there used to be just a few newspapers serving all the bubbles
I think that this in particular is a positive factor for quality of discourse / general intelligence, at least for large segments of the population.
Monoculture TV was trending towards 20-minute sitcom episodes, but now that we have HBO/Netflix many people choose to watch 10-hour seasons with complex stories. Radio and TV had talk shows with 5-minute interviews, now millions choose to listen to 2-hour podcasts. National magazines for nerds had to appeal to all nerds in the nation, but now I can choose to read LessWrong.
Certainly some people choose simpler and stupider. But when there was no choice, the mass media had to appeal to the common denominator—maybe not the 1st percentile of simplicity and stupidity but at most the 20th, not the 50th. This means that most people get smarter things when they have freedom to choose more niche media.
Find your way past the proselytizers to the calmer, more-mature non-evangelist obsessives.
If you write an excellent post about your obsession that gets 196 upvotes on LW, I’ll find it even if I don’t really share the obsession. That was kinda my point—people discover their own obsessions because they found something important / fascinating, not because someone shamed them into caring about it.
It’s interesting that you chose Brexit as the best example of a tight vote on a single issue with clear and massive advantage to one side—the best possible case for voting. And yet, even with Brexit it’s easy to make the case for discounting the apparent impact of voting.
$3 trillion gained by remaining in the EU.
$3 trillion gained to whom? A lot of people who voted “Leave” would probably agree that Brexit will lower GDP, but they clearly think that the benefits of leaving (in social cohesion, security, whatever) are greater than the GDP hit. You could say that they’re voting selfishly and that the lost GDP accrues to all Europeans and the narrow benefits only to them, but that’s a problematic argument—why didn’t the Europeans selflessly vote to safeguard the interests of rural Britons? As you noted, even pure altruism often (and unfortunately) stops at a nation’s borders.
The half of Britain who voted to leave think that the benefits of leaving to them, and thus to half of Britain, is greater than $3 trillion. If we could sum up actual utils accrued to people, rather than dollars accrued to some national accounts, how certain can you be that the number is even positive given that half the nation disagrees with you?
Many ‘Remainers’ who wish to stay in the EU want a second referendum on the matter; recently, hundreds of thousands of them marched through London to call for one.
So even in the cleanest possible case of a single-issue referendum, the decision that was voted on is yet to be implemented. And when you vote for candidates with a whole list of proposals, the chance that electing the candidate will get the actual proposal implemented is much lower still.
My argument is that doing the math on voting makes it look a lot worse than you’d naively assume, not that the math comes out against voting in every possible case. But this also means that just because the math may barely favor voting on Brexit it doesn’t mean that it will for other, dirtier cases.
Said, I hope take comment below as positive, because that is how I mean it. I am trying to honestly communicate my own experience, not pass judgment. This is 100% sincere and unironic.
Said, I have seen a lot of your comments on LW, on my posts and the posts of others. They are, by my standards, high on criticism and low on niceness. I personally formed an impression of you as disagreeable. Even though I have argued myself that LW should optimize for honesty over niceness, still the impression of you disagreeableness was colored negatively in my mind.
But now that you’ve stated that you’re disagreeable on purpose, the negative effect flipped entirely to become positive. Instead of you being disagreeable by accident, it’s intentional. I like diversity, and I support people who are on a mission to bring a new flavor to the community. Knowing this also makes it easier to take criticism from you—it’s not that you hate me or what I write, it’s just that you don’t care if someone thinks you hate them and their writing. The Bayesian update in the two cases is very different!
This isn’t to say that Kaj is wrong in being more cautious, or that you are wrong in not being cautious. Do your own thing, and own it.
Hold on. If you had asked me how this post fares on the rule of three, I would have said “two”.
True—I honestly think that the pattern of “someone is against my group so they must be against our stated principles” is both a mistake that people make in their own head, and a rhetorical device they use against the outgroup.
Relevant—Recognizing this pattern can allow people to overcome bias and better understand arguments, outgrouping, and tribal fights in general. Also, I haven’t seen this exact idea formulated.
Kind—Nope. I could have chosen to write a bloodless post full of generalities, or a snarky post using Ezra Klein as a salient example. I chose the second option on purpose.
You seem to disagree with the “true” claim. Do you disagree with what I wrote above about the pattern? Or do you think that this wasn’t the central point of the article, and that something else is both false and central (such as whether identity/gender/race cleave Americans into two tribes)?
Thanks for the clarification. That was my impression as well, and I didn’t expect this post to be on the frontpage.
With that said: if you remember off the top of your head, can you link to some content that dealt with CW/political issues but still met frontpage standards? Would my Quillette piece meet the standards? The less lazy version of Jacob that you envisioned is discouraged partly because he doesn’t know what the standards are for touchy subjects and is worried that even if he tried it won’t be on the frontpage.
