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Gavin comments on The Wannabe Rational - Less Wrong

31 Post author: MrHen 15 January 2010 08:09PM

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Comment author: Gavin 16 January 2010 01:36:06AM *  97 points [-]

MrHen leaned back in his chair.

It had taken hours to write, but it was flawless. Everything was there: complete deference to the community’s beliefs, politely asking permission to join, admission of guilt. With one post, the tenor of LessWrong had been changed. Religion would join politics and picking up women as forbidden topics.

It would only be later that they would realize what had happened. When rationality became restricted by politeness, that would be when he would begin offering arguments that weakened atheist resolve. And he would have defenders, primed by this pitch-perfect post. Once he was made an honorary member of the “in” group, there is much greater leeway. They had already mentally committed to defend him here, the later details would be immaterial.

After the first online conversion, there would be anger. But at least some would defend him, harkening back to this one post. “It’s okay to be irrational,” they would say, “we’re all irrational about some things.” Oh, the luminaries would never fall. Eliezer, Robin, YVain, Gavin—they were far too strong. But there were those who longed to go back to the warm embrace of belief. Those just emerging from their shells, into the harsh glare of the real. And MrHen, with his equivocating, his rational irrationality—he would lead the way back. Always with the proper respect. A little flattery, a little bowing and scraping, these things go further than one might think in the “rational” world.

Once he was finally banned, and the conversions halted, the citizens of LessWrong would wonder what had driven him. Was it simply his own religious fervor? Or perhaps the old churches to weaken the growing rationalist community from within—perhaps he was in the employ of the Vatican or Salt Lake City, sent to curb a threat. But perhaps it was more sinister still. Perhaps, with his mission complete, MrHen would back to report back to his masters at the ‘chan, on the most epic trolling of all time.

They would never know, not for certain.

Comment author: MrHen 16 January 2010 08:51:02AM 16 points [-]

That was awesome.

Comment author: orthonormal 16 January 2010 03:12:54AM 5 points [-]

Oh man. I had already clicked downvote for excessive paranoia before I read the penultimate sentence. Needless to say, I reversed my judgment immediately.

Comment author: Blueberry 16 January 2010 02:07:43AM 0 points [-]

With one post, the tenor of LessWrong had been changed. Religion would join politics and picking up women as forbidden topics.

I don't understand. This post doesn't suggest that we forbid talking about religion.

Comment author: Kevin 16 January 2010 02:33:59AM 10 points [-]

It's a half-joke, or a half-sarcastic joke -- I hold such humor in the highest regard and describe it as hyper-cynicism, from my own garbling of this. http://www.snpp.com/other/special/philosophy.html Basically, the poster is mostly joking, as given away by the last two sentences, but he wouldn't have made the post if he didn't think elements of truth behind it existed.

Comment author: Blueberry 17 January 2010 07:14:53AM 1 point [-]

the poster is mostly joking, as given away by the last two sentences, but he wouldn't have made the post if he didn't think elements of truth behind it existed.

I understand that, but the "joke" was basically that the original post was a conspiracy to make this site more accepting of religion and ban discussion of it, when the post doesn't suggest anything like that; quite the opposite, in fact.

Comment author: Kevin 18 January 2010 08:20:28AM 4 points [-]

It works at many levels.