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Matt_Simpson comments on Intellectual Hipsters and Meta-Contrarianism - Less Wrong

148 Post author: Yvain 13 September 2010 09:36PM

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Comment author: Matt_Simpson 14 September 2010 09:50:24PM 5 points [-]

I think about the counter-signaling game a bit differently. Consider some question that has a binary answer - e.g. a yes/no question?. Natural prejudices or upbringing might cause most people to say pick, say, yes. Then someone thinks about the question and for reason r1 switches to no. Someone else who agrees with r1 then comes up with reason r2, and switches back to yes. Then r3 causes a switch back to no, ad infinitum.

Even though the conclusion at each point in the hierarchy is indistinguishable from a conclusion somewhere else in the hierarchy, the reason someone holds their conclusion still separates them from people on other levels with the same conclusion. So the reasoning is the signal.

For example, consider the God question. The hierarchy might go something like this:

  1. Believe in God by default
  2. Don't believe because of the character of the typical believer
  3. Believe because character of believers is irrelevant to God's existence
  4. Don't believe because can't find a reason to believe (burden of proof on believers)
  5. Believe because of design argument
  6. Don't believe because of flaw in design argument
  7. Believe because of evidence
  8. Don't believe because of occam's razor

Someone on the 8th level of the hierarchy doesn't need to worry about being confused with someone on the 4th level since the 4th level doesn't properly understand occam's razor and couldn't use it as a reason for not believing.

Thinking about intellectual signalling like this, I definitely take pleasure in being higher in the hierarchy - i.e. being a counter-counter-counter-...-counter-signaler. And I also find it disturbing when someone has a reason that I hadn't considered yet. They're farther up than me!

Comment author: ChristianKl 17 September 2010 11:03:36AM 1 point [-]

Nassim Taleb's makes an argument that he believes on God by default and he is widely seen as a rational person. I don't think it makes sense to see his position as lower in the hierarchy than people who believe based on the design argument.

Comment author: Matt_Simpson 17 September 2010 12:41:16PM 3 points [-]

His belief by default is based on some sort of argument, not unthinking acceptance of whatever his parents told him. In other words, his "default belief" is not the same as my hierarchy's "default belief."

Comment author: nick012000 29 September 2010 10:01:31AM 0 points [-]

So, where would "Believe because of generalised Pascal's Wager" be on your hierarchy? ;)

Comment author: Matt_Simpson 29 September 2010 09:22:36PM 0 points [-]

I'm not sure what the "generalized" is doing, but normal pascal's wager would probably be right before or right after the design argument.