All of [DEACTIVATED] Duncan Sabien's Comments + Replies

I haven't made up my mind about whether to ask that people not cross-post.  Until such time as I explicitly do (it would be a visible and hard-to-miss request, such as an author's note in several consecutive essays), please consider cross-posting fine.

1 seems both true and obvious to me.

2 seems both true and obvious to me (and we have a rich historical record of many of those people being vindicated as moral development proceeded apace).

3 seems true and correct to me as well.

Our divergence is after 3, in the rough model.  I think that it is waaaaaaay unlikely that a 90% bucket is the right size.  I think that 50+% of people covertly break at least 1 widespread norm, and even if someone talks me out of it I do not expect them to talk me even half of the distance down to 8%.

I think it depends a lot on the norm in question. Having been privileged (by virtue of being confidant to a lot of people from a lot of walks of life) to know about a LOT of harmless-in-my-estimation covert norm-breaking that the average person never gets a whiff of, I think that my money is on 2 being simply false.

Tagging @Ben Pace , @habryka , @Vaniver , @Raemon.  Not as a request for input (I kind of don't actually want any; I have little room left for being told how wrong and bad I am) but more because it feels like not-tagging is a little bit talking behind backs, or something.  They can speak to their own perspective as they choose, or not, as they choose.  I'm going to try to turn my attention away from this thread.

I do not like this comment. The rest of my response below will be somewhat triggered.

EDIT: to be clear, I did not vote in any way on the above comment because it seems bad to do so from a state of triggeredness.

"Um," Harry said. "You... don't think very much of Dumbledore, I take it?"

"I thought..." said the old witch. "Well. Albus Dumbledore was a better wizard than I, a better person than I, in more ways than I can easily count. But the man had his faults."

"Because, um. I mean. Dumbledore knew everything you just said. About my being young and how the Lin

... (read more)
I think your posts have been among the very best I have seen on LessWrong or elsewhere. Thank you for your contribution. I understand, dimly from the position of an outsider but still, I understand your decision, and am looking forward to reading your posts on your substack.
Sorry if I missed your preference stated somewhere, but what would be your position on linking some of your new articles from Less Wrong in the future?
This is not how I read Seth Herd's comment; I read him as saying "aw, I'll miss you, but not enough to follow you to Substack." This is simultaneously support for you staying on LW and for the mods to reach an accommodation with you, intended as information for you to do what you will with it. I think the rest of this--being upset about what you think is the frame of that comment--feels like it's the conflict in miniature? I'm not sure I have much helpful to say, there.
5Seth Herd15d
I hadn't followed all of the drama. I'm sorry to minimize it. My impression is that LessWrong is among the very best places on the internet, but your interactions with the mods makes it clearly not the best place for you. I'm sorry the mods felt your contributions were only break-even. I'm surprised, and I disagree. I do think you're making a tactical error in engaging that deeply with critics. That doesn't make the mess your fault. I was just saying I wish you'd stick around. But not if it's going to be at great personal cost to you. Interpersonal conflict sucks. If you don't want to be involved in LW comment threads, how do you feel about others cross-posting your writings here? If you prefer we not, I certainly won't.
6[DEACTIVATED] Duncan Sabien15d
Tagging @Ben Pace , @habryka , @Vaniver , @Raemon.  Not as a request for input (I kind of don't actually want any; I have little room left for being told how wrong and bad I am) but more because it feels like not-tagging is a little bit talking behind backs, or something.  They can speak to their own perspective as they choose, or not, as they choose.  I'm going to try to turn my attention away from this thread.

It's less "you probably know a burglar" and more "successful burglaries are probably 10-100x more common than you would think, if you based your prediction solely on visible evidence."

The two that seem most obvious to me: well-behaved psychopaths (i.e. people who have little or no empathetic response but who have learned to follow the social rules anyway, for the sake of headache avoidance) and non-practicing pedophiles (i.e. people who are attracted to children but are zero percent interested in raping anyone) probably really actually are quite common.

No.  I'm disagreeing with Bezzi's claim to have never encountered any trans person and to have no trans people in their extended social network of hundreds or thousands. I don't doubt their self-report re: visibly trans people, but they're unjustified in the conclusion "there just aren't invisible trans people around me in my town."

Are the base rates for actual transition so low that you can have thousands of people in your extended social circle and still never hear of one?


Ah, thanks for pointing this out.  There's an unstated assumption: you stumbled across some dark matter, that was basically hidden.

If you have a full-on psychotic break, you're likely going to resemble the caricatured stereotype of a schizophrenic, and get noticed.  But that's not quite the thing I'm trying to gesture at in the OP.

