[LINK] Two Modes of Discourse: Taking everything personally v. debate as sport

post by Vaniver · 2012-12-10T07:46:24.438Z · score: 5 (27 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 61 comments

A blog post by Alistair Roberts, as curated by Steve Sailer. (Steve's version is shorter and more targeted; the original blog post is the fourth in a series on triggering and suffers for its reliance on the particular issue.)

It seems like a very useful dichotomy, and strongly reminds me of Ask and Guess.

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comment by Emile · 2012-12-11T13:47:09.016Z · score: 14 (14 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

One part I wasn't a huge fan of was the contrast of this:

There is a form of education – increasingly popular over the last few decades – which most values cooperation, collaboration, quietness, sedentariness, empathy, equality, non-competitiveness, conformity, a communal focus, inclusivity, affirmation, inoffensiveness, sensitivity, non-confrontation, a downplaying of physicality, and an orientation to the standard measures of grades, tests, and a closely defined curriculum (one could, with the appropriate qualifications, speak of this as a ‘feminization’ of education).

... with this:

A completely contrasting mode of education, one more typical of traditional – and male-oriented – educational systems, values internalized confidence, originality, agonism, independence of thought, creativity, assertiveness, the mastery of one’s feelings, a thick skin and high tolerance for your own and others’ discomfort, disputational ability, competitiveness, nerve, initiative, imagination, and force of will

It's possible that this is a honest assessment of changed (I don't know enough about the cultural shifts in education), but to me it looks suspiciously like extra applause lights have been sneaked in one of the laundry lists, and extra boo lights have been sneaked in the other.

More specifically, in this case, I don't think that "modern" education downplays creativity and imagination compared to "traditional" education of say a century ago. If anything, modern education seems to praise creativity and imagination that the evil old restrictive education model didn't care enough about.

"There used to be more emphasis on creativity" may true despite current praise of creativity, or it may only be true about higher education and not primary education ... but I also find it pretty likely that those were added to the list as extra applause lights to make the author's preferred side look better.

comment by Viliam_Bur · 2012-12-16T17:55:57.149Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

More specifically, in this case, I don't think that "modern" education downplays creativity and imagination compared to "traditional" education of say a century ago. If anything, modern education seems to praise creativity and imagination that the evil old restrictive education model didn't care enough about.

There is a lot of mindkilling about education. To me it seems that for some people, "creativity" is simply an applause light that trumps everything. You can never go unpopular with creativity. Even if you don't teach anything, if you say that you gave students an opportunity to be creative, you are forgiven. On the other hand, even the best realistic results can be devaluated by saying: yeah, but there is not enough room for creativity during his lessons.

Or, using more LW terms, creativity became a lost purpose in education. In the beginning, creativity was seen as an instrumental goal which could help increase knowledge. In the end, creativity became a goal in itself, and knowledge lost its status.

comment by Emile · 2012-12-16T20:59:33.568Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Sure! But the linked article is pretending that "creativity" was a feature of the good ol' "masculine" education system, whereas the new "feminized" one is more about conformity. And he only manages to make that claim sorta kinda believable-if-you-don't-pay-attention by putting those in the middle of big lists of other adjectives that might apply.

He may actually be referring to a mode of education that did foster creativity, but I find it more likely that he's just accepting the modern creativity-as-applause-light and using that applause light to make his side look better.

Verging away from the original point, I think creativity is worth pursuing on it's own, but isn't particularly worth admiring on it's own. Being creative will help you make better bridges or cars or paintings (so "creativity" is an important concept when designing a curriculum, or hiring engineers, or considering your own self-improvement), but judging a painting or a piece of music by how "creative" it is makes almost as little sense as judging a bridge by how impressive that maths used to design it were.

I prefer to think in terms of "creative problem-solving" or "artistic skill" rather than "creativity" - at least those can't be used to describe random originality ("u can call me t3h PeNgU1N oF d00m!!!!!!!! lol").

comment by Viliam_Bur · 2012-12-16T21:37:38.869Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Oops, my mistake.

