[Link] Admitting to Bias

post by GLaDOS · 2012-08-10T08:13:44.744Z · score: 17 (29 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 131 comments

Contents

  Percentages of Social Psychologists Who Would Be Biased in Various Ways
  He said that the study also collected free responses from participants, and that conservative responses were consistent with the idea that there is bias out there. "The responses included really egregious stuff, people being belittled by their advisers publicly for voting Republican."
  What most impressed him about the issues raised by the study, Inbar said, is the need to think about "basic fairness."
None
131 comments

Summary: Current social psychology research is probably on average compromised by political bias leftward. Conservative researchers are likely discriminated against in at least this field. More importantly papers and research that does not fit a liberal perspective faces greater barriers and burdens.  

An article in the online publication inside higher ed on a survey on anti-conservative bias among social psychologists.

Numerous surveys have found that professors, especially those in some disciplines, are to the left of the general public. But those same -- and other -- surveys have rarely found evidence that left-leaning academics discriminate on the basis of politics. So to many academics, the question of ideological bias is not a big deal. Investment bankers may lean to the right, but that doesn't mean they don't provide good service (or as best the economy will permit) to clients of all political stripes, the argument goes.

And professors should be assumed to have the same professionalism.

A new study, however, challenges that assumption -- at least in the field of social psychology. The study isn't due to be published until next month (in Perspectives on Psychological Science), and the authors and others are noting limitations to the study. But its findings of bias by social psychologists (even if just a decent-sized minority of them) are already getting considerable buzz in conservative circles. Just over 37 percent of those surveyed said that, given equally qualified candidates for a job, they would support the hiring of a liberal candidate over a conservative candidate. Smaller percentages agreed that a "conservative perspective" would negatively influence their odds of supporting a paper for inclusion in a journal or a proposal for a grant. (The final version of the paper is not yet available, but an early version may be found on the website of the Social Science Research Network.)

To some on the right, such findings are hardly surprising. But to the authors, who expected to find lopsided political leanings, but not bias, the results were not what they expected.

"The questions were pretty blatant. We didn't expect people would give those answers," said Yoel Inbar, a co-author, who is a visiting assistant professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and an assistant professor of social psychology at Tilburg University, in the Netherlands.

He said that the findings should concern academics. Of the bias he and a co-author found, he said, "I don't think it's O.K."

Discussion of faculty politics extends well beyond social psychology, and humanities professors are frequently accused of being "tenured radicals" (a label some wear with pride). But social psychology has had an intense debate over the issue in the last year.

At the 2011 meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Jonathan Haidt of the University of Virginia polled the audience of some 1,000 in a convention center ballroom to ask how many were liberals (the vast majority of hands went up), how many were centrists or libertarians (he counted a couple dozen or so), and how many were conservatives (three hands went up). In his talk, he said that the conference reflected "a statistically impossible lack of diversity,” in a country where 40 percent of Americans are conservative and only 20 percent are liberal. He said he worried about the discipline becoming a "tribal-moral community" in ways that hurt the field's credibility.

The link above is worth following. The problems that arise remind me of the situation with academic and our own ethics in light of this paper.

That speech prompted the research that is about to be published. Members of a social psychologists' e-mail list were surveyed twice. (The group is not limited to American social scientists or faculty members, but about 90 percent are academics, including grad students, and more than 80 percent are Americans.) Not surprisingly, the overwhelming majority of those surveyed identified as liberal on social, foreign and economic policy, with the strongest conservative presence on economic policy. Only 6 percent described themselves as conservative over all.

The questions on willingness to discriminate against conservatives were asked in two ways: what the respondents thought they would do, and what they thought their colleagues would do. The pool included conservatives (who presumably aren't discriminating against conservatives) so the liberal response rates may be a bit higher, Inbar said.

The percentages below reflect those who gave a score of 4 or higher on a 7-point scale on how likely they would be to do something (with 4 being "somewhat" likely).

Percentages of Social Psychologists Who Would Be Biased in Various Ways

  Self Colleagues
A "politically conservative perspective" by author would have a negative influence on evaluation of a paper 18.6% 34.2%
A "politically conservative perspective" by author would have a negative influence on evaluation of a grant proposal 23.8% 36.9%
Would be reluctant to extend symposium invitation to a colleague who is "politically quite conservative" 14.0% 29.6%
Would vote for liberal over conservative job candidate if they were equally qualified 37.5% 44.1%

I can't help but think that self-assessments are probably too generous. For predictive power of how an individual behaves when the behaviour in question is undesirable, I'm more likely to take their estimate of how "colleagues" behave than their estimate of how they personally do. 

The more liberal the survey respondents identified as being, the more likely they were to say that they would discriminate.

The paper notes surveys and statements by conservatives in the field saying that they are reluctant to speak out and says that "they are right to do so," given the numbers of individuals who indicate they might be biased or that their colleagues might be biased in various ways.

Inbar said that he has no idea if other fields would have similar results. And he stressed that the questions were hypothetical; the survey did not ask participants if they had actually done these things.

He said that the study also collected free responses from participants, and that conservative responses were consistent with the idea that there is bias out there. "The responses included really egregious stuff, people being belittled by their advisers publicly for voting Republican."

This shouldn't be surprising to hear since to quote CharlieSheen: "we even have LW posters who have in academia personally experienced discrimination and harassment because of their right wing politics."

Neil Gross, a professor of sociology at the University of British Columbia, urged caution about the results. Gross has written extensively on faculty political issues. He is the co-author of a 2007 report that found that while professors may lean left, they do so less than is imagined and less uniformly across institution type than is imagined.

Gross said it was important to remember that the percentages saying they would discriminate in various ways are answering yes to a relatively low bar of "somewhat." He also said that the numbers would have been "more meaningful" if they had asked about actual behavior by respondents in the last year, not the more general question of whether they might do these things.

At the same time, he said that the numbers "are higher than I would have expected." One theory Gross has is that the questions are "picking up general political animosity as much as anything else."

If you are wondering about the political leanings of the social psychologists who conducted the study, they are on the left. Inbar said he describes himself as "a pretty doctrinaire liberal," who volunteered for the Obama campaign in 2008 and who votes Democrat. His co-author, Joris Lammers of Tilburg, is to Inbar's left, he said.

What most impressed him about the issues raised by the study, Inbar said, is the need to think about "basic fairness."

While I can see Lammers' point that this as disturbing from a fairness perspective to people grinding their way through academia and should serve as warning for right wing LessWrong readers working through the system, I find the issue of how this our heavy reliance on academia for our map of reality might lead to us inheriting such distortions of the map of reality much more concerning. Overall in light of this if a widely accepted conclusion from social psychology favours a "right wing" perspective it is more likely to be correct than if no such biases against such perspectives existed. Conclusions that favour "left wing" perspective are also somewhat less likely to be true than if no such biases existed. We should update accordingly.

I also think there are reasons to think we may have similar problems on this site.

131 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by John_Maxwell (John_Maxwell_IV) · 2012-08-11T02:13:30.964Z · score: 16 (16 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's worth noting there are a few (unlikely) alternative explanations, like:

  • Studying social psychology tends to cause one's politics to drift left, because the facts in that particular field genuinely do point to the correctness of left-wing positions. (For possible examples, see here and here.) Being right-wing is correlated with being a bad social psychologist.
  • Social psychologists are well-calibrated about their own behavior, so the reason they describe themselves as biased is because they are taking the outside view, thinking something like "I try to be fair, but in reality I'm probably biased".

I am convinced that it makes sense to assume there are important right-leaning research findings that aren't being publicized.

I'm less worried about Less Wrong than I am academia. If we really are committed to figuring out what's true even when it's uncomfortable, what's comfortable and uncomfortable should matter less.

Another point: Less Wrong isn't obviously a bastion of left-wing ideas, so it's possible whatever is filtering out conservatives from posting here is also filtering them out of academia.

comment by magfrump · 2012-08-11T17:53:53.523Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Another point: Less Wrong isn't obviously a bastion of left-wing ideas, so it's possible whatever is filtering out conservatives from posting here is also filtering them out of academia.

Back in the OB days, iirc, Eliezer referred to the community as mostly libertarian; recent surveys indicate that it would be more accurate to describe the community as mostly liberal with a strong libertarian streak. This would seem to indicate that there is some force driving the community in that direction; however it is also totally possible (and I would expect likely) that this has more to do with "science" as being a liberal applause light than it does with liberalism approaching truth-seeking.

comment by CarlShulman · 2012-08-11T18:32:16.307Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Back in the OB days, iirc, Eliezer referred to the community as mostly libertarian;

Robin and Eliezer both are libertarian-leaning, and participated for a long time (accumulating audiences) in libertarian transhumanist circles such as the Extropians. New audience members aren't primarily attracted through those channels, so the effect should decline with time.

comment by magfrump · 2012-08-14T21:03:03.534Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

New audience members aren't primarily attracted through those channels

This makes me wonder, is there a reason to expect Harry Potter fans to be more liberal than average?

