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

Comment author: entirelyuseless 27 July 2017 01:37:13AM 0 points [-]

Sure, everyone has certain groups that they imagine themselves as members of. But if they don't actually interact with those people, this is more a question of an imaginary tribe and imaginary status, not a real tribe or real status.

Comment author: Thomas 27 July 2017 05:57:20AM 0 points [-]

Which tribe do you consider "real"? Those, you have a physical paper to prove your membership are only a few of them. Others are pretty undefined, but who cares?

Comment author: Lumifer 26 July 2017 04:03:25PM *  2 points [-]

this "squeaks of affirmation" is the way a group thinks about a problem

No, this is the way a group maintains its current attitude towards a problem.

Combining the two words -- "group" and "thinking" -- is a problem in itself.

Comment author: Thomas 26 July 2017 04:10:44PM *  0 points [-]

"squeaks of affirmation" is the way a group remembers how something is until this group changes its mind about that. By some member shufflings or by adopting the new truth by the majority of its members. Or at least by its Politburo. Purges are necessary sometimes, though.

Comment author: Lumifer 26 July 2017 03:04:47PM 1 point [-]

The problem isn't rudeness, the problem is that this approach classifies the great majority of humanity as monkeys incapable of making any noises other than squeaks of affirmation towards the ingroup and screams of outrage towards the outgroup. At the very least, that's... wasteful.

Comment author: Thomas 26 July 2017 03:53:49PM 0 points [-]

The truth is often painful. But this "squeaks of affirmation" is the way a group thinks about a problem.

A group might change its opinion about something by expelling some members and accept some fresh meat from the other group.

Or just by reversing its course on something. The fashion changes from time to time. I don't wear Matrix style outfit anymore. Now it seems to me, I never did. The whole group has changed their wardrobes and forget how elegant we were back then. Or just silly.

Yeah, this is painful, but what can you do?

Comment author: entirelyuseless 26 July 2017 02:26:21PM 0 points [-]

I understand this quotation as:

"What do good, high-status groups (that you can plausibly be a part of) think about Bound_up's post ?"

Unless you mean some online groups (e.g. a subset of this forum), you misunderstand, because I am not the member of any groups in real life, whether low or high status. I live alone and very frequently do not see anyone at all in a particular 24 hour period, including at work.

Comment author: Thomas 26 July 2017 03:34:09PM 0 points [-]

Everybody is a member of various groups. For example, I consider myself as a member of Aristotelians, who prefer to speculate about the solution of a problem, then to conduct an experiment. Galileo is one of us because he logically proved how the Apollo 15 feather-hammer experiment will pan out. But those pesky experimentalists see Galileo as one of them too, since he conducted several crucial experiments as well. I have never met Galileo, they have never met Galileo, still, we chart our groups this way.

This rather bizarre example illustrates two such perceived groups. There are a billion at least such divisions (imaginary or not) out there. And some people consider themselves as members of some. Rightly or wrongly, doesn't matter.

And then they judge what some high-status members of their group would say about the particular Quantum Mechanics conundrum. Then, they side with him about that.

Almost nobody actually ponders what the Hell is really going on with the Schrodinger's poor cat. Almost nobody.

Siding with some prominent member of your (perceived) tribe is a proxy for the thinking about it. Even if you don't see this high-status person named Heisenberg a lot, you side with him.

Most problems are not that deep. Like whether or not Antarctica is currently melting. People still don't have their opinions about this, but just side either with Al Gore, either with me. Well, they side with me only incidentally, they don't know that I exist. They know that lord Monckton exists and they maybe side with him. So they think Antarctica is melting very slowly, if at all.

If I tell you Antarctica is increasing its snow cover, you may be nerd enough to either believe me after some calculations ... either be nerd enough to prove me wrong. Doesn't matter which.

But most likely you will go to either Al Gore's either to lord Monckton's side. Even though you don't meet with those two very frequently.

Comment author: Onemorenickname 25 July 2017 11:06:18PM 2 points [-]

I agree with your model, but without the nerd-exception.

The lack of nerd focus on epistemology and meta-ethics implies that nerds don't have beliefs either.

They do have pressures to appear rational. Either external (peer pressure) or internal (intelligence/rationality being part of the core identity because of reasons).

The same model you mention has been useful for me in understanding why nerdy people don't actually care about the epistemic soundness of their argument, and only about sounding rational. It made me understand why many were angered when I pointed the lack of sound definition of the words used or the use of countless fallacies : it's perceived as an attack against their rationality.

Comment author: Thomas 26 July 2017 09:46:44AM *  0 points [-]

I agree with your model, but without the nerd-exception.

This exception might sound not very elegant, but it's crucial. Either you model the world and people inside this world and you have beliefs. Either you just try to fit in. Most people do both. But a minority do modeling when things are complicated. Which is almost always. This minority you can call nerds or geeks or professors or whatever. You have to steal the name somewhere. Or even some day invent a new one.

Those models nerds make may be often wrong, but it was a try to really understand things and not just to fit in.

Comment author: entirelyuseless 26 July 2017 12:57:38AM 6 points [-]

This is rude and unnecessary. It comes across as "we real people have real beliefs and goals; those fake people do not have real beliefs and goals."

The truth is that beliefs and goals are vague generalizations that apply imperfectly to human beings, including to you. It is true that they apply better in some instances and to some people, but perfectly to none.

Comment author: Thomas 26 July 2017 09:19:06AM 2 points [-]

This is rude and unnecessary.

I understand this quotation as:

"What do good, high-status groups (that you can plausibly be a part of) think about Bound_up's post ?"

Those good, high-status people groups abhor Bound_up's post. They think it's entirely useless and even "narcissistic and hypocritical." Sure they do.

But some low life nerds like myself find it true. Just as it was expected to be.

Comment author: Thomas 25 July 2017 08:55:59PM 1 point [-]

This has been said before, but you are very clear and concise here, others before you were not as much.

Especially this "nerds as an exception" explains a lot. Everything becomes quite clear to me with this "exception clause".

It is possible that on some occasions I function as a non-nerd, but mostly not. I do have a world model in my head and I do talk according to it. Which is quite a freakish behavior. Even more so, if your worldview isn't a very boring one.

Quite enlightening post, thank you.

Comment author: username2 24 July 2017 07:39:45AM 0 points [-]

What is the selection pressure now?

Comment author: Thomas 24 July 2017 08:23:27AM 0 points [-]

Many pressures, of course. How well you deal with diseases, accidents, how successful are you in spreading your genes around...

Many, many selection pressures, no doubt about that. The idea, that there is no pressure anymore since the end of WWII or since any other date - is just plain silly.

Still, that view is a kind of mainstream. For a polite society, the evolution has stopped long ago. But a polite society itself is a kind of selection pressure, too.

Comment author: Thomas 24 July 2017 07:32:02AM 1 point [-]

An easy problem this time?

Open thread, July 24 - July 30, 2017

1 Thomas 24 July 2017 07:28AM
If it's worth saying, but not worth its own post, then it goes here.

Notes for future OT posters:

1. Please add the 'open_thread' tag.

2. Check if there is an active Open Thread before posting a new one. (Immediately before; refresh the list-of-threads page before posting.)

3. Open Threads should start on Monday, and end on Sunday.

4. Unflag the two options "Notify me of new top level comments on this article" and "

View more: Next