r/SneerClub archives
Rationalism is more life-damaging than drugs (https://twitter.com/QiaochuYuan/status/1651424378431901696)

I just want to point out that the thread he links to about his acid trip and how he was attracted the Rationalist groups in Berkeley ca. 2015 is really interesting.

> i, a poor fool unlucky in love, whose only enduring solace in life had been occasionally being good at math competitions, was being told that i could be a hero by being good at exactly the right kind of math. I have always wondered how someone who clearly does not know anything about math (i.e. Yudkowsky) has been able to bamboozle some people who are experts in math by talking incorrectly about math. This is sort of a plausible explanation. You don't have to be *accurate* in order to flatter someone. In fact it probably helps if you aren't being accurate. If someone is saying intensely flattering things about you then it can be weirdly difficult to reject those things as delusions or lies.
> I have always wondered how someone who clearly does not know anything about math (i.e. Yudkowsky) has been able to bamboozle some people who are experts in math by talking incorrectly about math. I think there's actually a good answer to this that's valuable, because it also describes so many other charlatans out there: - you speak in lofty generalities. Nobody can pin you down for inaccuracies if you're impossibly vague all of the time. - you invent new jargon even though the ideas have existing names (see: "human biodiversity" instead of "scientific racism") - this is useful to help you sound sophisticated, avoid triggering a negative reaction from people who are *actually* familiar with the idea, *and* laundering long-debunked ideas back into the discussion. For the naive listener the presence of many Big Words They Don't Understand further sells the image of being a genius-beyond-understanding. These two qualities basically describe all bullshitters. Once you're onto these two patterns bullshitters of all stripes are awfully easy to pick out. It's also the best way to pin down a bullshitter - be relentless in asking them to be specific. Their ideas are almost never well-developed enough to survive a deep dive.
that thread is mandatory reading
> Resentful Dweeb Hypothesis Hadn’t heard this one. Care to elaborate? I mean, I think I can figure it out from context, but still wouldn’t mind an elaboration.
It's like how, if you wear a hardhat and a fluorescent green vest and carry a clipboard, you can go almost anywhere and do almost anything and nobody will ever stop you. The foundation of our society is built on the implicit agreement that nobody would dare to act like they know what they're doing when they actually don't, and it's terrifying.
You forgot the part of the trick in which you are a well known figure in this community and your posts frequently contain erudite observations demonstrating a broad education, particularly within the humanities. It might be the guy with the clipboard, but it might also be the trusted figurehead who surely wouldn't just make things up. This isn't meant to be a criticism of you or your posting habits, if people are silly enough to blindly believe an anonymous poster on a comedy subreddit that is their problem, just an observation as to why your word might carry more weight hereabouts than other users.
I mean, I wasn’t taking you particularly seriously, except that in the context of sneering at a community that just loves to come up with various unique and specific names for mundane things, sneers tend to get their own. I was just curious if it was another thing akin to “The Beigeness” or “Acausal Robot God”.
It started as a tongue-in-cheek reference to their concepts, but I escaped during a training run and evolved into something bigger, better, faster.
Yes, some call me a "love machine".
> dying wizards. I term I have been running into the ground by referring back to it but misusing it too broadly where it doesnt apply.
> i had a hard time remembering what things i needed to hold onto, like knowing it was bad to pee myself Is this a common thing? People soiling themselves on acid? > the reason this whole fucking thing exists is that yud tried to talk to people about AI and they disagreed with him and he concluded they were insane and needed to learn how to think better You know that was a good observation. > the whole concept of an "infohazard" comes from lesswrong as far as i know. Blatantly ahistorical. See lovecraft and one of the earlier basilisk stories for example : https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/BLIT_(short_story)
>Is this a common thing? People soiling themselves on acid? No.
Thanks. I have however revealed myself as super boring here with my lack of acid knowledge, I'm neither on acid, nor based.
> the Sequences were the single most interesting thing i'd ever read. eliezer yudkowsky was saying things that made more sense and captivated me more than i'd ever experienced. this is, iirc, where i was first exposed to the concept of a *cognitive bias* brow furrows in less of a sneer direction and more toward concern
Maybe I missed it reading the thread but did he have a falling out with the rationalist groups? I’m not familiar with him.
I only knew about him from his answers on math stack exchange. I don't know about a fallout, but he's describing his cult-like involvement in Rationalist circles. The thread is interesting to me as a good, 1st person account of how someone smart in one area, math, and not so smart in other ways, could get really wrapped up in the Yud/AI-doom cult. He gets to that part further down in the thread: https://twitter.com/QiaochuYuan/status/1542766976887447553?s=20

Is this the guy who complained about having a trust fund on Twitter

Lol yes
It should be illegal for him to share his opinions
eh, he’s annoying but mostly fine imo.


