I've had it with those dark rumours about our culture rigorously suppressing opinions

post by Multiheaded · 2012-01-25T17:43:40.601Z · score: 31 (78 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 866 comments

Contents

  CONCLUSION:
None
866 comments

You folks probably know how some posters around here, specifically Vladimir_M, often make statements to the effect of:

 

"There's an opinion on such-and-such topic that's so against the memeplex of Western culture, we can't even discuss it in open-minded, pseudonymous forums like Less Wrong as society would instantly slam the lid on it with either moral panic or ridicule and give the speaker a black mark.

Meanwhile the thought patterns instilled in us by our upbringing would lead us to quickly lose all interest in the censored opinion"

Going by their definition, us blissfully ignorant masses can't even know what exactly those opinions might be, as they would look like basic human decency, the underpinnings of our ethics or some other such sacred cow to us. I might have a few guesses, though, all of them as horrible and sickening as my imagination could produce without overshooting and landing in the realm of comic-book evil:

- Dictatorial rule involving active terror and brutal suppression of deviants having great utility for a society in the long term, by providing security against some great risk or whatever.

- A need for every society to "cull the weak" every once in a while, e.g. exterminating the ~0.5% of its members that rank as weakest against some scale.

- Strict hierarchy in everyday life based on facts from the ansectral environment (men dominating women, fathers having the right of life and death over their children, etc) - Mencius argued in favor of such ruthless practices, e.g. selling children into slavery, in his post on "Pronomianism" and "Antinomianism", stating that all contracts between humans should rather be strict than moral or fair, to make the system stable and predictable; he's quite obsessed with stability and conformity.

- Some public good being created when the higher classes wilfully oppress and humiliate the lower ones in a ceremonial manner

- The bloodshed and lawlessness of periodic large-scale war as a vital "pressure valve" for releasing pent-up unacceptable emotional states and instinctive drives

- Plain ol' unfair discrimination of some group in many cruel, life-ruining ways, likewise as a pressure valve

+:  some Luddite crap about dropping to a near-subsistence level in every aspect of civilization and making life a daily struggle for survival

Of course my methodology for coming up with such guesses was flawed and primitive: I simply imagined some of the things that sound the ugliest to me yet have been practiced by unpleasant cultures before in some form. Now, of course, most of us take the absense of these to be utterly crucial to our terminal values. Nevertheless, I hope I have demonstrated to whoever might really have something along these lines (if not necessarily that shocking) on their minds that I'm open to meta-discussion, and very interested how we might engage each other on finding safe yet productive avenues of contact.

 

Let's do the impossible and think the unthinkable! I must know what those secrets are, no matter how much sleep and comfort I might lose.

P.S. Yeah, Will, I realize that I'm acting roughly in accordance with that one trick you mentioned way back.

P.P.S. Sup Bakkot. U mad? U jelly?

 

CONCLUSION:

 

Fuck this Earth, and fuck human biology. I'm not very distressed about anything I saw ITT, but there's still a lot of unpleasant potential things that can only be resolved in one way:

I hereby pledge to get a real goddamn plastic card, not this Visa Electron bullshit the university saddled us with, and donate at least $100 to SIAI until the end of the year. This action will reduce the probability of me and mine having to live with the consequences of most such hidden horrors. Dixi.


Sometimes it's so pleasant to be impulsive.

 

Amusing observation: even when the comments more or less match my wild suggestions above, I'm still unnerved by them. An awful idea feels harmless if you keep telling yourself that it's just a private delusion, but the moment you know that someone else shares it, matters begin to look much more grave.

866 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by GLaDOS · 2012-01-25T19:44:03.412Z · score: 75 (86 votes) · LW · GW

Let's do the impossible and think the unthinkable! I must know what those secrets are, no matter how much sleep and comfort I might lose.

Watson was right about Africa. Larry Summers was right about women in certain professions. Roissy is right about the state of the sexual marketplace.

Democracy isn't that great. A ghetto/barrio/alternative name for low-class-hell-hole isn't a physical location, its people. Richer people are on average smarter, nicer, prettier than poor people. The more you strive to equalize material opportunities the more meritocracy produces a caste system based on inborn ability. Ideologies actually are as crazy as religions on average. There is no such thing as moral progress and if there is there is no reason to expect we have been experiencing it so far in recorded history, unless you count stuff like more adapted cultures displacing less adapted ones or mammals inheriting the planet from dinosaurs as moral progress. You can't be anything you want, your potential is severely limited at birth. University education creates very little added value. High class people unknowingly wage class war against low class people by promoting liberal social norms that they can handle but induce dysfunction in the lower classes (drug abuse, high divorce rates, juvenile delinquency, teen pregnancy, more violence, ... ). Too much ethnic diversity kills liberal social democracy. Improving the social status of the average woman vis a vis with the average man makes the average man less attractive. Inbreeding/Out-breeding norms (and obviously other social norms and practices too) have over the centuries differentiated not only IQs between Eurasian populations they have also affected the frequency and type of altruism genes present in different populations (visit hbd* chick for details ^_^ ).

Have a nice day! ~_^

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-27T23:21:09.277Z · score: 14 (17 votes) · LW · GW

High class people unknowingly wage class war against low class people by promoting liberal social norms that they can handle but induce dysfunction in the lower classes (drug abuse, high divorce rates, juvenile delinquency, teen pregnancy, more violence, ... ).

Roissy recently quoted and linked to a disturbing parable on this:

The Parable Of The Smart Birds

Once there were 3 classes of birds of a feather: Dumb birds, Smart birds and Genius birds. There was also a genius bird of a different feather hanging around. All summer the genius bird of a different feather went around to the smart birds of a feather telling them how ridiculous it was to fly south for the winter — that these atavistic instincts were a terrible legacy from “the bad old days” and gave very sophisticated-sounding arguments that the smart birds of a feather couldn’t quite understand but understood quite well that they’d better pretend to understand lest they be accused of being dumb birds.

Fall cometh. The dumb birds fly south to the derision of the smart birds. The genius birds of a feather think, “I’ve heard the arguments about flying south for the winter being only for dumb birds, but where really do these feelings come from? Could they have survival value? Could the genius bird of a different feather have a conflict of interest?” Even before thinking the answers through, the mere doubts raised were sufficient to motivate flying south. The smart birds of a feather, hearing these doubts raised by the genius birds of a feather proceeded to attack them as “dumb birds”. They felt superior to the genius birds of a feather. Some genius birds of a feather were even injured enough to stop them from being able to fly south.

Winter hits. The smart birds of a feather die. The injured genius birds of a feather die. The genius birds of a different feather turn out to have an adaptation to cold weather. Spring comes. An evolutionary dynamic reveals itself…

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-01-28T01:39:28.434Z · score: 7 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Aren't the hypothesis above (could OP please elaborate on which social norms do they perceive as damaging in this way? it's too damn vague) and the parable opposed on who gets hurt and how? It's the lower classes that prove immune to direct destructive propaganda in the parable.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-28T08:34:47.307Z · score: 9 (8 votes) · LW · GW

It's the lower classes that prove immune to direct destructive propaganda in the parable.

You are right, it is a somewhat different example. I considered it a case of genius birds using their smarts to eliminate competition of smart birds, while not realizing they do so.

But even in the original context the High classes aren't really competing with the underclass for anything like a socioeconomic niche, it is the people who need cultural adaptations or rely on more vunrelable support structures (because of their more modest material means), to make it to the upper class that need to be kept out. By attacking their cultural adaptations and support structures you can significantly reduce competition. Attacking the cultural adaptations of the lower classes might make them more useful tools for maintaining anarchy-tyranny but isn't directly beneficial.

I didn't interpret the parable as being literally about the evolution of the biology of various classes, I did however see it as being about the evolution of cultural norms and intellectual fashion.

comment by Prismattic · 2012-01-26T01:14:26.972Z · score: 12 (13 votes) · LW · GW

Too much ethnic diversity kills liberal social democracy.

This one really doesn't belong on the list. The political science research showing a negative correlation between support for the welfare state and ethnic diversity is widely known and not-at-all secret.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-26T07:39:41.623Z · score: 14 (13 votes) · LW · GW

This one really doesn't belong on the list.

It probably should have been given as something like "Diversity is not strength." to make apparent its political implications as well as cover other cases.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-26T02:05:04.976Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

.

comment by Prismattic · 2012-01-26T02:11:12.159Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

A Google Scholar search for "ethnic diversity welfare state" will turn up a ton of links, but the specific evidence I had in mind is the graphs you can see here.

comment by hairyfigment · 2012-01-26T08:16:38.527Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

At a glance, "ethnic diversity" looks more like 'a history of one internal ethnic group imposing its will on another by force'.

The first Google result for your terms may cast doubt on this -- I can't tell right now -- but it definitely minimizes the effect, in Europe, of increasing diversity (whatever that means).

comment by CaveJohnson · 2012-01-26T10:18:08.811Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

In recent years, Putnam has been engaged in a comprehensive study of the relationship between trust within communities and their ethnic diversity. His conclusion based on over 40 cases and 30 000 people within the United States is that, other things being equal, more diversity in a community is associated with less trust both between and within ethnic groups. Although limited to American data, it puts into question both the contact hypothesis and conflict theory in inter-ethnic relations. According to conflict theory, distrust between the ethnic groups will rise with diversity, but not within a group. In contrast, contact theory proposes that distrust will decline as members of different ethnic groups get to know and interact with each other. Putnam describes people of all races, sex, socioeconomic statuses, and ages as "hunkering down," avoiding engagement with their local community—both among different ethnic groups and within their own ethnic group. Even when controlling for income inequality and crime rates, two factors which conflict theory states should be the prime causal factors in declining inter-ethnic group trust, more diversity is still associated with less communal trust.

Lowered trust in areas with high diversity is also associated with:

  • Lower confidence in local government, local leaders and the local news media.

  • Lower political efficacy – that is, confidence in one's own influence.

  • Lower frequency of registering to vote, but more interest and knowledge about politics and more participation in protest marches and social reform groups.

  • Higher political advocacy, but lower expectations that it will bring about a desirable result.

  • Less expectation that others will cooperate to solve dilemmas of collective action (e.g., voluntary conservation to ease a water or energy shortage).

  • Less likelihood of working on a community project.

  • Less likelihood of giving to charity or volunteering.

  • Fewer close friends and confidants.

  • Less happiness and lower perceived quality of life.

  • More time spent watching television and more agreement that "television is my most important form of entertainment".

comment by hairyfigment · 2012-01-28T05:22:11.823Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Well, this certainly leads me to change my view, but perhaps not in the way you think.

At first I doubted this evidence (and I still wonder how much of it people could replicate). I would expect contact with different people to reduce fear of outsiders. Indeed, Putnam suggests as much and this later source confirms it -- having neighbors from a different ethnic group increases inter-group trust. Yet the same sources claim that an ethnically diverse neighborhood reduces trust in 'hoods and neighbors. I didn't get the impression that racial prejudice started out strong enough to explain this, though I could be wrong.

I think y'all may have buried the lede here. If these and the other results you quoted hold, then maybe all altruism comes from tribal instincts and ethnic diversity interferes with our evolved tribal sense (until the mental categories change, about which more in a second). This might explain the greater participation in marches and reform groups. The loss of a tribe leads to desire for a new one.

comment by hairyfigment · 2012-01-28T05:28:33.868Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Note that the original claim said, "Too much ethnic diversity kills liberal social democracy." This seems false and certainly contradicts Putnam (see sibling comment), who gives historical reasons for thinking these effects will vanish in the long term.

In the narrow matter of support for a welfare state, the source I found earlier purports to show that ethnic diversity as such has little to no effect.

comment by CaveJohnson · 2012-01-28T08:53:23.073Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

This seems false and certainly contradicts Putnam (see sibling comment), who gives historical reasons for thinking these effects will vanish in the long term.

I obviously think he is wrong.

comment by GLaDOS · 2012-02-09T09:30:58.052Z · score: 4 (8 votes) · LW · GW

At a glance, "ethnic diversity" looks more like 'a history of one internal ethnic group imposing its will on another by force'.

I think that's the point. When you have ethnic diversity in single society or state, one group always does better than others and the others will resent it its success.

comment by Jack · 2012-01-26T01:28:38.451Z · score: 9 (8 votes) · LW · GW

There is no such thing as moral progress and if there is there is no reason to expect we have been experiencing it so far in recorded history, unless you count stuff like more adapted cultures displacing less adapted ones or mammals inheriting the planet from dinosaurs as moral progress.

Does this really belong or am I just lacking the requisite emotional abhorrence regarding its obvious truth?

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-26T07:33:05.039Z · score: 15 (14 votes) · LW · GW

In practice LessWrongers invoke directly or implicitly moral progress all the time. Like this.

They also sometimes invoke "well people changed their opinions in the past on case A, B and C, surely we will change our minds on D too!". Taking the idea of moral progress seriously, its perfectly fine to say that no thank you but you'd prefer not to change your vales to pattern match arbitrary historical processes (and further more a potentially flawed pattern match of historical processes!), so you are not changing your opinion on D.

This is even true for people who happen to disagree with modern stances on A, B or C. Preserving one's values is most likley a prerequisite for maximising expected utility. In this sense all of human history has been a horrible tragedy with the vast majority of people (including people alive today), being born in a uncaring universe with a practical guarantee of an alien valueless future.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-01-26T08:56:25.917Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · LW · GW

In this sense all of human history has been a horrible tragedy with the vast majority of people (including people alive today), being born in a uncaring universe with a practical guarantee of an alien valueless future.

I agree, but (sheer projection follows) I don't think that our minds can handle that thought in sufficient detail at all without just deciding to give up and play a videogame instead. I.e. such statements might indeed be unproductive and self-destructive for anyone, in any context (although I'm not sure how unproductive or self-destructive).

comment by Viliam_Bur · 2012-01-26T12:07:32.858Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Like this.

The linked article has a negative karma, so this example did not convince me that LWers do this type of wrong reasoning all the time.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-02-23T10:02:14.682Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

There are plenty of comments of that nature on LessWrong and they are very rarely poorly received. While the first example I gave was eventually down voted this is only because he proposed particularly bad reasoning based on that axiom. If you consider the criticism in the thread very few people attacked moral progress directly.

Also in wider society there is a strong assumption, almost a civic religion based on notions of moral progress. Even those of us who believe that we don't belive in moral progress probably have many cached thoughts and biases directly related to the belief that we haven't yet noticed and repaired.

comment by SkyDK · 2012-03-19T22:12:56.628Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'd actually take it half a step further and said that we've spent most of the years since WW2 on how to distance ourselves from ethical questions so as to allow ourselves to commit greater atrocities than ever before and still happily go home to watch Paradise Hotel afterwards.

I s'pose examples would be in order:

  1. Undermining food production while at the same time burning food.
  2. Specifically undermining the life quality of vast amounts of people so as to keep up a standard of living and increased consumption in quite a small part of the world. This includes, but is not limited to, instigating wars for the sake of resources, letting children deal with poisons, dumping nuclear waste where fellow human beings live and so on and so forth.
comment by J_Taylor · 2012-01-26T06:45:04.405Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Most people feel some abhorrence to the idea, although many conservatives will draw an arbitrary line at which moral progress ended. However, among the more philosophically inclined, it is hardly a shocking idea.

comment by Jack · 2012-01-26T06:46:58.562Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, it's a straightforward implication of moral non-realism which I've argued forcefully for here many times without feeling suppressed.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-02-25T21:15:48.251Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Exactly. As I've once said on a certain other forum, anyone who at least understands what the disasters of the 20th century have meant for our image of ourselves will be aware of, and likely resigned to, getting one's reasons to act on the world from the same source as the Nazis or whoever one most despises. No matter how reasonable the actions and the surface reasons might be, the meta-reasons are always going to be instincts, cultural assumptions and self-deception.

All in all, only Konkvistador's stronger proposition, on which I commented above, is in any way disturbing to me. And I even manage to mostly excuse the believers in moral progress; my reasons for that are a complicated story.

comment by Will_Newsome · 2012-01-25T22:47:50.161Z · score: 9 (24 votes) · LW · GW

[redacted]

comment by drethelin · 2012-01-26T04:22:22.847Z · score: 33 (32 votes) · LW · GW

technology has indirectly caused millions of deaths by directly causing enough food to create millions of lives.

comment by J_Taylor · 2012-01-26T06:46:22.517Z · score: 25 (24 votes) · LW · GW

Technology has indirectly prevented millions of deaths by directly providing easy means of birth control.

However, now I am getting silly.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-01-26T01:04:21.577Z · score: 14 (13 votes) · LW · GW

Scientific and technological progress has indirectly caused millions upon millions of deaths that would not have occurred in the absence of scientific-technological progress.

It has also directly saved millions upon millions of lives.

comment by Will_Newsome · 2012-01-26T01:36:34.724Z · score: 0 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Is that true? It sounds plausible, but I'd like to see evidence.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-01-26T01:40:38.210Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Given that we haven't achieved immortality yet, we'd have to specify what it means to "save a life".

comment by Will_Newsome · 2012-01-26T01:47:32.722Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, I was thinking that. QALYs would be nice but tricky to deal with.

The first thing that comes to mind as establishing a lower bound are antibiotics but their effects are pretty complicated I think.

comment by syllogism · 2013-01-25T14:44:09.309Z · score: 4 (5 votes) · LW · GW

This was mostly a bunch of meta-contrarian crap, but this one:

High class people unknowingly wage class war against low class people by promoting liberal social norms that they can handle but induce dysfunction in the lower classes (drug abuse, high divorce rates, juvenile delinquency, teen pregnancy, more violence, ... ).

is a novel thought to me. Thanks.

comment by whowhowho · 2013-01-25T15:18:06.304Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

What kind of "more violence" do the nobs practice? Beating the servants?

comment by John_Maxwell (John_Maxwell_IV) · 2012-01-26T23:00:05.914Z · score: 4 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Hey, people are taking you seriously even though you're not justifying your beliefs. That's not fair.

comment by CharlieSheen · 2012-01-27T17:56:09.632Z · score: 14 (13 votes) · LW · GW

GLaDOS has extensively discussed many of these issues on the past if you check out her comment history. I think the average LessWrong reader considers most of the statements both plausible and clearly at least partially stuff that might be suppressed via lowered status or other negative consequences.

Its actually a quite good and convincing list, since her first three examples are clearly people who have suffered negative consequences or at least status hits because they held them. Watson and Summers are pretty self-explanatory. Roissy seems to have suffered infamy for his opinions so far. But he allegedly had some problems when his "real" identity was leaked at a time, the people who "revealed it" did so with the hope of hurting him. So clearly the opinions that he holds are by most people classified as of that kind.

Such users may up vote it or read it, but definitely won't down vote it in this thread. Also there are probably people who find many of the statements on the list basically "sky is blue" stuff.

I found only the last statement on the list as something that I'd put a confidence below 0.9 on, but she did provide a link to a blog that discusses it quite widely (haven't yet had time to read the key posts there properly).

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-01-30T20:00:57.804Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

For those who don't know what this Roissy character is all about and what the scandal was, here's a third-party account:

http://www.feministcritics.org/blog/2010/01/19/roissy-and-raine-make-a-right-noh/

(Just dug it up myself right now)

comment by CaveJohnson · 2012-01-26T10:14:48.692Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

High class people unknowingly wage class war against low class people by promoting liberal social norms that they can handle but induce dysfunction in the lower classes (drug abuse, high divorce rates, juvenile delinquency, teen pregnancy, more violence, ... ).

Reminds me of this.

comment by Daniel_Burfoot · 2012-01-26T03:25:25.261Z · score: 73 (74 votes) · LW · GW

Note that there is a subtler mechanism than brute suppression that puts strict limits on our effective thoughtspace: the culture systematically distracts us from thinking about the deep, important questions by loudly and constantly debating superficial ones. Here are some examples:

  • Should the US go to war in Iraq? vs. Should the US have an army?
  • Should we pay teachers more? vs. Should public education exist?
  • Should healthcare guaranteed by the federal government? vs Should the federal government be disbanded?
  • Should we bail out the banks? vs. Should we ban long term banking?
  • Should we allow same-sex marriage? vs. Should marriage have any legal relevance?

Notice how the sequence of psychological subterfuge works. First, the culture throws in front of you a gaudy, morally charged question. Then various pundits present their views, using all the manipulative tactics they have developed in a career of professional opinion-swaying. You look around yourself and find all the other primates engaged in a heated debate about the question. Being a social animal, you are inclined to imitate them: you are likely to develop your own position, argue about it publicly, take various stands, etc. Since we reason to argue, you will spend a lot of time thinking about this question. Now you are committed, firstly to your stand on the explicit question, but also to your implicit position that the question itself is well-formulated.

comment by IlyaShpitser · 2013-01-25T16:43:18.375Z · score: 9 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Everyone's favorite effigy Moldbug calls this "defining the null hypothesis."

fair disclosure: I don't think Moldbug is good for much more than clever turns of phrase.

comment by MugaSofer · 2013-04-19T08:35:32.145Z · score: 5 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Behold, I come from the distant future year of 2013!

Should we allow same-sex marriage? vs. Should marriage have any legal relevance?

I don't know if this was true in early 2012, but I regularly see this point brought up during discussions of same-sex marriage, often by people who seem to think this is a revolutionary insight which no-one in the discussion has seen a thousand times before. So this may not be an example of this, at least not anymore.

comment by epursimuove · 2013-09-29T07:05:45.108Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The 'contrarian' answers to 1, 2, 3 and 5 are standard libertarian positions, while 4 is pretty common among some denominations of anarchism. They're hardly "suppressed" ideas.

comment by Nornagest · 2012-01-25T19:28:16.383Z · score: 66 (65 votes) · LW · GW

It's posts like this that make me wish for a limited-access forum for discussing these issues, something along the lines of an Iconoclastic Conspiracy.

The set of topics too inflammatory for LW to talk about sanely seems pretty small (though not empty), but there's a considerably larger set of topics too politically sensitive for us to safely discuss without the site taking a serious status hit. This basically has nothing to do with our intra-group rationality: no matter how careful we are in our approach, taking (say) anarcho-primitivism seriously is going to alienate some potential audiences, and the more taboo subjects we broach the more alienation we'll get. This is true even if the presentation is entirely apolitical: I've talked to people who were so squicked by Torture vs. Dust Specks as to be permanently turned off the site. On the other hand (and perhaps more relevantly to the OP), as best I can tell there's nothing uniquely horrible about any particular taboo subject, and most that I can think of aren't terribly dangerous in isolation: it's volume that causes problems.

Now, it's tempting to say "fuck 'em if they can't take it", but this really is a bad thing from the waterline perspective: the more cavalier we get about sensitive or squicky examples, the higher we're setting the sanity bar for membership in our community. Set it high enough and we effectively turn ourselves into something analogous to a high-IQ society, with all the signaling and executive problems that that implies.

We'll never look completely benign to the public: it's hard to imagine decoupling weak transhumanism from our methodology, for example. But minimizing the public-facing exposure of the more inflammatory concepts we deal in does seem like a good idea if we're really interested in outreach.

comment by Kaj_Sotala · 2012-01-25T23:14:05.120Z · score: 31 (29 votes) · LW · GW

The set of topics too inflammatory for LW to talk about sanely seems pretty small (though not empty), but there's a considerably larger set of topics too politically sensitive for us to safely discuss without the site taking a serious status hit

And it's not just the site in general, it's also the participants. Some of the stances that have been mentioned in this thread are considered so toxic within some circles that anyone even discussing them risks becoming very unpopular in such circles. At worst, everyone who's known to be an LW regular will be presumed to hold such opinions, regardless of whether or not they've actually even participated in such discussions.

I don't have a problem with such topics being sometimes touched upon, but if they were regularly and extensively discussed, I could imagine getting a little nervous about using my real name here.

comment by steven0461 · 2012-01-25T23:56:53.877Z · score: 6 (5 votes) · LW · GW

everyone who's known to an LW regular

You meant "known to be an LW regular", right?

comment by Kaj_Sotala · 2012-01-26T09:44:55.747Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yes. Edited.

comment by Dr_Manhattan · 2012-01-27T15:43:54.189Z · score: 12 (13 votes) · LW · GW

Specifically, I think this line has already been crossed with multiple polyamory discussions. When I started reading this site (while still being a religiously observant Jew) this is the sort of thing that might have quickly classified LW as a 'bunch of hippies who look for "rational" reasons to operate outside of social norms'.

I think there are good reasons to discuss this specific topic as a test case for rationality, but people need to be acutely aware of the tradeoffs.

More specifically if SI gains enough prominence to be noticed by news outlets I'd prefer more of this image

and less of this

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-31T17:25:14.687Z · score: 6 (10 votes) · LW · GW

On the other side of things, coming in as a poly person from the midwest, the openness on the topic is one of the things that really drew me. Around here (Ohio), one NEVER talks about such things, unless you happen to be in a poly-specific forum, or with your poly friends.

It seems like the rationalist/skeptic community is the one exception to this, and I find it a breath of fresh air: A community that isn't there specifically as a poly group, but where it's not a completely taboo subject either.

Even before I personally ever identified as poly, I don't think it would have bothered me to see it mentioned here. But I can see how more socially conservative folk would be put off by it. I don't know if that's our target audience, though.

comment by Nornagest · 2012-01-27T19:35:40.705Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

You just had to bring up the one controversial issue popular on LW that I actually have an identity stake in, didn't you?

You might be right, though. Poly doesn't set off my "dangerously controversial" flags, but that's probably selection bias talking; I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and run in fairly countercultural circles. Now that I'm actually thinking about it I can definitely see how it'd bring up strong negative associations in a lot of cultures. On the other hand, I don't think the LW consensus holds it up as a universally preferable relationship model, either -- but if it's a taboo rather than a merely controversial position, that doesn't actually matter. And I'd hardly call it essential to instrumental rationality.

Which leaves the question of where the line should be drawn. I'd say Alicorn's "Polyhacking" is one of the best posts here on the instrumental side of the instrumental/epistemic divide, and I'd hate to see similar content relegated to conspiratorial mailing lists -- but it's hard to imagine a post more perfectly calibrated to trigger avoidance instincts in someone with a polyamory taboo. Adding more context or disclaimers would probably not be effective. The implicit policy so far seems to have been to ignore traditionalist taboos, presumably on the assumption that anyone with deeply rooted traditionalist instincts is unteachable, but I'm not sure if that's a good idea.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-02-05T14:20:26.739Z · score: -3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I think there are good reasons to discuss this specific topic as a test case for rationality, but people need to be acutely aware of the tradeoffs.

Nah.

comment by Polymeron · 2012-02-05T17:53:10.201Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I'm finding it difficult to think of an admission criterion to the conspiracy that would not ultimately result in even larger damage than discussing matters openly in the first place.

To clarify: It's only a matter of time before the conspiracy leaks, and when it does, the public would take its secrecy as further damning evidence.

Perhaps the one thing you could do is keep the two completely separate on paper (and both public). Guilt by association would still be easy to invoke once the overlapping of forum participants is discovered, but that is much weaker than actually keeping a secret society discussing such issues.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-25T19:40:26.825Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

This seems like a generally good idea. What would be your specific proposal? Members only forum? High karma only? invite only?

taking (say) anarcho-primitivism seriously

A while ago, I took x-risk very seriously, and the best solution I could come up with was anarcho-primitivism. FAI is a much better solution.

comment by Nornagest · 2012-01-25T20:07:31.739Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

What would be your specific proposal? Members only forum? High karma only? invite only?

I should probably mention that this has been discussed before. An invitation-only mailing list was the proposal being thrown around back then, but some fairly reasonable-sounding objections were also brought up. I'm not sure whether the signaling problems of organizing (as pedanterrific put it) secret-society stuff outweigh the signaling problems of discussing the same subjects publicly (though I suspect the former is preferable), or whether either one brings a net gain over not discussing them at all (less sure about this one), but in light of the OP I thought it was worth revisiting.

comment by Nornagest · 2012-01-27T20:09:13.491Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

After thinking about this a bit more, I think it's pretty clear that integrating a limited-access forum for sensitive issues into the LW site structure would be a bad idea; it's security through obscurity, not doing much to dissociate controversial opinions from LW in the eyes of the public or the media and almost certainly not secure against anyone determined to dig up such opinions. A less focused forum with the same access restrictions might actually be a better idea: it looks less like we're running a secret society and more like we want to keep our public-facing image on message. Private social forums are quite common on large websites.

That has its own problems, though, starting with the fact that we already have a Discussion section that does its job quite well, and that privatizing it would complicate outreach: a lot of people make their first posts on Discussion. A private mailing list run by people unaffiliated with SingInst or the LW administration might have most of the desired qualities, though; it could be kept low-key with little effort, pseudonymy relative to LW is easy to set up, discussions would be persistent, and high-karma posters on LW can say conversations are appropriate for the list without necessarily appearing to endorse its content.

Which is about what the first people to bring it up were thinking, but it's nice to have some explicit reasoning behind it.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2012-02-12T12:28:31.899Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm tried to start several things like this multiple times. Technically a forum and an IRC chanel still exist, but nobody's ever there. The by far largest problem is getting people to actually visit these side communities: Making an article of it is not enough, it needs to be stickied/integrated with the interface to work.

comment by Solvent · 2012-01-26T10:54:19.909Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I am intrigued by the idea of a high karma only forum personally, with the karma bar set just below wherever I am currently, of course.

In particular, maybe we'd be allowed to discuss politics in the high karma forum. The "no politics" rule is a shame, I think, because I'm sure we'd get something out of it. I understand that PITMK, but a high karma forum could get around that.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2012-02-12T12:31:23.985Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe a subforum for each order of magnitude of karma?

comment by Armok_GoB · 2012-02-12T12:31:16.418Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

An IRC channel like this already exists, I think the limit is 100 or something. It's long dead thou so I won't bother digging up the link.

comment by HoverHell · 2012-02-03T23:43:47.071Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

-

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-02-04T01:47:12.518Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Bugmaster addresses this in a previous discussion of the idea. (Nothing is anonymous enough if the authorities come a-knocking, essentially.) Personally I'm still not sure how much of this approach is sheer paranoia, but better safe than sorry, I guess.

comment by HoverHell · 2012-02-04T02:00:29.365Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

-

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-02-04T02:17:26.419Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The bit I think might be paranoia isn't the suggested defences, it's the suggested attackers.

Maybe 'approach' wasn't the right word.

comment by knb · 2012-01-26T00:51:15.539Z · score: 53 (67 votes) · LW · GW

Let's do the impossible and think the unthinkable! I must know what those secrets are, no matter how much sleep and comfort I might lose.

  • Smart people often think social institutions are basically arbitrary and that they can engineer better ways using their mighty brains. Because these institutions aren't actually arbitrary, their tinkering is generally harmful and sometimes causes social dysfunction, suffering, and death on a massive scale. Less Wrong is unusually bad in this regard, and that is a serious indictment of "rationality" as practiced by LessWrongers.
  • A case of this especially relevant to Less Wrong is "Evangelical Polyamory".
  • Atheists assume that self-identified atheists are representative of non-religious people and use flattering data about self-identified atheists to draw (likely) false conclusions about the world being better without religion. The expected value of arguing for atheism is small and quite possibly negative.
  • Ceteris paribus dictatorships work better than democracies.
  • Nerd culture is increasingly hyper-permissive and basically juvenile and stultifying. Nerds were better off when they had to struggle to meet society's expectations for normal behavior.

I would also like to endorse GLaDOS's excellent list.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-01-26T01:18:18.253Z · score: 26 (30 votes) · LW · GW
  • Smart people often think social institutions are basically arbitrary and that they can engineer better ways using their mighty brains. Because these institutions aren't actually arbitrary, their tinkering is generally harmful and sometimes causes social dysfunction, suffering, and death on a massive scale. Less Wrong is unusually bad in this regard, and that is a serious indictment of "rationality" as practiced by LessWrongers.
  • A case of this especially relevant to Less Wrong is "Evangelical Polyamory".

Agreed except for the part about Less Wrong is unusually bad in this regard. I think it's actually doing better then most gatherings of smart people attempting to reorganize society. Keep in mind lesswrong's equivalent 50 years ago would have been advocating Marxism.

  • Atheists assume that self-identified atheists are representative of non-religious people and use flattering data about self-identified atheists to draw (likely) false conclusions about the world being better without religion. The expected value of arguing for atheism is small and quite possibly negative.

Agreed.

  • Ceteris paribus dictatorships work better than democracies.

You've never lived under a dictatorship have you? I strongly disagree with the above statement and think it's another good example of your first point.

  • Nerd culture is increasingly hyper-permissive and basically juvenile and stultifying. Nerds were better off when they had to struggle to meet society's expectations for normal behavior.

True, however, the previous culture was hyper-conformist, since it was 'designed' to create people intelligent enough to operate machinery but conformist enough to work in an assembly line.

comment by steven0461 · 2012-01-26T02:41:55.187Z · score: 20 (22 votes) · LW · GW

Keep in mind lesswrong's equivalent 50 years ago would have been advocating Marxism.

What makes you say that? Reading "lesswrong's equivalent 50 years ago" makes me think RAND Corporation.

comment by gwern · 2012-01-31T23:38:37.541Z · score: 16 (16 votes) · LW · GW

As someone who has read many RAND papers and their retrospectives about the people in RAND 50 years ago, I strongly agree - if nothing else, because of RAND's early computer work like constructing MANIAC and developing decision and game theory.

comment by cousin_it · 2012-01-26T12:33:18.693Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I think it gets closer to the truth if you replace 50 years with 100. A century ago communist ideas were the hip thing for a forward-thinking young person to believe in, especially in my home country (Russia), just like singularitarianism is now. This analogy is one of the main reasons why I'm not an outspoken singularitarian.

comment by Matt_Simpson · 2012-01-26T03:20:15.237Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW · GW

Ceteris paribus dictatorships work better than democracies.

You've never lived under a dictatorship have you? I strongly disagree with the above statement and think it's another good example of your first point.

AFAIK dictatorships are higher variance than democracies, but on average they aren't too differerent (in terms of GDP at least). Most intuitive explanation: a good dictator can do really good things and a bad dictator can do really bad things, but good and bad democracies aren't able to do as much good/bad because the political system moves like molasses.

comment by Mercy · 2012-01-31T17:41:23.130Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

This is the common wisdom at the moment but it's far too short-termist. All theories are provisional and eventually your enlightened dictator will find themselves on the wrong side of history and need to be removed. Of course you can build a democracy which can't do that and a dictatorship which can but I suspect the "moves like molasses" aspect moves with this quality and not the voting ritual.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-02-01T16:15:12.818Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

All theories are provisional and eventually your enlightened dictator will find themselves on the wrong side of history and need to be removed.

It is most fascinating how often the right side of history coincidences neatly with the interest of the USG and how often their armed forces or intelligence agencies graciously do the removing.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-02-02T19:24:51.998Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Sorry, bro, but this statement by its very nature deserves a dozen downvotes, never mind coming from a user who was being proudly apolitical and striving for a non-tribal approach to things five minutes ago. It is perfectly clear to me that "the wrong side of history" in the parent, while perhaps being less than gracious rhetorically, was mentioned in good faith, and not intended to invoke such trollish name-calling.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-02-02T20:41:50.386Z · score: 7 (11 votes) · LW · GW

never mind coming from a user who was being proudly apolitical and striving for a non-tribal approach to things five minutes ago

Noticing the enemies of a very powerful organization tend to consistently disappear is not I think an inherently political or tribal stance.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-02-02T20:37:24.372Z · score: 3 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I think you are right. The original statement does seem to be in good faith now that I reread it.

I however do stand behind the statement in general. "The wrong side of history" usually is a euphemism for the "getting on the wrong side of elements in the US government".

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-01-26T05:33:56.262Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Ideally doing good things shouldn't be dependent on the political system.

Edit: I just realized the most obvious reading of this comment isn't the one I intended. I meant that the political system's job should be to get out of the way of the people trying to create good things.

comment by Luke_A_Somers · 2012-01-26T16:03:53.677Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If you think so, you're using the wrong ideals, or using them wrong.

comment by tkadlubo · 2012-01-26T07:07:40.973Z · score: 11 (13 votes) · LW · GW

Keep in mind lesswrong's equivalent 50 years ago would have been advocating Marxism.

60's LessWrong would be Ayn Rand's Objectivism rather than some yet another interpretation of Marxism.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-26T07:28:07.856Z · score: 14 (14 votes) · LW · GW

It might be the error where "X years ago" counts back from 2000 instead of the current year.

comment by khafra · 2012-01-27T16:08:49.418Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Or perhaps just dropping a "1" from the left side of the number.

comment by Jack · 2012-01-30T00:40:19.740Z · score: 10 (14 votes) · LW · GW

A lot of us pro-market liberaltarian types would have been Marxists before the last 50 years of overwhelming evidence in favor of capitalism came in...

comment by Mercy · 2012-01-31T17:37:21.933Z · score: 13 (14 votes) · LW · GW

I often get the impression, from young american consequentialist libertarians, that they would be socialists in any other country. Certainly they don't resemble right-libertarians elsewhere, or older american libertarians. And conversely your socialist organisations are missing their usual complement of precocious hippy cynics

comment by Normal_Anomaly · 2012-05-13T03:08:45.941Z · score: 9 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Can you unpack these intuitions? As a young American consequentialist vacillating between socialism and libertarianism, I'm very curious.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2012-02-09T10:55:27.043Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I think it's actually doing better then most gatherings of smart people attempting to reorganize society.

Bear in mind that LessWrong has not actually reorganised society yet.

comment by fburnaby · 2012-05-13T14:51:40.827Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I read that comment as: "I think it's actually doing better than most (in staying self-aware and not being as socially naive)". Not that it's doing better than Marxists or others in actually changing the world. They obviously did a lot more in that regard than LessWrong ever has (or likely ever will).

comment by knb · 2012-01-26T09:50:49.066Z · score: 6 (10 votes) · LW · GW

You've never lived under a dictatorship have you? I strongly disagree with the above statement and think it's another good example of your first point.

The Ceteris Paribus is important. The fact that you can think of a lot of democracies that are nice places to live and dictatorships that are lousy isn't good evidence that democracy is beneficial in itself. I view democracy as an extremely expensive concession to primitive equality norms that primitive agriculturalists can't afford. But it isn't a luxury worth buying.

comment by NihilCredo · 2012-01-26T14:53:35.301Z · score: 26 (32 votes) · LW · GW

How many cetera can you require to be paria before you're creating an implicit No True Scotsman?

It's quite possible, and indeed I find the idea highly persuasive, that while dictatorships may not necessarily cause all sorts of unpleasant things (oppression, civil war, corruption, etc.), they do make those unpleasant things much more likely due to more hidden structural flaws (e.g. lack of an outlet for dissatisfaction).

That proposition sounds to me a bit like saying "ceteris paribus, driving at 230km/h will get you to your destination much faster".

comment by Manfred · 2012-02-03T08:39:08.723Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

Smart people often think social institutions are basically arbitrary and that they can engineer better ways using their mighty brains. Because these institutions aren't actually arbitrary, their tinkering is generally harmful and sometimes causes social dysfunction, suffering, and death on a massive scale. Less Wrong is unusually bad in this regard, and that is a serious indictment of "rationality" as practiced by LessWrongers.

Pff, this one is so normal it has an obligatory link :D

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-02-04T01:43:34.044Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Another relevant link.

comment by ErikM · 2012-01-26T11:46:35.170Z · score: 9 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Smart people often think social institutions are basically arbitrary and that they can engineer better ways using their mighty brains. [...]

While I agree, I disapprove because my impression is that this is not an opinion suppressed much in the outside culture. I can well imagine it being an unpopular one here at Less Wrong, but in the world at large I see widespread support for similar opinions, such as among "conservatives" (in a loose sense) complaining about how "intellectuals" (ditto) were and are overly supportive of Communism, and complaints against "technocrats" and "ivory towers" in general. I also see disagreement with this, but not tabooing of it.

My agreement is based on the opinion appearing to be congruent with the quip "Evolution is smarter than you are", or the similar principle of "Chesterton's Fence".

I also get the impression that this is often because smart people don't see the value of the institutions to smart people. (This may be because it doesn't have such value.) For instance:

A case of this especially relevant to Less Wrong is "Evangelical Polyamory".

I'm fairly confident LessWrongers could engage in polyamory this without significant social dysfunction or suffering, let alone death on a massive scale. (BTW: I couldn't find any articles here by that title. Are you referring to a general tendency, or did I fail at searching?)

comment by TheOtherDave · 2012-01-26T16:00:03.397Z · score: 14 (16 votes) · LW · GW

Using Chesterton's Fence here is a little misleading.

The whole rationale behind Chesterton's Fence is that clearly someone put the fence there, and it seems pretty likely that whoever that was was just as capable as I am of concluding (given what I know) that putting a fence here is absurd, and it seems pretty likely that they know everything I know, and therefore I can conclude with reasonable confidence that they knew relevant things I don't know that made them conclude that putting a fence here is worth doing, and therefore I should significantly reduce my confidence that putting a fence here is absurd.

Using the same rationale for natural phenomena doesn't really work... there's a reason it isn;t Chesterton's Fallen Tree.

You can, of course, put natural selection in the role of fence-builder, which seems to be what you're doing. But actually there's lots of areas where humans are smarter than evolution. At the very least, humans respond to novel situations a whole lot faster.

comment by Nornagest · 2012-01-26T22:24:09.709Z · score: 16 (16 votes) · LW · GW

I'd actually extend that from natural phenomena to any sufficiently complex system. I spend a lot of my time working with a codebase that dates back to about 1993 and has been accumulating tweaks and refactors ever since; there's enough obscure side-effects that it's often a good idea to make a good-faith search for unusual consequences of seemingly vestigial code, but more often than not I don't turn up anything. I can be fairly confident that any particular code segment was originally put in place for a reason, if not necessarily a very good reason, but if I understand the rest of the local architecture well and I can't figure out why something's there, it's more than likely that all the original reasons for it have succumbed to bit rot.

Societies are one of the better examples of Katamari Damacy architecture that I can think of outside computer science, so it seems to me that a similar approach might be warranted. Which isn't to say that you can get away with not doing your homework, nor that most aspiring social architects have done so to any reasonable standard.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-27T15:30:05.979Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Using the same rationale for natural phenomena doesn't really work... there's a reason it isn;t Chesterton's Fallen Tree.

Isn't this one of the arguments sometimes invoked in favour of environmentalism?

Hm, this sucks, a bunch of birds are eating part of our harvest each year. Lets get rid of them!. Changing some things in your natural envrionment that you aren't quite sure of what they do or why they are there, might be a very bad idea.

Also it as argument that can be used in medicine. It can be a bad idea to take something to artificiality reduce your fever for example. Changing some things in your own body that you aren't quite sure of what they do or why they are there, is probably a very bad idea.

I would say that for societal adaptations that have come into being without design the case is stronger than with the natural environment but weaker than with your own body. Maybe there should be a thing like Chesterton's Fallen Tree.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2012-01-27T16:01:58.022Z · score: 16 (20 votes) · LW · GW

Sure, changing some things in my natural environment might be a very bad idea.
Failing to change some things in my natural environment might be a very bad idea too.

And, yes, human history is a long series of decisions along these lines: do we build habitations, or keep living in caves? Do we build roads, cities, power grids, airplanes, trains? Do we mine the earth for fuel, for building materials, for useful chemicals? Do we burn fuel on a large scale? Do we develop medicines and tools that interfere with the natural course of biological development when that course is uncomfortable? Etc. Etc. Etc.

Mostly, humanity's answer is "Yes." If we can do it, we typically do, just 'cuz.

Have we thereby caused bad consequences? Sure.

Have we thereby caused net bad consequences? Well, I suppose that depends on what you value, and on what you consider the likeliest counterfactual states, but if you think we have I'd love to hear your reasons.

