[Previous] Social Reality and Real Reality | Home | [Next] Second-handedness Examples

Static Memes Are About Social Dynamics

This post shares recent conjectures. I’m less confident than usual. I’m confident there’s something important and irrational about social dynamics (which is not a recent or original thought), but I’m less confident about the connection with static memes in particular (which is an original idea covering specifics that David Deutsch left mostly unspecified).


The core static memes (see Third Type of Meme: Static Companion Memes and comments, which I'm following up on) are second-handedness (see The Fountainhead) and related social orientation instead of reality orientation. The way static memes suppress critical faculties is by getting people to judge in terms of the opinions of other people, and their social status, rather than in terms of facts, logic and reality. Static memes get people to replace their connection with objective reality with a connection with social dynamics.

Static societies are similar to what Elsworth Toohey described to Peter Keating in The Fountainhead (emphasis added):

“ ... A world of obedience and of unity. A world where the thought of each man will not be his own, but an attempt to guess the thought in the brain of his neighbor who’ll have no thought of his own but an attempt to guess the thought of the next neighbor who’ll have no thought—and so on, Peter, around the globe. Since all must agree with all. A world where no man will hold a desire for himself, but will direct all his efforts to satisfy the desires of his neighbor who’ll have no desires except to satisfy the desires of the next neighbor who’ll have no desires—around the globe, Peter. Since all must serve all. A world in which man will not work for so innocent an incentive as money, but for that headless monster—prestige. The approval of his fellows—their good opinion—the opinion of men who’ll be allowed to hold no opinion.... Judgment, Peter? Not judgment, but public polls. An average drawn upon zeroes—since no individuality will be permitted.... I want power.... Let all live for all. Let all sacrifice and none profit. Let all suffer and none enjoy. Let progress stop. Let all stagnate. There’s equality in stagnation. All subjugated to the will of all. Universal slavery—without even the dignity of a master. Slavery to slavery. A great circle—and a total equality....”

Static companion memes, then, are socially calibrated behaviors – they compete to better fit into the social game instead of being useful or reality-oriented. Most of the social rules (in detail re particular things) and behaviors don’t create or cause the social game itself, they just make sense within it. An example is being passive-aggressive (or more specifically a particular insult like saying something is a “bad look” or “weird”). That’s something which is adapted to the selection pressures of social games instead of the selection pressures of dealing with reality. Wearing fashionable clothes, learning recent jargon for a subculture, trying to please others, and all sorts of social climbing are static companion memes. They’re evolved not to directly suppress thinking but to be effective in the social world created by the core static memes to shut down creative thought about reality.

Consequently, it’s informative to analyze many things in two ways: in terms of reality (facts, logic, science, literal meanings of word, etc.) and in terms of social reality (what people think of it, its meaning in social status contests). Many misunderstandings and clashes between people in our mixed society are because one person, at this time, is focusing on real reality while the other is focusing on social reality.

David Deutsch described in The Fabric of Reality how (in his experience) scientists only have a scientific mindset at certain times and use a social mindset at other times. Italics are DD’s, bolds are my emphasis:

I have sometimes found myself on the minority side of fundamental scientific controversies. But I have never come across anything like a Kuhnian situation. Of course, as I have said, the majority of the scientific community is not always quite as open to criticism as it ideally should be. Nevertheless, the extent to which it adheres to ‘proper scientific practice’ in the conduct of scientific research is nothing short of remarkable. You need only attend a research seminar in any fundamental field in the ‘hard’ sciences to see how strongly people's behaviour as researchers differs from human behaviour in general. Here we see a learned professor, acknowledged as the leading expert in the entire field, delivering a seminar. The seminar room is filled with people from every rank in the hierarchy of academic research, from graduate students who were introduced to the field only weeks ago, to other professors whose prestige rivals that of the speaker. The academic hierarchy is an intricate power structure in which people's careers, influence and reputation are continuously at stake, as much as in any cabinet room or boardroom — or more so. Yet so long as the seminar is in progress it may be quite hard for an observer to distinguish the participants’ ranks. The most junior graduate student asks a question: ‘Does your third equation really follow from the second one? Surely that term you omitted is not negligible.’ The professor is sure that the term is negligible, and that the student is making an error of judgement that someone more experienced would not have made. So what happens next?

