Sherrinford

Economist.

Comments

Social behavior curves, equilibria, and radicalism

This is a nice essay. I think it could benefit from including a bit more literature, though. I remember seeing a keynote lecture during the wcere in Istanbul some years ago that included social learning models with quite similar results, probably by E. Somanathan. You may also want to check https://www.nber.org/papers/w23110

Sherrinford's Shortform

1.) Conflict theory in practice: you see conflicts of interest, explain them to your ingroup, and if they don't agree, they are corrupted by the enemy.

2.) Mistake theory in practice: you identify behavior as bad, explain that to everybody and if they don't agree either move to 1.) or note that people are very stupid.

[Prediction] What war between the USA and China would look like in 2050

I like that you specify a prediction what the problem with politics is, but I think this will not be the case.

As I see it, the "politics" part in this post is not so much that country conflicts are discussed, but rather that statements like "The United States' ... primary objective is to maintain the liberal world order (LWO), also known as the "rules-based international order". " are presented as if they were established, undisputed common-knowledge facts that do not need discussion, argument, evidence or references. This creates an atmosphere suggesting that a certain specific worldview is not even a specific worldview. (This is strange in a forum that originated from something called "overcoming bias".) It hampers generation and growth of knowledge, also with respect to politics. 

Every community has such established facts. They may change over time. This may come along with a change in atmosphere and attitudes. I think that the atmosphere of lw with regards to politics has already changed in 2020-21. In particular, I perceive a change in what is an acceptable style and tone of discussing politics from a certain perspective. The addition of geopolitics as a frontpage topics is somewhat consequent.

In principle, it is possible to discuss politics while maintaining high standards of discourse. But it seems to be a field of knowledge where people don't even see a problem of subjectivity, tribalism or whatever as long as their own worldview is the standard.

However, I do not expect the "newly registered accounts" problem. I would expect it to happen if the forum combined politics with non-partisanship (of the forum itself). But lesswrong has the Karma system and the "well-kept garden" belief. 

 

Suppose you have a chess club. The strength of this club is its rigorous and reflective analysis of chess problems. People in the club are friendly, in particular when discussing chess, also regarding non-members. The chess club has officially banned discussion of diets; they know that dietary discussions are divise; some people are vegans, others aren't, and both groups are convinced of themselves. 

However, one day people in the town start panicking about deep-fried chocolate bars, due to some news report. Several senior chess players find that it's completely obvious that eating only deep-fried meals is best and chocolate bars are fantastic; combining that (obviously) improves your ability to focus on chess, and this conclusion immediately follows from applying the rigour of their chess analysis to dietary problems! This is not a dietary partisan issue, it's just obvious! Knowing that is useful information, and nobody around dislikes deep-fried chocolate bars. (Also, sneering at the chocolate-bar panic is refreshing, because the panic is not based on science, and it's just the typical overreaction of the public, and does it really make sense to ban all deep-fried chocolate bars? You will hardly die because of one or two.) 

Discussion of how best to deep-fry chocolate bars is interesting for many of the chess players; the junior players find eating more deep-fried chocolate bars worthwhile because the senior players like it and so maybe it's related to playing chess. (OTOH, some senior players just don't care and just want to play chess.) Additionally, maybe you will see some people becoming members of the club mainly to discuss deep-frying chocolate bars; some of them will even think "wow, I like this whole chess thing more than I did some years ago, I guess I am a better chess player now because I apply the principle of rigorous and reflective analysis to chess problems". But no people would join e.g. just because of potential controversy about deep-frying (there is no controversy). And even if no new members join, I think the chess club has changed its character. And it's not even because the chess club now discusses dietary problems, but because the chess club now has a somewhat official belief on dietary problems and an approach towards dietary problems that is not as rigorous as its approach towards chess.

[Prediction] What war between the USA and China would look like in 2050

I think "this is bipartisan in the US" is not the same as "this is not an ideology-based, nontribal politics discussion".

[Prediction] What war between the USA and China would look like in 2050

Ok, to clarify: It doesn't really matter that this is a politics post because you think that it fulfills the three criteria? Then where do the "tribal error modes" enter the criteria? Or do you think they only follow from violating timelessness or explanation style?

Sherrinford's Shortform

Interesting focal point, though I wonder how strong the overlap is.

[Prediction] What war between the USA and China would look like in 2050

Sorry, but I'll comment on a meta level. I find the topic interesting and am interested in reading such discussions; but may I ask the admins what the current policy regarding frontpaging politics is? Last time I checked, It seemed that the rule was that only Zvi is allowed to write politics for the frontpage... Now the post already starts off with a subjective worldview and presents it as objective (e.g. the "interests" of the US that are stated as facts without evidence or discussion; the "liberal world order (LWO), also known as the 'rules-based international order'" is presented as an objectively existing thing, the US is claimed to unambiguously protect it, and to have designed it "to maximize economic and political power of the United States"). I don't mind forum posts and discussions on that level, but I have a preference for consistency. So just to be sure: Is this kind of politics discussion now encouraged?

Sherrinford's Shortform

Do you think that commenting in Open Threads is very similar to posting and commenting here?

Sherrinford's Shortform

If lesswrong.com had to delete itself for some reason, where would you go instead?

Sherrinford's Shortform

In the context in which I have been seeing the statement that "the" control system moves a certain behavior, there is nothing but the claim that the control system does exactly do what it is claimed to do. No precise explanation. No precise prediction (sure, the claim is that the output moves towards the set point, but nothing about the time dimension). If anything, the term is always used to "explain" behavior ex-post.

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