Me, I think we're unambiguously better off for having chopped Chesterton's Fallen Tree into firewood and burned it to keep warm through Chesterton's Deadly Winter. And in practice, when I see a fallen tree in my yard, I don't devote a noticeable amount of time to evaluating the possible important-but-nonobvious benefits it is providing by lying there before I deal with it.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-01-26T23:06:52.595Z · score: 9 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Gall's law:

A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked. The inverse proposition also appears to be true: A complex system designed from scratch never works and cannot be made to work. You have to start over, beginning with a working simple system.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-05-15T23:22:12.193Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

This might lead us to contemplate the most terrifying and unthinkable proposition yet, not named anywhere else on this thread -- that, perhaps, Stephen Wolfram was right!

comment by ErikM · 2012-01-26T16:26:45.946Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I am surprised and confused. I would have thought that the analogy to evolution would be the one objected to first, as I think of social institutions first as things instituted by someone and second as things subject to vaguely evolution-like processes. (They are modified over time, imperfectly replicated across countries, and a lot more fail than survive.)

comment by TheOtherDave · 2012-01-26T16:35:00.200Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Interesting. I haven't given this a lot of thought, but my intuition is the opposite of yours... I think of most social constructs as evolved over time rather than intentionally constructed for a purpose.

comment by patrissimo · 2014-02-10T18:07:03.923Z · score: 6 (7 votes) · LW · GW

As a former Evangelical Polyamorist, now a born-again Monogamist, I enthusiastically endorse items 1 & 2 in this comment.

It can be thought of as the cultural equivalent of Algernon's Law - any small cultural change is a net evolutionary disadvantage. I might add "previously accessible to our ancestors", since the same principle doesn't apply to newly accessible changes, which weren't previously available for cultural optimism. This applies to organizing via websites. It does not apply to polyamory (except inasmuch as birth control, std prevention, and paternity testings may have affected the relevant tradeoffs, though limited to the degree that our reactions are hardwired and relevant).

comment by mwengler · 2012-01-26T16:04:00.132Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

It seems dictatorships work better (actually I can't think of an example off hand) AND wildly worse. Dictatorships compared to republic is like male compared to female: the main difference is just a much wider spread. So you wind up rolling a much bigger set of dice with dictatorships and then survivorship bias and human bias towards picking off the high spots makes the result look good.

Further, would a dicatatorship work well for long in the absence of republics from which it could steal ideas? I don't think there is a dicatatorship with a good record of innovation and technological development. (Hitler's Germany SPENT technical capital it had accumulated before, Hitler didn't last long enough to see if Germany would have been the exception).

North Korea, ceteris paribus, does not seem to have been helped by dictatorship.

comment by knb · 2012-02-04T08:55:27.986Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

On the other hand, South Korea was a dictatorship until 1987 and did extremely well during those years.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-25T21:11:20.970Z · score: 45 (57 votes) · LW · GW

Here's some nice controversial things for you:

  • Given functional birth control and non-fucked family structure, incest is fine and natural and probably a good experience to have.

  • Pedophilia is a legitimate sexual orientation, even if it expressing it IRL is bad (which it is not). Child porn should not be suppressed (tho some of it is documentation of crime and should be investigated).

  • Most of the impact of rape is a made-up self fulfilling prophesy.

  • Child sexual consent hits the same issues as child acting or any other thing that parents can allow, and should not be treated differently from those issues.

  • Self identity is a problem.

  • EDIT: most of the deaths in the holocaust were caused by the allies bombing railroads that supplied food to the camps.

Less controversial in LW, but still bad to say outside:

  • Race, class and subculture are the most useful pieces of information when judging a person.

I run out of ideas.

EDIT: in case it's not clear, I take all these ideas seriously. I would actually appreciate a discussion on these topics with LW.

EDIT: this was productive! I've seriously updated one way or the other on many of these ideas. Thanks for pointing out truths and holes everyone! :)

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-25T21:57:05.749Z · score: 39 (41 votes) · LW · GW

most of the deaths in the holocaust were caused by the allies bombing railroads that supplied food to the camps.

I think It would be technically illegal for me to participate or update away from my default position in such a hypothetical debate.

comment by TimS · 2012-01-26T14:03:33.735Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

I agree that this doesn't say good things about where you live.

comment by Luke_A_Somers · 2012-01-26T16:52:45.131Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

As long as you hold onto the basic idea that extermination was the goal, and they were accidentally assisted by the destruction of infrastructure (which also was instrumental in preventing the rest of them from being killed), is that really downplaying the atrocities?

That said, I don't know if that claim is really true.

comment by NihilCredo · 2012-01-26T15:17:13.695Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Assuming by highest likelihood that you're German, my reading of the relevant section of the criminal code suggest that it's OK for you to debate in Internet fora:

(3) Whosoever publicly or in a meeting approves of, denies or downplays an act committed under the rule of National Socialism of the kind indicated insection 6 (1) of the Code of International Criminal Law, in a manner capable of disturbing the public peace shall be liable to imprisonment of not more than five years or a fine.

(4) Whosoever publicly or in a meeting disturbs the public peace in a manner that violates the dignity of the victims by approving of, glorifying, or justifying National Socialist rule of arbitrary force shall be liable to imprisonment of not more than three years or a fine.

Unless it can be argued that you'd be "disturbing the public peace". But as I understand it, in Germany (and France) it's legal to visit Stormfront, you just cannot promote it.

comment by RomeoStevens · 2012-01-28T11:25:02.099Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

disturbing the peace is a catchall for "the authorities decided they don't like what you're doing" FYI. Long legal tradition and all that.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2012-02-12T12:45:54.009Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I don't see a problem, unless he claims they wouldn't have killed them eventually if they had won. The claim is "allies helped the nazis do this faster" not "allies did this and nazis did not", but I don't know anything about how law works so I'm probably wrong.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-01-26T05:16:17.690Z · score: 26 (28 votes) · LW · GW

most of the deaths in the holocaust were caused by the allies bombing railroads that supplied food to the camps

And the shortage of food in Germany, and everything else that provided a disincentive to feed the people that the party line proclaimed to be innnately hostile and seditious.

When you're literally last on the priority list (well, maybe above Soviet POVs in 1941), every economic difficulty will "cause" you to starve while you could've easily endured it in a society that had a more balanced if utterly cynical opinion of you.

(I find the other things you mentioned to be broadly correct, but not without caveats; moreover, if one goes about it naively without minding such caveats, one would likely do much greater harm to most involved than the current self-deception does.)

comment by Aurini · 2012-03-15T04:33:17.478Z · score: 0 (18 votes) · LW · GW

The worst crimes of the holocaust were a conspiracy within the Nazi government. The Nuremburg trials had testimony from an investigator who was attempting to prove his supicions of these practices, and ultimately prosecute the offenders who were killing the Jews. It is likely that only a few hundred Germans were directly involved.

The Nazi government was built upon projecting genetic kinship onto the state itself, and while it didn't want any Jews in Germany, they weren't actively seeking the elimination of the Jewish race. In fact, the 'final solution' was not the first solution - they attempted deportation several times.

I've come to be of the opinion that the Nazi goverment - while certainly not being the sort of state I'd advocate - really weren't all that bad. Given the feminist/pro-immigration state that's growing in Canada, I might actually prefer it.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-03-15T10:42:37.157Z · score: 12 (18 votes) · LW · GW

Sorry, but no deal. Trying to withhold value judgment when talking about highly unpopular social systems is one thing. Such a reversal of the approved opinion after a cursory look, however, is downright stupid, and beneath you. I've had sex with a guy several times; do you really think that me being executed for it if someone knew and disliked me enough to report me to officials IS LESS AWFUL than the evils of feminism and immigration? I bet not. Would you like Canada to invade the U.S. and install an incredibly brutal occupation regime by claiming it's a necessary pre-emptive strike to save the world from American tyranny (even if said tyranny was a real danger)? I bet not.

Next time please evaluate MORE facts from the historical period in question before drawing tenous comparisons and making judgments like these.

(Oh, and is that still a conspiracy when it has the deliberate backing of the lawful head of state, AND that head of state is legally an absolute dictator who left no constitutional provision in place on which he could be judged for those atrocities? I'm pretty shit at law, but, logically, if the Fuhrer wouldn't mind the atrocities, and the Nazi legal thought made the Fuhrer's authority utterly untouchable - see e.g. Carl Schmidt's opinion on sovereignity - then the investigator only had international law to fall back on, which the Nazi system would deny to be a source of authority in this case.)

comment by Randaly · 2015-07-18T13:09:50.665Z · score: 3 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Literally every sentence you wrote is wrong.

The worst crimes of the holocaust were a conspiracy within the Nazi government.

This is not true. The Holocaust was ordered by the popular leader of the German government; they were executed by a very large number of people, probably >90% of whom actively cooperated and almost none of whom tried to stop the Holocaust. (see e.g. Christopher Browning's Ordinary Men) German society as a whole knew that their government was attempting genocide; see e.g. What We Knew for supporting details, or Wikipedia for a summary.

(It is at least not totally impossible that the gas chambers were unknown to the broader German public. But the idea that gas chambers are representative of the Holocaust is a historical myth; most victims of the Holocaust were not killed by gas.)

The Nuremburg trials had testimony from an investigator who was attempting to prove his suspicions of these practices, and ultimately prosecute the offenders who were killing the Jews.

This is wrong. (This is kinda a refrain; your Nazi apologia is lacking in sources or historical accuracy.) I assume you're referring to Georg Konrad Morgen; if so, he did prosecute the people killing the Jews, but not for the genocide; he said, correctly, that the Final Solution was 'technically legal'. His prosecutions instead focused on the ordinary crimes (e.g. corruption).

It is likely that only a few hundred Germans were directly involved.

Again, this is just flat out wrong, in a way that shows that you have no idea what you're talking about. Auschwitz alone had ~7,000 camp guards during the war; there were around 55,000 concentration camp guards total. Again, I suggest that you read Ordinary Men, about the ~500 men of Reserve Police Battalion, who killed an estimated ~38,000 Jews. (There were about 17,500+ members of the Reserve Police Battalions, plus another 3,000+ members of the Einsatzgruppen.) There also numerous other SS/Ghestapo/Wehrmacht personnel directly involved beyond the three specific groups I've named.

comment by MixedNuts · 2012-01-26T14:25:23.008Z · score: 20 (20 votes) · LW · GW

Child sexual consent hits the same issues as child acting or any other thing that parents can allow

(Warning: Judging moral claims with System-1 is unreliable.) Thinking that as a kid I could have been allowed to have sex, have had people annoying me with undesired propositions (even after they knew my age), and have had people trying to manipulate me into sex, makes me at most kind of uneasy. Thinking that my parents could have had any kind of say over it gave me a panic attack.

comment by ScottMessick · 2012-01-26T22:48:10.564Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Wow, when I read "should not be treated differently from those issues", I assumed the intention was likely to be "child acting, indoctrination, etc., should be considered abuse and not tolerated by society", a position I would tentatively support (tentatively due to lack of expertise).

Incidentally, I found many of the other claims to be at least plausible and discussion-worthy, if not probably true (and certainly not things that people should be afraid to say).

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-26T19:04:46.755Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Is that partially from cultural assumptions about children having sex?

What reaction to you get to child acting, religious indoctrination, and such?

comment by MixedNuts · 2012-01-26T19:50:34.396Z · score: 19 (19 votes) · LW · GW

Nah, don't think so. Identifiable sources:

  • How I remember feeling about sex as a kid ("A thing that some strange adults do for some reason, like partying all night long or cheering for football players. Irrelevant until further notice. What's for dinner?")
  • How I remember feeling about people who propositioned me online because I had a female username and they didn't know my age (mildly annoyed at the waste of time, mildly icked at those whose propositions were particularly direct, mildly exasperated at the number of people who looked for cybersex in unrelated chatrooms)
  • How I remember feeling and now feel about attempts to manipulate me into saying sexual things (confused and slightly icked by those I can't detect, amused and condescending and mildly exasperated by those I can)
  • How I feel about my parents controlling what I do (bad)

Child acting:

  • "You could have been a child actor": Yeah, sure. I didn't want to, but the idea is kinda neat. Actors are cool.
  • "You could have been pressured by directors into acting when you were a kid": Not cool! Pressure is bad! Pressuring people into jobs is evil and bad and greedy! I would have felt very bad, so I'm glad that didn't happen.
  • "You could have wanted to be a child actor, and your parents could have prevented you": It's bad and sad to clip the wings off angels. It looks like a mistake decent but overprotective people would make, not evil people who wanted me to suffer, though.
  • "Your parents could have forced you to act as a child": What horrible evil people. Why are kids not protected against that?

Religious indoctrination: I don't seem to have a strong emotional reaction. Child preachers and the like are sad. Parents who are forbidden to give religious education to their children are also sad.

I don't necessarily endorse any of these reactions.

comment by Prismattic · 2012-01-26T02:49:52.457Z · score: 17 (23 votes) · LW · GW

. Given functional birth control and non-fucked family structure, incest is fine and natural and probably a good experience to have.

The "incest isn't wrong" position isn't novel. The "everyone would be better off if they did" is novel, and I confess I don't understand it at all. Not everyone is attracted to close family members.

. Pedophilia is a legitimate sexual orientation, even if it expressing it IRL is bad. Child porn should not be suppressed (tho some of it is documentation of crime and should be investigated).

I agree with the first half, but would have phrased the second half as "the ban on computer-generated child pornography should be reversed and indeed subsidized to crowd out pornography using real children".

Most of the impact of rape is a made-up self fulfilling prophesy.

Really? What about for people who don't have access to emergency birth control? Or who were unlucky enough to be raped by someone with an STD? Or who live in a society that murders women who get raped as adulterers? Or just in a society that tends to divide women into "good girls" and "sluts"? (Maybe you meant society's self-fulfilling prophecy in the latter two examples, but it's not the woman's self-fulfilling prophecy.)

*Yes, I know men get raped too. That's pretty clearly not the context when people bring this argument up, however.

Race, class and subculture are the most useful pieces of information when judging a person.

Judging them for what? Doesn't work for suitability as an underwear model, for example.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-26T03:10:13.996Z · score: 9 (25 votes) · LW · GW

Not everyone is attracted to close family members.

And not everyone is attracted to everyone else, but I see no reason not to be close with your family in this way.

I agree with the first half, but would have phrased the second half as "the ban on computer-generated child pornography should be reversed and indeed subsidized to crowd out pornography using real children".

Why so conservative? How is child porn different from child acting? Assuming consent and all that.

Really? What about for people who don't have access to emergency birth control? Or who were unlucky enough to be raped by someone with an STD? Or who live in a society that murders women who get raped as adulterers? Or just in a society that tends to divide women into "good girls" and "sluts"? (Maybe you meant society's self-fulfilling prophecy in the latter two examples, but it's not the woman's self-fulfilling prophecy.)

Yes, in third world countries, butthurt is not the primary damage caused by rape. I mean in cases without lasting physical effects. Maybe I should have been more clear?

Judging them for what?

pretty much anything besides being an underwear model. Likelyhood to start a fight. Expected value as an employee in most jobs. Intellectual capacity.

Come to think of it, the correlates of race are mostly covered by class and subculture.

comment by Kaj_Sotala · 2012-01-26T09:56:41.067Z · score: 18 (18 votes) · LW · GW

I am specifically referring to female rape, because only females are encouraged to consider rape as a devastating or life-wrecking occurrence.

For some, the prevalent notion of "rape is something that doesn't happen to men" seems to make the feelings of shame after being raped even worse. Female rape is commonly considered horrific and something where the victim needs support; male rape isn't always even acknowledged as something that exists.

See e.g. The Rape of Men.

"That was hard for me to take," Owiny tells me today. "There are certain things you just don't believe can happen to a man, you get me? But I know now that sexual violence against men is a huge problem. Everybody has heard the women's stories. But nobody has heard the men's." [...]

It reminds me of a scene described by Eunice Owiny: "There is a married couple," she said. "The man has been raped, the woman has been raped. Disclosure is easy for the woman. She gets the medical treatment, she gets the attention, she's supported by so many organisations. But the man is inside, dying."

"In a nutshell, that's exactly what happens," Dolan agrees. "Part of the activism around women's rights is: 'Let's prove that women are as good as men.' But the other side is you should look at the fact that men can be weak and vulnerable."

Margot Wallström, the UN special representative of the secretary-general for sexual violence in conflict, insists in a statement that the UNHCR extends its services to refugees of both genders. But she concedes that the "great stigma" men face suggests that the real number of survivors is higher than that reported. Wallström says the focus remains on women because they are "overwhelmingly" the victims. Nevertheless, she adds, "we do know of many cases of men and boys being raped."

(Things are probably somewhat better in the Western world, but it's the Western organizations that are helping perpetuate the "men aren't raped" idea, so not necessarily that much better.)

comment by NihilCredo · 2012-01-26T15:09:38.907Z · score: 9 (11 votes) · LW · GW

butthurt

Expressing a controversial opinion doesn't condone being immature or disrespectful.

Beyond that, I have two questions for you:

1) How much confidence do you place in your statement on the impact of female rape in first-world countries?

2) If the answer to (1) is greater than "very little", on what sort of direct or indirect knowledge of the phenomenon do you base this confidence?

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-26T19:07:25.910Z · score: 1 (9 votes) · LW · GW

butthurt

U mad?

More seriously, you're right, I could have used a better word.

How much confidence do you place in your statement on the impact of female rape in first-world countries?

Which statement?

comment by NihilCredo · 2012-01-26T19:21:03.840Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Which statement?

Most of the impact of rape is a made-up self fulfilling prophesy.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-26T19:44:33.171Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

how much confidence

Lower than it was when I posted it, but it seems plausible enough to be worth discussing.

I would now dispute the use of 'most'.

what evidence

observations of cultural memes, seeing how people talk about it with victims, seeing how role models talk about it, and observations of people dealing with similar but unrelated pressures.

All of this is very easily screened off by closer evidence, I would like to see some more solid studies or more stories at least.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2012-01-26T04:58:53.934Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

only females are encouraged to consider rape as a devastating or life-wrecking occurrence.

Wait... what?

I may not be tracking, here. Are you suggesting that as a class, men who are raped aren't as emotionally affected as women who are raped? Or that if they are, it's for some reason other than social encouragement? Something else?

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-26T18:48:26.524Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I was suggesting that men don't have the constant bombardment of "if you got raped, you should feel bad". There is some of that, but not as much and somewhat balanced by other parts of male culture like being looked down on for being emotionally affected by things: "man up and move on" and such.

On second thought, I don't know why I even wrote that, and it detracts form the rest, so I'll remove it.

comment by Mercy · 2012-01-31T18:08:43.806Z · score: 15 (15 votes) · LW · GW

Hang on a minute. This a prime hypothesis testing space! If you really think that anti-rape messaging makes post-rape experience worse, it surely follows that it must be worse for women than for men, this messaging being mostly aimed at women. So you can quite conveniently check your theory by comparing the incidence of ptsd, depression, etc in male and female rape survivors.

No need to keep this as a controversial suspicion or instinct, you'd be armed with real knowledge! Knowledge you can report back to us, and anyone else you may have discussed this issue with. Indeed I think you could cultivate a useful reputation for open mindedness and rationality if you went back to any place you'd seen this attitude expressed before, and shared your findings -positive or negative- with them.

comment by Alicorn · 2012-01-31T19:15:31.195Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

There are a lot of confounding factors hereabouts.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2012-02-12T13:07:06.922Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Yea, and doing a proper double blind test would pretty much be the least likely thing ever to pass any ethics committee.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-31T20:54:13.060Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Hang on a minute. This a prime hypothesis testing space! If you really think that anti-rape messaging makes post-rape experience worse, it surely follows that it must be worse for women than for men, this messaging being mostly aimed at women. So you can quite conveniently check your theory by comparing the incidence of ptsd, depression, etc in male and female rape survivors.

Not necessarily. If male rape is not acknowledged at all, it can be much harder to talk about it and heal.

comment by Baughn · 2012-02-03T13:04:25.212Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Well, yes, that"s the point. To figure out whether this comes out positive or negative.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2012-01-26T18:54:11.354Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Well, right, I understood that much. But you seemed to be arguing that such bombardment is causal to women feeling bad about being raped... that is, if it weren't for that bombardment, they wouldn't feel bad. So it seems to follow that you would expect men not to feel bad about being raped, since they don't receive that bombardment.

That's what confused me... your whole argument seems to hang together only if I assume that men in fact don't feel bad when they've been raped (which sure isn't my experience, not that I'm any sort of expert) so I was trying to confirm whether you were in fact assuming that.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-26T19:21:07.399Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

such bombardment is causal to women feeling bad about being raped

Only partially. Obviously bad shit makes you feel bad, whether or not you have memes about it, but the hypothesis is that bad shit plus being encouraged to feel bad about it makes it worse.

So it seems to follow that you would expect men not to feel bad about being raped, since they don't receive that bombardment.

men don't recieve as much "you should feel bad and let it define your life" but as another user pointed out, it is also not socially acceptable to have been raped, so there is no chance to talk about it and heal.

your whole argument seems to hang together only if I assume that men in fact don't feel bad when they've been raped (which sure isn't my experience, not that I'm any sort of expert) so I was trying to confirm whether you were in fact assuming that.

Well I didn't intend that particular assumption, or at least I don't anymore. A better comparison to investigate would be how people react to being beaten or robbed.

comment by Prismattic · 2012-01-26T03:25:20.174Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

And not everyone is attracted to everyone else, but I see no reason not to be close with your family in this way.

I still don't get it, and am genuinely trying to figure out what the inferential gap is. It sort of sounds like you're saying sex produces the warm fuzzies of closer social bonding regardless of whether the participants are attracted to each other.

If that is what you are saying, then that sounds like the typical mind fallacy at work. I, for one, would not get warm fuzzies from sex with someone unattractive whether they are related to me or not.

If that's not what you are saying, please clarify.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-26T03:35:54.494Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

It sort of sounds like you're saying sex produces the warm fuzzies of closer social bonding regardless of whether the participants are attracted to each other.

Nope. I just mean mean it's totally OK to be attracted and so on. It's less radical than you seem to think.

comment by Prismattic · 2012-01-26T03:46:12.812Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

My original response didn't disagree with that. I wasn't objecting to the "incest is fine" part. I was specifically challenging '...and is probably a good experience to have" as being an overgeneralization that is untrue for many, and probably, most people.

comment by drethelin · 2012-01-26T04:14:09.289Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

How is it different than saying "Sex is fine, and is probably a good experience to have" in response to puritanical notions about celibacy? Nowhere does it say it should be mandatory or that you absolutely have to have sex with anyone who asks.

comment by Prismattic · 2012-01-26T04:53:33.240Z · score: 6 (10 votes) · LW · GW

"Sex (insert qualifiers of your choosing) is immoral" is a normative claim.
"Many people are not attracted to family members, and sex with an unattractive partner does not provide warm fuzzies" is an empirical claim.

"Sex is probably a good experience to have" is challenging the validity of the moral claim.
"Sex with people you aren't attracted to is probably a good experience to have"... do I really need to provide further refutation once it's stated like that?

comment by wedrifid · 2013-10-12T10:37:42.630Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, in third world countries, butthurt is not the primary damage caused by rape.

No, that more the domain of prisons.

comment by Nick_Tarleton · 2012-01-26T18:03:58.327Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Most of the impact of rape is a made-up self fulfilling prophesy.

"Life After Rape" is a good (aside from "there is no sex in rape" being false in an important sense) elaboration on (one construal of) this.

An analogous idea, that other people on this thread have come close to but not exactly said, is 'spreading the meme of democracy to non-democratic societies causes needless suffering by making people feel oppressed, when their extrapolated volition if you hadn't done so wouldn't have come to care in the same way.'

comment by Apprentice · 2013-10-12T18:21:01.027Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The rape she describes sounds uncannily like a sleep paralysis attack - compare it with accounts of rape by demons and aliens. By which I don't mean to belittle the experience - SP can be traumatic and horrible. I had some bad attacks as a teenager, the worst one complete with auditory hallucinations.

(It goes without saying that it is not impossible that her stealthy and competent rapist was physically real.)

comment by Nornagest · 2012-01-26T01:06:23.028Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Self identity is a problem.

Out of curiosity, what do you mean here by "self identity"? I originally parsed it as "membership in identity groups" per Keep Your Identity Small, but on rereading I notice that it might also make sense as something along the lines of "having ego boundaries".

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-26T02:24:22.275Z · score: 10 (12 votes) · LW · GW

I mean both, incidentally. Identity in the Paul Graham sense is the mindkiller.

In the ego sense, I mean that we should seek to cast off identification with our work, so that work becomes about the work not about signaling or growing your reputation. Also, this means not being constrained to try to defend your past actions. This is quite hard, but is made somewhat easier on the internet, especially in paces where anonymous posting is allowed. Being unattached like this also enables you to try new creative things with much lower social cost of failure. This is one of the big theories for why 4chan is so successful as a cultural center when compared with, say, facebook.

EDIT: I also hold that identity is probably a problem in the philosophical sense where you might be considering joining consciousness with someone (or many someones) else.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-01-25T21:36:02.738Z · score: 6 (12 votes) · LW · GW

Gender and partially sexual orientation is made up.

Please, that statement becomes more controversial if you negate it.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-25T21:37:13.751Z · score: 3 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah but they have to be true.

And that's still quite controversial in the mainstream.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-01-25T21:47:45.272Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah but they have to be true.

I don't want to start a flame war, but would like to mention that I find this highly unlikely, at least for reasonable definitions of "made up".

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-25T22:29:26.688Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It doesn't have to be a flame war.

By "made up" In the context of gender, I mean it's a cultural norm that only has a very small basis in nature.

In the context of sexual orientation, I take the nature component to be larger, but still mostly cultural.

I'm open to new opinions on this, I'm mostly agnostic on these, but take them seriously.

comment by Nick_Tarleton · 2012-01-25T23:41:06.850Z · score: 37 (37 votes) · LW · GW

"Many (and probably most) animals also have gender in the sense that individuals with penises behave in certain ways, and individuals with ovaries behave in other ways, despite not having memes." It would be surprising if H. sapiens were very different.

(The obviousness-in-retrospect of this argument, stated so straightforwardly, combined with the fact that I almost never hear it stated so straightforwardly and never thought of it myself, makes me update towards culture being able to non-obviously derange debates like this to a really high degree. Far mode isn't naturally about truth.)

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-25T23:50:04.190Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Well that changes things.

And yes that is disturbing.

comment by Nick_Tarleton · 2012-01-26T05:52:12.280Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

... though it's worth keeping in mind that "the details of how gender works are made up" is still true to a pretty large extent (≥ the extent to which cross-cultural variation in gender exists); it's just that, like all culture, they're made up in a way generated/constrained by primate behavior, which has a lot of sex-dependence.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-26T19:01:09.463Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

yes. I still think gender is a stupid idea and has large components of made-upness.

comment by thomblake · 2012-01-26T19:38:05.893Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Ten times agreed.

comment by TimS · 2012-01-26T17:10:08.285Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, that's obviously true. What social-contested behaviors of men and women can be resolved only by reference to that fact?

The feminist argument need not reject that most behaviors of men and women are different - that's plainly true. (Men pee standing up, women ovulate). The issue is what proportion of behaviors important in modern society are sexually determined. If the answer is anything but all of them, then the argument that gender != sex is well founded.

comment by WrongBot · 2012-01-26T09:44:53.427Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

It hurts me that I've never heard or thought of this point before, given the obviousness-in-retrospect. What other obvious mistakes am I making?

comment by Lightwave · 2012-01-27T11:50:00.300Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW
comment by [deleted] · 2012-02-23T19:35:43.005Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

On the other hand, are they reliably reproduced across wide genetic distances? Some species differentiate relatively little in just a few specific scenarios like behaviors related to reproduction (wolverines; for a more marked example, many fireflies). Some differ pretty much not at all (many sharks). Some are strongly differentiated from our own expressions of that difference (seahorses). Some have both high behavioral dimorphism and great deal of divergence from our own culturally-typical notions about that (spotted hyenas).

Basically, it's not a very informative statement unto itself, when so many ideas about the specifics of ways in which gender and sex differ are coded to our own cultural ideas of how that works in humans.

comment by Nick_Tarleton · 2012-02-24T02:04:56.505Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Totally agreed, it just informs our prior about the existence of some sort of significant gender difference in humans.

Some species differentiate relatively little in just a few specific scenarios like behaviors related to reproduction (wolverines; for a more marked example, many fireflies).

Can you say more? (didn't find anything with extremely casual searching)

comment by [deleted] · 2012-03-04T18:30:01.553Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

In the case of wolverines, their lifestyles and behavioral regimens are not greatly-divergent except insofar as females dig nesting burrows and other behaviors directly relevant to giving birth. Otherwise, you'd be hard-pressed to tell them apart; low sexual dimorphism, low behavioral dimorphism by sex; the only really obvious thing is that wolverines try to avoid overlapping their ranges with members of the same sex.

Fireflies, similarly, don't seem to be very distinct by sex until it's time for a mating display; then they have ways of signalling it, but their lifestyles and behavioral cues, let alone anatomy, don't differ much.

Basically, how much of a difference sex and gender make seems to be variable. Are there differences in size? Decoration? Behavior? Lifestyle? Energy expenditure on various aspects of those things? You can't predict the answers to those questions from the commonly-held idea of "males have cheap, plentiful gametes; females have few, expensive gametes" (which doesn't even reliably hold for all species, in addition to neglecting other salient factors like birthing method, social structure and other things that shape this without being directly determined by how they accomplish sex).

Incidentally, humans in our ancestral state (including modern subsistence foragers) tend to have very low body fat, which is the single biggest contributor to secondary-sexual dimorphism being so prominent in much of humanity today (nutrition and fat stores are probably why menarche occurs so early these days for many, and one factor contributing to comparatively high fertility). The popular perceptions of human sexual dimorphism may be distorted by this relatively recent context shift.

comment by Luke_A_Somers · 2012-01-26T16:56:12.828Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It seems obvious on the face of it to me, and, I suspect it did to you, before you let someone try to get clever about it.

What it does leave out, though, and where some - if not cleverness, mental flexibility - is required, is that those are just boxes, and not all individuals fall neatly into the boxes. That, too, is not simply memetic.

Also, animals can have memes. See the recent article about baboons - http://lesswrong.com/lw/99t/can_the_chain_still_hold_you/

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-01-25T21:41:11.345Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah but they have to be true.

Really, why?

comment by Armok_GoB · 2012-02-12T12:49:14.325Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Yes. Especially considering how often paedophilia is used as an excuse by various governments and organizations to commit their own arguably much worse atrocities.

comment by DanielLC · 2012-01-26T02:14:22.479Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Given functional birth control and non-fucked family structure, incest is fine and natural and probably a good experience to have.

Birth-control isn't natural, so how can incest using it be?

I'd expect that it would generally be awkward, but it's fine beyond that.

Pedophilia is a legitimate sexual orientation, even if it expressing it IRL is bad.

I agree with the first half whole-heartedly. I'm not convinced that expressing it in real life is bad.

Most of the impact of rape is a made-up self fulfilling prophesy.

I never thought of that, but it doesn't seem that unlikely. The obvious way to check would be to find out how rape victims deal with it in cultures with different views on how they would deal with it.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-26T02:35:23.946Z · score: 5 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Birth-control isn't natural, so how can incest using it be?

Maybe natural isn't the right word. I mean it's not some immoral abomination, it's probably the same moral status as masturbation.

I'd expect that it would generally be awkward, but it's fine beyond that.

I can imagine an alternative moral history where it is normal, and not awkward at all. It doesn't seem like a moral disaster, so I can only conclude that it must be OK.

I'm not convinced that expressing it in real life is bad.

I'm not entirely either, but I forgot to dispute the whole "consent" thing, which would have to go away to make it ok IRL.

I never thought of that, but it doesn't seem that unlikely. The obvious way to check would be to find out how rape victims deal with it in cultures with different views on how they would deal with it

My reasoning here is that when people get brutally beaten or otherwise humiliated where there's social pressure to "man up and get over it", they don't turn into a bawwfest basket case the way some rape victims do, where there is social pressure to be a bawwfest basket case. I have not personally been raped, and have seen no studies, so there isn't much evidence, but this seems most plausible.

EDIT: Also, the fact that it's taboo to say this is evidence that it's true.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2012-01-26T05:06:41.156Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW · GW

I have not personally been raped, and have seen no studies, so there isn't much evidence, but this seems most plausible.

Have you personally met many people who were raped?
Come to that, have you met many people who were brutally beaten?

I haven't met many, but I've known emotionally traumatized people in both categories, and I've known people in both categories who seemed to shrug it off.

Incidentally, if I've mischaracterized what you meant by "bawwfest" by reframing it as emotional trauma, let me know. I don't really know what you mean by the term, over and above the intention to be dismissive of its referent.

comment by DanielLC · 2012-01-26T02:45:17.712Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe natural isn't the right word. I mean it's not some immoral abomination

I'd say that natural things are vastly more likely to be immoral abominations on the basis that artificial things are created by people who have a moral compass and try to avoid immoral abominations, whereas natural things are created by Azathoth with the single goal of genetic fitness no matter how unspeakably cruel it is.

I'm not entirely either, but I forgot to dispute the whole "consent" thing

I find it odd that consent wouldn't be assumed. You never hear people say that extramarital sex is bad on the assumption that they're talking about rape.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-26T02:51:18.633Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'd say that natural things are vastly more likely to be immoral abominations on the basis that artificial things are created by people who have a moral compass and try to avoid immoral abominations, whereas natural things are created by Azathoth with the single goal of genetic fitness no matter how unspeakably cruel it is.

Yes that's why natural isn't the right word. What I meant by natural was "morally natural", but it was the wrong word to use.

I find it odd that consent wouldn't be assumed. You never hear people say that extramarital sex is bad on the assumption that they're talking about rape.

I was assuming consent in the sense that all parties are OK with it, but most people think sexual consent is impossible for children, so in that sense, consent can't be assumed.

I really should change it, tho. That version of consent is too full of holes and violations.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-27T01:51:05.306Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I have not personally been raped, and have seen no studies, so there isn't much evidence, but this seems most plausible.

EDIT: Also, the fact that it's taboo to say this is evidence that it's true.

Many things sound plausible to us when we construct narratives, but they are not necessarily true. And the fact of something being 'taboo' to say is weak evidence at best for its truth value. You seem to be giving a whole lot of credence to your alternate theory without doing much investigation or looking up studies.

comment by dbaupp · 2012-01-26T02:16:50.640Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not convinced that expressing it in real life is bad.

Why?

comment by DanielLC · 2012-01-26T02:32:08.701Z · score: 1 (9 votes) · LW · GW

The only way I can think of for it to be bad is for it to cause problems after the child has matured. I find this very unlikely. An experience can't become traumatic after-the-fact. At worst they'd feel a little squicky thinking about it later on.

I'm not entirely certain, but I've never had a very good reason to try and find out. Still, I would like it if someone could send a link to something where they actually asked people who had sex as kids how it affects them now.

Also, I would expect that, if anything, raping a kid wouldn't be as bad as raping an adult. If they're not sexually mature, I'd expect them to not be built to dislike it as much. Again, I would like to see something where they ask victims and find out if this is the case.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-26T03:16:47.512Z · score: 24 (24 votes) · LW · GW

An experience can't become traumatic after-the-fact.

You underestimate the effects of an entire cultural narrative repeatedly telling them that it's something to be traumatized by.

comment by dbaupp · 2012-01-26T04:16:54.650Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The only way I can think of for it to be bad is for it to cause problems after the child has matured.

So the suffering of an immature person is not a problem?

An experience can't become traumatic after-the-fact.

What if it was a traumatic experience to begin with?

At worst they'd feel a little squicky thinking about it later on.

Children can get PTSD.

(I don't think I will be able to maintain an intelligent discussion on this topic, so I am unlikely to reply again.)

comment by DanielLC · 2012-01-26T06:23:56.099Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I meant consensual sex. Do I really need to specify?

comment by Raemon · 2012-01-26T06:46:42.878Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Edit: Nvm, there's a reason we generally think these threads are a bad idea.

Short answer: if a child thinks they're consenting, they're likely enough to be wrong (with great enough consequences) that the expected value is negative. Much more importantly: if an adult thinks a child is consenting, the adult is likely to be wrong (they'll have a hard time between telling the difference between actual consent and consent that is feigned out of fear).

Is consent hypothetically possible? Yes. But you're running on corrupted hardware and the expected value will usually be negative.

comment by DanielLC · 2012-01-26T07:29:22.065Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

How can they be wrong about consenting?

Do you mean changing their mind later? In that case, like I said, I find it hard to believe that they can be traumatized after-the-fact. It's not impossible, but I find it very unlikely.

(they'll have a hard time between telling the difference between actual consent and consent that is feigned out of fear).

If the other party can scare them into doing that, they can just scare them into saying they haven't had sex in the first place.

comment by dbaupp · 2012-01-26T07:49:12.475Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

How can they be wrong about consenting?

Manipulation. Children are prone to manipulation by figures they trust. So they have belief-in-consent, not actual consent.

From the abstract of this paper:

The findings point to the slow, but deliberate, 'grooming process' used by men who erotically prefer children as sex partners over mature adults

comment by notmyrealnick · 2012-01-26T10:19:59.736Z · score: 7 (11 votes) · LW · GW

If sexual consent achieved by manipulation is equivalent to rape, does that imply that pick-up artists are rapists?

Spending time building up a relationship of trust and liking with a person that you want to have sex with is called "dating" and considered normal when it is in the context of two adults. The same activity is called "grooming" and considered horrendous manipulation when it is in the context of an adult and a child. Just because trust has been built up on purpose does not make consent founded on that trust false.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2012-01-26T16:05:15.028Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

At some point, it will become useful to stop using the word "consent" in this discussion, as I don't think the word has the same referent every time it gets used. In particular, I don't think there's general agreement on how much knowledge is implied when we say a system consents to an action, and the different assumptions about that lead to different conclusions.

comment by Luke_A_Somers · 2012-01-26T16:24:46.953Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It isn't equivalent. Grooming isn't simply being nice and complimenting and trying to get close. It's also about isolating the target and eliminating their ability to perceive their escape options.

That's not okay, to put it mildly.

comment by notmyrealnick · 2012-01-26T20:52:46.899Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

In the cases where that happens, you are right, it is not okay. Is that universal, though? Like I mentioned in my other reply, I looked at wikipedia's entry about grooming before making my comment, and it did not mention isolating the child.

The entry could just be deficient, of course.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-26T15:50:56.291Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

.

comment by notmyrealnick · 2012-01-26T20:47:03.217Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I did, and if you will note, it does not define such behaviors to be a part of grooming, but rather only says that many (not all) pedophiles have engaged in them. Such behaviors are obviously wrong and I am not defending them. I was specifically talking about the cases where no physical coercion is used, since those are the cases that the whole discussion was about. Cases where children were coerced are wrong and condemnable, but also irrelevant, since the discussion is about sex that the children consented to.

Also, because the abstract was somewhat unclear on whether it considered such behaviors a necessary part of grooming or not, I looked at wikipedia before writing my comment. Wikipedia's definition says that grooming refers to "actions deliberately undertaken with the aim of befriending and establishing an emotional connection with a child, in order to lower the child's inhibitions" and generally describes actions which would be considered positive if not for their intent. Giving gifts, for example. "Hugging and kissing or other physical contact, even when the child does not want it, can happen", was the only thing even hinting of coercion that was mentioned.

Wikipedia can obviously be wrong and is not an authoritative source, but since neither the article nor the linked abstract implied that coercion or violence would be a necessary part of grooming, I felt justified in posting my comment.

comment by Emile · 2012-01-26T21:03:12.846Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

How can they be wrong about consenting?

Variants of "I didn't really say 'no', so I guess I kinda consented".

comment by HoverHell · 2012-01-26T10:41:46.699Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

-

comment by DanielLC · 2012-01-26T17:14:22.837Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Then can (and are way too likely) to fail at being informed when consenting.

If they're not informed, that would be rape by deception. I would say that that should be illegal at any age, although I would imagine it wouldn't be nearly as bad as being forced.

What exactly do they need to be informed about? They can get diseases from it, I guess. I'm pretty sure putting someone in danger like that without warning them would be illegal without anything specific about pedophilia.

Also you're probably talking about hebephilia.

That too. There should be a term for pedophelia and hebephilia. Especially considering that pedophelia is commonly used to mean those two and ephebophilia.

comment by HoverHell · 2012-01-26T17:23:46.265Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

-

comment by DanielLC · 2012-01-26T18:37:08.922Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Inform them of what? How bad can the consequences of them not being informed of it possibly be?

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-25T21:59:43.196Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Hmmm, I begin to wonder if my assumptions about the typical person's attitude towards incest and pedophilia are based on some black magic a la: http://eugenicist.tumblr.com/post/11786816885/public-opinion-versus-public-opinion

comment by TimS · 2012-01-25T22:08:15.875Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm certain there is data about the differences in responses to a poll if it is conducted by a real person vs. by a robot.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-27T01:29:19.275Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Most of the impact of rape is a made-up self fulfilling prophesy.

One possibility to be considered while evaluating where the emotional impact of rape comes from is that women's emotional responses evolved in an environment where emergency birth control was not an available option. That would lead to traumatic responses even in first world countries where women are not ostracized for being 'damaged goods' on account of being raped.

comment by fubarobfusco · 2012-01-27T04:49:17.541Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

One argument for castrating rapists is that rape is (among other things) a reproductive strategy, and there may be a genetic predilection to pursue it. As such, eliminating rapists from the gene pool will reduce the efficacy of that reproductive strategy, and thus over generations eliminate the genetic predilection and therefore reduce rape — even if it doesn't work at all as a deterrent.

Of course, this also forms an argument for mandatory abortion in case of rape. Which is not somewhere I'd like to go. In both cases (castration and mandatory abortion) we have violation of bodily integrity, which has historically been a bit of a Schelling point for the legitimate reach of law, since the abolition of juridical torture.

comment by ShardPhoenix · 2012-02-04T12:09:35.921Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Aside from any other issues, I doubt this would be very effective due to the wide grey area involving things like date rape or even just pressuring someone for sex.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-27T05:35:32.376Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Um... there are other arguments against the castration strategy. What if this is not a strictly heritable trait? What if the trait is implemented as something of an if... then.. scenario. (Very simplistic case: If I am unable to attract mates through the acceptable means for X years despite trying as well as I know how to, and I find a person in situation Y, then I implement this particular reproductive strategy)? It's certainly very complex, and castration seems quite drastic. I have no way of doing the cost/benefit analysis, but I have a strong negative reaction against castration as a preventive mechanism, or even as punishment. It's too much like killing one person and making another one in his place.

Perhaps there is some degree of potential harm to women at which castration of a potential rapist becomes a good idea. I don't know. But seeing as how we're in no situation to judge the answers to the relevant questions right now, I'm glad this is not something our judicial system currently implements.

comment by fubarobfusco · 2012-01-27T05:51:19.412Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

If there is genetic variability in tendency to commit rape, then I desire to believe that there is genetic variability in tendency to commit rape. If there is not genetic variability in tendency to commit rape, then I desire not to believe that there is genetic variability in tendency to commit rape. Let me not become attached to beliefs I may not want.

If there is genetic variability in tendency to commit rape, then insofar as rape is an effective reproductive strategy (that is, that rape leads to impregnation and the bearing of children), the genetic tendency to commit rape will be propagated in future generations; and insofar as rape is an ineffective reproductive strategy (that is, rape leads to castration and the bearing of no children), the genetic tendency to commit rape will not be propagated in future generations.

If there is genetic variability in tendency to commit rape, do you want your great-great-grandchildren to live in a world where the genetic tendency to commit rape has been propagated, or one in which it has not been propagated?

(My argument here does not hinge on castration as a mechanism of preventing future rapes. It hinges on eliminating rapist genes from the gene pool.)

