All of grumphrey's Comments + Replies

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... (read more)

4Said Achmiz1y
I was more or less with you until this part: I strongly object to this stance, for two reasons. First (and less importantly): “no, it is you who are wrong and bad” is perfectly capable of being true. How, then, can it be an “epistemic antipattern”? Now, I say this is the less important of my two objections because from a purely epistemic standpoint, the important part of the reply is just the “no” part. The counter-accusation may, of course, also be true—but if we get the defense right, we’re most of the way to successfully keeping our worldview straight. But if we confine ourselves to the defense, then… Secondly (and more importantly): by treating “no, it is you who are wrong and bad” as an antipattern, we remove a powerful weapon of rhetorical and conceptual self-defense from precisely the people most in need of it—and we thereby contribute to bad epistemic environments. Why do I say this? Suppose that you’re accused of something; and accused unjustly. You know that you are innocent of the charge; what’s more, you know that you actions were, not only unobjectionable, but praiseworthy, or even necessary. How do you respond? If you merely say “No! I am innocent of the charge! I am in the right!”—well, it may be perfectly true. But rhetorically it will be perceived as weak, in all but the most coolly rational of social spaces (and no, Less Wrong most assuredly does not meet that bar). What’s more, consider that if you have acted in a good and praiseworthy manner, or if you have done what is necessary, what you would respect someone else for doing… and if you have, then, been accused of wrongdoing, in response… then (unless the whole thing is a thoroughly innocent misunderstanding, which happens rarely!) the one who has accused you has himself transgressed—not only against you, but against the collective. The way in which such wrongs are made right, is for the accused to be able to respond in such a way that does not give the accuser an asymmetric advantage.

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

... (read more)

But I wish that she’d gone a step further and refined the post until it wasn’t dangerous in this way.

I agree that Aella should have done this. Only I think refining the post until it wasn’t dangerous in this way, would have meant not writing it at all.

Honestly, this is a terrible post. It describes a made-up concept that, as far as I can tell, does not actually map to any real phenomenon (mostly this is because Aella, perplexingly, lumps together obviously outright abusive behaviors with normal, unproblematic things that normal people do every day, and ... (read more)

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 s... (read more)

Everyone settling on an answer before anyone speaks is a good norm in general to avoid anchoring, in many settings. However, when playing with non-rationalists, I feel like one would need paper in order to implement it in a trustworthy way, which makes me think it's not going to be popular for that use-case.
What they said. Adjust the protocol to allow everyone equally close to be the "winner" As a simple protocol, take the true number, and check at each order of magnitude: 0. Anyone who got it exact wins 1. Anyone within 90% - 110% of the true value wins. If that's nobody 2. Anyone within 50% - 200% of the true value wins. If that's still nobody 3. Anyone within 10% - 1000% of the true value wins. 4. If that's nobody, then everyone loses.

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?

In my case, helping out with the first Effective Altruism summit is the most salient example.

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'm trying to hold off on proposing solutions, but the sort of thing I'm imagining here looks less like specific events, and more like changing attitudes and building skills. You might do particular events as part of an approach to changing those attitudes and skills, but the events are not the end goal. The endgoal is to have the "problem" bullet points listed in the OP reversed - people have an easier time forming close connections, various projects are more successful because people have soft-skills they need to improve their group dynamics, etc. (And, importantly, to do that without sacrificing the things that make the LW-descended community unique and valuable)

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&quo
... (read more)
I think that almost everyone vastly underestimates the importance of friends, and especially the importance of a few close friends. In terms of not being lonely, of having good times and good events, or even of having a good time at the events that the community organizes, a few close friends are the key. I started enjoying group events far more when I realized that there is no need to try and 'make the rounds' of the 20-100 people there - find the handful that interest you tonight, and spend the night with them. Raemon's response is key too, though. Communities are still super important because they provide anchors around which things can be organized, friends can coordinate and new friends can be found. What you do not want is for smaller groups to be only friendships and withdraw from their communities, or for some outside community to steal the best community members, because then the original community stops drawing in new people (or stop drawing in good new people) and slowly dies. A great question, and one I hope is asked at the conference, is "how do we encourage more formation of close friendships?"
Yeah; "taking care that people are not lonely" can in a proper context be a valuable project in itself, but it usually doesn't mix well with other projects, so you have to decide what kind of project are you going to do today. For example, you could have a separate project of providing social opportunities for e.g. old people in your community. And that would be a great project. But in such project, you would clearly distinguish between the organizers and the target audience. Which does not mean that the old people can't contribute to the project -- for example, if an old lady offers to bring home-made cookies for the party, you would include her as a specialist organizers. But you would expect that in general the two groups are distinct. And more importantly, it wouldn't create any negative feelings in you, because you would see that as how things are supposed to be. On the other hand, when I e.g. organize a local LW meetup, it is very simple to make a mistake and assume that the target audience wants to (and should) become organizers at some moment. Maybe not all of them, but... well, more than zero would be nice, right? Nope, that's an unrealistic assumption. There is no law saying that if you have dozen audience members, at least one of them must be an organizer in disguise.
I can also trace a similar arc, over the past fifteen years or so: * "Um, what do you mean, 'communities'? A community is a physical group of people out there in the real world, who share needs for physical safety, thriving, a favorable ecology, etc. Sure, many of these things are quite applicable in a real-world meeting, but an online social group is nothing like that! This 'virtual community' business is dangerous nonsense that's going to promote groupthink, get in the way of actual useful work (like writing blogposts, editing wikis, creating media content and writing free/open source software!) and empower authoritarian personalities who'll want to enforce their arbitrary rulesets and codes of petty etiquette, and/or force the social group to compromise towards their own preferred values!" Needless to say, I haven't changed my opinion this far. Nowadays I still think that physical meetups, "unconferences" and the like can be exceedingly useful to inspire and coordinate useful work that mostly happens online; but that attitudes and concerns associated with these, such as written "codes of conflict" - a very predictable and needed development in any physical community larger than about 150 members! - should be kept separate and not be allowed to infect the "online" side of things like some sort of parasitic "virtual community" ideology.
I endorse this as a healthy transition, with the caveat that what seems to happen, in practice, is that people clump off and form friendships, and then the community-mechanism by which people were able to form those friendships fades, so that future generations are not able to form friendships of their own. (Also, it seems like people end up not forming especially close friendships because people are too busy)

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 yo... (read more)

(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 politene... (read more)

Seems to me that talking about "social awkwardness" conflates things that should be addressed differently.

For example, there are people who are too shy to speak, and hate to compete for attention, so at a LW meetup they would just sit in the corner and quietly listen. These people don't harm anyone else, only perhaps themselves. You may try to think about gentle ways to encourage them, for example by having a part of meetup where people split into smaller groups and have an informal debate e.g. while eating some food.

Then there are people who, fo... (read more)