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Welcome to Less Wrong! (6th thread, July 2013)

Hello, I'm Jennifer.

I'm here to get better at accomplishing my goals. I'd also like to get better at figuring out what my goals are, but I don't know if LW will help with that.

I don't identify as an aspiring rationalist. I try to be rational, but I am generally leery of identifying as much of anything. Labels are a useful layer of abstraction for dealing with people you don't really know well enough to consider as individuals, but I don't see much benefit in internally applying labels to oneself. If you do find it useful to think of yourself as an aspiring rationalist, I'd like to know what benefits you're seeing.

I have not so much lurked as sporadically encountered LW over the past several years. I don't recall how I first found the site, but I have followed links here on several separate occasions.

My historical usage pattern:

  • Follow a link to LW
  • Open a half dozen tabs (much like I do on TVTropes)
  • Read the tabs (usually from the sequences)
  • Realize that I've hit mental saturation
  • Close LW until the next time I stumble across a link

I became more interested in LW as a community when I got to know a community member in RL, but I still didn't register because I have an aversion to opening myself up to potentially hurtful comments on the internet, and LW seems particularly prone to the type of comment which I find most difficult to deal with. Then I decided to improve my criticism handling skills, so I registered.

Self-Congratulatory Rationalism

Identifying as a "rationalist" is encouraged by the welcome post.

We'd love to know who you are, what you're doing, what you value, how you came to identify as a rationalist

Self-Congratulatory Rationalism

when I say "what's the evidence for that?", it's not that I don't trust your rationality (although of course I don't trust your rationality either), but I just can't deduce what evidence you must have observed from your probability declaration alone even if you were fully rational.

Yes. There are reasons to ask for evidence that have nothing to do with disrespect.

  • Even assuming that all parties are perfectly rational and that any disagreement must stem from differing information, it is not always obvious which party has better relevant information. Sharing evidence can clarify whether you know something that I don't, or vice versa.

  • Information is a good thing; it refines one's model of the world. Even if you are correct and I am wrong, asking for evidence has the potential to add your information to my model of the world. This is preferable to just taking your word for the conclusion, because that information may well be relevant to more decisions than the topic at hand.