What are some unpopular (non-normative) opinions that you hold?

post by defilippis · 2019-10-22T18:49:17.215Z · score: 2 (12 votes) · LW · GW · 159 comments

I am currently conducting research on the persuasiveness of contrarian positions. I'm crowdsourcing a list of unpopular beliefs that people may have for which plausible-enough sounding arguments could be made in support of them.

Existing topics that I use include, "climate change is not primarily caused by human activity", "nuclear proliferation is good for global stability" (an argument made by Kenneth Waltz), and "recycling is bad for the environment." While I don't agree with any of these, compelling-sounding cases can be made for them.


Edit: Feel free to PM me beliefs if you don't feel comfortable publicly sharing.




159 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by bendini · 2019-10-23T19:08:45.003Z · score: 32 (17 votes) · LW · GW

I have no particular interest in sharing any of my own, but there does seem to be a bad dynamic going on here that is worth pointing out.

Some people are downvoting the comments that they find abhorrent. This would normally be fine, but in this case it punishes people for correctly following instructions.

I've done what I can to remedy this by giving a strong upvote to the responses with low scores, but LessWrong needs to have a way to deal with this in future so the platform doesn't disincentivize the very behaviours it wants to encourage.

comment by Slider · 2019-10-23T22:59:31.252Z · score: 10 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Following instructions doesn't really ring as a bell as a site goal. The setting of the question seems fair but the ill committed in ignoring the context is different from disobeyance.

comment by Charlie Steiner · 2019-10-23T06:49:16.468Z · score: 22 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Humans are incredible un-secure systems, so compelling arguments can be made for almost any position that anyone takes seriously. Political, identity, and commercialized issues are where you'll find the most pre-existing examples, simply because that's where people have incentives (psychological or tangible) to make arguments whether or not a position is true.

I guess you're asking for examples that we (presumed intellectuals) find most compelling, but note that there's a serious selection effect going on here, because now you're not selecting merely contrarian ideas, you're selecting contrarian ideas and arguments that are pre-filtered for appeal to the sort of person you're interested in researching. You'll get a very different set of ideas and arguments here than if you ask alternative medicine practitioners what arguments they find compelling. And if you use these different sets of arguments in a study, I predict you'll find they convince quite different sets of people.

To give a really on the nose example, consider the contrarian position "I have the power to make a rubber band colder than the surrounding room just by pulling on it." There are two different convincing arguments for this, which might convince very different groups.

One argument is that this is actually a fact of thermodynamics, because rubber bands actually become more ordered when you stretch them (like straightening our a tangled string) and more disordered when allowed to relax, and this actually causes a change in entropy, which causes a change in temperature, and so they become colder when you pull on them.

This is a fairly convincing argument, especially in our society where we might be disposed to believe a sciencey argument just on its tone and vocabulary.

Another argument is that I know this because late one night I was playing around with a rubber band, and I noticed that if I focused really hard on the temperature of the rubber band, it became colder when I pulled on it to stretch it out. I think this is just one of those weird facts about humans - like have you ever grabbed something hot, like a hot pan, and thought for sure that you should have a burn, but weren't burned at all? There are some unexplained phenomena that would make a lot more sense if humans sometimes had a special connection with the heat of their surroundings, and I promise you that I've noticed that I can do this with rubber bands, and I'm sure if you concentrate, you can too.

comment by romeostevensit · 2019-10-23T05:45:13.184Z · score: 22 (13 votes) · LW · GW

Standard schooling practices constitute child abuse for an appreciable fraction of children without resorting to an outlandish definition of abuse.

Euthenasia should be a universal right.

comment by Liam Donovan (liam-donovan) · 2019-10-23T15:39:49.095Z · score: 10 (5 votes) · LW · GW
Euthanasia should be a universal right.

This doesn't sound non-normative at all?

comment by Davis_Kingsley · 2019-10-26T02:57:36.681Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I can tell you that I at least found it abhorrent! :P

comment by Said Achmiz (SaidAchmiz) · 2019-10-22T21:32:17.552Z · score: 20 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I am currently conducting research on the seductive appeal of contrarian positions, particularly among intellectuals.

[Emphasis mine]

I just want to note that the bolded phrasing is really quite tendentious. I hope you’re not actually taking the perspective on contrarian positions that this sentence implies… if you are, then you’re starting from a severely biased perspective, which can hardly bode well for the validity of your research.

comment by defilippis · 2019-10-22T22:11:28.483Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Point taken. I've edited the main body to limit editorializing. I have a hypothesis, and that hypothesis is rooted in survey data suggesting highly educated people are more likely to entertain beliefs that are inconsistent with majority opinion. I’m not concerned about the truth value of these contrarian positions, just why certain arguments in support of them appear appealing to certain kinds of people (and if that’s experimentally testable).

To be clear: this study is about testing different argumentative techniques on different kinds of positions (conventional vs contrarian). It's not about the overarching reasons why someone who already subscribes to a contrarian position might have been persuaded by it in the first place.

comment by Said Achmiz (SaidAchmiz) · 2019-10-22T22:48:55.322Z · score: 29 (13 votes) · LW · GW

I’m not concerned about the truth value of these contrarian positions, just why they appear appealing to certain kinds of people (and if that’s experimentally testable).

This seems a very odd way of approaching the question. Surely the truth value of any given position has something to do with how appealing it is?

At the very least, you’ve got to examine—even if only to rule out!—the obvious explanation: that more highly educated people are better at discerning truth, and that “contrarian” positions appeal to such people to the extent that they are more correct than the “mainstream” views in each case. How can you hope to have any kind of a sensible answer to your question if you ignore the issue of the truth of any given position?

EDIT: And since we’re on the topic—doesn’t it seem likely that a position is more likely to have “compelling arguments” for it… if it’s true? That seems like it should influence your conclusion somehow, doesn’t it?

comment by defilippis · 2019-10-22T23:41:05.578Z · score: 2 (3 votes) · LW · GW

At the current moment, I’m not interested in having to be the arbiter for deciding what is true for particularly complex topics. (Indeed, the research has nothing to do with this question, as it's about testing the persuasiveness of ARGUMENTS -- contrarian and conventional are just two factors that are varied). Initially, I was interested in only generating contrarian positions that were decidedly untrue (eg vaccines cause autism, or the moon landing was faked), versus more ambiguous contrarian positions, but most of what I’m interested in are the unpopular views that are plausibly compelling — at least on the first hearing.

comment by Said Achmiz (SaidAchmiz) · 2019-10-22T23:50:11.830Z · score: 12 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I understand your quite sensible reluctance to set before yourself the task of making and proclaiming a judgment on the truth of each of your chosen “contrarian claims”. Unfortunately, this means that you’re excluding a big chunk of hypothesis space for reasons of convenience and not on any principled basis, which means that your entire investigation is fundamentally of questionable epistemic value.

Suppose you do your investigation and you conclude that the reason that highly educated people are attracted to your chosen “contrarian claims” for reason X (where X is something that has nothing to do with said claims’ truth values). Now suppose I read your findings, and I say to you: “You say the reason educated people are attracted to these claims is reason X; but I think actually the reason is that these claims are true. What steps did you take to rule out this alternate explanation, and on what basis do you judge said explanation to be less plausible than your provided explanation (which invokes reason X)?”

You would have no answer for me, isn’t that so? You could only say “I took no such steps; and I can make no such judgment.”

And given this, why should anyone take your proffered explanation seriously—whatever that explanation might be?

comment by defilippis · 2019-10-22T23:54:07.678Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

You are misinterpreting the purpose of the study, and then accusing me of missing something fundamental that makes you doubt everything about my epistemic value. The actual study involves an experiment in which different sets of arguments are offered for the same contrarian position in a between subjects study of belief change. The truth value is not actually relevant to me — just the kinds of arguments people find compelling, conditional on whether the position is contrarian or conventional.

comment by Ben Pace (Benito) · 2019-10-23T06:20:58.053Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I understand you to be saying that you just want to find out, if a belief is known to be contrary to popular opinion, whether people who have university degrees from high-status universities are more likely to take it on as their own.

I guess there's something interesting here about what kinds of beliefs people wear as clothing and which kinds of beliefs transmit because of truthful arguments for them. I don't think that testing the hypothesis "Do people ever like to believe things because they think they're in on a secret that the rest of the world is too foolish to realise?" and "Which particular demographic does it the most?" is likely helpful. I expect it will likely come up with "Yes, we found a small but positive effect-size" and "Well-educated people do it a very little bit" and "People employed at tech jobs do it a little bit more". Maybe you have a reason that this is helpful?

Like, it's not clear it's going to be a very robust result - depending on whether it's in-season to be contrarian, or whether it's in-season to be meta-contrarian, studies like this will give you opposite results, and the only real result is that "We can use information about the current fashion to change people's beliefs."

I think there are more interesting questions to ask, like:

  • Which are the current conversations that are propagating because of status/class signalling?
  • What are the main mechanisms by which such coordination on signalling occurs?
  • What / where in society is the true conversation that is trying to figure out true things, and by what medium is that conversation had?
  • What causes people to use one type of reasoning versus the other?
comment by defilippis · 2019-10-23T13:38:02.379Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Your assumptions about the research interest are incorrect (although likely no fault of your own, as I was being vague intentionally). The actual experiment tests different argumentative techniques on certain kinds of positions, depending on the initial level of background support that a position has (contrarian or conventional).

See the comment I made at the top of the thread:

"To be clear: this study is about testing different argumentative techniques on different kinds of positions (conventional vs contrarian). It's not about the overarching reasons why someone who already subscribes to a contrarian position might have been persuaded by it in the first place."

comment by Said Achmiz (SaidAchmiz) · 2019-10-23T17:14:47.182Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

How do you propose to separate the effects of argumentative techniques from the effects of “the overarching reasons why someone who already subscribes to a contrarian position might have been persuaded by it in the first place”? That is, how would you correct for this clearly quite serious confounding factor?

comment by mr-hire · 2019-10-23T19:40:51.649Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This seems fairly easy by randomizing the types of arguments and the positions, no?

comment by defilippis · 2019-10-23T17:24:53.643Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I identify individuals who don't currently subscribe to a contrarian belief. I give a random half of them one kind of argument for this position, and the other another kind of argument for the position. I compare belief change in either camp. There are more components to the study, but I'm not interested in defending the research methodology.

comment by Dagon · 2019-10-22T23:05:53.541Z · score: 2 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I agree with Said that truth (or precision of model, for untestable positions) is likely to be an important upstream causal factor if you're talking about correlation with IQ or education. Other correlates may have other causes.

Do you have a metric for conventionality or contrarian-ness of an idea in a population? How do you decide whether "credit is risky; prefer cash" is the normal position or the rebel? This metric could be useful on it's own - seeing how different groups accept or reject various hypotheses could be a fascinating study.

comment by defilippis · 2019-10-22T23:44:59.188Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The problem is that I can’t possibly have the expertise to discern which of the contrarian positions are true, and if I were to try to independently arrive at my own conclusions, I would invariably end up deferring to experts and authorities on the subject, which would, in most cases, be the non-contrarian position. My current simple method for operationalizing contrariness is simply looking at how popular a given belief is, across the relevant social groups you ascribe to.

comment by clone of saturn · 2019-10-24T02:54:13.128Z · score: 18 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Utilitarianism, and most forms of consequentialism, are not just normatively wrong but also logically incoherent.

comment by Teerth Aloke · 2019-10-24T04:15:18.688Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Then, what is your preferred ethical theory?

comment by clone of saturn · 2019-10-24T05:25:28.038Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Something like quasi-realist Hobbesian contractualism.

comment by Dagon · 2019-10-22T19:16:26.092Z · score: 18 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I don't recycle paper. I want to economically encourage tree farms to sequester more carbon, and paper is one of the least problematic things to have in landfills, so I want a larger percentage of waste to be that.

comment by defilippis · 2019-10-22T22:25:05.363Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This is a good example, and it’s one we currently use

comment by AnthonyC · 2019-10-23T16:57:21.975Z · score: 14 (6 votes) · LW · GW

My first thought is that belief popularity is often (usually?) specific to a particular community, and for most of my beliefs I can identify at least one community I identify with in which the belief is not unpopular.

