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It's obvious that morality is purely a matter of aesthetics

if nothing else, it's also a matter of what things an imperfect liar must believe in in order to not give off accurate hints that they're a bad person to have around, or more directly provoke retribution.

So perceiving the kind of things which would mark you as someone to be shunned or killed, as having their own special ontological category is very practical.

Even the idea that such things damn you is fairly accurate if you extract the baggage. You murder one lousy person and your option to live a normal life is greatly cut off and your options mostly narrow to escalation or starting your life anew elsewhere.

I think it's also a matter of rationality, insofar as no one is born realising there are other people and those other people's nature is such that they can suffer be happy live etc, much like we can. Being things like kind and honest allows you to perceive your nature and past both rationally and with pride. Conversely rvery time you're evil you damage your past, and so (unless you are a perfect liar) your ability to engage the world directly. Otherwise there has to be some reaction, some crack that forms, whether it's having to lie to yourself, lie to others, face your sins, partition your mind, forget or run from the past, etc.

I suppose all of that is escapable, and there can be equilibriums where it never comes up in the first place, but for an ordinary person there are self-interested reasons to have a moral sense, and in the absence of knowledge of what kind of world you're living in, your instinctive prior should be that it's possible that people who harm others for the sake of it might suffer retribution, and be afraid of doing/becoming that.

So morality is not purely aesthetic, it's also at least our (instinctive) game-theoretical fear of making ourselves the natural enemy of anyone who wants a quiet life. What's natural, or a priori worth consideration can later be screened out when we see we live in a world where justice is weak, but that doesn't mean it isn't a (lets say) natural platonic pattern.

edit: the tone of this post is angry, so you know. The anger is directed primarily at the paragraph I quote, which I consider utterly outrageous. It definitely spills over onto you also but I have nothing against you other than what spills over from this paragraph. I found your post had interesting insights in it otherwise. Anyway this post is pretty much an outraged rant so be warned.

Actually, here are the cliff notes because there were some objective things I identified.

teaching is a public performance role. dealing with customers complaints is literally part of the job, and one can additionally take it on more in the mantle of one's role as a teacher. Fielding a concerned intervention from a vetted personal friend is pretty much the opposite as a situation.

Making criticism unexplicit does not make it lighter, it just makes it more likely to be insiduous. The "criticism" in c) is formally information, informally advice, and only in subtext is it criticism. A friend cannot be expected to unravel this as it relates to a dear personal topic in real time. Phrasing criticism so that it doesn't look like criticism is dangerous.

criticising someone's chosen life path is a serious topic. The most salient thing about the topic is never going to be that you want them to be happy, unless you first explicitly state that you have an idea for them that might help them and you offer it in that spirit, but for them to judge it for themselves. -NOT just to drop it on them, if it's bordering a fault line.

People can prefer unhappiness and stress over happiness for many reasons. It may be more important for them to have a struggle to rise to to ensure they grow, for example. Moreover, if someone has taken drastic action in their life choices, for example if they quit their job, became a hermit, and lived off plants, one would assume that there was a serious reason for it, whether or not it was a good one. The pattern you describe of someone choosing to dedicate themselves to one very difficult problem they may or may not be able for is serious in the same way. The way to go in such a case is not to condense one's argument to 4 snappy lines, as one risks shearing through all kinds of layers of their understanding, in their attempt to meet you half way as a concerned friend. (-unless one understands them extremely well and can make the perfect such 4 lines), instead one has to check to see if one is proceeding from common ground.


You apparently do not understand what is wrong with c):

"There's strong evidence that there are only a few people in the world who have a chance of solving the math research problem that you've been working on for the past few years. It's very unlikely that you have the innate ability to solve it regardless of how hard you work on it. You're a good mathematician, you could make a lot of progress on easier problems, and that would probably make you happier."

The first thing is taking the outside view on someone's dedicated craft at all. One way people can become extreme outliers, the "few people", in the first place (if whatever dubious analysis produced such an absurd statement is even remotely correct) is by obsessive focus, and by not counting the odds. To sneak in the idea, in the very first sentence that your friend should be taking a many times removed outside view on this, (rather than throwing himself at his limits until he breaks, transcends them, or both) -and rapidly build assertions off this cannot be attributed to lacking social skills. Structurally, it's an excellently crafted psychological ambush from a friend.