If somebody overhears you talking to your voices in the shower, the voices you've been talking to for decades while remaining a high-functioning individual, they're likely to leap to the conclusion that, since you have ... (read more)

(Also, people keep critically misunderstanding Scott's point.  Scott isn't saying the conservatives don't live around him.  The whole point is that they do live around him and he does pass them on the street and he does go to the same grocery stores and gas stations.  He doesn't knowingly interact with them because of his social bubble, but they are there, just like trans folk are definitely around Bezzi a lot (though I totes grant Bezzi's point that there aren't many visibly transitioning ones).  That's what the phrase "dark matter" is being used to indicate, both in Scott's post and in mine.)

Of course that trans people will go to the same grocery store and gas station as me! But for some reason I have zero of them in my social circle, like Scott has zero creationists (and the base rate for creationists is way higher than the base rate for trans people). Are we implying that no, at least some of Scott's friends must be closeted creationist?

This thread continues to fail to distinguish between "visibly trans" and "non-visibly trans" people, which is depressing since it's, y'know, the point.

Bezzi: you're trying to say that you don't know and have never met any trans people, and you keep doubling down on "I know this because I haven't encountered any of the visible markers of trans people," and I, uh. Encourage you to put 17 and 23 together?

Most trans folk are still not transitioning.

Another way of saying this: slow down and ask yourself "what do I think I know, and why do I think I know it?" an... (read more)

But man, it only takes one. Are the base rates for actual transition so low that you can have thousands of people in your extended social circle and still never hear of one? I mean, being told by anyone "Hey, do you know that guy? Is a woman now." would be enough. But it never happens! And this is the kind of rare gossip that I would expect most of my acquaintances to share, especially the least trans-friendly ones (like my grandma, who's a devout Catholic and knows half the town by name).

Yes, I have taken commissions in the past (the CFAR handbook rewrite being one, paid for by Lightcone, and Staying Split being another, paid for by an individual). 

I think that there isn't just one bag of people breaking rules, and some number of the marbles in that bag are "for good reasons" and some number "for bad reasons."  I think there are clusters, and types, and certain kinds of rule-breaking are predictive of other kinds of rule-breaking.

I think that me not wearing shoes at university is evidence that I might also disdain sports, but not evidence that I might steal.

I think that trying to think in terms of "for bad reasons" and "for good reasons" as two flavors in one bucket is likely to lead one to make wrong updates.  Like, the model is oversimplified and causes fearful swerves.

(In my usage, which may or may not be standard, if something feels like a Bayesian update for each of two different mutually exclusive directions, you sort of cancel out the overlap and then only refer to the net remainder as the thing for which you have Bayesian evidence.  Like, if it independently seems like a 3 update to the west, and a 5 update to the east, when you consider each separately, you say "a Bayesian update of 2 to the east" or similar.)

I think this conversation is failing to reliably distinguish between "being trans" in the sense of experiencing substantial gender dysphoria and/or adopting the self-label trans, and "being trans" in the sense of taking visible steps to socially or medically transition.

I buy Bezzi's self-report that they never see people who have visibly taken steps to transition; there's no reason for Bezzi to be confused about this.

I think people are pushing back because (of the true fact that) many trans people are not taking visible steps to transition, especially in e... (read more)

If I search for the number of the trans population, I find which suggests a rate of identifying as trans of 0.5% in for people between 18 and 25. It seems to cite the Williams Institute as a source which seems to me like an organization that's friendly toward trans people and doesn't really have a reason to misstate the prevalence. When I searched for information other sources also came up with something in the same ballpark. At that base rate, knowing 60 to 80 people and nobody of them being trans should not be surprising.  Do you believe that the base rates that organizations like the Williams Institute come up with are wrong?

Hmmmm, I see that Ben is getting some disagreement/pushback below, but I want to stand in defense of part of the thing I understand him to be saying.

(Or rather, I think Ben's bucketing two things and the disagreement is pushing back on the whole bucket when it should be pushing back on the bucket error + one of the things.)

In my culture, we're much better at noticing that X is bad in an absolute sense even if it's overwhelmingly good in context, or net justified, or whatever.  Like, in Duncan culture it's straightforwardly obvious and commonplace to n... (read more)

1Nancy Lebovitz17d
This might be related to the circular reasoning that gay people shouldn't be trusted with security clearances because they can be blackmailed.
  If I can attempt to synthesize these two points into a single point: don't assume weird people are evil.  If someone walks around barefoot in an urban environment, that's a good clue they might also be weird in other ways. But weird ≠ evil.  Principled non-conformity is a thing. Human diversity is a thing. Eccentricity is a thing. If weirdness indicated evil, then LessWrong would be a hive of scum and villainy. Uncritically enforcing rules and conformity to an idea of normalcy is not good. It has done great harm. 

It is only safe for you to have opinions if the other people don't dislike them?

