Inferential silence

Every now and then, I write an LW com­ment on some topic and feel that the con­tents of my com­ment pretty much set­tles the is­sue de­ci­sively. In­stead, the com­ment seems to get ig­nored en­tirely—it ei­ther gets very few votes or none, no­body re­sponds to it, and the dis­cus­sion gen­er­ally con­tinues as if it had never been posted.

Similarly, ev­ery now and then I see some­body else make a post or com­ment that they clearly feel is de­ci­sive, but which doesn’t seem very in­ter­est­ing to me. Either it seems to be say­ing some­thing ob­vi­ous, or I don’t get its con­nec­tion to the topic at hand in the first place.

This seems like it would be about in­fer­en­tial dis­tance: ei­ther the writer doesn’t know the things that make the reader ex­pe­rience the com­ment as un­in­ter­est­ing, or the reader doesn’t know the things that make the writer ex­pe­rience the com­ment as in­ter­est­ing. So there’s in­fer­en­tial silence—a suffi­ciently long in­fer­en­tial dis­tance that a claim doesn’t pro­voke even ob­jec­tions, just un­com­pre­hend­ing or in­differ­ent silence.

But “ex­plain your rea­son­ing in more de­tail” doesn’t seem like it would help with the is­sue. For one, we of­ten don’t know be­fore­hand when peo­ple don’t share our as­sump­tions. Also, some of the com­ments or posts that seem to en­counter this kind of a fate are already rel­a­tively long. For ex­am­ple, Wei Dai won­dered why MIRI-af­fili­ated peo­ple don’t of­ten re­spond to his posts that raise crit­i­cisms, and I es­sen­tially replied that I found the con­tent of his post rel­a­tively ob­vi­ous so didn’t have much to say.

Per­haps peo­ple could more of­ten ex­plic­itly com­ment if they no­tice that some­thing that a poster seems to con­sider a big thing doesn’t seem very in­ter­est­ing or mean­ingful to them, and briefly ex­plain why? Even a sen­tence or two might be helpful for the origi­nal poster.