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“PR” is corrosive; “reputation” is not.

Interesting post. I notice PR here being used in a mostly "avoid negative" way, and while I get why, I feel like it's just one side of the coin... and the comparison to adhering to honor doesn't quite capture the full thing either.

One of the ongoing struggles I write the protagonist in Pokemon: The Origin of Species as having with some of the others is that they grew up the children of famous people and so are immersed in a worldview in which PR is a good and important thing, while he did not and so it seems intrinsically dishonest or "slimy" to think in ways like "how will people react to this?"

Their major arguments against him is something like "PR isn't just about protecting your brand, it's also about putting yourself out there. If you want to be someone that matters in the world, someone that the public will listen to, you need some hustle, you need to promote yourself, and yes, sure, of course you should do that honestly, but if you just flat don't care about what others think of you, you give up low hanging fruit in ways to show positive parts of yourself that the public cares about, and are more prone to blunders that the hivemind of society has put more collective thought into than you have."

He is not fully convinced by this, but so far in the story he's becoming less sure of his resistance to it as well. I'm curious to know what you think of the above.

Straight-edge Warning Against Physical Intimacy

Thanks for writing this out! I consider myself pretty "straight edge" too, in that I've never done drugs or gotten drunk for many of the same reasons you've stated, and I've never considered other forms of mind-alteration such as intimacy to fall under the same category, but it makes sense to. One exception to that, however, is that lust is very clearly a result of mind-altering chemicals, and the solution (for guys at least, not sure how it works for women) is very effective. I've actually advised young men quite often to masturbate before making romantic decisions to see if it affects their judgement... basically if you still want to go on a date with someone even after recent release, you probably like them for more than just horniness.

Where do (did?) stable, cooperative institutions come from?

Well my favorite ones you're likely already aware of, like rationality (+rational fiction) and EA and circling, but there have been many growing communities of e.g. board game designers, 3D printing aficionados, video game music creators, cosplayers, specific fanfiction groups (think like the glowfic community, but also for things like Worm and other major online serials), online "Quests," etc.

Also porn.  Lots and lots of very niche and varied porn, such that I believe most of the top Patreon creators are some type of porn creator.

Fewer of the "science" or "try to make sense of the world" communities come to mind where the communities are actually a part of the creation and not just consumers, but the "youtube edutainment community" has a lot of great works and collaboration and feels worth distinguishing as one.

Overall it just feels like there are hundreds of communities out there, growing and dying every week. If the criterion is ones that they "last" then that does cut out most, since a lot are tied to particular types of media, and if we only focus on "serious" ones then certainly there are far fewer, since we can't include otherwise impressive ones like the high-quality-gif community on Reddit, but I would be surprised if any previous time period won on either of those metrics just from sheer amount of people around today, exchanging ideas and collaborating.

Where do (did?) stable, cooperative institutions come from?

I'd like to talk about the broader topic too, but for now I just want to try out some Disputes.

Governmental institutions: There seems to be some degree of institutional failure (mild-ish, so far) in a number of American and especially Californian institutions: California's electricity is less reliable than it used to be, due basically to bad governance. 

There are definitely a number of institutional failures in recent years (another is Flint's government choice to ignore health and safety recommendations to save money resulting in contaminated water) but do we know that these sorts of events are actually getting worse than the type/frequency found in previous 20-year-chunks of American history?

San Francisco, especially, is seeing rising crime, due more or less to decriminalizing a lot of crime. 

Is there a source for this? Preliminary investigation indicates otherwise. Some crimes in particular are up, but it's not clear that they're because things like "arson" or "car thefts" were decriminalized? Has that actually happened?

Many aspects of the covid-19 response also cast our institutions in a worse light than I'd previously anticipated, though it is plausible (given my ignorance) that my anticipations were the silly thing here and that we would not in fact have done better in previous eras. (I'm thinking here of: America being slower than I'd anticipated re: acquiring testing and PPE; putting very little money in the extensive stimulus bill to reducing covid via testing/research/etc.; America staying in semi-lockdown for an extended time instead of trying harder either to head toward actual zero (via border control, testing + tracing, etc.) so that we could relax again, or toward something more like herd immunity (while metering it out; but it seems to me that as a country we probably lost more to the costs many parts of America seeming not to lock down for extended periods of time without a plan to use that time to do anything constructive, and without (I think?) adequate accounting for what that would cost in terms of social stability and mental health.)

It feels important for me to ask why this is related to "forming stable, cooperative institutions?" The evidence I've seen points to it being fairly easily explained by an excessively bad administration and lack of leadership, with many well documented unforced errors in preparedness and coordination, as well as simple failures to pick low-hanging-fruit. 

I'm not saying we should discount "The US government" as an institution, obviously it is a massively important one, but that importance comes from the way it effects others, and thus makes it hard to judge overall competence of institutions downstream of it. The Executive Branch in particular has massive amounts of control and effect on all sorts of areas beyond what people would generally think of as "their job." Personally I trust the CDC about as much as I did before, I'm just more aware of how much a bad Executive can hinder them.