On the other hand, the fact that I made it reflects that creativity is the applause light of the new system... which does not automatically mean that the new system really supports creativity (and in some other discussion I could be the one who opposes this), but at least we should not include it to the other list without a proper discussion.

More meta: comparing two systems by providing a list of adjectives is an evidence for mindkilling.

comment by bogus · 2012-12-16T22:22:10.039Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Or, using more LW terms, creativity became a lost purpose in education.

Agreed. Robin Hanson has a good article on why creativity is overrated. "Critics complain that schools squelch creativity, but most people are inclined to be more creative on the job than would be truly productive."

comment by JoshuaZ · 2012-12-10T14:24:23.570Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

There's a better mode than either of these: Discussion and discourse as a mutual attempt to find out what is actually the case.

comment by bogus · 2012-12-10T14:30:48.172Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes, this is usually called deliberation, e.g. as in "deliberative democracy". But adversarial-style debate can be expected to persist for the foreseeable future, so it is important to be aware of its properties.

comment by Jayson_Virissimo · 2012-12-11T05:03:51.187Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

There's a better mode than either of these: Discussion and discourse as a mutual attempt to find out what is actually the case.

My intuition agrees, but it has been known to output crap on similar topics. Know of any way to test this claim?

comment by JoshuaZ · 2012-12-11T19:53:09.867Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

My intuition agrees, but it has been known to output crap on similar topics. Know of any way to test this claim?

Yes, and there's a problem here, which is that adversarial debate might actually be able to productively hijack motivated cognition to generate the best arguments on both sides. Given that, finding a way to test this would be good. The most obvious way to do so is to have groups of people either discuss some difficult to figure out factual claim or to debate it with randomly chosen sides, and then see after a vote of a neutral audience whether the audience favored the correct one or not. Do this with a few different issues with different groups of people and that might get relevant data.

comment by Vaniver · 2012-12-10T19:56:21.200Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Agreed! It's helpful to have strong models of all three varieties, and be able to switch between them / know which one is most appropriate for the situation at hand.

My impression is that the adversarial mode is significantly closer to deliberation than the anti-offensive model; there's still the underlying goal of "find out what's the case," but it's much more aggressive about it (which is sometimes beneficial and sometimes detrimental).

comment by JoshuaZ · 2012-12-10T23:36:10.591Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

My impression is that the adversarial mode is significantly closer to deliberation than the anti-offensive model; there's still the underlying goal of "find out what's the case,

I'm not sure. The adversarial mode is much more about convincing someone that something is the case rather than actually trying to find out if that is actually the case.

comment by Vaniver · 2012-12-11T00:58:54.121Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The anti-offensive mode is generally about burying what is the case; the adversarial mode lets it at least have a day in court.

If you're interested in finding out what is the case, I would argue that the anti-offensive mode doesn't work, the adversarial mode works as a system, but not individually, and the deliberative mode works both as a system and individually. There are situations where the adversarial mode works better; in particular, specialization of labor in research.

comment by Decius · 2012-12-11T20:57:10.860Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The anti-offensive mode is generally about burying what is the case; the adversarial mode lets it at least have a day in court.

Only if one of the participants champions the 'true' case.

comment by bogus · 2012-12-11T02:15:33.012Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The anti-offensive mode is generally about burying what is the case; the adversarial mode lets it at least have a day in court.

Yes, this is a big problem. This failure mode is nonetheless fairly easy to detect: a rationally-trained person can easily tell when uncritical duckspeak (I favor this term as clearer and less controversial than other related terms such as "political correctness" or "groupthink") has replaced cogent arguments.