And... yes, I guess there is.

comment by BlazeOrangeDeer · 2012-08-16T08:51:43.505Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I know of several parents who forbid their children to read the books because of some ridiculous fear of witchcraft, stemming from their conservative fundamentalism... so that would be one factor.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-08-16T19:27:21.923Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well, reading Harry Potter probably at least marginally increases the child's chances of embracing some form of witchcraft later in life. Whether that's enough to bad the books is a different question.

comment by shminux · 2012-08-16T20:26:25.568Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Well, reading Harry Potter probably at least marginally increases the child's chances of embracing some form of witchcraft later in life.

Do you mean it as an objective statement or what a certain (probably strongly mainstream-religious) parent would think?

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-08-16T22:51:00.266Z · score: 3 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Objective statement. In fact, it strikes me as fairly obvious once one gets past thinking that any argument that even marginally helps the enemy must be wrong.

comment by shminux · 2012-08-16T23:57:34.895Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Hmm, it does not strike me as obvious. For example, one could advance an argument that reading about witchcraft as fiction at an early age actually inoculates children from believing in the reality of witchcraft later in life. I do not see a way to believe either argument without experimental testing. Maybe some has been done already?

This reminds me of the varying positions religious parents take on Santa Clause and the Tooth Fairy. Some say that such beliefs, bound to be proven false eventually, cause children to doubt their faith in the true God, others say that this highlights the difference between paganism and true beliefs. I am not aware of any studies on the matter.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-08-11T18:35:10.666Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Less Wrong isn't obviously a bastion of left-wing ideas, so it's possible whatever is filtering out conservatives from posting here is also filtering them out of academia.

When I started posting on LW, I was - depending on your terminology - very conservative. If there are any barriers that prevent conservatives from joining, then they didn't affect me. (Edit: this is anecdotal; I might just be an outlier.)

I should point out that my views have drastically changed since joining. Though I try to avoid aligning with any particular political group, libertarian-progressive might be accurate. I'm interested in seeing where other people in the community stand after the next census.

comment by falenas108 · 2012-08-13T21:03:42.495Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

That sounds like an interesting question to put on the next census: What were your views before LW, what are they now, and if there was a change how much did LW influence it.

comment by GLaDOS · 2012-08-10T11:44:35.410Z · score: 12 (20 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Political bias on LessWrong as well?

We rely heavily on academia for determining what is true or isn't and academia has turned out to be biased in a certain way. I have recently grown convinced we can see examples of such bias playing out here as well. Considering politics is the mind-killer and how strange our demographics are this isn't really that surprising a realization. Similar conditions and incentives may recreate the problem here This compounds the progressive bias we inherit from academia.

Remember LessWrong is 3% conservative and ~30% socialist and another ~30% "Liberal"! People say "Wow" when they see someone being socially conservative.

Even many of our libertarians are probably left libertarians and nearly all of our high quality right wing thinkers are somewhat eclectic, eccentric and often aren't really conservative in the small c sense of the word. Examples include machinations like Anarcho-Capitalism, Moldbuggian Progressivism-curing Rationalist Uberfact, Eugenic Aristocratic Monarchies or Multi-universe spanning TDT zombie computational theocracies (something like that! ^_~ ).

Intellectual hipsters indeed. I'm not sure such fun ideas cooked up by a handful of enthusiastic rationalists really help us offset the bias, rather than just adding their own dose of political craziness to the mix.

Standing where we do as a community, means that our bias against ideas and arguments because of their tribal affiliation will not feel like being unfair or irrational from the inside. I have little idea how to fix this or even if it is wise to fix it considering how the mysterious but probably real w-force continues to do its magic over time. It may hurt our status bad enough to stop us from "Refining the art of human rationality" (yay! ^_^) in other ways.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2012-08-11T02:26:44.646Z · score: 8 (16 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Political bias on LessWrong as well?

Yes. In particular, shoddy cheap shots toward conservatives will receive a pass, and often acclamation.

comment by Emile · 2012-08-11T10:21:45.693Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Really? I can't say I've noticed many cheap shots at conservatives that weren't downvoted - unless you count cheap shot at stupid positions that happen to be mostly held among conservatives, like religion. But even cheap shots at religion here seem rarer than on other atheist forums.

comment by BlazeOrangeDeer · 2012-08-16T08:54:46.943Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I remember reading several posts from the sequences that contained shots at Bush, some of them cheap.

comment by Zaine · 2012-08-11T15:33:21.944Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Isn't the point of this site to espouse the process of thinking rationally? to support and encourage others in coming to their own conclusions about the where the map lies over the territory? Indeed, if rationality is reliable at all in improving one's accurate perspective of the world, much of the community will come to the same conclusions - and of course others will I'm sure appreciate the availability of some guiding logic that may assist in them in learning to think more rationally. However, shouldn't others be left to their process and not forced to accept a conclusion they have yet to reach themselves, lest they be deemed irrational?

It just seems like pointless signalling hypocritical to the principles of the site itself to thrust a bottom line out there and say, "This is rational and not agreeing to this is irrational - whatever gets you here, I don't care, but make sure you do!"

As a summary metaphor:
In maths, you can reach right answer using incorrect methods, yet it will be a singular feat.

comment by Emile · 2012-08-11T16:09:00.382Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Sorry, did you accidentally reply to the wrong comment? (or is there some link I'm not seeing?)

comment by Zaine · 2012-08-13T18:02:22.538Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

My bad, I kept meaning to include a disclaimer notifying you that I wasn't so much responding to your comment as I was saying something that I thought needed saying after having read your comment.

This was the impetus:

... stupid positions that happen to be mostly held among conservatives, like religion.

Even though you qualified that statement as a meta example of a cheap shot while noting that cheap shots aren't to be tolerated, I still thought it needing saying.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-08-12T21:28:34.500Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Even many of our libertarians are probably left libertarians

The description in the survey made it clear that by ‘libertarian’ it meant ‘capitalist libertarian’. (I am a socialist libertarian myself, but I picked ‘socialist’ in the survey, IIRC.)

comment by Luke_A_Somers · 2012-08-10T14:32:36.351Z · score: 11 (13 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I wonder what would happen if they unpacked 'liberal' and 'conservative' into their component parts and repolled.

I hope (but not necessarily expect) that a lot of the discrimination would come out as social scientists being 'biased' against specific positions whose advocates claim to be conservative, that make no sense from a social science perspective - and not against other conservative positions with no such implication. These could be swept up by bandwagon formation.

It might possible to find certain other disciplines where the participants would have a similar bias against liberals due to some particularly popular boneheaded positions claimed by their advocates to be liberal, and again bandwagon formation.

Or it could just be a liberal dominance of social science, complete with discrimination. A more detailed poll might help to elucidate this.

comment by maia · 2012-08-10T20:44:31.467Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It might possible to find certain other disciplines where the participants would have a similar bias against liberals due to some particularly popular boneheaded positions claimed by their advocates to be liberal, and again bandwagon formation.

Cynical response: I wouldn't necessarily expect this. American academia has a well-known left-wing bent. (Come to think of it, though, I might expect more scattered results in economics in particular.)

comment by shminux · 2012-08-10T16:05:48.843Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

First, I am surprised that a serious study would settle for self-assessment, the least accurate of all possible polls (for example, it's hard to tell if the liberal-identified participants exaggerated their bias due to their pangs of liberal guilt or understated it, as usually happens). Second, I am even more surprised by the high degree of identification with such a broad movement, like it's all Berkeley out there. Surely many of them disagree with at least some of the ideas proclaimed by other "liberals". I guess they are not up to date on their Paul Graham studies:

there is a step beyond thinking of yourself as x but tolerating y: not even to consider yourself an x. The more labels you have for yourself, the dumber they make you.

comment by CaveJohnson · 2012-08-10T12:15:59.297Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

A interesting NYT article I saw linked to in your inside higher ed link.

Social Scientist Sees Bias Within

SAN ANTONIO — Some of the world’s pre-eminent experts on bias discovered an unexpected form of it at their annual meeting.

Discrimination is always high on the agenda at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology’s conference, where psychologists discuss their research on racial prejudice, homophobia, sexism, stereotype threat and unconscious bias against minorities. But the most talked-about speech at this year’s meeting, which ended Jan. 30, involved a new “outgroup.”

It was identified by Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist at the University of Virginia who studies the intuitive foundations of morality and ideology. He polled his audience at the San Antonio Convention Center, starting by asking how many considered themselves politically liberal. A sea of hands appeared, and Dr. Haidt estimated that liberals made up 80 percent of the 1,000 psychologists in the ballroom. When he asked for centrists and libertarians, he spotted fewer than three dozen hands. And then, when he asked for conservatives, he counted a grand total of three.

“This is a statistically impossible lack of diversity,” Dr. Haidt concluded, noting polls showing that 40 percent of Americans are conservative and 20 percent are liberal. In his speech and in an interview, Dr. Haidt argued that social psychologists are a “tribal-moral community” united by “sacred values” that hinder research and damage their credibility — and blind them to the hostile climate they’ve created for non-liberals.

“Anywhere in the world that social psychologists see women or minorities underrepresented by a factor of two or three, our minds jump to discrimination as the explanation,” said Dr. Haidt, who called himself a longtime liberal turned centrist. “But when we find out that conservatives are underrepresented among us by a factor of more than 100, suddenly everyone finds it quite easy to generate alternate explanations.”

Not surprising at all.

Dr. Haidt (pronounced height) told the audience that he had been corresponding with a couple of non-liberal graduate students in social psychology whose experiences reminded him of closeted gay students in the 1980s. He quoted — anonymously — from their e-mails describing how they hid their feelings when colleagues made political small talk and jokes predicated on the assumption that everyone was a liberal.

