All of Multiheaded's Comments + Replies

Rationality Quotes February 2014

Credibly dissociate yourself from people you don't want to be pattern-matched to, and show that you understand the reasoning by which your audience opposes them (in this case, for example, Salemicus should at least acknowledge that at-fault divorce can - to put it mildly! - increase underlying gender inequality without any explicitly gendered provisions), and that you're not going to defend them in that particular battle. Leftists do it all the time, to the extent that they have the opposite problem of not being able to unite while agreeing with each other on 95% of everything.

8Salemicus8yBut there's no-one who advocates dragging people off in chains, slavery, etc. This isn't pattern-matching me to some well-known group (in which case I agree, I should distinguish myself). Instead, this is just deliberately straw-manning. I don't know exactly what you mean by "punishing sinners" - but I assume you mean treating adultery as not just a breach of contract, but a tort. Well, damages for a tort are also financial. As for "underlying gender inequality" - you'll notice that no-one else has brought that up in this thread. Perhaps that is the "reasoning by which [my] audience opposes" me", but if so I'd prefer that people actually advanced that reasoning, rather than that being their double super-secret baseline position, and their public one being a lot of straw-manning and nonsense. Alternatively, it may be that the "underlying gender inequality" argument is yours and yours alone, and you are projecting.
Rationality Quotes February 2014

I say "damages in the case of breach" and I am confronted with people suggesting I mean specific performance, dragging people off in chains, or slavery. It's so strange.

Pattern-matching is often rational in politics just because it's so cheap, as long as the pattern makes sense in the first place. I'm sorry, but the pattern of reactionary rhetoric about marriage has these very deliberate connotations. People who discuss this tend to discuss punishing sinners (vicariously so), not holding rational economic actors accountable for damages on underrecognized-but-valid contracts.

4Jiro8ySo what are you supposed to say if you want to hold rational economic actors accountable for damages on underrecognized-but-valid contracts?
Rationality Quotes February 2014

a two-tier society, with the virtuous Vickies behaving themselves and keeping each other in check, and the other types reverting to the Somalia that Kennaway etc so fervently desire

David Brooks Says

I personally call this phenomenon "the Regressive Cost of Virtue" (virtue in the descriptive, not the normative sense). Too lazy to write a good comment on it, I'll just quote myself from IRC.

06:00 < Multiheaded> anyway, the thesis: not only is poverty insanely cognitively expensive, etc, but wealth and cultural capital are very very good fo

... (read more)
Rationality Quotes February 2014

Once people realised that marriage wasn't enforceable, the marriage rate collapsed.

Would social conservatives and social liberals please both attempt to explain and steelman/criticize this assertion? Because it has always been among my biggest gripes with the conservative account of why divorce is so bad. It just doesn't seem plausible, especially given how over-optimistic most people are about the prospects of their marriage! And frankly, I'd be creeped out by people who start a marriage for affection or companionship and already think about enforcing ... (read more)

5Salemicus7yWell, perhaps I should start by saying that I don't like distinction you draw between "affection and companionship" and "economic reasons." The two are implicitly entwined. I will attempt to flesh out my position. You don't need marriage for "affection and companionship," at least in the short term. You can just hang out. But most people want more than that. They want to build a life together. That involves making costly investments that will only bear fruit over time (e.g. buying a house, raising children, pension plans, etc). That involves making irreversible compromises - e.g. a shared circle of friends means you will have to be friends with people you wouldn't otherwise be friends with, and not friends with people you would otherwise like to be; same goes with shared hobbies, etc. That involves specialization - perhaps one spouse will give up paid employment, or only work part-time. And so on. But the problem with all these decisions is that they can lead to time-incompatible incentives. If Alice gives up work for a while to raise children while Bob focuses on his career, then ten years later Alice will be less pretty, less employable, and more dependent on Bob. Bob, meanwhile, can much more easily walk out on the marriage and start again. What's to stop Bob reaping the benefits of Alice's sacrifices, then checking out of the marriage? And realistic people know that they won't necessarily be thrilled with each other for every moment of their marriage. They will have rows, they will have disagreements, there will be times when the grass seems greener elsewhere. So you may find my attitude creepy, but I find your attitude evil - I think it's quite wrong to go into a marriage without thinking about how to make sure it lasts. It's partly about Alice making sure that Bob stays loyal to her, otherwise she's wasting her time building a life with him. But it's also about Bob(wedding) making sure that Bob(10 years later) stays loyal to Alice, otherwise he's wasting hi

Would social conservatives and social liberals please both attempt to explain and steelman/criticize this assertion?

So, it seems to me that there is a terrible disconnect between property-splitting during a divorce and the existence of no-fault divorce, making marriage a tremendously costly move for the wealthier of the two parties (especially if they're male). If in order for Bob to marry Alice, he has to give her the unilateral option to take half of his things and leave, then marriage seems unwise.

