Less Wrong shibboleths

There’s a site that commanded certain popularity among a sizable fraction of the Smart Internet™, Less Wrong. Founded by Overcoming Bias co-blogger Eliezer Yudkowsky in 2009, and now mostly dead (The site, not Yudkowsky, lol) , it has spawned a number of separate communities that remain active.

Shibboleths are words or customs that serve to identify members of an ingroup from members of an outgroup. In this context, Less Wrong shibboleths are things that, if you read them, you know the writer probably has some connection to Less Wrong. If you see many together, increase your confidence.

These shibboleths seem to be:

  • Using 3^^^3 when talking about large numbers
  • Pascal’s Mugging (Interestingly, the concept originated not in Less Wrong itself, as commonly believed, but in an article by Alex Tabarrok,that predates Less Wrong’s by seven years)
  • Refering to oneself as an aspiring rationalist
  • Talking about Bayesianism as an all-powerful tool
  • Using ‘Dark arts’ to refer to systematic exploitation of biases to persuade someone
  • FOOM: A funny onomatopoetic term for intelligence explosion
  • Utilon instead of util (Seriously, WHY?)
  • The map is not the territory
  • Politics is the mind-killer
  • Knowledge of Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality
  • Paperclip maximizer
  • Shut up and multiply. Comes up in decision theory or ethics.
  • Solomonoff induction
  • Kolmogorov complexity
  • Friendly AI and AI risk
  • Talking about ‘updating beliefs’
  • Wireheading
  • Fake X
  • Mere Y
  • Polyamory

Now you may be expecting some discussion or something, but stop expecting :).

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