Right but unlike gays those nasty non-liberal minded students clearly deserve it! Amirite?

I'm sorry GLaDOS but while distortions of the map are important and probably what we should talk about it, I agree with Lammers from the OP here. We should not dismiss the human cost of this situation for the minority of students with non-liberal views.

What most impressed him about the issues raised by the study, Inbar said, is the need to think about "basic fairness."

comment by CharlieSheen · 2012-08-10T12:34:16.812Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Right but unlike gays those nasty non-liberal minded students clearly deserve it! Amirite?

Obviously since non-liberal post-graduate students of social psychology cause all sorts of nasty stuff by their presence.

For example the achievement gap between black and non-black students is probably entirely due to their evil racism. Their presence is probably also sometimes detected by sensitive female students who detect patriarchal bias from them and thus avoid social science, it might even serve as a trauma trigger for them. Don't forget hail!

Even a simple look in a certain contexts probably suffices for that so we can't really trust official investigation to keep us safe from this insidious hidden menace. What if some of them start a right wing students club with regular meetings on campus! All these problems brought by non-liberal students also need to be put into context when it comes to the health costs to other students we would incur by making them feel non-excluded. It might for example induce infertility or impotence. Also what if they don white robes and start ridding by night and carrying out meetings?? Pacts with shadowy right wing organizations and them privately repudiating social justice, freedom or equality are also horrible possibilities. They might even speak ill of MLK or FDR, engage in meet ups in order to marry off their female members so they can experience missionary position procreative sex! They also probably use non-fair trade chocolate in their baking recepies! Really? Why don't you just use human blood!

Also we already know reality has a liberal bias, so us being biased that way is no biggie makes us more accurate really.

comment by MugaSofer · 2012-11-07T10:25:13.757Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

In fairness, most forms of discrimination involve choosing among bodies while ignoring the minds. It's much easier to end up with unbalanced numbers of, say, liberals or atheists or whatever if you select based on intelligence, qualification etc.

comment by fubarobfusco · 2012-08-10T09:20:30.289Z · score: 7 (21 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Bear in mind that the labels "liberal" and "conservative" are not timeless or neutral. There is no reason to expect that there would be equal proportions of "conservatives" and "liberals" in any given intellectual movement, phyg, profession, or other group, without first asking what those labels are used to mean, and whether those meanings are in accord with, or opposed to, that group's goals or interests. It is not reasonable to proclaim that unequal representation of political labels in a group is indicative of bias on the part of that group's members — at least not without considering and rejecting other hypotheses for that inequality.

The specific views associated with these labels in the mainstream have shifted and changed around over time. In the U.S. today, the term "conservatism" is heavily associated with (among other things) opposition to secularism, science, and sexual equality. If you call yourself a "conservative", people may expect that you support creationism, school prayer, and the persecution of gays — just for instance. Thus, one would expect that fewer biologists, atheists, or gay people would call themselves "conservative" than in the general population — not because biologists, atheists, and gays are biased against conservatism, but because the word "conservative" means, in part, opposition to biology, atheism, and gays.

This is not because of something inherent about "conservatism" (which is, after all, a label and has nothing inherent about it at all). It has to do with the specific movements which have claimed that label. (Again, these labels shift — few would expect of a "progressive" today that they favored eugenics, despite that having been once a position labeled "progressive".) People may have good reasons to decline to associate themselves with a label, even if they may agree with some other views that have sometimes been labeled "conservative" in the past — and this is not bias, at least, not in the sense that we generally use that term here.

comment by GLaDOS · 2012-08-10T11:24:11.481Z · score: 10 (18 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

(@_@)

This was not about low representation being an argument for discrimination, this was about people in a field out and out admitting in huge numbers that they would blatantly discriminate against people hurting their careers because of political affiliation!

Worse they would hinder papers and research that carried ideas they don't like for political reasons? Don't you see how that disfigures our map of reality and turns out to be a mockery of what the scientific process should be?

And even if that would have been that argument, like it partially seems to be in say this NYT article describing the work of Dr. Haidt:

“Anywhere in the world that social psychologists see women or minorities underrepresented by a factor of two or three, our minds jump to discrimination as the explanation,” said Dr. Haidt, who called himself a longtime liberal turned centrist. “But when we find out that conservatives are underrepresented among us by a factor of more than 100, suddenly everyone finds it quite easy to generate alternate explanations.”

sigh

Naturally I do agree with you and in the commentary I did invoke an argument based partially on demographics that we may be similarly biased. I don't expect there to be many conservatives on this site. I also don't expect there being many women or poor or non-white people here either. And no fubarobfusco "non-white", "woman" and "poor" are also not timeless or neutral.

What I do expect of people here is to work against biases against ideas that aren't comfortable to groups they identify with!

I'm going to move my own argument out of the OP and into a separate post so people don't confuse it with the point of the article and the primary takeaway that current socially psychology research is probably on average compromised by political bias leftward.

My argument was that similar demographics and status games here probably recreate the same problem. This compounds the progressive bias we inherit from academia.

comment by fubarobfusco · 2012-08-10T21:26:08.977Z · score: 3 (13 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This was not about low representation being an argument for discrimination, this was about people in a field out and out admitting in huge numbers that they would blatantly discriminate against people hurting their careers because of political affiliation!

If you want to get a job providing safety equipment for workplaces, you should probably not proclaim that you believe that workplaces are too safe. If you want to get a job as a doctor, you should probably not announce yourself as a believer in Christian Science and faith-healing. If you want to get a job as a Friendly AI researcher, you should probably not declare that you believe any AI that has been blessed by the Pope is assuredly friendly.

The common use of "conservatism" today proudly includes positions that are anti-science; as such, it is unsurprising that scientists might consider affiliation with that label to be evidence of incompetence, unseriousness, or opposition to their field. I do not see a need to introduce the hypothesis of "political bias leftward" when it is quite possible that t he scientists doing this so-called "bias" are merely taking the claimed beliefs of conservatives seriously.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-08-11T00:30:07.122Z · score: 10 (18 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The common use of "conservatism" today proudly includes positions that are anti-science

I could make the same case about "liberalism". The difference being that since liberals have more influence in academia, they can actually force most scientists who disagree with them to keep quiet.

comment by magfrump · 2012-08-11T17:37:23.651Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I want to see you do this, but unlike many things that people here are overly concerned about, this idea seems right at the heart of the mind-killing part of politics, so it would probably be best to do it outside of LessWrong.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-08-11T20:04:12.017Z · score: 5 (11 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Look at the discussion below this comment. Notice that the people trying to argue the liberal side aren't even bothering to argue that their position is "true", but merely that people should pretend it is for the sake of making people feel good. Call it what you want, it's definitely anti-science.

comment by magfrump · 2012-08-14T21:03:20.944Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You may note that in the thread you linked, there is a current unresolved disagreement LITERALLY BETWEEN YOU AND ME. This is clearly a problematic example when it comes to my own learning, and is the exact reason that I was interested in that example being moved outside of LessWrong; perhaps I should have additionally specified that the example would ideally come from outside of LessWrong.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-08-14T21:15:45.682Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You may note that in the thread you linked, there is a current unresolved disagreement LITERALLY BETWEEN YOU AND ME.

Yes, and do you disagree with the characterization of the argument I gave above?

comment by magfrump · 2012-08-14T21:58:54.634Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

At least in part.

My primary objection remains that it will be vastly more difficult for me to learn to identify the bias that you are indicating exists if your only examples of it appear to be personal attacks. I don't mean to say that this is what your example is, obviously I only posted one or two comments out of dozens, but my silly little ape brain isn't letting me consider your proposal objectively so I would like it if you could provide a different example.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-08-14T22:18:22.905Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Given that you seem to be a liberal, what makes you think you won't be equally mind-killed by the other examples?

comment by magfrump · 2012-08-15T22:42:58.002Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I often agree with what are labeled as "liberal" positions on many issues. That doesn't mean that anyone who identifies as "liberal" suddenly becomes a staunch friend and ally to me. When I personally am involved in a debate and do not feel that I am communicating my own point well, this is the most emotionally involved state that I regularly get into--I tend not to feel so strongly about debates between other people.

I certainly agree that I will have some degree of problems coping with a point that "attacks liberals," but it seems like a pretty weird hypothesis to say that I will have an equal degree of difficulty seeing biases even in friends as I do in myself. Rational is far, right? And anything that involves me specifically puts me in near mode more than anything else possibly can.

Mind-killed? Yes. I will have to deal with that, I want to deal with that, that's why I asked for examples. But equally? No way.

comment by Vladimir_M · 2012-08-12T07:18:39.602Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you want to get a job providing safety equipment for workplaces, you should probably not proclaim that you believe that workplaces are too safe.

It looks like here you have inadvertently provided a good argument for the opposite of what you wanted. Namely, what you write applies even if your belief that workplaces are too safe is correct. (Workplaces can certainly be too safe by any reasonable metric, at least in principle. Imagine if office workers were forced to wear helmets and knee pads just in case they might trip over while walking between the cubes. Then imagine a thriving industry of office helmets, an ever expanding bureaucracy for regulating and inspecting them -- and august academic experts getting grants to study them and issue recommendations for their use.)

