Rationality Quotes Thread January 2016

post by elharo · 2016-01-01T16:00:57.019Z · score: 5 (6 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 249 comments

Another month, another rationality quotes thread. The rules are:

  • Provide sufficient information (URL, title, date, page number, etc.) to enable a reader to find the place where you read the quote, or its original source if available. Do not quote with only a name.
  • Post all quotes separately, so that they can be upvoted or downvoted separately. (If they are strongly related, reply to your own comments. If strongly ordered, then go ahead and post them together.)
  • Do not quote yourself.
  • Do not quote from Less Wrong itself, HPMoR, Eliezer Yudkowsky, or Robin Hanson. If you'd like to revive an old quote from one of those sources, please do so here.
  • No more than 5 quotes per person per monthly thread, please.

249 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2016-01-04T18:16:35.049Z · score: 19 (19 votes) · LW · GW

Analysts do not achieve objective analysis by avoiding preconceptions; that would be ignorance or self-delusion. Objectivity is achieved by making basic assumptions and reasoning as explicit as possible so that they can be challenged by others and analysts can, themselves, examine their validity.

Psychology of Intelligence Analysis by Richards J. Heuer, Jr. page 10

comment by IlyaShpitser · 2016-01-04T18:25:25.627Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Good quote. People should write down all their assumptions when doing data analysis. It's a very contingent game.

comment by dspeyer · 2016-01-05T08:17:15.182Z · score: 16 (16 votes) · LW · GW

There's a sort of Gresham's Law of conversations. If a conversation reaches a certain level of incivility, the more thoughtful people start to leave.

--Paul Graham

comment by Jonni · 2016-01-18T12:30:32.081Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Reminds me of Evaporative Cooling of Group Beliefs

comment by Viliam · 2016-01-05T09:09:40.800Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I recommend reading the linked article; it's interesting.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2016-01-24T21:16:06.785Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I recommend the whole thing, too.

The existence of people like Jessica is not just something the mainstream media needs to learn to acknowledge, but something feminists need to learn to acknowledge as well. There are successful women who don't like to fight. Which means if the public conversation about women consists of fighting, their voices will be silenced.

And I bet we're not hearing from men who don't like fighting.

comment by Viliam · 2016-01-25T08:58:52.512Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

More generally, if one wants to learn about the distribution of opinions in a group X, one needs to make some kind of a poll, instead of listening to the self-proclaimed speakers for the group.

Otherwise the result may be more strongly influenced by "what makes people become public speakers for a group" than by merely "belonging to the group X".

Maybe we should always remind ourselves about the forces of self-selection. Looking at a Mensa member, instead of just "a highly intelligent person" we should also think "a person who prefers to publicly associate with groups defined by innate traits (as opposed to behavior or achievements)". Looking at a professional feminist, instead of "a woman", we should also think "a person who built their career on hating men". Looking at a men's rights activist, instead of "a man", we should also think "a person who got burned by a divorce". Etc.

It is also important to notice how much easier is this to do for the groups one doesn't like (where it feels like an obvious step that doesn't even require an explanation), than for the groups one does like (where it feels like an unfair generalization).

But this reminder itself is not sufficient to find out the opinions of the silent majority. (Reverting stupidity is not intelligence.) Recognizing that we have noisy data doesn't automatically un-noise them. Unfortunately, even the public online poll would suffer from "people who prefer to express their opinions in online polls" selection bias.

comment by IlyaShpitser · 2016-01-26T14:25:47.620Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

More generally, if one wants to learn about the distribution of opinions in a group X, one needs to make some kind of a poll,

Unfortunately, it's even worse than that, because the same issue (selection bias) arises in polls. In fact, a lot of missing data work that tries to deal with bias adjustment was done in the context of analysis of survey data, I think.

comment by Glen · 2016-01-25T19:54:08.860Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I find myself agreeing with your general statement, that it is important to not treat the outspoken members of a group as indicative whether good or bad, while being somewhat worried that you have fallen into the same pattern in the process of trying to explain it.

Your examples of feminist and men's rights activist generalizations seem to be examples of the sort of one-sided generalizations you warn about in the very next paragraph. Men's right's activists are generalized in a positive fashion - they are victims of circumstance, trying to avenge the wrongs done to them - while feminists are portrayed in a negative fashion - one dimensional bigots building a career on hating men. I think it would have served your point better if you had attempted positive generalizations for both. How you have it now just seems like it is undermining your general point. In fact, you should probably avoid contemporary political groups when giving examples to avoid this sort of this altogether.

It is possible that you deliberately chose those generalizations in order to demonstrate the trap many people fall into. If that is the case, I think you need to make it more clear. Examples of failed rationality are useful, but should be clearly labeled.

Additionally, I don't see how learning the opinions of the silent majority is reversed stupidity. We already know the opinions of the vocal minority, wouldn't learning the opinions of the silent majority give us a clear picture of the whole group's opinions? I suppose there could be a third group left out by this, some sort of Mumbling Moderates, but it should be easy enough to pick them up in well designed polls as well.

comment by Viliam · 2016-01-26T08:43:48.295Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

My description of men's rights activists is usually used as negative. First, it implies they are losers, i.e. low-status, which for most people means that their opinions are not worth to consider seriously. Second, it implies that they merely generalize from their personal issues, which against means that they are biased, and that people who don't have the same issues can ignore them.

To put it in a near mode, imagine that you are at a lecture where someone speaks about men's rights, and then someone in the audience whispers to their neighbor "this guy had a nasty divorce recently". Is this remark meant to make the person who heard it treat the lecture more seriously, or less seriously?

comment by [deleted] · 2016-01-30T21:59:41.726Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

My description of men's rights activists is usually used as negative. First, it implies they are losers, i.e. low-status, which for most people means that their opinions are not worth to consider seriously. Second, it implies that they merely generalize from their personal issues, which against means that they are biased, and that people who don't have the same issues can ignore them.

I think that's true of many kinds of activists in the early stages of their (later successful, somewhat) movement. For instance, AIDS activists were considered losers and biased, people of colour were considered losers and biased and so on and so forth. I'm not saying that men's-right activism is going to become mainstream, since it may be true of all movements. I can't bring to mind a successful example of a çountermovement that has been later successful, however. The only example I can think of is neo-nazism. As maligned as MRA's are, it obviously unreasonable to equate them with Hitler. I for one think they have valid problems, but suboptimal, counterproductive and frequently mean ways of dealing with them.

To bring it back to quotes, I feel this one could speak to them:

"Think about the three biggest discouragers in your life... they aren't your biggest discouragers. You are."

-Nick Vujicic

BAM!

comment by Zubon · 2016-01-31T17:54:03.395Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Social desirability bias remains even in randomized, anonymous polls. But the result would be less wrong than self-selected, public polls.

comment by [deleted] · 2016-01-30T21:40:16.583Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

How fascinating!

comment by Viliam · 2016-01-01T17:40:35.275Z · score: 14 (16 votes) · LW · GW

If you feel satisfaction because you’ve seen a critique of a weak argument for an opponent’s position while ignoring the strong ones, that’s the feeling of becoming stupider.

Put A Number On It!

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2016-01-11T07:26:21.523Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

That same quote is also from Eliezer Yudkowsky in the Blogging Heads interview 2008. Are you sure of the source?

comment by Viliam · 2016-01-11T12:05:39.085Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Haven't seen the video (and am not going to watch it now), and the article didn't contain a link. So I can't answer this.

If you give me the exact time when it is said in the video, I will retract the comment.

comment by username2 · 2016-01-04T13:47:38.182Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I thought you were not allowed to quote LWers?

comment by Viliam · 2016-01-04T15:25:31.384Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I interpreted "Do not quote from Less Wrong itself" as things posted directly on this website, not as things posted anywhere by anyone who also happens to have an account on this website.

(Eliezer Yudkowsky and Robin Hanson are mentioned as specific exceptions.)

comment by Good_Burning_Plastic · 2016-01-04T15:59:12.003Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I also remember hearing that the point of that rule is to prevent the RQ threads to become echo chambers and therefore it should also apply to things LW regulars say elsewhere, but if so I'd very much rather the rule said that explicitly.

comment by gjm · 2016-01-04T15:47:34.621Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

FWIW this is also my interpretation of the intention, but WIW may not be very much since I have never been very active in either posting or voting on Rationality Quotes.

comment by IlyaShpitser · 2016-01-24T21:49:38.147Z · score: 12 (16 votes) · LW · GW

All the successful black people you mentioned are basically dancing bears.

Nancy, why is this dude still here?

comment by yawaw · 2016-01-25T05:18:45.922Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Serious question: have the admins checked The_Lion's comments for evidence of vote manipulation? Their apparent popularity is surprising (and arguably sends a very bad message about the current state of the Less Wrong community), and their content seems to match the interests and opinions of a user who is well-known for abusing the voting system.

comment by Vaniver · 2016-01-25T16:49:07.104Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

It is currently not easy for admins to investigate voting on comments. I'll add that to the list of changes to investigate.

comment by Viliam · 2016-01-25T09:37:56.765Z · score: 2 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Heh, typical Eugine. Making a good point in the least pleasant way (preferably also with some exaggerations). The username changes, but the style doesn't.

comment by Jiro · 2016-01-25T00:03:26.766Z · score: -6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

"Dancing bear" is a term. It doesn't literally indicate that he's comparing black people to animals.

comment by EHeller · 2016-01-25T04:21:06.847Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure the connotation of the term (i.e. a black person being successful at anything is so shocking it's entertainment value all on it's own) makes the statement any better. Especially when discussing, say, one of the most important American musicians of all time (among others).

comment by IlyaShpitser · 2016-01-26T02:06:06.138Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I know what "dancing bear" means.

comment by Good_Burning_Plastic · 2016-01-25T09:03:18.627Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think Ilya thought the latter.

comment by gjm · 2016-01-25T14:29:18.114Z · score: 2 (8 votes) · LW · GW

No, it means he's saying that all the examples I gave are of people who aren't actually any good at what they do and are interesting only because for a black person to be able to attempt those tasks at all is remarkable. The stupidity and obnoxiousness of that doesn't depend on a comparison with animals.

In any case, one reason why people use metaphors is precisely the fact that the literal sense of the metaphor produces an effect. You call someone a "dancing bear", and your readers are going to get a mental image of a dancing bear and (in so far as they accept what you say) associate it with the person you're talking about. You don't get to do that and claim you're not comparing the person to an animal.

[EDITED to fix a trivial typo.]

comment by RichardKennaway · 2016-01-25T15:49:16.288Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

BTW, the original, sourceable quotation uses the image of "a dog walking on its hind legs". Your response still applies.

comment by bogus · 2016-01-25T14:48:52.997Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

No, it means he's saying that all the examples I gave are of people who aren't actually any good at what they do and are interesting only because for a black person to be able to attempt those tasks at all is remarkable.

In all fairness, this describes a lot of lists of "achievements of minority X in field Y". To some extent, it's a natural result of looking for "achievements" from a tiny minority (e.g. Turks or whatever) in a field where they don't really have a comparative advantage.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2016-01-25T15:58:57.091Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Eugene is saying not that "they don't really have a comparative advantage", but that they have a comparative disadvantage so strong that any purported great achievements should be dismissed as fakery, exaggeration, or, if it seems that one of them really has achieved something, "exceptions". In Eugene's view, they're still nothing more than performing dogs, they've just managed the miracle, despite their intrinsic inferiority, of doing it as well as the best real people.

comment by Vaniver · 2016-01-25T17:07:37.998Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think it's possible to make the same point, drained of malice. To take Neil deGrasse Tyson as an example, he's a PhD physicist, but when compared to other popularizers of science I'd say he's closer to Bill Nye than he is to Carl Sagan when it comes to scientific productivity. (All three of those are people I like and respect, so this isn't meant as a slur against any of them; if only there were more Nyes and Tysons and Sagans!)

