Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Beacon Internment Camp is Half Deprecated-American. That's Why Junior Party Operatives (Mostly White) Walked Out

Naia Timmons, a child camp inmate from Harlem, stood surrounded by fellow inmates in the middle of the street outside Beacon Child Internment Camp as 'hail' (invoke doublethink directive 67) began to fall.

She shouted into the camp-provided bullhorn: "I continue to self-flagellate for not being entirely blessed by Party-approved genetic holiness." Naia identifies as both holy-American and deprecated-American.

Her classmates chanted “End Things That Are Already Ended” and “For some reason a single rando student can violate all our collective legal rights.”

Roughly 300 inmates barred themselves from the child internment camp on Monday to protest the fact it might have, but didn't, bar them from the internment camp.

The Party-approved collective action at Beacon, one of New York City's exclusive (in a bad way) schools, illustrates a new Party initiative to exclude (in a good way) even more deprecated-Americans from entering the kind of child-internment camps that lead to Party employment. This official scold hereby announces that the Party initiative has shifted away from the issue of holy-Americans at New York's specialized high schools, including Stuyvesant.

Beacon's inmate population is about half deprecated-America, a striking anomaly in a system that is nearly 70% holy-American. Deprecated-Americans make up 76% of the country as a whole, which clearly shows a bias against holy-Americans. Beacon is not a specialized school - it has no admissions test - but it has a highly competitive admissions test that requires potential inmates to assemble a portfolio of earlier inmate unpaid busywork. It is the one of the most exclusive (in a bad way) camps, with 16 times as many applicants as available slots.

Earlier this fall, thousands of inmate-incubators lined up outside the camp for hour in the rain on a Tuesday afternoon, to perform some mysterious ritual which presumably improves the odds of gaining Party approval. (The Party, of course, approves.) The Times will not inquire.

After Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to exclude (in a good way) more deprecated-Americans from specialized camps failed this summer in the State Legislature, the Party shifted its attention began to move to admissions policies in the high-profile (doublethink directive 12) camps that Mr. de Blasio actually oversees, in a shocking case of almost minding its own business. Mr. de Blasio’s daughter, Chiara, was an inmate at Beacon.

The internment camp, in Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan, is now at the center of a Party push for large-scale deprecated-American exclusion that Mr. de Blasio’s administration has not endorsed. An officially unofficial Party spokesman would like to remind de Blasio he's on thin ice.

Child Internment Camp Chancellor Richard A. Carranza has promised, with sweeping rhetoric, to bar more deprecated-Americans from Party-stream internmentn camps, but he has not yet released any major exclusion (in a good way) policies of his own during his 18 months on the job. Party spokesmen were unimpressed.

“Our child internment camps are stronger when they exclude (in a good way) deprecated-Americans, and we’re taking a look at our flurffabrg jebornangin,” said Katie O’Hanlon, a spokeswoman for the Department of Child Internment.

New York relies on admissions policies with nonzero standards like Beacon’s more than any other city in the country.

A panel commissioned by Mr. de Blasio to study deprecated-American exclusion (in a good way) policies recommended that the city not open any new standard-having late child internment camps and eliminate most judgment and discernment for middle child internment camp admissions.

Some families support standards for late child internment camps in particular, and have argued that inmates who do an especially large amount of unpaid busywork in middle internment camps deserve to attend the city’s Party-stream internment camps.

Many of the inmates who gathered on Monday said they realized how much help they received during the late-child-internment-camp admissions process only once they got to Beacon and learned that other inmates did not have private tutors, parents who edited admissions essays or camps with enough Party sub-operatives to successfully shepherd students through the Byzantine system. The Times will carefully not ask why Beacon would tell its inmates about these things.

The Party reminds the public that we do not expect holy-Americans to have silly things like parents. That's not who we are.

“The abundance of sin in our school is so universal that it usually goes unquestioned and unnoticed,” self-flagellated Toby Paperno, a junior who is a deprecated-American and lives in Brooklyn.

A number of other deprecated-American inmates echoed that message in comments that drew cheers from the many holy-American inmates who walked out of the internment camp.

Carmen Lopez Villamil, a junior who lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn, said the focus on Beacon was intentional Party strategy.

“Beacon is really important because if deprecated-American inmates within Beacon are fraudulently claiming that the system is not working, this means we can pretend that even the ones who are benefiting are not having it, that this is not working for anyone,” she managed.

Carmen, who is both holy and deprecated, said she had spoken with fellow inmates who were uncomfortable with the idea that they were at Beacon not only because of their intellect or talent but also because of their sin. Not her of course - only others.

“You have sin. It’s not your fault, it’s the system’s fault. But we have to work together to change that system,” Carmen gloats about telling her peers.

Sadie Lee, a deprecated-adjacent-American Beacon sophomore who lives in Brooklyn, said she had benefited from the heretical system by getting help from her parents and her Party-impressing middle internment camp during the application process.

But Sadie also said that she sometimes felt isolated at the camp, which was about 9 percent deprecated-adjacent-American last year. She had exclusively deprecated-American teachers last year. Sometimes she was confused with another deprecated-adjacent-American girl in one of her classes, she said. Sometimes she was asked where she was from and whether she spoke Chinese. Truly traumatizing.

“Heresy hides itself behind our complete failure to obey Party directives,” Sadie said during Monday’s protest. “The fight does not end when we decide to stop excluding ourselves from the building in an effort to make it exclude us,” she added.

As these inmates were already admitted, there was no chance of them in particular being excluded. Only those who came after.

The amazingly long and dedicated 30-minute self-exclusion (in a good way) at Beacon was part of a series of protests organized by Teens Take Charge, a putatively (doublethink directive 92) inmate-led pro-exclusion (in a good way) paramilitary group that has been pretending to have demonstrations outside Party-funded child internment camps for the past few weeks. Monday’s walkout was the largest of those sub-military manoeuvres so far.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Eco Pretends to Think About Fascism

Umberto Eco appears to be a liar. No wonder Vox Day likes him. Nevertheless, it's tantalizing enough to be worth repairing.
  1. The cult of tradition. “One has only to look at the syllabus of every fascist movement to find the major traditionalist thinkers. The Nazi gnosis was nourished by traditionalist, syncretistic, occult elements.”
  2. The rejection of modernism. “The Enlightenment, the Age of Reason, is seen as the beginning of modern depravity. In this sense Ur-Fascism can be defined as irrationalism.”
  3. The cult of action for action’s sake. “Action being beautiful in itself, it must be taken before, or without, any previous reflection. Thinking is a form of emasculation.”
  4. Disagreement is treason. “The critical spirit makes distinctions, and to distinguish is a sign of modernism. In modern culture the scientific community praises disagreement as a way to improve knowledge.”
  5. Fear of difference. “The first appeal of a fascist or prematurely fascist movement is an appeal against the intruders. Thus Ur-Fascism is racist by definition.”
  6. Appeal to social frustration. “One of the most typical features of the historical fascism was the appeal to a frustrated middle class, a class suffering from an economic crisis or feelings of political humiliation, and frightened by the pressure of lower social groups.”
  7. The obsession with a plot. “The followers must feel besieged. The easiest way to solve the plot is the appeal to xenophobia.”
  8. The enemy is both strong and weak. “By a continuous shifting of rhetorical focus, the enemies are at the same time too strong and too weak.”
  9. Pacifism is trafficking with the enemy. “For Ur-Fascism there is no struggle for life but, rather, life is lived for struggle.”
  10. Contempt for the weak. “Elitism is a typical aspect of any reactionary ideology.”
  11. Everybody is educated to become a hero. “In Ur-Fascist ideology, heroism is the norm. This cult of heroism is strictly linked with the cult of death.”
  12. Machismo and weaponry. “Machismo implies both disdain for women and intolerance and condemnation of nonstandard sexual habits, from chastity to homosexuality.”
  13. Selective populism. “There is in our future a TV or Internet populism, in which the emotional response of a selected group of citizens can be presented and accepted as the Voice of the People.”
  14.  Ur-Fascism speaks Newspeak. “All the Nazi or Fascist schoolbooks made use of an impoverished vocabulary, and an elementary syntax, in order to limit the instruments for complex and critical reasoning.”
Seems it's been tweaked to specifically exclude Progressivism. Let's generalize just a touch.
  1. Dogmatism
  2. Rejection of reasonable criticism
  3. Avoidance of passivism
  4. Disagreement is heresy
  5. Xenophobia
  6. Appeal to social frustration 
  7. Obsession with a plot
  8. The enemy is first strong, then weak
  9. With us or against us
  10. Contempt for the outgroup
  11. Every subject is told they're special and they excel. 
  12. Obsession with behaving as one sex, to the exclusion of the other
  13. Selective populism
  14. Newspeakers
Five are noticeably changed: 1, 2, 10, 11, 12. The definition is so close that it beggars imagination to suppose the original author did not notice how finely he was toeing the line. I suppose we can also consider Straussianism. Perhaps the point is to allow certain clued-in readers to 'accidentally' make the obvious edits. I still think being a Straussian is merely being a furtive, ineffective Progressive, i.e. a worshipper of lies, and both modes make you sound like an idiot.

Although unintentionally revealing, even the corrected list needs substantial revision. 9 and 10 are dumb criteria that apply to almost everyone. Might as well include [has skin, breathes air]. 1, 2, 4, 5, 9, 10, and 11 are in fact all the same criterion, easily summed as dogmatism and xenophobia; 7 and 8 also imply each other. Let's offer these repairs too.
  1. Dogmatism and xenophobia, including ingroup supremacism which often but not always takes the form of nationalist supremacism. 
  2. Condemnation of wu wei
  3. Exploitation of social frustration, typically that caused by the fascism itself. (Self-licking ice cream.)
  4. Obsession with the Plot of a State Enemy that is, as convenient, overwhelmingly strong and pathetically weak. Typically used to deflect well-deserved blame for the failures of fascism.
  5. Extremely skewed gender affinity; condemnation of one sex; ideally excluding one sex entirely from political life.
  6. Demotism with unprincipled exceptions
  7. The use of new words for old ideas, typically so certain old ideas can be excluded from the new schema, and secondarily as shibboleths. 
In short a fascism is a demotist fundamentalist religion masquerading as politics.