But then, even though I do advocate a tensegrity of the two styles of debate, I'd never think that this is a good idea. What I do favor about the "anti-offensive mode" is that it makes it easier to establish and rely upon a common ground of shared notions and terminal/instrumental values; and yes, one way it does this is by promoting empathy. This cannot generally be expected to occur when debate is radically factionalized.

comment by Vaniver · 2012-12-11T03:53:19.543Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

What I do favor about the "anti-offensive mode" is that it makes it easier to establish and rely upon a common ground of shared notions and terminal/instrumental values

I'm not sure that I agree that this is the case. Yes, the anti-offensive mode works when everyone involved has a common ground of shared notions and terminal/instrumental values, and so I agree it relies on that. But it seems to me that when values diverge, it's not clear to me that that mode will create that; it seems like taking offense leads to factionalization much more easily than debate as a sport. People swapping sides on an issue in a debate team setting seems natural, but people swapping sides in an anti-offensive discussion seems rare.

comment by bogus · 2012-12-11T22:18:48.447Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

People swapping sides on an issue in a debate team setting seems natural, but people swapping sides in an anti-offensive discussion seems rare.

Unfortunately, "people swapping sides" basically never happens in highly factionalized debates: at some point, the adversarial mode degrades into "debate as war/struggle", with no redeeming sportmanship. I think this is something that the sensitivity mode might be able to guard against. Even "taking offense" is not wholly unproductive after all: we should keep in mind that there are many issues that people physically fight over. Even leaving the issue of shared notions/values aside, the sensitivity mode seems to be much more open to "political" mitigation efforts such as mediation, compromise and conflict de-escalation.

comment by Bugmaster · 2012-12-13T01:09:31.619Z · score: 8 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think the author is spot-on when he talks about "debate as sport" vs. "debate as a sensitivity contest", but I find his obsession with "masculinity" somewhat... weird. He keeps saying that the "debate as sport" mode is the province of men, and the other mode is a province of women... because... I don't know why.

IMO it would've been a better article without the random essentialism.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2012-12-10T18:31:09.838Z · score: 8 (15 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I believe that part of what caused the rise of sensitivity-based discourse is that some people got tired of discourse that seemed to have a premise of "let's calmly consider the plausible claim that the interests of people like you are dispensable", and lost points for showing anger. (Other motives include quite ordinary power-seeking.)

comment by ewbrownv · 2012-12-10T18:53:09.780Z · score: 1 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

As an explanation for a society-wide shift in discourse that seems quite implausible. If such a change has actually happened the cause would most likely be some broad cultural or sociological change that took place within the same time frame.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2012-12-10T14:50:20.944Z · score: 8 (15 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

One point which stuck out to me:

Within the first form of discourse, if you take offence, you can close down the discourse in your favour; in the second form of discourse, if all you can do is to take offence, you have conceded the argument to your opponent, as offence is not meaningful currency within such discourse.

So when discourse_1 argues with discourse_2, discourse_1 takes offense and closes down the discussion, leaving both sides interpreting themselves as the victor in the discussion.

One obvious problem I see for discourse_1 discussions - when you can score points by taking offense, there is a natural death spiral of taking more and more and more offense.

Managed to find an old Bloom County cartoon: Offensitivity http://www.explorerforum.com/photopost/data/503/medium/4156bloom.jpg

comment by bogus · 2012-12-10T14:58:39.321Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

when you can score points by taking offense, there is a natural death spiral of taking more and more and more offense.

Yes. Either that, or it empowers martinets to come up with petty etiquette norms and declare that someone's approach is "rude" or "trollish", regardless of their actual merits. This is especially ironic when the debate itself involves important issues in ethics, empathy or similar: the person with the most ethical or empathetic position in the debate can nonetheless end up being silenced.

comment by acephalus · 2012-12-10T17:02:27.280Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

the person with the most ethical or empathetic position in the debate can nonetheless end up being silenced.

Can you provide an example?

comment by handoflixue · 2012-12-11T00:22:12.870Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

"Autism Speaks" is the best known Autism charity in the US.

It routinely silences actual autistic voices, and shows basically no empathy for it. Any autistic person who can empathize with someone mislead by Autism Speaks is showing more empathy than it does.

Autism Speaks also tends to advocate a eugenics approach to "curing" autism, which many autistic people find unethical.