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-27T07:26:06.928Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

If there is genetic variability in tendency to commit rape, do you want your great-great-grandchildren to live in a world where the genetic tendency to commit rape has been propagated, or one in which it has not been propagated?

The latter. Nor do I have any problems with admitting a possible genetic variability in said tendencies.

However, if rape is a reasonably effective reproductive strategy, any agent who cares about reproductive success can rationally come understand that it is so, and implement that strategy. In this scenario, the genes that cause the propagation of the tendency are the ones involved in coming to correct beliefs about the world, forward planning and execution of such plans.

Do I want those genes eliminated? No.

Hence the cost/benefit analysis for any mechanism proposed for eliminating a behavioural pattern from the gene pool. Yes, it is a good thing to eliminate rapist genes from the gene pool. But what costs are we willing to bear to achieve that good?

comment by TheOtherDave · 2012-01-27T16:24:57.075Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Of course, when performing such a cost/benefit analysis, it's important to take into account the alternative options.

E.g., if we alter our environment such that rape is a less effective reproductive strategy than non-rape, then the genes involved in coming to correct beliefs about the world and acting on the basis of those beliefs would no longer correlate with rape, but the genes involved in committing rape whether it's an effective reproductive strategy or not would continue to do so.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-27T16:55:19.248Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Agreed. And I guess that brings us back to the ideas in fubarobfusco's first post in this thread. :)

comment by [deleted] · 2013-10-15T14:59:34.213Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Race, class and subculture are the most useful pieces of information when judging a person.

If you mean “the most useful pieces of information you could possibly have” that sounds obviously wrong (I mean, if I had to choose whether to hire someone for some job, and I could either know their race, class and subculture or how good they would be at that job, why shouldn't I choose the latter?), and if you mean “the most useful pieces of information when judging a person you know nothing else about” that's true but tautological, so what do you actually mean? I guess something like ‘among some set X of possible pieces of information you could know about someone, race, class and subculture are the most useful’, but it's not clear at all to me what set X would be.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2013-10-15T17:54:00.651Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

FWIW, I understood this to mean that they are the highest ROI pieces of information... that is, their value compared to the effort to obtain them is high, relative to other information (like how good someone would be at this job).
I think that's false, also, but it seems coherent enough.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-10-15T18:15:27.039Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't have contact with past me, so I can't help you interpret that statement. TheOtherDave seems to have a reasonable interpretation.

comment by Humbug · 2012-01-26T10:32:03.570Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

...incest is fine and natural and probably a good experience to have.

Eww! This seems very subjective and, I suspect, rarely perceived to be desirable.

comment by siodine · 2012-01-26T02:29:33.765Z · score: 42 (42 votes) · LW · GW

LWers are largely too confident in the conclusiveness of the research they cite for some of their beliefs.

comment by FiftyTwo · 2012-01-26T06:56:59.335Z · score: 48 (52 votes) · LW · GW

Source?

comment by ErikM · 2012-01-26T15:56:17.949Z · score: 41 (47 votes) · LW · GW

Colonialism was a good system with significant beneficial impact for colonized countries, which are now failing mostly due to native incompetence rather than colonial trauma. It would be a win-win position to reinstitute it competently.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-01-26T16:50:43.331Z · score: 9 (13 votes) · LW · GW

110% agreed. Hell, I often argue that in real life; there's no stigma attached to colonialism in Russia these days, probably in part because any serious attack on it sounds too much like a tired Soviet cliche.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-26T21:46:30.122Z · score: 22 (26 votes) · LW · GW

I must admit as much as I disagree with some components of the cultural and ideological influence of the British Empire, it is hard to argue with its results. The British Empire seems to have generally produced superior outcomes in terms of quality of life for inhabitants and general development than nearly any other government be it native or colonial. Considering the gains created by this I can't help but wonder if Cecile Rhodes had a point when he said:

If there be a God, I think that what he would like me to do is paint as much of the map of Africa British Red as possible...

Indeed if I found myself magically transported to 19th century Europe with considerable wealth and influence I may yet decide that there is no nobler and benevolent enterprise than to support the expansion and growth of the British Empire. In this light the success of the American revolution may actually plausibly be one of the great tragedies of human history.

Now that I've dumped all these warm fuzzies we may as well enjoy a happy death spiral around it.

Rule, Britannia!

comment by Prismattic · 2012-01-27T04:36:41.019Z · score: 10 (12 votes) · LW · GW

While one can applaud the cultural influence of the British empire on its colonial holdings, allow me to disagree with "it is hard to argue with its results".

Timeline of major famines in India during British rule

Note that Britain was forcibly exporting Indian grain for its own benefit during some of these famines.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-27T07:23:30.994Z · score: 10 (12 votes) · LW · GW

Note that Britain was forcibly exporting Indian grain for its own benefit during some of these famines.

I fail to see why this is somehow horrible or surprising by historical standards. I can hardly think of an empire that would do otherwise. One might quickly argue that native government unlike an empire would have not done this, but seriously, does anyone expect economic growth and development of infrastructure to have grown at a comparable rate? Even rapid population growth that was sometimes the cause of such famines, is in itself an indicator that deaths from disease and violence have likley fallen.

Big sad events like famines grab more attention than say a faster than otherwise increases in GDP growth by 2% or 1% or 0.5%. But the latter sort amounts to far more over the years. Inclusion in the British Empire in itself lifted millions worldwide from the Malthusian margin.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2012-01-28T16:10:18.472Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The salt tax (imposed by Britain, eliminated with independence) contributed to the death rate.

This being said, I agree that ex-British colonies have generally done better than places that were colonized by other countries.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2012-02-12T17:53:06.900Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

All the places Britain has owned, even briefly. I may have been suffering from availability bias. The US, Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, and India are doing better than a lot of other places, but what about Afghanistan? Nigeria? Syria?

The British may have had more successful ex-colonies than other empires, but this doesn't mean all, or even a majority of their ex-colonies were successful.

comment by ThrustVectoring · 2013-05-15T19:03:57.947Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

There's a selection effect, too. If Britain holds places that are geographically valuable (harbors in trade lanes, natural resources, etc), and geographically valuable places tend to do better, then Britain can wind up having their former colonies do better without causing it. In other words, what caused the former colony to do well made Britain colonize them, and not vice versa.

By analogy, Harvard graduates better students without providing a commensurate level of education by the simple application of strict entry requirements.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-02-12T22:09:29.350Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Not to mention Zimbabwe.

comment by Mercy · 2012-01-31T17:27:57.201Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

They are better, did they do better? You need to control for the empire's choice of targets! India accounted for a quarter of world GDP at the time of conquest- by independence it was barely one percent.

comment by Anubhav · 2012-02-03T09:36:44.586Z · score: 15 (15 votes) · LW · GW

India accounted for a quarter of world GDP at the time of conquest- by independence it was barely one percent.

Yes, missing out on the industrial revolution does that to you.

comment by AlexanderRM · 2014-11-06T04:33:04.329Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Although the industrial revolution was happening in Britain while India was under their rule and, as I understand it, cotton was being exported from colonies including India, processed in British factories, and shipped back to India as clothes to fuel it. All the way around the Cape of Good Hope. British rule may have had something to do with missing out on the Industrial Revolution.

On the other hand, China stayed independent and didn't industrialize, and the Muslim states in the Middle East didn't either (also Africa before colonial rule, but they were already far behind Eurasia and so it's hard to compare them to India), so it'd be pretty silly to claim that former colonies would be on the First World level if not for colonialism.

An idea that might be more reasonable (although that's not entirely the point of the thread) would be to recognize that historical colonialism was almost entirely guided by the selfish interests of the colonial powers, and to implement a new system of patronage by the first world on underdeveloped countries, designed from the ground up to try to prevent them from exploiting the lesser partners. If the system is based on the idea of actually giving first worlders control over decisions, I'm not sure how you could set it up to totally prevent exploitation, but you could definitely improve it over colonialism.

comment by Salemicus · 2014-11-06T22:25:45.700Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I hate this kind of argument.

The Muslim states in the Middle East were not independent. They were just subject to Ottoman, rather than European, imperialism. Similarly, much of Africa "before colonial rule" was subject to colonial rule by non-European powers, such as Oman, Songhai, etc. And Imperial China was, you know, an empire. The notion that imperialism/colonialism somehow only counts as such when it's done by Europeans is incredibly objectionable, and causes people to completely misunderstand history. It's the worst kind of Orientalism.

The Raj was not about "Britain" exploiting "India," or even "selfish interests of the colonial powers" - it doesn't make sense to assign mass interests like that, particularly when India wasn't even a united polity at the time. It was about individuals and groups within both countries. For example, the East India Company was at least as much an exploiter of Britain as it was of India.

comment by J_Taylor · 2012-01-27T04:57:35.192Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Do we, by any chance, have a timeline of major famines in India during non-British rule?

comment by Prismattic · 2012-01-27T05:34:15.968Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Why yes, we do.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-27T07:19:18.974Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Since the Bengal famine of 1943, there has been a declining number of famines which have had limited effects and have been of short durations. Sen attributes this trend of decline or disappearance of famines after independence to a democratic system of governance and a free press—not to increased food production

I attribute it to increased food production.

comment by Manfred · 2012-02-03T08:35:13.170Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

A quick look at the wikipedia page says that only has explanatory power for less famine after ~1970 - not after 1943.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-27T07:21:02.323Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I did not go of instinct, but numbers when applauding the results of British rule. GDP, literacy, expected lifespan, corruption estimates, ect.

The improvements are rather obvious compared to the realms of other colonial powers. British rule outperformed native governance at the time by a even greater margin even in places like East Asia.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2012-02-12T14:11:35.299Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Important disclaimer: "competently" means NOT the bull** the USA is doing.

comment by Anubhav · 2012-02-03T09:38:32.768Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I find it amusing that this was posted on India's Republic Day).

comment by MixedNuts · 2012-01-26T16:18:07.512Z · score: 33 (37 votes) · LW · GW

Dear people who post things like "Incest is neat" and "Whites are smarter than blacks": those things are currently controversial. Therefore, they don't come close to being unthinkable or impossible to talk about.

Nitpick: men dominating women and fathers (not mothers) deciding infanticide are not features of the ancestral environment, they come from the invention of agriculture, moving out of the ancestral environment.

Now, "agriculture was a mistake, let's go back to hunting, gathering, and killing babies born during famines", that's more of a sacred cow^W wild aurochs.

Other not-easily-thinkable positions (I don't believe any of these, but believe they're not utterly ridiculous):

  • Radfems are righter than they know; it is unethical to do anything to anyone (such as looking at them or talking to them) without explicit consent.
  • Vertebrates are people. There should be systems to extract their preferences so they can vote and debate. Letting your goldfish die is murder.
  • The above also applies to the overwhelming majority of animals, and maybe some plants, fungi, and other living or not things (e.g. cancer is a person). Stepping on a anthill is mass slaughter. (I used to believe a version of this as a kid.)
  • It's impossible to predictably improve any complex system, let alone a whole country. Anyone pushing for a policy is flailing wildly in the dark. Successes like Atatürk were the product of blind luck and historians with a bad case of narrative fallacy.
  • Personal identity changing over time counts as death. It's better to kill people, so they die once, than allow them to live, so they die creating another doomed person.
  • " is ruining our intelligence!" claims are all true. If we'd shunned writing, progress would have been slower and bad at trickling down but ultimately much greater.
comment by ErikM · 2012-01-26T16:56:44.563Z · score: 15 (15 votes) · LW · GW

Dear people who post things like "Incest is neat" and "Whites are smarter than blacks": those things are currently controversial. Therefore, they don't come close to being unthinkable or impossible to talk about.

ADBOC and that's somewhat beside the point, because it seems to me that things are necessarily somewhat controversial to be taboo. As Paul Graham said:

No one gets in trouble for saying that 2 + 2 is 5, or that people in Pittsburgh are ten feet tall. Such obviously false statements might be treated as jokes, or at worst as evidence of insanity, but they are not likely to make anyone mad. [...] If Galileo had said that people in Padua were ten feet tall, he would have been regarded as a harmless eccentric. Saying the earth orbited the sun was another matter. The church knew this would set people thinking.

Now, James Watson and Stephanie Grace might want a word with you. (Larry Summers could file an amicus brief.) Chanting "Racist, racist, cow porn, racist, racist, cow porn" seems to fairly closely match Multiheaded's description that "society would instantly slam the lid on it with either moral panic or ridicule and give the speaker a black mark" for at least some parts of society. This is moral panic and ridicule despite the speaker barely tiptoeing near controversy and hedging everywhere with statements such as:

This suggests to me that some part of intelligence is genetic

I also don't think that there are no cultural differences

I absolutely do not rule out the possibility

I could also obviously be convinced that by controlling for the right variables

I am merely not 100% convinced that this is the case.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2012-01-26T17:32:19.953Z · score: 9 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Whether I like it or not, people tend to overfit the curves associated with past trauma to available data.
If I want to avoid being pattern-matched to someone's trauma, I have to take extreme measures.
Hedge phrases pretty reliably don't cut it... they're like making incremental improvements to my bird-feeder to keep squirrels away: I just end up training the squirrels.

comment by MixedNuts · 2012-01-26T16:58:52.321Z · score: 3 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, but why bother Less Wrong for suggestions where YouTube comments would serve?

comment by David_Gerard · 2012-01-27T21:24:49.942Z · score: 10 (30 votes) · LW · GW

Dear people who post things like "Incest is neat" and "Whites are smarter than blacks": those things are currently controversial. Therefore, they don't come close to being unthinkable or impossible to talk about.

Yuh. On LessWrong, scientific racism is a standard permitted scientific heresy for signaling nonconformity. It's the nonconformist in black, not the one in a clown suit. (And this is a stupidity that is extremely offputting.)

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-01-27T22:09:13.391Z · score: 15 (23 votes) · LW · GW

It's not "racism" if you feel sympathetic and heartbroken for all the people and cultures clearly, unknowingly fucked over by mere biology, and would work hard on something in that direction - a global uplift project, donating to avenues which could eventually provide opportunity for massive genetic surgery (a class of charity currently consisting of SIAI, SIAI and SIAI), developing a political and cultural framework for something like "compassionate eugenics" (using as little coercion and stirring up as little drama as viable) - yes, I'd commit to any of that, if I wasn't confident that simply trying to cut all the Gordian knots in our vicinity with superhuman intelligence wasn't a better idea. (As it stands, I sort of desire to fight my akrasia to a standstill and find a good optimized way to help with the latter; however, it's not just akrasia, it's all sorts of problems I have with getting in productive work on anything.)

However, if I was, for some defensible reason, unwilling to relegate the entire mess to superintelligence, wouldn't trying what I described be noble instead of "racist"?

(Uh-huh, my signaling is about as subtle as a troll with a sledgehammer here. A troll of the fantasy non-network variety, that is. Well, whatever, I'm certain I've got a valid and coherent sentiment.)

comment by Nornagest · 2012-01-27T22:57:51.050Z · score: 18 (28 votes) · LW · GW

Aaaaaaaa. This is such a bad idea that I don't even know where to start.

Racism as it's presently conceptualized isn't a simple matter of fear or hatred of ethnic others, unfortunately. That would be comparatively easy to deal with. It's an enormously messy tangle of signaling and countersignaling and I really can't do it justice without reading a few books for background and then devoting a sequence to it (which I'm not going to do for reasons that should be obvious), but as an oversimplification you can probably sum up most of the Western world's high-status thinking regarding race as follows:

  1. Everything even tangentially related to race is ineradicably tainted by ingroup/outgroup biases.

  2. Because of this, attitudes and social prescriptions appearing to differentiate in any way by ethic background, or by any factor that can plausibly be linked to ethic background, are automatically suspect and should be compensated for as soon as discovered.

  3. That includes these rules.

Now, that's a fairly cynical way of putting it (I'm optimizing for brevity), but to a first approximation I don't think it's even wrong.

So yes, conceptually your project should be seen as noble, if you accept all its prerequisites. But no one's going to try to evaluate those prerequisites on their merits. Instead you won't make it five steps before someone links to "The White Man's Burden" and things get nasty.

comment by anonymous259 · 2012-02-04T01:04:37.863Z · score: 11 (19 votes) · LW · GW

Racism as it's presently conceptualized isn't a simple matter of fear or hatred of ethnic others, unfortunately.

Of course not. That would subject accusations of racism to falsifiability.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-01-27T23:08:27.154Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Now, that's a fairly cynical way of putting it (I'm optimizing for brevity), but to a first approximation I don't think it's even wrong.

Might be. Might be. Yet can't you envision e.g. transhumanism being tabooed like that if found to be "ineradicably tainted" by the human lust for power and an insidiously corrupting desire for a "legitimate" reason to feel superior to the people you currently associate yourself with?

But no one's going to try to evaluate those prerequisites on their merits. Instead you won't make it five steps before someone links to "The White Man's Burden" and things get nasty.

If the so-called "HBD-sphere" or "Reactosphere" in general, for all its flaws (and I see some pretty fucking horrific flaws in it) can get away with a lot more, so can the LW Discussion section, or that semi-private enclosure being proposed around here.

comment by Nornagest · 2012-01-27T23:11:44.305Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Yet can't you envision e.g. transhumanism being tabooed like that if found to be "ineradicably tainted" by the human lust for power and an insidiously corrupting desire for a "legitimate" reason to feel superior to the people you currently associate yourself with?

That's a common argument against it, actually, although it's usually framed in class terms. Maybe the most common once you filter out all the various manifestations of "ew, that's gross".

Not one that I accept myself, but like I said I only buy an approximation of the thinking above. There's plenty of places it'll steer you wrong at the margins.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-01-27T23:15:33.036Z · score: 5 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Also, I'm indeed feeling a significant pressure to agree wholeheartedly with this comment and retract everything, because you and the high-status mainstream thinkers would be for me retracting it, and people like the HBD Bi- sorry, HBD Chick would be derisive of such "self-censorship". Now I can feel for myself just how insidious the Blue vs Green pattern in your head can get when it's really trying to override you.

comment by MixedNuts · 2012-01-31T15:11:14.115Z · score: 13 (17 votes) · LW · GW

People competent enough about intelligence enhancement tech to understand what you said are usually too incompetent about racism to start implementing anything like this without it blowing up in our faces. Remember that video where Razib Khan (?) asked Eliezer which groups were most interested in race-IQ research results, and it went like "I don't know, Ashkenazi Jews?" "White supremacists." "Oh."? That's how ridiculously ignorant we are. The common wisdom is here for a reason.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-02-04T01:29:53.055Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Remember reversed stupidity is not intelligence.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-02-03T22:28:05.798Z · score: 3 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah. Lots of people mention the finding that white people are smarter in average than black people, but few of them mention that East Asians and Ashkenazi Jews are even smarter.

(And if I was asked about that, I'd answer “Yes, it has been found that white people have a higher average IQ than black people, but then again, Asians and Jews have an even higher one", so that I don't lie but still get to piss extreme-right-wingers off.)

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-02-04T07:30:22.488Z · score: 4 (8 votes) · LW · GW

The same. Hell, I remember reading the comments on such some alt-right blog - maybe UR, maybe some other one - and seeing a bunch of "white nationalists" who frequent those first imply that intelligence is the only measure of a person that matters, then trying to wriggle out of proclaiming the Jews to be the world's only rightful aristocracy and bowing down before them; that "argument" basically went like "We embrace Nature's truth if it makes us smarter than someone, but we aren't obliged to shit if someone ends up smarter than us." Equating "smarter" with "superior", of course.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-01-31T20:42:08.726Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Referring to this (video here)?

comment by MugaSofer · 2013-04-19T10:22:17.281Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

You know, it is.

Plenty of racists historically wanted to "uplift" the savages, mostly through cultural assimilation, but occasionally through interbreeding. Neither of these could fully uplift them to our level, of course, but at least they would be better off than they would be on their own. "developing a political and cultural framework for something like "compassionate eugenics" (using as little coercion and stirring up as little drama as viable)" has also been a fairly obvious position for, y'know, actual racists, as opposed to the stereotyped klan member people are thinking of when they use that signal.

comment by hairyfigment · 2012-01-28T05:42:19.556Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Not to argue about definitions, but this seems well within the original definition of 'racism' as I understand it ("...claim that some races are superior to other races"). And society has good historical reasons to look askance at it -- for example, the outside view says nobody should trust your motives. (In particular, you shouldn't trust yourself.) It also says we shouldn't trust your factual beliefs without extremely strong evidence.

comment by GLaDOS · 2012-07-04T19:16:31.280Z · score: 7 (17 votes) · LW · GW

Easy for you to say.

HBD is firmly in clown suit territory in real life, people lose jobs over it, are physically assaulted or ostracised. If you want to see what LW's wearing black to school thing is check out the Moldbug references people love making.

comment by David_Gerard · 2012-07-04T19:52:14.372Z · score: -6 (14 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, we've seen how "HBD" plays out on LessWrong lately.

comment by GLaDOS · 2012-07-04T20:09:18.017Z · score: 10 (14 votes) · LW · GW

Stop doing that. o( ><)o

Aurini made a mistake. He apologized for it. But his mistake is not representative of LessWrongers who believe ideas about human biodiversity are plausible or likely or perhaps have an interest in the topic.

I know you perceive them as political enemies, but hey you are usually civil about this. You are pulling some passive aggressive stuff recently tho and I think I need to call you out on it. If you want people who consider HBD plausible gone, you can just say it directly. Perhaps even make a list of names and post it asking posters to down vote them.

I'm sure we will leave if you do this. We might not be happy about it though.

comment by HBDfan · 2012-07-15T12:40:05.423Z · score: -4 (18 votes) · LW · GW

We must stay and fight. The accusers of racism are the true racists: they think by ignoring the differences the differences will go away, but to ignore the differences is fake egalitarianism that makes the less capable worse off then they would be if we acknowledged the differences and we could allow for them.

I like your posts here.

comment by GLaDOS · 2012-07-17T06:06:31.091Z · score: 13 (15 votes) · LW · GW

I'm sorry your nick is a bit ifffy so I'm not sure as to your sincerity. If you are don't worry, eventually this will clear up with future participation. Just in case you are not a troll, I wrote this out.

I do agree that the fake egalitarianism of insisting we treat people decently because they are objectively all the same, instead of that simply being the right thing to do, is really dangerous in the long term, if society one day realizes they aren't objectively all the same according to most measures and damaging in the short run because it least to things like bad education policies or dehumanizing people society decides to scapegoat for some differences.

This however is far from only being a problem with "race", it turns up in many different places and on different issues. Class, gender... It even exists in lesser measure with individual differences.

We must stay and fight.

Here I kind of disagree. I don't see this as a war with sides, that attitude is perhaps useful if you are doing politics in the comment section of a news site, but not that great when it comes to participating here. I see this as more a interesting solvable question that has some unfortunate signalling and politics mixed in. I take the LW community at its face value and so far it surprisingly seldomly disappoints in being a place genuinely interested in truth. I always try hard to make sure that if anyone is going tribal and being mindkilled it isn't me, especially since "HBD fans" like me may still turn out to be wrong (check out some of the criticism raised by Chuck at Occidentalist).

So lets keep away from the fighting words and try being genuinely curious about the outcome. Also if people want us to leave so much worse for them, they don't own rationality and by refusing to judge ideas on their own merits they are shooting themselves in the foot.

Those not shooting themselves in the foot might find races easier to win.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-07-04T20:54:17.084Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

My fourth comment on LessWrong from over 2 years ago.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-01-26T18:19:30.095Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Other not-easily-thinkable positions (I don't believe any of these, but believe they're not utterly ridiculous):

Upvoted for showing a good alternative to my primitive heuristic of "Cruel as fuck". Unsettling and hard to propagate through one's belief net, but few would call those evil.

comment by MixedNuts · 2012-01-26T18:34:17.136Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

The heuristic I used seems to be "take a position that's controversial, and assume the arguments for it are superpowered". E.g. animal rights become animal equality.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-01-26T22:52:50.328Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

take a position that's controversial, and assume the arguments for it are superpowered

Why limit yourself to starting with controversial positions?

comment by MixedNuts · 2012-01-26T23:44:52.542Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

A position that's uncontroversial because universally rejected makes a poor starting point; if I'm able to think of it at all, I probably won't find very good arguments to superpower. At most, they'll be isolated argument, not a big philosophical toolbox like "consent" or "personhood as pattern".

A position that's uncontroversial because universally accepted tends to have superpowered arguments in the first place, and to get controversial where their arguments start losing power. For example, "racism is bad" is generalized to "beings should be equal", which gives controversial positions about moral status of AI, fetuses, and animals. The only uncontroversial positions I see that aren't at the center of an ideology with controversial fringes are extremely narrow questions, like the color of the sky.

comment by FeepingCreature · 2012-01-31T20:13:12.826Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW
  • Personal identity changing over time counts as death.

This is true but becomes a non-issue as soon as post-scarce computational resources and brain backups are available (while true; do sleep 1y; instantiate backup_01.mind &; done). The correct response is "go for cryonics as soon as possible".

comment by MixedNuts · 2012-01-31T20:20:17.648Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Assuming that personality divergence is slow enough for that, so that each restore doesn't kill you - is anterograde amnesia the only alternative to death? That would suck.

comment by FeepingCreature · 2012-01-31T20:53:19.694Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It's a fork, not a restore. The point is to make sure that there's never a time where all me's have, say, chosen to suicide. It's insurance against divergence.

comment by Oligopsony · 2012-01-26T05:10:21.041Z · score: 33 (35 votes) · LW · GW

Some possibilities on dorky LW topics (as opposed to the topics I assume Vladimir et al. are referring to):

Not only are anti-natalist arguments correct, they are correct in such a way that we should be attempting to maximize x-risks.

Wireheading is necessary and sufficient for the fulfillment of true human CEV; people only claim to care about other values for signalling purposes.

A very strong form of error theory is correct; what people actually care about is qualia, even though there is no such thing. It doesn't all add up to normality; just as bad metaphysics may lead people to think there's a relevant difference between praying to God and attempting to summon demons, bad metaphysics makes people think there's a relevant difference between donating a million dollars to Against Malaria Foundation and kidnapping and torturing a small child.

It would be very fun to have a thread where we attempted to come up with seductive, harmful ideas, and the chance of actually happening upon a very infectious and very harmful one would be very low.

comment by J_Taylor · 2012-01-26T06:39:25.583Z · score: 23 (25 votes) · LW · GW

Wireheading is necessary and sufficient for the fulfillment of true human CEV; people only claim to care about other values for signalling purposes.

Alternative which I view as being more frightening:

For any given human, its CEV involves that human winning at zero-sum, possibly even negative-sum, games (status would be one of these). As such, the best way to maximize the current collection of humanity's CEV would be to create new agents to which current humans defeat in zero-sum games.

That is, for every current human, create a host of new agents (all of whom are quite human for all intents and purposes) of whom the current human is emperor.

Note: if this is the case, I doubt pseudo-agents will suffice. Just as humans do not wish to love pseudo-humans (that is, humans who cannot really love), humans do not wish to win zero-sum games against pseudo-humans (that is, humans who cannot really lose zero-sum games, with all that losing these games entails).

comment by Will_Newsome · 2012-02-05T16:33:10.138Z · score: 19 (21 votes) · LW · GW

Some portrayals of heaven involve each person having dominion over a host of angels. One can only hope this allows for live action real-time strategy.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-02-02T06:13:10.673Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW · GW

So basically, what you're saying is that CEV might work out to everyone getting their own secret volcano lair filled with harems of catpersons? Now where have I heard this idea before...

comment by CronoDAS · 2012-01-26T07:58:17.420Z · score: 13 (17 votes) · LW · GW

I am willing to admit to having a desire to feel superior to other people.

comment by Dr_Manhattan · 2012-01-27T00:44:04.364Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Same here, but I'm willing to settle for "equal"

comment by RomeoStevens · 2012-01-28T10:30:11.945Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

you're such a good person for that.

comment by Steven_Bukal · 2012-01-26T12:04:47.312Z · score: 12 (14 votes) · LW · GW

As near as I can tell I'm -want/+like/-approve on both wireheading and emperor-like superiority.

comment by cousin_it · 2012-01-26T12:45:27.754Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

CEV will probably have many contributions from people who don't want the AI to create almost-human slaves. Do you think such desires will lose out in reflective equiibrium?

comment by J_Taylor · 2012-01-26T17:36:35.028Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I never said they would be slaves, although I certainly did imply it. I probably should not have said 'emperor.' A more appropriate term would have been something like 'grand-champion' or 'big winner.'

Do you think such desires will lose out in reflective equiibrium?

I certainly hope not. However, I personally have no idea.

comment by vi21maobk9vp · 2012-01-28T14:48:35.222Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Do we have to win at the same game to be happy? It looks like for different people different games matter and if you mostly beat scarcity you reduce the factor of pragmatically useful prizes.

comment by J_Taylor · 2012-01-28T18:33:03.537Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I have no idea. However, 'yes' is the more cynical answer, to let us assume it is the case for this particular purpose.

comment by vi21maobk9vp · 2012-01-29T10:30:47.522Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I will take "yes" as an answer designed to maximize scare-factor.

But frankly, do you have any evidence for this?

Maybe I am too far atypical in that I have experienced feeling of negative utility because of a victory (and it was a consequence-free and non-cheating victory, so it is a direct thing).

But look at scientists, businessmen and writers. Looks like many people in these three groups manage to look down at the two other groups. Some X try to do Y, fail, and do not care about that failure because X is what matters.

Given enough collective resources, it seems logical to invest them into designating more distinct games and ensuring that every field is filled with people who are most suitable for it. Wait, did I just repeat what Adam Smith said about separation of labour? Maybe it is not too bad, though.

comment by Will_Newsome · 2012-04-02T23:35:15.352Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

bad metaphysics may lead people to think there's a relevant difference between praying to God and attempting to summon demons

What's wrong with the metaphysics? I figured that one of the most powerful magicks developed by the Christians is a system for addressing only the demons who are actually God (using relatively rigid designators like the Word, the Form of the Good, &c.). The biggest reason I'm suspicious of the other Indo-European religions is that they don't advertise that they've developed any such system.

comment by cousin_it · 2012-01-25T19:43:57.025Z · score: 32 (34 votes) · LW · GW

We have tried to discuss topics like race and gender many times, and always failed. At some point I had this idea that maybe we could get better results if we sometimes enforced political conformity within comment threads :-) For example, if we had a thread of like-minded people discussing "how to make our country more vibrant and diverse" and a separate thread about "how to stop the corrupting influence of Negroes on the youth", I suspect that both threads would have a better signal-to-noise ratio and contain more interesting insights than a unified "let's all argue about racism" thread.

Of course this requires that people from thread A resist the temptation to drop in on thread B for target practice and vice versa. Some especially fervent people may feel threatened by the mere existence of thread A or thread B. (I have actually heard from some LWers that they'd consider it immoral to create such threads.)

comment by Humbug · 2012-01-26T12:10:07.511Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

We have tried to discuss topics like race and gender many times, and always failed.

The overall level of rationality of a community should be measured by their ability to have a sane and productive debate on those topics, and on politics in general.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2012-01-26T15:53:10.505Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Sure, agreed. But it doesn't follow that a community that desires to be rational should therefore engage in debates on those topics (and on politics in general) when it has low confidence that it can do so in a sane and productive way.

comment by Polymeron · 2012-02-05T18:34:07.058Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

An interesting thought, but as a practical idea it's a bad idea.

A lot of the problems with how people debate is that the underlying assumptions are different, but this goes unnoticed. So two people can argue on whether it's right or wrong to fight in Iraq when their actual disagreement is on whether Arabs count as people, and could actually argue for hours before realizing this disagreement exists (Note: This is not a hypothetical example). Failing to target the fundamental assumption differences leads to much of the miscommunication we so often see.

By having two (or more) debates branch off of different and incompatible assumptions, we're risking people solidifying in holding the wrong assumption, or even forgetting they're making it. The human mind is such that it seeks to integrate beliefs into a (more or less) coherent network without glaring contradictions, and by making people think long and hard off of a false assumption, we're poisoning their thinking process rather than enriching it. Even if, as you say, the signal-to-noise ratio is supposedly higher.

I would advise targeting the underlying disagreements first, proceeding only once those are dismantled.

comment by cousin_it · 2012-02-05T23:25:38.779Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Hmm. It seems to me that the people who would discuss a topic like "how to make our country more vibrant and diverse" are likely already convinced about some basic assumptions. If they don't get to have the discussion, they will stay just as convinced, but less informed.

comment by Polymeron · 2012-02-06T16:12:59.481Z · score: -4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

That's not really the question... The question is, what do you do with those who say you shouldn't make your country more vibrant and diverse? Do you really want them starting a separate and effective discussion on how to best destroy the country, or would you prefer to first engage them on this more basic issue?

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-02-07T05:39:24.665Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Downvoted for conflating "not wanting to make your country more vibrant and diverse", and "wanting to destroy the country".

comment by Polymeron · 2012-02-07T08:11:22.904Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

It's possible that I misconstrued the meaning of your words; not being a native English speaker myself, this happens on occasion. I was going off of the word "vibrant", which I understand to mean among other things "vital" and "energetic". The opposite of that is to make something sickly and weak.

But regardless of any misunderstanding, I would like to see some reference to the main point I was making: Do you want people to think on how best to do the opposite of what you are striving for (making the country less vibrant and diverse, whatever that means), or do you prefer to determine which of you is pursuing a non-productive avenue of investigation?

comment by Emile · 2012-02-08T21:53:13.144Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

It's possible that I misconstrued the meaning of your words; not being a native English speaker myself, this happens on occasion. I was going off of the word "vibrant", which I understand to mean among other things "vital" and "energetic". The opposite of that is to make something sickly and weak.

I think you may indeed be missing some connotations: in policy debate on immigration and multiculturalism, what one side might call "a vibrant and diverse neighborhood", the other might call "a slum filled with hostile foreigners with no inclination to integrate" (see this blog post, for example).

So someone who says that "you shouldn't make your country more vibrant and diverse" isn't expressing hostility to vitality and energy, he's objected to the loaded words and underlying assumptions.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-02-08T05:36:31.666Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It's possible that I misconstrued the meaning of your words; not being a native English speaker myself, this happens on occasion. I was going off of the word "vibrant", which I understand to mean among other things "vital" and "energetic". The opposite of that is to make something sickly and weak.

I was more objecting to your use of the word "diverse". And frankly these days "vibrant" has almost no meaning beyond being an applause light.

comment by cousin_it · 2012-02-07T13:10:38.453Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Even if my opponents try hard to discover "dangerous truths" that would help their side asymmetrically, I still expect them to mostly find truths that help everyone, because most truths are this way.

Also it's kind of unusual that you want your political opponents to stop looking for correct beliefs because they may accidentally get too many. Most people seem to think the other way around: they feel their political opponents are brainwashed by leaders and would change their values if they had more curiosity and intellectual honesty.

comment by Polymeron · 2012-02-07T14:40:33.319Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

You are attributing to me things I did not say.

I don't think "truths" discovered under false assumptions are likely to be, in fact, true. I am not worried about them acquiring dangerous truths; rather, I am worried about people acquiring (and possibly acting on) false beliefs. I remind you that false beliefs may persist as cached thoughts even once the assumption is no longer believed in.

Nor do I want my political opponents to not search for truth; but I would prefer that they (and I) try to contend with each others' fundamental differences before focusing on how to fully realize their (or my) current position.

comment by cousin_it · 2012-02-07T18:41:02.149Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I don't understand your comment. Do you think statements like "the most efficient way to destroy our country is to do X" don't qualify as truths because they are "discovered under false assumptions"? It seems to me that such statements can be true and very useful to know even if you don't want to destroy the country, hence my original proposal. Maybe you're using a nonstandard meaning of "truth" and "assumption"?

comment by Solvent · 2012-01-26T10:55:46.041Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Can we please try this? I think it's a really good idea.

comment by cousin_it · 2012-01-26T12:42:24.037Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Can you contact Konkvistador? I remember he had a detailed plan for this idea.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-01-26T00:44:23.530Z · score: 31 (31 votes) · LW · GW

The scientific process has been so corrupted by signaling and politics that outside the hard sciences, most of what is called "science" these days, especially mainstream opinion at universities, is less entangled with reality then most religions. At least the religions have been around long enough to be subject memetic selection.

comment by FiftyTwo · 2012-01-26T07:05:02.164Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

how do you know this isnt happening in hard sciences?

comment by Luke_A_Somers · 2012-01-26T16:08:34.162Z · score: 16 (16 votes) · LW · GW

They produce results that work, even for people that don't want to believe them. At least, in most parts of the hard sciences - I don't know about the depths of string theory or cosmology.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-02-23T19:37:32.907Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Can't find the link offhand, but there's some interesting metaanalysis of medical-scientific journals and a few other fields that strongly suggests even the hard sciences in general aren't immune to this.

comment by AlexSchell · 2012-01-26T05:40:06.025Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Which soft sciences do you have in mind? (I'd say "name three" but that would come off as confrontational.)

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-01-26T05:50:28.910Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

For example: economics, psychology, sociology, possibly even medicine (see Hason's discussion of it).

comment by AlexSchell · 2012-01-26T21:10:29.087Z · score: 28 (28 votes) · LW · GW

On any reasonable operational definition of "less entangled with reality than most religions", you are ridiculously wrong in claiming that medicine fits the description, and I think Hanson might agree. (I'm less certain about this with regard to certain subfields like stroke rehabilitation, certain sub-subfields in nutrition, etc., but I'm talking about the weighted accuracy of the sorts of activities that Western MDs perform, that are taught in Western medical schools, etc.)

EDIT: Full disclosure: I'm a pharmacy student, so it would be moderately devastating to my sense of worth if you were right. Still.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2012-01-28T16:24:58.338Z · score: 30 (36 votes) · LW · GW

Most of the impact of rape is a made-up self fulfilling prophesy.

The same would apply to cuckoldry.

New topics:

We know so little about our minds that conscious efforts to improve them are likely to do damage. Actually, I consider that an exaggeration, but I do think that ill effects of following socially supported advice are likely to be kept private and/or ignored for a very long time.

We know almost nothing about the effects of sex for children and teenagers.

Black people are actually genetically superior in important ways-- they've had such bad luck from geography and racism that their advantages don't show up as superior results.

Nationalism is more destructive than religion, and almost as much of a collective hallucination.

Following up on the "CEV is impossible" part of the discussion: The only thing an FAI can do is protect us from UFAI and possibly other gross existential threats.

comment by cousin_it · 2012-01-28T18:05:37.725Z · score: 35 (37 votes) · LW · GW

Most of the impact of rape is a made-up self fulfilling prophesy.

The same would apply to cuckoldry.

Upvoted for saying the only thing in this whole thread that makes my inner animal go "aaaaugh I must fight against people who say that". I didn't know I had it in me.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2012-01-28T18:40:04.987Z · score: 18 (20 votes) · LW · GW

Hot damn!

Thanks for letting me know.

The funny thing is, I think the idea that cuckoldry would be a non-issue if people were thinking clearly is pretty close to conventional ideas about adoption-- that people shouldn't use biological descent to make distinctions among the children they're raising. See also the fairly successful efforts to reduce the stigma of bastardy.

To extend the idea, we could say that just about all the pain people feel about status-lowering events is self-fulfilling prophecy, but this version less likely to sting because it isn't about something specific.

Just for fun, flip it over. People aren't nearly sensitive enough about their status. If people cared more about their rankings, they'd do a lot more, and enough of it would be worthwhile (by those entirely rational geek standards which are opposed to the bad mainstream standards) that there'd be a net gain.

One more: You can't tell anything important about a person by their taste in art, fiction, music, etc.

comment by Alicorn · 2012-01-28T19:30:30.962Z · score: 18 (20 votes) · LW · GW

The funny thing is, I think the idea that cuckoldry would be a non-issue if people were thinking clearly is pretty close to conventional ideas about adoption-- that people shouldn't use biological descent to make distinctions among the children they're raising. See also the fairly successful efforts to reduce the stigma of bastardy.

Why stop at cuckoldry, where the child is still genetically half one's spouse's? Outright cuckcooing! Swap everybody's kids around in the hospital!

(If I lived in a world where that was regularly done and I knew it, I would not have a bio-kid; I'd adopt a five-year-old and exercise some control over what sort of person I'm inviting into my home that way.)

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-28T20:07:04.843Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

Why stop at cuckoldry, where the child is still genetically half one's spouse's? Outright cuckcooing! Swap everybody's kids around in the hospital!

Why not take it another step further? Why have random non-licensed people raise children? We usually don't let just anyone adopt kids, in my country one needs to go through a lot of hoops and be financially capable of supporting a child before getting on the list. In practice one demonstrates conscientiousness, a strong desire to have children and financial independence. If all children are adopted children, why not do this? Surely this should only be done by teams of qualified experts in tandem with carefully chosen adoptive parents?

(If I lived in a world where that was regularly done and I knew it, I would not have a bio-kid; I'd adopt a five-year-old and exercise some control over what sort of person I'm inviting into my home that way.)

Eugenics FTW.

comment by Alicorn · 2012-01-28T20:08:30.238Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Relevance?

Edit: Parent used to be much shorter.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-28T20:13:34.974Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Choosing how a child turns out at five as a basis of which kid you want is clearly something that produces a non-trivial eugenic effect. Not in the societal sense (since what kind of kids a society gets are mostly already set), but in the sense of shaping the child you get to have according to one's own preferences. It is perfectly comparable to choosing the foetus with the right genes for implantation.

comment by CaveJohnson · 2012-01-28T20:23:19.132Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Why stop at cuckoldry, where the child is still genetically half one's spouse's? Outright cuckcooing! Swap everybody's kids around in the hospital!

Terrible idea to try actually implement in a multicultural society, since for visible minorities it amounts to cultural genocide. What are the odds the child they get actually assimilate to their culture if he can easily pass in greater society as a member of the privileged one?

Unless one factors in ethnicity in who gets who... which is just a horrible can of worms.

comment by erratio · 2012-01-28T20:44:45.953Z · score: 20 (24 votes) · LW · GW

It sounds very much like you're saying that no one would choose to be part of a minority culture if they weren't forced into it by non-acceptance. If that is what you meant, wouldn't that imply that destroying that minority culture is better than forcing people to continue being part of it?

Stolen generation isn't relevant here since it wasn't reciprocal - the children were taken, not replaced by white children who were then raised in Aboriginal commmunities.

comment by CaveJohnson · 2012-01-28T22:43:42.725Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It sounds very much like you're saying that no one would choose to be part of a minority culture if they weren't forced into it by non-acceptance.

Not really, just that for some minorities implementation of such a policy would produce non-acceptance rates would result in genocidal (by the UN definition of the legal terms rather than colloquial use) levels of assimilation. It does a community little good if only 0.5 or 1 or 1.5 child per generation would choose to remain part of it.

If that is what you meant, wouldn't that imply that destroying that minority culture is better than forcing people to continue being part of it?

Good point, but what if the minority culture's values differ on this? Much like I prefer to exist than my carbon being used for the construction of a perfect orgasmium human. Members of minority cultures might prefer to put costs on each other to prevent them from leaving the community.

Also it would really upset groups like say Haredim Jews.

comment by MBlume · 2012-01-28T22:57:08.736Z · score: 17 (21 votes) · LW · GW

genocidal

This is kind of a pet peeve of mine. "Genocide" has really strong negative moral valence in most people's minds because the last time somebody tried it, it involved killing millions of people. Throwing it around in situations that don't involve death seems... not inaccurate per se, but still disingenuous.

comment by CaveJohnson · 2012-01-28T23:05:29.591Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I use it in the technical legal sense and made that explicit too.

Any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life, calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; [and] forcibly transferring children of the group to another group. (Article 2 CPPCG)

People are really inconsistent however in colloquial usage and moral reasoning. I partially agree with your objection. Communist crimes are basically whitewashed because "Mao killed Chinese and he was Chinese so it wasn't genocide so Hitler is still worse". Isn't a life a life? Shouldn't whatever the term one uses, the negative feeling be the same?

comment by erratio · 2012-01-29T18:46:59.148Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW · GW

for some minorities implementation of such a policy would produce non-acceptance rates would result in genocidal levels of assimilation

I'm with Alicorn on this one: if your members don't want to be in your community, sucks to be your community.

what if the minority culture's values differ on this?