In the era of fault divorce, Bob is safer- he needs t... (read more)

2advael8yThe entire concept of marriage is that the relationship between the individuals is a contract, even if not all conceptions of marriage have this contract as a literal legal contract enforced by the state. There's good reason to believe that marriages throughout history have more often been about economics and/or politics than not, and that the norm that marriage is primarily about the sexual/emotional relationship but nonetheless falls under this contractual paradigm is a rather new one. I agree with your impression that this transactional model of relationships is a little creepy, and see this as an argument against maintaining this social norm.
1[anonymous]8yBTW, the total marriage rate by year is a metric that can be easily confounded by tempo effects: if in a country all people born until 1950 married at 20 and all people born since 1951 married at 30, the marriage rate between 1971 to 1980 would be exactly 0 but (neglecting the mortality of twentysomething) no cohort would be any less likely to ever get married than another.
Open thread, 23-29 June 2014

...stand back and look at what you've written. I don't know whether to laugh or cringe. What connection could this... "Rationalist"-fanfic-thinking possibly have to the real fucking world?! This is not how urban legends work, how teenagers work, how speading disinformation works... not to mention the ethics of it (which would not come into play in practice, as you'd just get called out on your bullshit).

This sort of utter fucking idiocy comes from a long-time and highly-upvoted LW user! No wonder LW is already seen as a fucking joke in some circles, and not for the transhumanist/singularity stuff either.

0[anonymous]8yAnd/or, it was a joke. Was this a joke?
What resources have increasing marginal utility?

But cheating on spouses in general undermines the trust that spouses should have in each other, and the cumulative impact of even 1% of spouses cheating on the institution of marriage as a whole could be quite negative.

In the comments on Scott's blog, I've recently seen the claim that this is the opposite of how traditional marriage actually worked; there used to be a lot more adultery in old times, and it acted as a pressure valve for people who would've divorced nowdays, but naturally it was all swept under the rug.

0Qiaochu_Yuan8yInteresting. Link?
What is Evil about creating House Elves?

This is among the best political comments on LW.

Open Thread April 16 - April 22, 2014

Many internet libertarians aren't very consequentialist, though. And really, just the basic application of rule-utilitarianism would expose many, many problems with that post. But really, though: while the "Non-Aggression Principle" appears just laughably unworkable to me... given that many libertarians do subscribe to it, is lying to voters not an act of aggression?

-2Lumifer8yDepends on your point of view, of course, but I don't think the bleeding-heart libertarians (aka liberaltarians) are actually libertarians. In any case, it's likely that the guy didn't spend too much time thinking it through. But so what? You know the appropriate xkcd cartoon, I assume...
Open Thread April 16 - April 22, 2014

Evil Stupid Thing Alert!

"The Duty to Lie to Stupid Voters" - yes, really

I decided to post it here because it's just so incredibly stupid and naively evil, but also because it's using LW-ish language in a piece on how to - in essence - thoroughly corrupt the libertarian cause. Thought y'all would enjoy it.

Standard rejoinders. Furthermore: even if Brennan is ignorant of the classical liberal value of republicanism, why can't he use his own libertarian philosophy to unfuck himself? How is lying like this ethical under it? Why does he discuss the ben... (read more)

6mwengler8yWell I am apparently too stupid to understand why the quoted article is stupid or evil, not to mention incredibly stupid or naively evil. In any consequentialist theory combined with some knowledge of the actual world as it functions that we live in I don't see how you can escape the conclusion that a politician running has a right to lie to voters. An essential conclusion from observing reality is that politicians lie to voters. Upon examination, it is hard NOT to conclude that politicians who don't lie enough don't get elected. If we are consequentialist, then either 1) elected politicians do create consequences and so a politician who will create good consequences had best lie "the right amount" to get elected or 2) elected politicians do not create consequences in which case it is consequentially neutral whether a politician lies, and therefore morally neutral. If you prefer a non-consequentialist or even anti-consequentialist moral system, then bully for you, it is wrong (within your system) for politicians to lie to voters, but that conclusion is inconsequential, except perhaps for a very small number of people, presumably the politician who's soul is saved or who's virtue is kept intact by his pyrrhic act of telling the truth.
6Alejandro18yA lot of the superficial evilness and stupidity is softened by the follow-up post, where in reply to the objection that politicians uniformly following this principle would result in a much worse situation, he says: So maybe he just meant that in some situations the "objectively right" action is to lie to voters, without actually recommending that politicians go out and do it (just as most utilitarians would not recommend that people try to always act like strict naive utilitarians).
9Username8yI am down voting this because: a) I don't want to see people pushing politics on LW in any form. b) It is entirely nonobvious to me that this is either evil or stupid.
2ChristianKl8yGiven that the guy is a professional philosopher I doubt ignorance is a good explanation. It's probably a case of someone wanting to be to contrarian for his own good. Or at least the good of his cause. Given that he wrote a book to argue that most people shouldn't vote, he might simply troll for academic controversy to get recognition and citations.
6Lumifer8yConsequentialism has no problems with lying at all.
[Link] More ominous than a [Marriage] strike

Don't know; it's quite intellectually consistent, sure, but my point is that the argument in favour of poverty was pure 110% motivated cognition, and its full absurdity can be seen much better in retrospect . At the very most, I'd suspect that someone paid lip service to the latter part after a long attack on the poor - like, say, a right-libertarian like Tyler Cowen spends much more time condemning labour regulation (and I agree with him that private companies shouldn't be charities in disguise) than he does advocating for more ample welfare to compensate the proletariat.

