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comment by Kaj_Sotala · 2008-06-28T12:53:12.000Z · score: 18 (18 votes) · LW · GW

I've never found women to be particularly hard to understand: in fact, I've often felt that it's easier to understand the opposite sex than my own. I know there are others who share the feeling - I'm under the impression that hormone levels during fetal development have a big role in determining where on the male/female spectrum you end up psychologically. Even after you're born, hormones have a big impact on it - the hormones you take during sex-reassignment therapy cause a noticable impact on the way you think. (Haven't studied the topic in any depth, but I know people who have, and that's the message I've gotten from them.)

As a friend pointed out, that's reason to be somewhat suspicious of how well evpsych considerations apply to modern men and women - if much of the psychological side is hormonally mediated, then with things like taking the Pill and putting off childbirth until the early 30's, at least the female hormonal function is going to be considerably different than it was in the EEA.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-09-19T22:31:31.660Z · score: 12 (14 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe it's just arrogance, but I really don't think it's as symmetric as Eliezer makes out.

My world is more male than female. I don't just mean that I'm in a male-dominated field, but that my pleasure reading is mostly written by men, my deep friendships are mostly with men, and if I didn't make a conscious effort to seek out women I might barely encounter them at all. This is also true of the typical techie guy -- so I'm not totally unjustified in claiming that I am more familiar with men than the typical techie guy is with women.

When I was young enough to make a stab at writing fiction, I had enormous trouble with making female protagonists realistic, because I was used to reading about male protagonists. I've written before about how easy it is to have attitudes primed subconsciously by prompts; whether you're male or female, when you get more "male" prompts in your daily life, that will influence the way you think.

Of course I'm different from men in some ways and I'm sure I don't understand everything about them ... but it just seems inaccurate to imagine men and women as equally alien from each other. In communities like LW, that's just not the case.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-09-20T00:54:42.750Z · score: 9 (11 votes) · LW · GW

My world is more male than female. I don't just mean that I'm in a male-dominated field, but that my pleasure reading is mostly written by men, my deep friendships are mostly with men, and if I didn't make a conscious effort to seek out women I might barely encounter them at all. This is also true of the typical techie guy -- so I'm not totally unjustified in claiming that I am more familiar with men than the typical techie guy is with women.

Of course I'm different from men in some ways and I'm sure I don't understand everything about them ... but it just seems inaccurate to imagine men and women as equally alien from each other. In communities like LW, that's just not the case.

This is absolutely true, and what's more, the typical LW user is very, very male and much more likely to be on the autism spectrum than most men, meaning that he probably has more trouble than most men do in understanding women (and people in general).

If LW as a community is really interested in why women find it unwelcoming here, then, speaking for myself, this is the main reason: it's tiring having to represent all women and try to explain the "female perspective" (though of course there is no such monolithic entity) to people many of whom really, really do not get it. I'm not saying you're a bunch of misogynistic jerks; I'm sure your confusion is genuine, and I imagine many of you have had traumatic experiences with women that would do quite well to explain any hostility you may be expressing. It's just hard work.

It's a self-reinforcing problem, too, because if there were enough women here to contribute to the conversation, it wouldn't be nearly so uncomfortable for any particular woman. I therefore tend to upvote any posts about sex/gender issues by other women that I even roughly agree with, because I would very much like to see more such contributions here.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-09-20T01:15:47.205Z · score: 15 (17 votes) · LW · GW

This is also why I tend to post on all the gender-related issues. It just seems to be the helpful thing to do -- male geeks are not going to get an explicit "woman's perspective" very often.

I actually don't feel uncomfortable here, and I'll confess to not really understanding the discomfort that some women here express when the topic turns to gender issues. I respect it, but I don't feel it myself. That's the paradox of being a female geek -- sometimes you just don't identify with the "female perspective," sometimes "femaleness" is defined in opposition to traits you happen to have, and all the same you like being a woman and want to help women out.

I did have an experience recently when a (male) professor really seemed to want me to agree with him that all feminists were ridiculous, and I found it troubling. It was uncomfortable to be expected to play the role of "the good kind of woman," the kind whose allegiances are primarily to men, the kind who doesn't agitate on behalf of women. There's pressure in technical, male-dominated communities to disavow any kind of female solidarity. (This is what radicals many years ago called being an "Aunt Tom.") And I'm not sure that's the right thing to do -- it feels like pulling the drawbridge up after myself. I'm an individualist, far more so than most feminists, but it just seems too opportunistic to say "Oh, no, I'm not like those women."

comment by Vladimir_M · 2010-09-20T09:17:59.344Z · score: 16 (22 votes) · LW · GW

SarahC:

I'll confess to not really understanding the discomfort that some women here express when the topic turns to gender issues.

I have an explanation which, to be sure, certainly doesn't cover every such instance of expressed discomfort that I've observed here and on OB, but in my opinion explains a non-negligible percentage of such incidents.

In many ideologically charged topics that are a matter of culture wars and political battles, a key strategy is to create an association in the public mind between one's favored position and a vague and general feeling of righteousness and moral rectitude -- so that in the future, ideological opponents can be defeated by attacking their moral character, regardless of the quality and accuracy of their arguments and positions. Once a certain side has achieved strategic progress in this regard, it opens the way for a highly effective tactic where they treat the topic of debate as a minefield, in which numerous possible claims and arguments by their opponents will trigger frantic protestations of shock and offense instead of a rational response, aiming to deprive the opponents of moral legitimacy in the eyes of the public.

If, as often happens, the opponents get scared of the public reaction, or perhaps even start thinking that they really must be bad people if they provoke such outrage, and react by becoming more cautious and walking on eggshells, this only opens the way for further intensification of the same tactic. Ultimately, they will be left altogether paralyzed by fear from treading on some such mine in the resulting impossibly dense minefield, and they'll be neutralized within the respectable public sphere unless they effectively concede defeat.

Now, a key observation is that in a situation where this strategy has succeeded, such reactions of shock and offense will overwhelmingly not be due to any conscious Machiavellian dishonesty. That's just not how people's minds work. To be convincing, emotions have to be felt honestly, and an ideological current that pulls off the described strategy successfully will likely have convinced very large numbers of people -- who may not even think of themselves as its adherents, and simply strive unconsciously to align themselves with respectable attitudes -- that there is indeed something deeply shocking and despicable about many things that might be said by their opponents. Even the principal ideologues may well believe in most of what they're preaching.

And now consider what happens in a venue such as this, in which lots of smart folks are hell-bent on discussing all kinds of things in a no-holds-barred critical and open-minded way, often naively unaware how awful reactions they can provoke without any actual malice. Clearly, there's going to be lots of stepping on mines whenever an ideologically charged topic is opened. For reasons that would be interesting to speculate on, the number of people (primarily women) who are conditioned for outrage at gender-related ideological mines appears to be significantly higher here than for other topics that are similarly (or even more!) dangerous in the general public. This ends up creating an impression that people's attitudes about gender here are somehow especially problematic. In reality, there's lots of other un-PC stuff written here that could cause firestorms of outrage in more public and mainstream places; it's just that the sorts of people who are conditioned to react with shock in these cases are way underrepresented here.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-09-20T12:05:23.785Z · score: 9 (11 votes) · LW · GW

So basically you're saying it's a form of argumentative "cheating"?

Maybe because I grew up having discussions from a young age, I have a very strong taboo against "cheating" in a debate. For example, when I'm talking to a Marxist, I wouldn't dream of mentioning the problems members of my family had under communism -- that would be a sort of dishonest emotional trump card. But I've met people who have no sense of this at all and don't perceive a difference between "honest" discussion and "cheating."

Some feminist outrage seems like cheating, but I really don't think it all is. The thing is, people belong to groups, with which they affiliate. Some groups have more internal coherence and affiliation than others -- you're likely to say "I'm proud to be an X and I support my X brothers/sisters." When it becomes clear that you're talking to somebody who doesn't like the group you're in, it is actually unsettling, on the primate level. Your nervous system prepares for war. I have experienced this very rarely so far (I'm privileged on a variety of axes) but when it has happened it is scary and disorienting and I'm sure I wouldn't be a good debater of all things.

comment by Vladimir_M · 2010-09-20T19:11:53.514Z · score: 11 (13 votes) · LW · GW

SarahC:

When it becomes clear that you're talking to somebody who doesn't like the group you're in, it is actually unsettling, on the primate level.

The really tricky part here, however, is how one detects this dislike. If you suggest to an Elbonian nationalist that Ruritanians may perhaps have a better case in some obscure matter of dispute with Elbonia, this may well cause his group-dislike trigger to go off, and he'll react as if you just described him and his entire people as the lowest scum of the Earth. Now, if you actually said the latter, I wouldn't be holding his anger against him -- what's problematic is his extrapolation from a particular claim, which reasonable people should be able to discuss calmly, to an all-out dislike and hostility targeted at his group. Such unreasonable extrapolation is one of the principal sources of political and ideological passions in general.

(Analogously, notice how in gender-related discussions in our society, many sorts of claims are automatically met with accusations of "misogyny," which is often a straightforward instance of this pattern -- a particular claim or argument is treated as implying all-out irrational hatred against the whole group whose interests it supposedly impinges on. LW is, thank God, typically far above this level, but I do think that the same pattern is occasionally manifesting itself, if in more subtle ways.)

comment by [deleted] · 2010-09-20T21:01:06.701Z · score: 13 (19 votes) · LW · GW

Let's drop the hypotheticals and get down to brass tacks here.

I don't think LW is all that mean to women compared to other communities. It's just in the strange position of having some overlap between women who use women's-studies vocabulary, and men who come from a technical, majority-male world. So there are people holding the site to a very high standard of sensitivity on gender issues (these are mostly women) and there are people holding the site to a very high standard of impartiality and disinterested rationality.

Those standards are in tension. On the one hand, sensitivity requires us to acknowledge that humans are social animals, that they have group loyalties, that they tend to believe in "halo effects" and "horn effects" about groups of people, and that in order to make people comfortable on this site we have to make it clear to them that we don't bear them ill will based on their gender. We can't reasonably expect people to take all statements one at a time and disregard their typical correlation with attitudes and biases. (For example, would you be convinced by someone who said "I'm not an anti-Semite! I have no problem with Jews; it's simply a fact that they're not as honest in business as the rest of us"?)

In other words, the standard of sensitivity calls on us to work with typical human biases, to treat humans as political/social animals as a matter of practical reality, and to consider it justifiable when people think within this framework (for example, by perceiving misogyny.)

The standard of impartiality (or "reasonableness") calls on us to reduce biases and group loyalties, to not behave as political animals, to as nearly as possible go by universal principles and reasoning that can be universally shared. Sensitivity treats discussion as a negotiation ("Be nice, or I won't feel comfortable and I'll leave,") while impartiality treats discussion as an attempt to find truth ("You have no good reason to be upset -- I haven't wronged you.")

Sensitivity and impartiality are at odds. I tend to think that too much sensitivity keeps us from actually learning or getting anything done; but I also think that too much impartiality is unrealistic and will drive people away.

comment by Perplexed · 2010-09-20T19:32:14.549Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Upvoted. Good point.

However, I'd like to build on your Elbonian example. Suppose that our defender-of-Ruritania-in-just-this-obscure-dispute happens to mention the Ruritania dispute during a discussion of Elbonian music. The subject is brought up again when Elbonian dairy products are mentioned. When the soccer match between Elbonia and Femurgia is being dissected, our friend again brings up that obscure dispute with Ruritania.

After a few weeks of this, would the Elbonian be completely irrational to reach the conclusion that this guy apparently doesn't care much for Elbonia?

All sorts of patterns are visible to those who look for them.

comment by komponisto · 2010-09-20T19:59:13.227Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

After a few weeks of this, would the Elbonian be completely irrational to reach the conclusion that this guy apparently doesn't care much for Elbonia?

No -- but it is absolutely crucial in this case that the same person is involved in each interaction. If instead they involved three different people, it would be entirely unfair to transfer the (very slight) evidence of anti-Elbonia hostility on the part of the first two people to the third guy, so that he seems three times as hostile as the first person did.

(It's also crucial that the topic of discussion was assumed to be unrelated specifically to the dispute.)

comment by Perplexed · 2010-09-20T20:17:33.957Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

... it is absolutely crucial in this case that the same person is involved in each interaction.

As an abstract issue of fairness and rationality, you are of course correct. However, our Elbonian friend might be forgiven for seeing things differently if he is reminded of an old Elbonian proverb - something about failing to notice the wolf pack due to being distracted by the wolves.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-09-23T12:22:24.416Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Is it necessarily cheating to say "you think you've got a neutral speculation or a beneficial plan, but here's how that sort of thing has worked out in practice and I was there"?

comment by [deleted] · 2010-09-24T12:43:17.252Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, it's cheating. When you bring in an emotionally charged personal story, that implicitly associates your friend with evil, you're dropping the presumption of mutual good will that makes a discussion civil.

comment by komponisto · 2010-09-20T17:27:17.004Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I thought this was an insightful comment, and am disappointed that it hasn't been better received.

The following in particular is a very good point:

there's lots of other un-PC stuff written here that could cause firestorms of outrage in more public and mainstream places; it's just that the sorts of people who are conditioned to react with shock in these cases are way underrepresented here.

Those who are of the opinion that attitudes on LW about gender are particularly problematic need to consider whether they feel similarly about other "un-PC stuff", and if so, whether that indicates a general problem with LW; and if not, why not.

comment by Perplexed · 2010-09-20T18:15:05.704Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

What other "un-PC stuff" do you have in mind? I'm drawing a blank.

And I thought you had sworn off this particular can of worms (i.e. gender politics).

comment by Vladimir_M · 2010-09-20T19:28:32.016Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Perplexed:

What other "un-PC stuff" do you have in mind?

To take the most prominent example, every now and then someone touches on the topic of IQ in a way that doesn't dismiss the possibility that there might be some genetic basis for the statistical group differences in it. The reactions, if any, are typically entirely calm and treat this as a legitimate hypothesis given the present state of knowledge on the subject, without any sign of shock and offense. Whereas in the mainstream, mentioning such things is a near-surefire way to set off a hurricane of outrage. (Just remember the recent case of media lynching against that Harvard law student.)

I've also seen well-accepted and upvoted arguments against democracy as a system of government, as another example of something that is impossible to argue in the mainstream without provoking shocked reactions.

comment by mattnewport · 2010-09-20T18:19:14.542Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Typical LW attitudes to religion are an example. I'm kind of amazed if you can't think of several others with a few moment's thought.

comment by Perplexed · 2010-09-20T18:38:47.414Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Typical LW attitudes to religion are an example.

Ok, I guess I can maybe see that. Perhaps I tend not to notice anti-religion activism here because I've spent too much time around talk.origins and Pharyngula. By the standards there, LW is positively "accomodationist" on religion.

So, let me try to plug that example into komponisto's argument:

Those who are of the opinion that attitudes on LW about gender are particularly problematic need to consider whether they feel similarly about other "un-PC stuff".

So, I am supposed to weigh my reactions to the statements "Religious people are irrational." and "Women are irrational". And if I react differently to those two statements, that demonstrates what, exactly?

I'm kind of amazed if you can't think of several others with a few moment's thought.

Sorry to have amazed you. I really can't think of any. But perhaps I'm misunderstanding the point.

comment by HughRistik · 2010-09-20T18:46:42.777Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

So, I am supposed to weigh my reactions to the statements "Religious people are irrational." and "Women are irrational". And if I react differently to those two statements, that demonstrates what, exactly?

I've never seen someone at LW say something like the second statement. The fact that you bring it up demonstrates a very different impression of LW discourse than mine.

comment by Perplexed · 2010-09-20T18:56:49.727Z · score: -2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

It wasn't intended as an example of LW discourse. It was a reductio ad absurdum of the suggestion that LW attitudes toward religion are an example of the "un-PC stuff" that Vladimir_M and komponisto were suggesting as thought experiment material.

I would be curious as to how you think that the thought experiment suggested by komponisto should be stated in this case.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-12-20T13:07:01.390Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It was a reductio ad absurdum of the suggestion that LW attitudes toward religion are an example of the "un-PC stuff" that Vladimir_M and komponisto were suggesting as thought experiment material.

Most of the value of a education is signalling. Differences in intelligence between individuals is significantly determined by genetics. Group differences. ect.

comment by mattnewport · 2010-09-20T18:48:16.386Z · score: 3 (11 votes) · LW · GW

So, I am supposed to weigh my reactions to the statements "Religious people are irrational." and "Women are irrational". And if I react differently to those two statements, that demonstrates what, exactly?

I would encourage everyone here to follow komponisto's advice and try to minimize the extent to which their 'reactions' colour their comments. In both cases you should address the truth or falsity of the claims and try to leave offense out of it. You are obviously entitled to react however you choose to anything you read but I will generally downvote comments where people express offense to indicate that I want to see fewer comments of that kind.

comment by Perplexed · 2010-09-20T19:01:41.176Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

So, if someone says "You have just called me a bad person!" that would be an example of reacting with an expression of offense? And it should be discouraged by downvoting?

comment by AdeleneDawner · 2010-09-21T03:34:32.997Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Disregard the exclamation point, and that's just a statement of (possibly incorrect, but objectively discussable) fact, and so long as the person doesn't object to it being handled as such, I think it'd be okay. I'd even consider 'you have just called me a bad person, and I feel offended' to be okay if handled as a fact; as far as I can tell, the situation turns problematic when people start handling emotions as problems to be solved rather than facts to be observed. This does intentionally imply that the problem can be caused by any member of the conversation: If I say I'm offended, and don't intend that to be taken as anything but an observation, but the person I'm talking to takes it upon themselves to try to un-offend me, that's also likely to derail the conversation, as is a third party trying to force the offender to un-offend me.

(That's not to say that it's never useful to try to avoid offending someone, but such situations also seem to work best when they're primarily handled on a fact-based level. For example, someone can say 'I find it very distracting when I'm offended, which will happen if this topic is discussed in that way; could we discuss it in this way instead? Otherwise, I'll have a hard time contributing and may decide to leave the conversation', and the answer to that can be yes or no depending on whether the other people in the conversation think that the change is worthwhile.)

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-20T19:09:25.706Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

He didn't say should, he said 'he will'. This is a distinction that is sometimes overlooked. Even though there was a clear should claim regarding the the practice of expressing offence.

comment by Perplexed · 2010-09-20T19:10:21.763Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Good point.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-20T19:25:34.979Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Good point.

Oops. I actually deleted the 'good point' because in this context there were multiple different levels of potential exhortation, normative assertion, statement of intended response and normative assertion regarding how other people should respond that could have been mixed and matched. I thought technical comments on the difference on "should be" and "I will" may have just been confusing.

comment by Perplexed · 2010-09-20T19:36:39.997Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

No problem. I'll just delete my compliment. ;)

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-21T04:35:32.533Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Bother. I like being complimented! :)

comment by Perplexed · 2010-09-21T04:45:48.451Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Well then, let me know the next time you delete one of your comments, and I will compliment it.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-09-20T19:04:35.510Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Wouldn't it make just as much sense to downvote expressions of any emotional reaction whatsoever? For example, if someone tells you that they love your idea, will you downvote them?

comment by komponisto · 2010-09-20T19:45:28.549Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Expressions of offense -- of the type being discussed here -- are different in that they constitute the imposition of a social penalty on a person for expressing an idea. This -- and not emotional expression per se -- is what should be discouraged.

(Although unfortunately there are some people here who would downvote comments that express positive emotions, on the grounds that they are "noise".)

comment by [deleted] · 2010-09-20T19:54:42.156Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Expressing offence causes emotional harm. Expressing appreciation causes emotional benefit. Neither of those increases the actual informational content of a discussion but the second option still makes the world a slightly better place.

comment by Perplexed · 2010-09-20T20:06:40.299Z · score: 5 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Expressing offence causes emotional harm.

This discussion is becoming more and more bizarre. We started with the topic of giving or causing offense and apparently came to the consensus that in our quest for the truth, we really shouldn't worry to much about whether we give offense - the truth is just too important.

Now we are asked not to express the fact that we have been offended, because this truth is just too painful - it causes emotional harm. Does anyone else think that this is positively insane?

comment by komponisto · 2010-09-20T20:11:23.996Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Does anyone else think that this is positively insane?

Who specifically is it that you think holds an insane conjunction of beliefs? You seem to be treating several different commenters as if they were one person. (Cf. my other comment.)

comment by Perplexed · 2010-09-20T20:44:08.477Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Who specifically is it that you think holds an insane conjunction of beliefs?

I was responding to Gabriel.

You seem to be treating several different commenters as if they were one person.

Why do you suggest that?

comment by mattnewport · 2010-09-20T20:14:23.942Z · score: 0 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Now we are asked not to express the fact that we have been offended, because this truth is just too painful - it causes emotional harm. Does anyone else think that this is positively insane?

I have no fundamental objection to people expressing the fact that they have been offended. What I object to is the use of offense as a means to silence dissenting opinions or discussion. Religions use this tactic all the time and it disgusts me. I disagree with the 'emotional harm' argument except to the extent that it is the mechanism by which dissent is suppressed.

comment by Perplexed · 2010-09-20T20:39:44.315Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

What I object to is the use of offense as a means to silence dissenting opinions or discussion.

Fine. I join you in your objection. As a comment on the current sorry state of American political discourse, it is right on.

But, do you really think it is a problem here on LW? Seriously? What I see here being used to silence people are objections to style or tone of argument. Which is certainly not completely inappropriate in a forum dedicated to rationality.

But consider. Person A offers an arational and emotional argument. Person A is roundly criticized and downvoted for this. Has person A's dissenting opinion been "silenced"? Of course not. Person A is free to make his/her point in a more rational style.

Now let's look at Person B who offers a speculation which person C finds offensive. Person C expresses offense. Has person B been silenced? Of course not. Person B is free to go on to back up the speculation with data, argument, and even evolutionary psychology. I just cannot see person C's complaints as "the mechanism by which dissent is suppressed."

comment by mattnewport · 2010-09-20T20:52:57.946Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

But, do you really think it is a problem here on LW? Seriously?

LW is about as good as it gets in this regard and I'd very much like to keep it that way, hence my concern when I see anything that looks to me like movement in the wrong direction.

comment by Perplexed · 2010-09-20T21:04:51.306Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Fair enough.

comment by thomblake · 2010-09-20T20:26:13.491Z · score: 1 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I will generally downvote comments where people express offense

it disgusts me

Downvoted for expressing your offense.

comment by mattnewport · 2010-09-20T20:33:09.612Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Upvoted for being witty. Downvoted again for missing the point.

comment by DSimon · 2010-09-20T20:02:12.369Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Experiencing offense silently causes emotional harm as well; depending upon the situation, expression of that experience may help to alleviate the cause of the problem.

To put it another way: if something heavy lands on my foot and I need help lifting it off, it may cause some sympathetic pain and suffering in other people if I yell out loudly... but assuming the people around aren't jerks, yelling out will lead in the longer term to less total pain than suffering in silence.

comment by HughRistik · 2010-09-20T20:41:22.089Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

True, but it's possible to yell without blaming one of the people around from dropping it on your foot. And if you can tell that one of them did it, you might be able to yell for help without accusing that person of dropping it intentionally.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-09-20T19:57:45.403Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Expressing offense might also cause emotional benefit, if the source of offense is easily remedied, and the expression avoids unnecessary shaming.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-09-20T20:42:26.409Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Expressing offense might also cause emotional benefit

Possibly. But in most cases it wouldn't. And I simply wanted to point out a significant difference between two things that, according to your argument, should be equated.