In an analogous situation, a powerful chief executive whose business judgement was being contradicted by a brash new recruit might say, ‘Look, I've made more of these judgements than you've  had hot dinners. If I tell you it works, then it works.’ A senior politician might say in response to criticism from an obscure but ambitious party worker, ‘Whose side are you on, anyway?’ Even our professor, away from the research context (while delivering an undergraduate lecture, say) might well reply dismissively, ‘You'd better learn to walk before you can run. Read the textbook, and meanwhile don't waste your time and ours.’ But in the research seminar any such response to criticism would cause a wave of embarrassment to pass through the seminar room. People would avert their eyes and pretend to be diligently studying their notes. There would be smirks and sidelong glances. Everyone would be shocked by the sheer impropriety of such an attitude. In this situation, appeals to authority (at least, overt ones) are simply not acceptable, even when the most senior person in the entire field is addressing the most junior.

So the professor takes the student's point seriously, and responds with a concise but adequate argument in defence of the disputed equation. The professor tries hard to show no sign of being irritated by criticism from so lowly a source. Most of the questions from the floor will have the form of criticisms which, if valid, would diminish or destroy the value of the professor's life's work. But bringing vigorous and diverse criticism to bear on accepted truths is one of the very purposes of the seminar. Everyone takes it for granted that the truth is not obvious, and that the obvious need not be true; that ideas are to be accepted or rejected according to their content and not their origin; that the greatest minds can easily make mistakes; and that the most trivial-seeming objection may be the key to a great new discovery.

So the participants in the seminar, while they are engaged in science, do behave in large measure with scientific rationality. But now the seminar ends. Let us follow the group into the dining-hall. Immediately, normal human social behaviour reasserts itself. The professor is treated with deference, and sits at a table with those of equal rank. A chosen few from the lower ranks are given the privilege of being allowed to sit there too. The conversation turns to the weather, gossip or (especially) academic politics. So long as those subjects are being discussed, all the dogmatism and prejudice, the pride and loyalty, the threats and flattery of typical human interactions in similar circumstances will reappear. But if the conversation happens to revert to the subject of the seminar, the scientists instantly become scientists again. Explanations are sought, evidence and argument rule, and rank becomes irrelevant to the course of the argument. That is, at any rate, my experience in the fields in which I have worked.

DD describes a world in which social behavior is the norm, but some men temporarily set it aside to think like scientists capable of learning something about reality instead of about who thinks who has a higher social rank than who.

See also The Law of Least Effort as an example of insightful analysis of social dynamics. While some basics about social status and interaction are well known, lots of the details and rules are not well known (or there are well known myths about them).

The core static memes are things which cause this situation and create the social game in the first place, rather than the consequences and details of it. It's whatever makes people second-handed rather than the latest fashion which isn't responsible for the situation. The law of least effort is something deep enough it could be closely related to a core static meme instead of being a superficial consequence like men holding doors open for women, but it's hard to tell.


In response to the basic idea that social dynamics are the essence of irrationality, there's a question one should ask. What about some other candidates for major irrationality issues? For example, superstition, religion and coercive parenting. How do those things fit into this picture?

Religion is a mix of social interaction and superstition (and some useful life advice), so let's turn to superstition. When people are oriented to social reality instead of physical reality, they lose touch with facts and logic. They judge a superstition not by whether it's true but by whether high social status people believe it.

For parenting, a lot of what parents do is socialize their children. They make them learn to defer to parental authority. They make them learn the social hierarchy of society and how to get along with others. When they say "Because I said so..." they mean because a higher status person said it to a much lower status person.


The problem I've been thinking about, which this post is in response to, is what's going on with people who won't/can't read literally, think logically, get facts right, be precise, etc. Why can't we have some common ground, as a basis for discussion, using standard dictionary English and some simple facts?

It's because they read and write sentences in terms of the loose gist for the reality meaning and focus mostly on the social meaning. While I read and write in terms of the reality meaning while paying only a little attention to the social meaning (overall, I do a lot better than random chance at e.g. not being rude – that shows some awareness of social meanings).

When I ask people to meet me, as common ground, at facts and logic – try to get some little details correct and focus on correctness and go step by step – it doesn't work because they're so oriented to the social world.

When I talk about problems like overreaching or lack of paths forward, those don't work with most people because they are reality/facts/etc oriented. They seem fundamental to me from my perspective, but they aren't designed to have the right social meanings to work for socially-focused people. Overreaching is not the fundamental problem of an overreacher. Living in social reality instead of actual reality is their fundamental problem.


Elliot Temple on December 29, 2019

Comments (47)

Bias, a common sort of irrationality, is because in social reality the downside of bias (contradicting facts and logic) is basically meaningless. That's what allows bias to be so large and prevalent.