If your stated beliefs are misaligned with the institutional incentives in the business or bureaucracy in which you work, it will indeed be very bad for your career. And what reason do you have to believe that the institutional incentives in the contemporary academia are aligned with the truth on all (or even on most) ideologically charged matters?

comment by fubarobfusco · 2012-08-12T20:29:56.831Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It looks like here you have inadvertently provided a good argument for the opposite of what you wanted.

That's odd, it looks to me as if you're taking a rather loose analogy in a direction somewhere away from the topic. Getting back on topic:

My point was that "conservatism" isn't a thing — it's a label, and that people's responses to that label have to do with what they take it as referring to.

It's been noted elsethread that the survey has serious problems. One of them is that it doesn't ask what the surveyed psychologists think they are talking about when they say "conservative". If you ask someone, "What do you think about conservatives?" you will get different answers based not only on what that person's values are, but what they think "conservative" means.

If scientists use "conservative" to mean "a person who values religious doctrine over scientific results", then you are ill-advised to represent yourself as "conservative" when trying to get a job from a scientist. Especially if you don't mean that when you say "conservative"!

Note the difference between "scientists use 'conservative' to mean 'a person who values religious doctrine over science'" and "scientists think that conservatives value religious doctrine over science". The latter implies that scientists are referring to an objective class of "conservatives" whereas the former considers that scientists may not be referring to the same set of people when they say "conservative" that someone else refers to by that word.

I think we have a problem of sneaking in connotations here.

comment by GLaDOS · 2012-08-10T11:56:09.451Z · score: 7 (11 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I find it interesting that this is never pointed out when occasional casual speculation based on reasoning similar to my own (except without actual examples) that our large libertarian minority might be biasing us towards libertarian ideas?

Same goes for those talking about Feminist biases btw.

comment by lucidian · 2012-08-10T12:21:42.790Z · score: 1 (11 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Our large cryonicist population is probably biasing us towards cryonicist ideas. Our large computer scientist population is almost certainly biasing us towards explanations of consciousness/intelligence which rely on computational metaphors. Our large, outspoken atheist contingent probably biases us away from conveying positive attitudes towards religion, lest we be publicly ridiculed. Are these biases problematic too?

Social groups form based on shared ideas. Of course they will be biased! I think most of us would be unhappy in a totally unbiased LessWrong, because we'd be so busy debating things like theism vs. atheism that we'd have no time to delve into the finer-grained implications of our philosophical worldview.

comment by philh · 2012-08-10T12:55:38.717Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I feel like you're conflating "unbiased" with "zero-knowledge". Flat-earthism is not an accepted viewpoint here, but that's not because we're biased against flat-earthism, it's just that flat-earthism is stupid. If it turned out that flat-earthers on average were happier and better at getting things done than other people, and if we failed to acknowledge that because flat-earthism is stupid, then that would indicate a harmful bias against flat-earthism.

If the reason we don't debate theism vs. atheism is mere bias, then we're all fooling ourselves terribly. If the reason is that we've thought sensibly about it and come to the conclusion that atheism is correct and the expected benefit of further debate is less than the time and energy costs, then that's okay.

comment by lucidian · 2012-08-10T13:29:56.629Z · score: 3 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I agree with you; I am abusing terminology.

For the record, though, I do think we have a bias against theism in the sense that you've described. I understand why LessWrong might choose to consider the "does God exist?" question settled, but we go further than that. We frequently discuss how terrible religion is, and applaud efforts to promote atheism, despite the benefits to happiness etc. that religion provides.

I think it's understandable that we have such a bias. On LessWrong, we value truth and truth-seeking; this goes far enough that it's almost a moral value. When other groups actively discourage truth-seeking, we oppose them.

I don't know anything about social psychology, but my experience with other social sciences suggests that liberal, humanist values are deeply ingrained in their system. What I mean is, the social sciences are not just truth-seeking engines looking for facts about humanity. They have their own moral values attached (e.g. reducing discrimination).

Just as we on LessWrong are reluctant to engage in discussions with people who oppose truth-seeking, social scientists may be reluctant to engage in discussions with conservatives, because conservatives tend to hold moral values that are actively opposed to the social sciences' agenda.

This article suggests implicitly that the social sciences should be about truth-seeking, not about promoting some political/moral agenda. The willingness of social scientists to admit their bias against conservatives suggest that they feel otherwise.

comment by GLaDOS · 2012-08-10T15:50:51.309Z · score: 9 (17 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This article suggests implicitly that the social sciences should be about truth-seeking, not about promoting some political/moral agenda.

If the social sciences aren't about truth seeking the same way physics or biology are I think we shouldn't be calling them sciences.

comment by falenas108 · 2012-08-10T20:21:18.158Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

We frequently discuss how terrible religion is, and applaud efforts to promote atheism, despite the benefits to happiness etc. that religion provides.

Those benefits are primarily based on the communities. If we build similar secular communities, like the link I gave suggests, then there wouldn't be a special benefit to religion.

comment by Viliam_Bur · 2012-08-13T13:31:47.382Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Religions can make the community-building easier.

At least they provide additional reasons for: "Why should I bother joining your community?".

comment by GLaDOS · 2012-08-10T12:47:28.771Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You misunderstand. I'm saying that the argument that we are biased towards say libertarianism because of our demographics (and don't forget libertarians are another minority on LW) is brought up, but the counterargument that fubarobfusco has described against this sort of reasoning is not brought up.

comment by Pentashagon · 2012-08-11T00:54:20.463Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I would be even more interested in the answer to this question: "A 'politically conservative result' identified by an author would have a negative influence on evaluation/publication of a paper." In other words, are these researchers unfavorable to the expression or advocacy of conservative perspectives or are they unfavorable toward evidence that supports a conservative viewpoint?

comment by Jayson_Virissimo · 2012-08-11T07:15:33.729Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

In the parts of psychology I have studied, a 'result' is the (apparent) outcome of an experiment.

comment by CharlieSheen · 2012-08-10T15:57:33.241Z · score: 5 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

In other news the group X has decided that the most reasonable set of political positions is held by the ideology Y. It just happens to be the ideology that has a ready made and politically viable arguments for more funding to be funnelled to group X.

comment by Suryc11 · 2012-08-10T17:56:13.653Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This was covered on Prof. Massimo Pigliucci's blog (Rationally Speaking) a few days ago. He points out some of the issues with the Inbar and Lammer paper's methodology and notes that its findings should be taken with a grain of skepticism. Well worth a read, in my opinion.

comment by Unnamed · 2012-08-10T19:53:20.183Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This seems to be his strongest argument:

Sixth, “we asked whether they would evaluate papers and grant applications that seemed to take a conservative perspective negatively.” Well, I would. But I would also evaluate negatively a paper or grant that takes a liberal perspective, because I happen to think that scientific papers ought to strive for having no ideological perspective whatsoever (they are not op-ed pieces, or works in political philosophy). And psychology, last time I checked, was presenting itself as a science. Incidentally, the authors immediately admit, in the same phrase: “but we did not ask whether they would evaluate work that seemed to take a liberal perspective negatively.” Well, why on earth not?

comment by Nornagest · 2012-08-10T20:18:45.148Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's a good point, and I think enough to call the paper's findings seriously into question, but I don't think fixing it would be enough to salvage the methodology. Ideological bias tends to be transparent from the inside: I'd expect any academic with a strong commitment to academic neutrality to punish perceived ideological bias in proportion to its magnitude, but I'd also expect the same academics to perceive viewpoints leaning toward their own ideology as less biased than the alternatives. Probably much less.

You'd need to do something a lot more clever to filter that out: maybe something like asking academics about the perceived rates of each type of ideological bias in papers and grants they evaluate, and normalizing based on that.

comment by Suryc11 · 2012-08-10T20:16:23.506Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Agreed. He also suggests that there were obvious controls that should have been used but were not:

Perhaps the most problematic aspect of the Inbar and Lammers paper, however, is the above mentioned lack of the obvious control: they didn’t ask conservatives about their biases (nor, for that matter, did they ask another obvious control group: politically neutral or middle of the road faculty).

comment by [deleted] · 2012-08-17T11:11:26.517Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Relevant LessWrong article:

Some Heuristics for Evaluating the Soundness of the Academic Mainstream in Unfamiliar Fields

comment by AspiringRationalist · 2012-08-11T01:56:58.886Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Minor nitpick: "Socially Psychology" should be "Social Psychology" at the beginning.

comment by GLaDOS · 2012-08-11T06:22:48.857Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Thank you! Fixed. (^_^)

comment by HBDfan · 2012-08-10T13:35:44.631Z · score: -2 (14 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

As GLaDOS knows this is well documented already (in sources that have bias but the facts are good).

comment by CaveJohnson · 2012-08-11T10:13:25.042Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Your link seems like a bad idea considering I'm seeing people throwing tantrums and mass down voting certain users. Considering your nick I'm a bit suspicious that you are a troll.

Edit: I should clarify, I don't find anything wrong with the content written by Lynn, just that some people go instantly into political mode if they see links to a political site, even when the article is by an expert in his field.

Linking some other relevant writing by Lynn would have been preferable.