Hopefully useful as an example despite being a bit controversial / political on the ethical axis (I can't imagine any clear cut example that wouldn't be, aside from historical examples)

comment by gwillen · 2012-12-10T23:48:57.716Z · score: 5 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I initially upvoted this, but I changed my mind after reading the article, which appears to me to have a very significant agenda in favor of one of the modes of discourse it outlines, over the other. This makes me extremely wary of its classification-scheme.

comment by Vaniver · 2012-12-11T01:16:09.795Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If only there were an adversary to argue for the other mode! :P

comment by novalis · 2012-12-10T22:09:41.175Z · score: 5 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

As Nancy Levobitz notes, there are a number of true things that one can say totally dispassionately that are nonetheless likely to incite anger in others. Luke came up with one: "most Christians believe Jesus is an invisible, magical, wish-granting friend." Even though it is completely accurate, it is likely to cause Christians to not want to engage in debate with you. A similar description of SIAI might be: "followers of a charismatic leader who believe that machines will likely kill all humans unless he is given sufficient funding." The word "followers" makes this slightly more tendentious.

In either case subtext is clear: "I have no respect for you, and I wish you would go away." You can say that as calmly and dispassionately as you like, but it's not really very sporting.

comment by Vaniver · 2012-12-10T23:00:10.079Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

In either case subtext is clear: "I have no respect for you, and I wish you would go away." You can say that as calmly and dispassionately as you like, but it's not really very sporting.

That's the issue under discussion, isn't it? The assumption of the adversarial mode is that if the other person loses their temper, it's because their position is weak. When presented with "Jesus is an invisible, magical, wish-granting friend," if the Christian doesn't have either a serious response or a clever quip, then they lose. It doesn't seem so much "I don't respect you" as "I disagree" and not so much "I wish you would go away" as "put up or shut up."

comment by handoflixue · 2012-12-11T00:26:41.731Z · score: 8 (12 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The idea that whoever loses their temper first is wrong is one of the most idiotic, backwards notions I've seen taken seriously on this site. Should we just find the calmest person on earth and give THEM the keys to our AI development, because they never get angry and thus can't possibly be wrong?

P.S. If you mind my flippant response, you're clearly in the wrong!

P.P.S. Please have a sense of humour :)

comment by Vaniver · 2012-12-11T01:01:44.255Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thank you for the demonstration; I considered doing it myself but decided it might not be obvious.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2012-12-11T20:50:53.764Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's not that the one that gets angry is wrong, it's that if anger or offense is all you've got to refute the argument against, you lose.

comment by handoflixue · 2012-12-11T21:40:22.413Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

"The assumption of the adversarial mode is that if the other person loses their temper, it's because their position is weak."

Seriously, at least TRY to demonstrate reading comprehension.

"When presented with "Jesus is an invisible, magical, wish-granting friend," if the Christian doesn't have either a serious response or a clever quip"

Emphasis added. I hardly think a clever quip is a more worthwhile refutation! Anger at least suggests that there is, on some non-conscious level, an actual objection.

P.P.S. Please continue having a sense of humour ^_^

comment by novalis · 2012-12-11T00:32:01.013Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The "clever quip" bit strikes me as rather telling; it's very much a case of arguments as soldiers, rather than actually trying to find the truth.

In the case where the argument is over whether a non-mainstream person, group, or position should be taken seriously, that person/group/position often has more at stake. That means they're (a) more likely to become flustered by such a statement, and (b) more likely to be judged harshly for responding in kind. However, it doesn't mean they're less likely to be correct.

It is also impermissible to point out the subtext; if you say, "are you saying you have no respect for me?", you lose. And that's true even if pointing that out would be a true statement.

As JoshuaZ points out, there is a third way, and it's much better.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2012-12-11T21:05:04.162Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

In the case where the argument is over whether a non-mainstream person, group, or position should be taken seriously, that person/group/position often has more at stake. That means they're (a) more likely to become flustered by such a statement, and (b) more likely to be judged harshly for responding in kind.