Biases that have negative social consequences are suppressed quite a bit.


curi at 10:02 PM on December 29, 2019 | #14970 | reply | quote

VSE on Discord went into (mostly) reality mode yesterday for an hour or two. It was like DD's story about scientists acting differently – scientifically – at seminars or when scientific topics come up at dinner.

VSE did it with logical argument rather than science.

It's hard for me to trigger that mode because he only does it with some specific jargon and rigid, formal approaches to problems. They aren't very good or productive approaches, in general, so I don't use them much in my own writing.

It was stuff about trying to express ideas in syllogisms and definitions. The actual substance of what he said was dumb but I think that was because he's bad at it, not because of social dynamics (so it was genuine errors of ignorance while doing reality-oriented thinking). This made it possible to talk with him for a little while, ask and answer questions with short answers that were understood, and correct him on a few points, without much difficulty, such that he actually accepted the correction and changed his mind (on the narrow issue – but overall he kept trying to make the same false claim using a series of different wordings and approaches while never reconsidering it or trying to address the substance of the arguments against it).

All of a sudden, conversation got much easier and basically possible because he had joined me in trying to think in relation to reality, facts, logic, etc., so we were on the same page in a fundamental way. He was pretty inexperienced and ignorant but it still worked much better. But most of the time he's just a sneering social climber. And I can't write my material in general to work well for people like that because academic jargon philosophy stuff is bad and has major incompatibilities with the productive work I do.


curi at 10:54 PM on December 29, 2019 | #14971 | reply | quote

Example of social (focusing on social reality instead of reality): paying attention to when other people check their watch and reading meaning into it (like they have somewhere to be soon or they're bored and want the current thing to end).


curi at 12:07 AM on December 30, 2019 | #14972 | reply | quote

#14971 For VSE, logic mode is an uncommon exception and he assumes it is for everyone else too and he assumes if people aren't doing major visible signs of logic mode then they aren't doing logic (I do logic mode casually, but he doesn't recognize it because I don't socially signal it).


curi at 12:18 AM on December 30, 2019 | #14973 | reply | quote

For a person in reason mode, a person in social mode appears to be discussing in bad faith.

And for a person in social mode, a person in reason mode appears to be discussing in bad faith.


curi at 12:32 AM on December 30, 2019 | #14974 | reply | quote

The problem I run into a lot is that there is no way to continue the real reality portion of the discussion without it being offensive in terms of social reality.

E.g. a person in real reality is ignorant and unskilled, needs to read, practice, ask questions, and act like a student. And they're overreaching and need to aim lower, reduce ambitiousness of projects, etc., to stop failing – and behind that is the idea they are currently failing in some way. *These things are viewed negative in social reality.* Reason mode sees them as facts which can be addressed with appropriate reaction. Social mode sees them as attacks on people *which prevents problem solving.*


curi at 12:38 AM on December 30, 2019 | #14976 | reply | quote

The English language is on the side of reality and reason. It's poorly suited for social. People speaking social misuse words a ton. It's one of the notable things about them. Words seem like pesky literal facts to them which they want to tl;dr. This is interesting. Language is *old*. Why isn't our language worse?

English has a bit of social bit in like gendered pronouns. Japanese and some others have significantly more like Japanese has different ways of speaking to a person based on your and their social status. But I think reality-oriented words dominate in Japanese too, just like in English. Basically most of the nouns, verbs and modifiers name things, actions and traits that exist in reality in a factual and literal way. I think nouns are the simplest way to think about this. We have labels for tons of things that exist. Most of that isn't about social dynamics, it's much more like the early stages of science and dealing with reality and thinking and speaking in a way connected with reality. When you say "dog" and point at a dog, you're dealing with objective reality.

I don't really know but I'd imagine older languages like Latin, Hebrew and ancient Greek also were mostly reality oriented, e.g. they had a bunch of nouns to name different things that exist. I think static societies had that.


curi at 1:15 AM on December 30, 2019 | #14979 | reply | quote

https://curi.us/tcs/Articles/DDIsTCSRevolutionary.html

> TCS embraces fallibilism in a big way. Indeed, a radical fallibilism is essential to our reinterpretation of the centrepiece of education through the ages: the adult coercing the child for the child's own good. That familiar tableau is conventionally understood as the action of one person, involving one theory, presumed true. But we re-interpret it as a difference of opinion between two people, involving two theories, of which either or both may be false. Once we have reinterpreted it thus, rejecting it is almost a formality if we are committed to reason (as opposed to force, faith or magic) as the most effective means of resolving differences of opinion. We know that any protocol for dealing with conflicting opinions that refers to the attributes of the source rather than the content of each opinion, is anti-rational. The conventional ‘mommy knows best’ rule is one such. So is any protocol that depends for its action on one party being physically stronger than the other. A rational decision-making procedure has the property that its outcomes are independent of the participants' status and power; so a rational family is one whose behaviour would be essentially unchanged if the tables were miraculously turned and the children had all the legal rights, economic power and physical strength on their side.

