The Fable of the Burning Branch

post by EphemeralNight · 2016-02-08T15:20:03.842Z · score: -22 (50 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 178 comments

 

Once upon a time, in a lonely little village, beneath the boughs of a forest of burning trees, there lived a boy. The branches of the burning trees sometimes fell, and the magic in the wood permitted only girls to carry the fallen branches of the burning trees.

One day, a branch fell, and a boy was pinned beneath. The boy saw other boys pinned by branches, rescued by their girl friends, but he remained trapped beneath his own burning branch.

The fire crept closer, and the boy called out for help.

Finally, a friend of his own came, but she told him that she could not free him from the burning branch, because she already free'd her other friend from beneath a burning branch and he would be jealous if she did the same deed for anyone else. This friend left him where he lay, but she did promise to return and visit.

The fire crept closer, and the boy called out for help.

A man stopped, and gave the boy the advice that he'd get out from beneath the burning branch eventually if he just had faith in himself. The boy's reply was that he did have faith in himself, yet he remained trapped beneath the burning branch. The man suggested that perhaps he did not have enough faith, and left with nothing more to offer.

The fire crept closer, and the boy cried out for help.

A girl came along, and said she would free the boy from beneath the burning branch.

But no, her friends said, the boy was a stranger to her, was her heroic virtue worth nothing? Heroic deeds ought to be born from the heart, and made beautiful by love, they insisted. Simply hauling the branch off a boy she did not love would be monstrously crass, and they would not want to be friends with a girl so shamed.

So the girl changed her mind and left with her friends.

The fire crept closer. It began to lick at the boy's skin. A soothing warmth became an uncomfortable heat. The boy mustered his courage and chased the fear out of his own voice. He called out, but not for help. He called out for company.

A girl came along, and the boy asked if she would like to be friends. The girl's reply was that she would like to be friends, but that she spent most of her time on the other side of the village, so if they were to be friends, he must be free from beneath the burning branch.

The boy suggested that she free him from beneath the burning branch, so that they could be friends.

The girl replied that she once free'd a boy from beneath a burning branch who also promised to be her friend, but as soon as he was free he never spoke to her again. So how could she trust the boy's offer of friendship? He would say anything to be free.

The boy tried frantically to convince her that he was sincere, that he would be grateful and try with all his heart to be a good friend to the girl who free'd him, but she did not believe him and turned away from him and left him there to burn.

The fire crept closer and the boy whimpered in pain and fear as it spread from wood to flesh. He cried out for help. He begged for help. "Somebody, please!"

A man and a woman came along, and the man offered advice: he was once trapped beneath a burning branch for several years. The fire was magic, the pain was only an illusion. Perhaps it was sad that he was trapped but even so trapped the boy may lead a fulfilling life. Why, the man remembered etching pictures into his branch, befriending passers by, and making up songs.

The woman beside the man agreed, and told the boy that she hoped the right girl would come along and free him, but that he must not presume that he was entitled to any girl's heroic deed merely because he was trapped beneath a burning branch.

"But do I not deserve to be helped?" the boy pleaded, as the flames licked his skin.

"No, how wrong of you to even speak as though you do. My heroic deeds are mine to give, and to you I owe nothing," he was told.

"Perhaps I don't deserve help from you in particular, or from anyone in particular, but is it not so very cruel of you to say I do not deserve any help at all?" the boy pleaded. "Can a girl willing to free me from beneath this burning branch not be found and sent to my aide?"

"Of course not," he was told, "that is utterly unreasonable and you should be ashamed of yourself for asking. It is offensive that you believe such a girl may even exist. You've become burned and ugly, who would want to save you now?"

The fire spread, and the boy cried, screamed, and begged desperately for help from every passer by.

"It hurts it hurts it hurts oh why will no one free me from beneath this burning branch?!" he wailed in despair. "Anything, anyone, please! I don't care who frees me, I only wish for release from this torment!"

Many tried to ignore him, while others scoffed in disgust that he had so little regard for what a heroic deed ought to be. Some pitied him, and wanted to help, but could not bring themselves to bear the social cost, the loss of worth in their friends' and family's eyes, that would come of doing a heroic deed motivated, not by love, but by something lesser.

The boy burned, and wanted to die.

Another boy stepped forward. He went right up to the branch, and tried to lift it. The trapped boy gasped at the small relief from the burning agony, but it was only a small relief, for the burning branches could only be lifted by girls, and the other boy could not budge it. Though the effort was for naught, the first boy thanked him sincerely for trying.

The boy burned, and wanted to die. He asked to be killed.

He was told he had so much to live for, even if he must live beneath a burning branch. None were willing to end him, but perhaps they could do something else to make it easier for him to live beneath the burning branch? The boy could think of nothing. He was consumed by agony, and wanted only to end.

And then, one day, a party of strangers arrived in the village. Heroes from a village afar. Within an hour, one foreign girl came before the boy trapped beneath the burning branch and told him that she would free him if he gave her his largest nugget of gold.

Of course, the local villagers were shocked that this foreigner would sully a heroic deed by trafficking it for mere gold.

But, the boy was too desperate to be shocked, and agreed immediately. She free'd him from beneath the burning branch, and as the magical fire was drawn from him, he felt his burned flesh become restored and whole. He fell upon the foreign girl and thanked her and thanked her and thanked her, crying and crying tears of relief.

Later, he asked how. He asked why. The foreign girls explained that in their village, heroic virtue was measured by how much joy a hero brought, and not by how much she loved the ones she saved.

The locals did not like the implication that their own way might not have been the best way, and complained to the chief of their village. The chief cared only about staying in the good graces of the heroes of his village, and so he outlawed the trading of heroic deeds for other commodities.

The foreign girls were chased out of the village.

And then a local girl spoke up, and spoke loud, to sway her fellow villagers. The boy recognized her. It was his friend. The one who had promised to visit so long ago.

But she shamed the boy, for doing something so crass as trading gold for a heroic deed. She told him he should have waited for a local girl to free him from beneath the burning branch, or else grown old and died beneath it.

To garner sympathy from her audience, she sorrowfully admitted that she was a bad friend for letting the boy be tempted into something so disgusting. She felt responsible, she claimed, and so she would fix her mistake.

The girl picked up a burning branch. Seeing what she was about to do, the boy begged and pleaded for her to reconsider, but she dropped the burning branch upon the boy, trapping him once more.

The boy screamed and begged for help, but the girl told him that he was morally obligated to learn to live with the agony, and never again voice a complaint, never again ask to be free'd from beneath the burning branch.

"Banish me from the village, send me away into the cold darkness, please! Anything but this again!" the boy pleaded.

"No," he was told by his former friend, "you are better off where you are, where all is proper."

In the last extreme, the boy made a grab for his former friend's leg, hoping to drag her beneath the burning branch and free himself that way, but she evaded him. In retaliation for the attempt to defy her, she had a wall built around the boy, so that none would be able, even if one should want to free him from beneath the burning branch.

With all hope gone, the boy broke and became numb to all possible joys. And thus, he died, unmourned.

178 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Vaniver · 2016-02-08T21:13:43.418Z · score: 22 (22 votes) · LW · GW

I'm sorry about your pain, but I don't think LessWrong is the right place for this post, as it cuts too closely to identity politics to be productively discussed.

comment by [deleted] · 2016-02-08T19:51:27.847Z · score: 20 (22 votes) · LW · GW

It's one thing to argue that non-consensual celibacy is painful; that's a fact that's often neglected when talking about sexual dynamics. It's another to frame the issue as a situation entirely perpetuated by women who are resisting for trivial reasons. That casts women as malicious, when that's not a universal or common case.

Like NancyLebowitz said, why is it acceptable to leave out the costs that women face in this dynamic?

If your point is that some sexual assaults are the product of desperation and tragedy, I agree. That doesn't make them acceptable, and you seem like you're implying that.

I'm not really sure what you're hoping to accomplish here. The fable isn't framed in a way that accurately represents reality. The sympathetic arguments you're making could be made without euphemism. The story falsely equivocates refusing sex as maliciously refusing to save someone's life.

If you're hurting, I'm sorry. I have sympathy for people who are unable to be sexually active and have few or no solutions. This, however, is bad framing at best, and harmful at worst.

comment by OrphanWilde · 2016-02-08T20:03:24.313Z · score: 10 (14 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not really sure what you're hoping to accomplish here. The fable isn't framed in a way that accurately represents reality. The sympathetic arguments you're making could be made without euphemism. The story falsely equivocates refusing sex as maliciously refusing to save someone's life.

Given that the author has, in other comments, mentioned suicidal tendencies... I'd suggest the equivalence might be real to them.

Shrug I dunno. I find this poorly written, and poorly thought out, and fails to touch much at all in me; granted, my moments of compassion are few and far between.

But the hostile response is disproportionate to what was actually written, to the point where I must conclude that this piece has successfully made its readers feel deeply uncomfortable, and the hostility is a rationalization to cover that discomfort.

comment by [deleted] · 2016-02-08T20:18:47.534Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

That's fair, I suppose. I do feel accused of callously ignoring a population of people for whom I have a great deal of sympathy. I think my criticisms stand, but I guess I could have been kinder.

I want to engage and think about this more, but I'm not sure I can have this conversation without feeling hostile.

comment by OrphanWilde · 2016-02-08T20:53:55.546Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Which is why the anti-politics rule exists, I think. Because most people can't disengage enough. The downvotes are perfectly fair, otherwise any authentic-enough political crying fit would be a heckler's veto on the anti-politics rule, which would just become politics by another name as people tried to decide what qualified as authentic.

But people should view stuff like this as... exercises in recognizing and overcoming their biases. Not excuses to attack wrongthought.

comment by [deleted] · 2016-02-08T20:58:06.492Z · score: 4 (8 votes) · LW · GW

You make good points. I'm not going to redact, because I don't think I'm incorrect, but I'm tapping out of this thread.

comment by Viliam · 2016-02-17T08:49:11.242Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

It's another to frame the issue as a situation entirely perpetuated by women who are resisting for trivial reasons. That casts women as malicious, when that's not a universal or common case.

I agree that refusing sex is not malicious. However, these things could be interpreted as malicious -- slut shaming, anti prostitution, anti pornography. A lot of that comes from women.

If a woman refuses to have a sex with a "sexually starved man", that's perfectly okay. It's just not okay if she also goes on a political crusade trying to prevent him from getting sex or some sex-substitute by other means. For example if she writes an article about the danger of sexbots -- that I would classify as malicious. It's no longer "I don't want to be involved in solving this person's problem", but it's "I prefer that person to suffer". Yet this hostile behavior is often accepted in our society, and often encouraged.

comment by [deleted] · 2016-02-17T13:37:20.548Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, thank you. I agree with all of that.

If there are means by which a sex-starved person can get sex, that don't infringe on anyone's agency...and that means is still maligned? I think there's a strong case for its critics being malicious (or at best, severely misguided).

comment by TheAltar · 2016-02-08T21:51:49.704Z · score: 9 (13 votes) · LW · GW

I made one reply to this, and later deleted it. Then, I made another reply, and deleted that one as well.

