Police violence: The veil of darkness

post by dynomight · 2020-10-12T21:32:33.808Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW · 28 comments

This is a link post for https://dyno-might.github.io/2020/10/12/police-violence-the-veil-of-darkness/

Measuring police bias using simple ratios doesn't work. You can never cleanly separate the impact of race from other factors associated with race.

Instead, I want augmented-reality goggles that make race invisible. Then we could run the following experiment:

The police with invisibility goggles would not have equal statistics with respect to race, because race is correlated with many things other than how people appear. However, since the only difference between the two groups is if police can see race, the difference reveals exactly the impact of police bias.

We can't do this experiment, but we can do kind of low-tech approximation. Instead of augmented reality goggles we use the geometry of the earth and sun. [continues here]

28 comments

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comment by Kenny · 2020-10-13T18:52:19.998Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Instead of augmented reality goggles we use the geometry of the earth and sun.

Huh?

comment by dynomight · 2020-10-13T21:08:19.750Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

My guess is that the problem is I didn't make it clear that this is just the introduction from the link? Sorry, I edited to clarify.

comment by Kenny · 2020-10-14T15:43:56.109Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes, that was it – thanks! No worries tho!

I'm not aware of any good and common convention here for handling link posts. I like to post the link and then my own separate commentary. But I've also seen a lot of people go to the opposite extreme and cross-post here.

For this post, it would have been much less confusing had you quoted the entire last paragraph of the intro, and also added something like "Read the rest here". I like putting "[Link] ..." in the title of my link posts here too so that that info is available for people skimming titles. (I don't think that's always necessary or should be required; just a personal preference.)

What's the theory for why "state patrol agencies" are less racist/biased than "municipal police departments"?

This is a hard topic to discuss rationally (or reasonably) because of politics. I also worry there's a large 'mistake theory vs conflict theory' conflict/mistake dynamic too.

I like your idea of analyzing a bunch of dimensions, e.g. age, gender, income/wealth, education, and political identification, for things like police traffic stops and vehicle searches. That's something Andrew Gelman suggests a lot:

When you do have multiple comparisons, I think the right way to go is to analyze all of them using a hierarchical model—not to pick one or two or three out of context and then try to adjust the p-values using a multiple comparisons correction. ...

To put it another way, the original sin is selection. The problem with p-hacked work is not that p-values are uncorrected for multiple comparison, it’s that some subset of comparisons is selected for further analysis, which is wasteful of information. It’s better to analyze all the comparisons of interest at once.

It'd be nice if the researchers for the studies you reference in your post had also published their data. (Did they? I expect they didn't – but I haven't checked.)

comment by Stuart Anderson (stuart-anderson) · 2020-10-13T07:12:57.434Z · score: -7 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Here's a fun experiment: look up the correlation between children raised by single mothers and criminality in those children/adults. Then look up the rates of single motherhood in the black community.

comment by Kenny · 2020-10-14T15:44:52.383Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

What's fun about this?

comment by Stuart Anderson (stuart-anderson) · 2020-10-16T03:46:19.777Z · score: -6 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Watching otherwise rational people behave with religious conviction in the face of confounding evidence is it's own black humour.

The evidence is there, and not one person, not even you, is prepared to engage with it. Not even as a hypothetical exercise of what if? If you were me, how would you react to that?

comment by gjm · 2020-10-16T14:00:16.652Z · score: 10 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

What sort of "engagement" do you think would be helpful here?

Everyone (by which of course I mean something like "pretty much everyone who's generally reasonable at all") concedes that in the US black people are more often criminals than white people. So you've got a candidate explanation: maybe it's because more black people grow up without their fathers. Could be. That can join the queue of other candidate explanations. Maybe it's because black people tend to be poorer and poverty causes crime. Maybe it's because black people tend to live in poorer areas and poverty causes crime. Maybe it's path-dependence: for reasons that no longer exist, majority-black areas became full of crime, and areas with a lot of crime tend to stay that way. Maybe it's some sort of genetic difference. Maybe it's because schools in black areas are worse and good education reduces crime. Maybe it's because black people learn that The System is not on their side, and therefore have less respect for it. Maybe there are bad things in black cultures that encourage crime and violence. Maybe, maybe, maybe.

