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In response to The Winding Path
Comment author: chaosmosis 27 November 2015 08:08:40AM *  -1 points [-]

I like the vibes.

But worse, the path is not merely narrow, but winding, with frequent dead ends requiring frequent backtracking. If ever you think you're closer to the truth - discard that hubris, for it may inhibit you from leaving a dead end, and there your search for truth will end. That is the path of the crank.

I don't like this part. First, thinking that you're closER to the truth is not really a problem, it's thinking you've arrived at the truth that arguably is. Second, I think sometimes human beings can indeed find the truth. Underconfidence is just as much a sin as overconfidence, but referring to hubris in the way that you did seems like it would encourage false humility. I think you should say something more like "for every hundred ides professed to be indisputable truths, ninety nine are false", and maybe add something about how there's almost never good justification to refuse to even listen to other people's points of view.

The path of rationality is a path without destination.

I don't agree with this either, or most of the paragraph before it: there are strong trends.

Comment author: [deleted] 21 December 2012 01:22:09AM 5 points [-]

You seem seriously messed up. Because of all this, I think you are a danger to LessWrong, and that your ego will increase existential risk by a significant amount.

Oh, that's just patently ridiculous. Nobody here (with very few exceptions) has any significant effect on existential risk.

In response to comment by [deleted] on LessWrong podcasts
Comment author: chaosmosis 21 December 2012 08:24:52AM 0 points [-]
Comment author: shminux 21 December 2012 01:27:13AM 3 points [-]

your ego will increase existential risk by a significant amount.

Seriously? You believe that a lone LW regular can significantly affect x-risk?

In response to comment by shminux on LessWrong podcasts
Comment author: chaosmosis 21 December 2012 08:24:33AM 2 points [-]

I think that even very small amounts of x-risk increases are significant. I also think that lone LWers have the most impact when they're dealing with things like community attitudes.

Comment author: wedrifid 21 December 2012 12:47:02AM *  1 point [-]

You've conceded that your understanding of my intentions is obviously irrational, that you've utilized strawmen often throughout this discussion, and that you're using guerilla type argumentative tactics against me.

Still lies. I have directly said the opposite of that. Please leave lesswrong and go elsewhere.

and that your ego will increase existential risk by a significant amount.

If nothing else I suppose I am flattered that you believe I'm that relevant, that I have that much power to influence existential outcomes one way or the other. It seems appropriate to harness this kind of absurd lament as if it is a positive exhortation. A challenge consider what difference I could have, to evaluate what Good (whatever that means) my allegedly significant power could be harnessed towards.

If I had to guess, you're just a bully who enjoys bullying whenever they get into a context they can get away with it. You feel powerful when you portray yourself as engaging in the tactics of Machiavelli, or when you remind yourself that you have friends on this website and I don't.

I know you intend nothing more than slander but I am once more prompted to consider just what this information would mean to me were it true. If I was a bully, someone who thrives on abusing power against others and who presumably has been practiced the skills of the bully throughout my life then that would imply a certain skill-set that is valuable in certain contexts. It is a crude, distasteful skillset that I happen to find viscerally abhorrent down to the very core of my being but one that I must nevertheless acknowledge use instrumentally useful to those who use it well. Experience using Machiavellian tactics is even more useful, being far more general and adaptable than competency with petty bullying.

If I were so fundamentally instinctively orientated towards bullying and Machiavellian scheming toward power---and I credit myself with the intellect and resourcefulness to become quite proficient in whatever I'm instinctively driven to do if given three decades of experience---then that would give a very clear indication of just what my comparative advantage would be likely to be. Namely it would mean I should be making use of my natural drives being just one more asshole in a high paying and cutthroat workplace and industry (such as the pharmaceutical industry or something finance related). I would then be able to harness the economic bounty of my exploitation to achieve things I care about.

(As it happens your model of me is wrong so my development history and so comparative advantage is very different to what would be the case in the counterfactual world that operates using your assumption as a premise.)

Comment author: chaosmosis 21 December 2012 01:17:36AM *  -2 points [-]

You have repeatedly falsely portrayed my arguments as defending belligerent tone, you've used that as an excuse to curse at me, you've defended an absurd model of my intentions, you've shifted the topic of the discussion over and over again and repeatedly ignored points that you find inconvenient. You have never produced a valid response to these objections, you continue to omit them over and over and to instead redirect the topic onto personal attacks on me.

This is all evidence for my belief that you're portraying your motives here dishonestly. The repeated aggression that you've shown, given the additional fact that there's a complete lack of warrants to support it, is strong evidence for my belief that you enjoy being a jerk. You claim that you would have gone into a different line of work if that were the case, but I think that's only incredibly weak evidence.

It's not as though I should have a low prior on a human being an asshole, even if they're not in finance. It's also not as though I should privilege your assertions as to what a counterfactual world would look like over your actual observable behavior within these comments.

