[Link] “An OKCupid Profile of a Rationalist”

The ra­tio­nal­ist in ques­tion, of course, is our very own EY.

Quotes giv­ing a rea­son­able sam­ple of the spec­trum of re­ac­tions:

Epic Fail on the e-har­mony pro­file. He’s over-sig­nal­ling in­tel­li­gence. There’s a good pa­per about how much to op­ti­mally sig­nal, like when you have a PhD to put it on your busi­ness card or not. This guy is go­ing around giv­ing out busi­ness cards that read Prof. Dr. John Doe, PhD, MA, BA. He won’t be get­ting laid any time soon.

His pro­file is prob­a­bly very effec­tive for as­pergery girls who like read­ing the kinds of things that ap­pear on LessWrong. Yud­kowsky is ba­si­cally a celebrity within a small niche of hy­per-nerdy ra­tio­nal­ists, so I doubt he has much trou­ble get­ting laid by girls in that com­mu­nity.

You make it sound like a cult leader or some­thing....And read­ing the pro­file again with that lens, it ac­tu­ally makes a lot of sense.

I was about to agree [that the pro­file is over­shar­ing], but then come to think of it, I re­al­ize I have an or­gasm de­nial fetish, too. It’s an aroused prefer­ence that never es­caped to my non-aroused self-con­scious­ness.

Why is this im­por­tant to con­sider?

LessWrong as a com­mu­nity is ded­i­cated to try­ing to “raise the san­ity wa­ter­line,” and its most re­spected mem­bers in par­tic­u­lar put a lot of re­sources into out­reach, via CFAR, HPMoR, and main­tain­ing this site. But a big fac­tor in how peo­ple per­ceive our brand of ra­tio­nal­ity is about image. If we’re se­ri­ous about rais­ing the san­ity wa­ter­line, that means image man­age­ment—or at least avoid­ing ac­tive image malprac­tice—is some­thing we should en­thu­si­as­ti­cally em­brace as a way to achieve our goals. [1]

This is also a valuable ex­er­cise in con­sid­er­ing the out­side view. Marginal Revolu­tion is already a fairly WEIRD site, fo­cused on ab­stract eco­nomic is­sues. If any ma­jor blog is likely to be sym­pa­thetic to our cul­tural quirks, this would be it. Yet a plu­ral­ity of com­menters re­acted nega­tively.

To the ex­tent that we didn’t no­tice any­thing strange about LW’s figure­head hav­ing this OKCupid pro­file, LW ei­ther failed at cal­ibrat­ing main­stream re­ac­tion, or failed at con­se­quen­tial­ism and re­al­iz­ing the drag this would have on our other re­cruit­ment efforts. In our last dis­cus­sion, there were only a few com­menters rais­ing con­cerns, and the con­sen­sus of the thread was that it was harm­less and had no PR con­se­quences worth not­ing.

As one com­menter co­gently put it,

I’m not say­ing that he’s try­ing to make a state­ment with this, I’m say­ing that he is mak­ing a state­ment about this whether he’s try­ing to or not. Ideas have con­se­quences for how we live our lives, and that Eliezer has a pub­lic, iden­ti­fi­able pro­file up where he talks about his sex­ual fetishes is not some sort of ran­domly oc­cur­ring event with no re­la­tion­ship to his other ideas.

I’d ar­gue the same rea­son­ing ap­plies to the com­mu­nity at large, not just EY speci­fi­cally.

[1] From Anna’s ex­cel­lent ar­ti­cle: 5. I con­sciously at­tempt to wel­come bad news, or at least not push it away. (Re­cent ex­am­ple from Eliezer: At a brain­storm­ing ses­sion for fu­ture Sin­gu­lar­ity Sum­mits, one is­sue raised was that we hadn’t re­ally been ask­ing for money at pre­vi­ous ones. My brain was offer­ing re­sis­tance, so I ap­plied the “bad news is good news” pat­tern to rephrase this as, “This point doesn’t change the fixed amount of money we raised in past years, so it is good news be­cause it im­plies that we can fix the strat­egy and do bet­ter next year.”)