And why would you even try to influence someone who's actions make no sense to you? If that's so then you clearly lack the common ground, or understanding of their motivations, to begin to speculate on what would fulfill their values, let alone craft this atrocity.

In this specific case, If someone is struggling at the limit of their ability to do something, anything at all, they don't want to hear from you why it's a bad idea, and still less how they'd be more hedonically comfortable if they'd just settle down and do the sensible thing.

And if a person has chosen to pursue a certain path, why would you presume that a half baked comment would be commeasurate with their deliberate personal decision on how and where to direct their lives?

It doesn't matter if they're completely, utterly, or even obviously wrong, attempting to change someone's chosen path through life is a serious thing! At best, absolute best, this is like holding an intervention for an alcoholic, but not bothering to think through how to phrase it or show some seriousness, and minimal respect. If someone's pathologically wasting their life. (in your judgement), you don't just go up to them and tell them, hmmm you might be better off not doing that. That''s even completely ignoring the question of ability and pushing oneself.

-You don't just condense the whole argument to 4 snappy lines in order to shear the hardest and fastest through their expectations, (as they reach out their mind to engage a trusted, vetted individual half way). Especially not when the question concerns values. To the extent that this person considers you a friend, they are liable to try to meet you half way to understand what you are saying, or further, but if they come even 20 or 30% of the way they might not be able to get back to where they where because it is so blatantly alien to the values implied by their choices, and presumably your personal knowledge of them.

-you argue the points, one at a time, first stating you premises and giving them a chance to say "no that doesn't apply to my situation" before you start building, rather than piling on six assumptions on back-to-back-to-back.. and assuming that they all hold just fine.

And the absolute best outcome here seems to be to rob someone of the probably-one-time life-experience of navigating their own way through what they've gotten themselves into and coming to their own conclusions.

Nowhere in this "helpful advice" is there any suggestion that you understand that your friend may want to have a hard problem to push themselves with, rise to the level of, meditate on, motivate them, etc.

"You would be happier" is not advice for a young, serious, mathematician. Obviously choosing a very dificult problem is not intended to directly optimist happiness.

There's the fact you chose to describe them as lacking innate ability, rather than (present) mathematical competence,

you described it as "the innate ability" as if it's one thing. -it's not even that their aptitude is not high enough, apparently they simply don't have "it", whatever "it" is.

with how very unlikely is put there, it conflates, in turn, the studies' view, with your view, with the universal view, with their view.

The fact that it is gentle makes it a hell of a lot worse by the way, not better. It's precisely the gentleness which makes it dangerous. You come with an attack, but as a friend, and gently. That is obviously far more dangerous because it has the potential to be insidious rather than stressful or traumatic. The fact that you describe it as criticism, while phrasing it as advice thinly masquerading as information, implies that you know what you're doing at least on some level.

At the end of the day what you're saying is precisely that "you're too bad at math to be able to meet your goals", except at least an order of magnitude worse.

And why would the salient thing about serious, drastic life advice/criticism/information be something about the adviser's feelings?

I could probably go on, I keep realising more things, but my head hurts enough already. I will leave it at this one: teaching kids is a public performance role. Fielding hecklers is part of the job. Taking an apparent friend's gently expressed concerns seriously is pretty much the opposite of that situation. (-which is what they seem so far as he can tell, but seemingly they're not even intended as such, not as advice, but as an admonishment, as if, by equivocation with professional duty to use bad feedback on one's professional work by one's clients, individuals are then supposed to field attacks on their current values (whatever their quality or rationality), from their friends, disguised as concern!)

Why not? Purely In terms of the social game, isn't "being smart and analytical" just one style of play?

Disadvantages: less natural concern for offense or feelings

Advantages: more concern and ability for logical politeness, finding the truth, and focusing on ideas (not taking offense).

That's^ if you want to really enter the game and play it the standard way.

You can also just be yourself, which gets you points and naturally crafts a reputation/expectations, and be idea-focused, which naturally does the same.

from an above comment, which has also been my experience:

"In some ways, my obliviousness was very powerful for me, because ignoring status cues is a mark of status, as are confidence and being at ease with high-status people - all of which flow from my focus on ideas over people or their status. Yet as I've moved from more academic/intellectual circles to business/wealth circles, it's become crucial to learn that extra social subtext, because most of those people get driven away if you don't have those extra layers of social sense and display it in your conversational maneuvering."

