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         9 July 2015 06:25 AM


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Dahlen 21 December 2015 05:21 PM
77%

Anyone interested in a book club of sorts? We might come up with a couple of titles per week and have an in-depth discussion on them. Just to further ensure we're on the same page with the facts (or perhaps that we're actually engaging in studying rather than talking out of our asses).


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melian 22 December 2015 06:27 AM
73%

Can you give some examples of the kind of books that you have in mind?

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Dahlen 22 December 2015 09:56 AM
76%

A mix between classics and modern authors which offer a sober, scholarly analysis of their subject matter. If that goes well, maybe try a few of the more partisan or divisive titles. Perhaps even a textbook -- sure, it's disputable how much that is "book club" territory, but then again not all of us are familiar with the theoretical foundations of some fields of interest.

For starters, I was thinking of nominating On Liberty by J.S.Mill, Economy and Society by Max Weber, and Francis Fukuyama with either The Origins of Political Order or The End of History and the Last Man. Of course, suggestions are welcome, and if people think these examples are too basic and that "everybody" can be assumed to have read these, feel free to give your own examples.

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is4junk 7 November 2015 09:31 AM
66%

Does anyone know who is behind Omnilibrium? Is it a company, one person, a small group of LWers?


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Dahlen 21 December 2015 05:23 PM
76%

cleonid from LW, as far as I know. He's the one who posts updates from Omnilibrium in LW open threads, too.

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Fwiffo 13 July 2015 11:56 AM
63%

While writing about international standards(/laws) and how they often get trumped I made mental comparison on how people alledgedly can speak civilly about things but when things get heated a lot of gloves come off. This is related in that omnilibrium is supposed to be "rational discussion of controversial topics". That kinda of phasement is similar in that it is a lofty goal on idealistic paper but pretty open to interpretation when it comes to practical detail on what it means. It would be a shame if we would call our discussion "rational" only because it is us doing the talking. So I have recognised some fractions of principles what I kinda make the concept mean to myself.

*"rational vs usual", just because you want to say something about someting isn't a reason enough for the community to invite you to say stuff. Users are picked from scenes where people have a personal adherence to some sort of epistemic art. The Lesswrong Elizer legacy is the vanilla kind but any comparable would suffice. But you can't be super relaxed about it, you have atleast to try.

* That you try doesn't mean that you succeed. There isn't a decisive difference between a padawan and a jedi or a aspiring rationalist and rationalist. The site is going to include someone doing stuff and say stuff that is included in why political talk is normally looked down upon. But the thing is that one is supposed to notice it and minimise it and not run rampant.

* Degree of trying. This is where I am a little more torn and confused about. Since one is supposed to try, it might be tempting that if someone says something very unconvincing one might try to reason that there must not have been very much trying behind the comment. This might lead into a situation where a good faith attempt at arguing is deemed as bad faith trolling if the starting beliefs are just of low quality. On the one hadn one would like to raise the sanity level but one the other hand there is strenght in steelmanning arguments instead of maknig them into strawmans.

* Rational discussion refers to method not content. Rational discussion doesn'ty mean that the purpoted views should be derivable from some sort of shared axioms. In particular being a silicon valley caucasian american rightist is not a requirement and not inherently favoured as a position, althought it tends to be the culture the core memes are phrased in and from which a large part of the audience hails from.

* Gracefull failure. Focus on increasing reflection and informativeness. If someone fails to be rational by for example being overlty angry about something one should not be angry in return or be angry about that they are angry. However just because somebody says something angrily doesn't mean that the part of their arguments that are actually based on facts or are based on logic instead of irrational emotions could not (or should not) be discussed. you focus on the part that can be argued for in explicitable and objective (or whatever is opposite to "irrational emotions") ways. People have bad days and people are not emotionless machines. Here I am torn on whether one should just stoically receive and deal with the valid part while not feeding the troll by giving the invalid part as little attention as feasible or whether one should point out and help the other person realise that they are angry and that they could approach things less heatedly. There are Crockers rules but not all live by them or atleast can't be assumed to live by. And a person that doesn't have a personal commitment to receive that kind of attention can feel insulted.

* No communal judgement. Everybody is expected to be able to form their own opinion and the attitude should be to inform and support others forming more informed, more thought and more understood viewpoints. There is no reason to "decide what is the best option" and the discussion ending with different people thinking that different options are supportable/argued for is fine.


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Dahlen 20 July 2015 03:08 PM
75%

Thank you for bringing this up. Indeed, the matter of how to be rational, or how to secure and maintain the rationality of discussion in the community, is a topic probably worth half the total word count on the website. It's such a fragile state of affairs, if you think about it... On a scale of quality of political discussion that has on one end /pol/-level trolling or SJW bickering, we (it's probably better to ask – does this apply to all of us?) want to represent the other end of the scale, where everybody follows norms of intellectual honesty and earnest interest in reaching the most accurate conclusions. This is a very high bar, relatively speaking. Many communities with norms for sane political discussion accept it as the norm for bias to creep in, as long as the participants are not egregiously rude, partisan, or uninformed. Even assuming an initial populace of best-quality users (a state we're probably not quite in – the bunch of us, myself included, are probably fine but not exquisite as political discussion partners), it takes a strong culture of upholding quality standards in order to not be overrun by a wave of Eternal September-type users. This post of Eliezer's might be relevant here.

