Other utopias or searching the reference class for the rationality hub project

by gogishvilli2 min read15th Feb 20212 comments

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Let's find the reference class for the new rational hub project, come up with some parameters to assess them, and quarter-bake a model to constrain our migration expectations. 

I arbitrarily selected Free Town Project and Rajneeshpuram. If after the discussion the model will seem worthy - we can google other examples and get a rough feel for its predictive power. 

This post started from a message to my friend:

“FSP- weak pull, zero requirements- moved 2k. Rajneeshpuram - very strong pull, cult level requirements - 7k,  Rationalists - mid pull, few hard requirements- assuming linear importance of both - should it be more successful other things being equal?”

This post is an attempt to expand on it. I'm ignorant of details of both and the US reality as well, but I'll try to extract relevant parameters and not to assess the specifics, so I'll just ignore the details and gaps and model something in the right direction. The parameters, ordered by obscurity ascending:

Pull - what brings people together

Alternatively - how hard it is to live outside the community if you believe X?

FSP - there's a lot of libertarians, the ideology is vague and abstract - one can live okay in most of the US.

Rajneeshpuram - a cult of personality, very specific ideology - it's very hard to follow it outside of the community in the USA, maybe better in India, but few people choose to live there.

Rationality hub - one can live with normies, but it's quite dull, a lot of people have already moved to the nearest hub. Somebody who's finished the Sequences seems quite dedicated to me.

Requirements/Demands - how hard it is to live in the community?

FSP - no demands, nothing positive bring together, no constructive program - totally no constraints of expectations - no person who's not miserable and values what they have will move. My guess is that anarchists would have more pull

Rajneeshpuram - cult. If you like everything but this sexist thing, you'll be peer pressured AF. Looks like only people who agree with the ideology 100% wouldn't be miserable there, although the first two episodes of Wild Wild Country suggest otherwise.

Rationality hub - demands to understand the craft and have similar values. Most of us have quite specific expectations, won't be pressed to observe any rituals, if we agree with the values but think that 60% of the sequences are overkill or that most of the frontpage is useless - no one will frown upon us if we're willing to discuss it with good epistemology. The practice could be described as demanding, but it's extremely tolerant towards differences in opinions, kinks, and other stuff that wouldn't be tolerated anywhere else. Rationalists who've finished the sequences most probably wouldn't find it too taxing.

Awareness. How many people know about the hub?

FSP - I can't begin to guess.

Rajneeshpuram - every active participant and that guy? Authoritarianism rules

Rationality hub - followers of @ESYudkowsky and everyone who checks LW frontpage at least monthly

Routine optimality - everything from the takeaways

I'm not ready to research these about FSP and Rajneeshpuram, and rational hub candidates are successfully discussed without my contribution.

If you can assess FSP or Rajneeshpuram by these parameters - it would be nice, but I can't give you ROI. If you're willing to throw a few hundred bucks to hire a historian or sociologist for it - it'd be awesome. I could try to find such a person and manage the research. (Good that they debunked Dunning-Kruger, or I'd doubt myself)

Quantity, duh - how many people participate in the movement and identify with it.

Important note - it seems to me that to participate in such a project, a person should be interested in the movement, not just the ideology.

Libertarians - from 7 to 22% of the US population, tend to grow

Rajneesh - up to 100000? I probably should update my map on this number, but it requires research about prehistorical memetics and sociology

 

The pull and demand parameters don't seem actionable to me, but they can help predict whether the idea of a standalone hub(not in a major city) will succeed. If you have more parameters to suggest - actionable or esoteric, please comment! If you have a model about how proximity to a major city/regular town interacts with demand - that seems like an important part that plays role in the rational hub migration project.

It would be interesting to analyze decentralized communities with multiple hubs. I'm quite inspired by the success (in this regard) of NXVIM

 

P.S. This is my first major post here, so any suggestions on how to improve the writing or thinking would be welcome. Maybe lifehacks on how to research relevant info easily, cuz the way I know now is just putting an overwhelming amount of labor.

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Rationality hub - demands to understand the craft and have similar values. 

It's my impression that a lot of people who believe this and move to the Bay area find out that they actually are not invited to the parties where the Bay area rationalists hang out.

My impression is the same, but "demands" here is meant more like a demand to wear a silly hat or be severely peer-pressured, not "not being invited to a party". But I may misunderstand the problem or be too excited to properly react to it. If you have an example that could deliver it more viscerally - I'd appreciate that.