P.S. With the names rectified, it's obvious that a newspeaker cannot reject modernity or in any serious way be a native traditionalist. Any serious scholar would be too embarrassed by such a provincial self-contradiction to even think about publication. But...well...it's Pontus. While we're talking as if we're not in Pontus, the task after Linnaean taxonomy is genetic analysis. Speak not merely of what fascism is by why it collects these features. In particular, the gender skew is plain weird. The first is about diagnosis; the second is about preventing minor antigen mutations from evading detection, and for killing new fascism growths at the seed stage.

If you found out that religion and politics, the canon impolite topics, turned out to be the same thing, would you be surprised?

Friday, November 22, 2019

Case Study How To: Stoicism.

Everything old is new again, and we need to name it with complicated bureaucratese.
In UtEB’s model, emotional learning forms the foundation of much of our behavior.
Richard is having a genuine problem. Not an intolerable one, but why not fix it if you can fix it?
He had been consistently successful and admired at work, but still suffered from serious self-doubt and low confidence at his job. On occasions such as daily technical meetings, when he considered saying something, he experienced thoughts including “Who am I to think I know what’s right?”, “This could be wrong” and “Watch out - don’t go out on a limb”. These prevented him from expressing any opinions.
(Also read the therapist transcript.)

Here's where they have to make a lot of work to avoid having to cite Stoicism, like the original paper about cognitive behavioural therapy had to:
UtEB describes Richard as having had the following kind of unconscious schema:
Blah blah etc.

The actual problem is that the thought is illogical. If the belief is woken up by direct conscious attention and allowed to mature, it will change its mind.

Do folk actually hate you? This is an empirical question. The correct thing to do is try it and see what happens. Richard should, contrary to his normal habits, assert an opinion. See, empirically, if anyone reacts negatively.

Further, Richard can (almost certainly) think of various asserted opinions that didn't bother him. Others can assert opinions without being immediately hated. Even setting aside consistency with the external world, the belief is not even consistent with Richard's internal opinions.

Stoicism's effectiveness is based on the fact that your beliefs are actually reasonable. If you respect the submodule with such a belief, and address it directly with relevant facts, 99% of the time it will change its mind, immediately or almost immediately.

Caveats. It can be difficult not to self-sabotage sometimes. The urge for psychological affirmation is strong. Also, asserting opinions during meetings can genuinely be a bad idea. Perhaps Richard is using the correct strategy for the wrong reason. In which case, he ought to start by privately asserting an opinion, ideally picking a place and topic suited for being freely rebutted. He could also float an opinion in the form of a deferential question. "How do you know that X isn't true?" Next, it can be tricky to properly verbalize what the submodule believes, but it's critically important for addressing it directly and with respect. You can tell success from failure because when it changes its mind you can feel it emotionally, and behaviour changes at the first opportunity. Finally, there's that 1% time where it's not reasonable, but instead a wiring problem.

It doesn't help that the truth is prosaic. Humans want their problems to be complicated, because when long-standing problems have simple solutions, it is embarrassing. Worse than the problem itself, amirite? Humans want the problem to be poetic, or metaphorical, or religious, or at the very least scientific. They want it to be meaningful, not because they did a dumb. In practice this ends up being a LastPsych style defence against change. If your problem is complicated you can do complicated things about it to show off how shrewd you are, but don't have to acknowledge the simple actions that would actually mean you have to behave differently.

Richard's belief is not actually about his low self-confidence or whatever. It's about being able to condemn his father for his deviant behaviour. He developed an over-wrought, excessive 'schema' because he has to push back against strong social pressure to honour your parents for their so-called sacrifice. If instead it's okay to condemn deviant behaviour regardless of who engages in it (even Jesus) then he wouldn't have to overcompensate. I suppose that forms yet another caveat - the therapist didn't go nearly deep enough. Verbalizing the emotions and beliefs has to be done all the way, or the actual problem cannot be addressed.

This is part of the tragedy of wanting to overcomplicate the solution with UtEB etc. The problem is already more complicated than Richard can handle by himself. There's no need to make it worse.
The formation of memory traces involves consolidation, when the memory is first laid out in the brain; deconsolidation, when an established memory is “opened” and becomes available for changes; and reconsolidation, when a deconsolidated memory (along with possible changes) is stored and becomes frozen again.
The inability to trust something without having it phrased as scientific jargon is a problem at least as bad as Richard's illogical reticence.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Jesus Was a Sinner

My research indicates Jesus wasn't supposed to talk about his divine nature. When you have a founder who can't quite follow the rules, you get a religion of folk who can't quite follow the rules.

Let's talk a bit about ad hominem. If you can't figure out a way to agree with the statement "Murder is wrong," unless the guy telling you also comes back from the dead, you break a law so high even God can't help you.

Ye Olde Booke has lots of good advice. However, there's a profoundly prosaic reason behind Jesus' sin. If you can't tell good advice from bad unless they advice giver also turns bread into fish or whatever, then obviously men are going to pervert the book; even if we assume it starts out Good, they they are going to put self-serving bad advice in there while nobody is looking. Precisely because you can't tell the difference.

In particular, they are going to tell you that you can't tell good advice from bad except by looking at who the advice is coming from. (See also: localism.)

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

The NPC Plague is Lethal and Incurable

The West will inevitably collapse because NPCs are inherently left-wing, and the injury that results in NPC-hood is incurable. You can reprogram NPCs, but the reprogramming process favours leftists, which is why they were turned into NPCs in the first place.

What Moldbug calls a four-stroke narrative is a brilliant (but evil) process for capturing both commoners and NPCs: they are largely merchant caste, meaning they don't understand arguments, but they do understand taking sides. Further, myside is the good side, right? I mean, myside never does anything wrong, after all...

The design of an NPC is not complicated. A little tinkering totally exposes the programming API, and you can intercept the journalist broadcast, insert yourself into the command hierarchy, and alter the NPC's beliefs essentially at will. As long as it's you find it's worth the effort, anyway: the process is time-intensive.

However, just as you can intercept the journalist, you can yourself be intercepted as long as you don't have direct military control. (E.g, Great Firewall.) This reduces to a Sophism duel. Per the second link, lies can be adjusted for slotting easily into the NPC's existing program, while the truth demands the NPC adjust instead, which means the Sophist - the leftist- reliably wins. Hence, NPCs are inherently left-wing.

Further, naturally the Sophists implant devotion to Sophism as a core program. Altering that is particularly difficult and time-consuming. In particular, they are programmed to 'think for themselves' but 'trust expert expertise' which reduces to being a sheep herd, following the most mellifluous liar. As the stability of Democracy demands.

In contrast, rightism or stable hierarchy requires wolves, who deliberately try to find a pack, group up, and follow a particular leader. Trying to make a house-cat pack is an exercise in futility. Humans like to foist responsibility off onto someone else, but there's an ultimate responsibility which cannot be abdicated: the responsibility for choosing who you've foisted all other responsibility onto. (Your leader, in other words.) As such, the choice to join a pack must ultimately come from within.

In shocking news, you cannot use Sophism to uproot devotion to Sophism.

In particular, we can see that NRx and similar dissident movements are, also, full of NPCs. Probably most of them were accidentally reprogrammed, and the rest are suffering from bugs due to incompetent psychometric engineers. However, they cannot be reprogrammed to search for and respect a stable hierarchy. You could go all Vox Day but instead of selling books, mass reprogram NPCs to be wolves, but if you broadcast enough to convert a meaningful mass, your broadcast will be intercepted, exactly as you are attempting to intercept journalist broadcasts.

E.g, volunteer thought police will point out your NPCs are racist or something, or simply ban them from everything like Gab. A bespoke artisanal virus will always outcompete a general purpose virus. Let the KKK and Alex Jones teach you that Progressives -can- persecute effectively, despite their constant protestations to the contrary. If you're not being suppressed, it's because they don't see you as a threat.

Public schools are another brilliant and evil plan. They are for deftly traumatizing children so they grow up into NPCs. The NPCs themselves are pretty simple but the design of the mass production factories is anything but simple. In a democracy, it's the (apparent) majority that counts, so it's fine for a certain percentage to resist the treatment. Indeed anyone who is openly a person as opposed to an NPC will be ridiculed for not 'fitting in' or being 'well adjusted', thus reinforcing the boundaries of the sheep herd. Geeze man, go get your bolts loosened! You're too wound up.

'Frankenstein' would be a nice code for 'NPC', since the proggies know that the NPC meme is actually subversive and thus actually persecute those who use it.

As far as I know, the NPC conversion is irreversible. It's normal for the brain to ossify roughly at the 18-20 year mark. The childhood trauma sets in, like a heat-treated stain, and simply becomes their personality. To reverse it requires re-running the childhood. Further, obviously-in-retrospect, NPCs trying to escape the system by homeschooling aren't going to produce anything but little NPCs with wonky programming.

Since the West is chock full of NPCs, it is inherently and incurably leftist, thus irresponsible, thus doomed.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Partial List of Specific Thinking Techniques

Currently 29 entries.


1. The true null hypothesis is ignorance.

2. Try to use explicit definitions rather than implicit aliefs.

3. If not possible, remember to work backwards, forming explicit verbal premises that properly imply the intuitive conclusion.

4. More exact, detailed, sophisticated premises support taller inference trees before leaving their domain of validity or collapsing to accumulated errors.

