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For that matter, try being born into the Church, not going on a mission at the prescribed age, but then still belonging to the Mormon church. Two degrees of dissent there.
Or try being a non-Republican Mormon, cohabitating with crazy right-wingers who think it's a Good Idea to shut down Planned Parenthood.
For that matter, try being a bisexual in the Mormon church. (Or a furry!) You can't talk about your sense of identity without your Mormon friends judging you, but you can't talk about your religion with your non-Mormon friends because they'll consider you a hypocrite.
But you know what's interesting? In each of the above situations, all of which apply (or have applied in the past) to me, I can think of someone else I know who's in the same situation.
With seven billion people on this planet, is it really possible to dissent in a "unique" way?
This is not meant to detract from Yudkowsky's post; he himself said "there are [others] in the world, somewhere, but they aren't there next to you. You have to explain it, alone, to people who just think it's weird". But it's an interesting thought. Reminds me of the saying: "In China, if you're one-in-a-million, there are a thousand of you".
That's what the internet has given us more than anything. The ability to find others willing to dissent on the same level and its why its probably the greatest technological advancement our species has made so far (barring moon landing and possibly cryonics).
I'm somewhat ambivalent about this. The Internet makes it much easier to find like opinions, but that capability can be used just as easily to reinforce existing biases as to dissolve them, a privilege previously available only to the cultural mainstream in a given region. That does make forming or belonging to a subculture a lot easier -- and the Internet seems to be pushing out mass culture in its ~1945 to ~1995 form, as a result -- but it's not as easy to conclude that it makes people's opinions on average any more adaptive.
I suppose we can expect a polyculture to be more resistant to infection, at least. That's a plus.
I was more focused on its influence on myself :) however seeing the tragedy of the Gifford's shooting and other home grown terrorists i guess i should take the value with a grain of salt.
That's an interesting point... so if we define thusly:
then we can conclude that the internet, and indeed the advent of mass long-distance communication in general, serves to augment the strength of "Abnormal"... regardless of "Abnormal"'s moral value with respect to the "cultural mainstream"?
Well, the same process is happening for everyone (at different rates depending on how much weight they give to user-directed long-distance communication relative to face-to-face or mass media), not just to Toni. It's less that that communication style makes everyone more perverse relative to the cultural mainstream and more that it weakens the concept of a cultural mainstream by making other viewpoints more accessible.
The main point I was trying to make, though, is that this isn't necessarily adaptive even if you make the assumption that cultural conformity isn't. By making the loci of culture self-organizing rather than depending largely on extrinsic factors like geographical chance, you make it easier for any given person to find a culture that suits their needs, but also remove many of the barriers to cult attractors.
Well, yes, that's true. So what's the net result? Maximum entropy? Everyone ends up evenly spread out across value-space? If that's the case, then what basis do we have for a sense of morality in the first place? Or does the force of Affective Death Spirals cause valuepoints to gravitate toward each other, forming factionalization? That's difficult to imagine, though, because someone can belong to two different, even generically (though not in fact) opposing, factions: Gay and Republican, Mormon and Rationalist.
Predict the future. Go. :P
EDIT: How do you feel about the hypothesis that the distance between a valuepoint and the "mainstream" valuepoint correlates positively with the susceptibility of that valuepoint to an Affective Death Spiral? I.e., people are more adamant about holding beliefs that are more "weird".
I'd keep morality out of this discussion entirely, to be honest. It tends to obscure more than it illuminates when talking about cultural dynamics.
Okay, so forget morality. What does the shape of valuespace end up looking like? Maximum entropy? Factionalization? Or one new cultural mainstream, in a different place in valuespace than the previous one?
I think we can safely rule out a single cultural mainstream -- our cultural architecture post-Internet would make one unstable, since it makes any opposition visible and self-reinforcing. About the only way for one to exist would be if human preference space turns out to be narrow enough to accommodate only one when sufficiently analyzed, which given what we know about minds I very much doubt is the case. Maximum entropy doesn't seem much more likely, since it also seems unstable in view of human alliance-seeking behavior.
That leaves factionalism -- but that's a pretty broad spectrum, and there are too many unknowns for me to make solid predictions about where points in value-space will end up clustering, if they ever stabilize at all. I don't think the conflicting value systems you describe are much of a barrier, though; people might have an impressive capacity for cognitive dissonance, but they don't have an infinite one.
Oh yes, well, I wouldn't expect any actual predictions at this point. :3 That would be rather difficult. But I agree that factionalism is the Most Likely Scenario; vocal dissent will work against minimum entropy, and alliance-seeking will work against maximum entropy.
The analogy of the formation of stars and planets keeps coming to mind, but I think that might be just noise.
The problem with factionalism is that group psychology tends to lead to inter-faction wars... do you think this is likely to be a legitimate, real-world problem in the future?
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