↑ comment by gjm ·
2015-01-15T10:06:48.386Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
Can you pretty please stop pressing me on this point?
Sure, I'll drop it if you will. (With the brief observation that it's not like you've either expressed any sort of regret for shit-talking autistic people, or given any justification for your doing so. So it's not like I've been going on about a topic that's been resolved.)
Perhaps it is worth making it explicit why I have made an issue of this even though it is NOT important to Dahlen (a weighty consideration, to be sure). There are quite a lot of people on LW who are somewhere on the autistic spectrum (look up a recent annual survey if you want the numbers). The ones I know about appear to me to be just as valuable to LW as other people here. And it seems to me that it is not good practice to use these people as some kind of byword for irrationality, as you have been doing, or to suggest that they are interchangeable with "automatons". Because it's (1) unpleasant for them and (2) bad for LW if those people decide to leave because they're being used as a punching bag.
And nothing in what you've said so far gives any reason to think that you see any problem with that.
... Oh, I see you aren't quite done yet. I'll respond to the rest of what you say, and then I'm done if you are.
You are not, as the saying goes, the boss of me.
You may or may not have already realized this
Yes, I did understand that you were doing it for emphasis. And I was doing what I did for mockery, because I thought (and still think) what you were emphasizing was silly and unpleasant -- the point at issue was never whether the lack of a skill is the lack of a skill, or whether the lack of a skill is unimportant, or whether there are skills that autistic people (by definition) tend to lack. And also because when I see people making unpleasant comments about autism on LW, either the explicit meaning or the clear subtext is always something like "ha ha, look at these freaks. I'm so much better than they are". (So there was a certain amount of irony in the air when you kindly warned me of the danger of saying things to feel better about oneself.)
So no, I am not going to "stop that". If I see the sort of reprehensible behaviour you've been engaging in in this thread, I reserve the right to reprehend it. And if the person doing it makes no serious attempt either to justify what they're doing or to apologize for it, I reserve the right to do so with gently mockery (which, be it noted, is all I have done).
any crowd who requires such limitations in order to be able to have productive conversations is worse than the average human at handling these topics
But you have no evidence that the LW crowd does require such limitations for that very unambitious purpose. Especially as you have indicated that you are including small-talk under the heading of "productive conversations".
I have seen productive conversations of (for instance) politics on LW, many times. It does not appear to me that political discussions on LW, when they happen, are any worse than political discussions in the world at large. This is all perfectly consistent with thinking that LW would do best to avoid political discussions because (1) the risk of descending into flamewars is nonzero and that's a potentially very harmful failure mode, and (2) even a (merely) better-than-average political discussion is usually not actually very productive. (A better-than-average discussion of something underlying politics, like say economics, may be more useful. No one is proposing that those are off-topic.)
It may also be worth noting that the correct point of comparison is not real-world face-to-face political discussions but other political discussions on the internet, because for a variety of reasons the difference in medium makes a difference to the risk of descent into hostility and flamewars and arguments-as-soldiers.
Replies from: alienist, Dahlen
↑ comment by alienist ·
2015-01-20T07:05:30.960Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
There are quite a lot of people on LW who are somewhere on the autistic spectrum (look up a recent annual survey if you want the numbers).
Hi, there. I'm on the autistic spectrum and I'd appreciate it if you'd stop declaring behaviors "reprehensible" on my behalf. As it happens I find your behavior in this thread much more reprehensible then Dahlen's (which I didn't find objectionable at all).
I think a much better approach to dealing with my disability is to adapt to, compensate for, and/or overcome it rather than accuse anyone who brings it up of being "reprehensible".
Replies from: gjm
↑ comment by gjm ·
2015-01-20T08:53:35.995Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
Hi. Pleased to meet you, but I think you may have misunderstood. I wasn't declaring anything reprehensible on your behalf; I'm sorry to say that I was entirely unaware of your existence. And I wouldn't dream of suggesting that anyone who brings up autism is reprehensible; if you got the impression that I do then I probably failed to be clear enough and I'm sorry about that.