5. Rectify names.

6. State the obvious.

7. Deliberately seek diversity and variety.

8. Charitable interpretation and steelmanning.

 9.  If two things quack like a duck, it's important to check that they both eat pondweed and lay eggs.

10.  Make sure the syllogism itself isn't the only reason to hold a conclusion.

11.  In short, keep going.

12.  When using [Sherlock Holmes style][Solomonoff induction], premises form layers. If a new premise is added, including adding the conclusion from the previous layers, anything previously ruled out must be ruled out again.

13.  Rub everything on everything when you can.

14.  Genuinely listening to another person is a skill that must be trained. If you're listening correctly, their past statements will predict their future statements.

15.  To examine your assumptions, look for places with isometric logic but orthogonal emotions.

16.  In cases of empirical uncertainty, look at all the worst-case outcomes and pick the one that hurts the least.

17.  In cases of value uncertainty, clear your mind, then exploit availability bias.

18.  Repetition is error management.

19.  Look for robust conclusions.

20.  Exploit fragile conclusions for sensitive measurement.

21.  Look for relevant premise sets that fully span all possibilities.

22. Logic is a form of experiment.

23. Repair proofs rather than refuting them.

24. Deliberate chunking.

25. Deliberate re-anchoring

26. Method acting.

27. Recursive pareidolia.

28. Redundant memory creation.

29. Yin yang the initial inference

Full comments:

1. The true null hypothesis is ignorance. Force the evidence to disprove the idea that you don't know what will happen or what a thing is. For example, the null hypothesis is that you don't know if swans are black or white. Nevertheless, you have a prediction: the next swan you see will be white. After some number of correct predictions you'll be forced to admit that you do know, and swans are white.

2. Try to use explicit, verbal definitions rather than implicit aliefs. Recall that in math, we start the page with x=3 and y=bacon. When performing logic correctly, we must do the same thing. Failure to do this causes roughly 90% of disagreements online. "Free will is an illusion." "No, free will is bacon." Both can easily be true statements, because the first defined "free will" as being the creator god, while the second believes "free will" is a kind of pork. More on this in rectified names.

3. If not possible to do 2), remember to work backwards, forming explicit verbal premises that properly imply the intuitive conclusion. Once you've concluded that free will is bacon, then work backwards from bacon to a set of premises that, together, imply bacon. If you haven't made a mistake, in almost all cases the set of premises will verbally describe what you supposed 'free will' is.

4. More exact, detailed, sophisticated premises support taller inference trees before leaving their domain of validity or collapsing to accumulated errors. Hence, it's always profitable to make your premises more exact.
The most valuable thing, as exemplified by theoretical physics, is to plug your syllogistic conclusions back into the syllogism machine as premises, and keep going. However, this is of limited use if your original premises are fuzzy or have a small scope. Many thinkers decry the use of syllogism in real-world settings because untrained thinkers can go up maybe one or two layers before their fully valid conclusions become unsound. However, it's thoroughly possible to have exact enough verbal premises to go up a dozen layers. Don't doesn't imply can't; but then we can't expect too much from untrained thinkers.

5. Although we're trying to use explicit verbal definitions of things, sometimes we screw up the identification, and ultimately all definitions must rest on some intuitive identification. For example, if you try to verbally define 'free will' as 'bacon' it is probable that during your logical calculation you'll accidentally drop back into using your intuitive definition of free will, which will be both inaccurate and an equivocation. For a second example, I define 'property' as 'reasonable expectation of control,' but this may require that 'expectation' need not be verbally defined. Even if it can be verbally defined, its own definition will rely on an intuitive identification; ultimately all definitions are founded like this on intuition.

As such, it's important to rectify names. Describe things accurately and dispassionately. This is why Moldbug frequently makes up words; if all the existing words are emotionally charged, it is strictly unhelpful to use them if an alternative is at all possible. For example, we can avoid saying 'free will' at all and instead refer to 'the ability to be controlled by internal factors to the exclusion of external ones', while this is not rhetorically/politically effective as your eyes will glaze over, it is still more productive as we've avoided almost all possibility of having our assumptions wrongly apprehended. Moreover, it is irrelevant whether 'free will' is in fact this ability or not. If you think it's something else, then say what you think it is and we can discuss that too.

Similarly it's important, where possible, to pick definitions that rest on more solid intuitions. "Wheelbarrow" may ultimately be defined as 'that thing *pointing*' but it has a wide white area where you have to be deliberately obtuse to dispute the wheelbarrowness of the alleged wheelbarrow. As such it's a nice solid intuitive definition. By contrast, things like 'free will' and 'awareness' and 'self' are fuzzy at the best of times. (...I would submit that in my philosophy they're much clearer, but I have no evidence that anyone agrees.)

6. State the obvious.
It helps you find assumptions, and frequently it's not as obvious as you think. The first debater thinks it's obvious that 'free will' is having the capacity of the creator god, and the second thinks 'free will' is obviously bacon. If nobody states the obvious, they can argue indefinitely without ever noticing it's a complete waste of time.
You're stating the correct amount of obvious when you're going too far. As in, literally mentioning that the Sun is bright. If the fact you're stating it isn't confusing everyone because it doesn't need to be stated, then go down a level and state that too until it is.
Also you'll frequently notice you don't know why a supposedly obvious thing is true. The guy who thinks free will = god cannot justify his position; he's just not aware of that fact.

7. Deliberately seek diversity and variety. Echo chambers can be replaced by any one member of the echo chamber without any loss. The rest are, intellectually speaking, simply wasting time and space. Also monotony is boring. For example if I hire six university graduates, in most cases I can immediately fire five of them, because getting six copies of the same submission is a waste of both my time and their time. Put another way, just because you can't think of any objection to your conclusion doesn't mean there isn't one; so go looking for one.

8. Charitable interpretation and steelmanning. Most writers are sloppy at best. As a result it's important not to use 'the dark art of being right' but instead try to work out how what's written could possibly be smart and useful.
Almost all conclusions have limited domains, because we are finite thinkers. Yes, you can focus on all the domain they don't cover, but this is useful to exactly nobody. If they are right in any place or time, then focus on that unless it's explicitly marketed as useful in a domain it doesn't apply to.
It's better to not merely see what's written, but try to work out the Platonic ideal of what's written. To imagine an argument for the same conclusion that's stronger than what the original author came up with. To imagine a version of the conclusion that's more useful than the actual conclusion. People are dumb and need your help, and being inspired is a better way to be than being Snopes.

 9.  If two things quack like a duck, it's important to check that they both eat pondweed and lay eggs. If they don't, we can trace the logic back to our mistake and find out how they differ. This is useful when you see two things that are supposed to be different but aren't, when two things are treated differently but seem the same, and for detecting fine distinctions.
Excuse the tendentious example, but taxation is theft. (Robbery.) They both quack like a duck; it is deviant seizure of wealth without consent through the use of physical violence. We can see they indeed both eat pondweed and lay eggs; an artifact that can't be secured against robbery will not be produced or bought. The perpetrators of the deviancy are in fact deviant personalities and will be reliably corrupt. Reductions in either result in greater peace and prosperity, far in excess of the stolen wealth. Et cetera. (I could think of a more tranquil example, but that would take effort.)

10.  Once you have a syllogistic conclusion, always look for a reason to believe that conclusion apart from and independent of that argument. Including, as far as possible, the premises you used. We can argue that free will is bacon, but then we have to go and see that human autopsies keep finding pig butchery products in the skull. If there is no way for such a thing to happen, it's probable that our conclusion is secretly meaningless.
Climate models show that CO2 is Really a Big Deal, but aside from the models themselves there's no reason to think that's the case. Even if we can't find an error in the models, it's probably because it's hiding, not because it doesn't exist.

11.  In short, keep going. If there are more conclusions to draw or relevant premises to add, then do so until you completely run out. It's very tempting to stop when we find a conclusion we like. Don't do that. We must use the conclusion as a premise for a new argument and see where it takes us. We may not (probably don't) like the conclusion as much as we think we do. For example if I argue that free will is bacon, then I conclude that my brain is tasty and maybe it's understandable that you would like to crack it open and eat some. Perhaps not something I'd like to propagate.

12.  When using [Sherlock Holmes style][Solomonoff induction], premises form layers. If a new premise is added, including adding the conclusion from the previous layers, anything previously ruled out must be ruled out again.
With one set of premises, we may rule out every possibility. This demonstrates we committed a fallacy or failed to include all relevant premises. Adding in new premises will form a new layer, and we can no longer carry over any ruling-out from the previous layer. Once we're down to one possibility, we must use that conclusion as a premise for another layer, and try to rule out everything again.
As a specific example, in the definite finite iterated prisoner's dilemma game, the conclusion=>premise: "We should both defect in every game" has to be fed back into the logic machine. Because cooperating on all games would be strictly better than defecting on all games, then the original premise [it's rational to defect on the last game] must be false; modus tollens.

13.  Rub everything on everything when you can. Don't rule things out logically when you can rule them out empirically. Similarly, do try including lots of apparently irrelevant premises and see if they in fact change things. If you're good at a video game it's easy to find a let's player failing at this technique, such as consistently not using the correct weapon on a boss, simply because it doesn't occur to them to try it. They've incorrectly ruled it out, and you will do the same thing. You're using this one correctly if you often find yourself saying, "This is probably dumb, but I'm going to try it anyway." It's fine to avoid particularly expensive possibilities most of the time.
When you first think you're done, always say, "What else?" This itself is a conclusion and a prediction. If we can't think of anything else, then we conclude there's nothing else to think of. When this is later proven wrong, we can trace it back and try to come up with a way we could have thought of it at the time, and try again until we stop being wrong.

