Well, that's why I said ideally. Lots of people believe evolution as a matter of faith rather than reason.

Sorry, I was saying I agreed with them. You don't have to know every argument for a position to hold it, you just have to be right.

Mind you, I generally do learn the arguments, but I'm weird like that.

I consider someone who, without good basis, tells you that there's an answer and doesn't even point you in its direction, to be acting in bad faith. That's not all religious people but it seems to me at the moment to be the set we'd be talking about here.

I'm talking more about the set of everybody who tells you to read the literature. Sure, it's a perfectly good heuristic as long as you only use it when you're dealing with that particular subset.

What grounds do you have for trusting pastors, or whoever, know much about the world - that they're good and honest producers of truth?

Well, I was thinking more theologians, but to be fair they're as bad as philosophers. Still, they've spent millennia talking about this stuff.

No, I'm saying that to my knowledge no Christian has yet corrected someone who's reasonably rational on their reason for disbelieving.

Sorry, but I'm going to have to call No True Scotsman on this. How many theists who were rational in their reasons for believing have been corrected by atheists? How many creationists who were rational in their reasons for disbelieving in evolution have been corrected by evolutionists?

I don't think that people who believe in god are necessarily worse off than people who don't. If you could erase belief in god from the world, I doubt it would make a great deal of difference in terms of people behaving rationally.


Um ... as a rationalist and the kind of idiot who exposes themself to basilisks, could you tell me this argument? Maybe rot13 it if you're not interested in evangelizing.

I do yes, I was made to read Dawkin's awful book a few years back in school. =p

Man, I'd forgotten that was the first place I came across that. Ah, nosalgia ... terrible book, though.

Comment too long - continued from last:


Um ... as a rationalist and the kind of idiot who exposes themself to basilisks, could you tell me this argument? Maybe rot13 it if you're not interested in evangelizing.

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Gur svefg guvat abgr vf gung vs lbh ybbx ng ubj lbh trg rivqrapr, jung vg ernyyl qbrf, gura V'ir nyernql tvira bar: Ybj cevbe, (r.t. uvtu pbzcyrkvgl,) ab fhccbegvat rivqrapr. Crefbanyyl gung'f irel pbaivapvat. V erzrzore jura V jnf lbhatre, naq zl cneragf jrer fgvyy va gurve 'Tbbq puvyqera tb gb Puhepu' cunfr, zl pbhfva... (read more)

0Estarlio7ySorry, it's taken so long to reply. I'm easily distracted by shiny objects and the prospect of work. Let's see: It seems to me at the moment that you don't know if you're right. So while you don't have to know every argument for a position to hold it, if you're interested in producing truth, it's desirable to have evidence on your side - either via the beliefs of others who have a wider array of knowledge on the subject than yourself and are good at producing truth or via knowing the arguments yourself. I never have the time to learn all the arguments. Though I tend to know a reasonable number by comparison to most people I meet I suppose - not that that's saying much. Ah, more generally then that depends on who's telling you to do it and what literature they're telling you to read. If someone's asking you to put in a fairly hefty investment of time then it seems to me that requires a fairly hefty investment of trust, sort of like Let's see some cards before we start handing over money. You don't have to see the entirety of their proof up front but if they can't provide at least a short version and haven't given you any other reason to respect their ability to find truth.... Like if gwern or someone told me that there was a good proof of god in something - I've read gwern's website and respect their reasoning - that would make me inclined to do it. If I saw priests and the like regularly making coherent arguments and they had that visible evidence in their ability to find truth, then they'd get a similar allowance. But it's like they don't want to show their cards at the moment - or aren't holding any - and whenever I've given them the allowance anyway it's turned out to be a bit of a waste. So that trust's not there for them anymore. That's true. I just wonder - it's not well ordered or homogenous. If everyone was writting about trivial truths then you'd expect it to mostly agree with itself - lots of people saying more or less the same stuff. If it was dee

Welcome to Less Wrong! (5th thread, March 2013)

by orthonormal 5 min read1st Apr 20131761 comments


If you've recently joined the Less Wrong community, please leave a comment here and introduce yourself. We'd love to know who you are, what you're doing, what you value, how you came to identify as a rationalist or how you found us. You can skip right to that if you like; the rest of this post consists of a few things you might find helpful. More can be found at the FAQ.

(This is the fifth incarnation of the welcome thread; once a post gets over 500 comments, it stops showing them all by default, so we make a new one. Besides, a new post is a good perennial way to encourage newcomers and lurkers to introduce themselves.)

A few notes about the site mechanics

Less Wrong comments are threaded for easy following of multiple conversations. To respond to any comment, click the "Reply" link at the bottom of that comment's box. Within the comment box, links and formatting are achieved via Markdown syntax (you can click the "Help" link below the text box to bring up a primer).

You may have noticed that all the posts and comments on this site have buttons to vote them up or down, and all the users have "karma" scores which come from the sum of all their comments and posts. This immediate easy feedback mechanism helps keep arguments from turning into flamewars and helps make the best posts more visible; it's part of what makes discussions on Less Wrong look different from those anywhere else on the Internet.