Similarly, I remember the three recurring examples of scientists during my time in elementary school being Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, and George Washington Carver. Again, all three are worthy of respect, but it's misrepresenting the mechanics of science to see those three as equally prominent in the history of science, and when comparing groups what matters is not the most extreme member of each group, but the depth of the field.

comment by gjm · 2016-01-25T17:19:26.853Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I agree. But the less hyperbolically you make the point, the more reasonable it is to suggest that the shortage of Einstein-level black scientists is the result of factors other than a fundamental mental inferiority in the black population. And that wouldn't suit Eugine's purposes at all.

(It seems to me, though, that even quite a strong "race realist" position would not come close to justifying Eugine's talk of dancing bears.)

comment by Lumifer · 2016-01-25T17:30:08.517Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

To clarify things, do you believe that there are measurable IQ differences between populations or you think it's all bloody nonsense made up by malicious people?

comment by gjm · 2016-01-25T22:03:31.038Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I haven't looked at the evidence with enough care to have a strong opinion. I certainly don't think the "race realist" position is impossible in principle. (Some versions of it, anyway. I'm sure there are stupid versions that are obviously wrong, but there are stupid versions of everything that are obviously wrong.) On the other hand, I'm not impressed by the quality of some of the research I've seen cited to support it, and the startling rapidity of the Flynn effect seems to me to give good reason to think that performance on IQ tests is more affected by cultural and/or environmental factors than everyone would like them to be. On the other other hand, while the relevant evidence is pretty shitty there does seem to be quite a lot of shitty evidence pointing the same way. On the other other other hand, most of the people making noise about the aforesaid evidence show signs of really genuinely being horrible racists, which is maybe what I'd expect if the evidence were crap and people only believed it because it suits their prejudices. On the other^4 hand, that's also roughly what I'd expect if the evidence were perfectly OK but it were socially unacceptable to say such things, as in fact it is.

So, all things considered, I'm buggered if I know, and getting to the bottom of it seems like it would involve wading into a swamp of horrible racism on one side and kneejerk social justice on the other, filled with research that's crappy because (1) doing decent research on this stuff is really difficult and (2) for very understandable reasons hardly anyone actually wants to work on it. Which sounds like a lot of No Fun.

So I'm reserving judgement and leaving that particular cesspool well alone; it occasionally makes itself slightly useful by encouraging people whose brains have been fried by one sort of politics or another to reveal themselves as such by shouting obnoxiously about it.

(My political prejudices incline me to the "it's all bloody nonsense" side. My prejudice in favour of things with sciency-looking studies backing them up inclines me the other way. I try not to be pushed around too much by my prejudices.)

comment by Lumifer · 2016-01-26T15:44:20.667Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The first interesting question here is in whose interests it it to create a massive ugh field around studies of how humanity is structured and what are the differences between the groups. As a hint, consider from which direction the shit comes when you touch that field.

the relevant evidence is pretty shitty

Is it? That's not my impression and you say you prefer to stay away from the subject, so how would you know?

Yvain wrote a kinda- literature review a couple of years ago and didn't find the evidence problematic. In fact, in his post he inserted a plea for someone to take apart that evidence and show that it's wrong because he doesn't like the conclusions. Yvain, in general, does not have problems taking studies apart and showing their failures. In this case he couldn't.

There is also The Bell Curve book written by Charles Murray (and Richard Herrnstein) who isn't exactly a foaming-at-the-mouth Neanderthal. And before that there's Sociobiology by E.O.Wilson.

You might also find interesting a series of blog posts when a liberal blogger Andrew Sullivan discovered that race is linked with IQ and had an interesting conversation with another (black) commentator Ta-Nehisi Coates -- see e.g. here.

On the other other other hand

At this point I usually switch to tentacles :-D

Which sounds like a lot of No Fun.

Don't you think that the topic is important?

But yes, touching it is perilous to your social and professional reputation. I probably wouldn't recommend honestly discussing it from an account easily linked to your Real Name. The Islamic practice of taqiyyah is relevant here :-)

comment by gjm · 2016-01-26T16:40:34.122Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The first interesting question here is in whose interests is it [...]

That's an interesting question, but I'm not at all sure it's the first. Making it the first question seems like the same intellectual failure mode as Bulverism. In a hypothetical world (which may or may not be or resemble the real world) in which there are absolutely no systematic differences between "races" in anything other than superficial appearance, it seems to me there could still be all the same strong pressure against such research. (In particular, I don't think it's credible that the people generating such pressure have all already evaluated the evidence, realised on some level that "race realism" is definitely right, and started objecting to the research just for that reason.)

how would you know?

All I know is that the bits of evidence I've looked at -- which, indeed, may be unrepresentative for some reason -- looked bad to me. E.g., estimating that some country has an average IQ of 80ish on the basis of interpolating values from other nearby countries and treating that estimate as data; estimating national IQs on the basis of small and probably-unrepresentative samples.

Yvain wrote a kinda- literature review a couple of years ago

I had a look and failed to find it. Got a link?

The Bell Curve

Whose reliability is pretty controversial.

liberal blogger Andrew Sullivan

My recollection is that one thing he was notable for was being a gay Republican. I'm not sure "liberal" is a great one-word description of him. (For the avoidance of doubt, "not best described in one word as 'liberal'" is not a criticism in my idiolect.)

At this point I usually switch to tentacles.

Alas, I have none and must make do with hands.

Don't you think that the topic is important?

Depends on what "important" means. I'm pretty sure that whatever the truth is on this issue, knowing it with more confidence would make rather little difference to my life.

I probably wouldn't recommend honestly discussing it from an account easily linked to your Real Name.

It's not hard to link this one to my real name, and I have already honestly discussed it here in this thread. I don't anticipate any terrible personal or professional consequences, but we'll see.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-01-26T17:00:45.792Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Got a link?

It's in his explanation of NRx piece. To quote from there ("biological hypothesis" is the one which says biology strongly affects IQ):

I don’t want to dwell on the biological hypothesis too much, because it sort of creeps me out even in a “let me clearly explain a hypothesis I disagree with” way. I will mention that it leaves a lot unexplained ... For a sympathetic and extraordinarily impressive defense of the biological hypothesis I recommend this unpublished (and unpublishable) review article. I will add that I am extremely interested in comprehensive takedowns of that article (preferably a full fisking) and that if you have any counterevidence to it at all you should post it in the comments and I will be eternally grateful.

Getting to The Bell Curve,

Whose reliability is pretty controversial.

Since we're quoting Yvain, let's continue:

Meanwhile, The Bell Curve was lambasted in the popular press and by many academics. But it also got fifty of the top researchers in its field to sign a consensus statement saying it was pretty much right about everything and the people attacking it were biased and confused. Three years later, they re-issued their statement saying nothing had changed and more recent findings had only confirmed their opinion. The American Psychological Association launched a task force to settle the issue which stopped short of complete agreement but which given the circumstances was pretty darned supportive. There are certainly a lot of smart people with very strong negative opinions, but each one is still usually met by an equally ardent and credentialed proponent.

As to

Alas, I have none and must make do with hands.

I recommend acquiring some. They are highly useful :-)

comment by TimS · 2016-01-26T17:45:11.184Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Pardon my ignorance, but all the "intellect realism" theories seem like they can be charitably paraphrased as group X:

  • has a different mean IQ than the general population and/or
  • has a different standard deviation for IQ and/or
  • has a significantly skewed distribution from the normal curve

I've seen claimed IQ means in the 80s for black Americans. Observationally, American public life includes many black people for whom I find it implausible that they aren't pretty smart - eg Clarence Thomas, Colin Powell, Condeleeza Rice.

If I assume no difference in std dev or skew in intelligence distribution, it seems to me that I observe too many intelligent black folks for the mean to be in the 80s. Moreover, adding an assumption that std dev is lower doesn't help - now the successful black folk are explained, but I don't observe enough extreme low IQ folk.

That's why I conclude some error exists in the assumption of an 80s mean IQ.

comment by Vaniver · 2016-01-26T18:29:21.363Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

That's why I conclude some error exists in the assumption of an 80s mean IQ.

Why would we have to assume the IQs for groups, when we could just go out and give people tests?

comment by TimS · 2016-01-26T18:33:56.754Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

More technically, the assumption that IQ is a good measure of intelligence across different sub-cultures.

comment by Vaniver · 2016-01-26T18:35:50.920Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Why would we have to assume that IQ is a good measure of intelligence across different sub-cultures? Aren't there experiments we could perform to measure the validity?

comment by TimS · 2016-01-26T20:03:00.748Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It seems like a core assumption of the "intellectual" realists. I'm conceding it to strong-man the opposing argument. If we don't assume IQ is culturally independent, the correlation between IQ and life outcome looks like a hidden-variable measure of social acceptability - i.e. an expected status quo bias if people prefer those they perceive as in-group. That just weakens the realist argument.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-01-26T20:49:46.581Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

the correlation between IQ and life outcome looks like a hidden-variable measure of social acceptability

This would mean the IQ scores are meaningless for cross-country comparison. And that just aint' so.

comment by TimS · 2016-01-26T22:57:28.532Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That's not what that link says - best I can tell, the book summarized states living in a high-IQ country is more predictive of good life outcomes than your own IQ.

Getting down to brass tacks, we are assuming a lot when we compare IQ numbers from different tests. WIAS-IV is not necessarily comparable to other tests in English. Assuming that the French language test measures the same thing as the WIAS-IV assumes the very conclusion that I'm not agreeing with. (Although I'm not arguing this point in our other discussion).

comment by Lumifer · 2016-01-27T00:31:37.065Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Getting down to brass tacks, we are assuming a lot when we compare IQ numbers from different tests.

You keep on saying "assuming" and Vaniver keeps on telling you that there is no need for assumptions: we have data. It's not hard to give the same people different tests and then look at how do the scores correlate.

In fact, that's how the whole concept of IQ came into being -- IQ is an estimate of the general intelligence component (g) that is common to performance on a variety of intelligence-measuring tests.

comment by gwern · 2016-01-27T00:55:41.594Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

eg Clarence Thomas, Colin Powell, Condeleeza Rice.

Clarence Thomas is widely considered one of the worst Supreme Court justices in memory, and is famously uninvolved, going years without a question; he has also written harshly about how he feels affirmative action cheapened his degrees. Colin Powell's parents are both Jamaican immigrants, similar to Malcolm Gladwell or Barack Obama whose father was African, highlighting how select and successful African immigrants are. Condoleezza Rice, amusingly enough, is almost as white as Obama is (which given the last admixture fractions I read, means she has about twice as much European genetics as the average African-American).

If I assume no difference in std dev or skew in intelligence distribution, it seems to me that I observe too many intelligent black folks for the mean to be in the 80s. Moreover, adding an assumption that std dev is lower doesn't help - now the successful black folk are explained, but I don't observe enough extreme low IQ folk.

I don't see why you think you observe remotely close to a population sample; ordinary observations are censored in many ways - how many supermax prisons do you visit every day? How many ghettos? When was the last time you saw a retarded person bashing their head against the wall? How many people do you know that are Creationists, anti-gay marriage, depressive, schizophrenic, on probation, demented, alcoholics, or have been sexually abused? What is your score on Murray's high-IQ bubble quiz?


Now, moving on from absurd assertions from anecdotes, we can see that there are a reasonably large absolute number of intelligent black professionals who you might often run into, especially in government circles, by calculating the implications of the gap.

The gap has shrunk somewhat over time: http://humanvarieties.org/2013/01/15/secular-changes-in-the-black-white-cognitive-ability-gap/ It's probably around 0.9 standard deviations right now, so the mean would not be '80s', it'd be 100-(0.9 * 15) = ~87.

The US black population is apparently ~38,929,319. People who strike one as notably intelligent tends to imply >=130 IQ, in my experience, or more specifically the famous 99th percentile, which specifically works out to 2.32SD. We combine this with the 0.9SD gap to get an equivalent selectiveness on blacks of 3.2SDs, which translates back to 0.21% of the black population. And out of 39m people, that's a good dnorm(qnorm(0.99) + 0.9) * 38929319 ~> 86,000 black people who pass that highly stringent bar. So one could arrange to run into more intelligent black people than one could ever keep straight in one's head without any contradiction of the gap.