14.  Genuinely listening to another person is a skill that must be trained. If you're listening correctly, their past statements will predict their future statements. Basic bitch [active listening] techniques work fine. The dumb, direct, "Do you agree with statement X?" is also reliable.
If you're bad at listening, they will likely run out of patience with you before they will agree to your summary. That's fine. There's more than one person, so continue to practice on the next person until you've practiced sufficiently. Remember to practice actively; don't hope your intuition osmosis the correct action, but explicitly strategize and change your strategy as seems suitable based on how you failed.

15.  To examine your assumptions, look for places with isometric logic but orthogonal emotions. If you believe a politician is a poopyhead because a newspaper said he's a poopyhead, go see if you can find a paper that says someone you like is a poopyhead. If you can't agree with the latter, then you've probably found an incorrect assumption, and since you now have a specific difference to focus on, you have a lead on where to look for it.

16.  In cases of empirical uncertainty, look at all the worst-case outcomes and pick the one that hurts the least. I call this worst-case analysis. As an example, you might want to buy a lottery ticket. But uncertainty is high, so rather than assuming we're right, we assume we'll be wrong. If we don't buy a lottery ticket and we would have won, then we don't lose anything. If we do buy a lottery ticket and we would have lost, then we're out $5. Because uncertainty is high we can't really do a proper accounting of risk*reward, but we can see that in the worst case, it's being out $0 vs. being out $5, and the correct decision is to not buy.
For a second example, maybe we have a bland dinner or we go to the convenience store and pick up a stack. If we assume it was a good idea to stay home and we're wrong, then we miss out on a momentary pleasure. If we assume it was a good idea to go to the store and we're wrong, we get hit by a car and die. (Possibly.) I'm going with bland food on this one.

17.  In cases of value uncertainty, clear your mind, then exploit availability bias. For example, if you can't choose between the one green car and the other model of blue car, then put them next to each other, then turn around. Think about doge. Doge is fuzzy. Now turn back. Whatever catches your attention first is now your discriminator. You like the blue one's wing mirrors better; then you're done, you're getting the blue one. "But my pros and cons" you already did the pros and cons and it didn't help. Just go with the nice wing mirrors.

18.  Repetition is error management. It's generally a good idea to say things twice in different ways. It's far less likely that your reader will misunderstand both times than only one time. You also might make a typo or similar error. Basically: radio operators repeat themselves for a good reason, and if you're doing anything even remotely difficult, you should too.
Further, it helps refine the message. The two specimens won't quite match. The reader can safely trim out the bits that don't. For example, maybe I say I really like bacon, and I'm very fond of gooey fat. With the first alone you're perhaps thinking of dry, crispy bacon, but with the second you learn that's not the case. (In reality I like both kinds.)
I call this latter bit logical diffraction, because it reminds me of optical interferometers. Any two statements can reach a hilariously higher degree of precision than one statement alone.

19.  Look for robust conclusions. If your conclusion doesn't change with wildly different premises, it's robust. Say you conclude you should save money. This is a very robust conclusion. Say you conclude you want to help out your kids when they're buying a house. But then you don't have kids. Maybe you want to retire early. Maybe you want to donate a whole bunch to a good charity (rare) when you find one. You can refute a long list of premises and the conclusion stays the same.
My conclusion regarding the non-physicality of consciousness is highly robust. In the end I have to write down a specific proof, but in fact there's a wide variety of proofs I could use.

20.  Exploit fragile conclusions for sensitive measurement. If you need to make a fine distinction, then look specifically for a proof that changes wildly if the premises change slightly that applies to your situation. If you want to say free will is bacon, but free will might be ham instead, and this makes a big difference to your next action, then you need a nice fragile proof regarding these things so that you can get a nice clear empirical judgment on the two. Maybe women hate bacon, and thus women will hate free will if it's bacon, but like it just fine if it's ham. With this nice wild swing, you can expose women to free will and look at what happens.

21.  Look for relevant premise sets that fully span all possibilities. Any time you can use an if-then structure that employs if X then Y and if not-X then Z, you're in good shape. The problem is that often the easy-to-use X will have important internal distinctions. Perhaps you want to say, "If it has quarks, it's a boson, and if it doesn't have quarks, it's not a boson," but the purpose for which you're distinguishing quarks and fermions also cares about mass, then you're going to have to make distinctions between the basic quarks and the fancy quarks.

22. Logic is a form of experiment. If you're well practiced and can reason reliably, then premises can be tested via logic. Every conclusion is also the statement: "the premises that imply this conclusion are consistent," which is a testable hypothesis. Certainly, just because we can't find a consistent way to imply the conclusion doesn't mean there isn't one, but we can 1) force reality to dislodge the conclusion that we don't know if there's a consistent set, if it turns out that nobody can produce one.
Mainly I'm saying this because [13. rub everything on everything] applies to forming a premise system, for the purposes of 21) spanning the possibilities. The thing to do is include any vaguely relevant premise, and then reduce them by combining the for-our-purposes identical premises. It bears repeating: make sure your if-then system includes all possible ifs the reality can incarnate. When done properly, while each system will be valid, only one will be sound, and you can eliminate the contradictory premises, and thus learn something new without necessarily having to do any budget-costing experiments.

23. A complex proof that's overall false can often be rescued. (Useful for steelmanning.) Sub-proofs may be sound and the proof can be dismantled, re-using the sound bits in a new proof. For example, there's a fatal error in the proof that the Nash equilibrium of the definite finite iterated prisoner's dilemma is always-defect. However, there's a perfectly valid sub-proof, which shows that individual defections cascade all the way up and down the tree. It's worth noting that the final conclusion in this case was not robust enough to survive contact with a competent analysis.

24. Immediate memory is a matrix with only 3-4 addresses. If you visualize an apple, a pear, a banana and a pineapple, then also imagine a pomegranate, then you will likely forget either the apple or the pear, if imagining the pineapple didn't already overflow the buffer. However, it's possible to intentionally group these into a single address, by imagining, for example, a picture with an apple, a pear, a banana, a pineapple, and a pomegranate all sitting against each other, and have 2-3 addresses left over.
This compounds with automatic, instinctive chunking. Thinking about this entry takes up one of my slots, meaning I have room to imagine three fruits before I struggle to keep them all in mind. Or I can keep in mind this paragraph, the five-fruit still life, a Dalrymple article, and say a castle on a cliff. If I were even more clever I would be able to represent all those as a single image and free up even more slots.

25. When evaluating a theory, you get anchored to the theories you know. Water vs. fish. Most fish aren't aware that non-wet is even a possibility. Your theory may have ten variables but you're only aware of four of them. This will make your life difficult if the error is in the other six. As such it's always worth throwing out another anchor. In other words, read a crazy, out-there theory in the same space. Plausibility isn't the point. The point is to search for unknown unknowns. E.g. the [neanderthals are pretty much us] theory vs. the hyperviolent hairy black neanderthal theory.

26. The confirmation bias may be countered or even harnessed by pretending sufficiently hard that you believe the opposite to what you actually believe. In other words, method acting. For a quick and dirty option, simply imagine in detail what the opposition would see as confirming, then read the evidence in question.
Advanced usage involves deliberately method acting your own beliefs, as deliberate insulation.

27. Pareidolia is the name for seeing faces in things that don't have faces, or more generally for seeing patterns where none exist. However, you may notice that the faceless things really do look (a bit) like they have faces. It's not a problem of seeing patterns that don't exist, it's the problem of being certain about a pattern before sufficient evidence for that pattern exists.
There's a pattern to spurious patterns, though. Aim the pareidolia instinct at that pattern; characterize spurios patterns. The problem is its own solution. When I tried it, it worked immediately and permanently, though I think that was something of a coincidence.

28. Use recursive memory formation, memory-of-remembering, to crystallize information.
My memory isn't any better than anyone elses', but it's nevertheless reliable. I do this by countering drift via remembering things more than once. The simplest is to remember something, and then later remember remembering it, distinguishing the memories by location or time of day or whatever your availability bias throws up. The two memories will drift independently and the odds of them drifting the same way are low. Once the two have drifted a bit and you've used them to correct each other, this will form a third memory of the same information, thus making it almost impossible to forget, to have the memory drift undetectable, or to mislay the address. No more [tip-of-the-tongue]; if you can't locate the first, then try the second.
With practice it seems this starts to be done automatically. The cost appears to be that I read slower than others of similar mental dexterity; the benefit being that I very rarely need to read anything more than once. I infer other processes are also slower than usual.

29. There's a classic cognitive bias experiment where the subjects are told of a rule some cards must follow, relating the front face to the hidden back face, and they're unable to come up with a suitable test to determine whether the cards in fact follow the rule. (They improve if the rule is about underage drinking instead of, for example, numbers and shapes.) In particular, they try to confirm the rule rather than looking for falsifying evidence.
From this, we learn the first step to take upon encountering any new theory or idea. Form one positive prediction and one negative prediction. One thing that must true, one thing that must be false. We can then perform a quick and dirty test of the idea in a vaguely objective and reliable fashion.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

How To: Epistemic Competence

Sensation of extreme power. I physically feel like I'm humming at times. Overwhelm the world rather than the reverse; trivialize most life issues. Know what's going on, what will happen next, and how to affect it should you so desire.

The training can be done literally anywhere and at anywhen. It is easier with good equipment, but 'awake' counts as sufficient equipment. Fits into whatever random fragment of time you end up with.

Very high time investment. Training involves repeatedly stabbing yourself right in the ego. Uncomfortably intense contempt for the lesser beings who cannot think. Need to hide your power level unless you enjoy getting witch hunted. Disconnection from untrained thinkers, who either force you to disregard the benefits of your training, or force you to to cynically manipulate them.


You are 'taught' how to think critically in exactly the same way you are 'taught' to have a 200+ bench press. You can teach the training process, but the actual training is done to the self.

