site banner
5

This weekly roundup thread is intended for all culture war posts. 'Culture war' is vaguely defined, but it basically means controversial issues that fall along set tribal lines. Arguments over culture war issues generate a lot of heat and little light, and few deeply entrenched people ever change their minds. This thread is for voicing opinions and analyzing the state of the discussion while trying to optimize for light over heat.

Optimistically, we think that engaging with people you disagree with is worth your time, and so is being nice! Pessimistically, there are many dynamics that can lead discussions on Culture War topics to become unproductive. There's a human tendency to divide along tribal lines, praising your ingroup and vilifying your outgroup - and if you think you find it easy to criticize your ingroup, then it may be that your outgroup is not who you think it is. Extremists with opposing positions can feed off each other, highlighting each other's worst points to justify their own angry rhetoric, which becomes in turn a new example of bad behavior for the other side to highlight.

We would like to avoid these negative dynamics. Accordingly, we ask that you do not use this thread for waging the Culture War. Examples of waging the Culture War:

  • Shaming.

  • Attempting to 'build consensus' or enforce ideological conformity.

  • Making sweeping generalizations to vilify a group you dislike.

  • Recruiting for a cause.

  • Posting links that could be summarized as 'Boo outgroup!' Basically, if your content is 'Can you believe what Those People did this week?' then you should either refrain from posting, or do some very patient work to contextualize and/or steel-man the relevant viewpoint.

In general, you should argue to understand, not to win. This thread is not territory to be claimed by one group or another; indeed, the aim is to have many different viewpoints represented here. Thus, we also ask that you follow some guidelines:

  • Speak plainly. Avoid sarcasm and mockery. When disagreeing with someone, state your objections explicitly.

  • Be as precise and charitable as you can. Don't paraphrase unflatteringly.

  • Don't imply that someone said something they did not say, even if you think it follows from what they said.

  • Write like everyone is reading and you want them to be included in the discussion.

On an ad hoc basis, the mods will try to compile a list of the best posts/comments from the previous week, posted in Quality Contribution threads and archived at /r/TheThread. You may nominate a comment for this list by clicking on 'report' at the bottom of the post and typing 'Actually a quality contribution' as the report reason.

4

Do you have a dumb question that you're kind of embarrassed to ask in the main thread? Is there something you're just not sure about?

This is your opportunity to ask questions. No question too simple or too silly.

Culture war topics are accepted, and proposals for a better intro post are appreciated.

From my (gen-ed required) Philosophy of Sexuality class:

Premise 1: We are obligated not to racially select our friends, even if this is motivated by a preference for a certain race of friends.

Premise 2: If we are obligated not to racially select our friends, we're obligated not to racially select our romantic and sexual partners.

Conclusion A: Therefore, we're obligated not to racially select our romantic and sexual partners.

Premise 3: If we're obligated not to racially select our friends, romantic, or sexual partners, this is because race is an immutable characteristic. So, we're also obligated not to select our partners based on any other immutable characteristics. (Modified version: swap "immutable" with "non-desert based") (Modification 2: With one qualification: except in cases where doing so comes at an unreasonably extreme cost to oneself.)*

Conclusion B: Therefore, we must be all-inclusive with respect to immutable characteristics in friendship and dating.

So the implication is that we all have an obligation to become bisexual. Why? Because no one would accept "I just don't desire them as such" as a justification for why one systematically doesn't befriend black people. I'm suspicious of this argument, but I can't identify a knock-down flaw. So maybe I should just accept it? I don't want to, but if I'm being honest I can't find "the problem" yet.

Objection to Premise 3: There's cases where it's wrong to discriminate that aren't based on immutable characteristics (hair color, for example). This implies that the best explanation of what makes discrimination wrong is that it fails to track desert instead. But then, no one deserves to have ASD, and yet I don't think people would agree I am compelled to select friends from a subset of people who are violent and nonverbal due to severe ASD. Maybe this could be dealt with by modifying premise 3 to include a "reasonable burdensomeness qualification": your habits of selective association should track desert unless doing so comes at an unreasonably harsh cost to yourself. So if the boredom of befriending a nonverbal person is too intense, or if their violence is too much for you, you would be excused from the general obligation described by premise 3, but that wouldn't permit racism or ableism in general.

