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Comment author: [deleted] 09 September 2012 01:57:55PM *  13 points [-]

Related to: List of public drafts on LessWrong

The Problem With Rational Wiki

It already has a reputation

Since you cite it as source you should be aware Rational Wiki has a certain reputation here as well. I'm not talking about the object level disagreements such as cryonics, existential risk, many-worlds interpretation and artificial intelligence because we have some reasonable disagreement on those here as well. Even its cheeky tone while not helping its stated goals can be amusing. I'm somewhat less forgiving about their casual approach to epistemology and their vulnerability to cargo cult science, as long as it is peer reviewed cargo cult science.

While factually it is as about as accurate as Wikipedia, it is very selective about the facts that it is interested in. For example what would you expect from a site calling itself "Rational Wiki" to have on its page about charity. Do you expect information on how much good charity actually does? What kinds of charities do not do what they say on the label? How to avoid getting misled? The ethics of charity? The psychology, sociology or economics of charity?

I'm sorry to disappoint you but the article consists of some haphazardly arranged facts and stats on how much members of some religions give or are supposed to give to charity, a dig against Christianity and a non-sequitur unfavourable comparison of the US to Sweden. Contrast this with what you can find on the topic on sites like LessWrong or 80, 000 Hours. Basically the material presented is what a slightly left of centre atheist needs to win an internet debate. As is much of the rest of the site.

Indeed some entries have a clear ideological bias that is quite startling to behold on a "rational wiki" and it has been noted by some.

Now to avoid any misunderstandings there are good articles, a few LWers are contributors to the rational wiki and there is certainly nothing wrong with being a left of centre atheist! Nearly everyone on this site is an atheist, and people who identify as left wing politically form a large majority here. The tribal markers and its political agenda aren't the biggest problem. Sites with all sorts of agendas, even political ones, promoting rationality are a good thing.

Its problem is that it is an ammunition depot to aid in winning debates. Very specific kinds of debates too. This may sound harsh, but consider: How many people reading the site that aren't already atheists will change their mind on religion? How many people who follow a "crankish" belief won't do so afterwards? While I'm sure it happens the site obviously isn't optimized for this. How many people will read the wiki and try to find errors and biases in their own thinking to debug it instead of breaking if further it or using it as a club? How many will apply this knowledge to help them with any real world problems? Truth seeeking? As a source or community that could aid in that quest it is less useful and reliable than Wikipedia, which while a rather good and extensive encyclopaedia (despite snickering to the contrary) has a subtly but importantly different stated goal.

What else remains? What other plausible function does it serve?

Comment author: anon895 14 March 2015 09:29:56PM 0 points [-]

I don't see how any of those questions relate to my post.

(For transparency:

I initially read your post as saying that, because RationalWiki isn't "really" rational, their opinion on LW is automatically wrong and stupid; that therefore, anyone who shares or has absorbed that opinion (since the RW link was just a conveniently available illustration) is also wrong and stupid; and that therefore, their potential opinion of me as part of it is either inconsequential or totally outside my control. Or maybe you meant that people you know don't take RW seriously, and that therefore I shouldn't worry about encountering RW attitudes in the wild.

I then read more closely and realized that you weren't actually saying any of that. Furthermore, your post wasn't even directed at me, since I never claimed that RW served some vital and unique function (though if nothing else it's good for documenting and illustrating the beliefs and attitudes of the type of people who contribute to it). For you to take my post to mean that (I reasoned at the time) would be stupid; and steelmanning and the principle of charity obligated me to act under the assumption that you weren't stupid until conclusively shown otherwise. Therefore, I had to consider your post a personal tangent and ignore it.

I now realize that I was committing illusion of transparency, assuming short inferential distance and neglecting connotation. I apologize if my previous post connoted that I was holding RW above reproach; and I reject your connotation that RW's flaws mean that I'm wrong to be concerned about the consequences of loudly promoting LW and its memes wherever I go.)

Comment author: wedrifid 09 September 2012 01:59:20PM 5 points [-]

It already has a reputation

lesswrong wishes it had a reputation!

