All of Cayenne's Comments + Replies

Norms survey (dead)

Yes, I'm aware of this. I didn't mis-parse his statement, I know what he meant, and what his example of a norm was supposed to provoke in me. It doesn't matter.

The subject matter of the posts that led to me posting this article and my memories apparently affect me more than I had thought they would, which in its own way shows that I am indeed an inferior rationalist. Truth is truth, and denying it does no one any good.

From now on I'll just concern myself with the local group here, or not, depending on what happens over the next few weeks. In any case... (read more)

0Barry_Cotter10yThe only way we become better at anything is through practice. I'm a pretty shitty instrumental rationalist, as a 27 year old with no great skills or qualifications, and very patchy work experience, but I aspire to better. If you enjoy participating in the Berkeley rationalist community, keep doing it. Consider continuing to participate here, your posts, Mitigating Social Awkwardness and Insufficiently Awesome mean you have definitively contributed more here than I have. FWIW you didn't provoke any unfortunate emotions in me; that's almost exclusively something that happens in person.
-1wedrifid10yYou do? Roughly it was supposed to provoke a short term frustration but a net reduction in sensitivity to the real or (more commonly) imagined effects you may have on the internal state of other agents. Also a somewhat reduced impulse to publicly distance yourself from your own (minor) actions and instinctively withdraw. For what it is worth people would prefer you to continue engaging with the community here. If you don't think you would personally benefit from participating here then by all means move along. But for crying out loud, you don't need to second guess what other people want you to do. Too much tiptoeing about like you're walking on eggshells is perhaps one of the worst things excessive exposure to religion results in.
Norms survey (dead)

I have a policy of only doing fun things, or things that lead directly to fun. As soon as something becomes non-fun, I find something else to do. The potential benefits of this, and the use I would get out of them, aren't worth the cost to me or the time others have sunk into it.

In a lot of ways I already live in the least convenient possible world, so I'm just going to assume that the result I would have gotten was the one that would have been the worst. I won't waste anyone else's time with this anymore, so the whole effort is moot. If someone wishes to try to do this in a more adept fashion, then I wish them well. Apologies for wasting your time with this.

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Norms survey (dead)

Implemented, thank you for your input.

Holy Books (Or Rationalist Sequences) Don’t Implement Themselves

It is hard to say.

I have no doubt that rationalists will prevail eventually, and I wish luck to the ones that try.

Edit - please disregard this post

Norms survey (dead)

I suppose I should be looking forward to getting hit, then. I thank you for the warning.

-2wedrifid10yJust as soon as you sign up to a suitable martial arts club. I encourage it, the training generalises well. :)
1Barry_Cotter10yI believe you may be mis-parsing the statement. Apologising when you've done nothing wrong is a signal that you consider yourself inferior. This attitude makes ones' life worse, in general, by reinforcing bullying behaviour. Even people who won't bully will be less likely to want to hang out with you, because being around someone who does not feel comfortable is unlikely to be fun, and speaking personally, feeling the (metaphorical) urge to kick the puppy makes my skin crawl.
Norms survey (dead)

Implemented, thank you for your input.

Holy Books (Or Rationalist Sequences) Don’t Implement Themselves

It would have to be something I would want to overcome. I came here because the sequences were fascinating to read, but I find more and more that I simply can't consider myself to be rational in any meaningful way. I probably should try to overcome it, I suppose.

Norms survey (dead)

I apologize for wasting your time.

1wedrifid10yDon't. There is an example. At my dojo we have a norm (courtesy of me) wherein anyone who apologizes unnecessarily gets hit (in the mild sparring sense).
Norms survey (dead)

I'd like to know what we have now. Really if we were going to make a new, 100% more rational version, we would still need to know what we're starting with.

That said, this is probably just a sunk cost now, and not worth contributing to. I'll just concentrate on things I'm less bad at, and ignore my step-forward impulses from now on.