[Link] More ominous than a [Marriage] strike

Let me just bring up one historical parallel to put complaints like this ("if we ease up on controlling and punishing some particular group, this will greatly decrease society's productivity") in context. Such rhetoric was very common in the 18th and early 19th century, and its object was the proletariat and poverty. Here's a paper and an article about old-time Malthusian/anti-worker beliefs held by elites.

"The possession of a cow or two, with a hog, and a few geese, naturally exalts the peasant. . . . In sauntering after his cattle, he a

... (read more)
0[anonymous]8yOf course! Innovations such that we won't need to work as much are great, but innovations such that they won't need to work as much are awful! Didn'tcha know? []
0[anonymous]8yIt appears this is a little earlier than the 19th century. The author of this passage is John Billingsley []), writing in 1795. The whole pamphlet, "General View of the Agriculture of the County of Somers," is here [] . There are a lot of old books, by many different authors, with the title "General View of the Agriculture of the County of X," they seem to be reports for the predecessor of MAFF [,_Fisheries_and_Food_(United_Kingdom] ). In spite of the ugly quotation, the wikipedia article makes him sound like basically a good person (but kind of a historical nobody). Edit: I didn't get the links to webpages with parentheses in them working. Add a ')' at the end of the first and third. Edit 2: Oops, Multiheaded gives two quotations in the two paragraphs. I only tracked down the first.
0NancyLebovitz8yDo you know of anyone who argued both that the lower classes should be kept busier and that inherited wealth was bad because it discouraged industriousness?
[LINK] Why I'm not on the Rationalist Masterlist

Someone affected by the issue might bring up something that nobody else had thought of, something that the science and statistics and studies missed - but other than that, what marginal value are they adding to the discussion?

Thinkers - including such naive, starry-eyed liberal idealists as Friedrich Hayek or Niccolo Machiavelli - have long touched on the utter indispensability of subjective, individual knowledge and its advantages over the authoritarian dictates of an ostensibly all-seing "pure reason". Then along comes a brave young LW user ... (read more)

0[anonymous]8yI'm having trouble wrapping my head around that. Could you give an example?
Rationality Quotes October 2013

There's only a certain amount of emphasis to go around. The more things you italicize, the less important each italicized word seems, and then when something's really important it doesn't stand out.

I keep trying to tell my mom exactly this, every time we need to design some kind of print materials for the family business. She just doesn't get that emphasis is about the relative share of a reader's attention to different parts within a text, a positional good of sorts.

Advice for a smart 8-year-old bored with school

Please note that this answer does not include the "culture" part, because that's the part I don't have a reasonable definition for.

Oh! It's ok, it sounds like you've simply never heard it explained. In a nutshell, my analogy here is that women in grown-up society who suffer some kind of sexual violation or threat are overwhelmingly likely to meet the same blind/wilfully ignorant/worse-than-useless response that is typical of adults overlooking bullying. (It sounds like you and me both have suffered from the latter.) (read more)

We didn't have a political thread on LW for a long time, did we? Would be a more appropriate place for this discussion. On one hand, I do not want to ignore your question, on the other hand, I have no desire to make this a long off-topic thread. Unfortunately, political topics are usually heavily mindkilling, they have thousands of connotations, so unless one writes a full book about the topic, there are many ways to misinterpret their answer.

Here are a few things that would deserve a longer discussion, but I don't want to have all of those discussions rig... (read more)

Advice for a smart 8-year-old bored with school

Also, one important step is that the parents must believe the child's report of bullying. As opposed to e.g. thinking "this is an exaggerated version of something that is probably harmless". (This was a mistake my parents were making all the time.)

Quick, what are your thoughts on the concept of rape culture?

2Viliam_Bur8yGive me a reasonable definition, and I'll give you my opinion. Without at least an approximate definition I try not to have opinion on things. (Not that I couldn't imagine some definition myself, but what's the point if your definition may be something very different? I think rape is a bad thing, should be punished, and should not be made fun of. That includes also rape in prisons, or when a woman rapes a man, et cetera. On the other hand, I consider rape to be in average less serious crime than murder. Please note that this answer does not include the "culture" part, because that's the part I don't have a reasonable definition for.)
Advice for a smart 8-year-old bored with school

If you add that middle school lasts for three or four years, and after that most people are no longer in middle school, I think 'short' applies.

Not to one's subjective experience. Oh no.

A Voting Puzzle, Some Political Science, and a Nerd Failure Mode

...the ranks of US liberals have included 9/11 Truthers, Marxists, etc., etc.

In spite of being a conservative Catholic apologist, what Chesterton is saying here isn't crazy...