I think you're trying to set up a really mean dynamic where you get to say mean things about me in public, but if I point out anything frowny about that fact you're like "ah, see, I knew that guy was Bad; he's making it Unsafe for me to say rude stuff about him in the public square."

(Where "Unsafe" means, apparently, "he'll respond with any kind of objection at all."  Apparently the only dynamic you found acceptable was "I say mean stuff and Duncan just takes it.")


I ... (read more)

Positive reinforcement for disengaging!

I kind of doubt you care at all, but here for interested bystanders is more information on my stance.

  • I suspect you of brigading-type behavior wrt conflicts you get into.  Even if you make out like it's a "get out the vote" campaign where the fact that rides to the polls don't require avowing that you're a Demoblican is important to your reception, when you're the sort who'll tell all your friends someone is being mean to you and then the karma swings around wildly I make some updates.  This social power with your clique of admirers in combination
... (read more)

@Raemon FYI there isn't internet at our place since ~26h ago so Logan probably hasn't looked at this or any other responses yet.

My objection is that it doesn't distinguish between [unpleasant fights that really should in fact be had] from [unpleasant fights that shouldn't]. It's a very handy term for delegitimizing any protracted conflict, which is a boon to those who'd like to get away with really shitty behavior by hijacking politeness norms.

"There was a Muggle once named Mohandas Gandhi," Harry said to the floor. "He thought the government of Muggle Britain shouldn't rule over his country. And he refused to fight. He convinced his whole country not to fight. Instead he told his

... (read more)
I think this is a subject where we'd probably need to hash out a dozen intermediary points (the whole "inferential distance" thing) before we could come close to a common understanding. Anyway, yeah, I get the whole not-backing-down-to-bullies thing; and I get being willing to do something personally costly to avoid giving someone an incentive to walk over you. But I do think you can reach a stage in a conversation, the kind that inspired the "someone's wrong on the internet" meme, where all that game theory logic stops making sense and the only winning move is to stop playing. Like, after a dozen back-and-forths between a few stubborn people who absolutely refuse to cede any ground, especially people who don't think they're wrong or see themselves as bullies... what do you really win by continuing the thread? Do you really impart outside observers with a feeling that "Duncan sure seems right in his counter-counter-counter-counter-rebuttal, I should emulate him" if you engage the other person point-by-point? Would you really encourage a culture of bullying and using-politeness-norms-to-impose-bad-behavior if you instead said "I don't think this conversation is productive, I'll stop now"? It's like... if you play an iterated prisoner's dilemma, and every player's strategy is "tit-for-tat, always, no forgiveness", and there's any non-zero likelihood that someone presses the "defect" button by accident, then over a sufficient period of time the steady state will always be "everybody defects, forever". (The analogy isn't perfect, but it's an example of how game theory changes when you play the same game over lots of iterations) (And yes, I do understand that forgiveness can be exploited in an iterated prisoner's dilemma.) Again, I don't think I have a sufficiently short inferential distance to convince you of anything, but my general vibe is that, as a debate gets longer, the line between the two starts to disappear. It's like... Okay, another crappy metaphor is,

I've tried for a bit to produce a useful response to the top-level comment and mostly failed, but I did want to note that

"Oh, it sort of didn't occur to me that this analogy might've carried a negative connotation, because when I was negatively gossiping about Duncan behind his back with a bunch of other people who also have an overall negative opinion of him, the analogy was popular!"

is a hell of a take. =/

Oh, no, it's absolutely negative.  I don't like you.  I just don't specifically think that you are disgusting, and it's that bit of the reaction to the analogy that caught me by surprise. "Oh, I'm going to impute malice with the phrase 'gossiping behind my back' about someone I have never personally interacted with before who talked about my public blog posts with her friends, when she's specifically remarked that she's worried about fallout from letting me know that she doesn't care for me!" is also kind of a take, and a pretty good example of why I don't like you.  I retract the tentative positive update I made when your only reaction to my comment had been radio silence; I'd found that really encouraging wrt it being safe to have opinions about you where you might see them, but no longer.

Claim: this sequence is almost one hundred percent about studying something other than your mind, and what's happening is a confusion between tools and purposes.

At a very coarse/gross level of understanding, the way that we gather information about objects is by hurling other objects at them, and watching the interaction. This is one way to think about light—we throw trillions of tiny photons at an object, and the way they bounce off gives us information about the object (its location, shape, surface properties, etc).

Ditto sound waves, now that I think of ... (read more)

2[DEACTIVATED] Duncan Sabien7mo
@Raemon FYI there isn't internet at our place since ~26h ago so Logan probably hasn't looked at this or any other responses yet.

