out that you hadn't slept early to conclude you were up to something dubious.

With close friends or rationalist groups, you might agree in advance that there's a "or I don't want to tell you about what I did" attached to every statement about your life, or have a short abbreviation equivalent to that.

Other alternatives could be:

Not the easiest and most conventional way of phrasing things, but in terms of socially sharing harmless information, it gets the job done (and is probably more honest than most people's answers to these questions).