Withholding my upvote until you rephrase that. People can be highly intelligent and rational not "in spite" of being a conservative Christian - indeed, they can take some good ideas characteristic of classical conservatism and Christianity while avoiding the bad stuff. E.g. from what I know, cousin_it here on LW is a conservative, and Will Newsome is Catholic (?), and bot... (read more)

5Will_Newsome8yI am not now nor have I ever been a member of the Catholic Church. "I found folly everywhere, but there were grains of wisdom in every stream of it. No doubt there was much more wisdom that I failed to recognize." Vladimir_M could perhaps be called a Catholic reactionary, and he's one of the very best contributors to this site. Well, probably ex-contributor now.

Withholding my upvote until you rephrase that. People can be highly intelligent and rational not "in spite" of being a conservative Christian...

Intelligent, yes, rational, color me extremely skeptical. My reason for the comment about Chesterton was also partly because the fence quote trips my "this sounds like someone trying to come up with a clever justification for their knee-jerk prejudices" alarm. Until the second paragraph, it seems a bit fuzzy on whether Chesterton acknowledges there are no good reasons for some social institut... (read more)

People can be highly intelligent and rational not "in spite" of being a conservative Christian

This seems false as a matter of plain fact. It isn't especially different to being highly intelligent and rational despite believing Pi=4. It may be a rude thing to say, or unnecessary or inflammatory but it isn't an incorrect thing to say.

FWIW, I would unpack "conservative Catholic apologist" not as an apologist who happens to be a conservative and happens to be Christian, as you seem to be reading here, but rather as someone who regularly engages in apologetics for conservative Catholicism.

The best 15 words

"Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.

-- Abraham Lincoln

in other words, the suffering of a lifetime of slavery is evidently worth 18.75% of the death of a free person in a horrific war.

Leaving aside all moral considerations of collective responsibility and individual complicity... and switching to my rough model of preference utilitarianism, which I generally don't use... this would sound like an incredible, unbelievably lucky bargain with this cruel universe at HALF a life for a fre... (read more)

2Desrtopa8yI'm unclear what this actually means, considering there are usually Christians on every side of moral conflicts.
The best 15 words

Would anyone care to dispute the object-level claim I made, or are people just spree-downvoting?

Wikipedia seems to be pretty unambiguious about Marx being the first notable theorist here. It's not about "neutrality", there just isn't any evidence that this claim is mistaken.

8Randaly8yNeither of the above. Your comment's style was suboptimal, technological determinism is different from economic determinism, and the neo-reactionary position is neither. (This is obvious from the fact that they think that they can reverse the left-ward trend of history, but that it will take a concentrated effort.) (I did not downvote.)
4wedrifid8yAssuming the claims are correct (haven't a clue personally and nearly as little interest) I don't know why you got downvoted. The style is a little way from optimal but not enough that I'd expect serious penalties to be applied. Have you been pissing people off elsewhere in this thread? Voting tends to build up momentum within threads and the reception of later comments is at least as strongly influenced by earlier comments as it is by individual merit.
The best 15 words

name the Editor of the NY Times the Pontifex Maximus of the Church of Progress and have a synod to lay out the canon of responsible journalism

Oh, hahahahahaha, if that ever happened in some wacky weird moldbuggy universe... that'd be like Vatican trying to grab supreme jurisdiction over all Christian denominations by proclaiming the Pope to be the spiritual heir of Martin Luther and "interpreting" Luther's theses to show how all modern-day Protestants need to forget about their minor disagreements and follow the RCC.

Which is to say... you do r... (read more)

The best 15 words

So you mean... I could really use another drink right now? Yeah, sure, that's what I was thinking too! Can't hurt...

-1Vaniver8yThat sounds like the opposite of emotional self-control.
The best 15 words

democracy and marxism are absolutely religious in character

I have 0.75 confidence that you've never read even a review of a book by, say, Jurgen Habermas, or Amartya Sen, or Barbara Ehrenreich, or Eric Hobsbawm. These people have nothing in common, someone might object; their fields are vastly different - that is so, but all are considered eminent scholars, all offer nuanced arguments in favour of greater democracy, and all have explicitly Marxist or at least hard-left views on socioeconomic matters.

Frankly, you strike me as a walking, talking example of Dunning-Kruger.

2satt8yI'll cop to not having read much of Sen, but he seems like a clear odd one out in your list. He respectfully tips his hat to a few Marxian ideas in his work (see e.g. pages 14 & 15 of "The Moral Standing of the Market", and the handful of shoutouts to Marx in On Economic Inequality), but I got the feeling he was more of a centre-left liberal than a hard leftist. See also: an actual commie's Amazon review [] complaining that Development and Freedom is too pro-market, centrist, and wishy-washy.
The best 15 words

Dividing work in a family not about what people like, or about what's equal, it's about what works

To paraphrase Lenin, "Works for whom? To achieve what?" Cui prodest in any particular social arrangement? My personal go-to default hypothesis is that it's always the side that can harness greater bargaining power through having more overall control of resources. Apply to workplace/labor relations, families, tribal clashes etc.

(Citation! Citation! A very favourable review - by Satoshi Kanazawa of all people - of a book on the game-theoretical causes and consequences of power inequalities.)