*Judging by social status is the primary type of judging ideas by source.*

People don't judge ideas by the mass of the speaker or the number of carbon atoms in his brain. What sorts of attributes of sources of ideas do people care about besides social status related stuff? I guess a major exception people would try to bring up is their confusions re experts. https://curi.us/2173-judging-experts-by-the-objective-state-of-the-debate


curi at 1:49 AM on December 30, 2019 | #14980 | reply | quote

Today I learned something new. Prestige is one of the major, evil aspects of the social world. It's a type of social rank/status.

Where does the word prestige come from? What's the etymology?

It comes from *‘illusion, conjuring trick*!!!!!!!!


curi at 2:29 AM on December 30, 2019 | #14981 | reply | quote

Love is a force in social reality not physical reality.


curi at 2:34 AM on December 30, 2019 | #14982 | reply | quote

People often say they love someone in order for the words to have an effect on that person. It can be e.g. an ask/request (you should do this thing i want because i love you, that makes my requires count extra because love is important), an excuse (yeah I messed up but I love you), or obedience (children are required to say it to parents). People say love stuff for manipulation or because it's socially expected. You will get dumped for not saying it. To keep your options open, you say it and figure you can decide later, you aren't committing yourself to anything. People don't like knowing how dishonest and manipulative they are, though, so they don't think clearly when doing this.

Love also affects decision making. It's granting the person you love a high social status for you.


curi at 2:38 AM on December 30, 2019 | #14983 | reply | quote

*Why would I want to talk with you? What value do you have to offer? Do you think you know some stuff I don't (what?)?*

Most people read these questions as social. Like really strongly and clearly social. As being about who is how good, what place people have in the social hierarchy. The questions specifically get read as challenging the social status of the person being asked – as attacking/challenging him and making him defend himself.

But these questions, with no change in wording, also have productive, relevant, reasonable, literal-rational meanings.


curi at 3:40 AM on December 30, 2019 | #14984 | reply | quote

*If you're wrong, how will you find out and correct the error?*

Great, rational question but people read it socially. The social meaning can be read like: you're probably wrong and broken and should spend your time figuring out ways to fix yourself.

The social view is: you look for errors when someone of higher status tells you to. But if you're high status, then you can give orders to others and you don't have to worry about being wrong.

In social metaphysics, error *means* not doing as you're told by authorities (people with higher social status than you). And the question is kinda asking what punishments you will receive for your misbehavior. And it's questioning your social status without any argument that you're low social status. And it's suggesting you may have misbehaved without any argument that you misbehaved.


curi at 3:52 AM on December 30, 2019 | #14985 | reply | quote

> When I ask people to meet me, as common ground, at facts and logic – try to get some little details correct and focus on correctness and go step by step – it doesn't work because they're so oriented to the social world.

I think you should be more explicit that you're doing this. Most people are so caught up in social stuff that they don't see this request for what it is. It takes extra effort to get them to see such an unusual request clearly.


Anne B at 2:10 PM on December 30, 2019 | #14989 | reply | quote

#14989 But I was explicit repeatedly. Search for *common ground* in discord and see some examples.


curi at 3:43 PM on December 30, 2019 | #14991 | reply | quote

Some of the origin of the word "reputation: is repeatedly judging or believing. Thanks GISTE for finding this.

https://www.etymonline.com/search?q=reputation

> from re- "repeatedly" (see re-) + putare "to judge, suppose, believe, suspect,"


curi at 4:30 PM on December 30, 2019 | #14994 | reply | quote

Speedrunning is very good at disabling people's social mode and getting them into rational mode. People approach much more like scientists than they approach most stuff. It's so blatantly about objective reality – what buttons do what in the game, what strategies get what times, etc. – not about people's opinions.

Analyzing text is much worse at this. People are used to reading the social meaning of text and struggle with literal-rational reading. People are also bad at reading social comments and then saying what they mean because their social understanding isn't meant to be put into words and communicated clearly.


curi at 9:46 PM on December 30, 2019 | #14995 | reply | quote

#14991 True, you mentioned "common ground" a lot.

Maybe it would help to explicitly say you want to disregard the social world or get out of social mode or something. You'd have to explain what you mean. It's not obvious to most people.