Non-governmental parts of our national sense-making apparatus: Most brand names, e.g. the NYT, Harvard, Science and Nature magazines, the Democrats, the Republicans, the police, the CDC, etc. seem less well-regarded than they used to be. I can't think of many brands of any sort that are instead better-regarded (Amazon, SpaceX and bitcoin, probably).

This seems true, and largely due to the overall democratization of news/opinions/science/all manner of gatekeepers in our culture. In terms of clear-seeing, we're more aware of the mistakes they make, and in terms of exaggerated criticism, we're more influenced by antagonistically-produced memes.

Subcultures: David Chapman claims that subcultures are much harder to form now / more or less don’t exist anymore. I have also tried to look myself, and this matches my own experience: rationality and EA seem among the few things that are sort-of here, and even we are only sort-of here, I think. ("The rationalist diaspora," not "the happening applied rationality scene.") (I can think of some others, e.g. the authentic relating / circling communities; some other parts of the Thiel-o-sphere; maybe the group at the Stoa; surely some others. But... fewer than I would have expected, and I think fewer than I would have found in past decades?)

This seems genuinely surprising to me. There actually seems to be far more subcultures being formed than there ever were before? Even discounting subcultures formed around specific media, there's certainly a lot of political subcultures that have formed in the past ~20 years. What's the standard for what qualifies as a "culture" in this space?

Philosophy of Therapy

Good questions. I think that there's definitely value that comes from reading case studies, especially for learning to live with someone who has the same diagnosis. I'm particularly thinking of things like addiction or trauma or anxiety/depression, but it applies to personality disorders as well.

But yes, the risk of pathologizing is there if the person hasn't actually been diagnosed. To counteract this, noticing what's working in the client's life can help, as noted in the hypothetical case study above.

Philosophy of Therapy

Pretty good :) My versions just kept tweaking what you already wrote, except for Systemic, to which I would also add "and how you affect that system." A lot of systemic therapies explore not just how the system might be perpetuating the pathology, but how the client's behavior also maintains that system, such that it perpetuates the pathology, recursively.

Philosophy of Therapy

Yeah, I had (have?) high skepticism of its effectiveness too, and it's definitely not a modality I'd use myself, but then I remember that I have used board games in therapy before with younger clients, particularly families, and there's some surprising stuff that can come out by observing the way people play games :)

Philosophy of Therapy

For one thing, the Dodo bird verdict is (maybe not surprisingly, given point 3) not as well supported as people widely think. It originated decades ago, and may have set in motion the very effects that led to its own eventual lack of relevance. The study I linked to in the OP, if correct, points to just such an invalidation by presenting findings that a particular modality works better for a certain type of treatment than alternatives.

But if we take it at face value, the answer could just come down to "the human element." Maybe good therapists are what matter and the modality, as long as it's not utterly bankrupt, is just a vehicle. Personally I don't believe that's the full story, but a good relationship with the therapist does seem more important than anything else, and that factor being mostly independent from what modality the therapist uses may account for a large part of it.

Ultimately though, I think part of what my post is tries to do is point out that these different philosophies don't necessarily contradict each other, but rather are different lenses through which to view the problems the client has. When I get a client that responds super well to CBT, and then another client who doesn't but grabs IFS and runs with it, I don't think "well I guess these modalities are equally effective" or think that some kind of paradox is occurring, I just think that different maps are better for different people at navigating the territory, even if they're dealing with the same "problem."

I know it feels a bit like a cop-out, but honestly given how complex people are, and how different each problem can be even if it shares the same diagnosis, I would be pretty shocked if a single modality just blew all the others out of the water for every kind of problem that someone might face. Which isn't to say that they're all the same, either, just that guidelines for good therapy have to include more than just singling out specific modalities, but also identifying which ones might work best with each client.

Philosophy of Therapy

Yes, I think a big part of what ends up happening when people have bad experiences with therapy is that they imagine that the therapist they had, or the type of therapy that therapist practiced, is representative of all therapy. This may actually be true in some parts of the world, but in countries like the US there is a huge variety in both modalities and therapeutic "personalities" so to speak.

Philosophy of Therapy

Since there's currently no academic field of study on therapy as a whole, I would argue that the contents of the post would be a reasonable starting point in forming one, or at least that it covers a lot of the same material (what therapy strives to do, what the base assumptions are, the various different theories of change that different therapy schools hold, setting out a system of classifying modalities, etc). I don't think the post meets the rigor for a published paper, and such an academic field ideally would be focusing on studying effectiveness of each philosophy/modality, but it's not unrelated to what I imagine a hypothetical Philosophy of Therapy field to focus its attention on.

If you disagree, could you say a bit more about what you would expect such a post using the name in that context to contain?

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