I'm not even sure of the necessity of the second part, but it's a good ability to have regardless. I don't see where the cap on communication plus socialising comes from, because communicating well score someone a lot of social points, especially in terms of reputation, but also immediately -if they do it "right" for their environment, which is usually fairly straightforward (be polite and respectful and/or friendly and/or humble and/or oblivious, probably etc).

Imo one of the best things you can do specifically for social games, is to pay 0 attention to them. Very few people are such explicit, calculated, and committed status seekers that they can't accept someone who isn't playing (and being described by those 3 adjectives wouldn't even cause them to either). Instead what usually happens is that some people are suspicious of people who don't appear to be playing, and prone to turning on them (not usually out of active malice/calculation: on the basis of something like "subconsciously felt hostility") but if the person who is oblivious/uninterested is either friendly, polite, "cool", or just oblivious-enough, this suspicion will dissapear over time. Because the basic suspicion, imo, is that someone is not genuinely uninterested/oblivious, but actively posing as high status.

If they then e.g. see the person doing things which would deliberately lower their status, -if they were being deliberate-, then most people will figure out what's going on. e.g. self deprecating comments, coming over to people and being friendly, respectfulness and politeness, explaining things well and with understanding -any of that kind of thing-, then they'll see (perhaps over time rather than quickly) that the person is not posing as high status.

If one doesn't have any of those habits then I guess that maybe they'd have to adopt them, if they want to be sure to have an easy time, but then again just acting "naturally high status" for a long time will generally result in people seeing someone that way so these meta level considerations are unnecessary in any case. Plus there's bound to be some signs.

And of course if you're in a discussion with such a person and they give you a confused/that's weird look, you can just explain yourself. Most people aren't, like, status-demons. Status is just a "working model"/overlay; most people don't worship it/explicitly value it; they just want to be respected, though well, of, and feel safe in their social environment. (or if this isn't technically true, it's an equally good overlay to status, in my case a much better one.)

Anyway here's some things smart and analytical people can naturally do/have better than others socialwise:

  1. Present interesting and useful ideas. Offer them to others/ the group. Includes just making conversation with others, even very anti-abstract people: speak with enthusiasm as broadly as is necessarry for the listener, with tone something like "isn't it such a rich tapestry of varied human experience and perspectives in this wide world", i.e. an aesthetic rather than intelectual focus. Most people like this kind of thing and, even if absolutely nothing else, and even the most anti-abstract people, can feel the good intentions of trying to lift their spirit with lofty/fancy ideas, or grow fond of it in a patronising "isn't that cute/nice/smart" way.

  2. Have a genuine focus on ideas rather than people. Many people value this, and people who don't are generally not enemies to it. And people who are, are generally enemies by default rather than as an active and deliberate thing (and therefore are open to suasion from that stance WRT to individuals and even sometimes such people in general. This also naturally "signals high status", as detailed above, though I don't know how much that usually really means anything in this general case. (a lot of modifiers on that last clause, but I wanted to be precise). Being genuinely oblivious or uninterested is by far the absolute best way to occupy (incidentally or otherwise) such a social role. If you desire to not worry about this stuff, the best way to do it is to start not worrying about it, and that's a social skill because it's a really low energy/ other-expenditure way to navigate a social world. Efficiency is a positive in much the same way that efficacy is. (if one does not have a reputation for obliviousnes/disinterest, they can just tell/ announce to others that they've decided to be a more focused individual or something, and be rightly applauded if they frame it properly/the people around them respect/like/have good intentions towards them. (because people don't generally support status in the abstract: it's an overlay for viewing people's actions, {imo on par with something like the mbti personality index, or a bit below actually}, not something most people explicitly value.)

  3. Explain things well. Imo this is one of the best social skills (it's also a skill of course, but it becomes a social skill if you do it right), -to learn how to explain things to people, not with patience, which can imply benificently tolerated irritation, but with understanding that others actually and literally don't understand or sometimes even have the framework to understand what they don't understand. This is much easier for analytical people because they can break down the concept of "obvious" from a one-place to a (correct) two-place understanding, and of course because analytical people can move more easily through the world of ideas in which people can get lost. (Imo this is a great natural crossover point between analytical thinking and social skills, or more specifically empathy/simulating others experiences, so it's also a good way to practice being social for analytical people that aren't currently very good at it).