Comment author: wedrifid 20 December 2012 09:42:50AM *  2 points [-]

You literally said that "tone... [is] a good indication of whether they... need to be treated as a hostile rhetorician that is not vulnerable to persuasion (or learning)."

You think that tone alone is enough to tell us whether or not someone can learn. You think that people with certain tones can reliably be considered stupid.

I think neither of those things. This isn't about stupidity or intelligence. This is about how people will behave within a conversation. More intelligence granted to a debator set on winning an argument and securing status does not make them better at accepting and learning from information in the context. It makes them better at defending themselves from needing to. It makes them better and creating straw men and clever but irrelevant counter-arguments.

I wish lack of intelligence was the only thing that could prevent someone from comprehending something. Alas...

You never stated that you think that people who speak like us are the smart ones.

I'm not comfortable identifying with any group 'us' unless I know how that group is identified. I'd be surprised if I even willingly put myself in the same group as you (making a quoted-from-you 'us' unlikely). For better or worse I do not believe I relate to words, argument or communication in general the same way that you do. (And yes, I do believe that my 'us' would refer to the 'smart ones'---or at least ones that are laudable in some way that I consider significant.)

Comment author: chaosmosis 20 December 2012 11:54:01PM -1 points [-]

I think neither of those things. This isn't about stupidity or intelligence. This is about how people will behave within a conversation. More intelligence granted to a debator set on winning an argument and securing status does not make them better at accepting and learning from information in the context. It makes them better at defending themselves from needing to. It makes them better and creating straw men and clever but irrelevant counter-arguments.

I agree that tone can provide useful information. The difference between our positions is perhaps more one of emphasis than anything else, despite the stupid and superficial squabbling above. I'm focused on the dangers of relying on tone, whereas you're focused on the benefits.

I'm focused on the dangers of tone since I think that our intuitions about such an inherently slippery concept are untrustworthy and I also think that it's human nature to perceive neutral differences in things like tone as hostile differences. As previously mentioned, I also thing that LessWrongers allow tonal differences to cloud their judgement, and they feel justified in doing so because they are offended by other tones. Tone should be secondary to substance by a very long margin.

I am unsure to what extent you really disagree with any of this. You don't seem to attempt to refute my arguments about how a reliance on tone can be dangerous. Instead, you take pot shots at my credibility, and you say that tone also has legitimate uses. I don't want to deny or preclude legitimate uses of tone, so your position here doesn't clash much with mine.

We also both seem to perceive norms on LessWrong surrounding tone differently. I see a lot of the dangerous type of attitude towards tone going on in this site, the above comment with someone who apparently strawmanned my comment 3 times being a good example. Judging from your overall position, you seem to perceive this as less common. I don't know what could be done to resolve this aspect of our disagreement.

I'm not comfortable identifying with any group 'us' unless I know how that group is identified. I'd be surprised if I even willingly put myself in the same group as you (making a quoted-from-you 'us' unlikely). For better or worse I do not believe I relate to words, argument or communication in general the same way that you do. (And yes, I do believe that my 'us' would refer to the 'smart ones'---or at least ones that are laudable in some way that I consider significant.)

I was using that language tongue-in-cheek, to display the sort of perspective that I perceive as dangerous and that I think you might be trying to justify, not as something that I actually believe. I also thought it was ironic and amusing to place myself in the same category as you, I did so with the belief that you would reject that association, which was exactly what made it funny to me.

Comment author: thomblake 20 December 2012 02:26:50PM 2 points [-]

Can you give an example of a case where they don't overlap, that PhilGoetz is arguing about?

Comment author: chaosmosis 20 December 2012 11:26:32PM *  1 point [-]

Giving one future self u=10 and another u=0 is equally as good as giving one u=5 and another u=5.

So, to give a concrete example, you have $10 dollars. You can choose between gaining 5 utilons today and five tomorrow by spending half of the money today and half of the money tomorrow, or between spending all of it today and gaining 10 utilons today and 0 tomorrow. These outcomes both give you equal numbers of utilons, so they're equal.

Phil says that the moral reason they're both equal is because they both have the same amount of average utility distributed across instances of you. He then uses that as a reason that average utilitarianism is correct across different people, since there's nothing special about you.

However, an equally plausible interpretation is that the reason they are morally equal in the first instance is because the aggregate utilities are the same. Although average utilitarianism and aggregate utilitarianism overlap when N = 1, in many other cases they disagree. Average utilitarianism would rather have one extremely happy person than twenty moderately happy people, for example. This disagreement means that average and aggregate utilitarianism are not the same (as well as the fact that they have different metaethical justifications which are used as support), which means he's not justified in either his initial privileging of average utilitarianism or his extrapolation of it to large groups of people.

