# Insert_Idionym_Here comments on Mandatory Secret Identities - Less Wrong

23 08 April 2009 06:10PM

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Comment author: 11 August 2012 11:02:22PM *  0 points [-]

If you have "something to protect", if your desire to be rational is driven by something outside of itself, what is the point of having a secret identity? If each student has that something, each student has a reason to learn to be rational -- outside of having their own rationality dojo someday -- and we manage to dodge that particular failure mode. Is having a secret identity a particular way we could guarantee that each rationality instructor has "something to protect"?

Comment author: 11 August 2012 11:42:07PM *  3 points [-]

Failure mode: My "something to protect" is to spread rationality throughout the world and to raise the sanity waterline, which is best achieved by having my own rationality dojo.

Beware the meta.

Comment author: 12 August 2012 03:42:32AM 0 points [-]

I agree. I think that failure mode might then be better avoided by restricting possible "somethings", as opposed to adding another requirement on to one's reasons for wanting to be rational.

Comment author: 12 August 2012 05:13:04PM 1 point [-]

Yes, but that's an exercise implicitly left to the reader. Formulating it this way is somewhat intuitively easier to understand, and if you've read the other sequences this should be simple enough to reduce to something that pretty much fits (restriction of "things to protect") in beliefspace.

Essentially, this article, the way I understand it, mostly points at an "empirical cluster in conceptspace" of possible failure modes, and proposes possible solutions to some of them, so that the reader can deduce and infer the empirical cluster of solutions to those failure modes.

The general rule could be put as "Make rationality your best means, but never let it become an end in any way." - though I suspect that I'm making a generalization that's a bit too simplistic here. I've been reading the sequences in jumbled order, and I'm particularly bad at reduction, which is one of the Sequences I haven't finished reading yet.

Comment author: 29 September 2012 02:56:49AM 2 points [-]

It's very easy to believe that you're being driven by something outside yourself, while primarily being driven by self-image. It's also very easy to incorrectly believe this about someone else.

Comment author: 29 September 2012 03:30:55AM 1 point [-]

Sometimes I wonder if the only people who aren't driven primarily by self-image/status-seeking are sociopaths (the closest human analogue of UFAI).

Comment author: 29 September 2012 04:23:04AM 6 points [-]

Sometimes I wonder if the only people who aren't driven primarily by self-image/status-seeking are sociopaths

My understanding of sociopaths makes this seem like approximately the opposite of true. It is the drives other than seeking self-image and status that are under-functioning in sociopaths.

Comment author: 29 September 2012 04:59:02AM 3 points [-]

What then do you call someone like the Joker from Batman -- someone who cares not at all how they fit into or are perceived by human society, except as instrumental to gaining whatever (non-human-relationship-based) thrill or fix they are after?

Comment author: 29 September 2012 05:16:06AM 7 points [-]

Fictional?

Comment author: 29 September 2012 10:46:36AM -1 points [-]

Fictional?

Beat me to the exact one word reply I was about to make!

Comment author: 29 September 2012 01:27:01PM 2 points [-]

The reply is a non-sequitur, because even if one accepted the implied unlikely propsition that no such persons exist or ever have existed, the terminological question would remain.

Comment author: 29 September 2012 09:09:47PM 9 points [-]

even if one accepted the implied unlikely propsition that no such persons exist or ever have existed, the terminological question would remain

I don't think so: psychiatry has no need for terms that fail to refer. (On the other hand, psychiatry might have a term for something that doesn't exist--because it once was thought to have existed.)

Comment author: 30 September 2012 02:39:17AM 0 points [-]

psychiatry has no need for terms that fail to refer

At the risk of stating the obvious: I did not intend to restrict the terminological question to psychiatry specifically.

But in any event: you could say the same thing about zoology. And yet we still have the word unicorn.

Comment author: 29 September 2012 03:58:05PM 1 point [-]

The reply is a non-sequitur, because even if one accepted the implied unlikely propsition that no such persons exist or ever have existed, the terminological question would remain.

Your understanding of the "non-sequitur" fallacy is evidently flawed. You asked a question. The answer you got is not only a literally correct answer that follows from the question it is practically speaking the It isn't non-sequitur. It's the most appropriate answer to a question that constitutes a rhetorical demand that the reader must generalize from fictional evidence.

But you want another answer as well? Let's try:

What then do you call someone like the Joker from Batman -- someone who cares not at all how they fit into or are perceived by human society

This question does not make sense. The Joker isn't someone who doesn't care how they are perceived. He is obsessed with his perception to the extent that he, well, dresses up as the freaking Joker and all of his schemes prioritize displaying the desired image over achievement over pragmatic achievement of whatever end he is seeking. No, he cares a hell of a lot about status and perception and chooses to seek infamy rather than adoration.

except as instrumental to gaining whatever (non-human-relationship-based) thrill or fix they are after?

Thrill seeking fix? That's a symptom of psychiatric problems for sure, but not particularly sociopathy.

Some labels that could be applied to The Joker: Bipolar, Schizophrenic, Antisocial Personality Disorder. Sociopath doesn't really capture him but could be added as an adjunct to one (probably two) of those.

Comment author: 30 September 2012 12:19:43AM 7 points [-]

Charitable interpretation of komponisto's comment: ‘If a human didn't care about social status except instrumentally, what would be the psychiatric classification for them?’ (Charitable interpretation of nshepperd's comment: ‘Outside of fiction, such people are so vanishingly rare that it'd be pointless to introduce a word for them.’)

Comment author: 29 September 2012 08:37:43PM *  5 points [-]

It's the most appropriate answer to a question that constitutes a rhetorical demand that the reader must generalize from fictional evidence. (Last four words hyperlinked.)

There was no demand to "generalize" from fictional evidence, except to recognize the theoretical possibility a sociopathic character who is indifferent to status concerns.

The intended question is whether such characters can exist and if so what's their diagnosis. Your response "fictional" would be reasonable if you went on to say, "that's a fiction; such a pathology doesn't exist in the real world." Or at least, "It's atypical" or "it's rare''; "sociopaths usually go for status." Or, to go with your revised approach, "psychopaths go for status as they perceive it, but it doesn't necessarily conform to what other people consider status." (This approach risks depriving "status" of any meaning beyond "narcissistic gratification.")

The answer, anyway, is that psychopaths have an exaggerated need to feel superior. When they fail at traditional status seeking, they shift their criteria away from what other people think. They have a sense of grandiosity, but this can have little to do with ordinary social status. Psychopaths are apt to be at both ends of the distribution with regard to seeking the ordinary markers of status.

Objectionable personal psychological interpretation removed at 2:38 p.m.

Comment author: 29 September 2012 01:47:06PM 0 points [-]

His behavior is not consistent with what is generally described as sociopathy. Again, Ronson's book may help here.

Comment author: 29 September 2012 02:19:03PM 1 point [-]

So again, what would be the term for the (apparently distinct) phenomenon that I mean to refer to? Is this covered in Ronson's book as well (presumably for purposes of contrast)?

Comment author: 29 September 2012 03:36:53AM 4 points [-]

Sociopaths care a lot about status, and the most extreme sociopaths respond to attempts to reduce their status with violence. I strongly suggest Jon Ronson's "The Psychopath Test" for a highly informative and amusing introduction to psychopathy/sociopathy and its symptoms.