For many non-mainstream issues I am associated with, (a) is false, but (b) is true. If anything, since in most every ideological issue I am extremely non mainstream, (a) is false, because I'm accustomed to much worse than a "clever quip".

I'd say instead it's when those that spend most of their time in an ideologically homogeneous subculture interact with some other ideological subculture that they will get flustered. It's a matter of acclimation to taking a hit.

comment by Vaniver · 2012-12-11T01:09:27.775Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The "clever quip" bit strikes me as rather telling; it's very much a case of arguments as soldiers, rather than actually trying to find the truth.

Consider this discussion. Is Pauli's statement "unsporting"? (I find it really odd that you used that word to describe the adversarial mode; it sees debate as a verbal sport, engaged in for both fun and profit.)

comment by novalis · 2012-12-11T03:10:48.823Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Consider this discussion. Is Pauli's statement "unsporting"?

Pauli's statement in a debate would be somewhat unsporting, yes. But it seems that the context was instead a discussion among friends, where a joke like that would be seen as funny by all, rather than being seen as point-scoring.

(I find it really odd that you used that word to describe the adversarial mode; it sees debate as a verbal sport, engaged in for both fun and profit.)

I used that word deliberately, since the title of the article includes "debate as sport". Perhaps some people think the sport in question is more like fox hunting than basketball?

comment by Vaniver · 2012-12-11T03:54:43.391Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Perhaps some people think the sport in question is more like fox hunting than basketball?

Sure, but the foxes are ideas and arguments, not people.

comment by novalis · 2012-12-11T04:38:49.514Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

That's the issue under discussion, isn't it?

comment by Vaniver · 2012-12-11T05:08:33.151Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Indeed! :D

I think that weighty issues have the potential to crush people; that's why they're weighty. But I think that's a property of the issues, not the way that people discuss them.

For example, suppose that we are in the early days of the AIDS epidemic in the US. A proposal is made to quarantine people diagnosed with AIDS, and a related proposal is to tattoo them (someplace private, that potential sexual partners will see but the general public won't).

Obviously, the impacts of such a policy vary heavily throughout the population. Many groups are at basically no risk for AIDS, and so the proposal won't impact their health, but will impact their neighborhoods. There's also the contingent of people who already have it, who will be massively affected, and several groups that are at very high risk for it, who will be affected in multiple ways. Their health would be improved, at the possible decimation of their friends and communities.

Whether or not the quarantine or tattooing happens, people will be crushed: people who die in quarantine rather than surrounded by their communities; people who have to see the tattoo in the mirror, reminding them of something they would much rather forget; people who catch AIDS from carriers allowed to roam. The question of which approach is best is a hard one that seems difficult to settle without numbers and lengthy, open discussion. Settling the issue for identity reasons- opposing quarantine because it is 'repugnant', say- seems like negligence at best.

comment by novalis · 2012-12-11T17:07:09.267Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Settling the issue for identity reasons- opposing quarantine because it is 'repugnant', say- seems like negligence at best.

And yet, such proposals are almost never made about high-status people (recall that in the early 80s, AIDS was almost exclusively a gay disease, and that gay people were then significantly lower-status). And even without AIDS, many people then (and some now) would prefer not to live around gay people. So there is a reasonable suspicion of motivated cognition. Another example of status-based quarantine would be the differing treatment of American citizens of Japanese descent during WWII (vs that of citizens of Italian or German descent).

Improving the status of gay people (in part via emphasizing identity) seems to have somewhat improved the level of motivated cognition about homosexuality (see the General Social Survey for numbers).

In debate-as-sport, that doesn't matter; a quip can score a point even if some thought would reveal it to be nonsensical. Nonesense claims in general can be examined and rebutted, but a quip gets a laugh before the examination can kick in. If fear of causing people offense causes people to either make fewer such quips, or to think harder before laughing, that can actually improve the level of the debate.

comment by Vaniver · 2012-12-11T20:02:51.809Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

recall that in the early 80s, AIDS was almost exclusively a gay disease, and that gay people were then significantly lower-status

You're forgetting the other 3 Hs, though none of them are high status.

