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RobbBB comments on Politics is hard mode - Less Wrong

28 Post author: RobbBB 21 July 2014 10:14PM

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Comment author: RobbBB 22 July 2014 01:59:12AM *  5 points [-]

Because 'politics is hard mode' is closer to the truth, and less likely to offend, it's harder to argue against.

(To the extent 'politics is the mind-killer' is the harder one to argue against, it's probably because it's hard to tell what that catchphrase means, so it's easier to just nod along. 'Something something politics bad thing. Gotcha.' But I'm not sure obscurantism is a good strategy here.)

And once 'politics is hard mode' is granted as a premise, it too conveys 'it's not you; it's all of us', and in a way that's harder to resist. Someone who proceeds to talk politics anyway is then making a claim to a special, privileged status: they're saying they're masterful enough at epistemic rationality to handle hard mode. They'll have to proceed with caution if they don't want to come off as arrogant and overconfident; and they'll have to be on their best behavior in light of having implicitly invited everyone else to judge whether they're as great as they claim to be. Egalitarian instincts can be used as tools for rationality.

If instead you get the group to accept 'politics is the mind-killer,' and some subset of the group starts talking about politics, they aren't claiming to have a high-status expertise, of the sort people can safely demand evidence for. Instead, they're claiming to lack a disease/disability/weakness/flaw, and if you question their lack of this flaw, you're insulting and attacking them.

Doubting someone's diseaselessness and doubting someone's extraordinary excellence feel very different, even if you have a belief floating around your brain to the effect 'lacking this disease would demand extraordinary excellence,' or 'this disease is humanly universal'. You can say 'we are all sinners', but in practice accusing someone of a sin, framed as a sin, is still a pretty big faux pas. Pulling it off effectively requires a lot of rapport / social superpowers / group cohesion. Part of the lesson I'd like to see generalized from my post is that we should replace fragile memes (ones that work well when they work, but fail gracelessly) with ones that fail better when something goes wrong.