All of Valentine's Comments + Replies

I consider ultra-BS a primarily 'central route' argument, as the practitioner uses explicit reasoning to support explicit narrative arguments. […]

Putting someone off balance, on the other hand, is more 'peripheral route' persuasion. There's far more emphasis on the implicit messaging.

Ah! This distinction helped clarify a fair bit for me. Thank you!

 

…I think I might conclude that your implicit primers and vibes are very good at detecting implicit persuasion, which typically but not always has a correlation with dark artsy techniques.

I agree on all acco... (read more)

1Lyrongolem1mo
Glad you enjoyed!  Let me send a PM regarding a dialogue... 

Can you spell this out a little more? Did Brent and LaSota employ baloney-disclaimers and uncertainty-signaling in order to bypass people's defenses?

I think Brent did something different from what I'm describing — a bit more like judo plus DOS attacks.

I'm not as familiar with LaSota's methods. I talked with them several times, but mostly before I learned to detect the level of psychological impact I'm talking about with any detail. Thinking back to those interactions, I remember it feeling like LaSota was confidently asserting moral and existential things ... (read more)

1mesaoptimizer7d
Perhaps relevant: Nate Soares does this too, based on one of his old essays. And I think it works very well for him.

Yep, I think you're basically right on all accounts. Maybe a little off with the atheist fellow, but because of context I didn't think to share until reading your analysis, and what you said is close enough!

It's funny, I'm pretty familiar with this level of analysis, but I still notice myself thinking a little differently about the bookstore guy in light of what you've said here. I know people do the unbalancing thing you're talking about. (Heck, I used to quite a lot! And probably still do in ways I haven't learned to notice. Charisma is a hell of a drug ... (read more)

3Lyrongolem2mo
Glad you appreciated my analysis! Hm... I think we may have miscommunicated somewhere. From what I understand at least, what you saw was distinctly not 'ultra-BS' as I envision it.  In persuasion, students of rhetoric generally classify two types of persuasive styles, 'central' and 'peripheral', route, specifically. Whereas central route persuasion focuses more on overt appeals to logic, peripheral route focuses more on other factors. Consider, for instance, the difference between an advertisement extolling the nutritional benefits of their drink, as opposed to an ad for the same company showing a half naked girl sampling it. Both aim to 'convince' the consumer to buy their product, except one employs a much different strategy than the other.  More generally, central route persuasion is explicit. We want you to convince you of 'X', here are the arguments for 'X'. The drink is nutritious and good for your health, you should Buy the Drink. Peripheral route persuasion is more implicit, though at times it's no less subtle. This pretty and sexually appealing girl loves this drink, why don't you? Doesn't evolution make you predisposed to trust pretty people? Wouldn't you want to be more like them? Buy the drink  I consider ultra-BS a primarily 'central route' argument, as the practitioner uses explicit reasoning to support explicit narrative arguments. It's often ill intentioned sure, and clearly motivated, intellectually dishonest reasoning, but that's besides the point. It still falls under the category of 'central route' arguments.  Putting someone off balance, on the other hand, is more 'peripheral route' persuasion. There's far more emphasis on the implicit messaging. You don't know what you're doing, do you? Trust me instead, come on. In the case of your atheist friend, it's not really possible to tell what persuasion technique they used, because it wasn't really clear. But the indicators you received were accurate, because under those conditions he would be i

I'm gonna err on the side of noting disagreements and giving brief descriptions of my perspective rather than writing something I think has a good chance of successfully persuading you of my perspective, primarily so as to actually write a reply in a timely fashion.

Acknowledged.

 

I don't see this as showing that in all domains one must maintain high offensive capabilities in order to have good defenses.

Oh, uh, I didn't mean to imply that. I meant to say that rejecting attention to military power is a bad strategy for defense. A much, much better defens... (read more)

4Unreal2mo
Musings:  COVID was one of the MMA-style arenas for different egregores to see which might come out 'on top' in an epistemically unfriendly environment.  I have a lot of opinions on this that are more controversial than I'm willing to go into right now. But I wonder what else will work as one of these "testing arenas." 

Well, that particular comment had a lot of other stuff going on…

That's really not a central example of what I meant. I meant more like this one. Or this one.

 

But also, yeah, I do kinda feel like "downvoting people when they admit they did something bad" is a thing we sometimes do here and that's not great incentives. If someone wants to avoid that kind of downvote, "stop admitting to the bad thing" seems like an obvious strategy. Oops! And like, I remember times when I asked someone a question and they got downvoted for their answer, and I did think i

... (read more)

It’s not possible to take the downvotes as a signal of this if downvotes get used for a wide range of things.

Perhaps not in general, but I think it's often pretty clear. Like you've already said "I’m guessing the intention was to punish me for not caring", and yes, I think you're right. Seems to me the signal was recieved as intended.

Although if the person disagrees with whether it was bad, and the answer to that disagreement is to try to silence them… then that seems to me like a pretty anti-epistemic norm. At least locally.

