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

Comment author: Lumifer 13 April 2017 04:35:51PM 1 point [-]

being anti-normal in a way that frightens off anyone who already has strong mainstream social skills

Any quick examples before the long-form essay?

Comment author: Kisil 14 April 2017 05:33:45PM 2 points [-]

Sure. The biggest one is that when someone has poor social skills, we treat that as a thing to tolerate rather than as a thing to fix. E.g. someone shows up to a meetup and doesn't really get how conversation flow works, when it's time to talk and when it's time to listen, how to tell the difference between someone being interested in what ze has to say and someone just being polite. We're welcoming, at least outwardly, and encourage that person to keep showing up, so ze does. And the people who are both disinclined to be ranted to and who have the social skills to avoid the person learn to do so, but we don't seem to make any effort to help the person become less annoying. So ze continues to inflict zirself on newcomers who haven't learned better, and they walk away with the impression that that's what our community is.

Which is sad, because we spend plenty of time encouraging self-improvement in thinking skills. If we siphoned some effort from "notice you're confused" to "notice your audience", we should be able to encourage self-improvement in social skills as well. But since we don't treat it like something fixable, it doesn't get fixed.

Comment author: Raemon 02 April 2017 02:16:06AM 6 points [-]

I think it is both the case that:

1) a really valuable thing the community provides is a place to talk about ideas at a deep level. This is pretty rare, and it's valuable both to the sort of people who explicitly crave that, and (I believe), valuable to the world for generating ideas that are really important, and I do this this is something that is at risk of being destroyed if we lowered barriers to entry and scaled up without thinking too hard about it.

but, 2) it's also the case that

2a) there are a lot of smart people who I know would contribute valuable things to the community, but feel offput by things that are not necessary to have the kind of valuable conversations this community is good at

2b) a thriving community really needs things beyond being-good-at-thinking. Especially a community whose thinking has always been tied to "actually doing." An environment where only being clever is rewarded, will neither be able to provide for people's emotional needs sufficiently, nor actually achieve any of its broader goals.

I have thoughts on how to resolve this, but I'm trying to stick to the "talk about the problem" part, rather than the "propose solutions" part. For now, I'll note that I do not expect a single monolithic shift in the community, but I hope for better coordination between different sub-communities.

Comment author: Kisil 13 April 2017 03:38:15PM 1 point [-]

2a here seems like a major issue to me. I've had an essay brewing for a couple of months, about how the range of behaviors we tolerate affects who is willing to join the community. It's much easier to see the people who join than the people who are pushed away.

I argue that the way we are currently inclusive goes beyond being a safe space for weirdness, and extends into being anti-normal in a way that frightens off anyone who already has strong mainstream social skills. And that we can and should encourage social skill development while remaining a safe space.

If there's interest, I'll finish writing the longer-form argument.

Comment author: Kisil 30 December 2016 01:55:22AM *  2 points [-]

This crystallization really resonated with me. I've recently noticed a social norms divide, where some people seem to perceive requests for more information as hostile (attacking their status), rather than as a sign of interest. "I do not understand your world view, tell me more" can translate as "I like you and am interested in understanding you better", or as "you are obviously wrong, please show me some weakness so that I can show how much smarter I am." Or related, consider:

A: I'm working on X.

B: I've heard Y about X, what do you think?

Is B mentioning Y a sign of belonging to A's in[terest]-group, and a bid for closeness? Or is B bidding for status, trying to show how much better informed B is?

Obviously I've removed all the interesting subtlety from my examples here, and it's easy to imagine a conversation such that the hypothetical questions have obvious answers. It's also possible for B to be unambiguous in one direction or the other - this is a useful social skill. My point is that there's also overlap, where B intends to bid for closeness, but is interpreted as bidding for status. And that's a function of A's assumptions, not just about B but about how interactions in general are supposed to be structured.

Comment author: wubbles 29 December 2016 01:28:00PM 6 points [-]

I was using it to describe my own comment. I'll try to think of a way to make that clearer in the future.

Comment author: Kisil 30 December 2016 01:40:00AM 4 points [-]

"Comment epistemic status" would work.

Comment author: Kisil 21 June 2015 10:17:38AM 1 point [-]

I think I can make this! Any tips for identifying the group?

Comment author: Kisil 22 June 2013 04:08:37AM 0 points [-]

Data point: I would love to come to something like this, but I'm out of town.

In response to comment by DSimon on Being a teacher
Comment author: [deleted] 16 March 2011 06:17:08PM *  13 points [-]

I still have no idea why everyone's first reaction was to snap their own fingers.

Important data:

1) Everyone did it. 2) Everyone claimed not to know why they did it (I am taking you at your word - that your dialog is representative)

Both of these point to something close to an involuntary reflex.

Recall the game, "Simon Says". That game is fun because it is hard (under the right conditions) to avoid doing what someone commands you to do. It takes concentration to hear the command and then not perform the action. One might have thought (and one would have been wrong) that someone playing "Simon Says" would hear the command, then decide whether it was in the right form, then follow it. Everyone wants to play it this way and thus win. But the nervous system has a strong tendency to short-circuit the path from hearing the command to performing the action. You try to consider the command carefully before performing the action, but you fail!

This suggests that the mental path from thought to action is only imperfectly under voluntary control. What it takes to suppress, or amplify, this path is presumably not simple.

In response to comment by [deleted] on Being a teacher
Comment author: Kisil 25 March 2011 03:25:03PM 3 points [-]

Stop reading this.

Did you stop? So I don't think the difficulty is avoiding compliance with commands in general. Rather, it's switching between the mental modes of "complying" and "not complying" under time pressure.

Comment author: TylerK 10 June 2010 11:58:28PM 1 point [-]

I'd like to meet some LW people. Couple suggestions in/around Harvard Sq: http://www.cambridgecommonrestaurant.com/ http://www.grendelsden.com/ http://www.johnharvards.com

Comment author: Kisil 11 June 2010 05:03:50AM 2 points [-]

I'm also going, and would also like to meet other LW-ers. Let's wander towards Grendel's Den around 6.

If a couple people reply to this, I'll come up with more explicit logistics, but I can't plan at 1am.

Comment author: Kisil 19 April 2010 03:47:44PM 5 points [-]


I've posted comments twice, I think, but my read/write ratio is high enough that I think I still count here.

In response to Ureshiku Naritai
Comment author: Kisil 09 April 2010 01:36:48PM *  5 points [-]

Thanks for writing this article. If the feedback helps, I found your self-disclosure much more illustrative than "gooey."

I made a point of noting non-sadness deficiencies in my status

Did you formally track your mental state at any point? The luminosity series, among other things, has gotten me thinking about the fact that my overall historical impression of my mood status has been a pretty poor indicator of my day-to-moment mood status. I can get fuzzy snapshots by reading through my scattered past writing, but am missing a lot of data. So I've been working on a system to do some more regular, granular tracking, and I wondered if others here have a) found tracking effective at all, b) particular levels of granularity met your needs, c) found any particular system or tool helpful. (I'm considering building a tool for this process if I can't find one, and would happily share here if there's interest.)

Edit: This seems unclear on a re-read. I meant to say my general impression of my past moods approximates the sum of my moment-to-moment moods poorly; I'm planning to take data to get a more accurate estimate.

View more: Next