We know that black people and white people in the US don't commit crime at the same rates, or commit the same mix of crimes. We also strongly suspect bias in law enforcement. So the article linked here suggests a way of detecting bias that works more or less regardless of the differences in actual crime rates. Popping up in the comments to say "ahahaha, but here's a reason why black people might commit more crime!!!!!" completely misses the point, and raises suspicions that you're saying it not so much because it's relevant as because you like saying it. Which may be one reason for all the downvotes you're getting.

comment by Stuart Anderson (stuart-anderson) · 2020-10-16T15:40:36.629Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

What sort of "engagement" do you think would be helpful here?

How about a discussion?

By your own admission this is a candidate explanation. Presumably there are even more candidates. So where's that discussion actually happening? I'll gladly go there if nobody wants it here.

Everyone (by which of course I mean something like "pretty much everyone who's generally reasonable at all") concedes that in the US black people are more often criminals than white people.

And yet there is a persistent disconnect between that and blue on black fatalities.

Unless there is special leave for black people to be criminal then there's literally no racial problem to solve here. Criminals are being shot at rates approximately reflected by their criminality.

So you've got a candidate explanation: maybe it's because more black people grow up without their fathers. Could be. That can join the queue of other candidate explanations.

Except nobody will ever discuss it because of who decides that those children grow up without their fathers.

Maybe, maybe, maybe.

If we have hard metrics for a thing then that beats soft metrics or no metrics by a mile. A lot of the hard metrics here will naturally lead us straight into socially taboo territory.

I don't have the answer for how to drag people kicking and screaming into conversations they'd rather die than have, but if the price of that is potentially reducing fatalities then I think it's worth figuring out.

We know that black people and white people in the US don't commit crime at the same rates, or commit the same mix of crimes.

If we can index that against a metric then we have a correlation that should be examined. Demography is a valid set of metrics. You raised a list of metrics and I don't have a problem with that, I just want the metric I raised to be considered also.

We also strongly suspect bias in law enforcement.

A testable hypothesis, so why don't we test it? 

If there's something about being a cop that turns everyone, regardless of their race, into a racist then we should figure out what that is (and that presumably has nothing to do with groups outside of the police if this is a problem with police alone).

Popping up in the comments to say "ahahaha, but here's a reason why black people might commit more crime!!!!!" completely misses the point, and raises suspicions that you're saying it not so much because it's relevant as because you like saying it. Which may be one reason for all the downvotes you're getting.

The fundamental assertion is that blue on black fatalities are a product of racism, and the examination of the subject is therefore bound within those terms alone. Is it racism or is it not racism? Well what about if racism is barely a causal factor at all? 

You tell me when it will ever be the right time for a conversation that takes the popular and wholly socially acceptable dogma about race, police, and violence and *throws it away*?

As for liking saying it, a couple of years ago my restraint just dried up overnight. The smart thing to do would be to shut up at the very least, but I literally have a compulsion to wade into situations that I view as unjust. It doesn't matter that I can't change a damn thing, it doesn't matter if every man and his dog hates my guts, it seems that it's all about me voicing my refusal to consent no matter what that costs me or how pointless it is. Beats me why that is. It sure hasn't made my IRL any more fun or peaceful.

comment by Zack_M_Davis · 2020-10-16T16:48:19.769Z · score: 8 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

So where’s that discussion actually happening?

Try /r/TheMotte or /r/CultureWarRoundup?

comment by Stuart Anderson (stuart-anderson) · 2020-10-19T08:34:13.356Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thanks.

comment by Kenny · 2020-10-16T18:01:21.818Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes, those are probably much better venues for this.