Edit - please disregard this post

2lsparrish10yStep-forward impulses are an awesome thing to have, something we "should" all cultivate. Don't apologize for them. As far as your being bad at this, I am skeptical and suspect you are backing down too quickly. At worst this is an opportunity for people who are opposed to your approach to explain (and perhaps figure out more clearly for themselves) why it is a bad idea.
Norms survey (dead)

I'll be happy to change the title if you have a better suggestion.

-2wedrifid10yI don't mind the title and don't even object to your post - I didn't downvote. I just disagree with you about the value of formal codification of the type you are advocating. My vehement rejection is to your idea, not your expression thereof.
Norms survey (dead)

How refreshingly counterintuitive. (-_-)

Norms survey (dead)

I would suspect that the whole thing including comments all vanishes, but I haven't tested it yet.

edit - I really don't care about karma, the only use it seems to have is voting people down and being able to post on the front page, and I doubt I'll ever do either of those things. I'll happily let other people be the top contributors.

0AdeleneDawner10yThe post disappears from the list of posts, and probably can't be found by searching, but it still exists and can be linked to and commented on, and any comments on it still appear in the new comments feed. I think it also can't be voted on after being deleted, but I wouldn't swear to it.
Norms survey (dead)

Would it be better to categorize them by goal, then?

That would suggest three levels of norms: core rational, social rational, and common knowledge.

0AdeleneDawner10yThe term "social rational" sounds like it would be used for core-type skills used for working in groups. "LW-specific norms" might work better for that one. Otherwise, yeah, sounds good to me.
Norms survey (dead)

With the reception that this article has gotten so far, I suspect that it won't result in a list of extant norms. I'll give it a day or two so that everyone that wants to can weigh in, and then I'll probably end up deleting it,.

1prase10yI would prefer if you don't delete it. As for now, you aren't losing any karma from it, and there are already several comments. I am often frustrated when comments with replies get deleted and you can read the replies while the context is inaccessible. I don't know what happens when a post with comments is deleted. Moreover, even if the suggestion isn't agreed upon, its existence at least makes clear what it is not agreed upon, and saves effort of future readers who may propose the same.
Norms survey (dead)

Edited to try to make this clearer. I may still need to alter the phrasing more to make it less offensive, and I welcome all suggestions.

0AdeleneDawner10y*looks* The intentions of the various categories seem to have changed considerably in this version, which suggests that maybe we need to talk about what we want this list of norms to do before we figure out what subcategories it needs. To that end, I see three obvious goals. In rough order of importance: 1. Codify skills, habits, and meta-beliefs that will help people be rational, e.g. rationalist taboo. 2. Codify norms of this group, to make it easy for people to join up - rather like Silas' 'signs about how things are done here' idea. 3. List useful, basically-settled beliefs for people to build on, e.g. Ocham's Razor or Bayseanism.
Norms survey (dead)

Describing them is my goal. The only way that I can think of to get a complete list is to ask everyone to post the ones that they feel exist, and then to see what the consensus is. If you have a better method, please let me know so that I can use it instead.

Norms survey (dead)

This is a good way to formulate it. I'll implement this now.

Norms survey (dead)

Our norms exist already, they're just unwritten right now. There are things that we can do that will cause everyone to shun us. (Posting a discussion like this may end up being one of them, in which case I will have learned something valuable about Less Wrong...)

8Bongo10yI wouldn't have a problem with describing the norms that currently happen to hold among LW users, but I do with prescribing them. EDIT: to elaborate, there's a difference between following a norm, and thinking that it's the best norm and that it deserves to be codified and officially explicitly endorsed.
Norms survey (dead)

I meant those as examples only. I would welcome suggestions on less-offensive alternatives.

Norms survey (dead)

I would welcome alternatives. Do you have any suggestions?

6Bongo10yNot prescribing the beliefs, taboos and practices of LW members.
Norms survey (dead)

We should encourage and support self-experimentation by our members.

Unless the experiment is obviously harming the experimenter, encouraging this will help us find more efficient ways of doing things. I think that respecting a fellow rationalist's decision is a way of respecting their rationality as well.