2nd Edit: Reading the whole article I find nothing wrong with it, the besides politically motivated whining about the site hosting the article I see no good reason to down vote this link. Retracted.

comment by GLaDOS · 2012-08-11T10:00:08.299Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Considering the mass down votings have started again it seems it was a bad idea to bring up your link.

comment by novalis · 2012-08-10T18:31:41.466Z · score: -4 (28 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Please do not link to VDARE. It has a large amount of racist material. When you link to sites like this, you make people of color worry that they will be discriminated against. It's not an unreasonable worry. I would like Less Wrong to be welcoming to everyone.

comment by HBDfan · 2012-08-10T23:14:45.360Z · score: 8 (16 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

LessWrong contains material that would upset people taken out of context. (eg. Gwern's post how to sabotage Intel to slow down unfriendly AI.) I think that this does not make any other article on LessWrong not true.

If I link to Steve Sailer will you be upset as he writes for Vdare?

comment by novalis · 2012-08-10T23:24:25.024Z · score: -2 (16 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you read Steve Sailer's articles, they more-or-less uniformly have negative things to say about people of color. So, yeah, same problem.

comment by HBDfan · 2012-08-11T08:45:54.079Z · score: 3 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Do you call John Derbyshire or Eric S. Raymond racist?

comment by pragmatist · 2012-08-11T08:55:04.783Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't know about Eric S. Raymond, but yeah I'd describe John Derbyshire as racist. He describes himself as a (mild) racist and a (mild) white supremacist, incidentally. Do you think he is not racist?

comment by HBDfan · 2012-08-11T09:30:28.025Z · score: 2 (10 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Raymond says Derbyshire uses "racist" ironically. "I think his ‘racism’ is a snook being cocked at bien pensants. He doesn’t think or act like a racist; he’s got a Chinese wife, and he’s not fixated on any racial group being inferior."

As Raymond says you are conceding the truth to real racists.

comment by pragmatist · 2012-08-11T10:02:50.344Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Raymond says Derbyshire uses "racist" ironically. "I think his ‘racism’ is a snook being cocked at bien pensants. He doesn’t think or act like a racist; he’s got a Chinese wife, and he’s not fixated on any racial group being inferior."

It's quite possible he's using the word ironically, I'll admit. However, he's still a racist. The claim that he doesn't think or act like a racist is false, Chinese wife notwithstanding. I have read the article that got him fired from the National Review, and it qualifies as both thinking and acting like a racist. I know Raymond would consider this evidence of a lack of intelligence on my part, but I guess I'll just have to learn to live with his opprobrium.

As Raymond says you are conceding the truth to real racists.

This might be a convincing argument if I didn't think Derbyshire was a real racist. But I do. I also probably have a different assessment of the truth than Raymond does.

comment by CharlieSheen · 2012-08-11T10:06:17.431Z · score: 7 (13 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Can you tell me what the word "racist" means?

The use of "racist" is generally very wide and means several different meanings, their only common point is that they are boo lights that are hard to get rid of once someone accuses you of them.

comment by pragmatist · 2012-08-11T10:18:56.014Z · score: 3 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Can you tell me what the word "racist" means?

I can't give you necessary and sufficient conditions for someone to qualify as a racist, if that's what you're looking for. I can give you a general (although probably not exhaustive) sense of attitudes/beliefs that I would consider indicators of racism, and I can point at examples of people I consider racist. Given your subsequent request for a taboo on the word I'm not sure what purpose this would serve, but I'll do it if you'd like.

Can I in the future expect you to stick to the same usage?

If by this you mean something like "Can I expect you to set down a definition of racism and accept in the future that only people meeting that definition are racist?", then the answer is "no" unfortunately. Like I said, I don't think I can articulate a necessary and sufficient set of criteria for identifying racists. If you're asking if I can be expected not to be disingenuous and slippery in the future, then the answer is "yes", I think.

Can we continue this conversation while holding to a rationalist taboo on "racist"?

Sure. I'm not the one who introduced the word into the discussion. But I'm not sure what this conversation is about, exactly. Would you like me to tell you what I find objectionable about Derbyshire without saying "racist"?

ETA: I'm not sure how advisable it is to continue this conversation, actually. I don't think discussion of this specific point contributes much to the community, and it is the kind of political clutter that people have objected to in the past. The situation seems to be this: I find certain things Derbyshire says morally repugnant and indicative of a culpable prejudice against black people. You (I'm assuming, otherwise this is just a semantic debate about the word "racism") don't. I'm sure you've read the sorts of arguments I would make before and been unconvinced. I'm fairly sure I've read the sorts of argument you would make and been unconvinced. I doubt either of us is going to get anything substantive out of this discussion, and the mind-killing potential is huge. So let's drop it, yes?

comment by CharlieSheen · 2012-08-11T14:12:53.627Z · score: 4 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm sure you've read the sorts of arguments I would make before and been unconvinced.

Yes because I think the strong moral revulsion the average Western person has towards "racism" comes from ethics based on sacredness (I recommend your read Tinkerbell ethics series by Sister Y to see what I mean by sacred) and not due to consistent application of utilitarian ethics.

Not to say lots of "racism" might not reduce overall or average utility, but the same could be said of the targets of other emotionally charged arational revulsions. For example some people are revolted by sexual promiscuity or material inequality and proceed to sometimes build convincing utilitarian arguments against them.

But clearly their bottom line was written before the rationalized argument.

I'm not trying to put you down here, everyone has sacred spots like that. And we probably share the kinds of spots we have if not their intensity. I'm emotionally disturbed by a high enough setting of "racism" too and I'm pretty sure a high enough level of sexual hedonism might be emotionally disturbing to you.

So let's drop it, yes?

I can see how these debates might be counter-productive, but are you sure? I find debates on ethics fun. :)

comment by pragmatist · 2012-08-11T17:48:28.326Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes because I think the strong moral revulsion the average Western person has towards "racism" comes from ethics based on sacredness (I recommend your read Tinkerbell ethics series by Sister Y to see what I mean by sacred) and not due to consistent application of utilitarian ethics.

Oh, I have no problem admitting I'm not consistently applying utilitarian ethics. I'm far from a utilitarian. And I'll also readily acknowledge that some of my moral reactions stem from intuitions about sacredness. I don't think this means they are wrong or misguided.

I can see how these debates might be counter-productive, but are you sure? I find debates on ethics fun. :)

I do too, sometimes, but again, I know a number of readers won't be too happy with this discussion dominating the recent comments. Also, this thread is already getting a bit too fighty for my liking (you're not responsible for this), so it's probably in my best interest to bow out.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-08-11T12:37:58.383Z · score: 2 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I find certain things Derbyshire says morally repugnant and indicative of a culpable prejudice against black people.

What moral theory are you using to make this judgement? Also what exactly to you mean by "prejudice" and how does it differ from a Beysian prior?

Also since you won't state your definition of racist, let me ask you some questions about it. Is someone who believes group X has lower average IQ, for example, then group Y a racist? Does it matter how much lower? Does it matter if he has evidence? Does it matter if this belief corresponds to reality? Is the person still morally culpable in some/all of the above cases?

comment by [deleted] · 2012-08-11T13:00:51.672Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

As for me, if someone believes that group X has higher average IQ than group Y and that belief is not caused by them having seen evidence that group X actually has higher average IQ than group Y, I'd call them racist.

Hint: If someone's belief that white people have higher average IQ than black people was based on evidence that white people have higher average IQ than black people, they'd very likely believe that East Asians and Ashkenazi Jews have even higher average IQ. If they don't also believe that, I'd strongly suspect their belief is based on something else.

comment by CharlieSheen · 2012-08-11T14:05:48.819Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If someone's belief that white people have higher average IQ than black people was based on evidence that white people have higher average IQ than black people, they'd very likely believe that East Asians and Ashkenazi Jews have even higher average IQ. If they don't also believe that, I'd strongly suspect their belief is based on something else

I agree with this assessment, since such a person is likely just searching for good things to say about one group and bad things to say about another.

comment by pragmatist · 2012-08-11T17:39:47.745Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I meant what I said about not wanting to continue the conversation, but since you're asking me questions, I'll give you (some) answers. I hope you won't hold it against me if I don't answer further questions, though.

What moral theory are you using to make this judgement?

None. I don't think morality admits of theoretical systematization. I'm sympathetic to moral particularism.

Is someone who believes group X has lower average IQ, for example, then group Y a racist?

No. I believe there are differences in average IQ between racial groups, and I don't consider myself a racist.

Derbyshire's belief in racial IQ differences is not why I think he's a racist. It's things like advising his children not to assist black people in distress, and offering as a reason a single news story about some black people who killed a man who was helping one of them. Or advising his children not to go to an event where there will be a large number of black people, and offering as support a single news story about a shooting at an event with a large number of black people. Or asserting without evidence that 5% of all black people are ferociously hostile to whites and will go to great lengths to harm them, and that 50% of blacks will passively go along with this 5%. Or saying that one should scrutinize a black candidate for political office much more carefully than a white candidate. These are all claims he makes in the column that got him fired.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-08-11T19:54:31.017Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

No. I believe there are differences in average IQ between racial groups, and I don't consider myself a racist.

Well that's a start. What about differences in propensity to commit violent crimes?