Sidenote: if a native speaker of English wants to make the world a slightly better place, then please tell me whether finishing the sentence with "that you argued should be equated" would make sense?

comment by [deleted] · 2010-09-20T20:43:47.974Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It makes sense, but it's more confusing than the way you wrote it above.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-09-20T20:36:20.034Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Possibly. But in most cases it will be like I said. Which is by no means a watertight argument in defense of mattnewport's position but I wasn't trying to provide that. I just pointed out an obvious, significant difference between things that, according to your argument, should be treated equally.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-09-20T14:16:11.015Z · score: 3 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Or maybe women are offended for the reasons they themselves give. In either case, you aren't going to have much luck un-offending them by telling them they're being irrational.

comment by Vladimir_M · 2010-09-20T17:32:21.966Z · score: 6 (10 votes) · LW · GW

It is not my goal to offend or un-offened anyone, but to achieve insight about the true state of affairs.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-09-20T17:39:39.792Z · score: 2 (8 votes) · LW · GW

If you believe that other human beings are a useful source of insight, you would do well to make some effort not to offend. If you believe women are worth having around and value our contributions to discussions of gender, then women being offended is a problem. It may or may not be a problem you have caused, or could have avoided, or are to blame for, but it is still your problem, and one you should be willing to help fix if you can do so without undue inconvenience to your other goals.

If you don't care what women (or people in general) think, then this is irrelevant to you, and indeed I have no reason to be talking to you at all.

comment by komponisto · 2010-09-20T18:27:37.499Z · score: 16 (20 votes) · LW · GW

I agree with every word of this comment (with the possible exception of the last sentence).

However, I would really like to see the development of a general norm on LW against being offended. About anything. I would like for someone to be able to post the most unthinkably offensive comment you can imagine and have the replies consist only of dispassionate corrections of false statements. (Perhaps with downvoting as appropriate.)

Think about this seriously for a moment. LW is already like this to a greater extent than any other place I know. Does this make it better or worse than other places? My intuition is that the priority that folks here give to questions of truth and falsity at the expense of other considerations is a large part of what makes this place special. I feel that , ideally, there really ought to be somewhere where "offense" just doesn't enter into the social dynamics at all.

Now of course, that would be extremely difficult to implement; LW already does better than anywhere else, and we still have to deal with these issues now and then. But to find out what direction we should head in, ask yourself what the ideal state of affairs would really be. Reflect on why "offense" exists -- what purposes, biological or otherwise, this psychological mechanism serves. Then consider what our goals are here. Does allowing the offense mechanism to operate in its normal way tend more to serve these goals, or does it tend more to get in the way?

As you can probably tell, I incline toward the latter view. If what we're primarily interested in is believing true things and disbelieving false things, then we have to contemplate the possibility that, once in a while -- perhaps only rarely, but sometimes nonetheless -- an offensive hypothesis will turn out to be true. Sometimes, even -- still more rarely, but it will occasionally happen -- an offensive fact will turn out to be important. If we do not permit ourselves to consider whether offensive hypotheses are true, and whether offensive facts are important, then we run the risk of making serious errors in cases where they are. And if we do not permit others to express their private deliberations about offensive hypotheses, then not only do we sacrifice the opportunity to hear suggestions we ourselves might not have considered, but we also sacrifice the opportunity to prevent them from developing false beliefs. ("Promoting less than maximally accurate beliefs is an act of sabotage. Don't do it to anyone unless you'd also slash their tires.".)

There have been times when I have come dangerously close to expressing offense or indignation; and afterward, I have always felt better the more I restrained myself, and stuck to the ideal of dispassionate correction. Facts and arguments do after all tend to speak for themselves -- at least in a place like this. Since we don't gloat around here (another norm that should be maintained as much as possible), people will usually accept corrections fairly readily. This is good. I'm having a hard time thinking of any occasion where I have regretted showing insufficient indignation.

comment by Relsqui · 2010-09-20T20:14:39.959Z · score: 9 (11 votes) · LW · GW

However, I would really like to see the development of a general norm on LW against being offended.

Your reasons for this seem sound, but how do you intend to accomplish it? To train ourselves not to feel the instinct is a high bar, and I'm pessimistic about the efficacy of that approach. To encourage backing off and cooling down before replying to an inflammatory post is more plausible, but still very difficult. In any case, I think Molybdenumblue was dead on here:

If you believe that other human beings are a useful source of insight, you would do well to make some effort not to offend.

These two ideas shouldn't be seen in conflict, but in concert. If I make extra effort not to offend you, and you make extra effort not to be offended, we might just do all right.

comment by pjeby · 2010-09-20T20:05:09.235Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

However, I would really like to see the development of a general norm on LW against being offended. About anything.

Amen!

I might change that phrasing a bit, though, since it's more about expression than the actual being offended part. For example, one can say, "When you said X, I felt personally offended for reasons Y and Z", and this is not in the same category as accusing the commenter of being a bad person.

comment by Relsqui · 2010-09-20T20:15:22.116Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Is that an intentional reference to NVC or are you just independently clever? :)

comment by pjeby · 2010-09-20T20:20:46.012Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Is that an intentional reference to NVC or are you just independently clever? :)

Neither. ISTM this sort of statement is seen in a lot of self-help, communication, and related works. Where it originated, I don't know, but I've seen similar things stated as far back as 1985, and most recently I've seen an excellent explanation and set of demonstrations of it in AMP's "Foundations of Inner Game" program... and I've stolen their formulation of it as the format for giving feedback in Mind Hackers' Guild practice circles.

comment by Relsqui · 2010-09-20T20:45:53.854Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Neither.

Fair enough. I suppose it also fits the basic i-statement syntax I learned long before I'd heard of NVC. You can treat my reply just as generic agreement and approval, then.

comment by wnoise · 2010-09-20T18:36:21.153Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I have regretted not acting in situations where my indignation was what would have driven me to act. Showing my indignation through the stereotypical manners would not have helped though.

comment by Vladimir_M · 2010-09-20T17:54:32.525Z · score: 6 (12 votes) · LW · GW

Molybdenumblue:

If you believe that other human beings are a useful source of insight, you would do well to make some effort not to offend.

Trouble is, this goes both ways. If one wishes to get genuinely novel insight from others, one would do well to make some effort not to react with protestations of offense before first giving some rational consideration to the supposedly offending claims and arguments, and without considering the possibility that one's instinctive triggers for offense might be a source of insight-precluding bias.

We can of course dispute what exactly went wrong in each particular problematic situation, but I don't think it can be plausibly denied that the problem I described above was behind at least some incidents that have prompted this discussion.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-09-20T18:11:52.256Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Trouble is, this goes both ways. If one wishes to get genuinely novel insight from others, one would do well to make some effort not to react with protestations of offense before first giving some rational consideration to the supposedly offending claims and arguments, and without considering the possibility that one's instinctive triggers for offense might be a source of insight-precluding bias.

Oh yes, I absolutely agree. But to be offended is only to experience an emotion; it is not to reject a claim or to act aggressively.

If I tell you that I am uncomfortable, and explain (what I believe are) the reasons for my discomfort, there is no need to defend yourself. I am not making an accusation. The appropriate response is to express concern, or to propose a solution. If you tell me that I am wrong to feel the way I do, you only escalate the conflict.

comment by cousin_it · 2010-09-20T18:18:36.071Z · score: 5 (9 votes) · LW · GW

The appropriate response is to express concern, or to propose a solution.

If these are the only options, then I can hack society by faking offense at every opportunity.

comment by HughRistik · 2010-09-20T18:40:40.231Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I think Vladimir_M would say that people can hack society by taking offense at anything counter to their own values, and remain agnostic about whether or not it is "fake." Fake offense might not even serve one's interests as well as real offense, or be as powerful a signal. So it could be in one's interests to be biased to take real offense at distasteful speech.

We all want to believe that our positions are so well established that others are being bad people for questioning them, or committing some sort of error, and that we are justified in taking offense because they should know better. See also: every cause wants to be a cult.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-09-20T18:29:25.923Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

If these are the only options, then I can hack society by faking offense at every opportunity.

Not really. If you tell me that you're offended by the letter "s", I would express regret at having offended you, but also point out that for all of us to give up using words with "s" in them is really quite onerous, and suggest that you give up reading, or use some kind of hack to replace "s" with another letter. I would also be very curious to know why a single character offends you, but I wouldn't expect to make things better by disbelieving your explanation.

Most of us have probably known people who seem to constantly use fake offense as a rhetorical weapon, and in my experience the result tends to be that these people have few friends. People may defer to them in the short run to spare themselves a nuisance (which is a good idea), but they also avoid further interactions.

comment by Perplexed · 2010-09-20T18:21:04.309Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Just to clarify, are you talking about incidents here on LW, or over on OB? If here, could you provide a couple examples of that which cannot be plausibly denied? I'd like to take a shot at plausibly denying.

comment by Vladimir_M · 2010-09-20T19:33:10.992Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I'd rather not get into discussions of individual cases, since it would get too close to mounting a personal attack. Yes, this does weaken my argument somewhat, but I hope you understand that I honestly believe that it wouldn't be worth it.

comment by Perplexed · 2010-09-20T19:45:55.525Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Well, I guess you were right. I simply cannot plausibly deny them.

I guess I can understand a wish not to engage in something that might be interpreted as a personal attack. It is far safer to attack groups. But I would appreciate an attempt to answer my first question:

Just to clarify, are you talking about incidents here on LW, or over on OB?

Because Robin steps in it often enough over at OB that he does frequently collect reactions that are long on emotion but a bit short on logic. I see that only rarely here. And to be honest, I see it more frequently from the male side than from the female side.

comment by Vladimir_M · 2010-09-20T20:47:28.079Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Perplexed:

It is far safer to attack groups.

It's not about "safety" (whatever you might precisely mean by that), but about genuine desire not to upset people. Being singled out as a bad example is always unpleasant and inherently looks like a personal attack. Even if we were talking about uncontroversial errors of scientific fact, I would still be reluctant to start singling out concrete instances of people committing them here, for fear that it might look like I'm trashing their intellectual abilities in general.

Because Robin steps in it often enough over at OB that he does frequently collect reactions that are long on emotion but a bit short on logic. I see that only rarely here. And to be honest, I see it more frequently from the male side than from the female side.

You're right that it's much more frequent on OB, but that's because OB is often linked from all sorts of more mainstream blogs, and also because it requires no registration for commenting. Out of all places on the internet that present genuine contrarian views, OB is among the most visible ones for people who otherwise stick to mainstream venues.

As for such incidents here, I agree that they happen on all sides. Unfortunately, I don't think it would be feasible to settle the question of their relative frequency by concrete numerical comparisons.

comment by Relsqui · 2010-09-20T20:52:13.849Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Unfortunately, I don't think it would be feasible to settle the question of their relative frequency by concrete numerical comparisons.

I don't find that especially unfortunate, because I don't see what purpose it would serve. If we found it came more often from men, or more often from women, it wouldn't make us any more or less interested in avoiding the problem.

comment by Relsqui · 2010-09-20T19:56:07.691Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I think it's worth noting that if a person who is sensible, fair, and interested in gender equality issues came to LW and was greeted by the backlog of heated debate on the topic, I would not blame that person for feeling some discomfort about discussing gender issues here. Nor for thinking that there is no group consensus about such issues like there is about, say, religion--because there does not appear to be one. Presumably we all believe that men and women are of equal moral value, but LWers have demonstrated a variety of attitudes about what that means in the modern world and how it should rationally correspond to behavior. If I didn't know whether a comment about feminism would bring the response "all men are misogynistic and can't be trusted" or "sexism has reversed, women have the power these days," I'd be reluctant to talk about it as well.

(I haven't seen anybody say either of those things on LW, which I hope is because they're both really stupid. I'm just using them to illustrate extremes.)

I also agree with SarahC's point about "people talking about a group you're in," although I'd take it in a different direction. Things which happen to and affect women and not men (or rarely affect men) are a foreign experience to the majority of LW readers. They can talk amongst themselves about these things in the abstract. Between that fact and the suggestion I've seen several times that LWers are disproportionately on the autism spectrum, I can see it being very difficult for them to remember that they're talking about the real lives of people present, and to ensure that the tone of the discussion is respectful to those people. Thus, people who really are respectful and considerate and want to make good things happen don't come off that way, and then we get flamewars.

The way for people-who-are-upset-by-these-conversations (often women, but certainly not always) to help would be to make an effort to assume good faith and unravel miscommunications before they occur. Their obstacle is their instinct to defend, which may mean stepping back and taking breathers sometimes ... which is another reason we might currently see less of their participation.

People-who-are-upsetting-to-the-above-people can help by examining their choice of wording and ensuring that not only their point, but also their respect, is clear. (Anyone who would rather communicate disrespect has no business in the conversation.) Their obstacle is not knowing how and when to do so; if they start with a good faith effort, practice and good feedback will help.

Both groups can help by knocking it the hell off with the anecdotes. On a subject we all can consider in the abstract, it's acceptable to be a little less rigorous while exploring an idea, but something which is personal for some participants requires more care. The enemy of the emotional argument is evidence.

On a side note, I'd be interested in the results of a new demographic survey, to see if anything had changed. I think I'll mention that in the open thread.

comment by Perplexed · 2010-09-20T12:46:19.487Z · score: -3 (17 votes) · LW · GW

Are you sure you are not doing an unjustified pattern-completion here? The picture you paint of feminazi brownshirts winning their battles thru mass action and moral bullying may apply to places like Overcoming Bias where Robin Hanson periodically trips over his tongue (or whatever). I don't see it as even close to the truth here on LW.

Here, the relative numbers are so disproportionate that the bullying goes in the opposite direction. Any woman who would react with instinctive moral outrage at, say, a suggestion of inherent sexual differences in aptitudes or attitudes, ... any such woman has been driven elsewhere. Here, even rational women, who are willing to discuss the facts, but insist on evidence (rather than pop evo psych rationalizations), are attacked by packs of boars.

comment by Vladimir_M · 2010-09-20T18:07:43.762Z · score: 11 (15 votes) · LW · GW

On the contrary, I wasn't talking about ideological extremists at all, but about regular decent people who don't have any dishonest motive whatsoever, but merely carry a widespread bias in the form of developing an instinctive reaction that makes further rational discussion impossible whenever a conversation about certain topics deviates from what is considered the mainstream respectable view in our culture.

My observation about politics and ideology in general is that in our society, one of the main mechanisms by which ideologies establish dominance is the development of such reactions among wide swaths of the population, which then places any opponents in the position where they have no realistic chance of having their arguments heard and evaluated fairly. If one happens to be among the people in whom the propensity for such reactions has been instilled by the education, media, etc., it is by no means a sign of dishonesty or a personality defect, merely of cognitive bias.

comment by Perplexed · 2010-09-20T18:50:07.515Z · score: -6 (12 votes) · LW · GW

I wasn't talking about ideological extremists at all

Neither was I actually. The language of American political discourse has become so polarized that a term like "feminazi" no longer denotes an extremist - it merely denotes someone the speaker disagrees with.

... an instinctive reaction that makes further rational discussion impossible whenever a conversation about certain topics deviates from what is considered the mainstream respectable view in our culture.

I'm curious. Do you think that this cognitive bias is only possible in defense of the "mainstream respectable view" or is it also possible to develop this cognitive bias in defense of a "minority subculture view"?

Have you, yourself, ever found yourself victim to this kind of cognitive bias?

comment by Vladimir_M · 2010-09-20T20:18:09.996Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Perplexed:

I'm curious. Do you think that this cognitive bias is only possible in defense of the "mainstream respectable view" or is it also possible to develop this cognitive bias in defense of a "minority subculture view"?

Of course it's possible. Many contrarian groups develop their own internal strangely inverted forms of political correctness, to the point where someone among them who suggests that there might me some merit to a mainstream view after all will be faced with mindless outrage and personal attacks. I've seen this happen in various contrarian online venues.

Have you, yourself, ever found yourself victim to this kind of cognitive bias?

In the past, yes, but I do try actively to overcome this sort of thing. (For example, by regularly reading stuff written by people whose positions are radically opposed to my own ones, and who are openly hostile to various groups I happen to belong to.)

comment by Perplexed · 2010-09-20T20:22:35.924Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I do try actively to overcome this sort of thing. (For example, by regularly reading stuff written by people whose positions are radically opposed to my own ones, and who are openly hostile to various groups I happen to belong to.)

Sounds like a good practice. I sometimes do this sort of thing myself. But sometimes I find myself reading simply to find the flaws, rather than reading to understand the PoV. Do you have any suggestions to avoid this trap?

comment by Vladimir_M · 2010-09-20T23:42:40.910Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Perplexed:

But sometimes I find myself reading simply to find the flaws, rather than reading to understand the PoV. Do you have any suggestions to avoid this trap?

One interesting exercise is to imagine that you're explaining the issue to a space alien, and try hard to avoid imagining that alien as excessively similar to yourself.

comment by Perplexed · 2010-09-21T00:45:20.462Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm sorry, I don't understand. What am I explaining to the alien? How does that exercise help me to benefit from reading stuff that I disagree with?

comment by Vladimir_M · 2010-09-21T00:57:55.001Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Well, imagine you're reading something you radically disagree with, perhaps even getting angry and offended in the process, but then you wonder if maybe you've been reading it in a biased way, eagerly looking for flaws while failing to consider the arguments seriously. Then you imagine that a space alien visits you at that moment, who is altogether ignorant of humans and their ways but interested in them in an anthropological sort of way, and asks what exactly the disagreement is about and why you believe that this stuff you're reading is so wrong.

The key is to avoid unintentionally assuming that the alien shares a lot of your knowledge and presumptions. If you can come up with a coherent explanation under these assumptions, chances are you've gone a long way towards actually understanding the opponent's point of view, rather than just dismissing it in an instinctive and biased way.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-20T19:04:24.657Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I'm curious. Do you think that this cognitive bias is only possible in defense of the "mainstream respectable view" or is it also possible to develop this cognitive bias in defense of a "minority subculture view"?

It tends to relate to whichever culture you are currently trying to affiliate yourself to. I've known people with a particular ability in well defined compartnentalisation who can comfortably and sincerely maintain contradictory biasses depending on location and present company.

comment by Alicorn · 2010-09-20T02:15:07.856Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

(This is what radicals many years ago called being an "Aunt Tom.")

It seems to me that this phenomenon could be more punnily titled "Aunt Tomboy".

comment by Relsqui · 2010-09-20T02:12:13.832Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I feel very similarly to you on this. I think I understand some women's discomfort with the gender discussions here more than you appear to, perhaps because I was brought up to try to be aware of privilege and bias, but much of the rest rings true.

my deep friendships are mostly with men

I'm curious: are the exceptions women who also have mostly male friends (for whom you are an exception)? I ask because I'm the same way, and when I ask my few female friends, they tend to agree. I'm interested in that phenomenon, and I'd love to have a data point outside my own social circle.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-09-20T02:21:36.398Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Not exactly -- my closest girlfriends actually live in a very female world. But there were always things I wasn't comfortable telling them.

For what it's worth, my sister and my mother are very much like me. My sister, especially, experiences that same tension between being a feminist and being a geek/tomboy/"one of the guys." I wouldn't be terribly surprised if genetics have something to do with it.

comment by Relsqui · 2010-09-20T02:32:41.746Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I wouldn't be terribly surprised if genetics have something to do with it.

I wouldn't be surprised either, although I don't trust similar observations about my own family as evidence for it (since they're almost by definition the people culturally closest to me).

I was going to ask what kind of ideas about gender roles dominate in the area where you grew up, exploring another theory, but then I remembered that a lot of my current friends didn't grow up anywhere near me either. Although I suppose they all made a choice to live here now, so maybe it does have some meaning after all.

comment by Relsqui · 2010-09-20T02:43:32.288Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

it just seems inaccurate to imagine men and women as equally alien from each other. In communities like LW, that's just not the case.

I think this is astute; Eliezer's points about equality and symmetry may be true across the population, but do not seem to reflect the cultural reality of LW, and that's worth noting if the cultural reality of LW is what one wants to affect.

comment by CronoDAS · 2010-09-21T05:14:26.387Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

Something called "standpoint theory" makes a similar claim: people without social power understand people with social power better than powerful people understand the powerless, because the powerless have a greater need to understand: the favor or disfavor of the powerful can have a big effect on the powerless, but having inaccurate beliefs about the powerless usually won't affect the powerful very much. (So domestic servants understand their employers better than employers understand their domestic servants, blacks understand whites better than whites understand blacks, and women understand men better than men understand women.)

comment by Relsqui · 2010-09-21T05:22:38.449Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

That's really interesting, thank you.

comment by lmnop · 2010-09-21T05:26:01.931Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Eliezer's points about equality and symmetry may be true across the population

I don't even think it's true across the population. How many women do you know who primarily read books, watch movies, read news articles and listen to music created by men? And how many of the opposite? For the 100 top grossing films of 2007, there were 3 female directors and 109 male directors involved. (Off the top of my head) the ratio of news articles written by men vs women is something like 7:1. Women probably have a better understanding of the "male perspective" than men have of the "female perspective," just from the different levels of exposure.

comment by Perplexed · 2010-09-21T05:47:09.154Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

My favorite SF author is a woman: L. M. Bujold. Her most popular character is male. She has more than once received the "compliment" from male fans: "You write like a man!". She says that it took her a long time to decide how to respond to this. Next time she plans to answer brightly "Oh, really? Like which man?"

comment by [deleted] · 2010-09-21T22:20:23.673Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I think pen names have pretty convincingly showed that a woman's writing can be indistinguishable from a man's if she wants it to be.

(George Eliot is the famous one but James Tiptree Jr. is my favorite.)

comment by cousin_it · 2010-09-21T22:27:45.251Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Ouch. I finally made the connection to the Turing test.

comment by Jonathan_Graehl · 2010-09-21T22:01:22.305Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I've enjoyed several of her books. She writes her romances like a woman (this is often my preference; male authors often write their male leads as merely being so cool that women are obligated to fall for them). In this, she reminds me of Cherryh and (Elizabeth) Moon, who I also like.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2010-09-21T05:41:53.904Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

BTW, it's not just men and women that can find each other alien, as discussed here and here.

comment by Relsqui · 2010-09-21T06:38:53.870Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Indeed; that's been mentioned in a couple of other comments as well. I think gender is only a topic here because of the events that triggered the post.

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2008-06-28T22:18:57.000Z · score: 12 (14 votes) · LW · GW

Because men have been and are currently considered human and women Other, the reinforcing of this trope by a man carries a lot more force and hurt than if a woman were to speak about men as if they were strange, unsympathetic Others. Robin is a person with privilege denying the humanity of disprivileged people. He's following a pattern that's been used to justify the rape and abuse of women for thousands of years.

So Robin isn't a human to you, he's a part of a pattern? What you're saying doesn't sound to me like Robin at all, and if you just stuck around and looked at him you'd see that.

Now you're managing to offend me, not so much by your insensitivity to Robin, as by your deciding that seeing patterns instead of people is allowed for you. That you don't even need to try to make an effort to see Robin as Robin. You justify this by saying that you're part of a disprivileged class; but sorry, Angel, the healing road doesn't only go one way. I haven't raped anyone and neither to my knowledge has Robin; we are not anything other men have done, we are only our own deeds.

comment by komponisto2 · 2008-06-28T17:52:41.000Z · score: 11 (13 votes) · LW · GW

In an ideal world, this would be a reasonable comment. In the real world, with the history of male oppression of women that comes with it, there is an asymmetry that means these things are not equivalent.

Shouldn't we be trying to move our "real world" in the direction of an "ideal world"?

