I feel like trying to be charitable here is missing the point.
It mostly is Moloch operating inside of the brains of people who are unaware that Moloch is a thing, so in a Hansonian sense they end up adopting lots of positions that pretend to be about helping the world, but are actually about jockeying for status position in their peer groups.EA people also obviously are doing this, but the community is somewhat consciously trying to create an incentive dynamic where we get good status and belonging feelings from conspicuously burning resources in ways that are designed to do the most good for people distant in either time or space.
I don’t think xuan’s main point was about being charitable, although they had a few thoughts in that direction. More generally, trying to be charitable is usually good. Of course it’s going to miss a point (what finite comment isn’t), but maybe it’s making another?
I appreciate you trying to bring the discussion towards what you see as the real reason for lefty positions being held by privileged students (subconscious social status jockeying), but I wonder if there’s a more constructive way to speculate about this?Maybe one prompt is: how would you approach a conversation with such a lefty friend to discover if that is their reason, or not?You could be direct, put your cards on the table, and say you think they are just interested in the social status stuff, and let them defend themselves (that’s usually what happens when you attack someone’s subconscious motivation, regardless what’s true). Or you could start by asking yourself, what if I was wrong here? Is there is another reason they might hold this position on this topic? That might lead you to ask questions about their reasons. You could test how load-bearing their explanations are, by asking hypotheticals, or for them to be concrete and specific. Maybe you, or they, end up changing/modifying your position or beliefs, or at least have a good discussion, with at least one person having more understanding going out than you had coming in. In any case, I think a conversation that assumes good faith is more likely to lead to a productive discussion.Circling back to the initial thing: I’m assuming that you do see the value in being charitable and assuming good faith in general, and just feel it is hard to practice this in conversations when people are very attached to their positions. But let me know if not, i.e. if you do genuinely think there is no point in being charitable (as that would be our true disagreement, this seems unlikely).
Please correct me if I’ve misunderstood you here. + nitpick: you use terms people might not have heard of. If I look up ‘Moloch’ I don’t immediately see the article by Scott Alexander that I think you have in mind, just a Wikipedia article about the god.