"The mystery is why the community doesn't implement obvious solutions. Hiring PR people is an obvious solution. There's a posting somewhere in which Anna Salamon argues that there is some sort of moral hazard involved in professional PR, but never explains why, and everyone agrees with her anyway."
""You", plural, the collective, can speak as freely as you like ...in private."
Suppose a large part of the community wants to speak as freely as it likes in public, and the mystery is solved.
We even managed to touch upon the moral hazard involved in professional PR - insofar as it is a filter between what you believe and what you say publicly.
Good PR requires you to put a filter between what you think is true and what you say.
The level of PR you aim for puts an upper limit to how much "radical" honesty you can have.
If you aim for perfect PR, you can have 0 honesty.
If you aim for perfect honesty, you can have no PR. lesswrong doesn't go that far, by a long shot - even without a PR team present.
Most organization do not aim for honesty at all.
The question is where do we draw the line.
Which brings us to "Disliking racism isn't some weird idiosyncratic thing that only Gerard has."
From what I understand, Gerard left because he doesn't like discussions about race/IQ.
Which is not the same thing as racism.
I, personally, don't want lesswrong to cater to people who can not tolerate a discussion.
"It's sad that our Earth couldn't be one of the more dignified planets that makes a real effort, correctly pinpointing the actual real difficult problems and then allocating thousands of the sort of brilliant kids that our Earth steers into wasting their lives on theoretical physics. But better MIRI's effort than nothing."
To be fair, a lot of philosophers and ethicist have been trying to discover what does "good" mean and how humans should go about aligning with it.
Furthermore, a lot of effort has gone into trying to align goals and incentives on all levels - from the planetary to the personal scale.
People have actually tried to create bonus systems that cannot be gamed.
Maybe all of this does not rise to the standard of actually achieving the desired result - but then again, neither has MIRI, so far.
So, for anyone depressed at how little dignity we get to die with, the good news is that people have been working (at least tangentially) on the alignment problem for a long time.
The bad news is, of course, that people have been working on the alignment problem for a long time.
For any statement one can make, there will be people "alienated" (=offended?) by it.
David Gerard was alienated by a race/IQ discussion and you think that should've been avoided.
But someone was surely equally alienated by discussions of religion, evolution, economics, education and our ability to usefully define words.
Do we value David Gerard so far above any given creationist, that we should hire a PR department to cater to him and people like him specifically?
There is an ongoing effort to avoid overtly political topics (Politics is the mind-killer!) - but this effort is doomed beyond a certain threshold, since everything is political to some extent. Or to some people.
To me, a concerted PR effort on part of all prominent representatives to never say anything "nasty" would be alienating. I don't think a community even somewhat dedicated to "radical" honesty could abide a PR department - or vice versa.
TL;DR - LessWrong has no PR department, LessWrong needs no PR department!
Tolstoy sounds ignorant of game theory - probably because he was dead when it was formulated.
Long story short, non-cooperating organisms regularly got throttled by cooperating ones, which is how we evolved to be cooperating.
14 years too late, but I can never pass on an opportunity to recommend "Essence of Calculus" by 3blue1brown on youtube.
It is a series of short clips, explaining Calculus concepts and core ideas without too much formalism and with plenty of geometric examples.
"Dear God" by XTC is my favourite atheist hymn. On the other hand, "Transcendence" with Johnny Depp made me feel empathy for christians watching bible flicks - I so wanted to like the damn thing.
As to OPs main point, "politics is the art killer" has recently entered the discourse of almost every fandom (if the franchise is still ongoing). Congratulations on pointing out yet another problem years before it became so exacerbated, that people can no longer ignore it.
Reverse stupidity is not wisdom. Here we have reversed ad populus (aka The Hipster's Fallacy). Pepsi and Macs are not strictly superior to their more popular counterparts by dent of existing. Rather, their existence is explained by comparative advantage in some cases for some users.
I've heard Peterson accuse feminists of disregarding what is true in the name of ideology on many occasions.
Sam Harris initially spent an hour arguing against Peterson's redefinition of "truth" to include a "moral dimension". They've clashed about it since, with no effect. Afaik, "the bible is true because it is useful" is central component of Peterson's worldview.
To be fair, I believe Peterson has managed to honestly delude himself on this point and is not outright lying about his beliefs.
Nevertheless, when prompted to think of a "General Defense of Fail", attempting to redefine the word "truth" in order to protect one's ideology came to mind very quickly.