Are aspiring rationalists narrow-minded?

Exactly the opposite. And the testament is this idea, that one should be willing to be persuaded to do anything as long as there is a logical argument behind it is expounded in Eliezer’s book (“From AI to Zombies”). Even if that argument is “theoretical”, “crazy”, “philosophical”, not “intuitive”, “feels wrong” and “leads to a narrow-minded conclusion”1. (Roko’s Bazilik was all about just that - rationalists scared of finding a harmful valid argument, so decided to not publicise it).

Therefore, you could, in theory, convince a rationalist of anything. But not via the usual polemic arguments which have little to do with a scientific method (but have a lot to do with the way human brain has evolved). Evolution didn’t intend to make us scientists and that’s why we had dark ages and that’s why we had enlightenment and that’s why it took us so long to get where we are today via a painful path of history full of very dark patches. Because scientific thinking is not intuitive and, therefore, is not convincing. Rationality isn’t for winning arguments though - that’s not even a worthy goal.

So narrow-mindedness is in the methods, i.e. methods of rationality, which is just a scientific method applied to every day thinking. Creationists claim that scientists are narrow-minded too. Scientists’ job is to find most plausible explanations for the data at hand: of course they are narrow-minded, they can’t possible accept a theory which is contradicted by the data. It is exactly this kind of constraint that is self-imposed by rationalists on themselves: they can’t accept your “nothing is wrong with your argument, but I am going to do it my way anyway”. Because this is narrow-mindedness. If you are set out to do whatever it feels right to do no matter how well people explain it to you to just not do it, you are narrow-minded. And if you were dead-set on doing it your way without picking argumentation of your opponent apart, then why are you even involved in this conversation? Why do you even want to hear opinions of others if such opinions have no power? Save yourself the hassle and just do it. No need for consulting or debating.

  1. the conclusion that argument leads to has nothing to do with its validity in 99.99% of the cases. This is a terrible way to do science. However there a few “exceptions”, see corrupted hardware post by Eliezer for details, but roughly if your argument concludes that you should start a genocide - chances are it’s a result of corrupted, human thinking, even if you can’t see the flaw, so you shouldn’t do it.