Norms survey (dead)

Norms really are a 'should' type of thinking. I don't like using 'should' in any capacity, because it sounds like I'm telling someone what to do, but in this case that's exactly what norms do.

It's a high priority because of the recent posts suggesting that we adopt select practices from religions. I want to know now if I should walk away, and if any efforts I'm in the process of making are just sunk costs already. Before we start adopting things from other groups, we need to have something to compare them to so that we can make sure that there aren't hidden conflicts. In general, isn't writing things down a way to avoid or expose biases?

1prase10yI am also worried about adopting religious practices. But to ascertain whether it happens or not, it seems easier to ask directly: "do we want to adopt this set of practices?" rather than to ask "what norms we should adopt". I would even be afraid that the simple fact of having explicit norms, especially norms on beliefs, would move the community closer to the realm of religions. I really don't want to be told that I should support cryonics, believe in many-worlds QM and be an atheist, or leave LW for good (and if there is no "or leave" or analogical punishment for norm violation, why call that norms?). I prefer when people spread beliefs by argument, not by social pressure.
Norms survey (dead)

Not lying to each other sounds like a very good one.

Holy Books (Or Rationalist Sequences) Don’t Implement Themselves

Some of it is difficult to pull apart into clear thought, but I'll try.

I don't want to have a list of groups I have to hate to belong. I don't want to have someone trying to control my behavior by defining things as 'sin'. I don't want to be told 'we love you, we just don't like your actions', when it's clear that there is no love involved in any case. I don't want to have to remember people and feel sorry that they're part of a malignant memeplex, and that I can't do anything to help them. I don't want to dread going to a meet because I don't fit in.

N... (read more)

0NancyLebovitz10yHow much of what you don't like about LDS is entangled with the organizational structure? I don't have a strong answer, just some concerns. It may be that a lot of what's wrong there is having a hard boundary between members and non-members. If so, rationalists may be able to beat that one by wanting people to be more rational, though there do seem to be some firm lines in this community, like being obligated to be a materialist. You may be stuck with that one, especially in regards to cryonics, at least in the sense that you can't do much to help them.
2Swimmer96310yThat makes me sad too. I don't have a particularly negative attitude towards religion (alll my personal interactions with religions and religious people have been pretty positive and haven't included any of the aspects on your list) but I hear stories like yours about the incredibly toxic things people can do with their religions, and it depresses me, mostly because I don't think it's purely a symptom of people being religious. Otherwise, how could nearly all the religious people I've met be more accepting and less hypocritical about their daily life decisions than my atheist-by-default friends? It's more a symptom of people being flawed humans, and that is depressing.
Norms survey (dead)

Oh, so it isn't. Oops. Hm.

Norms do usually contain taboos, but there isn't any particular reason that we have to. Should that category be deleted, or do we have things that we think should be taboo?

One that springs to mind as a possibility would be the use of the Dark Arts.

edit - I was thinking that our list of endorsed beliefs would be slightly more basic, things like 'rationality is worth pursuing' or something. http://lds.org/library/display/0,4945,106-1-2-1,FF.html is the small amount of norms that the LDS church has codified as an easy reference ... (read more)

-1AdeleneDawner10yCodifying taboos seems reasonable if we're codifying norms in general - taboos are basically norms of not doing certain things, after all. We seem to have a pretty strong norm of not lying to each other, and a weaker (and possibly not generally endorsed) norm of not talking about any religious or spiritual practices that we might have.
Norms survey (dead)

Perhaps add a version number with a datestamp?

Rationalist taboo comes to mind, and actually updating based on evidence, and generally changing one's behavior to match one's beliefs. That last one seems to require a bit more give and take than just handing someone a set of rules, but I think that's a good thing, and we could streamline the process by coming up with a list of common beliefs and behavioral implications thereof (cryo, for example).