(Incidentally, given a life expectancy of something like 75 implies that there's around 1173 very intelligent young black people each year being fought over by elite universities, which helps explain why they have such ferocious difficulties recruiting and why Harvard can be so thrilled at enrolling 170 black students.)

comment by TimS · 2016-01-27T02:37:48.664Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Clarence Thomas is widely considered one of the worst Supreme Court justices in memory, and is famously uninvolved, going years without a question; he has also written harshly about how he feels affirmative action cheapened his degrees.

Thomas is extremely conservative, far out of the mainstream of American legal thought. That said, worse Supreme Court Justice is roughly like worst tenured physicist at MIT. It hardly means he isn't smart. In particular, not-talking-during-oral-argument doesn't mean not involved, and is another arguments-are-soldiers attack by liberal American legal society on someone who is admittedly far out of mainstream legal thought.

Your reference to his position on affirmative action is particularly confusing to me, because his point is a standard, fairly mainstream argument against AA. If that was his most extreme legal position, he'd be the swing vote, not the farthest right (or second farthest, depending on how one counts Alito).

The rest of your post is well taken, and I will have to think on it.

When was the last time you saw a retarded person bashing their head against the wall?

I can only point to my professional work as an attorney for special education students to give you a sense of my experience with what an 80 IQ student is like.

comment by gwern · 2016-01-27T03:57:13.673Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Thomas is extremely conservative, far out of the mainstream of American legal thought.

As are Rehnquist, Scalia, and others, yet Thomas is by far the least respected, least cited, and least noted. (Of all the people you had to cite as accomplished black people, you had to pick Clarence Thomas...) If Thomas is still so 'extreme' despite his bully pulpit for expounding & enforcing his views, that also says a lot about how good a justice he has been.

That said, worse Supreme Court Justice is roughly like worst tenured physicist at MIT.

Not really. The tenure process at MIT can be trusted a lot more than 'whatever candidate is young, politically expedient, and can be pushed through Congress', especially considering that justice nominations used to be relatively deferential. A candidate has to be as bad as, say, Harriet Miers to get rejected. I don't know how many physicists would make tenure with a similar slate of accomplishments and, to illustrate the relative looseness, highly public accusations of sexual harassment.

In particular, not-talking-during-oral-argument doesn't mean not involved

That would be reasonable to note if he wrote many majority opinions, played a large role in changing the others' opinions (of course, then he'd look less 'extreme' if he was contributing behind the scenes, wouldn't he?), or in any way was not a ghost who could be replaced by his clerks with no one the wiser.

Your reference to his position on affirmative action is particularly confusing to me, because his point is a standard, fairly mainstream argument against AA.

You misunderstood my point. My point there was that I agree with the criticisms of AA as harmful and pernicious through its effects in promoting people to positions and degrees they are not fully qualified for (the relevance of which should be obvious), and I was noting that far from being a nasty personal attack by me on Thomas, he himself says it played a part in his career, and who are we to disagree?

I can only point to my professional work as an attorney for special education students to give you a sense of my experience with what an 80 IQ student is like.

That's not an answer to any of my other questions. Why do you think your limited, bubble-filled experience is good evidence for overriding a century of carefully constructed tests drawing on millions of nationally representative people and exhaustively vetted for bias as documented in books like Jensen's Bias in Mental Testing?

(Even if we granted your special ed beliefs accurate status, although I don't know about that either - I too was a special ed kid, but any lawyer who spent some time with me as my family fought the school district would not have had a representative impression of special ed kids, both because I was unrepresentative (and that's why I was mainstreamed), and because the long cumulative day to day interactions are different from occasional interactions. My mom still works with special ed kids and mentioned that one of her teachers had her nose broken by one of her kids who was handleable right up until he broke her nose; one of my best friends was also in special ed, and he could be a pretty decent guy for weeks or months at a time until his anger problems finally exploded at you - we drifted apart so I'm not sure what happened to him but last I heard he was in prison, which did not surprise me in the least bit. Life is as much about the lowest points as the average points.)

comment by Jiro · 2016-01-27T07:47:00.217Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Thomas is the "least respected" because the left has a special hatred for black people who don't toe the line and take the political side that they want black people to take, not because he is actually less worthy of respect than the other conservative justices.

comment by entirelyuseless · 2016-01-27T13:36:17.680Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think this is almost certainly the case, as well as the fact that Thomas is even more extremely conservative than the others. So I found Gwern's comment surprising, since he really seems to be attacking Thomas for his politics alone. As for the fact that he doesn't get involved in the questions, he has said himself that the reason is that he already knows his opinion and it isn't going to change. We have no reason to doubt this assertion, which is arrogant and overconfident, but which does not even come close to proving that he's stupid. As for behind-the-scenes influence, it is very possible that he has had quite a bit, e.g. with the interpretation of the Second Amendment.

comment by common_law · 2016-01-27T22:51:14.364Z · score: -5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

But it's also obvious that Thomas is no legal genius. (Unlike, say, Scalia, who I actually abhor more, probably for that reason). Why no black legal geniuses, theoretical physicists, abstract mathematicians, or analytic philosophers? This is more telling than fishing about in the superior range, which, even on the assumptions, is only as rare as falling in the general population's very-superior range.

comment by IlyaShpitser · 2016-01-27T23:54:27.820Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

There are lots of brilliant black scientists, I collaborate closely with one. You guys are toxic idiots, you should get out more and meet more smart people.

comment by CAE_Jones · 2016-01-28T07:54:53.499Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I can only remember one instance in which I noticed a black person in a CS class*. He clearly wasn't connecting with anyone else there on a cultural level, but he was making much better observations and comments than most anyone else (some of the people who sounded like a Racial Realist's dream programmers were answering simple questions with facepalm-worthy wonkiness).

What stuck out to me most, though, was whenever the teacher would elaborate on or correct any of that black student's responses, the student would respond to everything with a very submissive and depressed-sounding "Yes sir." He didn't sound quite so broken in any other context as that. He disappeared halfway through the semester and I have no idea why (was he better at in-class discussion than tests or homework? Did he drop the class because he didn't like it? Were there other classes he wanted/needed into which conflicted with it? Did he quit school entirely?)

It seemed abundantly clear to me that, of all the students that spoke up during class, this one was probably in the top 3 in terms of understanding the material, at least in a classroom context. There might have been problems, but I wouldn't dare pin them on intelligence. Culture seemed dramatically and obviously a source of tension. If there were others, they were not where I could observe them.

* There could have been others I missed, or that were in previous classes who I just forgot about. I can only identify race based on accent (which I should point out is not genetic) or if someone else points it out without being contradicted by other evidence. ... Well, and names, sometimes, but those aren't genetic, either.

comment by ialdabaoth · 2016-01-28T01:47:11.597Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

You know, sometimes the troll doesn't even need to make people believe their point to win; they just need to make people treat their point as if it was seriously worth debating.

comment by IlyaShpitser · 2016-01-28T02:12:54.743Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I don't disagree, but I think LW (and slatestar actually) is too passive about these guys. There are nrx communities out on the net where they can debate their perfect society.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-01-27T15:29:57.160Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

the left has a special hatred for black people who don't toe the line and take the political side that they want black people to take

Latinos as well -- both Cruz and Rubio have been called "traitors".

comment by TimS · 2016-01-27T15:20:35.526Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

That would be reasonable to note if he wrote many majority opinions, played a large role in changing the others' opinions (of course, then he'd look less 'extreme' if he was contributing behind the scenes, wouldn't he?), or in any way was not a ghost who could be replaced by his clerks with no one the wiser.

You are repeating a Democratic Party talking point as fact. A particularly stupid talking point. One of the reasons I used Thomas as an example is to try to push against this stupid assertion by those who are otherwise my political allies.

In point of fact, Thomas writes about 1/9 of the Supreme Court opinions and deals with about 1/9 of the other legal work (motions, etc), as would be expected of a body with nine members. I can't speak to behind-the-scenes influence. As a lawyer, I don't think any of the current Justices has historically notable intellectual influence except Scalia (Rehnquist also was unusually influential, by he is no longer on the court).

Speaking of which, neither Rehnquist nor Scalia are outside the mainstream of American legal thought. Their legal theories are notably on the conservative side, but well within the current Overton window of legal thought. To say Rehnquist and Scalia are as extreme as Thomas is another Democratic Party talking point.

I can only point to my professional work as an attorney for special education students to give you a sense of my experience with what an 80 IQ student is like.

That's not an answer to any of my other questions. Why do you think your limited, bubble-filled experience is good evidence for overriding a century of carefully constructed tests drawing on millions of nationally representative people and exhaustively vetted for bias as documented in books like Jensen's Bias in Mental Testing?

(Even if we granted your special ed beliefs accurate status, although I don't know about that either - I too was a special ed kid, but any lawyer who spent some time with me as my family fought the school district would not have had a representative impression of special ed kids, both because I was unrepresentative (and that's why I was mainstreamed), and because the long cumulative day to day interactions are different from occasional interactions. My mom still works with special ed kids and mentioned that one of her teachers had her nose broken by one of her kids who was handleable right up until he broke her nose; one of my best friends was also in special ed, and he could be a pretty decent guy for weeks or months at a time until his anger problems finally exploded at you - we drifted apart so I'm not sure what happened to him but last I heard he was in prison, which did not surprise me in the least bit. Life is as much about the lowest points as the average points.)

I see a wide range of students in my practice with many different profiles. It would be a mistake to conclude that a student with your profile was representative of all special education students. Given the broad scope of special education coverage, no special education student is truly "typical" of special education in general. At best, one student might be typical of a sub-population of a particular eligibility category, but likely not.

My experience with special education is presented to justify my conclusion that a student with an IQ of 80 is incapable of producing the kind of work Thomas routinely produces. I'm skeptical whether many 100 IQ students could create a career path like Thomas' path. That's relevant to the argument because the number of "black swan" high IQ people we observe should be related to the mean IQ of the population.

Separately, I'm well aware that an 80 IQ student is not typical of a special education student. In point of law, an 80 IQ by itself is not likely to lead a student to be formally included in special education. At a minimum, student must be within a particular category of need, such as autism spectrum or emotional dysfunction, to be entitled to legal classification as a special education student.

comment by gjm · 2016-01-27T17:45:56.260Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

a student with an IQ of 80 is incapable of producing the kind of work Thomas routinely produces [...] I'm skeptical whether many 100 IQ students could create a career path like Thomas's path.

No one's denying that. The "race realists" claim not that all black people in the US have an IQ in the 80-90 range, but that the average IQ of black people in the US is in the 80-90 range. That's perfectly consistent, as gwern said, with plenty of those people being very smart.

Clearly you don't get onto the Supreme Court without being distinctly cleverer than average. For all his negative comments about Clarence Thomas, gwern is not (so far as I can see) denying that.

That's relevant to the argument because the number of "black swan" high IQ people we observe should be related to the mean IQ of the population.

Yup. But "smart enough to be on the Supreme Court" doesn't seem to me like black-swan IQ, even in a (real or hypothetical) subpopulation with an average IQ in the eighties. Unusual, sure. But well within the range we should expect there to be plenty of.

comment by gwern · 2016-01-29T01:06:57.187Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

In point of fact, Thomas writes about 1/9 of the Supreme Court opinions and deals with about 1/9 of the other legal work (motions, etc), as would be expected of a body with nine members.

My understanding was that Thomas only writes his fair share when you include all his idiosyncratic one-man dissents which influence no one and have failed to move the Overton Window. Is that wrong?

I can't speak to behind-the-scenes influence.

Kind of important a thing to leave out in a political role like that of the nine.

As a lawyer, I don't think any of the current Justices has historically notable intellectual influence except Scalia (Rehnquist also was unusually influential, by he is no longer on the court). Speaking of which, neither Rehnquist nor Scalia are outside the mainstream of American legal thought. Their legal theories are notably on the conservative side, but well within the current Overton window of legal thought.

Gee, I wonder why. Could it have something to do with Rehnquist and Scalia's opinions actually being more persuasive, as I already suggested?