Comment author: anon895 14 March 2015 05:05:22AM *  0 points [-]

This post (edit: fixed link) reminded me of this thread. 2.5 years later, I'm still not sure I understand your point or why it has a +5 score. How does what LW (which I guess I'm not part of) "wants"^W "wishes" relate to my concerns?

In response to Conjunction Fallacy
Comment author: anon895 09 March 2015 05:51:57PM *  0 points [-]

I agree that there are some important methodological issues with the paper, and it is far from the last word. What the criticisms you link don't address well, however, is that fact that (a) the paper is strengthened by the fact that it has a strong, validated theory of underlying behavior...

- "AnonySocialScientist", Reddit

Comment author: Mestroyer 25 February 2014 02:53:33AM 13 points [-]

Whether or not the lawful-goods of the world like Yvain are right, they are common. There are tons of people who want to side with good causes, but who are repulsed by the dark side even when used in favor of those causes. Maybe they aren't playing to win, but you don't play to win by saying you hate them for for following their lawful code.

For many people, the lawful code of "I'm siding with the truth" comes before the good code of "I'm going to press whatever issue." When these people see a movement playing dirty, advocating arguments as soldiers, where you decide whether to argue against it based on whether it's for your side rather than whether it's a good argument, getting mad at people for pointing out bad arguments from their side, they begin to suspect that your side is not the "Side of Truth". So you lose potential recruits. And the real Sith lords, not the ones who are trying to use the dark side for good, will have much less trouble hijacking your movement with the lawful-goods and their annoying code and the social standards they impose gone.

Leaving aside the honor among foes idea, and the "what if you're really the villain" idea, if your cause is really just, then although the lawful-goods are less effective than you, their existence is good for you. Not everything they do is good, but on balance they are a positive influence. You're not going to convince them to attempt to be dark side users for good like you are attempting to be, so stop giving them reasons to dislike you.

Even if you can convince them, the lawful-evils who think they are lawful-goods are listening to your arguments. Most people think they are good. It is hard to tell when you're not good. So the idea that only truly good people are bound by the lawful code is crazy. Lots of lawful evil is an unintentional corruption of lawful good, and this corruption doesn't unilaterally affect your goodness and your lawfulness. They could tell (or at least convince themselves) they weren't really good, if they didn't follow the lawful code, because they think like lawful good people in that respect. The lawful evil people who see you, and know you are opposed to them on the good/evil axis, think they see evil people saying "Forget this honor among enemies thing. We have no honor. Watch me put on this 'I am defectbot' shirt". And that is a much stronger argument to abandon the lawful code of rational argument and become the much more dangerous chaotic evil than what the lawful-goods hear, which is their chaotic good allies telling them to defect.

But in real modern human politics, it's more complicated because although there is one lawful/chaotic axis, there are many good/evil axes. Because there are many separate issues that people can get right or wrong. Arthur Chu thinks that the issue of overriding importance is social justice. So he demands that we drop all cooperation with people who are evil on that axis. He says we aren't playing to win. I can think of 3 issues (2 of them are actually broad categories of issues) that I am confident are more important than social justice, and which are easier to improve than the problems social justice wants to counter. In order of decreasing importance, existential risk, near-term animal suffering including factory farming and wild animals, and mortality/aging.

In real life, you don't demand that your allies be on the same end of every good/evil axis as you. That is not playing to win. A better strategy (and the one Chu is employing) is to pick the most important axis, and try and form a coalition based on that axis. Chu accuses LW of not playing to win, well, I'm just not playing to win along the social justice axis at the cost of everything else. I think different axes are more important.

And there's also the fact that for some causes, "lawful" people (people who play by the rules of rational discourse) are much better to have as allies. If we use bad statistics and dark arts to convince the masses to fund FAI research, they may as well fund Novamente as MIRI. Not all causes can benefit from irrational masses. Something like MIRI can't afford to even take one step down the path to the dark side. When you want to convince academics and experts of your cause, they will smell the dark arts on you and conclude you are a cult. And with the people you will attract by using dark arts, your organization will soon become one. The kind of people who you absolutely need to do object-level work for you are the kind of people who will never join you if you use the dark arts.