I sometimes get the impression that contemporary sex/race-oppression consciousness is analogous to the Jewish Yom Kippur ritual as Eliezer described it, in which the point is confessing sins, not trying to avoid them and keeping track of how well one has done. Just as it would be a violation for a participant in the ceremony to say e.g. "Actually, I'm happy to report that I didn't steal anything this year, so I'm going to leave that part out, thank you", so too is it something of a faux pas for a member of contemporary Western polite society to fail to treat the historical oppression of women and minorities as if it were a currently potent social force in his/her own culture.

comment by Relsqui · 2010-09-19T21:50:29.502Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I agree with your point that it's much more useful to work towards the ideal than it is to merely confess that we haven't yet attained it. However, this is just silly:

so too is it something of a faux pas for a member of contemporary Western polite society to fail to treat the historical oppression of women and minorities as if it were a currently potent social force in his/her own culture.

Modern culture did not spring fully-formed from Zeus's head when the current generation was born; it grew organically from the culture which existed before it, and that it therefore retains historical memes seems almost too obvious to mention. When historical oppression stops being a potent social force, we can stop talking about it like a potent social force. In the meantime, those of us who strive to cull those harmful memes from our culture will not do so by ignoring them.

comment by komponisto2 · 2010-09-20T01:16:28.014Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

While obviously the legacy of history always remains a social force to some extent, it's open to question exactly how potent that force is. Clearly it's less potent than it used to be -- but acknowledging this is frowned upon in some circles because it sounds like a concession to the enemy.

(By the way, as this comment demonstrates, it is possible to access accounts automatically created from the importation of Overcoming Bias posts into Less Wrong. One simply uses the password reset function, checks the appropriate e-mail address, and follows the instructions in the message that is automatically sent there. A duplicate account such as "komponisto2" apparently results from a different email address being used to create the LW account "komponisto" from that associated with the OB comments from "komponisto". Had the same e-mail address been used, old comments such as the grandparent would have been added to the new LW account when the importation took place. Let this be noted by anyone who commented on OB and has not yet created an account on LW.)

comment by [deleted] · 2011-12-20T11:15:06.179Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

In the meantime, those of us who strive to cull those harmful memes from our culture will not do so by ignoring them.

Surely at some point the memes become so weak this it becomes a misspent effort. Even when they are just reduced from heavy to moderate, but still important, they may carry heavy opportunity cost in utilitarian terms. There is a lot to optimize in our universe.

This is not going to be popular comment, but honestly, looking at a cultural group like the ethnic Swedes, fighting perceived anti-woman memes among them seems like a waste of time.

comment by poke · 2008-06-28T17:52:57.000Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I think you have to be careful when you say,

trying to use your brain to understand something that is not like your brain.

We can't use our brains to understand brains that are like our brains. We don't have that kind of access. Empathy is a function and not something you just get for free on account of similarity. Where we have obvious faculties in this area - understanding the emotional state of another person - I don't see any strong differences between same sex and opposite sex empathy. We can all tell when a member of the opposite sex is distressed; the hard part is figuring out why. Where there are such differences - as with motivations - I don't see much evidence that we're particular talented at getting it right with members of the same sex either.

Anecdotally, the few times I've had to wrestle with the motivations of a member of the same sex to the same degree one does in relationships on a regular basis, they've been completely opaque to me. But it's rare that a member of the same sex is in the position to really screw with you to the point that you dwell on their motivations. Nor are we particularly concerned with pleasing them or self-conscious about how they perceive us. If you listen to a man or woman talk about the motivations of a problematic same sex family member, an area where we often do have volatile relationships, it can be quite similar to how men and women talk about their partners (i.e., total confusion, disbelief, etc). Even the way people talk about their bosses can be similar.

So while I'd never claim to understand women, I'd challenge the claim that I understand men.

comment by Philip_Hunt · 2008-06-28T17:15:12.000Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe that's just my incompetence... but I am skeptical that any man fully understands women or vice versa.

Does any human fully understand any other human?

comment by [deleted] · 2012-02-19T17:44:41.022Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Does any human fully understand any human at all, including themself?

comment by [deleted] · 2008-06-28T13:20:50.000Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW · GW

My impression is that the negative response to Hanson's comments was not prompted by the apparent uncertainty he displayed. In fact, it was prompted by the apparent certainty he displayed. "Is Overcoming Bias Male?" listed two possible explanations for OB's lack of female readership, and described these as "two main possibilities," with the implication that these were the only main possibilities. The comments on the post seem to be bothered by how far Robin was able to pare down the "main possibilities." The commenters seem to think there are "main possibilities" other than (or instead of) these two. That's different from saying that Robin found women too incomprehensible, and is sort of the opposite (he found them too comprehensible and homogenous, after too little explicit argument).

One thing that I think is important, and was not mentioned in this post: the majority of the human population is (exclusively or almost exclusively) heterosexual, so there is an entire sphere of interactions that many people only have with the opposite sex, and not with the same sex. If we assume that romantic and sexual interactions make people more confused about each others' motives than the average interaction--which seems reasonable enough, and of course "romance is confusing" is a popular meme on par with "women/men are confusing"--then that could be one factor in why the opposite sex tends to seem more confusing. This claim is pretty easily testable, just by studying people with different sexual orientations. I wonder if there is already data out there on this kind of thing?

comment by [deleted] · 2012-02-19T17:40:22.910Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This claim is pretty easily testable, just by studying people with different sexual orientations.

Not testable that particular way (because I'd expect mindware differences between gay men and straight men to be non-negligible compared to those between straight men and straight women), but only considering people one wouldn't even consider having sex/romance with. Can (straight) men understand their grandfathers better than their grandmothers, for example, or male politicians better than female politicians?

comment by RobinHanson · 2008-06-28T12:34:32.000Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks Eliezer - well written. I'm surprised people think they can read so much about my attitude toward women from the few words I wrote in that post. I do find women a bit harder to comprehend than men, but most men are pretty hard to comprehend as well. I was mainly wondering if the glory-relations male-female correlation could help explain disinterest in our blog. I still think that theory has some plausibility, but mostly I'm just very uncertain. And I find it pretty plausible that it is just some feature of you and I that women are reacting to, rather than our official topic per se. At the meta level I fear our cultural taboo against honestly discussing the ways in which we find the other sex/gender puzzling leaves us even more in the dark.

comment by Z._M._Davis · 2008-06-29T17:19:00.000Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Eliezer wrote (to Angel):"If you can point out an exact specific moment where you were offended, we may be able to cross the gap and see this thing that is in your brain and not in ours. If you only tell us that you were offended, we can only guess." And: "Still if you have specific suggestions for 'things that male writers on rationality inadvertently do that turn off female readers', or even just 'Here's the exact sentence where I stopped reading', then I am, according to my own goals, interested."

I think I may be able to offer some potentially valuable insight here about the psychology of people who are shocked and horrified by talk of psychological sex differences, seeing as that I'm one of them. (Yes, beliefs that "can be destroyed by the truth should be," but that doesn't mean you have to love the world exactly the way it is right now.) For example, statements like this bother me:

"Among the controversial ideas I would propose, is that until men start thinking of themselves as men they will tend to regard women as defective humans."

Look, I get the point that sex differences exist, and that one mustn't regard others as defective versions of oneself--but, as you note in passing, "[w]hether or not [a psychological difference] is due to sex is ultimately irrelevant[.]" So one mustn't dismiss those who are skeptical or offended by the notion of sex differences as being simply blind, either. The fact is that there are a nontrivial number of people who are really, genuinely fed up with their gender role, or gender roles in general, without actually being transsexual. They don't want their sex to be a deep part of their self-identity, and I would vehemently contend that this is a valid preference. So talk of What Men Are Like and What Women Are Like sounds really obnoxious to these people: the first thought that comes to mind when they hear of some stereotype about their sex is: "But I'm not like that!"--usually followed by: "Therefore it can't be true." Bad epistemology, I know, but remember that no one is born Bayesian, and right now I'm just explaining the facts of the matter about what it feels like to be one of these people.

And so when these people read poorly-written stories in the mainstream media about deep, innate, immutable sex differences, it clashes with their internal experience, and a lot of them end up rejecting biologically-informed approaches to psychology altogether. Which is foolish, of course, but you can at least see why it happens.

We hear a lot about how men are after beautiful women, and women are after high-status men. And yes, this does seem to be a very common pattern. I'm a twenty-year-old heterosexual male; when people say that men are after sex, it's not as if I have no idea what they're talking about. I get it; believe me I get it. And yet--even so, I find this idea of romance as a resources-for-sex transaction unspeakably ugly. I conceive of romance as a relationship of mutual love and respect between unique individuals. There are those who say I can't really believe that, that I am only signaling--but the meme has to resonate with something within some people, or we'd never have heard of it in the first place.

By all means, lay out the facts of the matter: tell people what they are qua real-brain-in-a-real-universe. But please, please, Eliezer, and especially as a transhumanist, remember your post "Hypocrisy or Akrasia?" and stay far, far away from rhetoric that can be read to suggest that you know better than people what their substrate-independent-self-identity should be. Tell me that I'm male, and that that has nontrivial psychological consequences, but don't tell me I should think of myself as a man. It's a subtle distinction, I know, and maybe I need better words to express it, but it's terribly important. "The utility function is not up for grabs."

comment by Zack_M_Davis · 2013-02-06T04:22:28.201Z · score: 8 (12 votes) · LW · GW

Huh.

So, the other day, there was this moment when the whole "adaptations in a sexually-reproducing species are universal up to sex, therefore women and men have different brain designs and therefore can't really understand each other" argument suddenly started to seem more reliable than my internal sense of "I know a few women I can have great conversations with, and I tend to despise ordinary American men who are proud of their masculinity, therefore psychological sex differences can't be all that important, even though I'm forced to admit that they exist because, you know, Science," because the word important in the latter proposition doesn't actually predict anything and therefore doesn't actually mean anything except insofar as other humans reading that sentence can use it to make predictions about the criteria I use to select actions. Categories are clusters in an extremely high-dimensional space; if you're motivated to believe that Category X and Category Y aren't really very different "along the dimensions that Really Matter," there's no amount of evidence that can change your mind, because you can just redefine what Really Matters to be the dimensions along which X and Y are in fact very similar.

(Thanks to Anna Salamon for discussion, and for visiting me in the hospital after I stayed up all night thinking about this and had a delusional mental breakdown.)

comment by Z._M._Davis · 2008-06-28T12:46:42.000Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW · GW

"Understanding the opposite sex is hard."

Some people don't think this is difficult at all, and/or that psychological sex differences are trivial. What relative proportion of these would you say are unusual for their sex, unusually empathetic, and just delusional, respectively?

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2008-06-30T09:40:00.000Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

It seems to me that Angel has put enough work into this dialog to deserve more than flat dismissal - if you believe Angel's wrong, have the courtesy to say where and why.

comment by Cassandra2 · 2008-06-28T19:43:25.000Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Being transsexual myself I tend to agree that there is some inherent brain differences but I think they are fairly small. In fact I think taking the correct hormones for my sex had a greater effect on my brain than my inborn differences did. I thought about the subject a lot and after some research I decided it was probably just a birth defect that caused my brain not to develop into a male pattern correctly. So I grew up with a bug in my software and all my experiences kept returning corrupt data that built up more and more until I just couldn't take it any more. Now being in this unique position I have both a greater and lesser understanding of the aspects of both genders. I have not been able to separate out what the specific differences would be thought in absence of hormones.

comment by anonymous_coward2 · 2008-07-01T04:17:00.000Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Sorry, I forgot who said this:

Human sex, gender and behavior are much more fluid and complicated than our common sense labels suggest.

This is true of almost every word in the language. How about "liberal" and "conservative"? Yet we still communicate better with words than without them.

Laura wrote:

What percentage of women that you know have been offered the option of trading sexual favors for career advancement?
My conservative estimate: 20%

What percentage of women that you know have performed sexual favors for money, power, or other material gain?
My conservative estimate: 15%

Why do you consider these to be disadvantages? They seem like powerful advantages to me.

Many of the people here disagree over how much of a relative advantage or disadvantage women have in contemporary American society. Women, instead of stating that there is still discrimination in America, how about describing cases from your personal lives where you suffered discrimination or oppression? That would be more convincing. I'd like to see a whole new thread started just for that, to collect anecdotal data.

I will provide an anecdote: I took a year off from work, and lived on my savings, trying to start up a government contracting company by getting together some friends and some technical partners and submitting SBIR grants. I wasted a year of my life and a lot of money, and didn't win any contracts.

If I'd been a woman, I would probably have won a few $100,000 contracts that year, and would now be wealthy. In the SBIR program, grant applications from women-owned companies go to the head of the line, and receive extremely favorable treatment.

But if I'd been a woman, I probably wouldn't be chasing SBIR grants, because I'd have a successful career in academia, because I would have gone to grad school at a name-brand school like MIT. 48% of the students accepted into MIT are women. 26% of women who apply to MIT are accepted; 10% of men who apply are accepted. This despite the men having, on average, higher test scores.

I'm posting anonymously, because I fear getting turned down at an upcoming job interview if they google my name and find me complaining about the advantages women have over me. I'd feel free to complain about the advantages men have over me if I were a woman.

my best girlfriend prospects at this moment are girls who've (regularly) traded sex for money. i hardly know any other women.

Just curious. How is that possible? I'm not doubting you - I just can't imagine how that could be, unless you work in a porn studio in Antarctica.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2013-02-10T00:47:22.988Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

If I'd been a woman, I would probably have won a few $100,000 contracts that year, and would now be wealthy. In the SBIR program, grant applications from women-owned companies go to the head of the line, and receive extremely favorable treatment.

I think this shows a prototype problem-- it assumes that the default woman has the looks, acting ability, and temperament to get those sorts of deals. This is not true of most women.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-09-22T16:37:20.457Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Why do you consider these to be disadvantages? They seem like powerful advantages to me.

These aren't necessarily simply options. Sometimes it's more like "obliged to trade sexual favors in order to keep a job".

comment by Relsqui · 2010-09-20T00:19:47.707Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Why do you consider these to be disadvantages? They seem like powerful advantages to me.

A feminist--using the definition of "wanting sex equality"--would not want to have an unfair advantage due to her sex any more than an unfair disadvantage.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-02-10T01:00:09.977Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Someone could want sex equality and still be okay with people (of either gender) trading sex for money or favours.

comment by Relsqui · 2013-04-01T05:56:46.852Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Absolutely. That doesn't contradict what I said in the slightest.

comment by Laura__ABJ · 2008-06-29T03:29:00.000Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Vassar:By "Sadly, because male is considered the default gender (and possibly because there are more highly masculine women than highly feminine men?), women in these cultures are required to shift their behavior far more than men are required to even when both are present in equal numbers."

Dear God YES!!! I've been called "like a man" so many times for a stand in for "smart, good at math, good at physics, good at arguing, rational, eloquent, strong willed..." Any number of positive traits. If I point out that I like to cook, dress nicely, write poetry, paint, act, talk to people about their problems, take care of kittens, that I try to calm my rats down before injecting them... well, that just confuses the fuck out them, because they can't just chalk the whole of my abilities up to my being 'masculine.' For a long time I took being called "like a man," or "one of the guys" as a genuine compliment. It wasn't until I became comfortable enough with the fact of my own femaleness that I realized it was an insult to my whole sex. I never liked the label feminist- I found it too loaded- though I suppose that is probably an accurate description of myself.

Poke:"But it's rare that a member of the same sex is in the position to really screw with you to the point that you dwell on their motivations. Nor are we particularly concerned with pleasing them or self-conscious about how they perceive us."

Strongly disagree. My girlfriends (not sexual use of term) have the ability to inflict far more emotional pain on my than my guyfriends... maybe because they know exactly where to stick the blade and how to twist it.

General: Case In Point: Do I think I understand men?
Well, I certainly flirted one out a $150/month on the apartment I was trying to sublet today... 'Yes, I know I broke the door, oh dear! You're good at physics and stuff, how shall we ever get it back on those hinges...' particle physicist too... But that again is a parlor trick. While I think I have insight into why a lot of men might FAIL with women, that doesn't mean I get THEM... I love men... Far too many of them seem to fall in love with me than is good for the world though. Will need to work on that.

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2008-06-29T00:31:24.000Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Robin: The gender/sex distinction was there to support additional items that got taken out and saved for future posts (which I'll probably do eventually). I don't regret leaving it in here, as it stands as an important general observation.

Among the controversial ideas I would propose, is that until men start thinking of themselves as men they will tend to regard women as defective humans.

It's also worth noting that feminists don't necessarily speak for women any more than philosophers of science speak for scientists.

Angel, the logic of your discussion with Robin seemed clear to me: Robin asked for examples of what this blog could doing to drive away women. A direct answer might have been "You talk about us like we're aliens, well, we don't like that" or "As soon as I saw the header image I wanted to leave." You replied with a list of general things you thought Robin should do, which is not at all the same as saying, "I think this is driving away your female readers." Which latter would be, to some extent, testable, and something we could ask other readers about. I didn't think your list was unhelpful, but ultimately Robin is not obligated to do something just because you want him to do it.

If Robin sinned against you in that thread, then I, myself also a male, cannot see it. And remember that there is a male sex and a female sex, not a wrong sex and a right sex. So it is not that the truth is laid out plainly, and you see it, but we are blind. That is treating us as defective versions of yourself. If you can point out an exact specific moment where you were offended, we may be able to cross the gap and see this thing that is in your brain and not in ours. If you only tell us that you were offended, we can only guess.

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2008-06-28T18:59:09.000Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Evelyn, wouldn't you say that transsexuals who grow up looking externally like boys [girls], are treated like boys [girls], but who know their whole lives that they're one of the girls [boys], tends to show the existence of genuinely different sexes determined by brain patterning rather than outward form or socialization?

comment by Relsqui · 2010-09-19T21:54:47.708Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Your accurate observation is orthagonal to Evelyn's also accurate observation. Even if you completely ignore gender identification and transsexuality, you cannot accurately separate all healthy, normal human infants into either "male-bodied with penis and testicles" and "female-bodied with vagina and ovaries."

comment by Alicorn · 2010-09-19T22:19:18.647Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

How are you defining "normal"? Intersex conditions aren't vanishingly rare, but I don't know that I'd call them "normal".

comment by Relsqui · 2010-09-19T22:23:36.896Z · score: 0 (6 votes) · LW · GW

How are you defining "normal"?

"Naturally occurring and not representative of any pathology." See also guidelines for discussing intersexuality.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-19T23:47:33.320Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

"Naturally occurring and not representative of any pathology."

It is reasonable to call such mutations (and chromosomal abnormalities) non-pathalogical when they don't interfere with the particular individuals wellbeing or goals. That doesn't mean they are normal. (Although in general telling people they are weird is considered impolite.)

If it makes you feel better you may note that it isn't normal to have a genius level IQ, be six foot three with perfect facial symmetry and live to 110.

comment by Relsqui · 2010-09-20T00:07:58.120Z · score: 1 (7 votes) · LW · GW

That doesn't mean they are normal.

I was asked what my definition of normal was, and gave it. All you've told me is that yours contradicts it; what is yours?

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-20T00:36:43.826Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I was asked what my definition of normal was, and gave it. All you've told me is that yours contradicts it; what is yours?

The relevance of my statement is I implicitly reject your earlier claim, which thrusts your abnormal nomenclature upon others..

you cannot accurately separate all healthy, normal human infants into either "male-bodied with penis and testicles" and "female-bodied with vagina and ovaries."

Yes you can.

comment by Relsqui · 2010-09-20T00:39:07.930Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The relevance of my statement is I implicitly reject your earlier claim.

Right ... since I claim it's normal, and you claim it's not, and we're talking about the same phenomenon, as far as I can tell we're operating under different definitions of "normal." So I want to know what yours is. If I think it's better than mine is, I'll adopt it.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-20T00:52:37.545Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I will continue to evaluate the factual accuracy of claims according to normal.

comment by Relsqui · 2010-09-20T00:59:34.386Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

That link includes some definitions which agree with me and some which do not; I gather that you agree with something among the latter, so I'll leave it at that.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-20T01:24:03.034Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

That link includes some definitions which agree with me

No, it doesn't. Unless you are referring to "in accordance with scientific laws". Which would mean genetic abnormalities could only be 'abnormal' if they were the result of, for example, witchcraft.

To make things interesting there has been speculation among biologists that Joan of Arc may have had Swyers Syndrome - an XY genotype, female external appearance and internal non-functioning testes. If the mutation in the SRY gene was the result of witchcraft it would put a new spin on the whole 'burning her at the stake' thing.

comment by Relsqui · 2010-09-20T01:50:10.918Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Well, most of the rest of the definitions are either self-referential ("a normative example," "within the ranges of normal functioning," "constituting a norm") or merely vague ("within certain limits"). Those don't contradict me, they just don't say anything else useful either. The exception is the definition from Wikipedia, which in its full context) notes that the concept is not easy to define objectively.

Before continuing in this conversation I want to be sure of what we're arguing about. If your main point is that intersexuality isn't normal, that clearly fits your definition and does not fit mine; argument resolved. If you're pointing out that my definition of "normal" isn't the most common one, you may well be right, and that fact by itself doesn't bother me. If you think my definition of "normal" is not a useful one, I'd like to hear a rationale, so that if I agree with it I can update mine. Otherwise, sitting here nitpicking is neither productive nor amusing.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-20T04:16:06.550Z · score: -2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Before continuing in this conversation I want to be sure of what we're arguing about.

Is it important? I doubt either of us care.

comment by Relsqui · 2010-09-20T04:27:01.880Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Is it important? I doubt either of us care.

I have no interest in participating in a conversation that isn't either fun or useful. Thanks for letting me know I should not assume the same about you; I'll check in earlier next time.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-20T04:36:14.173Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I have no interest in participating in a conversation that isn't either fun or useful. Thanks for letting me know I should not assume the same about you; I'll check in earlier next time.

Yeah, sometimes it is easy just to respond to stimulus. Technically incorrect (in my reading) - Must fix bug or conversation will not compile and pass the test suit...

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-21T05:47:27.005Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I deleted ancestors wherein you persuaded and I conceded that debating the word definition is not useful. (It could be and was misused elsewhere.)

Although to my chagrin on rereading your comment I notice a 'not' in your comment that I missed the first time. My original reading was that it was right on the money. I suppose that means I should reverse my impression from being impressed with your smooth handling to, well, not.

I hope you don't mind if I 'act as if' my impression of goodwill and potential mutual respect was accurate. It's a technique that pjeby recommends. :)

comment by Relsqui · 2010-09-21T06:43:05.123Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Although to my chagrin on rereading your comment I notice a 'not' in your comment that I missed the first time. My original reading was that it was right on the money. I suppose that means I should reverse my impression from being impressed with your smooth handling to, well, not.

I'm interested in how we could have changed the interaction so that I would not have been inclined to put a 'not' there, but I've addressed this elsewhere.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-21T06:56:56.793Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Well, not having it would have been easiest. I disagreed but not all disagreements are worth speaking. That and for my part I would most likely have used different phrasings and responded more patiently if I had slept more than 1 hour. This is something I have already made a note of to bear in mind for future conversations. :)

comment by Relsqui · 2010-09-21T08:28:57.527Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Sounds like a good idea. Call it pax.

comment by Nick_Tarleton · 2008-07-01T15:44:00.000Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Personally, if someone jokingly commented on how (something I did) is typical of (some discriminated-against/less-powerful group that includes me), I don't think I could help feeling pretty annoyed, no matter how friendly the statement was or how true the generalization is, particularly if it has to do with low ability.

comment by Tom2 · 2008-06-30T23:11:00.000Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

>If you'd like ways to avoid offending feminists? I'd start with the header image on this blog. Oh noes, the harpies/feminists are coming to get us, and actually listening to them drives men mad!

Forget the feminists, I'm worried about offending the classicists. Why are there harpies where there ought to be sirens? Schoolboy error!

comment by Erika · 2008-06-30T18:30:00.000Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

To continue:

Cultural constructions of gender, like biologically-defined sex, also have significant weaknesses as prospective cues for social interaction with individuals. Yes, we're all swimming in the same cultural soup, but different people perceive different parts of it more clearly, or have different parts emphasized more during their formative years, or whatever -- the result is that different women can have surprisingly different takes on what it means to be female in our culture and how they as individuals relate to those cultural norms.

