Results 1 to 9 of 9

Thread: the Four Quadrants of Conformism

  1. #1
    schlemiel Faust's Avatar
    Type
    INTP
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Posts
    3,385

    the Four Quadrants of Conformism

    This doesn't belong in News or rants so I figured I'd just create the thread. Here it is - http://paulgraham.com/conformism.html

    TLDR; aggressively conventional-minded people ruin everything. Though it occurs to me that even people who fancy themselves independently minded in their own lives can be aggressively pro-punitive about certain behaviors or thought (which, arguably, just makes them conventional in the end), despite holding on to unorthodox ideas, e.g. alt-right conspiracy theorists. The strength of group-think can be completely divorced from rationality, or conventions of broader society, so long as the cluster is pervasive enough.

    excerpt

    The conventional-minded say, as they always do, that they don't want to shut down the discussion of all ideas, just the bad ones.

    You'd think it would be obvious just from that sentence what a dangerous game they're playing. But I'll spell it out. There are two reasons why we need to be able to discuss even "bad" ideas.

    The first is that any process for deciding which ideas to ban is bound to make mistakes. All the more so because no one intelligent wants to undertake that kind of work, so it ends up being done by the stupid. And when a process makes a lot of mistakes, you need to leave a margin for error. Which in this case means you need to ban fewer ideas than you'd like to. But that's hard for the aggressively conventional-minded to do, partly because they enjoy seeing people punished, as they have since they were children, and partly because they compete with one another. Enforcers of orthodoxy can't allow a borderline idea to exist, because that gives other enforcers an opportunity to one-up them in the moral purity department, and perhaps even to turn enforcer upon them. So instead of getting the margin for error we need, we get the opposite: a race to the bottom in which any idea that seems at all bannable ends up being banned. [4]

    The second reason it's dangerous to ban the discussion of ideas is that ideas are more closely related than they look. Which means if you restrict the discussion of some topics, it doesn't only affect those topics. The restrictions propagate back into any topic that yields implications in the forbidden ones. And that is not an edge case. The best ideas do exactly that: they have consequences in fields far removed from their origins. Having ideas in a world where some ideas are banned is like playing soccer on a pitch that has a minefield in one corner. You don't just play the same game you would have, but on a different shaped pitch. You play a much more subdued game even on the ground that's safe.
    It's been said we can't inoculate against bad ideas, or alternatively, that the only way to do so is to foster critical thinking and skepticism. The very notion spooks conventional people as being tantamount to susceptibility to new ideas, and change in themselves or loved ones is threatening. This is what's difficult to reconcile: it seems to me, getting sucked in deep into a cult vortex has everything to do with conformity and not skepticism, but does require a degree of openness to new ideas. I'm not sure what the research suggests here, are people resistant to new ideas also less likely to get pulled in to cults, in fact? How do they fare against skeptics in general against susceptibility to joining cults? I expect there's an evolutionary imperative for protecting groups when it comes to conventional thought.

    Is it the case that, over time, the large part of the demographic ultimately remains conventional-minded, and if so, is there a better strategy against bad ideas than attempting to foster skepticism in everyone? Could it be that, for instance, the drop of rate in self-identifying with any particular religion has more to do with change in culture (due to outspoken skeptics perhaps) than skepticism itself?

    I like to think of people being somewhat more critical than they used to be, in aggregate. But I don't know if it's true. I think by virtue that environment is such a strong predictor of outcomes, it can be.
    Last edited by Faust; 07-24-2020 at 04:53 PM.

  2. #2
    Ieilaelite pensive_pilgrim's Avatar
    Type
    INTP
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Posts
    5,844
    This feels like a cleverly disguised rant against ExSJs.

    I don't think fostering skepticism in everyone is really possible, and perhaps not even desirable. Instead our defense against "bad" ideas needs to not only involve recognizing their badness, but learning how to communicate effectively to others that they are bad. That's really hard, especially for those of us who are aggressively independently minded. People won't listen to you if they don't trust you, and they won't trust you unless they feel you are on their side, and they will tend to not think you are on their side when you are telling them that their ideas are bad.

  3. #3
    schlemiel Faust's Avatar
    Type
    INTP
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Posts
    3,385
    Quote Originally Posted by pensive_pilgrim View Post
    This feels like a cleverly disguised rant against ExSJs.

    I don't think fostering skepticism in everyone is really possible, and perhaps not even desirable. Instead our defense against "bad" ideas needs to not only involve recognizing their badness, but learning how to communicate effectively to others that they are bad. That's really hard, especially for those of us who are aggressively independently minded. People won't listen to you if they don't trust you, and they won't trust you unless they feel you are on their side, and they will tend to not think you are on their side when you are telling them that their ideas are bad.
    I believe non-violent communication is integral for this. It's very difficult to adhere to, also.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Guess Who's Avatar
    Type
    INTP
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Location
    Sydney, Australia
    Posts
    2,025
    Who are the aggressively conventional-minded and aggressively independent-minded people?

    When it comes to politics, I am guessing that aggressively conventional-minded is code for conservative and aggressively independent-minded is code for radical.

    If this is correct then the following passage doesn't seem right. From my perspective, it is the radicals who are least capable of independent thought and the most intolerant of the open discussion of ideas. Ever heard of something called cancel culture?

