"Rat" Abreviation

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archon
Posts: 59
Joined: Thu May 25, 2017 11:02 am

"Rat" Abreviation

Post by archon » Mon Jun 05, 2017 2:22 pm

I've seen this a couple of times now, and really don't get it.

Why do people want to abbreviate Rationalist as Rat? It just doesn't seem to work. For one this, rationalist has never seemed to need abbreviation to me (though that might just be me, and people are really lazy when it comes to speaking, but still).

The main issue is, Rat is a insult. Moreover, it is an insult that implies untrustworthiness and twisty or tricky thinking. These seem to be the exact opposite of the main rationalist virtues of clear thinking and honest dealing. It undermines what is, quite frankly and shaky to non-existent reputation among the greater world, even if it is hardly used.

That said, I don't really have an alternative (and as mentioned above, people love thier short snappy names). Maybe rationals? That is both too long, and kinda egotistical, which is wrong in completely the other direction.
"Don't be silly -- if we were meant to evolve naturally, why would God have given us subdermal implants?"

Raininginsanity
Posts: 51
Joined: Tue May 23, 2017 4:50 am

Re: "Rat" Abreviation

Post by Raininginsanity » Mon Jun 05, 2017 4:25 pm

Oh yes please. Someone please come up with something different. Looking at synonyms, positivist is open which sounds more...positive. But no one would understand what it meant.

chel_of_the_sea
Posts: 27
Joined: Mon May 08, 2017 9:39 am

Re: "Rat" Abreviation

Post by chel_of_the_sea » Mon Jun 05, 2017 8:28 pm

We could just go for maximal generic-ness and call ourselves $tribe_members.
:arrow: TL;DR: 27, trans woman, M.A. in math, Seattle area. Tutor by current trade, but in a bit of professional limbo (if you know anyone hiring, let me know!).

archon
Posts: 59
Joined: Thu May 25, 2017 11:02 am

Re: "Rat" Abreviation

Post by archon » Tue Jun 06, 2017 2:41 am

chel_of_the_sea wrote:
Mon Jun 05, 2017 8:28 pm
We could just go for maximal generic-ness and call ourselves $tribe_members.
How would you pronounce that IRL?
"Don't be silly -- if we were meant to evolve naturally, why would God have given us subdermal implants?"

Vulture
Posts: 22
Joined: Tue May 02, 2017 2:06 am

Re: "Rat" Abreviation

Post by Vulture » Tue Jun 06, 2017 3:19 am

Personally, I feel awkward referring to myself or my social group as "rationalist(s)" - it feels pretentious. As a result I tend to use "rat", which goes arguably too far in the other direction in being ostentatiously self-effacing.

The other problem with something like "positivist", of course, is that it already refers to a specific philosophical belief that not everyone who thinks of themselves as a "rationalist" might share. I think it's worthwhile to have nomenclature for rationalism as a social group that's relatively unencumbered with philosophical baggage, since there's a great deal of... intellectual diversity (and contrarianism) among rat-adjacents.
Let's try to make this a place where we can choose not to assign moral valence to empirical claims.

chel_of_the_sea
Posts: 27
Joined: Mon May 08, 2017 9:39 am

Re: "Rat" Abreviation

Post by chel_of_the_sea » Tue Jun 06, 2017 4:39 am

archon wrote:
Tue Jun 06, 2017 2:41 am
chel_of_the_sea wrote:
Mon Jun 05, 2017 8:28 pm
We could just go for maximal generic-ness and call ourselves $tribe_members.
How would you pronounce that IRL?
strai-buh-mem-bers?
:arrow: TL;DR: 27, trans woman, M.A. in math, Seattle area. Tutor by current trade, but in a bit of professional limbo (if you know anyone hiring, let me know!).

znk
Posts: 6
Joined: Thu May 04, 2017 2:43 pm

Re: "Rat" Abreviation

Post by znk » Thu Jun 08, 2017 10:27 pm

chel_of_the_sea wrote:
Tue Jun 06, 2017 4:39 am
archon wrote:
Tue Jun 06, 2017 2:41 am
chel_of_the_sea wrote:
Mon Jun 05, 2017 8:28 pm
We could just go for maximal generic-ness and call ourselves $tribe_members.
How would you pronounce that IRL?
strai-buh-mem-bers?
I would have pronounced it "Dollar-tribe members" but that is highly misleading. :mrgreen:

I think it's fine as a shorthand. I feel the same as Vulture, spelling out Rationalists does feel pretentious and isn't specific (cf. Descartes, the broader Skeptic movement). I'm not bothered too much by the connotations. I find rats charming (otoh my living conditions have great sanitation and I am not a farmer). ^^ And people not familiar with the longer term Rationalist will stumble upon it pretty quickly.
Use LessWrongers maybe? That refers to a subset of Rationalists, but seems more value-neutral?
EDIT: wait, that doesn't sound value-neutral at all to someone who doesn't read LessWrong as a proper name... dangit.