Tho I think even TheMotte isolates stuff like this in special threads.

comment by gjm · 2020-10-16T16:49:54.654Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Criminals are being shot at rates approximately reflected by their criminality.

You should follow the link in the OP, and then follow the link in that article to its predecessor which explains why the sort of simple-minded ratio-comparing that produces that conclusion is too simple-minded. And yes, it also means "a larger fraction of black people are killed by cops than of white people, therefore the police are racist" is too simple-minded.

I'll save you a couple of clicks. The problem is that police bias, to whatever extent it exists, can be one of the causes of the difference in observed criminality between black and white people. That's true even if there is (as I think "everyone" agrees there is) a real difference in actual criminality.

The obvious explanation for the figures seems to me to be that (again, this is in the US; other countries may or may not be similar) police, collectively, have some bias against black people; that black people, collectively, are somewhat more frequently criminal than white people; that naive estimates of police bias are too high because of the difference in criminality; that naive estimates of the difference in criminality are too high because of the police bias.

What we really want here is some way of decoupling the two. And, guess what?, that's exactly the topic of the OP here, so there's a certain irony in your using this is a place to complain that everyone always just assumes that the problem is 100% police bias.

A testable hypothesis, so why don't we test it?

That is literally what the OP is about ways of doing. (And, having found a way of doing it, it does in fact find some evidence that there is in fact bias in law enforcement.)

If there's something about being a cop that turns everyone [...] into a racist

No one is claiming that, nor do the things people actually are claiming imply it. Some relevant propositions that, unlike that one, might well be true (and seem to me to be good fits for what evidence I know of): lots of people in the US are racist; racism in the US is more often anti-black than anti-white; there is a correlation between anti-black racism and wanting to be a cop. 

The fundamental assertion is that blue on black fatalities are a product of racism

I don't know what "The fundamental assertion is ..." means. Whose fundamental assertion? It is definitely not a fundamental assertion made by the OP. It is not a fundamental assertion I am making here -- though I would be surprised if racism weren't at least one element, because it seems like a lot of people in the US are really racist.

when will it ever be the right time for a conversation that takes the popular and wholly socially acceptable dogma about race, police and violence and throws it away?

Literally throws it away? When the people involved in the conversation don't believe the dogma at all. Until then, if you believe the dogma is wrong and want to have conversations that don't buy into it, step one is persuading your interlocutors that the dogma is wrong. Effective persuasion does not usually look like "ha ha ha, black people are criminals because there are so many black single mothers".

I literally have a compulsion to wade into situations that I view as unjust

Interesting. Has this compulsion ever made you wade into situations where black people are being treated unjustly by white people? How about (it's not directly relevant here, I'm just curious) situations where women are being treated unjustly by men? Or is it only one sort of injustice that you feel this way about?

comment by Stuart Anderson (stuart-anderson) · 2020-10-19T09:15:51.092Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Has this compulsion ever made you wade into situations where black people are being treated unjustly by white people? How about (it's not directly relevant here, I'm just curious) situations where women are being treated unjustly by men? Or is it only one sort of injustice that you feel this way about?

Not often, but occasionally. Mostly in the past.

I'd say the two biggest reasons I don't intervene is that I live in a country that has anti-discrimination laws (so discrimination is a business and personal risk and heavily self modulated for that reason. All the expected results of prohibition apply) and that I don't mix with many people at all. I'm not involved in ethnic communities anymore, and I don't associate with women beyond a superficial level either. I don't intervene in any situation without good cause, and the not my problem attitude takes precedence over most of these issues.

That being said, I've got my biases just like everyone else does. I've got plenty of things that I consider to be unjust, and I think the more important consideration in that is that my ranking of what's more of an injustice varies from others and what is widely considered acceptable. 

comment by gjm · 2020-10-19T12:36:03.768Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

So ... when you see people not blaming black people enough for crime, this produces a "literal compulsion" to intervene, so strong that rather than doing "the smart thing" you have to intervene in the name of justice "no matter what that costs me".

