"Politics is the mind-killer" is the mind-killer

by thomblake 8y26th Jan 20121 min read99 comments

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Summary: I propose we somewhat relax our stance on political speech on Less Wrong.

Related: The mind-killer, Mind-killer

A recent series of posts by a well-meaning troll (example) has caused me to re-examine our "no-politics" norm.  I believe there has been some unintentional creep from the original intent of Politics is the Mind-Killer.  In that article, Eliezer is arguing that discussions here (actually on Overcoming Bias) should not use examples from politics in discussions that are not about politics, since they distract from the lesson.  Note the final paragraph:

I'm not saying that I think Overcoming Bias should be apolitical, or even that we should adopt Wikipedia's ideal of the Neutral Point of View.  But try to resist getting in those good, solid digs if you can possibly avoid it.  If your topic legitimately relates to attempts to ban evolution in school curricula, then go ahead and talk about it - but don't blame it explicitly on the whole Republican Party; some of your readers may be Republicans, and they may feel that the problem is a few rogues, not the entire party.  As with Wikipedia's NPOV, it doesn't matter whether (you think) the Republican Party really is at fault.  It's just better for the spiritual growth of the community to discuss the issue without invoking color politics.

So, the original intent was not to ban political speech altogether, but to encourage us to come up with less-charged examples where possible.  If the subject you're really talking about is politics, and it relates directly to rationality, then you should be able to post about it without getting downvotes strictly because "politics is the mind-killer".

It could be that this drift is less of a community norm than I perceive, and there are just a few folks (myself included) that have taken the original message too far.  If so, consider this a message just to those folks such as myself.

Of course, politics would still be off-topic in the comment threads of most posts.  There should probably be a special open thread (or another forum) to which drive-by political activists can be directed, instead of simply saying "We don't talk about politics here".

David_Gerard makes a similar point here (though FWIW, I came up with this title independently).

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