All of Loren's Comments + Replies

I agree with ciphergoth that LW is inpenetrable to a newcomer. Even if they could penetrate, the whole downvoting thing is about as unwelcoming as you can get.

I can only conclude that LW is not meant to increase the number of rationalists, it's meant to get ideas on how to increase the number of rationalists.

1Paul Crowley14y
I'm not sure I'd even go that far yet, but the site is young; with the right software we could eventually create a resource that was a little less impenetrable. If we end up having a sister wiki (an idea I argued against but am now coming around to) it would be good if it were easy to wikilink in comments, so you could say something like "one-box" in a comment and have it link to what we are referring to.

I find my mind tends to wander when I read dead-tree books.

Interesting. I have the opposite problem My mind tends to wander when reading stuff on the internet. To truly comprehend what I see on my computer screen, I have to print it and read it from a piece of paper.

Perhaps this is because I need to highlight passages and make notes in the margins. If it was easy to do this with anything I read on the internet, maybe my ability to comprehend from the computer screen would be just as good?

Roko said "do you have any reason or evidence pointing your conclusion?"

First of all, I wasn't concluding anything. As I said, it's just a suspicion. Is there a rule that all speculation on this web site is downvoted?

My suspicion comes from being impressed by the work of Ken Wilber. He is a case in point that I am thinking of. Here is a brief introduction to his work:

I read the brief introduction, and was thoroughly unimpressed. Maybe there's a kernel of truth somewhere but you'd think a brief introduction would make it more visible... saying "scientism" over and over, dismissing reductionism as calling things "nothing but" their components over and over... apparently he has split things we can know up into 2x2=4 parts, and "Yet in erasing left-hand interiors, modernity also erased meaning, purpose, and significance from our view of the universe, life, and ourselves. For meaning, purpose, and significance, subjective value, and all other qualitative distinctions are interior left-hand events. Gone was any sense of value or purpose for life. Instead humans began to see themselves merely as meaningless blobs of protoplasm, adrift on a tiny speck of dust in a remote unchartered corner of one of countless billions of galaxies." It seems science stole Ken Wilber's rainbows. Bad scientists! Or wait, I mean: "scientists (or better, scientismists)" In fairness, maybe it's just Roger Walsh (the author of the introduction) that failed to impress me enough to get me to read Wilber.
I didn't downvote you, but I think such downvoting as you've received has been not just because you were speculating but because you were making what on the face of it is a very implausible suggestion without any indication of why it might be true. That's kinda rude: if you have some reason for thinking it's likely to be true, why aren't you at least hinting at it? and if you haven't, what's the value in telling us? Ken Wilber's site is annoying. The link you gave, rather than just serving up the damn PDF file, s it in the page, which means that on my (admittedly slightly weird) system I can't read it. And his front page is Flash-only, ditto. However, I grabbed the file at and also looked at his Wikipedia entry; from these, my own estimate of his likelihood of being one of "the most advanced rationalists" is extremely low. (Not that you need care what my estimate of that likelihood is.)

Eliezer said: "Even the surveys are comparing the average religious person to the average atheist, not the most advanced theologians to the most advanced rationalists."

Very true. Wouldn't it be a kicker if that was done and we found out that the most advanced theologians ARE the most advanced rationalists? I suspect the chances of something like this being true are higher than most of us think.

There are some brilliant theists out there. The best theologians are largely indistinguishable from the best philosophers, who are typically quite rational people, to say the least. Still, the chances that the most advanced theologians are the most advanced rationalists -- more advanced than the best philosophers, physicists, computer scientists, etc., rather than merely comparable -- seems slim.
Roko said "do you have any reason or evidence pointing your conclusion?" First of all, I wasn't concluding anything. As I said, it's just a suspicion. Is there a rule that all speculation on this web site is downvoted? My suspicion comes from being impressed by the work of Ken Wilber. He is a case in point that I am thinking of. Here is a brief introduction to his work:
Downvoted for unjustified sensationalism. Sure, people in mental asylums might be good rationalists, but do you have any reason or evidence pointing your conclusion?
Apparently informing others of an estimate you find unusual gets you downvoted. How unfortunate. I found it an interesting bit of speculation.
Any reasons for that suspicion?

logi's comments are in quotes.

"Emotional manipulation is like propaganda".

I'm not talking about emotional manipulation. I'm talking about a healthy emotional life, one that provides authentic happiness. Emotions are wonderful so long as they're guided by reason.

"Can't we just tell people the truth?" Yes, absolutely!

Apparently logi has given up on the idea the transformation, meaning, and willpower are achievable without doing long-term damage to oneself. I totally disagree, it is possible if we just open up our thinking a little bit.

"I'm here for the truth" So am I!