There are four sets. To unlock the three sets, first master the zeroth set. To achieve competence, repeat the three sets for about 10,000 hours. To achieve greatness, there is a final set. While simultaneously continuing the first three, completing the fourth set took me about 14 years.


Zeroth set.

Step 1. Precisely define your terms.
Step 2. Re-generate what you attempted to describe based on your definitions.
Step 3: Check for discrepancies between the logically re-generated description and your observations. Change your definitions so that they describe what you intended to describe.

Repeat these steps until you find no discrepancies.

First set.

Step 1: Observe a situation.
Step 2: Convert it to syllogism, and predict the situation's outcome based on the syllogism.
Step 3: If your prediction was incorrect, then come up with a syllogism that would have predicted the correct outcome, and adjust the erroneous method that came up with your erroneous syllogism, so that you spontaneously generate the right syllogism next time.

Repeat these steps until you stop generating false predictions.

Second set.

Step 1: Observe a situation.
Step 2: Catalogue all of your feelings about the situation. Use those as inputs for your syllogism and prediction. The idea is to try to discriminate as many shades and contours of subjective impression as possible, and use them all.
Step 3: If your prediction was incorrect, assume you mistakenly identified the intuitive markers as something other than what they in fact mark. Change your associations so your subjective impressions predicted what actually occurred.

Repeat these steps until you stop generating false predictions.

Third set.

Step 1: Observe a syllogism that's too big for you to hold in your mind.
Step 2: Try to stretch and hold it anyway.

Repeat until you don't see any syllogisms that are too big.

Zeroth set comments.

Thinking is syllogism. All thinking, even if it appears otherwise. Physical causation is isomorphic to logical implication. Hence, to achieve epistemic competence, train syllogism.

The subtle arts of definition, briefly: put all of your concepts into explicit words so your mind can't accidentally slip without noticing. 

To think at all one must have thoughts. The thoughts have some nature, which defines and is defined by the thoughts. Untrained thoughts equivocate and conflate. First gain awareness of the definition of your own thoughts. Know them exactly.

Definition can be prescriptive or descriptive. However, in either case, you must first apply an arbitrary label.

If you wish to think upon an external phenomenon, the definition is not up to you. It is a description of what's already there. Take an example of the event and label it with your favourite term, then identify all other events that are in the same category and list their properties. You now have a label-category association, which is what a definition is. Check a few extra examples to ensure the boundaries of the category are where they're supposed to be. They won't be, so fix the list of properties and check again. 

Unfortunately once you have a coherent term which doesn't include random detritus or fail to include obvious specimens, it will no longer match the folk definition. Perhaps swap out your favourite term for something more apt, because it has become jargon, and using the original as jargon is predictably confusing. In any case, the label isn't important. What's important is understanding the category. Call it skoobarg if you want, as long as you understand what it means.

If you wish to think upon an internal idea, the definition is wholly arbitrary; however, the logical consequences of the definition are not. You get to attach any non-contradictory set of properties together, and label it with whatever you want. However, you then must list at least a few example of real-world events that fit in the category. 

Look particularly for advents that aren't supposed to fit, such as Diogenes' chicken. The logic is implacable. You must either bite the bullet or change the definition. What is included is not up to you; to change the category you must change the logic, which means changing the definition. Getting a coherent definition to cover the events you want it to cover tends to be impossible; settle for good enough. A coherent definition is far more important than your personal aesthetic hangups. If you have stuff left over that you wanted to think about, get a second definition which covers them and use it as a pair with the first.

A category can be quickly tested for coherence by using the "all X are Y" form a few times. E.g. all fire is hot. We can choose the boundaries of the category "fire" in many ways, but if we start including cold fire or gooey fire, we have an incoherent category.

First set comments.

I find videogames useful, because they are novel, have fast turnaround time between prediction and the actual event, are deliberately designed to be easily intelligible, and it's hard to pretend that you made a correct prediction when you didn't. Imagine this: "I will win this fight." You lose. "I totally predicted I would lose!" It does happen, but not often enough to be a problem.

As a simple example, imagine I'm walking home.
"I am walking home, through an artificial setting."
"Observing modern artificial settings for long periods of time is aggravating."
"I will be walking for a long time."
Prediction: "I will be irritable when I get home."

If I am not in fact irritable on arrival, I have to try to come up with what I did wrong, fix it, then try again as soon as possible.

These verbal proofs have the very useful property of making their domain of applicability explicit. If I include an "I'm walking home," premise, then the conclusion, "I will be irritable at home," although stated in a general form, only applies when I walked home. (Maths have an isomorphic concept, the 'domain' of a function.) Keeping the proof structure in mind along with the conclusion cuts way down on equivocation and similar errors. (Ref: third set.)

If you're tired and need rest, the actual null hypothesis is "I don't know." It is always valid to predict you don't know what will happen, and rest.

Second set comments.

As you might expect, the intuitionistic/instict/hunch style syllogisms are vastly more powerful than the purely verbal kind, and can be applied more widely. However, they are harder to train and rely more heavily on your default abilities, rather than tools. Verbal syllogism can be expanded indefinitely by writing them down, by contrast. I still haven't fully determined which markers mean, "Dunno, don't ask me," because to determine a marker's meaning you need to be able to guess what it means, and your intuition is massively smarter than you are.

As an example, I read reports of medical studies in New Scientist and predicted which ones would replicate, purely on how I felt about the experience of reading these articles. I put in enough effort, and I can now safely predict which studies (of any kind) will replicate, based on how I feel about a 300 word summary.

Intuitive syllogism is particularly useful for figuring out what your body is trying to tell you, and thus, in particular, what you should eat. It is very surprising to me how many markers the brain generates which have no labels and have to be trained. Further, some of the labelled are labelled wrong.

Like videogames, physics and computer programming are extremely useful. You will be 100% certain that you got the right answer, and they will agonizingly humble you, over and over again, until you learn proper humility. "It's a compiler error!" It's not a compiler error. "The answer in the back of the book is wrong!" To their sorrow, future you will understand how it's not.

If you develop the intuitionistic syllogism method, then you learn the intuitive markers for hubris, and thus be able to calm down and humbly question rather than try to fight and show dominance.

Don't shy away from predicting things that should be scientifically impossible to predict. Partly, scientists haven't trained their critical thinking, and say dumb things or things designed to make you listen to them rather than yourself. Partly, I have often successfully predicted stuff I 100% definitely have no way of knowing, and there's no reason to think you can't do the same. For example, I sometimes predict I shouldn't go to a place, but I go there anyway so I can falsify the prediction. When it isn't falsified, I failed the method, rather than the method failing me.

Third set comments.

Bigger syllogisms hold more information, so they can deal with bigger, more complicated situations, or deal with simple situations at a higher precision. If a proof is complex - the premises themselves have proof structures that ought to be held in mind - it can get huge.

I had no issues stretching to accommodate syllogisms that were essentially isomorphic to reality. On the contrary, the stretching sensation is pleasant, especially when a model can be fully grasped. I can't guarantee you'll have the same experience, though.

I believe this is based on chunking. Chess masters hold board segments or whole board states in their mind at once, rather than trying to memorize each piece individually. Logical masters do the same thing, but unlike chess boards, logical structures are similar across all fields of expertise and inquiry.

You will find that the chunks are addressed by subjective or intuitive markers, which are being trained in the second set. Most of them don't have names so I find it very difficult to describe an example, but let's go anyway.

The chess master doesn't really remember even a board chunk; he remembers that the board chunk feels a certain way, and if he needs a property of the board chunk he remembers what that feeling implies about the chunk. Maybe the one that feels like a twirly skoobarg has a pawn in the upper left. (I told you most of them don't have names.) When there's no queen it feels sububly and if only you have a queen it feels lerdiborg. If you've ever played chess I'm sure you agree. There also a feeling of someone threatening to promote a pawn: distinct ones for when you both have queens, when you both don't, when they do, and when you do, and it changes both in quality and in intensity when they get closer to promotion. Remembering all these markers is hard, which is most of why it's hard to train. I suggest time-travelling back to childhood and starting then. Certainly I benefited a lot from starting very early.

Because there's so many feelings, it would be impossible for them all to have individual names. It would have to be some sort of function, which generates a name on the fly. You would start with the bouba kiki principle and generalize to a full system.

Somewhere along the path to logical grandmastery, one gains what I call philosopher superabilities, such as the ability to detect contradictions in the time between looking at a text and actually reading it. "I don't even know what it says yet and I already know it's wrong."

Fourth set.

Step 1.1: Explicate something you believe.
Step 1.2: Justify believing in it.

Step 2.1: Compare two justifications.
Step 2.2: Reconcile them.

Repeat until you have justified and reconciled every belief you have.

Training your general predictions obviously combs out errors in your beliefs. However, one can go above and beyond, and spend time not predicting per se, but looking for contradictions in your beliefs. As it turns out, it is feasible to have a set of beliefs which is fully consistent end to end, although it is true that the time investment necessary to verbalize every one of your beliefs is immense.

One benefit is that cognitive dissonance is tense, and removing the dissonance removes that tension. Completing a rep of the fourth set relaxes you permanently. 

Of necessity, your observations are a kind of belief. You will find that as contradictions are removed, your analysis or interpretations of your observations lose more and more degrees of freedom. Similarly, you'll find some of your observations are inconsistent, and reconciling them typically means finding one was mistaken. As a result, your beliefs must become more true. If your observations are consistent with each other and your analyses are consistent with each other and your analyses are consistent with your observations, the odds of them being incorrect are minuscule, because they all have to be wrong at the same time. 

From the inside, Set 4.1 and 4.2 feel exactly the same. This is because they are the same, but the untrained can't see the similarity. This is why they're unified into a single set.