I'm glad that you aren't in any way annoyed, upset, offended, etc., at what Dahlen wrote. I still think s/he shouldn't have written it.
Now, if it turned out that, say, 95% of LW readers on the autistic spectrum are perfectly happy with what Dahlen wrote, that really would make a difference to my opinion of it. (I'd then be curious as to whether Dahlen was just lucky, or whether s/he is better than I am at predicting autistic people.) But for now, all I know is that one person who says they're autistic says they don't have a problem with what Dahlen wrote, and that one probably different person about whom I know nothing upvoted that comment. Which isn't nothing, of course, but it falls some way short of being enough evidence to change my mind right now.
 For the avoidance of doubt, I think it's hugely unlikely that you're lying. I'm just being careful to distinguish things I know from things I don't.
Replies from: ilzolende
↑ comment by ilzolende ·
2015-01-22T06:38:58.349Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
Unless you take a survey, you won't get a remotely representative sample, but as one of the more activist/SJW-like autistic LW readers, I found the comparison annoying, although not really offensive, because it didn't seem like Dahlen was trying to reference actual autists. To steal and modify Yudkowsky's favorite Davidson quote, if you assert that autistics have below-average rationality, are childish, and are Spock-like, then you do not make any assertions, true or false, referencing autistic people. Rather, you're just using a stereotype as a reference point for talking about some other category.
Replies from: gjm
↑ comment by Dahlen ·
2015-01-16T08:50:39.059Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
Trying to extract an apology out of a person through harassment 1) has SJW written all over it; 2) begets nothing resembling, in substance, an actual apology (after all, you haven't made the person change their mind), more like capitulation or an admission of weakness. This is the last possible instance when you are going to see me apologizing. Might as well not chase me into the afterlife for it. Downvote if you will and leave me be.
As long as you're engaging in an interaction with me, I have the full right to state what kind of behaviour towards me I will or will not tolerate, so don't put it as if I were bossing you around. My terms of discussion include a friendly tone and lack of sarcasm, insults, or other markers of dislike or hostility. I see those as a milder form of declaration of enmity, and instead of continuing a hostile discussion endlessly I'd rather just walk away. Talk is for friends and allies, actual and potential. For enemies there are fisticuffs, sabotage, or blissful ignorance of each other's existence.
(In case that point was left unclear, there are ways of expressing a disagreement with me or making me a reproach that don't look like the beginning of a long mutual dislike. They just don't resemble your approach here.)
the point at issue was never whether the lack of a skill is the lack of a skill, or whether the lack of a skill is unimportant, or whether there are skills that autistic people (by definition) tend to lack.
Well it kind of was the point for me.
But you have no evidence that the LW crowd does require such limitations for that very unambitious purpose.
Yes. And I will not provide any. Because as it happens I don't believe that. It seemed to me that FrameBenignly believed that in his OP, and my whole point all along has been that no, I don't think that LW belongs to the category of crowds that require those limitations, and if I am wrong and it does, then I think that's a sad state of affairs.
I have one more reply of yours somewhere that I think I need to address, because it looks like I wasn't communicating something very clearly. After that, the next reply of mine to you is going to be to a cordial tone comment, or there won't be one at all.
Replies from: gjm, helltank
↑ comment by gjm ·
2015-01-16T10:17:33.166Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
[Most of this is meta-discussion. At the end of your comment you said something that wasn't. If anyone else is actually reading this, they're probably more interested in the non-meta. They should look ahead for the next comment in square brackets.]
Trying to extract an apology
Perhaps I wasn't clear enough. Obviously you are under no sort of obligation to apologize when criticized. But if your reaction is that you
- do not apologize, AND
- do not attempt to justify what you wrote, AND
- ask the person criticizing you to stop doing so
then it seems reasonable to point out what's going on.