3Vaniver8yI recommend developing emotional self-control to the point that you can put your political goals above your personal emotional satisfaction, or alternatively realizing that your terminal goals appear to be emotional, not political, and you can adjust your political goals to make your emotional goals easier to satisfy.
The best 15 words

I know, I know. If I was writing this with any actual goal-oriented hope for positive change on LW, I would've tried to bridge the inferential distance. But hell, I'm just a miserable and depressed cranky guy. Not even in gender studies. Sigh.

You know part of why I've been posting such low quality, counter-productive (passive)-aggressive remarks recently? I still remember that buzz, that breathtaking feeling of half-delight and half-awe when I discovered the LW community and read the Sequences two years ago. Here are some of the most insightful, kickass pe... (read more)

-4Eugine_Nier8ySo you've discovered a community of extremely rational people and some of their conclusions make you highly uncomfortable. How is this surprising? This is probably how a lot of theists feel while deconverting.
8Ishaan8yI would like to apologize that the discussion that I started has upset you. I feel partly responsible that you are upset and I'd like to remedy this. I think that what you are feeling is part of the halo effect. When we see people who have some qualities we like (Understanding of logic, need for cognition, precise and methodical thought) we assume that they will also have other qualities we like and share our other values. So when someone within that doesn't share them, it sticks out like a sore thumb. It's also a reminder that your other views don't automatically come with the intelligence-rationality package. This reminder is good for your overall rationality. It forces you not to fall back on the "anyone who isn't an idiot can see that I am right" defense. But keep in mind Re: sore thumbs: In a rationalist community, Disagreement is salient, Agreement is silent. [,d.b2I] . Why was I even interested in Moldbug in the first place? Because he disagrees with me! This is from the Lesswrong 2012 survey []: POLITICS: Liberal: 427, 36% Libertarian: 359, 30.3% Socialist: 326, 27.5% Conservative: 35, 3% Communist: 8, 0.7% No answer: 30, 2.5% ALTERNATIVE POLITICS QUESTION: Progressive: 429, 36.3% Libertarian: 278, 23.5% Reactionary: 30, 2.5% Conservative: 24, 2% Communist: 22, 1.9% Other: 156, 13.2% ALTERNATIVE ALTERNATIVE POLITICS QUESTION: Left-Libertarian: 102, 8.6% Progressive: 98, 8.3% Libertarian: 91, 7.7% Pragmatist: 85, 7.2% Social Democrat: 80, 6.8% Socialist: 66, 5.6% Anarchist: 50, 4.1% Futarchist: 29, 2.5% Moderate: 18, 1.5% Moldbuggian: 19, 1.6% Objectivist: 11, 0.9% I show you this out to demonstrate the strong, silent agreement of social values
5shminux8yI am puzzled. I understand your desire to vent, and there are places to vent about this forum, like the relevant subreddit []. But here people are expected to at least make an attempt at practicing rationality, even if faced with mixed success. Why post something here you know is irrational? Is the dubious satisfaction of telling me or someone else "wrong on the internet" off really worth it?
The best 15 words

Ann Coulter, suffrage pessimist?

Well, you're going to find literally hundreds of women with outspoken feminist ideas to one outspoken Ann Coulter, so... Okay, let's be generous and say that she and Andrea Dworkin, a fierce critic of anti-feminist women, cancel each other out. Then you're still going to get far more women with explicitly and implicitly feminist aliefs. Even when they self-identify as "conservative" for cultural or political reasons, have a negative perception of feminist activism, etc. The public image of "feminism" m... (read more)

The best 15 words

HUGE SPOILER: Technically, historical materialism and economic determinism was first... yup, a core Marxist idea.

1Multiheaded8yWould anyone care to dispute the object-level claim I made, or are people just spree-downvoting? [] [] Wikipedia seems to be pretty unambiguious about Marx being the first notable theorist here. It's not about "neutrality", there just isn't any evidence that this claim is mistaken.
9[anonymous]8yAsking people who are obviously not part of the social justice movement to check their privilege does not work, asking people who are is generally unecessary if they are any good at it. There might be a way to convince people to stop writing crap like this here, that won't work.
3Lumifer8yLooking the text you're quoting: "...are consistently polled as being decreasingly happy over time". That's them talking, right?
-1Vaniver8yLike... Ann Coulter, suffrage pessimist? It's not obvious to me that one needs to be of a group to comment about that group, and when it comes to statistical statements the collector of the statistics seems entirely irrelevant. "Check your fucking privilege" is not a helpful addition to the conversation, whereas Ishaan's "I've seen the data, and it isn't that significant" is.
October 2013 Media Thread

Said the Tailor to the Bishop:
Believe me, I can fly.
Watch me while I try.
And he stood with things
That looked like wings
On the great church roof-

That is quite absurd
A wicked, foolish lie,
For man will never fly,
A man is not a bird,
Said the Bishop to the Tailor.

Said the People to the Bishop:
The Tailor is quite dead,
He was a stupid head.
His wings are rumpled
And he lies all crumpled
On the hard church square.

The bells ring out in praise
That man is not a bird
It was a wicked, foolish lie,
Mankind will never fly,
Said the Bishop to the People.

--Bertold Brecht (... (read more)

Open thread, August 5-11, 2013

If you oppose a government policy that personally benefits you, you are a hypocrite who bites the hand that feeds you.