For example, I recently told someone that most people are not consequentialist decision makers, and instead think in terms more akin to separate magisteria, doing in each context what they and their culture customarily do. This person was shocked and took some time to process that. I don't think it would have been shocking to anyone here.

But to answer the spirit of the question: many of my mainstream!unpopular opinions come from the fact that I'm naturally drawn to more esoteric ideas and chains of reasoning, whether those take the form of math, physics, philosophy, or something else. That's how I ended up here in the first place. Examples include:

  • Humans should be using vastly more nuclear power than we currently do, and this would be true even if we didn't have better reactors designs available than those currently in use, but only if everyone believes this. This is based on my reading of historical data on relative safety and pollution output of different options, as well as the financial costs of delays due to public opposition
  • By the time I retire, humans will have the technology to regrow and replace every organ in the body except the brain. This is based on my professional work studying the development and trajectory of bio-3D printing and tissue engineering, as well as a study I did of the historical development timelines of a variety of different technologies.
  • Meditation, properly translated out of bronze-age-religious-language, should be part of everyone's education, up to the level where most people will at least understand that there is a real thing that phrases like "stream entry" and "jhana" point to. This is partly based on how much my own subjective experience of the world improved from understanding this, partly from how it helped me learn to further separate myself from my thoughts and senses (to better understand others' viewpoints as valid, and to more instinctively admit my own ignorance in practice in real time), and partly because I think it could greatly improve our individual and collective mental health as beings with brains not designed for the world we've built for ourselves.
  • Someday, anyone who bothers to remember me at all will probably think I was a horrible person (in some ways I think I can predict, and in some ways I've never even thought of), and from my perspective this is a good thing, because it means we've made moral progress as a society.
comment by Liam Donovan (liam-donovan) · 2019-10-23T18:16:45.280Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW
and from my perspective this is a good thing, because it means we've made moral progress as a society.

I know this is off-topic, but I'm curious how you would distinguish between moral progress and "moral going-in-circles" (don't know what the right word is)?

comment by AnthonyC · 2019-10-24T13:24:13.738Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't know. In practice, I don't think I do. On the one hand, I look over what I know about the last few thousand years of history and find that the farther back I go, the more horrible many of the people that were, in their own time, considered saintly, mainly seem, like St Augustine. On another hand, I have the most famous moral teachers of history from Jesus and the Buddha and Mohammed and Confucius and so on, and I feel like as a society we have been grappling with the same handful of basic underlying moral principles for a really long time. And on yet another hand, I have Robin Hanson's discussion of forager and farmer values arguing for cyclic trends on an even longer timescale. I'm sure I can find a few more hands besides.

If I had to give a more concrete answer, I might go with something like this: over time we try to individually and collectively reconcile our moral intuitions and ethical precepts with the actual world we live in, while at the same time we're developing better methods of evaluating arguments and evidence to reduce mistakes in thinking. We keep finding contradictions in the practices we inherited, and look for ways to resolve them, and so on average those discrepancies will decrease with time. For the past few thousand years, despite huge oscillations and real losses, there seems to me to be a general trend in some overall direction that involves greater wealth, more options for individuals to choose their own lives, and capacity for cooperation among strangers across larger distances. So I think, if you sent me forward a hundred years, that once I got over the shock and started to understand the new world I was in, I'd be able to look at morally significant changes and consistently evaluate them as gains vs losses, even the ones the intuitively horrify my early 21st century expectations.

comment by Douglas_Knight · 2019-10-24T17:42:53.417Z · score: 13 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I thought it better to separate these out:

The FBI denied the existence of the Mafia until 1957.

The Masons and the Vatican conspired to take over the Italian media and thence the country kind of like what Silvio Berlusconi did. In fact, in 1982, his name was published as part of this plan.

Of the hundreds or thousands that died in the 1989 Beijing protests, fewer than 10 were in Tiananmen Square.

The NSA spied extensively on nominally allied countries and this was widely known in Europe, at least by 2000.

The CIA intentionally bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade in 1999.

Hillary Clinton had serious health issues during her 2016 campaign.

comment by Douglas_Knight · 2019-10-24T17:22:02.848Z · score: 12 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I hope these aren't too political:

The Bible was not originally written in English, or even in Latin.

The seasons aren't caused by distance from the sun.

Edmund Burke was a Whig, opposed to the Tories.

Alexander Hamilton was an elitist banker.

Andrew Jackson was a Democrat.

Abraham Lincoln was a Republican.

The North won the Civil War.

comment by Zack_M_Davis · 2019-10-23T15:43:59.939Z · score: 12 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Um, you might also want to ask people to PM you, in case some people have contrarian beliefs that they don't want to report [LW · GW] in the public comment section?

comment by clone of saturn · 2019-10-23T22:52:46.158Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It seems like it would've been more productive to set up an anonymous google form or similar (like this recent EA forum one).

comment by Said Achmiz (SaidAchmiz) · 2019-10-23T23:11:49.195Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Agreed, but this time, for God’s sake do not publish the submissions until you’re done collecting them!

comment by remizidae · 2019-10-22T18:56:35.505Z · score: 9 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Secondhand smoke is mostly not harmful.

comment by Stuart Anderson (stuart-anderson) · 2019-10-23T04:26:20.050Z · score: 7 (25 votes) · LW · GW

People become enraged by this, so I think it qualifies:

Women's agency, especially their sexual agency, is contrary to a society's progress and stability.

Men do the bulk of the work when it comes to creating, maintaining, and defending everything in society. They are paid for their labours with access to sex and reproduction. Women's agency causes there to be nothing to pay men with, because if women are given a choice they favour a minority of males, harem behaviour, promiscuity, childlessness, etc. When women have agency, they choose to undermine the social contract on multiple vectors.

This premise seems to be almost unconsciously accepted by everyone I raise it with. The part that people become enraged by is their own solutions to the problem. I merely state the premise, not any course of action to be taken.

comment by evhub · 2019-10-23T21:01:14.704Z · score: 19 (15 votes) · LW · GW

I just want it to be clear to anybody who might be reading this and wondering what sorts of beliefs people on LessWrong hold that I do not hold any of the beliefs in the above post and that I find the beliefs expressed there to be both factually incorrect and morally repugnant.

comment by Zack_M_Davis · 2019-10-23T22:47:59.595Z · score: 28 (12 votes) · LW · GW

But the fact that you feel compelled to say that says something worrying about the state of our Society, right? It should really just go without saying—to anyone who actually thinks about the matter for a minute—that when someone on a no-barriers-to-entry free-to-sign-up internet forum asks for examples of unpopular opinions, then someone is going to post a terrible opinion that most other commenters will strongly disagree with (because it's terrible). If, empirically, it doesn't go without saying, that would seem to suggest that people feel the need to make the forum as a whole accountable to mob punishment mechanisms [LW · GW] that are less discerning than anyone who actually thinks about the matter for a minute. But I continue to worry that that level of ambient social pressure is really bad for our collective epistemology [LW · GW], even if the particular opinion that we feel obligated to condemn in some particular case is, in fact, worthy of being condemned.

Like, without defending the text of the grandparent (Anderson pretty obviously has a normative agenda to push; my earlier comment [LW · GW] was probably too charitable), the same sorts of general skills of thinking that we need to solve AI alignment, should also be able be able to cope with empirical hypotheses of the form, "These-and-such psychological sex differences in humans (with effect size Cohen's d equalling blah) have such-and-these sociological consequences."

Probably that discussion shouldn't take place on Less Wrong proper (too far off-topic), but if there is to be such a thing as an art of rationality, the smart serious version of the discussion—the version that refutes misogynistically-motivated idiocy while simultaneously explaining whatever relevant structure-in-the-world some misogynistic idiots are nevertheless capable of perceiving—needs to happen somewhere. If none of the smart serious people can do it because we're terrified that the media (or Twitter, or /r/SneerClub) can't tell the difference between us and Stuart Anderson, then we're dead. I just don't think that level of cowardice is compatible with the amount of intellectual flexibility that we need to save the world.

The immortal Scott Alexander wrote, "you can't have a mind that questions the stars but never thinks to question the Bible." Similarly, I don't think you can have a mind that designs a recursively self-improving aligned superintelligence (!!) that has to rely on no-platforming tactics rather than calmly, carefully, objectively describing in detail the specific ways in which the speaker's cognitive algorithms are failing to maximize the probability they assign to the actual outcome.

comment by Said Achmiz (SaidAchmiz) · 2019-10-23T23:23:00.958Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · LW · GW

If none of the smart se­ri­ous peo­ple can do it be­cause we’re ter­rified that the me­dia (or Twit­ter, or /​r/​SneerClub) can’t tell the differ­ence be­tween us and Stu­art An­der­son, then we’re dead.

The cynical hypothesis is that the media (or Twitter, or /r/SneerClub) fundamentally do not care about the difference between us and Stuart Anderson, and even if they can tell the difference, it doesn’t matter.

But more importantly—

… if there is to be such a thing as an art of ra­tio­nal­ity, the smart se­ri­ous ver­sion of the dis­cus­sion … needs to hap­pen some­where.

Suppose you were asked to briefly describe what such a place (which would, by construction, not be Less Wrong) would be like—what would you say?

comment by Zack_M_Davis · 2019-10-24T05:22:02.984Z · score: 17 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Invite-only private email list that publishes highlights to a pseudonymous blog with no comment section.

You might ask, why aren't people already doing this? I think the answer is going to be some weighted combination of (a) they're worthless cowards, and (b) the set of things you can't say, and the distortionary effect of recursive lies [LW · GW], just aren't that large, such that they don't perceive the need to bother.

There are reasons I might be biased to put too much weight on (a). Sorry.

comment by steven0461 · 2019-10-25T20:14:52.400Z · score: 9 (5 votes) · LW · GW

(c) unpopular ideas hurt each other by association, (d) it's hard to find people who can be trusted to have good unpopular ideas but not bad unpopular ideas, (e) people are motivated by getting credit for their ideas, (f) people don't seem good at group writing curation generally

comment by Zack_M_Davis · 2019-10-26T01:59:17.617Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks. (e) is very important: that's a large part of why my special-purpose pen name ended up being a mere "differential visibility" pseudonym (for a threat-model where the first page of my real-name Google results matters because of casual searches by future employers) rather than an Actually Secret pseudonym. (There are other threat models that demand more Actual Secrecy, but I'm not defending against those because I'm not that much of a worthless coward.)

I currently don't have a problem with (d), but I agree that it's probably true in general (and I'm just lucky to have such awesome friends).

I think people underestimate the extent to which (c) is a contingent self-fulfilling prophecy rather than a fixed fact of nature. You can read the implied social attack in (a) as an attempt to push against the current equilibrium.

comment by evhub · 2019-10-23T23:50:23.494Z · score: 10 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Suppose you were asked to briefly describe what such a place (which would, by construction, not be Less Wrong) would be like—what would you say?