So there is a reasonable suspicion of motivated cognition.

Right, but the point of the adversarial mode is that you have a clash of ideas instead of just dismissing a proposal because the person putting it forward doesn't like you, or because they're biased. Sometimes biased people have good ideas, and dismissing an idea because of suspicion of bias rather than because the idea fails a cost-benefit analysis is negligent. With AIDS in particular, the primary beneficiaries of a quarantine would be the people who are at high risk for AIDS and don't get it because of the quarantine; America has six times the per-capita AIDS infections of a country that used quarantine. Perhaps it was worth it- I'm not sure where I would put the reduction necessary to justify a quarantine, but I'm pretty sure a sixfold reduction is more than sufficient- but that there wasn't a numbers-based public discussion about that horrifies me.

comment by novalis · 2012-12-11T21:56:02.485Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Right, but the point of the adversarial mode is that you have a clash of ideas instead of just dismissing a proposal because the person putting it forward doesn't like you, or because they're biased. Sometimes biased people have good ideas, and dismissing an idea because of suspicion of bias rather than because the idea fails a cost-benefit analysis is negligent.

You seem to believe that such a cost-benefit analysis is possible when there is a level of bias that is that pervasive. It is often not possible. The full costs will simply never be recognized. The US court system is supposed to work on the adversarial model, and yet only one non-Christian group has ever won a free exercise clause case at the Supreme Court. Why would anyone play a basketball game when they're sure the refs are crooked?

numbers-based public discussion

The number that the 1980s American public would put on a gay man's freedom of movement, is much less the number that the 2012 public would put on that same man's freedom. That difference is, at least in large part, caused by the strategy chosen by 1980s gay men. It's hard to argue that the 1980s number is more likely to be correct, given the high level of bias in the 1980s (see the GSS for details on this bias). So, the strategy chosen by 1980s gay men seems to have paid off in producing a more rational discussion.

In favor of the "sport" decision is that it uses rational-sounding terms like "cost-benefit analysis". But using rational-sounding terms does not actually make any guarantee of a more-rational discussion.

comment by fubarobfusco · 2012-12-11T22:20:04.380Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

yet only one non-Christian group has ever won a free exercise case at the Supreme Court.

The linked article, posted in 2009, cites Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v. City of Hialeah, 501 U.S. 520 (1993) as the "only one" example, but fails to notice Gonzales v. O Centro Espirita Beneficente Uniao do Vegetal, 546 U.S. 418 (2006).

Like Lukumi Babalu Aye's Santería, the União do Vegetal is syncretic with some Christian influence, though.

comment by novalis · 2012-12-11T22:31:35.731Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

That looks like a RFRA case, not a free exercise clause case. (I'm going to edit my comment above to add the word "clause", since that is what I had intended to refer to, and what the article probably intends with its initial caps on the first occurrence of the term).

comment by Larks · 2013-02-15T19:27:07.723Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

So, the strategy chosen by 1980s gay men seems to have paid off in producing a more rational discussion.

You haven't shown this. You've shown it achieved their aims, so might have been instrumentally rational for them, and that it was vindicated by subsequent value change/drift, but not that the new discourse is more rational. It can be instrumentally a good idea to make discourse more irrational in some specific way, or to change others' values, against their will.

comment by novalis · 2013-02-15T21:56:15.529Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I was assuming that everyone agreed that the 1980s discourse about homosexuality was nuts, since it was strongly influenced by Christianity -- I guess if you take Christianity seriously, we would need to have a different discussion, but the assumption is that almost nobody here does.

comment by Larks · 2013-02-15T22:15:02.997Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It was nuts, simply by virtue of being strongly influenced by christianity? The abolishion of slavery was (very) strongly influenced by Christianity - was it also nuts for the same reason?

I can think of other good arguments for the 80s being nuts, but "being more strongly influenced by Christianity" is not.

comment by novalis · 2013-02-15T22:38:37.519Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Are you intentionally picking the stupidest possible interpretation of what I wrote? Surely you can think of a more charitable interpretation than that.