(Even in a case like this one, where so far as I can see no one is being treated unjustly at all, and the sort of concerns you raise are explicitly acknowledged by the OP.)

But if it's a matter of black people being treated unjustly by white people, you don't intervene "without good cause", and you can comfortably ignore them because it's "not my problem".

You might want to think some more about whether your compulsion to intervene in the first sort of case is actually about injustice.

comment by Stuart Anderson (stuart-anderson) · 2020-10-22T05:25:48.623Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Blame and responsibility are not synonyms. Fixing a problem starts not with blame but with responsibility.

Black people are a demographic and an identity group. As a demographic the label black is irrelevant. We could call them Group X and all the statistics about them would be equally valid. Black as an identity group is a wholly different matter. There are a lot of messed up attitudes attached to identity politics. For example, you suggest that blaming black people is something that is being done too much, as if black people cannot and should not be held responsible for the crimes they voluntarily commit. You also suggest White Man's Burden as if the black identity grouping is more important than individual circumstances.

Here's my thinking: we stand or fall as a society. Whenever we allow distinctions to outweigh our unity then we invite discord. If you make people pick sides, they will, and that has logical consequences, some of which are very bad. Demography is useful, indentitarianism isn't. Demography allows us to identify areas to concentrate our efforts for maximum returns, it is nothing more than statistics. Identitarianism encourages all sorts of flawed thinking, not least of which is victimhood, which is one of the most toxic attitudes possible. The idea that people like Thomas Sowell and Cornel West need my help just because they're black and I'm white is beyond stupid. At some point we have to make the world we want to live in, and the world I want to live in is the world where skin colour is about as important as handedness. I have skin in that game because there's a ton of non-white and mixed race in my family. Depending on how deep you are into identitarianism you could argue that I'm not white either - I'd fail a lot of the tests they used in South Africa to assess racial purity. I have a ton of adaptations that don't suit my environment at all because immigration exists and people don't know how to keep their legs shut. I shouldn't be punished nor advantaged for what my ancestors did in the bedroom, and neither should anyone else.

As for compulsions, they're often not rational. I know that certain groups are more valued than others. I know that taboos and social expectations exist. I know all the sacred cows and what you are expected to think and say of them. Yet I choose time and time again to say "fuck it" and wade right in knowing that it makes no difference to others and brings pointless ire down on me. I don't understand why I'm doing what I am, I wish I did. Believe me, if I knew how I was busted in the head I could go about addressing that (or at least accepting it).

I can see ways in which denying reality for social reasons has caused harm here. Refusing to have an equal expectation of lawfulness for the black community results in levels of violence that are totally unacceptable. If the people you live amongst suddenly started shooting their neighbours and there were bullets wizzing through the air wouldn't you have a problem with that? Wouldn't you expect everyone else to have a problem with that? More importantly, wouldn't you have a problem with people that just shrugged and said "It's because they're whatever skin colour" and just went on with their lives like nothing was happening? Would you have a problem with people that demand genuflection to you and your neighbourhood whilst either doing nothing to help you or actively working against you? I have lots of problems with all of that.

Conduct is mostly a product of social expectations. It's hilariously reductive, but if you want people to be responsible for their own choices then you have to expect them to be and back that up with reward and censure. So many of the problems in society can be traced directly back to identity groups either not being expected to be responsible for their own choices or identity groups being expected to be responsible for the choices of others. Whenever agency and consequence are decoupled there will be problems.

comment by gjm · 2020-10-22T11:37:52.724Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You say

For example, you suggest that blaming black people is something that is being done too much, as if black people cannot and should not be held responsible for the crimes they voluntarily commit. You also suggest White Man's Burden as if the black identity grouping is more important than individual circumstances.