On the other hand, even if people did understand what you meant, most wouldn't see a reason for doing what you suggest. They'd want the common ground to include the social world.


Anne B at 5:04 AM on December 31, 2019 | #14996 | reply | quote

Social Mode

#14995

I think programming would be equally as good as speedrunning for disabling social mode. It's also about objective reality (what code causes the computer to do what actions) rather than people's opinions. Do you agree?


Andy Dufresne at 7:07 AM on December 31, 2019 | #14997 | reply | quote

#14997 This doesn't answer your question about social mode, but here are some comments by curi about speedrunning vs programming (and other activities) as *preparation for learning philosophy*:

http://curi.us/2198-mario-odyssey-discussion#12369

http://curi.us/2198-mario-odyssey-discussion#12370

http://curi.us/2198-mario-odyssey-discussion#12371


Alisa at 10:14 AM on December 31, 2019 | #14998 | reply | quote

#14997 Yeah programming is good for reason-mode instead of social-mode. It has a culture in the same ballpark as math or hard science.

Some downsides and issues compared to speedrunning:

Programming is:

- Considerably harder and less accessible for most people.

- Often learned in school, from teachers, from courses, from textbooks, etc.

- Often done in teams instead of solo.

- Most code isn't optimized because CPUs are fast. Even when optimizing a bottleneck, it's very rare to try to improve it over and over similar to speedrunning.

- Lots of programmers do "glue" code between modules/features written by other people instead of learning to make much themselves.

- Lots of programmers don't understand half the stuff in their project and find lots of it is like "magic" and muddle through things.

- Software project design goals are generally considerably more vague than speedrun goals and much more likely to change midway.

- Software work often involves obeying a boss.

- Software projects finish and then you do a different one. You can't really retry the same area or keep playing the same thing more.

Regarding objectively testing how well you did at programming, and catching your mistakes: software projects often have hundreds of bugs that weren't found. Programmers make tons of mistakes without realizing it and those mistakes can be hard to find. Speedrunning has better transparency – it's harder to make mistakes without realizing it (especially in runs, as against routing).


curi at 3:14 PM on December 31, 2019 | #14999 | reply | quote

Competitive programming

#14999

Competitive programming, in which contestants race to solve small programming problems, ameliorates some of the above issues:

> - Most code isn't optimized because CPUs are fast. Even when optimizing a bottleneck, it's very rare to try to improve it over and over similar to speedrunning.

Competitive programming contestants try to optimize their code more than the average programmer.

> - Lots of programmers do "glue" code between modules/features written by other people instead of learning to make much themselves.

In competitive programming, I think you can only use your language's standard library and maybe a few other things. IIUC, you can't pull in three huge 3rd party libraries that, when combined, solve the problem for you.

> - Lots of programmers don't understand half the stuff in their project and find lots of it is like "magic" and muddle through things.

I guess that competitive programmers have a better-than-average understanding of the code they write.

> - Software project design goals are generally considerably more vague than speedrun goals and much more likely to change midway.

Competitive programming specifications are smaller and clearer than typical programming work assignments. Also, your results are judged by a computer.


Alisa at 7:34 PM on December 31, 2019 | #15001 | reply | quote

Programming

#14999 makes sense. Due to (mostly) accidents of time and circumstance I think many of the problems of programming you listed applied less than usual or not at all to the programming I did over my early career.

The ones I think did apply to pretty much all of it are:

> Software project design goals are generally considerably more vague than speedrun goals and much more likely to change midway.

I often had vague goals for the programs I was writing, particularly the ones I did outside of school (which was the vast majority). If one way to do what I wanted seemed hard I'd just work on a different way, or a whole different area.

> Software projects finish and then you do a different one. You can't really retry the same area or keep playing the same thing more.

Ya, once something was working I'd move on to some other area rather than re-try the same thing.

> Regarding objectively testing how well you did at programming, and catching your mistakes: software projects often have hundreds of bugs that weren't found. Programmers make tons of mistakes without realizing it and those mistakes can be hard to find.

Most of the code I wrote wasn't thoroughly tested.

I did some work as a formal tester for a while, and got reasonably skilled at finding bugs in others' code which helped me some in finding / preventing bugs in my own. Also, the Y2K concern in the late '90s presented a singular impetus to review every line of code I'd written that was still in use, looking specifically for time and date related bugs. I found some.

But on the whole it was as you say - I'd guess my programs have hundreds of bugs that weren't and will never be found.