Personally, I am not bothered by Thomas's originalism, as you seem to think; if I had to classify myself, I'd have to admit to considerable sympathy with his positions as I've noted in the past on LW (I think, possibly I argued it elsewhere), originalism is the only position which makes any kind of sense, and the attempts to move away from it and reinterpret it as liberals wish reflects the fact that the Constitution is atrociously outdated and irrelevant because the updating mechanisms have failed completely due to the continual growth of the USA. (When was the last Constitutional amendment which mattered? Do you expect to see another meaningful amendment in your lifetime? I don't.) But the American political system is unable to acknowledge this or come up with any solution, and so we get absurdities like the Supreme Court saying the Constitution protects a right to gay marriage or trying to ban the death penalty, which makes about as much sense as saying the Bible or the Koran protect a right to gay marriage or disapprove of the death penalty.

What I am bothered by is his apparent failure to contribute much to the Court in asking questions to get to the heart of issues, mold or at least influence the thinking of his peers, and influence the majority opinions which matter. A justice who neither is influenced nor influences is a waste of space, and even harmful - like IE6 or Google's neglect of Google Reader. In contrast, I much prefer to read Rehnquist or Scalia's opinions because they were not so blind or irrelevant.

I'm skeptical whether many 100 IQ students could create a career path like Thomas' path.

I'm sure they couldn't, at least not without extenuating circumstances like very able aids or an extremely gross imbalance of verbal and other skills. (IQs are just of the general factor, individual skills can be much higher or lower than the mean; someone can write very well even if they wouldn't understand a statistic if it bit them on the arse.)

But Thomas could easily be one of the 80k that the normal distribution implies, or be a bit below, maybe 97th or 98th percentile or something, which increases the numbers of candidates substantially (more than 3x) while still being plausible. (When I look at thresholds on IQ and characteristics broken down by deciles, I get the impression that for anything which is a fraction of a standard deviation, it is more a difference of quantity than quality; someone 1/3 or 2/3 SDs lower can do just about anything the other person can do, but with more time and effort, perhaps, while at 1 SD it starts to seem like there are things the lower person just won't get with any reasonable amount of time/effort. So a lot of 130 is just plain out of reach for 100, but not for 120.)

As well, the normal distribution is rarely exactly true; for example, when it comes to intelligence, very rare or de novo mutations mean there is an excess of retarded or very disabled people than the calculations would predict, because one mutation in the wrong place can break a mind, and there are a few phenomenon which might create little bumps in the black tail as well - most obviously, given your mentioned examples, immigrants from Africa or the Caribbeans, but a few other things like assortative mating might also happen.

comment by TimS · 2016-01-30T17:20:13.272Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

My understanding was that Thomas only writes his fair share when you include all his idiosyncratic one-man dissents which influence no one and have failed to move the Overton Window. Is that wrong?

Yes. Check out Scotusblog if you want to look at other terms.

What I am bothered by is his apparent failure to contribute much to the Court in asking questions to get to the heart of issues

Oral argument is performance, not persuasion. The evidence of influence is citation of majority decisions in future terms and future courts. In other words, the rest of that paragraph would be just as true without reference to questions at oral argument. Please stop repeating the stupid talking point.

Personally, I am not bothered by Thomas's originalism, as you seem to think

Thomas is an originalist only if one thinks that the US Constitution is intended to codify natural law. Many originalists across the political spectrum don't. Further, I'm much more of a textualist, and textualism and natural law get together like oil and water.

But Thomas could easily be one of the 80k that the normal distribution implies, or be a bit below, maybe 97th or 98th percentile or something, which increases the numbers of candidates substantially (more than 3x) while still being plausible. (When I look at thresholds on IQ and characteristics broken down by deciles, I get the impression that for anything which is a fraction of a standard deviation, it is more a difference of quantity than quality; someone 1/3 or 2/3 SDs lower can do just about anything the other person can do, but with more time and effort, perhaps, while at 1 SD it starts to seem like there are things the lower person just won't get with any reasonable amount of time/effort. So a lot of 130 is just plain out of reach for 100, but not for 120.)

This is the heart of the issue. I think an 85 IQ would have difficulty consistently simulating a 100 IQ in professional life. But the evidence on this is too sparse for me to persuasively present in this forum. So I'm trying to highlight how we see too many black swans. Which itself is complicated by the difficulty in distinguishing between 120 &130.

comment by bogus · 2016-01-29T11:14:17.887Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

the Constitution protects a right to gay marriage

The Constitution protects all rights that are originally retained by the people:

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

If there is a natural right to gay marriage, the Constitution protects it. That is, the Constitution protects gay marriage to the extent that recognition of gay marriage is in some sense naturally required as a precondition of fostering "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness"; as are the rights to free speech and free exercise of religion, to self-defense and self-organized collective defense, and all of the other rights recognized in the U.S. Constitution. A natural right “is not a right granted by the Constitution. Neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence.” (United States v. Cruikshank, 92 U. S. 542, 553 (1876))

comment by Zack_M_Davis · 2016-01-30T05:27:12.898Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I like the Ninth Amendment too, but it's worth noting that the majority opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges cited the due process and equal protection clauses, not natural rights: one could argue that the rationale was absurd even if the outcome was correct.

comment by TimS · 2016-01-30T17:05:57.212Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

So, the 14th Amendment protects "privileges or immunities." There's some of historical evidence of what those might include. But in the Slaughterhouse cases, the Supreme Court drained the phrase of any legal significance. There are many legal scholars across the political spectrum who think the Slaughterhouse cases are inconsistent with original public meaning.

Those scholars who think Obergefell, Roe, and such are consistent with original public meaning tend to say that "substantive" due process should be understood as code for "privileges or immunities."

comment by bogus · 2016-01-30T15:04:27.167Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

cited the due process and equal protection clauses, not natural rights

Huh? What would the word "protection" in the latter clause refer to, if not protection of natural rights?

comment by TimS · 2016-01-30T17:07:31.385Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It's a controversial position that natural rights are what the Constitution protects, even among legal scholars who think the Constitution should be interpreted according to original public meaning (most "originalists").

comment by Lumifer · 2016-01-26T18:11:39.948Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW
  • has a different mean IQ than the general population and/or
  • has a different standard deviation for IQ and/or
  • has a significantly skewed distribution from the normal curve

One and two, yes, but I haven't seen data that would indicate some population has a significant skew in its IQ distribution.

it seems to me that I observe too many intelligent black folks for the mean to be in the 80s.

Why don't you do the numbers? The purely-black IQ mean is about 85, I believe. A great deal of American blacks have some admixture of whte genes, so I think the IQ average for US blacks is in high 80s, maybe 90. There are about 42m of them. So lets' try three standard deviations above the mean, IQ > 130-135, more or less. That would be about 0.13% of the population, so about 56,700 individuals. You'd actually expect a bit more because many people with a lot of white genes (which would push their expected IQ up) identify as black.

How many do you observe? :-/

You can also look at IQ proxies, like SAT. Here are 2015 scores by race -- LW sucks at formatting tables, but basically scores of whites (average ~530) are consistently about 100 points above the scores of blacks (average ~430). Asians score the highest.

comment by TimS · 2016-01-26T18:30:22.412Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

First, 42 million includes children for who I doubt there is a public criteria we can agree on as proxy for intelligence. Second, I'm not sure IQ > 130 is .13%. Wikipedia suggests 1%.

Since those cut in opposite directions, let's pretend they wash out. I am comfortable asserting there are more than 60k black folks in the set of:

  • senior military officers (colonel or greater)
  • highly successful national public intellectuals (eg Powell, Coates, Rice)
  • highly successful lawyers (Clarence Thomas is top 1% of lawyers)
  • highly successful MDs & research PhDs (eg Neil DeGrasse Tyson).
  • highly successful media/entertainment personalities (Sean "Diddy" Combs, Oprah, etc).
  • highly successful technocrats (mayors / police chiefs / school superintendent in large metro areas)
comment by The_Lion · 2016-01-28T22:43:45.384Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

highly successful MDs & research PhDs (eg Neil DeGrasse Tyson).

As discussed elsewhere in this thread, Neil DeGrasse Tyson is "media science personality" not a successful researcher.

highly successful technocrats (mayors / police chiefs / school superintendent in large metro areas)

It doesn't take that much intelligence to be elected Mayor. Especially if your black in a majority black city and the electorate votes on tribal solidarity. Hence a few infamous cases, like Mayor Marion Barry of DC.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-01-26T18:39:57.970Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure IQ > 130 is .13%

The tail above three standard deviations for a normal distribution constitutes about 0.13% of the population.

Media/entertainment personalities can be oh so very dumb :-)

Otherwise, I am doubting your assertion. Do you have data?

comment by TimS · 2016-01-26T19:58:26.247Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

From personal experience, there are lots of dumb lawyers. When I say highly successful, I mean roughly the level of screening that occurs through promotion from fresh-out-of-academy lieutenant to colonel.

For reference, Clarence Thomas easily clears the bar I'm trying to set, as did Johnny Cochran before he died. For entertainers, it seems clear that talent isn't correlated with intelligence. But I think staying power requires some, so the ultra-successful are candidates.

For my broader argument, the categories I set out are potentially under-inclusive. There are lots of folks (like business people) not included in the categories I explicitly listed. We also haven't included any children, on the grounds that we don't agree on how to identify them.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-01-26T20:36:52.290Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

For my broader argument

Yeah, but it's all hand-waving. I see this if I squint this way and you see that if you squint that way...

You originally said

it seems to me that I observe too many intelligent black folks for the mean to be in the 80s.

You, personally, observe too many? Is that statement true? Or do you merely expect to see many?

comment by TimS · 2016-01-26T22:52:11.732Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

it seems to me that I observe too many intelligent black folks for the mean to be in the 80s.

You, personally, observe too many? Is that statement true? Or do you merely expect to see many?

By convenience sampling in my personal life and observing public figures, I see a certain proportion of successful folk are black. Extrapolating from the proportion I see, 60k smart black folks is plausible. A much lower number is not plausible. What number of smart black folk should we expect to see if the mean were 85?

comment by Lumifer · 2016-01-27T00:29:15.843Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

By convenience sampling in my personal life and observing public figures, I see a certain proportion of successful folk are black.

Public figures are what, a few dozen at most? So you rely on your personal sample and why in the world do you think that it's representative?

Let's take our favourite people -- Alice and Bob. Alice lives in rural Alabama. She knows zero smart black people and extrapolates her personal sample to "all black folk are stupid". Bob hails from Idaho and is an undergrad at Harvard -- 100% of black people he knows are very smart. He extrapolates his personal sample to "all black people are smart". Why is your sample any better than Alice's or Bob's?

comment by gjm · 2016-01-26T22:52:45.259Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

IQ > 130 [...] the tail above three standard deviations

Most IQ scales set the standard deviation at 15 points, not 10 points.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-01-27T00:30:08.854Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, but we are starting from the mean which is 85 in this particular case.

comment by gjm · 2016-01-27T01:14:31.654Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Oh, I see. I was confused about what calculation you were doing; my apologies.

comment by Vaniver · 2016-01-26T18:28:22.598Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The purely-black IQ mean is about 85, I believe. A great deal of American blacks have some admixture of whte genes, so I think the IQ average for US blacks is in high 80s, maybe 90.

African American mean IQ is typically measured at 85 to 90. Sub-Saharan African IQs are difficult to estimate because of a number of factors, but 85 is much higher than typical estimates.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-01-26T19:36:18.285Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Observationally, American public life includes many black people for whom I find it implausible that they aren't pretty smart - eg Clarence Thomas, Colin Powell, Condeleeza Rice.

Observing three people isn't observing many people. Blacks like those people aren't in the majority. Most blacks are less successful than most whites.

comment by gjm · 2016-01-26T17:45:08.013Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It's in his explanation of NRx piece.

Gotcha. Unfortunately, the link to that "sympathetic and extraordinarily impressive defence" is broken. I don't suppose you happen to know of another source for it?

Since we're quoting Yvain, let's continue

It's maybe worth saying a word or two about the context for that quotation: Yvain was writing about the tendency to take "someone wrote a decent-looking rebuttal to X" as justification for saying "X has been refuted and debunked". His argument is not "TBC is in fact right because all these people say positive things about it" -- that's just the mirror image of the thing he's objecting to. It's "You don't get to claim that TBC has been refuted just because lots of eminent people trashed it -- look, lots of equally eminent people defended it too." With which I agree. Which is why I called it "pretty controversial" rather than, say, "known to be bad".

comment by Lumifer · 2016-01-26T17:56:39.842Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

another source for it?