As a result, you really can't go wrong by approaching social interactions with women as if they were social interactions with human beings.

Gender and sex are far more useful retrospectively than prospectively. If in your best efforts to make your way through this world of human beings, you encounter a problem that you believe you cannot solve without adding the variable of sex/gender to the equation, go ahead and try it and see if it illuminates anything. But which facet should you look to first -- sex or gender?

It is my personal and potentially-biased belief that in the realm of human psychology, looking to gender first rather than sex is going to be more useful to you in the long run. Let me explain: if a woman or multiple women do or say something that you don't understand, can't agree with, doesn't fit your perception of reality, etc., you can ask, "I wonder if this is because women are different?" Well, what if the answer is yes? What does that buy you? You (not the abstract you, I mean you the bloggers) seem convinced that there is a neurological gap that you cannot bridge. So if the answer is "Women are different!" you throw up your hands and give up.

Instead, you could ask, "I wonder if this is because women typically experience certain things in our culture that are different from what men experience?" CONCRETE EXPERIENCES ARE SOMETHING THAT YOU CAN IMAGINE. Experiences are something that you can read about, ask questions about, educate yourself about. Then you can put yourself in the "female" position: "Would a human being who had those experiences look at this problem differently than a human being who had my experiences?"

If you approach this process honestly and openly, you will be surprised at the "mysteries" that suddenly become clear to you. Good luck.

comment by Erika · 2008-06-30T17:40:00.000Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

"but I am skeptical that any man fully understands women or vice versa"

Oh, for heaven's sake -- do you really believe this? If so, that explains a lot.

I'll admit, I once thought something similar... back when I was 16 years old and was growing up in a mostly female family. It took me maybe five or six years past that point to catch on to the fact that (surprise!) men are people. They are people just like any other people, and their individual abilities, interests, and social roles are far more useful cues for guiding most social interactions than is their biological sex. In fact, looking at interactions prospectively, biological sex has exactly one use: determining potential sexual partners, for those of us who happen to have a preference.

If teenage me with my limited social skills can learn this lesson, surely anyone can.

I am not denying the existence of psychological differences that correlate with sex. I respect Tooby & Cosmides as researchers and I'm married to an evolutionary biologist, so you're not going to see me trying to claim that millions of years of selection have not left their imprint on our brains. But (let me emphasize again), these differences tend not to be terribly useful as prospective cues for how to conduct any given relationship.

Spending a lot of time with small children (especially your own small children) is an excellent way to get a rough sense of psychological sex differences. It is, of course, no substitute for structured, empirical, peer-reviewed research, but here in all its potentially-biased glory I present to you one of my personal observations: boys tend to be more entranced by big shiny things that move fast, than girls are. The mean difference is small and the overlap between the two distributions is massive, but I believe that difference exists even apart from the social pressures that bolster it.

So what? Knowing this is not going to tell you whether your new girlfriend wants to go to a monster truck rally with you. ASKING HER if she wants to go will tell you that. It's not going to tell you that NASCAR races are a bad place to pick up chicks: the overlap in interest between men and women is so large that there will still be plenty of women there, and if you happen to be passionate about cars, wouldn't you enjoy dating someone who shares that passion?

Okay, all of this is just the wind-up to my ultimate point, but since I understand there is a preference around here for short comments, I will conclude in another installment.

comment by Q_the_Enchanter · 2008-06-28T20:30:14.000Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I don't believe I even understand myself.* So it's no wonder I don't really understand others (those of the opposite gender in particular).


*The irony being that it probably takes an unusual degree of self-understanding to understand this.

comment by Evelyn · 2008-06-28T18:54:34.000Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Eliezer, I expect clearer thinking from you.

"Yes, there are two different sexes in the human species... "Sex" is the biological difference."

Anne Fausto-Sterling's (and others) work on intersexuality proposes that up to 2 percent of all human children born show some biological sexual ambiguity. A significant fraction of them, have the physical appearance opposite to their genetic code. This is in addition to gender dysphoria, where people have one physical sex but feel themselves to be 'truly' the other sex.

Human sex, gender and behavior are much more fluid and complicated than our common sense labels suggest.

comment by binary · 2010-03-13T12:49:18.413Z · score: 3 (7 votes) · LW · GW

"Understanding the opposite sex is hard"

Understanding any other person is hard. Biological sex is really quite irrelevant.

comment by FAWS · 2010-03-13T12:58:49.457Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Which of these is in your opinion not true?

  • The more similar people are to you, the easier they tend to be to understand.

  • People of the same sex are on average significantly more similar to each other than people of different sex.

  • There is no magical force compensating for differences caused or implied by sex involved in understanding each other.

comment by BlackHumor · 2010-05-18T02:16:16.430Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I have to say for myself mostly two, with criticism of the underlying assumption of one that tends to negate three as well. So, uh, all of them. Still mostly two though:

All people are so similar to each other it should be trivial to understand them with any real effort. The differences between men and women on average are tiny compared to differences between individuals, which are themselves tiny compared to the massive similarities between all human beings.

(A lot of people seem to take for granted that their mind works mostly the same as the mind of the person they are talking to; all I have to say to that is that the very ability to have a conversation that makes any sense at all is a function of the two of you having a very similar mental structure. You would not have a good time talking to someone who did not have the concept "you", for example.

Given that you can have a conversation with someone, the two of you are sufficiently similar to understand each other with fairly little effort.)

comment by Grant · 2008-07-02T03:40:00.000Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

In computer engineering, I've observed the opposite effect from what Laura describes. Women are so rare (approximately 1 in 30 among American undergrads, probably much higher among foreign grad students) they seem to be treated very well. A few times it even interfered with my classwork, due to the ease of which a lone female student was able to monopolize the TA's time (not that I'm blaming the student for this).

I think men both irrationally favor and disfavor women based on their gender. I think attractive women are a lot more likely to be favored. I'm not sure if women do the same, though I'd guess they do, just to lesser degrees.

If we are taking a "social engineering" viewpoint towards increasing male confidence, I would think the best thing would be for domestic women to just be more understanding towards under-confident men. Learning to be good in bed really isn't rocket science, its just that its hard to acquire the sort of experience and honest feedback needed in order to develop those skills.

comment by anonymous_coward2 · 2008-07-01T05:53:00.000Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW
what you will very likely experience practically mirrors the attitudes that were seen in the early 20th century society in regards to the phenomenon of women wearing trousers. this, if anything, shows that there is a long way to go for equality between the sexes, even in matters assumedly as simple as that of clothing.

In other words:
1. Women couldn't wear trousers 100 years ago, but can today.
2. Men still can't wear dresses.
3. Therefore... um, what? Men's rights are 100 years behind women's rights? I don't think that's what you meant to say.

comment by Laura__ABJ · 2008-07-01T02:47:00.000Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Angel: "The political is the personal. When somebody raises the ugly head of sex stereotypes, my logic and my reason are offended, but the rest of me is flinching back from the endless, historical and ongoing carnival of ugly, cruel things that that sort of thinking is intimately linked with in women's experience."

This I sympathize with. A couple of things most men might not be in on-

What percentage of women that you know have been offered the option of trading sexual favors for career advancement?
My conservative estimate: 20%

What percentage of women that you know have performed sexual favors for money, power, or other material gain?
My conservative estimate: 15%

What percentage of women that you know have been sexually violated?
My conservative estimate: 25%

Question- Would you personally ever consider dating a woman who had sold sexual favors?

The information that you, generally good, guys may not be privy to is just HOW BAD women really have it in this realm... They won't necessarily tell you...

Also- What we're dealing with:
Good friend of mine and I were crossing the street in a foreign country. He had previously characterized me as one of the, if not the smartest woman he had ever met. He plowed ahead in front of the traffic, I waited for the light to turn green. When I got to the other side, he shook his head and said 'women and their decrease spatial abilities...'
I yelled at him, and he said he was just kidding... Was he? This is the name of the game. This is what we're up against. This is why so many women feel they are at war...

comment by michael_vassar · 2008-06-30T16:54:00.000Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Grant: I would second everything in your post except the last paragraph.

Angel: I sincerely do apologize for making you feel bad, and I certainly won't use your name in the future, as hurting people is bad, hurting people in ways that make them likely to behave worse is worse, and my not trusting the person I harm or not considering them to have good intentions doesn't make it better.

That said, NO, it is NOT wrongwrongwrong to tell people that its a bad idea to adopt such and such a label because the people who typically use that label are in some respect immoral, crazy, or even simply widely believed to be so. If you call yourself a Communist I will point out that you are choosing a label identified most strongly with mass murderers, and if you call yourself a Christian, one identified with warmongering anti-rationalists. Doing this is beneficial. If you call yourself a 'communist', you really will probably end up with an inappropriately positive attitude towards the Soviet Union even as you denounce it as "not really communism". If you call yourself a Muslim you really will probably end up with a level of sympathy for Islamic terrorists that you lack for terrorists of other types even as you insist that they are misguided and that "Islam is really a religion of peace".

Labels are in general destructive of rationality. In so far as they are useful, it is because their signaling value exceeds their emotional cost. It is totally appropriate to emphasize the negative messages that a label will send to someone who is considering adopting it, and the main source of such negative messages comes from making claims of similarity to all others who are using that label. In the case of feminism it is totally clear to me that many of the more prominent feminists endorse positions diametrically opposed to equal rights and to rational thought and it sure seemed to me like you did as well based on your posts.

At this point, I still don't believe with p>50% that you favor rational thought or equal rights, but I'm willing to make that assumption for argument's sake if you wish to stick around. I don't really prefer for you to stick around, but I do think that there is a very small chance of my learning something very important by your doing so, so I'll do what I can not do discourage your continuing presence here. Not in exchange, but rather as a token of your commitment to sincere deliberation I would like to ask you to internally and externally taboo "privilege" and "dominant" while you are here. These concepts seem to me to be too loaded and amorphous to contribute to the dialog.

comment by michael_vassar3 · 2008-06-28T15:48:54.000Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Good question Z.M Davis. I don't know Eliezer's answer, but mine is that men who think women are easy to understand are typically unusually non-empathetic men who don't know that anyone cares about really understanding anyone else. By "understand" they mean "know a few tricks for manipulating that pretty reliably work as expected". It's the equivalent of knowing how to aim a cannon and thinking that one is done with physics. A smaller number simply have belief in belief that the sexes are identical and believe that they would be bad people if they seriously considered the alternative. Since people don't draw inferences from beliefs that they just believe they hold, this misstatement doesn't harm them and so just like God it isn't really a delusion in the clinical sense. Least common are unusually feminine men and unusually masculine women who socially restrict their interactions to the limit of their ability to members of some sub-culture (business, academia, sf fandom) where behavior strongly characteristic of one gender over the other are disapproved of and somewhat repressed. These people can then honestly say that among their type of people the two genders act pretty similar and simply dismiss outsiders as a defective Other who don't merit consideration. In this case the complexity remains but isn't identified with gender. Sadly, because male is considered the default gender (and possibly because there are more highly masculine women than highly feminine men?), women in these cultures are required to shift their behavior far more than men are required to even when both are present in equal numbers. This prevents potentially valuable regions of social design space from being explored.

rfriel: Maybe "romance with women is confusing?" My impression is that homosexual male romance is much less confusing than heterosexual romance and that homosexual female romance may the most confusing of the three.

comment by Relsqui · 2010-09-19T21:44:43.028Z · score: 5 (9 votes) · LW · GW

and possibly because there are more highly masculine women than highly feminine men?

This might be true as stated, but it's certainly also true that in a society that is still male-dominated, it's more acceptable to be a masculine woman ("strong!") than a feminine man ("wussy"). Consider that it's no longer even noteworthy for a woman to wear a suit, but even in the most accepting and progressive of western subcultures it's unusual for men to wear dresses other than as costumes. (That's "male-gendered," not "male-bodied"; transwomen are not men-in-dresses.)

For that reason, I'm wary of the assertion that more women are naturally inclined to act in manly ways than vice versa; the environment in which we're observing is inherently biased.

comment by ketsuekigata · 2010-10-13T00:43:24.065Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

For that reason, I'm wary of the assertion that more women are naturally inclined to act in manly ways than vice versa; the environment in which we're observing is inherently biased.

I wonder if this has to do with the fact that the extent of oppression of women has necessitated reconsideration of women's gender roles, whereas men haven't really had a similar movement.

comment by Relsqui · 2010-10-13T02:06:18.017Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

That's a really interesting question. It makes me think about what the differences are between a movement to rebel against another group, and a movement to change a group that you're part of. And under what circumstances is it possible to create a movement for more freedom when you already belong to the power group?

comment by ketsuekigata · 2010-10-13T18:01:29.368Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I think we may be in the midst of such circumstances right now, actually. I'd be interested to know how much the LGBT rights movement is influencing gender roles, particularly male gender roles. The movement encourages people in general to question gender roles. Acceptance of transpeople, for instance, requires that people rethink the idea that gender and sex are equivalent.

Also, I think it's interesting that gay men (or some of them, in any case), who belong to an oppressed subset of the power group, have been able to push gender boundaries to a great extent. This may have to do with the fact that traditional male gender roles dictate attraction to women, so gay men are already questioning their roles. I wonder, though, if the fact that they're a subset of the power group will allow the movement to benefit all men.

comment by grendelkhan · 2012-03-30T00:34:58.006Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

You should have taken your own advice and remembered the bit about Politics being The Mind-Killer. Yes, this is a reasonably good illustration of your point about the size of mind-design-space, but it generated a lot more heat than light, and I think it's more illustrative of the ways in which even careful work in this area can fly off the rails with ease.

if you think that women don't take the initiative enough in sex
the men with harems of synthetic sex slaves, and the women with romantic sensitive robots

(I'm aware the second is you quoting someone else's opinion, not your own.) It's received wisdom that women are much more discerning than men, and that this is inherent and unchangeable and totally biological. It's reported this way in the popular press; the Clark and Hatfield study (an stranger of the opposite sex propositions you out of the blue; do you accept?) showing marked disparity between men and women is interpreted as reflecting a deep and abiding inherent truth.

Except, no. Women's reluctance to accept that kind of proposition is less about being inherently wired for romance and more about perceiving unknown men as dangerous. Remove the perception of danger, and the difference in receptiveness to casual sex shrinks to the point of becoming noise.

The difference is, historically, moot; women never really had the level of freedom from violence it would take to distinguish between results implying "women are inherently keen on romance" and those implying "women fear unknown men". But it should serve as a giant flaming caution signal for anyone who wants to write about inherent differences between the sexes: even if you think you are, you're probably not treading lightly enough.

I know I grew up much too late to appreciate the efforts of feminists: nobody has ever tried to sell my sister, my mother has always been able to vote, and Hillary Clinton running for President didn't strike me as the slightest departure from what I think of as a normal universe.

If you'd grown up in the 1950s, you'd have said the same thing about women being able to vote, you know. Great moral changes don't look obvious before they happen. Shouldn't this be obvious from the whole 'Making History Available' idea?

And I know this post is almost four years old at this point, but wow was this ever a failed opportunity to do outreach.

comment by Blueberry · 2012-03-30T01:05:14.624Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It's received wisdom that women are much more discerning than men, and that this is inherent and unchangeable and totally biological.

There is biology behind it, but it's probably changeable by culture as well.

Except, no. Women's reluctance to accept that kind of proposition is less about being inherently wired for romance and more about perceiving unknown men as dangerous

You've misrepresented that study.

You're correct in pointing out some of the flaws of the Clark and Hatfield study, but the empirical observation that women are more selective on average has a lot more support than that. Looking at your link:

  • Women were much less likely than men to accept the coffeeshop proposition from a random person.
  • If the man is Brad Pitt or Johnny Deppp, women are just as likely to accept a coffeeshop proposition as men are from a random person or a celebrity
  • Men are more likely than women to accept a proposition from their best opposite-sex friend even though perception of danger was equal.
  • When you account for what the researchers euphemistically refer to as "perceptions of sexual capabilities," women are just as likely to accept a proposition from their best friend.

In other words, women are more selective about casual sex partners, and more selective about who they think has "sexual capabilities." My guess is that "sexual capabilities" here is a proxy for sexual attraction. That is, if you're attracted to someone, you think they have more "sexual capabilities." So yes, women are more selective about sexual attraction.

Which makes complete sense in terms of both evolved, unconscious assessment of risk and parental investment (women are the ones who get pregnant) as well as conscious assessment of what they should do based on culture and beliefs about sex. The latter is probably changeable with the culture.

comment by hairyfigment · 2012-03-30T01:19:47.104Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

See, right there you explicitly mentioned "perception of sexual capabilities" as the determining factor. And yet you ignored the possibility that our culture does not encourage their development in men.

comment by Blueberry · 2012-03-30T01:26:56.018Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure what you're saying. Do you mean our culture doesn't do a very good job teaching men to be attractive?

"perception of sexual capabilities" has nothing to do with actual skills in bed, and everything to do with how (sexually and non-physically) attractive someone is.

comment by Izeinwinter · 2013-02-12T13:46:59.213Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

... Because it obviously does not? Anyone who ever people watches when eating in town can tell this. That, and very few men ever get the One True Sex Tip. "your orgasm is a kill-switch on your libido. Everything you want to do tonight has to precede it, or it wont happen, or at least, wont be any fun.".

comment by hairyfigment · 2012-03-30T02:31:19.087Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Do you think this because of the Brad Pitt question? I actually think we have good evidence that our culture does not teach men how to (literally) please a woman sexually, nor require it, and that one man without training would find this far more difficult than an alien might suppose. We'd therefore expect any woman with a shred of rationality to expect less pleasure from the random "attractive" man the study asks her to imagine.

Given what you point out about perception of danger with the friend's proposition, the following seems like at least weak evidence against the conflation of perceived sexual capability with attractiveness:

both women and men agreed that the female proposer would be better in bed, thought the female proposer was warmer and had higher status, and thought the female proposer would be more likely than the male proposers to give them gifts. Men and women also believed that female proposers were less likely to be dangerous than male proposers. In sum, both men and women agreed that the male proposers are less desirable than female proposers on dimensions of relevance to sexual encounters.

comment by Blueberry · 2012-03-30T03:17:54.020Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Do you think this because of the Brad Pitt question?

That, and the fact that the participants were asked to guess how good in bed their friend or a random person was. The qualities that make someone seem good in bed are also qualities that people find sexually attractive, e.g. confidence, fashion sense, dancing skill. Also, a big part of sex is mental, so people you find attractive will be better in bed.

I actually think we have good evidence that our culture does not teach men how to (literally) please a woman sexually, nor require it, and that one man without training would find this far more difficult than an alien might suppose.

What evidence? Books and webpages on the subject abound. Magazines are filled with articles on sexual skills. And like any skill, of course, it takes practice to develop, but our current culture is far more accepting of women explicitly communicating what they like than in the past; women are routinely encouraged to do so (though slut-shaming still exists).

I'm confused by the relevance of your "one man" link to partible paternity, which concerns the belief that a child can have more than one father.

We'd therefore expect any woman with a shred of rationality to expect less pleasure from the random "attractive" man the study asks her to imagine.

This makes sense, but isn't the whole story. I would like to see answers to the following scenario:

A close and trusted friend of the same sex introduces you to an average looking person of the opposite sex, saying "This guy/girl is really good in bed. Trust me, we had a fling awhile back. You two should have some fun together." The person says "I have been noticing you and I find you to be very attractive. Would you go to bed with me tonight?" Rate the likelihood that you'd accept.

This eliminates the bias and is a much better version of the question. I predict that men are much more likely to accept in this scenario. If I'm wrong, this would be good evidence that women are not more selective when danger and sexual ability are taken into account.

the following seems like at least weak evidence against the conflation of perceived sexual capability with attractiveness

I don't see how. Obviously if a straight woman is going to guess how good another woman is in bed, it won't relate to how attracted she is to the other woman. Also, it's not surprising that the average woman would rate an average woman as better at pleasing her than the average man: as you say, there is a popular conception that men don't know how to please women, and women have an obvious advantage in familiarity with a female body..

comment by ketsuekigata · 2010-10-13T00:51:37.312Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The possibility of a connection between romance and difficulty understanding women has been mentioned. I'm a bisexual woman, and I don't have any problem identifying with or understanding men. I often find women somewhat more difficult. I think this is because I'm much more attracted to women, which makes them much more difficult to approach and raises the stakes somewhat.

Incidentally, I was rather surprised that there are so few women on Less Wrong. It hadn't occurred to me that this would be the case.

comment by Sarah · 2008-07-02T22:56:00.000Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

until I had a second realization: rather a lot of women talk about men as if we were unsympathetic aliens. And if you went back a century or two, most men would talk about women as alien creatures.

There's an example of something that drives women away. That sentence makes me feel as if you're saying men are so oppressed by judgemental women and sure, women used to be oppressed by men, but that's all over now, isn't it? When it's not - Robin has offended a lot of women here and this post has offended me too, though to a lesser degree. I think perhaps you could stop defending Robin so much and examine how your language and his is making women feel. We're allowed to say we feel excluded from this, we're allowed to examine why, and if you want to 'do better' you might examine what we're saying rather than what Hanson said and why you found it perfectly okay.

comment by Caledonian2 · 2008-07-02T01:01:00.000Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Do we possess any knowledge about the gender composition of the audience most likely to come across this blog in the first place? We cannot conclude that anyone is driving women away unless we can first demonstrate that there are fewer women visiting than we would expect if Our Hosts had no effect at all.

Perhaps there are more men than women in the audience pool. This could be entirely natural, or because women are socially excluded or repelled from that pool disproportionately, or some mix of possibilities. Given that there is a long history of women not being part of certain kinds of discussion, why would we expect an even ratio of sexes here and now?

Has anyone here even attempted to answer that question before forming their opinions on the matter?

comment by Laura__ABJ · 2008-07-01T15:53:00.000Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Also- Just to note- I was two paces behind you, and I did have a very frightening situation in the past in which the heal of my shoe broke suddenly in the middle of the street when there was on-coming traffic... So I wouldn't even characterize not crossing the street as a poor choice based on a misevaluation of distances/speeds.

comment by Laura__ABJ · 2008-07-01T04:42:00.000Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Coward: 'If I'd been a woman, I would probably have won a few $100,000 contracts that year, and would now be wealthy. In the SBIR program, grant applications from women-owned companies go to the head of the line, and receive extremely favorable treatment.'

Eliezer! He has it! YOU NEED BABES! Yes! Lots of babes to get you money! To save the world! Why haven't you done this yet??? And you call yourself a rationalist...

I'm joking, though, in all honesty, there is some truth to this, though it is a risky business- I did go to a party for a friend to flirt his investors (who were technical and liked smart women) into being more comfortable... Don't know if I got him any more money that night, but it probably made him look good.

comment by [deleted] · 2008-07-01T03:37:00.000Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

frelkins,

This is a bit off-topic, but do you really recommend Irigaray? The two things I've heard about her have been pretty damning. One was from a friend in a Lit Theory class, who mocked her idea that women have a different nature than men because female genitals are continually touching themselves, while male genitals are not (or something like that). The other was from Alan Sokal, who attributed to her the belief that fluid mechanics had been ignored in favor of rigid body mechanics because fluids were soft and feminine while rigid bodies were hard and masculine. Both of these claims are ridiculous, but of course they may have been misreported, and they may not be representative.