But now I'm puzzled, because A) I feel like I have a moral obligation not to racially discriminate in friendship, but B) I don't feel like I have an obligation not to choose not to befriend a tennis player just because I don't have the necessary desires, even though tennis players don't deserve friendship any less than black people.

Objection to Premise 2: I think romantic/sexual attraction to someone is a lot more immutable than who you're friends with, but to the extent that you can change your preferences without assuming an unreasonably harsh burden, or act despite your desires, shouldn't you? Imagine if you had a mild disgust reaction every time you thought about black people, and for that reason you decided never to befriend black people. Wouldn't it be incumbent on you to repress or replace that disgust reaction if doing so was within your power? How disgusting would black people have to be to you before it was no longer morally necessary for you to suck it up and act inclusively despite it? For whatever reason society has an unspoken agreement that racial dating preferences are okay, especially if it's within race. But maybe there's some independent reason why it's okay in certain contexts, despite being wrong in general?

*The defense of premise 3 is:

A) Since Premise 1 (it's wrong to racially select our friends) is an uncontroversial judgement, an explanation is called for.

B) The best explanation is going to be something that identifies a feature all cases of racial discrimination have in common.

C) Immutable characteristics is the feature my professor thinks most promising.

I objected to this because it seems like someone who thinks racially selecting their friends is wrong also wants to say selecting based on hairstyles or hair color is wrong, even though that could be changed.

But then, my prof replied by saying "in that case, what all the cases have in common is that discrimination is happening without a desert-based justification."

So, she proposes a modified version of premise 3: "If we're obligated not to racially select our friends, romantic, or sexual partners, this is because race is not a desert-relevant characteristic. So, we're also obligated not to select our partners based on any other desert-relevant characteristics."

How many lives did COVID-19 vaccines save? A criticism of treating models as reality.

In the diagram below, you can see Our World in Data’s chart, showing actual cumulative U.S. Covid-19 deaths – 350,555 in 2020 and 475,059 in 2021. Our annotations are in pink, blue, and gray. Despite the administration of 520 million vaccine doses in 2021, Covid took 124,504 more American lives in 2021 than 2020. Blowing right past this apparent failure, Lindsey claims, based on the Commonwealth Fund analysis, that vaccines saved 1.087 million Americans from dying in 2021. How can this be?

6

The largest GWAS of all time (of all time!) dropped a few weeks ago to little fanfare, at least in these spaces. In a nutshell: 5.4 million participants measuring height and 1.4 million SNPs per participant, so about 7 trillion data points if I’m not mistaken. If you submitted 23andme samples, congratulations! You contributed to the (current) record holder for largest GWAS in history. In total, the study accounts for 40-45% of the phenotypic variance of height, and furthermore, the authors claim this is saturating: adding more samples won’t increase the fraction of heritability that they can account for.

What you can do with this data:

  1. Generate some robust polygenic scores (PGS)

  2. ‘Risk prediction’ if you have a burning desire to know how tall someone will be (with large error bars)

  3. ???

What you can’t do with this data:

  1. Understand the phenomenon of ‘height’ in any meaningful way

  2. Genetic engineering a la Oryx and Crake, which is how most people see using CRISPR to make designer babies.

  3. Develop any kind of treatment or therapeutic that would improve the human condition.

So, to put it in some context: the criticism of GWAS has always been that these studies are large, expensive, rarely teach us anything about the underlying biology and explain little of the actual heritability (‘missing heritability’ problem). The ‘mechanistic’ biologists interested in curing disease or engineering biology generally dislike GWAS. It’s interesting in the way that astrobiology is interesting; good to know that planet XYZ792 150 light years away may have liquid water on it’s surface, but not really of practical use. What they (and I, being very much of this pedigree) missed is that PGS are of use if you’re in the business of embryo selection and I was corrected on that point a few years ago (conversation here if you want to see me being wrong). So if your goal is having really tall (or short!) children, this paper is good news for you, but you’ll probably still be dissatisfied with the current low-throughputness of embryo selection.

That being said, these criticisms are still salient and, to some extent, I think have been validated: saturating the SNP space with an absurd number of samples (for context: there are only 1.5 million Americans with type 1 diabetes! Good luck saturating that GWAS in our lifetime) only explains 45% of the variance, and this number will undoubtedly vary from trait to trait. Presumably the rest is coming from rare variants (the cutoff in this study is a minor allele frequency (MAF) of < 1% which is quite high), structural variants, or some genetic dark matter implying that our heritability estimates are too high or not being driven by DNA (?).