  1. Analytical people can learn to analyse situations/reality, and analyse how they would be better attuned to that reality. Making such changes is largely an intuitive/emotional skill, but imo that part of it is much easier to learn than how to analyse reality unbiasedly, comprehensively, and well. (Not 100% strictly speaking an advantage, as emotional/intuitive/social people have other peaks they have easier access to, and probably every kind of person does, but still)

PvP is fun even if you aren't good at it, otherwise it is literally just a status game. This is a lot of obfuscating dressing on the idea that human status games is where it's really at. Never mind how they're negative sum, promote perverse incentives, how people coordinate and warp perception to be unfair to people as much as the target's low status will allow, and otherwise 90% shitty in the particular, -pvp is fun, and not really like social status games, so apparently we all have to be bitches in the future.

How is it not obvious that rape is something on which people are INSUFFICIENTLY CLEAR about its badness. I mean you've personally written about not adopting evolution's alien values, do you think humans are going to get that wrong when the time comes, or do you not see how "legalised rape" is just hopping on board the hooray for monkey brains and negative sum subgoal stomp train? Then having the superhappies, seemingly in most other respects humanities superiors, contrasted to abhorrent aliens, also converging on drastically increased sexuality as a natural convergence point for drastic intervention in people's natures.

If the story didn't seem otherwise so idealistic, it might just slip in as part of the background. But it doesn't seem like an an attempt at a realistic extrapolation of what humans would actually end up as: the characters are all rational and well intentioned and smart and appealing, and there's lighthearted popculture references as well as dramatic appeals to your own memes (good memes they are but still). And then throwing in rape, RAPE for fuck's sake, in as legalised in an otherwise fairly shiny future (and if you dispute shiny, at least sensible or sane) really seems like at best a reckless and self indulgent whim.

Do you think people have too much trouble entertaining thoughts of adjusting their values in ways that allow them to exploit others, and benefit from a privileged (unfortunately, this privileged does seem to be the literally correct word for something I want to say) position? Are most people too pure and nice, and just need to get in touch with their inner tribal and/or feral animal? That's the only direction this is going to open anyone's eyes. "Open mindedness" is not a quality to encourage in directions people are already severely tempted to be immoral. You should not have appealing opportunities for people to repudiate their better natures slipped into work that is otherwise so brilliant they will be tempted to believe anything it seems to imply, and clearly enough backed by an intellect at least a level up from most readers that they may be tempted, legitimately even, to just take on trust what you seem to be implying. How often do you read, on this site, comments like, "I wonder if humans don't inherently need other people to suffer for them to be happy?" and elsewhere morons basically literally believing "fucking bitches" is the meaning of life because evolution/the life made famous by the phrase "that's life", says so, and the almost complete lack of resistance or rebuttals to such ideas as normative or as remotely reasoned.

Hold on here's a concrete example:

look at the arguments he's making, and how people are responding to them. Something about our sick environment makes people really tempted by naturalistic fallacies especially ones that lead into proposing we forget that whole thinking thing and give over our identities to evolution's eldritch values.

I'm not sure if reddit should be expected to be below or above average on this but just look at the shit people are thinking, that it's socially respectable to think.

Believing in your shitty local equilibrium and that the compromises people make to fit into/survive in/thrive in it are moral and neccessary (in order to better signal and fit into it) is pretty much the main moral failure mode of humans in general. Exploitative strictly hierarchical environments, (aka the specific people they're made of) destroy people's investment in altruism and reciprocal cooperation. If everyone stops jumping in bed with every piece of rhetoric that represents an appealing alliance, rhetoric will no longer decide "social reality." The more people stand against coercion and domination and abuse, and every aspect of the race to the bottom, and the more people quit with the whole domination and compromise ideology thing the less there'll be people feeling rape is part of the "natural order", and that natural orders are more important than principles and decency. That's an extremely hard coordination problem but it really, really needs to be solved. It's non solvedness is what we regretfully refer to as the human condition, or the absurdity of life, or the "real world." If your CEV doesn't include doing something about this you're a baby eater.

Speaking of which actual humans are effectively baby eaters, we eat animals which are apparently roughly as sapient, that's another one of those really fucking important coordination problems, luckily it seems to have an engineering solution. Come to think of it you must have thought of that which makes me question if there's some higher level reason for this for half a second but NOPE, throwing in a "rape, why not?" from the collective decision of an otherwise (comparitively) highly awesome alt/future humanity on reflection, with the understanding that you're smarter than me and I clearly don't understand what's going on, still seems like a really fucking bad idea.

i'm only going to consider the first one. The obvious thing to do is to pick the bees and hope for the bees, and it's an incredibly clear illustration of a situation where you might interpet the necessary unpleasant consequences of a good decision, as negative feedback about that decision, in the form of regretting the possibility of hornets. It pinpoints that feeling and it should help to push it away any other time you might be in abject pain or experiencing other lesser discomfort, e.g. after you, say, go to the gym for the first time. it really pinpoints that false temptation.