Andy Dufresne at 8:45 AM on January 1, 2020 | #15003 | reply | quote

>Everyone takes it for granted that the truth is not obvious, and that the obvious need not be true;

What planet are you discussing?


Anonymous at 2:30 PM on January 2, 2020 | #15014 | reply | quote

#15014

>> Everyone takes it for granted that the truth is not obvious, and that the obvious need not be true;

> What planet are you discussing?

This question is bad. It's more like a statement veiled as a question. The statement is: you're wrong.

The question (and the whole comment) is not designed to start a learning project (whether Anon learns something and changes his mind, or curi learns something and changes his mind, or both).

I think the comment is designed to shame curi for believing something that Anon believes should not be believed.


44783 at 5:35 AM on January 19, 2020 | #15152 | reply | quote

I’m confused, because I agree that MOST SM are about social reality, but I don’t think ALL are because I found a case where it doesn’t solve the problem.

I think learning aversion is a common SM. The mechanism it uses is that it makes

1) learning hurtful,

hence

2)people become bad at learning, that’s why people don't learn much after school years and think it’s boring

Which

3)Normalizes the aversion so it’s hidden in plain sight. It makes it harder to question.

3 is about social reality, but I don’t see how 1 and 2 have anything to do with social status or others opinions. The pain is not related to the social world. Am I wrong?


Jorge at 7:50 PM on January 19, 2020 | #15165 | reply | quote

A reason people find learning painful or difficult is because learning is connected to real reality, while they are living in social reality, so their efforts to learn fail.


curi at 7:51 PM on January 19, 2020 | #15166 | reply | quote

#15166 How does the pain of learning for adults relate to social dynamics like status? Or am I confusing trauma with static memes?


Jorge at 8:48 PM on January 19, 2020 | #15167 | reply | quote

If you're thinking about the meanings of educational sentences in terms of their meaning for people's social status and other people's opinions of those sentences, then you won't learn the topic. You'll fail and it'll suck.

Social dynamics often ignore or contradict facts. That screws up learning. Also, the other way around, learning involves finding out certain things are facts, which you won't want to do if you regard those facts as having social meaning you dislike. It can cause a lot of pain if you discover, factually, something you find socially threatening, or if you're torn between facts and social non-facts.


curi at 9:00 PM on January 19, 2020 | #15168 | reply | quote

God is at the top of the status hierarchy. A basic idea of religion is that who or what God favors has major effects on reality. That praying to be in God's good graces and have his divine favor is a way of getting what you want in the physical world. That God's opinion of you is a major factor in life. (This point works fine with polytheism too.)

Similarly, superstition in general involves a sort of disconnection from reality which is one of the things caused by focusing on social reality. In social reality, the real facts have limited importance (some basic facts are socially accepted – stuff you're a fool for not knowing), so some non-facts end up being believed as convenient.


curi at 11:17 PM on January 19, 2020 | #15169 | reply | quote

#15169 You sure care a lot about status.


Anonymous at 11:51 PM on January 19, 2020 | #15171 | reply | quote

#15171

> #15169 You sure care a lot about status.

Speaking for myself, I care a lot about status in the sense that I care a lot about *errors*, and social-status-oriented thinking is one major type of *error*.


44783 at 1:11 AM on January 20, 2020 | #15172 | reply | quote

#15169

I bit earlier today I thought about this (your comment reminded me of it):

Caring about forgiveness is dealing with social reality instead of real reality.

Forgiveness is useless in real reality. What’s needed in real reality is error-correction.

Forgiveness without error-correction is just manipulation. People often ask forgiveness without doing anything to correct any errors, and instead they do it to get other people to act differently. It’s like the forgiveness-requester is lowering his social status to the person he’s requesting forgiveness from. That’s designed to manipulate the forgiveness-giver.

Error-correction without forgiveness is fine, at least in real reality. In social reality though, error-correction has negative value and forgiveness has positive value.

In real reality, error-correction is good and forgiveness (on it’s own) is neutral. But if forgiveness is used to resist error-correction, then it’s evil.


44783 at 1:13 AM on January 20, 2020 | #15173 | reply | quote

Requesting definitions

Can you provide definitions for the concepts "real reality" and "social reality"?


Anonymous at 2:46 AM on January 20, 2020 | #15175 | reply | quote

> http://curi.us/2276-social-reality-and-real-reality

I would like more precise definitions than appear on the page you linked.

My impression is that social reality, as conceived by curi, is **not** reality. If so, I would suggest putting it in quotes---or at least putting the reality part in quotes---to make that distinction clearer. (Akin to how Ayn Rand put quotes around "compromise" whenever she was referring to "compromising" principles).

