My name's Dave.

I got here through the MoR fic a week or so ago, thence the Babykillers/HappyFunPeople fic, thence the Overcoming Bias archive, which I'm currently working my way through. Created an account to comment on a post there, then found this post.

I'm not sure I do identify as a rationalist, actually. It seems to me that a necessary condition to justify my making such a claim is valuing habits of thought and behavior that lead to accuracy over other kinds of habits -- for example, those that lead to peace or popularity or collaboration or productivity or etc. -- and I'm not sure I do.

(I don't mean to suggest that they are incompatible, or even mutually inhibitory. It might work out that someone primarily motivated by rationalism also ends up being maximally peaceful, popular, collaborative and/or productive, just as it might work out that someone primarily motivated by pacifism also ends up being maximally rational. But I don't see any good reason to believe it.)

That said, there are habits of thought and behavior I value and see well represented here. Precision in speech is one of them -- saying what you mean, requesting clarification for ambiguous statements, etc. Argument to explore an idea rather than defend a position is another. A third is the willingness to assume good will on the part of someone one disagrees with; to treat disagreement as an opportunity to teach or learn or both rather than as a challenge to be defeated or evaded. (Though perhaps that's just the second reason wearing a funny hat.) Active interest in how people think (as distinct from what they think) is another.

These are all fairly rare traits in the world, and even more so on the Internet, and I enjoy them where I find them.

More demographically: I've lived in Massachusetts since I came here for college 20+ years ago, was a cognitive science major back then and since then have worked in the software biz in various capacities (currently a requirements analyst). In my non-work hours (and in more of my work hours than I ought) I do community theatre and wander the Internet; I'm currently rehearsing for a production of The Goat and getting ready to direct a production of Equus next year. Was raised an Orthodox Jew and still identify that way culturally, but neither practice nor believe. Recently married my partner of 18+ years.

That's probably enough for now. Feel free to ask questions.

Welcome to Less Wrong! (2010-2011)

by orthonormal 1 min read12th Aug 2010805 comments


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