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Thanks for this well researched comment.

I'm growing to think that a lot of health experts had an implicit understanding that the systems around them in the west were not equipped to carry out their best plans of action. In other words, they saw the smoke under the door, decided that if they yelled 'fire' before it had filled up the room nobody would believe them and then decided to wait a bit before yelling 'fire'.

I believe you that the experts rationalize their behavior like so. The problem is that underselling a growing emergency was a terrible advocacy plan. Maybe it covered their asses, but it screwed over their stakeholders by giving us less time to prepare.

Their argument really proves too much. For example, the Wuhan provincial government could also use it to justify the disastrous coverup.

David Roodman was fired from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for his poor office politics skillS. He’s my greatest role model so you’re in good company.

He talks about it on his 80k interview, iirc.

Much of this thread is long time rationalists talking about the experience of new people like me. Here's my experience as someone who found rationality a year ago. It bears more closely on the question than the comments of outliers. I read the sequences then applied rat ideas to dating, and my experience closely resembles Jacobians model. Note that LW has little dating advice, so I did the research and application myself. I couldn't just borrow techniques, had to apply rationality[^1]. My experience is evidence that rationality is improving our outcomes.

I picked up The Sequences in February 2020 on a recommendation from 80k. I read the Yud's sequences cover to cover. Their value was immediately obvious to me, and I read deeply.

I finished the sequences in May, and immediately started applying it to my problems. My goal was not to look cool or gain status on a weird blog. I just wanted to make my life better, and The Sequences gave me a sense that more was possible.

Improving my romantic life has been my greatest rationality project. Dating was a hard part of my life. After The Sequences I realized most dating advice rested on Fake Explanations, anti-reductionism, just-world bias, and is just general crap. I could see conventional dating wisdom for the bullshit that it is. An instrumentally rational model of mate selection must be a bit complicated and a lot weird, but I knew it existed.

I started writing blog posts analyzing my experience, proposing experiments, and looking for advice. I eventually found the best research by Miller, Fleischman, LukeProg, Putanomit and the great ancient Hugh Ristik. You can look through my own LW history to see what happened. Most posts apply ideas from Fleischman or Miller to my own particular situation or attack conventional wisdom about relationships. A few things happened.

  1. Most posts were harshly criticized by LW'ers because people have strong feelings about romance. One post started a 50 comment debate about whether dating advice is too taboo for the site. I did not mind because the criticism was sometimes constructed and always less than my ideas got in the real world. The criticism is strong evidence my behavior was driven by problem solving not status seeking.

  2. None-rationalists harshly criticized my findings. I lost status repeatedly.

  3. I made mistakes. I overvalued status signalling sometimes. I overvalued mate choice copying. I under texted. I over texted. I worked until I found balance between intuition and model.

  4. People repeatedly told me "You should not try. I tried to apply system 2 to dating, and my results were bad." I thought to myself "There's a 50% chance he's right and I get no benefit. But if they're wrong the benefit is huge" and kept working.

Now in October my romantic life is way better. My strategies are more adapted. My predictive capacity is stronger. Dating isn't a scary chaotic part of life, it's a fun, silly chaotic part of my life. It's still frustrating sometimes but the improvement has been huge.


This post is accurate. I went through the swamp of underperformance. I endured the sneers. I accepted having deeply weird beliefs. I attacked ugh field after ugh field. I believed non-just-world truths sometimes (without going all "red-pill"). And it took time but it worked.

The tribal culture of LessWrong wasn't a problem. I wanted rational people to comment on my ideas, so I posted here. I got what I wanted. It's fine.

[^1] I eventually found Geoffrey Miller's Book "Mate" which saved me enormous time.

Answer by snog toddgrassSep 30, 202020

Interesting question.

A separate reference class is cartels formed around profitable emerging technology. Many of the examples you cited refer to state lead projects in basic science. We would expect breakthroughs to cluster there because the cutting edge is rarely on the commercial applications side. The problem is that IF artificial intelligence advances become immediately profitable at some time, companies

Do you believe that unpopular statements, supported by novel arguments, damage the commons? I think having more voices particularly voices that challenge our preconceived notions and values is good for the commons.

