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

Comment author: FeepingCreature 16 February 2017 01:44:21AM 0 points [-]
Comment author: fubarobfusco 17 February 2017 04:56:06PM 0 points [-]

Is there a directory of the gods and monsters somewhere? If not, I think I'll start one.

Comment author: fubarobfusco 16 January 2017 01:46:08AM *  3 points [-]

It's been commented on before, once or twice!

Hitherto [1848] it is questionable if all the mechanical inventions yet made have lightened the day's toil of any human being. They have enabled a greater population to live the same life of drudgery and imprisonment, and an increased number of manufacturers and others to make fortunes. They have increased the comforts of the middle classes. But they have not yet begun to effect those great changes in human destiny, which it is in their nature and in their futurity to accomplish. Only when, in addition to just institutions, the increase of mankind shall be under the deliberate guidance of judicious foresight, can the conquests made from the powers of nature by the intellect and energy of scientific discoverers become the common property of the species, and the means of improving and elevating the universal lot.

— John Stuart Mill, Principles of Political Economy

Like every other increase in the productiveness of labour, machinery is intended to cheapen commodities, and, by shortening that portion of the working-day in which the labourer works for himself, to lengthen the other portion that he gives, without an equivalent, to the capitalist.

— Karl Marx, Capital

Comment author: The_Jaded_One 15 January 2017 12:13:57PM 9 points [-]

"Dangerous speech" could easily become a weapon to attack and surpress views you don't like.

This has already happened with "Hate speech" and "Fake news".

Comment author: fubarobfusco 15 January 2017 05:50:06PM *  6 points [-]

It is written by the sage Brandeis that "the remedy [to harmful speech] is more speech, not enforced silence."

In order for this remedy to be applied, someone has to actually compose the "more speech" that rebuts the harmful speech. This paper appears to be a set of recommendations for how to go about doing that; crafting "more speech" so that it actually constitutes an effective and relevant rebuttal against speech that advocates violence. I didn't notice anything in this paper that recommended suppression or censorship, or even that those were up for consideration.

(Also, it's really okay to not like genocide; for "let's massacre the tribe next door!" to be among the "views you don't like". As it is written by the rhetor Goldwater: "moderation in the protection of liberty is no virtue.")

Comment author: Gleb_Tsipursky 13 January 2017 12:25:07PM 1 point [-]

Sarah's post highlights some of the essential tensions at the heart of Effective Altruism.

Do we care about "doing the most good that we can" or "being as transparent and honest as we can"? These are two different value sets. They will sometimes overlap, and in other cases will not.

And please don't say that "we do the most good that we can by being as transparent and honest as we can" or that "being as transparent and honest as we can" is best in the long term. Just don't. You're simply lying to yourself and to everyone else if you say that. If you can't imagine a scenario where "doing the most good that we can" or "being as transparent and honest as we can" are opposed, you've just suffered from a failure mode by flinching away from the truth.

So when push comes to shove, which one do we prioritize? When we have to throw the switch and have the trolley crush either "doing the most good" or "being as transparent and honest as we can," which do we choose?

For a toy example, say you are talking to your billionaire uncle on his deathbed and trying to convince him to leave money to AMF instead of his current favorite charity, the local art museum. You know he would respond better if you exaggerate the impact of AMF. Would you do so, whether lying by omission or in any other way, in order to get much more money for AMF, given that no one else would find out about this situation? What about if you know that other family members are standing in the wings and ready to use all sorts of lies to advocate for their favorite charities?

If you do not lie, that's fine, but don't pretend that you care about doing the most good, please. Just don't. You care about being as transparent and honest as possible over doing the most good.

If you do lie to your uncle, then you do care about doing the most good. However, you should consider at what price point you will not lie - at this point, we're just haggling.

The people quoted in Sarah's post all highlight how doing the most good sometimes involves not being as transparent and honest as we can (including myself). Different people have different price points, that's all. We're all willing to bite the bullet and sometimes send that trolley over transparency and honesty, whether questioning the value of public criticism such as Ben or appealing to emotions such as Rob or using intuition as evidence such as Jacy, for the sake of what we believe is the most good.

As a movement, EA has a big problem with believing that ends never justify the means. Yes, sometimes ends do justify the means - at least if we care about doing the most good. We can debate whether we are mistaken about the ends not justifying the means, but using insufficient means to accomplish the ends is just as bad as using excessive means to get to the ends. If we are truly serious about doing the most good as possible, we should let our end goal be the North Star, and work backward from there, as opposed to hobbling ourselves by preconceived notions of "intellectual rigor" at the cost of doing the most good.

Comment author: fubarobfusco 13 January 2017 04:40:27PM 9 points [-]

"I got caught lying — again — so now I'm going to tell you why lying is actually better than telling the truth."

Seriously ... just stop already.

Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 11 January 2017 03:45:52AM 2 points [-]

They write propaganda, you spread awareness, I fact-check. Is it possible to rigorously define the difference between these, or do they mainly vary by connotation? If the latter, perhaps it'd be better to stick to labels like "true" and "false".

Comment author: fubarobfusco 11 January 2017 04:03:58AM 0 points [-]

It's possible to fool people's sense of "feeling informed".

For instance, LSD seems to often induce a sense of insight and significance ... including sometimes attributing cosmic meaning to the patterns perceived in the pebbles in a concrete wall.

Or, for that matter, as some of the psychological studies described in Cialdini's Influence or Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow appear to have failed to replicate, what is there to say about the sense of feeling informed that accrued to many of us who took them to be insightful?

