I’ve curated this post, for these three reasons (starting with the most important):
It lays out the implicit goings-on in a great many social interactions, and it does so with a simple, technical explanation.
The main point is not one I’ve seen written up explicitly before, and seems to fit in well with my models of the world. It personally gave me a much greater affordance to notice when some social interaction / conflict is not has more than three meta levels to it, and requires the use of external working memory.
It was quite readable and relatively short. It especially laid out useful metadata on the context—I feel I have a good sense of why you wrote the post and what caused you to believe the content of the post—without getting in the way of the core point of the post.
My thoughts on extensions and improvements:
I’d be interested to read more concrete accounts of people using this when resolving interpersonal conflicts/confusions in their lives, and what particular heuristics helped them.
Seeing people figure out how it affects the points+conclusions of other writings on this topic (e.g. the ones you link to by Duncan and myself). (Alas, I have opinions on this that do not fit in this small margin.)
Personally, this post managed to describe levels of social meta in common knowledge that I had run away scared from trying to explain in my post on the topic (I just quoted someone else’s explanation at length). I spent a while trying to think about how to explain its involvement in one-on-one social interactions, and had not come up with anything as concrete and clear (if a little cognitively taxing) as this one.
Also, you mention that you think that the community probably would prefer this quick post than no post at all, and that you think others will be able and happy to think about it + test it for themselves if it seems important. This seems correct to me—when you only have the time for a two-hour post, writing it and giving this context at the head of a post is great, can be very valuable, and I’m really glad you did it. Generally it seems both that folks are very happy you wrote this MVP version, and that they will try to test it out. (To those of you who do try it out, writing your experiences up in a LW post can be really helpful to others!)
Oh, one other thought I had when reading this post: It seems to me that, when trying to come up with good explanations, people reliably don’t consider ones that don’t fit nicely into working memory. (Some would even say that the very definition of a good explanation is compressing a hypothesis to fit into fewer working memory slots.) But I notice that here it lead to people actually not considering true hypotheses (that more than three meta levels are being used). Perhaps this is merely another point in favour of the ‘use external working memory’ argument, but I can’t help but feel there is some more specific heuristic it recommends about the class of questions where we’re likely to make this mistake.