I think what I'd personally prefer (over the new version), is a quick: “Epistemic Status: Fake Framework”.
Like so? (See edit at top.) I'm familiar with the idea behind this convention. Just not sure how LW has started formatting it, or if there's desire to develop much precision on this formatting.
I think a lot of the earlier disagreements or concerns at the time had less to do with flagging frameworks as fake, and more to do with not trusting that they were eventually going to ground out as “connected more clearly to the rest of our scientific understanding of the world”.
Mmm. That makes sense.
My impression looking back now is that the dynamic was something like:
(Proceed with loop.)
What I wasn't acknowledging to myself (and thus not to anyone else either) at the time was that I was loving the frustration of being misunderstood. Which is why I got exasperated instead of just… being clearer given feedback about how I wasn't clear.
I'm now much better at just communicating. Mostly by caring a heck of a lot more about actually listening to others.
I think you're naming something I didn't hear back then. And if nothing else, it's something you value now, and I can see how it makes sense as a value to want to ground Less Wrong in. Thanks for speaking to that.
I don’t think things necessarily need to be ‘rigorously grounded’ to be in the 2018 Book, but I do think the book should include “taking stock of ‘what the epistemic status of each post is’ and checking for community consensus on whether the claims of the post hold up’", with some posts flagged as "this seems straightforwardly true" and others flagged as "this seems to point in an interesting and useful thing, but further work is needed."
That seems great. Kind of like what Duncan did with the CFAR handbook.
This is all to say: I have gotten value out of this post and think it’s pointing at a true thing, but it’s also a post that I’d be particularly interested in people reviewing, from a standpoint of “okay, what actual claims is the post implying? What are the limits of the fake framework here? How does this connect to the rest of our best understanding of what's going on in the brain?” (the previous round of commenters explored this somewhat but only in very vague terms).
Mmm. That's a noble wish. I like it.
I won't respond to that right now. I don't know enough to offer the full rigor I imagine you'd like, either. So I hope for your sake that others dive in on this.
I've made my edits. I think my most questionable call was to go ahead and expand the bit on how to Look in this case.
If I understand the review plan correctly, I think this means I'm past the point where I can get feedback on that edit before voting happens for this article. Alas. I'm juggling a tension between (a) what I think is actually most helpful vs. (b) what I imagine is most fitting to where Less Wrong culture seems to want to go.
If it somehow makes more sense to include the original and ignore this edit, I'm actually fine with that. I had originally planned on not making edits.
But I do hope this new version is clearer and more helpful. I think it has the same content as the original, just clarified a bit.
I don't know if I'll ever get to a full editing of this. I'll jot notes here of how I would edit it as I reread this.
So, with all that said, here are the edits I'd make:
Thank you. Thank you for sharing how you were impacted. That touched me. I'm delighted to have played a role in you enjoying your life more fully. :-)
The post’s focus on salient examples (family roles, the convert boyfriend, the white man’s role) also has a downside, in that it’s somewhat difficult to keep track of the main thrust of Valentine’s argument. The entire introductory section also does nothing to help the essay cohere; it makes claims about personal benefits Valentine has acquired by using this framework. These claims are neither substantiated nor explored further in the essay, and they are also unnecessary — the essay is compelling by the force of its insight and not by promising a laundry list of results.
I quite agree. Thank you for stating this so clearly.
At the time I was under the delusion that people would read and consider what I had to say because they consciously could expect a benefit from doing so. So I tried to state the value up front. I think I was also a little embarrassed to be talking in public in a way I wasn't aware of, so the "laundry list" was a way of assuaging my unrecognized shame.
All of which is to say, I agree. :-) And I'm glad this point got into the reviews for this.
Ah, I didn't realize these post as comments. That's fine, I'll leave this here.
I'm also amused by my poor modeling of intending "a few quick notes". I'm smiling bemusedly at myself, and also taking in that this has been a chronic years-long glitch in self-modeling. Oh, humans.
I thought I'd add a few quick notes as the author.
As I reread this, a few things jump out for me:
That last point is probably the most interesting to meta-reviewers, so I'll say a little about that here.
The basic emotional backdrop I brought in writing this was something like, "Look out, you could get hijacked! Better watch out!" And then luckily there's this thing you can be aware of, to defend yourself against one more form of psychic/emotional attack. Right?
I think this is kind of nuts. It's a popular form of nuts, but it's still nuts.
Looking at the Duolingo example I gave, it doesn't address the question of why those achievements counted as a lotus structure for me. There are tons of things others find have lotus nature that I don't (e.g., gambling). And vice versa: my mother (who's an avid Duolingo user) couldn't care less about those achievements.
So what gives?
I have a guess, but I think that's outside the purview of the purpose of these reviews. I'll just note that "We're in a worldwide memetic war zone where everyone is out to get us by hijacking our minds!" is (a) not the hypothesis to default to and (b) if true is itself a questionable meme that seems engineered to stimulate fight-or-flight type reactions that do, indeed, hijack clarity of mind.
With all that said, I still think there's a ton of value in "noticing the taste of lotus" as the title suggests. It's pointing out where we're more likely to believe our motivations are getting diverted from our goals if we were to notice.