Well, if someone comes h... (read more)

9Said Achmiz2mo
I agree with you that what you propose would be better for LW’s culture. However, I think I can answer the “why did LW stop doing this” question: An increased prevalence, in those social circles which influence decisions made by the LW admin team, of people who have a strong aversion to open conflict. You write a post or a comment. Someone writes a reply explaining why they downvoted—in other words, a critical reply. This is open conflict—confrontation. You reply to them to dispute their criticism, to question their characterization, to argue—more open conflict. Encouraging downvote explanations is nothing more nor less than encouraging critical comments, after all! More critical comments—more open conflict. Some people can’t stand open conflict. So, they use their influence to cause to be enacted such policies, and to be built such structures, as will prevent confrontation, explicit disagreement, direct criticism. (This is usually couched in euphemisms, of course, as calling such things by their simple names also invites confrontation.) Hence, the Less Wrong of today.

…I think another pretty good option is "a master rationalist would definitely avoid surrounding themselves with con artists and frauds and other adversarial actors".

I think that's a great option. I'd question a "master rationalist's" skills if they couldn't avoid such adversarial actors, or notice them if they slip through the cracks.

 

I do think there are real skills you are pointing to, but to some extent I prefer the world where I don't have those skills and in place of that my allies and I coordinate to identify and exclude people who are using the

... (read more)
3mike_hawke2mo
Can you spell this out a little more? Did Brent and LaSota employ baloney-disclaimers and uncertainty-signaling in order to bypass people's defenses?
4Ben Pace2mo
Thanks for the comment. I'm gonna err on the side of noting disagreements and giving brief descriptions of my perspective rather than writing something I think has a good chance of successfully persuading you of my perspective, primarily so as to actually write a reply in a timely fashion.  I don't want to create an expectation that if you reply then you will reply to each point; rather I'd encourage you if you reply to simply reply to whichever points seem interesting or cruxy to you. ——— 1) You make the analogy to having non-violent states. I concur that presently one cannot have states without militaries. I don't see this as showing that in all domains one must maintain high offensive capabilities in order to have good defenses. I agree one needs defenses, but sometimes good defenses don't look like "Training thousands of people how to carry out a targeted kill-strike" and instead look like "Not being tempted to reply by rude comments online" or "Checking whether a factual claim someone makes is accurate". You say that for LaSota and Brent that folks "could neither (a) adequately navigate their impact (myself included!) nor (b) rally ejection/exclusion power until well after they'd already had their impact" and "Maybe, you might hope, you can make the ejection/exclusion sensitivity refined enough to work earlier". I don't share the sense of difficulty I read in the second of those quotes. I think the Bay Area rationalists (and most other rationalists globally) had some generally extreme lack of boundaries of any sort. The ~only legible boundaries that the Bay Area rationality scene had were (a) are you an employee at one of CFAR/MIRI, and (b) are you invited to CFAR events. MIRI didn't have much to do with these two individuals, and I think CFAR was choosing a strategy of "we're not really doing social policing, we're primarily just selecting on people who have interesting ideas about rationality". Everything else was highly social and friend-based and it wa

The unspoken but implicit argument is that Russia doesn't need a reason to nuke us. If we give them the Arctic there's no question, we will get nuked.

Ah, interesting, I didn't read that assumption into it. I read it as "The power balance will have changed, which will make Russia's international bargaining position way stronger because now it has a credible threat against mainland USA."

I see the thing you're pointing out as implicit though. Like an appeal to raw animal fear.

 

For a successful nuclear first strike to be performed Russia must locate all o

... (read more)
5Lyrongolem2mo
Of course. Glad you enjoyed!  I think that part of it is probably you not having much experience with debate or debate adjacent fields. (quite understandable, given how toxic it's become). It took me some lived experience to recognize it, after all.  If you want to see it at work, I recommend just tuning into any politician during a debate. I think you'll start recognizing stuff pretty quick. Wish you happy hunting in any case. 

Do you mind providing examples of what categories and indicators you use?

I can try to provide examples. The indicators might be too vague for the examples to help much with though!

A few weeks ago I met a fellow who seems to hail from old-guard atheism. Turn-of-the-century "Down with religion!" type of stuff. He was leading a philosophy discussion group I was checking out. At some point he said something (I don't remember what) that made me think he didn't understand what Vervaeke calls "the meaning crisis". So I brought it up. He started going into a kind ... (read more)

3Lyrongolem2mo
Oooh, I think I can classify some of this!  So, about this, I think this is a typical case of status game esque 'social cognition'. If membership in a certain group is a big part of your identity, the group can't be wrong. (Imagine if you're a devout Churchgoer, and someone suggests your priest may be one of many pedophiles). There's an instinctive reaction of 'well, church is a big part of my life, and makes me feel like a full, happy person, very good vibes... unlike pedophilia' so they snap to defending their local priest. You may see the 'happens in other places but not here' defense. Social cognition isn't a full proof dark arts happened, but it usually is a good indicator (since by nature it tends to be irrational). In this case it's an atheist who bases status on being an athiest feeling their personal beliefs/worth are being attacked, and responding as a result. I'd read up on Will Storr's The Status Game if you're interested.  I think I can understand in general terms what might've happened. There's a lot of ways to 'suggest' something without verbally saying it. Think of an advertisement having a pretty girl in the product (look at you, so fat and ugly, don't you want to be more like us?). It's not explicit, of course, that's the point, but it's meant to take peripheral instead of central route persuasion.  From a more 'human' example, I might think of a negotiator seating their rival in front of the curtains while the sun is shining through to disorient them, or a parent asking one sibling to do something after having just yelled at another. In all cases there's a hidden message of sorts, which can at times be difficult to put into words but is usually felt as a vibe. I have difficulty describing it myself.  I think one I can describe might be the sandwich example (though this isn't something I've seen in my own life). You have something important to talk about someone with, and they're maintaining eye contact and 'paying attention', but they're also

Thank you. I found this exchange very enriching.