So far as I can see, I have suggested neither of those things, still less suggested them "as if". I have said that you apparently think black people aren't blamed[1] enough for crime; I haven't mentioned my own opinions on that point at all. Regardless of whether they should be blamed more or less, or treated as more or less responsible, I certainly do not think that black people can't or shouldn't be held responsible for the crimes they commit. (Though of course there are circumstances in which a person's responsibility for a thing they do is greater or less -- e.g., if I kidnap your children and threaten to torture them unless you put some graffiti on a wall, then you should be held less responsible if you do in fact go and graffiti the wall -- and some such circumstances may vary systematically with race somehow.)

I don't know what you mean by "You also suggest White Man's Burden". The original "white man's burden", in Kipling's poem with that title, was the obligation to take over and rule places full of not-white people, For Their Own Good. I'm certainly not suggesting that and I can't see why you'd think I am, so you must mean something else, but I don't know what. Regardless of what you mean by that and whether I'm suggesting it, I don't know what it would even mean for it to be true that "the black identity grouping is more important than individual circumstances". Sometimes individual circumstances are what matter. Sometimes things affecting a whole group are what matter. Sometimes both.

I completely agree that neither you nor anyone should be punished or advantaged for what your ancestors did in their bedrooms, nor for who those ancestors were. I have the impression that you think I think otherwise, but I don't know why.

I don't know what you think I think about crime in black communities. (I remark that your use of the phrase "the black community" seems to me to have the same sort of problems you are complaining about elsewhere. Are Thomas Sowell and Cornel West part of "the black community"? Are they murdering their neighbours?) It seems as if you are picking a stereotype and assuming I fit it, and I wish you wouldn't do that. As for "demand genuflection to you and your neighbourhood", that seems to me much more paranoia than reality.

[1] I take your point that blame and responsibility are not the same thing, and perhaps it would have been more accurate if I'd said "When you see people not putting enough of the responsibility for crime on black people ..." instead of "When you see people not blaming black people enough for crime ...".

comment by arxhy · 2020-10-16T15:57:42.158Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It seems like you are interpreting a discussion that doesn't effortlessly concede to your point of view as a discussion inherently biased against your point of view.

comment by Stuart Anderson (stuart-anderson) · 2020-10-19T08:35:30.254Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

That is certainly possible.

comment by Kenny · 2020-10-16T17:59:09.427Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Practically, it's pretty unreasonable to demand a discussion, even about something related to whatever is being discussed.

As for liking saying it, a couple of years ago my restraint just dried up overnight. The smart thing to do would be to shut up at the very least, but I literally have a compulsion to wade into situations that I view as unjust. It doesn't matter that I can't change a damn thing, it doesn't matter if every man and his dog hates my guts, it seems that it's all about me voicing my refusal to consent no matter what that costs me or how pointless it is. Beats me why that is. It sure hasn't made my IRL any more fun or peaceful.

The people that frequent this site are going to give you the fairest hearing you're likely to find anywhere. If you want to discuss something, bring it up! Be civil, and reasonable, and rational, but also be prepared for disagreement.

But don't treat us as guilty of something that we haven't done. Beware of distributed hypocrisy!

comment by Stuart Anderson (stuart-anderson) · 2020-10-19T08:47:40.651Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you don't ask then the answer is automatically no. I can ask for whatever I want, in any manner I choose, it doesn't mean I'm going to get it. Since the cost of asking is so low it pays to ask frequently (and often in ways that people may not like).

The people that frequent this site have their own set of biases, just like everyone does. Just like everywhere else I go, fairness isn't a huge factor. Thanks to Silicon Valley those that hate 'fairness' in speech have all the tools they need to silence whomever they want (and that is exercised exactly how you'd expect). So short of the digital equivalent of running me out of town I will continue doing as I am to extract whatever value I can.

What I seek from every place I go is what's there. I don't care if I'm liked, and I don't care if what I say is liked. I care about what comes up in reply to what I say. If I learn something new then that's a win. If my existing views are reinforced then that's a win. Nowhere exists that isn't going to have some degree of shit to wade through, but you do that to get at the good stuff.