Vulture
Posts: 22
Joined: Tue May 02, 2017 2:06 am

Re: "Rat" Abreviation

Post by Vulture » Fri Jun 09, 2017 1:40 am

znk wrote:
Thu Jun 08, 2017 10:27 pm
(snipped)
I think it's fine as a shorthand. I feel the same as Vulture, spelling out Rationalists does feel pretentious and isn't specific (cf. Descartes, the broader Skeptic movement). I'm not bothered too much by the connotations. I find rats charming (otoh my living conditions have great sanitation and I am not a farmer). ^^ And people not familiar with the longer term Rationalist will stumble upon it pretty quickly.
Use LessWrongers maybe? That refers to a subset of Rationalists, but seems more value-neutral?
EDIT: wait, that doesn't sound value-neutral at all to someone who doesn't read LessWrong as a proper name... dangit.
The most precise term would be "Yudkowskian", I suppose, but by the same token it's also comically restrictive - unreconstructed Yudkowskians, such as there are, would actually be on the periphery of the category I mean by "rat", not at its center! (Of course, this may be parochial of me, being that I run in fairly limited internet circles. Idk.)
Let's try to make this a place where we can choose not to assign moral valence to empirical claims.

archon
Posts: 59
Joined: Thu May 25, 2017 11:02 am

Re: "Rat" Abreviation

Post by archon » Sat Jun 10, 2017 4:19 am

Vulture wrote:
Fri Jun 09, 2017 1:40 am
znk wrote:
Thu Jun 08, 2017 10:27 pm
(snipped)
I think it's fine as a shorthand. I feel the same as Vulture, spelling out Rationalists does feel pretentious and isn't specific (cf. Descartes, the broader Skeptic movement). I'm not bothered too much by the connotations. I find rats charming (otoh my living conditions have great sanitation and I am not a farmer). ^^ And people not familiar with the longer term Rationalist will stumble upon it pretty quickly.
Use LessWrongers maybe? That refers to a subset of Rationalists, but seems more value-neutral?
EDIT: wait, that doesn't sound value-neutral at all to someone who doesn't read LessWrong as a proper name... dangit.
The most precise term would be "Yudkowskian", I suppose, but by the same token it's also comically restrictive - unreconstructed Yudkowskians, such as there are, would actually be on the periphery of the category I mean by "rat", not at its center! (Of course, this may be parochial of me, being that I run in fairly limited internet circles. Idk.)
I wouldn't go with this, I think. My IRL social group has quite a low opinion of Yudkowsky. He is known as a bit of a nut (Fan fiction and pseudo-religious trappings being the main issues). Maybe that isn't such a widespread issue?
"Don't be silly -- if we were meant to evolve naturally, why would God have given us subdermal implants?"

Vulture
Posts: 22
Joined: Tue May 02, 2017 2:06 am

Re: "Rat" Abreviation

Post by Vulture » Sat Jun 10, 2017 5:49 am

archon wrote:
Sat Jun 10, 2017 4:19 am

[snipped]

I wouldn't go with this, I think. My IRL social group has quite a low opinion of Yudkowsky. He is known as a bit of a nut (Fan fiction and pseudo-religious trappings being the main issues). Maybe that isn't such a widespread issue?

Maybe I wasn't clear - this is precisely what I was talking about when I pointed out that the term (which I had brought up as a joke) would be clearly unsuitable for the community as a whole. It is the reductio ad absurdum of trying to boil down the "rationalist community" so that it fits in one spot in some taxonomy of intellectual movements; plainly impossible in the first place, and anyway obviously completely beside the point when the issue is ways to concisely refer to the associated social group.

(I still like 'rat'.)
Let's try to make this a place where we can choose not to assign moral valence to empirical claims.

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