Comment author: ChristianKl 10 January 2017 10:49:51AM 0 points [-]

I agree with chaosmage, you repeat an existing narrative about cults. I don't think asking the binary "Is this a cult? Yes or no" question is a rational way to talk about cults. Your article is also ironic in how it tries to advocate a black white criteria for cults and than accuses cults of trying to use black white criteria of good and evil.

If I look at an organisation like Leverage research I don't think your list helps me to have an intelligent discussion about the way Leverage research works. I also think that it doesn't help me with evaluating the group dynamics of a particular startup.

There is no privacy even inside your head. You are supposed to confess your sins to the group. (Note: There is always something to confess. Believing you have nothing to confess is itself a great sin.) Confession is best done publicly, in front of the whole group. If you don't volunteer enough sins, the group is supposed to call you out. Snitching on each other is a valuable spiritual service to your fellow members.

How do you know that this is common in organisations you would classify as a cult?

They may offer to install a group-sanctioned web filter, or otherwise let you outsource the information filtering to them.

Which cult currently does this? Do you know of any? Have you searched for any empiric evidence before making a claim like this?

It's also worth noting the context in which the word cult is often used. There are political reasons to judge people who don't have their prime loyalty to the nation state and it's institutions negatively.

People who live in an Ashram or in the Leverage group house are likely to feel different loyalties than the average citizen of the nation. As such it's useful to claim that the inhabitants of either group aren't allowed to think freely and have their freedoms curtailed by being forced to volunteer private information.

Just like the term terrorist can be used to label a large amount of people negatively, the term cult is also used as a political weapon. It's the way people get punished in France for having heretical beliefs.

Comment author: fubarobfusco 10 January 2017 09:27:07PM *  1 point [-]

They may offer to install a group-sanctioned web filter, or otherwise let you outsource the information filtering to them.

Which cult currently does this? Do you know of any?

Scientology did this ... about two decades ago.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scieno_Sitter

Edited to add: This is presented as an example of how someone might have heard of "cults doing web censorship" as a story, without it being current.

Comment author: Ixiel 29 December 2016 01:37:36AM 0 points [-]

How do folks use the term "bullying" these days? (links to dictionaries will be ignored)

When I was a kid it was simple: child on child violence. Then people started using it for just word stuff without real physical harm, then for adults, then with an implication of warranting the enforcement of authorities to stop...

I get the impression it's currently either used as "being mean in any sense one could perceive" broadly or "being mean in a way we should get people with some form of authority to force people to stop" but I don't know which, or which is closer, and the ambiguity is enough to change real meaning.

Comment author: fubarobfusco 31 December 2016 08:46:53PM 3 points [-]

As with "violence" itself, it seems like some uses of "bullying" strike me as being somewhat metaphorical rather than literal; but the folks using it those ways may not agree.

That said, my experience in school was that physical violence and "word stuff" could be combined arms in an effort to create misery or to drive someone away: perpetrators could use physical harm when they expected to get away with it; aggressive posturing (e.g. miming a punch) to remind the victim of the possibility of physical harm; and verbal attacks when they expected to get away with those.

Comment author: Raemon 23 December 2016 04:25:54PM 1 point [-]

Oh cool, glad to hear from someone who went to the Mountain View one - I'd be interested in any more thoughts/impressions you have on that. (I've talked to them and looked over their script/setlist, so I have a rough idea of what happened, but curious how it felt to someone familiar with LW)

Comment author: fubarobfusco 23 December 2016 11:14:39PM 0 points [-]

Not sure what else to add, but if I think of anything later I'll do so.

Comment author: Raemon 23 December 2016 05:44:57AM 1 point [-]

Thanks! Curious which events you attended? (I'm guessing Berkeley and Seattle, but wasn't sure)

Comment author: fubarobfusco 23 December 2016 06:18:11AM *  2 points [-]

Berkeley, and the Sunday Assembly one in Mountain View. I care more about the Berkeley one, and much of the reason I went to the other was to see what differences that group was doing with their liturgy. Much more sedate emotionally, although pretty energetic musically: they have a rock band instead of a choir; they opened with "Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog". They still did "When I Die" and "Do You Realize?" though, and their venue allowed candles. Also, I think they have a running gag about playing "Wonderwall" that I didn't quite pick up on.

Comment author: Vaniver 22 December 2016 06:47:56PM 1 point [-]

the kid is just being stupid

"Just being stupid" and "just doing the wrong thing" are rarely helpful views, because those errors are produced by specific bugs. Those bugs have pointers to how to fix them, whereas "just being stupid" doesn't.

I think you should allow yourself in some situations to both believe "I should not smoke because it is bad for my health" and to continue smoking, because then you'll flinch less.

I think this misses the point, and damages your "should" center. You want to get into a state where if you think "I should X," then you do X. The set of beliefs that allows this is "Smoking is bad for my health," "On net I think smoking is worth it," and "I should do things that I think are on net worth doing." (You can see how updating the first one from "Smoking isn't that bad for my health" to its current state could flip the second belief, but that is determined by a trusted process instead of health getting an undeserved veto.)

Comment author: fubarobfusco 23 December 2016 03:59:51AM *  3 points [-]

"Just being stupid" and "just doing the wrong thing" are rarely helpful views, because those errors are produced by specific bugs. Those bugs have pointers to how to fix them, whereas "just being stupid" doesn't.

I'm guessing you're alluding to "Errors vs. Bugs and the End of Stupidity" here, which seems to have disappeared along with the rest of LiveJournal. Here's the Google cached version, though.

View more: Next