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sarahconstantin comments on On the importance of Less Wrong, or another single conversational locus - Less Wrong

84 Post author: AnnaSalamon 27 November 2016 05:13PM

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Comment author: sarahconstantin 27 November 2016 10:14:51AM 35 points [-]

I applaud this and am already participating by crossposting from my blog and discussing.

One thing that I like about using LW as a home base is that everyone knows what it is, for good and for ill. This has the practical benefit of not needing further software development before we can get started on the hard problem of attracting high-quality users. It also has the signaling benefit of indicating clearly that we're "embracing our roots", including reclaiming the negative stereotypes of LessWrongers. (Nitpicky, nerdy, utopian, etc.)

I am unusual in this community in taking "the passions" really seriously, rather than identifying as being too rational to be caught up in them. One of my more eccentric positions has long been that we ought to be a tribe. For all but a few unusual individuals, humans really want to belong to groups. If the group of people who explicitly value reason is the one group that refuses to have "civic pride" or similar community-spirited emotions, then this is not good news for reason. Pride in who we are as a community, pride in our distinctive characteristics, seems to be a necessity, in a cluster of people who aspire to do better than the general public; it's important to have ways to socially reinforce and maintain that higher standard.

Having a website of "our" own is useful for practical purposes, but it also has the value of reinforcing an online locus for the community, which defines, unifies, and distinguishes us. Ideally, our defining "place" will also be a good website where good discussion happens. I think this is a better outcome than group membership being defined by "what parties in Berkeley you get invited to" or "whose FB-friends list you're on" or the other informal social means that have been used as stopgap proxy measures for ingroupiness. People are going to choose demarcations. Why not try to steer the form of those demarcations towards something like "virtue"?

Comment author: Qiaochu_Yuan 30 November 2016 07:52:14PM 0 points [-]

One of my more eccentric positions has long been that we ought to be a tribe.

Oof, is this really an eccentric position? FWIW, I am extremely convinced that the rationalist community ought to be a tribe, and one of the biggest updates I made at the CFAR reunion was seeing what felt to me like evidence that we were becoming more functional along tribey directions that I really wanted.

Comment author: TheAncientGeek 04 December 2016 01:19:25PM 2 points [-]

WIW, I am extremely convinced that the rationalist community ought to be a tribe,

Why?

Comment author: Qiaochu_Yuan 06 December 2016 03:25:41AM 4 points [-]

In short, because I think tribes are the natural environments in which humans live, and that ignoring that fact produces unhappy and dysfunctional humans.

Comment author: TheAncientGeek 06 December 2016 08:51:25AM 4 points [-]

There's a logic gap there. You are assuming that rationalists don't have pre-existing tribes, that they won't be in any tribe if they are not in the rationalist tribe. And you are assuming that rationalists need to be in a rationality tribe in order to be rational ... arguably, it works the other way..tribalism enhances group think bias, and so lowers the rationality level, on the whole.