Near as I can tell, your complaint about Derbyshire is that he takes the implications of this difference seriously and is willing to openly say so.

comment by pragmatist · 2012-08-12T02:02:50.420Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

According to the data in your link, 12.9 % of murders of white people were committed by black people. Black people constitute 12.6% of the population. I don't see how this particular data makes it reasonable to advise white children not to help apparently distressed black people, or to believe that 50% of black people will go along with white people being harmed on purely racial grounds, or to believe that black candidates to political office should be scrutinized with more care.

The male-female differential in commission of violent crimes is greater than the black-white differential. Do you really believe that Derbyshire thinks male candidates to political office should be held up to greater scrutiny than female candidates, or that he advises his children not to attend events where there will be a large number of men?

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-08-12T17:14:19.769Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

According to the data in your link, 12.9 % of murders of white people were committed by black people. Black people constitute 12.6% of the population.

Well, whites interact more with follow whites then with blacks.

Let's put it this way. Assuming you live in the US, walk through the nearest black neighborhood at night, every night for about a week. If you aren't willing to do this, why not?

comment by novalis · 2012-08-11T17:14:16.983Z · score: -1 (11 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Let me ask you a question: do you actually care whether people of color are comfortable at Less Wrong? If not, why not?

comment by HBDfan · 2012-08-11T18:15:39.191Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It is a good thing but it does not follow direct from "refining the art of human rationality". This needs us to examine fearlessly and rationally all questions even uncomfortable, and that follows direct from "refining the art of human rationality". You are right it does help this to have more varied people here.

comment by novalis · 2012-08-11T21:06:21.996Z · score: 5 (15 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I actually think it does follow. Understanding what people of different races experience is, apparently, a major cognitive blind spot. For instance, lots of people think that racism was a problem forty years ago, but isn't a problem today. But what did people forty years ago think?

"[I]n mid-August 1969, forty-four percent of whites told a Newsweek/Gallup National Opinion Survey that blacks had a better chance than they did to get a good paying job--two times as many as said they would have a worse chance?.

Sure,we've probably made progress since then. But if there is still widespread discrimination, would you notice? If you read the recent post from gwern on the psychology of power, you'll notice that this is just another application of a common set of biases.

There is, of course, also the issue of women; someone else brought up Larry Summers. Having women involved makes teams more effective -- that's instrumental rationality right there. And, of course, we have a fair number of philosophical debates here. It's well known that women have different philosophical intuitions than men. I would not be at all surprised to learn that the same is true of people of color. As Jef Raskin notes (in a completely different context), intuitive means familiar. Having had a different set of experiences would, of course, change what is familiar. To the extent that our debates rely on intuition, perhaps without our even noticing it, it's extremely valuable to get a different perspective.

When you link to people like VDARE, you are sending a very strong signal that you would really rather not have people of color here. Nobody likes to be part of a community where their ethnicity or gender is a reason to dismiss them as just not that smart. And this is an especially rough burden on people who are more likely to dissent from the local consensus by reason of their differing intuitions and experiences.

If you really, instrumentally, care about having people of color read Less Wrong, and you really care about coming to the correct conclusions, you ought to do what you can to make this a less unpleasant space to be around. Otherwise, you'll be excluding a bunch of interesting people and missing a bunch of useful data, and you'll never even notice.

comment by HBDfan · 2012-08-11T23:24:16.399Z · score: 3 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I will consider your post.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-08-11T21:42:05.719Z · score: 3 (11 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

By the same logic, should we stop promoting atheism since it makes religious people uncomfortable, and religious people definitely bring different perspectives?

comment by novalis · 2012-08-11T22:01:02.036Z · score: -4 (12 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The history is, of course, a bit different there. And religion is a matter of belief, rather than something immutable.

Finally, I am bothered by some of the discourse around religion -- the sort that is merely racism by another name. I am aware of the standard arguments for the unique awfulness of Islam, but they seem to me to be related to the fundamental attribution error. The reasonable argument against religion is error theory. The rest is a waste of time.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-08-11T22:24:26.418Z · score: 3 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The history is, of course, a bit different there. And religion is a matter of belief, rather than something immutable.

I don't see what either of those have to do with your stated reasons.

Near as I can tell your arguments are:

1) People of different races provide different perspectives so we shouldn't make them feel excluded.

Well, religious people also provide different perspectives, and this effect is much stronger for religion.

2) Not making people feel bad is intrinsically valuable.

This applies equally to religious people.

comment by novalis · 2012-08-11T23:04:54.259Z · score: -1 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

1) People of different races provide different perspectives so we shouldn't make them feel excluded.

Well, religious people also provide different perspectives, and this effect is much stronger for religion.

We can't avoid the perspective of religious people, because they are the vast majority of the world. So there is no special need to make them feel welcome (nor is there a special need to make them feel unwelcome). Also, if we look at this in terms of networks of evidence, the rationality node screens off everything from religion, which is not at all true of the perspectives of women and people of color.

2) Not making people feel bad is intrinsically valuable.

This applies equally to religious people.

Have you read the comments to this? This is where the history and state of the world come in. If you are a religious person, and you are bothered by Less Wrong, hey, there's very nearly the entire rest of the world for you to feel comfortable in. But if you are a woman and you are bothered, where can you go? There is no place on earth free of sexism.

Also, of course, some religious people are offended by the very existence of atheists who are vocal about their beliefs. It is, of course, hard to get them to admit this -- usually, it is framed in terms of "tone". But "tone" is a function of the listener as much as the speaker, and when someone's views are being attacked, they are more likely to hear the tone of the argument as angry. Similarly, it can be hard to hear the difference between "You're wrong", and "You're an idiot."

I do think that the comments on Less Wrong sometimes go out of their way to attack religious people, and I do think that this is an error. But I don't think you could have Less Wrong without having a population of vocal atheists. We could, however, do entirely without the vocal racism.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-08-12T16:55:33.390Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

We can't avoid the perspective of religious people, because they are the vast majority of the world.

Well, LW has done a remarkably good job of it.

Have you read the comments to this? This is where the history and state of the world come in. If you are a religious person, and you are bothered by Less Wrong, hey, there's very nearly the entire rest of the world for you to feel comfortable in. But if you are a woman and you are bothered, where can you go?

Just about anywhere else given the prevalence of PC in our culture.

comment by novalis · 2012-08-12T20:48:26.577Z · score: -4 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If the prevalence of PC were actually sufficient for women to feel comfortable, we wouldn't have blogs like this.

comment by novalis · 2012-08-11T16:22:11.103Z · score: -1 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm not interested in calling someone a racist or not a racist. I'm interested in whether someone's behavior makes people uncomfortable. So, yeah, I'm bothered by both of their behavior.

Also, that bit where I was at a conference with ESR, and he pulled one of the attractive young, female organizers onto his lap. Maybe she was into it and maybe not, but she didn't really have much choice but to be polite to one of the GoHs. So, I'm not really a big fan of ESR.

comment by HBDfan · 2012-08-11T16:30:01.997Z · score: 1 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You are changing topic and dodging answer. Does ESR have "racist material"?

comment by novalis · 2012-08-11T17:09:44.626Z · score: 0 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm not dodging at all -- I just haven't paid attention to ESR in years (that conference was in 2005 or 2006), so I have no idea what he posts.

comment by GLaDOS · 2012-08-11T07:37:36.416Z · score: 2 (12 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you read Steve Sailer's articles, they more-or-less uniformly have negative things to say about people of color.

No actually they don't. At least not about "people of colour" (who still uses language like that, did I step back into the 19th century?). I can't think of say any material that reflects negatively on East Asians and he talks about them more than many other groups. You can make a case most of the material on educational achievement, social dysfunction or crime reflects badly on African Americans, but again that is the data, the alternative is not talking about it at all. And most importantly while some of his commenter are racist he himself I think isn't.

Indeed as strange as it might sound (but not to those who know what he usually blogs about) Steve Sailer seems to genuinely like black people more than average and I wouldn't be surprised at all if a test showed he wasn't biased against them or was less biased than the average white American.

I think a large reason for this is that he is a sports stats buff and talks about it a lot. While talking about say crime rates will probably deplete your warm fuzzy counter for African Americans, talking about say Olympic medals will probably replenish it.

Also for people not familiar with Steve's regular style of writing, I'll endorse another LWer's opinion of him:

Perhaps I'm somewhat biased in my view of him, but generally for example this interesting video seems typical Steve Sailer style.

From a different poster:

VDARE is (somewhat) crimethink by my standards, much of their stuff not passing my Voigt-Kampf test if you know what I mean, but Sailer is anything but a racist. In fact, all the ethical flaws I might even begin to suspect him of are tied to his epistemic habits (such as thinking that his mainstream targets just Hate Truth), and generally he sounds like quite a decent person.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2012-08-11T15:11:19.917Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

From casual reading, I don't get the impression that black middle class and upper class people get noticed by HBDists. Have I missed something?

comment by HBDfan · 2012-08-11T16:37:43.449Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

All groups fall on a distribution. All groups have high and low. "All whites are better than all blacks" or "all blacks are better than all whites" is wrong and obvious racist.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2012-08-12T03:14:27.047Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm talking about availability bias, not theory.

comment by HBDfan · 2012-08-11T00:20:07.388Z · score: 2 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

But isteve is linked on LessWrong frequently. It is unclear how far you feel the curse by association goes.