Maybe they should make more of an effort to convince their members that their community is worth being a part of rather than using mechanisms like shunning and mainstream stigmatism to enforce membership.

it would really upset groups like say Haredim Jews

Somehow I can't bring myself to be bothered by this

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-29T18:55:13.183Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Somehow I can't bring myself to be bothered by this

Haredim can be a real pain in the ass when they decide they want to be.

comment by Alicorn · 2012-01-28T22:45:17.277Z · score: 7 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Good point, but what if the minority culture's values differ on this?

For some reason my brain decided to recast this question as though the minority culture were a corporation selling a product at a price (non-full-inclusion in majority culture translated into money). If people don't want to buy it, sucks to be you! I don't care if your values say they ought to or if it will make you sad. Change product or market product but do not force its purchase on anyone.

comment by CaveJohnson · 2012-01-28T22:57:57.468Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW · GW

You do realize we are talking about retention of children raised in a culture right? Orgasmium cults and brainwashing indoctrinators would tend to out compete most others by such measures. A cult worshipping a baslisk that hacks your brain into absolute loyalty would also win out.

Optimizing for allure will not optimize for welfare. At least not under these mechanisms of "choice". It also means our value sets can be out competed by really convincing paperclippers.

From the perspective of many traditional cultures Westerners may as well be Supper Happy people.

comment by Strange7 · 2012-02-06T04:44:27.990Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The problem with 'orgasmium cults' is, they have a hard time producing anything valuable enough to outsiders to be able to maintain economic power proportionate to their nominal population. Eventually it's just a heap of functionally insensate larvae starving themselves into irrelevance.

comment by Alicorn · 2012-01-28T22:59:52.757Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I thought we'd drifted away from that particular spin on the scenario as of erratio's comment.

comment by CaveJohnson · 2012-01-28T23:12:10.124Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The above holds for either. Erratio's formulation was:

It sounds very much like you're saying that no one would choose to be part of a minority culture if they weren't forced into it by non-acceptance.

I think it would be trivial by a superinteligence to design a culture that no one would choose any other culture over, yet wouldn't be a very pleasant place to live. And if superinteligence can do this, why could something like this arise due to memetic evolution? Religious and ideological memeplexes are already examples of weaker but dangerous beasts of this kind.

comment by Alicorn · 2012-01-28T23:14:15.020Z · score: 1 (7 votes) · LW · GW

You keep editing your comments after you post them and then my replies look really poorly targeted.

comment by CaveJohnson · 2012-01-28T23:21:19.365Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I don't ever modify them after reading someone else's statements. It is just that I often post and then reread my comment and find a point is in need of clarification and immediately hit edit and start fixing it. Most of the time no one notices since responses come 5 or 15 or 200 minutes later.

But if you'd like to keep this more real-timeish, I have no problem from with waiting longer before hitting "comment" and then leaving them unchanged. Sorry for any inconvenience. In any case weren't the above two comments last modified before you posted yours?

comment by Alicorn · 2012-01-28T23:27:51.472Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Before I posted mine, maybe - I didn't check - but I was on a static page referring to an unedited parent when I wrote my replies.

comment by CaveJohnson · 2012-01-28T23:28:59.103Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Ok from now on I won't modify comments after posting for this debate.

Edit: Starting after this one!

comment by Luke_A_Somers · 2012-02-14T20:48:05.577Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Or you can just include edits as "Edited to add: X" Then it's perfectly clear, and you can edit freely. You just can't prove that's all you did.

comment by CaveJohnson · 2012-01-28T23:16:14.665Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

If people don't want to buy it, sucks to be you!

From what kind of a position are people choosing to buy? The veil of ignorance? Lol.

You can't choose to buy or not buy a spot somewhere in mind-space without already being somewhere in mind-space.

comment by Strange7 · 2012-02-06T04:48:17.641Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Also it would really upset groups like say Haredim Jews.

A sufficiently dedicated group could just keep childbirthing in-house rather than trusting hospitals.

comment by CaveJohnson · 2012-02-06T15:55:48.970Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

It seems very likley that that would be illegal in such a society.

comment by cousin_it · 2012-01-28T21:01:28.382Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I think the idea that cuckoldry would be a non-issue if people were thinking clearly is pretty close to conventional ideas about adoption-- that people shouldn't use biological descent to make distinctions among the children they're raising.

I think folk morality only says that if you adopt kids, you should treat them equally to your biological kids. It doesn't say that people who have biological kids instead of adopting are bad people.

To extend the idea, we could say that just about all the pain people feel about status-lowering events is self-fulfilling prophecy

Why do you single out status-lowering events? You could go further and say that anything that doesn't cause physical pain is okay, e.g. stealing someone's car is okay because the victim theoretically could brainwash themselves to not care about material belongings.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2012-01-28T21:52:33.789Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

My first thought was that people are pushed to take status-raising events more seriously than they naturally would.

Considering that there's some variation in how people react to physical pain, I don't know why that (at least below some threshold) should be off-limits.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-01-28T22:54:57.017Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

My first thought was that people are pushed to take status-raising events more seriously than they naturally would.

Taboo "naturally".

comment by Blueberry · 2012-03-25T06:25:32.507Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The funny thing is, I think the idea that cuckoldry would be a non-issue if people were thinking clearly is pretty close to conventional ideas about adoption-- that people shouldn't use biological descent to make distinctions among the children they're raising. See also the fairly successful efforts to reduce the stigma of bastardy.

Well, one of the main emotional objections to cuckoldry is feeling betrayed and lied to, which isn't the case in adoption. I don't think being lied to is only an issue due to unclear thought, even without the status issue.

comment by ikrase · 2013-01-28T03:10:53.285Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Have heard it claimed that that is partly true of statutory rape.

Did that for me too.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-01-28T21:45:43.753Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Huh... I felt it (with considerable force) about some other items ITT, but not even a twitch here. I hate to ask, but you probably saw it coming anyway... any personal things in your background that might have triggered that?

comment by cousin_it · 2012-01-28T22:42:30.712Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

No, I think I always felt that way.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-29T11:47:43.302Z · score: 19 (23 votes) · LW · GW

The same would apply to cuckoldry.

Men probably have systematic preferences for how to treat their children according to traits the children do or do not posses and a variety of cues that have evolved to ensure they invest in genetically related children.

But this may have little to do with conscious awareness of such information or emotional distress caused by it.

We know almost nothing about the effects of sex for children and teenagers.

"Teenagers" doesn't really describe anything in the real world except perhaps a subculture.

Black people are actually genetically superior in important ways-- they've had such bad luck from geography and racism that their advantages don't show up as superior results.

Well we already have data about the social status of people who propose such theories.

It's easy to recognize two reasons why my impression that New Guineans are smarter than Westerners may be correct. First, Europeans have for thousands of years been living in densely populated societies with central governments, police, and judiciaries. In those societies, infectious epidemic diseases of dense populations (such as smallpox) were historically the major cause of death, while murders were relatively uncommon and a state of war was the exception rather than the rule. Most Europeans who escaped fatal infections also escaped other potential causes of death and proceeded to pass on their genes. Today, most live-born Western infants survive fatal infections as well and reproduce themselves, regardless of their intelligence and the genes they bear. In contrast, New Guineans have been living in societies where human numbers were too low for epidemic diseases of dense populations to evolve. Instead, traditional New Guineans suffered high mortality from murder, chronic tribal warfare, accidents, and problems in procuring food.

Intelligent people are likelier than less intelligent ones to escape those causes of high mortality in traditional New Guinea societies. However, the differential mortality from epidemic diseases in traditional European societies had little to do with intelligence, and instead involved genetic resistance dependent on details of body chemistry. For example, people with blood group B or O have a greater resistance to smallpox than do people with blood group A. That is, natural selection promoting genes for intelligence has probably been far more ruthless in New Guinea than in more densely populated, politically complex societies, where natural selection for body chemistry was instead more potent.

... in mental ability New Guineans are probably genetically superior to Westerners ...

Clearly Jared Diamond is a shunned outcast and publicly apologized for his inappropriate speculation.

"Underdog is actually better but has just had bad luck" or "overdog is only winning because he is evil" is a narrative humans love and are significantly biased towards. Unless overdogs actually consider it plausible that they will be threatened even they derive status from claiming they where just lucky. Or that most (but clearly not them personally) overdogs are unethical.

Nationalism is more destructive than religion, and almost as much of a collective hallucination.

Metternich would approve!

comment by Jayson_Virissimo · 2012-01-29T13:51:45.496Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Interestingly, that Diamond quote comes shortly after his dismissal of previous attempts at "big history" for being "racist".

comment by Mercy · 2012-01-31T17:13:48.415Z · score: 3 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Which the New Guinea quote is a sarcastic parody of. It's a "one could just as easily say" gambit. I don't have much time for GG&S, but you have to be willfully misreading that passage- or deaf to tone and context- to interpret it as a paen to the New Guinean master race.

comment by Jayson_Virissimo · 2012-02-01T05:48:39.004Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I am a fan of Diamond's work in general and GG&S in particular. It sure doesn't feel like like I am "willfully misreading" him. I would lean more towards being "deaf to tone and context" (although it seems unlikely that I don't understand the context, since I have read the entire book and watched the documentary based on it). On the other hand, I have been accused of being too literal in the past, so I can't merely dismiss your criticism.

On a related note, I must admit that I was rather disappointed with Diamond for dismissing previous attempts to answer the "cargo question" for being racist rather than being false (which is question-begging).

comment by [deleted] · 2012-05-13T02:05:57.321Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

"Teenagers" dosen't really describe anything in the real world except perhaps a subculture.

Maybe not everywhere in the real world; but in most industrialized countries, a looooong time does elapse from puberty until independence from parents.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-05-13T06:10:30.332Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

But this period doesn't usually end in teen years.

comment by CharlieSheen · 2012-01-28T16:56:17.186Z · score: 12 (14 votes) · LW · GW

The same would apply to cuckoldry.

I agree. Why would there be a switch in the brain "in case genetic tests prove/shaman says child isn't yours go into depression!"? Other cues like smell or facial similarity are already factored into the fathers feelings before he consciously knows about the child's genetics.

We know almost nothing about the effects of sex for children and teenagers.

I don't think that's true for teenagers, their sexuality is heavily studied. I don't have very high confidence in academia but they must have produced something useful on the subject. Right? In any case I agree that children's sexuality is a pretty strong mind-killer and that our knowledge about it is woefully inadequate or just plain wrong.

Nationalism is more destructive than religion, and almost as much of a collective hallucination.

Possible. But I don't see why this would be controversial.

Black people are actually genetically superior in important ways-- they've had such bad luck from geography and racism that their advantages don't show up as superior results.

Come now. White people would be all ecstatic that they now have proof they are to blame for all the problems they've been blaming themselves this entire time (and even more since the opportunity cost of squandered superiority is greater than squandered equality). Who dosen't like being proven right? This also fulfils their deeply ingrained pseudo-Christian guilt complex and desire for original sin. White people love feeling guilty and signalling moral superiority to other white people. I think that's partially genetic btw. Most other people on the planet are not such annoying moral poseurs. I don't have any real data to back me on this last claim but anecdotal evidence is pretty consistent on it.

East Asians and Arabs may react unfavourably though. Also the future would be very bright for mankind since Africa is likley to stay in population explosion mode for most of this century, while say Latin America and the Middle East are showing signs of incredibly rapid drops in birthrates (and the developed world is showing no real signs of recuperation).

Also its pretty obvious that black people are superior in certain aspects to most other races. Besides the obvious stuff like say West Africans being good sprinters and East Africans excelling at marathons, greater resistance to tropical diseases, greater diversity helping the evolve more rapidly to deal with new pathogens, lower rates of skin cancer, ect. humans in Sub-Saharan africa share some nearly continent wide adaptations to their environment that are very desirable. I'm pretty sure African males have an edge when it comes to attractiveness and no I'm not talking about the penis myth (which may not be a myth, it is hard to tell since measurements are ambiguous and conflicting). First off there is the purely physical advantage of darker skin since it is associated with masculinity, then there is the well documented "winning personality" when one controls for other factors. That last one is related to the fact that people of African descent generally have far fewer mental health problems (Europeans be they gentiles or Askenazi Jews and East Asians are really the neurotic freaks of the human race), better self-image, greater self-confidence and are much less prone to suicide than most.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2012-01-29T18:47:47.215Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Nationalism is more destructive than religion, and almost as much of a collective hallucination.

Possible. But I don't see why this would be controversial.

It's pre-controversial. I say it now and then, but people just ignore it.

There's a contingent of atheists who are seriously pissed off at people having religions, but I haven't seen anything comparable against nationalism, even though these days, wars are apt to be more about nationalism than religion.

comment by CharlieSheen · 2012-01-29T19:09:36.061Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

It's pre-controversial. I say it now and then, but people just ignore it.

Mostly because highly educated people on LessWrong don't know many nationalists personally. They do know many religious people.

In any case classical pacifist movements where basically about this. Getting upset about nationalism seems a 19th or 20th century thing to do. Its not that the arguments against it are new and haven't sunk in because of future shock level, its just that elite respectable opinion in the Western world has long ago shifted closer towards that position and most people living in the West suffer very little if any harm from the residual traces of nationalism. And the residual traces aren't that notable, most people in say Western Europe are because of the well known traumas of wars in that time period not very nationalistic.

wars are apt to be more about nationalism than religion.

It is hard to say something like the Iraq war was caused by nationalism, though obviously "spreading democracy" is pretty much not only part of an ideology but is also a key part of America's civic nationalism.

With most wars in the rest of the world that don't directly involve Western states (obviously many of these are proxy wars). Ie. The ones that actually should matter to utilitarian since they consume far more lives, do indeed often seem to revolve around ethnic clashes. But this is where it gets tricky.

How do you classify the conflict in Sudan a few years back? One can claim that civil war was a religious one since Muslims where attacking animists and Christian villages and the latter where retaliating. How do you measure how much of it was because of nationalism. Is destructive Muslim or Irish Catholic nationalism a bigger blemish on religion or nationalism? What is the better approach to attacking it if you feel that the phenomena is not conductive to how you want to order the world?

Also nationalism evokes images of people being proud of the state or considering themselves a part of a people that numbers in the tens of millions and has supposedly some common past and a common destiny before it. Most of humanity has no idea of anything like that (outside of religion). It is basically a Western thing with very similar phenomena in East Asia and to a lesser extent the Indian subcontinent and Latin America. Most of humanity is much more tribal than it is nationalistic in the classic sense. And the types of bloody civil wars and revolutions one sees in Africa and the Middle East are I think evidence in favour of this.

comment by CaveJohnson · 2012-01-28T17:12:06.292Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

White people love feeling guilty and signalling moral superiority to other white people. I think that's partially genetic btw. Most other people on the planet are not such annoying moral poseurs. I don't have any real data to back me on this claim but anecdotal evidence is pretty consistent on this

This almost reads like you are trying to hint at something but for the life of me I can't figure out what. Nope. No idea.

comment by J_Taylor · 2012-01-29T00:15:46.745Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Could someone make explicit what is being hinted at? I fear that I am missing the signal.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-28T20:27:00.594Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Didn't catch that implication before.

Edit: Just wanted to make clear that I'm not endorsing it.

comment by Jonathan_Graehl · 2012-05-13T01:45:56.953Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

ill effects of following socially supported advice are likely to be kept private and/or ignored for a very long time

Sharp. I've seen this especially in dieting/weightlifting communities.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2012-05-13T04:34:46.631Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I picked it up from fat acceptance.

The Science of Yoga (which generally supports yoga as valuable) has a chapter about the risks of yoga-- which are much higher than a lot of people in yoga knew. These days, at least some yoga teachers are working on making it safer.

comment by Princess_Stargirl · 2014-09-09T14:40:53.933Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I agree the majority of the damage caused by cuckolding/cheating is self created (though the pain is still real). However I do think there is a rational albeit selfish reason to be opposed to partner's cheating. If your partner cheats on you she/he may find out she/he prefers the other person to you. Or at the very least your inadaquaces may become clearer if your partner gets involved with somoene else.

The polyamory community suggests that these issues can be manged. But there is a plausible rational argument that outside relationships reduce stability, at least for some people.

Also I agree that black people are obviously superior in several ways. Black men seem clearly the most athletic overall. Subjectively they are also the hottest imo :)

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2014-09-09T21:30:23.871Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Another risk of polyamory is increasing the odds of getting involved with someone who is very bad news.

On the other hand, if you choose to be monogamous, then the consequences of a bad partner are more serious.

comment by Adele_L · 2014-09-09T22:06:50.316Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Also, having other good partners while dealing with a bad partner can make it a lot easier, and help you recognize and get out of it faster.

comment by DanielLC · 2012-01-26T03:10:35.892Z · score: 30 (30 votes) · LW · GW

Zoophilia is perfectly fine.

comment by fubarobfusco · 2012-01-26T03:30:38.940Z · score: 57 (57 votes) · LW · GW

The prevailing arguments against it are incoherent for non-vegans anyhow. Nonhuman animals can't consent? How can it possibly make sense to claim the relevance of consent for (non-painful) sexual activity for a class of animals which can be legally killed more or less on demand for its meat or skin, or if it becomes inconvenient to keep? The consent argument is bogus; the popular moral beliefs against zoophilia are actually not based on a legalistic rights framework, but on a purity/corruption/ickiness framework.

comment by erratio · 2012-01-26T14:53:59.138Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

I've tried that exact argument in the past with non-LW-inclined friends. From what I remember the main reactions were either (paraphrased) "I'm too squicked out to engage with your argument" or "you're probably right but it's still gross".

EDIT: there was context involved. Damned if I remember what it was but even with my closest friends I wouldn't defend zoophilia just for fun.

comment by APMason · 2012-01-26T17:32:18.871Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

I tried it once on a different forum. I was immediately called a troll and run out of town.

...Which is sort of fair enough.

comment by DanielLC · 2012-01-27T03:56:34.925Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I've seen someone mention that they're a zoophile on a utilitarianism forum. The reaction was limited to one person asking if there's a difference between zoophilia and bestiality.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-02-02T06:15:22.785Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Now I'm interested. Is there?

comment by Aurini · 2012-03-15T06:01:05.577Z · score: 13 (15 votes) · LW · GW

I know way too much about this stuff.

Bestiality is simply having sex with animals. Zoophilia is having romantic, sexual relationships with animals.

I fail to see a problem with either.

comment by wedrifid · 2012-03-17T00:44:08.168Z · score: -9 (19 votes) · LW · GW

I fail to see a problem with either.

The SPCA might, assuming you start implementing some of the 'discipline' you've been talking about with your bestial significant other.

comment by Aurini · 2012-03-17T23:53:35.530Z · score: 5 (15 votes) · LW · GW

Personal insults because we have a disagreement, rather than a rational response to what I said?

You are a credit to this community. If only we could get more people to achieve your waterline of sanity.

comment by Blueberry · 2012-03-25T06:23:32.928Z · score: -5 (13 votes) · LW · GW

This was hilarious and should not have been downvoted...

comment by CharlieSheen · 2012-03-30T09:34:12.110Z · score: 9 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Read like a needless personal insult to me.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-03-30T10:06:15.949Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I read it as such as well.

comment by Blueberry · 2012-03-30T10:52:58.173Z · score: -2 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Well, he was advocating domestic violence earlier. So it was appropriate.

comment by CharlieSheen · 2012-03-30T11:27:32.034Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I didn't read him as advocating it and I am very familiar (unfortunately) with the debate you spoke of.

comment by wedrifid · 2012-03-30T14:57:20.470Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

(It should be noted that Charlie was a prolific contributor to the troll/thread in question and was told multiple times that he was grossly misrepresenting the context.)

comment by CharlieSheen · 2012-03-31T10:23:41.799Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Right back at you.

comment by wedrifid · 2012-03-30T14:55:41.954Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

This was hilarious and should not have been downvoted...

It is certainly a comment I continue to endorse, upon reflection. I give the benefit of the doubt to the downvoters and assume that they voted out of ignorance of the context - especially given that the most important context includes multiple endorsement of an external source (appropriately entitled The Necessity of Domestic Violence). If I assumed that they were familiar with the context I would then have to conclude that they are executing poor judgement and taking a highly offensive political stance.

In most social situations I am in if someone on one hand endorsed domestic violence and then a few statements later endorses bestiality I would expect an (R)SPCA joke almost instantly - the exceptions being those circumstances where far stronger social sanctions have already been put in motion against the unacceptable political expression.

comment by Blueberry · 2012-03-30T15:28:27.258Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

What's funny is that I liked your comment even before I knew about the domestic violence thing. It read more as silly and sarcastic than insulting.

comment by TimS · 2012-03-30T15:26:37.422Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

In most social situations I am in if someone on one hand endorsed domestic violence and then a few statements later endorses bestiality I would expect an (R)SPCA joke almost instantly.

Expect - probably.

But your joke appears to be (slightly) punishing Aurini for making a meaningful contribution. He probably deserves the joke, but I think people could plausibly think that discouraging meaningful contribution is bad for the social norms of this community. That can be true even if the particular commenter is not deserving of the grace that this sort of policy ends up providing.

comment by wedrifid · 2012-03-30T15:58:17.526Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

But your joke appears to be (slightly) punishing Aurini for making a meaningful contribution.

I would punish Aurini for the contribution he made recently, if I had the power to do so and if there was no such thing as 'negative externalities'. Or, rather, I would take take actions to prevent more such contributions and those actions could be considered equivalent to 'punishment' even though the intent is far more crudely practical. (This is all based on the premise that the 'meaning' of the 'contributions' is the most misguided and toxic influence on the site that I recall seeing. I accept that you do not share that premise.)

But really, I think I'd have made an SPCA reference even if I were Aurini himself.

comment by TimS · 2012-03-30T19:58:30.267Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I hear you saying that Aurini deserves punishment. I agree that his statements about the acceptability of violence are morally wrong and unlikely to achieve the outcomes he says he desires. Further, I'm extremely upset about his use of normative statements disguised as facts. Taken together, the posting of those types of statements makes the community look bad.

Nonetheless, the norm of the community is that each post stands on its own merits. Punishing Aurini in an unrelated post is like going through and down-voting everything Will Newsome says, regardless of individual merit. In other words, it is possible that your joke would be down-voted by people who completely agree with you about the total lack of value of Aurini's posts on domestic violence. (Btw - I'm not a down-voter).

It occurs to me while writing this post that some of our disagreement may be based on the fact that you think the joke is very funny, while it falls flat for me. (shrug). This whole issue isn't a big deal to me, just thought you'd find my perspective useful (since it differs from Blueberry's and CharlieSheen's).

comment by wedrifid · 2012-03-31T10:38:53.971Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It occurs to me while writing this post that some of our disagreement may be based on the fact that you think the joke is very funny

More obligatory irony than funniness. An environment where those two claims are made together but not combined feels wrong.

comment by Blueberry · 2012-03-30T23:44:38.794Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

That particular source is actually not as bad as the name would suggest, since it refers to the guy fighting back and standing up for himself when he's already in an abusive relationship and financially unable to leave. He doesn't recommend it to people in general.

comment by DanielLC · 2012-02-02T17:23:31.407Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

No. At least, not that he knows of.

comment by APMason · 2012-01-27T03:59:03.128Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Well, of course, I still reserve the right to be creeped out.

comment by scientism · 2012-01-25T19:28:38.411Z · score: 29 (33 votes) · LW · GW

I can think of a couple of possibilities that are difficult to discuss (although perhaps not here):

  • Multiparty electoral democracy has no real utility, confers no legitimacy and doesn't satisfy any primal urge for freedom laying dormant in non-Western peoples. "Democracy" as a concept is mainly used in international politics as a weapon to suppress other political systems through sanctions and military action. When a country becomes "democratic" by holding elections, it's really just signalling its compliance with the West. The current period of liberal democratic triumphalism has created an intellectual Dark Ages of political thought. There are many valid forms of governance that don't involved voting. Moreover, so-called "authoritarianism" has a proven track record for development.

  • "Free speech" is a luxury of hegemonic powers. Countries that are trying to self-determine their own political development necessarily have to suppress ideas that are backed up by the military and economic might of Western hegemony. Since multiparty elections don't express the innate yearning of every human for freedom but rather compliance with Western power, whenever you see somebody in another culture expressing a desire for elections and other Western political "rights", you should be extremely wary of their motives. They're really signalling their willingness to sell out their own culture for power. They're probably every bit as treacherous as the "authoritarian regime" in that country claims them to be. If you truly believe in the right to self-determination, you should support crackdowns on certain dissidents, since the marketplace for ideas has such a strong bias in favour of the current hegemonic power.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-25T20:33:51.453Z · score: 23 (31 votes) · LW · GW

Multiparty electoral democracy has no real utility, confers no legitimacy and doesn't satisfy any primal urge for freedom laying dormant in non-Western peoples. "Democracy" as a concept is mainly used in international politics as a weapon to suppress other political systems through sanctions and military action. When a country becomes "democratic" by holding elections, it's really just signalling its compliance with the West. The current period of liberal democratic triumphalism has created an intellectual Dark Ages of political thought. There are many valid forms of governance that don't involved voting. Moreover, so-called "authoritarianism" has a proven track record for development.

Holy Moldbug I swear I get giddy at the very idea of a critical rationalist discussion about democracy on LessWrong! Please someone who has done some heavy lifting on the subject make a post about it!

comment by TimS · 2012-01-25T20:45:56.910Z · score: 12 (14 votes) · LW · GW

From the contrary position, I totally agree that this would be an interesting discussion.

comment by JenniferRM · 2012-01-26T01:43:44.769Z · score: 6 (10 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think this is likely to have good consequence if it happens in a public forum. However, if a private mailing list for this was being organized, I'd be interested in participating.

comment by lessdazed · 2012-01-26T01:39:01.457Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Moreover, so-called "authoritarianism" has a proven track record for development.

I think the most important feature of government is that it handle regime changes well and indefinitely. Authoritarianism would have to be awfully good at development to make up for increased intermittent revolutions and civil wars. I leave it to Steve Jobs and his ilk to handle development.

comment by thomblake · 2012-01-25T19:40:23.505Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, I don't see anything problematic about discussing these here, except that they're about politics.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-01-26T07:08:28.626Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Countries that are trying to self-determine their own political development necessarily have to suppress ideas that are backed up by the military and economic might of Western hegemony.

Who exactly, as in the class of persons doing it, is trying to self-determine what exactly?

They're really signalling their willingness to sell out their own culture for power.

What is "their own culture", who determines it and how does it figure in more or less reflection-heavy utility functions, especially given the heavy cost you approve of?

EDIT: I notice that you, as some of your comments would imply, you simply don't care about the lives and happiness of people who don't have long-term goals ("Life's Great Adventure"... bah). In this case we might just be having a genuine clash of values and can't convince each other about any moral judgment here.

If you truly believe in the right to self-determination

I don't, because I'm more or less imperialist, and neo-colonialist too. I still identify as a socialist and to a lesser extent as a liberal.

comment by scientism · 2012-01-26T16:57:06.629Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Firstly, I was giving a quick caricature of some topics that tend to be "suppressed," rather than expressing my own beliefs as I would defend them. Both points are somewhat inspired by contemporary Chinese political philosophy (the first being inspired by attempts to modernise Confucian political philosophy and the second being inspired by the position the Chinese government sometimes expresses on political censorship).

I would take the "class of persons" to be part of the state apparatus, attempting to determine the fate and development of the country as a whole. On this line of reasoning, the Western approach of valuing individual interests above all else and seeing the relationship between state and society as principally antagonistic is rejected. The state is an organic part of society, analogous to its nervous system, and its interests can be taken at face value provided it meets certain criteria. There is a reciprocal relationship between the individual and society; rather than society being seen merely as a collection of autonomous individuals in primarily antagonistic relationship with one another and the state, society determines individual interests and individuals, in turn, determine the kind of society we have. The state, therefore, must be as interested in guiding individual interests as it is in responding to them.

Here's what I believe: I believe that the Western political tradition is almost entirely wrongheaded, primarily because it's based on wrongheaded philosophical ideas that misrepresent the nature of society and of the individual in addition to being morally inept, and I think alternatives are worth studying. I'm more sure of the negative thesis than any positive account I could give.

On my previous comment: I care about the lives and happiness of people who don't have long-term goals, I just don't think we need to encouraged them to live forever if they don't want to.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-01-26T17:35:15.223Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Okay, so you assign great value to certain complex systems that have fuzzy definitions and borders, are completely unlike any individual and are frequently damaging (if without hostile intent as we understand it) to said individual. Me, I don't care about such a system on its own (whether you call it "State" or "Nation" - note that "Nation" can also be defined as a system of an entirely different type) any more than I would care about an UFAI. In general, I don't assign inherent value to any pattern I have literally no possibility of sympathizing with.

Also:

Here's what I believe: I believe that the Western political tradition is almost entirely wrongheaded, primarily because it's based on wrongheaded philosophical ideas that misrepresent the nature of society and of the individual in addition to being morally inept, and I think alternatives are worth studying.

So you suggest that there's no relationship between this fairly unique political tradition and the Western culture's* fairly unique success (and, to be fair, unique disasters which were often "outsourced" to places like China and Russia) in the last 400 years?

*Using the broadest possible definitions of "Western" and "culture", of course.

comment by Matt_Simpson · 2012-01-26T03:26:37.234Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Moreover, so-called "authoritarianism" has a proven track record for development.

Be careful with that around political scientists. I get the impression that some of them define democracy as everything that is good in the world. If you find something else good, they'll just redefine democracy to include it.

comment by TimS · 2012-01-26T14:11:26.127Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Either my model is wrong, or this story is false.

I've heard of lots of academic research into what is driving economic growth in places like China. They don't tend to just label whatever they've found as "democracy."

comment by Matt_Simpson · 2012-01-26T18:21:15.871Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

This is why I said some. I'm aware that not all or even most political scientists do this. However, my impression is that there are some, and I've had my impressions confirmed talking with people more knowledgeable of the field than I.

(Also, looking into the factors driving growth in China is somewhere in the fuzzy gray area between economics and political science. Even if I were saying that most political scientists committed this error, I could easily attribute your counterexample to the influence to economics. But that's not what I'm saying. But it still seems plausible that economists had an influence there.)

comment by J_Taylor · 2012-01-25T22:42:54.676Z · score: 28 (30 votes) · LW · GW

I really hope no outside observers see this thread.

comment by oliverbeatson · 2012-01-30T00:04:01.705Z · score: 30 (30 votes) · LW · GW

It strikes me that searching the internet for this phrase, and meaningfully equivalent variants, would be a really interesting experience.

comment by Polymeron · 2012-02-05T18:21:41.131Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I came to this thread by way of someone discussing a specific comment in an outside forum.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-02-05T21:28:31.269Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Just out of curiosity, which outside forum?

comment by Polymeron · 2012-02-05T22:27:59.735Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

One that's already related to LW - commonsenseatheism.com; however that reinforces the thought that any LW regular who also frequents other places could discuss or link to it there.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-02-06T01:22:57.281Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Interesting, apparently as of a week ago it's shutting down.

comment by shokwave · 2012-01-27T13:35:54.438Z · score: 23 (31 votes) · LW · GW

I must know what those secrets are, no matter how much sleep and comfort I might lose.

The LW version:

Friendliness of AGI is impossible; this is because Coherent Extrapolated Volition is impossible; our volitions are in part determined by opposing others' so any extrapolation will produce a contradiction (a la once disease is gone, food is plentiful, hangovers don't exist, and you can have sex with anyone you like, the only thing that Palestinians and Israelis care about is denying the others' desires). Any optimisation process applied to human desires will necessarily make things subjectively and objectively worse. We are, in effect, falling down stairs at the speed of our optimising, and more optimisation of any kind will only make us fall faster and deadlier. There was no guarantee that the blind process of evolution would produce agents that form a consistent or positive-sum system, and indeed, it did not produce such agents. The future is unchangeably bleak and necessarily bad.

The Western memeplex version:

Humans are not essentially good-natured beings. The so-called moral progress of the recent era is no such thing - severe oppression of the minority has been swapped for a larger amount of minor oppression of the majority, abject slavery of some has been swapped for an equivalent amount of wage slavery for many, rape and physical coercion of sex has been reduced with a much larger increase in use of non-physical coercion with alcohol or money, and so on. We might alter the concentrations of suffering, spreading it out over many, but we can only increase the total levels of suffering because a large part of how we actually feel content or happy is based on relatives - that is, the pursuit of happiness ruins the world.

The seeds of our own hellish existences are planted within us from birth, they are irrevocable, and the only thing we can do about it is miserably fail to realise their deadly potential. Any kind of hopeful attitude, any kind of optimisation, any attempt to improve the world, is a guaranteed net negative because that is just how humans are.

comment by Dr_Manhattan · 2012-01-28T23:13:45.677Z · score: 12 (14 votes) · LW · GW

Self-reported happiness data seems to not agree with this, unless Swedes are keeping some tortured children in the basement.

comment by shokwave · 2012-01-29T04:22:23.179Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

If you took areas of low happiness and made them happy, Swedish self-reporting of happiness would go down, is the gist of this idea.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-01-31T20:34:04.788Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The capital of Sweden is Omelas? Hmm...

comment by fubarobfusco · 2012-01-27T17:16:42.233Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

This all seems overtly contradicted by the decline of violence (including homicide, rape, torture, war deaths as a fraction of the population) and the increase in healthy lifespan over historical time.

comment by shokwave · 2012-01-28T00:52:38.446Z · score: 4 (10 votes) · LW · GW

the decline of violence

Surely some other bad thing has increased in proportion; I could make an attempt but I don't really feel like defending the idea.

the increase in healthy lifespan

You mean an an increase in the amount of time we spend living a net negative existence, necessitating the suffering of others? That sounds like a bad thing to me, not a good thing.

comment by Baughn · 2012-02-03T10:45:42.016Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Why "surely"?

comment by FeepingCreature · 2012-01-28T17:15:00.061Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

But if this is innate, how do you recognize it as "bad"?

What is it in you that makes you feel sad at this? And can't we just plug that thing into the utility function?

comment by shokwave · 2012-01-29T04:24:56.948Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

But if this is innate, how do you recognize it as "bad"?

By deliberately holding those innate parts separate from the recognising modules.

What is it in you that makes you feel sad at this?

Nothing, actually, I don't think it's true. But it's definitely a possibility, and one that our culture would simply not be able to discuss or entertain.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-01-27T15:21:34.975Z · score: -2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Both imply that I should have no rightful reason to give a fuck about this.

comment by RomeoStevens · 2012-01-28T12:12:52.579Z · score: 21 (23 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think these are quite in the original spirit of the thread but seem related to several of the discussions that developed. I would like to have discussions about all of these points merely in the hope that I can be convinced to update away from them.

Things I REALLY hope aren't true and suspect might be. Honestly don't read this if you're already depressed right now.

  • Human beings WANT maximally brutal leaders up to the limit of being able to plausibly signal that they don't want maximally brutal leaders.

  • People can be tortured to create a lower set point on the hedonic treadmill. This allows for far more overall utility.

  • Male/female sexual relationships are fundamentally adversarial due to the differences in dominant mating strategies.

  • There is a large class of violent people for whom no current treatment is available who simply need to be put down.

  • Humans don't care about torture.

  • We could create a virtual utopia fairly trivially by investing in lucid dream research but nobody actually cares because:

  • Anyone with the ability to make the world better almost by definition has a vested stake in the current fucked up one.

P.S. throium reactors. God damn it humans.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-28T13:59:12.667Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

There is a large class of violent people for whom no current treatment is available who simply need to be put down.

How large? Executing / permanently imprisoning serial killers e.g. is fairly mainstream, though certainly controversial.

Humans don't care about torture.

What makes you suspect something like that? Pretty much any tribe gets pissed off when starts torturing members of . Maybe you mean torture as established part of the justice system, as was common throughout much of history? Even then I'd suspect there are plenty of people who have no problem as long as it only affects or .

comment by RomeoStevens · 2012-01-28T14:54:31.826Z · score: 4 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I'm talking about putting certain people diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder down before they do anything.

Our medical/legal establishment routinely tortures people so that everyone else can feel slightly better about certain aspects of mortality.

comment by ImNotAsSmartAsIThinK · 2015-08-14T13:41:45.472Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It's probably stupid to reply to comment from more than three years ago, but Antisocial personality disorder does not imply violence. There are examples of psychopaths who were raised in good homes that grew up to become successful assholes.

comment by Bugmaster · 2012-01-30T00:18:54.283Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Male/female sexual relationships are fundamentally adversarial due to the differences in dominant mating strategies.

AFAIK there's a sizable portion of feminists who believe this statement (or at least the first half of it) is true, and thus the statement is not as terribly controversial as your other ones.

comment by RomeoStevens · 2012-01-30T02:21:37.534Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

when i say fundamental I include CEV.

comment by Nornagest · 2013-01-28T04:01:20.730Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

People can be tortured to create a lower set point on the hedonic treadmill. This allows for far more overall utility.

I wonder if this reasoning might be related to the longevity of the boarding school institution as implemented by early 20th century Britain, or of other similarly unpleasant forms of institutionalized child... I'm not sure I want to call it "abuse", but at least systematic deprivation.

Or of hazing or initiation ordeals in general, really.

comment by RomeoStevens · 2013-01-28T18:46:56.972Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I've always thought of those sorts of institutions to largely be the result of path dependence.

comment by gwern · 2013-01-28T04:27:36.968Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I read once that when looking at the childhoods of people who are high up in industry or otherwise notable, there's a larger than expected fraction of childhoods scarred by abuse or neglect; which says interesting things to me about means and variances and societally optimal amounts of abuse. But I've never been able to refind the essay...

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-01-29T20:53:10.125Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

People can be tortured to create a lower set point on the hedonic treadmill. This allows for far more overall utility.

Who said that this isn't being done to us right now, from the inside as well as the outside of our mind? (Consequently, I'm not scared but neither do I approve of this.)

comment by ikrase · 2013-01-28T03:17:19.178Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Anyone with the ability to make the world better almost by definition has a vested stake in the current fucked up one. Very much believe this. Cure is a sense that more is possible.

comment by CuSithBell · 2012-05-28T05:35:55.445Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

People can be tortured to create a lower set point on the hedonic treadmill. This allows for far more overall utility.

Why would this be bad? I mean, it's a pretty big IF, but if tortureworld is actually better, then just imagine a perfect world without torture, and that's a lower bound on how great tortureworld is.

Male/female sexual relationships are fundamentally adversarial due to the differences in dominant mating strategies.

I don't buy it! & not only based on personal experience - there's just too much variation in humanity, and we're getting pretty good at breaking out of supposed evolutionary imperatives.

Anyone with the ability to make the world better almost by definition has a vested stake in the current fucked up one.

I think I'd prefer to live now than in pretty much any prior era.

comment by RomeoStevens · 2012-05-29T19:32:19.947Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Why would this be bad? I mean, it's a pretty big IF, but if tortureworld is actually better, then just imagine a perfect world without torture, and that's a lower bound on how great tortureworld is.

True, but I don't necessarily want to be inserted into it by mandate

I don't buy it! & not only based on personal experience - there's just too much variation in humanity, and we're getting pretty good at breaking out of supposed evolutionary imperatives.

I hope you are right.

I think I'd prefer to live now than in pretty much any prior era.

this strikes me as the difference between pessimists and optimists. You look at the world compared to what has been, I look at it compared to what I think it optimally should be. Depression and creativity ARE linked after all ;)

comment by CuSithBell · 2012-05-29T19:56:33.308Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

True, but I don't necessarily want to be inserted into it by mandate

Counterfactually, yes you do! I think the fact that it's such an unpleasant conclusion is evidence that the initial assumption - tortureworld being highter utility - is flawed.

I hope you are right.

I mean, how could it be that human sexuality is bound to a specific kind of adversarial relationship in heterosexuals, but otherwise encompasses homosexuals, asexuals, dragon/car sex fetishists, master/slave dynamics, power bottoms...

this strikes me as the difference between pessimists and optimists. You look at the world compared to what has been, I look at it compared to what I think it optimally should be. Depression and creativity ARE linked after all ;)

I think perhaps you have mistaken me! What I mean is - now is better than the past, therefore "Anyone with the ability to make the world better almost by definition has a vested stake in the current fucked up one" either isn't historically true, or things are getting better anyway.

Anyway I like to spend my time being happy and creative, so I reject your latest conclusion as well >;D

comment by RomeoStevens · 2012-05-29T21:06:31.243Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Counterfactually, yes you do!

In exploring people's preferences I have discovered that I am weird. I don't think positive utility cancels out negative utility.

I mean, how could it be that human sexuality is bound to a specific kind of adversarial relationship

I've recently been made aware of the fact that it is more likely that it is a specific kind of middle class farmer culture (in the hansonian sense) sexual norm that I am objecting to, not a universal one.

so I reject your latest conclusion as well

it isn't my conclusion, though I'm too lazy to dig up the citations right now.

As for things getting better despite everyone fighting against it, yes, that is basically what I believe. Tech innovation has been and continues to be sharply limited by crappy social conditions.

comment by wedrifid · 2012-05-30T00:17:53.853Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

In exploring people's preferences I have discovered that I am weird. I don't think positive utility cancels out negative utility.

It would seem that you are using a different definition of the word "utility" than the one which is used in technical game theoretical analysis.

comment by RomeoStevens · 2012-05-30T05:51:58.842Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

yes this is true.

comment by CuSithBell · 2012-05-29T22:08:40.691Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Well, suffice to say I agree that utility models are pretty terrible for modeling people.

The depression / creativity thing I have heard before, and is possibly quite true, though luckily it's not a hard-and-fast rule.

comment by DanielLC · 2012-05-28T03:03:57.110Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

People can be tortured to create a lower set point on the hedonic treadmill. This allows for far more overall utility.

I think this is a pretty common belief among religious people. You can explain evil people by free will being important, but there's a lot of bad stuff that's nobody's fault.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-31T11:08:10.975Z · score: 17 (17 votes) · LW · GW

Life is a hideous thing, and from the background behind what we know of it peer daemoniacal hints of truth which make it sometimes a thousandfold more hideous. Science, already oppressive with its shocking revelations, will perhaps be the ultimate exterminator of our human species — if separate species we be — for its reserve of unguessed horrors could never be borne by mortal brains if loosed upon the world.

-- H.P. Lovecraft

comment by bio_logical · 2013-10-28T07:32:36.350Z · score: -5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Hilarious. I just watched Lovecraft's "From Beyond" again. It's free on hulu. ...A great reason to discuss orgies of sadists with pineal glands rupturing from their foreheads. Ach! I've already annoyed the floating blue radioactive nudist who wants us to clean up our image. Sorry doc!

I also noticed that someone here uses the avatar "Dagon" ...another Lovecraftian free movie on hulu. What's wrong with you people?! First, you downrank me into oblivion, and now I find a Lovecraftian obsession bubbling under the surface! LOL

What's next? I know. A Dr. Manhattan and Cthulhu spoof from South Park: http://www.southparkstudios.com/clips/360445/i-am-mysterion

comment by wallowinmaya · 2012-01-25T19:49:51.449Z · score: 17 (23 votes) · LW · GW

Here are some policy recommendations which would not be very PC:

(Disclaimer: I endorse only a few of these views. See this comment )

  1. Only folks with above IQ 100 should be allowed to vote.
  2. People with high IQ should get money for having more children, dumb people for having less (I'm from Germany and here everybody gets money for having children. Don't know if that's true in the US.)
  3. Africans have (on average) low IQ scores and low conscientiousness. Therefore international aid is hopeless and we should stop it.
  4. Slavery, organ donations and sexual services for all ages should be legal if both parties give informed consent.
  5. The male variance in IQ is greater than that for females which explains why most nobel prize winners, CEOs etc. are men. Therefore we should stop pointless countermeasures. (Men are also more ambitious, aggressive and psychopathic which seems also relevant)
  6. Same for affirmative action.
  7. We should exterminate ourselves because antinatalism is true.

