All of Byron's Comments + Replies

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.

2luminosity11yI would be very interested in this.
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 ... (read more)

3NihilCredo11yAh, I misunderstood you: I thought you were suggesting the possibility that free-thinkers wouldn't be motivated to rebel at all without a sufficiently offensive status quo, not that they might do it in an unexpected direction. Regarding Kaczynski, while he's certainly an example of society-unfriendly morality, I suspect we would still be a lot better off if everyone had the willpower to go that far, if necessary, in pursue of their concept of greater good. In other words, the damage Kaczynski did arose from the combination of zealous nonconformism and a deeply flawed analysis of his environment. But if you gifted everyone, at least in the First World, with the same zealous nonconformism, they would on average pair it with an analysis not nearly as twisted as that presented in the Manifesto. The result, I think, would be a world with a lot more conflict but also with a dramatically improved rate of progress.
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’.

1NihilCredo11yThis criticism would be valid if the study considered someone who neither opposed nor actively supported Nazi crimes as a 'rescuer'. But since the Uncommitted are filed as 'non-rescuers', the study does indeed single out the free-thinkers' tendency to go against the status quo. Furthermore, the fact that the crimes of Nazism are considered among the most repugnant in history is only weakly relevant. As long as the society-encouraged activities are sufficiently offensive that in the lack of supporting propaganda they would be suffer universal condemnation, the more important trait is that the consequences for pursuing an unconventional morality were far harsher under the Nazi regime than in most other situations - and one had little personal gain to find there as well. This danger strongly ties anti-Nazi activity to a sense of personal moral duty.
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.