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cata comments on Welcome to Less Wrong! (2010-2011) - Less Wrong

42 Post author: orthonormal 12 August 2010 01:08AM

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Comment author: cata 12 August 2010 05:38:35AM *  7 points [-]

Oh, hi. I'm an autodidact programmer in my early 20s working for a small company. A lot of programmers tend to be hacker sorts who like making things, but I mostly only care about achieving a deeper and more intuitive understanding of the world. I am interested in a lot of things, but I tend to concentrate alternately on math, CS, linguistics, philosophy, history, and literature.

I don't identify as a rationalist or make very rational decisions, but I share a lot of intellectual interests with the community, and there aren't really any other public spots on the web where smart people are discussing a variety of topics without a ton of noise and bullshit.

I don't have enough background in some of the jargon and shared historical discussion here to contribute to many of the more topical discussions, but hopefully as I catch up on the archives I'll be able to comment more often.

Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 12 August 2010 07:14:40AM 3 points [-]

I don't identify as a rationalist or make very rational decisions, but I share a lot of intellectual interests with the community, and there aren't really any other public spots on the web where smart people are discussing a variety of topics without a ton of noise and bullshit.

Hacker News is pretty nice:

http://news.ycombinator.com/

Does anyone have more recommendations?

Comment author: komponisto 12 August 2010 08:13:06AM 6 points [-]

My impression is that Hacker News is above average, but still a noticeable notch below LW. Same goes for sites like the Richard Dawkins and JREF forums (perhaps two notches in those cases), and the comments sections of blogs of various academics (such as Overcoming Bias).

Comment author: katydee 12 August 2010 10:36:34AM 5 points [-]

Skeptical sites are good, but not great, because being a good skeptic is different from being a good rational thinker. You can probably get by as a skeptic knowing only "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" and the basics of the scientific method.

Comment author: cata 12 August 2010 11:51:21AM 4 points [-]

I agree with this, and in particular, although there are generally smart people on Hacker News, there are a ton of people who are interested in talking about business and startups 24/7, a topic I find extremely boring.

I'm a big fan of MetaFilter (http://www.metafilter.com/). The commenters there are charming and often pretty smart, but the spirit of discussion is usually somewhat less serious.

Comment author: Spurlock 12 August 2010 02:49:05PM 2 points [-]

The key thing here separating Hacker News from LW is the "variety of topics". While HN is officially centered around startup culture (which like cata, I have no particular interest in), the community is happy to link to and discuss just about anything of intellectual interest. Today there's a link about punctuation marks for indicating irony.

The level of discourse might not be quite up to LW, but the subject matter is a lot more inclusive.

Comment author: rhollerith_dot_com 12 August 2010 04:59:21PM *  3 points [-]

The level of discourse [on Hacker News] might not be quite up to LW, but the subject matter is a lot more inclusive.

I find it strange that you would say that. (And I've read a lot of Hacker News.)

Given an arbitrary aspect of reality (e.g., an aspect of human life or of the world around us) I think you are just as likely to be able to start a discussion of it here as on Hacker News if you can meet LW's higher standard for rationality.

In other words, I think Hacker News is simply more tolerant of worthless ways of discussing topics, not tolerant of more topics.

(Of course, Hacker News is more worthwhile than most places on the web.)

Comment author: MichaelVassar 12 August 2010 04:12:03PM 1 point [-]

I just found it, and I'll probably be disappointed, but http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/philg/ looks pretty good so far.

Comment author: gwern 18 August 2010 11:26:54AM 0 points [-]

I've read PG for a year or three now, and he's very one-note - railing against government waste and repression of business, and he's not the most rigorous or deep libertarian thinker I've ever read. I keep reading because every so often he writes about something like more efficient higher-education or why women aren't in STEM fields in large numbers which is worth all the dross.