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Comment author: Daniel_Burfoot 07 July 2017 04:35:17PM 6 points [-]

This is a mean vs median or Mediocristan vs Extremistan issue. Most people cannot do lone wolf, but if you can do lone wolf, you will probably be much more successful than the average person.

Think of it like this. Say you wanted to become a great writer. You could go to university and plod through a major in English literature. That will reliably give you a middling good skill at writing. Or you could drop out and spend all your time reading sci-fi novels, watching anime, and writing fan fiction. Now most people who do that will end up terrible writers. But when someone like Eliezer does it, the results are spectacular.

Furthermore, because of the Power Law and the "Average is Over" idea, most of the impact will come from the standout successes.

Comment author: plethora 11 July 2017 07:47:15PM 3 points [-]

I think this discussion is somewhat confused by the elision of the difference between 'autodidact' and 'lone wolf'. 'Autodidact', in internet circles, is generally used to mean 'anyone who learns things primarily outside a formalized educational environment'; it's possible to be an autodidact while still being heavily engaged with communities and taking learning things as a social endeavor and so on, and in fact Eliezer was active in communities related to LW's subject matter for a long time before he started LW. By the same token, one of the main things I took from reading Ben Franklin's autobiography was that, despite having little formal schooling and being solely credited for many of his innovations, he didn't actually do it alone. I doubt he would've been even a tenth as successful as he was without something like his Junto.

Some people will get more out of formal education than others, although getting things out of formal education is itself a skill that can be learned. (It seems to require an ability to buy into institutions on an emotional level that many of us lack. I saw college as an obnoxious necessity rather than a set of opportunities, and as a result got much less out of it than I could have. This seems to be a common mistake.) But I just don't think it's possible to become a spectacular writer, or even a middling one, as a lone wolf. If nothing else, you need feedback from a community in order to improve. Look at lone-wolf outsider art -- it's frequently unusual, but how much of it is good?

Comment author: Alexei 29 March 2017 06:36:44PM 11 points [-]

Here is my person take on why it's complicated:

When you ask someone if they would like a debate platform and describe all the features and content it'll have, they go: "Hell yeah I'd love that!" And it took me a while to realize that what they are imagining is someone else writing all the content and doing all the heavy lifting. Then they would come along, read some of it, and may be leave a comment or two. And basically everyone is like that: they want it, but they are not willing to put in the work. And I don't blame them, because I'm not willing to put in the work (of writing) either. There are just a handful of people who are.

So the problem is definitely not on the technical side. It's a problem with the community / society in general. Except I'm hesitant to even call it a "problem," because that feels like calling gravity a "problem." This is just the way humans are. They want to do things they want to do.

Comment author: plethora 31 March 2017 01:45:42AM 1 point [-]

When you ask someone if they would like a debate platform and describe all the features and content it'll have, they go: "Hell yeah I'd love that!" And it took me a while to realize that what they are imagining is someone else writing all the content and doing all the heavy lifting. Then they would come along, read some of it, and may be leave a comment or two. And basically everyone is like that: they want it, but they are not willing to put in the work. And I don't blame them, because I'm not willing to put in the work (of writing) either. There are just a handful of people who are.

This is what incentive structures are for. There are quite a few people who have strong incentives to publish high-quality writing, you know...

An open-access journal for debates seems like it ought to be possible, although it'd have to actively solicit contributions (an encyclopedia for debates?) and reward them with academic status, which means you'd need solid academic backing.

Comment author: drethelin 17 March 2017 06:10:54AM 4 points [-]

A lot of places actually have laws against more than few unrelated people living in the same house.

Comment author: plethora 18 March 2017 10:02:23AM 0 points [-]

Yes, so you send everyone out and hide most of the beds when the inspectors come around.

This is probably not desirable for communities with children, but it's common for co-ops in places with those laws.

Comment author: MrMind 17 March 2017 01:13:33PM 4 points [-]

Rationalists like to live in group houses.

Do they? I personally hate sharing living spaces. Am I the weirdo? I suspect it's an American custom, not something proper of rationalists per se.

Comment author: plethora 18 March 2017 09:59:46AM 5 points [-]

It's a coastal, urban American custom. To a first approximation, it's illegal to build in coastal cities and most of the land in them is uninhabitable because crime.

Comment author: Alicorn 17 March 2017 01:46:56AM 21 points [-]

If you like this idea but have nothing much to say please comment under this comment so there can be a record of interested parties.

Comment author: plethora 18 March 2017 09:54:39AM 2 points [-]

Would be interested if I lived in a place amenable to this. Seconding dropspindle's recommendation of Appalachia, since that's where I'm already planning to move if I can get a remote job.

It may be worth looking to see whether there are any large, relatively inexpensive houses near major cities that could be converted. There are a lot of McMansion developments in the suburbs north of DC that have never looked particularly inhabited.

Comment author: Lumifer 24 January 2017 05:09:04PM 1 point [-]

That's mostly a CSS problem.

Not quite. In some corners of the 'net LW has... a reputation.

Comment author: plethora 05 February 2017 12:01:50AM 1 point [-]

Yes, I know. I bet Islamists don't think highly of it either.

Comment author: username2 23 January 2017 11:50:53PM 1 point [-]

I think that people punching other people is the default behavior, and it takes conscious effort to control yourself when you are angry at someone. E.g. drunk people who lost their inhibitions often get involved in fights. And people who are angry rejoice at any opportunity to let their inner animal out, feel the rush of adrenaline that comes with losing your inhibitions and not have to think about consequences or social condemnation.