Since you say you work in technology, I'd imagine you would be unlikely to uncritically accept claims like the fluid mechanics one (relative to the average audience for deconstructionists), so I'm curious about your opinion.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-02-10T11:09:30.028Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

female genitals are continually touching themselves, while male genitals are not

[checks] As of this writing, my penis is touching my testicles.

comment by Z._M._Davis · 2008-07-01T01:10:00.000Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Vassar: "That said, NO, it is NOT wrongwrongwrong to tell people that its a bad idea to adopt such and such a label because the people who typically use that label are in some respect immoral, crazy, or even simply widely believed to be so. [...] Labels are in general destructive of rationality."

It may be interesting to cf. Greg Egan on transhumanism.

Vassar (to Angel): "At this point, I still don't believe with p>50% that you favor rational thought or equal rights [...]"

Are you sure this isn't an instance of moral intimidation? I know it must sound petty coming from me, but at the moment I really think it's a legitimate question. (Although, as always, I could be mistaken.)

Finney: "I agree with the suggestions to change the picture at the top of the blog. [...] we could perhaps change the title [...]"

Personally, I'm extremely attached to the Overcoming Bias name, but I agree that changing the picture is a good idea. That picture of Curie is beautiful.

comment by Crush_on_Lyle · 2008-06-30T16:54:00.000Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I missed the original "Is Overcoming Bias Male?" post, but I am a woman and a reader of this blog. I never gave its maleness or nonmaleness a second thought, but reading these comments and some of the responses to Angel's remarks provides some insight into why (some) women might not want to engage in this forum. "Mindfuckery"? I thought her point about people in a position of privilege not being fully aware of their privilege was quite relevant. And Michael Vassar: it is obviously not the case that everyone believes women and men should have equal rights, negating the usefulness of the term "feminist." Reactions to Hillary's campaign should have made this clear, e.g. the very large Facebook group called "Stop Running for President and Make Me a Sandwich." I saw dozens of media references along those lines. The New Republic reported that her Wikipedia page was repeatedly vandalized with terms like "slut" and "cuntbag." Earlier this year the Washington Post ran an opinion piece (by a woman) called "Women Aren't Very Bright." Later they claimed unconvincingly that it was tongue-in-cheek; the author was no Swift and it wasn't remotely funny.

What is the basis for arguing that gender equality has already been achieved? I would be interested in hearing some facts that support this view.

I'm not going to stop reading this blog or anything, but I am surprised that an openly feminist viewpoint was greeted with annoyance and dismissal. Of course, that's more about the readers and commenters than the blog writers -- I was glad to see Eliezer come to Angel's defense.

comment by RobinHanson · 2008-06-30T13:10:00.000Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

z.m.: I find this idea of romance as a resources-for-sex transaction unspeakably ugly. I conceive of romance as a relationship of mutual love and respect between unique individuals. There are those who say I can't really believe that, that I am only signaling.

What many of us say is that you do really believe it, but that overall your actions are better explained in the other terms. You are built to think one way and act another, and to not see the contradictions very well.

comment by michael_vassar · 2008-06-30T02:29:00.000Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Angel: I really don't think that in the modern world we need a label for "someone who believes in equal rights for men and women" any more than we need a label for "someone who thinks that we shouldn't have slavery" outside of the Muslim world. Abolitionist was once a mark of distinction, now it isn't. A more useful definition but extremely generous definition of feminism, one that would make me very tentatively feminist, would be something like "someone who believes that many/most cultural institutions and basic assumptions need to be critically reevaluated with attention to the fact that women have historically been denied adequate input into their creation". A hostile definition of feminism, but one that I think based on your posts seems to describe you, is a person who believes that the historical oppression of women provides a general-purpose excuse for condemning anyone a feminist wishes to condemn and for reaching any conclusion a feminist wishes to reach. It's a variant of the general problem of knowing about biases and using that knowledge to absolve you from the necessity of engaging with people's arguments, choosing instead to simply point out that they could be biased. Really, this range of possible interpretations of the word, which only scratches the surface of possibilities, further suggests that the word doesn't convey enough signal to justify the confusion it causes.

comment by Vladimir_Slepnev · 2008-06-29T19:11:00.000Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Wendy Collings, about your Q1, see the book "Five Love Languages". It's precisely about that.

Angel, if you're still here (I doubt it), try to apply the label "mindfuckery" to your posts. Sorry I don't have any substantive criticism. Or rather this is the substantive criticism.

Nominull, yes, pick-up techniques are mind control. So is flirting to obtain a drink or get out of a speeding ticket. Sorry, mind control is a thing humans do and try to get better at. Jonathan Haidt: "We did not evolve language and reasoning because they helped us to find truth; we evolved these skills because they were useful to their bearers, and among their greatest benefits were reputation management and manipulation." http://edge.org/3rd_culture/haidt07/haidt07_index.html

Z. M. Davis, even where gender roles are behavioral, they are (in a sense) determined by biology. For example, the enterprise salesman/client relationship has many similarities to the familiar male/female dynamic, even when both actors are middle-aged men. Now imagine if they had studied this role-play of power every day since childhood.

TGGP, good point.

comment by Ian_C. · 2008-06-29T05:30:00.000Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

In my experience men in technical fields are very welcoming towards women (and I have been in the field for 10 years). It is social pressure from other women that keeps them out. They judge each other on their social skills, technical skills get no props.

The solution to get more women on this blog is for there to be more "social" oriented posts so women can use those as an excuse to their friends why they come here, and not have to feel embarrassed. But the deeper solution is for women to put less pressure on each other.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2010-06-13T11:34:53.095Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

This is a complete mismatch for what I've heard from women who find life difficult in technical fields. You may be underestimating the effect of a small percentage of men who are hostile to women or a larger percentage who want to be welcoming but who don't do it well.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-02-10T01:09:59.432Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

This is a complete mismatch for what I've heard

I'd guess it probably varies by geographical locale (and possibly some other factors, e.g. age cohorts, as well).

comment by juliawise · 2011-07-22T20:07:21.404Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

This assumes that people care what their friends think about their doings on the internet. I don't need to use anything as an excuse for coming to this site, because none of my friends (male or female) are likely to know.

Your solution would apply more to being the only girl going to chess club in high school, and I don't know any girls who avoided that because they were afraid of ostracization from other girls. For me, it was because I was afraid of looking stupid in front of boys when I inevitably lost. To me, that's the most threatening part of entering an all-male or mostly-male space: the fear (whether founded or not) that my mistakes will be chalked up to my femaleness.

comment by Nic_C-L · 2008-06-29T05:09:00.000Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Surely this entire discussion is based on the assumption that there is a bigger difference between men-as-a-group and women-as-a-group than between any other reasonably even division of the population (of the world or even just OB readers).

Generalising from my own experiences (which is what most people seem to be doing), I would think there was far more barrier to understanding between say, people who profess a strong religious faith and those who do not, or people whose income falls into the top 20% of the world's population, and those whose income is in the bottom 20%.

Maybe Robin should post on how to get more readers from that last group...

comment by Angel · 2008-06-29T01:00:12.000Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Eliezer, feminists speak for women in the sense that feminism(s) have the effect of expanding the definition of what it is to be "women" to include the true diversity of people who are biologically female. There are women who are misogynistic and racist on varying levels of virulence, just as there are misogynistic and racist men of all sorts. Anti-racist, anti-sexist women aren't going to be able to speak for those women anymore than anti-bias men speak for their racist, sexist brethren.

It seems more beneficial to give a list of concrete things that would work to improve the atmosphere of a discussion than to give a list of Don'ts. Even if I knew everything that every woman could possibly find offensive (which I don't), the list would have to be much longer. Why not address the root of the problem and clear the air that way, instead of dogging at every single problematic instance I can see?

If Robin sinned against you in that thread, then I, myself also a male, cannot see it. And remember that there is a male sex and a female sex, not a wrong sex and a right sex. So it is not that the truth is laid out plainly, and you see it, but we are blind. That is treating us as defective versions of yourself.

Eliezer, I'd hope for better than this for you.

This is a straw man argument, since I never generalized by problems with Robin to the entire male sex. Not once have I taken his behavior and extrapolated conclusions about all men from it. Doing so would actually be a violation of my own feminist beliefs about the diversity of human beings, for cripe's sake.

If you'd like an example of something that offends me, putting words in my mouth is a good place to start.

comment by Roland2 · 2008-06-29T00:30:47.000Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Kaj Sotala:

Is this stuff available online somewhere? I'd be curious to see what those procedures are like, and what sort of reasoning there's behind them.

Yes, here we go:

How to build stories from your life(scroll down past the podcast announcement).

Good demo video of Mystery.

A good book.(free sample chapters download).

Free podcasts. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

If you are a torrent fan, join bitseduce while it is open to join. Tons of stuff there.

(I'd add the standard "I'm just curious, I'm not interested in actually applying such things" disclaimer, if I thought that anybody reading this would actually believe me. ;))

Why do you feel the need to add this disclaimer? It's interesting that a lot of men feel embarrassed to seek pick up advice. What conclusions can we draw from this? Btw, I'm not implying that you are seeking advice but you still felt the need to add that disclaimer. It's a sad fact that men are mostly on their own when it comes to picking up, while women on the other hand have no problem in turning to their peers to seek advice and talk about it. Fortunately the pick up community has changed this!

comment by RobinHanson · 2008-06-28T23:29:00.000Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Angel suggests that we don't have more women here because we need more "diversity of opinion within feminism" and more use of distinctions popular with academic feminists, such as gender vs. sex. So let me note that my original post consisted almost entirely of quoting from academic feminists. Also note that while Eliezer did make the requested gender/sex distinction in the above, it actually was not used in his further discusison - it appears to be there just there to signal.

comment by Relsqui · 2010-09-19T22:12:09.251Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Also note that while Eliezer did make the requested gender/sex distinction in the above, it actually was not used in his further discusison - it appears to be there just there to signal.

Maybe I'm imagining the dismissive tone here, since I don't know you personally, but isn't signalling awareness and acceptance vis a vis sex and gender exactly what we're talking about doing here? If Eliezer succeeded in doing so, great! Maybe that'll help make LW seem more inviting to women.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-20T00:21:54.016Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe that'll help make LW seem more inviting to women.

I rather suspect that any benefits from a post made in 2008 have already been realised. In fact this post probably originally appeared on OvercomingBias!

comment by Alicorn · 2010-09-20T02:18:19.092Z · score: 0 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I rather suspect that any benefits from a post made in 2008 have already been realised. In fact this post probably originally appeared on OvercomingBias!

These claims may contradict each other, because Overcoming Bias has Robin Hanson in it, and he may have neutralized such benefits or made the signals in the post seem less credible by association.

comment by Relsqui · 2010-09-20T00:27:01.847Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, it's clear from some of the comments that it did. But it's hard to reply in a new time context from the rest of the conversation. You could interpret my comment along the lines of "Even if he is 'just' signalling, doing so seems to be fully in line with the goal of making OB/LW more inviting to women."

comment by Frank_Hirsch2 · 2008-06-28T22:59:49.000Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

eli: thanks for setting a few things straight here!

comment by [deleted] · 2008-06-28T22:49:22.000Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Angel,

When someone "talks about women as if they were a strange incomprehensible unsympathetic Other" (as Eliezer put it), are they necessarily "denying the humanity of" women? I agree that "talking about women as an incomprehensible Other" is a trope that has often helped men exclude women from groups and conversations. If a group of men talks a lot about how women are mysterious and incomprehensible, then that's surely going to make it harder for women to become accepted members of that group. However, that doesn't mean that the group is denying the humanity of women, as they may only be speaking for themselves, not for humanity. As I read it, Robin's post only dealt with his own ability (or lack thereof) to understand of women, and not the ability of "men," "humans," or any other group.

Of course, he is writing for an audience, so insofar as he expects his readership to have the same level-of-understanding that he does, he is claiming something about the level-of-understanding of the group "OB readers." But I'm not sure he actually expected that. Like many posts on OB, I took his post to be a set of discussion-starting suggestions that are open to revision by readers who know more about the issue than he does. An clearer expression of his relative lack of qualification would have been nice, though.

Personally, I have two big issues with Robin's post, but neither of them have to do with treating women as an Other. (I agree with Eliezer that this is not a problem, so long as one makes sure to emphasize that one is only making claims about one's own ability to understand, and not the ability of some group that one belongs to.) My first complaint is that he implied that there are only two possible explanations for OB's low female readership, and that the cited explanations did not nearly seem to cover all the potentially important factors. He has now added a disclaimer precluding this interpretation, so I guess he never intended it in the first place? My second complaint is that he seems to conflate the questions "is OB's project 'male'?" and "why does OB have relatively few female readers?" It makes sense to quote gender-essentialist epistemologists by way of answering the first question. I'd imagine that people who say "OB's project is male" are subscribers to that kind of epistemology, as otherwise it'd be hard to say how the abstract philosophical issues that concern (much of) OB's project could be considered "male." On the other hand, "women judging OB's project to be male" is only one of many imaginable factors in OB's low female participation, and acting like it's the only one is just bizarre.

Without intending offense to people who have posted about the issue (as, after all, I'm one of them), I hope this doesn't just become a discussion of Robin's old post, as there are other interesting issues raised in the OP. Although, most of those issues are relevant to Robin's post, at least to the issue of whether he views women as an Other and whether this is bad.

comment by Caledonian2 · 2008-06-28T20:57:42.000Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

men who think women are easy to understand are typically unusually non-empathetic men who don't know that anyone cares about really understanding anyone else. By "understand" they mean "know a few tricks for manipulating that pretty reliably work as expected"
But of course! That's what everyone means by "understanding other people".

If humans actually understood other humans, we wouldn't be stumbling and groping blindly towards constructing a true science of psychology. We'd have had one decades or centuries ago.

Humans intuitively grasp the mechanics of gravity acting upon moving objects. They can solve, in real time, the partial differential equations that describe such motion. That does NOT mean humans understand calculus intuitively, nor does it mean they understand physics. It means they evolved to be able to throw spears and hit targets with them - nothing more.

Only people with little insight into how minds work believe they possess an understanding of them. Rather in the same way that incompetent people tend not to be competent enough to recognize their own incompetence, actually.

comment by simplicio · 2010-05-22T21:26:38.436Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Humans intuitively grasp the mechanics of gravity acting upon moving objects. They can solve, in real time, the partial differential equations that describe such motion.

If you're thinking of e.g., catching a ball - there is a powerful heuristic where you merely move in such a way that the angular position of the ball wrt your body remains constant. I don't suppose anyone solves the PDEs in any wise.

comment by Roland2 · 2008-06-28T19:02:38.000Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Here is a nice breakdown with graphics of how to maintain an optimal relationship: http://crap.fi/archive/6497.jpg

comment by Ian_C. · 2008-06-28T17:55:35.000Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I have noticed that communicating with the opposite sex is challenging even in the workplace (not just romance). When it's just "a bunch of guys" we somehow get the engineering meeting done a lot faster.

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2013-02-15T02:10:54.298Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

In my observation, this isn't true when it's all rationalists. Meetings with Anna Salamon in them only improve by her presence.

comment by Infotropism2 · 2008-06-28T17:45:26.000Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

michael vassar: "My impression is that homosexual male romance is much less confusing than heterosexual romance and that homosexual female romance may the most confusing of the three."

Not at all. From an insider perspective, it appears confusing and jumbled too. Can't tell how much more or less confusing than heterosexual romance, since I lack that bit of information.

There may also be the fact homosexuality has long been, and is still to some extent, taboo, rife with self denial, prejudices, shame, etc., which perhaps could have made it, and the associated romance more confusing than what it could have been for the partakers. Then again, the same would be true of heterosexuality for as long as it has been subjected to the burden of puritan and judeo christian morality.

comment by Allan_Crossman · 2008-06-28T17:32:19.000Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

most people don't see the overwhelming irony of their lives

This is an intriguing comment - but what exactly does it refer to? :-)

comment by Liz_W · 2008-06-28T12:50:46.000Z · score: 2 (14 votes) · LW · GW

We seem to have an influx of angry commenters on Overcoming Bias, offended by Robin Hanson's posts on gender. Indeed, many of them seem to have decided that Robin Hanson is a faceless representative of some evil class of Men. Ah well, but most people don't see the overwhelming irony of their lives; and very few humans of either sex make the effort to cross the gap.

In an ideal world, this would be a reasonable comment. In the real world, with the history of male oppression of women that comes with it, there is an asymmetry that means these things are not equivalent.

comment by Carinthium · 2010-11-23T11:56:23.971Z · score: 5 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Most women don't feel the pain of a history they never experienced- it is not an understandable bias for them to let empathy with said women interefere with their judgement.

comment by wnoise · 2010-11-24T02:11:15.250Z · score: 0 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Unequal treatment, up to and including that deserving of the label "oppression", is still ongoing. Even in first world countries. Yes, things have gotten better, but this history is not over.

comment by Carinthium · 2010-11-24T02:24:03.626Z · score: -2 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Alright- most women in the Western world, then. The sort of "opression' that does exist is mitigated by arguable counter-opression from stereotypes of males and positive discrimination.

Also, any actual examples of "opression"?

EDIT: In addition, it is worth pointing out that a significant part of female submissiveness seems to come from female instincts and real gender differences.

comment by wnoise · 2010-11-24T08:28:16.619Z · score: 3 (9 votes) · LW · GW

The sort of "opression' that does exist is mitigated by arguable counter-opression from stereotypes of males and positive discrimination.

It's not the freaking discrimination olympics.

The two most definitive examples of oppression are from opposite ends of the sex-trade. Although it's hard to acquire definite statistics, the best estimates of slavery in the U.S. alone range from 20,000 at a given time to 14,000 trafficked per year, with roughly half being used for forced sex (the rest is primarily agriculture, and domestic service). On the other hand, we have the treatment of voluntary prostitutes by the police. There are on the order of 100,000 prostitution arrests per year. About 10% of these arrests are clients, the rest the prostitutes (large majority women, but a significant number of men.) Studies indicate that roughly 20% of the violence that a prostitute experiences is from police. (http://www.bayswan.org/stats.html). And of course it's quite common for prostitutes to give freebies to police to get out of being arrested, and the illegality of prostitution makes it rather difficult to report rape, or have it be taken seriously. (http://www.bayswan.org/polpage.html).

Of course, this only happens to a small minority of women. And yes, men are trafficked too. There's still a disparate impact, and this should count as oppression by any standard.

Generally as the abuse and discrimination get milder, they also cover a wider cross-section. Short of these gross abuses, the common complaints are rape and sexual assault, and that allegations of these are not always treated seriously (about 1-in-6 women in the U.S. will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime, roughly 250000 per year. 90% of rape victims are women, 99% of assailants are men.) There is uncertainty in these statistics as well, but even a false rape reporting percentage of the unbelievably high 50% still leaves the statistics rather horrible.

This is all without diving into differences in matters of employment, that is rather difficult to affirmatively establish discrimination in any given case, and given the variance in choices between men and women also certainly means that statistics can be misleading as to how much is flat out discrimination.

In addition, it is worth pointing out that a significant part of female submissiveness seems to come from female instincts and real gender differences.

Possibly true, possibly not. Extremely hard to test for, and not terribly relevant unless you think that submissiveness somehow excuses oppression.

comment by Carinthium · 2010-11-24T09:04:02.529Z · score: 0 (10 votes) · LW · GW

1- Treatment of prostitutes at least partially comes down to disdain of prostitutes, not opression of women.

2- Assuming (as seems to be the case) that it is less than 0.1% of the population being trafficked, then it is minor compared to behaviour in general society.

3- Rape statistics are far lower outside the U.S.

4- I meant that female's instincts are to accept things such as men having higher social status due to hunter-gatherer programming- these have to be dealt with in both genders, but it does mean that to the extent fault can be talked about some is theirs.

In addition, to the extent that there is opression both ways it means that to a lesser extent people can claim one gender is being discriminated against (both having social advantages and disadvantages)- this is not entirely true, but is more so than historically.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-09-28T20:03:40.019Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Just as men lack uteruses and women lack testicles, so too, there are differences of psychological machinery as well.

It seems that for pretty much all cognitive differences not directly related to sexuality, the difference between the male average and the female average is less than the standard deviation within each gender, though.

Understanding the opposite sex is hard. Not as hard as understanding an AI, but it's still attempting empathy across a brainware gap: trying to use your brain to understand something that is not like your brain.

ISTM that ease of understanding depends on complexity rather than just similarity. My brain is like my brain, and my guitar is not like my brain, and yet I can understand how the latter works way better than how the former works. As for empathy, I feel I can empathize with typical people of the other sex way more easily than with typical people of the same sex (though it may be partly because I am heterosexual and so I'm subconsciously more motivated to do the former than the latter). As for brainware gaps, I feel that those due to software hinder me much more than those due to hardware, at least among three-digit-IQ humans.

Despite everything I've read on evolutionary psychology, and despite having set out to build an AI, and despite every fictional novel I'd read that tried to put me into the life-experience of a woman, when I tried to use that "knowledge" to guide my interactions with my girlfriend, it still didn't work right.

What did you try to do and how did you expect it to work?

(I hear everyone saying that romance is hard, and yet I feel that my interactions with my girlfriend actually come out more effortlessly than those with most other people. But this is hardly surprising -- if that weren't the case, she wouldn't be my girlfriend. Maybe people who think romance is hard should break up with their current partners and find someone else?)

I am skeptical that any of them could write Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel series as well as Jacqueline Carey did.

I probably couldn't possibly ever convincingly write from the perspective of a Chinese person or an anti-intellectual jock, either, for that matter.

For example, if you think that women don't take the initiative enough in sex, or that men are afraid of intimacy, then you think that your own brainware is the law of the universe and that anything which departs from it is a disturbance in that essential ghost.

So what? Men and women are humans, they aren't logically omniscient, and they aren't perfectly reflectively consistent. What would be wrong with concluding that certain people take the initiative in sex or are comfortable with intimacy less than would be optimal with their CEV, if that was what the evidence one has encountered shows?

(For the record, I don't agree with either of those statements.)

Still, I'm glad that different minds exist; I wouldn't want to have sex with men.

Me neither -- but doesn't that have to do with bodies rather than minds? Plenty of straight guys wouldn't want to have sex with a pre-op trans woman either.

In modern 21st-century First World culture, there is a special and unusual cultural taboo against men speaking of women as a stereotyped class...

What? I see Internet memes doing exactly that pretty much every day. And of course there are people who are offended by them, but then again there are people who are offended by women speaking of men as a stereotyped class too.

comment by Vaniver · 2013-09-28T21:59:58.406Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

As for empathy, I feel I can empathize with typical people of the other sex way more easily than with typical people of the same sex (though it may be partly because I am heterosexual and so I'm subconsciously more motivated to do the former than the latter).

Do you feel this is also true for typical people of the same and opposite sex? This looks consistent to me with your personality being unusually close to the typical personality of the opposite sex and empathic difficulties caused by personality distances.

I hear everyone saying that romance is hard, and yet I feel that my interactions with my girlfriend actually come out more effortlessly than those with most other people. ... Me neither -- but doesn't that have to do with bodies rather than minds? Plenty of straight guys wouldn't want to have sex with a pre-op trans woman either.

My experience has been that most of the straight guys I know would be happier dating a straight guy than a straight girl, because they would have similar wants and thought patterns and so on, but that the idea is physically repulsive (or, at least, not physically compelling).

As a gay guy, I find it hard to empathize with someone who is romantically attracted to feminine personalities over masculine personalities. To use My Little Pony examples, I would be fine dating a guy with the personality of Twilight Sparkle, Rainbow Dash, or Applejack, and can empathize with why someone else would want to, but would have trouble dating a guy with the personality of Fluttershy, and don't have the mental machinery that generates "d'aww" in response to her. I can solve the classification problem of "will this character make a typical guy d'aww?", but that seems very distinct.