I think this also has something to say about the omnigenic model. Even with a very high-powered study most of the SNPs are still clustering around genes with known functions related to growth, bone structure, etc. About a third aren’t near anything at all and we have no idea what they might be doing. But again, the low heritability explained would argue that rare variants may play a much larger role than previously appreciated, which may hew closer to Jim Lupski’s Clan Genomics model. And, this is much more speculative, but perhaps this is hinting at the biological underpinnings of ‘interindividual variation is larger than population level differences,’ i.e., rare variants (and the rarer end of SNPs) unique to your ‘clan’ have a similar or larger effect size than the very common SNPs shared by populations. Eager to see what people think or if they have any corrections.

By the way, how does one use superscripts around these parts? Would have been useful to clean up some of these asides with footnotes. Also, how to use tilde without getting strikethrough?

(I was going to wait till Wellness Wednesday to post this as a comment, but the thread's blurb says it's not meant to be a containment and that advice requests can be posted as threads so here we are)

In dating, if you're ghosted, do you a) always move on stoically, b) always give it one more shot, or c) go with a mix of the two depending on circumstances?

After first or second dates, if I text a woman to set up another date and she doesn't reply, I just leave it alone. I sometimes wonder if there is an infinitesimal probability that maybe somehow my text got lost in the pipes, but if she wanted to see me again, she could always text me even if she thought I never contacted her. Sometimes the ghosting can be perplexing, like she'd already messaged me first after the date saying how she had a great time, and then after I respond asking to meet again, I don't hear back. But that's just dating or life in general--many or most people are flaky and undependable. It reminds me of how when I was procuring enterprise software for work that many sales reps don't even reply to requests for a quote. Speaking of sales, I remember reading a negotiation book whereby if you're the one selling, an effective trick to jumpstart wavering/cold leads is to ask them "have you given up on this project". Manipulative, sure, but all is fair in sales, love, and war.

But I occasionally see/hear stories of how some guy was super persistent despite being turned down and would eventually go on to win over the girl. I'm not talking about Hallmark movies from 20 years ago, but wedding announcements in the New York Times from like two weeks ago. But if we do talk about Hallmark, women sure seem to love romance stories featuring love interests who almost always turn down the protagonist the first time around. Reddit loves upvoting stories of how a couple ended up married despite the girl initially swiping left because of some silly reason like she didn't like his hat, but then they somehow met and fell in love. Part of this is probably because Reddit is disproportionately young and single and so wants to believe in second chances, but part of it is we celebrate persistence culturally: in work interviews, a candidate whom the hiring manager is mostly indifferent to but goes above and beyond to change their mind probably gets the job. I've met girls who tell me that guys who don't pursue them more energetically despite not receiving encouraging signals show that they aren't serious, and so disqualify themselves. And a recent ex actually turned me down when I asked her out, but then we hung out as friends a couple of times and she ended up saying yes when I asked a second time.

Now, to be clear, for most of these non-follow-ups I've been subject to, I didn't really think any of them was "the one", or else I likely would have given it another shot. Still, I enjoyed their company and it would have been fun to go out again. And I'd certainly prefer to be the one who decides to "let her go" rather than having her make the decision for me.

So sometimes I look back and wonder if I should have followed up one more time. Maybe go with something simple like "Hey--I really enjoyed meeting you and would love to see you again, but understand if you don't feel the same spark. I wish you the best!". It sounds cheesy and a bit needy, but costs nothing, barring maybe making the girl feel a bit uncomfortable for not taking a super obvious hint. Different women also have different preferences, whereby some will surely respond to "follow ups" more positively than others. And I'm not convinced that ghosting is some kind of self-unselecting filter for women who lack maturity, since there are enough men who take rejections very poorly that it does seem safer to just not reply as a rule of thumb.

So what do you do? Do you have a system for deciding if and when to follow up after not hearing back?

5

Be advised; this thread is not for serious in depth discussion of weighty topics (we have a link for that), this thread is not for anything Culture War related. This thread is for Fun. You got jokes? Share 'em. You got silly questions? Ask 'em.

Highlights

4

Be advised; this thread is not for serious in depth discussion of weighty topics (we have a link for that), this thread is not for anything Culture War related. This thread is for Fun. You got jokes? Share 'em. You got silly questions? Ask 'em.

