Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

rstarkov comments on Taboo Your Words - Less Wrong

71 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 15 February 2008 10:53PM

You are viewing a comment permalink. View the original post to see all comments and the full post content.

Comments (128)

Sort By: Old

You are viewing a single comment's thread.

Comment author: rstarkov 08 February 2013 07:52:42AM *  2 points [-]

I've first read this about two years ago and it has been an invaluable tool. I'm sure it has saved countless hours of pointless arguments around the world.

When I realise that an inconsistency in how we interpret a specific word is a problem in a certain argument and apply this tool, it instantly transforms arguments which actually are about the meaning of the word to make them a lot more productive (it turns out it can be unobvious that the actual disagreement is about what a specific word means). In other cases it just helps get back on the right track instead of getting distracted by what we mean when we say a certain word that is actually beside the point.

It does occasionally take a while to convince the other party to the argument that I'm not trying to fool or trick them when I ask for us to apply this method. Another observation is that the article on Empty Labels has transformed my attitude towards the meaning of words, so when it turns out we disagree about meanings, I instantly lose interest and this can confuse the other party.