Some of these examples seem rather mindkilling, but nonetheless interesting :-)

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-01-27T22:56:56.952Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Africans have (on average) low IQ scores and low conscientiousness. Therefore international aid is hopeless and we should stop it.

The low average IQ and the net harm done by the current model of international aid are more or less statements of fact. The rest of this line literally carries no message. What would be your preferred state for Africa?* What measures would you endorse to move towards that state?

- ("I truly don't care much because I don't consider Africans to be deserving of sympathy" is a legitimate answer, just a... boring one, and a one that can, in turn, mark your* utility function as worth much less consideration in the eyes of some people here - not necessarily being just me.)

comment by wallowinmaya · 2012-01-27T23:56:42.729Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

My preferred state for Africa would be that all its inhabitants are happy, rich, etc. and live in utopia, of course. What do you think of me? I don't have a clue how to achieve utopia in Africa or anywhere else and I don't have any strong political opinions in general.

Edit: I just reread your post and it seems that I misunderstood your intentions when I read it the first time. I thought you wanted us to guess which beliefs Vladimir_M or folks with similar views might hold. (I therefore tried to think of views that are disturbing and at least somewhat reasonable) It follows that I don't endorse all of the above mentioned views which I thought I said also in the original comment.

But, I'll be honest: 4 and 7 are probably bad ideas. 1 and 2 could have bad unintended consequences. The first sentence in 3 is true, but I don't think we should stop all international aid despite its low effectiveness. (e.g. the "1 laptop per child"-idea is pretty awesome). 5 is also true, we should encourage more women to become scientists, CEOs, etc. nonetheless. IMHO most women are not aggressive and ambitious enough and these traits are obviously culturally malleable, although with a strong genetical component.

Oh, I just realized that lots of people read my comment and now think that I endorse slavery, sex with children and the extermination of the human race. Hmmm.... kinda sucks.

comment by Prismattic · 2012-01-28T00:43:33.509Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

If the main problem with international aid is low IQ and conscientiousness (NB -- not conceding this), then that is just evidence that foreign aid should focus first on things that affect this. IQ appears to negatively correlate with rates of parasitic infection, and also with exposure to mercury. Lead exposure increases impulsiveness, so I expect it correlates with low conscientiousness. So, wiping out parasitic diseases and metals abatement, among other things, should probably be high-priority forms of aid.

comment by RomeoStevens · 2012-01-28T11:48:59.783Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

prenatal nutrition is huge too but AFAIK has been actively fought against precisely because it implies that the problem is low-IQ which is a no-no.

comment by Emile · 2012-01-28T12:34:43.992Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I haven't heard that before, any reference?

comment by RomeoStevens · 2012-01-28T14:51:27.717Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Unable to find one, it could well be untrue.

Edit: this information was communicated to me by a person working in a prenatal nutrition charity, which caused me to assume it was legit. Their own model of "fought against" might have been biased.

comment by Viliam_Bur · 2012-01-28T12:36:23.555Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If the main problem with international aid is low IQ and conscientiousness (NB -- not conceding this), then that is just evidence that foreign aid should focus first on things that affect this. IQ appears to negatively correlate with rates of parasitic infection, and also with exposure to mercury.

Lobbying for thermometer export ban = most efficient charity ever?

comment by wallowinmaya · 2012-01-28T12:05:53.824Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I agree. It would be great if international aid organizations adopted the methods of Givewell or GWWC. (BTW, I think one of the greater problems with international aid is that it distorts incentives and increases corruption.)

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-01-28T00:06:29.811Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Now we should both relax. In retrospect it's painfully obvious that I should've chosen the charitable interpretation* on the basis of your comment's general impersonal nature and your history here. However, I was already polemizing for polemics' sake elsewhere, so the monkey brain decided to shift fire onto a target of oppotunity too.

- I wholeheartedly agree that this is indeed bullshit* rationalists say, yeah.

I don't think we should stop all international aid despite its low effectiveness. (e.g. the "1 laptop per child"-idea is pretty awesome)

Of course I agree in practice, but in a completely bullshit binary situation where it's either all the current aid, both laptops and the substandard food etc, vs no aid at all, I'd say that no aid at all probably does less harm.

comment by wallowinmaya · 2012-01-28T00:23:28.762Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

No problem, I'm the one to blame since I misread your post. In retrospect I probably shouldn't have read the post on melatonin :-)

in a completely bullshit binary situation where it's either all the current aid, both laptops and the substandard food etc, vs no aid at all, I'd say that no aid at all probably does less harm.

Agree

comment by Raemon · 2012-01-27T23:12:45.054Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The low average IQ and the net harm done by the current model of international aid are more or less statements of fact.

Citation that accounts for economic and other environmental factors? (Talking about the IQ and/or conscientiousness thing). Not looking to debate, but unsure how much of this thread is genuine belief and how much is weird contrarian signalling, and wanting to know the gist of whatever actual arguments are being made.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-01-27T23:35:54.458Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

conscientiousness

Not touching THAT with a ten foot pole. Nuh-uh. I might be naive as hell, but not insane enough to go anywhere near it with fellow humans. As for the IQ thing, well, I'll dig something up; I just assumed that, at least, it's all over the "HBD-sphere" from what I've seen of their blogs, but I'm not willing to read it again soon, so I'd rather search in more respectable places. Or go ask Wallowinmaya.

comment by Prismattic · 2012-01-26T01:08:17.015Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Slavery, organ donations and sexual services for all ages should be legal if both parties give informed consent.

How would a 3-year-old give informed consent to be sold into slavery?

Even assuming the "for all ages" only applies to latter item, what would "informed consent' mean for a 3 year old?

comment by wallowinmaya · 2012-01-26T16:52:00.030Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

You're right, my formulation was kinda self-contradictory. Let's change it to "at least 14 years" or "IQ above 100" or something like that. (Remember that I'm not necessarily endorsing any of these views )

comment by Baughn · 2012-02-03T17:37:23.131Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Or keep it as it is, note that three-year-olds are unable to give informed consent, and leave the definition flexible if that changes in the future.

Not that I can see how it would, but we have enough over-specified laws already.

comment by TimS · 2012-02-03T18:03:26.032Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

we have enough over-specified laws already.

?

comment by Baughn · 2012-02-03T23:55:31.246Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If we had a law that stated that sex is okay if there's informed consent, and we believe that three-year-olds cannot give such consent, then we do not need an additional law stating that three-year-olds are not allowed. It would be entirely superfluous.

Furthermore, the situation might later change in such a way that the "clarifying" law becomes obsolete. Perhaps not in this case, but the general pattern happens quite frequently.

comment by TimS · 2012-02-04T01:45:03.280Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Well, the United States doesn't required informed consent for sex, only consent, which is why statutory rape is defined by age.

As a lawyer, I think your general point about over-specification of law is quite strange. I'd rather have a precise law than a vague one. Interpreting laws creates the same sorts of problems as the hidden complexity of wishes.

comment by Prismattic · 2012-02-04T01:47:58.404Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Depends on the state. In Massachusetts, it is (on paper) legally problematic to have sex with someone who is drunk, because they cannot consent according to state law. I don't think is enforced, or enforceable, much, though.

comment by TimS · 2012-02-04T01:59:44.162Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, that's how it works in most states. I assure you that this is not the same thing as informed consent, at least as commonly understood by American lawyers.

Informed consent is what your surgeon requires before doing a medical procedure. It's probably better to think of it distinct elements: (1) informed of risks and (2) consent to procedure. That's not the prerequisite for legal sex.

comment by Dreaded_Anomaly · 2012-01-29T21:39:51.286Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

5. The male variance in IQ is greater than that for females which explains why most nobel prize winners, CEOs etc. are men. Therefore we should stop pointless countermeasures. (Men are also more ambitious, aggressive and psychopathic which seems also relevant)

Not necessarily:

The new study, by Mertz and Jonathan Kane, a professor of mathematical and computer sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, was published on Dec. 12, 2011 in Notices of the American Mathematical Society. The study looked at data from 86 countries, which the authors used to test the "greater male variability hypothesis" famously expounded in 2005 by Lawrence Summers, then president of Harvard, as the primary reason for the scarcity of outstanding women mathematicians.

That hypothesis holds that males diverge more from the mean at both ends of the spectrum and, hence, are more represented in the highest-performing sector. But, using the international data, the Wisconsin authors observed that greater male variation in math achievement is not present in some countries, and is mostly due to boys with low scores in some other countries, indicating that it relates much more to culture than to biology.

comment by wallowinmaya · 2012-01-30T21:32:07.839Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW · GW

I just read the actual study.

These guys list on page 14 the variance ratios (i.e. male variance divided by female variance) of 31 countries on 5 different tests (1 PISA, 4 TIMSS). 28 test-results are missing so there are in total 127 measurements.

I don't have SPSS but the following should be illuminating enough:

In 7 tests the female variance is higher than the male variance. On 6 tests they are equal. But on 114 tests the male variance is higher than the female one.

In the Netherlands and in Marocco the average variance ratio is around 1. In Indonesia female variance seems to be greater than male variance. But in 28 other countries male variance is on average higher than female variance.

It's true however that the average score of men in some countries is lower than the female one, so maybe the greater male variation is due to the very low scores of some boys. It's important to note however that most participants were younger than 15, and girls tend to score higher on IQ-tests than boys when they are young, whereas this trend reverses as they are getting older. (Oh, and if you look at page 16 you'll see that they only list 16 countries out of 86. Is there some cherry picking going on? )

Maybe I'm missing something huge but these results seem not that promising. Not to mention other studies which showed greater male variance, publication bias and stuff :-)

comment by JoshuaZ · 2012-01-27T20:52:21.491Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Almost all of these are also topics which have been discussed as ideas on LW before. Some of them do seem to lead to close to flamewars (although the LW notion of a flamewar is more civil than most online discussions) but they pretty clearly don't fall into the claimed category of views that are so unacceptable that they can only be talked about indirectly.

comment by wallowinmaya · 2012-01-28T00:14:15.714Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Sorry, I misunderstood the purpose of the OP somewhat, but now I'm really curious. I've read a great deal of LW, but I can't remember discussions regarding 1, 2 and 4. I also can't remember serious discussions of antinatalism, except one post by Xixidu which was downvoted into oblivion.

comment by Nornagest · 2012-01-25T21:59:28.536Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm from Germany and here everybody gets money for having children. Don't know if that's true in the US.

Sort of. Children and other dependents give you tax breaks) in the US, but no direct financial aid unless you qualify for certain limited welfare programs. That's at the federal level; some states might expand on that, but I can't speak for all of them.

comment by MixedNuts · 2012-01-26T16:47:43.246Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Downvoted because all of these are frequently thought.

comment by WrongBot · 2012-01-25T18:20:22.735Z · score: 17 (25 votes) · LW · GW

American blacks consistently underperform whites on IQ tests, not because of cultural differences, but rather due to (statistically significant) genetic inferiority. This doesn't make them (much) less morally significant than whites, but it should have public policy implications.

For example.

comment by Morendil · 2012-01-25T18:36:34.293Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

We've already had one extended debate about this one. Reminds me of the Thought Police section of this recent post.

comment by Paul Crowley (ciphergoth) · 2012-01-25T21:04:47.380Z · score: 10 (14 votes) · LW · GW

That may have been inspired by this blog post:

In each case, you don't struggle to find great legions of table-thumping hacks loudly demanding to be allowed to speak about these issues without being crushed by the mighty machine of modern liberalism. They're all over the broadcast and print media, bleating about their fictional victimisation.

Let's be blunt here. If the PC Brigade are strangling discussion of these controversial issues, they're not very good at it, are they? I mean, at present, they can't even get a light entertainer sacked for saying he wants to see innocent citizens shot dead in front of their families. A terrifying New-Age Gestapo, this is not.

comment by MBlume · 2012-01-26T04:13:24.803Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I know this is irrelevant, but I skimmed the article looking for context and couldn't work out which light entertainer they were referring to -- do you happen to know?

comment by steven0461 · 2012-01-26T00:00:24.998Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Your and ciphergoth's links hardly inspire confidence that such thoughts would be met with calm and fair-minded criticism.

comment by ahartell · 2012-01-25T18:46:18.429Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Do you have a link? What was said?

comment by Morendil · 2012-01-25T19:12:50.423Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

See here for instance.

comment by ahartell · 2012-01-26T00:50:08.863Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-03-16T11:22:11.016Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

(much) less morally significant

Very alarming. I'd say that the only good Schelling point here is to treat all people who fit the current definition of "capable of human thought" and aren't wilfully destructive towards others as EXACTLY equal in "moral significance". Then again, I've always been a staunch egalitarian on this point.

comment by WrongBot · 2012-03-16T17:51:45.057Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

So far as human decision-making in a society run by humans goes, I completely agree.

comment by TobyBartels · 2012-03-31T06:02:02.253Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

This is what I always assume that such comments are referring to, so I voted you up (which seems reasonable for survey-like questions where no criterion of correctness is likely).

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-01-25T19:01:54.857Z · score: -4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

This doesn't make them (much) less morally significant than whites, but it should have public policy implications.

Too cliched for me. The null action could also be a "policy implication" under some worldviews in that case, as could affirmative action 2.0 on a massive scale or something else very much acceptable to mainstream ethics.

comment by WrongBot · 2012-01-25T19:11:43.776Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Right. These are suppressed LW opinions, so we shouldn't be expecting an endorsement of genocide. Those public policy implications might very well be a new affirmative action plan, or something much stranger and less expected.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-01-25T20:13:06.621Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Too cliched for me. The null action could also be a "policy implication" under some worldviews in that case, as could affirmative action 2.0 on a massive scale or something else very much acceptable to mainstream ethics.

Really? Assuming you are a conventionalist name a utility function that will generate these policy implications under the assumption that

American blacks consistently underperform whites on IQ tests, not because of cultural differences, but rather due to (statistically significant) genetic inferiority.

and I will tell you why the policy implications of your utility function aren't what you thing they are.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-01-26T04:58:39.314Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

and I will tell you why the policy implications of your utility function aren't what you thing they are.

I don't "think" anything through because I flinch from the thought, because I see no way to avoid taking on the "Cold-hearted racist white asshole" manufactured identity when thinking it through seriously!

Could you please send me a private message with some examples of what you have in mind, assuming some utility function you could find agreeable? I promise I'll take them lightly.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-01-26T05:05:56.136Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I don't "think" anything through because I flinch from the thought, because I see no way to avoid taking on the "Cold-hearted racist white asshole" manufactured identity when thinking it through seriously!

Ok, let's dump race, it's a red herring here anyway. Would you favor "affirmative action 2.0 on a massive scale" for people with low IQs?

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-01-26T08:52:02.002Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Would you favor "affirmative action 2.0 on a massive scale" for people with low IQs?

I don't know! This is a painful, confusing and ethically hazardous topic that I'm currently trying to learn how to handle. Again, could you please message me with a list of your tenative policy suggestions for such a situation?

comment by WrongBot · 2012-01-26T09:54:26.315Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Are you still glad that you sought beyond the outer gates? It is possible that the shadowy elite refrain from discussing these topics because most people are not sane or prepared enough to handle them. Not that I claim membership; I'm not quite ready for it yet.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-01-26T19:18:02.107Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Also:

I mustn't run away. I mustn't run away. I mustn't run away. I mustn't run away. I mustn't run away. I mustn't run away. I mustn't run away. I mustn't run away. I mustn't run away!

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-01-26T09:58:43.230Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I have little that binds me to the comfort of ignorance. Don't have any explicit grand goals or long term plans; my relations with the people in my life are emotionally impaired (although better than they could've been, given the ways in which my wiring and psychology appears deviant); peace of mind appears overrated to me anyway.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-01-28T03:59:17.467Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I more-or-less agree with Eric Raymod's suggestions in this blog post.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-03-20T10:02:08.684Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Color-blind policies and other "objective" policies in hiring, etc can easily be taken to an absurd conclusion when you end up rewarding and punishing people, by means of status at the very least, for their genes.

Imagine that racial group X, which makes up 20% of a given nation, has been proven at great length to be strongly genetically predisposed towards inferiority at all but 5% of jobs in that society. What do you do when the remaining 15% are forced to compete in an environment where most of them are more or less handicapped from birth? Do you leave them to beg and scrounge? Put them on welfare? Create low-status make-work?

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-03-21T03:33:46.917Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Imagine that racial group X,

The racial part here is irrelevant and is only serving to mind-kill you.

which makes up 20% of a given nation, has been proven at great length to be strongly genetically predisposed towards inferiority at all but 5% of jobs in that society.

I'm not sure what you mean by this. The distribution of jobs in society isn't written down on tablets. If they have some comparative advantage then the market can find niches for them. Or are you saying that the 15% have zero marginal product? In that case, it's going to be a problem no matter how you organize society and pretending the problem doesn't exist won't make it go away.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-03-21T10:09:35.435Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Or are you saying that the 15% have zero marginal product

They would have had a pretty good marginal product if not for the top 25% of their minority, but they're only genetically predisposed towards one thing, and others like them (the top 25% who get hired) are superior to them at it. Nonetheless, the bottom 75% could still compete with people outside the group, if there was enough demand on the market for the only job they do so well. Yes, it's going to be a problem in any society - but it already is in some regards; there's no perfect solution, but what would you do about it in practice?

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-03-21T23:27:46.239Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

but they're only genetically predisposed towards one thing,

You seem to be confusing being "predisposed" to do something, with being unable to do anything else. Perhaps, I should have mentioned in my previous post how extremely implausible the zero marginal product scenerio, i.e., that they are literately incapable of doing anything else is.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-03-22T10:24:58.137Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Sigh. Of course they're perfectly able to do other things! It's just that all the other people on the market are better at those other things.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-03-23T03:43:18.479Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Read the Wikipedia article on comparative advantage I linked to above. From the first example:

Two men live alone on an isolated island. To survive they must undertake a few basic economic activities like water carrying, fishing, cooking and shelter construction and maintenance. The first man is young, strong, and educated. He is also faster, better, and more productive at everything. He has an absolute advantage in all activities. The second man is old, weak, and uneducated. He has an absolute disadvantage in all economic activities. In some activities the difference between the two is great; in others it is small.

Despite the fact that the younger man has absolute advantage in all activities, it is not in the interest of either of them to work in isolation since they both can benefit from specialization and exchange. If the two men divide the work according to comparative advantage then the young man will specialize in tasks at which he is most productive, while the older man will concentrate on tasks where his productivity is only a little less than that of the young man. Such an arrangement will increase total production for a given amount of labor supplied by both men and it will benefit both of them.

I realize I should probably have just quoted the above rather than dancing around the topic for two comments. My apologies.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-03-23T04:57:29.030Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

That makes sense... I've got to try and figure out while things aren't so rosy in a real market, then.

comment by Blueberry · 2012-03-25T06:47:54.381Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Sterilize them all? Wire their brains to make them get extreme pleasure from servitude, then enslave them all?

comment by CaveJohnson · 2012-01-25T19:38:29.750Z · score: 16 (22 votes) · LW · GW

"How dare you not engage in what you consider counter-productive debate!"

comment by TimS · 2012-01-25T20:20:43.752Z · score: 14 (24 votes) · LW · GW

"How dare you question the coherence of thoughts that I refuse to express!"

comment by steven0461 · 2012-01-25T22:40:19.908Z · score: 5 (9 votes) · LW · GW

What is this even supposed to be a paraphrase of?

comment by TimS · 2012-01-26T13:42:08.720Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

It's a hostile rephrasing of CaveJohnson's point, to try and clarify the social function of his assertion.

comment by rwallace · 2012-01-26T00:08:47.392Z · score: 15 (37 votes) · LW · GW

Not only is intellectual property law in its current form destructive, but the entire concept of intellectual property is fundamentally wrong. Creating an X does not give the creator the right to point a gun at everyone else in the universe who tries to arrange matter under their control into something similar to X. In programming terminology, property law should use reference semantics, not value semantics. Of course it is true that society needs to reward people who do intellectual work, just as much as people who do physical work, but there are better justified and less harmful ways to accomplish this than intellectual property law.

comment by MixedNuts · 2012-01-26T14:18:47.763Z · score: 27 (27 votes) · LW · GW

The post asked for opinions so repulsive people have a hard time generating them in the first place. This is a relatively common opinion.

comment by rwallace · 2012-01-26T20:10:56.469Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I took the post to be asking for opinions sufficiently far outside the mainstream to be rarely discussed even here, and I haven't seen a significant amount discussion of this one. Then again, that could be because I wasn't particularly looking; I used to be of the opinion "intellectual property law has gone too far and needs to be cut back, but of course we can't do away with it entirely," and only recently looked more closely at the but of course part and realized it didn't hold water. If this opinion is more common than I had given it credit for, great!

comment by MixedNuts · 2012-01-26T20:22:14.226Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I haven't seen a discussion of the concept of intellectual property that did not include a remark to the effect of "Wait, whence the analogy between property of unique objects and control of easily copied information?".

comment by rwallace · 2012-01-26T20:28:53.134Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

True. The usual reply to that is "we need to reward the creators of information the same way we reward the creators of physical objects," and that was the position I had accepted until recently realizing, certainly we need to reward the creators of information, but not the same way - by the same kind of mechanism - that we reward the creators of physical objects. (Probably not by coincidence, I grew up during the time of shrink-wrapped software, and only re-examined my position on this matter after that time had passed.)

comment by Mercy · 2012-01-31T17:57:53.545Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Property laws aren't based on their owners having created them though. Ted Turner is not in the land reclamation business, and if I go down a disused quarry owned by another and build myself a table, I don't gain ownership of the marble. All defenses of actually existing property rights are answers to the question "how do we encourage people to manage resources sensibly".

comment by DanielLC · 2012-01-26T02:24:17.590Z · score: 20 (22 votes) · LW · GW

Creating an X does not give the creator the right ...

Of course it doesn't. The question is if the world becomes a better place if they do it anyway.

comment by rwallace · 2012-01-26T20:07:39.345Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Sure. My answer is no, it does not.

comment by cousin_it · 2012-01-26T12:25:53.119Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

A funny unrelated question that just occurred to me: how can one define property rights in a mathematical multiverse which isn't ultimately based on "matter"?

comment by rwallace · 2012-01-26T20:14:44.139Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

We can't. We can only sensibly define them in the physical universe which is based on matter, with its limitations of "only in one place at a time" and "wears out with use" that make exclusive ownership necessary in the first place. If we ever find a way to transcend the limits of matter, we can happily discard the notion of property altogether.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2012-01-27T20:49:25.943Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

This seems to be a pretty mainstream position. Not one I agree with, but not that controversial.

comment by NihilCredo · 2012-01-26T14:55:36.540Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

there are better justified and less harmful ways to accomplish this than intellectual property law.

Such as?

comment by rwallace · 2012-01-26T20:23:40.058Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

To take my own field as an example, as one author remarked, "software is a service industry under the persistent delusion that it is a manufacturing industry." In truth, most software has always been paid for by people who had reason other than projected sale of licenses to want it to exist, but this was obscured for a couple of decades by shrinkwrap software, shipped on floppy disks or CDs, being the only part of the industry visible to the typical nonspecialist. But the age of shrinkwrap software is passing - outside entertainment, how often does the typical customer buy a program these days? - yet the industry is doing fine. We just don't need copyright law the way we thought we did.

comment by fubarobfusco · 2012-01-27T04:42:10.988Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Well, a lot of "service" software that you interact with is running on someone else's computer. You could rip off the HTML and CSS of a search engine or a web store and not have anything particularly useful without the backend.

comment by vi21maobk9vp · 2012-01-28T17:02:56.462Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Software industry has been a service industry for much longer...

There are support contracts, there is customization, there is custom development.

Look at RedHat: it is a billion-dollar company selling boxed software which would take nearly no damage if copyright and trade secret laws were brought down. After all, it manages to compete with CentOS. Of course, larger near-monopolies would take a larger hit, but smaller players would gain and the amount of employed programmers would not change dramatically.

As for webservice software... Well, the pendulum is always in motion. A large data breach of suitable nature can swing it back.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-02-12T21:19:28.447Z · score: 14 (20 votes) · LW · GW

I never actually read anything by Kipling before reading a certain article by Orwell that a fellow LWer mentioned. I must admit I don't consume much poetry in English, yet I was bothered that I knew nothing of the man's work and did some reading after the reference.

I have stumbled upon this poem and thought it appropriate for some of the topics discussed.

The Gods of the Copybook Headings

As I pass through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market-Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall.
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn,
That water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision, and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market-Place;
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch.
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch.
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings.
So we worshiped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "Stick to the Devil you know."

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbor and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "The Wages of Sin is Death."

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selective Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "If you don't work you die."

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew,
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four —
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

                                  *      *      *      *      *      *

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man —
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began: —
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;
And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,

The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-02-13T18:47:00.667Z · score: 9 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Here is the same old mistake of heartfelt but naive conservatism; assuming that the "common sense" and "old good values" of one's day, if they seem to bring such security and are so good at shooting down other naive and dangerous ideas, will be good forever. Yet Kipling's world with all its wisdom ended up impaled on barbed wire, choking on mustard gas and torn to pieces by its own Maxim gun.

And who led it to that hell? Socialists? Unscrupulous wheelers and dealers? Naive young men who wanted to throw out musty old books and change everything for the better? Why, none of the public Kipling used to deride had much to do with it; the gunpowder was lit by those wise old men who carried sacred traditions and led empires. I'm sure that it never even occured to Kipling that, say, Marshal Haig was far more debased, murderous and evil than any of those he railed against.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-02-13T19:34:15.257Z · score: 12 (14 votes) · LW · GW

I was interpreting the poem sub specie aeternitatis rather than in the specific context it was made. To borrow from Robin Hanson, looking at history farmers embracing forager values tend to die out. The Gods of the Copybook Headings do seem to come back.

Now obviously modern technologically progressing industrial civilization seems a sui generis transition, and there are all sorts of good reasons why this time it will be different, but the outside view is Kipling's view in this case.

And don't think we can in principle rule out a farmer future. The often discussed Malthusian em scenario is a future where the Gods of the Market-Place finally abandon their folly and tightly embrace the teachings of the Gods of the Copybook Heading.

But this is a rather over-specific interpretation of the emotional and I would argue even rationalist core of the poem. Namely that being bored with "water will wet us" and "fire will burn" causes major problems since wishful thinking quickly works to disconnects us from viable strategies in reality.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-02-14T09:04:31.928Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

And don't think we can in principle rule out a farmer future. The often discussed Malthusian em scenario is a future where the Gods of the Market-Place finally abandon their folly and tightly embrace the teachings of the Gods of the Copybook Heading.

Wait, wait, wait. You are wired as a forager; the farmer culture is a fluke amidst a roaring background of change - just as Lovecraft pointed out. Don't you want to fight? Don't your deepest instincts say that a stagnant, limited order - even a great and proud one - is much less appealing than a chance to end evil or perish, such as trying to build a FAI? Even if we had a recipe to make a stable and conservative society with "farmer" values, would the intellectual elites of our world want such a future? That's like leaving the Babyeaters alone to save your own colony in 3WC. Yes, mercy can kill. But I will embrace it anyway.

There is always a dialectic between "farmer" and "forager" values, but it leads in one direction only. Our common dream will either reign or destroy us.

And what about being bored with "burying the brain once the body is dead", eh? Maybe some fundamentals do brook change, eh? Maybe we should work against them? What does your morality say - not calculation, but intuition?

comment by [deleted] · 2012-02-14T09:26:05.693Z · score: 10 (16 votes) · LW · GW

Wait, wait, wait.

To clarify when I said abandon their folly, I mean abandon their in the long term (possibly) doomed endeavour. I did not say I would approve of the total victory of farmer values.

I will however say that I have no interest at all in shifting my own values more towards farmer or forager values. So if the current of history is towards one direction I will probably work towards the other.

There is always a dialectic between "farmer" and "forager" values, but it leads in one direction only.

I have just pointed out that historically this isn't true. Else there would have never been something to call "farmer values" in the first place. I have also given you a scenario that suggest in the future it might not be so.

And in very specific kinds of ways we have, even in modern times, been becoming more and more farmer rather than more and more forager. When it comes to violence we are still pretty clearly moving towards the domesticated farming human rather the violent wild forager (Check out this paper and Pinker's book Better angels of our nature ). To cite another example, when it comes to our workplace we are hyper-farmer in our behaviour compared to say people from the 18th century.

Also it stands to reason that natural selection has significantly and perhaps rapidly shifted humans towards farmer values compared to humans before farming in the last 10 000 years.

Our common dream will either reign or destroy us.

Perhaps LessWrong posters basically do. But Humans do not have a common dream. Values differ.

What does your morality say - not calculation, but intuition?

My moral intuitions are frustrated by the mere addition paradox. They are fundamentally broken. Robin Hanson is I think right that a Malthusian em world would be glorious. It is not the best of worlds by a long shot, yet neither is it the worst of worlds, it is a possible outcome and it is a better outcome than most uFAIs.

What if we just shut up and calculate?

EY and RH claim to have done this, but differ in their result. To RH this is a possible future we should be pretty much ok with, while EY thinks he should invest superhuman effort to avoid it. I think we would all be better off if more people on LW thought long and hard about this.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-02-21T20:07:36.116Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for the answer. You're certainly wiser than me. Damn, I have so many posts in the pipeline right now; the one with the Warhammer 40k communist eutopia; the one about how "democracy" as in "the rule of the People" is, while being quite real and attainable, a primarily economical and partly cultural matter and has nothing to do with surface ideology and political window-dressing; the one about how I'll likely end up choosing partial wireheading as an answer to whatever tomorrow throws at me... unfortunately, there are real life concerns in the way, but I promise I'll deliver someday.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-02-14T09:35:43.681Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

And what about being bored with "burying the brain once the body is dead", eh? Maybe some fundamentals do brook change, eh?

Of course they do. But again:

But this is a rather over-specific interpretation of the emotional and I would argue even rationalist core of the poem. Namely that being bored with "water will wet us" and "fire will burn" causes major problems since wishful thinking quickly works to disconnects us from viable strategies in reality.

We are significantly and systematically biased in how we evaluate if the fundamentals have changed.

This is the point of the poem as I read it.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-02-13T19:51:55.835Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

This quote by Thomas Carlyle also carries a message that is basically the same as that of the poem:

"Great is Bankruptcy: the great bottomless gulf into which all Falsehoods, public and private, do sink, disappearing; whither, from the first origin of them, they were all doomed. For Nature is true and not a lie. No lie you can speak or act but it will come, after longer or shorter circulation, like a Bill drawn on Nature's Reality, and be presented there for payment, - with the answer, No effects.

Pity only that it often had so long a circulation: that the original forger were so seldom he who bore the final smart of it! Lies, and the burden of evil they bring, are passed on; shifted from back to back, and from rank to rank; and so land ultimately on the dumb lowest rank, who with spade and mattock, with sore heart and empty wallet, daily come in contact with reality, and can pass the cheat no further.

[...]

But with a Fortunatus' Purse in his pocket, through what length of time might not almost any Falsehood last! Your Society, your Household, practical or spiritual Arrangement, is untrue, unjust, offensive to the eye of God and man. Nevertheless its hearth is warm, its larder well replenished: the innumerable Swiss of Heaven, with a kind of Natural loyalty, gather round it; will prove, by pamphleteering, musketeering, that it is a truth; or if not an unmixed (unearthly, impossible) Truth, then better, a wholesomely attempered one, (as wind is to the shorn lamb), and works well.

Changed outlook, however, when purse and larder grow empty! Was your Arrangement so true, so accordant to Nature's ways, then how, in the name of wonder, has Nature, with her infinite bounty, come to leave it famishing there? To all men, to all women and all children, it is now indubitable that your Arrangement was false. Honour to Bankruptcy; ever righteous on the great scale, though in detail it is so cruel! Under all Falsehoods it works, unweariedly mining. No Falsehood, did it rise heaven-high and cover the world, but Bankruptcy, one day, will sweep it down, and make us free of it."

comment by asr · 2012-02-13T18:57:25.468Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Kipling's son died in the war. And he wrote a multi-volume history "The Irish Guards in The Great War". I think he had ample opportunity to reflect on Haig as a human being. My impression, from Kipling's postwar writing, is that he thought that the war was necessary to restrain the Germans.

And I wouldn't be quite so quick to talk about "Kipling's world...being torn to pieces." It's easy, in retrospect, to see the War as a sharp cataclysm. But it might not have looked quite so drastic at the time. The empire didn't start shedding territory for another twenty or thirty years -- and not until after another world war.

I think it's a mistake to cast Kipling as a stuffy Colonel Blimp. He was quite interested in technology and progress. He was aware that there were other societies, that disagreed with Victorian England about many things. He wasn't particularly a believer in the Church. He had enough detachment from his surroundings to make his perspective distinctive and interesting.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-02-13T19:11:27.361Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It was an enormous, game-changing shock to European mentality; the events of the 30s and 40s would've hardly been possible without it - in any form, Fascism or no Fascism. See e.g. The First World War by Martin Gilbert, a popular history I, personally speaking, liked a huge lot.

As for Britain, it partly wrecked and partly transformed a generation of young men, and dealt a massive psychological blow, from which stemmed the motive for Appearsement twenty years later, and the general slow acceptance that maybe the days of the globe painted red were over. It was time to hunker down, step off the stage, and with good reason; over the next few years, all of Europe began to realize that God would not stop anything man does, or anything that could be done to man.

That latter fact is exactly what Orwell writes about in the essay too, at the point where he quotes "Recessional" to illustrate how Kipling was behind the times in not learning the new age's awful lessons.

comment by CharlieSheen · 2012-02-13T19:22:34.299Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Naive young men who wanted to throw out musty old books and change everything for the better?

Actually, technically yes.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-02-14T09:09:14.635Z · score: -2 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Princip hardly desired any global change; he was a plain old nationalist belonging to a quite right-wing organization.

comment by CharlieSheen · 2012-02-14T09:41:02.096Z · score: 15 (17 votes) · LW · GW

Nationalism was not yet a conservative position at that point. At least not in the Austro-Hungarian Empire.You are in fact forgetting that nationalism in the third world was not a conservative position even just a few decades ago!

Toppling the old Empires in order to enable self-determination of nations, was a radical idea and indeed a push for global change.

Also note that I'm talking about conservatives here, not right wingers. I don't know why you seem to think otherwise but the right wing has had plenty of people one could describe as:

Naive young men who wanted to throw out musty old books and change everything for the better?

Fascists for a start.

comment by CaveJohnson · 2012-01-28T17:48:14.089Z · score: 14 (20 votes) · LW · GW

Let's do the impossible and think the unthinkable! I must know what those secrets are, no matter how much sleep and comfort I might lose.

Anarcho-capitalists are right.

Most upper class and wealthy jobs are actually rent seeking activities as argued in this video by fellow LessWrong user Aurini.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-28T18:26:42.339Z · score: 11 (17 votes) · LW · GW

I may not necessarily agree with that particular video but Aurini's channel is pure contrarian & rationalist goodness. Its very depressing he only has a few hundred views per video. These two videos seems somewhat relevant:

Edit: Added a few more sort of relevant videos.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2012-01-29T17:46:27.246Z · score: 14 (14 votes) · LW · GW

He's interesting, but awfully repetitious-- a trait which is worse for videos than writing.

Also, in his argument against regulation (built around a homeless man who had to save for months to be able to afford a business license), he doesn't address the most common argument for regulation which is that sometimes businesses are extremely dangerous to customers and employees.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-29T17:58:22.380Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

he doesn't address the most common argument for regulation which is that sometimes businesses are extremely dangerous to customers and employees.

I think the implicit argument is that the risk is worth it, because the costs of regulations are so high elsewhere.

Humans supposedly love regulation because we are generally irrationally risk averse and can signal good stuff about ourselves by proposing legislation that sounds good to our brains which interpret it as guidelines for a small stone age tribe of a few dozen people rather than setting guidelines and rules that will live a life of their own in institutions that govern millions of people.

comment by Aurini · 2012-03-15T03:28:17.392Z · score: 5 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for the attention! I thought my channel might be too political for this forum, so I never linked it.

In reply: I am for voluntary regulation. Rather than a centralized regulatory agency, I'd like to see free-market approaches, so that big agri-business (for instance) can't slip through dishonest loop-holes. Multiple standard systems, much like you have with motorcycle helmets.

In fact, that's a great place to start; there's a lot of debate on what sort of tests and technology make the safest motorcycle helmet, and the two different standards are moving in different directions. Now I - as a non-fabricator - don't really know enough to take a stance on either, but I'm confident that the competition between the two has improved both styles.

Vendors would display the label of whatever regulatory agency had certified them, and the agency would be less susceptible to manipulation or bribery, because they'd be selling their image.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-03-16T08:04:58.351Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Vendors would display the label of whatever regulatory agency had certified them, and the agency would be less susceptible to manipulation or bribery, because they'd be selling their image.

I might be a statist, but I agree with that. When it works as intended, competition between producers/vendors of anything is a great social good for individuals, as it raises them to a position of power (see Mises et al).
However, I wonder if such agencies can't be made semi-public, or if they couldn't work like an advanced and well-directed banking system; there's a central government agency, which licenses and watches over municipal and private ones; its direct regulatory services would be very conservative, to create a stable "fallback point" for customers.

comment by ikrase · 2013-01-28T03:15:14.266Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Could be interesting for things that are hard to quantify such as 'natural' foods or whatever.

comment by J_Taylor · 2012-01-29T00:22:11.465Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Does he, by any chance, write? I hate learning from videos.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-29T13:08:23.872Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Yes he does. I think most of it is available on his website.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-29T18:31:45.653Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Since we are on the subject of video blogs, I feel I should also put a link here for the measureofdoubt channel done by Julia Galef, who is just great at popularizing some basic rationalist material. I'm sure there has been a thread specifically about videoblogging and youtube channels with rationalist content so sorry if I'm duplicating stuff. Can someone please share a link to any additional recommendations?

These are pretty good introduction videos to perhaps share with non-rationalists, just so they know what the heck you are talking about. :)

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-01-28T20:50:31.897Z · score: 2 (14 votes) · LW · GW

He's certainly smarter than the videos' previews are making him look, and sounds like an okay, responsible dude to be around in person... but eh. I get the picture, I'm just not too interested.

Also, what a cute website he's got contributions on... have a laugh, if you don't mind getting drool on your metaphorical clothes. - Note: I'm not saying Aurini isn't facepalming about this kind of shit, or doesn't recognize that being unjustly surrounded by complete dumbfucks is part of a contrarian's plight.

(make sure to check out the quite splendid comments if you're at it)

EDIT: I got fucktons of downvotes the last time I posted links to ugly stuff, and I'm getting them this time, so you're all welcome to also downvote me in advance for when I'll decide to do this next, nya!

[if you didn't know, a "Nya" at the end of every sentence is supposed to make one sound extra unserious and annoying, and is widely used on both English and Russian interwebs]

comment by CharlieSheen · 2012-01-29T14:00:06.597Z · score: 10 (14 votes) · LW · GW

Help! Someone is making fun of nerds on the internet! And this guy you talked about occasionally writes on the same site!

In Mala Fide has all sorts of contrarian people. Some are silly, some are insightful. Sure many are mean but that's more or less the point of the site -- may as well complain that 4chan is mean.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-01-29T14:14:41.299Z · score: -3 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, sure, just... he ain't building much of a reputation in the groups that could benefit and update the most from his arguments, between that and the coat and the shaved head. My knee-jerk reaction 3 years ago would be: "Lol, a bonehead thinks he can say big words." Now I can look past that and the horns effect from flipped-view generators like In Mala Fide (flipping views is great, it's necessary, but you've got to filter the noise a little), and see that he's a pretty damn reasonable man, but I know people who'd just get pissed off and leave because they're pattern matching for associated crap like this.

And 4chan ain't mean to its ingroup; it has often been pretty fucking cuddly to me.

Oh? Go right ahead, I've got karma to spare.

comment by CaveJohnson · 2012-01-29T14:52:05.970Z · score: 6 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Oh? Go right ahead, I've got karma to spare.

This is the wrong way to take down votes.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-01-29T15:16:03.531Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm arguing about people's tone, politeness and image here, not something important to my life.

comment by CharlieSheen · 2012-01-29T14:22:42.672Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, sure, just... he ain't building much of a reputation in the groups that could benefit and update the most from his arguments, between that and the coat and the shaved head.

More or less the same complaint about optimizing your appearance can be levied at the wikipedia editors. In any case when I see someone has invested some effort into how they look, I try not to be too judgemental about the tribal attire of his particular subculture.

I'd argue that by mainstream standards many well respected LWers dress rather oddly. Not many of them manage to do so and look cool in a particular subculture though (which aurini definitely manages).

"Lol, a bonehead thinks he can say big words."

Well its good that you've gotten over this. Stereotypes do carry real information, but don't take them too seriously. For example Konkvistador's comment is up voted enough that it should swamp any effect from the clothing if you trust the average LessWronger.

And 4chan ain't mean to its ingroup; it has often been pretty fucking cuddly to me.

Oldfag.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-01-29T20:14:35.594Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Yo, Charlie, if ever you need to wedge open the mind of a decent but tribally Right-hating guy like the one I described here, link this classic article by Orwell at them. Well, to me, anything by Orwell is a classic, but this one's seriously kickass, paying real and sincere respect to one's opponent while still attacking most of his values and beliefs (but also pointing out the considerable hypocrisy and moral cowardice of most people who slammed him merely out of fashion). Who said that the Left can't do it... - well, sigh, we mostly can't - ...don't know it's possible?

Just, I'd exercise judgment in which of the thinkers you support to compare to Kipling in this way, you understand? Someone like Aurini, explicitly sharing basic priors, like reductionism and the value of human rights and an ordered society, is far less alien to our Hypothetical Left-Identifying Guy than Kipling was to Orwell's circles.

On the other hand, if said guy, like me, will first try to see if there's anything thoughtlessly hateful that fits his stereotype of the Right in the vicinity of whatever caught his eye - don't waste the analogy on defending a really sadistic/retarded/etc thing said by someone on "your" side (hint: my link fucking counts, nigga!). Point out all the things that the Guy already believes stupid or worse (like supporting the USSR or making the iconoclastic hero that was MLK the lifeless object of America's state cult) that "his" side has done over the years, then remind him of the need to evaluate every cluster of thought by the best ideas present in it, not the below-mainstream people latching on to it.

comment by CharlieSheen · 2012-01-29T23:08:32.531Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Upvoted for linking to an essay by Orwell, I hadn't read that particular one before.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-01-29T14:34:50.958Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

if you trust the average LessWronger

I did not have the average LessWronger in mind; I'm sure they/we have no problem with that, as I am a below average LWer. I'm thinking of a generally soft-hearted, liberally-minded guy on Reddit - or, yes, 4chan - who could, whatever he ends up updating to, find it useful to look at the people and ideas that he finds unfashionable and distasteful, and see how they're human too, and not even the big horrible threat to his lifestyle and freedoms he feels them to be. I was a lot like that guy once, I thought the same things, and I'm confident that I'm a decent source on his perspective.

comment by Aurini · 2012-03-15T03:36:20.700Z · score: 3 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I appreciate the backhanded compliment.

For the record, I really like what's happening at InMalaFide. Even when they're wrong (and I disagree pretty drastically on some issues, even with the domain owner) they're at least getting it wrong in an interesting way. It's the opposite of an echo chamber.

Is there any place in particular that you'd recommend I write for?

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-03-15T10:12:00.373Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Write at LW, of course; it's the only community site I can be bothered to monitor!

