One comment on “Anxiety Anxiety

  1. There’s an interesting behavior that humans often exhibit, in which they primarily determine the comfortableness of a conversation by the extent to which all participants agree on a status hierarchy for all parties relevant to the conversation. Anxiety is more strongly felt by the participants who most strongly disagree with the status orderings implicitly proposed by other conversation participants.

    The vast majority of rationalists I’ve met in person act like they have no idea that this sort of thing happens at all! Expressions like “anything that can be destroyed by the truth should be”, and “spending resources on signalling to other EAs is dumb”, are strong signals of not noticing this sort of thing. An alternative explanation of this observation is that some rationalists may notice that differences in proposed status hierarchies are a primary cause of conversation-related stress/anxiety, but either not care, or lack the social machinery to use this information to have conversations which are more comfortable for everyone.

    (I am willing to stand by the strong and unqualified form of the claim that disagreement about who goes where in status hierarchies containing the participants of a conversation causes the majority of anxiety and stress that arises from conversations in general).

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