But that means I can imagine someone else who does only want to date Fluttershy-esque people, regardless of their physical sex, and that may be true of Eliezer.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-09-28T22:30:35.539Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

This looks consistent to me with your personality being unusually close to the typical personality of the opposite sex and empathic difficulties caused by personality distances.

That's most likely also cause of part of the effect, though possibly not of it. (FWIW, IIRC on some online test (based on the BSRI?) I scored very slightly above average on both masculinity and femininity, and very slightly higher on the latter than on the former, which sounds kind-of right (but then again...).)

comment by Z._M._Davis · 2008-07-02T15:34:00.000Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

"[M]ight [prostitution] have other useful functions in male psychological development?"

Beats me. But don't girls have better things to do with their time? The boys can just masturbate.

comment by anonymous3 · 2008-07-02T05:29:00.000Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think attractive women are a lot more likely to be favored.

Attractive people overall are more likely to be favored in social situations: this is a result of the halo effect, whereby they're judged as being "better" across all categories, such as personality or skills. It's not too hard to resist this bias once you've become aware of it.

It makes a lot of sense for men as well, especially if you include assertiveness, social confidence etc.

comment by anonymous3 · 2008-07-01T23:56:00.000Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Laura ABJ, I don't know if your post is intended seriously, but your proposal does seem to raise some obvious concerns. It's quite plausible that inexperienced men would gain most by improving their overall social confidence rather than naïvely focusing on sexuality. Eliezer's original post mentions the considerable difficulty of empathizing across a gender gap, and how the "pickup artists" community claims to have a viable solution. These claims should be taken with extreme caution, but what little scholarship exists in this area lends them some qualified credence (See a thesis from the University of Texas, ref. wiki).

Of course if you think that pickup artists are just engaging in dishonest trickery rather than genuinely empathizing, then the above would be irrelevant and patronizing commercial services could be an alternative.

comment by Laura__ABJ · 2008-07-01T18:11:00.000Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Ah! Also- I know a girl who turned down the option of fucking her NYU medical admissions interviewer to get in... She withdrew her application entirely... certainly not a good situation for her.

comment by Laura__ABJ · 2008-07-01T18:10:00.000Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Oh- just thought of a personal experience of discrimination that should be illuminating- While discussing rotations with my PhD advisor, she told me not to bother with two of the 5 people on my list since, "They don't like women and will try to drive you out of their lab. They've done it before." I believe her. That is just sad.

Hm... Where sexual favor for money was unwanted... I can't think of a story I've heard where the woman didn't think at the time it was a good idea-- but many of them suffer terrible guilt after the fact... Maybe the problem is society telling them they're bad people for having done it.

comment by Feminist · 2008-07-01T12:15:00.000Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW
"In modern 21st-century First World culture, there is a special and unusual cultural taboo against men speaking of women as a stereotyped class... but not the converse taboo for women."

Yep, so many taboos against men speaking of women as a stereotyped class. Uh-huh. Suuuuuuuuuuuuuuure there are!

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/jul/01/gender.women

Signed: Feminist

comment by milk · 2008-07-01T05:10:00.000Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

an anecdote on the existence of inequality between the sexes? i propose a fairly easy to conduct and very practical experiment, although this one is for the male readers and is more based on negative social attitudes rather than economics. go to any clothing or charity store and purchase [or ask a friend or two of roughly the same stature and build to borrow from them] an item of clothing (something plain and simple that others of the same age as yourself might wear) that hangs freely from the waist down and doesn't join between the legs, although for the purpose of this experiment we're going to exclude a specific subset of this variety of attire, the kilt. wear it for a few days, in a variety of situations (work, out around town, family occasions, etc). what you will very likely experience practically mirrors the attitudes that were seen in the early 20th century society in regards to the phenomenon of women wearing trousers. this, if anything, shows that there is a long way to go for equality between the sexes, even in matters assumedly as simple as that of clothing. on the other side of the coin, note that for a female to go bare breasted in public in the same locations where a male can is also an equality still not enjoyed in most parts of the world.

comment by [deleted] · 2008-07-01T01:29:00.000Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I have always really liked the title image. The reason is because it calls up a powerful story that is very specifically relevant to bias.

The story is, of course, that Odysseus knows that he will not be able to resist the sirens in the moment, so he binds himself to the mast beforehand. To me, the powerful analogy here is not "resisting bias is like resisting sexual/romantic desire," and it's certainly not "bias is like women and rationality is like men." It's that bias is appealing, is hard to spot, and can feel very much like the "right" way to think. One must always have a certain amount of distrust for one's own mind, sometimes to point of putting forceful strictures one oneself, as Odysseus does.

This is a message that's very relevant to OB's concerns, which is something I appreciate, since academic writing is often accompanied by pretty but irrelevant pictures (e.g., a textbook about algorithms I once saw with a painting of Eden on the cover). It's also important to remember that it's essentially a message about humility. Yes, Odysseus is a man, and yes, he's doing the right thing--but in this case, the right thing for him is to recognize the limitations of his own thoughts and impulses, to strategically distrust his ability to make correct judgments. In other words, to check his arrogance. The real message isn't "resist women," it's "resist yourself." It's really the same sort of attitude that one needs to take if one wants to avoid being prejudiced.

About the issue of the genders involved: The characters have to be some gender or other. If the picture unavoidably sends a bad message about the genders of the sexually-tempting entities, then it's impossible to tell this kind of story (someone resisting sexual temptation) without making some big prejudiced statement. To me, that rules out too large a class of stories to be reasonable. More pragmatically, this picture relies on calling up the more important of the story (that Odysseus bound himself beforehand) in the viewer's mind, which means it has to be a well-known story. I'm not sure if there's a well-known story with the same message that has different genders, so that's not an alternative if we want to stick with the same message. There might be one out there, though.

comment by HalFinney · 2008-07-01T00:27:00.000Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I agree with the suggestions to change the picture at the top of the blog. We show rationality represented by a man, striving to ignore the seductive lure of bias, represented by monsters who have a female aspect. This can't project an aura of welcome to female readers. I'd suggest that we seek out some image which has a woman as the central focus. Perhaps something like this one of an actress as Marie Curie, a scientist who is seeking after objective truth.

Another concrete point I've gleaned is that the title of the blog may be an obstacle as well. When women (and probably ethnic and cultural minorities) read "overcoming bias", their immediate interpretation is that it's about overcoming the bias and prejudice which has been an obstacle to their group's success and happiness. This is a topic which members of historically oppressed groups tend to find interesting and relevant. When they learn of the rather different (although arguably overlapping) focus of the discussion here, that further leads to diminished interest.

While I don't think we should change the URL of this blog, we could perhaps change the title as it is depicted in the graphic masthead, at the same time that the picture is changed. Maybe something like "Becoming Bayesian" or "Rational Striving".

I believe there would be real advantages to bringing in a wider range of participants. Many studies have found that more diversity in groups improves problem-solving ability. From the majoritarian perspective, we are more likely to get bias cancellation with greater diversity. And Asch's experiments in conformity found that people became much more accurate and honest with even a few supporters of their minority viewpoint, so adding diversity can bring quick benefits.

It would be good to get feedback from the female readers here as to whether they think these measures would help.

comment by juliawise · 2011-07-22T20:25:27.253Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Although it eventually occurred to me that the gendered nature of the image was unwelcoming, it didn't immediately put me off. But that may just be a fondness for the Pre-Raphaelites (an irrational and sexist bunch if ever there was one).

I vote against "Becoming Bayesian", as it won't make any sense to most people coming here for the first time. I'm still not clear on why the whole Bayes thing is so much greater than any of the other ideas on this site. For anyone to whom arithmetic doesn't come easily, any of the explanations of Bayes' Theorem are difficult to get through.

comment by cofax · 2008-06-30T20:51:00.000Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If you'd like ways to avoid offending feminists? I'd start with the header image on this blog. Oh noes, the harpies/feminists are coming to get us, and actually listening to them drives men mad! I assume this is your default header, but that doesn't actually improve the subtext much. If this were a blog about classical history or analyzing the Odyssey, I wouldn't be bothered; but in the context of a discussion about gender differences, man does it hit the wrong note.

Additionally, if you'd seriously like to talk to feminists here, then you need to understand that a lot of feminist thinking revolves around the concepts of privilege and power. That Mr. Hanson doesn't feel like a privileged individual and didn't intend to come across that way doesn't defeat the perception that he is speaking from a position of privilege--the privilege conveyed by a culture and institutional structure that situates women as Other and as Lesser. In fact it serves male privilege if women don't have to be considered as individuals, but as a faceless and undifferentiated group, irrational and weak.

That many men as individuals don't believe this of women doesn't negate the fact that western society as a whole privileges men's voices and men's perceptions over women, and posits that women are, at best, imperfect and flawed versions of men. And Mr. Hanson's good intentions don't counterbalance the fact that many of these arguments and conversations online end up treading the same ground, with men rejecting the possibility that they have privilege and insisting they should be treated as individuals--while continuing to treat women as a monolith.

If y'all seriously want to understand why feminists would be reacting so strongly to some of the statements here, do check out Feminism 101, which was design for facilitating just such interactions.

comment by Grant · 2008-06-30T08:38:00.000Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think I've finally put my finger on the icky feeling I get when reading gender topics on this blog. From my point of view, many comments seem to (inadvertently?) assume that misandry and misogyny are mutually exclusive. I don't think they are. Both men and women have deeply-rooted flaws, worthy of criticism from anyone attempting self-improvement. My culture (American nerd) contains strong anti-male and anti-female elements, some of which I think are totally irrational.

As an educated, upper-class geek, my own personal experience is that misandry is currently ahead of misogyny by a good margin, but I realize this probably isn't true of all subcultures. Also, since I've only been male, I cannot see things from the perspective of a female.

If I borrow from another topic and say something like "women are stupid when it comes to dating, always going out with the jerks instead of nice guys like me" (which I don't believe, by the way), this doesn't indicate that I feel male dating habits are more rational. The problems and irrationalities of modern male attraction are so much more obvious than female attraction they have been made fun of for centuries.

Historically, we're told gender-roles (formal and informal) have primarily been anti-female. I'm sure thats true, but they've also been anti-male. Women weren't drafted to fight in WWI or WWII (not that I'd want them to be!), and the enforced role of the wife and house-maker isn't necessarily worse than the father's role as the sole breadwinner.

Laura, I don't think being called "one of the guys" is in any way an insult to women (provided it comes from men; each gender seems to have an inflated view of itself relative to the other). Men have positive qualities lacking in women, and vise-versa; if you combine the best of both worlds, good for you. Calling a guy "sensitive" isn't an insult when it comes from women, is it?

comment by Relsqui · 2010-09-19T23:25:06.689Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The problems and irrationalities of modern male attraction are so much more obvious than female attraction they have been made fun of for centuries.

I think that, to a member of group X, the problems and complaints about members of group X will always seem to stand out as more obvious in the prevailing culture. Thus the prevalance of men and women both who dismiss the trials of the other side.

Calling a guy "sensitive" isn't an insult when it comes from women, is it?

A more precise parallel would be calling a man "girly," which is much more often used pejoratively than "sensitive." An even more precise one would be being told that a group of women sees you as "one of the girls" or "like a good girlfriend." Is that an insult? Not as intended. But the selection of that description discounts the possibility than a man can be a close friend to a woman and still be fully a man; it separates "male" and "sensitive." When a woman seems to fit in so well in a workplace of male engineers that she's called "one of the guys," it suggests that a fully feminine woman could not do so; it separates "woman" and "engineer."

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-19T23:55:58.587Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

A more precise parallel would be calling a man "girly," which is much more often used pejoratively than "sensitive."

Yes, which is why latter can be more effectively used as a 'backhanded complement' than girly.

comment by Relsqui · 2010-09-20T00:13:44.932Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, which is why latter can be more effectively used as a 'backhanded complement' than girly.

Yup. So if you want to take it back the other way, to praise a woman for having traits traditionally considered masculine, it would be more effective to call her e.g. "strong" than "manly."

comment by milk · 2008-06-30T08:35:00.000Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

"I really don't think that in the modern world we need a label for "someone who believes in equal rights for men and women" any more than we need a label for "someone who thinks that we shouldn't have slavery" outside of the Muslim world."

Michael; Are you talking about legal rights or social attitudes?

In some countries, one can maybe argue that the job of liberal feminism is done as that see's the solution to gender equality through political and legal reform, although if you look at the reality of the situation the even the UK, this becomes an untenable argument as of yet.

Social attitudes are the more interesting part for me as that's where the psychological bias exists. Even certain items of clothing such as skirts are still seen as fit for only the female sex! Ohoh, except for kilts that is...

comment by Angel · 2008-06-30T07:50:00.000Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Noir, I've been finding it pathologically difficult to pull away from the discussion, honestly. I feel like, if I'm not clear enough about ((waves hands)) various things, I'm making feminism look bad, and that's a horrible thought. It's also punching all my "if I can just be nice enough and reasonable enough and explain enough daddy won't hate me" buttons.

Why, gentle readers might ask, am I blurting this out in public like a silly emotional women? Because, dudes (and I'm talking to the dudes right now, darn straight), part of what makes this shit so hard is that, when you're a woman, there's more to it than an analytical exploration of arguments about sex and gender. The political is the personal. When somebody raises the ugly head of sex stereotypes, my logic and my reason are offended, but the rest of me is flinching back from the endless, historical and ongoing carnival of ugly, cruel things that that sort of thinking is intimately linked with in women's experience.

Okay. Having blown any credibility I might have, I will now attempt to retire from this exchange with two points: First, I don't represent all feminists, I only represent myself, and I'd appreciate it if Michael Vasser and his ilk never, ever, ever again uses my name as a way to shame other women into avoiding the label feminist. It's wrongwrongwrong and cruel and you were being a truly horrid person when you did that. Second, Vladimir Slepnev and anyone who wishes to take after him can bloody well come up with a substantive critique of what I've said. Dismissing it as "mindfuckery" is ignorant, dismissive, and cheap.

comment by RomanDavis · 2010-06-12T19:13:53.388Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think there's a chance in hell I'll get a reply, but...

There's nothing wrong with caring. If your utility function dictates that you have gasp emotional feelings about something, particularly concrete things, like your friends or sexual slavery. Friends are good. If they make you happy, be happy. Sexual slavery is bad, if it makes you feel angry or sad, feel that way, express your feelings. They aren't magic, though. Try to reflect on them and understand them and where they come from.

It's when what you become angry at or happy about becomes this foreign abstraction. That's when the death spirals and mindkilling begins.

Feminism is a political abstraction. As you said, there are many brands of feminism and the distinctions aren't always clear, but if feminism isn't well defined, it's just an applause light. You can't actually talk about it in a coherent way. Defending labels is a waste of time. Find your values. Defend those.

comment by Angel · 2008-06-30T06:25:00.000Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Phil Goetz, the characterization you've made of me gives me the disturbing impression of looking at a reflection of myself in a fun house mirror. It's very distorted. I certainly didn't put the implication of any of that into my words deliberately; I have only to wonder if I communicated so very badly, or if perhaps the fault is partly yours for seeing a raving man hater where there is none.

((shrug)) Badly said or not, I doubt I could do better by trying again, so I'll let my words stand for themselves, and hope that your interpretation isn't the dominant one they receive, since what you got out of them wasn't put there at all.

comment by Angel · 2008-06-30T06:03:00.000Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Michael Vassar, Women still don't receive equal pay for equal work. In the case of Ms. Ledbetter, a woman appealed to the law after receiving wage discrimination for years and the Supreme Court of the land used a loophole to overturn the decision of a lower court which had awarded her damages. Wage discrimination and the constant struggle to reduce women's reproductive rights are both areas where there's still a pretty blatant fight going on to secure and hold equal rights under the law for women living in the United States.

It's not just men in Muslim countries that don't treat women equally under the law. And, in truth, the behavior of people in another part of the world never excuses one's own behavior in one's own country.

If you'd actually read anything I've linked to, you'd see that I'm not just randomly disapproving of anything I dislike; I'm approaching things from a certain critical perspective and applying my analysis as well as I can, though I am sure that I have made mistakes, since I'm by no means an expert.

comment by Phil_Goetz · 2008-06-30T04:11:00.000Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Angel:In fact, as someone who benefits from privilege, the kindest thing you can probably do is open a forum for listening, instead of making post after post wherein white men hold forth about gender and race.

This is that forum. Unless you mean that we should open a forum where women, but not men, have the right to talk.

This is part of why I don't believe you when you say that you define feminism as believing men and women have equal rights. I suspect that you would call anyone who believed a sexist.

comment by Cesoir · 2008-06-30T00:02:00.000Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

"Understanding the opposite sex is hard. Not as hard as understanding an AI, but it's still attempting empathy across a brainware gap: trying to use your brain to understand something that is not like your brain."

This applies to every brain other than one's own. What I am having difficulty understanding is how essays like these get past the quality filter, assuming there is one.

comment by [deleted] · 2008-06-29T23:59:00.000Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Angel, this is my understanding of the term "feminism" as well. The commenter on your blog who implied I was not a feminist, though, must have a different understanding. After all, I had not said that I did not believe in equal rights for men and women.

I'm not sure if this is appropriate here, since it has nothing to do with OB. But since our exchange on your blog gave me the impression that you disagreed with most or all of my arguable points, I thought I should note that we do agree on this point (which was one of my arguable points in the conversation on your blog).

comment by Laura__ABJ · 2008-06-29T19:21:00.000Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Davis- You've given me a lot to think about there. Diving people by gender has been a useful if unfair way for me to look at the world, and I appreciate how frustrating this must be for people who just don't want that to be a marker at all. I think I like being a 'woman,' so it's easy for me to write about how women should be taken more seriously even though they are different-- but... it's apparently not that simple. As I said, my first boyfriend called himself female. I never really understood why, since he liked to date women and didn't do anything to physically change himself. In a more ideal world, maybe he wouldn't have needed to label himself so at all... I didn't even realize you were a man posting...

comment by [deleted] · 2008-06-29T17:52:00.000Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Rather than having all (biological) men think of themselves as "men" and likewise for women, wouldn't it be better if each individual tried to estimate where their brainware falls between male and female averages? Even if there is a difference between male and female average brainwares (and no matter how large it is), the standard deviations might also be large.

If all we know about a person is their sex, then we may see fit to make inferences about their brainware from average sex differences. But we presumably know more about ourselves than our sex, even if we do not fully understand ourselves. One has a large amount of data about oneself, since one has been present for all of one's experiences (though, of course, there are biases unique to self-judgment, as well). From considering all this evidence, one might be able to infer one's position in brainware-space much better than one would be able to on the basis of one's sex alone. This would let one place oneself more precisely along the line that passes through "male average" and "female average" in brainware-space, and so it would allow one to make predictions on the basis of other people's sex. In this case, thinking of oneself as simply a "man" or a "woman" would not be the best strategy.

comment by Frank_Hirsch · 2008-06-29T04:22:00.000Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW
[Laura ABJ:] While I think I have insight into why a lot of men might FAIL with women, that doesn't mean I get THEM...

You are using highly loaded and sexist language. Why is it only the men who fail with the women? Canst thou not share in the failure, bacause thou art so obviously superior?

comment by Wendy_Collings · 2008-06-29T02:38:00.000Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

An anecdote, followed by a question:

My friend (call her Sarah) explained to me how she and her boyfriend (Mike) were different: she was "tactile" and liked to get presents - just something to keep and hold - to make her feel loved; he was "auditory" and liked to hear her say that she loved him.

Then Valentine's Day came round. Sarah bought Mike a present. She didn't phone him. He phoned to tell her he loved her. He didn't buy her a present. Both felt seriously disappointed, and it took a little outside flirting and jealousy to kick-start the relationship again.

Question:
Did Sarah understand Mike? She could articulate important differences, but seemed unable to act accordingly, to accept his actions, to communicate her needs to him, or even to understand why V-Day went sour.


Anecdote #2:
My partner and I are both introverts, by the strict definition (i.e. introverts recharge their batteries by time spent alone, extroverts by time with other people); yet we have both lived and worked together for the past 9+ years without argument or regret, and can't imagine wanting to separate.

I know that's rare, and is partly due to good luck; but the really crucial thing is that Nic has never criticised me - not even by an impatient sigh or lift of the eyebrow - and I pay him the same compliment. We both have faults, but we're neither worse than the other, so it's easy to accept any annoyances and irritations without taking it personally. Our brains work in quite different ways. That seems positive rather than negative; it makes for interesting discussions, and we still puzzle, amuse or surprise each other sometimes.

Question #2: How far does understanding need to go? Some understanding of differences is helpful, but only when it's followed by acceptance of the differences. That's an attitude rather than an exercise in logic.

comment by Angel · 2008-06-29T02:37:00.000Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Cyan, yeah. That was where the miscommunication came in. Thank you for untangling that.

Eliezer, I don't see your perspective as a product of sex difference, I see it as a product of male privilege. The thing about privilege is that the primary privilege of any privileged group is to be unaware that they're enjoying privilege. I can go to the store and buy a cellphone from Verizon Wireless and never know that my new phone has coltan in it that's been mined very cheaply due to the instability in the Congo region and that the same instability which has afforded Verizon Wireless a fantastic deal and me by new gadget has also led to the wide spread multilation and rape of women there. My white privilege and the privilege I get from living in a more developed part of the world lets me enjoy benefits reaped from harm to other people and never even think about the harm, never bother my precious head.

I don't suppose you or Robin are fundamentally less than me for not seeing the things I see; I'm not saying you have eyes that cannot see, I'm supposing you've been cocooned in a snug little comfortable shell of male privilege so that, despite having fine eyes, there's something between you and the world other people experience in this area. Just like there's something between my eyes and the world as other people experience it.

I think that, from the beginning, if you at the blog had asked: hey, women readers, how are you doing? Are you sitting comfortably? Are there any areas where we could make you feel more welcome here? Rather than suggesting reasons why women obviously aren't interested, that would have been cool.

Aside from everything else, showing that you value you people starts with being willing to listen instead of silence with a neat little explanation.

In fact, as someone who benefits from privilege, the kindest thing you can probably do is open a forum for listening, instead of making post after post wherein white men hold forth about gender and race.

comment by Angel · 2008-06-29T01:55:00.000Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Oh, hell. Left my italics tag open. There. Closed. Apologies for triple-posting, I realize it's a violation of the site's rules. Mea cupla.

comment by Angel · 2008-06-29T01:54:28.000Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

*for not fitting nicely, rather

comment by Angel · 2008-06-29T01:53:45.000Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Frank, I've heard it said that there could be at least 6 genders, if people weren't arbitrarily silenced or excluded for fitting nicely in the dual gender boxes like good little girls and boys. I don't see why a broader set of options would be a negative thing: whatever is human should not be foreign to us; we shouldn't erase people from existence who don't fit neatly into our categories; people are more important than categories.

Anyway. The sex/gender division isn't the be all end all of gender discussion, but it's a pretty fundamental point that has to be got across before the effects we observe can be understood more clearly. It's one of the stepping stones to seeing the territory as it is, instead of the map.

comment by Cyan2 · 2008-06-29T01:44:16.000Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Angel: "If you'd like an example of something that offends me, putting words in my mouth is a good place to start."

Eliezer: "Angel, I'm not arguing that you so generalized - let us both be careful not to put words into the other's mouth."

I believe this confusion is over the referent of "we" and "us" in the Eliezer's statement, "So it is not that the truth is laid out plainly, and you see it, but we are blind. That is treating us as defective versions of yourself." Eliezer meant Robin and himself; Angel read it to refer to all men.

comment by Angel · 2008-06-29T01:01:20.000Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

*from, not for.

comment by Caledonian2 · 2008-06-29T00:25:33.000Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Men don't understand men - even given that a man's way of thinking may be more similar to another man's than a woman's would be.