If you take a pluralistic "which axes are important" approach instead of the one that Chu takes, then there is a lot to be said for lawfulness, because it tends to promote goodness*, a little. And when get a bunch of lawful-goods and lawful-evils together and you nudge them all a little toward good through rational discussion (on different axes), that is pretty valuable. Because almost everyone is evil on at least one axis. And such a community needs a policy like "we ask that you be lawful,[follow standards of rational discourse] not that you are good [have gotten object-level questions of policy right]," because it is the only defensible Schelling point.

*If you haven't caught on to how I'm using "law vs chaos" and "good vs evil" axes here by now, this may sound like moral realism, but when I mean by "law" is upholding Yvain-style standards of discourse. What I mean by "good" is not just being moral, but being moral and right given that morality about questions of ethics.

Comment author: anon895 24 February 2015 03:19:21AM 0 points [-]

Could you post a screenshot or archived version of your Facebook link?

Comment author: anon895 22 February 2015 09:26:17AM *  -2 points [-]

Thanks for the link, but that's one weak headline. Next time try something like "Pro-deathers have been trying to make sure MIRI doesn't get Reddit's donation. Vote for MIRI so they are better able to help life!"

Edit: Well, I thought it was funny.

Comment author: OrphanWilde 12 April 2013 01:26:42PM 2 points [-]

Interesting that you accept that narrative as a full explanation, when the link it itself provides refers to one of the girls as a relative.

Indeed, one of the death threats mentioned was: "You ripped my family apart, you made my cousin cry, so when I see you bitch it’s going to be a homicide"

That sounds less like "...women often find it more personally beneficial to go along with sexism than to try to fight the power, on the theory that if you're going to be treated like a second-class citizen anyway, you might as well not get yelled at all the time for speaking up about it" and more like an immature teenager whose life was thrown into turmoil and is looking for somebody to lash out against.

Let's talk Steubenville, but let's compare like to like. What do you think public perception would be of two teenage girls who played with the genitals of an unconscious drunk guy?

Comment author: anon895 12 April 2013 03:56:09PM *  0 points [-]

What do you think public perception would be of two teenage girls who played with the genitals of an unconscious drunk guy?

Tangentially, it might be similar to public perception of this writer. From the top-displayed comments:

This is rape. Period. You're one sick fuck.


Yes, because when a man is aroused it's totally not rape is it...Fucking hell you're stupid...

Edit: It might be a poor example of a gender-symmetrical act, since one actually can "play with" male genitals non-sexually; I do it whenever I use the bathroom, and have it done whenever I have a medical chekcup.

Comment author: anon895 30 January 2013 06:37:17PM 2 points [-]

I like how everyone who links this talks about the immortality tangent and ignores the first two panels and "suicide is not legitimate". You don't want to live? Too bad, it's your job! You're not happy? You're not trying hard enough! This mythological figure was happy, so you should be too! Depression is a choice!

Comment author: MugaSofer 08 November 2012 10:35:25AM 0 points [-]

Why is this being downvoted?

Comment author: anon895 08 November 2012 02:22:30PM 1 point [-]

I imagine because it was an implied insult and the intended friendly tone didn't come through or wasn't considered appropriate. Seems to be back to neutral, though.

Comment author: Baruta07 06 November 2012 09:09:12PM 4 points [-]

Just took the IQ test for fun, wasn't even trying hard for half of it, still got a 102

Comment author: anon895 06 November 2012 10:35:23PM *  0 points [-]

Don't worry; I'm sure there are plenty of ways you can still contribute.

Edit: Well, I thought it was funny.

Comment author: Peterdjones 28 June 2011 12:43:06AM 0 points [-]

If you have, perhaps you can give me a pointer.

Comment author: anon895 15 September 2012 03:10:18AM 0 points [-]

Recently stumbled into this. It's probably incomplete, but it's something.

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