Also known as Max Harms.


Marketing Rationality

I picked 7 Habits because it's pretty clearly rationality in my eyes, but is distinctly not LW style Rationality. Perhaps I should have picked something worse to make my point more clear.

Marketing Rationality

Ah, perhaps I misunderstood the negative perception. It sounds like you see him as incompetent, and since he's working with a subject that you care about that registers as disgusting?

I can understand cringing at the content. Some of it registers that way to me, too. I think Gleb's admitted that he's still working to improve. I won't bother copy-pasting the argument that's been made elsewhere on the thread that the target audience has different tastes. It may be the case that InIn's content is garbage.

I guess I just wanted to step in and second jsteinhardt's comment that Gleb is a very growth-oriented and positive, regardless of whether his writing is good enough.

Marketing Rationality

I agree! Having good intentions does not imply the action has net benefit. I tried to communicate in my post that I see this as a situation where failure isn't likely to cause harm. Given that it isn't likely to hurt, and it might help, I think it makes sense to support in general.

(To be clear: Just because something is a net positive (in expectation) clearly doesn't imply one ought to invest resources in supporting it. Marginal utility is a thing, and I personally think there are other projects which have higher total expected-utility.)

Marketing Rationality

Okay well it seems like I'm a bit late to the discussion party. Hopefully my opinion is worth something. Heads up: I live in Columbus Ohio and am one of the organizers of the local LW meetup. I've been friends with Gleb since before he started InIn. I volunteer with Intentional Insights in a bunch of different ways and used to be on the board of directors. I am very likely biased, and while I'm trying to be as fair as possible here you may want to adjust my opinion in light of the obvious factors.

So yeah. This has been the big question about Intentional Insights for its entire existence. In my head I call it "the purity argument". Should "rationality" try to stay pure by avoiding things like listicles or the phrase "science shows"? Or is it better to create a bridge of content that will move people along the path stochastically even if the content that's nearest them is only marginally better than swill? (<-- That's me trying not to be biased. I don't like everything we've made, but when I'm not trying to counteract my likely biases I do think a lot of it is pretty good.)

Here's my take on it: I don't know. Like query, I don't pretend to be confident one way or the other. I'm not as scared of "horrific long-term negative impact", however. Probably the biggest reason why is that rationality is already tainted! If we back off of the sacred word, I think we can see that the act of improving-how-we-think exists in academia more broadly, self-help, and religion. LessWrong is but a single school (so to speak) of a practice which is at least as old as philosophy.

Now, I think that LW style rationality is superior than other attempts at flailing at rationality. I think the epistemology here is cleaner than most academic stuff and is at least as helpful as general self-help (again: probably biased; YMMV). But if the fear is that Intentional Insights is going to spoil the broth, I'd say that you should be aware that things like https://www.stephencovey.com/7habits/7habits.php already exist. As Gleb has mentioned elsewhere on the thread, InIn doesn't even use the "rationality" label. I'd argue that the worst thin InIn does to pollute the LW meme-pool is that there are links and references to LW (and plenty of other sources, too).

In other words, I think at worst* InIn is basically just another lame self-help thing that tells people what they want to hear and doesn't actually improve their cognition (a.k.a. the majority of self-help). At best, InIn will out-compete similar things and serve as a funnel which pulls people along the path of rationality, ultimately making the world a nicer, more sane place. Most of my work with InIn has been for personal gain; I'm not a strong believer that it will succeed. What I do think, though, is that there's enough space in the world for the attempt, the goal of raising the sanity waterline is a good one, and rationalists should support the attempt, even if they aren't confident in success, instead of getting swept up in the typical-mind fallacy and ingroup/outgroup and purity biases.

* - Okay, it's not the worst-case scenario. The worst-case scenario is that the presence of InIn aggravates the lords of the matrix into torturing infinite copies of all possible minds for eternity outside of time. :P

(EDIT: If you want more evidence that rationality is already a polluted activity, consider the way in which so many people pattern-match LW as a phyg.)

Marketing Rationality

I just wanted to interject a comment here as someone who is friends with Gleb in meatspace (we're both organizers of the local meetup). In my experience Gleb is kinda spooky in the way he actually updates his behavior and thoughts in response to information. Like, if he is genuinely convinced that the person who is criticizing him is doing so out of a desire to help make the world a more-sane place (a desire he shares) then he'll treat them like a friend instead of a foe. If he thinks that writing at a lower-level than most rationality content is currently written will help make the world a better place, he'll actually go and do it, even if it feels weird or unpleasant to him.

I'm probably biased in that he's my friend. He certainly struggles with it sometimes, and fails too. Critical scrutiny is important, and I'm really glad that Viliam made this thread, but it kinda breaks my heart that this spirit of actually taking ideas seriously has led to Gleb getting as much hate as it has. If he'd done the status-quo thing and stuck to approved-activities it would've been emotionally easier.

(And yes, Gleb, I know that we're not optimizing for warm-fuzzies. It still sucks sometimes.)

Anyway, I guess I just wanted to put in my two (biased) cents that Gleb's a really cool guy, and any appearance of a status-hungry manipulator is just because he's being agent-y towards good ends and willing to get his hands dirty along the way.

Vegetarianism Ideological Turing Test Results

Impostor entries were generally more convincing than genuine responses. I chalk this up to impostors trying harder to convince judges.

But who knows? Maybe you were a vegetarian in a past life! ;)

Vegetarianism Ideological Turing Test Results

You're right, but I'm pretty confident that the difference isn't significant. We should probably see it as evidence that rationalists omnivores are about as capable as rationalist vegetarians.

If we look at average percent of positive predictions (predictions that earn more than 0 points):

Omnivores: 51%

Vegetarians: 46%

If we look at non-negative predictions (counting 50% predictions):

Omnivores: 52%

Vegetarians: 49%

Vegetarianism Ideological Turing Test Results

As Douglas_Knight points out, it's only 10/12, a probability of ~0.016. In a sample of ~50 we should see about one person at that level of accuracy or inaccuracy, which is exactly what we see. I'm no more inclined to give #14 a medal than I am to call #43 a dunce. See the histogram I stuck on to the end of the post for more intuition about why I see these extreme results as normal.

I absolutely will fess up to exaggerating in that sentence for the sake of dramatic effect. Some judges, such as yourself, were MUCH less wrong. I hope you don't mind me outing you as one of the people who got a positive score, and that's a reflection of you being better calibrated. That said, if you say "I'm 70% confident" four times, and only get it right twice, that's evidence that you were still (slightly) overconfident when you thought "decently able to discern genuine writing from fakery".

Vegetarianism Ideological Turing Test Results

In retrospect I ought to have included options closer to 50%. I didn't expect that they'd be so necessary! You are absolutely right, though.

A big part of LessWrong, I think, is learning to overcome our mental failings. Perhaps we can use this as a lesson that the best judge writes down their credence before seeing the options, then picks the option that is the best match to what they wrote. I know that I, personally, try (and often fail) to use this technique when doing multiple-choice tests.

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