I feel mind-killed and I can't tell who else is mind-killed. I'm just going to take this in stride as a time-appropriate refresher course on why we don't discuss politics.

comment by Jiro · 2016-02-08T17:38:15.247Z · score: 8 (14 votes) · LW · GW

The metaphor doesn't even make sense, assuming it's about sex. If the burning branch represents virginity, then it would be possible to pay a girl to free the boy from the branch, but it would not be possible for another girl to put him under again. If the branch represents "having regular sex", then it would be possible for a girl to put him under the branch again, but it would also mean that the girl given the gold nugget has to be given a continuous stream of gold nuggets or she would also put the boy under the branch again.

Also, dragging someone under the burning branch to free yourself doesn't make sense even as rape. Rapists do not turn other people into virgins.

comment by Dentin · 2016-02-12T02:08:22.307Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The metaphor doesn't even make sense, assuming it's about sex.

So don't assume it's about sex. The author stated as much.

comment by [deleted] · 2016-02-08T18:02:38.256Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Extreme matriarchal community with slavery somewhat like in Rome (some men earn freedom, most don't, discussing it at all i taboo). Sex in itself is secondary.

comment by Drahflow · 2016-02-10T01:34:47.531Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I, for one, like my moral assumptions and cached thoughts challenged regularly. This works well with repugnant conclusions. Hence I upvoted this post (to -21).

I find two interesting questions here:

  1. How to reconcile opposing interests in subgroups of a population of entities whose interests we would like to include into our utility function. An obvious answer is facilitating trade between all interested to increase utility. But: How do we react to subgroups whose utility function values trade itself negatively?

  2. Given that mate selection is a huge driver of evolution, I wonder if there is actually a non-cultural, i.e. genetic, component to the aversion (which I feel) against providing everyone with sexual encounters / the ability to create genetic offspring / raise children. And I'd also be interested in hearing where other people feel the "immoral" line...

comment by Viliam · 2016-02-17T09:05:16.003Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

How to reconcile opposing interests

Seems to me that the interests are often not literally opposed, such that one group literally has "X" as a terminal value, and the other group has "not X". More often, the goals are simply anticorrelated in practice, thus wanting "the opposite of what the other group wants" becomes a good heuristic. This is why calmly debating and exploring all options, including unusual ones, can be a good approach.

For example, in this specific situation: (1) legalize prostitution, and create safe conditions so that the prostitutes are not exploited; (2) create good cheap sexbots, or maybe rent them.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-02-10T13:00:47.364Z · score: -1 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I wonder if there is actually a non-cultural, i.e. genetic, component to the aversion (which I feel) against providing everyone with sexual encounters / the ability to create genetic offspring / raise children.

In practice the debate is about the price payed for providing everybody with sexual accounters. This article completely ignores it. As such it's not a good article for checking cached thoughts. For checking cached thoughts it makes much more sense to actually engage with the real arguments for the subject.

In Germany the price of legalizing prostition is that a lot of the prostitures aren't prostitute out of their own free will but are forced into it. You can say that price is worth paying, but simply ignoring it and instead informing your opinion of the subject by what makes sense in unrealistic parable makes no sense.

comment by Viliam · 2016-02-17T09:28:04.071Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

In Germany the price of legalizing prostition is that a lot of the prostitures aren't prostitute out of their own free will but are forced into it.

I don't know the details, but my guess is that mere legalization without regulation will not be enough to overcome a strong "tradition".

To explain, imagine an alternative society where e.g. computer programming is considered extremely low-status and also illegal, so that most people who have the necessary skills would never do it voluntarily. But there is a market demand for applications, therefore some criminals will start kidnapping people with math skills and forcing them to write programs. Of course the programmers would be abused in various ways, and most of the payment for the programs would be taken from them by the criminals.

If one day the government would merely decide "let's make computer programming legal", what is the most likely outcome? A few programmers would volunteer for the work, but the existing criminal networks would stay in their place with expertise and contacts to customers, only with less risk. I would expect that even in the new system a few people would be kidnapped and make to work as slaves, simply because the infrastructure already exists, and has become a "Schelling point".

The real change would require breaking the existing "Schelling point". The details would depend on specific situation. One solution could be that every programmer would have to register themselves at some government office... and employing programmers who are not registered would still be illegal and harshly punished. And the government would check actively whether all employees of software companies are registered. That would reduce the temptation of the software companies to kidnap a person or two to improve their profits, just like in the old days.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-02-17T10:00:27.355Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It's very misleading to compare the psychological effects of the activity of prostitution with those of software programming.

If a software programmer get's drugged an put under pressure so that he can't think clearly anymore he won't be able to do his job. On the other hand there's a market for prostitutes that do whatever the client wants them to do and who take part in drug orgies.

Apart from drugs there are strong psychological forces involved in sex that simply don't exist in software programming.

comment by Viliam · 2016-02-17T10:12:51.096Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

You seem to focus on details and ignore the main point, which was:

If there is a "tradition" of (1) forcing people to do (2) illegal stuff, one does not remove the tradition by merely declaring the stuff legal. One also has to make extra steps to ensure that all participants are there voluntarily. Otherwise the already established "infrastructure" for forcing people to do stuff will remain there.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-02-17T10:57:58.477Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

My Googling suggests that in Vienna where prostiutes have to be registered around half of the registered prostiutes are victims of human trafficing.

The policy of registration which as of the beginning of this months also entered German law, doesn't seem to result in an elimination of prostitution that shouldn't be there.

I think your arguments also rests on the fact that there are programmers who actually want by their own volition to do the programming jobs that customers demand. On the other hand there are prostitution services that are demanded by customers that very few woman actually want to do.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-02-08T19:28:00.911Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Looks to be a fable about natural selection and how it works on learned helplessness.

comment by [deleted] · 2016-02-10T18:19:43.531Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

... a fascinating world, exactly as written. Seeing that the lifting of the branch seems like a totemic thing, a ritual absolutely structuring the society, would it not be logical that: 1) spouses lawfully married to each other can covertly negotiate that the wife lift a branch off a boy badly in need, which would bind him to them as a servant until a girl willing to have him comes along, but most probably for life? 2) incest is not an offence so much as a favor? 3) girls generally have more chance at entering and staying in the workforce? 4) it is preferable to have more girl children, as possible negotiation material?

As has been said, there's no need to view this as bad goth poetry.

comment by LessWrong (LessWrong1) · 2016-02-09T11:52:46.017Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

This post just doesn't really reflect real life. Well, not for all sides involved.

If anyone got to the pq-system part of GEB, can we get some various interpretations here? Because what I think the burning branches are, apart from crude violations of the laws of physics, are basically defeatism on the boy's part.

You might not like reading it but I ran a search and it seems like to only have been posted here and despite being a badly written story that doesn't really reflect reality I think that you have one thing going and that is story-writing and you should work on that and not dump it. Now for the part you won't like: I think you should start taking responsibility for yourself and your actions. I don't mean it in those stupid "you said bad things about women, go stand in the corner and think about elementary school" unhelpful rhetorical you're probably used to hear but because you're old enough to be able to do it. So let's try something better than putting you in a corner:

Can you think of an instance where you might be wrong? Can you think of something that, if it were to change a little, would affect your views drastically? Is there anything you think your view is missing?

comment by Dentin · 2016-02-12T02:07:36.637Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

This post just doesn't really reflect real life. Well, not for all sides involved.

In my experience, good parables seldom reflect real life. They reflect a distorted, amplified caricature, so as to better make a point that might be missed with a more realistic story.

Also, I think you're on the right track with defeatism and depression.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-02-08T18:30:13.263Z · score: 5 (15 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think that it valid to hide politically incorrect thought on LW behind metaphars. If you want to make a point make it directly and hopefully cite statistics to back it up.

comment by Nate646 · 2016-02-09T12:09:38.839Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I'm interested to know if anyone would have considered voting this up if the attempted rape portion of the metaphor had been omitted and the story had been ended just before then?

comment by OrphanWilde · 2016-02-09T16:41:29.960Z · score: 9 (11 votes) · LW · GW

I wouldn't upvote this in any case, as it doesn't belong here as it stands.

With some thorough editing, and a lot of boiling down, it could turn into an insightful discussion of the blind spot so many people have where social needs are concerned; that education or internet are something like a basic human right, but sexual satisfaction, which is far more primal and necessary to us, isn't. It's a necessary blind spot in ideologies which treat needs as rights to be satisfied by other people, because it's full of ugly truths about those ideologies.

But I doubt the insightful post would be received well, either. Perhaps I overestimate people, but I suspect most people have an inkling of the currents running under the surface, here.

comment by Drahflow · 2016-02-09T23:19:43.253Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Interestingly, there appears (at least in my local cultural circle) that being attended by human caretakers when incapacitated by age, is supposed to be a basic right. Hence, there must be some other reason - and not just the problem about rights being fulfilled by other persons, why the particular example assumed to underlie the parable, is reprehensible to many people.

comment by OrphanWilde · 2016-02-10T13:34:04.337Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

There is another reason. In social-standing friendly language, "Sex is sacred".

For the less socially-friendly approach... sex is clearly not sacred, and the issue isn't the idea of sex being a right, as one can readily see by looking at people who can complain about involuntary celibacy without much social risk, and do so. I'm not going to name the ugliness, both because it's broad and ill-defined - a patch of area defined more by what a set of ideologies fail to say, than what they explicitly name - but also because it's something you have to see for yourself to believe.

comment by gjm · 2016-02-09T12:47:10.490Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I can't speak for anyone else, but I thought it was very bad[1] even aside from the attempted-rape bit.

[1] I mean in quality rather than morally, though the attempted-rape part (at least) is horrible morally too.

comment by LessWrong (LessWrong1) · 2016-02-09T17:42:26.738Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I can't find it - where IS the rape part?

comment by TheAltar · 2016-02-09T18:34:03.865Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

2nd to last paragraph.

comment by gjm · 2016-02-10T02:50:20.960Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

As I write this, the parent comment is at -1 despite the fact that it simply answers a question someone asked. There is something very strange about the voting in this post's comments.

comment by entirelyuseless · 2016-02-10T04:00:29.755Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Someone downvoted your comment as well. Elsewhere in the thread, username2 asserted that Nancy could not be trusted as a moderator. I am pretty sure that comment was negative before, now it is at +4 with 55% positive. So that looks like some kind of vote manipulation.

comment by gjm · 2016-02-10T12:12:36.402Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

There are some comments on this post where I wonder about vote manipulation because they seem to have changed score rapidly, some considerable time after posting.

TheAltar's comment upthread, and my comment on it, don't seem like examples of that. I think they may be unreasonable downvotes but not improper ones, if you see what I mean. (My reading of the situation is that there are some people on LW who have a strong aversion to anything suggestive of "social justice", and that that's responsible for a lot of the downvotes here. E.g., someone suggests that one bit of the OP is endorsing rape or complaining about people getting punished for rape; vocal opposition to rape is a Social Justice Thing and therefore bad in these people's eyes[1]; and then anything that engages with that without condemning it -- e.g., TheAltar's comment -- is guilty by association.)

[1] How could anyone have a problem with vocal opposition to rape? Well, the idea is that the word "rape" gets attached to things that are not rape (e.g., in phrases like "rape culture", "rape apologist", etc.) and then those things can get smacked down almost as if they were actual rape, even if they don't remotely deserve it.

comment by TheAltar · 2016-02-12T13:54:30.519Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

EphemeralNight and Old_Gold's posts seem to have jumped up in votes massively in the last 1-2 days when they were both in the negative iirc.

comment by gjm · 2016-02-12T14:42:36.992Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

This is a behaviour I have often observed on the scores of comments from Eugine_Nier/Azathoth123/VoiceOfRa/The_Lion. (And, I think, more generally on the scores of "neo-reactionary-friendly" comments[1].) It's tempting to attribute this to Eugine's socks, but it could also be that there are a few people of a particular political persuasion who happen to read LW only every few days, and happen to do so in sync.