I'm a big fan of in-person conversation. I think it's entirely possible to save the world without needing to be able to talk about anything you want online in a public forum.

comment by Ben Pace (Benito) · 2019-10-23T23:57:46.532Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW
I think it's entirely possible to save the world without needing to be able to talk about anything you want online in a public forum.

I disagree.

(I mean, 'possible' is a weak word, many things are possible, but I think it's the sort of massive handicap that I'm not sure how to get around.)

comment by Said Achmiz (SaidAchmiz) · 2019-10-24T01:10:02.961Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · LW · GW

As per my other comment [LW · GW]—is it the “public” part that you feel is critical here, or the “online” part, or are they both separately necessary (and if so—are they together sufficient? … though this is a much trickier question, of course).

comment by Said Achmiz (SaidAchmiz) · 2019-10-24T01:08:44.801Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

There’s a false dilemma there, though. “In-person conversation” and “online public forum” are surely not the only possibilities. At the very least, “private online forum” is another option, yes?

comment by Stuart Anderson (stuart-anderson) · 2019-10-25T21:20:14.078Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

When you understand that this is just a modern puritan non-theistic religion playing out then all the denunciation makes perfect sense. You don't need to denounce someone that's demonstrably wrong, you just point out how they're wrong. Heresy on the other hand, well, there's no arguing with that, is there? You argue with bad ideas, but you *burn* sinners lest their corruption infect you.

What exactly do people think is the endgame of denunciation? If denouncing me is enough then by all means, do that and forget about me. I would argue that if people feel that strongly about it then they need to do a lot better than that. You don't debate intractable idiots in the public forum for the benefit of the idiot, you do so for the forum. The majority say nothing, they just listen.

Since I'm playing the role of the Devil already:

I specifically said I offered no solution in that post. I had hoped that people would be more rational and less pissed off, but you win some you lose some. It's as good a place as any to raise my solution to the problem.

The fundamental problem is biological. Women have an exclusive gatekeeping role on reproduction. We aren't that far away from artificial gestation. The solution isn't to take away women's choices, it's to take away their reproductive monopoly and give it to everyone. Women and men can get their babies from the factory. The government can simply order a bunch if there's a projected population shortfall. The evolutionary need for sexual dimorphism will disappear, evolution will take care of the rest. This is the path to *true* gender equality.

We're going to become a post biological species sooner or later, we may as well speed up the timetable to deal with the birth rate crisis into the bargain.


comment by Zack_M_Davis · 2019-10-26T06:59:39.549Z · score: 13 (3 votes) · LW · GW

You don't need to denounce someone that's demonstrably wrong, you just point out how they're wrong.

I think you're misunderstanding the implications of the heresy dynamic. It's true that people who want to maintain their good standing within the dominant ideology—in the Cathedral, we could say, since you seem to be a Moldbug fan—can't honestly engage with the heretic's claims. That doesn't imply that the heretic's claims are correct—they just have to be not so trivially wrong as to permit a demonstration of their wrongness that doesn't require the work of intellectually honest engagement (which the pious cannot permit themselves).

If a Bad Man says that 2+2=5, then good people can demonstrate the arithmetic error without pounding the table and denouncing him as a Bad Man. If a Bad Man claims that P equals NP, then good people who want the Bad Man gone but wouldn't be caught dead actually checking the proof, are reduced to pounding the table—but that doesn't mean the proof is correct! Reversed stupidity is not intelligence [LW · GW].

What exactly do people think is the endgame of denunciation?

Evading punishment of non-punishers. Good people who don't shun Bad Men might fall under suspicion of being Bad Men themselves.

I had hoped that people would be more rational and less pissed off, but you win some you lose some.

I know the feeling.

The evolutionary need for sexual dimorphism will disappear, evolution will take care of the rest.

Um. You may be underestimating the timescale on which evolution works? (The evolution of sexual dimorphism is even slower!)

I specifically said I offered no solution in that post.

That's a start, but if you're interested in writing advice, I would recommend trying a lot harder to signal that you really understand the is/ought distinction. (You're doing badly enough at this that I'm not convinced you do.) You've been pointing to some real patterns, but when your top-line summary is "Women's agency [...] is contrary to a society's progress and stability" ... that's not going to play in Berkeley. (And for all of their/our other failings, a lot of people in Berkeley are very smart and have read the same blogs as you, and more—even if they're strategic about when to show it.)

comment by Dagon · 2019-10-23T22:18:03.362Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW
I find the beliefs expressed there to be both factually incorrect and morally repugnant.

In other words, "insufficiently seductive".

comment by TurnTrout · 2019-10-23T15:27:30.900Z · score: 19 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I do not accept this premise, and I'm surprised that it seems to you to be "almost unconsciously accepted by everyone" you've raised it with.

comment by Stuart Anderson (stuart-anderson) · 2019-10-25T12:09:11.434Z · score: 1 (6 votes) · LW · GW

What I mean is that people will happily object, but they won't say what they object to, or how, or offer any alternative or contrary hypothesis.

People make choices and those choices have consequences. That's rarely contested *until* that person is specifically a woman and specifically making choices *exclusive* to the domain of women. The acceptance of the premise I'm talking about is in the objection not to what I've said, but to *who* I said it about. We don't get to a real discussion because people are already burning me for heresy.

If I'm incorrect, that's fine. If I'm incorrect because of *who* I'm questioning, that's not fine. When you look at responses from my perspective it becomes very difficult to sort whether a reply is coming from the former or the latter (especially when all I get is one sentence to work with).

comment by Elizabeth (pktechgirl) · 2019-10-23T19:50:21.084Z · score: 15 (4 votes) · LW · GW

How are you defining society and progress?

comment by Stuart Anderson (stuart-anderson) · 2019-10-25T20:13:46.611Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

A stable society is one where violence is low and engagement is high, and where the replacement rate is both positive and high enough to account for natural attrition at least. I believe the former is impossible to sustain without the latter.

Progress is having all the supportive apparatus of society in order and functioning to the degree that the people who create disproportionate improvements in science that feed back into the society are supported and promoted. If I want the benefit of a Stephen Hawking then I need to have a smelter for the metal in his chair, a chip foundry for his computer, a school for his doctors and nurses, a pharmaceutical factory for his medicine, etc. Basically, cognitive work has the biggest and most complicated supply chain problem possible. Without a stable society progress will diminish and eventually fail.


comment by Elizabeth (pktechgirl) · 2019-10-25T22:29:59.159Z · score: 7 (3 votes) · LW · GW

This seems like you're defining "depriving half the population of agency" as not requiring or being violence

comment by Stuart Anderson (stuart-anderson) · 2019-10-31T03:49:23.795Z · score: 10 (2 votes) · LW · GW

All expectations on the citizenry from the state come with the threat of violence for non-compliance. If we can draft men to extract utility from them at their risk, then unless there's special pleading going on we can do exactly the same to women. I don't think that's the answer, but it's a possibility and is congruent with other areas of custom and law.

Violence is unnecessary here, all that is required is for the state to pick up the responsibility that women don't want. I don't want to remove women's agency, I want to remove society's dependence on their gestation. If women don't want to have babies that's fine by me, but society needs babies so it's going to have to source them from somewhere else. This is a supply and demand problem.

Fortunately, procuring gestational services is a solved problem. Depending on what options you select, a child that is the product of in-vitro fertilisation, artificial insemination, and surrogacy can be had for about 40K USD. That's completely within the realms of state spending given the return on investment. If Western women don't want to have children there are tons of rural Indian women with no such qualms. Outsourcing tasks that Westerners won't do is something the West has been doing for longer than I've been alive.

The ultimate solution to this problem is artificial gestation but we aren't there yet.

comment by Said Achmiz (SaidAchmiz) · 2019-10-25T22:45:43.652Z · score: -3 (7 votes) · LW · GW

That… seems like a perfectly ordinary definition, actually?

Historically, in many time periods, many or even most people lacked meaningful (or, for large subsets of those, any) agency, and… this usually didn’t require violence, because it was simply how things were.

And while you can certainly consider this state of affairs to be unjust—I certainly do (to a first approximation)—nevertheless saying that having much of the population lack agency is violence, is a severe abuse of language.

Things can be bad without being violence. (In fact things can even be worse than violence, while still not being violence.)

comment by Zack_M_Davis · 2019-10-25T23:16:56.621Z · score: 20 (7 votes) · LW · GW

We really need better "vocabulary tech" to talk about the natural category that includes both actually-realized physical violence, and credible threats thereof. When a man with a gun says "Your money or your life" and you say "Take my money", you may not want to call that "violence", but something has happened that made you hand over your wallet, and we may want to consider it the same kind of something if the man actually shoots. Reactionary thinkers who praise "stability" and radicals who decry "structural violence" may actually be trying to point at the same thing. We would say counterfactual rather than structural—the balanced arrangement of credible threats and Schelling points by which "how things are" is held in place.

comment by Said Achmiz (SaidAchmiz) · 2019-10-25T23:40:40.410Z · score: 17 (6 votes) · LW · GW

On the one hand, you’re certainly right in the abstract, and I do agree that more precise terminology is desperately needed here.

On the other hand—you don’t rob liquor stores, do you? Snatch old ladies’ purses? I’ll assume that you don’t. But why don’t you? Is it ‘violence’? After all, the state can and does credibly threaten violence to perpetrators of such actions, so is ‘violence’, or ‘counterfactual violence’, or ‘structural violence’, your reason for not doing things of this nature?

A slave on a plantation in the old South has no agency at all (or close enough to none, for government work), and the reason for that slave not running away may quite reasonably be described as ‘violence’.

A slave in ancient Greece has somewhat more agency than the Southern plantation slave—though, perhaps, still close enough to ‘no agency’ for the term to be used in good faith; and the reason for that slave not running away might, with only some amount of stretch, be described as ‘counterfactual violence’.

A Jewish peasant living in the Pale of Settlement has quite limited agency, but does ‘no agency’ still describe his situation? Perhaps, perhaps not. Why doesn’t he move to somewhere else—is it ‘violence’? At some remove, perhaps, though he would be unlikely to describe it this way.

A Japanese salaryman who’s spent his whole career at the same company and has no transferable skills has distinct limitations on his agency, but saying he has ‘no agency’ would be tendentious, at best. Why doesn’t he take up a different career? Is it ‘violence’? That, too, seems like a poor description, yet we might give it some thought and note that violence of some sort is involved at some point in the chain of reasoning.

The more broadly you want to define ‘no agency’, the less sense it makes to claim that lack of agency is usually enforced by violence, or even ‘counterfactual violence’ (or any similar construction).

Therefore whether Elizabeth’s response to Stuart Anderson is apt, depends on whether we think a society that could evade the latter’s criticisms would necessarily limit women’s agency to the level of the Southern plantation slave, or the ancient Greek slave, or the 18th-century Jewish peasant, or the Japanese salaryman, etc.

comment by Raemon · 2019-10-25T23:20:41.821Z · score: 5 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Came here to say a similar thing. I'm also curious about what Said was actually referring to with the 'most of history' clause, because there's plenty of things (slavery, some forms of serfdom, etc), where "threat of violence" was explicitly part of what was going on. But I could also him meaning to refer to... well, probably situations where threat-of-violence is still involved at some point, but is a couple steps removed (where maybe the threat is more like explusion from the tribe, which then increases your chance of death or harm)

comment by Said Achmiz (SaidAchmiz) · 2019-10-25T23:27:19.359Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

situ­a­tions where threat-of-vi­o­lence is still in­volved at some point, but is a cou­ple steps re­moved (where maybe the threat is more like ex­plu­sion from the tribe, which then in­creases your chance of death or harm)

Exactly.

comment by Said Achmiz (SaidAchmiz) · 2019-10-25T22:49:13.978Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Can you say more about what you mean by ‘engagement’?

comment by Stuart Anderson (stuart-anderson) · 2019-10-31T04:42:29.376Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

A society is a group of people. Much as with any group, the more that people care and are on the same page, the more you get done.