In particular, it highlights a gap in my way of reasoning. I notice that even after you give examples, the category of "ultra-BS" doesn't really gel for me. I think I use a more vague indicator for this, like emotional tone plus general caution when someone is trying to persuade me of something.

In the spirit of crisping up my understanding, I have a question:

Now, I understand I sound obviously crazy already, but hear me out. Russia's Kinzhal hypersonic missiles, which have a range of roughly 1,000 miles, cann

... (read more)
2PoignardAzur2mo
Nuclear triad aside, there's the fact that the Arctic is more than 1000 miles away from the nearest US land (about 1700 miles away from Montana, 3000 miles away from Texas), that Siberia is already roughly as close. And of course, the fact the Arctic is made of, well, ice, that melts more and more as the climate warms, and thus not the best place to build a missile base on. Even without familiarity with nuclear politics, the distance part can be checked in less than 2 minutes on Google Map; if you have access to an internet connection and judges that penalize blatant falsehoods like "they can hit us from the Arctic", you absolutely wreck your adversary with some quick checking. Of course, in a lot of debate formats you're not allowed the two minutes it would take to do a google map check.

I'm glad you enjoyed it!

In particular, it highlights a gap in my way of reasoning. I notice that even after you give examples, the category of "ultra-BS" doesn't really gel for me. I think I use a more vague indicator for this, like emotional tone plus general caution when someone is trying to persuade me of something.

Hm... this is interesting. I'm not too sure I understand what you mean though. Do you mind providing examples of what categories and indicators you use? 

I think I'm missing something obvious, or I'm missing some information. Why is this

... (read more)

Isn’t this an ironic choice of metaphor? The situation rather more resembles you insisting that it’s your daughter’s arm, being certain of this despite many other people thinking that you’re not quite in touch with reality, being impervious to demonstrations or proofs that it’s your arm, etc.

Of course it's not ironic. What do you think the patient must think about the doctor's certainty?

…the current site culture, moderation policies, etc., actively discourage such explanations.

How so? What's the discouragement? I could see people feeling like they don't want to bother, but you make it sound like there's some kind of punishment for doing so…?

6Said Achmiz2mo
Well, a downvote implies that I didn’t like the post or comment for some reason, right? Maybe I think it’s wrong, or poorly written, or such things shouldn’t be posted to Less Wrong in the first place, etc.—all the usual stuff. But comments that say such things are discouraged. You’re supposed to post “constructive” things, to not be “negative”, to not be “confrontational”, etc. I, personally, have gotten punishment by the moderation team, for… well, sometimes not even explaining downvotes, exactly, but even just writing comments in lieu of downvotes. And just think of how your (and my!) preferred cultural norm interacts with the “author can ban commenters from their posts” feature! Suppose that someone writes a post, I downvote it, I try to write a comment that explains my downvote, but oops—I’ve been banned from the post! (Or, the explanatory comment gets me banned from the post. Because the author doesn’t want to experience negativity, you see.) Indeed, it’s entirely possible to read someone’s post, agree with it, read the comments to that post, see some foolish and poorly-considered criticism of the OP, downvote that comment, try to write an explanation for the downvote—and find out that the OP has banned you from their posts. Oops! The whole system, both technically and in terms of policy, is set up to shield authors from “negativity”, and allow them to avoid seeing harsh criticism. We know this, because the admins/mods have told us. Well, of course that ends up discouraging explanations of downvotes. How can it possibly not?

I'd also really like to see a return of the old LW cultural thing of, if you downvote then you explain why. There are some downvotes on my comments that I'm left scratching my head about and going "Okay, whatever." It's hard for downvotes to improve culture if the feedback amounts to "Bad."

For instance, my review has been pretty heavily downvoted. Why? I can think of several reasons. But the net effect is to convey that LW would rather not have seen such a review.

Now why would that be?

I notice that there's also a -16 on the agree/disagree voting, with just... (read more)

…it looks like Valentine is never going to write the promised post…

It was Mythic Mode. I guess that went over everyone's heads.

I had a sequence in mind, on "ontology cracking". I gave up on that sequence when it became obvious that Less Wrong really wasn't interested in that direction at all. So I ended up never describing how I thought mythic mode worked on me, and how it might generalize.

But honestly, Mythic Mode has all the ingredients you need if you want to work it out.

It also seems worth noting, I've gotten way more PCK on the whole thing since then,... (read more)

But honestly, I’m tired of arguing with logic machines about this. No, I cannot prove to you that it’s not your daughter’s arm. No, that fact does not cause me to question my certainty that it’s not your daughter’s arm. Yes, I understand you think I’m crazy or deluded. I am sorry I don’t know how to help you; it is beyond my skill, and my human heart hurts for being so misunderstood so much here.

Isn’t this an ironic choice of metaphor? The situation rather more resembles you insisting that it’s your daughter’s arm, being certain of this despite many oth... (read more)

As an aside, looking over the way some of my comments were downvoted in the discussion section:

I think LW could stand to have a clearer culture around what karma downvotes are for.

Now that downvote is separable from disagreement vote, I read a downvote as "This comment shouldn't have been posted / doesn't belong on LW."