"Let's imagine that these unspecified details, which could be anywhere within a VERY wide range, are specifically such that the original point is ridiculous, in support of concluding that the original point is ridiculous" does not seem like a reasonable move to me.


I think my feeling here is: * Yes, Jimmy was either projecting (filling in unspecified details with dysfunction, where function would also fit) or making an unjustified claim (that any gym matching your description must be dysfunctional). I think projection is more likely. Neither of these options is great. * But it's not clear how important that mistake is to his comment. I expect people were mostly reacting to paragraphs 2 and 3, and you could cut paragraph 1 out and they'd stand by themselves. * Do the more-interesting parts of the comment implicitly rely on the projection/unjustified-claim? Also not clear to me. I do think the comment is overstated. ("The way to jam"?) But e.g. "the problem isn’t so much the difficulty as the inability to overcome the difficulty" seems... well, I'd say this is overstated too, but I do think it's pointing at something that seems valuable to keep in mind even if we accept that the gym is functional. * So I don't think it's unreasonable that the parent got significantly upvoted, though I didn't upvote it myself; and I don't think it's unreasonable that your correction didn't, since it looks correct to me but like it's not responding to the main point. * Maybe you think paragraphs 2 and 3 were relying more on the projection than it currently seems to me? In that case you actually are responding to what-I-see-as the main point. But if so I'd need it spelled out in more detail.

… well, then regardless of whether you agree with the author in question about whether or not my comments are good/important/whatever, the fact that he holds this view casts very serious doubt on your thesis. Wouldn’t you agree?

Said is asking Ray, not me, but I strongly disagree.

Point 1 is that a black raven is not strong evidence against white ravens. (Said knows this, I think.)

Point 2 is that a behavior which displeases many authors can still be pleasant or valuable to some authors. (Said knows this, I think.)

Point 3 is that benquo's view on even that sp... (read more)

9Said Achmiz7mo
A black raven is, indeed, not strong evidence against white ravens. But that’s not quite the right analogy. The more accurate analogy would go somewhat like this: Alice: White ravens exist! Bob: Yeah? For real? Where, can I see? Alice (looking around and then pointing): Right… there! That one! Bob (peering at the bird in question): But… that raven is actually black? Like, it’s definitely black and not white at all. Now not only is Bob (once again, as he was at the start) in the position of having exactly zero examples of white ravens (Alice’s one purported example having been revealed to be not an example at all), but—and perhaps even more importantly!—Bob has reason to doubt not only Alice’s possession of any examples of her claim (of white ravens existing), but her very ability to correctly perceive what color any given raven is. Now if Alice says “Well, I’ve seen a lot of white ravens, though”, Bob might quite reasonably reply: “Have you, though? Really? Because you just said that that raven was white, and it is definitely, totally black.” What’s more, not only Bob but also Alice herself ought rightly to significantly downgrade her confidence in her belief in white ravens (by a degree commensurate with how big a role her own supposed observations of white ravens have played in forming that belief). Just so. But, once again, we must make our analysis more specific and more precise in order for it to be useful. There are two points to make in response to this. First is what I said above: the point is not just that the commenting style/approach in question is valuable to some authors (although even that, by itself, is surely important!), but that it turns out to be valuable specifically to the author who served as an—indeed, as the—example of said commenting style/approach being bad. This calls into question not just the thesis that said approach is bad in general, but also the weight of any purported evidence of the approach’s badness, which comes from the sam

Strong disagree that I'm describing a deeply dysfunctional gym; I barely described the gym at all and it's way overconfident/projection-y to extrapolate "deeply dysfunctional" from what I said.

There's a difference between "hey, I want to understand the underpinnings of this" and the thing I described, which is hostile to the point of "why are you even here, then?"

Edit: I view the votes on this and the parent comment as indicative of a genuine problem; jimmy above is exhibiting actually bad reasoning (à la representativeness) and the LWers who happen to be hanging around this particular comment thread are, uh, apparently unaware of this fact. Alas.

