Goal-Oriented Beliefs


An elaboration on this.


The classic example of a bait-and-switch ideology is Marxism. You’re promised utopia, and you get the Great Famine. On the other hand, for a while there, the USSR had some excellent tanks, and they knocked out the Axis in Barbarossa for the modest fee of 4 million soldiers (over five times the casualties of the invading forces). And just look at Russia now!

Today’s memescape is populated by more insidious bait-and-switch ideologies, by nature of the media across which ideas are produced, consumed, and evaluated. Ideobait has evolved to be less obvious (contrast “let’s realize the kingdom of heaven” with ”this is our moral duty”) and the “switch” ideologies that are snuck in through the back door have developed advanced systems of self-sustenance: from the mundane shadowban to the jocular SWATting to Chuvian dark epistemology.

No one is to blame for getting memed into working for the propaganda megaphone of the state. It happens; authority is sexy, morality is laborious unless it’s prepackaged for us, and we’re all bitches for He-Who-Provides. But, with a little scrutiny and a heaping helping of caution, the discerning agent can avoid the fate that has claimed some of our best and brightest. Of course, avoiding memes is like trying not to breathe microparticulate pollutants: possible, but impractical outside of total isolation. (And the pollutants have a tendency to drift.) The solution, therefore, is not to reject memes, but to meme ourselves.


“Isn’t this just dark epistemology?”

Not exactly. The Dark Arts involve memeing others, and wear an unsubtle /r/iamverysmart attitude about them: “Heh, plebs can’t resist my rational. Nothing personnel.” More dangerous than its misanthropy (which, admittedly, is useful enough to keep) is its assumption that the agent is himself immune from his and others’ memetics. We’ve tread this ground before. The failure of Yudkowskian rationality was not its thoroughness, but its hubristic dogmatism that bias is bad.

Lizards seek heat, wolves follow the alpha, and humans screw for fun. There are simply too many layers of inevitable influence acting on your mind to try and control every avenue of input. Your cat meows at the frequency of a child’s voice: do you force yourself to manually ignore it every time it catches your attention? Or do you never purchase it in the first place? You’re at work, facing a ground-floor window. A constant stream of pedestrians waltz by at all hours, and you can’t help but steal a glance at the occasional entree. This interrupts your train of thought and it costs a good deal of time to get back into flow. You could try to master flow-entry and meditate every time you get distracted, or you could turn your chair away from the window. Only some of these solutions require mental maintenance.

Try to list how often you’re exposed to bias you can’t control on a daily basis. Imagine believing that you can somehow maintain enough mental checks and balances even to perform a 51% attack on your neural network’s hidden associative-bias layer every time this happens. No: Until the silicon neuron, bias is here to stay. (Maybe not even then.)

Consider form and function as disciplines of design. Rationality’s function is clear and effective: Bayes is a powerful tool. Its form, on the other hand, is hideous. Rationality is the Java of philosophy: leaky, unmaintainable, and incredibly memory-expensive.


It follows, then, that we cast the function of rationality to the form of irrationality, or rather subrationality: the state of pre-awareness wherein one operates instinctively, not deliberately. Typing, not deciding where to put your fingers on the keyboard. Through intimate familiarity, you actually already know how to do this, even though you may not recognize when you’re doing it because it doesn’t feel special by definition. It’s “normal”. We are each of us memed upon every day of our lives. It is the aspect of affecting subrationality that makes this approach its own methodology: this is postrationality. The rational angle comes in at the onset: in which direction is it best to get memed? What are your aspirations? Perhaps you too yearn for a harem of neurodiverse polyamorous nymphs with whom to cuckold Berkeley grad students?

No, seriously. Look at what happened to Yud. Look at what’s happening to Scott. Metaphysical metamorphosis. Memetic metastasis. You’re next. I am next. What can we do?

We can choose. Look at Yud: his book The Fetishistic Introspection Mindset amassed an empire of high-IQ, low-self-confidence academics. Look at Scott: his middle-of-the-road compromise-based objectivity evolved from hopeless general malaise into an elaborate justification for status quo. (Aside, he’s several sigma more intelligent than yours truly, and this specific transition is far from the entirety of his telos, but if he wants to shamble from despair to resigned perpetuation (system-emic blackpill?), he’s going to have to dodge some artillery.) Something to learn from each is the immense influence of the memeplex on the memed: you are not what you believe, but you are what “what you believe” makes you do.

So choose beliefs that make you do what you want to accomplish.