Ok so years ago I first stumbled upon the Less Wrong world and I was very turned off because it all seemed like so much navel gazing. It was also 30 year old nerds, talking about the world as it appears to 30 year old nerds, to other 30 year old nerds. I was afraid to spend all this time hanging out with 30 year old nerds, out of fear that I’d become a basement-dwelling forever-alone m’lady fedora troll.
Since then, I’ve realized a few things:
- ok I am a 30 year old nerd.
- this is not so bad. Being a 30 year old nerd, and indeed hanging out with other 30 year old nerds, doesn’t automatically turn you into a troll.
- the downside is not the “nerd” as much as the fact that so many of them are 30, white, American, richish, and male. This can warp your perception of the world a lot. Maybe don’t draw so many conclusions about how The World works based on the opinions of 30 year old rich white male nerds.
- however, it can be good to draw conclusions about how your world works for you based on the experiences and thoughts of many people who are like you. As a result, this community is more useful to me than I had first thought.
- Eliezer Yudkowsky is maybe the first name you’ll read on Less Wrong stuff, and he is IMO on the dense and navel-gazey end and therefore maybe not a great introduction.
- Scott Alexander is maybe the second name you’ll see a lot, and I find his stuff much more approachable. I don’t know how dude’s so prolific. Not to say he’s always right, but he’s usually got a lot interesting to say.
- like me, most of the bloggers in this world write 90% chaff, so it takes a little bit of picking through the noise. But unlike me, every so often they write some gems.
Like these two on Slack (concept, not chat app) and Sabbath Harder:
“If something like the Orthodox Sabbath seems impossibly hard, or if you try to keep it but end up breaking it every week - as my Reform Jewish family did - then you should consider that perhaps, despite the propaganda of the palliatives, you are in a permanent state of emergency. This is not okay. You are not doing okay.”
Or, is Venkatesh Rao (Immortality Begins at 40 and The Key to Act Two) the blogger that I need to be reading in my 30s, or is he completely insane?
Similarly, and more concretely (thus less woo): on Wordpress and the lack of blogs anymore.
Anyway, I’d love to discuss any of these posts if you read them too.
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