Well, the usual...

comment by gjm · 2016-01-26T18:01:21.188Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

D'oh!

comment by bogus · 2016-01-26T17:13:59.347Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

("biological hypothesis" is the one which says biology strongly affects IQ):

Note that some forms of the "biological hypothesis" are especially hard to refute. Few people disagree that eating too much lead paint as a child will give you a low IQ. If black kids eat a lot more lead paint than white kids, the end result will be that blacks will on average be rather bad at science, and scholarship in general.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-01-26T17:21:46.298Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The biological hypothesis pretty much means genetics. There are a lot of environmental influences (from eating lead paint chips to being deficient in iodine to being dropped on one's head as a child) that are well-known to affect IQ.

comment by gjm · 2016-01-25T17:13:26.069Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

AIUI, Eugine The Fourth is trying to suggest that there's something more than this going on: that black people are underrepresented in lists of successful people not because there are few of them but because they're mentally inferior for some (presumably genetic) reason.

Black people are not a tiny minority globally, so to first order it would be evidence for that theory if in fact lists of successful black people look like lists of successful Turkish people.

Of course there are other factors; e.g., most of Africa is grindingly poor -- though I expect Eugine would say, or at least imply, that that's because Africa is full of mentally-inferior people -- and while there are quite a lot of black people in the USA they've historically had some difficulties to contend with.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-01-25T17:20:14.844Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

they've historically had some difficulties to contend with

Funny how that worked out for Jews in Medieval Europe...

comment by gjm · 2016-01-25T21:49:36.127Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

So, first of all, if you drew up a list of highly successful people in mediaeval Europe, I don't think there would be many Jews there.

Secondly, I take it you have in mind Cochran's theory that European Jews are super-smart because of evolutionary pressure from mediaeval persecution. But Cochran's story isn't simply "they were persecuted, persecution leads to more brains, the end". It depends crucially on the details of the persecution. And the treatment of black slaves in the US is very different in pretty much every relevant respect from the treatment of Jews in mediaeval Europe. The Jews were forbidden to do many jobs but highly lucrative finance was (for bizarre path-dependent reasons) open to them; black slaves in the US were given backbreaking physical labour to do and had no opportunity to choose their work. The Jews were left more or less alone much of the time but subject to occasional slaughter where the best opportunities for survival went to those who anticipated trouble, had accumulated valuable resources for escape, etc; black slaves in the US were subject to constant low-level mistreatment and occasional individual murder, and opportunities for getting the hell out were ... limited. European Jews, Cochran suggests, had very little inward gene flow; female black slaves in the US were routinely made pregnant by their owners, and I'm pretty sure the children were generally (1) also slaves and (2) considered black.

comment by gwern · 2016-01-25T22:26:28.450Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

So, first of all, if you drew up a list of highly successful people in mediaeval Europe, I don't think there would be many Jews there.

Depends on whether you see the glass as half-full or half-empty. From Murray's Human Accomplishment on that topic, pg292:

Jews make their first appearance in the annals of the arts and sciences during the centuries when the Middle East and Moorish Spain were at their cultural peak. When science historian George Sarton set out to enumerate the top scientists across the world, including East Asia, South Asia, the Arab world, and Christian Europe, from 1150 to 1300, he came up with 626 names, of whom 95 were Jews—15 percent of the total, produced by a group that at the time represented about half of 1 percent of the world’s population that was in a position to produce scientists. 5 But few of those 626 are important enough in the broader sweep of scientific history to warrant a mention in histories that are less tightly focused. Of the 10 Jews who qualified as significant figures in the inventories prior to 19C, only 2 are still familiar to the general public, Montaigne and Spinoza, and neither of them was a typical Jew of his time. Montaigne’s mother came from a wealthy Spanish/Portuguese Jewish family, but Montaigne himself was a lifelong Catholic. Spinoza was excommunicated by his Dutch Jewish community for his unorthodox views.

Five of the 8 other Jews who appear in the inventories before 1800 were also part of the philosophy inventory. They were Philo Judaeus from ancient Roman Alexandria, Solomon ibn Gabirol (Avicebron) and Maimonides from Moorish Spain, and Moses Mendelssohn and Johann Herder from 18C Germany. In all of those 26 centuries, the roster of Western significant figures includes not one Jewish artist, scientist, physician, or inventor, and just one writer (Fernando Rojas), one composer (Salamone Rossi), and one mathematician (Paul Guldin).

This sparse representation in European arts and sciences through the beginning of 19C reflects Jews’ near-total exclusion from the arts and sciences. Jews were not merely discouraged from entering universities and the professions, they were often forbidden by law from doing so....I will not try to establish a hierarchy of victimhood among Jews, women, and other minorities, but an uncomplicated point needs emphasis: Until the end of 18C throughout Europe, and well into 19C in most parts of Europe, Jews lived under a regime of legally restricted rights and socially sanctioned discrimination as severe as that borne by any population not held in chattel slavery.

Personally, I would say that a 30x overrepresentation in the 1100s-1300s is rather medieval, and pretty respectable especially considering the constraints they labored under.

And obviously those constraints did make a difference because once the constraints starting being lifted, Jews began overperforming even more to a degree so absurd that if it were a novel, you'd throw it against the wall in disgust and angrily tweet at the author to look up the phrase 'Mary Sue':

This history provides us with a nice example of what social scientists call an interrupted time series. Until nearly 1800, Jews are excluded. Then, over about 70 years, the legal exclusions are lifted and the social exclusion eases. What happens? “The suddenness with which Jews began to appear . . . is nothing short of astounding,” writes historian Raphael Patai. “It seemed as if a huge reservoir of Jewish talent, hitherto dammed up behind the wall of Talmudic learning, were suddenly released to spill over into all fields of Gentile cultural activity.” 8 During the four decades from 1830 to 1870, when the first Jews to live in emancipation (or at least to live under less rigorously enforced suppression) reach their forties, 16 Jewish significant figures appear. In the next four decades, from 1870 to 1910, when all non-Russian Jews are living in societies that offer equal legal protections if not social equality, that number jumps to 40. During the next four decades until 1950—including the years of the Third Reich and the Holocaust—the number of Jewish significant figures almost triples, to 114. I do not show the results for philosophy because the Jewish proportion becomes so high in 1900–1950, when Jews represented 6 out of the 18 significant figures in philosophy (33 percent), that it distorts the other trendlines. The results shown in the graph above are already impressive enough without philosophy, as Jewish representation rises steeply in all the inventories but music, where it had begun at a high rate even in 1800–1850...To get a sense of the density of accomplishment these numbers represent, I will focus on 1870 onward, after legal emancipation had been achieved throughout Central and Western Europe. Only from this latter period can we draw a roughly accurate sense of the magnitude and patterns of Jewish accomplishment—“roughly,” because Jews were still subject to pervasive social and educational discrimination even after 1870.

(I won't quote any more since I know we're all familiar with Jewish performance in the 1900s.)

comment by elharo · 2016-01-08T11:14:36.615Z · score: 10 (12 votes) · LW · GW

Sometimes a writer has no choice but to hedge a statement. Better still, the writer can qualify the statement—that is, spell out the circumstances in which it does not hold rather than leaving himself an escape hatch or being coy as to whether he really means it. If there is a reasonable chance that readers will misinterpret a statistical tendency as an absolute law, a responsible writer will anticipate the oversight and qualify the generalization accordingly. Pronouncements like “Democracies don’t fight wars,” “Men are better than women at geometry problems,” and “Eating broccoli prevents cancer” do not do justice to the reality that those phenomena consist at most of small differences in the means of two overlapping bell curves. Since there are serious consequences to misinterpreting those statements as absolute laws, a responsible writer should insert a qualifier like on average or all things being equal, together with slightly or somewhat. Best of all is to convey the magnitude of the effect and the degree of certainty explicitly, in unhedged statements such as “During the 20th century, democracies were half as likely to go to war with one another as autocracies were.” It’s not that good writers never hedge their claims. It’s that their hedging is a choice, not a tic.

-- Steven Pinker, Why Academics Stink at Writing (Behind Paywall)

comment by Strangeattractor · 2016-01-26T11:02:01.052Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

These days I actually liked my mother-in-law. Before Michael and I were married, her habit of referring to me as “her” and my family as “the outlaws” had rubbed me the wrong way. She seemed to grow a lot fonder of me once Michael and I had gotten married—though I found myself wondering if she was just resigning herself to the inevitable. But eventually, after a conversation with Rose Noire, I made a resolution to consider everything Mrs. Waterston said to me in a positive light—even if it sounded like criticism.

So if she commented, “You’ve gained a few pounds, haven’t you?” I would say, “Why yes! Thank you!” as if pudging out was something I had been working frantically to achieve. If she mentioned that the boys were a grubby mess, I would beam and say “Yes, isn’t it nice that they’re so active!” If she mentioned how loud they were I would enthuse, “Yes, is there anything more delightful than hearing the happy voices of children at play?” If she commented on any shortcomings in the housekeeping, I would pretend to think she was complimenting me on achieving a comfortable, unstuffy, lived-in house.

I’d gotten to the point where playing the lemonade game, as I called it, was actually quite enjoyable, and these days, for whatever reason, she gave me far fewer opportunities to do so. I wasn’t sure if she was making fewer snide or critical remarks or if I was just less apt to misinterpret random remarks as intended slights, but either way, we got along better.

--the character Meg Langslow in the novel Duck The Halls by Donna Andrews, p. 247

comment by katydee · 2016-01-25T21:56:54.375Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

This is one of the worst comments I've seen on LessWrong and I think the fact that this is being upvoted is disgraceful. (Note: this reply refers to a comment that has since been deleted.)

comment by Anders_H · 2016-01-25T22:09:46.502Z · score: 15 (17 votes) · LW · GW

This note is for readers who are unfamiliar with The_Lion:

This user is a troll who has been banned multiple times from Less Wrong. He is unwanted as a participant in this community, but we are apparently unable to prevent him from repeatedly creating new accounts. Administrators have extensive evidence for sockpuppetry and for abuse of the voting system. The fact that The_Lion's comment above is heavily upvoted is almost certainly entirely due to sockpuppetry. It does not reflect community consensus

comment by Document · 2016-01-26T00:24:10.629Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The user who posted the comment above

...katydee?

comment by Anders_H · 2016-01-26T00:30:46.609Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Whoops, my apologies. Thanks for noticing. Corrected

comment by username2 · 2016-01-25T22:42:43.963Z · score: 9 (11 votes) · LW · GW

To clarify, there are 4 embarrassing/disgraceful/noteworthy things happening here, which are embarrassing to different people in different ways.

First, the fact that The_Lion thinks this way is a disgrace for The_Lion.

Second the fact that his comment is heavily upvoted is due to the fact that he has sockpuppet accounts which he uses to upvote his posts. It is slightly embarrassing for The_Lion that he chooses to interact with the internet in this way.

Third, the fact that The_Lion has not been banned despite making comments like this one and generating upvotes in violation of the site's policy is a sign of how woefully undermoderated LessWrong is. It is actually worse than it appears from this one example, because The_Lion is the fourth account by a person whose first 3 accounts were banned for similar abuses of the karma system. But after each account is banned, he makes a new account, continues to act in the same ways, and doesn't get banned again for several months.

Fourth, the fact that many people are responding to The_Lion as if this was a serious discussion, despite how transparently false and odious his comments are, and despite (many of) them knowing The_Lion's four-account-long history, shows how badly LessWrong as a community has failed at the virtues behind "don't feed the trolls" and avoiding "someone is wrong on the internet".

comment by Anders_H · 2016-01-25T18:26:51.467Z · score: 6 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Cloud Atlas is my favorite movie ever and I recommend it to anyone reading this. In fact, it is my opinion that it is one of the most important pieces of early 21st century art.