Do not confuse "having similar reactions as another person" with "understanding that person". We do not understand ourselves, much less others, and agreeing implies very little about the method of reaching agreement.

comment by Angel · 2008-06-29T00:11:28.000Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

rfriel, that's about the sum of it, yes. One perspective within a tradition shouldn't be selected out to represent the entire tradition. Gender essentialist feminism isn't anathema by any means but it cannot alone claim the label "feminist thought"; there are other perspectives and arguments which need to be considered. This could have been accomplished prior to the post going live with the mere addition of a single sentence saying "it is true, though, that not all feminists agree with this outlook, so maybe things aren't as clearcut as they seem" and a link. The cherry picking of one feminist POV leads directly to the limited "main possibilities" the problems with which you explained well in an earlier comment.

comment by [deleted] · 2008-06-28T23:51:30.000Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Robin,

Your post included two quotes from academic feminists, both of which took the view that traditional concepts in philosophy need feminist revision. I took Angel's point to be that this view is not the only one in academic feminism (despite what the second quote says about "virtually all feminists"). It is undoubtedly possible to quote two scholars in an academic tradition while still importantly ignoring diversity in that tradition.

comment by Angel · 2008-06-28T23:50:17.000Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Robin, on the contrary, I felt that it framed the discussion nicely, discouraging people from conflating the two in their comments as has happened in previous OB posts. It, along with Eliezer pointing out that "A good deal (perhaps a majority) of what we think of as 'manly' or 'womanly' is gender rather than sex," combines to set the tone for a clearer, more civil discussion by getting two points of misinformation and bias out of the way to begin with.

comment by Kaj_Sotala · 2008-06-28T23:30:41.000Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Roland: If you read or watch some of their materials it is amazing how much thought and structure goes into their procedures. I agree that they don't have a full understanding of the female brain, but most of them are result oriented so they are happy enough with getting laid.

Is this stuff available online somewhere? I'd be curious to see what those procedures are like, and what sort of reasoning there's behind them.

(I'd add the standard "I'm just curious, I'm not interested in actually applying such things" disclaimer, if I thought that anybody reading this would actually believe me. ;))

comment by Tom3 · 2008-06-28T22:44:25.000Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Angel, I agree that he comes across as a bit arrogant in that thread, but that's just his way. I think he was trying to ask for a list of don't's and you gave him a list of do's, and the ensuing communications breakdown led to this thread. But I think we have an opportunity now to correct this. So a question we might ponder is, what mistakes (not omissions) should be avoided in order to (to some extent) overcome gender bias?

comment by Angel · 2008-06-28T21:45:13.000Z · score: 1 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Because men have been and are currently considered human and women Other, the reinforcing of this trope by a man carries a lot more force and hurt than if a woman were to speak about men as if they were strange, unsympathetic Others. Robin is a person with privilege denying the humanity of disprivileged people. He's following a pattern that's been used to justify the rape and abuse of women for thousands of years.

If a woman says something about how strange and foreign men are, she's not supported by that kind of history, and she's not speaking as a member of the dominant group. Also, she wouldn't be saying it on an Oxford Institute supported blog, would she?

comment by Roland2 · 2008-06-28T19:27:38.000Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Addendum regarding pick-up artist:

Most of them will tell you that you can't think logically when trying to understand women and that their brain is wired differently. So they are well aware of this gap between the sexes.

comment by Relsqui · 2010-09-19T22:04:01.927Z · score: 14 (18 votes) · LW · GW

Most of them will tell you that you can't think logically when trying to understand women

This is an excellent illustration of Eliezer's point. Someone who doesn't follow the same patterns of thought that they do obviously "doesn't think logically." The begin from the assumption that they are logical, and therefore anyone who doesn't think in a way which is clear to them must be illogical.

Everyone is always logical in their own mind. They just begin at different premises and apply different criteria from each other. Knowing this, you can almost always backtrack from someone's "illogical" conclusion, infer what their premises could have been that led to it, and understand them better afterwards. I find this an incredibly useful tool for understanding other human beings.

comment by Roland2 · 2008-06-28T19:15:57.000Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Regarding pick-up artists. This is very interesting, they reverse-engineer the female brainware through social experiments(approaching girls). If you look at the results that some of them get it is quite amazing. I heard of guys who went out 8 nights in a row and got laid 7 times, each night with a different girl they met on the same night. This means in each of these situations they only had a few hours(1-4) from the time they approached the girl until they ended in bed.

If you read or watch some of their materials it is amazing how much thought and structure goes into their procedures. I agree that they don't have a full understanding of the female brain, but most of them are result oriented so they are happy enough with getting laid.

What is even more interesting: most of them are much better dating advisers to other men than the best women. Women itself are not good dating advisers for men, which seems paradoxical. While a woman certainly can tell when she is attracted to a man she can't break down why exactly this man is attractive to her and will say general things like: "He is charming", etc... A pick up artist can break it down to you and tell you exactly what you have to do to cause the "charming" impression.

comment by Unknown · 2008-06-28T12:20:18.000Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

If the Neanderthals or some similar species had survived until the present day, presumably there would be a similar case. Probably Neanderthals had brainware quite different from ours (although quite possibly not as different as the difference between women and men, since this difference goes back a lot longer.)

comment by [deleted] · 2011-12-20T11:05:40.676Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I strongly disagree. And not just because we've since learned that Eurasians have some Neanderthal ancestry. I think there was probably significant overlap in curves mapping the distribution of various mental traits.

People would notice Neanderthals are different but they would mostly be treated just as a somewhat odd ethnicity.

comment by Emile · 2011-12-20T11:11:21.022Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

... such as pygmies.

comment by [deleted] · 2011-12-20T11:36:46.784Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah basically.

comment by anonymous_for_now · 2008-07-03T04:03:00.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

LauraABJ,
You seem to real-life-know at least one other commenter so some of your comments felt more casual. Discussions with people you know rarely follow the same path that discussions with strangers follow, but I didn't see that you directly called anyone names or accused them of manipulative behavior. "Pity fucks" would be the stand out, but I wouldn't throw anyone under the bus for their style choices if the substances is there. It's just one thread after all. Neither courteous nor rude, based on this thread, I'd say you broke even.

comment by Laura__ABJ · 2008-07-02T15:02:00.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Anonymous for now: "I wouldn't have posted this if I hadn't found the overall tone to be calm, courteous & genuine and the topics to be of interest."

Would you characterize my commenting as detracting from the tone of calm and courteous (though I have been quite genuine)? Would you suggest amending this?

Also of interest circa the discussion of male experience:
Nobel prize winning neuroscientist Eric Kandel relates in his memoir "In Search of Memory" that his first sexual experience was at the age of 9 with the hose-maid 'Mitzy." He speculates that his parents hired her to do it, since it was a common practice in Austria at the time to hire a female helper for you almost-pubescent son to prevent him from becoming a homosexual. I'm not advocating such a practice for the purpose of preventing homosexuality, but might it have other useful functions in male psychological development? Does anyone have any arguments for or against this?

comment by anonymous_for_now · 2008-07-02T06:48:00.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

What would drive me away is more interesting to posters than what would encourage me to read on and to post? Ok. Hal came across as welcoming and open-minded. I don't need the painting changed but the offer is appreciated. The majority of comments seemed neutral in tone to me and that's reasonable and reassuring. Eliezer's intervention and support of civil discourse is also appreciated. (Apparently, I am finding if very difficult to muster up The Don't List.) The openly hostile and assumptive style of some comments is a negative factor for me. On the whole, I've seen much worse on just about any other site and look forward to reading more of the blogs and comments. How much I would engage in discussion/commenting? I wouldn't have posted this if I hadn't found the overall tone to be calm, courteous & genuine and the topics to be of interest.

comment by Patrik_Hirvinen · 2008-07-02T06:01:00.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Laura ABJ: In Netherlands there's apparently an "escort service" targeted towards insecure virgin male nerds that does not offer a sex only service but some more comprehensive training as well. Of course the three hour minimum is ridiculously short for building relevant social skills but otherwise I think it's basically what you suggested. link
Anyway, the sex part of such a training should be the easier part. What would me more difficult is building the confidence to initiate and to appropriately respond to romantic and sexual contact with the relevant social skills. I read some of those linked materials from pickup artists and a large portion of them didn't describe stuff I'd consider brainwashing, but how to better understand the target's intentions from non-explicit cues which one could see at least to some extent as rather basic social skills.

With regards to increasing one's tolerance for underconfidence, might it not be a sensible investment and mutually beneficial under some circumstances to take such a person and build up their confidence?

It would be interesting to see some demographics on OB readers. How about setting up a few polls?

As to suggestions on what could turn off female readers of OB, what Robin Hanson asked for seemed to me more like "We like what we are doing now, so we don't want to do more things to attract female readers, but is there something in our way of doing our thing that should be eliminated or changed?" than "What more could we do to attract female readers?" in which case the answer "Give a list of don'ts, not dos." is perfectly legitimate, though if that is the case, unnecessary aggression could have been avoided by being more articulate about it.

comment by Laura__ABJ · 2008-07-02T03:53:00.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Grant: "If we are taking a "social engineering" viewpoint towards increasing male confidence, I would think the best thing would be for domestic women to just be more understanding towards under-confident men. Learning to be good in bed really isn't rocket science, its just that its hard to acquire the sort of experience and honest feedback needed in order to develop those skills."

Good luck trying to find that many non-paid 'domestic women' teachers willing to give pity fucks to all those fellahs...

comment by Laura__ABJ · 2008-07-01T21:41:00.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Don't know if anyone is still reading this thread- but I'd be interested if anyone wants to take a stab at evaluating the pros and cons of sending inexperienced men on a week's vacation to the brothels of Los Vegas or China or anywhere else in order for them to gain some experience, learn a few things, and increase their overall sexual confidence. What are the risks involved? The potential benefits? Are there any 'moral' concerns?

comment by Cyan2 · 2008-07-01T16:39:00.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Laura ABJ, I was thinking that you could include only cases where the opportunity to trade sexual favours for more material gains were not sought after or welcomed by the women concerned. The logic here is that those are the cases where the opportunity for gains was not an advantage, but rather an imposition.

comment by Laura__ABJ · 2008-07-01T16:12:00.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Cyan-
What types of factors do you think I should take into consideration to do this more precisely? I was only basing it on what my friends have told me... which is not a representative sample of the population in general. What would be the point of trying to do this estimate more carefully?

comment by Cyan2 · 2008-07-01T16:06:00.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW
Why do you consider these to be disadvantages? They seem like powerful advantages to me.

I suppose these are advantages to the precise degree that the opportunity to trade sexual favours for more material gains are sought after or welcomed by the women concerned. So the question becomes to what degree were these offered exchanges unwelcome and/or imposed with sme degree of implicit or explicit coercion. Usually there's a carrot and a stick -- some benefit for complying with a sexual request and some penalty for declining.

Not being a woman, I can't put numbers on situations the way Laura ABJ did, but perhaps she could offer refined conservative estimates?

comment by Laura__ABJ · 2008-07-01T15:30:00.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

OK Mike- I accept this explanation from you... But be careful what you say and to whom... This seemed very insulting to me, esp. without any explanation. If I was offended by it, who wouldn't be? Best to keep musing about relative abilities to rational and well-explained discussion/open examination than quips in traffic...

comment by michael_vassar · 2008-07-01T14:57:00.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Laura: Should I have explained it in terms of your being Jewish? Geometry is more about logic and symbols, what the WAIT calls "Verbal" intelligence, than it is about visuospatial intelligence (which may be related to why its on the SAT). Does anyone think that its significantly less common for women to be competent sketch artists than for men to be? That honestly never occurred to me. But hey, you are a med student; how good are you at identifying expected drug-ligand interactions based on molecular shapes compared to similarly trained men (preferably gentile men) who are your approximate equals (have you met any?) at anagrams or at writing papers? If the answer is "quite, thank you" then I was wrong in my attribution to you of strong verbal relative to visuospatial skills. You know your abilities better than I do. Even in that case I think my comment above still stands. It just isn't an insult to claim that two people differ in their relative strengths, at least so long as those strengths are socially held in approximately equal regard. Why should this be different for groups of people?

I definitely do think that it could be an insult to claim that people or groups differ in relative strengths if the strengths in question are NOT held in similar regard, and I am aware that this is a real tendency. It is also a real and unfortunate fact that the same strengths can be socially held in high regard when held by members of one gender (almost always male) and in low regard in the other gender (almost always female). Really though, that is not plausibly what is going on here. Verbal abilities are held in MUCH higher regard in our society than visuospatial abilities. If anything, the visuospatial tasks are included in non-military IQ tests partly as a habitual carry-over from a time when visuospatial abilities were more useful and more highly regarded, partly for the sake of including a wide variety of tasks and partly for the sake of inflating male IQs to equal those of women.

comment by Laura__ABJ · 2008-07-01T14:05:00.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Michael-

I was the top student in my geometry class, thank you very much! Was discussing non-euclidian geometry and mathematics in alternate bases in 4th grade- thank you. And I think I'm a fairly competent sketch artist... That you would try to explain my non-desire to run in front of traffic as a function of my gender was just... appalling.

comment by michael_vassar · 2008-07-01T11:33:00.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Z.M. Davis: These days I generally try not to identify as a Transhumanist, Humanist, or even atheist except to people who I have reason to believe will react positively. I don't have the character to identify as Christian to those who will react positively to that, but maybe someday. Honestly, well, on Facebook I'm "Political Views", "Other", "Religion" "Philosopher and Bayesian". As the latter, any group identity that supposedly rests on belief is out, as I explicitly represent, when unpacked precisely, all my beliefs as probabilistic, even the normative ones. Ordinary discussion really doesn't consistently do this. The closest word, and it isn't close, is "Skeptic". There's no simple translation between "I believe X and I believe that my ignorance can be quantified" and anything thinkable to someone who doesn't believe that ignorance can be quantified. I really don't think that I'm engaged in moral intimidation towards Angel at all, but I don't think you are being petty. As I mentioned, I think that its a serious concern if people are and is worth bringing up if there is a reason to suspect it. There's a difference between saying "It seems to me that you are probably a pretty bad person so I am not going to trust you" and "you should stop thinking those thoughts because having those thoughts means that you are a bad person". Ironically, my guess is that with the right audience (probably a VERY small audience, I don't mean academic feminists in general) some talk about "privilege" and "dominance" would work well for clarifying this point, but with most audiences it would just add to any confusion.

frelkins: thanks for the references.

Minor note: The most appealing characters in The Odyssey are female, namely Athena and Penelope.

Laura: Men and women have the same average IQ and at a best guess the same 'g' (itself an astounding scientific finding given how different they are neuroanatomicaly, but well validated), but differences in specific abilities are so large that people with opposite gender typical relative verbal and visuo-spatial abilities are considered learning disabled (Unless they were Jewish, oddly, as massively superior verbal to visuo-spatial abilities are common among Jews and thus not considered abnormal). Is it terrible to belong to groups that have known strengths and weaknesses or for the weaknesses to be invoked as an explanation of an observed error? Why be upset by explaining one observation in terms of another established one unless arguments are soldiers? Since I'm Jewish I sometimes explain my visuo-spatial errors in the same group terms. Likewise, I imagine that you would not feel any shame about not being able to lift something that a man would be able to lift easily, and that in Africa, where women know how to carry things on their heads in a mechanically efficient manner that depends on broader hips, men probably don't feel shame at not being able to carry something that women can carry easily. I can tell you for sure that in Kazakhstan men aren't ashamed of lacking the basic skills to take care of themselves. So, are only members of a group ever allowed to bring attention to that group having any weaknesses at all, even if it is generally acknowledged that the group in question also has strengths? One problem with this approach to gender relations is that without the framework of group specific strengths people are liable to interpret failures as individual general weaknesses and to underestimate the general abilities of individual members of the opposite gender in the name of protecting the honor of the opposite gender. That seems worse to me.

comment by Plasmon · 2013-02-10T11:55:34.352Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Men and women have the same average IQ

According to wikipedia, this is true by construction :

Most IQ tests are constructed so that there are no overall score differences between females and males

It seems "Men and women have the same average IQ" is a statement that gives information about how IQ tests are constructed, not about (the absence of) actual intelligence differences between man and woman.

comment by V_V · 2013-02-10T12:02:27.279Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

"Religion" "Philosopher and Bayesian"

Bayesian as a religion?

As the latter, any group identity that supposedly rests on belief is out, as I explicitly represent, when unpacked precisely, all my beliefs as probabilistic,

I wonder what probability you assign to that belief.

even the normative ones

How?

Men and women have the same average IQ and at a best guess the same 'g' (itself an astounding scientific finding given how different they are neuroanatomicaly, but well validated),

It could be that IQ tests are calibrated to yield that result.

(Unless they were Jewish, oddly, as massively superior verbal to visuo-spatial abilities are common among Jews and thus not considered abnormal).

references?

comment by [deleted] · 2013-02-10T12:42:32.544Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It could be that IQ tests are calibrated to yield that result.

He himself kind-of sort-of admitted that (see the last few words in this comment).

comment by [deleted] · 2013-02-10T11:23:55.020Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Men and women have the same average IQ and at a best guess the same 'g' (itself an astounding scientific finding given how different they are neuroanatomicaly, but well validated), but differences in specific abilities are so large that people with opposite gender typical relative verbal and visuo-spatial abilities are considered learning disabled (Unless they were Jewish, oddly, as massively superior verbal to visuo-spatial abilities are common among Jews and thus not considered abnormal).

So, the “men don't ask for directions, women don't use maps” thing is not just some arbitrary cultural thing akin to trousers vs skirts? Huh. (OTOH it is one of the very few gender stereotypes that for some reason I don't fully understand some part of my brain takes as normative, and I feel some reluctance to ask for directions that I can't fully explain and I don't want.)

are considered learning disabled

I can't remember ever noticing that -- and I'm not Jewish.

comment by milk · 2008-07-01T06:05:00.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

"Men's rights are 100 years behind women's rights?"

not legal rights, that is unless we're specifically talking about a man's right to wear a skirt at his place of work and not get fired for it, but right in as far as what society in general sees as accepting for a man to do without stigma (or women in the case of going topless in public, although that's still prohibited by law in many places). equality is more than just legal rights, although they're still required before societal change can happen in regards to ironing out irrationalities in how people treat the different sexes.

comment by milk · 2008-07-01T04:25:00.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

on the header image - yes, it has male/female characters in different roles, but i can think critically and understand that the culture it's coming from was biased and thus ignore giving any kind of credence to the metaphors behind the literal representation it offers.

on the question "Would you personally ever consider dating a woman who had sold sexual favors?". yes, i would as i don't see anything wrong with the practice, as long as it's consensual.

on "If you call yourself a Communist I will point out that you are choosing a label identified most strongly with mass murderers, and if you call yourself a Christian, one identified with warmongering anti-rationalists. Doing this is beneficial. If you call yourself a 'communist', you really will probably end up with an inappropriately positive attitude towards the Soviet Union even as you denounce it as "not really communism". If you call yourself a Muslim you really will probably end up with a level of sympathy for Islamic terrorists that you lack for terrorists of other types even as you insist that they are misguided and that "Islam is really a religion of peace"."

i think that's a slippery slope argument. to look at communism, there's a difference between marxism, marxism-leninism, stalanism, maoism, anarcho-communism, etc. i'm a socialist, of which communism is a subset, but i'm of the social democrat variety, and again, i'm of the subset of social democrats that argue towards decentralisation of power, offering more forms of direct democracy, etc, rather than, for example, the variety of social democracy you get from the Labour Party in the UK in this day and age.

"In the case of feminism it is totally clear to me that many of the more prominent feminists endorse positions diametrically opposed to equal rights and to rational thought and it sure seemed to me like you did as well based on your posts."

this statement leaves me wondering if you have much knowledge of feminism at all. can you say what prominent feminists or varieties of feminism have you read about which espouse tenets "diametrically opposed to equal rights and to rational thought"? yes, there exists 'separatist feminism', but that's only one (very flawed imo) variety of feminism among much wide and more important strands of thought.

comment by randy · 2008-07-01T03:08:00.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

btw Laura ABJ...i feel awful in a way to even say this, but my best girlfriend prospects at this moment are girls who've (regularly) traded sex for money. i hardly know any other women. of them, there are a couple i would definitely choose to stay with, one i would not. to me it makes no difference that they've done what they have. money is funny.

comment by Relsqui · 2010-09-20T00:15:26.709Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

i feel awful in a way to even say this

to me it makes no difference

These two statements appear to contradict each other. Are you ashamed of them, or aren't you?

comment by [deleted] · 2008-06-30T15:37:00.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

michael vassar, your original comment about the word "feminism" dealt with what message one would convey if one called oneself a feminist. This depends on what the word actually means--i.e., what meaning most English-speakers attach to it in their heads--and not whether its meaning is useful. If we want to consider the effects of using a particular word, we should consider the definition of the word in common use, even if we think life would be better if the word meant something else. On the other hand, if we want a word that means something more useful, we should probably coin one, and not re-define a pre-existing word in a way that is conducive to confusion.

Angel, I wish you wouldn't leave. Largely because, unless I've missed a post, I don't think you've responded to Eliezer's question. Leaving aside the minor disputes, it seems to me that the main substantive issue in this thread is what the "Is Overcoming Bias Male?" post does (or does not do) to drive away women. Much of Eliezer's original post can be read as leading up to an arguable claim about that issue, that "Robin Hanson committed no sin greater than [etc.]" Now Eliezer has asked you for specifics about what is driving away women (I think he means on the blog in general, but he refers to that post in specific, later in the comment).

Since you have said a number of times that men should listen to women about such an issue rather than just trying to infer what they must think, this seems like exactly the sort of opportunity you're looking for. Of course I have my own opinions about Robin's post, which I described in an earlier comment, but I am willing to accept that I may be missing something because I am not a woman. But I will never know what it is that I am missing if no one ever tells me. (And to be honest, if people refuse to tell me even when they could, I start to wonder how important my blunders could really be. If they were really important, wouldn't the people who are harmed by them want to correct them, if given the chance?)

comment by Relsqui · 2010-09-19T23:43:50.382Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

But I will never know what it is that I am missing if no one ever tells me. (And to be honest, if people refuse to tell me even when they could, I start to wonder how important my blunders could really be. If they were really important, wouldn't the people who are harmed by them want to correct them, if given the chance?)

Be careful; this is very close to the oft-quoted error of saying "If this is so important to you, why won't you teach me?" You're right that someone on the other side of a conflict can teach you, and also that it is in their best interest to do so; it does not logically follow that if they do not, it must not be important. It just means that teaching you about e.g. accomodating women is not their present top priority. Even the people who feel passionately about the debate get to have lives outside of it.

I'm sure you don't actually believe or intend to suggest that it's Angel's duty to stay and educate people. I just wanted to point out that hole in the road before somebody else fell in it.

comment by wedrifid · 2010-09-19T23:54:00.290Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Be careful; this is very close to the oft-quoted error of saying "If this is so important to you, why won't you teach me?" You're right that someone on the other side of a conflict can teach you, and also that it is in their best interest to do so; it does not logically follow that if they do not, it must not be important.

To reject another oft quoted saying, absence of evidence is evidence of absence. If people consistently don't rfriel something when it is in their best interest to give it to him then it is correct for him to consider that evidence that said thing does not exist.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2013-02-10T00:20:39.592Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The problem is that people can give up on trying to explain something if they don't feel as though they're being heard.

I suggest that "complicated mess" is at least as good a hypothesis as "nothing there".

comment by Relsqui · 2010-09-20T00:11:50.008Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

If people consistently don't [give] rfriel something when it is in their best interest to give it to him then it is correct for him to consider that evidence that said thing does not exist.

