All of Hazard's Comments + Replies

Symbiotic would be a mutually beneficial relationship. What I described is very clearly not that

2M. Y. Zuo1y
This seems to indicate mutual benefits for both founders and investors/suppliers ? Which you acknowledged could be possible in the previous comment? Although individual cases may still be net negative, it certainly possible that in aggregate it's symbiotic.

Yeah, the parasitic dynamic seems to set up the field for the scapegoating backup such that I'd expect to often find the scapegoating move in parasitic ecosystems that have been running their course for a while.

0M. Y. Zuo1y
So it's not parasitic but symbiotic instead?

Your comment seems like an expansion on who is the party being fooled and it also points out another purpose for the obfuscation. A defense of pre-truth would be a theory that shows how it's not deceptive and not a way to cover up a conflict. That being said I agree that an investor that plays pre-truth does want founders to lie, and it seems very plausible that they orient to their language game as a "figure it out" initiation ritual.

Depending on exactly where the boundaries of the pre-truth game are, I think I could argue no one is being deceived (I mean realistically there will be at least a couple naive investors who think founders are speaking literal truth, but there could be few enough that hoodwinking them isn't the point). When founders present a slide deck full of pre-truths about how great their product is, that slide deck is aimed solely at investors. The founder usually doesn't publish the slide deck, and if they did they wouldn't expect Joe Average to care much. The purpose of the pre-truths isn't to make anyone believe that their product is great (because all the investors know that this is an audition for lying, so none of them are going to take the claims literally), rather it is to demonstrate to investors that the founder is good at exaggerating the greatness of their product. This establishes that a few years later when they go to market, they will be good at telling different lies to regulators, customers, etc. The pre-truth game could be a trial run for deceiving people, rather than itself being deceptive.

I'm with you on the deficiency of the signalling frame when talking about human communication and communication more generally. Skyrms and others who developed the signalling frame explicitly tried to avoid having a notion of of intentionality in order to explore questions like "how could the simplest things that still make sense to call 'communication' develop in systems that don't have human level intelligence?", which means the model has a gaping hole when trying to talk about what people do.

I wrote a post about the interplay between the intentional asp... (read more)

Not quite what you're looking for, but if you've got a default sense that coordination is hard, Jessica Taylor has a evocatively named post Coordination isn't hard.

1Sean Aubin2y
I do appreciate her disambiguation and would also like answers to the questions in her conclusion!

I remember at some point finding a giant messy graph that was all of The Sequences and the links between posts. I can't track down the link, anyone remember this and have a lead?

You're probably looking for this (via the old FAQ).

When I was drafting my comment, the original version of the text you first quoted was, "Anyone using this piece to scapegoat needs to ignore the giant upfront paragraph about 'HEY DON'T USE THIS TO SCAPEGOAT' (which people are totally capable of ignoring)", guess I should have left that in there. I don't think it's uncommon to ignore such disclaimers, I do think it actively opposes behaviors and discourse norms I wish to see in the world.

I agree that putting a "I'm not trying to blame anyone" disclaimer can be a pragmatic rhetorical move for someone attemp... (read more)

This makes a lot of sense. I can notice ways in which I generally feels more threatened by social invalidation than actual concrete threats of violence.

I'm not sure what writing this comment felt like for you, but from my view it seems like you've noticed a lot of the dynamics about scapegoating and info-suppression fields that Ben and Jessica have blogged about in the past (and occasionally pointed out in the course of these comments, though less clearly). I'm going to highlight a few things.

I do think that Jessica writing this post will predictably have reputational externalities that I don't like and I think are unjustified. 

Broadly, I think that onlookers not paying much attention would have conc

... (read more)

Anyone using this piece to scapegoat needs to ignore the giant upfront paragraph about "HEY, DON'T USE THIS TO SCAPEGOAT"

I think that's literally true, but also they way you wrote this sentence implies that that is unusual or uncommon.

I think that's backwards. If a person was intentionally and deliberately motivated to scapegoat some other person or group, it is an effective rhetorical move to say "I'm not trying to punish them, I just want to talk freely about some harms."