2

Do you have a dumb question that you're kind of embarrassed to ask in the main thread? Is there something you're just not sure about?

This is your opportunity to ask questions. No question too simple or too silly.

Culture war topics are accepted, and proposals for a better intro post are appreciated.

This dropped a few days ago: the head of ASIS (Australia's version of MI6 and the CIA) gave an interview. It's 26 minutes with no speedup option, so while most of it's pretty interesting I'll give some timestamps for things that are relevant to the broader geopolitical situation and thus might be the most interesting for non-Australians (as opposed to "how does ASIS work" and "reflection on specific past incidents"): 5:00-7:00, 9:17-11:17, 21:59-25:29 and to some extent 16:25-18:19.

Thought this might be of interest to you guys; also interested in what others think he meant with the various vague allusions, since I have my own ideas but I could be projecting my prejudices.

19

You may be familiar with Curtis Yarvin's idea that Covid is science's Chernobyl. Just as Chernobyl was Communism's Chernobyl, and Covid was science's Chernobyl, the FTX disaster is rationalism's Chernobyl.

The people at FTX were the best of the best, Ivy League graduates from academic families, yet free-thinking enough to see through the most egregious of the Cathedral's lies. Market natives, most of them met on Wall Street. Much has been made of the SBF-Effective Altruism connection, but these people have no doubt read the sequences too. FTX was a glimmer of hope in a doomed world, a place where the nerds were in charge and had the funding to do what had to be done, social desirability bias be damned.

They blew everything.

It will be said that "they weren't really EA," and you can point to precepts of effective altruism they violated, but by that standard no one is really EA. Everyone violates some of the precepts some of the time. These people were EA/rationalist to the core. They might not have been part of the Berkley polycules, but they sure tried to recreate them in Nassau. Here's CEO of Alameda Capital Caroline Ellison's Tumblr page, filled with rationalist shibboleths. She would have fit right in on The Motte.

That leaves the $10 billion dollar question: How did this happen? Perhaps they were intellectual frauds just as they were financial frauds, adopting the language and opinions of those who are truly intelligent. That would be the personally flattering option. It leaves open the possibility that if only someone actually smart were involved the whole catastrophe would have been avoided. But what if they really were smart? What if they are millennial versions of Ted Kaczynski, taking the maximum expected-value path towards acquiring the capital to do a pivotal act? If humanity's chances of survival really are best measured in log odds, maybe the FTX team are the only ones with their eyes on the prize?

3

A modest idea for those who want to try their hand at AI alignment problem but is deterred by the lack of actual AI to try it on.

Let's consider a simpler (I think?) stepping stone - a multi-billionaire alignment problem. Especially in the aftermath of recent events where different billionaires caused different turmoils in different areas with different results, I think it makes sense to ask ourselves, as a society, whether we can - or should - have some kind of billionaire alignment program, and how we should approach it, before we try the same towards more alien entities such as AIs.

The input is:

  1. We have a bunch on intelligent - but not super-intelligent yet, so the task is easier - entities. For this task we presume human-level intelligence, probably on the higher end of the spectrum but nothing overwhelming.

  2. These entities control resources comparable to the power of middle-of-the-road nation-state, and deploy them with little effective oversight from anyone.

  3. They deploy those resources to achieve their goals, which may go contrary to goals of the other people, and could cause - even when very well intentioned - enormous harm. A misguided economic intervention can lead to an economic collapse of a country, a misguided social policy can make a major city as unlivable as a bombing campaign (maybe more as the effects are more permanent), a misguided medical policy can rob generations of years of life, new modes of communication can destroy social bonds and cause widespread cultural disruptions, etc. etc. Of course, they are also capable of selfishness and outright evil, though we do not presume they are more inclined to it than average human being (or less, either).

  4. For the sake of this task, we do not consider it moral or practical to destroy these entities or their resources, but want to minimize the potential harm caused by them, including unintentional harm, and potentially maximize their benefit to humanity (workable definition of "benefit to humanity" should be included in the solution, but if you eventually will attempt to align the AI, you must have some ideas what you are aligning it to, right?).

  5. We assume, for the sake of the exercise, that there's no magic lever that we could pull (like: "you do this or we destroy you/take your resources/torture you/kill your dog") to instantly put these entities to somebody else's complete control, or that people that are in control of the lever would be likely under the control of at least one of the entities above, and possibly multiple ones.