I took the categories of the norms from this post you made earlier. The 'updating based on evidence' seemed m... (read more)

2AdeleneDawner10yEh? I mentioned updating beliefs based on evidence, and acting based on one's beliefs, but not having particular beliefs in general. The last bit, about the list of common beliefs, was meant to be along the lines of "If you believe A, you should do B. If you believe C, you should do D. If you believe E...", not a list of endorsed beliefs. Also, rationalist taboo [http://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Rationalist_taboo] is not about taboos in the usual sense.
The 5-Second Level

Mostly I don't even feel frustration, but instead sadness. I'd like to be able to help, but sometimes the best I can do is just be patient and try to explain clearly, and always immediately abandon my arguments if I find that I'm the one with the error.

Edit - please disregard this post

Norms survey (dead)

Both of these seem true. Making our norms rigid will decrease our ability to adapt, and codifying them will make them harder to change.

If the group consensus ends up determining that this isn't a worthwhile endeavor, then I'll delete the article and if anyone wishes to contact me I'll apologize for the wasted time involved.

Norms survey (dead)

It doesn't have to happen often to cumulatively waste more time than this process will take.

Another reason to do this is that it will give us something very easy to point people to when they ask us 'what is a rationalist, anyway?'

Holy Books (Or Rationalist Sequences) Don’t Implement Themselves

It seems that the proper answer to this is to develop our norms in a rational manner, and reject arbitrary norms that have no purpose.
Edit - please disregard this post

Norms survey (dead)

We should have a clear and concise list of our norms.

This will give us a clearer picture of what is expected of us, by us.
'Social norms are the behavioral expectations and cues within a society or group. This sociological term has been defined as "the rules that a group uses for appropriate and inappropriate values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors. These rules may be explicit or implicit.' - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norm_(sociology)

Without explicit norms, we invite debates over exactly what a 'real' rationalist should believe, and whether or not ... (read more)

6sixes_and_sevens10yDoesn't actually happen all that much, to be honest.
Holy Books (Or Rationalist Sequences) Don’t Implement Themselves

Well, to be slightly more clear, I am trans-gender. This is a sin in the LDS church, since the surgeries and hormones 'desecrate my temple' (temple == body). There is a limit to how much discrimination against ANY group I can stand before I leave, even if that group is 'those people that want to kill us because we don't believe in their god'.

At the same time, I really dislike the idea that I might be keeping a group from succeeding by giving negative input. I'm fairly likely to just withdraw without much fanfare if I decide that that is what's happening... (read more)

Holy Books (Or Rationalist Sequences) Don’t Implement Themselves

It's not a knee-jerk reaction, but more like a visceral rejection. The thought of this community becoming something with the feel of the church I grew up in makes me feel sick, and if it happened I would walk away and never look back. This is certainly a bias, but I would still do it.

We need to have a clear and concise list of taboos, skills, and beliefs that we want to make into norms, and then the whole community has to talk them over and make sure that we really, really want to make them into our norms. If we're going to start adopting practices from other groups, I believe this should be our highest priority.

Edit - please disregard this, it's needlessly prescriptive.

1Vaniver10yIsn't this the sort of thing you come here to overcome? Or am I just thinking of our sister site?
2NancyLebovitz10yCould you expand on the things about LDS that you don't want to see replicated among rationalists?
3AdeleneDawner10yI noticed your comment about being ex-Mormon after I wrote the grandparent. Even without that context, but especially with it, this is reasonable, and a good warning signal for us to look out for. Please try to give us a heads-up if we start getting close to that point, too, ok? In a more general sense, I do think it's important to keep the look-and-feel of any organizational structure we put together different from the general look-and-feel of churches. I see a few advantages to this, most obviously that it will avoid driving away non-rationalist atheists and it will help remove us from direct competition with churches so that people who 'already have a religion, thanks' don't see that as a reason not to check us out. Absolutely. Also note: None of the above is intended as an actual endorsement of any particular plan. We should figure out what we might do before we decide whether to do that thing, as far as I'm concerned, and we're still in the first stage of that.
Scholarship: How to Do It Efficiently

An 'open-source science' original-research version of Wikipedia, perhaps? With everything explicitly licensed under an attribution-required copyright?