Finally, I can't be anyone but myself. I have biases, I have beliefs, opinions, and preferences. I can go wherever I like but I'm never getting away from my own viewpoint and worldview.

comment by gjm · 2020-10-19T12:48:14.840Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Since the cost of asking is so low it pays to ask frequently (and often in ways that people may not like).

If you care only about getting what you want and not at all about not annoying other people. In a public forum, where there's one of you and a great many other potentially-annoyed other people, that's an attitude that can end up doing substantial net harm.

I can't be anyone but myself

I think this is an example of what Daniel Dennett calls a "deepity": it's ambiguous between something that's clearly true but has no interesting implications, and something that would have interesting implications if true but may well be false.

So, obviously you are the person you are, and whatever anyone does it will remain true that you are the person you are. This is a triviality, and it tells us nothing. For instance, it's no argument against dissembling or hypocrisy or tact or politeness or whatever; you can do any of those things, or not do them, and it will still be true that you are the person you are.

But it seems like you want to draw stronger implications. Something like "... so I have to behave authentically, I shouldn't try to hide my opinions and attitudes in any way, and they aren't going to change." But for any of that to follow, "I can't be anyone but myself" needs to mean something much stronger and more debatable.

comment by Stuart Anderson (stuart-anderson) · 2020-10-22T03:56:18.071Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This place isn't a social club to me and I don't see how it ever could be. Nobody here is going to interact with me for anything other than what I can say of my thinking. I am valueless in all other respects.  

You control your own thoughts and emotional responses (or at the very least have the ability to accept them). Your annoyance is not a harm that I control, nor do I see how it is a tangible harm.  

I don't see how a person can evolve their thinking if they are exhorted to be silent. You strongly imply that I should conceal my thoughts and opinions for social reasons, yet somehow also be open to changing those those opinions without discourse, again for social reasons. As stated, this isn't a social club for me. I'm not going to fault anyone else for that goal but I'm also not going to be driven by the goals of others without possibility of reaching my own.

When I say I can't be anyone but myself consider that a stand in for "I have no intention of lying for social gain". As I have stated elsewhere that is something of a compulsion for me, but compulsions can be tempered, so ultimately it is a choice. That is a choice that brings costs (what choice doesn't?) but those costs are mine alone. My conduct reflects only on me, it affects only my reputation.

comment by gjm · 2020-10-22T11:21:42.529Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

A place doesn't need to be a "social club" for it to matter how your actions there affect other people.

I own my mental reaction to physical pain too, but you still harm me if you slap me in the face and I think that's a reason not to do it.

I have changed my thinking on some things, including some rather large ones, in ways other than by talking to people. In any case, I don't think "Here's a fun experiment: look up the correlation between children raised by single mothers and criminality in those children/adults. Then look up the rates of single motherhood in the black community." is the way anyone starts a conversation when their purpose is really learning and possibly changing their ideas.

(Also, it seems like you're accusing me of some sort of inconsistency for saying that you should leave some opinions unexpressed but also wanting you to be open to changing those opinions. That's rather unfair since I haven't in fact said anything about being open to changing those opinions.)

No one is asking you to lie for social gain. No one is asking you to lie at all, or suggesting that you should. If someone says "Hey, Stuart, do you think black people are worse than white people?" or whatever, I would encourage you to tell the truth. (Though I am guessing that if someone asked you that straight out, you quite likely would "lie for social gain". That's your decision.)