  6. In the interest of saving time, we declare all the variants of "we just need to have the right people in control of it and everything will be ok" as a non-solution since a) it just changes the personal or collective entity that needs to be aligned and b) it doesn't provide any practical actionable suggestions.

Any ideas how we could approach solving this task?

3

Be advised; this thread is not for serious in depth discussion of weighty topics (we have a link for that), this thread is not for anything Culture War related. This thread is for Fun. You got jokes? Share 'em. You got silly questions? Ask 'em.

3

The Wednesday Wellness threads are meant to encourage users to ask for and provide advice and motivation to improve their lives. It isn't intended as a 'containment thread' and any content which could go here could instead be posted in its own thread. You could post:

  • Requests for advice and / or encouragement. On basically any topic and for any scale of problem.

  • Updates to let us know how you are doing. This provides valuable feedback on past advice / encouragement and will hopefully make people feel a little more motivated to follow through. If you want to be reminded to post your update, see the post titled 'update reminders', below.

  • Advice. This can be in response to a request for advice or just something that you think could be generally useful for many people here.

  • Encouragement. Probably best directed at specific users, but if you feel like just encouraging people in general I don't think anyone is going to object. I don't think I really need to say this, but just to be clear; encouragement should have a generally positive tone and not shame people (if people feel that shame might be an effective tool for motivating people, please discuss this so we can form a group consensus on how to use it rather than just trying it).

4

The Wednesday Wellness threads are meant to encourage users to ask for and provide advice and motivation to improve their lives. It isn't intended as a 'containment thread' and any content which could go here could instead be posted in its own thread. You could post:

  • Requests for advice and / or encouragement. On basically any topic and for any scale of problem.

  • Updates to let us know how you are doing. This provides valuable feedback on past advice / encouragement and will hopefully make people feel a little more motivated to follow through. If you want to be reminded to post your update, see the post titled 'update reminders', below.

  • Advice. This can be in response to a request for advice or just something that you think could be generally useful for many people here.

  • Encouragement. Probably best directed at specific users, but if you feel like just encouraging people in general I don't think anyone is going to object. I don't think I really need to say this, but just to be clear; encouragement should have a generally positive tone and not shame people (if people feel that shame might be an effective tool for motivating people, please discuss this so we can form a group consensus on how to use it rather than just trying it).

4

Be advised; this thread is not for serious in depth discussion of weighty topics (we have a link for that), this thread is not for anything Culture War related. This thread is for Fun. You got jokes? Share 'em. You got silly questions? Ask 'em.

4

Edit: I appreciate everyone's feedback, which was generally in favor of staying, partly because leaving a satisfactory home for a new one entails unknown risks with regard to neighbors and/or the building, and partly because my hypothesis that spending more money will be motivating is suspect. Because I have real life friends who reads this website, I have removed the more identifying and/or financial specifics from the original post, and will not disclose which path I ended up taking. Thank you all again!

I have a decision due in about 14 hours, and I'm hoping to benefit from the community wisdom before then. I apologize that my thinking is a bit unstructured here, and it's very possible that I'll benefit more from critique on my thinking in general rather than feedback on the specific decision to move or stay.

Background:

[Redacted] I've been at my apartment for close to [Redacted] years now. It's a great building, I have a great unit, I pay a reasonable price, and I have virtually no complaints. Last year, they increased my rent by [Redacted]% (they originally asked for more but I negotiated it down), which I thought was very reasonable. This year, however, they are raising it by [Redacted]%, and that's after negotiating it down from a much higher original renewal offer. While this is higher than I'd like (I was hoping for something closer to the 8% inflation rate), I'm ok with this.

Spurred by the initially much higher renewal offer, though, I'd looked around and am considering upgrading to a nearby building. Moving there would actually mean my rent going up by [Redacted]% over the renewal rent, or [Redacted]% more than what I pay today. I know that sounds a bit silly given I was looking because my apartment is raising rent, but the move would be a quality upgrade. The building is [Redacted] years newer, the amenities maybe [Redacted]% fancier, and my unit will be [Redacted]% larger. There are also more intangible benefits--it's almost certainly a bit safer by virtue of the higher price point, the residents are probably fancier people (which may not be everyone's cup of tea; I think I have a moderate preference for living among neighbors who are higher socioeconomic class rather than lower), the unit will be a nicer and more convenient place for friends to gather and dates to come over. I also don't go out much and so fully enjoy my abode (as opposed to people who travel for work every other week or go out every other night, for example).