When you don't give a damn at all, or when your tribe is fighting the other tribes, you have less time and interest in progressing. For you to labour effectively your labour must matter and it must be constructive.

comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2019-10-23T19:06:49.956Z · score: 12 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Since this is in a bit of an unusual context, I want to make it clear that I strongly disagree with the theory stated above. This doesn't mean I downvoted it, because the OP explicitly asked for contrarian unpopular opinion, and this sure qualifies (at least on this site).

comment by romeostevensit · 2019-10-23T15:53:57.442Z · score: 11 (7 votes) · LW · GW

What does male sexual agency look like, historically?

It's not a gender thing, humans given power are mostly terrible. Women behave badly in the bay area where they can get away with it due to demographic imbalances. Men behave badly in nyc where they can get away with it due to demographic imbalances.

comment by Stuart Anderson (stuart-anderson) · 2019-10-25T21:38:24.168Z · score: -4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

If women choose to mate with the winners, then male sexual agency is men doing whatever is required to look like a winner. Is now a good time to mention that codpieces were a thing?


comment by romeostevensit · 2019-10-25T22:34:53.310Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

'choose'

the overwhelming majority of humans take the best option they think they can get.

comment by Stuart Anderson (stuart-anderson) · 2019-10-31T04:03:23.305Z · score: 10 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Disinclination and proscription aren't the same.

The Tragedy of the Commons is the problem here. If everyone (or enough) chooses themselves over the common good then the common good will suffer as a consequence. Everyone wants the utility of the next generation, nobody wants to actually give birth to them.

It's very clear that sexually dimorphic behaviours work. They're present in thousands of species. What isn't present in thousands of species is human society. Biology just happens but society must be created and maintained, some of which is contrary to our biological imperatives. If we want the advantages of the kind of society we live in then we're going to have to make a lot of compromises on our biological imperatives. Everyone, not just women. In many domains. Either we give up on the utility we gain from society or we start ensuring that utility is maintained.

comment by pjeby · 2019-10-24T15:23:26.694Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Women's agency causes there to be nothing to pay men with, because if women are given a choice they favour a minority of males, harem behaviour, promiscuity, childlessness, etc.

There are so many problems with this statement I hardly know where to start. First off, if men are being paid with sex (from women -- note that gay men exist and also make contributions to society, even if you want to ignore the non-natal contributions of women!), then doesn't promiscuity mean more availability of sex, not less? Also, when some women have agency, they work in porn or prostitution, further providing greater availability of sex to more men, and it's even mediated by money, so you can't argue it's going to men who aren't contributing to society.

I also don't think that your "favour a minority of males" holds up either. Any individual woman favors a minority of males due to individual preferences... just like each man favors a minority of women. Sure, there exist males that are favorites of lots of women, but this is vastly more relevant to short-term mating than pair bonding. There's a reason there's a game called "Fuck, Marry, Kill". Wilt Chamberlain might have had sex with a lot of women, but he didn't have long-term relationships with them.

Both men and women have differing interests for short-term mating vs. pair bonding, so promiscuity doesn't actually much affect the availability of pair bonding. (And paternity tests are a thing, for anyone who cares.) Polyamory, swinging, "hotwife" and other lifestyles often involve women having both a husband and either a boyfriend or multiple casual partners, so I'm really confused by how this choice leads to a restriction of available sex or reproductive opportunities for men!

In addition to attractiveness being on a bell-curve for men, it's also not uniformly distributed among women. This means that in your theoretical environment where a few men grab all the women, there's actually a limit to how many these super-attractive dudes will accept, since they have the pick of the best and limited time to go around... leaving the "rest" of the women for the "rest" of the men.

Most women are also not interested in a pair bond with someone who doesn't have time for them, and -- ironically enough -- the availability of choices for women that they didn't have before, means that women don't have to join a harem just to be able to live well and have a decent shot at providing for their offspring!

So I don't see how giving women options leads to more harems. After all, any historical example of harems has to take into account the historic lack of economic opportunity for women to provide for themselves or their children, and the threats that existed if they were independent.

Historically, as far as I can tell, about the only thing women needed men to "protect" them from... was other men! Because the "social contract" of the times dictated that women were property, and didn't have any agency.

But if you look at where polygamy is actually practiced today, in the sense of dudes with multiple wives, I would guess you'll find that it's in places where women don't have as many economic opportunities or the same amount of social safety. (For example, cults.) And if you look at what kind of "harems" exist where women have greater agency and economic opportunity, what you'll find is that it's overwhelmingly the women who have multiple partners, not the men.

Anyway, it seems to me that your argument relies upon "women" being undifferentiated beings with uniform desires... which if, you've ever actually been friends with any, would be obviously untrue. (Well, I might be biased because my friendships and relationships have been with smart women, and smart people's preferences vary more greatly than average people's do, of any gender. But most of the phenomena that keep women from say, forming a marriage harem around Brad Pitt, apply to most women.)

To sum up the unspoken premises you seem to be relying on:

  • Women have uniform attractiveness (nope)
  • Women all find the same men attractive (nope)
  • Women are willing to be part of huge harems as long-term partners when they have other options (nope)
  • Short term and long term mating preferences being the same (nope)
  • Women having economic options removes opportunities for men to trade their economic success for access to sex (nope, since even rich women still prefer financially-stable men, and sex work is also an economic option that some women prefer; see also the modern notion of an "arrangement" or "sugar daddy")

And apart from all that, I have to say as a man that I have hugely benefited from the greater agency women have now, especially with regards to sexual agency. So I'm really confused by this entire argument. (Note that fewer women being forced by economic or social conditions into sex work, "arrangements", harems, etc. means that the women who still do choose these situations are more likely to be willing and enthusiastically consenting than before... which IMO is an obvious good for the men as well!)

It's possible that your experience of "premise seems to be almost unconsciously accepted by everyone I raise it with" is actually "people haven't taken more than a moment to think about it", or "people who don't have much experience of women exercising their actual sexual agency and preferences, vs. what society (or some dude with a blog) says they're supposed to do or want."

Also, while I didn't even touch the premise of "Men do the bulk of the work when it comes to creating, maintaining, and defending everything in society," this doesn't mean I agree with it. My arguments here show, I believe, that even if one accepted that premise as true, the rest of your idea falls flat! (And I don't accept it as true, because even if you assume a patriarchal society with traditional gender roles, one could say that "women do the bulk of the work when it comes to creating, training, and supporting the next generation of society"... and it's still pretty true even without them being forced into that role.)

Finally, as the saying goes "never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what is right". The women I know are people who deserve agency and choices... and make their own contributions to society, too, thank you very much. (Which would be even greater with more access to choices, since e.g. my wife was discouraged in high school from pursuing advanced mathematics, since she was a girl and "wouldn't need it".)

comment by Stuart Anderson (stuart-anderson) · 2019-10-25T20:00:51.884Z · score: -1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Some of these statements are ridiculously obvious, but given the reductive assumptions counter argument has already popped up I'm just going to try to cover it all:

* What's good for an individual and what's good for society are not the same thing. Social contract is restrictive and onerous and that's the entire point of it.

* Women decide whether sex occurs or not. Circumstances shape everyone's willingness to pursue the choices open to them.

* Female mate selection isn't an average distribution (http://archive.fo/https://theblog.okcupid.com/your-looks-and-your-inbox-8715c0f1561e). Men do not favour a minority of women.

If you have an even number of men and women, then given the above virtually all women that want sex are getting it, many men that want sex are not getting it.

* Sex is a pacifying agent. It is the strongest incentive we have. Society understands and exploits that. All societies do.

* Monogamy and marriage are artificial social constructs designed specifically to place limits on our biological imperatives. Humans are primates, and primates are not monogamous.

* If sex was the only thing that mattered in relationships, and was neutral on social status in society, then men paying for prostitutes would be a non-issue. Unsurprisingly, men that have to pay a woman just to touch them tend to have different attitudes to both women and society thanks to being cut out of the social contract.

* The payment of the social contract (for men) is sex *and* reproduction, the requirement is utility. Without payment, men have no incentive (beyond self interest) to provide their utility to anyone but themselves. Good luck trying to wring 60 solid years of slavish labour from a man that has checked out of the race and just wants to play xbox. We don't have robots for everything yet, so labour still matters.

Even today, post suffrage, post Pill, post radical feminism, with women increasingly chained to the millstone as men have been, the social contract for men and women is not even remotely equivalent.

Up until the present the labour of one sex was the payment for the other. That equation has shifted, and it is still moving. Perhaps my concerns regarding antisocial effects are premature given that these things play out on historical time scales and we're right in the middle of it and lack the perspective. I can't answer that question. I don't think it's unreasonable to have the discussion we are, either way.

* The day that a team of women come to fix a burst sewer main at 3am is the day that I value their non-natal contributions equally to men's. Women aren't useless but let's not pretend they have equivalent utility to men. They don't, and women's lifetime negative tax contributions are evidence of that.

* The CDC has data on promiscuity and pair bonding (https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr036.pdf). I can find no data that indicates neutral or positive effects for promiscuity.

* I've yet to meet a single woman that is happy with *settling* for a meal ticket she thinks she's better than. I know an increasing number of men that aren't interested in shacking up with a woman with 300 notches on her bedpost. Nobody wants to be stuck with something that's beneath their expectations (realistic or otherwise).

* As for apex men having a limited ability to mate, simply search for pictures of Leonardo DiCaprio on beaches with models. He's coming up on 30 years of dozens of models a week (although he does share them with his friends, so that's nice of him).

* Depending on the jurisdiction, paternity testing can be illegal or ignored by the courts. However, it isn't ignored by biology, as amply demonstrated by the Cinderella effect. Also, good luck trying to sue a woman for paternity fraud - that's never going to happen.

* Swinging is a fringe adaptation to the death of marriage and monogamy. It's an attempt to bring stability and certainty to an environment without fidelity. As far as I've seen it takes all the drama of ordinary relationships and makes it even worse. I'm sure that someone has made it work, I've just never met them. Sex and reproduction aren't synonyms, not in general and not in swinging. Unless things have changed radically it's still a faux pas to knock someone else's wife up, swinger or not.

* Harem behaviour is voluntary in the West. The harem is like a pie, and just as with any pie, a smaller slice of a giant world class pie is better than the whole pie from the dollar store. It's a logical choice, but it has consequences like any choice does.

Historically, harem behaviour is complicated. Sexually dimorphic behaviour is paired. Harem behaviours from women wouldn't work if men weren't receptive to them. Historically, harem behaviour increases male disposability and violence. Either the surplus males attack the society (which is arguably what's going on in the West, greatly nullified by our bread and circuses) or they attack other societies to kill their men and gain access to the women (ISIS, Boko Haram, etc.).

The lack of economic opportunity for women and their offspring is always nothing compared to what happens to men in the same environments. Even in the worst of situations, women can fuck their way to survival. Men just get butchered. Wombs are valuable, semen not so much.

* Polygamy in strict religious contexts breeds many of the issues I'm talking about (there's a good reason these societies are primitive). Islamic polygamy is dependent on male attrition by violence. Amish polygamy is dependent on expelling adolescent males from the community. What these examples don't suffer from is the birth rate crash of the West. Women are in a role where they are expected to stay in the home and reproduce, and they do. Israel is the only Western country on the planet with a positive replacement rate thanks to their large Ultra Orthodox community. If you curtail women's choices, they will marry and reproduce without objection (as evidenced by plenty of these communities being in the middle of Western countries. Any woman can walk straight out the door, onto welfare, and into a life of promiscuity and freedoms whenever she likes).

Female centric polygamy is just a subset of Western polygamy which is itself a subset of promiscuity. There's little of value there when it comes to creating a prosocial structure to replace monogamy and marriage. Even if it did help, I seriously doubt that would map to enough of society to be workable.

Polygamy is a crappy answer in a society with an equal number of men and women. Our evolutionary heritage and biological imperatives will never match what is required by our society. Nature's long standing solution to this problem is to kill lots of men. I think that's not a great solution, but I can't argue with the efficacy of it.

* My argument relies on a tipping point at which aggregated consequences of decisions made by individuals have synergistic negative effects on the entirety of society. That's true of many choices by many groups, when lots of people do the same thing then the consequences pile up.

* Given I *specifically* cautioned against people raising their own 'solutions' as objections and specifically state against any course of action, I'm wondering how to go about disentangling what I actually want to discuss from people disgorging their psyches in front of me. There's a ton of super interesting stuff that comes up every time and countless tangents, but unless I want to write an essay in reply to every comment I'm going to have to figure out how to pull back hard. I'm not sure how to go about that.

This turned out to be every bit as disordered as I feared.

comment by TurnTrout · 2019-10-26T00:42:23.965Z · score: 12 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The CDC has data on promiscuity and pair bonding (https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr036.pdf). I can find no data that indicates neutral or positive effects for promiscuity.

The study focuses on STI rates. How would promiscuity possibly improve these rates?

It seems to me that when pressed on the compact claim you made above, you just made a lot more claims (as pjeby pointed out).

comment by Stuart Anderson (stuart-anderson) · 2019-10-31T04:27:40.649Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The CDC data has figures on numbers of relationships, including marriages, by age and gender in the tables at the end of the document. The data and conclusions about STDs is irrelevant to me in that, I am interested in what happens to people's pair bonding abilities as their number of sexual partners increases.

Promiscuity appears to have effect there, which would imply that it is at the very least a correlate with relationship failure (and therefore relevant to the topic of pair bonding). Is it causal, are there other factors at work? I can' t answer that question, I can only do the best with what I have. Unsurprisingly, research into possible negative effects of promiscuity on mental health, life outcomes, self reported metrics on happiness, etc. isn't exactly well funded. This is an area of research that is made radioactive for social reasons.

I will say the same thing to you that I did to pjeby: I made a mistake in trying to cover too much ground. For me to address every little point pjeby makes (because from my perspective a giant portion of what pjeby writes are claims that have nothing to do with anything I've written, or are misinterpretations, etc. For example, he makes a false equivalency between his experience as a member of the class and the entirety of the class) it turns into an essay, which then feeds straight back into the whole *death by a thousand cuts* game. I've cut that right off with pjeby because I'm not interested in that kind of a back and forth and I don't think it's productive.

On the other hand, you've asked a single question, and I've given you a single answer. That's manageable. You can just go ahead and tell me I'm full of shit and it ends right here, no diversions or *whaddabout-isms* or *not alls*.

comment by pjeby · 2019-10-25T21:51:37.334Z · score: 10 (5 votes) · LW · GW

So, your response to my questioning your premises is to propose more premises?

Men do not favour a minority of women

What? Of course they do. I'm a man, I would think I would know if I favored the majority of women. I don't. Similarly, you state that "men" require reproductive opportunity. I don't. I don't want children. So I'm a trivial counterargument on both counts.

These seem to me like trivial refutations of large portions of your ideas about men, without even getting to such notions as "what social contract?" "Who made this contract with whom?" Or, for example:

Good luck trying to wring 60 solid years of slavish labour from a man that has checked out of the race and just wants to play xbox.

My response to that is, why on earth would I want to? I'm similarly baffled as to what value you see in the constructs you see as decaying. Many of them seem like things I'm more than happy to see us rid of. For example:

birth rate crash of the West

I'm not sure why I should see fewer people existing as a problem. Perhaps the people that do exist will be ones who feel wanted, rather than that they are being born into a society that expects them to do things they don't want in order to preserve a society full of people doing things they don't want to preserve a society full of... endlessly recursive suffering. If that is what children have to look forward to, then it's better they not be born in the first place. (Which is one of the reasons I'm not interested in having children.)

Another random point:

search for pictures of Leonardo DiCaprio on beaches with models. He's coming up on 30 years of dozens of models a week (although he does share them with his friends, so that's nice of him).

Does he have a collection that he keeps locked away in a harem? If not, he's not stopping them from pursuing "reproductive opportunities" with other men. Lots of women might enjoy a weekend with Lenny D, but a lot fewer actually want to stick around and have kids with him. Plus, that's what, 18000 women? There are still four billion left. There could be a thousand Leo DiCaprios not sharing any of those women and that's still only like one major city populated by women you no longer want to sleep with because apparently sleeping with more than one guy is (somehow?) a problem in some way I don't understand... and then there's still billions left.

And another thing:

virtually all women that want sex are getting it

On behalf of virtually every woman I have ever known... bwahahahahahahaha. Ha. No. No, no, no, no.

This is obviously, trivially false, as can be shown by observing the billion-dollar industries known as "romance novels" and "vibrators". (Let alone "Fifty Shades"... and for the two previous generations' versions, "Nine and a Half Weeks" and "Story of O".)

See also the research showing the main reason women are less likely to respond to random propositions than men do, is because they have a lower prior expectation for a randomly-selected man being a good lover. That is, they expect that on average, sex with a guy is a crapshoot with regard to the quality of the experience, such that they're better off going home to curl up with a good book and a vibrator.

(Which is one reason that a guy who is discovered to be even halfway decent in bed will sometimes get passed around a woman's circle of friends like a party favor... regardless of what the guy looks like on their OKCupid. The fact that people judge books by their covers should not be construed as them not caring about the contents, in situations where the cover is the only thing available to them to judge by!)

Anyway, none of these things are at all consistent with the idea that "virtually all women that want sex are getting it".

many men that want sex are not getting it

And? So? We live in a world where you can jack it to almost anything you can imagine... for free! Or you can pay a cam girl to act it out for you, or even hire an actual live person to do something for you.

So if what you are calling "sex" is not one of those things, it's not actually sex that's being sought, but something else that you can't actually buy... like love, or appreciation, or respect. (Which making more sex available will not give you, if it's from someone who resents you for making them, or who sees you as an obligation.)

Honestly, this whole thing sounds to me like, "women should want to have sex with me because social contract, blah blah". And my response is, why should they want to? If you're making a contribution to society, surely you have something you can contribute to them, personally, that they value? Arguing that another market participant should value something different than what they actually value, is not very good marketing, so it's not surprising your product isn't selling in that case.

I mean, as far as I can tell, 99% of this is "women want the wrong things, in my opinion, and should want things that benefit me", and/or "society should be restructured to force women to want the things that benefit me", with most of the rest being chaff and smokescreens for that fundamental point of view.

But if the person reading your arguments doesn't have the same value system as you, none of that is meaningful. All I can hear is "people should be made to want the things I do, or at least forced to do them whether they want to or not", which to me doesn't distinguish between you and J Random Fundamentalist of whatever religion.

the labour of one sex was the payment for the other

See, this is what continues to baffle me. If what you want is ownership of a sex partner, you can have that consensually, too, in this day and age. There exist plenty of women who want this arrangement just because it's their fetish, too, let alone the vast number of women who still live in cultures where that's just the done thing (if that's the sort of dubcon that gets you off). So if that's what you want, why not just go get it, instead of insisting that everyone must do it that way, or else? If that's what floats your boat to the tune of 60 years of backbreaking work or whatever, hey, go for it.

But that doesn't mean everybody else wants to live in a world that revolves around ownership fetishes.

I can't help but feel there's some kind of fundamental thing I don't "get" about people with this type of "men don't get enough sex" argument. The weird thing about it to me, is that it seems like an example of the same sort of argument that radical feminists make, i.e. "the other sex isn't doing it right, so let's make them".

Not, "how can we give them what they want to get what we want", but "how can we make them see how wrong they are to not value the same things?"

I really don't get it, especially since I apparently don't value the same things as either group of "the other sex is doing it wrong" people.

Given I specifically cautioned against people raising their own 'solutions' as objections

I don't understand. Where have I proposed a "solution" to your stated problem? I don't believe the problem you stated actually exists to begin with (or at least is not being stated coherently), so I don't understand how I have raised a solution as an objection.

Women aren't useless but let's not pretend they have equivalent utility to men.

Ok, this is just weird to me. Apparently, it's super important that women have children (because men want that), and men dying is bad. But when women take the risk of dying (by getting pregnant), this is not as important or valuable to society?

By your own arguments this makes no fucking sense. If the guy's prize for working is "me get woman", then how is the woman in that equation not of equivalent utility to the man her (literal) labor births, cares for, and raises to the point he can work, not to mention the part where, if she is also payment for his work, then her mere existence must be at least of equivalent worth, within your own framework!

So if, in today's society, the woman does all the same stuff she'd have done in a patriarchal society, and also makes some direct contributions in a job, isn't that a net gain for "society"?

(TBH, I don't even grok "society" as a coherent entity. Small towns can have a "society", churches can, and other small cultural groups. But "society" as a unified entity in the US started collapsing at least as of the advent of cable TV and the death of prime time, let alone the birth of the internet. The world is much more transactional now: more a marketplace than a society as such. If you were going to stop this trend, you would have needed to start by preventing the death of the "company man" with the collapse of pensions and lifelong expectation of employment, that started a few decades ago and birthed the "free agent" economy that has replaced the previous "society" now in all matters, not just those of employment.)

comment by Stuart Anderson (stuart-anderson) · 2019-10-30T12:21:59.455Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · LW · GW

My response is an attempt to provide answers to a complex subject, where the tendency of participants is to act as if their own catastrophising of ALL WOMEN or NO WOMEN scenarios are something that has actually been voiced and supported by me. This easily turns a discussion into a death by a thousand cuts where every tiny little statement is attacked (potentially disingenuously) from every single angle possible.

Let me give you an example:

I say:

> Men do not favour a minority of women

Then you say:

> What? Of course they do. I'm a man, I would think I would know if I favored the majority of women. I don't. Similarly, you state that "men" require reproductive opportunity. I don't. I don't want children. So I'm a trivial counterargument on both counts.

Straight up you make a false conflation between the individual and the class (I don't as a part of the class, therefore nobody/not enough in the class do to matter).

I cite the OKCupid data that specifically supports my statement here. I am saying men, as a class, do not favour a minority of women.

I do not state that men require reproductive opportunity *anywhere*.

I can't respond to a false conflation other than to point it out, I can only give you the citations I cannot force you to read them, and I absolutely cannot be expected to defend statements I didn't make and don't believe.