By pretending that you're not attacking the target, you protect yourself somewhat fr... (read more)

I appreciate this comment, especially that you noticed the giant upfront paragraph that's relevant to the discussion :)

One note on reputational risk: I think I took reasonable efforts to reduce it, by emailing a draft to people including Anna Salamon beforehand. Anna Salamon added Matt Graves (Vaniver) to the thread, and they both said they'd be happy with me posting after editing (Matt Graves had a couple specific criticisms of the post). I only posted this on LW, not on my blog or Medium. I didn't promote it on Twitter except to retweet someone who wa... (read more)

I found many things you shared useful. I also expect that because of your style/tone you'll get down voted :(

Thinking about people I know who've met Vassar, the ones who weren't brought up to go to college* seem to have no problem with him and show no inclination to worship him as a god or freak out about how he's spooky or cultish; to them, he's obviously just a guy with an interesting perspective.

This is very interesting to me! I'd like to hear more about how the two group's behavior looks diff, and also your thoughts on what's the difference that makes the difference, what are the pieces of "being brought up to go to college" that lead to one class of reactions?

The people I know who weren't brought up to go to college have more experience navigating concrete threats and dangers, which can't be avoided through conformity, since the system isn't set up to take care of people like them. They have to know what's going on to survive. This results in an orientation less sensitive to subtle threats of invalidation, and that sees more concrete value in being informed by someone.

In general this means that they're much more comfortable with the kind of confrontation Vassar engages in, than high-class people are.

I have talked to Vassar, while he has a lot of "explicit control over conversations" which could be called charisma, I'd hypothesize that the fallout is actually from his ideas. (The charisma/intelligence making him able to credibly argue those)

My hypothesis is the following:  I've met a lot of rationalists + adjacent people. A lot of them care very deeply about EA and AI alignment. In fact, it seems to me to be a core part of a lot of these people's identity ("I'm an EA person, thus I'm a good person doing important work"). Two anecdotes to illustrat... (read more)

Talking with Vassar feels very intellectually alive. Maybe, like a high density of insight porn. I imagine that the people Ben talks about wouldn't get much enjoyment out of insight porn either, so that emotional impact isn't there.

There's probably also an element that plenty of people who can normally follow an intellectual conversation can't keep up a conversation with Vassar and then are filled after a conversation with a bunch of different ideas that lack order in their mind. I imagine that sometimes there's an idea overload that prevents people from c... (read more)

It's not clear to me what if anything we disagree on.

I agree that personality categories are useful for predicting someone's behavior across time.

I don't think using essences to make predictions is the "wrong thing to do in general" either.

I agree climate can be a useful predictive category for thinking about a region. 

My point about taking the wrong thing as a causal variable "leading you to overestimate your ability to make precise causal interventions" is actually very relevant to Duncan's recent post. Many thought experiments are misleading/bogus/... (read more)

If I had to pick a core point of disagreement, it would be something like: I believe that if you have a bunch of different variables that are correlated with each other, then those correlations are probably because they share causes. And it is coherent to form a new variable by adding together these shared causes, and to claim that this new variable is an underlying factor which influences the bunch of different variables, especially when the shared causes influence the variables in a sufficiently uniform way. Further, to a good approximation, this synthetic aggregate variable can be measured simply by taking an average of the original bunch of correlated variables, because that makes their shared variance add up and their unique variances cancel out. This holds even if one cannot meaningfully intervene on any of this. I have varying levels of confidence in the above, depending on the exact context, set of variables, deductions one wants to make on the basis of common cause, etc., but it seems to me like your post is overall arguing against this sentiment while I would tend to argue in favor of this sentiment.

"People are over sensitive to ostracism because human brains are hardwired to be sensitive to it, because in the ancestral environment it meant death."

Evopsyche seems mostly overkill for explaining why a particular person is strongly attached to social reality. 

People who did not care what their parents or school-teachers thought of them had a very hard time. "Socialization" as the process of the people around you integrating you (often forcefully) into the local social reality. Unless you meet a minimum bar of socialization, it's very common to be sh... (read more)

I greatly appreciate posts that describe when different flavors of self work (or different kinds of problems) don't feel like how one expected. A somewhat reversed example for me, for some years I didn't notice the intense judgement I had within me that would occasionally point at others and myself, largely because I had a particular stereotype of what "being judgemental" looked like. I correctly determined I didn't do the stereotypically judgemental thing, and stopped hunting.

