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"But It Doesn't Matter"

This seems very questionable: "does X matter?" is comparable to "is X vs not-X worth the cost of investigation?" If I'm constrained by resource limitations, and trying to acquire as much knowledge as I can given that, the ability to dismiss some answers as unimportant is critical.

Eight Books To Read

I would replace The Republic with a good Micro textbook for anyone who hasn't read one. A solid grasp of the mental framework that underlies Intro Micro is useful for anyone trying to parse society: not as the only framework, but an introduction to the fact that there are competing and incompatible mental frameworks. Following that, I would replacing your book with an IR textbook, which must cover different and competing theories. They will be shallow introductions to complex thoughts, but they will give the reader the critical chance to test and compare the competing and incompatible theories against each other, and realize that no one theory has a convenient answer for all problems. The discussions of constructivism and responses to the neo-neo "debate" will help you recontextualize and better understand the micro textbook. Reading these books (If you have no idea what to go for, I'd recommend Cowen and Tabarrok for Micro and Introduction to International Relations: Theories and Approaches by Jackson and Sorenson for IR) will give you a broad overview of many theories, including modern ones informed by modern data.

Caring less

I think you're right, so I'll start by assuming that you're wrong, because I have an alternative explanation for those who disagree with you (and which I think is the most convincing if we assume that the signalling explanation isn't the correct one). I think Eukaryote is missing one important cause. Assume that most writers arguing for caring more or less about a cause are doing so because they believe that this is an important way to serve that cause. Particularly outside our community, people rarely write about causes just for intellectual entertainment. "Everything is signalling" is a valid response, but I'll first reply to the rational-actor case, since that informs the limits and types of signalling. If I am writing to people who are "broadly value aligned", an admittedly imprecise term, I tend to expect that they are not opposed to me on topics that I think are most important. I expect most (85% if I'm optimistic) instances of reading writing to happen when people who are broadly value aligned with the author, at least with respect to the topic of the piece.

If someone cares less about something, I might value that directly (because I dislike the results of them caring), and I might value that indirectly (because I expect effort they take away from the target of my writing to go towards other causes that I value). However, conditional on broad value alignment, the causes that my readers care passionately about are not causes I'm opposed to, and the causes that I care passionately about are not ones that they're opposed to. So direct benefit, except in writing that is explicitly trying to convince people "from the other side", will rarely motivate me to try to make people care less.

Most communities have more than 3-4 potential cause areas. One specific friend of mine will physically go to events to support gun control, gender equality, fighting racism, homelessness prevention, Palestine, Pride, her church, abortion rights, and other topics. If I make her be less confident that gun control is an effective way of reducing violence, her efforts will be split fairly broadly. It is unlikely that whatever topic I find most important, or even whatever bundle of topics I find most important, is going to receive much marginal support. EAs are relatively unusual in that deactivating someone along one cause area has a high expected affect on specific other cause areas.

SotW: Be Specific

1: dog 2: mammal 1: cat 2: feline

1: animal 2: flea 1: flyer 2: pilot

1: human 2: living 1: breathing 2: breather

SotW: Be Specific

I am borrowing an old acting game for this one, and modifying it slightly. I am calling it "which word." The rules are very simple, and this is a fairly fun warm up exercise.

Base: The other person replies with a word that is either a superclass or a subclass of the given word. Using words in a different sense is encouraged.

Options for increased difficulty include

Forced:: Each person must go up twice and then down twice, repeating endlessly

Time Limit:: People must respond with a word of their own in a given number of seconds. Feel free to make it shorter or longer as the group or any individuals need. I recommend starting with three seconds and moving up or down as you have to.

This tends to be a better exercise for noticing how much can be lost in abstraction than for teaching practical application, the best method of which I still believe is people pestering you with questions about what exactly you mean by your statements, but I do think that it is useful.

April 4, edited for clarity.

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 12

I don't think that Hermione needs to be fully vindicated for the story to go on. Having her be ruled innocent by the Wizengamot, possibly with a later recantation by Lucius Malfoy once he calms down, would have her be distrusted by her classmates somewhat. This could fit in nicely with her character development and her fear of becoming dark.

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 11

Hasn't Draco been with Lucius for the past hour? It would be one thing to steal the wand of a generic death eater, another entirely to steal a wand from under the nose of the head of the majority of the Wizengamot. Lucius seems to be well versed in the art of plotting and counter plotting, and getting Draco's wand from him and back to him without Lord Malfoy knowing with, at a maximum, five hours of planning, would be an extremely challenging feat even for Dark Harry. Still, I don't think that it is impossible.

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 12

I edited my comment to correct that.

That would be brilliant. I wish.

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 12

To call in favors he never earned for something he had no conscious control over to subvert the political process of a nation qualifies as at least a little bit dark. I think that it wasn't considered because Harry doesn't think of himself as being the one who killed the Dark Lord regularly, and he doesn't know that much about how debts in Magical Britain work. Only once he fully slipped into his Dark Side and became willing to do anything did he see that he could call in these debts.

I don't believe that Dumbledore would think of subverting the political process in that fashion. That things follow a "good process" seems to be very important to Dumbledore, even when it results in bad ends. That is the most charitable interpretation, and I believe it to be possible.

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 12

Chapter 38: Lucius Malfoy claims that he was under an Imperius curse cast by Lord Voldemort. In canon, that claim was made by many powerful pureblood lords.

Chapter 26: Freeing someone from an Imperius curse by killing the caster of that curse creates a debt

Chapter 4: Bounties payable to the killer of Lord Voldemort could be delivered to Harry Potter.

Conclusion: Harry Potter is owed a blood debt by a number of the lords of the Wizengamot, which might be large enough that he could call it in and save Hermione. Even if it is just Lucius who owes him this debt, it could be enough.

Comments: Law of Conservation of Detail leans towards these facts being used, feels very desperate and Harry like, allows Hermione to come back to Hogwarts as a student.

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