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Melbourne Less Wrong Meetup for November

I will attend this.

Compared to online posting, the advantage of meetups seems to be (1) less formality and (2) quicker transfer of ideas. I think this makes meetups particularly suitable for advice. I would be interested in trying some activity that promotes exchange of advice. Perhaps an activity where a person is encouraged to provide a personal problem that is in need of application of instrumental rationality, and then others try to generate a solution. Example problem classes: diet, akrasia, career, education, relationships, etc.

Melbourne Less Wrong Meetup

I'll almost certainly attend this.

Less Wrong Book Club and Study Group

I live in Melbourne, Australia, and am open to discussion IRL.

Study: Encouraging Obedience Considered Harmful

If freethinking is a prerequisite for going against the status quo, and practically anything is better than the status quo, then don't be surprised when people behaving better than the status quo are all freethinkers. The fact that freethinkers went in the 'right' direction against the status quo is unremarkable* to the extent that the status quo was 'wrong'.

As for freethinking causing better morality: here is a freethinker who acted under a sense of personal moral duty, facing harsh consequences for little personal gain.

I'm not saying we shouldn't bring up freethinkers - just that in isolation, this study doesn't make make the decision a slam dunk, despite the superficially impressive "21 times" figure.

*EDIT- Potential ambiguity: By unremarkable I mean the evidence provided by the study shouldn't have much of an effect on your prior of 'freethinking makes better citizens'. I don't mean it as "of course you'd expect freethinkers to be better citizens!".

Study: Encouraging Obedience Considered Harmful

Imagine there was once an atypically good society that collapsed, and it turns out that all the people who brought it down happened to be freethinkers. Does that mean we should raise children to be obedient rather than freethinkers?

The important question is: are freethinkers brought up in our society more likely to go in the ‘right’ direction against the status quo? The example in the OP is only weak evidence for this, because its a lot easier to find moral actions ‘less evil than Nazis’ than ‘more evil than Nazis’.

Attention Lurkers: Please say hi


I’ve been reading LW for about a year. Most of the rationalizations that came to mind for why I haven’t yet made the transition from lurker to poster boil down to social indifference or low conscientiousness.

Reading this topic made me think about why I hadn’t posted, and the more I thought about it, the more I realised that I hadn’t thought about why I hadn’t posted. Looking more deliberately at potential foregone losses in utility to myself (and maybe the community) from my non-involvement, it seems like I should force myself to at least see if I don‘t get downvoted.