The Mezunian

Die Positivität ist das Opium des Volkes, aber der Spott ist das Opium der Verrückten

But You Can’t Feel Your Own

’Twas a bad time to stumble on economics articles.

I just have to mention the words “Less Wrong” & you’ll probably already smack your forehead. From what I’ve seen, “Less Wrong” are like most people, in that they try to not be idiots; but unlike most people, they make the idiotic decision to constantly brag ’bout how much better @ not being idiots they are than other people without any evidence while simultaneously pretending that they don’t do so.

To be fair, these “rationalists” should be praised for brilliantly figuring out something that benefits us all: they can assuage their shriveled egos while we can get hours o’ hilarity making fun o’ how shriveled their egos are.

If I were an actor in an improv show, and my prompt was “annoying person who’s never read any economics, criticizing economists”, I think I could nail it. I’d say something like:

Economists think that they can figure out everything by sitting in their armchairs and coming up with ‘models’ based on ideas like ‘the only motivation is greed’ or ‘everyone behaves perfectly rationally’. But they didn’t predict the housing bubble, they didn’t predict the subprime mortgage crisis, and they didn’t predict Lehman Brothers. All they ever do is talk about how capitalism is perfect and government regulation never works, then act shocked when the real world doesn’t conform to their theories.

Fun tip to economists: making childish strawmen arguments is a great way to confirm others’ judgments that, yes, economists are much mo’ mentally mediocre than they like to pretend they are.

This criticism’s very clichedness should make it suspect.

No, I think the fact that you pulled it out o’ your dick hole makes it mo’ suspect.

It would be very strange if there were a standard set of criticisms of economists, which practically everyone knew about and agreed with, and the only people who hadn’t gotten the message yet were economists themselves.

“¿What’s ‘hive mind’ mean? ¿What’s bias? ¡I don’t understand these elusive terms!”

If any moron on a street corner could correctly point out the errors being made by bigshot PhDs, why would the PhDs never consider changing?

So this superrationalist relies on appeal to authority — the idea that PhDs must be smart, ’cause that’s what PhDs are. Meanwhile, average people must be dumb, ’cause o’ “appeal to obscurity”. This hyperrationalist post sure is a great way to win Logical Fallacy Bingo.

A few of these are completely made up…

No, don’t underrate yourself, man: I’m quite sure you made all o’ them up.

[M]y impression is that economists not only know about these criticisms, but invented them.

Too bad your “impression” has the validity o’ what I heard ’bout in my fever dreams ( but are much less entertaining, sadly ).

For the next quote, I made sure to highlight all the fun regurgitated buzzwords that show that, no, this person didn’t put any thought into what they were saying.

During the last few paradigm shifts in economics, the new guard levied these complaints against the old guard, mostly won, and their arguments percolated down into the culture as The Correct Arguments To Use Against Economics.

Also, apparently German-style nouns are the rational way to do scare quotes.

As a psychiatrist, I constantly get told that my field is about “blaming everything on your mother” or thinks “everything is serotonin deficiency“.

Truly the most hurtful slur anyone has e’er punted @ someone.

Maybe people would be less ignorant ’bout the things you know so much ’bout if you actually provided scientific evidence that they’re wrong, rather than just telling them they’re wrong & tut-tutting them. Or e’en providing real evidence o’ these defamations rather than just saying some nebulous mass o’ people told you these things, “just take me @ my promise”.

If I were an actor in an improv show, and my prompt was “annoying person who’s never read anything about rationality, criticizing rationalists”, it would go something like…

No, stop. Nobody’s going to buy your shitty Ayn Rand plays. Stick to constantly asking people, “¿How does that make you feel?” till their hour is up. ( ¡Ha! ¡You missed a cliché! )

I didn’t bother reading his “play”, since he himself already warned me that ’twas stupid, & I’m not sure why he thought I’d want to read something stupid. Which makes me wonder why he wrote this post in itself… or why I’m reading it if I don’t like reading stupid things… Hmm…

Like the economics example, these combine basic mistakes with legitimate criticisms levied by rationalists themselves against previous rationalist paradigms or flaws in the movement.

’Cept, unlike economists, who have true PhDs & actual academic standards, there’s no rule regarding who can & can’t describe themselves as “rationalists” — well, ’cept a minimum level o’ narcissism. I can put underwear on my head & run round traffic calling myself a “rationalist” all I want, & you can’t prove me wrong, or e’en “mo’ wrong”.

Like the electroconvulsive therapy example, they’re necessarily the opposite…

O fucking God, this diction. ¿“Necessarily the opposite”?

There have been past paradigms for which some of these criticisms are pretty fair. I think especially of the late-19th/early-20th century Progressive movement.

“I think” is my favorite mathematical proof.

But notice how many of those names are blue. Each of those links goes to book reviews, by me, of books studying those people and how they went wrong.

“¿See? You’re wrong. The fact that I wrote some shitty blog review on these classics proves that I’m right. Obviously it’s physically impossible to write a stupid or wrong review”.