If you support the policy that benefits you, you are a greedy narcissist whose loyalty can be bought and sold.

...but neither of these are meaningfully bad things according to post-Machiavellian political thought. Machiavelli dismantled the virtue-centric, moralizing system of "naive" political thought - finding wise, moral and incorruptible men to control society, as argued by Plato or Aquinas - and showed how the strength of a... (read more)

Rationality Quotes September 2013

Haha, no shit.

(Source: family experience.)

2MugaSofer8yUpvoted on the basis of the intended point, but honestly, you kinda deserved all the downvotes you got for that, man. Also, I can kinda see saying this to the people in question, as a sort of Heroic Responsibility thing, but what's actually going on here is the precise opposite of Heroic Responsibility.
1Fronken8y... that is not rationality that is a mild infohazard trying to hack you into taking actions that make people starve. It should be kept away from people and counteragents spread to defend against further outbreaks. Seriously why would you post that as a rationality quote.
0Estarlio8yThis isn't rational. It's just elitist snobbery. You can use the exact same structure of argument with respect to anything: Structurally identical. It's an ideology of knives in the dark, the screams of the dying and enslaved, and the blood red light of fire on steel. Those who honestly endorse its underlying principles would just as happily endorse any barbarism on the strength of the defeated's inability to escape it, provided it went on at some suitable distance from them. Why not be honest and sum up the only real thing it says? - Vae victus.
Rationality Quotes September 2013

That there are a few racial pseudoscience believers in the audience doesn't change genocide being wrong, just as there being a few homeopathy users in the audience doesn't change fraud being wrong.

Perhaps you haven't read much of those folks? (Not that I blame you, it can be stomach-turning.) They claim that they're the voice of Actual Science on human sociobiology. It is the accepted consensus of polite society today - that xenophobia is wrong and immoral and destructive, that non-"white" people aren't, as a group, cognitively inferior/inhere... (read more)

8Vaniver8yOne helpful tactic when discussing views you dislike is to try and be as precise as possible about those views. One unpleasant result of interaction between factual matters and social dynamics is intellectual hipsterism [], where different tiers of engagement with an issue seem stacked so as to maximize the difference with the previous tier. But a tier above you and a tier below you are unlikely to be similar, even though both feel like The Enemy. In this particular case, there are a couple parts of your comment that comes off as an "invisible dragon," where you know those two groups are different but want to pretend they aren't. Everyone agrees that racial purists like Ploetz [] aren't right that the Nordic race is the master race. Everyone includes Razib and Mike, except you're still calling them racial purists. In order to do so, you need to put scare quotes on "white" or put "insufficiently" in front of white. Why that looks like an invisible dragon to me is you know that Razib and Mike don't particularly care about skin color. It's just cosmetic. What they care about is what's inside skulls, and every scientific racist will agree that the IQ progression goes roughly Jews > East Asians >= Europeans > Hispanics > Africans. (I'm using >= because there are some subtleties in the comparisons between Asians and Europeans, but there are several large groups who seem to do noticeably better than Europeans. Also, Nordics do score higher on IQ tests than southern Europeans- but the difference is tiny compared to the difference between Jews and Africans.) Now, everyone knows that color is just color, and ascribing moral value to it does little. But the claim that smarts is "just smarts," and that it shouldn't have any impact on our decision-making, is contentious (and I would go so far as to call it silly). The claim that some people are "insufficiently whi
I attempted the AI Box Experiment again! (And won - Twice!)

I must say this is a bit... awe-inspiring, in the older sense of the word. As in, reading this gave me a knot in the stomach and I shivered. People who played as the AI and won, how is it that you're so uncannily brilliant?

The very notion of a razor-sharp mind like this ever acting against me and mine in real life... oh, it's just nightmare-inducing.

On the subject of massively updating one's beliefs where one was previously confident that no argument would shift them: yes, it happens, I have personal experience. For example, over the last year and a half ... (read more)

0FourFire8yI'm sure a lot of people will feel that way if free will is determined to be an illusion, and enhanced humans or nonapocalyptic but still vaguely (apparently) unfriendly AI are loose on the world, manipulating people.
Feeling Rational

A somewhat related, incredibly badass quote.

"...I hear some one of my audience say,... and your brother abolitionists fail to make a favorable impression on the public mind. Would you argue more, and denounce less, would you persuade more, and rebuke less, your cause would be much more likely to succeed. But, I submit, where all is plain there is nothing to be argued. What point in the anti-slavery creed would you have me argue? On what branch of the subject do the people of this country need light? Must I undertake to prove that the slave is