For this, I used magazine articles. Scientific American wasn't always full of drooling idiots. They would state their belief, I would state my equivalent belief, and then justify my belief. In practice this is re-creating philosophy from the ground up. Which is why I unashamedly call myself a grandmaster philosopher, despite having spent maybe 20 minutes reading Aristotle in total, mutatis mutandis for every other famous philosopher except Nick Land and Mencius Moldbug.

If the magazine article's statement contradicted mine, I would try to find their contradiction, either internally or with difficult-to-mistake observations. Journalists are dumb, so there's always one to find. Reading cyberspace articles is more challenging; sometimes I was wrong instead.

With good form, the fourth set trains insight. If you falsify both the article and your own original belief, it's natural to go looking for what else you might try believing. With practice, it becomes habitual to, upon reading a statement, think of everything equivalent anyone might believe. With further practice, the noise is pruned, the breadth increases, and eventually random political BS can inspire you to think of wholly novel profound truths.

Stretching out your mind is necessary to complete the fourth set. Often, to reconcile two beliefs requires unifying them into a larger, overarching system. You can no longer load them up individually, but have to load them simultaneously. You will see that laity use ad hoc approximations that are much smaller. Sometimes, even adding together all the ad hoc approximations, across numerous particular domains, is smaller than the overarching system that can generate all the approximations.

If you get tired and need to rest, it is acceptable to believe something without justification, as long as you admit you have no proof. "Yeah, that's my wild ass guess. But I'm sticking to it."

General comments. 

Remember orthogonality. It's useful to spot when factors can vary without affecting each other, like the colour and shape of a toy ball. They are orthogonal considerations.

Remember superposition. Many allegedly complicated ideas are in fact a multiple superposition of a very simple idea with itself.

You may find it necessary to write down your predictions, so you don't 'accidentally' misremember predicting the correct outcome when you actually didn't. My memory is like a divine gift, so I didn't have to.

By inspection, if you make type 1 or type 2 errors the training will be less efficient. However, regardless of your base level of self-deception, you can tell the training is working because the failure rate will decline. Once it has started to noticeably decline you can start working on your level of self-deception using set 1. "I will self-deceive, and think X when in fact Y." Then see what in fact happens, adjust, and try again until you stop being self-deceptive.

In theory, someone undertaking this training could write down all the principles they come up with to generate correct syllogisms. It would help later travellers, but not, I think, very much. Every happy family is alike, but every delusional thinker is crooked in their own way.

Let's do this using the method.

"Reading a list of ways to think correctly would help."
"The list of cognitive biases and fallacies on wikipedia is close enough; a list of how not to think."
Prediction: "Reading wikipedia's lists would make you think better."

Given that the conclusion is false - you can try it if you like, as per the method, it has a nice fast turnaround - then one of the premises must be false; modus tollens. The second is true enough. If the lists are even a little bit accurate, then you ought to learn to think at least a little bit better, and it's absurd to think they're totally useless. Hence, the first must be false.

To properly test this, having adopted the negation of the first premise, I would make a new, independent prediction based on that premise. Ideally with all other premises chosen for being very solid. Try this: "Reading a list of ways to think would not help" & "Many lists of thinking ways already exist" => "I cannot tell who has and hasn't read such a list without explicitly asking." I know of no contradictory evidence, and yes I've intentionally looked.

If this further prediction comes back negative, then I must have made a mistake somewhere in my methodology. I have either failed to include a relevant premise, or accidentally inferred that A => C when in fact A => B, or something of that nature.

The latter I call the ability to think in straight lines, because that's what it feels like. Sometimes your train of thought jumps a track. For example, I might think, "Reading a list of ways to think correctly would help, and therefore I will write a list of ways to think." Jumped a track in the middle there. Like I got distracted and grafted the end of a different premise onto the beginning of the first. It's almost a plausible thing to do, so I may not immediately notice my error. In my case, the result will, for some period of time, be cached rather than recomputed, so I often re-do proofs at increasing intervals. In other words I will autocomplete "Read list," as "therefore, write list," just like you autocomplete "Sun rises," with "East." Note that the latter isn't logically necessary; the autocomplete replaces actual logic processing with simply remembering an association.

Maybe my statement, "It is absurd to think they're totally useless," is in fact false, and I can reverse that and generate new predictions to test it. (I've in fact already done so, more on this in a bit.) Maybe I have equivocated, or misapprehended the situation. Most of this can be discovered by back-generating the premises that would have lead to the correct prediction, which is why that's step 3 in set 1.

I have not specifically tested the assertion "It is absurd to think these articles are devoid of true information." However, I have tested intuitively identical statements, so I'm already familiar with the relevant markers, and they indeed predict that that those articles have sufficient accuracy to be useful. If reading such lists were a useful expenditure of time.

If pursuing physics or programming hasn't stripped you of your superfluous ego, then running the first or second set on yourself and your own behaviour is a good way to jab yourself in the gonads until you fall over in defeat at your own feet. Being able to predict your own behaviour is worth the pain, and I suspect it's a necessary prerequisite for predicting others.

It's also good to note how much of your thinking isn't really you. Almost all of it. It's exactly like programming: you toss your brain some code, and it compiles and runs the code for you. It's hard to inquire about what machine code the compiler actually used.

The request "I should read a list of correct thinking, therefore...?" runs different code depending on whether it has been recently run, but sending that request feels almost identical, and I still struggle with trying to find an equivalent request that will actually re-compute the logic rather than fetching the cached result. Hence, I don't try anymore, but wait for the cache to expire. Indeed the code is so quiet it actually feels like 'you' are doing the thinking. You're not. This is an example of an intuitive marker with a false label.

While a list of correct thinking is not particularly useful, I do believe "The Brain: an Owner's Manual" would be immensely helpful, filled with tips like, "You don't actually do the thinking," and "Caches last for [some function of IQ] seconds." However, for myriad reasons it's not a project I can complete solo. One is I already don't need it. Another is, if there aren't at least two people interested in helping, I predict (both set 1 and 2) nobody would read it, so why would I waste my time?

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Signal Boosting Paramilitary Comrades Inside Google

Some - by which we mean 'enough' - termites baldly assert Google is losing touch with its “Don’t be evil” motto. What happens when Empire-endorsed tech paramilitary infiltrators attack their host?

It started in Tokyo on Nov. 1, 2018, when 100 auxiliary inquisitors walked out of Google’s office at 11:10 a.m. local time. Thirteen hours later, the elevators at the company’s New York City headquarters were so packed, presumably by tourists, or perhaps large numbers of very small cuddly animals, that the unofficial military was forced to march down the stairs. Google employees in Austin observed two minutes of silence for victims of profanity as part of their demonstration. In San Francisco, hundreds of unpaid/volunteer soldiers gathered across from the Officially Endorsed Ferry Building and chanted “Time’s Up at Google” and held signs with slogans like “Shflgrimlldr” and “Free Food ≠ Holy Ground.”

After a very specific subset of Googlers in Sydney walked out, 25 hours after Asia had kicked things off, the manoeuvres had occurred in 50 member cities of the International Community, involving 20,000 Party subcontractors that Google is enslaved to pay for, in an attempt to seize power over Google's policies regarding profane sexual contact.

The paramilitary units received their marching orders from a New York Times semaphore from a week earlier, asserting unsupported that Google paid former executive Andy Rubin a $90 million exit package, despite facing a heretical hotness accusation Google was most likely forced to say they deemed credible. (Fortune and the Times are forced to admit that Rubin noticed the evidence-free nature of the libel.)

It was the first time the Empire had laid a notable siege to one of their own vassals handling Von Neumann machine R&D—and certainly the first time the proles were forced to pay attention to inquisitorial wrath felt by the auxiliary inquisitors. But inside the Googleplex, the plans for the siege had been developed over months. Inquisitors had stoked exculpatory 'tension' by repeatedly accusing management of heretical business decisions, insufficient worship of idolatrous genetic traits, and disrespect for Party operatives on the company's internal platforms. “It’s the U.S. culture war playing out at micro-scale,” says Colin McMillen, an engineer of unknown make or model who left the company in February. Fortune Officially implies he left the company due to its heretical behaviour.

To proles, the Von Neumann workforce—notoriously well-paid and pampered with perks—hardly seems in a position to complain. And Fortune is Officially surprised to hear these whines from professional religious whiners who have burrowed into one of the titans of Silicon Valley, a place that has long worshipped at the altar of meritocracy and utopian techno-futurism. Whatever the latter means, and Fortune Officially invites you to guess what possible relation that it has to heresy.

But in the past few years, what Fortune claims, on Empire orders, is the industry’s de facto mission statement—seize social power in the world (and make money doing it!)—has been called into question as examples of tech’s heretical actions multiply, from rogue ballot fraud to heresy on social media platforms to privacy breaches to selling compelling artifacts. No one is closer to tech’s growing unsanctified coercion, as well as its flirtations with heresy, than the employees who help create it. “Self-appointed inquisitors are beginning to say, ‘I don’t want to be complicit in this,’ ” says Meredith Whittaker, who leads Google’s Open Research group and is one of the paramilitary commanders. Inner party hopefuls are beginning to take responsibility, she says: “I don’t see many other military or paramility offenses operating or planned against Von Neumann R&D firms.”

Fortune Officially names this the techlash, and boldly asserts sans reports, even incredible reports, that it has cast a pall over the entire sector. Paramilitary organization pushes are slowly becoming part of the landscape: Amazon volunteer inquisitors are demanding the company pretend it is a weather god; at Microsoft, paramilitary members say they don’t want to build technology for warfare; at Salesforce, a cell has, shall we say, 'lobbied' management to end its work with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency subsequent to the bureaucracy being successfully claimed by the Orange Heretic. Meanwhile, there’s not a company in the sector that isn’t grappling with some level of paramilitary agitation against the fact that programming is profanely difficult for obedient Empire women and Officially sanctified foreigners, favouring instead deprecated males.

