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SoullessAutomaton comments on Cached Selves - Less Wrong

174 Post author: AnnaSalamon 22 March 2009 07:34PM

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Comment author: SoullessAutomaton 23 March 2009 03:09:48AM 3 points [-]

For example, many of you write anonymously; what effects do you notice from doing so?

Within this community? Virtually none.

There is a difference between pseudonymity and anonymity. I may not attach my real name to posts here, but I would be deluding myself to think I could disregard external social pressures from within the communities where this handle is used. True anonymity is a very different beast.

Comment author: AnnaSalamon 23 March 2009 03:11:28AM *  1 point [-]

Thanks for the info. Have you tried writing with throw-away handles? Do you find you think differently under those circumstances?

Comment author: SoullessAutomaton 23 March 2009 03:28:20AM 3 points [-]

I am inclined to say that there's an increased tendency to regard dialogue as impersonal, as each truly anonymous post feels more like a one-shot contribution with no expectation of consistency or interaction, and a reduced tendency to identify directly with what you write. e.g., I may be more likely to post what I'm thinking in the moment without worrying about having to defend the position, or caring if I change my mind later. However, I strongly suspect there are confounding factors and I don't make a frequent habit of posting anonymously (Robin would probably suggest that I am too driven by status-seeking) so I can't speak terribly authoritatively on whether these impressions are accurate or if I'm repeating what I think "ought" to be the case.

For instance, one possible distracting issue is that group consensus seems to me more persuasive with increasingly anonymous discussions, and the resulting undercurrent of mob mentality presents an entirely different failure of rationality.

Comment author: CarlShulman 23 March 2009 03:27:57AM *  3 points [-]

I've used throwaway handles to argue for views that I'm not convinced of, both to shake myself out of consistency pressures/confirmation bias and to elicit good criticism. I find that the latter is particularly helpful.