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agree. To some extent, this all shows the best way to have a good reputation is to be good. But some awareness of how others perceive you goes a long way.


This means that ever admitting you were offensive is a huge status hit implying you are some combination of callous, ignorant, and racist. Sometimes people may be willing to take this status hit, especially if upon reflection they believe they really were in the wrong, but since most people's actions seem reasonable to themselves they will not be willing to accept a narrative where they're the villain.

More likely, they will try to advance an alternative interpretation, in which their actions were not legitimately offensive or in which they have the "right" to take such actions. Such an interpretation may cast the offended party as a villain, trying to gain power and control by pretending to be offended, or unduly restricting the free speech of others.

Sociopathy 101: the best response in this situation is usually to admit wrongdoing. If you try and defend yourself, you'll just dig yourself into a bigger hole. ("I'm not a racist, I just think ... " - we all know how that sounds). You don't need to actually believe you've done wrong, but make it at least sound like you've realised the error of your ways.

You still need to avoid a big status hit, so don't grovel. You should stay "on-message", and your message should be on the lines of "I'm sorry, I didn't realise I was being offensive, but I accept that I was. Thanks for helping me to be less prejudiced. I'm going to try and change in future". How you deliver this message depends on context - if you're not a public figure it's not like you can just hold a press conference, so you'll probably have to deliver this message to individuals, in which case you'll have to make it sound more personalised and natural.

Accepting a small status hit in this way can actually be high status. This strategy also works in the more general situation whenever someone accuses you of being X, where X is some negative trait. Ignore the overwhelming desire to explain why you are not X, with reasons. It will just make it sound like you don't "get it". Even if the criticism is totally invalid, the correct response is to accept it and promise to change.

Exceptions: if you think people will agree that your infraction was minor and the other party is overreacting (especially if they keep throwing new accusations at you after you accept the first), you can (and should) stand up for yourself.

If your infraction was very serious, or you've overused this tactic to the point people realise your tricks, it can backfire badly. I don't really know what to advise you in this situation, but you might need to accept some more-than-token punishment.


I can't attend, but good luck from Hong Kong! AFAIK this will be the second Asian LW meetup. I was also unsure if HK had enough rationalists for a meetup, but I managed to get 3 of us LWers together, and we enjoyed an interesting chat about OpenCog and other topics... So it's worthwhile even if you can only get a few people. And of course, you have to start somewhere.

Isaac20 - this is one person's experience with it. I agree that sometimes it sounds iffy, but I think it's useful for people who have that problem. When you say it sounds 'scary' do you mean scary to try or scary what could happen if everyone tried it?

By the way, you sound a lot smarter than the average 16-year-old. (I speak as one who also used to tell people online my age at the age of 16, in the hope I'd get such compliments :) )



Since at the moment it looks like it'll just be the three of us, I'll suggest meeting up in the bar ferrouswheel mentioned below (168 Future) at 6pm. Will add the details to the article if anyone else wants to drop by.

I've stumbled across OpenCog before and thought it sounded like an interesting approach, though I never looked into it in much detail. My bachelors thesis is actually about writing a texas holdem-playing AI, focusing on using machine learning to model an opponent's behaviour - which I guess has some slight relation to yousen's project. Well, it should be one thing to talk about anyway.

Will try and msg tomorrow to confirm.


"When the truth is, their adherence to such absurdly costly principles is precisely to signal that, compared to those who cannot afford their morality, they have it easy."

I think the idea that "morality is a form of signalling" is inaccurate. I agree that moral principles have an evolutionary explanation, but I think that standard game theory provides the best explanation. Generally, it's better to cooperate than to defect in the iterated prisoner's dilemma; and the best way to convince others you're a cooperator is to be, truly, madly and deeply, a cooperator.

Cf. Elizier's claim that he wouldn't break a promise, even if the whole of humanity was at stake. It certainly makes him seem more trustworthy, right?


To be fair, I think he was using "we" to refer to the Conservative party.


Between Monday to Friday (in the evenings) also works for me. I don't know about everyone else, since no other HK-based Lesswrongers have yet emerged. Bummer...


Out of curiosity, in what way do you think the experience of rationalists in HK will be exceptional (as compared to other cities)? Or am I misreading your comment?


I wasn't sure who this was referring to (I thought it was about Socrates), so I looked it up. It's about Epicurus.

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