Harassment? Everything I have written in this discussion has been in direct response to something you wrote. I have not threatened you or insulted you. I seriously can't imagine what I have done that a reasonable person would describe as harassment.
has SJW written all over it
If that's what I pattern-match to in your brain, I'm not sure there's much I can do about it. (I am with SJWs in so far as they stick up for groups that tend to get treated badly; I am against them in so far as they end up abusing other groups, treat everything as tribal warfare, and/or employ blatantly stupid arguments in doing so. Make of that what you will.)
Might as well not chase me into the afterlife for it
Good grief. I criticized something you wrote. I responded to your responses to the criticism. When you said you don't like being criticized and asked me to stop, I said "I'll stop if you will" and happened to mention that you had neither justified nor retracted what you said. That's all.
what kind of behaviour towards me I will or will not tolerate
It appears that you will not tolerate (1) criticism and/or (2) not being given the last word merely because you would prefer it. You might want to rethink that.
a milder form of declaration of enmity
I think your enmity-detectors are oversensitive, and I think that given how this discussion began you've got quite a nerve complaining that someone isn't being friendly enough towards you. To put it explicitly: I do not in any way regard you as an enemy (though I am wondering whether I should given your remarks about enmity here), I see no reason whatever why we should not be allies in the future, but I strongly disagree with some things you have been saying in this discussion and how you have been saying them. That's all.
as it happens I don't believe that
OK. That's better than the impression I got from the way you began:
If anything, not being able / advised to discuss any of the above topics reflects significantly less rationality than the average person [...] the best thing I could say about a crowd that would abide by such norms is that they have a highly lopsided intellectual development [...] the failure to handle banal conversation topics like pop culture or humour casts doubt on the truth or intellectual value of the things such a crowd does accept to discuss
which was (at least to my reading) all about the cognitive failures one could infer from requiring those limitations.
(If your argument was intended to be "We'd only need those limitations if we had Bad Characteristic X, but obviously we don't, so we don't need the limitations" -- with the second half of the argument so obvious as not even to need stating -- then I submit that it was a mistake to choose for Bad Characteristic X something that (1) LW documentedly exhibits a way-above-average rate of and (2) LW folks have more than once been attacked for in the past.)
↑ comment by helltank ·
2015-01-16T09:58:49.951Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
If you are offended by any of gjm's statements, I suggest you walk away now, because what I'm going to say is going to be just as offensive to you as anything that gjm has posted.
Right, I take issue with your statement that autistic people are irrational, but I think that point has already been made for me. What I am taking issue with now is:
then I think that's a sad state of affairs.
You believe it is a sad state of affairs that people on LessWrong are discouraged from discussing topics that will harm people more than benefit them? Am I correct in therefore saying that you believe it is a sad state of affairs people on LessWrong are discouraged from doing stupid and irrational things? Because if so, that doesn't seem like a sad thing at all.
Consider the case where political commentary is viewed as just as acceptable a topic of debate as any other. Yes, it would be ideal to have everyone here so rational they can discuss politics freely, without risking harm to their rationality. Yet it is a fact that Politics is the Mind-Killer, and this is not going to go away and it is not going to change because you believe in freedom of speech. And I don't think this is a particularly sad state of affairs, for the very fact that people avoid things that make them irrational is a promising sign that they value their lack of bias.
But you seem to think that the freedom to say silly things like "autistic people are less rational than others", or to bring up disruptive topics, outweighs that consideration.
At this point, I would like to recommend that you close the window right now, turn away from the computer and think hard about whether complete freedom of speech is one of those things that, in the minds of some people, automatically equals a win. I can't recall the technical term for it, but I do recall quite strongly that it will kill your mind.