[edit]

The abolition of slavery was (very) strongly influenced by Christianity - was it also nuts for the same reason?

Yes. Abolition was a good thing; but it's insane to think that it was good because the Bible opposes slavery.

comment by Decius · 2012-12-11T20:52:48.930Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Why stop at quarantine? Mandatory testing for everyone, and euthanasia for everyone who tests positive. If a sixfold reduction is worth concentration camps, a near-infinite reduction should be worth murder.

The numbers-based public discussion didn't happen because the number of people that believe that the expected benefits are on the same scale as the costs are a tiny minority.

comment by Vaniver · 2012-12-11T21:26:23.208Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If a sixfold reduction is worth concentration camps, a near-infinite reduction should be worth murder.

Infections are only worth avoiding because they decrease QALYs. Euthanasia is somewhat more effective at reducing infections than quarantine, but it's also harsher on the patient and the patient's community; it's not clear to me that the additional benefits of reducing infections further makes up for the additional costs in this case.

(Mandatory testing is a necessary component of quarantine, I suspect, as one of the primary arguments against quarantine was that it would strongly disincentivize getting tested, which is already a significant problem.)

comment by Decius · 2012-12-11T21:41:51.444Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Ah- I think I disvalue quarantine more than you do. I don't see that large a difference between the amount of time spent in forced quarantine when it lasts for the rest of the victim's life.

Of course, in the modern era there are unimplemented polices much less disagreeable than either that would have a similar magnitude of effect. Many of those policies are implemented voluntarily by individuals.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2012-12-11T20:15:07.946Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Upvoted for the link.

comment by mrglwrf · 2012-12-12T19:08:04.228Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The assumption of the adversarial mode is that if the other person loses their temper, it's because their position is weak.

Wouldn't this reward trolling?

comment by bogus · 2012-12-10T13:31:13.532Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This is actually a very good link, it should not be sitting at a negative score. The description of the "ARGUMENT AS SPORT" mode of intellectual discourse is especially interesting: LW has always maintained that factionalized debate does not promote good epistemic rationality, but it seems that it does have some redeeming qualities after all.

My guess is that the most rationality-conducive style actually features some kind of tensegrity of the two basic kinds of debate. The two failure modes to be averted are (1) excessive groupthink and a fixation on petty etiquette, and (2) a complete lack of shared values, leading to hyper-factionalization.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2012-12-10T14:56:12.877Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

LW has always maintained that factionalized debate does not promote good epistemic rationality, but it seems that it does have some redeeming qualities after all.

It has redeeming qualities, compared to sensitivity discourse. It doesn't mean it's the best you can do.

I recall seeing a proposed hierarchy on argument strategies once. That sound familiar to anyone?

comment by Oscar_Cunningham · 2012-12-10T15:12:26.106Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This one of Paul Graham?

comment by buybuydandavis · 2012-12-10T15:56:30.869Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

That's a pretty good one. Thanks.

But I think there was one with levels beyond "refutation of the central point". More of a "delimit and extend", where you show the bounds of validity of an argument, and what's true more generally beyond those bounds.

comment by Oscar_Cunningham · 2012-12-10T16:07:59.202Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Better Disagreement

comment by buybuydandavis · 2012-12-10T16:20:44.859Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Looks like Paul Graham+.

Still, at the end, one has refuted something. I think the highest levels should find the value in the argument you're refuting, and incorporate it into your own result. Synthesize, instead of refuting.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-12-10T19:12:35.302Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The "argument as sport" mode doesn't seem terribly factionalized, at least not in the sense of arguments as soldiers.

Within this form of heterotopic discourse, one can play devil’s advocate, have one’s tongue in one’s cheek, purposefully overstate one’s case, or attack positions that one agrees with.

comment by Vaniver · 2013-01-23T00:26:42.770Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Related: Why Mobbing Happens. (The same material in a new packaging with new examples.)