Yes, and that's why I described the attitude as "dysfunctionally dissonant" (emphasis in original). It's not a good way of challenging the instructors, and not the way I recommend behaving. What I'm talking about is how a healthy gym environment is robust to this sort of dysfunctional dissonance, and how to productively relate to unskilled dissonance by practicing skillfully enough yourself that the system's combined dysfunction never becomes supercritical and instead decays towards productive cooperation. That's certainly one possibility. But isn't it also conceivable though that I simply see underlying dynamics (and lack thereof) which you don't see, and which justify the confidence level I display? It certainly makes sense to track the hypothesis that I am overconfident here, but ironically it strikes me as overconfident to be asserting that I am being overconfident without first checking things like "Can I pass his ITT"/"Can I point to a flaw in his argument that makes him stutter if not change his mind"/etc. To be clear, my view here is based on years of thinking about this kind of problem and practicing my proposed solutions with success, including in a literal martial arts gym for the last eight years. Perhaps I should have written more about these things on LW so my confidence doesn't appear to come out of nowhere, but I do believe I am able to justify what I'm saying very well and won't hesitate to do so if anyone wants further explanation or sees something which doesn't seem to fit. And hey, if it turns out I'm wrong about how well supported my perspective is, I promise not to be a poor sport about it. In absence of an object level counterargument, this is textbook ad hominem. I won't argue that there isn't a place for that (or that it's impossible that my reasoning is flawed), but I think it's hard to argue that it isn't premature here. As a general rule, anyone that disagrees with anyone can come up with a million accusations of this sort, and it is
Well, you mentioned the scenario as an illustration of a "particularly corrosive" attitude.  It therefore seems reasonable to fill in the unspecified details (like just how disruptive the guy's behavior is, how much of everyone's time he wastes, how many instructors are driven away in shame or irritation) with pretty negative ones—to assume the gym has in fact been corroded, being at least, say, moderately dysfunctional as a result. Maybe "deeply dysfunctional" was going too far, but I don't think it's reasonable to call that "way overconfident/projection-y".  Nor does the difference between "deeply dysfunctional" and "moderately dysfunctional" matter for jimmy's point. FYI, I'm inclined to upvote jimmy's comment because of the second paragraph: it seems to be the perfect solution to the described situation (and to all hypothetical dysfunction in the gym, minor or major), and has some generalizability (look for cheap tests of beliefs, challenge people to do them).  And your comment seems to be calling jimmy out inappropriately (as I've argued above), so I'm inclined to at least disagree-vote it.

Just noting that "What specifically did it get wrong?" is a perfectly reasonable question to ask, and is one I would have (in most cases) been willing to answer, patiently and at length.

That I was unwilling in that specific case is an artifact of the history of Zack being quick to aggressively misunderstand that specific essay, in ways that I considered excessively rude (and which Zack has also publicly retracted).

Given that public retraction, I'm considering going back and in fact answering the "what specifically" question, as I normally would have at the... (read more)

Cranks ask questions of people they think are wrong, in order to try and expose the weaknesses in their arguments. They signal aloofness, because their priority is on being seen as an authority who deserves similar or higher status (at least on the issue at hand) as the person they're addressing. They already expect the author they're questioning is fundamentally confused, and so they don't waste their own time trying to figure out what the author might have meant. The author, and the audience, are lucky to have the crank's attention, since they're obvious

... (read more)

You're describing a deeply dysfunctional gym, and then implying that the problem lies with the attitude of this one character rather than the dysfunction that allows such an attitude to be disruptive.

The way to jam with such a character is to bet you can tap him with the move of the day, and find out if you're right. If you can, and he gets tapped 10 times in a row with the move he just scoffed at every day he does it, then it becomes increasingly difficult for him to scoff the next time, and increasingly funny and entertaining for everyone else. If you ca... (read more)

Just noting as a "for what it's worth"

(b/c I don't think my personal opinion on this is super important or should be particularly cruxy for very many other people)

that I accept, largely endorse, and overall feel fairly treated by the above (including the week suspension that preceded it).

Spending my last remaining comment here.

I join Ray and Gwern in noting that asking for examples is generically good (and that I've never felt or argued to the contrary). Since my stance on this was called into question, I elaborated:

If one starts out looking to collect and categorize evidence of their conversational partner not doing their fair share of the labor, then a bunch of comments that just say "Examples?" would go into the pile. But just encountering a handful of comments that just say "Examples?" would not be enough to send a reasonable person to

... (read more)

Noting that my very first lesswrong post, back in the LW1 days, was an example of #2. I was wrong on some of the key parts of the intuition I was trying to convey, and ChristianKl corrected me. As an introduction to posting on LW, that was pretty good - I'd hate to think that's no longer acceptable.

At the same time, there is less room for it as the community got much bigger, and I'd probably weak downvote a similar post today, rather than trying to engage with a similar mistake, given how much content there is. Not sure if there is anything that can be don... (read more)

I generally agree with the above and expect to be fine with most of the specific versions of any of the three bulleted solutions that I can actually imagine being implemented.

I note re:

It'd be cruxy for me if more high-contributing-users actively supported the sort of moderation regime Duncan-in-particular seems to want.