Replies from: Dahlen, alienist
↑ comment by Dahlen ·
2015-01-16T10:32:02.072Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
At some point in a person's "training" as a rationalist, there comes a time when they are supposed to be ready to undertake controversial conversation topics without spontaneous combustion of their discussions. (Never mind that jokes and art are not exactly examples of controversial topics...) Rationality encompasses skills such as being able to accurately understand people's motives without caricaturing them, maintaining a good relationship with your conversation partners so that the channels for agreement and the channels for social relations don't get mixed (so that you can disagree sanely with someone), not straying the conversation away from collective truth-seeking and towards mini-wars etc. In fact I would say that a controversial topic such as politics is the best test of a person's actual wisdom and reasonableness.
I understand why some topics may not be appropriate for less-than-rational individuals. (But, again, these topics do not include humour and art and music! Otherwise you should pay a visit to the Wizard of Oz for him to give you a heart...) Anyone who has some legitimate claim towards better rationality skills, however, should at least try to test those better rationality skills on a higher difficulty setting. To forbid anything but sterile mathy discussions about game theory dilemmas involving alien intelligences does not improve the rationality level of people. (This honestly looks to me like cocooning; like fear of the outside world.) Nor does responsibly endeavouring to step into the arena of debates on topics relevant to humanity at large suddenly awaken your primal urges to kill, maim, and enslave your opponents. Ordinary people sometimes discuss this, in meatspace and on the internet. Ideas are expressed, values are clashed (instead of swords, mayhaps), insults are exchanged, people are warned or banned or not invited to the next dinner party. Egad, minds are sometimes even changed. With LessWrong, with all of our claims to an ardent dedication to rationality, I'm expecting to see less of the bad stuff and more of the good stuff. Much more.
Politics is the Mindkiller is not a law of nature, but a word of caution.
Replies from: Nornagest, helltank
↑ comment by Nornagest ·
2015-01-23T20:24:08.814Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
At some point in a person's "training" as a rationalist, there comes a time when they are supposed to be ready to undertake controversial conversation topics without spontaneous combustion of their discussions.
I've found that people, in practice, tend to believe this point comes about five minutes after they've been introduced to the concept of rationality.
Empirically, I do think people who've put sufficient effort into debiasing are better at talking about value-loaded topics than those who haven't. But that doesn't do us much good as long as we lack accurate metrics of rationality (introspective or otherwise), effective ways of telling people that they probably haven't leveled up enough to participate productively in a given discussion, or sufficient native forbearance. "You seem to be mindkilled" is about all we've got, and that tends to be interpreted, often correctly, as a partisan attack.
↑ comment by helltank ·
2015-01-16T12:00:16.376Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
I have to go to bed soon, therefore I will not write up a long post but leave you with this short statement:
Yes, there is such a point in our rationality training. You underestimate the amount of work needed to get there. I do not think that I can reach that point within the next 30 years; and everyone on LW would have to reach that point to argue effectively. It only takes a few outraged posters to turn a thread into a shitstorm(see the comments and replies above).
It is indeed a word of caution, just like "do not play with electricity" is a word of caution. Grown adults should theoretically be able to handle electricity without getting electrocuted, but doing so(unless they're electricians) won't give them many benefits and there will always be that risk.
I believe that he suggested(he is not a moderator but a random poster making suggestions, remember) that jokes, humor and art not be posted here because this is not a website for jokes, humor and art, unless they somehow have to do with rationality. There are plenty of sites for such things if you really have a pressing need to discuss your love of the Mona Lisa or knock-knock jokes with people on the internet.
If you want my opinion, it's that a debate about Obama's healthcare reforms is less likely to improve rationality than a debate about the sequences or some other "traditional" topic. If you really want to apply your rationality skills in a real world context:
It's right there. Just switch off your computer, go outside and strike up a debate with someone in meatspace.
↑ comment by alienist ·
2015-01-20T07:13:00.074Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
If you are offended by any of gjm's statements, I suggest you walk away now,
I notice you didn't make a similar to reply gjm with respect to his being offended by Dahlen's comment, even though gjm's offense was much more irrational.
But you seem to think that the freedom to say silly things like "autistic people are less rational than others"
That is not a silly thing, it is in fact true for most definitions of "rational".