However, it can feel really irritating to get downvoted, especially if one doesn't know why. It happens to all of us sometimes, and it's perfectly acceptable to ask for an explanation. (Sometimes it's the unwritten LW etiquette; we have different norms than other forums.) Take note when you're downvoted a lot on one topic, as it often means that several members of the community think you're missing an important point or making a mistake in reasoning— not just that they disagree with you! If you have any questions about karma or voting, please feel free to ask here.

Replies to your comments across the site, plus private messages from other users, will show up in your inbox. You can reach it via the little mail icon beneath your karma score on the upper right of most pages. When you have a new reply or message, it glows red. You can also click on any user's name to view all of their comments and posts.

It's definitely worth your time commenting on old posts; veteran users look through the recent comments thread quite often (there's a separate recent comments thread for the Discussion section, for whatever reason), and a conversation begun anywhere will pick up contributors that way.  There's also a succession of open comment threads for discussion of anything remotely related to rationality.

Discussions on Less Wrong tend to end differently than in most other forums; a surprising number end when one participant changes their mind, or when multiple people clarify their views enough and reach agreement. More commonly, though, people will just stop when they've better identified their deeper disagreements, or simply "tap out" of a discussion that's stopped being productive. (Seriously, you can just write "I'm tapping out of this thread.") This is absolutely OK, and it's one good way to avoid the flamewars that plague many sites.

There's actually more than meets the eye here: look near the top of the page for the "WIKI", "DISCUSSION" and "SEQUENCES" links.
LW WIKI: This is our attempt to make searching by topic feasible, as well as to store information like common abbreviations and idioms. It's a good place to look if someone's speaking Greek to you.
LW DISCUSSION: This is a forum just like the top-level one, with two key differences: in the top-level forum, posts require the author to have 20 karma in order to publish, and any upvotes or downvotes on the post are multiplied by 10. Thus there's a lot more informal dialogue in the Discussion section, including some of the more fun conversations here.
SEQUENCES: A huge corpus of material mostly written by Eliezer Yudkowsky in his days of blogging at Overcoming Bias, before Less Wrong was started. Much of the discussion here will casually depend on or refer to ideas brought up in those posts, so reading them can really help with present discussions. Besides which, they're pretty engrossing in my opinion.

A few notes about the community

If you've come to Less Wrong to  discuss a particular topic, this thread would be a great place to start the conversation. By commenting here, and checking the responses, you'll probably get a good read on what, if anything, has already been said here on that topic, what's widely understood and what you might still need to take some time explaining.

If your welcome comment starts a huge discussion, then please move to the next step and create a LW Discussion post to continue the conversation; we can fit many more welcomes onto each thread if fewer of them sprout 400+ comments. (To do this: click "Create new article" in the upper right corner next to your username, then write the article, then at the bottom take the menu "Post to" and change it from "Drafts" to "Less Wrong Discussion". Then click "Submit". When you edit a published post, clicking "Save and continue" does correctly update the post.)

If you want to write a post about a LW-relevant topic, awesome! I highly recommend you submit your first post to Less Wrong Discussion; don't worry, you can later promote it from there to the main page if it's well-received. (It's much better to get some feedback before every vote counts for 10 karma- honestly, you don't know what you don't know about the community norms here.)

If you'd like to connect with other LWers in real life, we have  meetups  in various parts of the world. Check the wiki page for places with regular meetups, or the upcoming (irregular) meetups page. There's also a Facebook group. If you have your own blog or other online presence, please feel free to link it.

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* Normal_Anomaly
* Randaly
* shokwave
* Barry Cotter

A note for theists: you will find the Less Wrong community to be predominantly atheist, though not completely so, and most of us are genuinely respectful of religious people who keep the usual community norms. It's worth saying that we might think religion is off-topic in some places where you think it's on-topic, so be thoughtful about where and how you start explicitly talking about it; some of us are happy to talk about religion, some of us aren't interested. Bear in mind that many of us really, truly have given full consideration to theistic claims and found them to be false, so starting with the most common arguments is pretty likely just to annoy people. Anyhow, it's absolutely OK to mention that you're religious in your welcome post and to invite a discussion there.

A list of some posts that are pretty awesome

I recommend the major sequences to everybody, but I realize how daunting they look at first. So for purposes of immediate gratification, the following posts are particularly interesting/illuminating/provocative and don't require any previous reading:

More suggestions are welcome! Or just check out the top-rated posts from the history of Less Wrong. Most posts at +50 or more are well worth your time.

Welcome to Less Wrong, and we look forward to hearing from you throughout the site!

Note from orthonormal: MBlume and other contributors wrote the original version of this welcome post, and I've edited it a fair bit. If there's anything I should add or update on this post (especially broken links), please send me a private message—I may not notice a comment on the post. Finally, once this gets past 500 comments, anyone is welcome to copy and edit this intro to start the next welcome thread.