It's just that, about a year and a half later, I now reflect on this being a very basic entry point to a much more interesting question.
In particular, this "hijacking" is basically how culture works from what I can tell. Is culture wicked? Or is it benevolent? Or is it a mix? How can we tell whether the reasoning faculties we're using to work out these puzzles are themselves "hijacked" by having been immersed in a culture of lotus-eaters?
From what I've been able to see for myself and reason about, I think you can't answer those questions from within the framework that's asking them. It's too fear-based. "Fear-based" isn't inherently bad, but when the fear isn't acknowledged as the base then you can basically guarantee that the thinking isn't clear. (As Carl Jung said: "Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it 'fate'.")
A few relatively minor notes that I imagine y'all would find relevant:
Yep, that seems like a correct nuance to add. I meant "predict" in a functional sense, rather than in a thought-based one, but that wasn't at all clear. I appreciate you adding this correction.
You might have gone too far with speculation - your theory can be tested.
I think that's good, isn't it? :-D
If your model was true, I would expect a correlation between, say, the ability to learn ball sports and the ability to solve mathematical problems.
Maybe…? I think it's more complicated than I read this implying. But yes, I expect the abilities to learn to be somewhat correlated, even if the actualized skills aren't.
Part of the challenge is that math reasoning seems to coopt parts of the mind that normally get used for other things. So instead of mentally rehearsing a physical movement in a way that's connected to how your body can actually move and feel, the mind mentally rehearses the behavior (!) of some abstract mathematical object in ways that don't necessarily map onto anything your physical body can do.
I suspect that closeness to physical doability is one of the main differences between "pure" mathematical thinking and engineering-style thinking, especially engineering that's involved with physical materials (e.g., mechanical, electrical — as opposed to software). And yes, this is testable, because it suggests that engineers will tend to have developed more physical coordination than mathematicians relative to their starting points. (This is still tricky to test, because people aren't randomly sorted into mathematicians vs. engineers, so their starting abilities with learning physical coordination might be different. But if we can figure out a way to test this claim, I'd be delighted to look at what the truth has to say about this!)
I mostly agree. I had, like, four major topics like this that I was tempted to cram into this essay. I decided to keep it to one message and leave things like this for later.
But yes, totally, nearly everything we actually care about comes from the social mind doing its thing.
I disagree about curiosity though. I think that cuts across the two minds. "Oh, huh, I wonder what would happen if I connected this wire to that glowing thing…."
Yes, most pleasures grab your wanting. I'm suggesting that you actually enjoy collecting arbitrary achievements, there is no "hijacking" about it. And I don't understand why collecting arbitrary achievements needs to be meaningful, while delicious food is allowed to be meaningless.
Okay, seriously? You want to play this game?
I get that status here comes in part from good arguments. It's a fine metric for truth-seeking. But it isn't the same as truth-seeking, and it Goodharts into disagreement-hunting even where the disagreements don't matter.
I'm trying to point at a simple observation: some things grab your wanting directly and yank you off-course. Seems like a good idea to notice when that happens. That's all.
I'm not saying that one shouldn't ever let those want-grabbers do their thing. But maybe you can't tell I wasn't saying that; communication is hard. But if you think I am saying that… then can't you just notice that that's stupid, mention that, and highlight the point I should have made?
So… I mean, really, you seriously think you're meaningfully refuting my points by saying I enjoy achievements and therefore there's no hijacking? Seriously? Seriously?
I mean, I think your next norm-driven move is to say "Yes, seriously." And then do some kind of weird philosophical thing that, I don't know, makes it sound like I'm arguing that some wants are good and others are bad, and then knocking down that strawman. Or something.
But… come on! Really?
Can we just… not fence for status?
I don't understand why collecting arbitrary achievements needs to be meaningful, while delicious food is allowed to be meaningless.
I never said anything about food. Or about what needs to be meaningful. Just that there are want-grabbers that are meaningfulness-symmetric.
I don't usually think of good food as lotus-like. Like, here are some pleasurable non-lotuses (for me):
I basically never find these yanking me away from what I'm doing. I just like them. Sometimes I want to do some of them more and it's hard to make myself. Very not lotus-ish.
Sometimes I don't do these things because I'm busy, I don't know, getting sucked into getting achievements on some game that leaves Tetris effects in my brain.
I mean, if I want to do that, then that seems cool.
Seems bad not to even notice that's happening though. Then Facebook gets to program my wants however it chooses to.
I worry that the more important distinction between collecting achievements and eating food is that the former is a low-status activity.
I don't think of it as low-status. FWIW.
I don't think there is any objective measure to tell what desire is ok and what is a compulsion. I think, similarly to the word "disease", a desire is "compulsive" only if you think it causes problems for you.
Uh… then I'm not sure what your point is. You said:
"My point is that there is nothing inherently wrong with arbitrary pleasures that don't improve your life. The problem is when you develop compulsions. There seems to be a difference between simple desire and compulsive desire."
So… if I take you literally, I think you just said that the only problem is when you develop a desire that causes you a problem.
Like, I don't think that's actually what you mean. I'm strawmanning your words to point out that I think I haven't understood your real message.
Help me understand?