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RobinHanson 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: RobinHanson 27 November 2016 06:31:46PM 20 points [-]

I have serious doubts about the basic claim that "the rationalist community" is so smart and wise and on to good stuff compared to everyone else that it should focus on reading and talking to each other at the expense of reading others and participating in other conversations. There are obviously cultish in-group favoring biases pushing this way, and I'd want strong evidence before I attributed this push to anything else.

Comment author: sarahconstantin 27 November 2016 06:53:31PM 15 points [-]

I don't think that a reboot/revival of LW necessarily has to consist entirely of the people who were in the community before. If we produce good stuff, we can attract new people. A totally new site with new branding might get rid of some of the negative baggage of the past, but is also less likely to get off the ground in the first place. Making use of what already exists is the conservative choice.

I hear you as saying that people here should focus on learning rather than leadership. I think both are valuable, but that there's a lack of leadership online, and my intuition is to trust "forward momentum", carrying something forward even if I do not think I am optimally qualified. He who hesitates is lost, etc.

Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 28 November 2016 05:46:45AM *  6 points [-]

I see Anna making the same complaint that you yourself have made a few times: namely, that most online discussions are structured in a way that makes the accumulation of knowledge difficult. (My explanation: no one has an incentive to fix this.)

Is the fact that economists mostly cite each other evidence of "cultish in-group favoring biases"? Probably to some degree. But this hasn't fatally wounded economics.

Comment author: Venryx 13 August 2017 01:51:53AM 1 point [-]

"most online discussions are structured in a way that makes the accumulation of knowledge difficult."

It's a different kind of conversation, but I've been trying to improve on this problem by developing a "debate mapping" website, where conversation is structured in tree form based on claims, and then arguments underneath it which support or oppose each claim recursively.

This is the website if you're interested: https://debatemap.live

Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 30 August 2017 12:51:03AM *  2 points [-]

Glad to see you're working on this, it looks pretty nice!

I think the bottleneck for efforts like this is typically marketing, not code. (Analogy: If you want to found a city, the first step is not to go off alone in to the wilderness and build a bunch of houses.) I think I've seen other argument mapping sites, and it seems like every few months someone announces a new & improved discussion website on SlateStarCodex (then it proceeds to not get traction). I suspect the solution is to form a committee/"human kickstarter" of some kind so that everyone who's interested in this problem can coordinate to populate the same site simultaneously. For a project like yours that already has code, the best approach might be to try to join forces with a blogger who already has traffic, or a discussion site that already has a demand for a debate map, or something like that.

Comment author: TheAncientGeek 30 August 2017 11:54:48AM 0 points [-]

Seconded.

Comment author: TheAncientGeek 28 November 2016 02:24:13PM 0 points [-]

Is the fact that economists mostly cite each other evidence of "cultish in-group favoring biases"?

The behaviour of the Austrian School certainly is.

Comment author: ingres 28 November 2016 08:38:10PM 4 points [-]

Spot on in my opinion, and one of the many points I was trying to get at with the 2016 LW Survey. For example, this community seems to have basically ignored Tetlock's latest research, relegating it to the status of a "good book" that SSC reviewed. I wish I'd included a 'never heard of it' button on the communities question because I suspect the vast majority of LessWrongers have never heard of the Good Judgement Project.

I've long felt that Eliezer Yudkowsky's sequences could use somebody going over them with a highlighter and filling in the citations for all the books and papers he borrowed from.

Comment author: Raemon 12 December 2016 02:41:44AM 4 points [-]

I've long felt that Eliezer Yudkowsky's sequences could use somebody going over them with a highlighter and filling in the citations for all the books and papers he borrowed from.

This happened, FYI, in the sequences ebook.

Comment author: scarcegreengrass 28 November 2016 07:26:51PM 4 points [-]

I have similar uncertainty about the large-scale benefits of lesswrong.com, but on smaller scales i do think the site was very valuable. I've never seen a discussion forum as polite, detailed, charitable, & rigorous as the old Less Wrong.