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c3o
01:05

Less Wrong: Declare your signaling and hidden agendas


Less Wrong is a group blog on rationality born out of Overcoming Bias, which I've quoted extensively here.

In this post, one author proposes that people disclose the signals they're trying to implicitly send, and the hidden agendas they might have when writing articles. He proceeds to lead by example, revealing a long list of motivations behind his previous posts: That post that on its surface was about how it's okay to be irrational sometimes, which used donation habits as an example? It's meant to signal his altruism and support the charities he mentions, of course. Two others: Meant to signal how much of an academic he is by quoting from research papers.

My first reaction after reading his list and others people post in the comments: Wow, I feel a bit  cheated, and I've lost some respect for those people.
It's like they don't actually care about rationality all that much, they're driven by the same monkey tribe behavior as, say, people who flaunt brandseveryone else... got to impress your peers in order to be accepted and respected. It's just that for whatever reasons they chose this little subculture and its value system as their own.

But wait – first of all those mostly weren't the main reasons for his posts, just minor factors... and kudos for being so open and self-analytical, right? (It's meant to signal honesty, obviously).

Another statement from the comments that rings true: Asking "what are you signaling?" is like asking "what is your greatest weakness?" during a job interview. It handicaps honest people.

And of course I'm posting this on a tumblelog in no small part meant to signal what a wide array of cool interests I have...

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Schweinderl