Meetup Notes: Community Building

Review of our fifth LessWrong Meetup—Report from Berlin


We had visitors fank1 and just_existing from the Bielefeld/​Paderborn Meetup. The meetup was great. It was a continuously lively discussion with everybody contributing personal and/​or insightful and/​or relevant pieces.

After ashort introduction of each other (because of the guests) we plunged immediately into interesting discussions mostly revolving around LeeWrong topics.

In between I retold my very positive experience from the Berlin LW community event. After a short summary about the effects of meditation we had a Mnemonics session inspired by the Berlin workshop.

One on-going topic was “Extrovert in Training”—techniques for and experience with getting in touch with people. How to start a conversation. What I still don’t get is how to steer a conversation from small-talk phase to more personal topics—esp. in a group setting. Though this was not a problem during the meetup.

We also discussed selection pressure on humans. We agreed that there is almost none on mutations affecting health in general due to medicine. But we agreed that there is tremendous pressure on contraception. We identified four ways evolution works around contraception (see appendix for a short summary). We discussed what effects this could on the future of society. The movie Idiocracy was mentioned. This could be a long term (a few generations) existential risk.

There were other topcis which I recollect less clearly. Maybe the participants can comment on them below.

There will definitely be more LW Hamburg meetups. The next step is a joint Skype meetup with the Bielefeld group. I also relayed the Jonas Vollmers advice to get in contact with the Giordano-Bruno-Stiftung.

The meetup ended with a photo and positive impression feedback round (peak-end rule). Afterwards out guests from Bielefeld stayed overnight in my (Gunnars) place.


Four ways evolution works around contraception:

  1. Biological factors. Examples are hormones compensating the contraception effects of the pill or allergies against condoms. These are easily recognized, measured and countered by the much faster operating pharma industry. There are also little ethical issues with this.

  2. Subconscious mental factors. Factors mostly leading to non- or mis-use of contraception. Examples are carelessness, impulsiveness, fear, and insufficient understanding of the contraceptives usage. These are what some fear leads to collective stultification.

  3. Conscious mental factors. Factors leading to explicit family planning e.g. children/​family as terminal goals. The lead to a conscious use of contraception. The effect is less pronounced but likely leads to healthy and better educated children.

  4. Group selection factors. These are factors favoring groups which collectively have more children. The genetic effects are likely weak here but the memetic effects are strong. A culture with social norms against contraception or for large families are likely to out-birth other groups.

The last one appears to be the strongest factor.

Other LW Hamburg Meetup reviews