I don't agree that I should be required to anticipate all counterarguments. That seems a bit silly.

The main complaint people make about shittesting is that its irrational or unfair. That complaint was addressed by my post by reframing it from the perspective of the tester and their goals. I did not make that argument explicit to avoid insulting the reader and to stay within my own experience (robustness).

People have raised an additional claim that some forms of shittesting are used for abuse. This is a rare complaint and I was interested to learn it, but I was not obligated to scour the interwebs for complaints before pointing out the value of an oft-maligned behavior.

Those are some cool phrases to pull apart different types of testing partners. I think using that phrase would change people's moral attachments to the same behavior. I also think they are generally more precise which is cool.

Woah woah woah, I don't think my title is "simply wrong". I could have been more sensitive to your concern, but I'm not endorsing such sweeping moral generalizations about complicated courtship behaviors at all. Let's break it down in a couple ways.

Firstly, you've asserted a pretty narrow definition of the word shittest, where it means "loyalty test". In the usage cases I've seen, a minority of uses of shittest refer to loyalty testing. The most common usage case is shittesting of a man's status or social skills. So if you are asserting that loyalty tests are ethically wrong in all cases, that does not mean that shittesting is ethically wrong in all cases.

Secondly, I think good can be parsed as instrumentally selfishly rational or as ethical (which itself has lots of meanings).

Instrumentally selfishly rational: I still think if a person wants to know the attributes of a potential partner they benefit from testing those attributes. Since most shiittesting is done by women toward men it's common that men talk about shittesting as a "irrational behavior". I was arguing in the piece that in certain circumstances some shittesting is not irrational but a sensible behavior. Women are usually interested in the social status and skills of potential partners.. The fact that some people use shittesting to abuse their partner, while deeply tragic, isn't a nockdown article which makes all shittesting irrational.

Fleischman has argued that in the evolutionary environment being abandoned with child by a partner was a huge risk to her fitness. In hunter-gatherer societies if a man dies or leaves the tribe while a woman is pregnant the odds of her child dying is much higher. So loyalty testing may have been good for fitness in the EE. Of course, that doesn't make it ethical today.

Ethical: I think offending people, in a reasonably predictable way, is unethical. I don't think testing the attributes of a prospective partner is irrational in all cases. As I've said below, I do believe that loyalty testing in general is immoral (in both relationships and institutions) and that testing someone in an ongoing relationship is mostly unethical, particularly if the behavior is frequent. But I think the majority of the shittesting that people do is really far from your case.

Now you’ve provoked a large number of comments, but they’re mostly focused on reinforcing the common definition of shit-testing rather than on the dating advice you said you wanted.

it's not a battle to control the definition of some word? I want to understand which behaviors are good for me to do, and to understand which behaviors are ethical for me to do. This comment section has helped open up the diversity of the term and discuss different cases and heuristics we can use to assess both usefulness and ethics. That's pretty cool.

Mate is very good. I should write an entire post reviewing the book.

Much of the value from Mate is that it helps you understand your own experience. The most valuable single chapter in Mate is the chapter on mating markets. The effect size of moving mating markets is so huge that its obvious to me. Of the five mating markets I've explored, by far the largest factor is the demographic ratios. When I was 24 and in a terrible mating market, my friends really did tell me the market didn't matter and the problem was my behaviors. I felt so unnatractive and stupid and socially incompetent while in that market. In retrospect the religious customs of that country just made dating a foreign atheist impossible. My mate value determined my outcomes much less than I thought.

If any straight readers are in a terrible mating market I have three recommendations. Read "Mate" then watch "Sex and the City". Also, consider moving.

I'm sorry that your ex hurt you like that. It sounds terrible.

I also apologize for the way I titled and framed the ideas of this post. I was aware that it would provoke strong emotional responses, and intended that. Many people respond to slightly edgey dating posts with strong norm-enforcing comments. I like these comments because they highlight places where readers misunderstand my arguments, they tend to come with compelling advice, and I can evaluate the moral content of dating strategies.

It did not occur to me that I would hurt people by reminding them of the pain that so many of us carry from our romantic lives. But that was reasonably foreseeable from my perspective. You deserve an apology.

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