I am more than happy to respond to any point you wish clarified, and/or to discuss any matter in relation to this topic, but it's pretty clear that if we can't make it six sentences without two showstopper errors my usual *word vomit* format isn't going to work here.

If you still want to talk, pick the single most important element and be as reductive as possible. You are going to object to *everything* I have to say, so keeping a very narrow focus is the only way this is going to work.

comment by pjeby · 2019-10-30T17:16:24.183Z · score: 3 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Since your reply to my bringing up problems is to bring up more stuff that has problems, while not addressing most of the problems I previously raised, I don't see how a conversation can meaningfully proceed from here, without it feeling like a Gish Gallop. For example:

I cite the OKCupid data that specifically supports my statement here. I am saying men, as a class, do not favour a minority of women.

I read the article you linked, and it says that 2 out of 3 messages sent by men are to the women in the top 1/3 of attractiveness, while on the other hand, women rate 80% of men as below-average attractiveness... and then message most of them anyway.

This sounds to me like it 100% contradicts your statements about men and women's mating preferences.

If the very data you cite literally contradicts the premises you're citing it to support, I don't see how to have a sane conversation about this, given that you don't even remotely touch on the majority of my objections. Also, the part where we have thoroughly different value systems means that there's a ton of difference in what's considered even relevant, so a meaningful discussion is probably not possible.

comment by TAG · 2019-10-26T09:31:29.629Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Good luck try­ing to wring 60 solid years of slav­ish labour from a man that has checked out of the race and just wants to play xbox.

At this point, I'm beginning to wonder if you've ever been in an IT department. The coding world contains significant numbers of single men who make money to pursue hobbies. And not all work is "slavish". The best-rewarded kinds are often intellectually stimulating as well.

comment by Dagon · 2019-10-23T14:58:30.864Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It's worth looking at the highly-downvoted comments - they are very interesting examples of things that are TOO FAR down the contrarian path for this group.

comment by Zack_M_Davis · 2019-10-23T15:28:28.254Z · score: 14 (4 votes) · LW · GW

It's sad because the OP is specifically asking for contrarian opinions! In that specific context, the grandparent is an on-topic contribution (even if it would be strong-downvote-worthy had it appeared in most other possible contexts on this website).

comment by Liam Donovan (liam-donovan) · 2019-10-23T16:12:35.633Z · score: 6 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I downvoted because I think the benefit of making stuff like this socially unacceptable on LW is higher than the cost of the OP getting one less response to their survey. The reasons it might be " strong-downvote-worthy had it appeared in most other possible contexts" still apply here, and the costs of replacing it with a less-bad example seem fairly minimal.

comment by Zack_M_Davis · 2019-10-23T17:37:56.079Z · score: 9 (5 votes) · LW · GW

the costs of replacing it with a less-bad example seem fairly minimal.

Can you elaborate? I think the costs (in the form of damaging the integrity of the inquiry) are quite high. If you're going to crowdsource a list of unpopular beliefs, and carry out that job honestly, then the list is inevitably going to contain a lot of morally objectionable ideas. After all, being morally objectionable is a good reason for an idea to be unpopular! (I suppose the holders of such ideas might argue that the causal relationship between unpopularity and perception-of-immorality runs in the other direction, but we don't care what they think.)

Now, I also enjoy our apolitical site culture, which I think reflects an effective separation of concerns [LW · GW]: here, we talk aboout Bayesian epistemology. When we want to apply our epistemology skills to contentious object-level topics that are likely to generate "more heat than light" [LW · GW], we take it to someone else's website. (I recommend /r/TheMotte.) That separation is a good reason to explicitly ban specific topics or hypotheses as being outside of the site's charter. But if we do that, then we can't compile a list of unpopular beliefs without lying about the results. Blatant censorship is the best kind!

comment by Liam Donovan (liam-donovan) · 2019-10-23T17:53:40.419Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · LW · GW

(Keeping in mind that I have nothing to do with the inquiry and can't speak for OP)

Why is it desirable for the inquiry to turn up a representative sample of unpopular beliefs? If that were explicitly the goal, I would agree with you; I'd also agree (?) that questions with that goal shouldn't be allowed. However, I thought the idea was to have some examples of unpopular opinions to use in a separate research study, rather than to directly research what unpopular beliefs LW holds.

If the conclusion of the research turns out to be "here is a representative sample of unpopular LW beliefs: <a set of beliefs that doesn't include anything too reactionary/politically controversial>", that would be a dishonest & unfortunate conclusion.

comment by Dagon · 2019-10-23T22:24:25.799Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Heh. It's interesting to even try to define what "representative" means for something that is defined by unpopularity. I guess the best examples are those that are so reprehensible or ludicrous that nobody is willing to even identify them.

I do understand your reluctance to give any positive feedback to an idea you abhor, even when it's relevant and limited to one post. I look forward to seeing what results from it - maybe it will move the window, as you seem to fear. Maybe it'll just be forgotten, as I expect.

comment by Zack_M_Davis · 2019-10-23T18:06:40.324Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Okay, that makes sense.

comment by Dagon · 2019-10-23T18:59:08.790Z · score: 6 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I've upvoted them because I think they are specifically appropriate and on-topic for this post, even though I agree that they'd be unwelcome on most of LW. When discussing (or researching) contrarian and unpopular ideas, it's a straight-up mistake (selection and survivorship bias) to limit those ideas to only the semi-contrarian ones that fit into the site's general https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overton_window .

comment by defilippis · 2019-10-23T16:15:57.375Z · score: 4 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Agreed. There’s no value in spreading this opinion

comment by Zack_M_Davis · 2019-10-23T16:58:38.493Z · score: 29 (13 votes) · LW · GW

What did you think was going to happen when you asked people for unpopular opinions?!

comment by maximkazhenkov · 2019-10-25T09:47:09.286Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think people are confused about how to evaluate answers here. Should we upvote opinions we agree with on the object level as usual, or should we upvote opinions base on usefulness for the kind of research the OP is trying to conduct (i.e. not mainstream, but not too obscure/random/quirky either like 2+2=5)?

It seems like most have defaulted to the former interpretation while the most-upvoted comments are advocating the latter. Clear instructions is warranted here; the signal is all mixed up.

A close analogy would be a CNN segment bashing Trump posted on an Alt-Right site: the audience there might be confused as to whether they should dogpile on this post as a representative of the opposing tribe or to upvote the post as a heroic act of exposing the ugly nature of the opposing tribe (usually it's resolved by an allegiance-declaring intro segment by the OP but isn't always the case).

comment by iterativecode · 2019-10-23T16:34:03.103Z · score: 14 (8 votes) · LW · GW

That is a dangerous opinion to hold. I believe there is value in all ideas, even if they are horrible to our own subjective views. Stuart has proposed something that may be ridiculous but ignoring it doesn't provide any insight to why it was proposed. You could easily springboard off of it and propose ideas such as:

It could be possible, very intelligent people whom disagree with the norm trap themselves in dark areas while searching for answers.

comment by maximkazhenkov · 2019-10-25T09:25:24.737Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Why is it a dangerous opinion to hold? I don't know about others, but to me at least valuing freedom of expression has nothing to do with valuing the ideas being expressed.

comment by iterativecode · 2019-10-29T12:15:57.438Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Let us review ideas and make comments without bias. Expressing that some ideas are so bad they cannot be stated is dangerous because we are ignoring them in favour of a bias.

comment by maximkazhenkov · 2019-10-29T15:20:34.456Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

They can be stated, nobody is contesting that. They can also be downvoted to hell, which is what I'm arguing for.

comment by eigen · 2019-10-23T17:12:33.667Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I understood OP as looking for unpopular beliefs that many people have; not only one random person. I've never heard anyone have this belief before so I think, therefore, it does not apply.

comment by Matthew Barnett (matthew-barnett) · 2019-10-23T16:32:21.945Z · score: 8 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I'm just confused because the post specifically said non-normative, and this is clearly normative.

comment by Zack_M_Davis · 2019-10-23T18:00:36.863Z · score: 9 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Not that clearly? I agree that Anderson is using vague, morally-charged (what constitutes "progress"?), and hyperbolic ("everything in society"!?) language, but the comment still has empirical content: if someone told you about an alien civilization in which "blerples do the bulk of the work when it comes to maintaining society, but splapbops' agency causes there to be nothing to pay the blerples with", that testimony would probably change your implied probability distribution over anticipated observations of the civilization (even if you didn't know what blerples and splapbops were).

comment by Matthew Barnett (matthew-barnett) · 2019-10-23T19:11:23.862Z · score: 8 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Normative beliefs are ambiguous unless we have a shared, concrete understanding of what constitutes "good", or "progress" in this case. I suspect my understanding of progress diverges from Stuart's to a large extent.

Stability might be less ambiguous, but I wish it was operationalized. I agree with Hanson that value talk is usually purposely ambiguous because it's not about expressing probability distributions, but rather about implying a stance and signaling an attitude.

comment by iterativecode · 2019-10-23T18:59:01.360Z · score: -3 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I neither accept or deny the ideas presented but I do believe you are tapping into something greater. It seems most dislike your theory because it doesn't follow modern western philosophy.

comment by iterativecode · 2019-10-24T12:14:57.092Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I should have expressed that western philosophy may be a reason we view the idea as 'bad' on first glance. Further investigation of the comment reveals it is logically flawed but that initial negative feeling is a bias we cannot ignore. Is our own philosophy of enlightenment altering our perception? That is a question that comes to mind from the whole ordeal.

comment by maximkazhenkov · 2019-10-25T09:53:37.431Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It's a question about value, not fact. "Bias" is not even a criticism here; value is nothing but bias.

comment by leggi · 2019-10-25T11:20:51.275Z · score: -8 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Can I have a LW definition of "agency" i.e what is a woman's sexual agency in easy to understand terms?

I see no problem that needs solving presented here.

Otherwise a little rant, possibly enraged by the absolute stupidity of the middle paragraph.

Men do the bulk of creating? Creating what? Life? The next generation? A few seconds work = half the DNA. Hardly a fair distribution of the "work" of creating people. Yes, most inventions/discoveries seem to be made by men - a select set of men who have had the opportunity of education and the advantage being able to focus on their work rather than the trivialities of surviving...

Maintaining what? The children? The food? The home? The land? The community? The peace by meeting the sexual needs of men? Look back in time - or around the world. The maintenance of society comes with everyone contributing. Not just women just flashing their tits to get things done and giving it up when someone else desires.

Defending? You mean men fighting amongst themselves? Or defending women from other men? Yeah, thanks for that. Give every woman the ability to defend herself and then lets see.


if women are given a choice ...

! I can manage nothing but sarcasm ...


Hysterical....


This premise seems to be almost unconsciously accepted by everyone I raise it with.

Lads night down at the bar eh?


comment by leggi · 2019-10-26T10:29:27.318Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

So much negative karma in all at once! I'll have another attempt..

The Question - What are some unpopular (non-normative) opinions that you hold?

I took the following as the answer:

Women's agency, especially their sexual agency, is contrary to a society's progress and stability.

Vague.

What does 'women's agency' mean?

What does 'woman's sexual agency mean'?

The term agency is new to me. A definition I found:

Agency is the ability to act in a way to accomplish your goals.

Which leads me to ask - what goals? What are the goals of women? I am totally unaware of the existence of a set of particular goals for women, so I cannot understand what actions/behaviours to accomplish the 'goals of women' are contrary to a society's progress and stability. There is a list in the second paragraph (A presumption that these are the agencies the OP refers to):

if women are given a choice they favour a minority of males, harem behaviour, promiscuity, childlessness, etc.