Let me remind you of the actual history here, which doesn't involve anyone suggesting that you should lie. You want to talk about certain topics. You said "Since the cost of asking is so low it pays to ask frequently". I pointed out that you appear to be considering only the cost to you and that there are other costs borne by others if you are unpleasant about it (as you put it "... to ask frequently (and often in ways that people may not like)"). So: what I'm actually suggesting you might do is to not "ask in ways that people may not like" for the discussions you would like to have. No lying involved: it's purely a matter of not doing a particular thing in a particular way. And the reason I am suggesting you might do that is because the result may be that other people are annoyed (at having a discussion of something else interrupted by your attempts to talk about the shortcomings of black people and culture, or at having insulting things said about them and their culture). Maybe I'm misunderstanding what you mean by "social gain", but to me "for social gain" means "to improve my own social position", and that's not what I was suggesting at all.

If "my conduct affects only my reputation" means that it doesn't affect anyone else's reputation then it's probably true (though, I dunno, in some circumstances it might affect the reputation of your parents or teachers, maybe: "wow, did they never teach you X in high school?"). But it does, none the less, affect other people. The costs of one person's behaviour do not only affect that person.

Maybe it will help if I give some other examples where a "compulsion" to speak your mind on a particular issue would affect other people and might be a bad idea for that reason.

  • You think the person you're talking to is really ugly. So you drop "wow, you're really ugly" into the conversation. Possible adverse consequences: they are upset; the conversation is derailed and less productive.
  • You think the person you're talking to is really sexy. So you say "you are the sexiest woman I have seen in weeks". The ongoing conversation is part of a business meeting. Possible adverse consequences: they feel you aren't taking the ideas you're actually supposed to be discussing seriously and just see them as a piece of meat; the company you're working for loses a contract it would otherwise have got, so lots of people are poorer; the other person, who repeatedly finds herself treated in this way by male colleagues and doesn't like it, leaves an industry she otherwise enjoys in the hope of better treatment elsewhere.
  • You walk past a church and notice that there's some sort of service going on inside. You go in and shout "There is no god! Your religion is bullshit!". Possible adverse consequences: many people's day is just a little bit less pleasant because someone shouted at them when they were trying to pray.
  • You walk past a church and notice that there is a concert going on inside. (A string quartet, let's say.) You go in and shout "There is no god! This church's religion is bullshit!". Possible adverse consequences: many people's day is just a little bit less pleasant because their music-listening was disrupted.

(In each case there are also possible adverse consequences for you but I assume you're already able to see those. There are also possible not-adverse consequences. The only point I am making with these examples is that saying things you sincerely believe to be true can be hurtful to other people, disrupt conversations, etc.: the adverse consequences are not only borne by you.)

comment by Stuart Anderson (stuart-anderson) · 2020-10-22T16:31:05.261Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If your concerns for social norms outweigh all other factors then its a social club. There's nothing wrong with that, but there are only so many ways I can say that I am here for my goals and not yours. 

You can certainly evolve ideas without discourse, but the question is how much that absence will compromise your progress. When the only impediment to me continuing as I am is your public claims of offence then it's hard to see reason to alter anything. As you also offer nothing genuine as a reward  for compliance there's no reason to alter on the front either. Neither your carrot nor your stick are particularly of interest to me, so what else have you got?

You seem to make no firm distinction between speech and action. I do. That difference in worldview is going to result in significant and irreconcilable differences in many areas between us. I have no good alternative to that but to accept it.

Black people are better than white people and we have the 100m sprint times to prove it. Of course, if we're talking the 100m freestyle then they suck. Evolution exists, phenotypes are representative of genetic differences, and better is a human value judgement that is no substitute for fitness in that theory. The difference between you and I is that I have no fear of being denounced as a racist for saying things like that and I will pursue my thinking no matter where it takes me. Purity testing is just another (poisonous) social norm I don't care about.

Lexical traps are boring to me. Just go ahead and assume I'm Satan so we can just get on with the discussion. I don't accept that who a person is makes everything they say wrong or a lie. That is reductive to the point of stupidity. 

