DBreneman

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Should LessWrong be Interested in the Occupy Movements?

Thanks for that, it looks like a great selection. The only one of those I've read before is The Prince, and that was a long, long time ago. I definitely need to track all of those down and give my brain a nice warm bath.

I'd read about politics being the mind killer and all that, and that makes my mistakes even more silly in retrospect. I think I wanted my main focus to be on looking at what's useful/worth discussing about the movements, and whether or not they're something that knowledge could be gained from. I thought that would be apolitical enough, but then I went and injected politics into it anyway.

Should LessWrong be Interested in the Occupy Movements?

That wasn't my core intent, and I'm sorry I angered you by making it look like it was. Honestly I'm a bit of a pop-politics junkie. I also followed the tea party closely, as well as the campaigns of minor candidates like ron paul, because I found it interesting to see how well non-core-party rhetoric would work.

I guess I wanted LW to have a discussion page about it or something because we are a big powerful monkey tribe, and because the stupid ancestral part of my brain respects that, and wants to see what the tribe thinks of my interests. Putting in that little bit about potentially getting involved in the party was going too far, and I'm sorry about that.

Should LessWrong be Interested in the Occupy Movements?

"do you think the Ivy League professor or the media mogul, regardless of what noises are making, really have it in their best interest something that corresponds to an idealised, rationally cleaned up version, of what OWSers really want? "

Of course not, which is where I think most of the difficulty in getting democratic systems to work comes in. It's hard to communicate the will of the majority effectively, and it's hard to tell on which points the leaders diverge sometimes. This ends up making bills that aren't what you want, and making them frequently.

I'll have to think of if there are any ways to change that, some hack to reduce the complexity of the task to something doable. I'll also have to think of that sometimes when it's not 2:00 AM. I'll be thinking about this though, and I hope other people who stop by will too.

Should LessWrong be Interested in the Occupy Movements?

Loosely. I'm only entirely in my area with math up to trig and medium-level calculus. I can sometimes feel my earwax burning as I stumble through the more complex QM stuff. I have a few textbooks on it I bought awhile back, and I'm thumbing through them trying to get more comfortable with it, and looking to the QM sequence as a more 'human' understanding of what's going on under it all.

Should LessWrong be Interested in the Occupy Movements?

That is a damn good point, and I don't know if I can entirely counter it, because as far as I can tell it's pretty darn true. I do think that there are arguments that will work for some of the less hippie-esque protesters though, the ones who are there more because of economic issues rather than moral ones.

A major part of what drove the economic recession that lead to most all of the problems that these people are protesting was speculation on subprime mortgages. These are mortgages that are plain-to-see crappy to everyone. However, ratings agencies gave the vast majority of these mortgages very high ratings. When speculators came to purchase insurance on these loans, they would see a AAA rating, no indication the loan was subprime until it comes crashing down upon them.

The ratings agencies have argued in court that they were merely giving their opinion about these mortgages, that it didn't necessarily have to have anything to do with what was actually in the mortgages. They argue that their opinion is 'true' because it's what they believe, and everyone else just chose to accept that.

Now, these ratings agencies were paid to analyze loans. Their word was used to price transactions on the market. There were literally in some cases lives on the line (in the case of medical loans.) Does this mean their opinion is worth two shakes? How about when their 'truth' causes the entire country to crash?

I think that argument would get a lot of people angry, but would also be a good setup for convincing them that objective truth not only exists, but should be priority when you're negotiating economic and political deals.

Should LessWrong be Interested in the Occupy Movements?

Agreed in full! On its own, changing the political discourse has only a short term effect. But it also serves to legitimize the protestors' viewpoints. Once you have serious discussion, you can start assembling voting blocs and existing candidates who do support your views (the progressive party seems a likely ally.) As the discussion grows more legitimate, and the voters grow more confident, your political allies gain more power. And they in turn can use that power to further spread the discussion.

You'd never have a big win, just lots of small wins, never taking a single leap of improbability too big to flip the whole thing over, until you're where you want to be.

Should LessWrong be Interested in the Occupy Movements?

I'd not discount the movement's potential for change entirely. Consider the effect that the Tea Party has on politics right now. Are any of their candidates going to win? Probably not. But they have high priority advertising space in the political spectrum, and they can force ideas and discussion onto stage.

Likewise, while the Occupy movement probably won't reach even a tiny fraction of its goals, it most certainly will change the political discourse, and potentially upset a few elections.

Should LessWrong be Interested in the Occupy Movements?

We should probably wait and see what kind of response this initial proposal gets over the course of a day or so, to see if there are people interested in discussing it further, and to see if there are potential actions to coordinate. After that, setting up an alternate forum is pretty easy (Maybe a community blog over on blogspot or something, or even just a facebook page would do)

As for advertising, I don't know... I'm very new to discussing things here on LW, I don't really know what does and doesn't work in drawing community attention.

Should LessWrong be Interested in the Occupy Movements?

Ah, I see what you're getting on about now (And yes, I did accidentally think you meant the post-modernist art style rather than the philosophy, sorry about that,)

I've been trying to figure out why philosophies like that tend to profuse in the left more than the right, actually. I've not come up with much yet, and I think that it may just be a Rattlers-v-Eagles type thing, where one party takes on a philosophy just to differentiate themselves from the other party.

So I think that this may just be a very good opportunity to help educate people out of those post-modernist leanings. Most every protester out there is angry at what they view as a rigged political and economic system, they'd probably be pliable to believing other systems aren't true as well. And if we come up to them with very convincing arguments, they may just listen.

Not saying it'd work universally, or even all that widely, but teaching even a few people is a long way from being a bad thing.

Should LessWrong be Interested in the Occupy Movements?

You're right, there are great big swaths of the Occupy movement that are too prone to becoming sides to take, or teams to cheer for, and would take far too much time and attention to unravel for the utility they'd provide. But I don't think the problem's entirely prohibitive, at least not all of its parts. Broad discussions on whether the protests' methods are moral, or whether their cause is just, those probably are too messy. But I think that problems that the protests bring up that we'd not see in normal day-to-day society, like the increasing militarization of police forces in the US of late, they could be useful discussions to have.

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