Yarvin on Less Wrong

I listened with interest to this segment (starting at the 3 hour, 23 minutes, 48 seconds mark) from Hyperpodcastism's interview with Curtis Yarvin (loose transcription elides some amount of "um", "you know", "like", "sort of", repetition, false starts, &c.)—

INTERVIEWER: More lightning round takes on what became of Less Wrong?

YARVIN: Were you ever a rationalist? Are you now, or have you ever been a rationalist, I should say?

INTERVIEWER: I was friends with them. They were always encouraging me to jump right in, but I was happy being a peripheral.

YARVIN: I respect those people, but there's a sort of Peter principle to them there. I always wanted to troll them with my Bayesian analysis of Barack Obama's birth certificate. The problem is—adopting that name—no one should ever adopt a self-aggrandizing name for anything that they do. It kills you instantly. It's instantly pretentious. Not only does it not fool anyone else, its main effect is to fool yourself, and so when you compare being a rationalist like Eliezer Yudkowsky to being someone like Socrates, who was like, "My wisdom is knowing what I don't know", I see on one hand wisdom, and I see on the other hand arrogance. And when I choose between wisdom and arrogance, it's obvious which I want to choose. Eliezer always reminded me—I've only met him a few times, never talked much, but—it's funny, the person that Eliezer always reminded me of was—do you know who Sabbatai Zevi was?

INTERVIEWER: The Jewish historical figure, the one who was supposed to be the messiah, and then converted to Islam—

YARVIN: Exactly, exactly. If you look at woodcuts of Sabbatai Zevi, it's Eliezer Yudkowsky; it's the same person. There's a lot of inbreeding going on there. More than that, I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that in the same position, Eliezer Yudkowsky would also convert to Islam.

INTERVIEWER: I could actually see that. That is a fire take, but I can see it.

YARVIN: It's a hot take, I got to say. I hope I don't get in trouble for it. But I know he would. And the thing is, ultimately, the only reason to be a rationalist, or the only reason for there to be such a thing as a rationalist—until you acknowledge that the major distortions in the status quo—which otherwise, if you weren't a rationalist, you would just believe in—until you acknowledge that the major disortions in the status quo have a fundamentally ideological source. Essentially, if you are a rationalist, the only thing that you should care about is defeating communism. Because that is the source of—call it what you will, you can call it wokism if you want—that is the source of that tradition, or not even that tradition, that way of thinking, that sense of being addicted to importance and power, which is what we really mean by this thing—is really the source of all of these biases. So if you're truly a rationalist, dedicated to overcoming bias, basically all the biases that are not ideological in origin are just weird random stupid shit that people believe in for weird random reasons, and then there's this elephant in the room, which is this massively distorting ideology. So unless you're focusing on the elephant, you're basically not being a rationalist at all. It's like Willie Sutton said: why do you rob banks? It's where the money is. If you're a rationalist, why do you have to be a right-winger? That's where the lies are. That's where the important lies are. Not some peasant bullshit about evolution or whatever that's completely unimportant. The lies of power are the lies that matter. And so if you duck this thing, you're being a rationalist who isn't actually rational. At that point, allahu akbar. You haven't actually escaped at all, until you're escaping from the thing you actually need to escape from. So that's basically my take on the rationalists. They're brave, but they're not too brave.

INTERVIEWER: Diet brave.

YARVIN: Diet brave. And conservatives are diet brave in a completely different sort of way. Look, if you really wanted to be just a shill, you'd be just a shill. There is honor in you. There's some purpose, there's some sense of something different there. You're not just a shill. But you're still diet brave.

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