But it's clear that some of what I said was heavily downvoted because I took a stance people didn't like. Saying things like "Yep, I could have phrased this post in a more epistemically accurate way… but for this post in particular I really ... (read more)

4philh2mo
Well, that particular comment had a lot of other stuff going on, and yes I think it's a kind of comment that doesn't belong here and no I don't particularly feel like explaining that. But also, yeah, I do kinda feel like "downvoting people when they admit they did something bad" is a thing we sometimes do here and that's not great incentives. If someone wants to avoid that kind of downvote, "stop admitting to the bad thing" seems like an obvious strategy. Oops! And like, I remember times when I asked someone a question and they got downvoted for their answer, and I did think it was a bad answer that in a vacuum deserved downvotes, but I still upvoted as thanks for answering. I'm not sure it's so bad though. Some things that mitigate it as a strategy: * "This person strategically fails to answer certain questions" is a thing it's possible for someone to notice and point out. * Someone might not have realized the thing they did was bad-according-to-LW, and the downvotes help signal that. (Maybe better to instead upvote the admission and downvote the thing they did? But that's not always a thing that can be downvoted, or downvotes might not be specifically targetable to make it clear "this thing you did was bad".) * If someone did a bad thing and doesn't care, maybe we just don't want them here. Downvotes probably marginally push them away, as well as marginally push them towards not-admitting-things. Notably, I feel like we're more likely to downvote "I did a bad thing and don't care" than "I did a bad thing, oops, sorry". * Sometimes someone might take "not being able to say a thing" as a cost, and prefer the downvotes over the silence. In general it seems like a hard problem, and it's not clear to me that downvoting this kind of thing is a mistake. I think there's currently too many things that deserve downvotes for that to be realistic.

I'd also really like to see a return of the old LW cultural thing of, if you downvote then you explain why. There are some downvotes on my comments that I'm left scratching my head about and going "Okay, whatever." It's hard for downvotes to improve culture if the feedback amounts to "Bad."

For instance, my review has been pretty heavily downvoted. Why? I can think of several reasons. But the net effect is to convey that LW would rather not have seen such a review.

Now why would that be?

I notice that there's also a -16 on the agree/disagree voting, with just... (read more)

6Said Achmiz2mo
I wholeheartedly agree with you on this, but unfortunately, the current site culture, moderation policies, etc., actively discourage such explanations.

To me it's dead obvious that this highlights a gap in the LW rationality toolbox. The reaction of "Lock down, distrust, get cynical, burn it with fire" actually makes you more susceptible to skillful bad actors — like going rigid in response to a judo master grabbing a hold of you. IMO, a mature Art of Rationality would necessarily include learning to navigate cognition-jamming (or cognition-incompatible!) spaces with grace. But I get the sense LW collectively doesn't want to build that skillset. Which is fine, but I find it a bit disappointing.

Mm, this so... (read more)

-2Valentine2mo
As an aside, looking over the way some of my comments were downvoted in the discussion section: I think LW could stand to have a clearer culture around what karma downvotes are for. Now that downvote is separable from disagreement vote, I read a downvote as "This comment shouldn't have been posted / doesn't belong on LW." But it's clear that some of what I said was heavily downvoted because I took a stance people didn't like. Saying things like "Yep, I could have phrased this post in a more epistemically accurate way… but for this post in particular I really don't care." Would you really rather I didn't share the fact that I didn't care? I'm guessing the intention was to punish me for not caring. …which is terrible collective rationality, by the way! It's an attempt to use social-emotional force to change how my mind works without dialoguing with the reasons I'm making the choices I am. (Which is ironic given the nature of the complaints about this post in particular!) I'd argue that the right and good function of downvoting is to signal an opinion that a post or comment does not belong here. That's how I use it. And until I'm given good reason otherwise, that's how I plan to continue using it. I'd also really like to see a return of the old LW cultural thing of, if you downvote then you explain why. There are some downvotes on my comments that I'm left scratching my head about and going "Okay, whatever." It's hard for downvotes to improve culture if the feedback amounts to "Bad." (But this really is an aside. It doesn't matter at all for the 2022 review. It's not really about this particular post either. It just has some very loud-to-me examples of the downvote behavior I think is unhealthy.)

I like the tone of this review. That might be because it scans as positive about something I wrote! :D But I think it's at least in part because it feels clear, even where it's gesturing at points of improvement or further work. I imagine I'd enjoy more reviews written in this style.

 

I would be interested to see research done to test the claim. Does increased sympathetic nervous system activation cause decreased efficacy [at AI research]?

If folk can find ways of isolating testable claims from this post and testing them, I'm totally for that project.

Th... (read more)

1Double2mo
I'm glad you enjoyed my review! Real credit for the style goes to whoever wrote the blurb that pops up when reviewing posts; I structured my review off of that. When it comes to "some way of measuring the overall direction of some [AI] effort," conditional prediction markets could help. "Given I do X/Y, will Z happen?" Perhaps some people need to run a "Given I take a vacation, will AI kill everyone?" market in order to let themselves take a break. What would be the next step to creating a LessWrong Mental Health book?

That's the narrative for sure. I wonder if it's mostly just a stale holdover and doesn't really apply though.

Like, misandry is vastly more blatant and serious these days from what I can tell. Getting emotional or social support as a man is a joke. There's a whole totally weirdly okay joke set that basically goes "What are women better at than men? XYZ…. What are men better at than women? Stupid pointless stuff, being wrong, yada yada, hahaha!"

There's a ton of stuff like this, like with child custody & paternity, or suicide patterns… but all this gets s... (read more)

Reply3211111

Yeah like I said (ie, I know it was insufficiently clearly but don't worry, I didn't mean what you thought I did), women have much better bargaining power but men are still in the structure that egregorically wishes it was in control of women, resulting in men getting starved out. The solution has to look like men's liberation. (Which is a subreddit you may find interesting.) The male authority-hierarchy egregore was never male only; it was men and women coordinating to put a tree of male authority in charge of everyone, with the men on the bottom getting ... (read more)

Especially if people like @Valentine are called upon to return from their cold sleep because the world needs them.

Double-click? I'm wondering what you mean by "cold sleep" here.

FWIW, I meant something less like "Pretend it doesn't matter to you personally, please don't feel emotional responses" and more like "There's zero intention of attacking something precious here, I hope you can feel that and can engage in a way that's not attack-and-defend; let's honor all the precious things together in our pursuit of truth."

...reads like a mistake a feminist would not have made.

I guess maybe I'm not whatever you mean by "a feminist" then…?

I read you as meaning something a little like "You should have known better. You would have if you'd been the right kind of person. So you're the wrong kind of person."

I mean… okay? Sure? I guess you can believe that if you want?

But also… doesn't that make the conversation harder?

(And sorry if I'm misreading you here. I don't mean to trap you in a meaning you didn't intend if I'm missing you here. It just seems worth naming explicitly in cas... (read more)

4the gears to ascension2mo
Not genetically, but there's a lot of social structure pushing towards it that is still self reinforcing. Women have better bargaining power against it now but the authority structure still leans male, and when women are allowed into it they are still checked to ensure they align with the male authority egregore. There's a name feminists use for this, but I'm tabooing it for clarity.

I read it as "because you do not seem to be a feminist, it is understandable that you made this mistake; however, that presents an opportunity for skill increase".

I would recommend reading Angela Davis to get an idea what's referred to here, note that as someone who can barely read books for ADHD reasons I have not actually done this. There are probably others to recommend but if it's gonna be one I'd start with her.

The bonobos apparently use sex to strengthen bonds, but your argument is about strengthening bonds through non-sex with your non-sexually-compatible friends, so idk how those are related

Ah yeah, oops, I noticed that possible confusion and forgot to say something about it.

The fact that the bonobos use sex to reassure each other is purely incidental to why it came to mind for me. The structure of interest was more "Our tribe just encountered a potentially rare resource, so let's focus on reaffirming our tribal bonds before we even orient to the resource."

Lik... (read more)

You can't say I'm defecting after I'm below zero.

Uh… that's not how "defection" works.

I feel like you have some implicit additional assumptions WRT what you mean by "stable", here.

True!

I think I meant mostly an intuition about how sexual stuff adds drama that isn't relevant to (say) baking.

 

I also have the intuition that a single-gender environment would be less stable in the sense of being somehow "more stale" and "less alive" than a mixed-gender one, and thus less stable in the long-term…

Huh. Well, I guess it depends a lot on the social scene!

Like, I don't think a football team would feel more alive if you mixed in girls. Even if you... (read more)

FWIW, my experience on this was… mixed.

My easiest time having female friends was in an implicitly monogamous context, when I was married, and my wife and I were exclusive. It was super easy. Like a switch in my brain could just filter out the attraction question. It's like it was as addressed for all women the way it's always addressed for all men.

It became way messier when she & I opened up our marriage. Then the sexual dynamic between me and her felt to me like it depended on whether I could find other female partners. I don't know if she really felt... (read more)

8Jacob Falkovich2mo
When my wife and I just opened up, I did feel jealous quite regularly and eventually realized that the specific thing I was feeling was basically this. It felt like an ego/competitive/status loss thing as opposed to an actual fear of her infidelity or intent to leave me. And then after four years together it went away and never came back. Now I actually find it kinda fun to not explicitly address "might we fuck?" with some friends, just leave it at the edge of things as a fun wrinkle and a permission to fantasize. A little monogamous frisson, as a treat.

I think the point is that women are clearly optimizing way harder for female approval of their looks than they are male approval.

This article is pretty wild to read in this context. I think it has some Hell Realm memetic code embedded in it, & LW is kind of awful at navigating Hell Realm memetics, so I kinda hesitate to point at it here… but with that caveat: it's just fascinating that here's an article spelling out how to maximally appeal to the male gaze, focused on some sincere attempts at data, and the apparent female reaction is disgust and eyerol... (read more)

Seconding recommendation of the linked article both for its own sake and due to its relevance to this discussion.

Oh yeah, I read this article some time ago! It probably affected my thinking here.

I also heard Louise Perry make comments pointing out something similar recently.

I don't really get to claim a lot of originality here. Maybe my Great Insight™ is how there's maybe an analogy between the way women focus on beauty and men focusing on getting big.

That's an interesting point. Thank you, I hadn't thought about it before. I'm not sure what it implies but it's nice to have noticed.

Ditto. Gears, I didn't downvote your comments until you deleted them. It's now hard to see why I wrote what I did. I think that's bad form.

