The Multi-Tower Study Strategy

It’s been so long that I actually played Jenga that I actually forgot that you play with the same tower! I’ll fix later. Thanks.

The Problem of the Criterion

If we can prove that the Problem of the Criterion is a true problem, then the Problem of the Criterion is a false problem. Therefore, the Problem of the Criterion can never be proven to be a true problem.

Philosopher: "There is a way of thinking where you can never have a feeling of certainty. Not on any mental, physical, or social level. And I can teach it to you!"

Caveman: "Why would I want to learn that?"

Philosopher: "..."

Perhaps one goal of the pragmatist is to avoid thinking about the Problem of the Criterion. It's like "the Game" we used to play in grade school, where you lose the game by thinking about it. Kids would ambush each other by saying "you just lost the Game!" apropos of nothing.

If my take on this issue is wrong, I encourage proponents of the Problem of the Criterion to prove it!

For Better Commenting, Avoid PONDS

Thanks for the suggestion, I'll take it!

For Better Commenting, Avoid PONDS

I made a second attempt: Avoid cold, lazy nitpicks.

  • Cold: The comment has both a prickly tone and fails to show a clear willingness to continue the conversation. (Combines "prickly" and "disengaged").
  • Lazy: The comment fails to show any underlying reasoning and fails to demonstrate that the commenter even read the whole original post. (Combines "opaque" and "shallow").
  • Nitpicks: The comment is addressing a small, local issue without addressing how the disagreement impacts the argument as a whole.

"Cold, lazy nitpicks" is easier to remember as a phrase than "prickly, opaque, nitpicky, disengaged, shallow," since it's shorter and uses more common words. But it's harder to unfold the concepts, due to the inconsistent, imprecise lumping.

And of course, "PONDS" is a single syllable that is also a vivid noun, and is kind of related to the words it contains ("opaque, disengaged, shallow," "prickly" like prickly bog plants, "nitpicky" like the parasites that grow in a bog).

In general, I think there can be two different goals:

  • Create a phrase that's easy to remember. "Cold, lazy nitpicks" wins here.
  • Create a mnemonic that's easy to use. PONDS is better for this purpose.

In this case, I was trying to create a mnemonic that's easy to use. If most readers don't care to try, that's fine. But my hope is that at least one reader will actually use PONDS to change their long-term behavior. That would be a great success for less than 500 words :)

For Better Commenting, Avoid PONDS

Actually, if you haven't done it yet, let me cross post it next week. I might edit it, incorporating feedback from Willa and Raemon.

Matt Levine on "Fraud is no fun without friends."

Yeah, I'm sure there are both dynamics at play. People seek communities where they can work with others who share their mission, but they also develop their mission by participating in communities. "Come for the free pizza, stay for saving the world" or whatever :D

My prior is that there is a vastly bigger balance of people coming for the free pizza, then dissolving in low-key bitterness and anomie when the pizza runs out, so to speak :) Basically, I think there are a lot of people who've been "tricked by free pizza" into wasting an enormous amount of time and human potential, and that maybe we actually stand to unlock their human potential even more when that source of deception is taken away by circumstances.

Matt Levine on "Fraud is no fun without friends."

I'd add one more piece, which came out of my discussion with ryan_b above. In addition to losing positive social contact (camaraderie), we're losing negative social contact (bullying, obnoxious people, etc).

Most people think that you need more than one positive interaction to "cancel out" a negative one. So even small reductions in negative social contact might make up for large losses in positive social contact.

So we're losing:

  • Entire projects for which camaraderie is necessary for them to exist (which I posit is a sign that they may be relatively lacking in social value).
  • Aspects of social experience in projects that do survive, including both in-person bullying and obnoxiousness, along with camaraderie (which I posit isn't too hard to imagine being neutral-to-positive on net).

You and others here are arguing that there exist jobs that are of great social value, but that also depend on camaraderie to get started or survive. Examples given here include startups and this author that you speak of. Surely there are others we could give. If we lose even one project of great social value, along with many unnecessary projects fueled by camaraderie alone, that might still be a net loss.

Perhaps you might consider art as an ecosystem, and the loss of any art potentially diminishes all art.

To broaden and take this literally, the loss of any X potentially diminishes all X. When an artist pursues their art rather than becoming a shoe salesman, the shoe industry is diminished. I guess, but who cares? On the level of the economy, everything is a tradeoff.

RE you're "I also think it's really... sweet" bit, I'd also say it's kind of sweet that you assume that people who are pursuing the arts find it to be rewarding, or that the camaraderie that keeps these communities knit together is a pleasant experience. From what I've encountered, a lot of that "camaraderie" looks like FOMO, jealousy, inferiority complexes, extreme competition for scarce resources, and a sense of identity defined by victory in a zero-sum status competition, and to top it all off, it has to come with the pretense of liking others in the scene (and the scene itself).

I know this sounds mean, but I really am just trying to honestly explore the idea that maybe we depend a lot less on camaraderie than it seems, and perhaps we're in general better off a lot more alone than we've been able to be in the past. Perhaps having more options to work remotely will enable people to be a lot more choosy about when and how they engage with others, leading to long-term much better relationships and communities than existed formerly.

Matt Levine on "Fraud is no fun without friends."

Some workplaces are also populated by bullies and obnoxious people. So while some people lose friendly contact with a great set of colleagues, others are freed from being forced to be around a bunch of jerks. Hard to say how that washes out in the end.

Where people are continuing to work a job in spite of the presence of a bunch of jerks, that's at least a small sign that the job has some intrinsic value to them or others. Being freed of being around jerks means that they're still working a job that we can maybe trust is socially valuable, but now they're strictly better off. This factor means that time away from social contact is not "strictly bad" as you claim, though certainly it is for some people.

By contrast, people for whom camaraderie was a necessary condition for working their job is, to me, a small sign that their job has a relative lack of intrinsic value. While they've lost something that was of personal value to them, which is bad in its own right, there may be this countervailing benefit from the destruction of jobs that only exist because of the fun factor for employees/volunteers.

For Better Commenting, Avoid PONDS

Thanks for your very in-depth response. I edited my post with a note to point people to it.

While I tried to set the bar about an inch high, as Ericf points out, I generally try to edit my posts to be fully anti-PONDS. I'll edit a top-level post, like I did here, to appreciatively note a particularly long and substantive comment.

Matt Levine on "Fraud is no fun without friends."

I'm sure it is, and that's actually why I think it might be good that it's lessened/dampened. Because there are other attracting forces for talented and dedicated people beyond money.

One is altruism or a belief in the importance of the work, another is intrinsic satisfaction of the job, and a third is a sense that the workplace is well-organized and has a minimum of red tape and hoops to jump through.

Get rid of the parties, glamour, and pressure, and these other virtues become even more important. Basically, I'm positing that some people were until recently trading valuable/important/satisfying work for glamour and parties and fun times hanging out with their coworkers. That doesn't seem like a good trade to me.

The real danger, to my mind, is that losing the glamour/parties/fun might be so important to some of these very successful people that they just quit entirely, and do nothing at all. That would be a real loss. My guess is that while this will happen to some extent, that glamour/parties/fun are not the primary attractive feature of work for the people who are making the world move forward.

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