↑ comment by orthogenesis ·
2021-06-06T21:35:38.562Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
I don't know why this is being downvoted so much as I am trying to argue in good faith (I hopefully had tried to give the impression I'm not deliberately stoking culture war but want a clearer rational discussion about this) even though "stereotype" is a fuzzy set.
Clearly stereotyping is enough of a "thing" that academics (e.g. Lee Jussim etc., people arguing about the validity or invalidity of things like stereotype threat, how important mass media perpetuating stereotypes matter vs. "common sense, people seeing what's in front of them") heavily cite each other and debate intensely over it.
I am thinking about the central examples in social psychology (fast judgement of demographic characteristics that emphasize social differences between groups that are at best statistical, so not "all humans breathe air", particularly traits that are amplified or played up due to their salience in mass culture, society, or media etc like "women like shopping".).
I hate to do a "I know it when I see it" when it comes to the word stereotyping but even discussing what are the central "traits" of stereotypes are worth discussing.
I do think breaking down those questions makes sense. On your point about mental, explicit models, it seems what most people call "social" stereotypes have certain traits that rationalists would utilize (e.g. being explicit about how you might not be able to predict one individual's traits, but can rely on group averages like "men are more risk-taking") or using correlations of one trait to predict another trait.
Perhaps stereotypes are better framed as a type of prior -- but one that usually apply to people (you rarely hear about animal or inanimate object "stereotypes" but those are usually called generalizations like "the sky is blue -- well in sunny locales", or "dogs are friendly -- mostly") and subgroups or people, whose validity is heavily disputed.
Maybe framed another way, my central question is something like:
Are rationalists more likely to stray from the type of priors based on group-level characteristics that in academia/pop culture etc. are labelled "stereotypes". Because of various reasons -- higher prior on individual variation (less on homogeneity)?
More focus on analytical thinking -- less gestalt belief in essentialism of clusters even if you use cluster thinking (i.e, the categories are made for the man)? More awareness that even if using stereotypes can be useful, they are a tool only, and stereotypes are in the map not the territory (a poorly drawn but still-occasionally handy map is a trait of the map, the territory is still complex).
Maybe other traits like less reliance on mass media/pop culture (people are rarely explicit on where the "model" for stereotypes come from -- is it personal experience like "stereotypes are really just a name for my personal accumulated experiences, prior updating to posterior, and then many times over and over time I become more accurate so they become second nature" or are their particular sources amplifying stereotypes, like this is true for X% of some group people, but everyone shouts about, jokes about the stereotype as to give the impression that it's 3X% of people,, biasing my priors, amount of updating etc. and if rationalists fall prey to them less)?
Also I'm not trying to use "stereotype less" as "applause light for "yay us, thoughtful individualists" entirely as I agree with the academic Lee Jussim that stereotypes can be useful and academics have overplayed the "things people call stereotypes are inaccurate and useless in providing information" card too much.
I acknowledge there can be stuff that is sacrificed for being less stereotypical and more open-minded (e.g. take longer to think, get mocked as "lacking common sense", "of course group X and Y differ" etc.). But at some benefits like being careful and thoughtful about the (possibly smaller numbers of) individuals who buck the trend or don't follow the stereotype (that society or other individuals might not always see as worth the trade-off vs. quick demographic judgement like in the insurance risk scenario).Replies from: ChristianKl
↑ comment by ChristianKl ·
2021-06-06T22:08:21.432Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
I am thinking about the central examples in social psychology (fast judgement of demographic characteristics that emphasize social differences between groups that are at best statistical, so not "all humans breathe air"
You proposed a definition that's more global. Bailey-and-Motte issues are highly problematic, especially when it comes to politically charged terms.
You provide no justification for why it would be useful to discuss the issue in those terms instead of using terms that are less politically charged. You provide no explanation about what motivates you to frame the debate this way.Replies from: orthogenesis
↑ comment by orthogenesis ·
2021-06-06T22:48:16.592Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
I don't know a better way of phrasing the central example of category of thinking that is "social generalizations about categories of human that are statistical but commonly discussed in mass media, culture etc." in a clear and concise way other than "stereotypes" or "stereotyping". (One of the most common examples I started off with was fast, physical-appearance-based processing of demographic attributes like sex, appearance, accent, dress etc., which then trigger assumptions about people like personality, dispositions etc. most agree are a component in what people label as "stereotypes").
I was trying to get at a cluster of traits -- the "family resemblance thing" even if I couldn't formalize it well the first time. I was not trying to "Motte-and Bailey" the term "stereotype" but genuinely having a hard time grasping at a less charged term but still had the cluster of traits (in the sense of "what is art" is hard and heavily debated but you could still have a question like do rationalists value art or want to fund art more than average members of the public?).
By analogy, people talk about westerners thinking more individualistically and easterners prefering collectivism, or STEM-types thinking analytically and humanities thinking more holistically or "people orientation" vs. "thing orientation" all the time, even though all those ways of thinking are politically charged ("what is collectivism" it's a fuzzy set of traits and has a negative connotation in some places but not others) but we can still rationally discuss them.
I didn't even think "stereotype" was that politically charged in any particular direction (particular stereotypes are, but the concept of there being a thing called "stereotyping" which people of all political persuasions agree exist and people should rationally admit to doing (just like people rationally admit to "generalizing from one example" -- I do myself). I avoided focusing on any one subcategory of stereotyping precisely because I wanted to be more meta (instead of asking "are rationalists more skeptical of gender stereotypes", or "are they more skeptical of national stereotypes"?).
I suppose I could reword to something like "are rationalists less likely to make broad brush social generations from the "general culture" versus firsthand experience and waiting until getting more data firsthand from individuals" or something? Or even "are rationalists more skeptical about broad generalizations about human beings based on limited data about demographic categories than the average member of the public would be?" perhaps chanelling ideas like being aware of "generalizing from one example" or "typical mind fallacy" or "thinking fast and slow". Would that sound better?
And if others don't think this discussion is fruitful (as the initial downvotes show), than that is fine too. I am willing to concede and say maybe I'll spend time on, or discussing, other things. No hard feelings. Replies from: ChristianKl
↑ comment by ChristianKl ·
2021-06-06T23:55:43.683Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
I was not trying to "Motte-and Bailey" the term "stereotype" but genuinely having a hard time grasping at a less charged term but still had the cluster of traits
When people engage in bad reasoning because politics mind-killed them it's generally not because they try to reason badly.
And if others don't think this discussion is fruitful
It's not just that, it's also potentially costly to have the discussion on LessWrong.
in a clear and concise way other than "stereotypes" or "stereotyping".
Given that there are bailey-and-motte issues, it's not a clear term. Why do you believe you need a concise way instead of tabooing and explain the cluster that you mean? Having political charged conversations in less concise ways reduces the potential costs of having them.
just like people rationally admit to "generalizing from one example" -- I do myself
It worth noting here that people who form their opinion by "generalizing from one example" instead of by listening to common media are not stereotyping in your classification when they judge people by that generalization. Replies from: orthogenesis
↑ comment by orthogenesis ·
2021-06-07T00:27:52.800Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
It worth noting here that people who form their opinion by "generalizing from one example" instead of by listening to common media are not stereotyping in your classification when they judge people by that generalization.
Yes, indeed it would run counter to it. I didn't mean that "generalizing from one example" is "like stereotyping"in that they are similar in what type of reasoning they are, but meant to say they are similar as an example of something people could rationally admit to doing (admit to stereotyping, just like admit to generalizing from one example) and acknowledge the existence of or debate the usefulness of.