[SEQ RERUN] Cynical About Cynicism

by MinibearRex1 min read3rd Mar 20135 comments


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Today's post, Cynical About Cynicism was originally published on 17 February 2009. A summary (taken from the LW wiki):


Much of cynicism seems to be about signaling sophistication, rather than sharing uncommon, true, and important insights.

Discuss the post here (rather than in the comments to the original post).

This post is part of the Rerunning the Sequences series, where we'll be going through Eliezer Yudkowsky's old posts in order so that people who are interested can (re-)read and discuss them. The previous post was An African Folktale, and you can use the sequence_reruns tag or rss feed to follow the rest of the series.

Sequence reruns are a community-driven effort. You can participate by re-reading the sequence post, discussing it here, posting the next day's sequence reruns post, or summarizing forthcoming articles on the wiki. Go here for more details, or to have meta discussions about the Rerunning the Sequences series.

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[quote]I'm cynical about cynicism. I don't believe that most cynicism is really about knowing better. When I see someone being cynical, my first thought is that they're trying to show off their sophistication and assert superiority over the naive. As opposed to, say, sharing their uncommon insight about not-widely-understood flaws in human nature.[/quote]

I'm cynical about cynicism-cynicism. Once you've suggested that people's motives in making public statements might extend beyond explicit content into a public display, it's difficult to see what public statements are immune to that sort of projected ad hominem (I forget, is there a more specific term for rejecting an argument by rejecting the sincerity of proponent?).

Certainly, it's not hard to be equally cynical about publicly delivered idealistic statements. The only way you can be sure that someone isn't (competently) playing to an audience is if they fail - which amounts to a rather destructive form of testing.


Let's nip this in the bud: I'm cynical about every ordinal you can build from cynicism.

Including that one?

The collection of cynicism ordinals is so big that it doesn't form a set, so it is not itself an ordinal, so... not yet.

You make a sophisticated point. Marios