Do not put marketing considerations above the rational search for truth.

comment by novalis · 2012-08-11T00:58:16.371Z · score: -2 (16 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Since when is making everyone feel welcome a "marketing consideration"? I actually care about how actual people of color feel. Don't you?

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-08-11T01:52:32.659Z · score: 1 (17 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

So what you're saying is that you prefer lies that don't make anyone feel bad to searching for truth.

comment by lucidian · 2012-08-11T02:56:34.073Z · score: 3 (15 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The problem with HBD is that it's not pure truth-seeking; there are value judgments attached. Most HBD advocates I've encountered don't just claim that the statistical correlation between race and IQ can be explained by genetics; they also claim that people with high IQs are better than people with low IQs.

I often see HBD presented as a heroic scientific effort, one that is only embraced by those truth-seekers brave enough to swim against the tide of political correctness. But HBD (as presented on the HBD blogs I've encountered, at least) is so fraught with value judgments that I have trouble taking it seriously. I have to wade through all sorts of claims about how awful black people are in order to dig out the bloggers' actual data. Furthermore, I distrust the factual claims of anyone with so obvious an agenda.

I'm not familiar with vdare.com, but I think it's perfectly reasonable for a truth-seeker to reject a source for making blatant value judgments. If the findings reported in that source are in any way scientific, they will be contained in the academic literature, which is presumably more neutral. A truly conscientious truth-seeker might want to completely avoid bloggers with political agendas, and go straight to the scientific journal articles.

comment by gwern · 2012-08-14T22:38:31.353Z · score: 9 (11 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

they also claim that people with high IQs are better than people with low IQs.

But they pretty much are by LW standards! It's not just that higher IQs correlate with irreligiosity and liberalism & libertarianism (as one might expect from LW's userbase), but they also correlate with honesty, low discount rates, willingness to cooperate, dislike of coercion, judicious investments, positive externalities (from R&D) and so on and so forth. I've been compiling cites on all of these if you want to read more.

comment by PZKS · 2012-08-11T06:24:21.541Z · score: 7 (13 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I looked at the above link, and it's actually a fairly heavily referenced book review written by Richard Lynn, a professor of psychology. The subject matter of the book is heavily within Lynn's area of expertise and stays focused on the substance. The guy is both a prominent academic in the psychology of intelligence, and willing to affiliate with publications, organizations, and events associated with nasty and silly ethnocentrism. Some possible heuristics we could apply here:

1) Read everything Lynn writes, both in academic journals and books, and in articles written for non-academic political publications, since he's an academic with relevant expertise.

2) Read everything Lynn writes, both in academic journals and books, and in articles written for non-academic political publications, but exclude things written for political publications where strongly disapproved writings appear (even if the Lynn article itself is unobjectionable).

3) Only read his academic articles and books, and not popularizations or other writings.

4) Don't read anything by this guy, either because his associations indicate his academic work is bad, or accepting any lost opportunities to learn as a legitimate cost of supporting norms of tolerance among majorities.

5) Don't read anything by people with Lynn's associations, but also extend one more level to exclude people who have associated with them, e.g. Arthur Jensen. Only read people who have political associations for which their research is inconvenient.

What are you thinking of?

Remember that too far down the list, one would also wind up excluding many of the arguments in the scientific literature against hereditarianism, at least on race, as the well-known anti-hereditarian authors often have strong Marxist, socialist and related commitments, e.g. Stephen J. Gould. In some cases, such as Gould's, that would be justified: Gould was caught in numerous errors and falsehoods skewed in the direction of his politics. But this would still slice away vast swathes of the relevant literature, if not the raw data.

comment by GLaDOS · 2012-08-11T06:33:08.055Z · score: 6 (14 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Most HBD advocates I've encountered don't just claim that the statistical correlation between race and IQ can be explained by genetics; they also claim that people with high IQs are better than people with low IQs.

Actually most of them make a factually true statement that high IQ people are more pleasant to be around than low IQ people. I don't recall them arguing low IQ people have lower moral value. By far the most popular HBDish blog is iSteve by Steve Sailer, who clearly does assign equal value to people of different IQs. Some of the commenter on his blog are clearly racist, but that statement is also true of the comments to many crime stories on any news site.

The only group that really fits your bill are extreme white nationalists, but they basically use the IQ scores as a political bludgeon ignoring the higher Asian and especially Askenazi Jewish scores. They are easy to spot.

I often see HBD presented as a heroic scientific effort, one that is only embraced by those truth-seekers brave enough to swim against the tide of political correctness. But HBD (as presented on the HBD blogs I've encountered, at least) is so fraught with value judgments that I have trouble taking it seriously. I have to wade through all sorts of claims about how awful black people are in order to dig out the bloggers' actual data. Furthermore, I distrust the factual claims of anyone with so obvious an agenda.

I would directly challenge your claim. There are great truth seeking HBD blogs like West Hunter, Gene Expression, Evo and Proud, ect. I would argue that on LW mostly only such blogs ever get linked.

I'm not familiar with vdare.com, but I think it's perfectly reasonable for a truth-seeker to reject a source for making blatant value judgments. If the findings reported in that source are in any way scientific, they will be contained in the academic literature, which is presumably more neutral. A truly conscientious truth-seeker might want to completely avoid bloggers with political agendas, and go straight to the scientific journal articles.

Actually the linked article is written by Professor RIchard Lynn a controversial scientist but one that is heavily represented in the academic literature. I doubt his positions in the article depart much from his stance in various papers. Judgement by author rather than by site seems much better suited if the author is notable.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-09-16T08:01:41.000Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It really depends on which blogs in particular your have in mind, since for some the criticism is unwarranted for others it really isn't mind citing examples?

A truly conscientious truth-seeker might want to completely avoid bloggers with political agendas, and go straight to the scientific journal articles.

Why didn't you take your own advice and just read the scientists who write on HBD rather than people arguing about it on the internet? Though there is overlap between the two groups, see Harpending & Cochran's blog and Peter Frost's blog.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-09-16T07:19:42.852Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Furthermore, I distrust the factual claims of anyone with so obvious an agenda.

I take it you also distrust the factual claims of mainstream social scientists for the same reason.

comment by magfrump · 2012-08-11T17:48:15.966Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I can prefer some weighted mixture of "finding some truth now," and "setting pleasant social norms to make my truth-finding community healthier for the future," while still optimizing for truth.

However there are certainly plenty of reasons to pursue instrumental rationality (in fact, all reasons are reasons for this) and if we value people not feeling bad, I'm not sure what your case against politeness actually consists of.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-08-14T21:14:31.152Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I can prefer some weighted mixture of "finding some truth now," and "setting pleasant social norms to make my truth-finding community healthier for the future,"

Given that those "pleasant social norms" seem to consist of declaring investigating certain subjects taboo, this is likely to make truth seeking harder in the future.

comment by magfrump · 2012-08-14T22:07:23.220Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Given the current lack of diversity in our community, and that I have some (I will allow somewhat mysterious) sense that diverse perspectives will be useful to rationality, for example, in avoiding projecting our preferences, I personally believe that in a more diverse community we will be able to have a better discussion of the issues at hand which will be more truthful.

I don't mean to say you should stop having opinions about this, just that the opinion of even one person who is directly targeted would probably make the discussion about a thousand times more practical and useful to our community, whereas right now I feel like there are lots of bad feelings and no practical benefit.

I do agree with you that a permanent taboo would be obviously problematic.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-08-14T22:20:35.905Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Given the current lack of diversity in our community, and that I have some (I will allow somewhat mysterious) sense that diverse perspectives will be useful to rationality, for example, in avoiding projecting our preferences, I personally believe that in a more diverse community we will be able to have a better discussion of the issues at hand which will be more truthful.

You seem to be confusing racial diversity with ideological diversity.

Edit: Since you seem to have misunderstood me let me clarify. Your argument about the benefits of diversity is about the benefits of ideological diversity, whereas your complaint is about the lack of racial diversity.

comment by magfrump · 2012-08-15T22:45:11.445Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

People of different races have different life experiences. I think that those other life experiences, not the ideologies commonly associated with them, are what are missing from this conversation.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-08-14T22:38:24.249Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

You seem to be confusing racial diversity with ideological diversity.

Since you seem to be not reading the link:

Of our 1090 respondents, 972 (89%) were male, 92 (8.4%) female, 7 (.6%) transexual, and 19 gave various other answers or objected to the question. As abysmally male-dominated as these results are, the percent of women has tripled since the last survey in mid-2009.

We're also a little more diverse than we were in 2009; our percent non-whites has risen from 6% to just below 10%. Along with 944 whites (86%) we include 38 Hispanics (3.5%), 31 East Asians (2.8%), 26 Indian Asians (2.4%) and 4 blacks (.4%).

This is not a diverse propulation.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-08-15T21:04:25.696Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

See my edit of the parent.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-08-15T21:08:11.616Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

As far as I can tell, you've misunderstood his argument. This thread started out as a thread about racial diversity.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-08-11T19:37:34.463Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

As Eliezer said in this post:

Second-order rationality implies that at some point, you will think to yourself, "And now, I will irrationally believe that I will win the lottery, in order to make myself happy." But we do not have such direct control over our beliefs. You cannot make yourself believe the sky is green by an act of will. You might be able to believe you believed it—though I have just made that more difficult for you by pointing out the difference. (You're welcome!) You might even believe you were happy and self-deceived; but you would not in fact be happy and self-deceived.