So consider the possibility that the rationalist community has a plan somewhat more interesting than just “remain blissfully unaware of past failures and continue to repeat them again and again”.

How ’bout I consider the possibility that the “rationalist community” is just a made-up name for your adult-child clubhouse & that though they “plan” something different from sitting round regurgitating thoughts that’ve already been made, they do something e’en less interesting than that.

Hey, if you can prove something with “I think”, so can I.

Modern rationalists don’t think they’ve achieved perfect rationality.

“¡Look @ how humble I am for thinking I’m not an intellectual god in fleshy form! ¡Please lay ’pon my feet all your adulation for my magnificent humility!”

[T]hey keep trying to get people to call them “aspiring rationalists” only to be frustrated by the phrase being too long[.]

You should replace “by the phrase being too long” with “by everyone ’stead calling us ‘narcissistic shitbrains’”.

( my compromise proposal to shorten it to “aspies” was inexplicably rejected ).

“For some reason, e’en my fellow narcissistic twats didn’t buy my attempt to appropriate a true social condition with my need for pity @ the weakest o’ criticisms”.

I can back him up on 1 thing, though: from my experience with psychiatrists ( who told me I shouldn’t publish these — ¡But they can’t stop me now! ), I oft see them throw round slurs for medical conditions for the people they’re s’posed to be helping. I know my psychiatrist was all, “Man, those fucking retards. ¿Am I right? Let me disclose all the stories ’bout this 1 loser named Becky Brown who was too pussy to leave their house”. So we can see that this psychiatrist is showing the utmost professionalism here.

They try to focus on doubting themselves instead of criticizing others.

¡Which he’s done so well here! ¡Look @ how oft he criticized his poor self, & didn’t e’en say a single bad word gainst any o’ the people who criticized him! ¡How noble!

They don’t pooh-pooh academia and domain expertise – in the last survey, about 20% of people above age 30 had PhDs.

“We don’t pee-pee academia; we just cite irrelevant statistics”.

They don’t reject criticism and self-correction…

Well, ’cept for all those “annoying” people who have “never read any economics” or have “never read anything about rationality”…

Tip: focus less on appropriating Aspergers & mo’ on trying to get pity for your obvious bout o’ Alzheimers.

They don’t want to blithely destroy all existing institutions[.]

¿What the hell does that have to do with anything?

O, great. So they’re not fun. I see.

[T]his is the only community I know where interjecting with “Chesterton’s fence!” is a universally understood counterargument which shifts the burden of proof back on the proponent.

“This is the only community out o’ the few I actually know that pretends that using obscure slang terms is the road to rationality”.

Sadly, wrong there, too.

They have said approximately one zillion times that they don’t like Spock and think he’s a bad role model.

OK, I tolerated all your other inanities — but being mean ’nough to hate Spock goes too far. He died in 1 o’ the movies… ¿I think? ¿Didn’t his actor die, too?

Fuck it: just pretend I made some shitty joke ’bout some dumb show I obviously ne’er watched.

They include painters, poets, dancers, photographers, and novelists.

Apparently his idea o’ propaganda is listing irrelevant “facts” he made up in a second. “They don’t eat @ Burger King; they eat @ Panda express. They include people who own mice, cats, armadillos, & iguanas”.

They…well… “they never have romantic relationships” seems like maybe the opposite of the criticism that somebody familiar with the community might apply.

His totally rational argument is “Man, we totally get lots o’ tail, unlike you losers”.

[…]encourage each other to give various percents of their income to charity, and founded or lead various charitable organizations.

“We are the only people to e’er do so, ’course”.


( Swings head all round, turns back to the screen & shrugs. )

I’m the last person who’s going to deny that the road we’re on is littered with the skulls of the people who tried to do this before us.

“This’ll be ensured when I finalize my robotic space pod, which’ll keep me ’live while the rest o’ you suckers drown in the seas o’ death”.

We’ve looked at the creepy skull pyramids and thought “huh, better try to do the opposite of what those guys did”.

“I’ll just assure you that we won’t be fuck-ups & you’ll just unconditionally believe me, ¿right?”

If you have this sort of concern, and you want to accuse us of it, please do a quick Google search to make sure that everybody hasn’t been condemning it and promising not to do it since the beginning.

Google is, after all, the most rigorous source o’ scientific knowledge.

We’re almost certainly still making horrendous mistakes that people thirty years from now will rightly criticize us for. But they’re new mistakes.

No: inane, arrogant douchebaggery’s as ol’ as fire.

And I hope that maybe having a community dedicated to carefully checking its own thought processes and trying to minimize error in every way possible will make us have slightly fewer horrendous mistakes than people who don’t do that.

Considering the utter lack o’ self-awareness present in this post, that’s guaranteed to fail.

If this is what passes as “rationalist” in the western world, I’m not surprised that it’s filling its leadership roles with the most pompous buffoons in the world. Welcome to Hairpiece America: where e’en the left is stupid, & the right has to become e’en stupider to keep ’head.

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