Otherwise people might conclude, for instance, that social reality *is part of* real reality. In my experience that is the prevailing view, along with the assumption that to do well in reality, you have to do well in "social reality". I have sympathy with that view.

From my outsider's point of view, many of the difficulties that curi has in attracting people to debate with him---and keeping them debating with him---appear to stem from his lack of concern about social etiquette.

I wouldn't feel comfortable debating him because I wouldn't trust him not to, for example, publicly denounce me with my name and email address. Part of me thinks "maybe I could do it anonymously", but another part (a stronger part) says, "I simply don't trust this guy to look for win/win."

My view is that curi is not being selfish enough and that his imprecision about "social reality" has led him to the wrong principle in dealing with it. Unfortunately his results *in reality* have not been sufficient for him to recognize the refutation. It seems to me he is behaving like a rationalist---putting theory over reality. This error can be corrected of course.


Anon99 at 7:58 AM on January 20, 2020 | #15177 | reply | quote

#15177

Anon99,

It seems that you disagree with Rand about pronouncing moral judgement.

"One must never fail to pronounce a moral judgment."

- The Virtue of Selfishness

Do you have a written account of your disagreement with Rand?


44783 at 9:37 AM on January 20, 2020 | #15178 | reply | quote

Yes, I have a disagreement with Rand on this, and yes, I have written about it. I am not going to share my writing here, for reasons along the lines that I mentioned in my previous post.

In any case, from my reading of what Rand said in *The Virtue of Selfishness*, the core of her view on pronouncing moral judgment is not that you must be socially blunt, but that you must continually make judgments (in your mind) and be prepared for others to do so of you. You must also make sure you do not allow people to infer that you agree with something you do not. In such cases you must speak up and correct the misperception (unless it's a Nazi banging at your door etc.)

She did call people out publicly from time to time---mainly people who willingly put themselves in the public eye---but I don't think that you have to do this to follow the prescription. She also spent a lot of time praising the good. For example, in her letters she would praise the good in people's work, even in people whose political views she completely opposed. In fact, I believe the good was her primary focus.

While I understand that publicly pronouncing moral judgment gives you an opportunity to get feedback on your mistakes (error correction), I believe there are ways to get that without offending or making good people doubt your trustworthiness.


Anon99 at 10:23 AM on January 20, 2020 | #15179 | reply | quote

Anon99, do you have a criticism of any specific curi/FI actions, with quotes, (that you're willing to share, not a secret criticism) and a suggestion for a better approach? It would have to understand what problem the actions are trying to solve and either provide an alternative solution or a criticism of the problem.

Also you bring up doubts about the trustworthiness of curi but haven't pointed out any trust he's ever broken. That's a smear.


Dagny at 1:07 PM on January 20, 2020 | #15180 | reply | quote

#15179

@ hiding your written account: what if you posted it anonymously? would that work for you?

> While I understand that publicly pronouncing moral judgment gives you an opportunity to get feedback on your mistakes (error correction), I believe there are ways to get that without offending or making good people doubt your trustworthiness.

It gives both parties opportunity for error-correction, not just the person doing the pronouncement.

Does your written account provide methodology (with concrete examples) of how to publicly pronounce moral judgement "without offending or making good people doubt your trustworthiness"?


44783 at 1:13 PM on January 20, 2020 | #15181 | reply | quote

It's screwy to say:

> I believe there are ways to get that without offending or making good people doubt your trustworthiness.

when that statement is itself offensive (because it suggests curi is untrustworthy). If you know how to argue points without being offensive, why were you so offensive?

> From my outsider's point of view, many of the difficulties that curi has in attracting people to debate with him---and keeping them debating with him---appear to stem from his lack of concern about social etiquette.

I think what you're missing is that curi has standards for debate which aren't being met by debates he isn't in, either. In other words, no one else gets rational debates either. They just aren't happening anywhere, with anyone, in general. So the actual reason people won't debate him is because he's demanding debating standards they don't know how to live up to. This comes up explicitly. He links them to his debating standards and asks them to use those or link to written alternatives which solve similar problems which they propose using (so curi could learn and use their debating methodology or criticize it); they do neither. They want to debate by unwritten rules, which is irrational.


Dagny at 1:16 PM on January 20, 2020 | #15182 | reply | quote

> It's screwy to say:

>

> > I believe there are ways to get that without offending or making good people doubt your trustworthiness.

>

> when that statement is itself offensive (because it suggests curi is untrustworthy). If you know how to argue points without being offensive, why were you so offensive?