Lol. Seriously, I both respect your thoughts and convictions and just like your online persona; I've now read much of your site and while TBH I found some of the more ideological stuff either unclear/in bad faith (heh) or simply disagreeable from my own partisan perspective (I'm 60% socialist, 20% mainstream liberal, 15% conservative and 5% fascist, which adds up to be pretty damn statist and collectivist), a lot is of LW discussion quality. I'm also very OK with your style, even if you could benefit from much subtler signaling and more roundabout praise of tribal values on occasion.

'd be happy to see more of your views, to contemptate and maybe oppose, at ANY decent-status website, especially one where there's a lot of folks closer to my worldview than yours; you give good food for thought and discussion both when it's contrarian or non-partisan.

I agree with you that a site like In Mala Fide can also generate interesting thoughts and the right sort of controversy, but many of us just can't stomach sifting through it all to find something worth thinking about - especially when 90% of articles contain invective aimed at the "leftists", "feminists" or other such nebulous groups that a guy like me can often identify with, under a very different self-perception than the sincere or trolling contrarian writing the article.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-03-16T12:51:24.347Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Even when they're wrong (and I disagree pretty drastically on some issues, even with the domain owner) they're at least getting it wrong in an interesting way. It's the opposite of an echo chamber.

How about this?
http://www.inmalafide.com/blog/2012/02/27/the-necessity-of-domestic-violence/

(warning: high squick, especially for ladies)

comment by wedrifid · 2012-03-16T13:27:17.532Z · score: 3 (7 votes) · LW · GW

How about this? http://www.inmalafide.com/blog/2012/02/27/the-necessity-of-domestic-violence/

How pathetic. The guy was so desperate for sympathy that he actually seemed to value the experience of being seriously assaulted by his girlfriend and the guilt based affection that came with it. Not something that lends his opinions on domestic violence in general much credibility.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-03-16T15:07:33.840Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Another dark self-parody gem from the guy. Well, somewhat unconscious self-parody.

comment by Aurini · 2012-03-16T21:22:11.343Z · score: -21 (39 votes) · LW · GW

Heh, you really think that's squick? When I read that article I thought it was so incredibly self-evident that it was as interesting as pointing out the sky is blue. Women like Alicorn are the exception; most women are incredibly stupid, and quite useless without a strong male presence guiding them.

Now personally I have low tolerance for histrionic behaviour. I put my foot down at the first sign of it, and they turn from a whining scold into an a bubbly eager sex partner. Women aren't happy with too much freedom; it makes their brain tubes hurt. They prefer to be around a strong male who lays down the rules, and rewards them for good behaviour.

I mean, jeez, have you seen how women behave in the workplace? They crave the occasional spanking.

For the record I'm currently dating two very sexy women, who are far too young for me. One's relatively intelligent (I'm not an Alpha guy, I'm a Sigma - I hate picking up). And both of them come like firehoses while they're with me. I think my track record speaks to the validity of my opinion. I like women - I just don't respect them.

Edit: My major disagreement with Ferdinand is that he doesn't fully understand Austrian economics.

Edit2: One of the comments on the post is describes the costs of not punishing your woman for misbehaviour:

"The truth is that sometimes it’s best for a man to hit his woman to get her to behave, just like Sean Connery said. There are two main problems today: 1) Society has taught men to be ashamed for disciplining their women, and 2) Men with guns are always at the ready to take men away who dare discipline their women. So the actual effect of this is that women have become more abusive, more controlling, more crazy in relationships, because few men are willing to lay down the law with them. So they keep going on in their lives, entitled, never being called on their bullshit, never being disciplined like they need to be."

Edit3: Karma sink for saying the unspeakable in a thread about the unspeakable.

comment by Alicorn · 2012-03-16T21:46:59.351Z · score: 16 (20 votes) · LW · GW

Women like Alicorn are the exception

Quite apart from the content of the parent comment, I find this tactically interesting. I'm probably perceived as more likely than the average commenter to attack a post like this, so I've been preemptively identified as a mutant, which leaves me with little maneuvering room to refute the assertions about non-mutants. Even if I bring up people I know, they're probably mutants too, since they're people I know and not selected at random from the general population.

(Regarding the content, WrongBot has it.)

comment by wedrifid · 2012-03-17T00:38:54.368Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Quite apart from the content of the parent comment, I find this tactically interesting. I'm probably perceived as more likely than the average commenter to attack a post like this, so I've been preemptively identified as a mutant, which leaves me with little maneuvering room to refute the assertions about non-mutants.

I am probably perceived by some to be more likely than the average commenter to come down on a different side of an argument along these lines. In this case, however, I probably disagree with him at least as strongly as you do. My tactical consideration seems to be that if I disagree with Aurini I'm a "mangina", not a "mutant".

comment by WrongBot · 2012-03-16T22:13:54.246Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

And if anyone else brings up women they know, well, they're probably like you, too. No true woman is worthy of respect.

comment by GLaDOS · 2012-03-22T08:46:38.112Z · score: 1 (7 votes) · LW · GW

It is obviously true that you are psychologically atypical (nearly everyone on this site is), trying to frame this as a debating tactic instead of an accurate observation dosen't sound like good faith discussion to me.

comment by wedrifid · 2012-03-22T13:47:46.814Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

It is obviously true that you are psychologically atypical (nearly everyone on this site is), trying to frame this as a debating tactic instead of an accurate observation dosen't sound like good faith discussion to me.

It seems to be both an accurate observation and a debating tactic.

I wouldn't call the discussion one based on good faith. We should not expect Alicorn to pretend that Aurini is behaving as the perfect model of good faith instead of making accurate observations about the tactical difficulties she faces.

comment by Aurini · 2012-03-16T22:09:47.219Z · score: -2 (18 votes) · LW · GW

I've met a fair share of women who were extremely competent - female comedians, entrepreneurs, writers - and I would happily work alongside any of them.

They are the exceptions, however.

The present female participation in the workforce is only possible through a massive state system which 'empowers' women by disempowering men. This skews both the sexual and economic marketplace, ultimately to the misery of both genders.

I have a great deal of respect for individuals such as yourself - heck, it's telling that I remember your name when I haven't been on here in a year. I treat individuals as individuals - but stereotypes are cheap information.

Is there a particular point which you disagree with me on, or is what I said simply unspeakable? ;)

comment by Alicorn · 2012-03-16T22:17:26.468Z · score: 2 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Is there a particular point which you disagree with me on, or is what I said simply unspeakable?

I'm hesitant to produce a point-by-point rebuttal. This thread is about unspeakable notions, but you have confounded the data about your own unspeakable notions by bringing in what sounds like real-life personal information. I'm not sure if I'd be rebutting a persona you're putting on to play with the thread concept (nor what the point of rebutting a mere persona would be), or if you actually agree with the positions you've described.

comment by Aurini · 2012-03-16T22:26:19.863Z · score: -2 (16 votes) · LW · GW

I'm really not sure what's so controversial.

That demographically women are less intelligent than men, with less variation (glass ceiling, dirt floor)?

That women - being beautiful and loved by default - have less need to act responsibility, in the modern world or the ancestral environment?

That women are more emotional and prone to manufacturing drama in relationships? 'Shit tests' as the PUAs say.

That women are evolutionarily programmed to seek out dominant men?

That some women repeatedly date domestic abusers, and appear to enjoy it?

The stereotype of the nagging wife didn't arise ex-nihilo; women are very prone to verbal abuse, often continuing an argument long after their man has conceded. When a woman natters, natters, natters, then yes - as Sean Connery said - an open handed slap is justified (though ill advised in the present legal climate).

To clarify, I'm not trolling; I'm being quite sincere. I have an opinion based upon evidence and theoretical constructs, and furthermore (in my experience) it works when the rubber hits the road.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-03-19T13:52:25.898Z · score: 10 (20 votes) · LW · GW

You're using a cheap tactic here, listing fact-shaped opinions optimized to appear tolerable to the intended audience and pretending that a list of them covers all the inferential distance from the audience's position to the one you stated. ("...most women are incredibly stupid, and quite useless without a strong male presence guiding them...", etc).

However, that's just a distraction. Your unspoken assumptions - e.g. that if a woman is even slightly sexually aroused by some male behavior, then, regardless of its other effects, this behavior is the best for her and she just doesn't know it; her utility function can't differ from her sexual instincts - are intended to do the real work here. We are to swallow them along with the spoken points. You know what? No sell!

Such unspoken assumptions are easy to find out. We take the mainstream LW position, apply all of the points listed above to it as if we had full confidence in each of them, then we look at the remaining gap between our "modified" attitude towards gender relations, women, etc and the position being forced upon us (that most women are stupid, immature and most importantly undeserving of freedom and respect).

As I have just demonstrated, in that gap lie the things that our opponent would like us to assume but can't say out loud for fear of repulsing us. I have named one; let's look for more.

(Why the downvote?)

comment by wedrifid · 2012-03-19T15:19:37.879Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

(Why the downvote?)

Presumably because people don't like the subject matter.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-03-19T15:16:24.488Z · score: -1 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I want to discourage further troll-feeding. I don't actually disagree with anything you said, though.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-03-19T19:50:38.695Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I think you're wrong; Aurini seems capable of good-faith debate, even if he has sunk pretty low at the moment. I say we should engage him and try to find some sanity.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-03-19T20:02:36.826Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

That's your right, of course. I still don't think that having this conversation with him in this forum is more important than minimizing the amount of proud public misogyny that shows up in google searches of lesswrong, though. I mean, there's always PMs.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-03-19T20:13:11.719Z · score: 3 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Um... you're concerned with perceived misogyny? In conversations like these, LW has come up with arguments in favor of infanticide, torture, overthrowing democracy, "right to discriminate", terrorism... Goddamnit, people have been upvoting Sam0345 on occasion, when he's pushing some reactionary-flavoured grand theory more eloquently than usual. I think that worrying about low-grade stuff like this is silly while we've all of the above going on.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-03-19T20:18:20.809Z · score: 5 (9 votes) · LW · GW

It hasn't been my experience that new members of a community google for mentions of infanticide while trying to decide whether they're welcome there, but yes, I generally disapprove of most things like that on similar grounds.

Edit: Which isn't to say I disagree with all of them. If Aurini had taken out the gendered language from his claim "most people are immature idiots and need firm direction in their lives" (or whatever) I might have upvoted him. It's the aggressive depersonalization of the traditionally oppressed half of the population that I think is toxic.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-03-19T21:14:23.929Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Just out of curiosity: do you think that people who are idiots but not immature or immature but not idiots need "firm direction"? And what is your idea of "firm direction", anyway?

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-03-19T22:30:08.286Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

do you think that people who are idiots but not immature or immature but not idiots need "firm direction"?

Smart children and dumb adults? Sure.

And what is your idea of "firm direction", anyway?

Yeah, that's where the disagreement starts (i.e. slapping is a big no-no). Bear in mind I include myself in "most people". I guess I'm (over?)generalizing from my childhood experience shuttling between a home with an extremely permissive parent and a home with a more authoritarian parent who set goals and boundaries and so on. Akrasia's a big problem for me.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-03-19T22:48:28.550Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Akrasia's a big problem for me.

Me too, but I'd hate, hate, hate someone running my life beyond the basic (friendly) pressure to study and give a helping hand that my parents put on me, so I'd consider it hypocritical to support a system of direct coercion in society, like the apprenticeship in medieval guilds.

Of course it's a shame if people, through mistakes or demotivation, can't set foot upon a path contributive to society, but I consider it to be beneath the modern civilization to just drag people to where some expert wants them to be. There should be some kind of positive stimulus for everyone that's simultaneously not turning things into a ruthless meritocratic race (e.g. the government coaxing some performance out of unmotivated young people with harmless drugs instead of the career and status they don't care about would still be unethical at the core).

That's one of the reasons why I'm so attracted to Socialist thought; it has wrestled long and hard with the problem of motivation, although it has produced nothing solid but various criticism of the existing solutions.

a more authoritarian parent who set goals and boundaries and so on

It's very understandable that you don't want to disclose private things, but this sentence tells nothing. What kinds of "goals" or "boundaries" would you consider acceptable, and from whom? (If the answers are like "Don't smoke weed while you live with your parents if they order you not to, although it shouldn't concern the government", then your view is utterly mainstream, of course. If it's "Parents can forbid you to look at any porn until you're 18 just because it's in the law", then I disagree. Sexual excitement is a basic human need while drugs aren't. Although some personality types DO seem to need an addiction, maybe for an additional reward structure in their life, more than others. Mine is INFP by the way, what's yours?)

EDIT: Dear downvoter, please cut this out. If you really, really want to punish me for "feeding the troll", look through my post history and downvote the less worthy ones, or reserve the downvote for future bad comments, but don't screw with the community's assessment of these ones. If my comment feels like an 1 or a -1 to LW, I hate it when someone turns it into a 0 and -2 according to some general principle unrelated to the content.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-03-23T05:04:12.131Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Your edit, which I just noticed

For the record, I downvoted you once, which I later retracted.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-03-21T23:55:10.583Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

That's one of the reasons why I'm so attracted to Socialist thought; it has wrestled long and hard with the problem of motivation, although it has produced nothing solid but various criticism of the existing solutions.

The reason it's spent so long wrestling with the problem is that it refuses to accept the solution, namely holding people responsible for their actions.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-03-22T10:18:11.644Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I bet that, if you saw a world where all people were truly "held responsible for their actions" (and treated as agents, of course - a cardinal sin from my perspective), you'd recoil in horror and take that back.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-03-23T03:55:58.240Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I bet that, if you saw a world where all people were truly "held responsible for their actions" [...], you'd recoil in horror and take that back.

Why? In this world the laws of nature already hold people responsible for people's actions, just not necessarily their own actions.

(and treated as agents, of course - a cardinal sin from my perspective)

From my perspective it is a cardinal sin not to, and given the results of capitalism vs. socialism I would argue I have a better case. Remember whether you model them as agents or not, people respond to incentives. If you refuse to treat them as agents, the incentives you give them are very likely to be perverse.

Also, I couldn't help but notice that you're treating both Aurini and myself as agents especially in this thread where you're trying to get me to repudiate Aurini's statements.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-03-19T20:21:46.175Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Then I disapprove of your policy, and most of those participating in the mentioned conversations would be on my side. Self-censorship is very easy to carry too far.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-03-19T20:32:19.925Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm aware I'm in the minority on this one, yeah. Though I notice PUA doesn't get talked about much anymore.

comment by Aurini · 2012-03-29T08:55:34.945Z · score: -1 (11 votes) · LW · GW

So if I'd caveated that most men are stupid, and that a greater proportion of women are stupid? I'm honestly baffled as to whether you're intentionally misunderstanding me, or if you're seriously that locked down into current ideology.

I'm really not saying anything that radical; you seem to think it is though.

comment by wedrifid · 2012-03-29T14:04:34.967Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

So if I'd caveated that most men are stupid, and that a greater proportion of women are stupid?

...

Huh?

...

(Surely I misread that. But I reread it 5 times. Hopefully I missed some context which somehow negates the meaning, but assuming I haven't:)

That doesn't strike me as a particularly useful caveat if the purpose of the caveat is to reduce perceptions of ignorant misogyny. Sometimes it is better to not say all the things that you think, for signalling purposes. (ie. For the purpose of signalling that you aren't an ass that it is socially deleterious to be affiliated with.)

comment by TheOtherDave · 2012-03-29T14:31:39.632Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think aurini's purpose is to reduce the perception of ignorant misogyny.

comment by wedrifid · 2012-03-29T14:48:56.391Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think aurini's purpose is to reduce the perception of ignorant misogyny.

I certainly wouldn't infer that purpose from his behavior - that makes his recent claims here and elsewhere that he is (not taking radical positions and is just misunderstood) stand out somewhat.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2012-03-29T16:02:46.233Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Ah, I see. I read those claims as asserting that the inferiority of women is not a radical position (that is, asserting that many people, perhaps most people, hold it), rather that asserting it is not a position that will cause (many/most) people to perceive aurini as an ignorant misogynist.

Mostly, aurini seems content to have people make such perceptions and to then judge such people as ignorant conformists.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2012-03-29T15:01:00.224Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Yes. Misogyny is much easier to engage in overthrowing democracy, and has a larger short-term social effect.

The other piece of it is that misogyny has a very bad reputation these days, so it does have an effect on how a site is perceived.

comment by CaveJohnson · 2012-03-22T08:53:44.170Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Sam0345 is sometimes right.

Also eloquent rational reactionary thought is bad and unwelcome on LW? Why? I though rationality dosen't come with a political package. If we are worried about signalling ditching our support for Cryonics would probably help more.

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2012-03-22T09:03:01.561Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I though rationality dosen't come with a political package. If we are worried about signalling ditching our support for Cryonics would probably help more.

It comes with an intention to not treat questions of fact and policy as political packages that can be ditched for reasons other than evidence about their truth and utility.

comment by CaveJohnson · 2012-03-22T11:17:42.448Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Naturally, I don't see how I implied they wouldn't be. I just said that we are under no automatic obligation to signal our preferences for cryonics when we put up our rationalist hats. Even if one is convinced that cryonics would be an excellent policy according to one's values one can still judge the cost of agitating for it or advertising it to be too high.

Quietly agreeing that cryonics is the best course of action without making main posts about how awesome it is and everyone should do it might be better for our community than doing so.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-03-22T10:10:59.507Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Of course he's sometimes right, and of course no ideological label is bad in itself, judged in a vacuum.

comment by TimS · 2012-03-16T22:34:25.868Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

At the very least, the assertion that the behavior is the result of evolutionary programming is quite controversial, and is far beyond what state of the art science can assert.

comment by Aurini · 2012-03-16T22:41:47.220Z · score: 4 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Can you think of any society where women pursue weak, supplicating men?

Just because behaviour is malleable doesn't mean it isn't based upon an innate template. Are you advocating the blank slate theory? And if so, would you also advocate the blank slate for animal behaviour and mating patterns?

comment by TimS · 2012-03-16T23:03:17.568Z · score: 2 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I agree that the "best" men got their pick of the most desirable women. The women were rewarded for complying, and they did. It's hard to separate that effect from the one you describe.

More generally, the meaning of "best" has changed over time. I don't agree that best and dominant were always identical through history, and I don't agree that your intended meaning of dominant necessarily matches the historical meaning of that term.

comment by AlexM · 2012-03-23T02:53:10.263Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I mean, jeez, have you seen how women behave in the workplace? They crave the occasional spanking.

Indeed, what workplace could be without discipline? Be assured that your boss, just like you, regrets the rotten and degenerate liberal age we are living in and looks forward to the day when he can properly discipline you.

2) Men with guns are always at the ready to take men away who dare discipline their women.

You are stronger than "your women" so you can discipline them at your pleasure. I don't see why you complain when the men with guns, who are stronger than you, discipline you.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-03-23T03:28:10.287Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

You are stronger than "your women" so you can discipline them at your pleasure. I don't see why you complain when the men with guns, who are stronger than you, discipline you.

Strawman. Aurini isn't arguing for disciplining women because their weaker. He's argument is that you should discipline women when they resort to histrionics.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-03-23T05:32:00.320Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Men often fall prey to their emotions too, and when they do, they're not a pretty sight either. Yet he said nothing about women having the right to physically assault them when they don't like the man's display of emotion.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-03-19T07:38:15.107Z · score: 5 (13 votes) · LW · GW

Dude, let me be honest. I was testing you with those two links. The result was far below my expectations. I'm not going to speak too much about it, looks like Less Wrong has already told you the basics anyway ITT.

I think that your behaviour, while influence-seeking, is unwise to dismiss as that of a "Troll". Moreover, I don't believe you to be outright "evil" (we have plenty of incompatible values, though, but I've first to examine the nature and pattern of these values to see where a clash is inevitable and where a compromise is worth it).

However, I basically support those attacks on you. Everything which consigns ANY group to a higher or lower perch on humanity's imaginary "moral order" on the sole basis of its genes, however those genes might influence abilities and behavior - especially if it tries to look fair by giving members of a lower group the chance to redeem themselves and be treated like "normals", but the entire burden of proof is upon them, and only the group who demoted their status might make the exception; anyone else, especially a known egalitarian, and it's "white knighting", or "nigger-loving pinko subversive", or "bought by the Jews", etc (which you pulled on Alicorn, *whom you would've never brought up as a positive example if you knew her in the exact same way, through the exact same writings, but not as a high-status regular of the community you're targeting; you could only be expected to attack and complain about her then)...

  • it all fucking stinks to me. It is vile. There can be no compromise about this particular issue.

And I maintain that if the diverse collection of the highly predictable contrarians who want to spread the gospel of innate genetic differences don't soon change their tune to underscore the importance of equal moral significance for groups in the larger society's eyes - why, then the supposed corrupt and subversive order which steers mainstream discourse would be entirely justified in treating such contrarians as short-sighted, destructive meddlers who are too smart for society's unspoken agreements, and I'll feel obliged to do my part in censuring them, even if I might perceive their factual claims to be more correct than the mainstream view.

*(even sociopaths; I used to dream of governments wising up and treating them like fourth-class citizens, but I changed my mind)

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-03-20T03:38:51.362Z · score: -3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

What do you mean by "equal moral significance"? Do you mean equal intrinsic value or equal instrumental value? Because Aurini's position only requires unequal instrumental value.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-03-20T09:03:05.603Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

It also requires him being apriori a better judge of instrumental value than the vast majority of women, and some truly vast good being created that outweighs the ugliness of publicly disrespecting and humiliating any entire gender in such away. Also, he never once even mentioned the dangers of judging moral significance as a caveat.

(To answer your question directly: I maintain that a person's total instrumental value as perceived by others is, especially in social relations, often nearly impossible to detach from intristic value, and an attempt to treat them separately can be very harmful for the subject and society at large. At risk of being downvoted, I'd like to mention once again that left-wing thought has been grappling with this problem since Marx.)

Anyway, would you mind elaborating? What is the precise position under which what's best for women requires treating them like third-class citizens?

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-03-21T03:59:14.161Z · score: -3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Suppose there's a research project to do something important, say cure cancer, build FAI, etc. You will agree that it's best for everyone if it's staffed by the best people, even though it's in some sense "unfair" to the people who will be denied the chance to participate in such a prestigious project because of their genes and/or upbringing.

The same principal applies to other projects where for the same reason it makes sense to assign people based to their comparative advantage. Now you may be asking, "Who decides what someone's comparative advantage is and what about their biases?" Turns out there is a system that does a reasonably good job allocating people base on their comparative advantage and also avoids the problem of having a central judge of people's value. It's called the free market.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-03-21T10:00:08.368Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

How the flying fuck does this have anything to do with publicly expressing disrespect and contempt for a genetically determined group of people, anyway? I agree that the issue of perceived fairness vs. market efficiency isn't clear-cut, but our attitude towards the people who get unlucky must be particularly sensitive.

Would you want Yudkowsky to call anyone who can't work on FAI or get qualified to do so a useless dullard whose only worth to society is donating to SIAI? If you wouldn't, why wouldn't you condemn Aurini's words?

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-03-21T23:43:41.901Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

How the flying fuck does this have anything to do with publicly expressing disrespect and contempt for a genetically determined group of people, anyway?

Sorry, I was responding to your question about the difference between instrumental and intrinsic value.

As for Aurini's comment, he's arguing that people (ok in his case women, but I'm generalizing) should be disrespected and treated with contempt when they behave in histrionic or otherwise inappropriate ways, as this will cause them to stop it. Note that if someone is genetically or otherwise predisposed to act in such ways then it's necessary to apply even more pressure for them to stop.

Would you want Yudkowsky to call anyone who can't work on FAI or get qualified to do so a useless dullard whose only worth to society is donating to SIAI?

Well, he's more or less done something like that.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-03-22T10:14:49.180Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

As for Aurini's comment, he's arguing that people (ok in his case women, but I'm generalizing) should be disrespected and treated with contempt when they behave in histrionic or otherwise inappropriate ways

Hmm, let's see...

most women are incredibly stupid, and quite useless without a strong male presence guiding them (says nothing about inappropriate behavior, only judges ability and character in a very aggressive way)

So do you agree with the line above, or not? Do you think that this is a good thing to feel and believe?

People like you are savage and destructive, and a symptom of just how badly feminism has poisoned our culture... I'm glad I live in Canada; we have far fewer violent, passive aggressive, wrecks of masculinity here than there seem to be in the United States.

What about this style of "argument"? Do you endorse it?

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-03-23T04:12:46.963Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

most women are incredibly stupid, and quite useless without a strong male presence guiding them (says nothing about inappropriate behavior, only judges ability and character in a very aggressive way)

He goes on to talk about "histrionic behaviour" in the next paragraph.

So do you agree with the line above, or not?

I'd assign it a lower probability then Aurini but probably higher then you.

People like you are savage and destructive, and a symptom of just how badly feminism has poisoned our culture... I'm glad I live in Canada; we have far fewer violent, passive aggressive, wrecks of masculinity here than there seem to be in the United States.

What about this style of "argument"? Do you endorse it?

No, I don't like bulverism.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-03-23T05:13:06.185Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

My main (but not the only) motherfucking problem with the whole thing is that Aurini holds men to be a superior species: i.e. they can't be disciplined by women when they act stupidly or rashly, they aren't said to be largely stupid while women are actually less likely to have an IQ below the mean (and defining "stupid" as just 100 IQ or above is pretty damn unjustified), etc. He completely avoids criticizing his own gender, but seizes upon every opportunity to insult the other one. And by the looks of it you're acting in the same hypocritical and unfair manner.

I'd assign it a lower probability then Aurini but probably higher then you.

What the flying fuck. So in your worldview women are largely "useless" and men have to "guide" them, but there are no situations where men are useless, and women have to influence them? E.g. to make them calm down, prevent them from acting on emotion, etc.

Not to accidentally insult your parents or upbringing, but haven't you seen your own mother and father helping each other to make the better decision or resolve a problem when one spouse is acting irrationally? I'm aware, of course, that in many poorly functioning families children only get to see the father dictating the mother what to do, but not the mother helping him make decisions as a valued and respected partner. But this is clearly a wrong and appaling relationship model to learn!

In any case, even holding a belief such a nasty thing (objectively "nasty" by our culture's standards, not as a judgment of the believer) is very dangerous in itself.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-03-24T05:12:46.639Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'd assign it a lower probability then Aurini but probably higher then you.

What the flying fuck. So in your worldview women are largely "useless" and men have to "guide" them, but there are no situations where men are useless, and women have to influence them? E.g. to make them calm down, prevent them from acting on emotion, etc.

I don't see how this flows from my quote. In any case, I don't agree with it.

In any case, even holding a belief such a nasty thing (objectively "nasty" by our culture's standards, not as a judgment of the believer) is very dangerous in itself.

So you're saying that the belief is so "nasty" that assigning it any non-zero probability is a bad idea.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-03-24T10:02:52.609Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

So you're saying that the belief is so "nasty" that assigning it any non-zero probability is a bad idea.

No. I'm only saying that it's dangerous, and that even if you truly think that such a belief would have the advantage of reflecting reality better, you still have to trade that against the disadvantage of it being extremely unsuited to your cultural environment.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-03-24T20:42:51.379Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

No. I'm only saying that it's dangerous, and that even if you truly think that such a belief would have the advantage of reflecting reality better, you still have to trade that against the disadvantage of it being extremely unsuited to your cultural environment.

And yet, you claim to be a socialist.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-03-28T08:15:27.389Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

How is this even relevant outside some weird partisan definition of "socialist" and "cultural environment"? And how is this not a purely political jab at all?

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-03-29T00:13:20.197Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

My point is that I don't believe this constitutes your true rejection, and was trying to argue by pointing to a belief you hold that isn't exactly mainstream.

comment by wedrifid · 2012-03-17T00:17:55.034Z · score: 5 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Heh, you really think that's squick? When I read that article I thought it was so incredibly self-evident that it was as interesting as pointing out the sky is blue.

Do you realize that the domestic abuse described in the article and then commented on by me is a guy being physically abused by his girlfriend but liking it because she gave him attention? That then forms the basis of a rant that encourages domestic violence.

You are trying to signal how alpha you are by demonstrating how sexist and offensive you can be but in this case you seem to have affiliated with a pussy.

comment by Aurini · 2012-03-17T23:58:47.361Z · score: -3 (15 votes) · LW · GW

Think for a moment, and quit with the ad hominems, my rationalist friend.

Why would I try and signal anything on here? Being 'Alpha on the Internet' will not get me laid in real life; I have no investment on whether anyone here thinks I'm sexy or not. The example I gave was to pre-empt the "You're a lonely, bitter loser in your mother's basement" - pointing out that I am far from that was my only reason for bringing it up.

Quite frankly, I appreciate this community, and though I haven't been on here in some time, my karma score should point out that I'm not a troll, or a johnny-come-lately. If anything, I'd rather be on good-standing here, because that means more readers of my blog, and more viewers of my video.

That said, i'm not going to censor myself and parrot the party-line for the sake of popularity. Particularly not on a thread about subversive ideas (apparently I found the one that was too subversive).

Do you think that I'm advocating domestic violence? Improve on your reading comprehension; I'm not. Try and read between the lines - and stop getting emotional on a rationality forum.

comment by Grognor · 2012-03-22T22:53:08.053Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Signaling is not done consciously. As a human, you are not capable of not signaling. It seems to be the primary cause of the existence of speech. So,

Why would I try and signal anything on here?

It's because humans are adaptation executors, not fitness maximizers. You find yourself doing things. You do them because they served ancestral purposes. They don't necessarily still serve those purposes, but you still do them.

comment by CharlieSheen · 2012-03-22T08:29:58.853Z · score: 0 (16 votes) · LW · GW

Now personally I have low tolerance for histrionic behaviour. I put my foot down at the first sign of it, and they turn from a whining scold into an a bubbly eager sex partner. Women aren't happy with too much freedom; it makes their brain tubes hurt. They prefer to be around a strong male who lays down the rules, and rewards them for good behaviour.

I mean, jeez, have you seen how women behave in the workplace? They crave the occasional spanking.

Don't see a good reason for this to be down voted. Sexually social dominance turns most women on, quite simply many early arguments in a relationship with a woman are just shit tests. Often when young women are being difficult in general those are shit tests too. Winning or confidently sidestepping an argument causes gina tingles. Duh. This is so obviously true that the idea someone might think it not so makes my brain hurt.

Lets put this post into perspective. Some really offensive stuff where said in this thread, that was the point dammit! Dear lord what people might term holocaust denial was considered, yet this, basically just noticing women are sometimes difficult in order to get sexual attention and often crave the presence of socially dominant men gets down voted to -15?

Gee I don't know why I'm surprised at mobbing like this, considering people like Robin Hanson get scolded and denounced for their supposed "sexism" which amounts to nothing more than some intellectual honesty and not bending backwards to make women seem high status in ever argument. Gods forbid some posters might like male social norms more than female social norms, a perfectly valid preference for all groups which somehow magically becomes evil when the two sets of individuals mostly have different genitals. LW can't discuss basic game at all, it can't discuss fundamental criticism of feminism at all. Gender and relationships are the one reliable failure mode of this site's community and I'm far from alone in noticing that.

Just to be perfectly clear as I understand what Aurini meant by this post in the context of his previous writing I endorse it.

comment by wedrifid · 2012-03-22T13:42:12.867Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

basically just noticing women are sometimes difficult in order to get sexual attention and often crave the presence of socially dominant men gets down voted to -15?

I would not downvote someone for saying that. I did downvote Aurini. Accordingly I don't think this is an accurate summary of the meaning of the words in the grandparent.

This is not merely a case of intellectual honesty being branded sexism.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-03-22T10:23:22.351Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

most women are incredibly stupid, and quite useless without a strong male presence guiding them.

Women aren't happy with too much freedom; it makes their brain tubes hurt

The truth is that sometimes it’s best for a man to hit his woman to get her to behave

Do you endorse these lines, or not?

comment by CharlieSheen · 2012-03-22T11:06:32.691Z · score: 10 (22 votes) · LW · GW

Depends on what you mean by endorse.

The truth is that sometimes it’s best for a man to hit his woman to get her to behave

I fully endorse this sentence because I see it not as advice but as stating whether something is or isn't a fact. In a thread about ugly truths!

sometimes it’s best for a man to hit his woman to get her to behave

I don't endorse this as universal advice because it can be unethical to tell this to someone. For example if I stand next to someone and tell them that sometimes the only ethical course of action is to kill another human being, this is trivially true, but it could be my ethical obligation to say this, or it could be very very wrong for me to say this. Context is everything.

It is still a true statement though.

And if any reader is still wondering and wants it spelled out, yes sometimes a man hitting a woman is the right thing to do. We can casually without disclaimers talk infanticide, abortion, euthanasia, war, deicide, murder, genocide and constantly implicitly break intuitive moral rules and plain politeness with all sorts of nasty sounding but true utilitarian statements .... yet from all that deontological framework the "don't hit girls!" rule seems to be implanted the strongest and least likley to be challenged. Makes sense since our brain seem to be built to see the default woman as worth more than the default man by virtue of her existence. I can understand why people fail (or maybe not -- maybe our CEV genuinely does care more about the welfare of regular women than regular men) their moral calculus that way. Doesn't mean I have to like it.

Just as an experiment I challenge the reader to consider the well know trolley problem. Be honest to yourself. Make up a random man on the street. Name him Joe. Joe can save plenty of other people if you push him on the track. Imagine average Joe. Now wait 10 minutes, by the clock. Now imagine a random woman. Lets call her Jane.

Are you really going to tell me you aren't seeing it there? Scurrying about in the dark back of your mind, registering on your warm fuzzy evaluation function, before you suppress it in shame or to win an argument. You would spend more time before pushing Jane compared to Joe and you know it. Ceteris paribus for some values of numbers of lives saved you might push Joe but not Jane.

it’s best for a man to hit his woman to get her to behave

This is no longer a true statement, because it implies it is always so, I do not endorse it. Funny how I think most people seem to have read the first sentence as this, when it clearly wasn't.

comment by pedanterrific · 2012-03-22T13:24:38.341Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Just as an experiment I challenge the reader to consider the well know trolley problem. Be honest to yourself. Make up a random man on the street. Name him Joe. Joe can save plenty of other people if you push him on the track. Imagine average Joe. Now wait 10 minutes, by the clock. Now imagine a random woman. Lets call her Jane.

Are you really going to tell me you aren't seeing it there? Scurrying about in the dark back of your mind, registering on your warm fuzzy evaluation function, before you suppress it in shame or to win an argument. You would spend more time before pushing Jane compared to Joe and you know it. Ceteris paribus for some values of numbers of lives saved you might push Joe but not Jane.

This is a disturbingly effective demonstration.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2012-03-22T12:26:06.557Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

The truth is that sometimes it’s best for a man to hit his woman to get her to behave

I fully endorse this sentence because I see it not as advice but as stating whether something is or isn't a fact. In a thread about ugly truths!

What are the circumstances in which you think it is best for a man to hit his woman to get her to behave?

comment by CharlieSheen · 2012-03-22T13:54:55.323Z · score: 2 (8 votes) · LW · GW
  • Self-defence when there is a risk of bodily harm or death
  • Defence of another when there is a risk of bodily harm or death
  • While attempting to restrain her when trying to stop her from hurting herself

ect.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2012-03-23T09:23:12.845Z · score: 9 (13 votes) · LW · GW

I thought it would be something like this. These are not reasons "for a man to hit his woman to get her to behave". These are reasons why anyone might need to hit anyone else to avoid something worse happening.

In the original context, by "behave" Aurini means "be compliant to the man's desires". This in the context of another person's blog posting elsewhere advocating, right up in the title of the post, "the necessity of domestic violence". This is what you are endorsing.

comment by CharlieSheen · 2012-03-23T10:11:36.172Z · score: 1 (7 votes) · LW · GW

In the original context, by "behave" Aurini means "be compliant to the man's desires".

Well obviously it is sometimes best for a person to use violence for their own gains if the person dosen't mind such violence and can escape punishment. I interpreted your question as asking me when I though this is appropriate or right. The question of whether use of violence is the optimal tactic to get people to act according to one's goals is a different one depending, heavily on what preferences that person has.

For a person with different ethics (more selfish for example) there are plenty of theoretical opportunities when it is rational to use violence to get one's way.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2012-03-23T11:22:09.127Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

The more you talk, the less you say.

Given the concept "sometimes it’s best for a man to hit his woman to get her to behave", you generalised the words "man", "woman", and "behave" to "someone", "someone" and "do something", and ignored the word "his" altogether. Now you're generalising "best" to mean serving to get whatever the first someone wants.

This reduces the whole matter to fatuity: the optimal tactic to get people to act according to one's goals is whatever will achieve those goals. Duh. The original question was about certain specific goals and specific ways of getting them.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-03-23T10:35:29.683Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Anyone's ethics, including yours, must have a subgoal of aiming to influence others' behavior in some ways, in order to have consistency. If, like any decent person, you believe that violence in less extreme situations, especially for selfish gain, is unacceptable, you can't just fold your hands and say "Oh well" when others endorse such violence! Otherwise your morals in this regard become just an aesthetic choice for your private behavior, and not a consistent consequentialist position.

comment by wedrifid · 2012-03-23T10:38:33.475Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Anyone's ethics, including yours, must have a subgoal of aiming to influence others' behavior in some ways, in order to have consistency.

(It is likely that all humans do have such ethics. It is not actually a requirement for consistency.)

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-03-23T13:13:42.155Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Hmm, maybe. Anyway, my point still stands; all of us, including Charlie, should come down like a ton of bricks on top of anyone who seriously hints about using violence for selfish gain; doubly so when it constitutes domestic abuse. To endorse or tolerate unacceptable physical or emotional violence is in itself immoral.

comment by Aurini · 2012-03-29T08:34:55.507Z · score: -3 (19 votes) · LW · GW

should come down like a ton of bricks on top of anyone who seriously hints about using violence for selfish gain;

Does this statement also hold true for those who would vote themselves the tax dollars of others?

Spare me your hypocrisy; repeating the current Myths of our Age does not make you holy. You disgusting, malevolent hypocrite; I never suggested hitting a woman - I outright advised against it, as did the original blog post. I simply acknowledged - as did Ferdinand - that stupid women who date stupid men enjoy being hit by them.

People such as you - 'rationalists' who believe all the myths of our modern era - are precisely the reason that this community has declined since Eliezer's leaving, into obscure contests to post the most inscrutable mathematics.

Go comment on the Amazing Atheist's Youtube channel; you'll fit right in there.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-03-29T08:53:06.094Z · score: -1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

http://lesswrong.com/lw/i0/are_your_enemies_innately_evil/

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-04T06:01:34.161Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

It would be wise for some of the other participants to mind that advice, since I think Aurini started out in good faith in this debate.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-03-30T04:21:11.538Z · score: 2 (8 votes) · LW · GW

http://lesswrong.com/lw/i0/are_your_enemies_innately_evil/

Why don't you try applying the lessons of that post to your own thought process?

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-03-30T11:26:39.944Z · score: -2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Um... he's being more loud about it? ;)

comment by CharlieSheen · 2012-03-23T10:41:22.065Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think you understood my position in the above post. I don't approve of clippy using my atoms for paper-clips, yet I can't deny that for him that may very well be the rational choice. If that is the case it is hard argue that the regular meaning of the words "best for him" dosen't includes turning me into paper-clips.

Clearly from the perspective of someone slightly more selfish or less altruistic or different (for example non-Western) values sometimes the application of violence is the rational course of action.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-03-30T09:29:56.873Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Clearly from the perspective of someone slightly more selfish or less altruistic or different (for example non-Western) values sometimes the application of violence is the rational course of action.

I don't think I understand why this particular post is down voted. Seems to be true to me.

comment by Aurini · 2012-03-29T08:29:32.800Z · score: -2 (20 votes) · LW · GW

Aurini means "be compliant to the man's desires"

So long as she wants to be compliant to my desire.

Do you have zero understanding of the sexual market, my friend? The moment she no longer wants me, that is the point where I leave her to the Alpha Males she has chosen as superior.

I... it's like talking to an idiot. You misinterpret my words to impress others. I have zero interest in hitting a woman, and for that matter - dating a woman who needs to be hit.

I demand that my women act like ladies. If they want to be whores? They are more than welcome. They immediately get discounted from the marriage market. I would never hit them, but I'm not going to 'forgive' that gangbang (a gangbang I orchestrated would be another thing). I am simply recognizing that prole women enjoy being hit, and prole men need to hit them to keep their dumb vaginas in line. Do I think this admirable? Do I seek this out as my Utopia? Of course not!

I think most people are stupid, and stupid people enjoy the drama of violence - in a cathartic manner.

You idiot leftists have banned all violence, and now all entertainment is vicarious violence because real-life hatred has been banned.

Get over yourself; I'm far more civilized, and far less likely to hit a woman, than you could ever hope to be.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-03-30T10:07:11.253Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW · GW

You idiot leftists have banned all violence, and now all entertainment is vicarious violence because real-life hatred has been banned.

While this is political and thus mind-killing language I think it is only fair that if Alicorn has the opportunity to talk about "tactical difficulties" in the debate Aurini should too. I think this hatefest he has attracted has strawmaned and demonized him to ridiculous proportions and that he is indeed right about the reasons for why this happened.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-05-09T15:43:07.166Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You idiot leftists have banned all violence, and now all entertainment is vicarious violence because real-life hatred has been banned.

Frankly, I don't understand. Would someone here who's not an Idiot Leftist - you, or Aurini, or whoever, clear that up, please? How do we get a real-life outlet for violent instincts that's more safe, moral and convenient than entertainment? What precisely is he complaining about, and why is he so angry about it?

comment by khafra · 2012-06-21T19:22:16.216Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm an idiot leftist, who's just wandered by from here. I don't think Aurini or Sheen think real-life violence outlets can be more safe, moral, or convenient than watching simulated violence on TV or performing simulated violence in a video game. They (or at least Aurini) argues that a large social class finds a lot of value in cathartic violence, both the giving of it and the receiving of it, and that this value outweighs the physical and emotional damage.

I hadn't considered it before, but I do think it's not obvious which is correct.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-06-21T22:11:36.616Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This "value" is only an issue if you have utilitarian ethics in the first place. I don't. Enforcing happiness against subjects' will is usually insane, but enforcing virtue makes a scary amount of sense. I'd be willing to, in some form.

Yes, yes, I'm a creepy intolerant liberal-fascist who thinks that everything in the world is his business.

(Speaking objectively? Welcome to the human tradegy, where both action and inaction have such huge downsides that each one is very easy to construe as evil! We should all just hate ourselves even more, epistemically that's my only advice here.)

comment by [deleted] · 2012-06-22T10:36:43.218Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Are you really going to tell me you aren't seeing it there? Scurrying about in the dark back of your mind, registering on your warm fuzzy evaluation function, before you suppress it in shame or to win an argument. You would spend more time before pushing Jane compared to Joe and you know it. Ceteris paribus for some values of numbers of lives saved you might push Joe but not Jane.

Actually, my System 1 feelings wouldn't push either of them (I guess -- I've never been in such a situation before with System 1 being aware of it; I think the Implicit Association Test would be a better test of what you're trying to test).

(FWIW, my System 2 reasoning wouldn't either, for TDT reasons -- if the answer to “If someone is offered $10,000 to murder someone, should they accept and then give the proceeds to AMF thereby saving five lives?” were “Yes”, I would have to be more careful about not displeasing rich people, for example.)

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-03-23T05:20:42.850Z · score: 0 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Please stop being so disingenious and twisting your allies' words to give a likeable pseudo-summary. You aren't dumb, so you must be doing it on purpose. To quote my other comment:

My whole motherfucking problem with the whole thing is that Aurini holds men to be a superior species: i.e. they can't be disciplined by women when they act stupidly or rashly, they aren't said to be largely stupid while women are actually less likely to have an IQ below the mean (and defining "stupid" as just 100 IQ or above is pretty damn unjustified), etc. He completely avoids criticizing his own gender, but seizes upon every opportunity to insult the other one. And by the looks of it you're acting in the same hypocritical and unfair manner.