It might perhaps be worth noting that Lumifer called out Old_Gold as Eugine redivivus practically as soon as he appeared. Make of that what you will.

[1] I don't like this terminology; perhaps someone can suggest something better. I mean comments that say highly negative things about groups that traditionally have low status but that more recently one is supposed to be positive about and understanding of: those who are female, black, gay, poor, transgender, etc.

comment by Viliam · 2016-02-17T11:23:05.877Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Old_Gold seems to be Eugine. (My subjective probability is about 70% at this moment.)

EphemeralNight behaves quite differently. If I had to guess, I'd guess that Eugine used his sockpuppets to upvote him.

comment by Dentin · 2016-02-12T15:01:29.153Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I suspect it's because infrequent old members like myself only check the site every couple of days. I didn't upvote because the fable was good; I upvoted because I felt the author was being unfairly penalized by the downvoting.

comment by TheAltar · 2016-02-12T15:34:35.442Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Doubtful. The differences are large, one-sided, and occurred in a cluster. They also don't match LW's general leanings for voters.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-02-10T12:52:06.731Z · score: -2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I think it might sense to simply login into username2 to delete any posts made with the account that one doesn't want to see. Especially in cases like that there no reason to allow Eugine to use the account to make posts about how Nancy isn't to the trusted.

comment by gjm · 2016-02-10T15:25:31.515Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think I like the precedent of encouraging people to delete one another's comments, even though when they're made via username2 there's obviously nothing stopping anyone doing so.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-02-10T15:41:22.588Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Do you think it's fine if Eugine continues to say whatever he wants to say with the username2 account?

comment by OrphanWilde · 2016-02-10T15:54:49.095Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Do you think the community should be burned down to ensure Eugine has nowhere to hide?

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-02-10T16:05:39.363Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I don't consider the ability of people to post annonymous vile comments via the username2 an important factor of the community. I think community works best when people are accountable for their actions.

comment by OrphanWilde · 2016-02-10T16:35:34.314Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Then say that instead of blaming the resident bogeyman for your preferences.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-02-10T16:38:27.060Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

You again try to change the subject instead of honestly engaging with content. You labeled deleting comments in the above case as "community should be burned".

I don't consider those comments an important part of the community and if the cost of preventing Eugine from continuing to post is getting rid of them that's a price I'm willing to pay.

comment by OrphanWilde · 2016-02-10T16:51:33.198Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

You again try to change the subject instead of honestly engaging with content. You labeled deleting comments in the above case as "community should be burned".

Have you ever noticed I don't behave this way towards, say, Gwern?

I respond in kind. Be honest and straightforward, and that's the way I'll play. Engage in slippery equivocation, and, well...

I don't consider those comments an important part of the community and if the cost of preventing Eugine from continuing to post is getting rid of them that's a price I'm willing to pay.

You don't consider it a price, as you've just made clear, so arguing that you're willing to "pay" that price is disingenuous. Eugine isn't your reason for doing something you don't want to do, Eugine is your excuse for doing something you want to do.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-02-10T16:55:51.451Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Eugine isn't your reason for doing something you don't want to do, Eugine is your excuse for doing something you want to do.

Consitency in enforcing a bannning decions against Eugine is the impetus for the action. Then I looked at other consequences of the action and I don't think they are hurtful for the community.

comment by OrphanWilde · 2016-02-10T17:00:59.228Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Consitency in enforcing a bannning decions against Eugine is the impetus for the action. Then I looked at other consequences of the action and I don't think they are hurtful for the community.

By all means, put it up for a vote, propose it to the rest of the community. See if the community agrees with you that the anonymous account should be shut down to avoid these kinds of issues.

Somebody with your attitude has previously killed the anonymous account by changing the password. The community didn't agree then, and created a new one. Engaging in sabotage of the account's purpose is no better, and perhaps worse, because it's far harder to recover from. You don't get to decide for the community what is and isn't harmful for the community; you're not even a leader, much less a king.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-02-10T17:12:31.290Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Somebody with your attitude has previously killed the anonymous account by changing the password.

Actually I did put up the question of deleting the old account up for a vote and myself didn't change the password. Afterwards someone did change the password.

In a case like that I'm not sabotating the features of the account by using them. There no vote indicating that some of those are supposed to be used while others don't.

You don't get to decide for the community what is and isn't harmful for the community; you're not even a leader, much less a king.

The question of what's harmful is a factual one. It's not a leadership decision. Deciding what to do does happen to be a leadership decision. In the case of deleting posts everybody of the username2 account everybody has the right to do so. That's how the account is constructed.

If you disagree with a particular post, feel free to vote it down or argue against it. Till now you haven't provided an argument why you think my position is wrong besides the strawman of it buring the community.

comment by OrphanWilde · 2016-02-10T18:15:20.111Z · score: -2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I'll dryly note that as soon as I started being specific again, you started equivocating again. You're not worth the time of arguing with.

For the audience, as I no longer have sufficient respect for my opponent to address him directly:

If ChristianKI's goal is to prevent Eugine Nier from posting/commenting, this solution fails immediately for reasons that are transparent: Eugine can simply create another account.

Assuming my respected opponent has half a brain cell to him, that motive is off the table as an explanation. He's stated he sees no value in having an anonymous account, and moreover he called for the deletion of the last one; it's clear his true motive has nothing to do with Eugine Nier. He asserts his own views and values as being objectively true ("The question of what's harmful is a factual one."), equivocates when challenged, is disingenuous about his motives, and promotes sabotage of what the community as a whole regards a useful institution.

Given his attitude towards the use of administrative function to "improve the community" without regard for long-term consequences or precedent, personally I think it would be poetically appropriate to ban him, but I fear that I do, in fact, care about long-term consequences and precedent, so cannot actually advocate that course of action.

So I suggest anybody so inclined to, instead, laugh quietly to themselves over this self-important blowhard. Yes, I'm aware of the irony of my stating that, particularly in that context, so I encourage everybody to laugh at me, as well, because this entire post, and the response to it, is eminently farcical, and deserves to be laughed at.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-02-10T17:15:40.592Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

the anonymous account should be shut down

You cannot "shut down" anonymous accounts while maintaining open registration of new accounts.

Anyone can create a new account and make its password be known.

comment by OrphanWilde · 2016-02-10T17:39:57.325Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

There is a difference between a single known account and a free-for-all, however. (I personally care neither way; the implication that ChristianKI knows what is best for the community, and would force his/her views upon everyone else, however, irritates me.)

comment by Lumifer · 2016-02-10T16:48:57.622Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

if the cost of preventing Eugine from continuing to post is getting rid of them that's a price I'm willing to pay.

First, I don't think Eugine is posting as username2. He has zero problems making new accounts and is not shy about expressing his view through them.

Second, a price you are willing to pay or the price you're willing that everyone pays?

comment by TheAltar · 2016-02-10T16:43:57.121Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I've seen the votes fluctuate and some posts with odd points counts. The karma amounts do seem to be balancing out into what I would generally expect from LW users over time though.

(The entire thread has slowly moved from -22 to -17 which seems odd.)

comment by Dentin · 2016-02-12T02:35:06.798Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I can see a reference to rape in the second to last paragraph if I squint real hard and look at it through rape-colored glasses, but when I take the glasses off or stop squinting it simply doesn't look like rape anymore.

comment by TheAltar · 2016-02-12T15:11:54.388Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Many LWers are careful enough to notice when even the slightest signaling towards a hot button issue crops up. This is just a good idea as a form of basic social hygiene since people in other environments have very powerful reactions to even the slightest of comments made towards those topics and can easily put you into an Enemy category or become much less comfortable around you for the foreseeable future.

Much of the annoyance at this thread was the fact that it included a signalling towards that at all since it's a substantial faux pas. This is especially true if the story was meant to have a different purpose as the writer later claimed.

comment by Old_Gold · 2016-02-13T01:49:38.662Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Many LWers are careful enough to notice when even the slightest signaling towards a hot button issue crops up.

This is a horrible thing to do from a rationality stand-point since it amounts to pre-mindkilling yourself.

comment by Dentin · 2016-02-12T02:37:12.139Z · score: -2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

IMHO the 'attempted rape' claim is far more interpretation than substance - an interpretation that is specious at best.

comment by taryneast · 2016-04-12T04:44:39.278Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

In my experience, people who are not the likely victims of a kind of danger are much less likely to spot the warning signs of that danger than those who are. Women spot potential-rape more frequently, the same way that soldiers that have been stationed in the middle east are more likely to spot potential IEDs - not every discarded thing on the road is an IED, and not every "man roughly handling a women" is a potential rape... but some are... and some women have gotten better at spotting the latter due to either being trained to do so, or having had the experience themselves...

In other words... just because many people didn't see it for a potential-rape... doesn't mean it can't easily be interpreted as pattern-matching on exactly that kind of situation.

To some extent, it doesn't even matter that it was not the original intent of the author to represent rape. It was close enough that it was a plausible interpretation (specious or no) for those who know what to look for. I expect the author has learned something about how people can interpret things even when they are unintended...

Interestingly, and vaguely related, there's an ongoing debate about the Cumberbatch Sherlock Holmes series: apparently many women interpret the relationship between Holmes and Watson as containing a lot of sexual tension... and a lot of men (and the writer(s)) think that idea is rubbish.... it all has to do with how close they stand to each other, and the way they are portrayed to gaze at each other.

comment by Nate646 · 2016-02-12T15:00:38.287Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

IMHO the 'attempted rape' claim is far more interpretation than substance - an interpretation that is specious at best.

I'll admit that I'd missed that part when I first read the post, I only noticed it after I went through the comments section

While almost everyone who commented interpreted it that way, I think it's also worth pointing out that at least one person in the comments thread missed the metaphor completely.

comment by OrphanWilde · 2016-02-08T16:29:34.500Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

A bit heavy-handed and overspecified. For this style of narrative, you should identify and address the root of the social phenomenon you're writing about, and wrestle with that, instead of translating it as literally as possible into an arbitrary metaphor.

comment by knb · 2016-02-17T13:52:41.285Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Utterly absurd allegory--there's no actual parallel. Obviously a lot of involuntarily celibate people are unhappy, but prostitution does nothing to cure this. Their problem isn't lack of sexual release--they can always masturbate. The source of their unhappiness is the lack of emotional intimacy and requited love, which prostitution can't solve--it's just assisted masturbation.

comment by spriteless · 2016-02-10T21:29:49.867Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Don't push this all on the girls! Any boy could dress up as a girl convincingly enough to fool the magic and lift the branch himself. The only reason they did not was because they would take a similar status hit as the girls would for giving away their magic for free.

(More practical advice from an unwillingly celibate lesbian who is as disgusted with the idea of getting touched by dudes as you: learn to masturbate, and/or seek ways to relieve or avoid other types of stress that exacerbate the problem.)

comment by Good_Burning_Plastic · 2016-02-09T08:22:06.869Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GWThe firefighters should just put out the fire.
comment by polymathwannabe · 2016-02-08T17:05:17.616Z · score: 1 (15 votes) · LW · GW

Why isn't there another forest that traps girls?

Why aren't there some people immune to falling branches?

Why can't some boys be freed by boys?