All your examples feature irrelevant concerns based around emotions. Thinking someone is ugly is irrelevant to their ideas, and I'm only interested in their ideas. Wanting to fuck someone is irrelevant to their ideas, and I'm only interested in their ideas. If I am working then I am interested in my goals in that context, and as all forms of sexual interaction in the workplace open the workplace to legal risk there is no place for that in professional conduct. A house of God is still a house, and I don't walk onto other people's property uninvited to give them my opinions. Besides, my opinions are mine alone. I'm not a preacher and I don't care about conversion. I keep saying that I'm interested in my goals, and spreading ideology isn't one of them. I wish to evolve my thinking solely for my own benefit. If others choose to get something out of that then that's a nice secondary benefit but wholly incidental.

We are different people. Fundamentally different. We want different things and we have different ways of getting them.

comment by gjm · 2020-10-22T18:19:15.456Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I didn't say anything about "social norms". Please stop making guesses at my opinions and motivations; you keep getting them wrong.

I don't in the least think that my "public claims of offence" are a good reason for you to change your behaviour. I am arguing that the possibility that what you say, how you say it and where you say it might result in many other people being annoyed, upset or distracted from things that are valuable to them might be a reason for you to change your behaviour.

However, it seems that anything I say that would involve your actions being motivated at all by other people's well-being or preferences just bounces off, literally as if I hadn't said it or had said something entirely difference. Perhaps you just 100% don't care about anyone else but yourself, in which case indeed I am wasting my time raising such issues.

Indeed I don't make a distinction between speech and action, because speech is one variety of action. Sometimes it's a variety of action that has relatively slight consequences: "sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me", as the schoolyard saying has it. But sometimes not so much: the words "I sentence you to death", said by the right person in the right context, are about as consequential as any action gets.

I don't know what "lexical traps" you think I'm trying to set, but I'm not trying to trap anyone, I don't think you're Satan, I can't imagine why anyone would think that "who a person is makes everything they say wrong or a lie". Again, it seems as if you're arguing with some imaginary figure who is (forgive me for saying) much stupider than I actually am, and it's not helping.

I am glad to see that you agree that the examples I gave are ones where saying particular things would be a bad idea, but it seems as if you may have entirely misunderstood the point of those examples, which was simply to demonstrate that sometimes saying a thing can have adverse consequences for other people besides the person saying it. You've responded as if I were saying that I would expect you to say those things; I wouldn't, and it's not relevant whether you would.

And, once again, the way you came into this discussion -- "Here's a fun experiment: look up the correlation between children raised by single mothers and criminality in those children/adults. Then look up the rates of single motherhood in the black community." -- looks to me very much more like its goal is "spreading ideology" and not at all like bravely speaking out against injustice (your first attempt at framing it) and even less like trying to challenge, refine and update your own ideas (your second attempt at framing it).

I dare say we are fundamentally different in various respects, but nothing you've said gives me the impression that your mental model of me has very much in common with the reality.

comment by Stuart Anderson (stuart-anderson) · 2020-10-26T09:33:56.732Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I dare say we are fundamentally different in various respects, but nothing you've said gives me the impression that your mental model of me has very much in common with the reality.

Then in light of that and the reservation you've expressed that you are wasting your time the prudent thing to do is cease the conversation. 

If you have anything else to say, I'm here, otherwise thank you for your contribution.

comment by Kenny · 2020-10-16T18:21:07.179Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The thing you pointed out in your previous comment (the top-level one) is a possible effect and we're open to discussing it, except that we generally avoid 'politically charged' topics.

But you didn't bring that up civilly – you were completely, and unnecessarily uncharitable towards us, assuming (for some reason) that we didn't already know the 'results' of your "fun experiment" and further that we were unwilling to acknowledge or discuss it at all either.

comment by Stuart Anderson (stuart-anderson) · 2020-10-19T08:59:50.998Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you have a disinclination to discuss a subject that is perfectly fine. If you voluntarily open a dialogue (about what you wanted to say) as you did then what do you expect? If you don't like what I have to say and/or do not wish to talk about it/or to me then don't talk about it with me by choice.

If you don't like my tone that's your privilege.