... that (in line with the thesis of my most recent post) I strongly predict that a decent chunk of the high-contributing users who LW has already lost would've been less likely to leave and would be more likely to return with marginal move... (read more)

Nod. I want to clarify, the diff I'm asking about and being skeptical about is "assuming, holding constant, that LessWrong generally tightens moderation standards along many dimensions, but doesn't especially prioritize the cluster of areas around 'strawmanning being considered especially bad' and 'making unfounded statements about a person's inner state'" i.e. the LessWrong team is gearing up to invest a lot more in moderation one way or another. I expect you to be glad that happened, but still frequently feel in pain on the site and feel a need to take some kind of action regarding it. So, the poll I'd want is something like "given overall more mod investment, are people still especially concerned about the issues I associate with Duncan-in-particular". I agree some manner of poll in this space would be good, if we could implement it.

Does that influence 

To be honest, I think I have to take this exchange as further evidence that Duncan is operating in bad faith. (Within this particular conflict, not necessarily in general.)

in any way?

Four days' later edit: guess not. :/

I agree that escalating to arbitrary levels of nuance makes communication infeasible, and that you can and should only highlight the relevant and necessary distinctions.

I think "someone just outright said I'd repeatedly said stuff I hadn't" falls above the line, though.

Yeah. One is small, and the other is tiny. The actual comment that the anonymous person is mocking/castigating said:

I note (while acknowledging that this is a small and subtle distinction, but claiming that it is an important one nonetheless) that I said that I now categorize Said as a liar, which is an importantly and intentionally weaker claim than Said is a liar, i.e. "everyone should be able to see that he's a liar" or "if you don't think he's a liar you are definitely wrong."

(This is me in the past behaving in line with the points I just made under Sa

... (read more)

(I suppose seeing posts actually cited outside the LessWrong community would be a better/more-objective measure of "something demonstrably good is happening, not potentially just circle-jerky". I'm interested in tracking that although it seems trickier)

In order from "slightly outside of LessWrong" to "very far outside of LessWrong," I refactored the CFAR handbook against (mild) internal resistance from CFAR and it was received well, I semi-regularly get paid four or low-five figures to teach people rationality, I've been invited to speak at 4+ EA Globals a... (read more)

You also need to accept that other factors beyond word choice play into how your words will be perceived: claiming this distinction is of tremendous importance lands differently in the context of this giant adversarial escalation-spiral than it would in an alternate reality where you were writing a calm and collected post and had never gotten into a big argument with Said

Er. I very explicitly did not claim that it was a distinction of tremendous importance. I was just objecting to the anonymous person's putting them in the same bucket. 

In my opinion,

... (read more)
So are you saying that although the distinction between the two versions of the “liar” phrase is 100-1000x bigger than between the due to/for distinction, it is still not tremendously important?

...while acting as though somehow that would have been less offensive if they had only added "I suspect" to the latter half of that sentence as well. Raise your hand if you think that "I suspect that you won't like this idea, because I suspect that you have the emotional maturity of a child" is less offensive because it now represents an unambiguously true statement of an opinion rather than being misconstrued as a fact.

The thing that makes LW meaningfully different from the rest of the internet is people bothering to pay attention to meaningful distincti... (read more)

The thing that makes LW meaningfully different from the rest of the internet is people bothering to pay attention to meaningful distinctions even a little bit.

In my opinion, the internet has fine-grained distinctions aplenty. In fact, where to split hairs and where to twist braids is sort of basic to each political subculture. What I think makes LessWrong different is that we take a somewhat, maybe not agnostic but more like a liberal/pluralistic view of the categories. We understand them as constructs, "made for man," as Scott put it once, and as largely ... (read more)


A meta point that is outside of the scope of the object level disagreement/is a tangent:

Once again you miss a (the?) key point.

“What are some examples?” does not constitute “calling out a flaw”—unless there should be examples but aren’t. Otherwise, it’s an innocuous question, and a helpful prompt.

I note that the following exchange recently took place:

Said: [multiple links to him just saying "Examples?"]

Me: [in a style I would not usually use but with content that is not far from my actual belief] I'm sorry, how do any of those (except possibly 4) satisfy a... (read more)

Yeah, almost like splitting hairs around whether making the public statement "I now categorize Said as a liar" is meaningfully different than "Said is a liar". Or admonishing someone for taking a potshot at you when they said  ...while acting as though somehow that would have been less offensive if they had only added "I suspect" to the latter half of that sentence as well. Raise your hand if you think that "I suspect that you won't like this idea, because I suspect that you have the emotional maturity of a child" is less offensive because it now represents an unambiguously true statement of an opinion rather than being misconstrued as a fact. A reasonable person would say "No, that's obviously intended to be an insult" -- almost as though there can be meaning beyond just the words as written. The problem is that if we believe in your philosophy of constantly looking for the utmost literal interpretation of the written word, you're tricking us into playing a meta-gamed, rules-lawyered, "Sovereign citizen"-esque debate instead of, what's the word -- oh, right, Steelmanning. Assuming charity from the other side. Seeking to find common ground. For example, I can point out that Said clearly used the word "or" in their statement. Since reading comprehension seems to be an issue for a "median high-karma LWer" like yourself, I'll bold it for you.  Is it therefore consistent for "asking for examples" to be contained by that set, while likewise not being pointing to a flaw? Yes, because if we say that a thing is contained by a set of "A or B", it could be "A", or it could be "B". Now that we've done your useless exercise of playing with words, what have we achieved? Absolutely nothing, which is why games like these aren't tolerated in real workplaces, since this is a waste of everyone's time. You are behaving in a seriously insufferable way right now. Sorry, I meant -- "I think that you are behaving in what feels like to me a seriously insufferable way right now, whe

As for using words in a nonstandard way, I hardly think that you’re one to make such an accusation!