... (read more)
0MarsColony_in10years7yThis is a fantastic quote set of quotes. I think it is necessary to attach a disclaimer, though. As he points out, there are definitely circumstances when the right and proper response is to ridicule hypocrisy and reign down scathing critique on those who uphold things they know to be unjust. However, such circumstances can be defined fairly narrowly, and don't apply to most cases. This isn't a catch-all license not to have to debate an argument, because that would require a similarly well-justified reason. When there is a consensus that something is morally wrong and has a better alternative, but some who benefit from the practice put up a flimsy defensive argument that most people see straight through, then the thing to do is rouse the populace against what they already know to be unacceptable. But if the point itself is hotly debated with many people on both sides of the thing itself (not just arguing that it is a necessary evil, but arguing against any "better" alternative) then one should be wary. After all, political debates should not appear one-sided []. These types of political arguments seem to be the most common. The thing to do in the case of most circumstances is to find where the truth lies. Not just to pick a side, but to objectively examine all arguments, and weigh the pros and the cons as they are found, and update beliefs to match reality. Only once the truth has been found with a high degree of certainty should things have shifted from a purely intellectual investigation into all-out advocacy. The academic approach approach should slowly transition from discussion into lobbying as evidence builds. At the far end of the spectrum, to be reached only once one has an extremely high degree of certainty in one's arguments, is "a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke". I don't think it's possible to reach sufficient certainty in one's
Rationalist households: What can London learn from its predecessors?

For everyone to have the opportunity to be involved in a given group and to participate in its activities the structure must be explicit, not implicit. The rules of decision-making must be open and available to everyone, and this can happen only if they are formalized. This is not to say that formalization of a structure of a group will destroy the informal structure. It usually doesn't. But it does hinder the informal structure from having predominant control and make available some means of attacking it if the people involved are not at least responsibl

... (read more)
Open thread, August 19-25, 2013

And that's it. No arguing about who cleaned it last. No debating whether it really needs to cleaned. No room for misogynist cultural machines to pressure the wife into doing more than her fair share. Just a market transaction that is efficient and fair.

P.S.: those last two sentences ("No room for misogynist cultural machines to pressure the wife into doing more than her fair share. Just a market transaction that is efficient and fair.") also remind me of "If those women were really oppressed, someone would have tended to have freed them by then."

The polyamory and BDSM subcultures prove that nerds can create new social rules that improve sex. Of course, you can't just theorize about what the best social rules would be and then declare that you've "solved the problem." But when you see people living happier lives as a result of changing their social rules, there's nothing wrong with inviting other people to take a look.

I don't understand your postscript. I didn't say there is no inequality in chore division because if there were a chore market would have removed it. I said a chore market... (read more)

Why Are Individual IQ Differences OK?

Of course it has. But the issue is that the society isn't going to come out and say that -- it will deliberately distort the map and make claims that are not true in reality.

So, reason dictates that... "we" should shove our offended senses of intellectual consistency and naively understood "honesty" up our collective butt, and just do whatever helps people.

And we should absolutely not help people "equally"! Whatever you think of the abstract moral/political ideal of equality, in practical terms people's circumstances in an... (read more)

-1Eugine_Nier8yI think your problem is that you're so focused on the "fairest" way to divide a fixed set of goods, that you're forgetting that the decisions in question also have a large effect on the amount of goods available.
Meetup : West LA Meetup—Confess Your Unpopular Opinion

(OT: Ms. Evans certainly has a very good opinion of herself...)

2OpenThreadGuy8ywouldn't you, if you were her?
Open thread, August 5-11, 2013

Feminism is what you get when you assume that all gender differences are due to society.

Hahahahahahaha, hell no. Read up on Shulamith Firestone!

(A longer review/liveblog of her Dialectic of Sex coming soon... honestly. I'm reading it right now, and loving it. Amazing book.)

Open thread, July 29-August 4, 2013

If, however, you're drunk


If you want to leave this board, but suspect you lack the willpower to do so

I feel like I have a duty before a community that I see massive potential in. To stand up for my values and denounce all the shit I hate here in an articulate, reasoned manner. But I'm very much not up to the task, and this makes me feel frustrated and miserable. And angry at my own impotence in the matter.

It'd be a big amount of work to even call out the most egregious shitty shit here on a regular basis, with some citations and explanations for why I did so. And it feels like people hardly even care.

5Vaniver8yI think it's important to separate out preferences and predictions, and try to limit values to the first. If you want to do something about posts you think should be responded to civilly, send them to me and I'll take a look. That said... I feel like I should point out that I put about 20% probability that I'm included in this. In general, people are not as good at guessing this sort of information as you would expect [].

I feel like I have a duty before a community that I see massive potential in. To stand up for my values and denounce all the shit I hate here in an articulate, reasoned manner.

Then collect the worst examples and make an article of them. Preferably the ones that were upvoted (because if they were downvoted it means the community already disagrees with them). If the situation is so horrible, you should have an easy job. Just create a text file on your desktop, and anytimes something pisses you off, put the permalink there. Wait until you have enough mater... (read more)

1Oscar_Cunningham8yCan you just write a single big manifesto of why LessWrong is shit, and then link to it all the time?

I understand. However, there isn't some binary pass/fail criterion. This community can become incrementally better (obligatory "less wrong") or worse. Your contributions are helping steer it along a good path (ahem, usually).

