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eagain 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: eagain 23 January 2017 07:57:47PM 4 points [-]

Hi. I used to have an LW account and post sometimes, and when the site kinda died down I deleted the account. I'm posting back now.

We claim to have some of the sharpest thinkers in the world, but for some reason shun discussing politics. Too difficult, we're told. A mindkiller! This cost us Yvain/Scott who cited it as one of his reasons for starting slatestarcodex, which now dwarfs LW.

Please do not start discussing politics without enforcing a real-names policy and taking strong measures against groupthink, bullying, and most especially brigading from outside. The basic problem with discussing politics on the internet is that the normal link between a single human being and a single political voice is broken. You end up with a homogeneous "consensus" in the "community" that reflects whoever is willing to spend more effort on spam and disinformation. You wanted something like a particularly high-minded Parliament, you got 4chan.

I have strong opinions about politics and also desire to discuss the topic, which is indeed boiling to a crisis point, in a more rationalist way. However, I also moderate several subreddits, and whenever politics intersects with one of our subs, we have to start banning people every few hours to keep from being brigaded to death.

I advise allowing just enough politics to discuss the political issues tangent to other, more basic rationalist wheelhouses: allow talking about global warming in the context of civilization-scale risks, allow talking about science funding and state appropriation of scientific output in the context of AI risk and AI progress, allow talking about fiscal multipliers to state spending in the context of effective altruism.

Don't go beyond that. There are people who love to put an intellectual veneer over deeply bad ideas, and they raid basically any forum on the internet nowadays that talks politics, doesn't moderate a tight ship, and allows open registration.

And in general, the watchword for a rationality community ought to be that most of the time, contrarians are wrong, and in fact boring as well. Rationality should be distinguished from intellectual contrarianism -- this is a mistake we made last time, and suffered for.

Comment author: Lumifer 23 January 2017 08:42:54PM 2 points [-]

enforcing a real-names policy

Ha-ha

I have strong opinions about politics and also desire to discuss the topic

You seem to have a desire to discuss the topic only in a tightly controlled environment where you get to establish the framework and set the rules.

Comment author: gjm 24 January 2017 02:52:13AM 0 points [-]

I didn't see anything in eagain's comment that demanded that he[1] get to establish the framework and set the rules.

(It is easy, and cheap, to portray any suggestion that there should be rules as an attempt to get to set them. Human nature being what it is, this will at least sometimes be at least partly right. I don't see that that means that having rules isn't sometimes a damn good idea.)

[1] Apologies if I guessed wrong.

Comment author: Lumifer 24 January 2017 03:13:49AM 0 points [-]

Eagain knows which ideas are "deeply bad" and he's quite certain they need to be excluded from the conversation.

Comment author: eagain 02 February 2017 05:14:30AM 0 points [-]

I didn't say excluded from the conversation. I said exposed to the bright, glaring sunlight of factual rigor.

Comment author: Lumifer 02 February 2017 04:29:57PM *  0 points [-]

I said exposed to the bright, glaring sunlight of factual rigor.

These words do not appear anywhere in your comment. Instead you said:

I advise allowing just enough politics to discuss the political issues tangent to other, more basic rationalist wheelhouses ... Don't go beyond that. There are people who love to put an intellectual veneer over deeply bad ideas, and they raid basically any forum on the internet

"Don't go beyond that" seems to mean not allowing those politics and the bad-idea raiders. "Not allowing" does not mean "expose to sunlight", it means "exclude".

Comment author: snewmark 02 February 2017 06:00:12PM 0 points [-]

I'm not sure if this what eagain was alluding to, but this does seem advisable; Do not permit (continuous) debates of recognizably bad ideas.

I admit this is difficult to enforce, but stating that rule will, in my opinion, color the intended purpose of this website.

Comment author: Lumifer 02 February 2017 06:15:49PM *  0 points [-]

The word "bad" looks to be doing all the heavy lifting in here.

Comment author: TheAncientGeek 02 February 2017 01:18:32PM 0 points [-]

Which isnt being done because of what...? Widespread stupidity?

Comment author: gjm 24 January 2017 03:16:19AM 0 points [-]

Perhaps he does. It wouldn't exactly be an uncommon trait. However, there is a gap between thinking that some particular ideas are very bad and we'd be better off without them, and insisting on setting the rules of debate oneself, and it is not honest to claim that someone is doing the latter merely because you are sure they must be doing the former.

Comment author: Lumifer 24 January 2017 03:27:12AM *  0 points [-]

This thread is about setting the rules for discussions, isn't it? Eagain is talking in the context of specifying in which framework discussing politics can be made to work on LW.

Comment author: gjm 24 January 2017 03:41:26AM 0 points [-]

Yup. That is (I repeat) not the same thing as insisting that he get to establish the framework and set the rules.

(It seems to me that with at least equal justice someone could complain that you are determined to establish the framework and set the rules; it's just that you prefer no framework and no rules. I don't know whether that actually is your preference, but it seems to me that there's as much evidence for it as there is for some of what you are saying about eagain's mental state.)

Comment author: Lumifer 24 January 2017 05:21:33AM 0 points [-]

And yet I'm not telling LW how to set up discussions...

Comment author: gjm 24 January 2017 11:47:56AM 4 points [-]

Aren't you? I mean, you're not making concrete proposals yourself, of course; I don't think I have ever seen you make a concrete constructive proposal about anything, as opposed to objecting to other people's. But looking at the things you object to and the things you don't, it seems to me that you're taking a position on how LW's discussions should be just as much as eagain is; you're just expressing it by objecting to things that diverge from it, rather than by stating it explicitly.

Comment author: entirelyuseless 24 January 2017 02:38:45PM 3 points [-]

Lumifer seems to object to things because he finds it enjoyable to object to things, and this is a good explanation for why he objects to things rather than making his own proposals. But this means that he is not necessarily taking a position on how discussion should be, since he would be likely to object to both a proposal and its opposite, just because it would still be fun to object.

Comment author: eagain 04 February 2017 04:06:47PM 0 points [-]

I don't think I have ever seen you make a concrete constructive proposal about anything, as opposed to objecting to other people's.

Hmm. That sounds like a nice rule: anyone who spends all their posting efforts on objecting to other people's ideas without putting forth anything constructive of their own shall be banned, or at least downvoted into oblivion.

Comment author: Lumifer 24 January 2017 04:14:13PM 0 points [-]

The thing is, I understand the difference between argument points and policy proposals. These are very very different creatures.

Comment author: gjm 24 January 2017 02:49:25AM 0 points [-]

You end up with a homogeneous "consensus" in the "community" that reflects whoever is willing to spend more effort on spam and disinformation.

I remark that this is not a million miles from what Eugine_Nier tried to do, and unfortunately he was not entirely unsuccessful. (Though he didn't get nearly as far as producing a homogeneous consensus in favour of his ideas.)

Comment author: Elo 23 January 2017 08:20:30PM 0 points [-]

I would rather politics happen in all those other places you mentioned.