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Open Thread, May 12 - 18, 2014

Question: what are the norms on showing up to meetups for the first time? I happen to be in Berkeley this week, and since there's a meetup this evening I thought I might check it out; should I just show up, or should I get in touch with the organizers and let them know I'm coming/around?

I predict that the answer will be something like "new attendees are welcome, announced or otherwise, but {insert local peculiarity here, e.g. 'Don't worry about the sign that says BEWARE OF THE LEOPARD, we're just getting ready for Towel Day'}". However, enough of my probability mass is elsewhere that I thought I'd check. Also, I couldn't find a definitive statement of the community norms within reach of Google, so I thought change that by asking reasonably publicly.

Rationality Quotes July 2013

The man who first declared that "seeing" was "believing" laid his finger (whether he knew it himself or not) on one of the fundamental follies of humanity. The easiest of all evidence to receive is the evidence that requires no other judgment to decide on it than the judgment of the eye—and it will be, on that account, the evidence which humanity is most ready to credit, as long as humanity lasts.

Wilkie Collins, Man and Wife, Chapter the Twentieth

Rationality Quotes June 2013

Didn't think this was going to be my first contribution to LessWrong, but here goes (hi, everybody, I'm Phil!)

I came to what I like to think was a realisation useful to my psychological health a few months ago when I was invited to realise that there is more to me than my inner monologue. That is, I came to understand that identifying myself as only the little voice in my head was not good for me in any sense. For one thing, my body is not part of my inner monologue, ergo I was a fat guy, because I didn't identify with it and therefore didn't care what I fed it on. For another, one of the things I explicitly excluded from my identity was the subprocess that talks to people. I had (and still have) an internal monologue, but it was at best only advisory to the talking process, so you can count me as one of the people for whom conversation is not something I'm consciously acting on. Result: I didn't consider the person people meet and talk to to be "me", but (as I came to understand), nevertheless I am held responsible for everything he says and does.

My approach to this was somewhat luminous avant (ma lecture de) la lettre: I now construe my identity as consisting of at least two sub-personalities. There is one for my inner monologue, and one for the version of me that people get to meet and talk to. I call them Al and Greg, respectively, so that by giving them names I hopefully remember that neither alone is Phil. So, to answer CCC's question: Al is Greg's lawyer, and Greg is Al's PR man. When I'm alone, I'm mostly Al, cogitating and opining and whatnot to the wall, with the occasional burst of non-verbal input from Greg that amounts to "That's not going to play in (Peoria|the office|LessWrong comment threads)". On the other hand, when other people are around, I'm mostly Greg, conversating in ways that Al would never have thought of, and getting closer and closer to an impersonation of Robin Williams depending on prettiness and proximity of the ladies in the room. Al could in theory sit back and let Greg do his thing, but he's usually too busy facepalming or yelling "SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP" in a way that I can't hear until I get alone again.

The problem I used to have was that I was all on Al's side. I'd berate myself (that is, I'd identify with Al berating Greg) incessantly for paranoid interpretations of the way people reacted to what I said, without ever noticing that, y'know what, people do generally seem to like Greg, and Greg is also me.