kragensitaker

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Farewell Aaron Swartz (1986-2013)

Based on that, curing all forms of insanity would reduce suicide dramatically, by about an order of magnitude; but it's only about 3 bits of evidence, which you could argue is fairly weak evidence.

Don't call yourself a rationalist.

It could be that even if it doesn't seem like that to you, it sounds like that to them. Surely almost everyone has gone through lots of experiences where they interpret someone correctly to have said something offensive, at which point the offender attempts to weasel out of it; perhaps that's the template you're matching in their mind, even if it's not what you're doing. By comparison, the number of interactions where someone is trying to explain a difficult concept is pretty small, outside of certain small groups.

Don't call yourself a rationalist.

I meet a few people who apparently wilfully and repeatedly misinterpret what I'm saying, even when told that wasn't what I meant at all and I don't know how to deal with that.

You mean like this?

"Man, that guy looks so gay, I just want to bash his fucking head in."

"My brother is gay."

"I didn't mean gay, I meant, like, gay."

Maybe you need to win their trust and improve your communication skills.

Don't call yourself a rationalist.

I strongly support the suggestion implied in one thread here of officially adopting the term "Lessath", the lesser folk.

Don't call yourself a rationalist.

One of my least popular comments on Less Wrong was that nobody was a "decent rationalist." Perhaps now is the time to explain what I meant by that.

Rationality is an ideal. Whether or not it's a particularly good ideal, it's definitely not a good description of any actually existing people, which proposition is approximately what this entire site is about. To me, being a "decent rationalist" would entail being decently rational: not perfectly rational, but at least mostly rational. It's clear that nobody approaches that state.

When people describe themselves as "rationalists", perhaps some of them mean that they aspire to the ideal of rationality. But it sounds like they believe that they actually practice rationality. At best, this would be dishonest boasting; at worst it would be self-delusion.

So perhaps that's why people react negatively to the label: they hear it as a claim of an implausible achievement, not a belief system or social group.

(It gets worse when you use the term to identify the social club rather than a rather broad set of beliefs, because then you end up saying that someone is not a "rationalist" or an "objectivist" or a "libertarian". It's sort of like how certain academics now use the term "philosopher" to mean "person teaching philosophy at a university" or "person submitting papers to philosophy journals", by which standard Socrates wasn't a philosopher.)

In the years that I've been watching this social group, I've struggled with the question of what to call it when talking about it to other people. "Eliezer's cult" seems unnecessarily derogatory, as does the tongue-in-cheek "Bayesian Conspiracy". "Yudkowskians" is accurate and not derogatory but perhaps unnecessarily limiting, and surely oversimplified. "Less Wrong" is the best label I have, which would make individuals "Lesswrongers".

There's another possible reason people might react negatively: in the 20th century, any number of atrocities were justified on the basis of being "scientific", "modern", or "rational": dialectical materialism, Levittown, indiscriminate use of pesticides, Mutually Assured Destruction, Schelling's losing strategy in the Vietnam war, low-cost housing developments, childbirth under anesthesia, radium water treatments, lobotomies, electroshock, The Projects, razing neighborhoods to run interstate highways through downtown, IMF neoliberal economic policies, eugenics, and so on.

It turns out that conflating your position with knowledge and rationality, and your opponent's position with ignorance and insanity, is such an effective rhetorical strategy that you can use it to ram through all sorts of terrible ideas. Perhaps because of this, a lot of people have developed a sort of memetic allergic reaction to explicit claims of rationality.

On the unpopularity of cryonics: life sucks, but at least then you die

If we accept the premise that most of this work is being spent on a zero-sum game of competing for status and land, then it's a prisoner's-dilemma situation like doping in competitive sports, and a reasonable solution is some kind of regulation limiting that competition. Mandatory six-week vacations, requirements to close shops during certain hours, and hefty overtime multipliers coupled with generous minimum wages are three examples that occur in the real world.

A market fundamentalist might seek to use tradable caps, as with sulfur dioxide emissions, instead of inflexible regulations. Maybe you're born with the right to work 1000 hours per year, for example, but you have the right to sell those hours to someone else who wants to work more hours. Retirees and students could support themselves by getting paid for being unemployed, by some coal miner, soldier, or sailor. (Or their employer.) This would allow the (stipulated) zero-sum competition to go on and even allow people to compete by being willing to work more hours, but without increasing the average number of hours worked per person.

Beware Trivial Inconveniences

Oh, thank you! I didn't realize that. Perhaps a process could be developed? For example, maybe you could chill the body rapidly to organ-donation temperatures, garrote the neck, extract the organs while maintaining head blood pressure with the garrote, then remove the head and connect perfusion apparatus to it?

Zombies: The Movie

Need it be one or the other? I was just reading Chalmers's Singularity paper, came to the bit where he says, "Although I am sympathetic with some forms of dualism about consciousness," and decided to reread this page. Which is hilarious.

Beware Trivial Inconveniences

Rebate schemes are not merely betting on consumer laziness; they are also a means of price discrimination. If you really need that $200, you're more likely to fill out the form.

Beware Trivial Inconveniences

Because "disapproving of" means that the right or ability doesn't comply with the speaker's moral values, while "abuse" means that the right or ability doesn't comply with objectively correct moral values?

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