I don't think I know what you mean by "healthy emotional life" or "authentic happiness" here. But earlier, you said to the question of simulating drugs: Drugs are a direct form of emotional and cognitive manipulation, so what I mean by "simulating drugs" is to achieve something similar. I never claimed otherwise. I actually even value some emotions that aren't "guided by reason". But I certainly try not to let any of them in turn guide my reason. No, I think you miss my points. One, I'm saying this stuff is totally orthogonal to what I find valuable in a rational community. This in the end must be a personal objection, but I am probably not alone in it. Two, I'm as skeptical of the content of these "transformations" and "meanings" as I am of their drug-induced counterparts, regardless of their long-term harm or other drawbacks. We probably share a concept of "willpower", and it's probably true that there are generally effective and sustainable techniques superior to drugs. I don't know what this means.

logi said, "Do we really need to simulate drugs to be taken seriously?"

Yes, so long as the competition offers something like it. I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior at age 12, and it was a lasting emotional high that only recently have I been able to reproduce (at age 50). At age 12, my behavior and life really did improve considerably (as well as those around me) for a long period of time, until I finally backslid. I become rational at age 20 (and was quite ashamed of the personal Lord and Savior thing), and wasn't able to ... (read more)

Interesting. I rejected belief in God and the afterlife also at age 12, because I realized that the only reason I believed those things were true was that it made me feel good to believe them. It was a lasting intellectual high knowing that I had overcome my base emotions with some clear thought. Emotional manipulation is like propaganda. One of things I found most striking about OB was the high signal-to-noise ratio. No base emotional pleas, no Giant Implicit Moral Framework silently guiding the discourse. I'd hate to see this community lose that by stooping to emotionally drugging its members in an attempt to "replace church". Can't we just tell people the truth? You want transformation? Take psilocybin. You want to feel like things are more meaningful? Smoke marijuana. You want willpower and IQ? Take amphetamines. These all carry risks, just as religious emotional manipulation does. At least they don't soak up precious time and words. I guess it comes down to the epistemic/instrumental divide. I'm here for the truth, not for a bag of naive attempts to stimulate dopamine release.

Great article. However, there’s one more item that needs to be added to the list to really differentiate us from religious institutions, and that item needs to become the new #1: Offer Transformation that actually works. That is, make being alive a significantly more meaningful experience for people who participate. Do this as well as items #1 thru #10 and we’ll be more popular than any existing religion. The kind of transformation religion offers used to work OK, but not so much anymore because the religious world-view hasn't been updated to reflect ... (read more)

Do we really need to simulate drugs to be taken seriously?

pre, if we are to be successful, there needs to be some attitude adjustment on our part. We need to gain some humility, and some respect for what religion has accomplished in the past several thousand years.

We wouldn't be infiltrating, we would be transforming, in the spirit of Martin Luther and Paul the Apostle.

There are many Christian churches that are dying because their theology doesn't speak to people today, and they know it. Mainline Protestants are the most obvious examples, but the evangelicals now realize they are in trouble too:

http://www.csmon... (read more)

The idea of rationalist taskforces has its appeal, but given the rate of accelerating change we simply don’t have time to develop a sense of community from scratch which can replace the millennia of development that’s gone into religious institutions. Our best shot is to TRANSFORM existing religious institutions into something that is compatible with rationality (and this requires some transformation on our part too – I’ll talk about this below). The Protestant reformation happened in about a dozen or so decades. Given the trouble that churches are havi... (read more)

I quite like the idea of infiltrating some religion and taking over. I doubt the christian ones would be the best bet, but it's a nice plan. One of the newer religions may be more corruptible. It's a fantasy though, not something that I think could actually be orchestrated. Karma here is pretty simple: You get a point for every upvote, and lose one for every downvote. You automatically upvote your own comments (unless you deliberately cancel it). So make 20 posts that don't get voted down and you're there.
Make comments that other people like, and your karma will go up. The trick is that the correlation between a comment's insighfulness, and the votes it gets, may be negative.

Motivation doesn't come mainly from fear of eternal damnation, or even from meeting with people that have a common cause (although that is closer to the truth). I think the main reason people are religious is because they have a desire to live in integrity, rather than caving in to the insticts of the reptilian and paleomammalian parts of our brain, instincts which are usually conter-productive in our current social environment. Of course, religious people don't talk like this. They call it "sinning" instead. But it means the same thing. Peo... (read more)

Rather than ourselves making the drastic cultural changes that Eli talks about, perhaps it would be more efficient to piggyback on to another movement which is further down that path of culture change, so long as that movement isn't irrational. See this URL:

Check out the rest of the web site if you have time, or better yet, buy and read the book the web site is promoting. As you can see from the URL above, cooperation is an important value in the group.

I have been observing the spiritual practices promoted by ... (read more)

1Eliezer Yudkowsky15y
This isn't a comment, this is an attempted post in which you say in more detail what's going on over there and which "practices" you're talking about. It then gets voted up or voted down. In any case, don't try to do this sort of thing in one comment. ...though I see you don't have enough karma yet to post; but that's exactly what we've got the system for, eh?