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Scholarship: How to Do It Efficiently

This seems to be focused mostly on scientific research in specific fields. Do you have strategies for learning more general, lower-level skills such as essay-writing, report-writing, math, or programming?

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0RobinZ10yThe remark on textbooks seems relevant - essay-writing, report-writing, math, and programming are all skills which undergraduates are expected to develop.
Holy Books (Or Rationalist Sequences) Don’t Implement Themselves

I'm not interested in making this into a church-like group either. Some norms are useful (e.g. respond to words with words and never ever with bullets), while others (you must marry a rationalist? you must never do $list-of-sins or else?) would be abhorrent to me.

Helping people is a good goal to have. Regimenting their lives is not a goal I find appealing at all. I have enough trouble with my own life, why would I want to be in charge of other's lives too? Ick!

Edit - please disregard this post

I agree with the sentiment, here, but I also think it's a bit of a knee-jerk reaction, and that with a bit of work we can come up with some norms that we're already using that we'd like to spread. Rationalist taboo comes to mind, and actually updating based on evidence, and generally changing one's behavior to match one's beliefs. That last one seems to require a bit more give and take than just handing someone a set of rules, but I think that's a good thing, and we could streamline the process by coming up with a list of common beliefs and behavioral implications thereof (cryo, for example).

Building rationalist communities: lessons from the Latter-day Saints

In some ways, my 'Insufficiently Awesome' project is a fork. I'm going to be concentrating on community-building, helping people to become effective physically and socially, and most importantly having fun. I'm not ever going to be one of the 'first-tier' rationalists, and I view a contribution on the supporting side to be my most effective plan of action.

I'm not going to try to pull people away from LW. Instead, I'm going to try to form a group that is fun enough that people not already in LW join it, and possibly get interested in joining the main community.

Edit - please disregard this post

Building rationalist communities: lessons from the Latter-day Saints

I'm not sure that we should adopt any kind of dress code at all, other than not offending the fashion sense of others inadvertently. Perhaps something small, like a sigil that people could wear as jewelry would be sufficient?

Branding ourselves should only be done after we become an effective group, and one that is admired. We want to be known as 'those sensible people that get things done', not 'that group of nerds that talks way too much about how my thinking sucks'. Eventually we'd like everyone to aspire to rationality, not just the people that test over some arbitrary IQ score.

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Building rationalist communities: lessons from the Latter-day Saints

Like, I know the Dark Arts would be bad for rationalists to exploit, but I'm not sure that it would necessarily be less effective at introducing people to rationality.

A 'defense against the Dark Arts' focus might be a good way to implement this. Come join us and find a way to protect yourself from the worst parts of marketing and manipulation.

Edit - please disregard this post

Building rationalist communities: lessons from the Latter-day Saints

Although drawing some ideas from the LDS church may work, and I will be trying a few of them in my community building efforts, I am going to shy away from a lot of the more intrusive practices. I'm ex-Mormon, and I'm not going to be implementing anything that makes me uncomfortable.

The problem with everyone having a responsibility is that there must be a structure of authority to delegate the responsibility. We don't have or want a divine authority. We absolutely don't want to use something web-based for this either; something like karma is a bad metric... (read more)

The 5-Second Level

I think you're misunderstanding what I said. I'm not obscuring my feelings from myself. I'm just aware of the moment when I choose what to feel, and I actively choose.

I'm not advocating never getting angry, just not doing it when it's likely to impair your ability to communicate or function. If you choose to be offended, that's a valid choice... but it should also be an active choice, not just the default.