It is indeed correct for him to consider it. A good next step in evaluating that consideration might be to seek out other sources for that evidence than individuals currently engaged in a realtime debate--for example, published resources on the topic. That way, he can distinguish between a real lack of evidence, and the presence of some incentive for any given individual not to focus their energy on teaching it to him.

comment by milk · 2008-06-30T06:59:00.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Oh, no, I stand corrected. I must admit I skipped reading the lower half of the comments but my ctrl-f on 'radical', 'liberal' and 'wave' weirdly didn't show any results. Anyway.

comment by milk · 2008-06-30T06:52:00.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Hellohello!

I'm of the opinion that genders are simply a personality stereotype and that there should be no expectations or assumptions made between gender, sex and sexuality. This links in with existentialist/radical feminist (careful there, there's a variety of forms of radical feminism out there) and queer theory thoughts on the social constructs of gender. Apart from my leanings towards existentialist thought, the main empirical arguments I use for this are a) that the definitions of masculine and feminine are so different through the world and have changed so much throughout the history of mankind that they're pretty worthless terms and b) the existence of transgendered/transsexual persons shows that you can get the traits of any 'gender' in an individual of any sex.

(I also find it strange that none of the references to feminism in the comments distinguish between the different schools of feminist thought, something you can't avoid if you're talking about feminism seriously, given they have so differing reasons as to why there is inequality and as to what the solution is.)

milk.x

comment by Angel · 2008-06-30T00:43:00.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

rfriel, I'm glad that we can agree on this point.

Ithiliana (the commenter I believe you're referring to?) talked to you about how there are many feminisms during that discussion, I believe? That being the case, I think you might want to interpret what she said in light of that. I won't go further into guessing or explaining her motivations, since it's not my place to speak for anyone else.

I've been careful to mention several times that the particular orientation of feminism which appeals to me is intersectional feminism, and that that is obviously not the only approach around, despite my obviously finding it the most effective personally.

comment by Wendy_Collings · 2008-06-30T00:42:00.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Vladimir - I'm puzzled about your book recommendation! It looks more like a self-help book for struggling couples rather than something addressing the concepts of (to use Cyan's terms - thanks Cyan) explicit and implicit understanding.

A lot of people posting in this thread, and similar ones, seem to have an explicit understanding of sex (biological) and gender (cultural) differences, yet still offend and/or take offense when discussing them. To me that suggests that they don't have implicit understanding, and that being able to articulate the differences isn't much use to them.

Q#3, then:
If there really are two different types of "understanding", exlicit and implicit, how do you turn the useless one in the useful one?

comment by Relsqui · 2010-09-19T23:11:44.968Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It looks more like a self-help book for struggling couples rather than something addressing the concepts of (to use Cyan's terms - thanks Cyan) explicit and implicit understanding.

I think the recommendation was related to the specific situation being described, more than the general point about having understanding but not putting it into practice. But I'd be surprised if it doesn't also address the latter point; it wouldn't be very useful without it.

comment by Angel · 2008-06-29T21:52:00.000Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

michael vassar, it's deeply inaccurate to use any one type of feminism or any one voice to characterize an enormous variety of opinion and shame someone about using the label.

The most basic definition of "feminist" is a person who believes in equal rights for men and women. I think that, despite the behavior of any one individual, that is an aim that anyone could be proud of. Everything beyond that is a distinctive variation and shouldn't be used to characterize the whole.

comment by [deleted] · 2008-06-29T17:55:00.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Err, by "would allow one to make predictions on the basis of other people's sex" I meant "allow one to make BETTER predictions [etc.]" Also, to clarify, by "place oneself along the line," I mean estimate one's position along the line (more precisely, the position of one's projection onto the line).

comment by Cyan2 · 2008-06-29T17:29:00.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW
You mean like the distinction between competence and performance?

Yeah, something like that. But I wouldn't choose "competence" because colloquially it means "possession of the desired skill" (although I know in some contexts it means something more restricted).

comment by michael_vassar · 2008-06-29T17:16:00.000Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Laura: It seems to me that when you apply the feminist label you might want to think about the risk of being understood to mean "like Angel". If that prospect doesn't appall you you may want to read her posts more carefully. It's not just normal academic dishonesty. Rather, its a very distinctive establishment of moral asymmetries mixed with postmodernism that characterizes major strains of modern (second and third wave?) feminism. Maybe you want the term "first wave feminist" but that's too pretentious.

comment by Frank_Hirsch · 2008-06-29T16:13:00.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW
[Cyan wrote:] In reply to Q1, I'd want to introduce new terminology like "implicit understanding" and "explicit understanding" (paralleling the use of that terminology in reference to memory).

You mean like the distinction between competence and performance?

comment by Frank_Hirsch · 2008-06-29T14:55:00.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Laura: In a comment marked as general I do not expect to find a sharply asymmetric statement about a barely (if at all) asymmetric issue.

comment by Daniel_Reeves · 2008-06-29T13:22:00.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Of course, on second thought that also may show that women just don't know men. :)

comment by Relsqui · 2010-09-19T23:03:09.012Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

The men were likely to consider a friendly gesture a sexual invitation and consider a sexual invitation a friendly gesture.

Of course, on second thought that also may show that women just don't know men. :)

There's an interesting question hidden here. Which person in those interactions had the "burden of knowing" the other? If it's the man's job to interpret the woman, we might say that he has failed at knowing her well enough to do so. If it's the woman's job to communicate her intent to the man, again, we would say she has failed at knowing him well enough to do so. The question of "which one doesn't understand" is equivalent to that of "is it his job to interpret, or hers to be clear?"

I think--and have heard it complained by men--that the dominant attitude in our culture is that it is man's job to understand woman. They are to throw up their hands, give up any hope of the women "just saying what they mean," and do their best to interpret the "code" that women speak in. This attitude almost certainly has its roots in the Othering tendency that Eliezer is rightly complaining about.

It is also a genuine and oft-overlooked pathology which is detrimental to both sides. It places an unfair burden on men, giving them the whole responsibility for communication between sexes. By the same token, it fails to put social pressure on women to communicate mindfully of their audience, by excusing them or even glorifying their mysteriousness when they are cryptic.

While I see no reason to divide the responsibility for communication unequally, it seems to me that the speaker is almost always in an easier position than the listener to influence the degree of understanding. So if we're addressing the problem of men not understanding women, a woman who wants to help might sensibly consider trying to tune her communicative output to the frequency of a man she's speaking to. I've written a little before about how she might do this. Also linked from that post is someone else's advice for men listening to women in a particular kind of situation. Neither, of course, is universally apt, but I think they're both better than random and better than where our instincts often lead us.

Ideally, each person leans as far towards the communication style of the other as they can manage, and they get through. This is how you take Eliezer's reminder that neither is "right" or "wrong" and put it into practice.

comment by Sniffnoy · 2010-10-01T00:53:13.161Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I've written a little before about how she might do this.

I think I had to read this twice to determine what you were actually recommending (for speakers). Am I correct in stating that your sentences

But if you're trying to tell someone what you want, don't say something which you know you wouldn't say unless you wanted it. Just tell him what you want.

(or "state things rather than signalling them") sum it up?

ETA: Actually, I should probably clarify - earlier you say "Say, don't imply"; but it seems like (assuming I'm reading this correctly) you're using a weird use of the word "imply". Without the section I quoted above, I would take "to imply Y" to mean "to state X, where X implies Y". Going by the quoted section, though, you seem to use "to imply Y" to mean "to state X, where the fact that you stated X implies Y". I.e. it looks like the relevant distinction is not stating things vs. implying them, but rather using statements as communication rather than using the fact that you made those statements as communication. Do I have that right?

comment by Relsqui · 2010-10-01T01:51:49.315Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, that quote sums up the point.

I'm not using "imply" quite that specifically; my intent is something like "say X, intending the listener to understand Y and Z." That includes but isn't limited to the example you gave. The difference between that and the way you said you'd normally take it is that I'm explicitly acknowledging that the listener may not have any reason to connect X to Y or Z, whereas the way you put it, Y seems like it should necessarily follow X.

Any suggestions for wording this idea more clearly?

comment by Perplexed · 2010-09-19T23:25:37.037Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

While I see no reason to divide the responsibility for communication unequally, it seems to me that the speaker is almost always in an easier position than the listener to influence the degree of understanding.

Why do you say that?

:) (Smiley should be superfluous here, but probably isn't.)

comment by Relsqui · 2010-09-20T00:06:35.209Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Because the speaker is the one selecting the verbal data, which is not the most copious portion of face-to-face communication, but is the most precise form of it.

You provided a great example by choosing to include a symbol that more clearly conveyed your intended inflection, even though it didn't seem necessary to you, because you weren't sure it wouldn't be necessary to me. That's an excellent use of the speaker's position to communicate clearly.

comment by Daniel_Reeves · 2008-06-29T13:20:00.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Some people don't think this is difficult at all, and/or that psychological sex differences are trivial. What relative proportion of these would you say are unusual for their sex, unusually empathetic, and just delusional, respectively?
Ah, I read something about that, before. It was an article on a small study that took note of a few people's reaction to women come-ons. The men were likely to consider a friendly gesture a sexual invitation and consider a sexual invitation a friendly gesture.

comment by Cyan2 · 2008-06-29T04:38:00.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

In reply to Q1, I'd want to introduce new terminology like "implicit understanding" and "explicit understanding" (paralleling the use of that terminology in reference to memory). I'd say Sarah had explicit understanding (akin to a good student's understanding of biology from a lecture course), but not implicit understanding (akin to a biology laboratory researcher's understanding).

In reply to Q2, it really depends on what you (generic "you") are trying to accomplish. It's totally dependent on the person and the situation -- there's no one-size-fits-all answer here. Total cop-out, I know.

comment by Laura__ABJ · 2008-06-29T04:28:00.000Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Frank- Yes I have indeed failed with particular men- though not with men in general. If you mean why some women fail with men in general- I have less insight into this topic. I know a couple of women who don't seem to succeed at all, but one is grossly overwieght and the other is mentally ill... I also know women who date jerks, but that's by choice... What in my phrasing did you find sexist?

comment by TGGP2 · 2008-06-29T03:44:00.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I would have expected that violent instability would increase the costs of resource extraction. That is explicitly part of the goal of MEND in Nigeria, which John Robb often discusses.

comment by Wendy_Collings · 2008-06-29T03:38:00.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

To clarify, Q#1 is querying what constitutes "understanding", using Sarah (not Mike) as an example. If a person can articulate information but can't, for whatever reason, make use of the information, is that "understanding"? (And doesn't that happen a lot around here?)

Q#2 is querying just how useful it is to endlessly analyse and explain gender differences, when you can just accept that there are differences and get on with talking to each other.

comment by Frank_Hirsch · 2008-06-29T03:13:00.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Q:
Did Sarah understand Mike? She could articulate important differences, but seemed unable to act accordingly, to accept his actions, to communicate her needs to him, or even to understand why V-Day went sour.
A:
Sarah and Mike seem to be in exactly the same position. Either they learn it or they learn to live with it. Or not.

Q:
Question #2: How far does understanding need to go? Some understanding of differences is helpful, but only when it's followed by acceptance of the differences. That's an attitude rather than an exercise in logic.
A:
This is even stranger than #1. Sorry, does not compute.


comment by Roland2 · 2008-06-29T02:58:00.000Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I forgot one important link regarding PU, one of the biggest forums of all:
www.fastseduction.com

comment by Frank_Hirsch · 2008-06-29T02:35:00.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

well, i wonder how gender is actually defined, if six have been claimed.
can you give a line on the model which is used?
my very rough first model allows for (2+n)(2+m)222 combinations. that's at least 32 for the corner-cases alone. i say if it's worth doing, then it's worth doing right.

comment by Kaj_Sotala · 2008-06-29T02:16:00.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

In fact, I already got one bordering-on-hostile reaction for having asked.

It was pointed out to me that I interpreted the reaction in the wrong way - "bordering on hostile" was a mischaracterization, as the word 'dubious' wasn't meant to convey disapproval. My apologies, not a native English-speaker.

comment by Adam_M · 2008-06-29T01:58:00.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

In the aftermath of Robin's post it seems clear that its main problem is that he was theorizing about potential causes of the dearth of female interest in this blog from a constrained perspective, which resulted in a set of candidate theories that some readers found to be far too short.

Given how often each of us forgets how constrained our perspective on some topics can seem to others, I find it interesting how much discussion his post has generated. One might expect the discussion to include, perhaps, a brief outline of some of the feminist perspectives that he neglected, followed by the contribution of some other candidate theories extrapolated therefrom, followed by a discussion of the revised set of candidate theories.

Instead, the discussion seems to be stumbling slowly and awkwardly in that direction, weighted down by unnecessary shock and outrage that, as others have mentioned, calls to mind Eliezer's post "Politics is the Mind Killer".

This shock and outrage seems to stem from the expectation that Robin ought to have done more homework before posting his thoughts. Keeping in mind the length of his post, and that it was speculative in nature, how much homework should he have done? An hour? 100 hours?

May I suggest that one of the greatest advantages of blogs over more regimented mediums of thought-exchange, is that a person can share their ideas on a subject without investing the kind of time they otherwise might if they were publishing in a journal, and quickly receive valuable feedback, such as Angel's.

Under ideal circumstances, that feedback is analyzed as dispassionately and as objectively as possible, while our egos gather dust on the shelf. However, we should keep in mind that we all reach instinctively for that shelf when we feel threatened, and calibrate the tone of our comments accordingly. The resulting discussion, I believe, will be more fruitful for all.

comment by Kaj_Sotala · 2008-06-29T01:57:00.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Roland:

Thank you. I'll take a look at these links.

Why do you feel the need to add this disclaimer?

Well, it was partially as a joke, but it's still true that studying pick-up techniques often implies that one is not genuinely interested in women as such, but is just out for easy sex. This combines with a presumed element of deceit and exploitation involved in the act. (Not saying anything about how accurate such impressions are - the personalities and exact methods/motivations of people employing advanced pick-up techniques is not my field of specialty. But that's the general impression.)

In fact, I already got one bordering-on-hostile reaction for having asked.

comment by Frank_Hirsch2 · 2008-06-29T01:42:43.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

i suggest an alternarive using a few more dimensions: we={male_built,female_built,...} x{male_image,female_image,...} x{sexually_aggressive,sexually_passive} x{attracted_to_males,not_attracted_to_males} x{attracted_to_females,not_attracted_to_females}

sorry, it seems like it does not wrap... (at least here on opera, forgive reposte please)

kind regards, frank

comment by Frank_Hirsch2 · 2008-06-29T01:40:28.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

acutally, i suggest an alternarive using a few more dimensions: we={male_built,female_built,...}x{male_image,female_image,...}x{sexually_aggressive,sexually_passive}x{attracted_to_males,not_attracted_to_males}x{attracted_to_females,not_attracted_to_females}

how is that for a start?

kind regards, frank

comment by Frank_Hirsch2 · 2008-06-29T01:26:15.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

i think adding an additional dimension does at least not loose any precision. so we have now not ownly "two kind" of people, but "four kind" of people. People={male,female}x{man,women} or however you may call 'em. but then, why stop there? i'm sure we can dissect the whole thing even further, if we only wanted to. why do then some people think that their choice of cutoff point is naturally superior to any other? for some subspace of topics this distinction is indeed relevant, and i understand it when some people do strongly insist on exact wording. but then again, see, what the sender sends is only half the message. the other half of the message comes from the receiver. (and, yes, 50:50 is just another arbitrary border i set - and i expect you to allow me that. the reason for this is that i do not normally want to have to write all those disclaimers.) well, now see if that rant made any sense.... =)

kind regards, frank

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2008-06-29T01:16:50.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Angel, I'm not arguing that you so generalized - let us both be careful not to put words into the other's mouth. It seemed to me, though, that your discussion with Robin - and certainly your commentary in conversations elsewhere - had an element of "How can they possibly not see it?!?" Now, this blindness could be due to a gender gap rather than a sex gap, or even due to personal incompetence of Robin and myself. But it seems to me that there is an element of "naive gender realism" here, in which you suppose that you directly see the universe the way it really is, and the annoying Other is blind. It is necessary to take a step back from this and realize that "annoyance" is not a direct element of external reality. If you are annoyed and someone else isn't, it doesn't mean that one of you is right and the other is wrong, it may mean that you are different people. Whether or not this is due to sex is ultimately irrelevant, but sex difference is certainly a famous generator of such gaps.

In truth, I don't expect people to be able to identify exactly what bugs them, because I don't expect human beings in general to be that good at understanding their own brains. But your advice to Robin, well-meant as it was, was not based in the same goals that Robin pursues, or myself for that matter. Still if you have specific suggestions for "things that male writers on rationality inadvertently do that turn off female readers", or even just "Here's the exact sentence where I stopped reading", then I am, according to my own goals, interested. I am not solicitous of growing female rationalists for the same reason you are, but nonetheless I care that they should not depart the Way, male or female. I am not going to adopt your goals, but we may have common ground for discussion nonetheless.

comment by Roland2 · 2008-06-29T00:59:17.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Kaj Sotala

I tried to post a list of good links here, but the spamfilter blocked it. It is now awaiting the approval of the blog owner. If this doesn't show up later I will try again.

comment by Eliezer Yudkowsky (Eliezer_Yudkowsky) · 2008-06-28T22:52:23.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I don't see where Robin used the word "silly".

comment by celeriac · 2008-06-28T22:32:00.000Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

komponisto, "trying to move our 'real world' in the direction of an 'ideal world'" is different from "pretending our 'real world' is already an 'ideal world';" the latter action often undermines the former goal.

If the 'real world' merely had a history of male oppression, it would not be a problem. The problem is that the 'real world' has substantial ongoing male oppression, some of which is contingent on the past environment, and is better detected when you know something about past, in exactly the same way that knowing something about the human ancestral environment enables you to discover things about present day human psychology. This is what is being referred to when one speaks of history.

comment by Tom3 · 2008-06-28T22:25:49.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Robin is a person with privilege denying the humanity of disprivileged people. He's following a pattern that's been >used to justify the rape and abuse of women for thousands of years.

I think it's bad form to imply that Robin wanted to deny the humanity of anyone, let alone justify their rape or abuse. Regardless of whether Robin is a member of a dominant group or not, he is a fallible individual human being, and we should assume in good faith that he honestly wanted to know whether this blog is off-putting to women without jumping to the conclusion that he intended harm, consciously or otherwise. It's unfortunate that the post itself gave offense to some women (and I imagine there were plenty of women who read it who took no offense) but it would be better to ask ourselves how we can do better in the future, rather than make accusations.

comment by Doug_S. · 2008-06-28T19:29:33.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I know of at least one male writer who has managed to write women convincingly, at least according to book cover blurbs and online reviews.

comment by RobinHanson · 2008-06-28T13:56:10.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

rfiel, I've added an explicit disclaimer to that post.

comment by Richard_Hollerith · 2008-07-12T05:12:00.000Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I will probably have to stop reading this blog for a while because my life has gotten very tricky and precarious. I am still available for more personal communication with rationalists and scientific generalists especially those living in the Bay Area.

There have been 3 comments on this blog by men to the effect that sex is not that important or that the writer has given up on sex. Those comments suggest what I would consider a lack of sufficient respect for the importance of sex. I tend to believe that for a young man to learn how to have a satisfying and engaging sex life is about as important as obtaining an education or achieving economic security through working. In other words, it is primary.

If someone emails me that they want to read it, I might write more on this topic on my blog.

comment by randy · 2008-07-01T03:05:00.000Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

i agree with Eliezer when he said something like "acting the way women say they want men to act has gotten me nowhere".

here is my two cents...very anti-overcomingbias but...seriously...love (and sex) is so beyond rationality. if there is anything which is beyond the scope of rationality, it is emotion.

sometimes emotion seems like the best RNG of all time, to me.

comment by frelkins · 2008-07-01T03:03:00.000Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

@Hal

Change the title of the blog and the picture? Good grief, Charlie Brown! Two minor cosmetic changes to surrender to the crudest political correctness, neither of which seem likely to bring about the desired result of increasing female participation. But that's how we do things nowadays. . .(Throws up hands)

Forgive me if this sounds partisan -- but the "feminist" position as presented here is scarcely coherent argument; it seems just repeated bashing with the hammer of P.C. It's really a reverse form of censorship and power-seeking under the victim mantle. That the "feminist" proponent has posted countless times with the same gush doesn't make her worthy of serious response. She is a poor proponent of feminist ideas.

While I'm not a big fan of the pic, I certainly don't find it offensive to women or even off-putting. In fact, I think I understand it as rfriel does, as advising some caution and even self-irony (due to the academic painting style, which now appears to modern eyes as kitschy and hilarious). I suspect Robin chose it, it seems like his sense of humor.

And I bet I'm the only woman classicist here who has studied feminist deconstruction. But then I went into technology. Which to think of it, maybe makes me the perfect female reader of OB.

And I remain an ardent fan of Luce Irigaray, Julia Kristeva and Helene Cixous, although I recognize that neuroscience and genetics have moved the discussion forward some too. For those of you who haven't read those serious intellectuals, please believe me they have a rigor of thought and elegance in rhetoric lacking in the self-described "feminists" here. Read them, and eschew what we have been forced to endure in this discussion.

Let me laugh like the Medusa as I exit stage right. . .

comment by Anon14 · 2008-06-30T16:27:00.000Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

For more on the way that ignorance and silence about particular things can be culturally cultivated, see Foucault's History of Sexuality and Eve Sedgwick's Epistemology of the Closet. The concern is not so much that men biologically can't understand women's terribly different brains, but that men refuse to imagine that they can understand women, and by doing so reinforce their position as standard human beings while casting women as illogical, incomprehensible Others. It's not that the sexes can't understand each other, but that the mythos of their not being able to do so shores up the sexual status quo.

comment by milk · 2008-06-30T08:36:00.000Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Doh, how did that ' get there.. ;)

comment by Noir · 2008-06-30T07:06:00.000Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Angel, don't apologize. I only see a lot of overwhelming privilege here. These men? They don't want equality. You asked then to listen and to not stereotype you, and they accuse you, a member of a minority, of 'reverse-sexism' (good goodness, she asked to not dismiss her complains about obvious sexism here, and look at the response of the powerful group!). I find this ridiculous and insulting. Yes, they want their privilege, and their stereotyped and distorted view of women. Honestly, I don't know where you find the patience.

comment by Nominull2 · 2008-06-29T03:35:00.000Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I find the use of pick-up techniques super creepy, actually. Basically it amounts to attempts at mind control, and mind-controlling someone in order to have sex with them is, well, rape.

comment by Angel · 2008-06-28T22:33:23.000Z · score: -1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Tom, when Robin asked me for concrete examples of how the site could do better, I gave four suggestions, and he told me he didn't want my silly "wishlist."

That experience has made me somewhat doubt his good faith, so his following a pattern of thinking (Othering women) which has been used so negatively for so long doesn't look terribly good upon reflection.

I'd like to mention that Eliezer was kind enough to make the distinction between bio sex and gender very clear in this post, which is one of the things I suggested, and which I appreciated. Despite disagreeing with the assumptions underlying other parts of the post, it was good to have that there.

comment by Tim_Tyler · 2008-06-29T21:31:00.000Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Re: The gender/sex distinction

I for one groaned. Science needs a term for the class which male and female belong to - and "sex" doesn't cut it - it is already too overloaded. So, we should use the next best word, "gender" for that - and that's what social scientists actually do. Socially-constructed conceptions of sexuality seem to be way down on the list of terminology priorities to me.

comment by Relsqui · 2010-09-19T23:09:30.434Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Socially-constructed conceptions of sexuality seem to be way down on the list of terminology priorities to me.

I think that anything that's central to the self-identify of most humans, and some humans so much that they go through drastic difficulty to express it, gets to claim some priority.