(To be clear, the real version of Jacob is just too lazy to do major rewrites of posts for LW, it has nothing to do with standard ambiguity).
not something I’d like to see on LW
And also not something I would write on the old LW. But it seems weird to censor out snark when cross-posting things from Putanumonit, although I’m beginning to think that I should have done so.
demon threads are not as inevitable
That’s actually part of why I wanted to write this. I’ve written some moderately controversial stuff on Putanumonit, and yet I hadn’t had to moderate any demon threads. And the barrier to participation on LW is even higher than on Putanumonit, with the karma system and the prevailing norms here. My post on Jordan Peterson has >150 comments on LW, and almost all of them are good. It’s important to remember that sometimes you can mention a demon by name and the demon *isn’t* summoned.
if you wanted to partition the population into two clusters as cleanly as possible
I wouldn’t really want to do that, because the US is made up of dozens of clusters who end up in tenuous alliances, not two groups. Some people mostly care about abortion, some about the economy of their small town, some about preserving their Christian/hippie/Pakistani/furry subculture, some about X-risk and climate change, and many don’t really care about any policy topic at all, just about fitting in with their friends and neighbors.
A plausible model of Dave Rubin is that he cares about gay rights and free speech, so 10 years ago he was a leftist (because gay rights issues were salient and leftists were his allies), and today he’s an anti-leftist (because gay marriage is a done deal, and leftists are now his enemies on free speech). The issues didn’t change, but the clusters of alliances did.
I agree, “Jihadis act as if they hate American intervention in Muslim countries” or “Jihadis want to consolidate power and support in their communities” is a better model than “Jihadis act as if they hate Americans”. My point was that all three are way better models than “Jihadis hate our freedom (tm)”.
That quote from Klein seems to me to be paralleled by a Catholic saying: “The divides today that define which side you’re really on revolve around issues of the Trinity, the Eucharist, and Papal infallibility”. Such a Catholic will not see much difference between a Jew and a Hindu because both disagree with her statements about the Pope.
I was at a party with several rationalists on Saturday and met people who did not who Kavanaugh was, let alone Damore or Sage Sharp or Molyneux. And those are all millenials, how many 60-year-olds spare zero thought to “race, gender, identity, and equality”? It seems strange to claim that the world is divided into pro-X and anti-X when a huge number of people don’t know about X, don’t want to think about X, or just want everyone else to shut up about X. And if you divide the world into “care about X” vs. “don’t care about X” then Klein and Richard Spencer are going to be in the “care about what color Americans are” group, and I’ll be in the other.
I think that the issue here is a more general one, about the structure, purpose, and norms of the new LW.
This is not a LW post, it’s a Putanumonit post. I rarely write about culture war on Putanumonit, but I also don’t censor myself. Now when it comes to cross-posting on LW, it seems that there are two possible goals for LW that are in conflict:
1. LW being a central hub and one-stop-shop for the entire rationalist diaspora, and all rationalist bloggers are encourage to cross-post everything to it.
2. LW being CW-free, and all members are encouraged to keep politics and culture war entirely out of it.
In terms of what *will* happen, I am happy to follow the will of the LW leadership team. If they ask me to remove this post or change it to a link post, I will.
In terms of what *should* happen, I strongly support #1. There can be a norm that CWish content is kept out of Frontpage and Curated, but I think there’s a big benefit to having everything on LW. I write to engage smart people in my ideas, and that’s exactly what is happening here. Despite the touchiness of the post’s subject, the comments so far are mostly civil and relevant. Rationalists should be able to write non-mind-killed things about CW-related subjects (I hope this one qualifies) and have non-mind-killed conversations about them.
Ultimately, this is a big part of what rationalists *are* talking about: in private blogs, on Reddit, in real life. If LW is our home, there should be a place for those topics on LW, even if with higher standards and stricter norms of discussion.
But the blind spot that you’re accusing Klein of is one which implicitly assumes that he thinks in terms of ITTs, tribes which are distinct from ideologies, etc.
Oh, wow. The main point I tried to get across is in fact that Klein *doesn’t* think in terms of ITTs and ideology-is-not-movement, and that’s why he’s led into thinking that Rubin is a reactionary. My fault here isn’t falling into my own trap (which the last two paragraphs explicitly address), but unclear writing.
I read this comment five times and I have no idea what you mean. Does “an article” refer to this one, and the irony is that I’m too absorbed in my own ideology? If so, what am I missing: the fact that Klein can pass the IDW’s ITT, or the irrelevance of ITTs to the subject, or something else?
I usually cross-post the entire article if:
1. It’s related to rationality and the sort of thing I would post to LW if I didn’t have Putanumonit.
2. It doesn’t have a lot of images and tables I’ll have to reload and reformat.
3. I’m not too lazy.
This time, the fault was mostly with #3.
Local communities have also become more fragmented, which makes them a better fit for a lot of people but doesn’t involve them in “citizenship”. Example: I help organize the NYC rationality meetup, a league soccer team, a group of circlers, Effective Altruism events etc. All of those help me build ties and standing in my focused social groups, but none of them carry any broad reputation benefits in the vein of Mr. Smith.
When Boy Scouts were the only game in town then everyone could agree on the merits of being a scout leader, but also a lot of kids who would have been happier circling or playing soccer or double cruxing were stuck learning knots or whatever.
I never even noticed that those are two different things! This was not a typo, it was a glaring hole in my education. Thank you for filling it up.
Oh, and pedantic correction: you misspelled *silicone* with an extra *l*.