Do they? What is that based on? Is there any evidence for this statement?


men ... paid for their labours with access to sex and reproduction.

I really don't know what to do with that sentence.


As for my little rant - the OP twice mentions that people get "enraged" so I let it flow a bit .. (I appreciate my style doesn't conform, but hey-ho) ...

Men do the bulk of the work when it comes to creating, maintaining, and defending everything in society.

Is this a rationally defendable position?

Is there any truth in it, where's the justification? I would classify it as whatever LWspeak is for 'absolutely stupid' on evaluating the words used. I did request clarity about 'creating, maintaining and defending everything' What is this bulk of work for everything in society that men do?

Hysterical - the certain type of rant that comes with dealing with such BS. I finally understood the word!


This premise seems to be almost unconsciously accepted by everyone I raise it with. The part that people become enraged by is their own solutions to the problem. I merely state the premise, not any course of action to be taken.

How broad a range of people do you raise it with? I an imagine a proportion of the population agreeing with you (and that imagination takes me to a rowdy bar on a Friday night).

There is talk of a problem that needs a solution. I do not see a valid problem. (I see a lot of problems in society but women 'having a choice' is not one of them)

In conclusion the original non-normative opinion is based on nothing 'solid' as far as I can see.

And this has been a welcome distraction while my brain processes some thoughts and angles sparked by interactions with LW.


comment by Stuart Anderson (stuart-anderson) · 2019-10-26T00:08:48.712Z · score: -3 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Where are we to get our people from, if not from our own citizenry?

Currently, no Western nation (outside of Israel, thanks to their large Ultra Orthodox community) has a sufficient replacement birth rate. If we cannot make more people to replace those that die then our societies die. If we strip mine the third world for people (unethical and unsustainable) then we face two problems: either we successfully incorporate those migrants into our culture and effectively destroy their fertility as we have our own, or we don't successfully integrate them into our culture in which case our culture dies and is replaced with a colony of their culture. Either scenario results in our death.

We know the recipe for killing population growth, and we've deployed it successfully in Africa (and by accident, here too): education for girls followed by employment (and you don't even need birth control to see the dramatic effects). This recipe has no effect in certain cultural groups, namely strict patriarchies like Islam, the Amish, Jewish Orthodox, etc. Educational and employment opportunities for women are strictly controlled in those societies (fun fact: in researching for this thread I found out that Boko Haram *literally* means *Western education is forbidden*).

I know things that are true, and that I don't particularly like. It doesn't make those things less true. I didn't make the problem, and I don't have the solution for the problem (I'm not even sure there is one, or if there is even time left to implement it). The one thing I won't do is pretend there isn't a problem that is there for all to see.

As for men doing the bulk of the work, we've had reliable birth control for less than a century, labour has been gender segregated for the entirety of human history up to this point, and men and women have significant biological differences. The circumstances for women to be equal players have barely been around and things take time to change. That being said, I invite you to consider who built your house, who makes sure the power and water come to it, that the sewerage and garbage leaves it, who comes to put it out if it catches on fire, and who would come and help you if you were in trouble and called the police.

Assuming gender parity in labour is even possible it won't happen until you and I are both long dead. Give it a century at least. History moves slow, even the weird history we find ourselves in right now.

As for the scoffing at men's protection, I think the best (and most tragic) examples of what men with guns do for a country is seeing what happens to xenophilic baizuo that decide to prove how *safe* Islamic countries are. Raped, murdered, beheaded. Multiple cases. The universe isn't a nice safe place, and coddled Westerners are free to walk outside of the borders that protect them and find that out any time they like. Privilege is invisible to those that have it.

Honestly, I think some people walk around with a reality distortion field protecting them from inconvenient information. That building I live in designed, built, and serviced by men? I guess that house just built itself and looks after itself, no men to be seen! These safe streets I walk, I don't see men with guns on the kerb, I guess the street is just naturally safe! All these things around me just, poof, into existence! Where *does* stuff come from?!

Nobody's asking you to give men a medal, or to even thank them in any way at all. It would just be nice if you saw them as *people* rather than utilities.

comment by Said Achmiz (SaidAchmiz) · 2019-10-26T00:55:57.965Z · score: 12 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Playing the devil’s advocate:

It should be pointed out that it’s possible to agree with most or all of your predictions, while disagreeing with their valence, or in other words, to say: “Yes, all these things indeed are likely to happen—and that’s a good thing!”

I do not endorse this view myself, but it’s important to realize that many people do, and such people would respond to your points in ways somewhat like the following:

Where are we to get our peo­ple from, if not from our own cit­i­zenry? …

“Our society has no greater value than anyone else’s, and replacing our citizenry and our culture with other people is not inherently problematic in any way.”

We know the recipe for kil­ling pop­u­la­tion growth, and we’ve de­ployed it suc­cess­fully in Africa (and by ac­ci­dent, here too): ed­u­ca­tion for girls fol­lowed by em­ploy­ment (and you don’t even need birth con­trol to see the dra­matic effects).

“This is not only not a problem, it is a positive good; what you describe is indeed the recipe for the liberation and empowerment of women.”

… and so on.

I bring this up only to remind everyone in this conversation to keep a very firm grasp on the distinction between ‘is’ and ‘ought’.

comment by G Gordon Worley III (gworley) · 2019-10-23T17:46:19.201Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Almost everything is "alive" or "conscious" because the only interesting property that separates things that are "alive" or "dead" is whether or not they contain feedback processes (that, as a consequence, generate information and locally reduce entropy while globally increasing it).

comment by wearsshoes · 2019-10-23T18:02:49.910Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Do you use a separate word for the subjective experience of thought and perception?

comment by Dagon · 2019-10-24T16:58:54.296Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW
Do you use a separate word for the subjective experience of thought and perception?

"myself" could be that word. I have no evidence of any other subjective experiences. Alternately, you may not need a separate word - everything experiences things, perhaps as some function of the complexity of feedback mechanism.

comment by bbleeker · 2019-10-23T11:14:53.051Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Carnivore diets

comment by paul ince (paul-ince) · 2019-10-22T21:40:31.729Z · score: 6 (11 votes) · LW · GW

The history of World War II has been rewritten to protect the guilty.

comment by Teerth Aloke · 2019-10-24T08:04:07.662Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

That is partially true. The extensive atrocities carried ot by the Western Allies have not been given as much spotlight as the atrocities of the Axis and now the Soviets.

comment by iterativecode · 2019-10-24T12:19:52.154Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

To the victor goes the spoils, and that includes the text books. I think most would agree with this, although they wouldn't dare express it in public. That in itself brings up a large quantity of questions.

comment by maximkazhenkov · 2019-10-25T08:52:51.187Z · score: -3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Yet you dare expressing it on LessWrong? What's "in public" then? Soap box on the street?

comment by iterativecode · 2019-10-29T12:27:11.134Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You seem to be following my every comment. I hope you hold no bias against me, as that would not lead to a productive discussion. I don't understand the point of your comment, what exactly are you trying to express? Is it perhaps my articulation and word choice? Language and words are a bit more complicated than a definition, sometimes you understand through context. This comment isn't a science, by public I meant out in the open not anonymously on a small online forum.

comment by maximkazhenkov · 2019-10-30T16:39:21.446Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW
You seem to be following my every comment.

No I haven't, I just click through comments on posts that interest me.

What I'm confused about is what you mean by "they wouldn't dare express it in public". There are entire communities and subcultures built around conspiracy theories on the web, whether it's 9/11, Holocaust denial, moon landing or flat earth. How much more public can it get?

comment by iterativecode · 2019-10-30T18:00:28.722Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I was talking for the average person, of course those groups exist but it doesn't mean everyone is comfortable stating the obvious in public. Western culture is sensitive about world war 2. Look at Japan you can go over there and mention the bombs and their war crimes and most won't care. We see this in comparing how the west vs east censor media such as games and movies. The ideas are public but most people are not willing to state them and risk their social lives.

comment by maximkazhenkov · 2019-10-30T18:49:34.725Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW
Look at Japan you can go over there and mention the bombs and their war crimes and most won't care.

I really don't think picking out the most conservative and conformist country on the planet supports your point very well. Of course they don't care, denying their past war crimes is the official position. Meanwhile in the US, the evils of Western Imperialism (including recent ones) is standard textbook material. Whether you agree with those textbooks or not, the phrase "history is written by the victors" usually doesn't imply self-critical writing.

The ideas are public but most people are not willing to state them and risk their social lives.

Or perhaps people are not willing to state them because they don't agree those ideas? If people are protected by legal rights to free speech and anonymity on the web yet some ideas still can't gain any traction on the market of ideas, you should start considering the possibility that those ideas aren't even secretly popular.

comment by paul ince (paul-ince) · 2019-11-03T23:55:24.285Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

There are not many anonymous free speech places left. I only know of one or two and they are constantly under DDOS attack (amongst others) to shut them down. All the major platforms don't allow contrarian opinions to gather momentum and the mainstream news just ignores what they don't like. This mass censorship ensures that 'those ideas' never have a chance to become popular.

comment by maximkazhenkov · 2019-11-04T01:13:27.078Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I was going to bring up Red Ice TV as a counter-example but just found out they got banned from Youtube 2 weeks ago. Troubling indeed.

comment by iterativecode · 2019-10-31T12:56:43.755Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I do not wish to further this discussion since it is off topic and you seem to not understand my point. That said I will give you a small response.


Obviously culture can repress and encourage certain opinions and facts. Just because there is law for free speech doesn't mean you can say anything you want without repercussions.

comment by Pattern · 2019-11-12T15:19:40.083Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Even if you suppose that the U.S. and China would want to censor the same types of things (past embarrassing things), there can exist different levels of censorship (and openness). The fact the U.S. talks about some past misdeeds does not mean 1) that it talks about current misdeeds, or 2) there are other past misdeeds it doesn't talk about.

Establishing more specific examples would require more discussion - what do you mean by "Western imperialism"? Particularly, recently?

history is written by the victors

Except when it's written by the losers.

comment by Pattern · 2019-10-30T18:42:21.020Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW
We see this in comparing how the west vs east censor media such as games and movies.

How do they differ?

comment by iterativecode · 2019-10-31T12:24:41.231Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Sorry, It should be what they censor. A good example is the game Fallout 3, the American company that created it decided to censor a quest relating to the use of nuclear weapons just for the Japanese version. Funny enough, Japanese gamers complained that the quest was removed and they moded it back in. More examples of censored content in western games: the swastika in Battlefield 5 and Hitler's moustache in Wolfenstein. Some things are allowed in 1 country and others aren't , clearly we are more sensitive about that part of history.

comment by steven0461 · 2019-10-25T20:25:10.715Z · score: 5 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Expressing unpopular opinions can be good and necessary, but doing so merely because someone asked you to is foolish. Have some strategic common sense.

comment by leggi · 2019-10-23T06:46:57.507Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Free speech. Total or should be restricted to 'civil speech'?

comment by Viliam · 2019-10-23T22:49:50.854Z · score: 9 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Truly contrarian position: Should be restricted to uncivil speech.

(No, I don't actually hold this opinion. But I imagine that an interesting movie could be made using it.)

comment by leggi · 2019-10-25T09:59:07.770Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Comment was written in a hurry with the buzz of mentioning the sacred-to-many word - 'democracy' in another suggestion.

Although wouldn't it be free speech or total censorship (silence?)?

civil v. uncivil conjures some amusing ideas!