The downvote is however not for your bad taste in movies, but for intentionally misgendering Lana. More generally, you can consider it payback for your efforts to make Less Wrong an unwelcoming place. I care about this community, and you are doing your best to break it.

At this stage, I call for an IP ban.

comment by Anders_H · 2016-01-25T21:41:27.703Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

As expected, my karma fell by 38 points and my "positive percentage" fell from 97% to 92% shortly after leaving this comment

comment by [deleted] · 2016-01-26T04:13:25.346Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Cloud Atlas is my second favourite movie, after Master and Commander.

I find myself confused because Metacritic believes Sense8 (63/8.1) was better than Jupiter Ascending (45/4.5), whereas I would argue the latter is more compelling. V for Vendetta (62/7.3) also doesn't seem to deserve its mediocre scores.

comment by username2 · 2016-01-25T19:36:31.465Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Given that Eugine very likely will be able to get around an IP ban, I wonder if it is legally possible for MIRI to take out a restraining order that prevents him from posting to Less Wrong? This will of course only be possible if we can discover his real identity.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-01-25T20:12:10.785Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

if it is legally possible for MIRI to take out a restraining order that prevents him from posting to Less Wrong?

Don't be silly.

comment by Viliam · 2016-01-26T08:50:47.737Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Please explain. Do you believe that it is legally impossible, or that it is possible, but it shouldn't be done for some other reasons...?

comment by Lumifer · 2016-01-26T15:27:55.834Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

All of the above. Really, think about the issue for 30 seconds.

comment by Diadem · 2016-01-28T15:21:35.271Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Downvoted. I personally agree that username2's idea is naive, but it seems sincerely held, and making fun of it instead of explaining its problems is dickish.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-01-28T15:31:01.649Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Unfortunately, I do not possess your capability of determining the sincerity of the poster on the basis of one short comment on the 'net.

Obviously stupid ideas are obviously stupid. Sincerity doesn't help them, anyway.

comment by IlyaShpitser · 2016-01-26T03:30:42.377Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Listen, the right way to go here is what Vaniver is trying to do (and ultimately do a whitelist for posters, not a blacklist).

Our good friend EY moved to fb groups for partly this reason, I think.

comment by [deleted] · 2016-01-28T17:33:01.125Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

a) I don't think that would be taken seriously by the law and b) I don't WANT things like that to be in the jurisdiction of the law.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2016-01-25T19:58:33.525Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That would be an absurd overreaction. I can't see the law taking the matter seriously, even if anyone knew "Eugine's" real identity.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-01-28T21:38:17.290Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Before trying to invoke the law it might make sense for a moderator to ask Eugine for a Skype chat.

comment by gjm · 2016-01-24T18:32:21.965Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I'm pretty sure that was "black pride"

I'm not an expert on the history of these things, but according to Some Guy On The Web the first "black pride" event in the US was in 1991 and the first "gay pride" one was in 1970.

basically dancing bears

Here's a tip for you. If you wish to be seen as someone who simply follows the scientific evidence where it leads and sees that black people are on average of lower intelligence than white people, rather than a garden-variety racist, you might do better not to pretend that no black people are genuinely really good at anything. (Seriously, Louis Armstrong, notable only for being able to play jazz at all despite the handicap of being an inferior black person? Really?)

still not very impressive

I think this says more about what you're prepared to be impressed by when it's done by gay people, than about what gay people have achieved.

pad out the list

You wish to deny that Tim Cook is a good example of a successful gay person? OK, then. I'll just remark that it's not a very uncommon opinion that Cook was as critical to Apple's success as Jobs.

the same ultimately pathetic feel

Certainly not for the same reason, since no one is claiming that gay people (or black people or any other category of people) are responsible for all that's good in mathematics, or literature, or music, or business, or whatever.

a mediocre mathematician by world standards

Well, there's a thing named after him that I'd guess more than half of all professional mathematicians have heard of. That's better than most of us manage. But sure, he's a long way from being Gauss or Riemann.

I don't see that there's anything very bad about a country naming its mathematical institutions after its best mathematician, even if he's not on anyone's top-10 list. (I'd have expected you to be keen on national pride -- or does that only apply to some nations?)

comment by RomeoStevens · 2016-01-02T07:22:26.619Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

“Rationality is not just something you do so that you can make more money, it is a binding principle. Rationality is a really good idea. You must avoid the nonsense that is conventional in one’s own time. It requires developing systems of thought that improve your batting average over time.”

-Charlie Munger on average decision quality and systems vs goals.

comment by gjm · 2016-01-26T01:16:23.921Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

calling their opponents vaguely defined negative terms, like "horrible racists"

Curious. I say I have no position on the question, and immediately some words I use are exemplary of how bad the people on the other side from you are.

Anyway, for the avoidance of doubt, I do not call all "race realists" horrible racists. For instance, I think Lumifer and Jiro right here on LW are on record as believing that there are genuine racial IQ differences, and I do not think either of them is a horrible racist. (I don't know either of them well enough to be sure they aren't, but they haven't given me that impression so far.)

The people I call horrible racists are the ones who seize every available opportunity to rant about how awful black people are, how stupid people who aren't "race realists" are, etc.; whose negative comments about black people go well beyond anything that could be justified by halfway-plausible versions of "race realism"; who, in short, behave as I would expect someone to behave who seizes on the (alleged) scientific evidence with glee because it suits their pre-existing prejudices.

It is perfectly possible to believe that black people have lower average IQ than white people without being a horrible racist[1]. It is perfectly possible to believe that black people have higher average IQ than white people while being a horrible racist[2].

[1] Not necessarily without being a racist, depending on the definition of that contentious term.

[2] A position similar to this, but with a very different racial group in place of "black people", has been pretty common for a long time.

comment by gjm · 2016-01-24T15:28:48.037Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Oh, really.

"Gay pride" was, I take it, the granddaddy of them all. It doesn't seem difficult to think of some successful gay people, but here in case you're having trouble is a very short list. Oscar Wilde, world-class playwright. Tim Cook, CEO of the world's most successful company. Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, prime minister of Iceland. Benjamin Britten, greatest English composer since Purcell. Freddie Mercury, rock star. Alan Turing, mathematician, computer pioneer and helped win WW2.

"Black pride" is a thing, I guess. Martin Luther King, social and political reformer. Barack Obama, president of the world's only superpower. Desmond Tutu, archbishop. Toni Morrison, Nobel-winning writer. Neil deGrasse Tyson, astronomer and TV star. Louis Armstrong, jazz musician.

Those are actually the only two major "pride movements" I know of. There are "white pride" and "straight pride" movements, kinda, but they're quite different in character and I think in motivation, and in any case I don't imagine you'll have any difficulty thinking of successful white and straight people.

I expect there's such a thing as "trans pride", but transness is much rarer than gayness or blackness and was socially unacceptable for longer. (Hence: fewer of them, and more obstacles to their becoming successful.) Still, off the top of my head I'll name Wendy Carlos, musician, and Sophie Wilson, engineer, both of whom were world-famous (as men) for things that had nothing to do with gender identity before coming out as trans.

What pride movements were you thinking of that don't have examples of successful people to look at?

comment by Good_Burning_Plastic · 2016-01-24T17:28:48.887Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Still, off the top of my head I'll name Wendy Carlos, musician, and Sophie Wilson, engineer, both of whom were world-famous (as men) for things that had nothing to do with gender identity before coming out as trans.

Off the top of mine, Lana Wachowski.

comment by bogus · 2016-01-24T16:38:29.088Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Benjamin Britten, greatest English composer since Purcell.

This is nitpicking really, but 'greatest' according to whom? I'd say that folks like Sullivan, Elgar and Holst (not to mention Vaughan-Williams) are a lot more notable than Britten, and even if you want to restrict your attention to reasonably modern composers, Brian Ferneyhough is more worthy of attention.

comment by gjm · 2016-01-24T18:07:07.857Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

'greatest' according to whom?

Decca, some guy writing for the New York Phil, some guy writing for the Daily Telegraph, etc.

Seriously: of course anyone trying to offer an actual careful assessment will say something like "one of the greatest" or "arguably the greatest" or something. As you'll see if you follow all my links above or search the web yourself, one very common practice is to say "widely regarded as the greatest" :-). Personally I rate him well above Sullivan and Holst and roughly equal with Elgar and RVW. I don't know enough Ferneyhough to have a useful opinion.

comment by bogus · 2016-01-24T18:44:52.877Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Well, yes; it seems that he really had a strong fanbase, mostly among his fellow musicians. But I think you may be underestimating the popularity of Elgar, Sullivan and RVW's music (if not Ferneyhough's). I mean, these might as well be household names among relevant audiences; you can't really say the same for Britten. Now, if I had to mention gay composers who are genuinely notable for their musical output, I'd say Lully and (most obviously) Tchaikovsky.

comment by gjm · 2016-01-24T19:34:57.276Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

you may be underestimating the popularity

I wasn't talking about popularity. I'm sorry if I gave the wrong impression somehow.

(But yes, in terms of popularity Tchaikovsky certainly trumps Britten.)

comment by WalterL · 2016-01-14T08:04:48.101Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

“It is a mistake,” he said, “to suppose that the public wants the environment protected or their lives saved and that they will be grateful to any idealist who will fight for such ends. What the public wants is their own individual comfort.” ― Isaac Asimov, The Gods Themselves, page 31

comment by RolfAndreassen · 2016-01-16T08:07:18.299Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Cynical, but is it actually true? It seems to me that a lot of people are actually quite strongly committed to the cause of the environment, or defense against terrorists. They do not necessarily take effective action for those causes, but they would certainly vote for someone who signalled similar commitment.

comment by [deleted] · 2016-01-16T15:32:38.622Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I think it is true. So true. People whom I have upbraided for selling rare flowers or digging vegetable gardens on protected territories immediately began to talk about oligarchs having private residences in our beloved forests and why am I not doing anything about that?..

comment by elharo · 2016-01-17T13:11:23.703Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I've experienced this as well, in different contexts. It's depressing to watch birders and even more commonly bird photographers trample on protected habitat just to get a better look at a bird. That being said, there's perhaps a fallacy here. It is absolutely true that some people value their personal comfort and wealth over broader values like environmental protection or the general health of the population, at least some of the time. It is also true that some people pick broader values like environmental protection or the general health of the population, even at some cost to their personal comfort and specific wants, at least some of the time.

Neither statement is true of all people, all of the time. The real questions we should ask are:

1) How many people, how much of the time? 2) Which people? And why? 3) What can we do to require less specific sacrifice in favor of the general good?

Both of these questions are better asked of very specific cases. For instance, you'll get different answers if you talk about, for example, reducing marine speed limits in Florida to protect manatees or installing smokestack scrubbers on coal-fired power plants.

Talking in generalities often avoids the hard work of quantification on real world problems in favor of ideologically motivated displays of tribal allegiance.

comment by [deleted] · 2016-01-18T13:12:12.939Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Okay, I apologize for my cynical answer, I have met people who tied themselves to the branches of the trees in their park (and were cut down). However, if anything I would expect voting to be an example of ideologically motivated displays of tribal allegiance.

comment by [deleted] · 2016-01-17T15:58:19.961Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The first two questions you pose seem to me impractical, since even a single 'nature user' can undo the effect of many 'non-users' (who often simply don't intervene and so don't bring [apparent] harm). If in my village the tradition to burn meadows in spring persists even though they have not been massively used as pastures for twenty years, whom will I address? Most likely, some boys set fire to the dry grass to have fun, and the rest are simply used to smelling the smoke in early spring to say anything of it.

Now, the third question is rather interesting, but also has the weakness that the less specific the sacrifice, the less control one has over it. In my experience, it was always a kind of give-and-take - I understand that you will keep doing this, but I caught you this time - Oh well, I promise not to do it again - By the way, where did you collect these pasqueflowers? - Oh, in such-and-such place - All right, we'll do our best to have the place reserved - Please do, although you will need our village's head consent, and she wants to sell the plot for a large sum! - Dreadful - Awful - Bye - Bye. Probably with power plants it is worse. There's always someone one level above you. There's always a way to present your actions as motivated by money. This is, among other things, a reason to affiliate yourself with a group that doesn't get paid for doing this kind of negotiations, but on the other hand, you need funds to do any kind of constructive work (much less for simply spreading the word or running after individual offenders). You need to buy the gas to drive into remote places, for example.