That said, I read you (Gears) as being overwhelmed here. I'm guessing you wanted to delete your comments because you're both hurting and feeling unseen/unsupported. Pulling out, including deleting your comments, totally makes sense to me in that context I'm imagining you in.

In the future, if you have to do that, I think it would be kinder to make some kind of note about that in the deleted comment.

Even better would be t... (read more)

Hmm. I'm guessing we're talking about slightly different parts of culture here, in a spot that's highly sensitive to you. I don't know if we're going to sort through this. But I'll try a little.

I don't know much about indigenous cultures with gender transitions. You have way more incentive to read up on that than I have. So you probably know about way more cases than I do.

However, I'm quite sure, on evolutionary grounds, that biological sex still has to be a major factor in those cultures. Not just what sex people identified with. The actual biological que... (read more)

1the gears to ascension2mo
[deleted due to going below zero, in order to disengage myself from a conversation that was pushing me into a bad mental state. Please do not reply further to my comments here; I wish lesswrong had "mute replies". I am now rate limited to one post per day because of mass downvoting on four comments.] Edit: this comment previously said "I'll be entirely female eventually. Less wrong needs real comment deletion, though" or so.

Not especially important to your main points, but for the sake of pedantry:

While it's true that transwomen are biologically distinct from ciswomen, medically-transitioning transwomen are also biologically distinct from cismen. In particular, most of them (and all of the post-op) can't make babies with anyone. So, from a purely reproductive perspective, those transwomen are in a group onto itself. From a sexual-attraction perspective, this group is somewhat more similar to ciswomen than to cismen, in the sense that a much bigger fraction of straight men wou... (read more)

What did I say that gave you that impression?

[Edited. Originally I asked "Where did I say you're not a woman?" But I'm not looking for litigation here. I in fact don't mean to cause pain here. So I'm wondering what you tripped over in what I wrote.]

-11the gears to ascension2mo

I'm not sure why all the people who think harder than I do about the field aren't testing their "how to get alignment" theories on humans first…

Some of us are!

I mean, I don't know you, so I don't know if I've thought harder about the field than you have.

But FWIW, there's a lot of us chewing on exactly this, and running experiments of various sizes, and we have some tentative conclusions.

It just tends to drift away from LW in social flavor. A lot of this stuff you'll find in places LW-type folk tend to label "post-rationalist".

While your point is technically true, it's not relevant here. Bezzi's point stands even if we just talk about trans folk whom most people can readily tell are trans.

…I think most decent people would be willing to sacrifice their own life to prevent their civilization from going extinct, and I think it would be a very honorable thing to do.

While I agree, I want to take the opportunity to poke at something I often see in models like this one.

I think if you ask most people about this choice, they'd answer like you predict.

I think if you gave people a choice of buttons to push, one of which is this self-sacrifice button and the other being… uh… whatever the alternative is, there'd be some more hesitance but maybe not a to... (read more)

…a world where individual actions don't matter that much should be a predictable world. And ours very much isn't.

Can you say more? My first reaction is "Huh, I didn't think of that, that's interesting." My second thought is "Wait, what about turbulence the weather?"

RE the latter: the action of individual air molecules doesn't really matter that much, but the net effect is still very hard to predict with much precision. We can say some things about the overall general net effect, but we miss a lot of important details.

(I'm thinking of how my family and I ha... (read more)

3Lalartu4mo
As I understand, topicstarters claim is that civilization is not a chaotic system, and any temporary disturbances don't affect long-term trajectory. Weather is a chaotic system.

I also agree. I was going to write a similar answer. I'll just add my nuance as a comment to Zach's answer.

I said a bunch about ontologies in my post on fake frameworks. There I give examples and I define reductionism in terms of comparing ontologies. The upshot is what I read Zach emphasizing here: an ontology is a collection of things you consider "real" together with some rules for how to combine them into a coherent thingie (a map, though it often won't feel on the inside like a map).

Maybe the purest example type is an axiomatic system. The undefined t... (read more)

2Zach Stein-Perlman7mo
(I agree. I think frames and ontologies are closely related; in particular, ontologies are comprehensive while frames just tell you what to focus on, without needing to give an account of everything.)

I really don’t know what you mean by any of this (especially the “anymore” part, but really all of it).

(I don’t think that it’s necessary to “orient to my tone”? In any case, generally speaking, if you assume that I mean just what I say, you won’t go far wrong.)

This is actually really clarifying. Thank you.

I now suspect there's a dimension of communication that's hyper-salient for me but invisible to you.

I won't try to convey that maybe invisible-to-you dimension here. I don't think that'd be helpful.

Instead I'll try to assume you have no idea what you're... (read more)

I now suspect there's a dimension of communication that's hyper-salient for me but invisible to you.

I won't try to convey that maybe invisible-to-you dimension here. I don't think that'd be helpful.

Instead I'll try to assume you have no idea what you're "saying" on that frequency. Basically that you probably don't mean things they way they implicitly land for me, and that you almost certainly don't consciously hold the tone I read in what you're saying.

That's as close as I can get to assuming that you "mean just what [you] say". Hopefully that'll smooth th

... (read more)
2Said Achmiz7mo
That would be a side benefit, certainly. It need hardly be much effort. Not even as much as you’ve already spent on the last 2–3 comments in this thread, I’d say!

Okay! Great, thank you.

This confirms I'm very thoroughly confused about what "cake" means to you here!