But more generally, why bend over backwards to invent some convoluted justification for rape?

comment by OrphanWilde · 2016-02-08T19:52:15.480Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

The individual who wrote this is calling for help, I'll observe.

I don't have much in the way of charitability in me, and little patience for helping people, but I can't help but notice that where someone else would get sympathy (physically disabled people certainly get at least some measure of sympathy for this very complaint), this person belongs to a class of people who get nothing but scorn and derision instead.

comment by Dentin · 2016-02-12T02:09:41.255Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Why would you interpret it this way, when there are more charitable and better fitting interpretations? Not everything has to be about gender.

comment by polymathwannabe · 2016-02-12T13:38:41.111Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

It's a fable about sexual politics. Gender is inescapable to the discussion.

comment by Dentin · 2016-02-12T14:58:12.084Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

When I reverse the genders, or make the branch lifters those with blonde hair, the story still works. I disagree with your statement.

comment by spriteless · 2016-02-12T21:09:24.245Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The story would be improved by making it about hair color, actually.

comment by polymathwannabe · 2016-02-12T15:16:07.145Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

If any of those other scenarios were applicable, the fable wouldn't have been written in the first place.

comment by Articulator · 2016-04-11T06:05:06.754Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I mean, charitably speaking, I imagine that the second-to-last paragraph could easily have been an argument from consequences, rather than rape apology.

The parable doesn't really characterize the boy as right, rather as desperate. I don't think that it's unreasonable to make an argument that some rapists are desperate for sex, nor that if fewer men were desperate for sex, there'd be less rape. Not saying it's true necessarily, but that it's at least arguable. That doesn't mean women should be forced into sex, of course, but it could still be true at the same time that there would be less rape if men weren't so desperate.

Maybe it's because I identify with the boy to an extent, but I don't think that this is really a moral piece, rather an emotional piece. This is the boy's journey, his perception. I'm sure that it could describe many people reasonably accurately. I will note that the author narrates, but does not pass judgement through narration, only characters.

I think that some people here might be having so much trouble with this because they think that feeling bad for the boy means that women should be forced to have sex, and resent being forced to agree one way or the other. This is a wrong question.

  • You can feel sorry for the boy and not condone the second-to-last paragraph, whether it actually symbolized rape or not

  • You can feel sorry for the boy, even if you don't think it would be wrong for him to never "have the branch lifted"

  • You can feel sorry for the boy and still condemn any other part of this story

Reasonable responses:

  • "I wish you didn't have to feel that way."

  • "I feel sorry for you, but that doesn't mean I will have sex with you."

  • "I feel sorry for you, but that doesn't justify rape."

There are a lot of false dichotomies of blame to fall into here, especially given that this is a parable, and a highly charged one at that. Please try to avoid them.

To the people who suggest that one finds other ways of coping, I look forward to you putting your money where your mouth is and being celibate for 20-40 years to show us the way. While this is a decidedly less black and white topic than most minority disputes, the idea that a member of the outgroup should claim to know the experience of the ingroup better than the ingroup is one that is a very common (and incredibly rude) fallacy, so I should certainly hope that no one falls for that trap, especially if you are part of another minority.

comment by Coacher · 2016-02-14T11:14:31.019Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I quite understand the point author is making or a feeling that he has, which could be described by this one sentence: It is so easy for women to give sex and so important for men to get sex, that for women not to give it to men is just plain cruel. Everything is OK with this reasoning except one thing - assumption that it is easy for women to give sex. It is actually hard. Now this might not be obvious or intuitive from a man point of view, but you can get to this conclusion if you consider evolution. When evolution took place, to have sex with a man for a women, with high probability meant, to carry and give birth to the child of that man. By choosing to whom to have sex with, women actually determined the faith of her own genes in the long term, which is like the most important thing in evolution. Given that, it is reasonable to believe, that rejecting sex for women is as primal as the desire to have sex for men. Better analogy in this story would be that girl can lift the burning branch, but by doing so she burns and loses her arm and she only have 3-5 arms.

comment by Dentin · 2016-02-12T02:30:13.383Z · score: 0 (14 votes) · LW · GW

OP Upvoted.

It's been stated elsewhere that a long standing member of the LW community was leaving because of this post. Well, to counterbalance that, I'm also strongly considering leaving LW, but it's not because of the OP. It's because of these comment threads.

In particular, the comments have shown me just how far the LW community has fallen. I'd really rather not be around people who both get offended so easily and are so willing to mindkill themselves should the slightest opportunity present itself. FYI, the OP isn't about you. It's not about your pet projects. It's not insulting everything you stand for. You're just not that important.

Five years ago, this post would likely have died a simple, unglorious death by being too vague or poorly written to be upvoted. Today it causes a political shitstorm as the community decides to interpret it in a way directly contrary to the stated goal of author. Five years ago, it would have been discussed rationally, the writer would have received tips and suggestions, and quite likely some good would have been drawn out of it. Today, it causes mass mindkilling because people feel that their identity is being attacked.

Those are the kinds of people I don't wish to be around.

comment by TheAltar · 2016-02-12T14:28:45.572Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

The overwhelming majority of comments in this thread have little to do with the topic and are meta-discussions that people have strong opinions about. These have almost nothing to do with identity, their pet projects, or what they personally stand for. Discussions like these cropping up in an unfavorable thread aren't surprising to me at all and are fairly standard non-political topics for strong disagreement on a forum. The consensus opinion on the thread seems to in fact be that it wasn't well written, doesn't necessarily accomplish its purpose, was overbearing, and should be downvoted as not really relevant to LW.

For anyone just coming into the mix, the main comment threads are:

The upvotes/downvotes in the thread, Eugine, and keeping around annonymous public accounts

The role of having threads that people strongly disagree with continue to exist on LW rather than be deleted

Vote manipulation going on.

How the thread doesn't really belong here

Moderator actions and the overall role of moderation on LW (which makes up over 37% of the thread's comments).

Who is banworthy

The overall harmfulness of the article and arguments back and forth about it

Posts like this driving people away

The only non-meta thread that directly has anything strongly to do with gender was the pluralization of the phrase "non grata" in Latin.

and I think everyone should be reminded that it was all clearly about credit card debt.

comment by gjm · 2016-02-12T10:22:14.744Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW · GW

the OP isn't about you [...] You're just not that important.

None of the criticism of the OP, however intemperate, looks to me as if it's based in the idea that "the OP is about you"; quite the opposite. The basis of the criticism is that (e.g.) the OP is about women, or the OP is about rape, or the OP is about sex. I don't think you can say "just not that important" about those.

comment by Dentin · 2016-02-12T14:56:45.477Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Of course not. My point was that people are taking it personally, are taking it as a personal attack on something they identify with. But the reality is that it's not about them.

comment by gjm · 2016-02-12T15:01:56.671Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW · GW

What makes you think they're taking it personally? Is it just the fact that they're taking it seriously and getting cross about it? (It seems to me that one can perfectly well get cross about something without taking it personally.) Or is there something else?

comment by CAE_Jones · 2016-02-12T16:29:32.252Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Five years ago

Five years ago, we weren't just coming down from a spree of witch-hunts in which online mobs destroy people's lives for being insufficiently politically correct. I suspect lots of "be on the look out for anything that looks sexist" conditioning still hasn't worn off. But I might be mind-projecting.

Actually, it seems worth a poll. did/did not take it as something close to rape apologia, are/are not worried about doxing or other such harassment campaigns?

[pollid:1126]

comment by Old_Gold · 2016-02-13T01:55:00.652Z · score: -8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Five years ago, we weren't just coming down from a spree of witch-hunts in which online mobs destroy people's lives for being insufficiently politically correct.

And you're trying to be one of the witch-hunters?

comment by CAE_Jones · 2016-02-13T05:54:15.819Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

No, I'm afraid of the witch-hunters. (So far, polling indicates that this was not the right hypothesis for the commentary in general.) I avoided commenting until my previous comment because I was pretty sure I'd regret it--probably missing the point or getting drawn into the political deluge--and it seems this was the correct expectation.

comment by Old_Gold · 2016-02-13T08:52:40.369Z · score: -5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

No, I'm afraid of the witch-hunters.

Someone who joins the witch-hunters out of fear is still a witch-hunter.

I avoided commenting until my previous comment because I was pretty sure I'd regret it

Well, if you're not willing to stand up to the witch-hunters you should at least avoid joining their mobs.

comment by gjm · 2016-02-13T11:03:03.952Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Someone who joins the witch-hunters out of fear is still a witch-hunter. [...] you should at least avoid joining their mobs.

I don't see anything CAE_Jones has said or done here that can possibly be described as witch-hunting or mob-joining.

comment by gjm · 2016-02-12T10:18:47.060Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

in a way directly contrary to the stated goal of author

The great majority of the comments so interpreting it were written before the author made any statement about his goals.

comment by Viliam · 2016-02-17T09:32:04.920Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Today it causes a political shitstorm

to which you have successfully contributed by writing this comment.

comment by PeerGynt · 2016-02-08T17:18:19.186Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

(1) The last two paragraphs need to be changed immediately. Currently, it puts rape in a sympathic perspective. If you don't change it, I think moderators should delete this post.

(2) If we ignore the last paragraphs, the parable is not badly written and matches the lived experience of many members of this community. It is a message that needs to be heard.

(3) That said, Less Wrong is not the right forum for this content. It is important to have a general purpose rationality forum, and it cannot survive association with perspectives that are this taboo and subject to mindkill.

(4) If you want to raise the sanity waterline, it is important to pick your battles wisely. This is a battle you will lose.

(5) I made a similar mistake when I wrote this parable: http://lesswrong.com/lw/klx/ethics_in_a_feedback_loop_a_parable/ . The discussion may be of interest to you

(6) On the object level, I think you misunderstand the nature of the magic in this forest. The problem is not that the local girls have outlawed heroic actions in exchange for money. The spell is such that heroic actions are unable to free trapped boys if conducted in exchange for money. It may be interesting to analyze who is casting this spell, but I think it is a deity well known both to ancient babylonians and rationalists.

(7) You should think about whether the girls in the village are under similar spell, cast by the same deity.

comment by Gyrodiot · 2016-02-08T15:37:39.208Z · score: 0 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for the fable. It was a nice reading!

I tried to pattern-match the metaphor against many things; I failed. Could you please provide the key to the metaphor, as I sense there's hidden meaning underneath this story?

I don't want to guess a false meaning.

comment by moridinamael · 2016-02-08T15:46:14.694Z · score: 23 (27 votes) · LW · GW

It's clearly about credit card debt

comment by entirelyuseless · 2016-02-08T16:07:55.651Z · score: 10 (14 votes) · LW · GW

The burning is the unsatisfied desire for sex, and lifting the branch is offering sex. At the end of the story, the boy goes to prison for attempted rape. I presume you were joking in saying that you did not recognize this, or that you simply intended to say that you consider it a bad analogy.

In any case, I agree that such an analogy is pointless, and that is why I downvoted the post.

comment by Gyrodiot · 2016-02-09T10:03:46.396Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks ! I wasn't joking. Now that I read the whole thing once again, the metaphor should have been perfectly obvious, but I guess I wasn't in the right state of mind yesterday.

Well, now I understand, I wish there hadn't be any metaphor. Here it conceals the point rather than offering a new perspective on it.

comment by TheAltar · 2016-02-08T16:47:38.240Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

or dating
or romance
or finding love and companionship at all while being heterosexual
or having children (a very big goal for a lot of people that demands a partner and often a lifelong one)

or if we switch the genders for a moment it could be represent women asking men out on dates, women making marriage proposals, or women finding solid companionship (look up Japanese Host Clubs for a perspective on this last one)

heck, it could even be a person attempting to get a job with the boy being an under-credentialed applicant and the girls being business owners! (in places like Nigeria, you pretty much can never get any job without bribing someone first. source: Nigerian former coworker)

Yes, it's probably about sex, but I think we can steelalien it further and to better things. It pattern matches to a lot of things in my mind and explains a type of cultural failing that occurs in different cultures from time to time.

People have lots of different needs that a culture can make very difficult to obtain. It also clearly points out that no one person is acting particularly in the wrong for most of the story (exception obviously being the boy at the end) and the antagonist in the story is the setup of the culture itself. If the culture itself is a problem and making it that hard for a person within it to get their basic needs met then the person has a fairly strong justification for moving to a different culture rather than defecting from their own and bringing harm to others.

comment by bogus · 2016-02-08T20:13:43.167Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Here's a hint. The magical forest is in Canada... or perhaps the UK, or France. The foreigner who agreed to free the boy was visiting from a village in the U.S., where the village chiefs were just starting to decry the high amounts of gold that were being traded for such heroic deeds...

comment by TheAltar · 2016-02-08T17:22:33.648Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I was expecting an ending where the devil comes into town and sells him a magical crimson pill for the low low cost of his soul. The boy gains demonic powers and gets the burning branch off but commits enough devilry in the process that the cultural norms have been violated even further than before and everyone is left unhappy and unsatisfied with the situation.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2016-02-08T18:27:06.136Z · score: -2 (16 votes) · LW · GW

Well, that wraps it up. This post, and some of the asinine comments to it, have persuaded me that I have no further use for this site.

comment by Anders_H · 2016-02-08T18:51:30.203Z · score: 3 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Richard, I don't think Less Wrong can survive losing both Ilya and you in the same week. I hope both of you reconsider. Either way, we definitely need to see this as a wake-up call. This forum has been in decline for a while, but this week I definitely think it hit a breaking point.

comment by OrphanWilde · 2016-02-08T19:41:33.073Z · score: 9 (15 votes) · LW · GW

Interesting. The cynics are jumping ship.

But no. If Richard leaves because a heavily-downvoted article and the comments trying to direct its author to think a little bit deeper offends his sensibilities, that of course is his choice, but it says little about the forum as a whole. Like Ilya, I don't overly mind him, but he's also not a critical piece of the infrastructure; they both did little constructive work, and the forum is oversaturated with people willing to tell low-status members what they're doing wrong anyways, with nobody saying what they're doing right.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2016-02-08T20:04:14.138Z · score: 2 (12 votes) · LW · GW

I've got some sympathy for not wanting to be in a social environment when you're disgusted by the low end. I still like SSC on the whole, but it's drifting far enough right that it's not as much fun for me as it used to be.

comment by OrphanWilde · 2016-02-08T20:15:05.386Z · score: 12 (14 votes) · LW · GW

People who are inclined to be disgusted by the "low end" might do well to remember there are people watching them from further ahead still, as they berate their "lessers" for not being so advanced as themselves. You look forward, to those who are where you aspire to be - do you want them telling you how disgusting and backwards you are? Will being shoved backwards help you forwards?

No community will survive the impulse to spit on those still climbing up in lieu of a helping hand.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2016-02-08T19:17:22.506Z · score: -4 (34 votes) · LW · GW

What's missing from the fable is the idea that sex also has costs and risks for women, not to mention that women have preferences which are as important to them as sexual preferences are for men. The last bit isn't all that's wrong with the post.

This is the moderator speaking-- I want an answer for how you could think it was reasonable to leave out female preferences.

At the same time, there are real problems with the way that men who are bad at attracting women are treated. Not all of those problems come from feminism.

comment by Alicorn · 2016-02-09T00:53:30.313Z · score: 27 (27 votes) · LW · GW

I agree with others that this is not an appropriate use of moderator demands.

comment by Jiro · 2016-02-08T20:07:36.700Z · score: 19 (25 votes) · LW · GW

This is the moderator speaking-- I want an answer for how you could think it was reasonable to leave out female preferences.

I find this request to have worse implications than the post itself, because if this request is serious, it destroys discourse. Normally when discussing a topic, one must leave things out. Requiring people to justify leaving things out amounts to "every person is banworthy".

comment by gjm · 2016-02-09T10:36:38.954Z · score: 7 (15 votes) · LW · GW

Everyone is "banworthy", in the sense that the moderators have the power to ban anyone for any reason and so far as I know there are no defined limits on their actions.

This particular post

  • is in no way actually on topic for LW
  • appears to have been the last straw in leading one long-standing contributor to give up on LW
  • fits right into an anti-LW narrative that's already not so uncommon ("LW has become a sinkhole of racists and sexists and fascists, because the site's supposedly rational norms give no way to make them unwelcome but they make everyone else feel unwelcome")
  • seems at the end to be trying to imply that it's unjust for rapists to be punished, if they feel frustrated and upset and the person they rape wasn't very nice to them

and I think some kind of moderator action in response is eminently reasonable. Personally I'd have gone for "This article is not suitable for LW because [...]; I will wait two days so that anyone who wants to preserve what they've written can take a copy, and then delete it; further attempts at posting this sort of thing may result in a ban".

(I think Nancy was right to ask "what about women's preferences?" and right to apply a bit of moderatorial intimidation, but I don't think the two should have gone together.)

comment by OrphanWilde · 2016-02-09T14:28:07.930Z · score: 9 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Your reasons amount entirely to "The hecklers want to veto this" and "I don't like this content". We've had worse than this before.

I'm not serious very often, particularly here, but I am entirely serious when I say this: If you think the prohibitions on political discourse exist to prevent this content, you do not understand the prohibitions on political discourse; they exist to prevent these responses.

comment by gjm · 2016-02-09T15:10:33.331Z · score: 1 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Your reasons amount entirely to "The hecklers want to veto this" and "I don't like this content".

That is plainly untrue.

The second and third things I said about this post kinda-sorta pattern-match to "the hecklers want to veto this" ... provided you take care not to look too carefully. (One person found it the last straw and is leaving. Does that mean he "wants to veto" it? No, it means he's gone. It fits into an anti-LW narrative that encourages people to stay away. Does that mean the people saying mean things about LW "want to veto" it? No; actually, they're probably glad it's there because it gives them another stick to beat LW with.)

The first and fourth kinda-sorta pattern-match to "gjm doesn't like this content", but again only if you take care not to look carefully. I gave specific reasons why I think it's bad, and it is to those rather than to the fact that I don't like this post that I appealed. Would you collapse all criticism into "X doesn't like this content"? If so, then classifying a particular bit of criticism that way conveys zero information. If not, why does what I wrote deserve to be so collapsed?

We've had worse than this before.

So what?

If you think the prohibitions on political discourse exist to prevent this content, [...]

I didn't say anything about "the prohibitions on political discourse". In particular, when I say this is in no way on topic for LW, I don't mean "... because of the prohibitions on political discourse". I mean it's simply not on topic here. It isn't about rationality (the notional main subject here), nor is it a discussion topic particularly suited to "refining the art of human rationality" (as the LW header has it). It isn't about AI (the main focus of the people who pay for LW). It isn't, to judge from all the downvotes, something LW users as a whole want to discuss here.

comment by OrphanWilde · 2016-02-09T15:43:45.827Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I'm going to be ruder than I usually am, and tell you that you only have one true argument here: That this is harmful to Less Wrong. Your perception, which you fairly plainly state, is that this is harmful to your identity group. Should I link you to the appropriate material about identity and mindkilling? Should I note the irony in the situation?

This is not Orphan amusing himself. This is Orphan telling you that this path will lead to ruin. Less Wrong will survive a user's unpopular opinion if it deserves to survive at all, but it certainly will not survive a precedent of content-based mindkilled moderation.

This is not your Final Exam in rationality; there are no final exams in rationality in the real world. But this is -an- exam. Rationalize your prechosen answer or humor your teachers' passwords at your peril.

comment by gjm · 2016-02-09T16:01:15.341Z · score: 1 (7 votes) · LW · GW

you have only one true argument here: That this is harmful to Less Wrong.

Almost any argument that something should be subject to moderatorial action on Less Wrong can be summarized that way. Even so, you have managed to be incorrect: it is not harmful only to Less Wrong. In the (admittedly not very likely) event that some reader is inspired by it to think as the author seems to, that will be harmful to them (because it will mess up their relations with women) and potentially to any women they may encounter (for the same reason). And while that hypothetical reader can ipso facto be considered part of "Less Wrong", those women can't.

Your perception, which you fairly plainly state, is that this is harmful to your identity group.

You just made that up. (I'm not even sure what my "identity group" even is; I can't think of any plausible candidate for which what you say applies.) I certainly haven't "fairly plainly" stated what you claim I have.

content-based mindkilled moderation

How about content-based non-mindkilled moderation?

Do you consider that no one could have a serious problem with this material other than by being mindkilled?

comment by Lumifer · 2016-02-09T16:15:45.752Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

In the (admittedly not very likely) event that some reader is inspired by it to think as the author seems to, that will be harmful to them

Is that reductio ad absurdum applied to basilisks..? X-D

Constructing a memetically safe space is... dangerous.

comment by gjm · 2016-02-09T17:29:27.730Z · score: -3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Constructing a memetically safe space is ... dangerous.

Sure. It's just as well no one is proposing to do that.

The situation here is as follows. The OP is really bad, for several different reasons. Nancy made a comment that rather vaguely suggested that she might invoke her moderatorial powers somehow if the author didn't justify some of what he wrote. But now you're pointing to one of the things I say is bad about the OP and saying "it would be bad to ban people for just this". Yup, it would, but no one was suggesting that.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-02-09T17:51:29.418Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

But now you're pointing to one of the things I say is bad about the OP and saying "it would be bad to ban people for just this".

Actually, no. I'm pointing to one of the thing you say is bad about OP and saying "You're being ridiculous. Stop digging."

comment by gjm · 2016-02-09T20:22:13.171Z · score: -3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I never suggested anything like "constructing a memetically safe space". You might want to consider the possibility that some of the ridiculousness is of your own making.

comment by OrphanWilde · 2016-02-09T17:50:50.299Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If you can't keep from commenting on things that are immaterial to the matter at hand in your arguments, you can't complain when other people assume that the things you comment on are material to the matter at hand to you, and treat your arguments as such.

comment by gjm · 2016-02-09T20:21:22.767Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Fortunately, I am not complaining about that.

comment by OrphanWilde · 2016-02-09T16:25:45.129Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Even so, you have managed to be incorrect: it is not harmful only to Less Wrong. In the (admittedly not very likely) event that some reader is inspired by it to think as the author seems to, that will be harmful to them (because it will mess up their relations with women) and potentially to any women they may encounter (for the same reason). And while that hypothetical reader can ipso facto be considered part of "Less Wrong", those women can't.

Your argument proves too much.

How about content-based non-mindkilled moderation?

That would require the participants be not-mindkilled, which you clearly are, since you think moderating bad literature is a good idea.

Do you consider that no one could have a serious problem with this material other than by being mindkilled?

I find it badly written, but that's not a moderation-worthy offense. It presents no serious argument and poses no threat of inspiration. It's about as noteworthy as the average teenage goths' poetry describing what dying would feel like, and cringeworthy for about the same reasons.

