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Caspar42 comments on Intellectual Hipsters and Meta-Contrarianism - Less Wrong

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

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Comment author: Caspar42 11 November 2017 08:56:34AM *  0 points [-]

Great post, obviously.

You argue that signaling often leads to distribution of intellectual positions following this pattern: in favor of X with simple arguments / in favor of Y with complex arguments / in favor of something like X with simple arguments

I think it’s worth noting that the pattern of position often looks different. For example, there is: in favor of X with simple arguments / in favor of Y with complex arguments / in favor of something like X with surprising and even more sophisticated and hard-to-understand arguments

In fact, I think many of your examples follow the latter pattern. For example, the market efficiency arguments in favor of libertarianism seem harder-to-understand and more sophisticated than most arguments for liberalism. Maybe it fits your pattern better if libertarianism is justified purely on the basis of expert opinion.

Similarly, the justification for the “meta-contrarian” position in "don't care about Africa / give aid to Africa / don't give aid to Africa" is more sophisticated than the reasons for the contrarian or naive positions.

But as has been pointed out, along with the gigantic cost, death does have a few small benefits. It lowers overpopulation, it allows the new generation to develop free from interference by their elders, it provides motivation to get things done quickly.

I’m not sure whether the overpopulation is a good example. I think in many circles that point would signal naivety and people would respond by something deep-sounding about how life is sacred. (The same is true for “it’s good if old people die because that saves money and allows the government to build more schools”.) Here, too, I would argue that your pattern doesn’t quite describe the set of commonly held positions, as it omits the naive pro-death position.