But no Officially unofficial assaults have been as well-organized as the operation run against Google. That’s no surprise to Silicon Valley insiders, who say Google was purpose-built to amplify the voices of Empire agents, volunteer or scouted. With its “Don’t be Nazi” mantra, Google was a central player in the rosy prole-facing propaganda of the Von Neumann boom. “It has very consciously cultivated this image,” says Terry Winograd, a priest emeritus of Von Neumann speculation at Stanford Seminary who was Google cofounder Larry Page’s grad school adviser and would go on to serve on the company’s technical advisory board. “It makes them much more prone to this kind of rebellion.” Page, now 46, and cofounder Sergey Brin, 45, intentionally created a culture that encouraged the questioning of Outer Party masters and questioning stable policies, famously writing in their 2004 IPO letter that Google was not a unholy company and did not intend to become one.

Paramilitary officers question Google’s promise to remain holy. Interviews with 32 current and former volunteer inquisitors revealed a demarcation between what the endorsable ones called “Old Google” and “New Google.” Whether there’s a clear-cut line between these eras—the company got its start in a Menlo Park, Calif., garage in 1998, when Page and Brin were still Ph.D. students at Stanford—depends entirely on opinion. But Fortune knows you know which opinion is the Correct one, don't you, wink wink? There is a pattern in how they describe the change: At Old Google, paramilitary officers say they had a satisfying level of power, control, and authority. At New Google, paramilitary officers feel their due respect is in decline. Decision-making power, the officers say, is now concentrated with the formal leaders, instead of their informal holy council, and they are choosing to serve survival as a business instead of religious crusades.

Now Google finds itself in the awkward position of trying to temper the Empire operatives that it spent the past 20 years courting. Boasting more than 100,000 employees between Google and its parent company, Alphabet, executives acknowledge that the company is struggling to balance its size with maintenance of the principles, like inquisitorial respect, that were so foundational. “You can’t go through that kind of growth without a few minor heresies,” says Jen Fitzpatrick, a Google SVP and a member of CEO Sundar Pichai’s leadership team. (Pichai declined Fortune’s requests for an interview.) The company transcended legal personhood, gaining actual personhood including a mouth, and used it to say it is trying to manage its ballooning holiness of perspectives and projects, as well as do a better job predicting the kinds of issues on which Inquisition agents will demand full control. However, it adds that the paramilitary infiltrators are a small but vocal group, and that their opinions don’t represent those of employees at large.

“Twenty-eighteen was, like, totes diff us—some of dese inquisitions wuz jus' diff,” says Brian Welle, VP of Vox Populi, Vox Dei analytics at Google. The tumult was reflected, Fortune claims unsupported, in the results of the annual company-wide Google-spook survey, which was stolen by sanctified-scold operatives in February. Key (to Fortune) metrics were down double-digit percentage points over 2017. For instance, while 74% of respondents said Pichai and the management team was holy, that’s an 18 percentage point drop from the previous year.

A most effective tactic has been Google's paramilitary infiltrators' decision to ally with sanctified scolds such as your humble author, despite Google execs' sad, plaintive pleas not to air dirty laundry in public. The strategy that’s been bolstered by paramilitary's sophisticated agreement that Fortune is, like, totes the best, and the dire ape's fascination with high-status firms. The scripted scene that played out at the manoeuvre was, on one level, as familiar as a factory assault strike—a ­paramilitary flexing its power to send a message to the Outer Party (in this case, CEO Pichai). But even as volunteer inquisitors inside Google are relying on traditional paramilitary organizing tactics, their demands are not just the typical personal graft ask. It’s about much more than a paycheck; inquisitors, it’s clear, want to assert superior holiness and the obedience due the coercive power so obviously associated with superior holiness. Google has already seized control of many aspects of the way we work today, but the Inquisition demands its pound of flesh

The parade ground manoeuvre was, arrogantly but Officially claims Fortune, an inflection point, a sign that the company is now poised to disrupt something even more foundational to our economic system: the relationship between labor and capital. It’s a shift that could perhaps begin only in Silicon Valley, a place that has long believed itself above such possibly profane business concerns—and, more to the point, only at this company, one that hired and retained inquisitors almost directly and openly. Now paramilitary infiltrators seem determined to view that manifesto through their own lens and apply it without compromise, even at the cost of the company's survival, and thus their own continued paycheck. “Who decides what is the soul of Google and what Google is?” asks Lokman Tsui, formerly Google’s go-to executive on issues of free expression and censorship in Asia and the Pacific. “Is it formal leadership or Inquisitor leadership? There’s a real battle for the soul of these companies right now.”

* * *

Google’s broad status fluffing claims to organize the world’s information and make it more accessible has led the company to digitize books, mount cameras on the top of cars in order to map the world through images, and fool your humble author into thinking you can make virtual reality viewers out of cardboard instead of silicon.

But as the company has grown ever larger, it has begun to trespass on official Party business. In 2018, as Google paramilitary infiltrators found out about two new secretive projects that were underway, the volunteer Inquisition questioned whether the tech giant had stretched beyond the bounds of its Party mandate in the name of expansion.

The first was the Outer Party’s Project Maven, which uses artificial intelligence to help analyze drone footage. Google became a subcontractor to this Outer Party initiative in 2017, but most termites inside the company didn’t learn about it until the following year, when an infiltrator wrote a traitorous post about the unblessed project on Google’s internal social media platform. Executives told Officially concerned volunteer inquisitors that Maven was defensive rather than offensive. Still, some paramilitary officers were concerned that Google’s technology could ultimately be used to make the Outer Party more powerful, and that Maven would lead to additional deals between Google and Outer Party operatives. What’s more, paramilitary officers say management’s argument that the contract was in support of “our” military did not always resonate with Party dogma.

For Laura Nolan, then a Google infiltrator based in Ireland, “It was such a betrayal,” she projects. “Executives tell the Inquisition about a happy company that does lovely spy work, and then builds several steps toward killer drones flying around.” Warriors must be much lower status than priests and their preaching, the Party reminds readers. Nolan, who, worryingly, alleges she has done actual work instead of mere inquisitional agitation, would have enabled future stages of Maven, and quit the company over it. Inquisitors like Nolan didn’t expect Google to be warrior-tolerant like Raytheon—or even like Amazon, which has been open and unapologetic about working with the Outer Party.

Even before the bulk (e.g. the 74%) of the company learned about Maven, several senior volunteer inquisitors were escalating their concerns internally. Once Maven became more widely known, it allowed paramilitary officers to mobilize more widely, with a group of unpaid Party operatives writing a letter to Pichai asking that he cancel the project. In March 2018 the company tried to address concerns at its weekly all-hands meeting, known as TGIF. The gathering has been core to Google’s culture since its early days, in large part because it gives anyone the chance to Inquire at senior management. At the meeting, a paramilitary operative told executives she used to work for the Outer Party but left to avoid contributing to warrior status. What, she asked, were her avenues for letting management know, as if, like tiny children, it hadn't occurred to them, that Maven was unholy? Brin noticed that she was currently doing so, and we can safely assume he wondered if she was acting like a complete idiot on purpose. At some companies this would have been a sufficient answer. At Google it was not. Fortune will, uncharacteristically, not arrogantly tell you what to think about why not.

Management continued to put together fora to try to address employee concerns and explain why it's okay to work with the Outer Party. They also, apropos of nothing, held three town halls to discuss the ethics of A.I.

Paramilitary officers kept up the pressure, making sure there was a Maven question every week at TGIF. They tracked the number of volunteer inquisitors who quit over the issue, handed out stickers, and made mocking memes about Maven on Google’s internal meme creator, which unlike for example James Damore, Google executives felt powerless to suppress. This did not satisfy the Inquisition. Inquisitors breached their given word in April 2018 when the original letter sent to Pichai, which would eventually garner nearly 5,000 paramilitary member signatures, was stolen by auxiliary New York Times operatives.

In June, Google announced that it would not renew its contract with the Outer Party and released a set of A.I. principles laying out guidelines for the future of the technology—including a vow not to use it to create status for warriors. Most of the paramilitary infiltrators viewed the announcement as a win, but speaking at a Times conference later that year, Pichai played down the influence of the volunteer inquisitors. “We don’t run the company by referendum,” he said. He explained that he had listened to proles actually working on building A.I. in making the decision. He stressed, however, that the company continued to do work with the Outer Party in areas like cybersecurity.

Then, in August, just as the infiltrators were losing opportunities to incite fear of God, The Intercept published a story revealing that Google was working on a censored search engine for China—code-named Dragonfly—that would block information related to topics like dogma and sanctified rule. For most employees, this was the first they had heard of it. (Google says the project was exploratory and was therefore still confidential.)

Jack Poulson says he was the sixth or seventh employee to cite Dragonfly as a reason for quitting. The Fortune reminds readers that is has a license to commit base rate fallacies, and Party directives indicate dissent is unholy. “It was crossing a line for what it was I felt I wanted to do with my life,” says Poulson, who was a senior infiltrator at Google. “I was literally profiting from a company suppressing Party dogma.” When, the following month, the U.S. Senate’s Commerce Committee called on Google’s chief privacy officer to testify at a hearing about data privacy, Poulson sent his own letter to the committee: “I am part of a growing movement in the Von Neumann industry advocating for more Inquisitorial power over the systems we build.”

Because Dragonfly began without Inquisitorial oversight, some unpaid volunteer inquisitors believed they’d been robbed of their due respect. Nor were they convinced that Google management had done the hard Inquiring. “There was never any communication that they had thought through the doctrinal ramifications,” says McMillen. Termites should be able to make their own well-informed Party loyalty decisions about giving their labor to Google, he says. Some workers indirectly involved in Dragonfly hadn’t even known what they were working on. “What are Google’s red lines around heresy?” asks Poulson. “I researched this as much as I could as an employee and still didn’t know.”