I think the best response to this is one of Said's own comments:

I have (it would seem) a reputation for making certain sorts of comments, which are of course not intended as “attacks” of any sort (social, personal, etc.), but which are sometimes perceived as such—and which perception, in my view, reflects quite poorly on those who thus perceive said comments.

I am not optimizing particularly hard for Said not feeling criticized but also treating my comment abo... (read more)

0Said Achmiz8mo
I dispute the claim of effectiveness. (As for “acclaimed”, well, the value of this really depends on who’s doing the acclaiming.) And the question certainly is not orthogonal. My point was that your use of words is more weird and more often weird than mine. You have no place to stand, in my view, when saying of me that I use words weirdly, in some way that leads to misunderstandings. (I also don’t think that the claim is true; but regardless of whether it’s true in general, it’s unusually unconvincing coming from you.) Indeed this is not ridiculous, when the X in question is something like “using words weirdly”, which can be understood only in a relative way. The point is not “how dare you” but rather “you are unusually unqualified to evaluate this”. This could surely not be claimed for arbitrary traits, but for a trait like this, it seems to me to make plenty of sense.
2Said Achmiz8mo
“Accusation” in the grandparent wasn’t meant to imply anything particularly blameworthy or adversarial, though I see how it could be thus perceived, given the context. Consider the word substituted with “characterization” (and I will so edit the previous comment).

Said, above, is saying a bunch of things, many of which I agree with, as if they are contra my position or my previous claims.

He can't pass my ITT (not that I've asked him to), which means that he doesn't understand the thing he's trying to disagree with, which means that his disagreement is not actually pointing at my position; the things he finds ridiculous and offensive are cardboard cutouts of his own construction. More detail on that over here.

2Said Achmiz8mo
This response is manifestly untenable, given the comment of yours that I was responding to.


I note (while acknowledging that this is a small and subtle distinction, but claiming that it is an important one nonetheless) that I said that I now categorize Said as a liar, which is an importantly and intentionally weaker claim than Said is a liar, i.e. "everyone should be able to see that he's a liar" or "if you don't think he's a liar you are definitely wrong."

(This is me in the past behaving in line with the points I just made under Said's comment, about not confusing [how things seem to me] with [how they are] or [how they do or should seem ... (read more)

Nod, seems fair to note.

But sir, you impugn my and my site's honor

This is fair, and I apologize; in that line I was speaking from despair and not particularly tracking Truth.

A [less straightforwardly wrong and unfair] phrasing would have been something like "this is not a Japanese tea garden; it is a British cottage garden."

I have been to the Japanese tea garden in Portland, and found it exquisite, so I think get your referent there. Aye, indeed it is not that.

I note for any other readers that Said is evincing a confusion somewhere in the neighborhood of the Second Guideline and the typical mind fallacy.

In particular, it's false that I "write and act as though I did hold that belief," in the sense that a supermajority of those polled would check "true" on a true-false question about it, after reading through (say) two of my essays and a couple dozen of my comments.

("That belief" = "Duncan has, I think, made it very clear that that a comment that just says 'what are some examples of this claim?' is, in his view, ... (read more)

1Said Achmiz8mo
There is nothing shocking about finding oneself to be unusual, even (or, perhaps, especially) on Less Wrong. So this particular revelation isn’t very… revelatory. But I don’t think that many of the things that baffle and confuse me actually make sense to many others. What I do think is that many others think that those things make sense to them—but beneath that perception of understanding is not, fact, any real understanding. Of course this isn’t true of everything that I find confusing. (How could it be?) But it sure is true of many more things than anyone generally cares to admit. (As for using words in a nonstandard way, I hardly think that you’re one to make such an accusation characterization! Of the two of us, it seems to me that your use of language is considerably more “nonstandard” than is mine…) (EDIT: Wording)

Strong upvote, strong agree.  In particular:

But is every down/up voter sufficiently skilled, discerning and trustworthy? Is there any bar they have to cross to wield this power?

LW has tried to solve this with weighted voting power, and that has made a difference; I think vote totals here are meaningfully better than on Reddit, for instance.

