Difference between revisions of "Mind-killer"

From Lesswrongwiki
Jump to: navigation, search
m (Nazism as the primary example completely missed the point - removed)
 
(18 intermediate revisions by 4 users not shown)
Line 1: Line 1:
'''Mind-killer''' is a name given to topics (such as [[color politics|politics]] or Nazism) that tend to produce extremely [[Bias|biased]] discussions.
+
'''Mind-killer''' is a name given to topics (such as [[color politics|politics]]) that tend to produce extremely [[Bias|biased]] discussions.
  
Politics is one obvious cause of '''mind-killer''' disputes:  Political disputes are not limited to standard disagreements about factual matters, nor to disputes of personality or perspective or even [[faction]]: they involve matters that people physically fight over in the real world—or at least, matters that are to be enforced by the government's monopoly of violenceAccordingly, politically-motivated people may come here to [[Less Wrong]] in order to diligently reduce their casualties and add more recruits to their side.
+
It may be particularly important for Less Wrong to encourage a rational perspective with respect to these contentious topicsNevertheless, introducing these topics into an otherwise [[Epistemic hygiene|healthy]] discussion (for example, to present an analogy) may ruin it, encouraging fallacious modes of thinking.
  
Successfully mediating a political dispute is clearly beyond our scope, since real-world [[virtue]]s are required which go far beyond rationalityMany of these virtues were identified by [[wikipedia:Bernard Crick|Bernard Crick]] in his work ''In Defense of Politics''.
+
=== Politics as a mind killer ===
 +
Politics is one obvious cause of '''mind-killer''' disputes:  Political disputes are not limited to standard disagreements about factual matters, nor to disputes of personality or perspective or even [[faction]]: they involve matters that people physically fight over in the real world—or at least, matters that are to be enforced by the government's monopoly of violenceAccordingly, political discourse generally involves an [[adversarial process]] where careful deliberation is forgone; the focus shifts onto conflict management and on using [[arguments as soldiers]] to advance one's side.
  
 +
We should expect that existing political allegiances of our users will add [[bias]] and irrationality to such discussions.  Politically-motivated people may also come here to Less Wrong in order to diligently reduce their casualties and add more recruits to their side.
 +
 +
For all of these reasons, Less Wrong tries to avoid ''particular'' political disputes.  Of course, discussing conflict reduction skills in the abstract is appropriate and encouraged!  In fact, it is the best way of preserving our deliberative, rationalist focus in the face of small-scale disputes and conflicts.
 +
 +
In addition, there may well be a balance of tensions between evaporative cooling of beliefs leading to [[groupthink]], and extremely biased color politics. However, this is an underexplored issue.
 +
 +
=== Social taboo ===
 
Another cause of mind-killers is social taboo. Negative [[connotation|connotations]] are associated with some topics, thus creating a strong bias supported by [[signaling]] drives that makes non-negative characterization of these topics appear [[absurdity heuristic|absurd]].
 
Another cause of mind-killers is social taboo. Negative [[connotation|connotations]] are associated with some topics, thus creating a strong bias supported by [[signaling]] drives that makes non-negative characterization of these topics appear [[absurdity heuristic|absurd]].
  
It may be particularly important for Less Wrong to encourage a rational perspective with respect to these contentious topics.  Nevertheless, introducing these topics into an otherwise [[Epistemic hygiene|healthy]] discussion (for example, to present an analogy) may ruin it, encouraging fallacious modes of thinking.
+
==Sequences==
 +
*[[Politics is the Mind-Killer]]
  
 
==Blog posts==
 
==Blog posts==
 
+
*[http://lesswrong.com/lw/gw/politics_is_the_mindkiller/ Politics is the Mind-Killer]
*[http://lesswrong.com/lw/gw/politics_is_the_mindkiller/ Politics is the Mind-Killer] by [[Eliezer Yudkowsky]]
 
 
*[http://lesswrong.com/lw/ee/the_mindkiller/ The mind-killer] by [[ciphergoth]]
 
*[http://lesswrong.com/lw/ee/the_mindkiller/ The mind-killer] by [[ciphergoth]]
 
*[http://lesswrong.com/lw/12w/absolute_denial_for_atheists/ Absolute denial for atheists] by [[taw]]
 
*[http://lesswrong.com/lw/12w/absolute_denial_for_atheists/ Absolute denial for atheists] by [[taw]]
  
 
==External links==
 
==External links==
 
 
*[http://paulgraham.com/say.html What You Can't Say] by [[Paul Graham]] - Discusses "moral fashions" and social taboos and how they mind-kill certain topics.
 
*[http://paulgraham.com/say.html What You Can't Say] by [[Paul Graham]] - Discusses "moral fashions" and social taboos and how they mind-kill certain topics.
  
 
==See also==
 
==See also==
 
 
*[[Color politics]]
 
*[[Color politics]]
 
*[[Epistemic hygiene]]
 
*[[Epistemic hygiene]]
Line 30: Line 36:
 
[[Category:Jargon]]
 
[[Category:Jargon]]
 
[[Category:Concepts]]
 
[[Category:Concepts]]
 +
[[Category:Problems]]
 +
__NOTOC__

Latest revision as of 11:07, 26 May 2011

Mind-killer is a name given to topics (such as politics) that tend to produce extremely biased discussions.

It may be particularly important for Less Wrong to encourage a rational perspective with respect to these contentious topics. Nevertheless, introducing these topics into an otherwise healthy discussion (for example, to present an analogy) may ruin it, encouraging fallacious modes of thinking.

Politics as a mind killer

Politics is one obvious cause of mind-killer disputes: Political disputes are not limited to standard disagreements about factual matters, nor to disputes of personality or perspective or even faction: they involve matters that people physically fight over in the real world—or at least, matters that are to be enforced by the government's monopoly of violence. Accordingly, political discourse generally involves an adversarial process where careful deliberation is forgone; the focus shifts onto conflict management and on using arguments as soldiers to advance one's side.

We should expect that existing political allegiances of our users will add bias and irrationality to such discussions. Politically-motivated people may also come here to Less Wrong in order to diligently reduce their casualties and add more recruits to their side.

For all of these reasons, Less Wrong tries to avoid particular political disputes. Of course, discussing conflict reduction skills in the abstract is appropriate and encouraged! In fact, it is the best way of preserving our deliberative, rationalist focus in the face of small-scale disputes and conflicts.

In addition, there may well be a balance of tensions between evaporative cooling of beliefs leading to groupthink, and extremely biased color politics. However, this is an underexplored issue.

Social taboo

Another cause of mind-killers is social taboo. Negative connotations are associated with some topics, thus creating a strong bias supported by signaling drives that makes non-negative characterization of these topics appear absurd.

Sequences

Blog posts

External links

See also