I'm forcing this conversation into two positions, in case you haven't noticed: Either you concede it's terrible but harmless and not -worth- moderating, or you now argue that it's actually dangerous.

comment by gjm · 2016-02-09T17:46:28.953Z · score: -1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Your argument proves too much.

Do please go ahead and show what it proves that shouldn't be proved.

since you think moderating bad literature is a good idea

I do wish you'd stop saying false things about what I think.

I'm forcing [...]

You seem very fond of boasting of how you're manipulating this and forcing that and dark-artsing the other. I feel about this roughly the way you feel about Gleb T's writing.

Either you concede it's terrible but harmless and not -worth- moderating, or you now argue that it's actually dangerous.

Nope. What I actually say is: (1) it's probably harmless, but that doesn't suffice to make it not worth moderating, and (2) there is a small but nonzero chance that someone takes it more seriously than it deserves and ends up harmed by it.

(Unless you are adopting a very broad definition of "harm" according to which, e.g., something that is merely boring and unpleasant and irrelevant is "harmful" because it wastes people's time and attention. In that case, I would argue that the OP is harmful. Of course that's not the same as "dangerous" and yes, I did notice that you opposed "harmless" to "dangerous" as if the two were one another's negations.)

On #1: well-kept gardens die by pacifism and while Eliezer is there arguing mostly for energetic downvoting of bad material, I suggest that the same arguments can justify moderator action too. If someone is contributing a lot of low-quality material and nothing valuable, maybe it's OK to ban them. If something posted is low-quality and irrelevant and liable to bring Less Wrong into disrepute, maybe it's OK to delete it. If someone is persistently obnoxious, maybe it's OK to ban them. None of this requires that the thing being sanctioned be dangerous.

On #2: people can be inspired by the unlikeliest things. (I went to a rather good concert once where one of the better pieces of music was a setting of what may be the worst poem I have ever read, firmly in teenage goth territory.)

comment by OrphanWilde · 2016-02-09T18:04:44.407Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

You seem very fond of boasting of how you're manipulating this and forcing that and dark-artsing the other. I feel about this roughly the way you feel about Gleb T's writing.

If I were going to boast, it would be about how you changed your mind on multiple things simultaneously to avoid the obvious feint - and apparently didn't notice. Your arguments at this point are so weak as to fall apart at the touch; "probably harmless" and "small but nonzero chance of harm" are such a weak standard of evidence for moderation that nothing would be permitted to be discussed here. It would be much harder to prove your prior version proved too much - but you did the work for me.

But go on and keep thinking that what I'm doing is boasting.

comment by gjm · 2016-02-09T20:24:52.117Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

You are, not for the first time in this thread, arguing against things I have not said.

comment by OrphanWilde · 2016-02-09T20:47:09.543Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I didn't argue at all there. I pointed out that your position changed in anticipation of an objection you expected me to raise, to forestall the objection from having merit.

The argument, you see, is already over. You played your part, I played mine, and the audience is looking for a new show, the conclusion for this one already having played out in the background.

comment by Kawoomba · 2016-02-11T14:57:45.428Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

You got me there!

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-02-09T19:47:01.596Z · score: -4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

If the article lead an respected LW member to leave it's harmful to LW. It's a quite simple argument. If you can't see that harm it might be you who's mindkilled.

You can argue that the harm isn't big enough to justify censorship of the post but claiming that no harm is caused to the community is plain wrong.

comment by OrphanWilde · 2016-02-09T20:29:48.421Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

If the article lead an respected LW member to leave it's harmful to LW.

Granting concessions to anybody who threatens to leave the table is a harmful strategy.

It's a quite simple argument.

The world is complex. Simple arguments are generally wrong.

If you can't see that harm it might be you who's mindkilled.

Unlikely, given both that I'm taking a position against overreaction, and have insulted our guest of honor multiple times throughout this thread. You're the one with an emotional stake in this; my emotions started with concern, but at this point have settled on "amused" given that I don't rate there being any real danger of moderation.

I downvoted Nancy. Nancy! I've never downvoted Nancy, she always has a cool head.

You can argue that the harm isn't big enough to justify censorship of the post but claiming that no harm is caused to the community is plain wrong.

Anyone who leaves over this post isn't worth having in the first place. You, at least, argue your point, defend the community. Richard just declared the community shit and left.

He might be wrong, or he might be right - it doesn't matter. As the community exists, he didn't provide value. Any harm that was done, to create a community such that this trivial nonsense caused him to leave, long predates this trivial nonsense.

Or, to put it another way - the issue isn't that this post exists. The issue is that nothing existed to make it worth it to Richard to read posts like this. It's not like the community is overrun with poor content, that you have to sift through to find the good stuff. It's not like anybody will confuse this heavily-downvoted post with "the good stuff." There isn't any good stuff. There's just people competing with one another to prove who can be the most outraged over bad literature.

You know what a good community would have done with this post? Downvoted it and moved on to the next thing.

This post isn't a problem because it's bad. This post is a problem because it's the most exciting thing that's happened here this week.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-02-09T22:03:58.769Z · score: -5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Granting concessions to anybody who threatens to leave the table is a harmful strategy.

You illustrate a classic example of being mind-killed, confusing questions with each other. You confuse factual questions with strategic considerations and consider the strategic considerations to be more important than the veracity.

Whether or not it's a good strategy to grant concessions for threatening to leave is irrelevant to the factual question of whether leaving is harm.

comment by Jiro · 2016-02-09T22:37:16.548Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

A"good strategy" means "a strategy which harms us the least". It's not the leaving that is being considered harm, it;s the granting of concessions.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-02-09T22:45:24.542Z · score: -3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It might very well be that both leaving and granting concessions are harm on a factual level.

If the OP wouldn't have posted neither or those harmful things would have happened. The post produced harm.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-02-09T16:12:55.953Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Everyone is "banworthy", in the sense that the moderators have the power to ban anyone for any reason and so far as I know there are no defined limits on their actions.

That's similar to saying that cops have the power to shoot anyone for any reason. There's some truth in it, in one sense, but in another sense, it's quite untrue.

comment by gjm · 2016-02-09T17:16:48.583Z · score: 2 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Jiro's argument is, in effect, that if the moderators can threaten to ban someone if they don't justify the holes in their analogies then they can threaten to ban anyone. That's true, but no truer than the fact that they can (in any case) threaten to ban anyone. In either case, the scenario to worry about is unreasonable moderators; and if we have unreasonable moderators they can threaten to ban, or ban, as they please even without this precedent.

(I should maybe remark that Nancy didn't in fact threaten to ban anyone; she didn't make any specific threat. I'm not sure that actually makes anything better, but this discussion is developing somewhat as if she'd said in so many words "answer or I ban you", which she didn't say.)

comment by Lumifer · 2016-02-09T17:44:28.925Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

The issue isn't whether a threat to ban was made explicitly or not (the only moderator powers are to ban and to delete posts, as far as I know, therefore "I ask as a moderator" implies "I have a gun in my hand, give me a reason to not use it"). The issue is whether moderators are in charge of policing posts and comments on the basis of "does it offend my sensitivities".

The EphemeralNight's post was compared, justifiably in my opinion, to bad adolescent goth poetry. Do you think that "I want an answer for how you could think it was reasonable to leave out female preferences" is, in any way, an adequate response to bad goth poetry?

comment by gjm · 2016-02-09T20:29:08.069Z · score: -1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

"I have a gun in my hand, give me a reason to not use it"

It could also be "I have a gun: you might want to consider keeping on the right side of me lest I use it later".

does it offend my sensitivities

As you can see from (e.g.) Richard Kennaway's comment, the votes on Nancy's question, etc., it is by no means only Nancy's sensitivities that are at issue here.

an adequate response to bad goth poetry

Whether something is as badly written as bad goth poetry is an entirely separate question from whether it should be judged as if it is bad goth poetry.

comment by MaximumLiberty · 2016-02-10T01:32:04.163Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Your list of reasons seem to me to be the very reason we have karma. Why does this post deserve moderation in a system where karma sends the message about the community's desire for more of the same?

comment by gjm · 2016-02-10T02:40:50.722Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not certain whether it does. The obvious disadvantages of moderator action are (1) effort and (2) heavy-handedness (real or perceived). The advantages of moderator action are (3) to make it more explicit that this sort of stuff is not wanted around here and (4) to get rid of it more thoroughly so that, e.g., people are less likely to stumble across it in search engine results and there's no danger that future trolls with sockpuppet armies will vote it up out of spite[1].

I'm not sure how those weigh up against one another, and indeed it's not hard to cook up arguments that #2 is actually a good thing ("sending a message") or that #4 is actually a bad thing (all else being equal, destroying even low-quality information is sad). But on the whole I think #3 and #4 are advantages, which is why moderator action is at least worth considering.

[1] This isn't as crazy a scenario as it sounds. There is at least one LW user strongly suspected of using sockpuppets for upvoting, generally hostile to Nancy, unsympathetic to (let's say) "women's causes", and known to be untroubled by scruples about what's considered acceptable behaviour on LW...

comment by MaximumLiberty · 2016-02-10T02:47:09.464Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Fair enough. I don't follow the personalities here, so the situations where someone engages in sock-puppetry would totally escape my notice. My priors incline me to preferring good speech as the remedy for bad speech.

comment by Jiro · 2016-02-09T15:30:57.978Z · score: 2 (8 votes) · LW · GW

This particular post

And those are legitimate reasons to ban him. And none of them are "we require that posts don't leave out how the humans feel, and if you do leave that out you should get banned". I agree that we should ban him. I'm just saying we need to be careful about what justification we give for banning him.

Do you have any idea how much is covered by the requirement "you can't ignore humans in your posts", or can be spun as covered by it? "In your torture versus dust specks example, tell me why we should ignore the feelings of the person actually suffering the torture. You can't just dispassionately compare them and ignore that you're saying a human being should suffer". "What? You oppose the minimum wage? Tell me why you left out anything about the poor person who starves to death because of your policy."

comment by gjm · 2016-02-09T15:54:16.592Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I'm just saying we need to be careful about what justification we give for banning him.

I agree. See the last sentence of what I wrote.

Do you have any idea how much is covered [...]

Yes. It would be bad if it became the norm that any time anyone makes an analogy that doesn't match the thing it points at in every detail, or made an argument that failed to consider the preferences and feelings of some people, the moderators of LW demanded that they justify themselves.

We should not have that norm, and I have not (so far as I can tell) suggested that there should be one.

Precisely because of the unusual badness of the thing Nancy was responding to (and, perhaps unlike you, I think that does have a lot to do with its apparent indifference to women's feelings), I don't think there's any way to get from "a moderator challenges EphemeralNight on these grounds here" to "moderators issue similar challenges to everyone who posts anything that can be claimed to neglect anyone's feelings".

Incidentally, I think the challenges you mention in your second paragraph are (without the element of moderatorial intimidation) reasonable challenges. The answers might be, respectively, "We absolutely shouldn't ignore the feelings of the person suffering the torture; they are a very big deal. But we also shouldn't ignore the feelings of the people suffering the dust specks, which are indeed small in isolation but add up to a lot because of the unthinkably colossal number of people involved." and "I didn't intend to leave out anything about the poor person who starves to death because their pay is too low; I just say that we should also consider the poor people starving to death because they have no pay at all as a result of the minimum wage.". (I do not necessarily endorse TORTURE over SPECKS or disapprove of a minimum wage; the point is that you can do so without ignoring anyone's feelings, and that if you were ignoring anyone's feelings then that would be a strike against your position.)