I find it fairly easy to be frustrated without being angry at someone. It is, after all, my fault for assuming that someone is able to understand ... (read more)

0mendel10yWell, it seems I misunderstand your statement, "It is possible to not control anger but instead never even feel it in the first place, without effort or willpower." I know it is possible to experience anger, but control it and not act angry - there is a difference between having the feeling and acting on it. I know it is also possible to not feel anger, or to only feel anger later, when distanced from the situation. I'm ok with being aware of the feeling and not acting on it, but to get to the point where you don't feel it is where I'm starting to doubt whether it's really a net benefit. And yes, I do understand that with understand / assumptions about other people, stuff that would have otherwise bothered me (or someone else) is no longer a source of anger. You changed your outlook and understanding of that type of situation so that your emotion is frustration and not anger. If that's what you meant originally, I understand now.
The 5-Second Level

I'm limited in my scope, I'm not going to follow links and criticize every single post. I happened to be reading yours, and thought that I might be able to help you with tone... others are probably better at dealing with actual content. If you would prefer me to not try to help you, let me know and I'll focus my efforts elsewhere.

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The 5-Second Level

Oh, ok. I see the difference you mean..

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The 5-Second Level

It could be. It seems not just difficult but actually against most culture on the planet. Consider that crimes of passion, like killing someone when you find them sleeping around on you, often get a lower sentence than a murder 'in cold blood'. If someone says 'he made me angry' we know exactly what that person means. Responding to a word with a bullet is a very common tactic, even in a joking situation; I've had things thrown at me for puns!

It does seem like a learn-able skill even so. I did not have this skill when I was child, but I do have it now... (read more)

3bbleeker10yI imagine you wouldn't have lasted long in tech support if you hadn't learned that skill. :-)
0mendel10yAnd yet, not to feel an emotion in the first place may obscure you to yourself - it's a two-sided coin. To opt to not know what you're feeling when I struggle to find out seems strange to me.
1atucker10yI should have made it clear when a trivial inconvenience ceases to be trivial. Basically, if you have an object level understanding of what's in your way, can think of a way to avoid the problem, and don't see any other steps involved, then you should go ahead and do it. I personally am normed to give up waaay too easily compared to what I can do.
The 5-Second Level

This is it exactly!

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The 5-Second Level

Don't cherish being right, instead cherish finding out that you're wrong. You learn when you're wrong.

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4wedrifid10yI prefer to cherish being right enough that I appreciate finding out that I was wrong. It feels like more of a positive frame! (And the implicit snubbing to the typical "don't care about being right" injunction appeals.)
1Alicorn10yAnd under this model, we like learning because...?
The 5-Second Level

I know that I'll probably be downvoted again, but nevertheless.

This is precisely the wrong way to start off a post like this, a very passive-aggressive tone.

Sorry, but I don't feel that I have this freedom on LW. And I feel people moralize here especially using the downvote function.

Are you certain that it isn't simply the tone of your posts?

So when just asking the most basic rationality question (why do you believe what you believe) and presenting evidence that contradicts a point is downvoted I don't feel that LW is about rationality as much

... (read more)
0roland10yDone. [http://lesswrong.com/lw/1ww/undiscriminating_skepticism/4c63] and done [http://lesswrong.com/lw/5kz/the_5second_level/4c68] Sorry, I can't unread it.
-2roland10yI would welcome factual criticisms of my posts instead of just attacking the "tone" you read in them. Right, the posts could be softened up, but isn't it funny that you don't direct the same criticism to the ones who called a certain point of view insane? How confrontational is that?
The 5-Second Level

It might be useful to form a habit of reflexively trying to think about a problem in the mode you're not currently in, trying to switch to near mode if in far, or vice-versa. Even just a few seconds of imagining a hypothetical situation as if it were imminent and personal could provoke insight, and trying to 'step back' from problems is already a common technique.

I've used this to convince myself that a very long or unbounded life wouldn't get boring. When I try to put myself in near-mode, I simply can't imagine a day 2000 years from now when I wouldn't ... (read more)

The 5-Second Level

Very true.

I didn't mean to suggest that the truth/falsehood line was as usefully socially as I believe it is internally. The social reaction you may decide on is mostly independent from truth.

Internally, it's important to recognize that truth, since it is vital feedback that can tell you when you may need to change.

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2wedrifid10yAnd, when false, when you may need to change what you do such that others don't get that impression (or don't think they can get away with making the public claim even though they know it is false).
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