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FloraFuture comments on Welcome to Less Wrong! (2012) - Less Wrong

25 Post author: orthonormal 26 December 2011 10:57PM

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Comment author: FloraFuture 30 March 2013 01:45:39AM 7 points [-]

Hi everyone,

A few of you have met me on Omegle. I finally signed up and made an account here like you guys suggested.

About me: I'm 26 years old, and my hobbies include creative writing and PC games. My favorite TV show is Rupaul's Drag Race.

I think I share almost all of the main positions that people tend to have in this community. But I actually find disagreements more interesting, so that's mainly what I'm here for. One of my passions in life is debating. I did debate team and that sort of thing when I was younger, but now I'm more interested in how to seriously persuade people, not just debating for show. I still have a lot of improving to do, though. If anyone wants to exchange notes or get some tips, then let me know.

Love,

Flora

Comment author: orthonormal 31 March 2013 04:54:08PM 2 points [-]

Hi Flora!

Re: debating and persuading, the reflexes you developed for convincing third parties to a debate can actually be counterproductive to persuading the person you're speaking with. For example, reciprocity can really help: the person you're talking with is much more likely to really listen and consider your points if you've openly ceded them a point first.

Practicing this has the nice side effect of making you pay more attention to their arguments and interpret them more charitably, increasing the chance that you learn something from your conversational partner in the process.

Comment author: FloraFuture 01 April 2013 01:28:52AM 1 point [-]

I totally agree with this. Really well said.

Comment author: MugaSofer 30 March 2013 10:14:03PM 1 point [-]

One of my passions in life is debating. I did debate team and that sort of thing when I was younger, but now I'm more interested in how to seriously persuade people, not just debating for show.

I'm going to be the first person to point out that your objective should be to come to the correct conclusion, not to persuade people, because if you can out-argue anyone who disagrees with you you'll never change your mind, and "not every change is an improvement, but every improvement is a change".

With that noted, persuasion is a useful skill, especially if you're more rational than the average bear. Cryonics, for example, is a good low-hanging fruit if you can just get people to sign up for it.

Comment author: ThrustVectoring 01 April 2013 01:14:07AM 0 points [-]

Cryonics, for example, is a good low-hanging fruit if you can just get people to sign up for it.

Modafinil is another good low-hanging fruit, as far as utilons/hedons per lifetime goes. Melatonin, too, and is less illegal.

Comment author: shminux 01 April 2013 02:48:16AM *  1 point [-]

Welcome!

Just wondering... How often (and about what) have you changed your mind about something big and important, as a result of a debate/discussion or just after some quiet contemplation?

Comment author: FloraFuture 03 April 2013 01:34:03AM 0 points [-]

Very, very often. Most of it is small steps, like minor adjustments, but a few debates/discussions have completely changed my thinking. I have definitely been wrong about a lot of things in the past. Some of my errors I have noticed through my own critical thinking. But I would say that most of my positions today have been shaped by how much I've let other people challenge them.

Comment author: FloraFuture 01 April 2013 01:24:41AM 0 points [-]

My objective is definitely to come to the correct conclusion. I know sometimes my positions win because other people can't argue their positions well, but without those debates, I have no way to really challenge my own ideas. I think as people go I tend to be self-critical, but even I can have blind spots. So I use debates to see if and where I have gone wrong. I've definitely gone wrong many times before.

I don't believe in persuasion as "trickery" -- I see it as more getting past the emotional barriers for a real, productive discussion.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 01 April 2013 02:38:32AM 2 points [-]

without those debates, I have no way to really challenge my own ideas.

It's also sometimes useful to arrange things - e.g., by making falsifiable predictions and comparing them to observed events -- so that observations of the world tend to correct our incorrect ideas.

Comment author: FloraFuture 03 April 2013 01:30:15AM 0 points [-]

You're right, but I don't think I'm alone in sometimes missing events that I should be taking into account, or not always being objective in the conclusions I make with them.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 03 April 2013 04:24:17AM 0 points [-]

I don't think I'm alone in sometimes missing events that I should be taking into account, or not always being objective in the conclusions I make with them.

Agreed.
Can you clarify the relationship between those things, on the one hand, and your belief that you can't challenge your own ideas without debates, on the other? I'm not sure I follow your reasoning here.

Comment author: FloraFuture 04 April 2013 09:05:05PM 1 point [-]

Sorry, I didn't mean to say that I can't challenge myself at all. In practice I do try to challenge myself. I am saying that debates, where other people challenge me, help me fill in the gaps where I miss things, or am not being objective.

Sometimes my inner dialogue says, "The way I'm thinking about this makes to me, and it seems logical and sound. I have tried but I can't think of anything wrong with it." And then I'll explain my reasoning to someone who disagrees, and they might say for example, "but you haven't considered this fact, or this possibility." And they're right, I haven't. That doesn't necessarily mean I'm wrong, or that they're right, but it does mean that I haven't been 100% effective at challenging myself to justify my own positions.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 05 April 2013 02:36:12AM 0 points [-]

I'll explain my reasoning to someone who disagrees, and they might say for example, "but you haven't considered this fact, or this possibility." And they're right, I haven't.

Ah, I see.

Yes, agreed, other people can frequently help clarify our thinking, e.g. by offering potentially relevant facts/possibilities we haven't considered. Absolutely.

That said, for my own part I would eliminate the modifier "who disagrees" from your sentence. It's equally true that people who agree with me can help clarify my thinking in that way, as can people who are neutral on the subject, or think the question is ill-formed in such a way that neither agreement nor disagreement is appropriate.

The whole "I assert something and you disagree and we argue" dynamic that comes along with framing the interaction as a "debate" seems like it gets in the way of my getting the thought-clarifying benefits in those cases, and is usually a sign that I'm concentrating more on status management than I am on clarifying my thinking, let alone on converging on true beliefs.

Comment author: FloraFuture 08 April 2013 06:40:03PM 0 points [-]

People who agree definitely can offer that, but people who disagree are going to be better at it and more motivated. They push you harder to strengthen your own reasoning and articulate it well. If you try to compare the two in practice I think you'll notice a huge difference. I think it can be uncomfortable sometimes to challenge and be challenged, but it doesn't need to be about status or putting other people down. In fact, it can be friendly and supportive. I really recommend it to people who enjoy critical thinking and want to challenge themselves in unexpected ways.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 08 April 2013 06:44:00PM 0 points [-]

If you try to compare the two in practice I think you'll notice a huge difference.

My experience is that in general arguing with people pushes me to articulate my positions in compelling ways. If I want to clarify my thinking, which is something altogether different, other techniques work better for me.

But, sure, I agree that arguing with articulate intelligent people who disagree with me pushes me harder to articulate my positions in compelling ways than arguing with people who lack those traits.

Comment author: Kawoomba 31 March 2013 05:17:02PM 0 points [-]

A few of you have met me on Omegle.

Ok, I'm interested. Describe what happened.

Comment author: FloraFuture 01 April 2013 01:27:51AM 0 points [-]

What do you mean? They were just friendly discussions, nothing super notable. I felt like all of them shared the same basic philosophy as me, so I felt like this was a community that I had a lot in common with.

Comment author: arundelo 01 April 2013 06:21:27PM 1 point [-]

Just in case you're not sure what Kawoomba's alluding to, Omegle has such a reputation for being used for sexual stuff that Kawoomba was surprised to learn people use it for nonsexual stuff.

Comment author: FloraFuture 03 April 2013 01:27:19AM 0 points [-]

lol that makes sense, I forget sometimes about Omegle's reputation

Comment author: Kawoomba 01 April 2013 10:34:11AM 0 points [-]

Didn't know you could have actual discourse on Omegle. I've only ever seen "happy" exchanges there, not friendly ones. I wonder if any of the LW pillars frequent Omegle ...