For second-order rationality to be genuinely rational, you would first need a good model of reality, to extrapolate the consequences of rationality and irrationality. If you then chose to be first-order irrational, you would need to forget this accurate view. And then forget the act of forgetting. I don't mean to commit the logical fallacy of generalizing from fictional evidence, but I think Orwell did a good job of extrapolating where this path leads.

You can't know the consequences of being biased, until you have already debiased yourself. And then it is too late for self-deception.

The other alternative is to choose blindly to remain biased, without any clear idea of the consequences. This is not second-order rationality. It is willful stupidity.

comment by magfrump · 2012-08-14T20:45:22.030Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't see how this applies, or disputes my point.

comment by shminux · 2012-08-10T22:13:34.018Z · score: 6 (10 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Please do not link to VDARE.

I find such a request irrational.

By that logic Jews should be worried that they are discriminated against on LW every time someone links to a neo-nazi blog, or to a site that has materials critical of Israel or, say, of Jewish dominance in Hollywood?

Should women feel unwelcome here if someone links to Larry Summers remarks on genetic differences between genders?

comment by CarlShulman · 2012-08-11T03:48:33.485Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I find such a request irrational.

Any of those things really does provide Bayesian evidence the relevant groups will have lower status in a community. There are tradeoffs between making a place pleasant for various people and the ability to talk about various subjects. Even if strict general epistemic norms are applied (which would throw out most articles from political sites anyway), relaxing taboos to allow even clinical discussion signals unusual priorities. If avoiding offense or increasing participation of a group is a very high priority, then people will only bring up such evidence if they are relevant to some other very important need.

You seem to be in an argument about where to set the tradeoff seem to be making a claim about where to set the tradeoff, and I wouldn't say positions become necessarily "irrational" across a wide range.

comment by shminux · 2012-08-11T04:28:37.818Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Any of those things really does provide Bayesian evidence the relevant groups will have lower status in a community.

Sure does. Then again, the WSJ is a complete right-wing garbage politically, but is quite good at economics, so it's not so that unusual to get some tidbits of wisdom from unsavory sources.

If avoiding offense or increasing participation of a group is a very high priority

I would not expect this forum to bend over backwards to avoid accidentally offending people. The rule of thumb for an online discussion is "do not offend and do not be easily offended".

I wouldn't say positions become necessarily "irrational" across a wide range.

Right, where to set the boundary is a personal preference and not an issue of rationality. Expecting others to move their boundary upon your request might be.

comment by fubarobfusco · 2012-08-11T05:05:47.444Z · score: 2 (10 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

There are tradeoffs between making a place pleasant for various people and the ability to talk about various subjects.

For instance: Making it pleasant for fundamentalist Christians makes it hard to talk about biology, because in order to make fundamentalist Christians comfortable you have to lie about biology. Making it pleasant for white-supremacists probably implies not having any informed conversations about the experiences of nonwhite people, since the nonwhite people are not likely to stick around to defend their very existence against the white-supremacists. Making it pleasant for misogynists pretty much implies not having any conversations with much input from women, at least on topics where sex is relevant; making it pleasant for homophobes means not talking about homosexuality in anything but condemning terms; and so on.

It seems safe to conclude that we already know quite a lot about what various supremacist and hate groups have to say, thanks to those views' significance in history — and that today, we would prefer the input of the much larger and more interesting fraction of humanity that those groups would choose to exclude.

comment by CharlieSheen · 2012-08-11T06:18:26.421Z · score: 4 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't think VDARE is a hate group.

comment by HBDfan · 2012-08-11T08:36:13.975Z · score: 4 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

What is a hate group?

comment by CharlieSheen · 2012-08-11T09:55:22.978Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Wikipedia definition:

A hate group is an organized group or movement that advocates and practices hatred, hostility, or violence towards members of a race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation or other designated sector of society.

comment by HBDfan · 2012-08-11T11:33:39.815Z · score: 1 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes. VDARE is not a hate group. It is politicaly incorrect. This is not racist.

comment by GLaDOS · 2012-08-11T07:46:56.076Z · score: 2 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

My opinion on the site:

I'm not sure you saw my point here. Yes VDARE is a politically oriented site, its goal being immigration restriction thus duh some people with racist attitudes are probably writing for it. Selectively applying such standards for the discussion of some policy issues seems like a bad idea. I can see your point if I was citing someone with a very poor reputation who happens to be right, but I don't at all agree citing someone who is ok when it comes to data and its interpretation, who happens to have written for a magazine that sometimes isn't ok.

comment by pragmatist · 2012-08-11T08:39:52.675Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Here is a statement of editorial policy from VDARE:

We've said repeatedly that VDARE.COM is not a White Nationalist webzine—but that we do publish White Nationalists because we regard their focus on white interests as at least as legitimate as Black Nationalism, Hispanic Nationalism, Zionism, etc…and as an inevitable development in the Brave New America created by mass immigration.

Based on this, I don't know if I'd classify VDARE as a hate group, but I would classify it as racist.

The disclaimer I've quoted comes before a piece written by Jared Taylor. VDARE goes on to describe him as "perhaps the most brilliant and accomplished figure among White Nationalists". This is a man who has written elsewhere: "Blacks and whites are different. When blacks are left entirely to their own devices, Western Civilization—any kind of civilization—disappears. And in a crisis, civilization disappears overnight.” It might be denotationally accurate that he is one of the most brilliant and accomplished White Nationalists, but I don't like the connotations.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-08-11T12:49:21.533Z · score: 5 (9 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It might be denotationally accurate that he is one of the most brilliant and accomplished White Nationalists, but I don't like the connotations.

In that case I recommend you make it possible for people to discuss said denotations without automatically being lumped with said connotations. See Eric Raymound's post on not ceding the truth to racists.

comment by HBDfan · 2012-08-11T16:39:28.547Z · score: 0 (6 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I agree. It is not honest intellectually to stop discussion.

comment by HBDfan · 2012-08-11T11:55:37.456Z · score: -1 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." — George Orwell.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-08-11T13:15:34.631Z · score: 2 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Your approach of "we should/shouldn't say X in order to include/exclude certain groups" seems to miss something. Specifically there frequently is a fact of the matter regarding X and that should also be a very important consideration.

comment by fubarobfusco · 2012-08-11T23:22:54.093Z · score: 1 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

My approach is not "we should/shouldn't say X" at all. It is, rather, "if we want to learn about people of category Q, we should listen to (and welcome) those people themselves, in preference to people of category P who make conjectures about people of category Q. And people of category Q often don't have much patience for being conjectured about in ways that are not only unflattering, but have long ago been debunked."

For instance, if you want to acquire information about the experiences, psyches, and motives of women, you're better off listening to women rather than listening to misogynistic pick-up artists. If you want to learn about black people, you're better off listening to black people rather than listening to white raci(ali)sts. And so on.

(This is, by the way, part of why I think we shouldn't use religion as a cheap example of irrationality. Religion is a lot more complicated than many skeptics' models of it would suggest.)

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-08-12T16:50:40.866Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

being conjectured about in ways that are not only unflattering, but have long ago been debunked.

Really, could you direct me to where and when this debunking happened? When I look around I see a lot of evidence for these conjectures and a lot of incoherent arguments against them backed up by claims that it's evil to even consider the possibility that the conjectures are correct.

comment by novalis · 2012-08-10T23:22:17.303Z · score: -6 (18 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yes, I would be deeply worried if people linked to neo-nazi blogs. There is, of course, a difference between criticism of Israel and anti-semitism.

As for Hollywood, my understanding is that most people who are worried that the Jews are over-represented in Hollywood, are worried for anti-semitic reasons. Certainly, it's rare to see someone comment on it without invoking anti-semitic stereotypes or tropes in the process.

And why should anyone link to Larry Summers if not to make women feel unwelcome? He's not a famous geneticist, or a famous rationalist, or a famous expert in the world of sex-differences, or really anything else. He's mostly famous for is this speech, which is full of shoddy reasoning and anecdotal evidence.

comment by CarlShulman · 2012-08-11T03:23:51.663Z · score: 12 (16 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I sympathize with your reaction. But one can go overboard with this: if the heuristics disqualifying potential sources for a view are too aggressive, then no one will be qualified to present that view, even if it turns out to be right. For instance, the disqualifying description of Summers in the above comment is questionable:

Larry Summers...He's not a famous... expert in...really anything else. He's mostly famous for is this speech,

Take a look at his wikipedia article.

He won the John Bates Clark medal, awarded to the best economists under 40, basically the Fields medal of economics. He is almost universally acclaimed as brilliant within the economics profession, was Clinton's Secretary of the Treasury, a major economic adviser for the Obama administration, and Chief Economist of the World Bank.

He's not a famous geneticist

Is that your real objection? Both James Watson and Francis Crick, who shared the Nobel Prize for their work on the DNA double helix, have expressed pro-eugenics positions, and the view that genetic explanations of ethnic differences in IQ are plausibly to likely significant. I.e. the most famous geneticists ever. Will Shockley, who won a Nobel in Physics for invention of the transistor, also got in a lot of trouble for pro-eugenics positions, and his views on race and IQ. Would you be OK with comments linking to and citing them on their controversial views? Or discussing the reactions to those views?