    That may not work this time though, due to the unfortunate fact that the latest wave of intolerance began in universities. It began in the mid 1980s, and by 2000 seemed to have died down, but it has recently flared up again with the arrival of social media. This seems, unfortunately, to have been an own goal by Silicon Valley. Though the people who run Silicon Valley are almost all independent-minded, they've handed the aggressively conventional-minded a tool such as they could only have dreamed of.

    On the other hand, perhaps the decline in the spirit of free inquiry within universities is as much the symptom of the departure of the independent-minded as the cause. People who would have become professors 50 years ago have other options now. Now they can become quants or start startups. You have to be independent-minded to succeed at either of those. If these people had been professors, they'd have put up a stiffer resistance on behalf of academic freedom. So perhaps the picture of the independent-minded fleeing declining universities is too gloomy. Perhaps the universities are declining because so many have already left.
    Back yourself.

  5. #5
    schlemiel Faust's Avatar
    Type
    INTP
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Posts
    3,385
    Quote Originally Posted by Guess Who View Post
    Who are the aggressively conventional-minded and aggressively independent-minded people?

    When it comes to politics, I am guessing that aggressively conventional-minded is code for conservative and aggressively independent-minded is code for radical.

    If this is correct then the following passage doesn't seem right. From my perspective, it is the radicals who are least capable of independent thought and the most intolerant of the open discussion of ideas. Ever heard of something called cancel culture?
    It's not code for that, I think the center-left Liberal block is similarly composed of mostly passively conventional and some aggressively conventional, products of their environment. The social media campaigns to get people fired for anything ranging from an innocuous classical Liberal statement to outright harassment belongs to the aggressive conventional camp.

    They are certainly not the "least" capable of independent thought, as though it were measurable. By definition, social conservatism is conventional, sometimes to the point of regression.

  6. #6
    Meae Musae Servus Hephaestus's Avatar
    Type
    eNTP
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    Ceti Alpha V
    Posts
    15,182
    Aggressively conventional would include cancel culture.
    I'm suspicious of people who say they'll die for a flag but won't wear a mask for their neighbor.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Guess Who's Avatar
    Type
    INTP
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Location
    Sydney, Australia
    Posts
    2,025
    Quote Originally Posted by Faust View Post
    It's not code for that, I think the center-left Liberal block is similarly composed of mostly passively conventional and some aggressively conventional, products of their environment. The social media campaigns to get people fired for anything ranging from an innocuous classical Liberal statement to outright harassment belongs to the aggressive conventional camp.

    They are certainly not the "least" capable of independent thought, as though it were measurable. By definition, social conservatism is conventional, sometimes to the point of regression.
    Quote Originally Posted by Hephaestus View Post
    Aggressively conventional would include cancel culture.
    It is making more sense now.

    It was a bit confusing because we can see conventional-minded people supporting new ideas and independent-minded people supporting traditional ideas. Openness to discussing any idea seems to be the key.
    Back yourself.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Guess Who's Avatar
    Type
    INTP
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Location
    Sydney, Australia
    Posts
    2,025
    Quote Originally Posted by pensive_pilgrim View Post
    This feels like a cleverly disguised rant against ExSJs.

    I don't think fostering skepticism in everyone is really possible, and perhaps not even desirable. Instead our defense against "bad" ideas needs to not only involve recognizing their badness, but learning how to communicate effectively to others that they are bad. That's really hard, especially for those of us who are aggressively independently minded. People won't listen to you if they don't trust you, and they won't trust you unless they feel you are on their side, and they will tend to not think you are on their side when you are telling them that their ideas are bad.
    Love before truth. It is love that builds trust. In my experience, demonstrating that you love them and others before (or while) discussing the truth of ideas is the way to go.
    Back yourself.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Guess Who's Avatar
    Type
    INTP
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Location
    Sydney, Australia
    Posts
    2,025
    I have thought some more about this article and which quadrant I would be in. I'd say I am in the aggressively independent-minded quadrant.

    However, I don't think the descriptions of the aggressively independent-minded accurately describe me. Perhaps there are different type of aggressively independently-minded people or perhaps their behavior depends on the types of challenges they are faced with.

    And the kids in the upper right quadrant, the aggressively independent-minded, are the naughty ones. When they see a rule, their first impulse is to question it. Merely being told what to do makes them inclined to do the opposite.
    This was definitely not me growing up or now. I have always been more of a maverick than a rebel. I ignore rules and take direct action get what I want done. Rules exist to help people trapped in fear have a sense of control. I just bypass them rather than seek to eliminate them. Perhaps society was more rigid in the past so this may have been more difficult to do in previous generations.

    And the call of the aggressively independent-minded is "Eppur si muove."
    This is true when it comes to intellectual debates. However, when it comes to doing things, "Make it happen", "Get the job done", "Just do it" or something similar is more apt.

    Why do the independent-minded need to be protected, though? Because they have all the new ideas. To be a successful scientist, for example, it's not enough just to be right. You have to be right when everyone else is wrong. Conventional-minded people can't do that. For similar reasons, all successful startup CEOs are not merely independent-minded, but aggressively so.
    I think being aggressively independent-minded is about will. This will can manifest itself in intellectual (genius), social (rebel or visionary leader) or material (maverick) spheres.
    Back yourself.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •