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Yeah, in retrospect I should have said more about the importance of evidence.  "We should recognize the evidence-free "no, it is you who are wrong and bad" as an antipattern."

And even then, I think some of what Aella is talking about isn't so much a response to criticism as a general attitude that everyone else is wrong and bad.

I dunno.

I don't want to use the word "steelman" since Aella might not agree that this is a better version of her post.

But here's a post that I would have strongly agreed with, if Aella had written it.


When presented with criticism, we can think of a range of possible responses.

At one end of the range is acceptance: "Oh wow, the fact that you think I'm doing bad things is strong evidence that I'm actually doing bad things, so I'll think hard about this and try to change."

At the other end is denial: "No, I'm not doing bad things and you're wrong to suggest that I am.  You should think about what mental errors you are making that is causing you to think that I am wrong."

Most reasonable people will respond differently to criticism depending on the evidence.  Some people are especially receptive to criticism, and will tend toward the "acceptance" end of the range if the criticism is delivered with confidence, even if the evidence provided is weak.

But some people have discovered that they can win any argument by responding to all criticism with confident denial.  We can call these people "frame controllers".


It's difficult to communicate negative feedback to frame controllers, because they'll just reflexively deny it.  People who are very receptive to criticism may find it unpleasant to communicate with frame controllers at all, because frame controllers spend a lot of time saying "no, it is you who are wrong and bad" which leads to a lot of stressful self-examination.  If a person is very receptive to criticism, it may take some time for them to realize that the problem is actually the frame controller, and not some sort of pervasive pattern of wrongness in their own mind.

(Aella is an example of a person who is very receptive to criticism, and therefore she has to take extraordinary measures to avoid interacting with frame controllers.)

We should recognize the reflexive "no, it is you who are wrong and bad" message as an epistemic antipattern, and we should be vigilant against it.  If we notice someone persistently sending this message with high confidence and no evidence, we should document this antipattern publicly.

In the meantime, everyone should try to be vigilant about which criticisms they accept.  Strong criticisms should require strong evidence and not just strong confidence.

The post is saying: "Here's a very common thing that basically everybody does sometimes."

Technically, everybody "frame controls" all the time; we can probably find numerous examples where every one of us - including me - does the things I outline as bad.

And then it's telling us that, if you identify that someone is doing this thing, this should be sufficient evidence to cast them out of society.  Even if they have good intent, even if there's no evidence of harm, even if nobody has told them the thing they are doing is bad.

No, you are not allowed into my life, my home, my friends, and I will try to remove you from the power you might use to hurt anybody else.

I'm worried that this is basically a general-purpose tool for anyone to denounce anyone else.

I think the author should get a lot of credit for identifying that this is dangerous and admitting how dangerous it is right in the post.  But I wish that she'd gone a step further and refined the post until it wasn't dangerous in this way.

The problem with the existing protocol is that it forces the choice of a single winner.  If multiple players are all basically right, the protocol you describe forces them into a deathmatch because only one player can be "the winner".

(Another problem with the existing protocol is that it has some players making their predictions "before" others, in a way that is visible to the others.)


Here's a better protocol: everyone makes their prediction at the same time without seeing anyone else's prediction.  If someone is off by X units then their score for that round is 1/(X+1).  For best results, play several rounds and compute the average score.


You might also be interested in Wits And Wagers, which is the "everyone predicts a number" activity made into a six-player board game.  I've played it.  It's pretty fun.

I don't think I've ever helped someone with a significant project.

(I also don't think I've ever performed a project of my own that required more effort than running a D&D adventure. I'm not sure if the moral is (1) I'm lazy, or (2) I'm optimizing for projects that don't require high effort to get started.)

Question: what's an example of a time when you found out about someone else's project, thought it was awesome, put in more than an hour of effort helping them with it, and were happy with the result?

I would like to know of more examples of "projects" that Project Hufflepuff would like to support.

Like, of course there's the Solstice celebration. (Yay Solstice!) Are all of Project Hufflepuff's projects going to be Solstice-like events, where a small group of people come together to create something the community can enjoy? Is the goal to have, like, the existing Solstice, plus a different group running the Summer Solstice, plus Rationalist Easter and Rationalist Halloween and et cetera? If that's not the entirety of the goal, what other sorts of things are part of the goal?

I can trace an arc, over the past ten years, of my attitude towards communities:

  • "Yay communities! Let's all share event invites and do everything together and everything will be great!"
  • "Hm, I'm organizing events for people but I'm not really enjoying them, and it doesn't really make me feel fulfilled"
  • "Inviting people to events doesn't seem to cause them to reciprocate by sending me invites back"
  • "I think the people in my community actually are having a lot of events, they're just not inviting me to most of them"
  • "I seem to have more fun interacting with people who aren't in my community. What's up with that?"
  • "Communities are okay but friends are better."

I never found a solution for how to get people to invite me to things. I think the problem is that I personally am really picky about the sorts of events I enjoy (ie, I don't like drinking or sports), so if I want to have an event that I will enjoy I have to make it myself.

But I did find a solution for how to have good events: make sure that all the people that I invite to my event are people who specifically want to do that event. Don't invite people because "they're part of the community" or "I want to make sure they're not lonely"; the risk is that they might show up because it's their only social outlet, and then they might not participate in the way that I wanted.

Nowadays I think of communities as places to meet people who could be my friends.

Let me tell you about a specific thing that I saw in a different community, that I thought was a good way to make the community more welcoming.

I was in a meetup community about D&D. There was a guy who did a great thing there: every four or five months, he would create a meetup called "Meet And Greet For Players And DMs". You could show up to the meetup and talk about the specific game you wanted to play in (or run). You could meet other people who wanted to do the same thing, and you could trade contact information, and after the event you could send people messages: "hey, come over to my place and let's play that game that we both want to play!"

This is a great way to forge intercommunity connections of the sort that you're talking about. It's also remarkably low-effort: the guy would say "yeah, we're going to meet in X location", and then he'd show up at X location to proctor the event and make sure everyone got a chance to speak, and that was all he had to do.

(Disclaimer: I'm not a member of the community you're seeking to change, so my consent is not necessary to your plans.)

A lot of the themes I'm seeing here ("many people feel lonely", "some newcomers feel unwelcome", "some people are disdainful and dismissive", and especially "culture of making sure your own needs are met") remind me of the Geek Social Fallacies post. I can summarize the Geek Social Fallacies post as follows: "some people are jerks; if you encounter a jerk, you shouldn't feel obliged by politeness or niceness to interact with them."

This aspect of Raemon's post seems directly in opposition to the GSF post: Raemon admits that some people are "disdainful and dismissive", and I'm guessing he would admit that some of the people that are attracted to the rationality community are sometimes socially awkward, but he nonetheless asks how we can make the community more open and welcoming.

I think this post would be improved if it addressed this issue directly.