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Chris_Hallquist comments on Things You Can't Countersignal - Less Wrong

51 Post author: Alicorn 19 February 2010 12:18AM

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Comment author: Chris_Hallquist 19 February 2010 02:55:35PM *  14 points [-]

I've found such tactics work even with people who are more or less complete strangers--say, people I've met on pub crawls while I was traveling Europe. Early in a conversation, I'll say things like "I've never had a real job, and I never would have lost my virginity in high school if the slutty girl hadn't joined the math team," and people have told me it's the funniest thing they've ever heard.

It would be a mistake to conclude, on this basis, that countersignaling is a magic pill to make yourself superhigh status. However, Alicorn seems to underestimate its value.

I would love to hear people brainstorm hypotheses about how such countersignaling could work. If countersignaling were as limited as implied by Alicorn and the paper David J Balan points to below, it would be a hell of a lot easier to understand. Some suggestions:

(1) The sort of countersignaling Eliezer and I talk about is tricky, like humor in general. The explanation of what you're doing has to be embedded in the act. Therefore, anyone who does it well must not be a complete idiot, and perhaps feels secure enough to have experimented with countersigaling a fair amount. (2) The most effective signaling with complete strangers may be mixed signaling: straightforward signaling to show you're not a loser (not low status), with countersignaling to show how cool you are (not merely medium status).

Another observation: it seems that countersignaling is iterable. In a room full of ultra-ironic hipsters, or douchebags trying to flaunt their indifference to what people think of them, refraining from such tactics, a sort of counter-counter-signal, may be the strongest status move.

Comment author: saliency 20 February 2010 05:46:08AM 10 points [-]

I think your and Eliezer's statements contain much more signaling then counter-signaling and is why they work with strangers.

Comment author: [deleted] 23 March 2013 11:27:00AM *  2 points [-]

(2) The most effective signaling with complete strangers may be mixed signaling: straightforward signaling to show you're not a loser (not low status), with countersignaling to show how cool you are (not merely medium status).

See here

Another observation: it seems that countersignaling is iterable. In a room full of ultra-ironic hipsters, or douchebags trying to flaunt their indifference to what people think of them, refraining from such tactics, a sort of counter-counter-signal, may be the strongest status move.

I throw so many “counter-” in that the series stabilizes, and you can't even reliably tell from a picture of me whether or not I was on a fancy dress party. (I forget to stop counter-counter-counter-signalling when I'm in an unfamiliar place, leading to weird stuff such as people mistaking me for a local.)

Comment author: [deleted] 23 March 2013 11:23:08AM *  0 points [-]

while I was traveling Europe

Now I'm starting to think there are side-of-the-pond differences in this kind of things. IME Americans (especially westerners) do seem to take stuff more seriously than Europeans, though the Americans I've talked to are probably not an unbiased sample.