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-02-08T20:30:32.112Z · score: 6 (16 votes) · LW · GW

This post is of a quality that it harms the community by driving valuable people away. As such I think it does make sense to ask the author to justify his choices. If we want a LW 2.0 where the people who left LW come back I don't think that's compatible with allowing posts like this.

comment by OrphanWilde · 2016-02-08T21:04:10.428Z · score: 10 (12 votes) · LW · GW

That's what the downvote system is for, and it is working perfectly fine. Moderation is for abusive behaviors.

As for Richard, if he's going to be offended that a heavily-downvoted post exists, well, good riddance. You want a good culture, it doesn't start by putting the Heckler's Veto on a shrine and worshipping it.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-02-08T22:23:03.472Z · score: 2 (14 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think Richard is the only one driven away by posts like this. In general people who are willing to have their public identities linked to this website are more likely driven away because they don't want to be associated with that kind of content. It furthermore produces a climate unwelcoming to women.

comment by TheAltar · 2016-02-08T22:40:46.569Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

After a certain point, no one wants to be associated with all the content + comments occurring and everyone generally feels unwelcome and judged. This is the worst case scenario for a discussion and a very strong reason to not have political discourse here.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-02-08T20:37:13.265Z · score: 9 (21 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think that's compatible with allowing posts like this.

Not allowing posts which don't pass some arbitrary threshold that smells of social justice will drive more people away.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-02-08T20:51:03.472Z · score: 3 (13 votes) · LW · GW

I think it's one thing to allow every position to be argued. It's another thing to allow any position to be proposed with a story while the author tries to escape arguing for it.

NancyLebovitz requests here that the author argues for the position he takes.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-02-08T20:57:46.471Z · score: 3 (7 votes) · LW · GW

while the author tries to escape arguing for it

I haven't noticed any attempts to escape. I would like to suggest they are products of your imagination.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-02-08T20:59:07.719Z · score: 1 (9 votes) · LW · GW

He escaped into the medium of a parable.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-02-08T21:00:58.450Z · score: 4 (14 votes) · LW · GW

He escaped into the medium of a parable.

/rolls eyes

So, parables are now non grata on LW? Perhaps you'd like to revise the Sequences and take all parables out of it, too?

comment by Good_Burning_Plastic · 2016-02-09T08:20:28.088Z · score: 4 (8 votes) · LW · GW

parables are now non grata

I think the plural is non gratae. (SCNR.)

comment by Lumifer · 2016-02-09T15:54:59.452Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, but if you want to get that technical, the correct form depends on the gender of the latin word for "parable". The two options are parabola (which has the "parable" meaning only in late Latin, I think) and fabula ( == fable, e.g. Aesop's). Luckily, both are feminine so non gratae is correct.

Although you can make an argument that the English word "parables" has the neuter gender and so it still should be non grata :-)

comment by Good_Burning_Plastic · 2016-02-09T16:34:54.690Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I was thinking of feminine parabola, but...

Although you can make an argument that the English word "parables" has the neuter gender and so it still should be non grata :-)

:-)

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-02-08T21:10:54.696Z · score: 1 (11 votes) · LW · GW

That's not what I said. I think that when it comes to emotionally charged topics it's important to focus on on explicit discussing of arguments.

Post shouldn't be banned because just because they spread a certain opinion or just because they use a certain style but posts that do voice problematic opinions in a non-fact based style shouldn't be here.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-02-08T21:15:13.044Z · score: 10 (12 votes) · LW · GW

posts that do voice problematic opinions in a non-fact based style shouldn't be here.

How about you start with Three Worlds Collide, then?

comment by username2 · 2016-02-09T01:42:03.370Z · score: -22 (28 votes) · LW · GW

Could someone just revoke Nancy's moderator powers already? It's becoming increasingly clear that she can't be trusted with them.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-02-08T20:20:04.263Z · score: 6 (18 votes) · LW · GW

This is the moderator speaking-- I want an answer

Remind me, why do you think you're entitled to answers? And what makes your perspective on what's included in a piece of fiction and what is not anything special?

If we are going into the "some animals are more equal than others" direction, this will end badly and soon.

comment by MaximumLiberty · 2016-02-10T02:36:13.212Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

OK, trying to be fair to the original poster, since it appears that he doesn't plan on responding directly in public. Please take this in the nature of "even the devil deserves an advocate" and an exercise in resisting the fundamental attribution error. It's also informed by the thought that the implication that someone is actually advocating rape is an exception claim, so must be supported by exception evidence. And it's informed by a cussed refusal to be mind-killed.

Take a look at the quantity of words. About half of the piece happens before the foreign girls show up. That seems to be a metaphor for people who can't get sex through the types of relationships that the median person has. The second half is almost entirely given over to the foreign girls arriving, trafficking in branch-lifting, and getting prohibited from the community, with the result that the protagonist is vilified. That seems to be a metaphor for prostitution, its illegalization, and the effects on someone found to be buying the services of a prostitute.

Then we get one awful sentence. I'm not justifying it if it means what others have read it to mean, and I'll come back to it at the end.

If by leaving out female preferences, you are referring to just that one sentence, I tend to agree with you that the one sentence is reprehensible if intended. But I don't think that criticism is fair for any of the rest. The first half of the piece is showing the effect of preferences (female in context, but not gendered by necessity). When you make a point, it doesn't have to be perfectly balanced, especially if your goal is to draw attention to some aspect that you believe has had has had insufficient attention. The second half of the piece actually respects some female preferences. Specifically, it respects the preferences of those who prefer to be sex workers. It points out one of the negative effects of oppressing those preferences (by ejecting the foreign girls). Again, it isn't balanced, but I don't really think it has to be. Finally, it points out the oppressive rationale for the oppressive act (of ejecting the foreign girls).

Then it goes off the rails with a single sentence. The piece would have been far more effective if the native girl speaking near the end had imprisoned him for paying a foreign girl to lift the burning branch. The sentence is far from clear to me. I'm not certain that its author really recognized that the metaphor would be to rape. To some degree, it is fair to say, "too bad, that's the risk you take in writing in metaphor!" But it's also fair for us to ask whether one sentence should be taken as such significant evidence of vile character, and whether some other meaning was intended. Specifically, putting a girl under the branch hasn't been how the boys get out from under the branch throughout the rest of the story, so it's not the established metaphor for sex. It could be that the point here was not forcing the girl to lift the branch (which would be metaphorical rape). It could be that the point was to subject girls to being under the branch (which would be metaphorical undesired celibacy). It's not a great metaphor that way, either, because the boys got under the branches in the first place by some strange freak of nature. ("Oh, I didn't see that burning branch falling on me, so now I'm stuck"?) But it might have been intended as "see how you like it." That itself is an unattractive kind of position, but it is quite different from rape.

One final point is that I didn't interpret the criticism here as being directed to feminism. I took it to be directed toward government messing around in things where it ought not and towards the ideal of sex as an expression of romantic love. I read it that one solution that was rejected in the first half was essentially "friends with benefits" -- something that I doubt would find universal condemnation among feminists, and certainly not among most feminists before the 1980's. But the danger with metaphors is that the reader brings more to them than the reader brings to a straightforward statement.

And that's pretty much exhausted my store of charitable interpretation, with apologies to those who would prefer that this mind-killing comment thread simply die a quiet death.

comment by EphemeralNight · 2016-02-09T14:29:58.605Z · score: -7 (19 votes) · LW · GW

Well, first, I'll admit up front that I logged off and metaphorically hid for a day after posting this, so I would not be tempted to engage in a pointless argument in the comments. And yet, I was somehow still too optimistic about what I'd find when I looked.

First point of order, this isn't about me. I've been on this site a while, it should be obvious by now that I have no qualms sharing gooey personal details about myself. So. Stop making it about me. If it was about me, you'd know.

Second point of order, the pronouns assigned to the characters do not matter and I think it says more about you than me that you fixated on that. So. Stop making it about sexism. Perhaps I could have chosen some other combination of genders, but I had hoped that commenters here of all places would be egalitarian enough to see those genders as the placeholders they are.

Third point of order, the parable was never meant to reflect reality. If it seems one-sided, that's because it is. It is meant to reflect a generalized emotional journey that I think is valid for a lot of people, of all sexes and orientations, who are too scared to speak up because they, rightly, expect to get nothing but vitriol for doing so.

Fourthly, if the parable even has a moral, it is about prostitution and modern attitudes towards prostitution and not really anything else. If you think the parable is advocating anything else you don't like, that, again, says more about you than me. I am astounded that I have to explicitly point this out, but there is a difference between not actively helping a person and actively interfering with help reaching a person. So. Stop putting words in my mouth. We should be above that, here.

comment by Vaniver · 2016-02-09T17:22:00.711Z · score: 20 (20 votes) · LW · GW

Compare these two lines:

If it was about me, you'd know.

Stop putting words in my mouth.

Either you want your audience to use their ability to infer (which includes imputing motives), or you don't. (And it doesn't matter if you don't, because readers will.) Watch for the illusion of transparency, and make it obvious by highlighting the part that you want people to focus on. If this is a policy argument about the legality of prostitution and not a commentary on anything else, 1) post it to Omnilibrium instead of here because policy arguments about the legality of prostitution are off topic and 2) make that explicit (and even then, consider whether or not the example will distract or focus your audience).


When you get a reaction this bad, doubling down is ill-advised. It's typically best to just cut your losses.

comment by OrphanWilde · 2016-02-09T14:53:20.531Z · score: 18 (22 votes) · LW · GW

I had hoped that commenters here of all places would be egalitarian enough to see those genders as the placeholders they are.

If you had a modicum of sense in you as you were considering this, you would have flipped the genders. I assume you have a modicum of sense, so I must conclude you just didn't think about it; you defaulted as much as the people you're complaining about, because you were, in fact, thinking of a specific situation.

Your comment about the real point of the story being the immorality of the opposition to prostitution is fair, and well-supported by your story.

Your complaint about people putting words in your mouth is not. You bludgeon the reader with the metaphor, you stretch it to insane and untenable places, and then complain when readers observe that the plaintext reading of the metaphor suggests attempted rape? I'm perfectly willing to ascribe that to bad writing, but it isn't -unfair- for somebody to ascribe it to your intent, when your intent is so heavily dumped all over the rest of the story.

comment by Dentin · 2016-02-12T01:59:42.392Z · score: -2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Plaintext reading of the metaphor suggests attempted rape? WTF?

comment by Nebu · 2016-04-09T20:41:37.189Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I also inferred rape from the story. It was the part about how in desperation, he reached out and grabbed at her ankle. And then he was imprisoned in response to that.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2016-02-11T17:35:22.993Z · score: 8 (12 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you for your reply. This is not at all what I expected.

I think there's a rule for allegories that the symbols shouldn't be too much like the thing symbolized (in this case an allegory about sex shouldn't use real world genders). I also recommend updating about people's ability to interpret (especially about a fraught subject like sex) rather than complaining that they didn't understand things the way you hoped.

This being said, I agree with you about prostitution, though more from a libertarian /sympathy for the prostitutes who should be allowed to do their work in peace than sympathy for people who have trouble finding sexual partners.