I thought you were looking for tangible proof of benefits, or something you could concretely try, or something like that. But now I know I have no idea what you're looking for!

I'll give examples to highlight my confusion. In your "cake" for falling in love, you say:

I could say that falling in love is worthwhile for its own sake. Of course, there isn’t any way I could convince you of that, but that’s not unusual; the same applies to the experience of eating

... (read more)
2Said Achmiz7mo
Well, let’s recap a bit. You wrote: This is a reasonable enough question, as I said, but it does bear noting that it’s not like I’ve actually written any posts about how great “falling in love” is and how people should try doing it, etc. (I’m not even sure I would actually advocate for falling in love, if you asked me whether I think that you should try to do it, and were skeptical about it!) Now, you asked what I’d offer if I were trying to convey “falling in love” and were asked for “cake” (i.e., answers to “what’s it good for?”), and I answered “here’s what I’d offer”. That response wasn’t very substantive! To abuse the metaphor somewhat, if we imagine our metaphorical cake as, say, tiramisu, my response would be, perhaps, a single ladyfinger dipped in coffee liqueur, with a dollop of whipped cream on it—not really a whole cake, with all the ingredients in place, fully assembled and finished with all the details, but more like a proof-of-concept, establishing that the basic idea works and is essentially sensible. (You could also call it a sketch rather than a finished portrait, or use any number of similar metaphors.) That having been said, let’s move to the non-metaphorical object level: Tangible proof of benefits is good, but concrete description of benefits is the thing that’s got to come first. Otherwise, what’s being proven? As far as “something to concretely try”, please note that this is basically of no value unless either (a) I can have some reasonable expectations for what sort of thing I’ll get if I try it, or (b) trying is costless or close to it. Otherwise, it’s little more than a bluff. Well, indeed. As I said, there isn’t any way I could convince you that love is worthwhile for its own sake if you didn’t already believe it. Nor should you be convinced! You would be quite right to disbelieve me! (Especially because if you didn’t believe that there’s any value to falling in love, that would be evidence that you are the the sort of person for who

Can you give some examples of things that those places have held?

Sure. I'll give just one for now. These take a while to name in writing, at least they way they occur to me.

Here's a recurring one: I'll be talking with someone in a coaching session, and I'll pick up on how they're "adding extra".

This is something that's easy to point out in live conversation or over video but I find tricky in writing. It's a tone thing. If I look at the cup next to me and note "This is a cup", I'm simply noting. There's nothing extra. But I can add extra with an emotional t... (read more)

4Richard_Kennaway7mo
Thank you. This is cake! And not only cake, but a cake I have tasted before, although perhaps made to a variant of the recipe. I'm familiar with people adding on their own "stuff" to the things that happen. Personally, I would put less emphasis on their emotional reaction as the thing of importance than whatever they are believing in that moment, that the emotion is a reaction to. If the reaction is dysfunctional, unearthing the beliefs and tracing them to their origins in past events can be helpful in dissolving it.

Now, all of that having been said, here’s a counter-question, before we get to kenshō: can you provide an analogous sort of answer, for “having a paranoid delusion” in place of “falling in love”? Does it exist? Does it have any value?

How on Earth is this relevant? I'm really not following you here. What do you hope to gain by having me try to grapple with this weird thing?

Maybe you're trying to… I don't know, get even with me for asking something you find absurd? Trying to defeat me in some kind of dual where you think I issued the first challenge? I reall... (read more)

8Said Achmiz7mo
Well, if the relevance isn’t obvious, I think it will likely become obvious in the process of answering it. But, if not, I will certainly explain (what I see as) the relevance afterwards, in response to your answer. Indeed, that is also why I asked my counter-question; both to explain, and to understand. (ETA: I certainly don’t think that your question was absurd. If I did, I’d’ve said so, and not spent effort answering it!) I really don’t know what you mean by any of this (especially the “anymore” part, but really all of it). As I said—the point is to make clear what we’re talking about. (I don’t think that it’s necessary to “orient to my tone”? In any case, generally speaking, if you assume that I mean just what I say, you won’t go far wrong.)
4Zack_M_Davis7mo
The grandparent provides 700 words of this. I read it as a warm-up question. Said provided what he considers a cake-like explanation of "falling in love." The obvious next step would be for him to ask you for an analogous explanation of kenshō. But if that were expected to go poorly, one might be tempted to try asking about something else, like "having a paranoid delusion", to exercise (or test) your ability to provide cake-like concreteness.

What part of this do you consider to be having "given me cake"?

4Said Achmiz7mo
The three paragraphs following “Substantive answers to the question are likely to take two sorts of forms.”

I don't think so. Not in terms that would satisfy you, best as I can tell.

Although… I wonder if we can translate a bit. If you were trying to convey this whole "falling in love" thing to me, while I'm suspicious about whether it exists or that if it exists that it has any value, and I were pressing you for "cake" about "falling in love", what would you offer?

I mean that sincerely. Those two feel like similar type errors to me. If you can offer a few examples of "cake" for falling in love then I might be able to figure out how to offer you "cake" for kenshō.

(I'm not too particular about "falling in love" per se. It's just the most fitting example that popped into mind.)