The point being, it remains to be seen whether Omnilibrium will develop such a culture. To the extent that I've seen online communities succeed in guarding themselves against influxes of low-quality posting, it involved rules (highly formal as well as highly informal bordering on "you haven't found favour with the mods"), banhammers, and a willingness for senior members to tell newcomers what is and isn't acceptable behaviour around there (which, for people of more pacifist inclinations, may be quite unpleasant to put into practice). We only have a recommendation system for now. And they were fighting against mere stupidity and obvious trolling and troublemaking. The values and demeanours that run against rational political discussion are much subtler – bad faith, insinuations, closed-mindedness, groupthink... To avoid these things in oneself is a pretty big burden already; to accurately identify them in others is even harder and riskier for the community, since any instance of "calling out" someone on bias has a good chance to a) be wrong; b) spark conflict. It doesn't matter how good the written law is if nobody reads and follows it.

Is there any way for a community to nurture these qualities and good intentions, when there is no guarantee that any given member is sufficiently endowed with them, let alone a sizable fraction of its influential members?

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ChristianKl 23 July 2015 07:13 AM
68%

According to the LW census the LW is more right than left. Omnilibrium seems to be on the right of LW but for example I'm not right. Not only by US standards but given both party membership and voting history I'm left of center in Berlin.

Part of the cultural aspect of the rationalist community is tell culture. You are actually open about what you think and don't hide it for reason of being polite.
I would note that German in general puts less value on politeness then Anglo-culture does and I'm from a more German background.

As far as emotions go, the problem isn't emotions. The problem is holding a position for an emotional reason and then trying to rationalize the position and pretend it get's hold for other reasons and not willing to change the position when it gets shown to be wrong. Nonviolent communication also provides a useful general framework to express emotions.

Scholarship happens to be a huge value in the rational community. If you haven't actually read quality sources about a topic you shouldn't have strong opinions about it. Often that means reading primary sources.
If I come about a claim in a newspaper about which I'm skeptical, I often post it to http://skeptics.stackexchange.com/ .

Scholarship is what separates the a political debate on LW from a debate in the world debating championships. The World Debating Championship has participants that don't engage in fallacies but which can take any side of the argument and which side of the argument a team get's often doesn't have much influence in who wins.

It's useful do get into the habit of arguing against bad arguments even if they are for a position which one agrees with.

Since one is supposed to try, it might be tempting that if someone says something very unconvincing one might try to reason that there must not have been very much trying behind the comment. This might lead into a situation where a good faith attempt at arguing
The goal isn't arguing.

If a single comment seems unconvincing then asking questions is often superior to arguing.

If a person constantly changes his own position and doesn't have a clear position, arguing against it becomes pointless.

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melian 23 July 2015 11:02 AM
68%

I'm not right. Not only by US standards but given both party membership and voting history I'm left of center in Berlin.

I don’t know about Germany, but in the US you won’t quite fit in the “left-wing” box. With a comment you made about South Africa you are more likely to be labeled an extreme right-winger.


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Fwiffo 28 July 2015 05:56 AM
59%

The point about leaning was that one doesn't need to fall into the default distribution to enter discussion. I think we would rather hear all sides rather than the sides we are already familiar with.

Having to do extensive research to continnue discussion might work as a discussion staller (semantic stop signs are kinda bad in that they lessen cognitive activity, "read up" might work similarly as a activity inhibitor). But I guess that isn't an error state but an extra motivation to do the research. I guess there is more latitude in using arguments that use sophisticated techniques which might not be accessible first hand to every reader. How the interaction between those that know technical voodoo and those that do not might be somewhat tricky. I guess that comes also with an norm that if you read a post and do not understand the argument, that is okay and it is better to ... read more


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Fwiffo 28 July 2015 06:15 AM
59%

I don't know whether it was you but I remember reading people being reserved on similar points in their replies to my posts. However reading it them in this general form detached from a topic of application makes me receive them much better.

In general it should be a bigger worry to make an error of reasoning than being of the wrong opinion on a political issue. When I read methodology critiques as side-comments they don't in the similar way take center stage and in a way it seems as if the conclusion and the method used to come to that conclusion are somehow intristically related. That is I dismiss method critiques as being nay-saying when it is about the method being applied to particular issues. I am unsure whether this is part of the general reason why politics is mindkill or whether it is particular to my cognition.

These particular guidelines seem spesific enough that ... read more


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Fwiffo 18 July 2015 07:54 AM
52%

"you have so stupid comment that you ought to be banned" is a variant of appeal to the stick that might happen on online forums. Actually following through with the threat would be against the spirit of freedom of expression.


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