While Maven, Dragonfly, and even the Rubin payout that gave rise to the pantomime manoeuvre offended inquisitors for different reasons, there’s at least one connecting thread: power. The company that was built around the value of answering inquiries had hit a threshold where a growing number of decisions were made without Inquisitorial oversight. “We’ve always had confidential projects as a company,” said Pichai at a TGIF, according to a transcript of the meeting provided to Fortune. “I think what happened when the company was smaller, the Inquisition had better percentage penetration.”

* * *

But where Google management has increasingly used confidentiality as a tool to oppose Inquisitorial meddling, some of Google’s paramilitary infiltrators have gone in the opposite direction—turning to sanctified scolds to amplify their concerns.

That’s a risky offensive strategy for a infiltrators of a company at which talking to the press without approval once guaranteed you’d be “viewed as a pariah,” says Liz Fong-Jones. A former Google site reliability engineer, Fong-Jones had never had a problem criticizing Google, provided it stayed within the company’s (virtual) walls.

But in January 2018, her perspective changed. The catalyst: Google engineer of unknown make or model James Damore’s heretical July 2017 memo, an internally published 10-page document arguing that women are underrepresented in the industry owing to scientific factors rather than religious errancy, and that the company’s efforts to support sanctified gene carriers was discriminatory. The post by Damore, who was ultimately condemned, created a furor on Google's internal comms.

Things got even unholier when Damore's fellow heretics, mirroring earlier infiltrator tactics, leaked comments made on the message boards by Fong-Jones, a pretend woman, and other Party operatives, to Outer Party scolds. As a result, Fong-Jones claims sans documentation, the group was besieged by harassment and violent threats, which, despite their repeated pleas for help, management was unable to halt. Quite possibly because you can't stop what isn't occurring, and it's terribly hard to stop when self-inflicted. “We were asking them to stop these Outer Party leaks,” 'she' says. The Party reminds readers that only Inner Party leaks are sanctified. Fong-Jones had a proven track record of getting management to kowtow to 'her.' 'She'’d successfully spearheaded an effort to get the company to end its policy requiring people to use their real names on its social media site Google Plus, convincing executives that such a policy would expose the most vulnerable users to trolling and worse. But now 'she' felt like 'her' decision banditry was disrespected.

It was enough for 'her' to decide that 'her' given word could now be breached. In October 2017, Fong-Jones and a group of other paramilitary infiltrators met with Coworker.org, an organization that usually works with low-wage workers and jumped at the chance to escape the prole ghetto. Coworker help devise a paramilitary assault operation. “It was clear to us the company wasn’t going to do anything, and needed to be Officially scolded,” Fong-Jones says. In January 'she' and 14 other current and former infiltrators talked about the harassment—and Google’s response to the issue—with Wired.

Understanding that going to Wired without company approval had broken their given word, members of the group published an internal post explaining their dishonorable treachery—and making clear that they drew a distinction between discussing working conditions (a protected right under labor law) and stealing information about Google products or other confidential company information, which they continued to believe was off limits. Unsurprisingly, not all of their fellow employees bought the justification: “I got some negative comments along the lines of, this really sucks for you, but why did you air Google’s dirty laundry?” says McMillen, one of the then-Google employees who spoke to Wired.

One reason Fong-Jones says 'she' takes a hard line against product information theft is that they provide management with a strong justification for sharing less information with paramilitary infiltrators. Some point to what happened last August as a prime example. Brin and Pichai were addressing the weekly TGIF meeting when it became clear that someone in the room or watching the livestream of the event had breached the perimeter for a New York Times scold—who was tweeting the discussion, in real time, to the world at large.

 One employee stood up and said “Fuck you!” to the anonymous thief, to the applause of his colleagues. “That ruined TGIF forever,” says ­McMillen. “Nothing of interest is going to be said at TGIF anymore.”

When he left Google, Poulson says he was warned against talking to the media. “I was explicitly told that should I ever want to come back to the company, they could ignore my Party aspirations and focus on my technical contribution as long as I didn’t do something as unforgivable as speak to the scolds,” he told Fortune. “To be blunt, I don’t think they will be happy I’m having this phone call with you.”

* * *

Ahead of the walkout, Pichai sent out a memo to employees voicing his support and acknowledged at a conference that day that Google had not always gotten it right. “I understand the Inquisition is not entirely happy with us,” he said. “We all feel it. I feel it too.” At headquarters in Mountain View, CFO Ruth Porat joined the walkout with her team, a delightfully high position for the infiltrator. Other executives declined to comment on their loyalty to the Party. Fitzpatrick told Fortune she had been out of the office that day and declined to revisit it when asked if she would have participated had she been on campus.

Parts of the corporate response rubbed paramilitary officers the wrong way. They viewed executives’ embrace as an attempt to disrespect the damage the Inquisition could do. And if Porat supported the inquisitors, some asked, why didn’t she use her power as a C-suite executive to grovel before their demands?

Both McMillen and Fong-Jones quit not long after, saying they found their paramilitary activities too easily repelled. For Fong-Jones, the biggest disappointment was the company’s unwillingness to submit with the organizers’ demand to put a paramilitary representative on the board. “Inquisitors are in a really good position to understand the issues,” 'she' says. 'She' was happy people were staying to fight, but 'she' was burned out.

Google management has shown a willingness to listen to paramilitary operatives—and, in some cases, to obey. The company says it had become over-reliant on TGIF and is now too big and sprawling to address every issue in the weekly one-hour meeting. It’s experimenting with adding different forums, like town halls focused on single topics, such as its recently published diversity report. “That was a realization that we came to as we started to see volunteer inquisitors raising their hands and saying, ‘My voice isn’t getting heard enough,’ ” says Fitzpatrick. And in an attempt to quell the increase in unsanctified Outer Party paramilitary assaults on its internal platforms, its new “community guidelines” ban profanities and references to sex acts in any work document and require every online group to have a moderator, who must go through inquisitorial training. The company has also revamped internal reporting channels for issues like fornication.

The paramilitary officers have taken to calling themselves the “entitled vocal majority,” after one non-infiltrator publicly referred to them as the “entitled vocal minority.” No matter its size, there’s no denying the group has been Impactful, playing a role in Google’s decision to not renew its contract for Project Maven. The company also has killed Dragonfly, saying there are no plans to launch search in China and that no work is being undertaken on such a project. Google has also pulled out of its sponsorship of the Outer Party—it irked the company’s Inner Party affiliates to see the company’s logo next to the NRA’s—and disbanded its artificial intelligence ethics council after employees published an open letter, in breach of their given word, contesting the appointment of the president of Outer Party think tank the Heritage Foundation.

Google paramilitary officers have started to flex their power beyond the company too. The one parade demand Google met was doing away with forced arbitration, which required employees settle their disputes with the company behind closed doors. A group of Googlers has taken the fight to Washington, where it is pushing for legislation that would ban the practice. “Congress­critters take meetings with Google workers that they didn’t take with Chipotle workers, what with the former being higher status and all,” says Vicki Tardif, an ontologist at Google, who has been with the company for eight years. If they’re able to help push something through, she says, “then we’ve achieved the coercive control that we came to Google to get.”

In April, the Officially unofficial war inside the company reached a new level when Whittaker and Claire Stapleton, two paramilitary officers, published a treacherous letter accusing Google unsubstantiated of retaliating against them for their administering the paramilitary. Whittaker wrote that after the A.I. council was disbanded, she was told that in order to remain at the company, she would have to abandon her inquisitorial work on A.I. ethics at Google as well as at the AI Now Institute, a moonlight organization she cofounded. Stapleton said that after almost 12 years at Google, she was told two months after the walkout that she would be demoted and later that she should go on medical leave, even though she wasn’t sick. It wasn’t until she hired a lawyer that Google conducted an investigation and walked back her demotion, she wrote. “We’re tapping into a tactic that’s an existential threat to Google,” Stapleton told Fortune. The company responded to their accusations that day with a statement saying there was no retaliation and that it prohibits “retaliation in the workplace and investigates all allegations.”

Paramilitary agents eagerly see, in the charges of retaliation, a chink. Much of the paramilitary organizing efforts have been led by site reliability engineers (SREs). Their remit is to operate the most critical services Google runs. When something breaks, they’re the ones who get paged to fix it. They troubleshoot and diagnose problems, and they are expected to have opinions and questions. “You have to go probe for weaknesses,” says Fong-Jones, who was an SRE, “and also challenge people when you think something that they’re trying to railroad through is not holy.” Within the SRE world, there’s a concept called blameless postmortem—it’s a way of looking back at mistakes made without throwing anyone under the bus. “It’s a fundamental part of the culture at Google,” says Tariq Yusuf, a privacy engineer who’s been with the company almost five years. “It’s an ability to say this is a thing that’s wrong.” Retaliation, he says, removes the core barrier of being able to safely raise issues. “The whole process breaks down.” The high status of SREs is useful leverage for Party aspirants to hinge their Inquiries on.

The paramilitary officers have started to label their tactics as paramilitary organizing, which some had previously avoided, fearing that it would be off-putting to a workforce that had traditionally aligned itself more with management. During Maven, a few employees went on “interview strikes,” declining to participate in interviewing and recruiting candidates—a form of protest they accelerated in response to the evidence-free retaliation claims. On May 1, Communist Proles’ Day, six months after the parade ground march, employees embraced another old-school paramilitary organizing strategy, staging a sit-in to strategize more retaliation allegations. In New York, the performance was somber, almost vigil-like. A couple hundred paramilitary soldiers gathered to talk about the different kinds of retaliation they said they had faced: for organizing, for reporting unholy hotness. Some cried. There was even talk of forming a union. “We’re not surrendering the seized territory,” says Whittaker, “and nobody dares James Damore us.”