7Said Achmiz7mo
Well, to start with, the question of whether “falling in love” exists and whether it’s got any value are very different questions. If you were unconvinced about there being any such thing as “falling in love” (having, let us suppose, never experienced it yourself, and perhaps even being aromantic), I would start by pointing you to various descriptions of the experience, from a wide variety of different cultures, eras, etc. I would then point out that these descriptions come in two types: first, phenomenal accounts, “from the inside”, of what it feels like to fall in love; and second, observational accounts, of what behavioral changes may be observed in people who have supposedly fallen in love. I would point to the great consistency of the former sort of account amongst various instances thereof, likewise the latter, and finally to the clear correspondences and links between the two types of account. Clearly—I would point out—there is something that sometimes happens to humans, in a certain class of situations, which alters their behavior in certain remarkably consistent ways, and the experience of which they report on (both at the time and after the fact) in remarkably consistent ways. That there is something there, is not disputable. (This would suffice to establish the reality of the phenomenon, of course. However, I could also add some considerations from evolutionary psychology, pointing to reasons why “falling in love” should exist; and, likewise, findings from biology, neurology, etc., pointing to physiological underpinnings and manifestations of “falling in love”.) To establish the value of falling in love would be another matter entirely. My first observation would be to note that the point may well be moot. “If someday you fall in love,” I might say, “you won’t have any choice in the matter—it’ll simply happen to you, whether you think it’s got any value or not. Indeed, you may even find the experience unpleasant (although that is not the way I’d bet,

do you have an example of: "getting better at attending to what matters to you, instead of attending to what you think matters to you, when there's a difference".

Would a central example be someone focusing on trying to become popular, not realising that it is only instrumental towards feeling positive about themselves?

I wouldn't say that's a central example. But I think it's a good one. Simple, clear, easy to access.

A much bigger and more central example to me is death. Most people don't seem to have clearly seen their own mortality. They're thinking about... (read more)

4Chris_Leong7mo
Thanks, that's useful.

Why don't you care for the "looking" framing anymore?

I'm honestly not sure. Something sits wrong about it. Some initial stabs at the intuition are:

  • It feels too binary. Like you're either Looking or you're not. That doesn't seem right.
  • I think it might be several skills/senses folded into one. Or maybe something like a sense generator. (Lots of folk have trouble with conscious interoception, and that can be changed over time via a move I might have called "Looking" before.)
  • In practice, the relevant thing to develop seems to be something like capacity to rece
... (read more)

Also, in many cases I can just say "You want to see? Okay. Look here, then here, then here." And something clicks for my listener.

I assume the "here"s are placeholders for some specific things you would be saying to a particular listener. Can you give some examples of things that those places have held?

I don't know how to answer the general query. But I can say something maybe helpful about that Kenshō post and "Looking":

The insight was too new. I wrote the post just 4 months after the insight. I think I could answer questions like this way, way more clearly today.

(…although my experience with Said in particular has always been very challenging. I don't know that I could help him any better today than I could in 2018. Maybe? He seems to use a mind type that I've never found a bridge for.)

The issue is that the skill needed to convey an insight or skill is... (read more)

5Said Achmiz7mo
So, does this mean that you’re now able to provide some cake? (As distinct from “assurances of having cake”, “allusions to kinds of cake”, “descriptions of how hard the cake is to bake”, etc.)
2Chris_Leong7mo
Why don't you care for the "looking" framing anymore? Also, do you have an example of: "getting better at attending to what matters to you, instead of attending to what you think matters to you, when there's a difference". Would a central example be someone focusing on trying to become popular, not realising that it is only instrumental towards feeling positive about themselves?

By the way, I think you should consider rewriting the side note re autistic nerd. I am still a bit confused reading that.

FWIW, I found the comment crystal clear.

CFAR's very first workshops had a section on fashion. LukeProg gave a presentation on why fashion was worth caring about, and then folk were taken to go shopping for upgrades to their wardrobe. Part of the point was to create a visible & tangible upgrade in "awesomeness".

At some point — maybe in those first workshops, I don't quite recall — there was a lot of focus on practicing rejection thera... (read more)

My heart aches to read this. I wish you freedom from self-blame. But I do understand.

I grew up in cryonics. My parents signed me up when I was a child. The ache of "If only I'd brought this up sooner, better, the right way" stayed with me a very long time. For every friend and relative who shrugged these things off. Especially for the handful already in graves now. So, so young.

I used to frequently imagine how, some decades or centuries from now, I'd be standing on a colony of the Moon looking up at our ancient cradle, the Earth. Standing there with the fr... (read more)

I find this refreshing. It rings true. It feels like the kind of North Star we were groping toward in early CFAR but never landed on.

This in particular feels clarifying:

Rationality is the study (and applied skill) of finding cognitive algorithms that form better beliefs and make better decisions. Sometimes this is the appropriate tool for the job, and sometimes it's not. 

I find myself breathing with relief reading this. It has the flavor of a definition that could use some iterations. But as it stands, it strikes me as (a) honoring the spirit of the d... (read more)

…I'm a bit suspicious based on the use of stimulants to treat a broad range of conditions like ADHD…

Just to be clear, I was describing my experience as a case study, and my impression is that I can pretty directly read how caffeine affects my body's energy reserves. And I don't have ADHD or anything like that.

The things I observe sure seem to have clear mechanisms behind them, like adenosine sensitization. Between that and what I observe about how people act around caffeine, I get the impression that what I'm seeing in myself is pretty general.

But I don't ... (read more)

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