I'm not sure what the emotional journey is supposed to be. Maybe going from thinking of something as a personal problem to realizing that there's a systemic problem?

comment by Dagon · 2016-02-09T15:01:32.065Z · score: 8 (12 votes) · LW · GW

It's just a bad metaphor no matter how you explain it. It's very contrived, it elevates sexual choices to life-and-death, and it really doesn't illuminate anything about any of the problems it might be targeted toward.

I suspect it's a mind-killing topic that just can't be discussed well here, but even if you want to try, don't use long, obtuse, pointless stories. Use either personal truths or rational analysis, so there's something to support or discuss.

comment by Dentin · 2016-02-12T02:02:20.946Z · score: -2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

It only elevates sexual choices to life-and-death if you choose to interpret it that way. I did not. I chose to interpret it as about depression.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-02-09T16:04:37.055Z · score: 6 (10 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think I believe everything you said in this comment :-/

comment by knb · 2016-02-17T13:38:08.877Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

You were downvoted to -20. It's utterly absurd of you to try to blame people for making the obvious interpretation of your parable and then crawl back and claim you are "astounded." Either you wrote this very poorly, and should apologize, or you are lying to try to conceal your true intention after the fact.

comment by seuoseo · 2016-02-09T15:11:04.263Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

...oh. I was about to PM you with a personal account from the other side of the story to defend the people I thought you were accusing of not saving you, personally, at a small cost or themselves. I still want to point out that had I read your story in the past, I would have taken it for an accusation of practically murdering someone like the author and tortured myself over it.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-02-09T18:56:20.107Z · score: 3 (13 votes) · LW · GW

If you think the parable is advocating anything else you don't like, that, again, says more about you than me.

No, it just says that you don't understand the effect of your writing or a clueless about modern culture.

The news of last weeks are about how Rossy is pro-rape because of one article he pretends to have intentend to be satirical calling for the legislation of rape on private property.

Not denouncing writing like that has a high cost for a community like this because it affects people who come to this community and read the article.

I think the best action from your end if you really claim not to intend to communicate the message that readers of your article understood would be to simply delete the article.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-02-09T19:18:40.583Z · score: 7 (11 votes) · LW · GW

are about how Rossy is pro-rape

First, it's Roissy, not Rossy. Second, it's not Roissy at all, it's Roosh.

Not denouncing writing like that has a high cost for a community

What are we, in Maoist China? You feel the need to reaffirm your loyalty by denouncing (!) writings which deviate from the Party line?

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-02-09T19:56:23.484Z · score: 1 (9 votes) · LW · GW

You feel the need to reaffirm your loyalty by denouncing (!) writings which deviate from the Party line?

The problem isn't about the writing, it about LW's editoral decision to publish it or not to publish it. I have no problem with the author having a blog and publishing his writing on that blog.

Once the LW community publishes it, it however becomes responsible for dealing with it.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-02-09T20:04:22.231Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

LW's editoral decision to publish it or not to publish it.

Ain't no such thing. Does not exist.

You seem to be very confused about the nature of LW. It is NOT a publication where editors select some submissions for publications and so provide curated content.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-02-09T22:00:31.238Z · score: -1 (13 votes) · LW · GW

Ain't no such thing. Does not exist.

Hosting a website like this does come with both legal and social responsibility for it's content. External parties do make LW responsible for the content it hosts to the extend that it's not explictely made clear that LW denounces it.

comment by Vaniver · 2016-02-10T00:21:17.379Z · score: 19 (19 votes) · LW · GW

to the extend that it's not explictely made clear that LW denounces it.

If only there was a way to quantify the LW community's approval or disapproval of a post submitted to it.

comment by Lumifer · 2016-02-10T02:08:52.441Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Hosting a website like this does come with both legal and social responsibility for it's content. External parties do make LW responsible for the content it hosts to the extend that it's not explictely made clear that LW denounces it.

So, Kamerad, I notice you personally have been lax in denouncing writings you -- hopefully -- may not want to be associated with. I trust you understand the consequences of being in the presence of... wrong ideas and not denouncing them forcefully. It really would be for the best if you were to correct that oversight on your part and properly denounce what you want to stand apart from. Using proper legalese, too, so that the proper authorities do not make any mistakes. And speaking of proper authorities, I hope you have notified them? It is good that you understand you bear "legal and social responsibility" for what happens in your presence. Do not forget your responsibility to denounce all the enemies of the people. Denounce early and often!

comment by Jiro · 2016-02-09T16:23:10.473Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

it should be obvious by now that I have no qualms sharing gooey personal details about myself.

Are you advancedatheist? (If you're not, this changes some things.)

comment by Vaniver · 2016-02-09T16:44:34.803Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Are you advancedatheist? (If you're not, this changes some things.)

Both accounts have been here for a long time and seem to have different posting styles to me (but I'm no stylometrist). The only commonality I see is interest in cryonics and incel, which doesn't seem likely to be a unique combination.

comment by Old_Gold · 2016-02-10T02:53:05.882Z · score: -23 (27 votes) · LW · GW

Well, first, I'll admit up front that I logged off and metaphorically hid for a day after posting this, so I would not be tempted to engage in a pointless argument in the comments.

That's your problem right there. If you want people to respect you, don't hide, fight. Attempting to apologize or beg does not earn you respect from women or SJ-goons like gjm or Comrade ChristianKl, it earns you mockery and signals that you're someone it's safe to beat up on.

The boy's mistake in the story was begging rather than being assertive. And your problem here is that your immediate reaction to extremely unfair criticism by people who can be extremely charitably described as mind-killed is to apologize and attempt to say "no really I didn't mean it".

comment by polymathwannabe · 2016-02-10T17:06:32.048Z · score: 6 (12 votes) · LW · GW

Attempting to apologize or beg does not earn you respect from women or SJ

You seem to pressupose a quite peculiar definition of respect. Also, you're generalizing too much about what's inside women's heads.

The boy's mistake in the story was begging rather than being assertive.

The conditions in the story were rigged so that he had no other course of action open except begging. That's one of the 5,429,236 reasons why it fails as a metaphor.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-02-12T14:20:00.450Z · score: 4 (8 votes) · LW · GW

That's your problem right there. If you want people to respect you, don't hide, fight.

The whole reason he wrote a parable instead of a fact-based article was hidding. Hidding was part of my critcism from the start.

And your problem here is that your immediate reaction to extremely unfair criticism by people who can be extremely charitably described as mind-killed is to apologize and attempt to say "no really I didn't mean it".

I don't think saying "no really I didn't mean it" and appologizing are the same thing. Sincerely apologizing does earn respect. Falsely pretending that you didn't actually wanted to say what you said doesn't earn respect. It's again a symptom of not wanting to communicate openly and sincerely and that's one of the core criticisms I had from the beginning.

As far as me being SJ In the days where I actually did run a forum where I had moderator power I took the side of the right of an African to speak of homosexuality as a crime that's legalized in some countries. I don't have a problem with people sincerely arguing for positions that aren't PC.

comment by Old_Gold · 2016-02-13T02:01:04.472Z · score: -6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Hidding was part of my critcism from the start.

More in a "how dare you try to hide from me" kind of sense.

As far as me being SJ In the days where I actually did run a forum where I had moderator power I took the side of the right of an African to speak of homosexuality as a crime that's legalized in some countries.

Would you have done that for someone who didn't belong to a "more protected" category?

I don't have a problem with people sincerely arguing for positions that aren't PC.

I find that incredibly hard to believe given your behavior elsewhere in the comments but especially in this thread.

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-02-13T11:06:21.213Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

More in a "how dare you try to hide from me" kind of sense.

No, you get that sense because you mislabel me as SJW when I'm not.

I find that incredibly hard to believe given your behavior elsewhere in the comments but especially in this thread.

I guess that says more about your model of the world than about me. Or that the topic is heavily mind-killing.

If you read through my LW history you will find my quite civilly discussing the issue of pedophila with a person who wants to legalize it.

On Omnilibrium he have been called right-wing because of how I see the perfomance of the post-apartheid government of South Africa.

My position is that everybody should be allowed to argue any position but not that everybody should be allowed to argue any position in any way they like. The more extreme a position the more important it is that the person focus on focusing on having a fact based discussion.

comment by Old_Gold · 2016-02-13T19:49:34.501Z · score: -5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

No, you get that sense because you mislabel me as SJW when I'm not.

An SJW is someone who engages in certain types of behavior, and your "nice forum you got here, would be a shame if someone called it sexist"-style blackmail here was definitely SJW-behavior. You don't get to act like a SJW and then complain when someone calls you out on it.

If you read through my LW history you will find my quite civilly discussing the issue of pedophila with a person who wants to legalize it.

So you're willing to discuss extreme positions to your left.

The more extreme a position the more important it is that the person focus on focusing on having a fact based discussion.

The more extreme position the more trouble one can get into for attempting fact based discussion. There is in fact a long tradition of dissidents writing stories set in the past or in sci-fi worlds when it's not safe to object directly to what's going on. Granted, EphemeralNight is overestimating the current danger and the amount of hiding required.

Also, what do you consider an "extreme" position for purposes of this rule? Can you cite any instance where you applied this to any position that was to "extreme" left-wing?

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-02-13T21:57:29.615Z · score: 4 (8 votes) · LW · GW

"nice forum you got here, would be a shame if someone called it sexist"

That's mistakes my perspective. You are likely either Eugine trying to circumvent his ban or somone without a real stake in this forum. I do care about this forum and also regularly attend LW meetups.

I know that there are woman who don't participate on the LW forum but who do participate on meetups. Reinventing LW2.0 means shifting LW into being more welcoming to those people.

Even before reading Richard posts I predicted the post to drive away people and my prediction was accurate. Far from being mind-killed I made an accurate prediction. Most people who leave LW also don't post publically about the reasons why the leave.

I have little to gain by calling LW sexist.

An SJW is someone who engages in certain types of behavior, and your "nice forum you got here, would be a shame if someone called it sexist"-style blackmail here was definitely SJW-behavior. You don't get to act like a SJW and then complain when someone calls you out on it.

As a result of mind-kill you confuse the issue of what's true from the social level of complaining and winning arguments.

As far as truth goes it's irrational to think that a the actions in a single case determine who someone happens to be.

The more extreme position the more trouble one can get into for attempting fact based discussion.

That's basically if you don't know how to setup the debate. Part of my upbringing as far as having political conversations was a debating seminar by people from the Cambridge debating society who considered it important that and position can be defended.

EphemeralNight and you hide behind anonymity, and can therefore speak without much personal consequences anyway. My own real world identity is linked to this account. Richard's also is.

It's not good for LW to move to a point where only people who want to hide their idenity want to participate.

Also, what do you consider an "extreme" position for purposes of this rule? Can you cite any instance where you applied this to any position that was to "extreme" left-wing?

Most of the time people don't try to make points on LW by telling stories. Can you point to a single parable that someone posted on LW that you think I should have opposed based on my standards but didn't?

comment by Old_Gold · 2016-02-14T04:09:07.107Z · score: -10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

I know that there are woman who don't participate on the LW forum but who do participate on meetups. Reinventing LW2.0 means shifting LW into being more welcoming to those people.

Would they contribute anything besides starting witch hunts. If the very existence of a single post at -19 is enough to drive them away, things don't look good in their favor.

As far as truth goes it's irrational to think that a the actions in a single case determine who someone happens to be.

"I only murdered someone once, I'm not a murderer."