2) It doesn't accomplish much (though the hypothetical Nazi in question has said that he is more afraid of going outside, so I suppose it's accomplished at least fear which may be a pro or con depending on your point of view, besides that however I don't think it's hindered Nazis very much and has only worsened the image of the anti-Nazis)

People like the strong and dislike the weak. If Nazis got punched all the time, they would be perceived as weak and nobody would join them. Even if they didn't like the punching, most likely they would simply be a bystanders.

Comment author: plethora 24 January 2017 04:54:19PM 0 points [-]

If Nazis got punched all the time, they would be perceived as weak and nobody would join them.

Two thousand years ago, some guy in the Roman Empire got nailed to a piece of wood and left to die. How did that turn out?

Comment author: Viliam 23 January 2017 09:51:16AM 0 points [-]

In particular, rationality tends to give advice like “ignore your intuitions/feelings, and rely on conscious reasoning and explicit calculation”. Postrationality, on the other hand, says “actually, intuitions and feelings are really important, let’s see if we can work with them instead of against them”.

Postrationality recognizes that System 1 and System 2 (if they even exist) have different strengths and weaknesses, and what we need is an appropriate interplay between the two.

This would make me a post-rationalist, too.

Postrationalists don’t think that death, suffering, and the forces of nature are cosmic evils that need to be destroyed.

Postrationalists enjoy surrealist art and fiction.

This wouldn't.

I guess the second part is more important, because the first part is mostly a strawman.

Comment author: plethora 24 January 2017 04:45:29PM 0 points [-]

I guess the second part is more important, because the first part is mostly a strawman.

Not in my experience. It may seem like it now, but that's because the postrationalists won the argument.

Comment author: Viliam 20 January 2017 01:35:47PM *  5 points [-]

One important difference between LW and SSC: Everyone knows that SSC is Scott's blog. Scott is a dictator, and if he wants to announce his own opinions visibly, he can post them in a separate article, in a way no one else can compete with. It would be difficult to misrepresent Scott's opinions by posting on SSC.

LW is a group blog (Eliezer is no longer active here). So in addition to talk about individual users who post here, it also makes sense to ask what does the "hive mind" think, i.e. what is the general consensus here. Especially because we talk here about Aumann agreement theorem, wisdom of crowds, etc. So people can be curious about the "wisdom of the LW crowd".

Similarly, when a third party describes SSC, they cannot credibly accuse Scott of what someone else wrote in the comments; the dividing line between Scott and his comentariat is obvious. But it is quite easy to cherry-pick some LW comments and say "this is what the LW community actually believes".

There were repeated attempts to create a fake image of what the LW community believes, coming as far as I know from two sources. First, various "SJWs" were offended that some opinions were not banned here, and that some topics were allowed to be discussed calmly. (It doesn't matter whether the problematic opinion was a minority opinion, or even whether it was downvoted. The fact that it wasn't immediately censored is enough to cause outrage.)

Second, the neoreactionary community decided to use these accusations as a recruitment tool, and they started spreading a rumor that the rationalist community indeed supports them. There was a time when they tried to make LW about neoreaction, by repeatedly creating discussion threads about themselves. Such as: "Political thread: neoreactionaries, tell me what do you find most rational about neoreaction"; obviously fishing for positive opinions. Then they used such threads as a "proof" that rationalists indeed find neoreaction very rational, etc. -- After some time they gave up and disappeared. Only Eugine remained here, creating endless sockpuppets for downvoting anti-nr comments, and upvoting pro-nr comments, persistently maintaining the illusion of neoreaction being overrepresented (or even represented) in the rationalist comminity.

tl;dr -- on LW people can play astroturfing games about "what the rationalist community actually believes", and it regularly happens, and it is very annoying for those who recognize they are being manipulated; on SSC such games don't make sense, because Scott can make his opinion quite clear

Comment author: plethora 24 January 2017 04:41:33PM 0 points [-]

Similarly, when a third party describes SSC, they cannot credibly accuse Scott of what someone else wrote in the comments; the dividing line between Scott and his comentariat is obvious.

They can accuse Scott of being the sort of fascist who would have a [cherry-picking two or three comments that aren't completely in approval of the latest Salon thinkpiece] far-right extremist commentariat. And they do.

Comment author: gworley 19 January 2017 07:43:19PM 8 points [-]

I think a serious issue with posting content on Less Wrong, and why I don't do it beyond link posts, is that Less Wrong feels like a ghetto, in that it's a place only for an outcast subset of the population. I don't feel like I can just share Less Wrong articles to many places because Less Wrong lacks respectability in wider society and is only respectable with those who are part of the LW ghetto's culture.

This doesn't mean the ghetto needs to be destroyed, but it does suggest that many of our brightest folks will seek other venues for expression that are more respectable, even if it's dropping (rising) to the neutral level of respectability offered by an anonymous blog. We might come home and prefer to live in LW (the discussions), but an important part of our public selves is oriented towards participating with the larger world.

Maybe as a reader you'd like Less Wrong to be a better place to read things again, just as the average person living in a ghetto may prefer for its luminaries to continue to focus their efforts inward and thus make the ghetto better on average, but as a writer Less Wrong doesn't feel to me like a place I want to work unless I don't think I can make myself respectable to a wider audience.

Comment author: plethora 24 January 2017 04:39:37PM 0 points [-]

I don't feel like I can just share Less Wrong articles to many places because Less Wrong lacks respectability in wider society and is only respectable with those who are part of the LW ghetto's culture.

That's mostly a CSS problem. The respectability of a linked LW article would, I think, be dramatically increased if the place looked more professional. Are there any web designers in the audience?

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