Other people decide to quantify RWP and you see them signing quotas for cut wood or something, and you know there's no way to check how much wood will really be cut unless you make it your business, which means 1) the people who sign quotas give the cutters ammunition, 2) the people who sign quotas won't involve themselves further, 3) you still need the gas to go there, and 4) but now you will be seen acting in bad faith.

Which means nobody trusts anybody else.

comment by [deleted] · 2016-01-26T07:23:03.539Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Because the people who have been explicitly racist to me, where that racism has not been intended to humour me, have been people who they themselves aren't successful. This helped me realise this discrepancy and adjust the credence I give to that perspective that my racial identity makes me worth less as a person. Conversely, it suggests the pride in my racial identity that I attribute to the success of other people of my race is misplaced and that I ought to earn my own.

comment by Jiro · 2016-01-26T10:30:29.056Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

People who are successful and want to be racist to you might not be obvious about it. They could smile at you and then just not hire you or whatever.

comment by [deleted] · 2016-01-26T10:34:59.808Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I don't believe that kind of racism is so big a deal. Its like the racial equivalent of second gen feminism.

comment by Tyrrell_McAllister · 2016-01-03T23:13:02.976Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Experience has shown that it is by no means difficult for philosophy to begin. Far from it. It begins with nothing, and consequently can always begin. But the difficulty, both for philosophy and for philosophers, is to stop.

Søren Kierkegaard, Either/Or, vol. 1 (trans. Swenson & Swenson).

comment by Good_Burning_Plastic · 2016-01-26T10:02:35.055Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Let me know when you make it to the end of the sentence in gjm's comment that I quoted.

comment by CCC · 2016-01-25T12:12:48.625Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Well, if we go with skin colour as the dividing line, I can certainly come up with quite a number of successful non-whites under several definitions of success.

Wealth? Consider Cyril Ramaphosa, whose current net worth is estimated (by Forbes) at US$450 million.

Politics? Consider Barack Obama.

Those are two fairly well-known definitions of success; there are plenty of successful non-whites for non-whites to be vicariously attached to.

(I notice that other comments have already provided a number of examples of successful gay people.)

comment by bogus · 2016-01-24T09:51:41.525Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Well, the quote applies to most identity-based movements; there's nothing in it that would be specific to "white" folks. Paul Graham is very clear that keeping one's identity small is often more conducive to success and personal satisfaction.

comment by roland · 2016-01-10T14:56:24.516Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

From a mere act of the imagination we cannot learn anything about the real world. To suppose that the resulting probability assignments have any real physical meaning is just another form of the mind projection fallacy. In practice, this diverts our attention to irrelevancies and away from the things that really matter (such as information about the real world that is not expressible in terms of any sampling distribution, or does not fit into the urn picture, but which is nevertheless highly cogent for the inferences we want to make). Usually, the price paid for this folly is missed opportunities; had we recognized that information, more accurate and/or more reliable inferences could have been made.

-- E T Jaynes Probability Theory the Logic of Science

comment by username2 · 2016-01-29T04:18:09.937Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I like how you added some italicized text to the end of your comment, there. Sneaky.

comment by gjm · 2016-01-25T14:16:15.116Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

none of the others were anywhere near this impressive

The original question was not about "impressive" but about "successful". Are you willing to agree that being elected President of the United States constitutes success?

comment by Good_Burning_Plastic · 2016-01-25T09:02:49.266Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Heck you had to pad out the list with "Tim Cook, CEO of the world's most successful company", even though it is pretty clearly not his efforts that lead to this state of affairs.

What about Peter Thiel?

comment by CCC · 2016-01-24T10:25:17.734Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

That depends on how you define "success".

comment by dspeyer · 2016-01-09T19:41:33.977Z · score: 2 (10 votes) · LW · GW

I can't avoid all my problems by drawing squirrels, but when I can, I do.

--Randall Munrow

comment by roryokane · 2016-01-09T19:46:19.232Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

*Randall Munroe

comment by Tyrrell_McAllister · 2016-01-26T17:16:12.410Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Why is this being downvoted (apart from misspelling the name)? I take the quote to be a version of "If it's stupid and works, it's not stupid."

comment by Vaniver · 2016-01-26T14:22:32.565Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think this comment suffices as an answer.

comment by CCC · 2016-01-26T05:32:55.124Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

His Wikipedia article is rather vague on how he made his wealth,

He is or has been a director of a lot of companies; you can find a substantial background on his directorships over here. Given the salaries that high-end directors tend to receive, it;s no wonder he's built up that sort of wealth.

So is being one of the worst presidents in US history something to be proud of?

I'll admit, my knowledge of US history is very poor, as I do not live there. All I really know about Obama is that he seems to be a substantial improvement on Bush; I have absolutely no basis for comparison with anyone further back than that.

But becoming US President is, I think, something to be proud of in and of itself. It can't be something that's easy to do.

comment by CAE_Jones · 2016-01-26T07:50:21.429Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

There was a recent thread in discussion trying to objectively evaluate Obama's presidency. The general conclusion seems to be, based on comparing policy outcomes and polling data with that of other presidents, that Obama is a fairly mediocre president, and unless some evidence surfaces that he was secretly the mastermind behind ISIS, in no way among the worst.

comment by CCC · 2016-01-27T07:40:33.730Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, that's about what my gut feeling would have said, too.

comment by gjm · 2016-01-25T22:09:46.555Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I have no idea whether anyone to speak of actually does consider George Washington Carver an important scientist, though the available evidence suggests he was a very clever guy. Neil deGrasse Tyson, so far as I know, isn't considered important as a scientist by anyone, including himself, but he seems to me very obviously an outstanding popularizer of science on his own merits.

None of which is actually relevant to your remark about dancing bears. The point about the dancing bear, remember, is that it may be an absolutely hopeless dancer by the standards we usually use, and that the only thing interesting about it is that it's astonishing that a bear can dance at all. Was George Washington Carver a hopeless scientist? Nope. Are black people so uniformly unintelligent that it's astonishing that one can be a scientist at all? Nope. (Even on a stronger "race realist" position than seems to me in any way credible.)

comment by bogus · 2016-01-26T11:00:40.359Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Was George Washington Carver a hopeless scientist? Nope. Are black people so uniformly unintelligent that it's astonishing that one can be a scientist at all? Nope.

We're not talking about ability to do science, though. The question is which people should be considered notable, or unusually successful due to their achievements. And it's rather obvious that, e.g. Norman Borlaug (considered by some as "agriculture's greatest spokesperson") is a lot more notable than G. Washington Carver. Indeed, if we're looking for someone worthy of being compared with Albert Einstein or even Marie Curie, Borlaug seems especially appropriate.

comment by gjm · 2016-01-26T12:49:27.957Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I completely agree: George Washington Carver seems to have been a smart and interesting guy but doesn't belong on any list of the world's greatest scientists, and if some school textbook chooses him as one of a small number of scientists to profile then I bet it is indeed largely because he was black.

That's not necessarily a bad thing. It would be bad if they claimed "here are three scientists of comparable greatness" (or "comparable prominence" or "comparable brainpower") and then listed Einstein, Curie, and Carver. I haven't seen those textbooks, but I'm guessing they didn't. If they said "here are three scientists" (subtext: "... whom you might want to use as role models if you're that way inclined") I don't see a problem with that. (Eugine might, if he believes that black people's statistical inferiority is so dramatic that as a group they should be systematically discouraged from getting into science.)

comment by bogus · 2016-01-26T13:46:29.913Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I haven't seen those textbooks, but I'm guessing they didn't. If they said "here are three scientists" (subtext: "... whom you might want to use as role models if you're that way inclined") I don't see a problem with that.

Perhaps, but I think this says more about subcultures in the U.S. than anything else. Do you think branco or moreno kids in Brazil would have any problem with adopting Pelé as a role model due to his significant African descent?

comment by gjm · 2016-01-26T14:18:44.053Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't know enough about Brazilian society to have much idea about your final question. I expect your first sentence is right -- it's not hard to imagine variant societies in which being black is no obstacle to taking Einstein or Curie as a role model -- but if that's meant to make something I've said wrong, I'm not seeing why.

comment by Vaniver · 2016-01-25T19:26:02.546Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

When it comes to scientific importance, it's important to separate out popular visibility and scientific visibility. If you're not a string theorist, for example, you might have difficulty sorting the names on this list by impact instead of alphabetically. It's probably easier to recognize who on that list have written books or TV shows targeted at the popular audience that it is to recognize which of them have won Nobels!

(Sylvester James Gates, Jr., on that list, is black. But is he important? I'm not a string theorist, and I only know about him because he taught at my alma mater.)

comment by bogus · 2016-01-25T08:00:43.836Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

He's also "involved" in heavily critiquing the current (ANC-led) South-African government. Of course, this struggle does not "fit a currently popular narrative", and so it has not contributed to his being "famous". Overall, this seems to say a lot more about the determinants of popular fame than it says about Desmond Tutu.

comment by bogus · 2016-01-25T03:37:49.910Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm pretty sure that MLK and Desmond Tutu would be quite notable even if their minority status wasn't a factor. I'm not familiar enough with jazz music to be able to say much about Louis Armstrong one way or the other, but Scott Joplin certainly qualifies as successful (The Entertainer is possibly his most popular piece, but he wrote plenty more of course). And what about sportspeople like Pelé (one of the greatest soccer players of all time)?

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2016-01-19T22:24:11.138Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Initial steps for this symposium began a few billion years ago. As soon as the stars were formed, opacities became one of the basic subjects determining the structure of the physical world in which we live. And more recently with the development of nuclear weapons operating at temperatures of stellar interiors, opacities become as well one of the basic subjects determining the processes by which we may all die. -- Opacity Calculations: Past and Future, by Harris L. Mayer

I agree with Randall Munroe that it is an awesome opening paragraph for a physics paper

comment by gjm · 2016-01-24T15:34:40.468Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I agree that it's a great opening paragraph, but is it really a "rationality quote" in any useful sense?

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2016-01-24T22:05:59.241Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It's places facts about a seemingly simple effect (opacity) into a context of the grandest possible scope thereby showing the surprising complexity of everything if taken seriously. At the same time it uses this as a cool literary device.

It doesn't tell you this upfront but I saw it as teaching to think big in a true way. Either this is too hidden or I interpreted something that isn't there.

comment by [deleted] · 2016-01-17T01:54:57.531Z · score: 1 (7 votes) · LW · GW

“The end is not to eliminate choice (or the lessons that may be learned from misguided choices), but to remove from the market choices that will more than likely be made only by those who are susceptible to non maximising considerations. … given the comparative advantage that sellers have with respect to knowledge about their products, and given the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of potential customers, minimum quality and safety standards (and occupational licensing) represent an attempt to overcome the worst effects of exploitation.”

-Kleinig 1983, pp. 183-8, in Allens

comment by [deleted] · 2016-01-13T04:51:34.040Z · score: 1 (7 votes) · LW · GW

“If it’s never our fault, we can’t take responsibility for it. If we can’t take responsibility for it, we’ll always be its victim.”

-Richard Bach

“Self-pity is easily the most destructive of the nonpharmaceutical narcotics; it is addictive, gives momentary pleasure and separates the victim from reality.”

-John W. Gardner

  1. Know the benefits of a victim mentality.

There are a few benefits of the victim mentality:

  • Attention and validation. You can always get good feelings from other people as they are concerned about you and try to help you out. On the other hand, it may not last for that long as people get tired of it.

  • You don’t have to take risks. When you feel like a victim you tend to not take action and then you don’t have to risk for example rejection or failure.

    • Don’t have to take the sometimes heavy responsibility. Taking responsibility for you own life can be hard work, you have to make difficult decisions and it is just heavy sometimes. In the short term it can feel like the easier choice to not take personal responsibility.

    • It makes you feel right. When you feel like the victim and like everyone else – or just someone else – is wrong and you are right then that can lead to pleasurable feelings.