So nominally, the perks seem commensurate with a [Redacted]% premium. Two major drawbacks:

  1. The [Redacted]% premium is after factoring in a bunch of aggressive new resident promos. Once that expires at the end of a [Redacted] month lease, rent goes up by another [Redacted]%. In case all the percentages are confusing, imagine I currently pay $100. Staying means paying $[Redacted] next year at the same apartment. Moving means paying $[Redacted] for the first [Redacted] months at the new place, and $[Redacted] thereafter. Yikes.

  2. Moving costs money and time. Not included above is something like $[Redacted] in various one-time fees, and maybe another $[Redacted] or so in movers. Even with movers, all the packing/unpacking/cleaning/changing addresses etc. will likely lose me a week of time. One of my exes used to happily move once a year to experience new architecture and neighborhood etc., a mindset to which I cannot relate. So while I could just move again after the new resident promos run out in [Redacted] months, it'll be a substantial pain in the butt.

Note that I did look at other buildings. But because my current place is perfectly satisfactory, and because moving is a major hassle to me, none of the other buildings offered sufficiently of an upgrade or discount over my renewal to warrant a change. So I've narrowed down to just two options, pay [Redacted]% more to stay, or pay [Redacted]% more to move (and expect to pay [Redacted]% more after [Redacted] months, or else move again).

One more important factor: I am in a comfortable financial position. [Redacted]

[Redacted] I worry that by staying in my current place, I would be taking a (financially and psychologically) conservative path that allows me to remain less productive than I'd like to be. I'd like to work harder because I do like my work and would appreciate all the perks of great success--more money, prestige, fulfillment, better dating odds, meeting inspiring people etc. I wonder if by moving to the pricier place, the higher rent will light a bit of a fire under my butt and result in faster progress in my work that ends up paying more dividends on a net basis. That might even be true after the first [Redacted]-months when rent will [Redacted].

My worry however is that this is all fanciful, motivated thinking. What if I remain just as unproductive as I am today after moving? Since I won't be homeless anytime soon even after upgrading, any metaphorical fire can be easily rationalized away. And then I'd just be living larger than I need or deserve with nothing more to show for it, plus I'd be volunteering for unnecessary stress associated with moving, when I'm perfectly content with my current place. This may sound silly, but by staying, I could enjoy Black Friday deals on new furniture and appliances, whereas if I move, it wouldn't really make sense to buy stuff only to have to take it apart and move it a month later.

I know I've shared only a sliver of all the possible factors in making an optimal decision, given space and privacy constraints. But I constantly find people here surprise me with their unique perspectives, so thought there is nothing to lose and maybe a lot to learn by posting my thinking and welcoming critiques over the next 14 hours or so. Hope this wasn't too boring.

4

Do you have a dumb question that you're kind of embarrassed to ask in the main thread? Is there something you're just not sure about?

This is your opportunity to ask questions. No question too simple or too silly.

Culture war topics are accepted, and proposals for a better intro post are appreciated.

4

Do you have a dumb question that you're kind of embarrassed to ask in the main thread? Is there something you're just not sure about?

This is your opportunity to ask questions. No question too simple or too silly.

Culture war topics are accepted, and proposals for a better intro post are appreciated.

4

The Wednesday Wellness threads are meant to encourage users to ask for and provide advice and motivation to improve their lives. It isn't intended as a 'containment thread' and any content which could go here could instead be posted in its own thread. You could post:

  • Requests for advice and / or encouragement. On basically any topic and for any scale of problem.

  • Updates to let us know how you are doing. This provides valuable feedback on past advice / encouragement and will hopefully make people feel a little more motivated to follow through. If you want to be reminded to post your update, see the post titled 'update reminders', below.

  • Advice. This can be in response to a request for advice or just something that you think could be generally useful for many people here.

  • Encouragement. Probably best directed at specific users, but if you feel like just encouraging people in general I don't think anyone is going to object. I don't think I really need to say this, but just to be clear; encouragement should have a generally positive tone and not shame people (if people feel that shame might be an effective tool for motivating people, please discuss this so we can form a group consensus on how to use it rather than just trying it).