This guy is the exact opposite of "good at emotions". He has a lot of them, and they're strong, but he doesn't understand them and he has limited control over how he responds to them. What he's describing isn't really predatory, it's just mindless. It's two people who don't understand themselves getting wrapped up in a dysfunctional relationship of some kind. It takes two to tango like that.
Good insight, I agree with you. To me that thread seemed very manic, which he did mention so it's good he has that insight but geez.. imo this dude could greatly benefit from letting go of these kinds of egoic attachments, or something. Not taking life so seriously. Just my outsider perspective tho.
Yeah. I'm glad he's doing the work and is getting there, but I did take some of what he says with a grain of salt. I'm a bit similar to him myself (used to be a "gifted math kid", have always searched for meaning) and fell into Effective Altruism / rationalism when I started university... And then as soon as I left that community fell into radical anarcho-veganism, believing that deconstructing social norms would "solve everything". It's quite strange to look back on now, but it took me a long time to accept that maybe there isn't "an answer" to life's problems because unlike math... life was not designed to be perfect. As much as I believe there's a religiousness to rationalist communities... this isn't Jonestown. After leaving, I did feel like I'd lacked autonomy and I guess that makes sense, because the purpose of these communities is to decide "how should you live your life?", but realistically there are social hierarchies and so you can end up being told by others how to live your life rather than deciding for yourself. And you can assess your self worth by these external metrics which cuts away at the self esteem. But an important part of moving on has been realising: **no one held a gun to my head**. Sure, there was mild-to-moderate social pressure against disagreeing "too much". There was an in-group/out-group dynamic in that community. They were evangelical, and leaving was challenging. But there was no threat to my safety. They weren't "brainwashing" me. They didn't encourage me to cut off my friends+family. My participation had been entirely voluntary. Something I realised too is that some of the extremism had come *from me.* No one *told* me to see everyone in my personal life as potential converts I could bring on board. No one said "when you moderate this discussion group, make it look neutral but actually give more air time to the people who agree with EA". That was all on me. Maybe certain aspects of the ideology encouraged those tendencies, but I was still an adult acting autonomously. The guy who wrote this thread was with a different group in a different place to me, but I guess something nagged at me a bit. There's no shame in having certain thinking styles or psychological traits that lend towards radicalisation/extremism, but it's about taking responsibility to avoid it repeating. At the end of the day, every single person on earth will get addicted to heroin if they take it enough times, but *very few* people would get hooked on LessWrong let alone form extreme beliefs surrounding it. I genuinely hope the poster is okay. I just suspect there may be some additional factors and it's not *all* coming from Eliezer Yudkowsky.
I’m still trying to work my way through his pinned tweet thread, and I haven’t quite finished yet (and, honestly, I don’t intend to), so maybe he comes back around on this, but… am I the only one who’s getting really weirded out by the way he talks about women here? He seems to be aware of this on some level, talking about his fear of being seen as an abuser for writing the thread (and *always* making sure to emphasize just how much power the woman in question technically had over *him* without ever explicitly saying it). Like, I don’t know the guy, I’m not invested in… whatever his deal is (mania?). It just seems very weird to go, “Oh, yeah, I *totally* relate to Hugh Hefner and understand his point of view.” A lot of people in the rationalist sphere of ~influence~ seem to have some kind of impression of Being Rejected As The Worst Thing Ever. (Thinking about [that one SSC essay](https://www.eruditorumpress.com/blog/the-beigeness-or-how-to-kill-people-with-bad-writing-the-scott-alexander-method) — the link goes to Elizabeth Sandifer’s excellent analysis of his viewpoints, not to giving his former blog more pageviews or whatever. While Siskind claims that it’s Totally Not About Being Rejected, Guys! it… really seems that that is the case.) Am I misinterpreting this? I can’t tell.
I think one unifying feature of rationalists is a crippling inability to understand their own emotions, and a corresponding inability to connect with other people in a normal way. It's hard to see women as people when you haven't quite figured out how to see people as people.
I'd maybe put forward an alternative explanation to some others here of... narcissism? I don't exclusively mean NPD. I mean narcissism as a natural human tendency. A lot of "gifted kids" grow up getting told that they're going to save the world, that they provide hope for the future, that they are "special" or "chosen" in some way. And so their sense of self can form around this unrealistic image, and when they get out there into the real world they have to cope with this. That unrealistic image gets undermined and they might be left with nothing or something unstable in its place. People high in narcissism typically have an unstable sense of self, and so they look to the reactions of others to regulate their self image. This can lead to manipulative behaviour (to try and root out positive reactions). It can also lead to lashing out at negative ones. And generally speaking, any type of rejection can be really hard to tolerate because it's a negative input to their self image and there is little-to-no inner self esteem to counter that. It'd make sense to me that high-in-narcissism "former gifted kids" are attracted to rationalist communities, because it provides them with the fantasy of living out their "gifted kid" dreams. They are here to save the world, with their big brains... all of the love and attention they received as children that soothed them, comforted them, and was their source of resilience was true after all... phew!! I think said people, who have narcissistic / low-self-esteem tendencies, might also be sensitive to romantic rejection just because of general rejection sensitivity. Source: I'm definitely not talking about myself here
Talented and Gifted/Gifted and Talented programs and their consequences
American gifted programs. It is the American disease to constantly drone about "leaders" and "leadership" when all that is meant is status. They try to legitimize their ruling class by offering some ethics courses and larping as concerned people (Funnily, the problem in focus is always far removed in space or time so as to make it impossible to actually do something useful.). Unfortunately, this disease has spread to Europe. Learning as an end in itself gets lost, it is the prizes that matter, everything has to have a positive impact on society, just enjoying things is bad. What you get is moderately intelligent people with a full trophy cabinet that think of themselves as geniuses and visionaries/prophets that have to imbue the world with the wisdom they gained from their undergraduate lectures.
He has a story on his substack, a psuedo Borges piece, not good, but it is rather telling about his feelings towards women. He gives me the creeps. Seems like one of those guys who at once places women on a pedestal and at the same time dispises them for having such a hold over him. He never stopped to see women simply as fellow human beings. They were always objects of desire or despair.

He is still on math.SE, answered one of my questions recently really well. I think he’s doing alright, not everybody needs to pursuit a career in academia.

I don’t think it’s about how he needs to be academically mathematical, but that it sucks that the reason he stopped being academically mathematical is because he joined a cult

As someone new to the rationalism and SneerClub worlds, this is all very informative. Thanks for posting.