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James3 comments on How to Convince Me That 2 + 2 = 3 - Less Wrong

53 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 27 September 2007 11:00PM

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Comment author: James3 28 September 2007 12:15:33AM 2 points [-]

I am a jew (born and raised). I can easily imagine that if I were raised in the muslim world to a muslim family that I would be a muslim today. However, were I born to a christian family (and perhaps this is simply my inner biases talking) I suspect that I would have been attracted to various aspect of the Jewish religion which are not present (or not nearly as strong) in christianity, like the idea of a "contract with God".

In full disclosure, I do not continue to call myself a Jew because I believe the Torah to be more likely than any other mainstream religious text, but because I find the ethical framework to be superior.

Comment author: yaro 22 June 2012 09:51:16PM -1 points [-]

Christians substitute the heavy yoke of the law for a lighter burden (faith and hope) in Christ. So yes, you can appreciate a more rigorous ethical code, but Christians wish not to live under the law. You can call it weakness but I think it is humility grounded in the realization that we all know the good we ought to do but fail in doing, and the bad we hate we find ourselves doing.

If a superior ethical framework makes it easy to do that good and shun that evil, we're back to keeping contracts with God and herein lies the real challenge - contracts are hard to keep and easy to break. What you have is a student with a textbook who has to get a perfect score on a test. I'd prefer a test where I don't need a perfect score to pass, and even better if the professor (Jesus) takes it for me. This my concept of Christianity and I hope other Christians will agree.

Comment author: Alicorn 22 June 2012 09:52:09PM 0 points [-]

This probably isn't the website for you.

Comment author: roland 22 June 2012 10:07:08PM 11 points [-]

Are you sure Alicorn? As a former christian now atheist thanks to LW(especially EY's writings) I've learned a lot here.

Comment author: Alicorn 22 June 2012 10:16:18PM 5 points [-]

I wouldn't turn away arbitrary Christians, but this one in particular at least needs to lurk more and would probably be better served by a different website with more basic material and a different mix in the audience.

Comment author: roland 22 June 2012 10:20:06PM 6 points [-]

Well, he just wrote one comment so I'm wondering how you arrived at that conclusion. Wouldn't it be better to give some positive reinforcement to newcomers?

Comment author: Alicorn 22 June 2012 10:28:14PM 10 points [-]

Yaro's comment is entirely about theology. It's actually an on-topic response to its immediate parent, but it appears completely isolated from any other context or relevance. It makes assertions and states opinions without demonstrating the underlying comprehension of productive argument that is necessary for a theist, or anyone, to make worthwhile comments (at least within a topic which is this kind of substantive matter of fact.)

Positive reinforcement is to reward behaviors that I would like to see continue. I think the gap between yaro's level and the level I want to see on this site is big enough that it is not worth a reinforcement project.

Comment author: roland 22 June 2012 10:40:45PM 4 points [-]


Good effort, you are almost there, if you used the explanation you gave above to Yaro he probably would be more enlightened than by "this is not the right website for you."

Quoting from The Power of Reinforcement:

The reason you should ignore poor performance if you say "No, you're doing it wrong!" you are inadvertently punishing the effort. A better response to a mistake would be to reinforce the effort: "Good effort! You're almost there! Try once more."

In spite of his comment being not in line, why not praise the effort, especially considering that this was his first comment on LW. I'm assuming he did an honest effort to present his point of view, why not praise that and point out the way this site works?

Comment author: Alicorn 22 June 2012 11:18:58PM 5 points [-]

I do not wish to reward yaro's effort, and thereby get more of it. I believe that more of yaro's effort here would result in more comments that are of comparable quality and topicality at least for a prolonged learning curve, and do not believe that the project of nudging them towards improvement is worth community time.

Please don't use an article about the use of reward to encourage good behavior as a way to say that all behavior is worth rewarding.

Good effort, you are almost there


Dude. Subtlety?

Comment author: RichardKennaway 23 June 2012 07:46:51AM 0 points [-]

You quoted this:

A better response to a mistake would be to reinforce the effort: "Good effort! You're almost there! Try once more."

and previously said of the larger passage:

Now that we all know this, shouldn't we abolish downvotes?

But when you tried it out:


Good effort, you are almost there

this was her response:

Good effort, you are almost there


Dude. Subtlety?

Didn't work. Shall I praise your effort and urge you to do better next time? Would that work for you any better than it did for Alicorn?

Comment author: keen 01 October 2012 02:15:54AM 1 point [-]

We hardly have enough evidence after just one attempt. Additionally, subtlety is a form of deceit, and not generally encouraged in rational discussion.

Anyway, my complaint would have to be toward the out-of-hand dismissal of yaro's post, rather than offering a substantive disagreement or at least a link regarding the perceived flaws in yaro's argument. That's proper rationalist encouragement. No subtlety required.

Comment author: TimS 22 June 2012 10:30:52PM 2 points [-]

Reinforcement is for things one wants more off. I can't say I want more posts without knowing something about the content. In this case, I think Alicorn is right that this poster is not ready to contribute things this community would find valuable.