All of ThurstonBT's Comments + Replies

In Wikipedia — reading about Roko's basilisk causing "nervous breakdowns" ...

@Linch: My observations (based on an admittedly limited set of observations and my lack of psychological training) agree with your "I'm personally pretty convinced that psychological issues in the rationalist community is substantially above baseline.

I'm surprised, given the claimed truth-seeking and evidentiary rigor values of 'the rationalist community', that there is not a magiteral data-laden LessWrong essay that addresses "psychological issues in the rationalist community" that is cited when discussion turns to this topic.  Can anyone point to such an essay?


1Linch2moWhat does "magiteral" mean here? At any rate, you're free to be the change you want to see in the world. :)
How to respond to a series of defiantly persistent evidence-free claims?

@JBlack:  Your request for evidence substantiating my claim is well taken.  That evidence is visible at the Berkeley (CA) area 'rationalist community' Discord channel called "The Forum".  If you cannot find "The Forum" on Discord then please DM me and I'll attempt to supply you with other information whereby you can access it (I apologize as I'm a none-too-deft Discord user).

You can find dialog, at "The Forum", substantiating my "[c]ertain recent events have shown that to not be the case" if you search for dialog from c. 5 Oct.-13 Oct. that ... (read more)

5Viliam2moOh come on! You have the evidence under your cursor, yet instead of copying it here, you are giving us a manual how to find it at some obscure server, with a warning that it gets deleted in 24 hours. I have read your comment 2 days and 2 hours after you wrote it, therefore I have no idea what you refer to. Never heard about that Discord channel either. Could you please be a little bit more cooperative?
9JBlack2moOkay, so you are claiming that these tiny fragments of a particular discussion within a particular subdivision of a geographical fragment of the rationalist community represents evidence for the much broader claim you made about the rationalist community as a whole. Well okay, you provided evidence so weaksauce as to be nearly water. If this was the best evidence you could provide, then I should update away from your claim, because I would have expected you to be able to provide much stronger evidence than that if it were true.
6Said Achmiz2moI’ve never even heard of this Discord channel (server?) before, so it can’t be very important to “the rationalist community”. Therefore, you can’t conclude anything about what is, or is not, near and dear to said community, from—what, one conversation on this one obscure Discord server? (I mean, really. “Certain recent events”! Talk about blowing things out of proportion…)
How to respond to a series of defiantly persistent evidence-free claims?

@Dagon:  Please note that in the example, above, A asserts: "X is an empirical claim and X is true!"  
I concur with A's assertion that ""X is an empirical claim".  This is not a matter of normative "social or religious statements". 

Your observation that normative claims are often "framed as truth" is well taken.  The use of "truth" to describe both empirical and normative claims is the source of much confusion and facilitates the use of the Fallacy of Equivocation. 

I find your advice to "let it go" in this matter, of refuting an evidence-free empirical claim, to be unacceptable and inconsistent with truth-seeking.



7abandon2moThe thing is, that's not a well-formed, non-fallacious argument. Your "evidence" in this scenario consists entirely of the fact that someone famous has also made the claim; that's the very definition of an argument from authority!
-2Shouperfluous2moIt's also not an argument, let alone an argument from authority. It's a claim. Also, your edit of my statement changes the actual meaning of the statement, it doesn't clarify it in any way. I said what I meant and was more correct in that instance. Argument from authority has to do with the authority, not the statement by the authority. Your edit demonstrates a fundamental failure to grasp what "argument from authority" really means.
In Wikipedia — reading about Roko's basilisk causing "nervous breakdowns" ...

@Shouperfluous — You don't understand the meaning of "direct refutation".  

An actual direct refutation of  THE CLAIM would be a quote from Yudkowsky to the effect that "my decision to censor mention/discussion of Roko's basilisk was in no way motivated by emotional reactions from members of 'the rationalist community' including but not limited to nervous breakdowns and nightmares.'

You might infer a refutation to the THE CLAIM from the above-linked post but your inference is not a "direct refutation".

How to respond to a series of defiantly persistent evidence-free claims?

@Shouperflous — Indeed.  You "must be misunderstanding".

1)  My goal is not to " get [my] opponents to shut up". My goal is to cause persons making evidence-free claims to  support those claims with evidence.  This is the opposite of causing someone to "shut up"; it is prompting someone to keep talking and provide evidence.

2) You appear to also misunderstand the  "argument from authority".  The argument from authority refers to an appeal to false authority on the topic at hand or a putatively authoritative person... (read more)

7Shouperfluous2moArgument from authority does not require the authority be false, it requires that the authority be, itself, used as "evidence" of a claim. Looking for "Magisterial" i.e. "authoritative" rebuttal to cite in the future seems like looking for some "authority" on what rationality means to throw at someone, not unlike the "Hitchen's Razor" you're citing as a "bitch slap" which is.... odd.
In Wikipedia — reading about Roko's basilisk causing "nervous breakdowns" ...

@ Shouperfluous: Would you please reread the post to which you are responding?  If you can in fact provide suitable evidence then would you please quote and cite it?

Please note my prior: "No one could provide evidence that THE CLAIM [ Yudkowsky censored mention of Roko's basilisk because it "caused some readers to have nervous breakdowns"] is false and sufficient to meet Wikipedia's evidentiary standards so as [to allow editing Wikipedia so as] to rebut or remove the THE CLAIM".

"No one could provide a citation to a specific denial from&... (read more)

1Shouperfluous2moMy response is a direct refutation of THE CLAIM, in that Yudkowsky explains the rational for the prohibition.

As a former Wikipedia admin, I don't think the current basilisk content on Wikipedia meets Wikipedia's evidential standards (or general site standards):

  1. The page claims that "Yudkowsky had stated that it caused some readers to have nervous breakdowns", but none of the three sources cited for this claim say this. The source instead seems to be this claim in an Observer article cited elsewhere on the Wikipedia page: "It seemed like little more than a harmless thought experiment, but rumor has it that the discussion thread was deemed a danger to susceptible mi
... (read more)
Conversational Cultures: Combat vs Nurture (V2)

Addressing ...
... "The tradeoffs between the two cultures" and the advantages of one or the other and ...
... examining these takeoffs is for purposes of evaluating  Combat vs. Caring as truth-seeking tools —

We must bear in mind that when applying Caring norms, the claims made by a sufficiently emotionally brittle and/or exquisitely sensitive interlocutor can become unquestionable and unassailable by the truth-seeking process.

Any any attempt to invoke Caring norms needs to remain clearly cognizant that reality does not care about your feelings.


Conversational Cultures: Combat vs Nurture (V2)

I propose these amendment to the essay at top:
1)  "Nurture Culture makes a lot of sense in a world where criticism and disagreement are often [or are perceived to be] an attack or threat."

2)  I question the reasonability of describing intellectual "criticism and disagreement" as "an attack or threat".  I propose that this change "an attack or threat" -> "a threat to the ego of the target of the criticism or rebuttal".

My waving a knife can be reasonably inferred to be "an attack or threat"  My statement that "your logic is faulty beca... (read more)

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Ad Hominem

The link, at top, to "Stephen Bond's ... definitive word on ad hominem in 'the ad hominem fallacy fallacy' " is broken.  That excellent essay can be found at

I suggest that the post, at top, be fixed.  Is it the LessWrong practice to fix broken links in 13 year old posts?