-HENRIK EDBERG

comment by Viliam · 2016-01-25T08:43:42.042Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Seems to me that people with the victim mentality often make a very unhealthy generalization: they start with something like "doing bad things to other people is evil; not doing bad things to other people and suffering from other people's bad actions is good"... and gradually simplify it to: "doing things is evil; not doing anything is good". -- In extreme cases they may admit it openly, and perhaps call it an ancient wisdom. But in the typical case they would refuse this as strawmanning; yet their reasoning and action is as if they believed this.

At that moment, they refuse to take any steps to improve their situation, simply because the good side is defined by not doing things. If you need some rationalization, here it is: People who do something, sometimes do something bad, if only by a mistake. Doing bad things when you had the option of not doing bad things, is evil. Even risking the possibility of doing bad things is immoral negligence; and people who try to improve something are suspect of being slowly driven to the evil side by their corrupted hardware.

There is sometimes an exception to this rule, some kind of messiah who is above all the human weakness and cannot be corrupted by the evil influence of action -- for example some politician or a political party. Then the person with the victim mentality expects this specific person or movement to save them. Anyone else who tries doing something still remains evil.

(I know this is a lot of wild generatization, and the model does not properly describe every nuance of real life. Still it corresponds to some things I have observed.)

comment by [deleted] · 2016-01-26T04:22:50.371Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I really liked this analysis. I reckon whoever was callous/conceited enough to downvote might have been calling out the:

Seems to me that people with the victim mentality often make a very unhealthy generalization:

(I know this is a lot of wild generatization, and the model does not properly describe every nuance of real life. Still it corresponds to some things I have observed.)

comment by [deleted] · 2016-01-02T07:32:38.825Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

At some point you have to choose between (1) accepting the good and bad within a person versus (2) accepting the good and bad of being forever without this person

comment by [deleted] · 2016-01-02T08:03:28.365Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Live your happiest live by accepting that some people can only be in your life as lessons and/or memories

-Karen Salmansohn

comment by [deleted] · 2016-01-02T07:53:18.186Z · score: 0 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Do not fear change. Change fear.

-Karen Salmansohn

comment by Jiro · 2016-01-02T20:22:28.099Z · score: 18 (20 votes) · LW · GW

Mr. Furious: Okay. Am I the only one who finds these sayings just a bit formulaic? "If you wanna put something down, you gotta pick it up". "If you wanna go left, you gotta go right". It's...

Sphinx: Your temper is very quick, my friend. But until you learn to master your rage —

Mr. Furious: Your rage will become your master? [The Sphinx freezes, caught] That's what you were gonna say, right? Right?

Sphinx: ... Not necessarily.

-- Mystery Men

comment by [deleted] · 2016-01-04T13:21:49.181Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

everything will be okay in the end, if it's not okay it's not the end

;)

comment by Good_Burning_Plastic · 2016-01-12T11:05:53.065Z · score: 3 (7 votes) · LW · GW

In Soviet Russia, fear changes you!

comment by The_Lion · 2016-01-03T05:29:29.090Z · score: -1 (13 votes) · LW · GW

Not all changes are good. In fact, most potential changes would be absolutely awful.

comment by Silver_Swift · 2016-01-05T16:56:51.090Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

That is no reason to fear change, "not every change is an improvement but every improvement is a change" and all that.

comment by Glen · 2016-01-06T21:00:31.999Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

That depends on the situation and record, doesn't it? If 90% of changes that you have undergone in the past were negative, then wouldn't it be reasonable to resist change in the future? Obviously you shouldn't just outright refuse all change, but if you have a chance to slow it down long enough to better judge what the effects will be, isn't that good? I guess the real solution is to judge possible actions by analyzing the cost/benefit to the best of your ability in cases where this is practical.

comment by [deleted] · 2016-01-13T04:38:30.518Z · score: 1 (11 votes) · LW · GW

That's a ridiculously pessimistic thing to say

comment by Lumifer · 2016-01-13T15:50:17.391Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I suspect you read this as "most (well-meaning) potential changes" while The_Lion means it as "most (random) potential changes".

Most random changes to highly organized structures would, indeed, be awful.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2016-01-14T10:37:40.881Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

All the changes that people make are "well-meaning", even those being made by ISIS. A word that better makes the distinction is "intentional".

comment by CCC · 2016-01-19T10:32:23.069Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Not necessarily. I know that if I get really angry, I sometimes make (generally small) decisions out of a desire to hurt whatever I am angry at. I don't think that counts as "well-meaning".

comment by Lumifer · 2016-01-14T15:47:55.395Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

All the changes that people make are "well-meaning", even those being made by ISIS.

Depends on your definition of "well" and that line of approach would lead us into the usual definitional morass :-/

And, technically speaking, there is also compulsive behaviour.

comment by Viliam · 2016-01-25T09:03:11.811Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

How would you feel about this?

Pareto efficiency, or Pareto optimality, is a state of allocation of resources in which it is impossible to make any one individual better off without making at least one individual worse off.

Or about a definition of a (local) maximum that says that all other (adjacent) options are worse?

comment by [deleted] · 2016-01-26T04:01:21.975Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't have any particular feelings about since I don't see how you are relating it to the quotes. Could you please clarify?

I believe it's a concept and reckon it's a pretty good Wikipedia article...

comment by [deleted] · 2016-01-02T08:36:55.208Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Live your happiest life by tapping into choice not habit in your words and actions. Karen Salmansohn

comment by [deleted] · 2016-01-02T08:26:39.447Z · score: -3 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Live your happiest live by accepting that some people can only be in your life as lessons and/or memories

-Karen Salmansohn

comment by Good_Burning_Plastic · 2016-01-29T21:26:21.881Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

As discussed elsewhere in this thread, Neil DeGrasse Tyson is "media science personality" not a successful researcher.

That moves him into the bullet below, not off the list altogether.

comment by [deleted] · 2016-01-26T06:58:59.416Z · score: 0 (6 votes) · LW · GW

“People want an authority to tell them how to value things but they choose this authority not based on facts or results,” Burry writes in a letter closing down his fund. “They choose it because it seems authoritative or familiar, and I’m not and never have been familiar (and I'm not and have never been familiar)”

-https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/act-four/wp/2015/12/28/why-adam-mckay-is-americas-most-powerful-political-filmmaker/

comment by philh · 2016-01-26T13:53:52.609Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

You're posting too many quotes in this thread.

comment by [deleted] · 2016-01-26T14:09:03.221Z · score: -4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Is that a bad thing?

Let me add another:

“The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything” ― Albert Einstein

I don't believe you're evil for rule-lawyering and depriving people of good quotes. I believe there are stressors in your life that pressure you into acting that way, unaware of the social consequences in their enumeration. I hope those who appreciate the quotes will make their position clear with karma, and those who do not assert the counterpoint.

comment by philh · 2016-01-27T00:04:11.986Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I consider "lots of mildly upvoted quotes" to be a failure mode of this thread. It becomes a place where one can too easily come and spend a lot of time reading things of little value. Alternatively, it becomes a place where one doesn't bother to come, because the good stuff is drowned out by the mediocre stuff. Rate-limiting posters seems like a pretty good way to avoid this failure mode.

comment by [deleted] · 2016-01-27T04:01:16.065Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I didn't see it that way. I'll think over this.

comment by TimS · 2016-01-26T15:37:01.197Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I don't believe you're evil for rule-lawyering and depriving people of good quotes.

One can debate the norms of a thread, or one can look at the listed expectations of the rationality quote thread:

No more than 5 quotes per person per monthly thread, please

Have you done more? I haven't counted and don't care. I don't think rationality quotes threads have any value beyond karma mining anyway. I object to accusations of "rules-lawyering" on the grounds that it is an almost always an attempt to pretty up "I disagree."

I believe there are stressors in your life that pressure you into acting that way, unaware of the social consequences in their enumeration.

Telling someone else what their motivations are is trying to pick a fight. Stop.

comment by entirelyuseless · 2016-01-26T15:57:05.779Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

He has posted many more than 5 quotes on this thread.

comment by gjm · 2016-01-27T17:47:39.877Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

To be more precise: Six quote-containing comments at top level. At least one contains several quotations. Several other quote-containing comments not at top level.

comment by gjm · 2016-01-25T22:16:49.069Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The original question was about being a source of vicarious pride.

The actual original words: "so then need to attach yourself vicariously to the success of other white people". As I say: success rather than excellence as such.

does being one of the worst US presidents count?

For this purpose, it doesn't matter whether you consider him "one of the worst", nor whether he is objectively "one of the worst" (whatever that might mean). It matters whether he's someone black people might attach themselves vicariously to the success of. Looking at the relationship between race and political affiliation in the US, it seems unlikely that most black Americans would consider Obama "one of the worst US presidents".

(Of course the whole "vicarious attachment" thing is just one guy's analysis of what "white pride" movements are about. I don't know whether he's right about "white pride" movements, still less whether something similar is true of "black pride" or "gay pride" or whatever. The application of his words to other __ Pride movements was yours, not mine.)

comment by Good_Burning_Plastic · 2016-01-25T08:47:24.076Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I missed that name in your list, didn't help that none of the others were anywhere near this impressive.

How about Michael Jordan? Usain Bolt? Chuck Berry?

comment by Good_Burning_Plastic · 2016-01-25T08:45:10.702Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

All the successful black people you mentioned are basically dancing bears.

Mmmm, what about people like Michael Jordan or Usain Bolt or Chuck Berry, who are better than all or almost all non-black people in their respective fields?

comment by Good_Burning_Plastic · 2016-01-24T21:20:17.065Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Heck you had to pad out the list with "Tim Cook, CEO of the world's most successful company", even though it is pretty clearly not his efforts that lead to this state of affairs.

What if gjm had said "Peter Thiel" instead?

comment by [deleted] · 2016-01-22T05:58:32.838Z · score: 0 (8 votes) · LW · GW

“”If you are busy drinking and fighting all the time, you accomplish nothing, so then need to attach yourself vicariously to the success of other white people as a source of your 'pride.' But it is utter hypocrisy.

—Singer (and former white supremacist) George Burdi.

I'm not white and this helped me feel more secure about my racial identity. I'm not secure about my LessWrong or Reddit identity either and sometimes ask myself, then why do it?

comment by Lumifer · 2016-01-14T15:45:56.931Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The road to hell was never in need of repair.

comment by MalcolmOcean (malcolmocean) · 2016-01-04T02:43:40.329Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The career of truth is not a person's only vocation, but it may be the only one upon which the intervention into that person's life can be justified. Can any other basis – even if all parties agree to it – free itself of the partialities of convention?

— Robert Kegan, The Evolving Self

comment by Good_Burning_Plastic · 2016-01-25T09:04:00.706Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

especially outside the fields of sports and Entertainment

I think you spelled "except in" wrong.

comment by The_Lion · 2016-01-04T01:05:52.403Z · score: -1 (17 votes) · LW · GW

The destroyer of science and rationality isn't the uneducated blue collar, but the "fortune cookie" journo trying to "communicate" science.

Nassim Taleb

comment by username2 · 2016-01-04T13:50:00.364Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, you have to have some power to go against scientific community. Media, tobacco, oil companies and governments are obviously more dangerous than average Joes.

comment by Good_Burning_Plastic · 2016-01-04T15:35:41.205Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Hello back, Eugine.

comment by [deleted] · 2016-01-02T18:17:42.684Z · score: -1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

...But those whose statements baffle all attacks,

Safe by evasion, -

Whose definition, like a nose of wax,

Suit all occasion, -

Whose unreflected rainbow far surpassed

All our inventions,

Whose very energy appears at last

Scant of dimensions: -

Are these the gods in whom you put your trust,

Lordlings and ladies?

The hidden potency of cosmic dust

Drives them to Hades.

-- J. C. Maxwell

comment by [deleted] · 2016-01-06T22:51:10.850Z · score: -2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

“A virtuous, ordinary life, striving for wisdom but never far from folly, is achievement enough.”

-Alain de Botton (ADB)

comment by [deleted] · 2016-01-06T23:03:10.196Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

At the heart of Epicureanism is the thought that we are as bad at answering the question “What will make me happy?” as “What will make me healthy?”

-ADB