There is an argument for box 1 though: with a billion dollars and the perfect proof of your own credibility to yourself, and bearing in mind that any impairing trauma caused by the torture would be erased, it's possible that you could do more direct good than a thousand years torture is bad, and that the indirect good you could do (in bringing about positive sum games and opposing negative sum ones, being a part of establishing a better pattern for all of society, by gaining power and using it to influence society away from negative sum interactions, would be bigger again.) And of course I'd love to discover that I was that crazy, that altruistic, that idealistic, that strong. There's a part of me that wants to just say fuck it. In fact, bearing in mind the possibility of immortality or at least great expansion before I die/cryonics runs out or fails to work, do I want to be the guy who chose the bliss or the resources? Fuck it, I want to be the second guy. Throw me in the box before I change my mind.

The downvotes and no reply are a pretty good example of what's wrong with less wrong. Someone who is genuinely confused should not be shooed away then insulted when they ask again.

First of all remember to do and be what's best. If this doubt is engendering good attitudes in you, why not keep it? The rest of this is premised on it not helping or being unhelpful.

External reality is much more likely than being part of a simulation which adjusts itself to your beliefs because a simulation which adjusts itself to your beliefs is way, way more complicated. It requires more assumptions than a single level reality. If there's a programmer of your reality, that programmer has a reality too, which needs to be explained in the same way a single level one should as does their ability to program such a lifelike entity and all sorts of other things.

More fundamentally though, this is just the reality you live in, whatever its position in a potential reality chain.

If we are being simulated, trying to metagame potential matrix lords' dispositions/ ask for favours/look for loopholes/care less about its contents is only a bug of human cognition. If this is a simulation, it is inhabited by at least me, and almost certainly many other people, and there's real consequences for all of us. If you don't earn your simulation rent you'll get kicked out of your simulation place. Qualify everything with "potentially simulated-" and it changes nothing. "Real" just isn't a useful (and so, important) distinction to make in first person reguarding simulations.

and/or you could short circuit any debilitating doubt using fighting games or sports (or engaging in other similiar activities) which illustrate the potential importance of leaning all in towards the evidence without worrying about the nature of things, and are a good way to train that habit.

Also, in this potentially simulated world, social pressure is a real thing. The more infallible and sensitive you make your thinking (or allow it to be) the more prone it is to interference from people who want to disrupt you, unless you're willing to cut yourself off from people to some extent. When someone gives you an idiotic objection (and there are a lot of those here), the more nuanced your own view actually is the harder it will be to explain and the less likely people will listen fairly. You could just say whatever you think is going to influence them best but that adds a layer of complexity and is another tradeoff. If you're not going to try to be a "philosopher of perfect emptiness" taking external reality as an assumption is the most reliable to work with your human mind, and not confuse it: how are you supposed to act if there are matrix lords? There's nothing to go on so any leaning such beliefs (beliefs which shouldn't change your approaches or attitudes) prompts is bound to be a bias.

I think the "...and that's terrible" is pretty clearly implied. What exactly is wrong with the quote? It looks like you're dissecting a straightforward appeal to people's (stated or real) anti-unfairness values, as if it's a given that it's dishonest. I don't get it.

"some people perceive downvotes as rewards"

Is this just a dig at people vehemently defending downvoted posts or are you serious in calling this a hypothesis?

Rolling 10 dice instead of one makes the game less random. Rolling dice often instead of rarely makes the game more random. This game rolls dice for every attack and not that many. The dude said people complained about lots of dice rolling, not rolling lots of dice. Yeah, obviously if you roll 10 dice its less random than rolling one but what are the chances card game enthusiasts: people "geeky" enough to play star wars TCG don't understand that basic part of probability? It's far more likely that people were annoyed at lots of dice rolling, not the amount of dice you roll each time. Which matches the reported complaints of the players. Not that I'd expect an accurate report of the players positions when making excuses for why rolling dice in a card game is a bad idea.

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