(Thread B for January is here, created as a duplicate by accident)
Hi, do you read the LessWrong website, but haven't commented yet (or not very much)? Are you a bit scared of the harsh community, or do you feel that questions which are new and interesting for you could be old and boring for the older members?
This is the place for the new members to become courageous and ask what they wanted to ask. Or just to say hi.
The older members are strongly encouraged to be gentle and patient (or just skip the entire discussion if they can't).
The long version:
A few notes about the site mechanics
A few notes about the community
If English is not your first language, don't let that make you afraid to post or comment. You can get English help on Discussion- or Main-level posts by sending a PM to one of the following users (use the "send message" link on the upper right of their user page). Either put the text of the post in the PM, or just say that you'd like English help and you'll get a response with an email address.
* 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:
- The Worst Argument in the World
- That Alien Message
- How to Convince Me that 2 + 2 = 3
- Lawful Uncertainty
- Your Intuitions are Not Magic
- The Planning Fallacy
- The Apologist and the Revolutionary
- Scope Insensitivity
- The Allais Paradox (with two followups)
- We Change Our Minds Less Often Than We Think
- The Least Convenient Possible World
- The Third Alternative
- The Domain of Your Utility Function
- Newcomb's Problem and Regret of Rationality
- The True Prisoner's Dilemma
- The Tragedy of Group Selectionism
- Policy Debates Should Not Appear One-Sided
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!
I think to accurately trace my development as a rationalist I'd have to ramble about my formative years for about fifteen paragraphs and it would bore the bejeezus out of anyone who isn't my mother, so I'll spare you, as Holden put it, the David Copperfield crap.
I value reason, logic and the search for truth - but also compassion, patience for human error and a sense of humour. (Hey, I'm Irish, flippancy is written in my genes just as humour with a "u" is written in my dictionary.)
I don't like irrationality or ignorance, but I detest "shrug" or "let's agree to disagree" or, worst of all, "who can really say what truth is anyway?". I believe that someone passionately wrong is closer to being right that someone who doesn't care. Believing that the truth matters is the sine qua non.
I promise I don't go around sprinkling Latin into all my arguments, by the way. "Sine qua non" and "semper ubi sub ubi" are about all I've got.
I've read a great many posts on this site and others like it, and I've often constructed chains of reasoning in response to them, in order to work out whether I agree, partially agree, agree with the conclusion but not the steps leading to it or disagree entirely. Thing is, all of that is taking place in an empty room, literally and figuratively.
Talking to the walls in my flat about religion and morality and logic is unsatisfying and may be causing my neighbours some concern. I tried talking to my pot plant but it died, probably of boredom although possibly because I forgot to water it. Either way I'm reluctant to repeat the experiment with a hamster.
My problem is that I often feel awkward and diffident about participating in group discussions. I want to respond to everyone and then I get caught up in etiquette anxiety about what constitutes spamming or whether it'll look like I'm trying to dominate the discussion, or I get embarrassed about replying to a five-year-old comment on a ten-year-old post, or I go into conflict-resolution mode and end up trying to moderate between two disputants instead of just participating on my own behalf. And I sometimes find being one voice among many competing for attention a bit dispiriting. I don't just want to (ugh) "express my opinion", and I certainly don't want the last word - I can get that by talking to my poor dead pot-plant. I want to convince someone or be convinced myself.
Group discussion is usually not my bag, is what I'm saying, even in such a generally sensible community as LW - but I'll try to give it a shot.
What I'd really like, though, (and please tell me if this is not an appropriate request or the appropriate place to make it - see etiquette anxiety, supra) is some good old-fashioned one-on-one conversation. So if you're reading this and you're at all like me, or you'd just like to do your kind deed for the day, PM me something - anything! - and let's have a discussion or a debate or an argument. Religion, morality, trolley problems, the Great Santa Question, whatever - I'm down. I could perhaps be of some use to Advanced Rationalist Types who want to assess their ability to explain something clearly to someone with no background in formal logic or probability theory without ruining a dinner party, or to fellow newbs who want to test-drive a line of reasoning before taking it out in public. Try it on the dog, so to speak.
Looking forward to participating one way or another. My username, by the way, is the name of a Terry Pratchett character, and if anyone just wants to talk Pratchett I am so there.
If there is a local LW meetup in your area, you should also have plenty opportunity for one-on-one conversations there.
I'm Lin, Junior Ancient Studies and Information Systems major at UMBC. I found LessWrong through HPMOR, fell into the sequences, and generally found the strategies for improving my thoughts and overcoming bias incredibly satisfying.
I'm taking over for Aryeh for the Baltimore meetup group, and am also a SSCer.
My online presence is at lin.noblejury.com.
What are you working on at the moment?
Been lurking for a while and figured I’d go ahead and jump into the mix.
I studied philosophy (and foreign languages) in undergrad. Went to Duke for law school. Worked at one of the biggest and most hardcore law firms in the world for six years, and now I run my own shop with another lawyer in Denver. We focus on startups and tech legal work.
I only recently discovered LW through Kevin Simler’s blog Melting Asphalt and Slate Star Codex. Figured I’d come here to see if it was worthwhile to participate. I’m working my way through the Sequences.
I’m in the process of writing a law review article on automation, AI, and legal ethics.
I’ve been to a couple of Less Wrong meetups in Denver, but now I live in a remote mountain town 2.5 hours southwest of Front Range. It’s a beautiful town, and I love it. But it’s not large enough to foster a LW community.
I have a blog(!) where I post every couple of weeks or so. It’s called Joyous and Swift. Not a very LW-ish name, I suppose. But I like it.
I don’t spend a lot of time surfing online, and I’m not in the habit of frequenting comment threads. But I’ll do my best to respond to any comments directed at me (if any) in the coming weeks.
The decorum and community code here sounds entrenched and complex. I apologize in advance for any missteps. Feel free to chide me when necessary. I'd much appreciate warm guidance on how to be a good LW citizen. I will respect your norms as soon as I learn them.
You might want this to go on thread B, it will have more visibility.
Also welcome! Can I get a link to the blog?
You may also find the book version more appealing than the blog version, it's called, "rationality: from ai to zombies" and can be found online.
If you feel like doing law in areas that lesswrong is interested in - polyamory has very little established case law and I predict it will need help in the future. Also cryonics - particularly the post death part of cryonics.
There are many ways to get involved, a few online communities exist too.
Hi! I'm Diana. I've considered myself to be rational since middle school and could bore you with my thoughts that support that. But clearly, after doing a little reading here, even if I am already a "rationalist," I'm probably not very good at it. I just got to this website today, because I was humming along following different links on wikipedia, starting this morning with gambling cheats and ending up on decision theory. Somewhere along the way I read an example I didn't get, and I really wanted to ask someone else about it, but I'm not in school anymore and don't know who I'd ask. So I did a search for decision theory and got here.
I have never been able to grasp probability, so I have always avoided studying it or thinking about it or caring about it. But after a little more reading this morning I might have figured out what part of my problem is. If I have questions about something I read, I assume I can ask in the discussions threads?
Hello and welcome! I love your enthusiasm for learning!
Yes, feel free to ask things in the discussion threads.