Chris_Hallquist

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Things You Can't Countersignal

I've found such tactics work even with people who are more or less complete strangers--say, people I've met on pub crawls while I was traveling Europe. Early in a conversation, I'll say things like "I've never had a real job, and I never would have lost my virginity in high school if the slutty girl hadn't joined the math team," and people have told me it's the funniest thing they've ever heard.

It would be a mistake to conclude, on this basis, that countersignaling is a magic pill to make yourself superhigh status. However, Alicorn seems to underestimate its value.

I would love to hear people brainstorm hypotheses about how such countersignaling could work. If countersignaling were as limited as implied by Alicorn and the paper David J Balan points to below, it would be a hell of a lot easier to understand. Some suggestions:

(1) The sort of countersignaling Eliezer and I talk about is tricky, like humor in general. The explanation of what you're doing has to be embedded in the act. Therefore, anyone who does it well must not be a complete idiot, and perhaps feels secure enough to have experimented with countersigaling a fair amount. (2) The most effective signaling with complete strangers may be mixed signaling: straightforward signaling to show you're not a loser (not low status), with countersignaling to show how cool you are (not merely medium status).

Another observation: it seems that countersignaling is iterable. In a room full of ultra-ironic hipsters, or douchebags trying to flaunt their indifference to what people think of them, refraining from such tactics, a sort of counter-counter-signal, may be the strongest status move.

Penguicon & Blook

As a big fan of yours, I have to say I'm mainly excited about the condensed version. I don't see the point in buying something that's already available on the internet. Something with all the key ideas distilled down and integrated more deeply than you would blog posts--that, though, could be useful even to someone who's read all your posts and wants the big picture, and it means something I can recommend to family and watch climb the bestseller lists (hopefully!) The self-published book would only be useful for boosting your sales pitch to publishers, but won't work well even for that if too many people feel as I do. If you're worried about your credentials for making a pitch to publishers, I recommend trying to publish more short printed pieces (magazine/journal articles, book chapters, etc.) But I may be the exception in my thinking on this.

Dissolving the Question

"Many philosophers - particularly amateur philosophers, and ancient philosophers - share a dangerous instinct: If you give them a question, they try to answer it."

This line goes in that book you're going to write.

Circular Altruism

I'm seconding the worries of people like the anonymous of the first comment and Wendy. I look at the first, and I think "with no marginal utility, it's an expected value of 400 vs an expected value of 450." I look at the second and think "with no marginal utility, it's an expected value of -400 vs. an expected value of -50." Marginal utility considerations--plausible if these are the last 500 people on Earth--sway the first case much more easily than they do the second case.

Zut Allais!

"Not yet"

So it's going to happen eventually! Yay!

Back on topic, I second Lee's thoughts. My ability to do a simple expected utility calculation would prevent me from ever taking option (1) given a choice between the two, but if I badly needed the $4 for something I might take it. (Initially hard to think of how such a scenario could arise, but $4 might be enough to contact someone who would be willing to bail me out of whatever trouble I was in.)

Zut Allais!

Okay, just one more question, Eliezer: when are you going to sit down and condense your work at Overcoming Bias into a reasonably compact New York Times bestseller?