But there are just so many people with vote strength 1 or 2 or 3, and it's very easy for a popular (but really bad by the standards of rationality) comment to drown out an actually good one.

I think a reasonable reader could come away from that comment of gjm's uncertain whether or not Said simply saying "examples?" would count as an example.


I should also note here that I don't think you have explicitly staked out that you think Said just saying "examples?" is bad (like, you didn't here, which was the obvious place to), I am inferring that from various things you've written (and, tho this source is more suspect and so has less influence, ways other people have reacted to Said before).

To clarify:

If one starts out looking to collect and categ... (read more)

The problem is not in asking someone to do a little labor on your behalf. It’s having 85+% of your engagement be asking other people to do labor on your behalf, and never reciprocating, and when people are like, hey, could you not, or even just a little less? being supercilious about it.

But why should this be a problem?

Why should people say “hey, could you not, or even just a little less”? If you do something that isn’t bad, that isn’t not a problem, why should people ask you to stop? If it’s a good thing to do, why wouldn’t they instead ask you to do i... (read more)

A couple quick notes for now: I agree with Duncan here it's kinda silly to start the clock at "Killing Socrates". Insofar as there's a current live fight that is worth tracking separately from overall history, I think it probably starts in the comments of LW Team is adjusting moderation policy, and I think the recent-ish back and forth on Basics of Rationalist Discourse and "Rationalist Discourse" Is Like "Physicist Motors" is recent enough to be relevant (hence me including the in the OP) I think Vaniver right now is focusing on resolving the point "is Said a liar?", but not resolving the "who did most wrong?" question. (I'm not actually 100% sure on Vaniver's goals/takes at the moment). I agree this is an important subquestion but it's not the primary question I'm interested in.  I'm somewhat worried about this thread taking in more energy that it quite warrants, and making Duncan feel more persecuted than really makes sense here.  I roughly agree with Vaniver than "Liar!" isn't the right accusation to have levied, but also don't judge you harshly for having made it.  I think this comment of mine summarizes my relevant opinions here. (tagging @Vaniver to make sure he's at least tracking this comment)

No, it's relevant context, especially given that you're saying in the above ~[and I judge people for it].

(To be clear, I didn't think that the comment I quoted was about me. Added a small edit to make that clearer.)

I have (it would seem) a reputation for making certain sorts of comments, which are of course not intended as “attacks” of any sort (social, personal, etc.), but which are sometimes perceived as such—and which perception, in my view, reflects quite poorly on those who thus perceive said comments.

Just a small note that "Said interpreting someone as [interpreting Said's comment as an attack]" is, in my own personal experience, not particularly correlated with [that person in fact having interpreted Said's comment as an attack].

Said has, in the past, seemed t... (read more)

0Said Achmiz8mo
The comment you quoted was not, in fact, about you. It was about this (which you can see if you read the thread in which you’re commenting). Note that in the linked discussion thread, it is not I, but someone else, who claims that certain of my comments are perceived as attacks. In short, your comment is a non sequitur in this context.

Oliver proposed an alternative wording and I affirmed that I'd still bet on his wording.  I was figuring I shouldn't try to run a second poll myself because of priming/poisoning the well but I'm happy for someone else to go and get data.  

In the response I would have wanted to see, Duncan would have clearly and correctly pointed to that difference. He is in favor of people asking for examples [combined with other efforts to cross the gap], does it himself, gives examples himself, and so on. The unsaid [without anything else] part is load-bearing and thus inappropriate to leave out or merely hint at. [Or, alternatively, using "ask people for examples" to refer to comments that do only that, as opposed to the conversational move which can be included or not in a comment with other moves.]

I ag... (read more)

At the risk of guessing wrong, and perhaps typical-mind-fallacying, I imagining that you're [rightly?] feeling a lot frustration, exasperation, and even despair about moderation on LessWrong. You've spend dozens (more?) and tens of thousands of words trying to make LessWrong the garden you think it ought to be (and to protect yourself here against attackers) and just to try to uphold, indeed basic standards for truthseeking discourse.  You've written that some small validation goes a long way, so this is me trying to say that I think your feelings hav... (read more)

I didn't make it to every point, but hopefully you find this more of the substantive engagement you were hoping for.

I did, thanks.

gjm specifically noted the separation between the major issue of whether balance is required, and this other, narrower claim.

I think gjm's comment was missing the observation that "comment that just ask for examples" are themselves an example of "unproductive modes of discussion where he is constantly demanding more and more rigour and detail from his interlocutors while not providing it himself", and so it wasn't cleanly about ... (read more)

(I intended to convey with "by the way" that I did not think I had (yet) responded to the full substance of your comment/that I was doing something of an aside.)

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