I fail to see how that statement you quoted is offensive or says anything about curi. Neither does it imply I know how to do what I believe is possible. I also believe it's possible to run a marathon in less than 2 hours.


Anon99 at 2:33 PM on January 20, 2020 | #15183 | reply | quote

Do you think there are people out there who can't "live up to" curi's "demanding debating standards", but nevertheless may have useful knowledge and may have useful criticisms?

If not, what is your explanation for why not?

If so, is that not a criticism of the debating standards?


Anon99 at 2:52 PM on January 20, 2020 | #15184 | reply | quote

The FI debating and discussion standards have been designed/developed to be what it takes to communicate and truth-seek about knowledge effectively. They focus on minimal requirements to avoid common problems that making sharing knowledge fail. This doesn't mean they are a global minimum in all dimensions simultaneously. There is potential scope for alternative methods which are different, which would be harder in some ways and easier in others. The FI methods already take that into account by suggesting people either use the FI methods *or* propose alternative methods for consideration.

People who do neither of those (not FI methods nor alternative methods) are largely unable to share ideas productively, although there are the occasional exceptions. E.g. if you look at every physicist who made an important contribution, you'll find some of them did things similar to FI methods but some didn't. If you look at the physicists who made important contributions with bad methods, out of all physicists with bad methods or all people with bad methods, they're a very tiny minority. The vast majority of people use bad methods and don't manage to contribute significantly to the world's ideas. And it's harder in fields like philosophy where it's harder to be objective (measurements and math are areas where being objective is easier).


curi at 3:17 PM on January 20, 2020 | #15185 | reply | quote

To clarify: I talked about methods because the basic thing at issue with discussion standards are methods of dealing with ideas.

Also, for people with bad discussion standards and methods, you can look at their books/articles/videos/etc (if they have any – most people don't) and find the occasional exception with value. But trying to talk with them directly usually doesn't add value – their books are better than their discussions. Most of them mostly don't want to discuss anyway. Most of the people interested in discussion are non-content-creators on the internet (and IRL but let's not get into that) who will quit discussion quite early if you ask about their goals for rationality, learning, truth-seeking, etc. – they won't even try for those things in an organized way, and they haven't read much and don't know much, so talking to them has lots of disadvantages compared to reading books and blogs, although it does have some upsides like you can test out methods of explaining things and get feedback.


curi at 3:25 PM on January 20, 2020 | #15186 | reply | quote

#15177

>> http://curi.us/2276-social-reality-and-real-reality

> I would like more precise definitions than appear on the page you linked.

more explanation from the original post:

> The way static memes suppress critical faculties is by getting people to judge in terms of the opinions of other people, and their social status, rather than in terms of facts, logic and reality. Static memes get people to replace their connection with objective reality with a connection with social dynamics.

So when a person is dealing with real reality, he judges things in terms facts/logic/reality. And when a person is dealing with social reality, he's instead judging in terms of the opinions of other people and their social status.


44783 at 5:05 PM on January 20, 2020 | #15187 | reply | quote

#15177

> My view is that curi is not being selfish enough and that his imprecision about "social reality" has led him to the wrong principle in dealing with it. Unfortunately his results *in reality* have not been sufficient for him to recognize the refutation. It seems to me he is behaving like a rationalist---putting theory over reality. This error can be corrected of course.

There are many errors here. I want to focus on just one.

I think that the “results” that Anon99 is talking about is related to like how many people left FI, or how many people started a debate with Elliot and then stopped without resolution.

I think Anon99 is judging in terms of popularity. If more people debated Elliot than compared to now, Anon99 would give a better score.

That doesn’t make sense though. Quality matters, not quantity. Quality debate. Quality people. Who needs more debate and more people if they are going to be low quality?

People should judge the FI community not by how many people are in it, but by how much the people engage with each other, how many disagreements were resolved, how much they converge, etc. I think FI beats all other communities by these standards.

——

I wonder what Anon99 thinks about friends. Would he rather have 5 awesome friends or 1000 shitty friends? It’s an easy decision for me — 5 awesome friends please. I guess Anon99 might say, “why not have the 5 awesome friends and the 1000 less awesome friends?” You can’t have that. If you try to seek approval from the masses, you have to not say what you think, which means you would not have attracted the 5 awesome friends. And if you do say what you think, you attract the 5 awesome friends and you alienate the 1000 shitty people.


44783 at 5:27 PM on January 20, 2020 | #15188 | reply | quote

(This is an unmoderated discussion forum. Discussion info.)