Comment author: drethelin 20 December 2012 08:55:45AM -1 points [-]

I'd just like to say that your complaints about length are pretty funny in their ironic stupidity.

Comment author: chaosmosis 20 December 2012 09:10:46AM *  0 points [-]

I said that length was useful insofar as it added to communication. Was I particularly inefficient? I don't think so. As is, it's somewhat ironic, but I think only superficially so because there isn't any real clash between what I claim as ideal and what I engage in (because, again, I think I was efficient). And there's not stupidly there at all, or at least none that I see. You'll need to go into more detail here.

Comment author: drethelin 20 December 2012 08:56:46AM 1 point [-]

Also, you say changing the nature of the game like it's not important. It's like you want to play basketball back before they cut the bottoms out of baskets.

Comment author: chaosmosis 20 December 2012 09:08:45AM -1 points [-]

I understand what you're getting at, but what specifically is important about this change? I see the added resource intensity as one thing but that's all I can think of whereas I'm reading your comment as hinting at some more fundamental change that's taking place.

(A few seconds later, my thoughts.)

One change might be that the goals have shifted. It becomes about status and not about solving problems. Maybe that is what you had in mind? Or something else?

Comment author: wedrifid 19 December 2012 04:38:52PM *  1 point [-]

I view this as code for "whether or not they have in-status as a Yudkowskian Rationalist".

This would be untenable as an actual interpretation of the words written. Your straw man use here is unambiguous and intentional. People you communicate with here in the future should beware that you will not communicate in good faith.

Your point here can easily be interpreted as saying that if they don't talk like us then we can probably conclude that they're too stupid to learn, and that's what I think is wrong.

No. The quoted point cannot be interpreted as saying that (easily or otherwise) by someone who comprehends English and is intending to truthfully represent the words.

Your claim illustrates exactly what's wrong with the social norms of the site.

I maintain that your intended program of influence is toxic and shall oppose it wherever possible for the reasons specified. I simultaneously lower the credence I assign to the sincerity of your previous statements (given the strong discord between observed behaviors and exhortations.)

Comment author: chaosmosis 20 December 2012 08:47:13AM *  -1 points [-]

The below words are yours:

At a more mild level, where the disrespectful tone is below the threshold of outright swearing and abuse, tone gives reliable indications of how the person is likely to respond to continued conversation. It's a good indication of whether they will respond in good faith or need to be treated as a hostile rhetorician that is not vulnerable to persuasion (or learning).

You said that moderate differences in tone were good indicators of whether or not someone was rational enough to be capable to learn. You were vague about what specifically these indicators would be. I felt like that vagueness was suspicious, and could be used to justify over privileging commenters who sound familiar. This is not me arguing in bad faith, this is me attempting to fill in a blank spot in your argument. Admittedly, I framed it with words that made you sound wrong. However, I still believe this is your belief, more or less.

If I'm wrong in my belief about your belief, fix your argument; fill in the blank spot. Which parts of moderate differences in tone are so useful that they can clearly show us when someone is incapable of learning?

If my comment isn't a wholly accurate portrayal, it still gets the general picture across. You responded to none of its content, choosing instead to dismiss it all as irrelevant and a strawman, and you chose to use this as a reason that people should stop listening to my arguments. But my comment was at worst unfair and my comment illustrates very well the potential dangers of your position and so I don't think it should be ignored. People should take it with a grain of salt, perhaps, but don't tell them to ignore it.

No. The quoted point cannot be interpreted as saying that (easily or otherwise) by someone who comprehends English and is intending to truthfully represent the words.

You literally said that "tone... [is] a good indication of whether they... need to be treated as a hostile rhetorician that is not vulnerable to persuasion (or learning)." You think that tone alone is enough to tell us whether or not someone can learn. You think that people with certain tones can reliably be considered stupid.

I don't exactly agree. I think that tone has very limited use in assessing intelligence, and that evaluating argumentative content is a much more straightforward way of doing so. I distrust your and even my own intuitions about tone, also. I think that it's very probable that you dismiss legitimately smart people based simply on neutral differences in tone.

You never stated that you think that people who speak like us are the smart ones. But I believe that you believe that, and I honestly wouldn't trust you if you claimed otherwise, since it's basically human nature to rally around things like tone. However, if similarity isn't the brightline you're using for evaluating what kinds of tones are good and what kinds of tones are bad, I still think the discussion would benefit from you specifying exactly what is.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 07 December 2012 01:39:41PM 2 points [-]

Yes, at some level one can interpret Kant as saying something like "use decision theory, not game theory."

Comment author: chaosmosis 20 December 2012 08:07:14AM 1 point [-]

Quick Question, a few weeks later: would you be willing to take a guess as to what problems might have caused my comment to be downvoted? I'm stumped.

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