Influence in the Rationality Community

I think there is an elephant in the room of the rationality community (and indeed many adjacent communities), which is that ‘social influence’ depends upon forging a particular intellectual style and reverse-engineering the intellectual/ideological positions of the counterparty in order to generate interesting variations on the meme of the day in order to prove your intelligence, rather than solely understanding the world or being capable of execution.

This gives rise to a kind of ‘Marilyn Von Savant’ effect where smart people gain status by ‘playing the social instrument’ at the expense of building truly useful/important stuff and, as a result, the community as a whole effectively burns its intellectual capital on signalling as a kind of zero-sum ‘proof of intelligence’.

I’d be quite interested if anyone has actually analyzed this for different groups. It seems a big waste of everyone’s time and I wonder why we’re all so tolerant of it, given the ostensible obsession with ‘progress’.