For example:

most women are incredibly stupid, and quite useless

Most people are incredibly stupid, and quite useless. Women are people. QED.

See how coy you're being? Aurini specifically excluded men from his comment; in his thinking, much less men must be "incredibly stupid" than women. And as that's absurd for any reasonable value of "incredibly stupid" (men of IQ>140 might indeed far outnumber women, but, had he meant that, he would probably be calling himself, most of LW and most scientists stupid) - why, it must've been meant solely as a mean-spirited, irresponsible insult.

Likewise, if women always physically assaulted men when they considered it to be reasonable self-defense, and so did men when they felt that they're defending themselves fron an aggressive woman, much more men would get hit by women than vice versa. But that's unacceptable, he'd say; bitches can't do this to me whenever something gets into their brain tubes!

comment by CharlieSheen · 2012-03-23T07:03:00.347Z · score: 3 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Please stop being so disingenious and twisting your allies' words to give a likeable pseudo-summary

Neat! I didn't know I had allies. What's the war?

comment by CharlieSheen · 2012-03-23T07:09:21.908Z · score: -1 (7 votes) · LW · GW

See how coy you're being? Aurini specifically excluded men from his comment; in his thinking, much less men must be "incredibly stupid" than women.

I wasn't coy at all if you don't take that quote out of context.

Most people are incredibly stupid, and quite useless. Women are people. QED.

Are women in my social circle generally less intelligent than the men in them? Yes, because women have lower IQ variance and I don't generally stick around with the left half of the Gaussian.

If you need it spelled out:

Men have greater IQ variance and I don't hang out with men on the left side of the bell curve. If anything I spend more time socializing with women than men and am perhaps even less selective. Quite clearly yes the women I run into in my daily life will tend to be less intelligent and competent than the men, simply because of these factors.

And yes among the extremely capable subset of the entire population (not my social circle) there will be more men than women.

And as that's absurd for any reasonable value of "incredibly stupid" (men of IQ>140 might indeed far outnumber women, but, had he meant that, he would probably be calling himself, most of LW and most scientists stupid)

That sounds perfectly reasonable. Humans are not very good at thinking. Ever heard that quote about John von Neumann?

"only he was fully awake."--Eugene Wigner

Spend some time with 140+ people, you will soon see that you and I and most of humanity are incredibly stupid.

why, it must've been meant solely as a mean-spirited, irresponsible insult.

But yes the way it was phrased it probably was a stylistic move to lower women's status.

Likewise, if women always physically assaulted men when they considered it to be reasonable self-defense, and so did men when they felt that they're defending themselves fron an aggressive woman, much more men would get hit by women than vice versa. But that's unacceptable, he'd say; bitches can't do this to me whenever something gets into their brain tubes!

This is a straw man.

comment by wedrifid · 2012-03-22T12:55:08.131Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

The truth is that sometimes it’s best for a man to hit his woman to get her to behave

Do you endorse these lines, or not?

I'd have to agree, for a suitably literal definition of 'sometimes'. Let's see... If my wife has had a psychotic meltdown, is wielding an axe and thinks our children are actually alien-clone-spies.

That should serve to signal disdain for absolute moral rules while also indicating abhorrence of domestic violence in all but the most extreme circumstances.

comment by CharlieSheen · 2012-03-22T11:02:15.982Z · score: -1 (7 votes) · LW · GW

most women are incredibly stupid, and quite useless

Most people are incredibly stupid, and quite useless. Women are people. QED.

Are women in my social circle generally less intelligent than the men in them? Yes, because women have lower IQ variance and I don't generally stick around with the left half of the Gaussian.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-06-22T13:11:13.015Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Most people are incredibly stupid, and quite useless. Women are people. QED.

Most people are incredibly stupid, and quite useless. Nobel laureates are people.

comment by CharlieSheen · 2012-06-22T19:48:23.503Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Clearly average Nobel laureates are much like average women.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-06-24T17:41:28.860Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

They aren't. Which shows that “most X are Y” and “all Z are X” doesn't entail “most Z are Y” (even though the conclusion might still happen to be true, for some values of Z and Y).

comment by WrongBot · 2012-03-16T21:30:26.300Z · score: -1 (10 votes) · LW · GW

If you actually believe this, please go away and never come back.

If you don't actually believe this, would you mind explaining why you're trolling?

comment by Aurini · 2012-03-16T22:04:16.963Z · score: 5 (11 votes) · LW · GW

I find it ironic that I'm being yelled at in a thread that's about 'ideas which are unspeakable'.

In practice, I'm very loving of the women in my life, and I treat them well. I know how to make them feel special. Did you read the original article by Ferd?

comment by WrongBot · 2012-03-16T22:32:33.931Z · score: 0 (10 votes) · LW · GW

This is a thread about unspeakable ideas, not unspeakable behavior. You are advocating domestic violence and (I infer) admitting to committing it as well.

comment by Aurini · 2012-03-16T22:37:41.388Z · score: -1 (17 votes) · LW · GW

Reread what I wrote; I never said I hit my women, or any woman for that matter. Quite frankly, even if a woman deserves a slap (as Sean Connery advocated, calling this DV is ridiculous), I'll just kick her out of my life - the present legal climate ignores female-on-male violence, and loves prosecuting the male. No woman is worth it, even if she enjoys it.

I said I laid down the law with women. When they're being bratty or rude, I inform them that such behaviour is unnacceptable. I'm not going to tolerate it, and the door's right over there if they don't like it. Refusing to take abuse from somebody is not being abusive oneself.

Furthermore, I said that women appreciate a man who won't put up with their hysterics. Women seek out that sort of calming influence for the maelstrom of emotions they have flowing through their veins.

comment by WrongBot · 2012-03-16T22:47:15.707Z · score: -3 (12 votes) · LW · GW

Okay, so you're just advocating it, then.

I've been in an abusive relationship. You greatly underestimate the amount of psychological damage the occasional slap can do.

comment by Aurini · 2012-03-16T22:52:59.432Z · score: 1 (18 votes) · LW · GW

So have I: http://youtu.be/BVTfEiz4Nbc

Go reread what I just wrote: I advocate against domestic violence. The legal system is utterly biased against men, and no woman is worth it.

Unless if you equate the slap as domestic violence? Go watch Connery's video, and read the article which you think advocates domestic violence. Hint: it doesn't. If your boyfriend has to wake up for work in the morning, and you spend hours yelling at him about nonsense, even though he admitted you were right earlier in the day - what do you think is going to happen? Act like an adult and take responsibility for your actions. If you coninuously yell at somebody, you're likely to get hit.

Except the whole point of what I wrote is that women have a lot of trouble acting like adults and taking responsibility, let alone understanding simple logic.. You're actually a perfect example of what I was talking about.

comment by WrongBot · 2012-03-16T23:02:25.389Z · score: 5 (9 votes) · LW · GW

You want to normalize domestic violence and make it legal. That's the only reasonable inference I can draw from what you've written.

Pro tip: I'm a dude. Does that falsify anything you believe?

comment by Aurini · 2012-03-16T23:09:17.167Z · score: -10 (22 votes) · LW · GW

Not at all; I've run into plenty of white knights and manginas, and they all revert to female histrionics and passive aggressive behaviour, and - just like you - they're secretly quite violent people.

  1. Tell me to GTFO without addressing any of my statements (on a rationality forum, no less).
  2. Misinterpret my statements (purposefully?) and accuse me of being a violent criminal offender.
  3. Ignore my replys, and play the victim card.

This is classic mobbing (bullying) behaviour. I suspect you are doing this to win status and sexual favours from the women you're 'sticking up for' against the big, bad boogie man (subconsciously - obviously noone's going to fly out to meet you). People like you are savage and destructive, and a symptom of just how badly feminism has poisoned our culture.

I'm glad I live in Canada; we have far fewer violent, passive aggressive, wrecks of masculinity here than there seem to be in the United States.

comment by WrongBot · 2012-03-16T23:16:27.253Z · score: 5 (11 votes) · LW · GW

My comments on this topic after the first one were a mistake. Apologies for feeding the troll.

comment by wedrifid · 2012-03-17T00:27:39.807Z · score: 7 (11 votes) · LW · GW

My comments on this topic after the first one were a mistake. Apologies for feeding the troll.

I affirm your judgement. Aurini appeared to be a user in good standing, at 700 votes but seems to have transitioned to troll.

If, for some reason Aurini is not ostracised while he behaves like this it would be necessary to refute his willfully obnoxious sexist drivel point by point. I know people hate to read debates about sex politics but either the nonsense must be countered through argument or (preferably) it needs to be made clear through downvotes/ignore/dontfeeds that nothing Aurini is saying here should be considered remotely like a position that lesswrong supports.

comment by Aurini · 2012-03-18T00:03:43.445Z · score: -2 (12 votes) · LW · GW

Is this why you were making personal attacks on me, rather than addressing anything I actually said?

Engaging in academic mobbing, and then calling me a troll, is hardly a testament to your ability of free thought.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2012-03-18T00:28:07.191Z · score: 1 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Is this why you were making personal attacks on me,

Didn't you just attack a few billion people as stupid, histrionic, and not worthy of respect? You suddenly disagree with attacks?

And didn't you also just call a "mangina" every guy who disagrees with you?

rather than addressing anything I actually said?

I don't know how someone can address something like "it makes their brain-tubes hurt". What are brain-tubes?

Your post is designed and worded as to offend, not to list points that can be addressed and to be shown factually right or wrong.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-03-18T00:32:27.408Z · score: 2 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Do not feed the troll.

comment by wedrifid · 2012-03-18T01:19:40.667Z · score: 5 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Replying to you rather than the ancestor out of respect for your point.

Is this why you were making personal attacks on me, rather than addressing anything I actually said?

It should be understood that positioning Aurini as a troll isn't personal. It's crude politics. Usually when sexism talk comes up it consists of incoherent accusations that the lesswrong is populated by people who have opinions along the lines of those Aurini is presenting. Those allegations are almost impossible to counter with mere reason yet also shouldn't be left to stand. That leaves me in an unpleasant position. I want to avoid being in said unpleasant position.

The last thing lesswrong needs is for accusations that it is populated by obnoxious sexist bigots to actually have an element of truth.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-03-30T10:06:45.465Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Is this why you were making personal attacks on me,

I think he is referring to the other post where wedrifid implied Aurini has sex with and beats his dog.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-03-19T08:21:05.618Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I don't know how someone can address something like "it makes their brain-tubes hurt". What are brain-tubes?

Your post is designed and worded as to offend, not to list points that can be addressed and to be shown factually right or wrong.

To say nothing of challenging one's audience to equate themselves with a "white knight" or a "mangina" if only they show disagreement with a point, and describing emotionally what a despicable, pathetic strawman they're going to be in such a case.

The chan equivalent of "If you like X, then you're a faggot" is actually *more fair and high-handed than the shit Aurini's slinging here; at least, unlike "mangina", "faggot" is a widely used insult with no small clique monopolizing its denotation and connotations, and there have been attempts to weaken it by knocking the negativity out of both homosexuality and acting "unmanly".

comment by wedrifid · 2012-03-19T12:33:35.837Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

at least, unlike "mangina",

That term should definitely be considered offensive when used as an insult. (Most humanslike vaginas, in one way or another. It should not form a term of contempt!)

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-03-19T13:34:35.937Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, sure.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-03-19T08:42:30.959Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

If your boyfriend has to wake up for work in the morning, and you spend hours yelling at him about nonsense, even though he admitted you were right earlier in the day - what do you think is going to happen?

Um... he's going to realize that there can be no relationship between us, and break up that very day? Why the fuck would he cling to me, especially sinking to using emotional or physical violence himself?

comment by CharlieSheen · 2012-01-29T23:32:45.242Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, sure, just... he ain't building much of a reputation in the groups that could benefit and update the most from his arguments, between that and the coat and the shaved head.

This is a relevant argument. But the thing is I'm not sure that is his intended audience. Also he could do much worse style wise even going for that audience, he could have dressed up in that detestable young republican look. Smug hispterism just dosen't go with such opinions either, right wing hipsters tread a fine line at best.

Shaved head and coat are fundamentally also statement, rather than subculture and it carries connotations of class. And I dare claim that it is precisely the statement of class that disturbs the "groups that could benefit most", they can excuse the wretched of the earth since they are mere symbols, but they can not excuse the working man, for he is far too real for their tastes. Being a fellow reader of Orwell I think we both know where he would stand on that. Why must he and those like him be so very dead?

But regardless, the statement of class combined with contrarian opinions are together a very expensive signal of rebellion and freedom. Smart enough to be a Brahim but refuses to! Arguably that attracts a certain kind of quality audience. And aren't they in need of rationality too?

But I'm biased in this, since I refuse to be Brahim as well.

comment by Jonathan_Elmer · 2012-03-21T23:54:59.385Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yep, Anarcho-capitalism is the best idea I can think of to fit that bill.

comment by moridinamael · 2012-01-25T18:06:42.217Z · score: 14 (14 votes) · LW · GW

"Instead of creating utility, which is hard, we should all train ourselves to find utility in what we already have."

This is my fairly gross simplification of a lot of Eastern philosophy, and it is antithetical to the "Western memeplex" of achievement and progress.

However, relatively few practitioners of Eastern religions really seem to carry through the logical implications of a totally passive philosophy.

I admit the above imperative doesn't seem as horrifying as the ones listed in the OP, but if you really think through to what the consequences would be, I suspect it would be a future we would never choose.

comment by Incorrect · 2012-01-25T19:06:04.289Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Instead of creating utility, which is hard, we should all train ourselves to find utility in what we already have.

Should? Should for what purpose? Generating utility? If so, utility by what function?

comment by moridinamael · 2012-01-25T19:20:22.222Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

By a very confused utility function? By a utility function best described as Virtue Ethics with total passivity as the highest virtue?

I wasn't suggesting this was a good idea, I was just putting forward a meme which would be rejected by Less Wrong as "too dumb to talk about" which nonetheless would result in universal bliss if it were actually adopted.

comment by APMason · 2012-01-25T18:11:28.409Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

It's also a strange way to talk about utility - as if utility itself is what we want, rather than a measure of how much of what we want we've got.

comment by moridinamael · 2012-01-25T18:24:54.141Z · score: 17 (17 votes) · LW · GW

It seems to be the case that happiness is actually not caused by getting what you want, but rather by wanting what you get. It's been challenging for me to square this psychological fact with the notion of utility maximization.

Although, I think your point might have been that I could have phrased that sentence more clearly without referring to utility.

comment by APMason · 2012-01-25T19:14:06.191Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Well, sure that may be true to the extent that you value happiness. What I was pointing out was that if you were completely miserable, saying "I should modify myself to prefer being miserable to being happy because then I'll get some of that sweet, sweet utility" is just wacky.

comment by moridinamael · 2012-01-25T19:18:15.198Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Sure. I wasn't defending the idea, or suggesting that we should do it. It is "wacky." Regardless, it is a meme that other human beings actually try to implement.

comment by APMason · 2012-01-25T19:50:47.462Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Nor did I think we disagreed.

comment by Blueberry · 2012-03-25T06:53:16.451Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It seems to be the case that happiness is actually not caused by getting what you want, but rather by wanting what you get. It's been challenging for me to square this psychological fact with the notion of utility maximization.

Why? That just means that happiness is overrated.

comment by Jayson_Virissimo · 2012-02-04T11:29:06.630Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This is my fairly gross simplification of a lot of Eastern philosophy, and it is antithetical to the "Western memeplex" of achievement and progress.

Arguably, this isn't very far from Stoic doctrine. Needless to say, calling Stoic doctrine "antithetical to the Western memeplex" is a bit of a stretch. Also, similar ideas can be found within Christian teachings, which, as far as I can tell, is the most important Western religion.

comment by Will_Newsome · 2012-01-25T23:42:47.991Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Eastern philosophy has a lot of emphasis on things that don't needlessly grind against other things. For example, Taoism shares many themes in common with mechanism design and institutional microeconomics generally. In some ways a frictionless mind frictionlessly engaging its environment might be described as "passive", but though the Buddha might've been "passive" in that sense he sure ended up doing a lot of stuff and arguing with a lot of people. Contrast with Nietzsche's mirror men.

comment by Nick_Tarleton · 2012-01-25T23:46:02.849Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Compare with Nietzsche's mirror men.

Do you mean this? I see some connection, but the emphasis and background assumptions seem extremely different from Taoism.

comment by Will_Newsome · 2012-01-25T23:49:26.632Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Perhaps I should have said "contrast with Nietzsche's mirror men".

comment by Nick_Tarleton · 2012-01-25T23:55:39.108Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

That makes more sense.

comment by Will_Newsome · 2012-01-26T00:00:32.560Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Sorry. It's the result of my junior year AP History class. The teacher said "'compare and contrast' is redundant, as comparing implies contrasting". Which while true in a sense doesn't change the fact that 'compare' is often taken to mean 'find similarities'.

comment by kpreid · 2012-02-03T16:29:52.290Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

My impression is that outside of the contexts where "compare and contrast" is said, the word "compare" always means "examine the differences of these two same-kind-of-thing things" — e.g. comparison shopping, or comparing values in programming — and the "find similarities" meaning is dead. Am I wrong/unobservant/in a niche?

comment by Will_Lugar · 2014-08-05T19:28:15.330Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

"Instead of creating utility, which is hard, we should all train ourselves to find utility in what we already have."

Why not both?

comment by HoverHell · 2012-02-04T11:16:46.484Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

-

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-01-25T20:27:30.431Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Here is a post by Quirinus_Quirrell that is a decent summary. If you want to be more provocative replace "non-zero" with "significant" add sexual orientation/gender identity to the list of characteristics that provide significant information.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-25T20:55:19.581Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Those topics aren't even that shocking.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-01-26T00:38:45.453Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

They become more shocking when one presents arguments for them, and/or discusses their implications. But you seem to have already noticed this.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-26T03:19:37.358Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

that topic wasn't mentioned.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-04-11T06:28:27.496Z · score: 10 (18 votes) · LW · GW

The Self-Righteous Hive Mind

...

What Haidt never quite gets across is that conservatives typically define their groups concentrically, moving from their families outward to their communities, classes, religions, nations, and so forth. If Mars attacked, conservatives would be reflexively Earthist. As Ronald Reagan pointed out to the UN in 1987, “I occasionally think how quickly our differences worldwide would vanish if we were facing an alien threat from outside this world.” (Libertarians would wait to see if the Martian invaders were free marketeers.)

In contrast, modern liberals’ defining trait is making a public spectacle of how their loyalties leapfrog over some unworthy folks relatively close to them in favor of other people they barely know (or in the case of profoundly liberal sci-fi movies such as Avatar, other 10-foot-tall blue space creatures they barely know).

As a down-to-Earth example, to root for Manchester United’s soccer team is conservative…if you are a Mancunian. If you live in Portland, Oregon, it’s liberal.

This urge toward leapfrogging loyalties has less to do with sympathy for the poor underdog (white liberals’ traditional favorites, such as soccer and the federal government, are hardly underdogs) as it is a desire to get one up in status on people they know and don’t like.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-04-12T00:43:01.295Z · score: 4 (8 votes) · LW · GW

On the other hand, being in favor of independence for Quebec is liberal if you're in Quebec, and conservative if you're in France.

comment by CronoDAS · 2012-05-02T04:24:32.962Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

This urge toward leapfrogging loyalties has less to do with sympathy for the poor underdog (white liberals’ traditional favorites, such as soccer and the federal government, are hardly underdogs) as it is a desire to get one up in status on people they know and don’t like.

David Brin tells another story about tribalism and expanding horizons.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-05-02T15:32:25.367Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you for the link! However it just seems a different take on the expanding circles theme I often here invoked and more importantly It dosen't seem to explain the leapfrog of loyalties that Sailer points out.

If both Ahmed and Billy are part of the tribe and considered subject to the same norms... why are Billy's fundamentalist and cousin marrying ways so much more offensive than Ahmeds? Especially since Billy's family hasn't been marrying cousins for 50 years and he dosen't think apostasy should be punished by death. Why is he held to standards so much higher that Billy ends up having less warm fuzzies than Ahmed despite actually doing better by explicitly stated standards? Especially since these same explicitly stated norms assure us they would never really hold them to different standards.

I think the simplest explanation is that hight status Richard could easily be mistaken for a mere rich Billy, but almost never for a rich Ahmed. By putting Billies conspicuously outside the circle of his sympathies he proves he isn't a Billy. If he is a son of a Billy the need is that much more urgent since being a Billy has real economics and social costs.

Billy is pissed off at what seems like Richard's betrayal of the since he is treating him poorly. Ahmed is also rightly pissed off because he can't tell Billies and Richards apart but he does know Billies sometimes treat him badly and Richards get all the breaks and privileges in life. Richard now also gets the high of moral superiority by crumbs from Billy to Ahmed and has all other sorts of neat opportunities to gain status points by signalling how much he dislikes Billy and likes Ahmed. Also while publicly vigorously opposing them and even perhaps voting against them gets he still gets to enjoy the tax brakes brought about by all the Billy voters who suddenly feel a strange urge to resist wealth redistribution.

Yay Richard!

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-25T20:11:27.985Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Let's do the impossible and think the unthinkable! I must know what those secrets are, no matter how much sleep and comfort I might lose.

I haven't read any comments yet but why do I have a feeling this will be trigger a thread where lots of LWers come out of the closet? I feel left out, being pretty much flaming unPC I can't elicit any drama that way. :(

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-26T00:16:23.476Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I'm very surprised at just how up voted the contrarian statements are in this thread, I must have significantly underestimated how popular certain opinions are among rationalists in private. I've read a few that have surprised and even disturbed me.

Yet I'm also just so excited about what I'll find here tomorrow morning. This thread might actually have been a good idea.

comment by Alejandro1 · 2012-01-26T03:56:01.659Z · score: 39 (39 votes) · LW · GW

Bear in mind that some contrarian statements might have been upvoted for being valuable as examples and contributions to the thread, rather than for substantial agreement. Also there is a selection effect: a contrarian sharing an unpopular opinion is very likely to upvote it when seeing a kindred spirit, but a non-contrarian who doesn't share it is unlikely to downvote it (especially in a thread like this one where the point is to encourage contrarian opinions to come out).

comment by Polymeron · 2012-02-05T18:43:09.404Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I've up-voted several lists containing statements with which I disagree (some vehemently so), but which were thought provoking or otherwise helpful. So, even if this is just anecdotal evidence, the process you described seems to be happening.

comment by Armok_GoB · 2012-02-12T15:03:40.483Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

You're supposed to upvote posts if you want more posts like that. I want more posts in the reference class of "providing the kind of content the OP asks for".

comment by FiftyTwo · 2012-01-26T13:48:48.407Z · score: 9 (13 votes) · LW · GW

There is no way to coherently hold utilitarianism without it leading to "the repugnant conclusion" that we should maximise reproduction.

Everyone who thinks they're utilitarian is engaging in signalling behaviour by claiming to value the happiness of other agents, but always rationalizes a utility argument for the self serving position they had anyway.

comment by orthonormal · 2012-01-27T00:00:52.322Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW · GW

There's an unfortunate trick of naming here: some LWers use "utilitarian" to describe "valuing different outcomes by real numbers and acting to maximize expected value according to some decision theory", and would thus describe a paperclip maximizer as utilitarian. I can easily accept that traditional Benthamite utilitarianism has no answer to the repugnant conclusion, though.

comment by TimS · 2012-01-27T14:44:45.811Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I mostly agree with this point, but the dust-speck/torture debate showed me that believing certain things about the additive properties of virtue/pleasure/suchlike commits me to choosing torture over dust specks. That is, unless your moral theory prohibits certain trade-offs, dust specks worse.

Further, utilitarian theories are all committed to believing the additive property. Is it unfair to say that any theory that believes the additive property (and is trying to maximize human virtue/pleasure/suchlike) is utilitarian?

comment by Jack · 2012-01-27T16:10:05.414Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Not all utilitarian theories are committed to believing the additive property-- "average utilitarianism" most famously. Trying to maximize human "virtue" strikes me as quite a different thing than maximizing pleasure/utility and not something I would call utilitarianism. But in general yes, total, act utilitarianism is belief in maximizing additive property x where x is something like pleasure, desires, preferences etc.

comment by Jack · 2012-01-27T16:21:32.025Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

People realize "the repugnant conclusion" is just the other side of the Torture/Dust-specs coin, right?

comment by Blueberry · 2012-03-25T08:35:12.024Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

How did I not see that before? Wow.

comment by drethelin · 2012-01-26T18:34:01.546Z · score: 2 (14 votes) · LW · GW

this is stupid. Utilitarianism does not decide what you value, only what you should do once you know your values. If you don't care about the absolute total amount of utility, there's no reason to maximize reproduction.

comment by DanielLC · 2012-01-27T03:52:38.730Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Technically it limits it. If you allow any value system, you get Consequentialism.

I don't know what the limits are, but apparently ethical egoism and ethical altruism don't count.

comment by Jack · 2012-01-27T16:17:56.153Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

If you don't care about the absolute total amount of utility then you are not a total utilitarian.

(Which is fine, and I'd agree with you but if you really mean average utilitarianism or some kind of Millsian or Rawlsian variation you should specify since people here usually mean total when they use the word.)

comment by I_Answer_Probability · 2012-01-25T18:17:35.670Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Vladimir_M's statement sounds quite insightful but it's dangerously close to one of these "you can't prove that there aren't any dragons in the garage" type things (not being able to think up with examples doesn't imply they don't exist because their very nature is that they are elusive).

If I were to looking for examples myself - by analogy with the weird sort of thought patterns people addicted to smoking use, to convince themself to keep smoking - I'd try to think of ways to remove things I love from my life (e.g. being able to think whatever I like without monitoring or having my thoughts censorsed/deleted). Some of the Fun theory articles may be a good starting point.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-25T20:48:34.961Z · score: 5 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Vladimir_M's statement sounds quite insightful but it's dangerously close to one of these "you can't prove that there aren't any dragons in the garage" type things (not being able to think up with examples doesn't imply they don't exist because their very nature is that they are elusive).

I actually have a pretty high confidence in Vladimir_M's model of the world. I don't put a very high prior on the bits that are unknown to me to be very much less accurate or useful.

comment by Will_Newsome · 2012-01-25T23:36:09.295Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Seconded.

comment by I_Answer_Probability · 2012-01-26T08:48:16.833Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I don't really understand the purpose of your reply to my comment.

comment by I_Answer_Probability · 2012-01-26T10:34:38.960Z · score: -2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

You're basically dismissing everything I said because he has a high reputation. Fine, but why tell me?

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-26T12:42:18.419Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not dismissing what you are saying. In fact I upvoted your original comment and have updated accordingly. I'm just sharing where this leaves my estimation on how much Vladimir_M thought is useful.

comment by dbaupp · 2012-01-26T10:47:12.473Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

because he has a high reputation

Stating that someone's reason for X is definitely Y, based on two sentences... are you a mind-reader?

comment by I_Answer_Probability · 2012-01-26T11:52:05.218Z · score: -6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I see there's no point trying to have a rational discussion here.

comment by dbaupp · 2012-01-26T12:24:42.406Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

What do mean? (Serious question.)

I was pointing out that you've inferred things about Konkvistador's state of mind that are highly speculative (but possibly true), but are purporting them as definite truth. (I was literally only commenting on that.)

comment by shokwave · 2012-01-26T10:47:40.499Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

So you can update slightly towards confidence in Vladimir_M's model?

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-01-25T18:55:17.047Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

being able to think whatever I like without monitoring

Total, ubiquitous and universally available surveillance, including automated facial expression and body language analysis (every citizen being, given some work, able to check out every hour of someone else's life the way we check Facebook status, plus low-level AI monitoring) is part of a short Weirdtopia story I'm writing. I've decided to set it on a planet in the Warhammer 40k universe BTW.

having my thoughts censorsed/deleted

Now that would be completely unacceptable indeed. Is, say, being on the business end of the mental health system in the worst way possible something like that? For myself, I don't consider a life with something like that to be worth living.

comment by dugancm · 2012-01-27T00:01:42.821Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Now that would be completely unacceptable indeed. Is, say, being on the business end of the mental health system in the worst way possible something like that? For myself, I don't consider a life with something like that to be worth living.

So, the only reason you're still alive is that you haven't bothered (or been able) to verify whether you've forgotten thoughts you don't remember having had? My sympathies.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-01-27T01:20:48.166Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

There's probably a pretty big difference, and you're probably just cynically exploiting the fact that I can't formulate it at 5am. And tomorrow I might just forget to address this topic... wait, shi-

comment by Armok_GoB · 2012-02-12T15:13:16.249Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Beeep! This is a friendly reminder to continue this train of thought!

comment by HeatDeath · 2012-01-27T22:56:35.946Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

In the WH40K universe, a small group of acquaintances, doing basic experimental research in applied parapsychology can, and eventually /will/ create a portal to Hell out of which pours a demonic army which then proceeds to do very unpleasant things to everybody on the planet. Given that the Imperium's standard policy in such an event is to sterilize the entire planet, total transparency as described above is probably a relatively stable, safe, and even pleasant model of society to live in (certainly relative to a lot of the other options).

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-01-28T03:38:26.224Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW · GW

The scary thing is that the real world appears to be approaching a similar situation with respect to epidemiology, or possibly even microbiology more generally.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-02-03T15:11:32.885Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

A alternative adaptation to this is to stay indoors. A lot. Imagine people working and socializing in virtual environments only. Sharing physical space or having physical contact with people might soon become something limited to family or sexual partners, and I would argue we are already moving in that direction. Even causal sex, one of the few ways in which we have more interpersonal contact with different people than we used to, may be on the way out if virtual sex or sex bots (sex with a human through a robot avatar might be a superior experience soon) become good enough that only romantics bother with the "natural" kind.

Taking a few additional precautions to systematically reduce the possibility of infection with food and other deliveries one could get a high level of safety. Oceans, moutains and deserts used to be barriers to disease, might our front door prove a suitable replacement? If you live with only a few people, you can make the entire home one big bubble.

This could eventually transition to bodies being sustained by artificial means and people spending all their time in virtual space or incarnated in real life robotic avatars. Might not sound much better than total constant surveillance, but consider, we may actually be able to have more privacy preserved in society that moves first in this direction than if we first eliminate privacy and then transition to a mostly virtual life.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-25T20:44:32.956Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Total, ubiquitous and universally available surveillance, including automated facial expression and body language analysis (every citizen being, given some work, able to check out every hour of someone else's life the way we check Facebook status, plus low-level AI monitoring) is part of a short Weirdtopia story I'm writing. I've decided to set it on a planet in the Warhammer 40k universe BTW.

I hope you finish your weirdtopia story soon, I'd be very interested in reading it :)

Now that would be completely unacceptable indeed. Is, say, being on the business end of the mental health system in the worst way possible something like that? For myself, I don't consider a life with something like that to be worth living.

I agree, freedom of thought is a must for me. But I'm pretty sure you wouldn't have to delete that many memes from my brain to make it acceptable.

comment by FiftyTwo · 2012-05-02T00:51:42.131Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Did you ever finish the story? I'd be interested in reading it.

comment by CronoDAS · 2012-01-26T07:02:11.704Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I've decided to set it on a planet in the Warhammer 40k universe BTW.

Unless it ends with everyone dying horribly or something similar happening, it's not Warhammer 40k. ;)

comment by FiftyTwo · 2012-05-02T01:30:13.780Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW · GW

We are never actually convinced by the logic of an argument, its pure presentation and rhetoric. We only think we respond to well reasoned arguments because the features we associate with 'well reasoned' are ones that we have been trained to consider authoritative and persuasive.

In short, we're just signalling rationality not being rational.

comment by OrphanWilde · 2013-05-15T19:44:33.896Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Empiricism is a bias, by the same token. But it's a bias that works.

The "authoritative and persuasive" kinds of arguments are the arguments that work, that show something about the universe with slightly better accuracy than other kinds of arguments that have been posed. That's why we've adopted them.

Rationality will never be deep. All beliefs and idea procured from rationality are at best transitive.

comment by Strange7 · 2012-02-06T05:23:28.017Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW · GW

The only trustworthy, effective sort of chief executive - whether for a small business or a major government - is a sociopath who considers the whole enterprise his (or her, although it's a statistical inevitability that there will be more qualified men) personal property, including the lesser employees or citizens. Anyone capable of genuine compassion is proportionately incapable of unbiased strategic thought. Ideally the sadistic god-kings would also be biologically immortal, but for practical purposes a delusion supported by superstitious anagathic practices would be sufficient; the real societal cost of, say, ritually eating a young child's heart every three months would be trifling compared to the benefits of binding decisions being made by someone who genuinely and incorruptibly wants to maximize the long-term productivity of society as a whole, if only for his own amusement.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-02-10T18:17:25.721Z · score: 9 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Orwell predicted that in such a situation the god-kings would be so corrupted by power that they'd stop caring about efficiency and personal wealth at all, and instead would turn to deriving pleasure from sadism alone. I don't know whether that's right, but history seems to suggest that power indeed drives men from mere cruelty to insanity.

comment by Strange7 · 2012-02-11T03:03:39.395Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

That's what happens with someone who's obsessed with domination and control, yes. I'm talking about someone who is completely confident in their mastery of the situation, regardless of whether that mastery is acknowledged. Someone who doesn't care whether the minions call themselves "friend" or "enemy," whether they're loyal or rebellious, just pushes the right buttons to maximize productivity.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-02-11T04:36:44.718Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think that any actual sociopaths, as observed in society, ever want to maximise efficiency as an end in itself, when it doesn't coincide with their other personal goals. This would absolutely require not selfish whim, but a complex commitment, both an intellectual and emotional one, which is usually labeled as "obsession" - not a generally approved trait - yet is mostly found in extraordinarily mentally developed people, not deficient ones.

Consider Albert Speer; he was thought an administrative and organisational prodigy by many, and even his detractors admit his intelligence and talent (and yes, no opinion of his subordinates would've likely bothered him) - and yet, despite his limited and naively technocratic outlook at first, when he became Armament Minister, he clearly struggled with his conscience to ignore the criminality of Nazi regime, tried to improve conditions for the slave workers that he employed, and even overturned Hitler's orders to destroy German infrastructure near the end of the war. Do you think that a human being could be found who would optimize arms production better than Speer, yet remained more loyal than him to a cause neither logical, nor moral (for any definition of "moral" quickly available to us), nor feasible?

In short, I think that what you demand is a greater contradiction in traits and behavior than Speer or other technocrats of his caliber displayed - almost certainly greater than what humanity's historically observed diversity permits.

comment by Bugmaster · 2012-03-17T01:01:57.630Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think that any actual sociopaths, as observed in society, ever want to maximise efficiency as an end in itself, when it doesn't coincide with their other personal goals.

Well... I could see how, if I were a perfect sociopath, I would be interested in maximizing overall efficiency. When I rule the world, I want it to be a worthwhile thing to possess.

comment by CharlieSheen · 2012-03-22T11:07:07.623Z · score: 6 (14 votes) · LW · GW

Sometimes the only ethical course of action is to kill another human being.

comment by Jayson_Virissimo · 2012-03-22T11:30:44.421Z · score: 26 (28 votes) · LW · GW

Sometimes the only ethical course of action is to kill another human being.

I doubt a majority of people even deny this.

comment by Mirzhan_Irkegulov · 2015-03-01T20:44:23.090Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Agreed. Most people don't follow consequentialist ethics and believe it makes sense to punish evil. Most people use meaningless words like blame, fault, virtue, human nature, responsibility to describe people (not all usages of these words are meaningless, mind you). Most people reason in terms of good and evil as if evil is an inherent property of a person and not just a convenient description of some observable phenomena.

So most people are completely OK with killing and torturing people they consider evil, otherwise nobody would join armies of any country and there would be no solitary confinements and revenge. Of all people I asked, only a tiny minority was not OK with executing this infamous child rapist and murderer. Just ask your average Joe, what he think about some local pedophile or a terrorist, who killed dozens of people in an airport? Should they be treated with decency because they are human beings? No, Joe would say let them rot it a cell, or castrated, or publicly humiliated, or whatever.

Thinking that killing is ethically OK is not non-conformist, it's very bloody mainstream. Non-conformism is thinking that killing is bad even if everybody thinks it's good. It requires conscious evaluation of consequentialism to realize that Hitler doesn't deserve a stubbed toe.

comment by lessdazed · 2012-01-27T01:45:05.778Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I must know what those secrets are, no matter how much sleep and comfort I might lose.

Quantity of experience: brain-duplication and degrees of consciousness

Think about it.

comment by faul_sname · 2012-02-03T20:17:33.562Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Beware, for here there lie basilisks.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-05-05T09:57:59.480Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think what lies here is that LW finally has to admit that Buddhists were right: there is no such thing as selfhood, it is illusionary, it is just a convenient way to give a name to what amounts of a sack full of diverse and ever-changing parts. Selfs exist only in the sense of how shaving kits exist. A convenient name for a group, a set.

If someone would make a million copies of my brain and torture them, it would not be a bad thing for "me", or not worse for "me" than doing it with the brain of others. There is no good reason to feel otherwise. Even "this me" is only a poor, oversimplified term for the combined experience of the awareness of various phenomena inside one head, even to call this one here a "me" is already wildly inaccurate, exact copies of this set of personality bits are not "me" by any stretch of imagination. They are separate sacks of personality bits that happen to exactly resemble this sack here.

The closest things we have to selfhood -and they do not actually consitute a full selfhood - are volition for the future and memories of the past, so because we remember things, and want future things to turn out differently or similarly, and this creates some sort of a process. Copies of a brain have memories, but they break at the volition for the future part. If whatever sorry excuse we have for a "future me" is "that which will remember the results of the decisions I make now", the copies stop being a "future me" a second after they are copied, as they won't remember anything I do after the copy.

comment by Blueberry · 2012-03-25T08:34:04.167Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Please elaborate

comment by Dallas · 2012-01-26T13:54:26.355Z · score: 6 (12 votes) · LW · GW

Let's go maximum ouroboros, shall we?

On a less depressingly metapolitical note, I'll at least indulge you with one of my slightly controversial opinions:

  • Potential prosecution of LGBT people is a valid casus belli and/or excuse for depriving a state of self-determination.
comment by Multiheaded · 2012-01-26T14:08:32.566Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Let's go maximum ouroboros, shall we?

Ah-ha! You were inspired by That One Thing we have floating around, right?

In all seriousness, however, have you considered the psychological effect that getting a powerful shock while investigating all this crap might have on me? While it,s a bit of a stretch, I can see myself getting so bitter and disappointed in the memeplex of "Normal enjoyable life" and "Contributing to society" that I devote my life to supporting the push for FAI, on a "Kill or cure" logic.

Potential prosecution of LGBT people is a valid casus belli and/or excuse for depriving a state of self-determination.

I agree wholeheartedly (except that I think that the basic "Might makes right" principle is more ethical in practice than any kind of human international law, so a made-up and clearly bullshit casus belli is equal in my eyes to the most just and humanitarian one: it's the practical effects that matters). This is hardly a "forbidden" opinion in any way, though: e.g. the late Christopher Hitchens would've likely supported it.

In general, this thread seems to have a justification in digging mostly for policies we perceive as brutal, anti-liberal and anti-humanist: they're the ones that sound the most evil and appaling to us, therefore, exiling an idea to that cluster would be a viable form of censorship (even if we should find this censorship wise and proper).

comment by FiftyTwo · 2012-05-02T00:43:29.310Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Total government surveillance would actually increase net happiness in developed countries significantly. (So cameras on every street, and if practical every bedroom. All emails, phone calls etc are kept on record to be examined by police when necessary)

We object to it out of a primal fear of being observed, internalised guilt about our actions and a cultural backlash against authoritarian governments.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-01-22T12:22:47.631Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

After reflection, I think this is my true rejection of total government surveillance. There are plenty of relatively unproblematic actions that are technically illegal but most people do anyway (soft drug use, copyright infringement, etc.), but right now few people are prosecuted so few people are particularly bothered by the laws. Introducing total government surveillance without repealing such laws first would essentially give arbitrary powers to law enforcement.

comment by DanielLC · 2013-05-27T18:55:12.197Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

There's also the problem of industrial espionage. If the government is able to spy on people, then corporations will be able to get the police to spy on people from other corporations.

comment by FiftyTwo · 2013-01-28T15:57:58.046Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Funnily enough I'm writing something about the 'right' to privacy right now, and that comic is one of the best principled arguments I've come across. [This may tell you something about the field.]

The counter is that laws can be changed, and a lot of current laws are only popularly accepted because they are unevenly enforced. E.g. if the middle class were at any real risk of arrest from drug possession sentences would be nowhere near as harsh.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-01-28T20:06:51.079Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah. I'd like to eventually go from unreasonable laws that aren't actually consistently enforced to reasonable laws that are actually consistently enforced, but unless both components switch at the same time there are going to be troubles in the process (arguably worse problems if the enforcement component switches sooner than the reasonableness component). Also, there's the problem that not everybody would agree with which laws would be reasonable, e.g. there are plenty of middle-aged and older people (in Italy at least) who seem to actually believe that marijuana had better stay banned (yes, most of those people probably have only a vague idea of what marijuana actually does, but still).

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-08-21T19:41:38.953Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

...and a cultural backlash against authoritarian governments.

Make that "centralized governments"; there is in fact no logical contradiction between democracy and total surveillance. Generally, in every case where people consider the Hobbesian Leviathan, they forget that Hobbes himself considered a democratically shaped Leviathan to be somewhat inferior but perfectly possible.

comment by FiftyTwo · 2012-08-22T00:23:02.152Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

there is in fact no logical contradiction between democracy and total surveillance

I didn't say there was, just that there is a general societal association between surveillance and bad things. (Surveillance -> Secret Police -> Scary governments doing bad stuff).

I imagine if the dominant cultural narrative of the last century was of centralised and authoritarian but benevolent states social attitudes would be a lot different. As it is all those features are lumped together into totalitarianism in the popular consciousness.

This perception makes people unwilling to support/vote/campaign for privacy reducing options even when there is an obvious net benefit (e.g. DNA and fingerprint databases would solve a lot of crimes at minimal cost in western liberal democracies).

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-01-28T14:07:55.636Z · score: 4 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Here's a critique of democracy that could be taken as either a loosely conservative-left one (mildly Stalinist, that is... Euro-Stalinist?), or a variation of the libertarian argument. Naive in places, but still an okay read.

http://web.inter.nl.net/users/Paul.Treanor/democracy.html

One issue which should certainly be removed from the democratic political arena is immigration. Demographics are probably the most urgent planning issue in Europe: demographic collapse will affect most of the continent within a generation. However, European electorates are hyper-sensitive to immigration issues, and clearly prefer zero immigration. Policies for replacement migration - with tens of millions of immigrants - can not be formulated in this political climate. In general, 'The People' can not be trusted with the immigration issue - because the manifestation of 'the people' on this issue is without exception a racist populism.

Heh. Here's the modus tollens to the democratic alt-right's modus ponens.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-01-28T13:27:43.314Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Concerning what everyone on the right around here says the voluntary doublethink of the Left:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Susan_Sontag

Imagine, if you will, someone who read only the Reader's Digest between 1950 and 1970, and someone in the same period who read only The Nation or [t]he New Statesman. Which reader would have been better informed about the realities of Communism? The answer, I think, should give us pause. Can it be that our enemies were right?

This is really quite complicated, though. Especially if one also asks which reader would've been better informed about the realities of capitalist democracy (neither would be well off in that regard, but still).

comment by jeremysalwen · 2012-04-04T07:24:05.228Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Isn't this an invalid comparison? If The Nation were writing for an audience of reader which only read The Nation, wouldn't it change what it prints? The point is these publications are fundamentally part of a discussion.