I agree that meeting a person where they are is pretty important. You also seem to spend time with very different people than who I spend time with, and you have a very different reference for "people" and "where they are". This post probably isn't going to be too useful to the people you reference in your hypotheticals. It has been very useful for various people I know, so I'm meeting them where they are :)

You mention that it's useful to have conversations where you try to get on the same page about what you mean when you use certain words (3rd to last pa... (read more)

As a shortcut, if you have similar criticisms of A Human's Guide to Words, then we probably do disagree a lot. But if you don't think EY "thinks words aren't useful" then we just have a misunderstanding.

This is awkward because I'm pretty sure I don't believe anything your reply asserts I believe.

To clarify, is it the case that from reading my post you've concluded that I don't think labels/words are useful and that I don't think we need language for complex thought? If that's the case, can you help me understand how you got that?

Some thoughts: the "When" in the title was meant to make this distinct from simply "Arguing Definitions Is Arguing Decisions". Of all arguments about definitions, some unknown about have the qualities I'm pointing at.

When you ment... (read more)

I am not imputing that you believe these things personally, only that this argument implies them. People often make arguments that aren't a particularly good match for what they believe, even when completely sincere and careful. (If I thought you really paid no attention to words, and thought they were useless, I would have expected you to have not written it all.) As I stated in my post, I believe that most people are already on the side of not being willing to discuss definitions too much, and that this is a philosophical underpinning for trying to reject it utterly. They dismiss it as 'semantics', as if the meaning of things is unimportant. If you don't like an implication of what you are writing, I do believe you need to discuss the implication directly if possible to avoid endorsing a position you do not hold. (I hold this position much more strongly for written out essays.) The most important part of my post was a single sentence where I stated that advice needs to be tailored to where people currently are (which is mostly to reject defining things even when that is the useful bit.) The label (I prefer to say definition) is not a decision rule. Decisions rules were carefully affixed to them for usefulness, but if you don't like the rule, argue against that, not that the definition is somehow bad to discuss.  Any argument you can make about an object (including concepts) requires a shared way to reference it, which is always a definition. Leaving those unexamined means a lack of communication, even when you think you are having a conversation. Discussing which cluster you are referring to in shorthand is necessary to get anywhere. Since your advice goes too far, I have to point out that it is indeed too far (supposing I reply at all, of course.)  It should be noted that I find the 'Doomsday Button' argument completely unconvincing, and think it is purely imagery rather than careful argumentation. I have read the sequence you link in a following comment, but
As a shortcut, if you have similar criticisms of A Human's Guide to Words, then we probably do disagree a lot. But if you don't think EY "thinks words aren't useful" then we just have a misunderstanding.

I'll file a complaint to this imaginary workplace.

I'm short on actual conversations I can remember the details of, so if you have any that you think make a good example, feel free to share. Examples are some of the most important parts and I don't like it whenever I have to make them up.

I'm reflecting back on this sequence I started two years ago. There's some good stuff in it. I recently made a comic strip that has more of my up to date thoughts on language here. Who knows, maybe I'll come back and synthesize things.

Agreed that there's something missing. I didn't provide much of a model about what emotions are, mostly because I didn't have much of one when I wrote this. It was also the case that for some time I used my lack of a mechanistic model of emotions as an excuse to ignore the ways I was obviously hurting.

In response to Raemon's comment here, I and a few others gave some more concrete thoughts on what negative repercussions are.

I intend to write some follow up posts with what I've learned in the intervening years. One thing I need to expand on is what I actual... (read more)

Great post! Would also be interested in reading your distributed systems papers.

Glad that you liked it. :)
I'm taking the liberty of pointing to Adam's DBLP page.

Rao made his framework by combining his consulting experience with the TV show The Office. I don't believe he was trying to describe all corporations, which leaves me with the question "How would I determine which workplaces have these dynamics?"

The world he describes doesn't seem incompatible with the corporate world that the book Moral Mazes depicts.

I've not been in the working world long enough to have any data on what's common or normal, and haven't been at my current workplace long enough to have a sense for if it matches Rao's frame (it doesn't seem... (read more)

From reading lots of Rao's stuff, I also got the sense that he's writing descriptively, and specifically, he's trying to describe The Office. It'll be truthful to the degree that The Office captures some truths, and to the degree that Rao's own consulting experience fills in the details.

I appreciate you writing this! Describing how exactly a set of ideas fucked with you, how the ideas interlock, and what you think their structure is, is something I'm always glad to see.

Sometimes when I'm writing an email to someone at work, I noticing I'm making various faces, as if to convey the emotion in the sentence I'm writing. It's like... I'm composing a sentence, I'm imagining what I'm trying to express, and I'm imagining that expression, and along with that comes the physical faces and mental stances of the thing I'm expressing. It's like I'm trying to fill in and inhabit some imagined state.

Over the past year I've noticed a similar sort of feeling when I'm thinking about something I could potentially do, and I'm being motivated... (read more)

3Logan Riggs3y
I'm currently interested in the idea of "the physical sensation correlation of different mental states", like becoming intimately aware of the visceral, physical felt sense of being stressed or triggered, or relaxed and open, or having a strong sense of self or a small sense of identity, or a strong emotion in physical sensations only or a strong emotion with a story and sense of self attached or... Specifically practicing this would look like paying attention to your body's felt sense while doing [thing] in different ways (like interacting with your emotions using different system's techniques). Building this skill will create higher quality feedback from your body's felt-sense, allowing a greater ability to identify different states in the wild. This post's idea of hijacked values and your comment point to a specific feeling attached to hijacked values.  This better bodily intuition may be a more natural, long term solution to these types of problems than what I would naively come up with (like TAPs or denying the part of me that actually wants the "bad" thing)

Dope, it was nice to check and see that contrary to what I expect, it's not always being used that way :)

Some idle musings on using naive to convey specific content.

Sometimes I might want to communicate that I think someone's wrong, and I also think they're wrong in a way that's only likely to happen if they lack experience X. Or similar, they are wrong because they haven't had experience X. That's something I can imagine being relevant and something I'd want to communicate. Though I'd specifically want to mention the experience that I think they're lackin... (read more)

I generally agree with this post.

And man, that feels kinda naive to me.

Is there something you wanted to communicate here that was more than "that feels wrong/not true"? All usage and explications of "naive" that I've encountered seemed to focus on "the thing here that is bad or shameful is that we experienced people know this and you don't, get with the program".

4Ben Pace3y
I wanted to convey (my feeling of) the standard use of the word. I actually can imagine a LWer making that same argument but not out of naivete, because LWers argue earnestly for all sorts of wacky ideas. But what I meant was it also feels to me like the sort of thing I might've said in the past when I had not truly seen the mazes in the world, not had my hard work thrown in my face, or some other experience like that where my standard tools had failed me.

I liked that you provided a lot of examples!

If the details are available within you, I'd love to hear more about what the experience of noticing these fake values was like. Say for getting A's, I'd hazard a guess that at some point pre-this-revelation you did something like "thinking about why A's matter". What was that like? What was different about that reflection from more recent reflection? Has it been mostly a matter of learning to pay attention and then it's all easy, or have you had to learn what different sorts of motivation/fake-real values feel like, or other?

Does it feel like there were any "pre-requisites" for being able to notice the difference?

4Logan Riggs3y
Maybe! One framing is: I expected "great accomplishments that people I admire say is good" to make me very happy or very liked, but reality was not as great, even negative sometimes. This pattern was hidden because: *  I wasn't explicit with my expectations - if I was clear with how happy all A's would make me and paid attention when I did get an A, I would realize the disconnect sooner.  * Related: making explicit the goals that all A's helps me with (seriously considering why it matters in fine-grained details) would've been much more aligned with my goals than the proxy "get all A's". This serious analysis is not something I really did, but rationality skills of thinking an idea through while noticing confusions helped (I include focusing here) * I was in love with the idea of e.g. running a marathon and didn't pay attention to how accomplishing it actually made me feel in physical sensations, or how the process I went about achieving that goal made me feel in physical sensations. This even happened with food! I used to eat a box of Zebra cakes (processed pastry cakes) on my drive home, but one time I decided to actually taste it instead of eating while distracted (inspired by mindful eating meditation). It was actually kind of gross and waxy and weirdly sweet, and I haven't eaten more than a few of them these past several years. Thanks! Real life examples keep me honest. I was even thinking of your post, specifically the image of you scrambling to maintain and improve 10+ skills. How would you answer your own question?

Previously when I'd encountered the distinction between synthetic and analytic thought (as philosophers used them), I didn't quite get it. Yesterday I started reading Kant's Prolegomena and have a new appreciation for the idea. I used to imagine that "doing the analytic method" meant looking at definitions. 

I didn't imagine the idea actually being applied to concepts in one's head. I imagined the process being applied to a word. And it seemed clear to me that you're never going to gain much insight or wisdom from investigation a words definition and g... (read more)

I think this diary is a good idea, interested to see how it goes!

That certainly would have made a cool diary :)

I totally agree that the dude's critique didn't have much substance. That example, and several others, are all things were now I can see and feel the lack of substance. It was very real then though. In writing this I tried to emphasize that aspect, the way there wasn't much putting things in context, the way that by strategy for dealing with people made it very hard to go "k, jelly person critiquing with no substance".

Glad a part related! 

Yeah, the particular self-narrative one has probably does a lot of the shaping of everything else. The messages from others that I attend to would be a bit different from you.

Nvm I found it! It was about types of philosophers, it was a comment, and it's this one by gjm.

I'm trying to find a post (maybe a comment?) from the past few years. The idea was, say you have 8 descriptive labels. These labels could correspond to clusters in thing-space. Or they could correspond to axis. I think it was about types of mathematicians. 

Nvm I found it! It was about types of philosophers, it was a comment, and it's this one by gjm.

I'm trying to remember the book's take, something like "humor is to suss out what norms you do and don't approve of"?

Rao offhandedly mentions that the Clueless are useful to put blame on when there's a "reorg". That didn't mean much to me until I read the first few chapters of Moral Mazes, where it went through several detailed examples of the politics of a reorg.

Yep. Lot of overlap between this, Moral Mazes, and Dictator's Handbook. That's why I started posting these summaries.  To make it easier to start that discussion.

I'm the author, writing a review/reflection.

I wrote this post mainly to express myself and make more real my understanding of my own situation. The summer of 2019 I was doing a lot of exploration on how I felt and experience the world, and also I was doing lots of detective work trying to understand "how I got to now."

The most valuable thing it adds is a detailed example of what it feels like to mishandle advice about emotions from the inside. This was prompted by the fact that younger me "already knew" about dealing with his emotions, and I wanted to writ... (read more)

I'm pondering this again. I expect, though I have not double checked, that the studied cases of pressure to find repressed memories leading to fake memories are mostly ones that involve, well, another person pressuring you. How often does this happen if you sit alone in your room and try it? Skilled assistant would almost certainly be better than an unskilled assistant, though I don't know how it compares to DIY, if you add the complication of "can you tell if someone is skilled or not?"

Would be interested if anyone's got info about DIY investigations. 

I plan to blog more about how I understand some of these trigger states and how it relates to trauma. I do think there's a decent amount of written work, not sure how "canonical", but I've read some great stuff that from sources I'm surprised I haven't heard more hype about. The most useful stuff I've read so far is the first three chapters of this book. It has hugely sharpened my thinking.

I agree that a lot of trauma discourse on our chunk of twitter is more for used on the personal experience/transformation side, and doesn't let itself well to bigger Theory of Change type scheming.

2Eli Tyre3y
Thanks for the link! I'm going to take a look!

The way I see "Politics is the Mind Killer" get used, it feels like the natural extension is "Trying to do anything that involves high stakes or involves interacting with the outside world or even just coordinating a lot of our own Is The Mind Killer".

From this angle, a commitment to prevent things from getting "too political" to "avoid everyone becoming angry idiots" is also a commitment to not having an impact.

I really like how jessica re-frames things in this comment. The whole comment is interesting, here's a snippet:

Basically, if the issue is adversar

... (read more)

The original post was mostly about not UNNECESSARILY introducing politics or using it as examples, when your main topic wasn't about politics in the first place.  They are bad topics to study rationality on.  

They are good topics to USE rationality on, both to dissolve questions and to understand your communication goals.  

They are ... varied and nuanced in applicability ... topics to discuss on LessWrong.  Generally, there are better forums to use when politics is the main point and rationality is a tool for those goals.  And gene... (read more)

Your linked comment was very useful. To those who didn't click, here's a relevant snippet:

It seems like Simulacrum Levels were aiming to explore two related concepts:

  • How people's models/interactions diverge over time from an original concept (where that concept is gradually replaced by exaggerations, lies, and social games, which eventually bear little or not referent to the original)
  • How people relate to object level truth, as a whole, vs social reality

The first concept makes sense to call "simulacrum", and the second one I think ends up making more sense

... (read more)

I started writing on LW in 2017, 64 posts ago. I've changed a lot since then, and my writing's gotten a lot better, and writing is becoming closer and closer to something I do. Because of [long detailed personal reasons I'm gonna write about at some point] I don't feel at home here, but I have a lot of warm feelings towards LW being a place where I've done a lot of growing :)

2Ben Pace3y
I'm glad about your growth here :)

This makes me wonder, for every experiment that's had a result of "X amount of people can't do Y task", how would that translate to "Z amount of people can/can't do Y task when we paid them to take 2 days/ a week off of work and focus soley on it".

Hard to test for obvious reasons.

The article cited is also wrong about the line counts for some of the other groups it mentions, google doesn't have 2000 billion lines, according to their own metrics.

Love that you did this and learned something about some of the reasons discussions don't actually get started. I notice that I have often don't comment in a discussion conducing way because I don't enjoy trying to discuss with the time lag normally involved in lw comments. On twitter, I'm very quick to start convos, especially ones that are more speculative. That's partially because if we quickly strike a dead end (it was a bad question, I assumed something incorrect) it feels like no big deal. I'd be more frustrated having a garden path convo like that in LW comments.

Agreed that the lag in discussion can be frustrating. Which is why I think we should consider LW conversation closer to an exchange of letters (or emails) than instant messaging. This means having longer messages, with as little need for clarification as possible. (Not that I'm always doing that, but I'm trying).

Really what I want is for Kaj's entire sequence to be made into a book. Barring that, I'll settle for nominating this post. 

I endorse people using nominations to specify things that don't-quite-fit into the schema we laid out. I think nominating an entire sequence is a reasonable thing to do, and figuring out how to fit that into our overall review/publishing system is an important question. I don't know of a better way to do that other than to just encourage people to spell out what they wish to happen, and then... see what ad-hoc systems we can think of while processing that.

To everyone on the LW team, I'm so glad we do the year in review stuff! Looking over the table of contents for the 2018 book I'm like "damn, a whole list of bangers", and even looking at top karma for 2019 has a similar effect. Thanks for doing something that brings attention to previous good work.

2Ben Pace3y
You're welcome :) I'm loving reading yours and everyone's nominations, it's really great to hear about what people found valuable.

Besides being a really great object level post, I think it's also an great example of pointing to a subtle conversational move that appears pretty innocuous but upon investigation often is being used to sabotage information flows, intentionally or otherwise. I think a large part of rationality is being able to spot and navigate around these moves.

The S1/S2 dichotomy has proven very unhelpful for me.

  1. For some time it served as my "scientific validation" for taking a coercive-authoritarian attitude towards myself, resulting in plenty pain.
  2. It's really easy to conflate S2 with "rational" with "gets correct answers". I know think that "garbage in -> garbage out" applies to S2. You can learn a bunch of explicit procedural thinking patters that are shit getting things right.
  3. In general, S1/S2 encourages conflating "motives" and "cognitive capacities". "S1 is fast and biased and S2 is slow and rational".
... (read more)

This post makes a fairly straightforward point that has been vary helpful for thinking about power. Having several grounding concrete examples really helped as well. The quote from moral mazes that gave examples of the sorts of wiping-hands-of-knowledge things executives actually say really helped make this more real to me.

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