If you've set extremely ambitious goals for yourself ("I will make this community live up to its full potential"), and those then stop you from pursuing more realistic milestones along that trajectory, then you've shot yourself in the foot:

The perfect is the enemy of the good, and all that. Compare "Can't stop ... (read more)

9[anonymous]8yMethinks you hate too much. There are two things you could be referring to with those: 1. Unfounded hatred or harmful policies based on superficial concerns and lack of moral reasoning. If there is that kind of stuff here, I think you would not be alone in calling out those who perpetuate it. Please continue to confront it. 2. Facts and hypotheses that contradict certain dominant social narratives. These things may need care in discussion due to their sensitive nature and similarity to #1, but I think it's incorrect to simply condemn them. What happens if reality doesn't cooperate with your politics? Perhaps you think it's improbable, but I think you should be able to handle the eventuality. You should especially expect that these things will come up in a community of people who are more interested in truth than politics. If reality is evil, I think the correct response is to condemn reality, not those who dare to study it. Now of course, the first thing tries to seem like the second thing as much as it can, so I appreciate that someone bringing up certain subjects under the guise of the second thing is not strong enough evidence to overcome the higher rate of haters than scholars. Still, I think a certain level of charity is warranted. But now I have a question. Suppose I have come to "racist", "sexist", "classist", and "authoritarian" beliefs in the course of investigating reality, or at least I believe I have, but have no particular sympathy for ignorant hatred. What is your advice in this situation? I don't think of myself as evil, and don't seem to respond as intended to shaming, so the usual "advice" won't work. From my perspective, there are three explanations for your behaviour: 1. You are a passionate liberal such that you feel the urge to condemn anything that looks anything like Xism, and don't think the type-1 Xism/type 2 Xism distinction I outlined above is legitimate.

I hate drunken hate-filled rants, so I'm downvoting you.

7BlindIdiotPoster8yOne thing that bothers me about this community is that we all clearly have political views and regularly express them, but for some reason explicit discussion and debate is discouraged. The end result here is that lots of people casually assert extremely controversial opinions as fact and people are expected to approve via silence.

There's a certain breed of progressives that want to push widely-held positions out of the Overton window. While I feel a few shitloads more comfortable around such people than around people who are sympathetic to said positions, this worries me.

  • Shutting up debate (in every place Proper Decent People talk, not just specialised places where people want to move past the basic questions) is always somewhat dangerous, though admittedly that applies to every position. This can be circumvented by yelling at people who imply or baldly state these ideas are true

... (read more)
0cousin_it8yFrom my experience, both "progressives" and "reactionaries" on LW often think that they're the true oppressed minority, and the other side claims to be oppressed only to gain status or something. So if you're angry because you feel oppressed, it's probably pointless to direct that anger at the other side, because the other side feels the same way. Be angry at human nature instead...

If you could write up an intelligent post arguing for progressivism, then you would probably get a lot farther on convincing the far-right faction of this site than by telling them they are evil for holding their beliefs without giving reasons as to why. (The problem, of course, is that it requires time and effort.)

For what it's worth, you seem like a cool person... one of the few people on this site who I could see myself wanting to hang out with in real life. (I don't necessarily have a real reason to believe this, I just see the name Multiheaded and my... (read more)

0[anonymous]8yThere are smug condescending fucks in this fucking community but considered opinion is that there aren't fascists. I think that would be an exaggeration.
-4David_Gerard8yWhich ones particularly annoy you? For me it's the racists, sexists and Libertarians in about that order, and particularly the assumption that these are fine positions to hold and variance from them is mind-killing.

If you want to leave this board, but suspect you lack the willpower to do so, then there's a better way than Suicide By Cop. Just scramble your password, add a firewall filter for LW (or a new "" entry in your hosts file) and be done with it.

No need to burn the commons on your way out.

If what you're looking for are reassurances, PMs to those you've positively interacted with are the way to achieve that (no bystander effect, less drama etc.).

If, however, you're drunk, um, don't comment while drunk? Yea, I'm not too good with... (read more)

The Robots, AI, and Unemployment Anti-FAQ

Albert Speer, Werner von Braun, Robert McNamara, John von Neumann and many others like them would likely qualify as "tech people". I'm terrified of people like them forming a stable and entrenched ruling caste, despite any "value overlap" they might display. Based on prior performance... I'd say it could potentially be just as bad as e.g. a Stalinist dictatorship.

"Mein Fuhrer! I can walk!"

1Oligopsony8yFor their part, Stalinists have tended to be fond of technical elites as well. However, I suspect that gristly examples may arise simply from the depth of the sample size; the innumerable cruelties of the premodern world, after all, we're chiefly overseen by humanistic elites. It may be that today humanistic values are substantially more weak and "feminine" (from the perspective of their predecessors,) but this may also be part of why existing power structures are less fond of employing them. (All this, of course, assumes this is a useful dichotomy, the primary avenues for elite recruitment under modern liberalism are business and the legal profession, which straddle the line in some ways.)
Open thread, July 16-22, 2013

Fun fact: There is a RedPillWomen group on Reddit. Are those women misogynists too?

No shit, Sherlock. Internalized sexism exists. Luckily, one lady who just wanted "traditional gender roles" in her relationship, and less of the fucked-in-the-headedness, has escaped that goddamn cesspool and reported her experience:


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