If behaviour was civil and people actually thought from themselves rather than repeating. then would it matter how uncivilly we spoke? (random thoughts)

comment by Dagon · 2019-10-22T21:17:15.658Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I strongly expect that "contrarian" is too general a category to really cut reality in any useful way. I think it's mostly about signalling (want to show individuality and leadership, without being too weird).

This implies that what is "contrarian" vs "conventional" is contextual, based on which group(s) are being signaled to. I don't know if this is a contrarian position or not - probably yes to some and no to others.

An interesting take on the topic (along with idea clustering) is : https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/9KvefburLia7ptEE3/the-correct-contrarian-cluster [LW · GW]. Eliezer makes the point (or takes for granted) that religion is one of the big topics to look for contrarianism.


comment by defilippis · 2019-10-22T22:24:44.128Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW
comment by romeostevensit · 2019-10-31T14:07:28.800Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

“We need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to Isil and other radical Sunni groups in the region,” -Hilary Clinton

comment by Dagon · 2019-10-23T16:33:55.358Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

(this statement is pretty conventional around here)

note that "hold an opinion" is a framing that doesn't match my experience. I consider opinions and assign probabilities to their predictions. I don't really "hold" any of them - more that I use some models more than others, and give them a bit more weight than others. None of them are zero, none 1.

It would be interesting to categorize the "seductiveness" of arguments and cross-check that against the importance of decisions that can be made with the opinion. I think you'll find that a LOT of opinions are meaningless - they exist ONLY for signaling value. And a lot have subtext or models of human nature or distribution of traits that aren't discussed separately, but are deeply entangled in what cluster of opinions one chooses to state (different than "holds").

comment by LionKimbro · 2019-10-26T00:40:56.716Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW
  • Disappointment in sexual love is one of the most destructive forces on the planet, today, and our cultures lack the capacity to understand or work on this problem.
  • There is a living spiritual ecology, that we are all participating in. All living beings are striving, in one way or another, towards the divine world. The most important thing we can work towards, is the development of a society of dream, and this is the religious orientation for humanity.
comment by leggi · 2019-10-25T12:26:03.835Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm going to classify my opinion on this as non-normative because it appears to be presented as a "good thing" whenever I come across it, and I don't agree.

Economic growth.

Shouldn't we be considering stability and sustainability for our resources rather than this magical "X% growth" I hear of?

Increase of understanding and spread of knowledge should always be encouraged.

comment by M. Scott Veach (m-scott-veach) · 2019-10-25T21:59:31.008Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I take Bostrum's Simulation Hypothesis seriously and strongly suspect that our reality is a simulation, in the literal sense of the word.

I play a form of Russian Roulette (which as far as I know, I invented) involving a torch lighter that only has a 1/6 chance of working on any given pull and hundred dollar bills. The two players take turns risking their own money until someone quits. Nothing prepared me for how controversial this game turns out to be. This may be an odd one as the underlying belief doesn't sound controversial; the value of an activity (entertainment, educational, whatever) is wholly subjective. Its value is whatever one thinks it is. Sounds reasonable enough. It only becomes controversial when you take it to the extreme and then, oh man, let me just tell you, it becomes extremely controversial.

comment by paul ince (paul-ince) · 2019-10-22T21:42:24.091Z · score: 2 (14 votes) · LW · GW

World Trade Centre building 7 did not collapse at free fall into its own footprint because of office fires.


downvotes? too contrarian? hahaha.

comment by jacobjacob · 2019-10-24T15:51:01.549Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I downvoted this even though it followed instructions, because the final sentence has a scornful tone that does not seem conducive to good-faith intellectual discourse.

comment by paul ince (paul-ince) · 2019-10-24T22:30:30.109Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Apologies, the final sentence was an edit after the downvotes rolled in. I should have marked it as such. I was very surprised though that I met the brief and was downvoted.

comment by Charlie Steiner · 2019-10-23T05:57:14.249Z · score: 2 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Indeed. Have a compensatory upvote.

comment by Teerth Aloke · 2019-10-24T04:11:10.450Z · score: -13 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Conspiracist nonsense? Can you explain your reasons + what that implies about the rest of the events that occured on 9/11. You forgot to mention, perhaps your global warming denial. Are you some far-left hippie? So many downvotes? Care to explain?

comment by paul ince (paul-ince) · 2019-10-24T22:39:23.491Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I read the report linked below and it confirmed my long held beliefs that there has been a major coverup of information surrounding the events of 9/11. Feel free to read and refute for yourself. BTW, if you can refute it and get published there is a $100k prize waiting!

http://ine.uaf.edu/wtc7

I don't deny global warming. I look forward to a few degrees of warning as do many thousands of people who lose family members every winter. I believe that CO2 concentration lags temperature change. I don't believe taxing carbon is the answer. I don't believe the 'climate problem' has been adequately defined. I could go on but this is not the place.

I am not a hippie and I consider myself right of centre and most topics.

I didn't vote on your comment.

comment by TAG · 2019-10-26T10:24:29.351Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Are you saying that warming is better for somepeople (eg in colder countries) or overall?

comment by paul ince (paul-ince) · 2019-10-27T21:37:20.863Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If we are talking a couple of degrees over century timelines I don't think anyone much is going to be worse off. Especially if, as I believe, CO2 concentration lags temperature. Greening the planet further is a good thing for most people in my opinion. And if you compare more warming to more cooling I think you will find warming is less dangerous generally.

comment by TAG · 2019-10-28T13:26:30.300Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The experts say that +2C will lead to increases in drought, flooding and cyclones affecting 100s of millions. Are they wrong?

comment by paul ince (paul-ince) · 2019-10-30T02:46:51.993Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The experts I read don't say that. The experts I read say that none of these or similar predictions over the past 30 years have come true. Lots of times the exact opposite has occurred. 'My' experts show how the predictive models of other experts have not predicted anything of value and a lot of the time data has to be manipulated to even approach predicted outcomes. Just depends who you believe I guess. Just recently the IPCC itself poured a big bucket of cold water over the whole 'increasing devastation from weather' myth. The guys I have been following have been saying this for 10 years plus so it should be a big deal when one the biggest alarmists supports the sceptic position. Wonder why it didn't get much airtime?

comment by Matthew Barnett (matthew-barnett) · 2019-10-24T22:45:02.004Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW
BTW, if you can refute it and get published there is a $100k prize waiting!

Just so you know, whenever I hear that there's prize money for refuting a conspiracy theory, I immediately lower my probability that the conspiracy theory is true. I've encountered numerous such prizes from conspiracy theories in the past, and the general pattern I have seen is that the prize is being offered disingenuously, since the person offering it will never concede. I've (perhaps unconsciously) labeled anyone unaware of this pattern as either (1) purposely disingenuous, or (2) not very smart about convincing people of true things. Both (1) and (2) are evidence of a failure in their reasoning (but obviously this argument isn't airtight).

comment by paul ince (paul-ince) · 2019-10-25T00:19:15.753Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The prize is for refuting the findings of the university paper not a conspiracy theory. And the prize is not offered by the university but a third party. There are lesser prizes for refuting a finding but not being published. I will go ahead and assume you haven't read the paper yet.

comment by Matthew Barnett (matthew-barnett) · 2019-10-25T00:55:20.289Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I haven't read the paper, you're right. I didn't mean my own comment as a counterargument.

comment by Isnasene · 2019-10-23T02:31:29.203Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I hold a lot of contrarian positions but only because I actually believe them (guess I'm hard to seduce...). You might enjoy Intellectual Hipsters and Meta-Contrarianism [LW · GW] by Scott Alexander for a cool take on contrarianism's seductive appeal though.

If you want to watch a funny (but unproductive) video about being contrarian, you might also enjoy Jreg's "Burn The Fence Down." He's a comedian who (ironically?) promotes the idea of Anti-Centrism.

comment by Pattern · 2019-10-22T21:28:17.999Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Are you looking at any domain in particular?

comment by defilippis · 2019-10-22T22:11:49.621Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Any domain works

comment by Andrew McNabb (andrew-mcnabb) · 2019-10-22T19:01:54.366Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Mandatory national service is a terrible idea.

comment by Said Achmiz (SaidAchmiz) · 2019-10-22T21:27:37.961Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Is… is that a contrarian idea?

I was not aware of the negation of this claim being a mainstream view. Who is advocating for mandatory national service?!

comment by Vaniver · 2019-10-23T17:40:41.004Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I had seen claims that Pete Buttigieg had made calls for mandatory national service, but turns out it was actually a substantial increase in the number of paid service opportunities.

comment by Andrew McNabb (andrew-mcnabb) · 2019-10-23T20:04:11.965Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Among the intellectual class, I think it is contrarian, at least in the US. The idea is a common thread in American social thought going back to at least the early 1900's. Particularly since the end of the Cold War, the the widening fissures in our society, It's been very common for elites to bemoan the lack of social cohesion and suggest that mandatory national service is the answer. Not just a military draft, or registering for the selective service, but actual mandatory service by all young adults for a period of one-two years.

comment by clone of saturn · 2019-10-22T23:09:57.537Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

It seems fairly uncontroversial to say that the list of countries with mandatory national service doesn't seem like a list of countries that are notoriously terrible.

comment by Said Achmiz (SaidAchmiz) · 2019-10-22T23:31:00.223Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · LW · GW

That list includes the United States, so it clearly can’t be a list of countries with mandatory national service.

comment by Liam Donovan (liam-donovan) · 2019-10-23T16:11:12.491Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think the US is listed because it's mandatory that we register for the draft

comment by Said Achmiz (SaidAchmiz) · 2019-10-23T17:13:27.037Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

No such speculation is necessary; you need only to, you know, read the page, to see that the list is simply a list of countries with national service, period—whether compulsory or voluntary.

comment by habryka (habryka4) · 2019-10-23T17:35:48.319Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This seems to be the correct list to look at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conscription#By_country

comment by Said Achmiz (SaidAchmiz) · 2019-10-23T18:03:55.915Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks!

Looking at that list, it’s certainly not composed entirely of countries that are “notoriously terrible” (e.g., Singapore, Israel, Estonia, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark, are all, I am given to understand, quite nice)… but the list is clearly skewed toward countries I very much would not want to live in, much more so than the list of countries without conscription.

comment by Liam Donovan (liam-donovan) · 2019-10-23T18:17:19.035Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yep, I misread the page, my mistake

comment by Teerth Aloke · 2019-10-24T08:44:58.963Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I have a view that would seem contrarian in this community.

SIAI shifted its focus from triggering an AI-based Singularity to doing 'saferty' research, because Yudkowsky understood that SIAI is no better off at building AGI than any other AI research organization. Actually, worse, because of low funding and at that time the sole full-time member.

comment by leggi · 2019-10-23T06:44:59.537Z · score: -5 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Democracy - good or bad?

In theory and in practice. Around the world.

Campaigning. Levels of honesty, accountability and consistency v. propaganda, fitting in with today's perceived public opinion, who can shout the loudest, or the media's take for the day.


“Ankh-Morpork had dallied with many forms of government and had ended up with that form of democracy known as One Man, One Vote. The Patrician was the Man; he had the Vote.”
Terry Pratchett, Mort

democracy - everyone gets an equal say ...

democracy - a system where 2 idiots can outvote the rationalist....

comment by Matthew Barnett (matthew-barnett) · 2019-10-23T16:28:06.421Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW
Democracy - good or bad?

Downvoted because the question specified non-normative opinions.

comment by leggi · 2019-10-25T10:03:42.694Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for an explanation of a down-vote, it's good to know why!

What is the normative opinion of democracy? (depends on who you ask I guess!)

And then the opposite.