Imagine if I thought there were fewer insects on earth then you did, and we had a discussion. If you compare the naive person who reads only my lines vs the naive person who reads only your lines, your person ends up better off, because on the whole, there are indeed a very large number of insects on earth This will be the case regardless of who actually has the accurate estimate of number of insect species. The point is that my lines will all present evidence that insects are less numerous, in an attempt to get you to adjust your estimate downward, and your lines will be the exact opposite. However, that says nothing about who has a better model of the situation.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-25T19:10:00.716Z · score: 4 (8 votes) · LW · GW

derp

comment by Solvent · 2012-01-26T11:03:19.024Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I personally did not find that scary at all. However, I understand that many intelligent people were discomforted.

And so. If anyone wants to know what this is about, PM me and I'll try to figure out if it will upset you, and then tell you what it is.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-25T20:42:30.624Z · score: -1 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Oh you mean our very own escaped basilisk made by [he who must not be named]?

Edit: Removed name.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-25T20:43:14.915Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

innocent comment

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-25T21:29:50.999Z · score: 6 (10 votes) · LW · GW

It's not like it's terribly difficult to find, even without the name.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-25T20:56:11.439Z · score: 3 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I didn't find the idea that scary or dangerous at least any more than Pascal's wager. But I also have this creepy meta-feeling that I really desperately want to believe that so I'm risking less than I would be if I did find it dangerous/plausible/scary.

comment by faul_sname · 2012-01-26T00:29:44.093Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I did find the idea scary, not because the basilisk itself was scary but because its existence suggests a significant class of equally scary or scarier ideas.

comment by Multiheaded · 2012-01-27T04:40:23.067Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Exactly.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-02-03T22:53:03.918Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Like what? (Reply by private message if you want.)

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-26T00:31:26.456Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It gets worse, I think I have one.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-02-03T22:51:49.479Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I found it isomorphic to Pascal's wager, at least assuming that people who fail to be Christian solely because they've never heard of (or seriously thought about) Christianity in the first place won't go to hell.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-02-04T01:36:49.790Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

at least assuming that people who fail to be Christian solely because they've never heard of (or seriously thought about) Christianity in the first place won't go to hell.

I've thought about the idea enough to realize that (assuming one takes it seriously at all) the above is not guaranteed.

comment by Prismattic · 2012-02-04T01:45:05.023Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Well, people who failed to be Christian because they lived before Jesus ended up in limbo, according to Dante. I'm not sure if that's based on any actual theology.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-02-04T10:39:44.157Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

IIRC, the current stance of the Church is the reverse of that: atheism is a sin if you've heard of the idea of God but you refuse to think seriously about it, but not if despite thinking it through you still can't believe it.

comment by FiftyTwo · 2012-05-02T00:45:12.251Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Can you source that?

comment by [deleted] · 2012-05-07T14:00:46.011Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I think I read that in Youcat where it talks about the first commandment, but neither the Google Books nor the Amazon previews contain that part of the book.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-02-04T01:50:33.748Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I was actually referring to the basilisk.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-02-04T10:47:30.015Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

You mean that gung onq guvat zvtug unccra rira gb gubfr jub unira'g urneq be gubhtug nobhg gung fpranevb?

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-02-04T21:20:24.947Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yes.

comment by wedrifid · 2012-03-25T07:10:48.935Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I was actually referring to the basilisk.

[Query]

Yes

Consider using the term "Roko's Basilisk" for clarity.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-02-07T14:15:15.449Z · score: -1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

That doesn't sound plausible to me, but if you're right, the right thing to do would be letting as many people as possible know about the issue, so that it's more likely to be averted.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-02-09T00:59:56.434Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

The way it works is: if people are keeping the basilisk a secret for the sake of protecting others (even if it increases their own punishment), that means that those people value protecting others over their own safety. Therefore, a more effective way to punish them, is to torture those they're trying to protect.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-02-09T01:34:39.396Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Are you sure you don't want to at the very least rot-13 that? Some people here have explicitly said they'd rather not find out what the basilisk is.

comment by private_messaging · 2012-06-02T17:08:36.973Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

In Newcomb's a good agent will 1-box in emulator and 2-box in reality if it could tell apart sim and reality. Even a tiniest flaw in the emulation results in lack of incentive for following through with the basilisk threat. You need a very dumb decision theory for the agent to just torture people for no gain.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-06-03T00:27:02.756Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, and in that case the basilisk isn't a problem at all. My point is that under any decision-theoretic assumptions Eliezer's strategy of secrecy doesn't help.

comment by private_messaging · 2012-06-03T06:32:33.071Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Well, yea. The whole thing is just stupid, how-ever you look at it.

comment by wedrifid · 2012-03-25T07:20:10.388Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I hope the downvotes of the parent are for taboo violation and not for content. When it comes to Roko's Basilisk specifically (considering potential spooky acausal variants separately) Army's solution is correct. With the caveat firmly in place I don't believe even Eliezer would disagree with that. If he did then I would have to seriously reconsider my support for SIAI - it would indicate that he is someone who is likely to actually implement (or support the implementation of) the Basilisk's glare.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-03-25T10:06:45.808Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I indeed suspect that someone is just downvoting all posts mentioning the basilisk regardless of content. (As for “[T]hat doesn't sound plausible to me”, this is slightly less true now than when I wrote that post -- see http://lesswrong.com/lw/2ft/open_thread_july_2010_part_2/64f2.)

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-03-25T09:20:42.660Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

With the caveat firmly in place I don't believe even Eliezer would disagree with that.

That is certainly not consistent with his behavior.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-02-04T10:42:40.181Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Do you mean “not guaranteed that, given that hell exists, people who have never heard of it won't go there”, or “not guaranteed that, given that hell exists and that people who have never heard of it won't go there, it is equivalent to [the thing that should not be mentioned]”?

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-25T21:19:32.663Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

irrelevent comment

comment by steven0461 · 2012-01-25T19:55:01.770Z · score: 3 (17 votes) · LW · GW

"I must know" isn't a good enough reason. Sorry.

comment by TimS · 2012-01-25T20:15:39.911Z · score: 5 (11 votes) · LW · GW

"You can't handle the truth" is practically always a semantic stop sign. If you can't explain why a concept can't be discussed and convince others of the truth of that fact, then there's no reason to take the position seriously.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-25T20:19:34.587Z · score: 8 (12 votes) · LW · GW

How about "there is no such thing as anonymity on-line and I don't want to loose my job/go to prison/have my wife leave me"?

comment by TimS · 2012-01-25T20:32:11.534Z · score: 12 (22 votes) · LW · GW

If your beliefs cause you to risk losing your job, being imprisoned, or having your spouse leave you, then you have bigger problems. Not posting your thoughts here is unlikely to help.

And posting, "I have an interesting idea, but social pressure prevents me from stating it" is worse. People who might be sympathetic have no reason to take that assertion seriously, while people who would punish you for your thoughts now have reason to be suspicious and catch your inevitable slip-up (or they might confabulate a case against you that has nothing to do with what you've actually do wrong).

In short, if the rule is "Don't talk about Fight Club," then hinting about your neat evening activity is not helpful in communicating or in avoiding trouble.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-01-25T21:30:26.414Z · score: 11 (13 votes) · LW · GW

And posting, "I have an interesting idea, but social pressure prevents me from stating it" is worse. People who might be sympathetic have no reason to take that assertion seriously, while people who would punish you for your thoughts now have reason to be suspicious and catch your inevitable slip-up (or they might confabulate a case against you that has nothing to do with what you've actually do wrong).

In practice the exact opposite tends to happen. People who are sympathetic tend to pick up on subtle cues, whereas mainstream people are so used to actively avoiding thinking against their orthodoxy that like the OP they can't even imagine what you're hinting at. For example Paul Graham's essay is perfectly respectable, going into details about what specifically you can't say wouldn't be.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-26T00:12:00.289Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

People who are sympathetic tend to pick up on subtle cues

The interesting bit is that, the best heretic hunter is the man with doubts of his own.

comment by TimS · 2012-01-25T21:46:08.627Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I think I see what you are saying, in that you see the choice as between being explicit & punished or subtle & ignored-by-orthodox. That may be, but if your position is "I'm trying not to talk to the orthodox" then the intelligent orthodox are totally justified in saying "I have no reason to respect the quality of your ideas if you refuse to communicate them to me."

To launch a taboo, a group has to be poised halfway between weakness and power. A confident group doesn't need taboos to protect it. It's not considered improper to make disparaging remarks about Americans, or the English. And yet a group has to be powerful enough to enforce a taboo.

I totally agree with this point by Graham, and I think it counsels in favor of speaking about taboo-ed subjects. How else is the taboo going to change? And if you reasonably fear punishment, that's an unfortunate fact about your situation, not a proof that to the orthodox that your ideas have quality.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-01-26T00:33:07.721Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

That may be, but if your position is "I'm trying not to talk to the orthodox" then the intelligent orthodox are totally justified in saying "I have no reason to respect the quality of your ideas if you refuse to communicate them to me."

The goal isn't to convince the orthodox to change his position, it's merely to show that the orthodox opinion isn't unanimous.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-25T21:16:08.287Z · score: 2 (16 votes) · LW · GW

I don't know why people are downvoting this. You hit the nail on the head with this and your post abou PUA.

EDIT: what the fuck, man?

comment by TimS · 2012-01-25T21:34:45.348Z · score: 10 (12 votes) · LW · GW

One hypothesis I have is that there is a sizable population on LW that REALLY doesn't want to talk about the social norms. In meatspace, stuff like how often to talk, how close to stand, and such.

There's a little discussion of the equivalent for online discussion, but mostly phrased in terms of "status," which is not a deep enough concept to capture everything that's going on. I get the feeling that others think something like "My methods of interacting with others are effective, and I'm not interested in other people telling me that my methods makes them uncomfortable." Certainly I've felt that way in the past.

(That said, I'm not sure if that phenomena is why this downvoting is occurring here).

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-25T21:39:25.799Z · score: 1 (7 votes) · LW · GW

can you elaborate?

comment by TimS · 2012-01-25T21:57:14.119Z · score: 10 (18 votes) · LW · GW

I've asserted occasionally that post-modern moral theories (like the worthwhile parts of feminism) are consistent with empiricism. That is, they look at what as happened before and make predictions about will happen in the future.

That is often down-voted. I suspect that this is because taking feminism seriously would require people to re-think their methods of interacting with others, in a way that would be extremely challenging to their personal identities. That way leads to mindkilling (By the transitive property: The personal is political + Politics is the Mindkiller => The personal is the mindkiller).

comment by Viliam_Bur · 2012-01-26T16:06:35.332Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

I suspect that this is because taking feminism seriously would require people to re-think their methods of interacting with others, in a way that would be extremely challenging to their personal identities.

I would love to see a rational discussion about feminism.

I guess there are many ideas where I should update, but also a lot of BS... and I have trouble separating these two parts, mostly because saying that "there is a lot of BS" means that I am an evil person not worth discussing with. Asking for evidence is a proof that I don't believe everything, which of course means that I am an ignorant evil male. So I would like to participate in a discussion where my comment "I don't think this is enough evidence for X" or "I think there is an alternative explanation" is countered by more evidence, instead of just pointing out that I don't get it, because I am privileged (because somehow the non-privileged person could never be wrong).

comment by TimS · 2012-01-26T17:14:06.371Z · score: 4 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Here is a start at what I'd call empirical feminist. I'm not sure what you mean by rational, if you don't mean empirical.

More generally, I rely on feminist thought to say:

There are many unstated assumptions about how people should behave. These assumptions are bad, simply for being unstated. If a cultural norm is necessary, it should be capable of being explicit. Once the implicit assumptions are made explicit, it turns out I don't like many of them. Like "Jocks good, nerds bad."

From there, I move on to say:

Definitions of pivotal words (i.e. "politics") have unstated assumptions about how they should be defined. Electioneering is politics, but complaining about inappropriate jokes is not. Yet each is aimed at changing how society is organized, and each has roughly equal chance of causing the aimed-for change. (And each is equally and similarly mind-killing).

For arguments-are-soldiers reasons, many feminists are particularly provocative in their redefinition of worlds. Also for arguments-are-soldiers reasons, other feminists are reluctant to call them on being provocative. That's a bug, not a rationalist feature.

But notice that redefinition can be quite powerful, like how "queer" has been reclaimed from being a slur to being a positive label. If you weren't a feminist, would you have predicted this was possible? Keep in mind hindsight bias.

comment by Viliam_Bur · 2012-01-27T11:45:10.264Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

There are many unstated assumptions about how people should behave. These assumptions are bad, simply for being unstated. If a cultural norm is necessary, it should be capable of being explicit.

Those "unstated assumptions" seem to me like an analogy to individual "compartmentalization". First thought: they should be made explicit. Second thought: maybe they serve some purpose; most likely to prevent public disorder (read: in worst case thousands of people killing each other). Many of them are probably very outdated, so exposing them would just lead to their removing. Some of them may be sensitive, and making them explicit would bring an open conflict.

As an example, I guess many feminists would be very uncomfortable with public discussion of "pick-up arts" (of course unless they could control the whole discussion). Irony is that PUAs are also trying to expose some unstated rules, for the sake of hacking them.

But notice that redefinition can be quite powerful, like how "queer" has been reclaimed from being a slur to being a positive label.

English is not my first language and I don't live in English-speaking environment, so I don't clearly see the changes of emotions associated with this word. But are you sure it is the feelings about the word that have changed, instead of feelings towards the queers themselves?

To compare: If drinking beer is socially unacceptable in some society, and then decades later drinking beer is acceptable (even though most people there don't drink beer), I certainly wouldn't describe it as "reclaiming the word beer". Of course the connotations of word beer would be changed from "something illegal that only strange people drink" to "something people drink", but that would be just a side effect of the real change.

Similarly, there is a lot of effort to invent and popularize gender-neutral pronouns in English, because it is expected to change something, namely to reduce sexism. However, there already are languages that "naturally" contain gender-neutral pronouns, for example Hungarian. So does this theory predict that Hungarians are less sexist than other nations? Can we measure it somehow?

I think the causality is reversed; it's not like "if we use gender-neutral pronouns, we become less sexist" but "if even the suspicion of being sexist becomes socially unacceptable, then people will use gender-neutral pronouns to signal their non-sexism". People use gender-neutral pronouns because they are sensitive about something, not the other way around; though perhaps the use of those pronouns can further increase their sensitivity.

comment by TimS · 2012-01-27T13:59:44.003Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Some [unstated assumptions] may be sensitive, and making them explicit would bring an open conflict.

Feminists would say the conflict already exists, but the majority demands that everyone pretend there is no conflict at all, partially as a beneficial tactic in the conflict. We can make arguments about whether society as a whole is better off masking certain conflicts. But the minority has no reason to respect a tactic that is aimed at, and often achieves the goal of suppressing them.

As an example, I guess many feminists would be very uncomfortable with public discussion of "pick-up arts" (of course unless they could control the whole discussion). Irony is that PUAs are also trying to expose some unstated rules, for the sake of hacking them.

Well, I suspect that PUA want to learn the unstated rules in order to take advantage of them. They do not want the rules to become explicit common knowledge because that could/would remove the power and effectiveness of the PUA skill set. Aside from the general feminist principle that unstated assumptions should always be made explicit, one can't ignore that the particular unstated assumptions PUA aim to hack are precisely some of the normative expectations about how young women should think that feminists oppose even in the absence of PUA.

But are you sure it is the feelings about the word that have changed, instead of feelings towards the queers themselves?

All I can do is assert that the feelings about the word have changed. 20-30 years ago, queer and faggot were only slurs. From 2003-2007, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy was a reality show playing on TV. But faggot is still a slur.

Alternatively, compare n#@@#r. Given how the word is deployed today, there's no way "N#@@#r Eye for the White Guy" (helping clueless nerds get in touch with their popular culture side, or something) would ever play on television.

People use gender-neutral pronouns because they are sensitive about something, not the other way around; though perhaps the use of those pronouns can further increase their sensitivity.

This is probably right, and I think feminists learned some of this lesson from the utter failure of the "spelling to reduce sexism (i.e. womyn)" experiment. Have you read this Hofstadter essay? I think it helps show what might be a stake in the vocabulary sensitivity issue.

comment by Viliam_Bur · 2012-01-27T15:50:27.211Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Some unstated assumptions can be good for minority. Consider for example the idea of religious tolerance, which appeared when society was highly religious. The unstated assumption is that having the right religion does not matter too much, because people not mass-killing each other is more important than believing in the right kind of deity. Now say it too loudly, and religious people will have to oppose this idea, to signal their faith.

More generally, an inconsistent person may be friendly with you in a "near mode", but your opponent in a "far mode" (IMHO people generally are friendly and believe many strange things). When you point out their inconsistency, you may have manufactured yourself an enemy. Or not. Anyway, it involves some risk, so it is better to think about it first.

Well, I suspect that PUA want to learn the unstated rules in order to take advantage of them. They do not want the rules to become explicit common knowledge because that could/would remove the power and effectiveness of the PUA skill set.

If enough people already know the rules and discuss them online, it would be difficult to protect the secret. So why not make some money teaching it before it all becomes common sense? However, there is still hope that the rules are so much against what our society teaches us, that you could shout it from the rooftops and still 90% of men would either ignore them or somehow rationalize their akrasia.

Historically, one secret that on average worked in benefit of women, was men's general ignorance (and frustration) about what women want. Simply said, an average heterosexual male would like to have sex with some attractive female, he would like to increase his chances, but he has no idea what is her decision algorithm. So by saying: "X is part of my algorithm", or more politely: "you know, we women really love X" she can manipulate him into giving her X. It is like playing a game where your opponent can lie about their rewards, and thus manipulate you into suboptimal strategy. Some PUAs are trying to "scientifically" discover the true algorithm, so this one specific advantage is removed, and men can finally play this game with full information.

Given how the word is deployed today, there's no way "N#@@#r Eye for the White Guy" would ever play on television.

Alternative explanation: If you use the offensive word with the offended person present, how do you estimate the probability of being physically harmed, if the word is (a) "faggot" or (b) "n#@@#r"? I am trying to say, it's not about how tolerant we are, but how dangerous it is to offend someone. Though this explanation does not explain the difference between "queer" and "faggot". I'd like to ask: 20-30 years ago were both these words equally offensive, or if you'd have to choose one of them, would "queer" be somehow less offensive?

Have you read this Hofstadter essay?

Yes, I did, and it made a big impression on me. Then I realised some parts of feminism have value. But perhaps it also set my expectations for other feminist texts too high. Well, not everyone can write like Hofstadter.

comment by TimS · 2012-01-27T16:36:13.526Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

the unstated assumption [of tolerance] is that having the right religion does not matter too much, because people not mass-killing each other is more important than believing in the right kind of deity. Now say it too loudly, and religious people will have to oppose this idea, to signal their faith.

Simply put, I disagree that this is an accurate summary of history. People explicitly and publicly argued for toleration on exactly the basis you identified. And it was sometimes implemented. Further, I don't think there is any example in history of the toleration of a community failing because the tolerant were so vocal about it that the intolerant suddenly noticed that the wool was being pulled over their eyes. In short, you've identified the assumption/foundation of tolerance, but this foundation was hardly unstated in the sense I mean.

Simply said, an average heterosexual male would like to have sex with some attractive female, he would like to increase his chances, but he has no idea what is her decision algorithm.

Without agreeing on mechanism, I can certainly agree that some women conceal their desires in order to manipulate others. It probably extends to everyone in her social circle, but examples include expecting free drinks and insincerely saying "Nothing is wrong." when asked. This type of manipulation is bad, and would be much more difficult if the underlying unstated assumptions went away.

So why not make some money teaching it before it all becomes common sense?

It is not inevitable that the changes I desire will ever happen. Further, PUA functions to support the unstated assumptions it seeks to exploit. PUA Bob has beliefs about how women should behave, and he behaves consistent with those beliefs. Bob's behavior tends to reinforce those beliefs in others. That would be true even if the beliefs were not considered "unstated" by society. But because society does consider them unstated (and punishes making them explicit), reinforcing the beliefs includes reinforcing that they should be unstate-able.

20-30 years ago were both these words equally offensive, or if you'd have to choose one of them, would "queer" be somehow less offensive?

Some of this is before my time, and some of it is far back in my memory. Nonetheless, I'd say that "queer" and "faggot" were about equally offensive when they were both slurs. Queer might even have been worse. (~50% + epsilon for those assertions).

And your discussion of when to expect violence is unlikely to measure offensiveness of different phrases. The culture of poverty is more accepting of violence than the culture of wealth. That is, we would expect an equally offensive statement to cause violence from a culture of poverty when we would not expect violence from a culture of wealth. Stereotypical blacks live in a culture of poverty (because they are poor), and stereotypical homosexuals do not (because the stereotype is that they aren't poor).

comment by Viliam_Bur · 2012-01-28T10:51:05.414Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

PUA functions to support the unstated assumptions it seeks to exploit. PUA Bob has beliefs about how women should behave, and he behaves consistent with those beliefs. Bob's behavior tends to reinforce those beliefs in others. That would be true even if the beliefs were not considered "unstated" by society. But because society does consider them unstated (and punishes making them explicit), reinforcing the beliefs includes reinforcing that they should be unstate-able.

The assumptions of society are not the same as assumptions of PUAs. For example, society assumes that men should buy women drinks; but PUAs assume that women prefer men that assertively step out of the crowd -- for example by not buying them drinks when socially expected to.

I fail to see how exactly PUA Bob by not buying women drinks reinforces the societal beliefs. He exposes them and invalidates them, though he does not do it explicitly, so it leaves open door to alternative interpretations, such as: "If you are Bob, you don't have to buy women drinks, but otherwise you have to"; but then is it really Bob's fault if someone comes to this anti-Occam conclusion?

Bob has assumptions that he perhaps shares on his website, such as "if you [man] step out of the crowd, you become more attractive to a [typical] [heterosexual] woman". Are these assumptions secret? No. By being a minority opinions, they are not as widely known as "men should buy women drinks", but if every other PUA writes them on their webpage, I wouldn't call them "unstated".

So it seems to me that the only unstated thing is that Bob, while refusing to buy a drink to Alice, did not explicitly say: "Alice, I am not buying you a drink, because I would like to have sex with you, and according to my hypothesis (which if you are interested to know more you can find fully explosed on my website "www.bob.pua"), not buying you a drink makes you percieve me as standing out of the crowd, which increases my chances." This would be most honest. But can we really expect everyone to speak like this in any situation?

I admit I chose "not buying drink" as the most harmless example. For other examples the analysis may be different. I'm trying to say that a PUA may be etically OK, while still essentially remaining a PUA -- a person trying to increase their sexual pleasure by analyzing human true sexual preferences and optimizing according to them. Again, I admit other people may disagree with this definition of PUA, but this is how I perceive it.

comment by TimS · 2012-01-28T18:40:45.272Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

My takeaway from this is that we still don't share a definition of what an unstated assumption is.

PUA has some explicit techniques to seem more appealing to target women. Some of the power of some of those techniques is that they transgress certain norms. I assert that one property of those norms is that society disapproves of discussing them.

But that's independent of the empirical question that I'd state as follows:

If the effectiveness of behavior X depends on the fact that it transgresses norm A, is it more accurate to say that behavior X supports or hurts the continued existence of norm A? If the answer to that question depends on the circumstances, what specific circumstances make a difference?

comment by Viliam_Bur · 2012-01-28T21:38:27.588Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I guess the circumstance is: does exhibiting behavior X make the norm A stronger or weaker?

This needs to be analyzed further. Naively, any behavior that transgresses a norm seems to weaken it, but that's not necessarily the case. First, the transgression must be known. Secret transgression weakens the norm for the person who did it, but has no influence on others. Second, the transgression must be rewarded. If people see the transgression and then see punishment, that makes the norm stronger.

In this case, not buying a drink is a public act, and (when successfully done by PUA) it is rewarded, so I conclude that it hurts the norm.

comment by TimS · 2012-01-28T22:45:59.168Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I conclude that it hurts the norm

You need to be a little more explicit here. What particular norm is damaged by what particular behavior?


Let's look at a different example. One possible norm is "Homosexuality is wrong." A norm that supports it is "Homosexuality is strange and exotic." That is, if people believe homosexuality is not strange or exotic, they probably would be less likely to believe homosexuality is wrong.

Enter Katy Perry's song "I kissed a Girl (and I liked it)" (lyrics here - spoiler: she kissed a girl). It's pretty clear that the character singing the song is not really a lesbian. But she gets a thrill from kissing a girl - and expects her boyfriend would get a similar thrill.

Chorus:

I kissed a girl and I liked it,
the taste of her cherry chapstick.
I kissed a girl just to try it,
I hope my boyfriend don't mind it.
It felt so wrong,
it felt so right.
Don't mean I'm in love tonight.
I kissed a girl and I liked it

This song seems to transgress the norm "Homosexuality is wrong." But notice how strongly it reinforces the norm "Homosexuality is strange and exotic" It's an empirical question whether the strengthening of the primary norm from the strengthening of the secondary norm outweighs the weakening of the primary from the violation of that norm. (I suspect the strengthening outweighs the weakening).


To return to PUA, the buyer of the drinks is a side issue.

I think the norm feminist opposes is the idea that women should be offering sex without commitment (or that sex should be used to buy commitment). PUA obviously has no problem with those norms, and actively seeks to support the first.

comment by Viliam_Bur · 2012-01-29T10:32:36.083Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

On the other hand, a topic that appears in a popular song is less taboo (less exotic) than a topic no one speaks about. The more people sing about it, the less unexpected is if someone does it. The evidence goes both ways, and this direction honestly seems stronger to me.

I think it is good to be sensitive about other people, societal norms etc., but too much of it makes a bias. Just like one does not become wise by reversing stupidity, one does not become fair by reversing unfairness. Trying to signal sensitivity may lead to finding the most offensive interpretation of everything people do. (An unrelated example: Recently in my country a political party was medially accused of racism because their pre-election billboard had a white background.) Then anyone who is not perfectly self-thought-policed, or just not signalling hard enough becomes one of the bad guys.

Back to the PUA example: I thought feminists were previously opposing the norm that women should be having sex only with commitment. So now that this norm was successfully defeated, I would say that it is rational to approach women with expectation that there is a non-zero probability that they would consent to sex without commitment. How high is the probability, that is hard to guess, it depends on many variables. I would guess that "being in a bar, accepting drinks from strangers" is an evidence in favor of this hypothesis. And I think most PUAs don't believe that every woman will offer them sex without commitment. It is a long time since I read their websites, but I remember estimates like 1 in 10. The idea was to use the law of large numbers, and approach 10 women in one evening.

So, how not to strengthen the norms? Let's say there is a norm saying "every X is Y", and an older norm saying "no X is Y". I believe that "some X are Y (and some X are not Y)", and I am looking for someone who is "X and Y". How exactly should I act so that my behavior cannot be interpreted as strenghtening either of the norms? Bonus points if the behavior will seem natural, because creepy behavior scares people away.

comment by TimS · 2012-01-31T19:50:38.463Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think that some of the inferential distance we have is based on different concepts of what a norm is. You seem to think they are lists of rules that each person consciously examines to decide what to do. I agree that many norms work that way. By I also think there are norms that are not explicitly examined at the moment of decision-making, that essentially at the level of cognitive bias. The distinction between TimS-norms and cognitive bias is that bias are universal across all humans, while TimS-norms are culturally dependent and sometimes change over time. I think a significant amount of the differences between our conclusions on how to cause social change is based on this difference in our conceptions of norms.

I thought feminists were previously opposing the norm that women should be having sex only with commitment.

Feminists have taken different positions on this issue. The feminists of the 1870s didn't reject that the social purpose of women was childrearing. They simply opposed involuntary motherhood (i.e. advocated for the accessibility of contraceptives for women). That was the first wave of feminism.

Nowadays, most active feminists are either second wave or third wave. Third wave feminism is more sympathetic to "sex positive feminism," which endorses the position that female enactment of sexuality could benefit female autonomy. By contrast, second wave feminism generally endorses anti-pornography positions. I suspect that some of the differences in approaches coincides with the discussion we are having about whether norm transgression can (or does in this instance) reinforce a norm. Regarding PUA, sex positivity seems like it would have a lot fewer problems with it than Dworkin or I might.

comment by TimS · 2012-02-06T02:38:47.338Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

As I write this, this post is at -3. I don't see what reasoning mistake I made in this specific post, because I use the same reasoning in all the rest of my posts in this conversation.

Can someone help me understand why this comment got different treatment.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-01-29T01:52:11.090Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

But notice that redefinition can be quite powerful, like how "queer" has been reclaimed from being a slur to being a positive label.

Yes, the "queers" were by no means the first group to reclaim a slur. The Dutch "Beggars" were going it back in the 14th century, see the real life section of this tvtropes page for more examples.

comment by TimS · 2012-01-30T13:59:12.154Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The important part of reclaiming a word is changing the negative connotation. Once, queer's only meaning was negative. Now, the word is neutral in general society. That's a little different with naming yourself ironically based on the comments of your opponent. That is, I suspect the Dutch Beggars still had negative opinions of actual beggars of the Dutch ethnicity. Or if some religious group called LessWrong members "Arrogant Assholes." It wouldn't be intensely surprising for some of us to adopt that as an unofficial moniker. But that probably wouldn't change our (or society's) prior beliefs about being arrogant or being an asshole.

Regardless, the interesting point about "queer" is not that reclamation as I've described it actually occurred. If empirical feminism is true, there's every reason to think it has happened lots of times before. Sans-culottes appears to be one such example. What is particularly interesting about "queer" is that someone wrote an essay saying, "Let's reclaim 'queer' because it has a negative connotation and that's bad for homosexuals" and the reclamation effort worked. That doesn't seem to be the same process as "sans-culottes" or other historical examples.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-01-25T22:09:37.082Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I've asserted occasionally that post-modern moral theories (like the worthwhile parts of feminism) are consistent with empiricism. That is, they look at what as happened before and make predictions about will happen in the future.

My experience is the exact opposite.

comment by TimS · 2012-01-25T22:18:36.378Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Let me put it this way: If Marxist history were true, that would falsify Foucault. As I understand it, one of the purposes of Foucault's philosophical project was to explain why Marxist history could sometimes say insightful things even if it was wrong.

And I'll say again the post-modern thought is often co-opted by more mainstream thought. What's left behind is not representative of the insight-fulness of post-modern thought.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-01-26T00:37:16.390Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Let me put it this way: If Marxist history were true, that would falsify Foucault. As I understand it, one of the purposes of Foucault's philosophical project was to explain why Marxist history could sometimes say insightful things even if it was wrong.

Unfortunately the result appears less insightful then the original Marxist theory.

comment by TimS · 2012-01-26T13:53:34.951Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Ok, how about a pair of feminist prediction:

Society's response to rape will be more effective if we stop laughing at rape jokes.

I suspect this one is somewhat true.

Society will treat women more equally if we change the spelling to remove "men" from "women" (i.e. womyn)

The evidence seems clear that this thesis is insufficiently nuanced at best, and probably wrong. But consider what social messages might be successfully conveyed by E.E. Cummings and his idiosyncratic punctuation.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-01-26T23:35:18.466Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Society's response to rape will be more effective if we stop laughing at rape jokes.

I fail to see how this is a particularly "feminist" prediction, i.e., just about any other social theory makes some version of this prediction.

Society will treat women more equally if we change the spelling to remove "men" from "women" (i.e. womyn)

Ok, let's do a cross cultural analysis based on whether the native language has this property and attitudes towards women. You will find this prediction rather easily falsified.

comment by TimS · 2012-01-27T00:08:03.992Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I fail to see how this is a particularly "feminist" prediction, i.e., just about any other social theory makes some version of this prediction.

A substantial amount of modern social theory of all kinds draws heavily on feminism. Folk social theory doesn't seem to agree, as evidenced by the fact that people still make rape jokes.

You will find this prediction rather easily falsified.

First, you say this like I didn't know this already, when I already said it was wrong in my comment. Second, other empirical fields make wrong predictions as well, so this is hardly proof that feminism is not empirical.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-01-27T02:35:54.740Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

A substantial amount of modern social theory of all kinds draws heavily on feminism. Folk social theory doesn't seem to agree, as evidenced by the fact that people still make rape jokes.

I was actually thinking of the implicit social theory based on what was considered "acceptable" and/or "respectable" in pre-feminism days.

First, you say this like I didn't know this already, when I already said it was wrong in my comment. Second, other empirical fields make wrong predictions as well, so this is hardly proof that feminism is not empirical.

Then why did you select it as one of your two examples showing that feminism is empirical? Also, to the extent that the statement is meaningful, the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis predates feminism.

comment by TimS · 2012-01-27T03:16:04.216Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I was actually thinking of the implicit social theory based on what was considered "acceptable" and/or "respectable" in pre-feminism days.

What precise time period are you talking about? In post-war America, rape jokes, like racist jokes, were relatively common. In the Victorian era, who knows the prevalence of the jokes, but I'm doubtful their social theories suggested a connection between rape-joke-frequency and actual rape-frequency.

Then why did you select it as one of your two examples

You are right, it's not a good example of the point I was trying to make.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-01-28T03:52:12.246Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

In post-war America, rape jokes (...) were relatively common.

Perhaps, but the moralists of the day also condemned them. See the Hays code for an example of this. If you were to ask one of these moralists what was wrong with having rape jokes in movies, they'd probably answer some version of arguing that it promotes rape.

comment by TimS · 2012-01-28T04:52:55.472Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I agree that "moralists of the day" have always condemned what they saw was wrong, probably including rape jokes. But the social theory of post-war American moralists held that women's social purpose was to stay home and have babies. To that end, they asserted the empirically false theory that wearing revealing clothing was a cause of rape. In short, I don't trust that those types of theories were trying to have an empirical basis.


I'm not sure that the Hays Code is a good example, because it was aimed on more "core" moralist issues (like nudity, non-marital sex, anti-homosexuality, and depictions of crime without punishment). Also, it was limited to movies.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-01-28T06:06:03.830Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

the empirically false theory that wearing revealing clothing was a cause of rape.

I'm not sure what you mean by saying this theory is empirically false; if two women were to walk through a bad neighborhood one wearing revealing clothing, the other wearing concealing clothing, the woman wearing the revealing clothing would be more likely to get raped.

Note, I'm not saying that this means we should necessarily bad women from wearing revealing clothing (since outside bad neighborhoods this effect may be small) and the restrictions on freedom may very well do more damage. But I doubt you favor a bad on rape jokes for the same reason.

In short, I don't trust that those types of theories were trying to have an empirical basis.

I suspect they had (at least slightly) more of an empirical basis then feminism, mostly thanks to memetic evolution.

comment by TimS · 2012-01-28T17:58:37.563Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I suspect they had (at least slightly) more of an empirical basis then feminism, mostly thanks to memetic evolution.

I don't understand the argument. Feminism is later in time than Hays-morality, so why isn't it the more evolved? Plus, Hays-morality is the descended from theories that said things like "showing the ankle leads to the end of civilization," which I think is falsified for reasonable definitions of civilization. That is, allowing women to wear bikinis has not caused a return to the state of nature, but that is what Hays-code moralists seem to have predicted.

I'm not sure what you mean by saying this theory is empirically false; if two women were to walk through a bad neighborhood one wearing revealing clothing, the other wearing concealing clothing, the woman wearing the revealing clothing would be more likely to get raped.

This is intuitive and what one would expect. That doesn't necessarily mean it's true. For example, there are reported instances of serial rapists targeting housewives, which is pretty clearly uncorrelated (if not anti-correlated) with revealing clothing. In short, citation desperately needed.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-01-28T20:48:35.101Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I don't understand the argument. Feminism is later in time than Hays-morality, so why isn't it the more evolved?

True, but they made a point of disregarding the accumulated wisdom of their predecessors.

Plus, Hays-morality is the descended from theories that said things like "showing the ankle leads to the end of civilization," which I think is falsified for reasonable definitions of civilization. That is, allowing women to wear bikinis has not caused a return to the state of nature, but that is what Hays-code moralists seem to have predicted.

BTW, I suspect that the Hays-code people's main argument against revealing clothing is that it would promote adultery, which it indeed has.

comment by TimS · 2012-01-28T23:12:58.915Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

BTW, I suspect that the Hays-code people's main argument against revealing clothing is that it would promote adultery, which it indeed has.

That's probably an accurate summary of their intent. I'm still not sure that I believe their empirical claim. Adultery and non-marital sex have been common in pre-immodesty Western history across many social classes.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-01-29T01:57:29.444Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Adultery and non-marital sex have been common in pre-immodesty Western history across many social classes.

Adultery certainly existed, I don't think it was as common as it is today. Certainly people were much less likely to have kids out of wedlock, or to not even bother getting married before having kids.

comment by TimS · 2012-01-30T14:03:41.817Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That assertion about adultery might be appealing to believe. But that doesn't make it true. And citation to an essay asserting increased social stratification is not evidence that out-of-wedlock births are more common now than in the past, or that marriage is becoming uncorrelated with child-rearing.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-01-31T03:43:08.324Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

By the way, do you have a citation that rape jokes increase rape, since near as I can tell the evidence for it is of the same kind of vaguely anecdotal/common sense that you like to dismiss when it supports a conclusion you don't like.

comment by TimS · 2012-01-31T20:14:05.111Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

That's a fair question. To be clear, my assertion was that society's response to rape would be "better" if we gave negative feedback to rape jokes, which would reduce their frequency.

  • I think it is pretty clear that the frequency of rape jokes has substantially decreased since the 1970s, caused substantially by negative feedback.
  • In that same time period, I think society's response to rape has significantly improved.

Concrete examples of recent changes:

  • In many American jurisdictions, rape was once legally defined to include an element of force. That is, proof of non-consent could only be shown by the woman's "utmost resistance." Nowadays, the legal definition has been changed to remove the force requirement or interpret it as satisfied by the force of penetration.
  • Spousal rape was once legally impossible or difficult to prove. Now, spousal rape is treated as legally similar to other kinds of rape.
  • Once, rape victims needed to worry that their dress or promiscuity would be used to discredit their testimony in court. Now, the rules of evidence have often been amended to restrict the admissibility of this kind of evidence.

At this point, I think the evidence shows a strong correlation between anti-rape-joke attitudes and society's responsiveness to rape. That's not proof of the causal mechanism I'm asserting (reducing rape jokes causes attitudes towards rape to change in the general population), but it is suggestive.

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-31T21:02:06.129Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I think it is pretty clear that the frequency of rape jokes has substantially decreased since the 1970s, caused substantially by negative feedback.

This is not clear to me at all.

comment by TimS · 2012-01-31T22:31:14.887Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Do you mean jokes about prison rape? I agree that prison rape jokes do not appear to have decreased in frequency in the Baby Boomer era.

If you mean jokes that imply women want/deserve/enjoy rape, do you dispute that they were somewhat frequent in the 1970s or that they are relatively infrequent today (in the US)?

comment by [deleted] · 2012-01-31T23:39:24.032Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I am not making the opposite claim, only expressing doubt. There is a folk narrative that US society was less enlightened in the past, and I agree that the notion that instances of rape jokes have declined does fit into this narrative. But this is hardly an "empirical approach to feminism." For instance it's another common folk narrative that US culture has degraded into filth since the 1960s, accordingly one might expect instances of rape jokes to have increased.

I think each of these stories is equally plausible at an intuitive level, though I expect the first to appeal to people with different political opinions than the second. I'd be interested in finding out whether rape jokes have increased or decreased in frequency, at least after making this claim more precise. But you don't seem to claiming you know how to do this, only that you find the answer somehow obvious.

comment by TimS · 2012-02-01T02:01:02.590Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I see what you mean. It is an article of faith in certain feminist websites. Given the frequency of the generalized assertion, I assumed that there was data supporting it, but web-searching leaves me empty handed.

The best I could come up with was the TVTropes page "Rape as Comedy." There's no particular reason to think the lists there are complete, and they certainly aren't sorted by time. I assume that the media from the 1970s listed in the "Rape Culture" page on wikipedia have contemporary examples, but I don't have access to them.

Or we could just ask someone old enough to remember the 1950s-1970s.

Edit: And during totally random web browsing, I ran across this story. The incident in question is from 1998, so it probably cuts slightly against my factual assertion. On the other hand, the mnemonic might have been fairly old.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-02-02T03:46:38.278Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Also if now social changes count as evidence, I'd like to point out the recent changes in attitudes towards adultery.

comment by TimS · 2012-02-02T14:13:18.096Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I was writing this long post asking you to be more concrete, but I realized that this is not my true rejection. On reflection, I think you are right that society is now more tolerant of adultery (sex when one partner is married) and non-marital sex than at times in the past, although it's not clear to me that this has been a one-way ratchet in favor of libertine behavior - compare the 1950s to the 1920s (roaring twenties). Likewise, Victorian era prudishness may have been a reaction to the permissiveness of the Hanoveran Kings before Victoria.

(For convenience, I'm using "illicit sex" as a general term to include adultery and non-marital sex).

My real issue is as follows: Hays Code moralists (aka sex-moralists) argued that more revealing clothing encouraged illicit sex. That may be so, but different "revelations" of the female body might have different effects on the illicit sex rate. I suspect the move from one-piece swimwear to bikinis had a stronger effect than allowing the exposure of ankles and wrists. And sexual-moralists don't seem to recognize this difference of effect - for them, every change is the end of the world. Worse, they don't tend to care about the double standard (in dress and behavior) between men and women.

All of this makes me think that sexual-moralists have a vision of how the world should be, and are willing to say whatever is necessary to push the actual world in that direction. Forcefully asserting that revealing female clothing will lead to the end of civilization will cause (ceteris parabis) women to dress less revealingly. But asserting that when there's no reason to think it is true is not an empirical project.

I'm not saying feminists haven't done some similar things - politics mindkills us all, not just those who disagree with me. But that doesn't mean feminism as a whole is anti-empiricism, any more than assertions that "allowing same-sex marriage will lead to chaos" are proof that all sexual-moralists are anti-empiricism.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-02-03T03:49:31.829Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

for them, every change is the end of the world.

[citation please], as in I think your exaggerating their position.

any more than assertions that "allowing same-sex marriage will lead to chaos" are proof that all sexual-moralists are anti-empiricism.

The actual assertion was "allowing same-sex marriage will lead to the end of marriage", an assertion which I think is perfectly plausible (give it about a generation to work out).

comment by TimS · 2012-02-03T04:07:57.818Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Not that it's worth much, but here.

Divorce is becoming more acceptable over time, but that significantly predates the rise of the gay marriage movement.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-02-01T06:51:49.490Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

In many American jurisdictions, rape was once legally defined to include an element of force. That is, proof of non-consent could only be shown by the woman's "utmost resistance." Nowadays, the legal definition has been changed to remove the force requirement or interpret it as satisfied by the force of penetration.

Why is this an improvement? Beyond the signaling value of "rape is bad, so punishing rapists is good, let's expand the definition of rape so we can punish more rapists".

In practice what this means is that a woman can declare any sexual encounter to be "rape" after the fact.

comment by TimS · 2012-02-01T14:03:59.785Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I understand that law can be complicated, but you seem to endorse the following position:

The following is not illegal: A victim has sex with a perpetrator, without consent to have sex from the victim. The perpetrator only threatens to use force and does not actually use force.

That legal position is inconsistent with most other crimes (robbery is taking your property from you without consent - no violence element is included). I think criminalizing sex in the absence of consent is quite justified. I acknowledge that consent can have multiple meanings and that ambiguity must be resolved, but non-consent seems a complete justification for criminalization.

Additionally, the above theory seems likely to put the victim at risk of further harm - my understanding is that most police departments recommend not resisting (both rape and robbery) because of the risk that the criminal will do further injury.

In practice what this means is that a woman can declare any sexual encounter to be "rape" after the fact.

False accusations are a problem for the criminal justice system in general. I can falsely accuse you of stealing money from me, or hitting me, or harassing me. If I tailor the explanation carefully, the police would have no reason to expect corroborating evidence. You deny the charge, and it comes down to relative credibility. I'm not saying this is ideal, but it is the best we can do in the absence of some kind of truth-oracle. Why is this a bigger problem for rape than other crimes?

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2012-02-02T03:43:49.344Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW