(All of this is just a hunch and I may be wrong)
Descriptions that come to my mind when I think about “rationalists” (people interested in Less Wrong, Slate Star Codex, AI alignment, effective altruism etc.):
- high IQ
- high achievers
- rich (or with definite potential to get rich)
- interested in: abstraction, math, technology, philosophy, debate
- not very good at social skills (but not completely bad either)
- white and male (mostly)
- physically unfit
Obviously, I may be wrong, but that’s the general “vibe” I get online and offline. In short: geeky types.
To phrase it in “rationalist” terms, the set of possible experiences is usually defined in terms of the list above. Not that there is anything bad there – I think it’s amazing that there is a rationalist community and that people are learning how to think better. But there are certain qualities that I think should be cultivated – especially by the rationalist community, which I’m fond of – and these qualities usually come from experiences mostly outside of the world of rationalists.
In general, I think it’s a good thing to be very tough. I think it’s good that people learn respect, confidence and management of aggression through the practice of martial arts. I think it’s good that people move much more than 45 minutes every second day. I think it’s good for people to crawl through mud, experience physical hardship, go without food, obey commands, issue commands, get in touch with their immediate surroundings and support systems, like trying to grow food on their own, or to hunt, or to build a house, or to fix a car.
As a rule, I do not like softness and excessive intellectual “flexing”. Being geeky is alright, but I like better when it is paired with strength (and wisdom, but that’s for another post).
End notes and possible mistakes:
- I don’t know if anything would significantly change if every rationalist was also tough and strong. I suspect it would – it seems to me that there are certain formative processes that you can undergo, but their outcomes aren’t easily measured (if at all). Martial arts, for example, are one of such formative processes.
- I may not be sufficiently in touch with how rationalists are. Maybe they are already like this. I could find out if I’m wrong by meeting more rationalists.
- I don’t know how much of a priority this is, precisely because of difficulty in measuring the effect of my proposed changes to the community.
- I don’t have a lot of specific suggestions. Maybe: cultivate a practice of strenuous activity (weightlifting or wrestling or something along those lines). Get into survivalism a bit. Maybe go through basic army training.
- It may be the case that I’m only criticizing because these are the things I do, and my subconscious thought process is “since I’m doing X, everyone should do X”.
- This isn’t a testable prediction where I can put my money where my mouth is, but I think it’s also important to have an outlet where you can just throw the idea out there and get feedback or inspire thinking.