Politics Discussion Thread January 2013

post by OrphanWilde · 2013-01-02T03:31:07.667Z · score: 6 (29 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 350 comments
  1. Top-level comments should introduce arguments; responses should be responses to those arguments. 
  2. Upvote and downvote based on whether or not you find an argument convincing in the context in which it was raised.  This means if it's a good argument against the argument it is responding to, not whether or not there's a good/obvious counterargument to it; if you have a good counterargument, raise it.  If it's a convincing argument, and the counterargument is also convincing, upvote both.  If both arguments are unconvincing, downvote both. 
  3. A single argument per comment would be ideal; as MixedNuts points out here, it's otherwise hard to distinguish between one good and one bad argument, which makes the upvoting/downvoting difficult to evaluate.
  4. In general try to avoid color politics; try to discuss political issues, rather than political parties, wherever possible.

As Multiheaded added, "Personal is Political" stuff like gender relations, etc also may belong here.

350 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by TimS · 2013-01-02T03:58:42.685Z · score: 16 (20 votes) · LW · GW

This post about jokes and attitudes the provide cover for bad social actors really caught my interest. But the blogger's position is one that is often met with hostility round these parts, for reasons that are unclear to me.

The point of the blog post is that jokes about certain gender and relationship stereotypes (men are idiots, women are the ball-and-chain) allow actual abusers slide by under the radar by asserting that they are joking whenever they are publically called out on inappropriate behavior. It really resonated with me - and to be frank, it seems aimed at the parts of social engineering that I think LW is worst at.

comment by Xachariah · 2013-01-02T14:13:18.009Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

But the blogger's position is one that is often met with hostility round these parts, for reasons that are unclear to me.

I object most to is what is left unsaid. For a faint second the author talks in gender balanced ways, then she drops it to spend the rest of the discussion showing how men do this thing wrong. The author could have used an additional anecdote about how women the equivalent, or a gender neutral anecdote, or an offhanded comment noting where women do it too.

But she didn't.

Instead we're left with the impression that unconscious oppression is something men perpetrate on women. It's a similar trick to what she's talking about in her post. Her post is still insightful regarding feminism, but it could have been more. Underneath the overt message I hear her saying that oppression and abuse is a male thing, and her responses in the comments reinforce that. Again, a very good post for feminism, but I had been hoping for humanism, and I left disappointed.

comment by TimS · 2013-01-02T15:20:56.856Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

But she didn't.

I thought she was saying it was a consent problem. The specific example involves a man, but I didn't see her as saying that women can't violate consent. In fact, her mocking of the January issue of Cosmo magazine includes calling out glamorizing of female-perpetrator identity theft.

More generally, can't an advocate notice that the plurality or majority of the perpetrators of this type of problem are male, even while calling for a better social dynamic for both sexes? I don't think the blogger would disagree.

comment by OrphanWilde · 2013-01-03T03:19:33.602Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I was in the past a regular reader of her blog, until an incident (inspired in large part by a rebuke authored by me, in point of fact) which is still referred to on other feminist blogs as evidence of her... unbalanced perspective, to put it politely. Holly is not a rationalist by any stretch of the imagination, and her blog is very "Our team versus their team."

comment by TimS · 2013-01-03T03:29:45.276Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

You mean this? Sorry - don't agree with your position.

Potential downvoters - would you rather a long argument or a polite expression of disagreement that doesn't spawn into a huge debate?

comment by OrphanWilde · 2013-01-03T03:48:10.222Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

That title looks correct, but I do not visit her blog anymore as a rule - I was asked to leave, and I won't violate that - so I'm not 100% certain. It wasn't my position in the argument; the worst apparently came after I had left, when she started attacking random commenters. AFAIK my main role in the debacle was getting her riled up. My information on what happened after I left is secondhand, however, so I can't point you at specific comments.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-01-04T05:45:04.021Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This may come back to haunt me re: prisoner's dilemma but- I don't respect rules that have vanishingly small chance of negative consequence if violated.

Surely she's not monitoring IP addresses to call you out in public that you visited her blog when you said you didn't? And even if she were- proxies! Google cache!

comment by OrphanWilde · 2013-01-04T06:06:03.288Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I'm an egoist, specifically of Objectivist bent; my rules exist and are followed for my sake, not hers. And I don't stay where I'm not wanted; I can go where I am wanted, and it will be both a more productive use of my time, and more emotionally healthy for me.

comment by Xachariah · 2013-01-03T00:11:47.079Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think the majority of the people who do this are male. I can think of half a dozen occasions just over the holidays where this was done by a woman (and I can recall only one male counterexample). She probably sees it otherwise given her politics, but I'd say it's equally split at best.

I do not expect her to make an equal opportunity blog post. However, you wanted to know why it's met with hostility by some people. The post sends out hostility towards men in an unspoken way, so it is responded to in kind.

comment by ewang · 2013-01-03T05:59:19.408Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

One reason gender politics is especially "mind-killing" is that the two least interesting/statistically significant/improbable positions (males are more THIS than females, females more THAT than males) also happen to be the two positions seen as the "strongest".

comment by TimS · 2013-01-03T01:05:40.065Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

You have high standards. (shrug).

It looks to me like Not-Your-True-Rejection, but it would look that way to Mindkilled-Me whether it were true or not. (shrug).

Thanks for articulating your reasoning.

comment by Nick_Tarleton · 2013-01-02T06:47:06.907Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

But the blogger's position is one that is often met with hostility round these parts, for reasons that are unclear to me.

I think some of it is a defensive reaction to perceived possible vaguely-defined moral demands/condemnation. Here's a long comment I wrote about that in a different context.

Also simple contrarianism, though that's not much of an explanation absent a theory of why this is the thing people are contrarian against.

the parts of social engineering that I think LW is worst at.

What are those?

comment by Nick_Tarleton · 2013-01-03T06:53:34.313Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

More sympathetically, people might (well, I'm sure some people do) see avoiding stereotype-based jokes as a step towards there being things you can't say, and prefer some additional risk of saying harmful things to moving in that direction (possibly down a slippery slope).

comment by TimS · 2013-01-02T14:17:25.145Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

the parts of social engineering that I think LW is worst at.

What are those?

On the object level, it isn't a success of rational discussion that assertions like "privilege is a social dynamic which exists" turn immediately to the defensive reaction you mentioned. Reversing the discrimination is an extreme remedy, and like all extreme remedies, it gets deserved push-back. But there's no sustained discussion of middle ground positions.

Although I may be mindkiled about this, I think that I am open to discussion of less extreme ways of reducing the pernicious effects of the privilege social dynamic. But even if one thinks that this social dynamic is not pernicious, it booggles my mind that people don't acknowledge the dynamic occurs.

comment by sixes_and_sevens · 2013-01-02T15:13:35.528Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I think a significant amount of that hostility isn't necessarily denying the existence of privilege, but denying that it's a useful way of framing problems.

I also suspect a lot of it is backlash from over-enthusiastic social justice advocates trying to shoehorn absolutely every social problem imaginable into a context of unilateral power dynamics.

comment by TimS · 2013-01-02T15:26:47.986Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It once was the case that privilege was seen as unilateral and one dimensional. I'm not sure this is the case anymore on the cutting edge of so-called privilege theory.

A black man in the United States might suffer from some effects of white-privilege (vs. white men) while benefiting from some aspects of speaking-English-privilege (vs. recent immigrants).

More generally, I'm not aware of any other framing analysis that is (1) acceptable to anti-feminists and (2) sufficiently nuanced to be useful. Hansonian status analysis is not really capable of providing insight into what we should do to solve the perceived problem - even if it is descriptively accurate (at a high level).

comment by sixes_and_sevens · 2013-01-02T16:25:26.458Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Speaking for myself, I find the privilege framework to be the one lacking in nuance or pragmatic application. I use the term "unilateral" because its core mechanic appears to be "person A has power person B doesn't, and person B suffers as a result". Coming from a game-theoretic perspective, which routinely deals with unexpected and perverse outcomes from agents being given different sets of choices, this seems crude in the extreme.

On the subject of multidimensionality, I've read up on intersectionality in good faith, and made an effort to engage with it, but it seems to boil down to multivariate analysis, only instead of using data, simply making stuff up.

comment by TimS · 2013-01-02T16:31:38.647Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

So we have no agreed framework? That . . . kinda sucks.

Is there anything we can do about it?

comment by sixes_and_sevens · 2013-01-02T16:59:16.640Z · score: 5 (9 votes) · LW · GW

What do you want out of a framework? What should it do, and why is agreement important?

I will quite happily construct a model to try and capture the behaviour of real-world social problems, drawing on a variety of methods and disciplines. I'm not sure I need agreement from any other party to do that. How well it describes or predicts real-world events is an empirical question.

When I see people talking about privilege, it generally isn't because they want to go out and solve social problems, but because they want to show how sophisticated and moral and liberal they are, or to identify other sophisticated moral liberal people by engaging in exclusive dialogue with them. If that's what such a framework is used for, I'm not entirely sure the absence of one is all that important.

comment by TimS · 2013-01-02T17:11:20.158Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

What do you want out of a framework?

I want analysis that tells me what to do to create the changes that I want in society. Not just imposed top-down, but deeply settled as part of how society works - on the level of "get a job" or "be polite." The sort of thing "equal-pay-for-equal-work" aspires towards, but maybe hasn't reached.

The privilege-framework says that the way to do that is to call out privilege when you see it. If someone makes the non-consent joke the blogger highlighted, say "Wow! That's not right." (Then change the topic, probably).

Do you think that response won't work, isn't worth the effort, is aimed at a non-problem, or other criticism?

why is agreement important?

Assuming the counter-parties share terminal values but are applying inconsistent interventions, at least one party is doing something that doesn't help solve the problem, and may even be interfering with the good solution. Worst case scenario is that both parties are doing it wrong.

comment by sixes_and_sevens · 2013-01-02T17:43:28.628Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Do you think that response won't work, isn't worth the effort, is aimed at a non-problem, or other criticism?

I have a lot of time for the sentiment in the blog post you linked to, but don't think privilege is a necessary concept in order to appreciate it. I don't even believe it's the most obvious criticism of the behaviour in question.

By way of analogy, lets say Pat wanders around everywhere with a sword and Chris doesn't wander around everywhere with a sword. If Pat stabs the defenceless Chris in the chest with a sword, you could frame this in the context of power dynamics, and bemoan how Pat has "sword privilege", but this doesn't really get to the core of the problem.

Calling out Pat's sword privilege doesn't offer any explanation as to why Pat has the sword, or why Pat was motivated to stab Chris. It provides us with a narrative for establishing blame and victimhood, but it doesn't actually tell us anything about the underlying situation or how to remedy it, at any level.

comment by TimS · 2013-01-02T18:02:09.820Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Ultimately, I think that a lot of ordinary social injustice arises because no one speaks out loud "Don't do that." Essentially, unwillingness to discuss social rules.

Saying "Parental Abuse is Wrong" is a useless Applause Light for most people.

Saying "It is not normal to be afraid of your parents, and not normal to be unhappy whenever you're at home" is more likely to be effective at creating good change.

Calling out Pat's sword privilege doesn't offer any explanation as to why Pat has the sword, or why Pat was motivated to stab Chris.

In case it isn't clear, I agree that calling out sword-privilege is only worthwhile if it reduces similar sword-privilege-abuse in the future. It's an empirical question whether (1) calling out privilege reduces abuse or (2) explaining why Pat has the sword is helpful to anything (figuring out what the abuse is, how to response effectively, or anything else). I suspect yes for both. But even if the answer to (2) is no, that doesn't demonstrate the answer to (1) is no.

comment by sixes_and_sevens · 2013-01-02T19:11:23.272Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Does it not seem odd to you to view the case of an unarmed person being stabbed by an armed assailant as an issue of social justice by default?

This is perhaps an unfair question, because I placed it in that context to begin with, but one of the things that's so maddening about the whole subject is how (for want of a better term) privilege is so privileged as an explanatory mechanism. There are certainly circumstances where it has merit, but it seems a ridiculous weapon of choice in circumstances where more appropriate explanatory mechanisms exist.

comment by TimS · 2013-01-02T21:31:21.372Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Does it not seem odd to you to view the case of an unarmed person being stabbed by an armed assailant as an issue of social justice by default? . . . This is perhaps an unfair question . . .

Perhaps? :)
I choose not to fight your hypothetical and you get upvotes for closing the trap. Not a big deal, but not cool.

more appropriate explanatory mechanisms exist.

I'm interested in hearing about them, and using them to figure out how to be more effective in figuring out what social changes are better for my terminal values and causing those changes.

Edit: Also, let's not forget that there are high status locals who deny that the problem we are talking about even exists.

comment by sixes_and_sevens · 2013-01-02T22:37:33.350Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It wasn't intended as a trap. Part of the point of the hypothetical was that "sword-privilege" is a bit of a silly idea, and not an obvious go-to choice for reasoning about people stabbing other people. I genuinely didn't expect you to put up a defence for it.

As for explanatory mechanisms, I tend to favour explanations from economics and systems-based sciences, as they have a rich catalogue of unusual behaviour patterns that arise from interacting parties being given different choices. I'm generally quite cautious in their application, though, because it doesn't take much for an elegant and aesthetically-pleasing model to be subtly wrong.

comment by TimS · 2013-01-03T01:57:38.549Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

As for explanatory mechanisms, I tend to favour explanations from economics and systems-based sciences

Fair enough. As you noted, the risk with any analytical framework is that it intentionally or unintentionally becomes a single variable analysis - and thus useless. My sense is that economics applied to social interactions is particularly at risk for this type of problem - leading either to Marxism or blogosphere ev. psych.

It wasn't intended as a trap. Part of the point of the hypothetical was that "sword-privilege" is a bit of a silly idea, and not an obvious go-to choice for reasoning about people stabbing other people.

Ah, I see. You were trying to change the topic - and I missed it.

I certainly agree that privilege is a terrible framework for analyzing actual swords-in-unarmed-people situations. But that wasn't the topic and I didn't want to talk about those situations - so I assumed you were making a somewhat hostile metaphor and choose not to call you on the hostility in order to keep engaging in the conversation. Talk about long inferential distance. :)

comment by sixes_and_sevens · 2013-01-03T10:25:39.536Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I think I'm going to start explicitly stating my discussion goals in advance. If it doesn't keep me on topic, it will at least keep me honest.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-01-02T21:02:51.185Z · score: 3 (7 votes) · LW · GW

EDIT: WTF, copypaste. I meant to quote this bit:

The privilege-framework says that the way to do that is to call out privilege when you see it.

Be careful not to confuse "Online SJ-oriented callout culture" with "the idea of power gradiants and institutionalized privilege as a tool for analyzing complex social and cultural phenomena."

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2013-01-04T15:28:43.938Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This raises a problem I've seen in other forms.... is it fair to ask how an idea works out in practice?

comment by [deleted] · 2013-01-05T00:14:35.490Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Absolutely, but it's not necessarily as simple as patternmatching to "claims label" and "is visible and obvious to me personally." Especially when you're dealing with stuff like religion, ideology, culture or politics, it can be hard to make any really meaningful statements that generalize usefully.

How does socialism work out in practice? It's tempting for some folks to point to the USSR, but that's just because it's a big obvious thing with the word "Socialism" prominently emblazoned on it. The EU is pretty darn relevant there as well.

When most Westerners think "Islam", they don't think "polyandric, matrifocal, highly-educated pluralists comfortable with secularism" either, but the Minangkabau people outnumber al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah and the Taliban combined. Those latter have a lot more to do with the first things that spring to mind when Westerners hear the word "Islam" though.

What I'm saying is, "How does this work out in practice" is terribly vulnerable to the availability bias.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2013-01-05T15:48:33.899Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

For what it's worth, I don't think socialism (State Communism) and socialism (western Europe-- I'm not sure what the best name is for democracies with strong safety nets) are the same thing-- they have extremely different practices and trajectories. I think this supports your point that you need to actually know something before you try to address the question of how an idea works out in practice.

If it's any consolation, I don't just wonder that sort of thing for social justice. I've thought how Atlas Shrugged, a novel which is an extended attack on crony capitalism, has led to people who support corporations in general.

Now that I think about it, Rand's "concrete bound mentality" (grabbing on to a specific and not necessarily relevant example-- she's against it) is a special case of availability bias.

comment by Peterdjones · 2013-01-05T17:47:28.024Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

socialism (western Europe-- I'm not sure what the best name is for democracies with strong safety nets)

Social democracy.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-01-05T18:25:18.713Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

nod But they both draw from a common wellspring of thought, and are influenced by many of the same formative works (having since developed themselves in greatly different directions). They're both socialism, in the same sense that a platypus (lays eggs, sweats milk, senses electricity, has simple teeth) and a human (gives live birth to well-developed offspring, has dedicated milk glands, no electroception at all, complex teeth) are both mammals: it's a fact of their origins. They've simply diverged substantially -- but this divergence isn't so great that it's meaningless to speak of them as both forms of mammal (has hair, endothermic metabolism, produces milk, three middle ear bones, has neocortex, is of amniote clade -- the critical bit is that these commonalities are not coincidental, they are not convergent traits).

comment by TimS · 2013-01-02T21:36:46.752Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If I'm doing something analytically wrong here, please feel free to give specifics. Crocker's Rule: I promise not to withdraw or lash out simply because I'm defensive about your criticism - I'm saying this to you, not the world.

PS. I don't understand the relevance of the quoted text.

PPS. "SJ-oriented callout culture" --> SJ = ?

comment by [deleted] · 2013-01-02T21:55:29.501Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

SJ = abbreviation for "social justice."

The discussion here appears to be talking about "privilege" in a way that looks, from the outside of the conversation, like the use of the term "privilege" by both participants is based on attempting to reverse-engineer its theoretical structure from the way it's used online by social justice activists.

The idea of "privilege", as an academic notion within critical theories, does not boil down to "the thing that when you see it, you should call it out." Exploring and unpacking the idea may or may not come with exhortations to any particular course of action; this is especially so in the case of texts where the idea is being formulated, criticized, elaborated upon or revisited. That isn't even necessarily implied.

On the other hand it's very common to the use of the term by a certain subset of online activists, and it seems like for a lot of LWers group is their first or primary exposure to the idea. The result is akin to talking about socialism in general, by modelling it in terms of the Red Guard youth movement during China's Cultural Revolution.

comment by TimS · 2013-01-02T22:04:55.716Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Here was my attempt at a brief articulation, early in this conversation. I'm trying not to just reverse engineer from social justice blogging. But if I screwed things up, I'm open to suggestion.

I agree that privilege isn't inherently unjust. It just turns out that certain kinds of privilege are antithetical to my terminal values - and calling out appears to be the best response.

On the other hand it's very common to the use of the term by a certain subset of online activists, and it seems like for a lot of LWers group is their first or primary exposure to the idea. The result is akin to talking about socialism in general, by modelling it in terms of the Red Guard youth movement during China's Cultural Revolution.

Yes - I suspect this causal story is the reason why my original complaint - that LW is bad at this type of social engineering theory - is true.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-01-03T03:18:28.381Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I agree that privilege isn't inherently unjust.

Well, I didn't say that (I'm not aware offhand of a plausible instance of the thing the term refers to that doesn't strike me as undesirable/wrong insofar as Jandila's morality function ouputs wrong).

From the bit you linked:

I'm not sure this is the case anymore on the cutting edge of so-called privilege theory.

Your wording makes me wince a little but I'm not sure if I can unpack why here (something about the implied model of intellectual discourse). In any case, you are quite correct that a simplistic analysis of the idea is not the best that critical theory has to offer, although LW doesn't have many people in the cluster (it's more than a matter of just reading a couple texts).

comment by TimS · 2013-01-03T03:38:13.937Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

LW doesn't have many people in the [critical theory] cluster

Yes, the core problem is that LW lacks this population - and doesn't seem to care.

Your wording [about cutting edge theory] makes me wince a little but I'm not sure if I can unpack why here

Maybe it's a relic of fact that most of my contact with "soft" academics is legal academia.

Legal issues go from non-existent to unsettled to settled. Tenure lies in writing only about unsettled. Cutting edge legal theories are a thing, even for practicing lawyers (I've even got one I'm waiting for the right case to test). Then the caselaw thickens - and your theory is now settled practice or Timecube level crazy.

In short, sorry for making you wince. Well, sorta sorry. :)

comment by [deleted] · 2013-01-03T21:33:38.355Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, the core problem is that LW lacks this population - and doesn't seem to care.

nod It's pretty synonymous with stuff like the Sokal affair to them.

Maybe it's a relic of fact that most of my contact with "soft" academics is legal academia.

That does go rather a long way toward explaining it, yeah. I come at it from anthropology and linguistics, with a side order each of biology and semiotics, so my go-to ideas about "the progression of theories and the state of the art in this field" are...substantially harder to capture, but basically it looks a bit like evolution in language or biology with a generous dose of lateral transfer a la art.

Then the caselaw thickens - and your theory is now settled practice or Timecube level crazy.Then the caselaw thickens - and your theory is now settled practice or Timecube level crazy.

A law graduate friend of mean feels compelled to add: "Or both."

In short, sorry for making you wince. Well, sorta sorry. :)

No worries, nothing like upsetting.

comment by TimS · 2013-01-05T01:13:18.475Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

On a different topic:

Is there any discussion in this literature about whether this cluster of theory necessarily implies an anti-realist metaethical position? My own metaethical theories have mostly been driven by the implications of these types of social theories - but it wouldn't surprise me if my conclusions in that regard were unsophisticated and suspect.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2013-01-02T17:37:25.958Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I generally find it worthwhile to separate the action-motivating aspects of a framework from the universal-acceptance aspects.

That is, if I endorse the privilege framework because I believe it effectively motivates right action according to my values better than the alternatives, then one option is to embrace it and act accordingly. If my belief is correct, one consequence of that will be that I am more reliably motivated to act rightly by my values. If I also talk about my actions and my motivations for those actions, I will provide evidence of that to others, thereby encouraging them to also embrace the privilege framework (at least, insofar as they share my values, and possibly even if they don't).

In the meantime, they won't, and (as you say) we won't be perfectly efficient. Hysteresis is like that.

The advantage of hysteresis is that if it turns out I'm wrong and the privilege framework doesn't optimally motivate right action, there's a greater chance of collecting evidence of that truth before we've collectively invested too much in a suboptimal practice.

Given how often we're wrong about stuff, that seems like a worthwhile advantage to preserve.

I could probably word that more succinctly as "Practice beats proselytizing."

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2013-01-02T19:02:32.444Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I generally find it worthwhile to separate the action-motivating aspects of a framework from the universal-acceptance aspects.

Whatever happened to the corresponding-to-reality aspect?

comment by TheOtherDave · 2013-01-02T20:25:11.410Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It didn't seem directly relevant to TimS's comment.
That said, it would be a remarkable coincidence if a framework reliably motivated right action without corresponding to reality.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2013-01-03T04:36:13.727Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Depends, how are you judging which action is "right", do you have any way to judge independent of the framework?

A lot of religions motivate a lot of right actions. They motivate even more if you let a religion judge the rightness of the action it motivates.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2013-01-03T04:42:21.866Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Agreed that if the only metric for right action is whether the action is motivated by my framework, then it's not a coincidence at all that my framework motivates right action.
It's also true that if I know of no metric at all for right action, then I can't know whether a framework reliably motivates it.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2013-01-03T04:32:29.648Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

That in a marriage, the natural and desirable order of things is that man shall be the absolute ruler and woman the slave, and that any other arrangement is a futile struggle against our fundamental biological nature that if pursued will bring only doom and destruction?

comment by TimS · 2013-01-02T18:09:10.606Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Some of my motive is reducing inferential distance. Some of the response to daenerys' recent post on female experiences was essentially "I didn't realize that type of harm was occurring." Ideally, having a useful framework will help others notice those types of harms more easily.

Also, I think there's a certain amount of hypocrisy inherent in some anti-feminist frameworks. To use a totally different example, I expect most Republicans in the US House of Representatives hate Alinsky, but they sure seem to have learned his lesson that procedural rules benefit the status quo - and therefore, those who oppose the status quo have less reason to respect them.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2013-01-02T04:35:18.012Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I'd generalize the point more broadly to say that jokes are a good way to get things you otherwise can't say past the radar.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2013-01-02T09:10:29.269Z · score: 15 (21 votes) · LW · GW

This is true regardless of whether the "things you can't say" are true. Furthermore, the whole contrarian/red pill/pretty lies/uncomfortable truths meme is toxic. It's a death spiral. All opposition demonstrates your superior insight, and all agreement demonstrates your superior insight. Everything demonstrates your superior insight, which together with the normal repertoire of human biases makes it pretty much impossible to encounter any evidence that you're wrong.

There are no red pills, only blue pills with red sugar coatings.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2013-01-02T18:54:07.747Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

This is true regardless of whether the "things you can't say" are true.

Not quite. The joke is more likely to resonate with the audience if it corresponds to their experience.

Nevertheless, I agree that the joke is no substitute for an argument. It's necessary to get society to the point where it's possible to make the argument without being declared unfit for polite company.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2013-01-02T20:51:34.377Z · score: 9 (15 votes) · LW · GW

The joke is more likely to resonate with the audience if it corresponds to their experience.

Nonsense. All it takes is that the audience want to believe it. Experience is not truth; a large part of people's "experience" is their own beliefs. This is just the same death spiral again. If they laugh, that proves I'm right; if they boo, that proves I'm right.

It's necessary to get society to the point where it's possible to make the argument without being declared unfit for polite company.

The argument for what, in the context of the original posting? That in a marriage, the natural and desirable order of things is that man shall be the absolute ruler and woman the slave, and that any other arrangement is a futile struggle against our fundamental biological nature that if pursued will bring only doom and destruction?

comment by fubarobfusco · 2013-01-02T22:28:15.102Z · score: 16 (16 votes) · LW · GW

Experience is not truth; a large part of people's "experience" is their own beliefs.

Heck, a large part of people's "experience" is fiction.

For instance: By the age of fifteen, if there are no doctors and nobody chronically ill in your immediate family, you've likely spent more time watching and reading fiction about doctors and medicine than you've spent discussing medicine with actual doctors. So your ideas of what doctors do are going to be based more directly on fiction than reality. One consequence of this is that there are a lot of common false beliefs promulgated by medical fiction. (Warning, TVTropes.)

For that matter, I suspect many fifteen-year-olds have heard more lawyer jokes than they have heard sentences spoken by an actual lawyer other than a politician. (Though one can hope they've taken more of an impression from Atticus Finch than from kill-all-the-lawyers jokes.)

(And yet, many fifteen-year-olds decide to become doctors ... and lawyers ... and other professions whose reputation and habits they have learned about chiefly through fiction, jokes, and stories rather than through observation.)

For that matter, the claim that "the joke is more likely to resonate with the audience if it corresponds to their experience" implies that the erstwhile popularity of jokes about Poles being stupid and impractical was good evidence that Poles actually were stupid and impractical.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-01-09T18:35:33.315Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

implies that the erstwhile popularity of jokes about Poles being stupid and impractical was good evidence that Poles actually were stupid and impractical.

Ceteris paribus yes.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2013-01-03T04:17:11.862Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The joke is more likely to resonate with the audience if it corresponds to their experience.

If they laugh, that proves I'm right;

Note the difference in meaning between the two italicized phrases?

if they boo, that proves I'm right.

What did I say that could reasonably be interpreted this way?

(Edit: thinking about it, I think I see how you got that impression: Laughter is evidence that you're right, an extreme negative reaction is weaker evidence that you're onto something. Indifference, or a non-extreme negative reaction is thus evidence that you're wrong.)

That in a marriage, the natural and desirable order of things is that man shall be the absolute ruler and woman the slave, and that any other arrangement is a futile struggle against our fundamental biological nature that if pursued will bring only doom and destruction?

Seriously, could you at least try not to straw-man my position?

comment by RichardKennaway · 2013-01-03T20:16:46.863Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The joke is more likely to resonate with the audience if it corresponds to their experience.

If they laugh, that proves I'm right;

Note the difference in meaning between the two italicized phrases?

Consider "proves" replaced by "is evidence in favour of". It doesn't change my point.

if they boo, that proves I'm right.

What did I say that could reasonably be interpreted this way?

That's the other half of the pattern -- which you obligingly go on to complete:

Laughter is evidence that you're right, an extreme negative reaction is weaker evidence that you're onto something.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2013-01-03T20:31:26.913Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

That's the other half of the pattern -- which you obligingly go on to complete:

Laughter is evidence that you're right, an extreme negative reaction is weaker evidence that you're onto something.

Did you read the sentence I wrote after that one?

Indifference, or a non-extreme negative reaction is thus evidence that you're wrong.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2013-01-06T10:21:10.802Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Did you read the sentence I wrote after that one?

Yes. The whole argument's a crock.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2013-01-03T20:14:38.783Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The joke is more likely to resonate with the audience if it corresponds to their experience.

If they laugh, that proves I'm right;

Note the difference in meaning between the two italicized phrases?

Consider "proves" replaced by "is evidence in favour of". It doesn't change my point.

if they boo, that proves I'm right.

What did I say that could reasonably be interpreted this way?

That's the other half of the pattern -- which you obligingly go on to complete:

Laughter is evidence that you're right, an extreme negative reaction is weaker evidence that you're onto something.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2013-01-03T20:13:18.693Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The joke is more likely to resonate with the audience if it corresponds to their experience.

If they laugh, that proves I'm right;

Note the difference in meaning between the two italicized phrases?

Consider "proves" replaced by "is evidence in favour of". It doesn't change my point.

if they boo, that proves I'm right.

What did I say that could reasonably be interpreted this way?

That's the other half of the pattern -- which you obligingly go on to complete:

Laughter is evidence that you're right, an extreme negative reaction is weaker evidence that you're onto something.

comment by kodos96 · 2013-01-03T03:10:43.498Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

If they laugh, that proves I'm right; if they boo, that proves I'm right.

This seems like heresy to me from a Bayesian perspective.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-01-09T18:34:39.130Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

That in a marriage, the natural and desirable order of things is that man shall be the absolute ruler and woman the slave, and that any other arrangement is a futile struggle against our fundamental biological nature that if pursued will bring only doom and destruction?

This seems a straw man.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-01-02T23:53:20.650Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe it's just me, but your comments here seem a bit hostile.

Furthermore, the whole contrarian/red pill/pretty lies/uncomfortable truths meme is toxic. It's a death spiral.

I don't think you should call an idea a death spiral. It is vulnerable in the way you say, but that doesn't reflect on the idea, it just means we humans have to be really careful with it.

We do have a whole sequence on how to deal with such ideas. None of the advice is "don't believe it".

All opposition demonstrates your superior insight, and all agreement demonstrates your superior insight. Everything demonstrates your superior insight, which together with the normal repertoire of human biases makes it pretty much impossible to encounter any evidence that you're wrong.

Again, we have plenty of material on LW for conserving expected evidence and watching for biases.

If you are arguing that things you can't say are toxic outside LW for the untrained masses, I recommend that you spend your time convincing them to study rationality instead of convincing them to believe things for reasons other than truth.

The argument for what, in the context of the original posting? That in a marriage, the natural and desirable order of things is that man shall be the absolute ruler and woman the slave, and that any other arrangement is a futile struggle against our fundamental biological nature that if pursued will bring only doom and destruction?

Come on, this is a straw man. The OP was talking about abusers, not fictional extremists. Eugene had explicitly generalized to other taboo issues anyway.

There are idiots who say such things, but there are also a lot of really interesting ideas (in the sense that they are important and debateable) that don't get discussed enough because people punish anyone who brings them up. Censorship of whole topics doesn't really seem like a good way to handle a few vile idiots.

Tone is usually uninteresting, but I think it's worth noting in the case of these "red pill" ideas; The red-pill types tend to use careful argument (because they have to to be taken seriously) while the maintream responders use weak arguments and social bullying (because they are surrounded by fellow believers). This apparent difference in the power of the arguments can confuse naive open-minded people (like myself a few days ago). Please consider this when responding to dumb ideas.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2013-01-03T21:25:17.782Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe it's just me, but your comments here seem a bit hostile.

I'm expressing disagreement with a common meme around here. Of course that will seem a bit hostile. But I shall not engage in any red-pill framing of that uninteresting fact.

If you are arguing that things you can't say are toxic outside LW for the untrained masses

I'm not talking about the things you can't say, but about the idea of things you can't say. That idea is a shield against reality, a mirror that makes everything behind it seem real, when it is just a distorted reflection of oneself.

Come on, this is a straw man. The OP was talking about abusers, not fictional extremists.

Ok, I would not seriously attribute the view I described to anyone on LW. But there are people who explicitly believe in exactly that view, exactly as extremely as I portrayed it, and surround it with red-pill rhetoric. There is at least one on LW (who has not posted in this thread) who holds at least to a lesser form of men's rightful power over women, and who I confidently expect would express approval of the joke in the original article. This is not fiction; I did not make any of it up.

Tone is usually uninteresting, but I think it's worth noting in the case of these "red pill" ideas; The red-pill types tend to use careful argument (because they have to to be taken seriously) while the maintream responders use weak arguments and social bullying (because they are surrounded by fellow believers).

That is not my observation. The article linked here is a good example of red-pill performance ranting. The whole thing could just as easily be expressed as platitudes of Deep Wisdom: "ask not what other people can do for you, but what you can do for them", "to give is to receive", etc., and in other places it would be. There's not much argument there, careful or otherwise. Of course not -- it's cracked.com, that's the sort of thing that people go there for. I previously linked another example of the genre here.

Working through the Google hits for "red pill" turns up few specimens of conspicuous rationality, and to talk about "mainstream responders" is already to have yielded to the tainted insight of the red pill pusher.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-01-04T03:42:35.366Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

That idea is a shield against reality, a mirror that makes everything behind it seem real, when it is just a distorted reflection of oneself.

This is a good point. Thanks for pointing it out to me. I've been having a crisis of faith on quite a few of those "red pill" ideas recently and I'm sure this will be useful next time I think about any of it.

That said, it seems to me that the standard cult attractor advice and conservation of expected evidence is sufficient to diffuse this effect. Do you think so, too? Or do you think we are not good enough at it such that we have to add extra caution? Or something else?

Basically what do you recommend for a well-sequenced LWer to do to entangle their beliefs with reality on these sorts of issues?

That is not my observation.

Huh. I wonder why. I don't really hang out anywhere like PUA forums or racist blogs or anything like that, so maybe I only encounter the good stuff that has enough sensibleness to it to filter into the rest of the internet? I guess then we would see the opposite on PUA forums; mostly average idiots who can't handle the is-ought distinction, and a few intelligent mainstreamers coming in and poking holes in people's tripe (I also might expect a few more troll raids from mainstreamers than there are troll raids from PUA to mainstreamer areas, though this could easily be confounded by other factors)

The article linked here is a good example of red-pill performance ranting.

That article is fucking gold. Thanks for the link. Now unfortunately that was not the point you were trying to make...

I did notice (since you sent me there looking for it) that it was callous and condescending and such (even for cracked). I also noticed that I don't usually notice that kind of stuff outside LW and other "intellectual areas". If you hadn't pointed it out, I would have just filtered the crusty crap and kept the good advice at it's core. I guess it's a habit I picked up from 4chan.

The whole thing could just as easily be expressed as platitudes of Deep Wisdom: "ask not what other people can do for you, but what you can do for them", "to give is to receive", etc., and in other places it would be.

I've got a better one. I summed up the whole thing with "Just Do It!". However, I don't think it's a good idea to dismiss an article because you can say the same thing without 99% of the article. Here's why:

I run into pieces of genuine good advice all the time, on LW and elsewhere, and I've noticed that I can't really learn or take advice from just a summary of it. Summaries of ideas works really well to precipitate concepts that you already have all the support for, and to convey dry facts, but not for advice and experience. See moral truth in fiction for an analogous argument. As an example, When I read truly a part of you, I was like "yeah that's cool", it wasn't until later that I figured the idea out for myself and realized "holy crap someone already told me this."

So with that said, even if you can boil down the essential idea of an article to a single sentence, it may still have substantial value as something that creates the experience required for you to actually get the idea. I think that cracked article works like this. It's a simple idea (not even 6 simple ideas), but all the added inflammatory crust create an experience the actually communicates the idea, instead of just saying it.

I can believe that that article is not written in a way that works for everyone, but I think that for some people (the target audience, for example), it's exactly what they need to hear, and anything nicer wouldn't get the point across.

I will throw in that the "come on aren't you man enough to hear the truth?" thing is toxic as a rhetorical device, as it can make otherwise worthless stuff more compelling. (because if you don't even read this then you are weak).

comment by RichardKennaway · 2013-01-06T11:22:14.896Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I don't really hang out anywhere like PUA forums or racist blogs or anything like that, so maybe I only encounter the good stuff that has enough sensibleness to it to filter into the rest of the internet?

Like cracked.com and 4chan? Sensibleness is not the filter for popularity on the internet.

That article is fucking gold. Thanks for the link. Now unfortunately that was not the point you were trying to make...

Different people respond to different forms. Some are suckers for a man in a white coat intoning "studies have shown". Some will lap up Deep Wisdom from anyone in Tibetan robes. Some will believe anyone who shouts at them loudly enough. (Makes for some interesting dynamics on PUA and NLP forums, where assertion is alpha, but both agreement and disagreement are beta.)

However, I don't think it's a good idea to dismiss an article because you can say the same thing without 99% of the article.

It's more that you can write the same content with a completely different 99%, with many completely different 99%s. Ayn Rand, Thich Nhat Hanh, and Feynman could have written the same content, in different ways. How does one determine whether one is responding to the clothing of the message, rather than the content? The red pill idea is particularly attractive to anyone who thinks they're smarter than those around them. And look where we are, LessWrong, where "contrarian" is a compliment, as if reversed consensus were intelligence.

I can believe that that article is not written in a way that works for everyone, but I think that for some people (the target audience, for example), it's exactly what they need to hear, and anything nicer wouldn't get the point across.

Skilful means, as the Buddhists put it. But of those who think they learned something from that article, how many would have learned whatever message the writer might have expressed in the same style?

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2013-01-07T04:28:41.929Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

And look where we are, LessWrong, where "contrarian" is a compliment, as if reversed consensus were intelligence.

Can you link to an example of someone using it as a compliment? I don't think this is actually the case. It's simply much less of an insult here than it is in most "skeptic" communities.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2013-01-07T18:56:01.770Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Can you link to an example of someone using it as a compliment?

Yes:

He is an erudite, controversial and most of all contrarian social critic and writer.

Yes (a self-description rather than a compliment to someone else, but clearly intended to be read as a worthy attribute):

As a contrarian rationalist

Here is someone excusing themselves for not being contrarian:

Not everyone can be a contrarian rationalist.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-01-09T18:39:31.489Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

In the first link you quoted me describing Moldbug, I should clarify it was used as a put down. I've said quite explicitly in other posts that I strongly agree with Hanson on contrarianism.

In the second link the person continues:

The result is that I'm biased towards contrarian theses, which I think is useful for improving group rationality in most cases, but still isn't rational.

The third is a good example but it is in an article talking about how weird LessWrong is for its love of contrarianism.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2013-01-09T21:47:33.680Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

In the first link you quoted me describing Moldbug, I should clarify it was used as a put down.

I'll take your word for your intentions, but the article itself gives me no impression that it was intended anything other than seriously.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-01-09T22:09:03.638Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I did mean "and most of all contrarian" quite seriously, I just didn't expect readers to take that as good. It was meant as a warning since I think Moldbug would be a better thinker if he was less contrarian but I'll update on you reading of it when using the term in the future.

This apparent misunderstanding on second thought isn't surprising since this community is self-selected for the kind of people who like enjoy contrarian arguments. Weird out there (not saying incorrect) beliefs such as buying cryonics being a good idea otherwise wouldn't be popular here.

In addition to this if you visit a site where examples of human cognitive failure are investigate every day and individual debasing techniques discussed, but little ephasis is given on how to build communities that have good epistemology or avoid the biases one seems likely to find the story of "lone genius exposes establishment consensus as nonsense" more plausible than otherwise.

comment by Multiheaded · 2013-01-07T20:33:23.476Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Ok, I would not seriously attribute the view I described to anyone on LW. But there are people who explicitly believe in exactly that view, exactly as extremely as I portrayed it, and surround it with red-pill rhetoric. There is at least one on LW (who has not posted in this thread) who holds at least to a lesser form of men's rightful power over women, and who I confidently expect would express approval of the joke in the original article. This is not fiction; I did not make any of it up.

For what it's worth, I agree that this poster is at least as characteristic of the meme cluster we're talking about as its more polite/locally celebrated/refined advocates. What's worse, I suspect that it's the locally celebrated "red-pill" contrarians who are shrinking from the conclusions of many of their (anti-egalitarian, etc) memes and that this poster just logically extrapolates the "red-pill" premises to produce his alarming view of gender, "deviancy", etc.

Another far more famous example is Theodore Beale/Vox Day... and a few other bloggers whom I'd rather not link to.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2013-01-03T21:24:08.393Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe it's just me, but your comments here seem a bit hostile.

I'm expressing disagreement with a common meme around here. Of course that will seem a bit hostile. But I shall not engage in any red-pill framing of that uninteresting fact.

If you are arguing that things you can't say are toxic outside LW for the untrained masses

I'm not talking about the things you can't say, but about the idea of things you can't say. That idea is a shield against reality, a mirror that makes everything behind it seem real, when it is just a distorted reflection of oneself.

Come on, this is a straw man. The OP was talking about abusers, not fictional extremists.

Ok, I would not seriously attribute the view I described to anyone on LW. But there are people who explicitly believe in exactly that view, exactly as extremely as I portrayed it, and surround it with red-pill rhetoric. There is at least one on LW (who has not posted in this thread) who holds at least to a lesser form of men's rightful power over women, and who I confidently expect would express approval of the joke in the original article. This is not fiction; I did not make any of it up.

Tone is usually uninteresting, but I think it's worth noting in the case of these "red pill" ideas; The red-pill types tend to use careful argument (because they have to to be taken seriously) while the maintream responders use weak arguments and social bullying (because they are surrounded by fellow believers).

That is not my observation. The article linked here is a good example of red-pill performance ranting. The whole thing could just as easily be expressed as platitudes of Deep Wisdom: "ask not what other people can do for you, but what you can do for them", "to give is to receive", etc., and in other places it would be. There's not much argument there, careful or otherwise. Of course not -- it's cracked.com, that's the sort of thing that people go there for. I previously linked another example of the genre here.

Working through the Google hits for "red pill" turns up few specimens of conspicuous rationality, and to talk about "mainstream responders" is already to have yielded to the tainted insight of the red pill pusher.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2013-01-03T21:23:19.594Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe it's just me, but your comments here seem a bit hostile.

I'm expressing disagreement with a common meme around here. Of course that will seem a bit hostile. But I shall not engage in any red-pill framing of that uninteresting fact.

If you are arguing that things you can't say are toxic outside LW for the untrained masses

I'm not talking about the things you can't say, but about the idea of things you can't say. That idea is a shield against reality, a mirror that makes everything behind it seem real, when it is just a distorted reflection of oneself.

Come on, this is a straw man. The OP was talking about abusers, not fictional extremists.

Ok, I would not seriously attribute the view I described to anyone on LW. But there are people who explicitly believe in exactly that view, exactly as extremely as I portrayed it, and surround it with red-pill rhetoric. There is at least one on LW (who has not posted in this thread) who holds at least to a lesser form of men's rightful power over women, and who I confidently expect would express approval of the joke in the original article. This is not fiction; I did not make any of it up.

Tone is usually uninteresting, but I think it's worth noting in the case of these "red pill" ideas; The red-pill types tend to use careful argument (because they have to to be taken seriously) while the maintream responders use weak arguments and social bullying (because they are surrounded by fellow believers).

That is not my observation. The article linked here is a good example of red-pill performance ranting. The whole thing could just as easily be expressed as platitudes of Deep Wisdom: "ask not what other people can do for you, but what you can do for them", "to give is to receive", etc., and in other places it would be. There's not much argument there, careful or otherwise. Of course not -- it's cracked.com, that's the sort of thing that people go there for. I previously linked another example of the genre here.

Working through the Google hits for "red pill" turns up few specimens of conspicuous rationality, and to talk about "mainstream responders" is already to have yielded to the tainted insight of the red pill pusher.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2013-01-03T21:17:38.995Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe it's just me, but your comments here seem a bit hostile.

I'm expressing disagreement with a common meme around here. Of course that will seem a bit hostile. But I shall not engage in any red-pill framing of that uninteresting fact.

If you are arguing that things you can't say are toxic outside LW for the untrained masses

I'm not talking about the things you can't say, but about the idea of things you can't say. That idea is a shield against reality, a mirror that makes everything behind it seem real, when it is just a distorted reflection of oneself.

Come on, this is a straw man. The OP was talking about abusers, not fictional extremists.

Ok, I would not seriously attribute the view I described to anyone on LW. But there are people who explicitly believe in exactly that view, exactly as extremely as I portrayed it, and surround it with red-pill rhetoric. There is at least one on LW (who has not posted in this thread) who holds at least to a lesser form of men's rightful power over women, and who I confidently expect would express approval of the joke in the original article. This is not fiction; I did not make any of it up.

Tone is usually uninteresting, but I think it's worth noting in the case of these "red pill" ideas; The red-pill types tend to use careful argument (because they have to to be taken seriously) while the maintream responders use weak arguments and social bullying (because they are surrounded by fellow believers).

That is not my observation. The article linked here is a good example of red-pill performance ranting. The whole thing could just as easily be expressed as platitudes of Deep Wisdom: "ask not what other people can do for you, but what you can do for them", "to give is to receive", etc., and in other places it would be. There's not much argument there, careful or otherwise. Of course not -- it's cracked.com, that's the sort of thing that people go there for. I previously linked another example of the genre here.

Working through the Google hits for "red pill" turns up few specimens of conspicuous rationality, and to talk about "mainstream responders" is already to have yielded to the tainted insight of the red pill merchant.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2013-01-03T21:17:17.745Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe it's just me, but your comments here seem a bit hostile.

I'm expressing disagreement with a common meme around here. Of course that will seem a bit hostile. But I shall not engage in any red-pill framing of that uninteresting fact.

If you are arguing that things you can't say are toxic outside LW for the untrained masses

I'm not talking about the things you can't say, but about the idea of things you can't say. That idea is a shield against reality, a mirror that makes everything behind it seem real, when it is just a distorted reflection of oneself.

Come on, this is a straw man. The OP was talking about abusers, not fictional extremists.

Ok, I would not seriously attribute the view I described to anyone on LW. But there are people who explicitly believe in exactly that view, exactly as extremely as I portrayed it, and surround it with red-pill rhetoric. There is at least one on LW (who has not posted in this thread) who holds at least to a lesser form of men's rightful power over women, and who I confidently expect would express approval of the joke in the original article. This is not fiction; I did not make any of it up.

Tone is usually uninteresting, but I think it's worth noting in the case of these "red pill" ideas; The red-pill types tend to use careful argument (because they have to to be taken seriously) while the maintream responders use weak arguments and social bullying (because they are surrounded by fellow believers).

That is not my observation. The article linked here is a good example of red-pill performance ranting. The whole thing could just as easily be expressed as platitudes of Deep Wisdom: "ask not what other people can do for you, but what you can do for them", "to give is to receive", etc., and in other places it would be. There's not much argument there, careful or otherwise. Of course not -- it's cracked.com, that's the sort of thing that people go there for. I previously linked another example of the genre here.

Working through the Google hits for "red pill" turns up few specimens of conspicuous rationality, and to talk about "mainstream responders" is already to have yielded to the tainted insight of the red pill merchant.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2013-01-03T21:16:07.206Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe it's just me, but your comments here seem a bit hostile.

I'm expressing disagreement with a common meme around here. Of course that will seem a bit hostile. But I shall not engage in any red-pill framing of that uninteresting fact.

If you are arguing that things you can't say are toxic outside LW for the untrained masses

I'm not talking about the things you can't say, but about the idea of things you can't say. That idea is a shield against reality, a mirror that makes everything behind it seem real, when it is just a distorted reflection of oneself.

Come on, this is a straw man. The OP was talking about abusers, not fictional extremists.

Ok, I would not seriously attribute the view I described to anyone on LW. But there are people who explicitly believe in exactly that view, exactly as extremely as I portrayed it, and surround it with red-pill rhetoric. There is at least one on LW (who has not posted in this thread) who holds at least to a lesser form of men's rightful power over women, and who I confidently expect would express approval of the joke in the original article. This is not fiction; I did not make any of it up.

Tone is usually uninteresting, but I think it's worth noting in the case of these "red pill" ideas; The red-pill types tend to use careful argument (because they have to to be taken seriously) while the maintream responders use weak arguments and social bullying (because they are surrounded by fellow believers).

That is not my observation. The article linked here is a good example of red-pill performance ranting. The whole thing could just as easily be expressed as platitudes of Deep Wisdom: "ask not what other people can do for you, but what you can do for them", "to give is to receive", etc., and in other places it would be. There's not much argument there, careful or otherwise. Of course not -- it's cracked.com, that's the sort of thing that people go there for. I previously linked another example of the genre here.

Working through the Google hits for "red pill" turns up few specimens of conspicuous rationality, and to talk about "mainstream responders" is already to have yielded to the tainted insight of the red pill merchant.

comment by Multiheaded · 2013-01-09T02:01:07.336Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This apparent difference in the power of the arguments can confuse naive open-minded people (like myself a few days ago).

Whoa, damn, you mean to say you recanted? That's cool, I guess. Now join me in my meta-meta-meta-contrarian ivory tower; you're smarter and more diligent than me. Although less interested in politics, I guess.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-01-09T03:18:43.965Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I've sort of gone back on one specific piece of evidence, which was that contrarians on some issues tend to have much stronger arguments, and therefor are probably right.

Yvain explained that quite well by noting that believers of popular belief have no incentive to seriously engage contrarians, lest they "legitimize" them or appear like they were taking them seriously. It is much more individually beneficial to point and laugh.

An extension of that, though is that you can get signalling absurdity arms-races that cause the mainstream position to become as absurd as possible. (see for example, Australia banning small-breast porn and most of the world banning drawn loli porn because "can't let those damn pedos get off").

Yvain ignored the implications for mainstream belief quality (at least as far as I could tell). But it seems pretty damning to me.

That's what the quoted comment was referring to.

I'm unsure where I stand relative to you, Konkvistador, Moldbug, etc in all this. I'm still mostly Universalist in morality (universal brotherhood fuck yeah, let's tear apart and rebuild the universe if it disagrees, etc), but pretty much reject all of its factual claims about literal equality, effectiveness of collective governance, etc. If you like, we could talk in more detail about this. (I would like that; I'm interested in your view, but haven't had a chance to figure it out).

Don't know why you think I'm smarter or more diligent, but you're right that I think politics is a waste of time (except to root out political crud that you didn't know you had, which is what I've been doing recently).

Now join me in my meta-meta-meta-contrarian ivory tower

Lulz. Thank you for inviting me.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2013-01-09T22:53:12.646Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

universal brotherhood fuck yeah, let's tear apart and rebuild the universe if it disagrees

Good luck with that.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-01-02T21:05:21.536Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

The joke is more likely to resonate with the audience if it corresponds to their experience.

Or their biases, or their culturally-acquired beliefs...

comment by fubarobfusco · 2013-01-02T22:14:22.000Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think you may have quoted the wrong thing here?

comment by [deleted] · 2013-01-03T03:21:24.250Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yes. Had that happen over on the other one too. Thanks for pointing it out.

comment by Multiheaded · 2013-01-02T10:56:06.145Z · score: 0 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I've been thinking of making a new political slogan aimed at the "thoughtcrime" crowd: "What you need is red ink, not red pills!" Meaning that there really aren't horrible truths about society that are hidden from the ignorant masses but revealed to the brave and sufficiently cynical few; most people (even the "average" ones) do actually perceive all the information they might need about the society they live in, but cannot articulate and communicate it, so on some topics only a scrambled message of discontent and anger can be heard.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-01-02T16:37:06.221Z · score: -2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Meh.

comment by Multiheaded · 2013-01-02T17:03:46.197Z · score: 6 (12 votes) · LW · GW

Elaborate please.

(Sorry for getting into tribal matters, but this is explicitly about tribalism:)

In particular, a long time ago I asked you and your alt-right associates: why do they think liberals are so adamantly in denial about the possiblity of racial differences in intelligence. All the alt-right/reactionary commenters everywhere seem to think that it's clear-cut: liberals hate Truth in all its forms, and "elite" liberals especially hate it, and they simply want to speed the collapse of decent society with such anti-Truth policies.

I tentatively suggested, however, 1) that there are no real contradictions between the ideology of modern liberalism/progressivism (as it is preached and written), and, say, the average Jew having higher IQ than the average European having higher IQ than average black people - and 2) that the semi-official ban on the topic in liberal academia exists because of complicated self-image and methodology issues going back to the Enlightenment era, and because of sincere, well-intentioned fear of resurgent racist oppression.

So, essentially, nobody is deliberately spreading lies, deliberately concealing truths, making up stories about a dragon in the garage, etc. Instead we have a complex, silent carpet brawl around the meta question on the proper relation of the normative and the descriptive in politics - e.g. given how much we value moral equality, should we try to justify it with facts/axioms about our environment, or with a deontological, non-disprovable position? - where neither side is even psychologically able to state the issue. That's how hard sufficient levels of reflection are.

How'd you say? (And btw, do you think that my meltdown about all this meta crap qualifies as evidence? I realize that my thinking is... not very close to "standard" liberal or right-wing thought, but might there be similar psychological tension generated in their long-standing conflicts?)

comment by [deleted] · 2013-01-02T17:32:24.024Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

In particular, a long time ago I asked you and your allies

"Me and my allies."

I refuse to frame a debate in such terms for obvious reasons and am despondent you have chosen them. Honestly I think you are being mind-killed about this and are pattern matching my positions to ones I just don't hold.

comment by Multiheaded · 2013-01-02T17:43:30.927Z · score: 18 (18 votes) · LW · GW

You are completely correct. This was indeed indefensible and inexcusable of me, and pretty much a direct spit upon your goodwill. I was frustrated by my inability to "get even" with an opposing group that has long trumpeted its honesty and accused my views of hypocrisy. I let this primitive emotion get the better of me.

Such little things are what shits up the whole discourse. I understand and agree. I'm sorry.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-01-02T17:45:41.432Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

Up voted. I hope you know you have no more hard feelings from me on this.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-01-02T17:35:37.370Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW · GW

So, essentially, nobody is deliberately spreading lies, deliberately concealing truths, making up stories about a dragon in the garage, etc

No. On the topic you mentioned they quite obviously are.

comment by Alsadius · 2013-01-05T10:06:44.592Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

For someone who's done as much well-known and controversial stuff in his life as Gould, you're really going to have to narrow it down for me. I'm not sufficiently familiar with this debate to know what you're referring to.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-01-05T10:30:45.404Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

See discussion related to Gould's book Mismeasure of Man in this thread.

comment by Alsadius · 2013-01-03T11:09:54.012Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

To address the average racial IQ thing, I think that a big part of the left's dislike of it is cognitive dissonance, in a similar fashion to the right's reflexive denial of climate change. They're facts that tend to get used in ways that they find repulsive, and it's easier to deny the fact than it is to make a claim of "It's true, but let's not worry too much about it". In both cases, deniers tend to deny even when questioned in private in my experience(and I'm using friends as my reference group here, so I assume they'd fess up to it being tactical if it was). In both cases, there seems to be a more intellectual strain(which I'm a part of in both cases) that actually does make the "It's real, but who cares?" argument.

(Hopefully that illustrative parallel doesn't turn into an AGW flame war...)

comment by fubarobfusco · 2013-01-02T22:39:25.212Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

All the alt-right/reactionary commenters everywhere seem to think that it's clear-cut: liberals hate Truth in all its forms, and "elite" liberals especially hate it, and they simply want to speed the collapse of decent society with such anti-Truth policies.

This is, simply put, the usual rallying cry of hatred: the claim that the Enemy knows the truth but denies it; knows the good and hates it, deliberately works to corrupt it; etc. — see, e.g., Torquemada or Luther regarding Jews, Kramer and Sprenger regarding "witches", Lenin regarding kulaks; Pol Pot regarding intellectuals; and so on. It's not a factual claim based on evidence; it is a form of dark cheerleading.

(It is also not specific to a particular ideology or political faction — left, right, "Third Way", secular, religious. It is, however, a common precursor to the dark times when adherents of an ideology decide to stop arguing and start killing.)

comment by [deleted] · 2013-01-02T17:27:04.637Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

do actually perceive all the information they might need about the society they live in

No.

Humans are neither smart or sane enough to be likely do what they want to do with the information available to them. As a whole we have a only minuscule chance of ordering matter in the next few million years in a way likeable to our values.

We are playing in a universe set to difficulty setting without an eye for human ability. Normal people can't even predict the weather for a few days in advanced, and our entire civilization can't in principle do so for more than a few weeks, yet here we are arguing about things like the economy or a culture or governments made up of millions of human brains and algorithms running on computers that can predict the weather for several days.

comment by Multiheaded · 2013-01-02T18:01:35.608Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

You are forgetting the basic fact that most of our intelligence evolved for the purpose of winning at socialization and navigating tribal politics! Weather is weather, and huge centralized societies really are impossible to take in at a glance, and very hard to make predictions for - but there are still ansectrally familiar patterns everywhere, even where they aren't needed so much - say, ancient structures of dominance being replicated in the workplace - and human instincts can derive a lot of information from observing those patterns.

Although much of this information is going to be garbled or changed by the context, I still claim that people already have lots of "unknown knowns" about the tribal politics, families, work relations, etc that surround them - all simmering somewhere in the back on their minds - and that consciously interpreting and articulating these "unknown knowns" can, (as Zizek suggests in a few places, AFAIK), be more useful than trying a strictly positivist approach to social dynamics.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-01-02T18:48:10.983Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

We have no reason to trust human intuitions for societies orders of magnitude beyond the Dunbar number. They are feedback as to how individual humans are going to end up feeling in any society and that is important since humans are presumably what we care about but there is very little sense in giving much weight to such heuristics as usable maps for political action or institution reform.

comment by ChristianKl · 2013-01-07T22:31:59.654Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The fact that people have lot of "unknown knowns" in no way implies that they don't have many "unknown unknowns".

People frequently tend to think the know more than they actually do. When it comes to knowledge people are frequently overconfident.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-01-02T17:30:42.034Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

why do they think liberals are so adamantly in denial about the possiblity of racial differences in intelligence

Why do you think religious conservatives are so adamant about abortion or contraception?

comment by Multiheaded · 2013-01-02T18:12:24.842Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Why do you think religious conservatives are so adamant about abortion or contraception?

I think you haven't understood the exact question. Opposition to abortion or contraception are policies; racial differences in intelligence are an entirely external fact which should only affect policy after you filter it through the lens of your ethics. A better analogy would be confronting a Catholic with a claim that allowing abortion would make for much less poverty and death in the 3rd world. And even then, a liberal confronted with race differences in intelligence would not be similarly pressured to allow e.g. apartheid, if there is an explicit and sufficiently high value for moral equality between the races in the liberal mindset, and this moral equality demands some sort of practical egalitarianism!

What I claim in this particular example is that, since the secularization of progressivism/liberalism around the Enlightenment - and its pragmatist/utilitarian posturing - it has been having trouble deriving moral equality from first principles here, and deep down there's awareness of that. So liberals desperately try to derive an egalitarian "ought" from an inconvenient "is" - even though nobody's forcing them to!

comment by [deleted] · 2013-01-02T18:42:14.585Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think you haven't understood the exact question.

It wasn't exactly analogous, but it wasn't meant as such. If I wanted to do that I would have brought up Creationism among Protestant Americans.

I fundamentally think there are very strong sacredness based feelings around this that are not based on consequences in the real world any more than other kinds of religious thinking is. There obviously are good secular conservative arguments in favour of religious thinking guiding how our society develops though.

comment by Multiheaded · 2013-01-02T20:30:35.065Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I fundamentally think there are very strong sacredness based feelings around this that are not based on consequences in the real world any more than other kinds of religious thinking is.

Throughout the 19th century, there have been leftist thinkers - from moderate and "respectable" ones to hardcore radicals - who either had no problem acknowledging differences in average intelligence, or were even outright racists/white supremacists. E.g., I've read that many American abolitionists either acted xenophobic towards actual black people when they met them, believed that blacks can never match whites in ability or achievement, etc. Yet their moral and religious opposition to slavery - all men are created in God's image, and ought to be treated as such - covered the immorality of one race subjugating another. So... eh, it's contradictory and messy. But ultimately egalitarianism, like all moral emotions, need not be chained to any particular empirical belief.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-01-02T18:41:07.437Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

What I claim in this particular example is that, since the secularization of progressivism/liberalism around the Enlightenment - and its pragmatist/utilitarian posturing - it has been having trouble deriving moral equality from first principles here, and deep down there's awareness of that. So liberals desperately try to derive an egalitarian "ought" from an inconvenient "is" - even though nobody's forcing them to!

This seems like an ok model to describe what his happening.

comment by Douglas_Knight · 2013-01-03T01:52:18.607Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It is not at all obvious to me that any other hypothesis is needed to explain Gould. Why, he practically says that he kept telling himself "human equality is a contingent fact of history" until he believed it.

But Jared Diamond does appear to me to be deliberately concealing truths, because he is fairly careful not to outright lie (and because he used to be into human biodiversity).

comment by [deleted] · 2013-01-02T17:38:58.190Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Instead we have a complex, silent carpet brawl around the meta question on the proper relation of the normative and the prescriptive in politics - e.g. given how much we value moral equality, should we try to justify it with facts/axioms about our environment, or with a deontological, non-disprovable position? - where neither side is even psychologically able to state the issue. That's how hard sufficient levels of reflection are.

Perhaps this is happening in the system as a whole, but I wouldn't call this a silent brawl if none of the involved know what the fight is about. And since you posit such a complex explanation...

Show me the evidence!

comment by [deleted] · 2013-01-02T17:23:50.318Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Meaning that there really aren't horrible truths about society that are hidden from the ignorant masses but revealed to the brave and sufficiently cynical few; most people (even the "average" ones) do actually perceive all the information they might need about the society they live in, but cannot articulate and communicate it, so on some topics only a scrambled message of discontent and anger can be heard.

Lets begin with this. Do you take this argument seriously? Or is it just armament? I refuse to think you don't have any clue as to how utterly devastating this argument is when applied to the left in the 20th century.

Let alone how this applies to the Dickian Gnosticism we talked about just a few days ago!

comment by Multiheaded · 2013-01-02T17:50:54.525Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Let alone how this applies to the Dickian Gnosticism we talked about just a few days ago!

Okay, this joke's totally on you! Dick (and some earlier Gnostics) essentially made the very same suggestion on metaphysical knowledge that I entertain here about social knowledge; it's an unknown known that most people already happen to possess, but which must be brought to the forefront of consciousness via a revelation event he called "Anamnesis".

comment by [deleted] · 2013-01-02T17:52:43.824Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Actually you are right, here I was doing the pattern matching.

I think this is because how I see Gnostic like beliefs working out in the world. Humans being social will tend to share them and such movements spiritual or otherwise consist in a large part of an enlightened guru with special gnosis telling you what you have "forgotten" and must learn relearn.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-01-02T17:59:29.368Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I would like an answer to the tribal question I posed. Do you see how this argument applies to leftism?

comment by Multiheaded · 2013-01-02T19:47:45.157Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW · GW

That leftists were wrong to force their propaganda, clever and logically superior as it might appear, upon the masses who wisely stuck to conservatism since forever and understood conservative wisdom on a gut level? Yeah, yeah, you'd say that it's just as bad or worse than the modern "thoughtcrime" currents I mentioned - but I think there is a significant difference.

For the last 200 years, lots of revolutionary/populist left-wing movements, even non-Marxist ones (incl. ultimately triumphant ones like 1st/2nd-wave feminism or abolitionism), have been using variations on class consciousness as a theoretical foundation for their agitation and rabble-rousing. And at least their official descriptions of "consciousness-raising" have been much like what I mean - and what I assume Zizek means - by "articulating the unknown knowns".

Of course, reality is messy and politics fucks shit up, but ultimately I feel that the idea of consciousness-raising is not a clever trick, a deception of the masses who know better but are led astray. In the right hands it can serve as social psychoanalysis of sorts, to resolve deep-seated exploitation and oppression by dragging them from the collective unconscious into the light. A good example is how Western countries are practically at the end of homophobia. It was first systematically opposed by the Left's critical theory and Freudo-Marxism; now it's vanishing even on the right. Of course, there have been failures, which naturally resound louder - such as the reckless politics of "national liberation" leading to rivers of blood and zero liberty in the decolonized countries.

But here, before you say: "Aha, so you admit that this radical meddling is irresponsible and unaccountable!", I'd ask you to consider, what if the masses have always had a desire for emancipation, what if the ideas of left intellectuals could never have been so transformative without a mute but powerful demand for them?

Every revolution has a fundamentally real reason! It might not even be a "good" reason - see the "men's rights movement" and their politics of bitterness - but a revolutionary trend cannot be kicked off with simply propaganda, mass psychosis or shallow moral fashion! This reason can stay deep and strong under a calm surface, dormant for ages. Slaves did have fundamental overwhelming discontent about their position in America; women did have fundamental overwhelming discontent about their position before feminism. This fundamental psychosocial reality of oppression is what the oft-derided Marxist Historical Materialism is clear-headed about, and what can lead a right-wing thinker to denial (e.g. Moldbug on the Russian revolution) or biting bullets (e.g. Chesterton on the French one).

And, like Gramsci said, the oppressed masses can and do generate their own intellectuals who are driven to become a voice for the voiceless - by their origins, not by whim or ethical abstractions. Who taught racial equality or feminism to Frederick Douglass, an escaped slave (who must've simply got a jackpot in the genetic lottery)? Evil power-hungry Northern abolitionists?

No, it must be the same process by which a black PUA-practicing guy commenting on a men's issues blog can realize how his struggle is very similar to that of women, despite all the public hostility between feminists and PUAs. When he articulates the prejudice and oppression that have been a personal concern in his life, he can't help but notice that other groups face very similar oppression. Grassroots leftism!

You ever notice that the most strident voices about “The decline of Western civilization” and supporters of the “Send their asses back to the kitchen” type of rhetoric are mainly white males between the ages of 30-50? [Censored], [censored], [censored], just to name a few...

As a black man anytime I hear things about how women should know their place, or that society is being ruined by women taking an active role in society, you know what I do? Take the word “women” out and insert “blacks”, or nowadays in SoCal where I live “Mexicans”. See where I’m going? They talk about the “good old days”. What good old days? Good for who? White men between 30 and 50? Why would I be interested in going back to the 50s? Or 30s? Or mid 1800s? Who does that benefit?

P.S.: Konkvistador asked if Nazism could count as a catastrophic and evil consequence of this sort of thing. The communist terror in China could, I think - but not Nazism. The Nazis killed and enslaved people under a wholly illusory cover of fighting an arbitrary Other. Their violence was not directed at the real social system.

A more compelling example of a social revolution causing catastrophic evil things would be the Red Terror and the Cultural Revolution in China. It was indeed mostly driven from below with encouragement from Mao; it was a part of sweeping systemic changes; it concluded decades of chaos and strife, and centuries of misery and exploitation; this still doesn't justify an orgy of slaughter and cannibalism. I don't know in what way to talk about it.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-01-02T21:37:28.820Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Overall this post has left me of mixed feelings. I liked it because it is exensive and gives insight into your chain of reasoning, making much of it explicit. I dislike it strongly because I don't see any evidence that you have updated on the arguments I mad in our previous discussions here, here and here, which I think more or less defeat a crucial part of your reasoning here.

I'll try to rephrase your argument to make sure I'm not failing at interpreting it:

Heuristics people evolved to deal with other humans are useful at detecting bad stuff happening in our social environment. Such feelings of distress can be repressed by socialization or overwhelmed by other feelings. This is bad because people's instincts triggered by such heuristics still point in about the right direction to solving said bad stuff in society.

Since civilization is really screwed up on many levels lots of such alarms are going off in human brains and a good way to get political power is to harvest them. This solves the problem of right and might, as the responses that you call "unknwon knowns" are the strong nearly always winning force that advances advance "right". The "might" that accompanies them and actually produces changes is just what you get when you unleash lots of humans on solving a problem.

Unleashing them via political means is thus mostly good.

comment by Multiheaded · 2013-01-02T22:54:45.514Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Unleashing them via political means is thus mostly good.

Nah, I'd simply say that holding them back (via "political means", yes, because all means of repression carry a political dimension due to the importance of their social function) is evil, really evil. The revolution/release itself is sometimes evil, always scary and usually involves violence. But that's simply the kind of pent-up force that results from isolating, torturing and enslaving aspects of people's selves.

This is bad because people's instincts triggered by such heuristics still point in about the right direction to solving said bad stuff in society.

No no no. This is the basic new-left concept of negativity; we could listen to ourselves and understand how we are repressed, where we're hurting, how it impacts our life - but we shouldn't pretend that we know what to do! Trauma does not come wrapped with instructions on how to overcome it. State communism, in particular, has failed, and so has the alleviation of repression through unrestricted sexuality, and many other emancipatory projects too. Articulating the truth of our feelings is enormously important, but it can only tell us what's broken; we can't really see a path to a free, non-repressive and individuality-affirming society.
(Or, rather, we might get a feeling as to where we'd want to go, but it's not calibrated to the circumstances in any way, it's only calibrated to our scream of pain! Good illustration: Zizek quoting Ayn Rand as to why money is good and abolishing markets led to disaster.)

Today's Left can only offer palliatives, think hard, reflect, and act as a conservative force against political projects that rely on repression. Reasons for hope - Utopian hope - are few, but we must keep it alive. In particular, when in the links above you criticize me for supporting intervention in group conflict and identity politics, saying, essentially, that it's better for anyone feeling oppressed to disarm and suffer quietly until the pain numbs them - and maybe there'll be less social conflict overall then. There is an utilitarian logic to it; certain misery is better than certain misery plus group infighting.

Yet the logic of not giving up hope is, to me, different; if there's a real honest chance to create a small segment of society, a small public space where people would really be able to exist, talk or think together, with radically less systemic oppression from each other and from the outside - say, LW in the example above, or a factory, or a classroom - then this is worth fighting for, and worth the usual risks.

And I don't mean, like, formal enforced niceness, politeness, feminism police or such - I mean like what Zizek says about his atheist Christianity, a real love for the Other, under a shared universality that stops differences from being obstacles. A place and a circumstance where you wouldn't just be "tolerated", but accepted, and could accept yourself.


So for a really lame, rambling summary: the left-wing "positive" vision here is essentially an utopia of non-repression; we don't have the remotest idea of how to get there; it's oriented towards individuality but is best described in terms of community and brotherhood, not the individual; it is fundamentally possible, and there are gleans of it here and there in daily life, which are worth fighting for and cherishing; -

yet the opposition to what's repressive and cruel and loathsome in current reality is more basic, and we ought to keep it up; if we give up, we might well lose what little we have under liberal capitalism; there are no promises in walking away from Omelas.

comment by Alsadius · 2013-01-03T11:13:12.828Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This may the most Marxian post I've ever given a thumbs-up to. Coherent analysis, even if I disagree with some of the claims.

comment by Multiheaded · 2013-01-03T16:34:53.101Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks. I feel that LW's political landscape really needs a hard-left current that would be up to our standards of reasoning&debate. There's been a lot of thought and passion put into various left-of-liberalism philosophies in the last century, and the community needs to engage and grapple with them like it does with alt-right contrarianism, getting past inferential distances.

People have been crying out for more ideological diversity on LW and against our discourse being dominated by mainstream liberal/progressive thought. I can see them trying to add such diversity from the right, but when I'm going for a far-left perspective (often in direct opposition to the local "Weird-Right"), I feel rather alone and divorced-from-context here.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-01-02T21:32:27.645Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Their violence was not directed at the real social system.

How convenient that this is so easy to tell apart.

comment by Multiheaded · 2013-01-02T21:53:48.569Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, pretty easy in this case, actually. After coming to power, they picked up a few Weimar social programs (including the Autobahns!) and tripled the hype;
they didn't nationalize much anything except stolen Jewish property, and even that was in practice mostly given away as loot;
they worked with the old officer caste despite its frequent disloyalty and purged the SA when the stormtroopers wanted in on the influence and status;
they kept a basically peacetime consumer-oriented economy until 1943, long after all other great powers introduced total-war central control;
despite the Anti-Semitic propaganda, they couldn't manage to get enough popular participation during the Kristallnacht, and Hitler cancelled further planned pogroms in favor of silent and secret repression...

Lots of propaganda, lots of killing, not too much change in society's structures compared to e.g. 1914.

comment by TimS · 2013-01-04T02:17:26.976Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

[Nazis] worked with the old officer caste despite its frequent disloyalty

I don't think the historical record supports this assertion. The Prussian / Imperial military was a parallel institution to the post-1848 civilian government - both loyal to the Kaiser, but otherwise unrelated. (No, this isn't a stable setup).

A substantial amount of the German army's political maneuvering in Weimar period was an attempt to maintain independence from civilian government oversight even after there wasn't really any German state separate from the civilian leadership.

Once Hitler took power, he broke the Army's independence (eg the destruction of Generals Blomberg and Fritsch). In short, the Nazis were the first civilian government to place the German military in a subordinate position. "Working with the old officer class" is terribly misleading.

comment by RomeoStevens · 2013-01-03T19:14:35.379Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You're still talking in terms of classes that shouldn't exist. I don't care about blacks, or women, or white males between 30-50. I think anyone "taking an active role in society" who doesn't own land or a business has horrible consequences. I say this only to point out that your argument sounds like nesting dolls and some of us do bite the bullet and wish to unravel down to the base case.

And I think meritocracy is actively resisted by those who face the reality that in a society dominated by technology white/jewish/asian males currently have a huge advantage, regardless of whether that advantage is genetic/cultural/path dependent/oppression based.

comment by Multiheaded · 2013-01-03T20:21:35.425Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I think anyone "taking an active role in society" who doesn't own land or a business has horrible consequences.

How (narrowly) would you define "taking an active role in society"? Would it apply to e.g. Martin Luther King? Eliezer Yudkowsky? Milton Friedman? George W. Bush? Donald Trump? Boris Berezovsky?

How would you rate the horribleness of the former three's impact of society, given that none of them was ever a businessman or a landowner - no, not even Friedman? How would it measure against the impact of the latter three?

And I think meritocracy is actively resisted by those who face the reality that in a society dominated by technology white/jewish/asian males currently have a huge advantage, regardless of whether that advantage is genetic/cultural/path dependent/oppression based.

Um, what exactly is this "meritocracy" of yours? Does it include any moral claims? Or is it simply a part of the idea that we need more economic "productivity" - more cheap food and cars and iPads and UAVs and office blocks and hedge funds and mass-produced entertainment and generally all the stuff that we already manufacture?
Would, say, a white guy who's genetically predisposed to innovation, extraversion and risk-taking being born into an upper-class family, founding a fashion or advertizing agency, then making a fortune helping sell overpriced goods to affluent First World young people, be a decent example of "meritocracy"? "Productivity"?

comment by RomeoStevens · 2013-01-03T22:23:15.374Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

How (narrowly) would you define "taking an active role in society"?

explicit political power, implicit power should be made explicit wherever possible.

And yes, I'm specifically claiming that on net people like the latter three have a much larger negative impact than the positive impact of people like the former three.

Your use of the word overpriced and affluent leads me to believe you attach moral significance to parting idiots with their money for baubles. Why? The average wealthy person has a larger positive impact than the average non-wealthy first worlder. I prefer concentrated wealth in the hands of those whose values I share. I have values more likely aligned with that of a tech company CEO than a randomly selected first world person.

comment by Multiheaded · 2013-01-03T23:31:28.133Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

And yes, I'm specifically claiming that on net people like the latter three have a much larger negative impact than the positive impact of people like the former three.

...Then I don't understand how your words are at all an objection to my description of emancipatory/socially radical politics. You do understand that, for example, MLK was a radically minded avowed socialist who led a partial social revolution in the US without either violence or "explicit political power"? If you don't find yourself "horrified" by this, then we don't seem to have a problem.

Your use of the word overpriced and affluent leads me to believe you attach moral significance to parting idiots with their money for baubles. Why?

It's not nearly so narrow; I see no point in manufacturing tons of useless shiny stuff and pushing fake desires onto people to sell it so that the cycle can continue - and this wasteful nonsense is a mandatory imperative for 1st world capitalism. If we could agree on a different mechanism of distribution (not necessarily state planning), we could be using our industrial might to kickstart poor countries instead - while 1st world people could be working less, consuming less, wasting less, draining less resources, enjoying more leisure and giving more attention to the non-monetary things in society.

Example: why the hell do we buy personal cars for driving in cities? What good does it do us at all? And have we even considered the myriad costs? How is this not a ridiculous failure of the "pragmatic" capitalist mode of distribution AND its ideology?

comment by TimS · 2013-01-04T02:21:12.928Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Multi,

I've read this conversation, and I literally don't understand what you are talking about. I agree with you that left-of-mainstream views would be valuable in this community. But I think you and RomeoStevens are only talking past each other. That's not really a victory for rationalism.

comment by RomeoStevens · 2013-01-04T01:26:19.254Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If you don't find yourself "horrified" by this, then we don't seem to have a problem.

Wait so unless I'm horrified by it 100% of the time my point gets thrown out? There's no room for saying something has plusses and minuses and the minuses outweigh the plusses?

I see no point in manufacturing tons of useless shiny stuff and pushing fake desires onto people to sell it

Sorry but you don't get to decide which preferences are real. You are angry that more resources aren't devoted towards things you value, welcome to the club.

comment by Multiheaded · 2013-01-03T20:19:01.501Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I think anyone "taking an active role in society" who doesn't own land or a business has horrible consequences.

How (narrowly) would you define "taking an active role in society"? Would it apply to e.g. Martin Luther King? Eliezer Yudkowsky? Milton Friedman? George W. Bush? Donald Trump? Boris Berezovsky?

How would you rate the horribleness of the former three's impact of society, given that none of them was ever a businessman or a landowner - no, not even Friedman? How would it measure against the impact of the latter three?

And I think meritocracy is actively resisted by those who face the reality that in a society dominated by technology white/jewish/asian males currently have a huge advantage, regardless of whether that advantage is genetic/cultural/path dependent/oppression based.

Um, what exactly is this "meritocracy" of yours? Does it include any moral claims? Or is it simply a part of the idea that we need more economic "productivity"?
Would, say, a white guy who's genetically predisposed to innovation, extraversion and risk-taking being born into an upper-class family, founding a fashion or advertizing agency, then making a fortune helping sell overpriced goods to affluent First World young people, be a decent example of "meritocracy"? "Productivity"?

comment by [deleted] · 2013-01-02T17:22:18.349Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I said meh because meh was what I meant. I feel a very strong moralizing dimension to the post and the link that just left me shaking my head. A kind of projection of internal life to a universe, assuming it that runs on stories.

I'm used to being at least intrigued by your posts, that one proved an exception.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-01-02T10:30:36.555Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It is certainly an attractor people here would find themselves vulnerable to given the support for contrarian positions like cryonics.

comment by fubarobfusco · 2013-01-02T05:30:35.963Z · score: 15 (19 votes) · LW · GW

That's the opposite of the point being made in the post, not a generalization of it.

At least, if I've understood you correctly — you're saying that when people make jokes about coercive/irresponsible men and passive-aggressive/nagging women, they are expressing a universal truth that society refuses to hear stated. To grossly oversimplify, we could state the blurred view proposed by the jokes being referred to as "All relationships are abusive".

The post TimS links to asserts, rather, that these jokes represent a blurring of distinctions that society fails to recognize. There actually do exist relationships that are more consensual and ones that are more abusive — the distinction — but insofar as everyone pretends that all men are coercive and all women passive-aggressive, they blur this distinction.

Moreover, blurring this distinction provides cover for the actual abusers by making the good relationships out to be just as bad as the abusive ones. If everyone is required to talk about their relationships in nonconsensual/abusive terms, then the people in consensual relationships cannot distinguish themselves as such. Hence, the post: "Even though Rowdy's brother-in-law wasn't really coercing his wife into a major responsibility she didn't want, he was cheerfully playing into a story created by, and validating for, men who really would."

It's a little like Soviet-era "moral equivalence" arguments, or more generally the tu quoque fallacy, when tu don't actually do quoque!

comment by Alsadius · 2013-01-02T10:08:05.697Z · score: 3 (7 votes) · LW · GW

There's a lot of truth in stereotypes. Not all women nag, but more do than men. Not all men are irresponsible, but more are than women. Since it's very difficult to make statements like that seriously in modern society - usually, you can only say it either anonymously or in groups of close friends whom you trust to not take it personally - a lot of people embed it in comedy, where the filters are lower, and where there's more reason for it to come up in the first place than just expressing bias.

It's not a harmless practice, of course, but it does provide a useful safety valve sometimes.

comment by asparisi · 2013-01-04T05:42:08.900Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I seriously doubt that most people who make up jokes or stereotypes truly have enough data on hand to reasonably support even a generalization of this nature.

comment by Alsadius · 2013-01-04T20:15:42.093Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Stereotypes are largely consensus-based, which gives them a larger data pool than any individual would have. If a comedian starts making jokes about the foibles of a large group, and most people haven't experienced those same foibles, they're not going to find it funny. Now, smaller groups can get a lot nastier treatment, both because there's less evidence to contradict a stereotype, and because they can turn into the token butt of jokes(Newfies being the stereotypical example where I'm from - nobody actually believes the jokes, but everybody makes them just because they're the group you make dumb-people jokes about). But "women" is a far too common group to get much in the way of false stereotypes, for example.

At this point, I should also point out the dangers of stereotypes that are true only because culture forces them to be. For example, saying that women needed protection in the 19th century was basically true, but it was largely true because we didn't let women protect themselves. Feedback loops are a real danger.

comment by asparisi · 2013-01-04T22:48:44.185Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I think you are discounting effects such as confirmation bias, which lead us to notice what we expect and can easily label while leading us to ignore information that contradicts our beliefs. If 99 out of 100 women don't nag and 95 out of 100 men don't nag, given a stereotype that women nag, I would expect people think of the one woman they know that nags, rather than the 5 men they know that do the same.

Frankly, without data to support the claim that:

There is a lot of truth in stereotypes

I would find the claim highly suspect, given even a rudimentary understanding of our psychological framework.

comment by Alsadius · 2013-01-05T05:39:52.787Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It's a system seriously prone to false positives, of course. But I think the odds of a true stereotype getting established are sufficiently higher than the odds of a false one getting established that it still counts as positive evidence.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2013-01-03T19:37:54.331Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

What are you envisioning this "safety valve" averting?

comment by Alsadius · 2013-01-04T05:22:27.965Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Groupthink.

Edit: Per discussion below, I should clarify that I'm referring to a particular think that a particular group engages in("political correctness"), not the psychological phenomenon in general.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2013-01-04T05:37:05.224Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Ah, I see what you mean. Thanks for explaining.

And, sure, if nobody can seriously express the sentiment that women nag more than men do, or that men are more irresponsible than women, then being able to humorously express the sentiment that all women nag and all men are irresponsible is, as you say, a useful way of averting groupthink. It's not good, but it's better than nothing.

I'm not nearly as confident as you sound that the premise is true, but I agree that the conclusion follows from it.

comment by NancyLebovitz · 2013-01-04T14:54:32.442Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

If people are making a large number of similar jokes, then that's another sort of group think.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2013-01-04T15:39:15.749Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

(nods)

It's sometimes helpful to draw a distinction between "lots of people do X" and "nobody is allowed to do Y."

The groupthink Alsadius is positing is the latter; it involves nobody being allowed to express certain sentiments. As I said, I don't see where he's getting his confidence that this is true, as I don't see much compelling evidence for it, but accepting it as a hypothetical I agree that the "safety valve" theory he's talking about follows from it.

The groupthink you're positing is the former and suggests different tactics.

comment by Alsadius · 2013-01-04T20:18:14.261Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

FWIW, I don't think it is true - you don't have far to go to find a claim that, say, women are crazy, or black people steal, or half a dozen other terribly politically incorrect things(true ones and false ones). But a big part of the reason is because we have these unofficial lines of communication. Good luck finding official data on things like racial crime stats - self-censorship has basically destroyed that. Chris Rock is all we're left with.

comment by Douglas_Knight · 2013-01-04T21:49:46.633Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Good luck finding official data on things like racial crime stats - self-censorship has basically destroyed that.

huh?

comment by Alsadius · 2013-01-05T05:34:08.716Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Huh, it seems it's not as bad as I've thought. I've heard a lot of debate over the years about police forces not collecting the data, but I suppose that's not true everywhere. Good to know.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2013-01-04T20:33:19.109Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Oh.

So, OK, if you don't think it's true that the use of stereotypes in humor is a safety valve to avert groupthink, I'm not exactly sure why you said that when I asked, but I'm happy to drop that line of discussion.

Now you seem to be saying that the use of stereotypes in humor is a safety valve to avert censorship... do you actually think that?

comment by Alsadius · 2013-01-05T05:38:29.993Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It's a way of saying things that aren't supposed to be said. Whether the level of "supposed to" is a bit of moral outrage(like it is today), or a gulag(like it was in the Soviet Union), people use jokes to get around barriers. That serves the function of evading censorship sometimes, as well as the function of undermining certain kinds of groupthink to a certain extent. It's not perfect, but it serves a role.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2013-01-05T05:42:27.133Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

And now we've switched from talking about the value of stereotypes in humor to the value of humor more generally. I agree with your statements about the value of humor more generally, and am otherwise tapping out here.

comment by Alsadius · 2013-01-05T10:02:40.547Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I tend to think of stereotypes as a comedic aid, at least the sort that can easily be discussed here. I think that's why the conversation has shifted. I will admit that I sort of lost the plot, though.

The stereotypes I actually use to guess at people's traits tend to be embedded in details of how people dress, talk, and act - I've successfully pegged people's personalities pretty closely from nothing more than the glasses they wear before - but that's not the sort of thing you can discuss very easily on a text board.

For stereotypes specifically, I think the only dangerous thing that they really avert is excessive political correctness. Insisting that people be perfectly blind to observable characteristics of others is a silly position to take, and stereotypes are sort of an implicit summary of the evidence attached to an observable characteristic. Actual data is preferable, when it's available, but for some of the soft attributes it's not. "Groupthink" was a bit of a snarky way of phrasing it, and not a particularly accurate one. I'm not speaking about groupthink in general, I'm speaking about a particular kind that happens to be present in some parts of modern society.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2013-01-06T03:05:22.458Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I agree that insisting that people be perfectly blind to observable characteristics of others is a silly position to take, and I can see where using stereotypes in humor stands in opposition to that position, and therefore provides some (though not necessarily net) positive value.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2013-01-02T18:12:01.878Z · score: -3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

To grossly oversimplify, we could state the blurred view proposed by the jokes being referred to as "All relationships are abusive".

Yes, it's amazing how easy it is to dismiss opposing arguments when you start by "grossly oversimplifying" them into something clearly false.

comment by fubarobfusco · 2013-01-02T21:38:51.641Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I didn't think I was dismissing an opposing argument; rather, pointing out that the article TimS linked to was making the opposite of the claim that you stated as a generalization of its point: not "these jokes express unstated general truths" but rather "these jokes express false generalizations ... and thereby leave significant distinctions unstated and, indeed, more difficult to state."

comment by RichardKennaway · 2013-01-02T09:03:26.414Z · score: 1 (9 votes) · LW · GW

As a rule of thumb, I assume that anyone claiming to be only joking is lying. They are saying exactly what they think while pretending not to.

comment by TimS · 2013-01-02T14:19:24.530Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

So you endorse calling them on it, ceteris paribus?

comment by RichardKennaway · 2013-01-02T15:38:54.633Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

What you do about any particular instance will obviously depend on the situation. Some things are worth speaking up about. Some things are worth making non-verbal indications that their joke is bombing. Some just deserve to be ignored. You don't want to be this guy.

comment by TimS · 2013-01-02T16:34:35.637Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You don't want to be this guy.

I don't? If the expected social improvement exceeds my personal cost (taking into account my opportunity cost), why shouldn't I act? Taking that xkcd to mean what you assert suggests you think all social advocacy is wasted.

More generally, the blogger I linked is complaining that the joke didn't bomb and generally doesn't bomb.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2013-01-02T17:10:09.268Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

If the expected social improvement exceeds my personal cost (taking into account my opportunity cost), why shouldn't I act?

You have just defined the set of cases in which you should. Deciding when you are looking at such a case and what to do about it is the non-trivial part.

comment by TimS · 2013-01-02T17:15:10.902Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I've all but explicitly been asserting that this is a time to act.

You seem to agree there is a problem (Jokes are statements of true belief / in vino veritas), yet you seem to disagree that taking action is a good idea.

I obviously misunderstand your position in some way.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2013-01-02T17:52:54.685Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I was just saying that seeing something objectionable, and deciding whether and how to object to it, are two separate things. I do find "jokes" like the one in the original article objectionable, but if I was present at Rowdy telling this joke about the dog, I don't know how best to tackle it, even having the leisure of taking as long as I want to consider the hypothetical, let alone face-to-face with about one second in real time to get my brain in gear. But that's just me.

Or to put it another way, my short answer to your question:

So you endorse calling them on it, ceteris paribus?

is "yes".

comment by [deleted] · 2013-01-02T20:59:00.095Z · score: -2 (8 votes) · LW · GW

You must be real fun at comedy clubs.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2013-01-03T20:23:19.089Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

A comedy club must be one of the least likely places to find me, even if I lived in a more cosmopolitan place than I do.

comment by satt · 2013-01-03T01:36:06.593Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Funny, but stand-up comics on stage usually don't go out of their way to point out they're just joking. (And even when they do, they don't necessarily mean it.) Sometimes there's not even an implicit understanding that a stand-up's just joking.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2013-01-03T20:12:48.829Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

A comedy club must be one of the least likely places to find me, even if I lived in a more cosmopolitan place than I do.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2013-01-03T20:11:39.708Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

A comedy club must be one of the least likely places to find me, even if I lived in a more cosmopolitan place than I do.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2013-01-03T20:10:26.137Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

A comedy club must be one of the least likely places to find me, even if I lived in a more cosmopolitan place than I do.

comment by Qiaochu_Yuan · 2013-01-13T02:01:01.704Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

(Not sure whether this should go here or the Open Thread.)

We frequently discuss the difference between epistemic and instrumental rationality. Most political discussions seem to be "epistemic politics" - what political beliefs to have and why. I see very little discussion of "instrumental politics" - what kind of political actions to take and why. Beyond mind-killing, this is probably the main reason I currently have no interest in politics: I don't have a good conception of what kind of political actions are available to me. How would I go about fixing this?

comment by ChristianKl · 2013-01-18T20:04:16.178Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

A while ago I was in an online discussion with someone from an East European country who was demostrating to end the current government.

I asked the person for an article that explains the evils of the government. He told me that I didn't know of an English article that explained the issue in detail.

I told him that instead of being the 10,001st person at protest it would be much more effective to write a English article that explain the evil of the government and submit it to the Guardian's Comment is Free section.

He didn't think he was qualified to write the article and instead continued to demonstrate. Writing such an article is something that doesn't need special connections or money.

On the other hand it does take courage. You might come under attack. It takes real political understanding of the situation. It takes writing abilites.

Most other effective political action involves talking to people who have influence or donating money.

comment by Emile · 2013-01-15T11:46:08.448Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This probably hardly counts as "political action", but one of the most efficient ways of voting is probably with your feet - move to a place whose policies you like.

comment by OrphanWilde · 2013-01-14T16:08:07.830Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

My general policy is "Most political action is counterproductive; the silent vote is the least likely to engender resistance."

That said, I'm probably wrong on this matter. Loud political movements are frequently also effective political movements, even though they do engender high degrees of resistance. The issue is it's hard to identify quiet political movements and evaluate their influence.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-01-31T22:22:17.154Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

A response to Yvain's article An analysis of the formalist account of power relations in democratic societies.

Social Power and Utility

The things people actually care about, like money, success, influence, and psychological health, come entirely from structural/unconscious power.

No. Social Power is very much tied closely to Psychological Health. That people with lots of "structural power" are on average Psychologically healthier is mostly not the result of structural power. Higher IQ, conscientiousness, low time preference and other things that correlate with functionality and thus our social construct of "health" psychological and otherwise are what enables one to accrue what you term "structural power" in the first place. I'm not saying it is the sole source of it merely that social data shows the correlation is pretty strong in the modern US.

Is there any reason at all to think social animals such as ourselves would derive more psychological well being from "structural" than "social" power? In a terminal sense I mean. We have strong evidence people care about social power in itself a lot. "Structural power" is something that in itself excites only non-neurotypicals. Top earners may get excited about earning even more money much like gamers get excited about a high score. It only matters to them either because of their private fixation or their social circle. Having structural power is instrumentally useful, since we can leverage it into other things the monkey brain cares about like a candy bar or sex with a very skilled escort. In conversation on IRC Athrelon noted how this relates to the well known argument of "diminishing marginal utility of money".

The dimishing marginal utility of "structural power"

The standard "liberal" position on it is approximately: "Structural power doesn't matter for happiness and well being after a certain level so we should redistribute it directly via means such as progressive taxation." Pause and think about this for a minute.

To use your example, wouldn't Donalnd Trump get depressed about being being a laughing stock and buffoon who teenage girls can beat with impunity? Perhaps not Donald Trump personally for this exact example but to give examples someone like Howard Hughes certainly could become very miserable while having all the "structural power" in the world. People kill hemselves or completely cut contact with the outside world because of a lack of "social power". Suicide for anyone above direst material poverty is usually about trying to escape this kind of suffering. Worse, the utility of those with social but not "structural" power over this individual would fundamentally derive from his misery.

Isn't there something fundamentally ugly about that? Maybe it is worth in a utilitarian sense but it is a form of Omelas and carries all the burdens of proof real implementations of such scenarios do. If social power is not a good way to redistribute "structural" power and structural power while correlating with merit and mental health does not in itself buy that much happiness the scenario very much does come down to this.

And even if it was an excellent way to do so, note how structural power is fundamentally tied to the wealth creating mechanisms of society! Maybe white married middle class men are rather good at stewarding their material resources and wealth compared to some other demographics an incredible notion I know. But if true redistributing such power results in less wealth creation. Social power today does not nor has it ever accurately matched contributions to wealth creation. Of course neither does "institutional" power perfectly match this. But there are good reasons to expect it to be a better fit, foremost of those is how it can leverage the neat information properties of markets.

comment by MugaSofer · 2013-02-01T19:40:23.172Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

"Structural power" is something that in itself excites only non-neurotypicals. Top earners may get excited about earning even more money much like gamers get excited about a high score. It only matters to them either because of their private fixation or their social circle.

Nitpick: Those people would usually be considered neurotypical, unless you think they have some congenital neurological condition that causes them to enjoy high scores. Which isn't inconceivable, I suppose.

People are not equally competent, nor virtuous, nor do they deserve equal social power [emphasis added]

That people are not equally competent or "virtuous" is trivially true; that lacking these things means that it is less important that they have Fun is, in my experience, a common product of confused thinking. That you seem to have this as an instrumental goal of producing more total Fun is interesting; I would advise avoiding the word "deserve" to avoid confusion, though.

comment by BerryPick6 · 2013-01-31T23:53:52.601Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

General Anti-Leftism: People are not equally competent, nor virtuous, nor do they deserve equal social power as compensation for their lack of ability at accruing institutional power (starting positions on such capital tho may best be equalized).

Could I ask you to taboo 'deserve' in this context?

comment by [deleted] · 2013-02-01T00:08:47.276Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Could I ask you to taboo 'deserve' in this context?

A society where extraordinary achievement due to skill or effort isn't matched by appropriately rewards is neither aesthetically pleasing nor fun to live in. We should somewhat try and shape society according to this observation.

comment by fubarobfusco · 2013-02-01T06:07:18.231Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

neither aesthetically pleasing nor fun to live in

Please be careful not to treat these as one-place functions. Consider the position of a person who is now being told that despite their and their teachers' and parents' best efforts, they simply have not accrued enough "extraordinary achievements" to make (say) medical care for their chronic pain an "appropriate reward" for them. That person may not agree that this makes society more aesthetically pleasing or fun to live in.

comment by MugaSofer · 2013-02-01T19:30:42.935Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

To be clear; you're saying that equal distribution of fun things is less fun? I can see how that'd be.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-02-03T09:49:36.699Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

[Unfinished Draft for Essay which will not be published as a Discussion or Main article]

Originally part of the above comment but I've decided it fits more as an independent essay. Still in a very rough draft form.

Democratic society: A vista of horror as seen by reactionaries

We want the sum of structural power over nature, the amount of wealth a society has available to be ceteris paribus as high as possible. Isn't it interesting how Pareto Optimality while being one of the most reliably benign goals is systematically neglected in pursuit of the misfiring heuristics of our mind. The heuristics I speak of are the ones that do not understand institutional power and demand to use the same "social power" mechanism field tested and efficient only on Dunbarian scales for the distribution of resources in the large societies of civilized man. Note how this relates to a currently popular hypothesis on the origin of our intelligence as driven by the parts of the brain that deal with optimizing for social power by bending and breaking explicit rules.

This makes the last sentence of the liberal argument above sound suddenly terrifying.

It is I hope I have shown to me far more terrifying than your virtual Conservative feels it is.

!Unfinished!

tldr: Make it so that institutional power matches the virtues we claim to value rather than the ones our revealed preferences show we value in social power games. The former are mostly more conductive to civilization and the common good.

General Anti-Leftism: People are not equally competent, nor virtuous, nor do they deserve equal social power as compensation for their lack of ability at accruing institutional power (starting positions on such capital tho may best be equalized).

comment by [deleted] · 2013-02-01T00:04:14.176Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Social power today does not nor has it ever accurately matched contributions to wealth creation. Of course neither does "institutional" power perfectly match this. But there are good reasons to expect it to be a better fit, foremost of those is how it can leverage the neat information properties of markets.

I should emphasise I am not at all saying the nature of institutional power in our society can't perhaps be reformed to more closely match this.

comment by ikrase · 2013-01-31T23:29:35.102Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm a little confused by what you are saying? Do you believe the General Anti-Leftism, or oppose it?

Also, social power seems to me like a non-zero-sum thing. (possibly the amount that is non-zero-summable could be called respect.)

comment by [deleted] · 2013-01-31T23:41:10.133Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That part is the one I haven't finished. Check out in a few days.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-01-05T13:01:00.198Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Say Not Universalism, a criticism of Moldbug's position on Progressivisms ties to Christianity.

I disagree with it mildly, since I think there are features of Progressivism that are more or less uniquely attributable to its Christian heritage, but I do think Progressive like memes would have developed in a non-Christian descended implementation of what is often called The Cathedral (political belief pump associated with demotist forms of government).

It is a reminder to Reactionary readers that while the explicit justifications of modern political and social thinking obviously look weak at best and utterly mad at worst, we should take small c-conservative arguments in their favour very seriously. The abolition of many things because their "explicit justifications was crazy" turned out to be dreadful mistakes.

These are the grounds on which I provisionally support social democracy, while strongly encourage exploration of alternatives.

comment by nykos · 2013-01-05T18:41:06.985Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I do think Progressive like memes would have developed in a non-Christian descended implementation of what is often called The Cathedral

I think this is quite likely to be the case, since Progressivism (which one might think of as "altruism gone rampant") might actually emerge in time from the mating patterns and the resulting genetic structure of a population.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-01-05T19:51:01.039Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

hbd* chick has built a compelling case with rather high quality scholarship over the past few years and I strongly recommend her blog. You shouldn't however neglect other forms of selection that have shaped humans recently and are relevant to the question. For example see Peter Frosts' arguments on genetic pacification and the fall of the Roman Empire.

Peter Frost thinks Christianity served as both a symptom and a cause, exasperating the trend to domestication causing decline when faced with less pacified peoples. A similar argument can be made about the fall of societies due to outbreeding which I won't touch for now... If you are familiar with hbd* chick you should also be familiar with just how darn important Christianity was rearranging mating patterns in Western Eurasia in the form of the Catholic Church reducing inbreeding. Low inbreeding also probably reduces the barrier to entry for Christianity in the first place.

So the critics of Christianity might be still right, no Christianity no Progressivism. Not because of pure memetics but because of the feedback between memetic evolution and genetic evolution. We know which one is faster.

Perhaps it would also mean no industrial revolution, but the Chinese civlization would probably have pressed forward eventually. Maybe state control would need to wane again (see The Discourses on Salt and Iron if you want to be particularly depressed about the potential of human societies to respond to reasoned argumentation and learn from history) or if perhaps particularly large invasion of relatively competent barbarians might be needed to shake things up again. It is unfortunately an unanswerable question for now whether we would see in a post-industrial alternative history China altered so, the resurgence of a progressivism quite as virulent as ours growing out of something like Mohism.

comment by GLaDOS · 2013-01-10T19:15:15.317Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

China and the politics of human biodiversity

Half-Sigma's probably last post on his old blog. HBD has no future?

I believe that the taboo against HBD will last indefinitely. As the scientific evidence mounts ever more so in favor of HBD, the taboos against speaking about it only seem to grow stronger. In 1994, the Bell Curve was published and generated massive coverage in the media. Now, if it were published today, it would be blacklisted and left unmentioned. I remember first becoming aware of HBD in 2005, when Cochran, Harpending, etc. published their article about Azhkenazi intelligence, and I read about it in an online news piece. Steven Pinker seemed to have taken note of it, and later said that the most dangerous idea in science was that ethnicities differ in talent and temperament because of their genes. I seriously doubt anyone would mention such an explosive piece of writing in today's news media. Ever since James Watson talked about racial differences in intelligence, and he lost his job, it has been clear that even mentioning HBD will cost you your career - even if you helped discover DNA.

Different HBD writers have discussed when and under what conditions HBD will be commonly accepted by Americans. At this point, I don't think Americans will change on their own. While truths last forever, taboos against them can last for centuries. As America and Europe become less white, there is less and less chance that whites in those places will talk about non-whites are different from them. I think America and Europe will be in an Orwellian state of denial about HBD onward and onward, and they won't change that on their own.

But, Chinese scientists don't grow up in a culture which forbids HBD research. If anything, the Han would love to prove their superiority. The question is: will Chinese elites adopt Western attitudes towards race and racism? If they do, they too may forbid their scientists from researching HBD, because doing as much will make them appear parochial and uncouth to the greater world community.

If they don't, and instead embrace their ethnic heritage, then I see no reason for them to back off from HBD, and every reason for them to talk about how Chinese have bigger brains than whites, are more cooperative and are all together less animalistic than whites are, for all the reasons Rushton laid out.

In short, it boils down to this: will Chinese elites seek to become part of the greater global community and line their pockets, or will they cling tightly to their parochial identity and rage against all who oppose their path to power? That may yet be the great matter of the 21st century, much the way it was with how Germany had to confront that dilemma a century ago.

Which road will they take on this?

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2013-01-10T22:09:13.975Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The question is: will Chinese elites adopt Western attitudes towards race and racism? If they do, they too may forbid their scientists from researching HBD, because doing as much will make them appear parochial and uncouth to the greater world community.

Assuming HBD is correct, as the west becomes less white, it will also become less intelligent and hence less powerful, this will mean that the Chinese have less reason to care what the west thinks of them.

comment by fubarobfusco · 2013-01-29T15:35:30.078Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Let's note that you are equating "human biodiversity" specifically with "white supremacy" here.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2013-01-30T04:39:11.979Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Not entirely, I was merely going off the fact that the groups whose populations in the west are expending the fastest tend to be groups who HBD researchers consider less intelligent than whites.

comment by whowhowho · 2013-01-30T18:10:12.335Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You need to make lots of other assumptions, such as no generational Flynn effect stile rises in IQ amng non-white immigrants,

comment by [deleted] · 2013-01-09T20:45:50.893Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Why is having only one class of citizen a good idea?

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2013-01-09T22:58:45.288Z · score: 10 (12 votes) · LW · GW

Because it works well as a Schelling fence.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-01-09T23:23:54.135Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Good answer.

comment by GLaDOS · 2013-01-10T19:15:54.428Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think it did much for Soviet or Chinese citizens.

comment by Emile · 2013-01-15T11:55:49.406Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The Chinese don't have only one class of citizens:

1) Ethnic minorities (Tibetans, Mongols, etc.) have a legally recognized status, with affirmative action policies, (some) exemption from the one-child policy, etc.

2) More importantly, the Hukou system is basically a passport/visa system inside China, and migrant workers from the countryside are pretty similar to immigrants (or worse off) in Europe or the US: they don't benefit from social services like schools (they have to send their kids back in their home province, or not have them in school, or send them to a private school), government jobs, etc. The Hukou system is also as hot a topic in China as immigration is the West.

comment by GLaDOS · 2013-01-16T18:29:57.284Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Ethnic minorities (Tibetans, Mongols, etc.) have a legally recognized status, with affirmative action policies, (some) exemption from the one-child policy, etc.

By that standard Western countries also don't have one class of citizens.

comment by Emile · 2013-01-16T21:07:25.781Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Depends of which country you're thinking of! The US has officially designated categories, but those are pretty much illegal in France, and any official mention of one's "ethnicity" is pretty much a taboo concept (and I found it weird to have to fill in that field in all my paperwork in China).

And even the ethnic categories in the US don't seem as "legally relevant" as ethnic minority status in China; the law is (from what I understand) that you can sue if you believe you've been denied an opportunity because of your ethnic background, but that seems much more vague than having explicit ethnic categories, with different laws applying depending on which category you belong to.

(unless you were referring to to immigrants, but then they aren't citizens)

(convicts would make a better example of a "different class of citizens")

comment by Multiheaded · 2013-01-10T19:21:05.122Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It's seen as a formal license to spread any specific group-on-group antagonism to all members of the associated formal class/caste. All aristocrats/capitalists/cool people are entitled condescending parasites, all serfs/poor workers/uncool people are dull, crude and amoral; all Jews/Anglo-Saxons/Irish/Slavs/Blacks/Westerners/Catholics/Hugenots/heretics...

My model is, divides along official or semi-official lines in society have practically always tended to accumulate resentment in "quiet" times and blow up in a crisis. Just imagine how much more peaceful and nicer South Africa would've been today, if the goddamn Afrikaners could've got along with colored people like the British did in India! And you'd add a new faultline just for some tactical gain?

comment by [deleted] · 2013-01-10T19:31:59.613Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The comparison of India to Africa isn't valid because the starting conditions are sufficiently different. Also note that the question is somewhat rhetorical. We de facto do have several kinds of citizen. Can you think of which kinds?

To provide a counter point the Ottoman Millet system seems to have worked pretty well at keeping the peace in that state. Also India is a bad example for your argument for another reason, recall some of the biggest problems the British had there was when they tried to abolish or weaken or even just ignore the traditional caste system.

comment by Multiheaded · 2013-01-10T20:32:40.131Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Informal divides, including ones with consistent disparities of power and wealth, certainly exist everywhere. I'm arguing that it's not clear how government enforcement of them has much point. European countries like Poland or France enforced religious segregation too (Catholic and Orthodox, Catholic and Hugenot), and still had lots of strife along religious lines.

Also India is a bad example for your argument for another reason, recall some of the biggest problems the British had there was when they tried to abolish or weaken or even just ignore the traditional caste system.

And still their rule eroded it in practice - and who would mourn it? And OK, why not look at British colonies compared to French and Dutch ones and try to see what policies correlated with less blow-ups.

comment by ChristianKl · 2013-01-13T23:01:16.288Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Because you don't want to have different classes of citizens to fight against each other.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-01-13T23:06:31.522Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You have to first make the argument that an explicit hierarchy is more violence prone than an implicit one.

comment by FiftyTwo · 2013-01-02T15:55:25.316Z · score: 3 (7 votes) · LW · GW

the best example of a successful non-democracy in the modern world is China. Their internal party system is extremely convoluted, but basically the party internally appoints members to positions, notionally on meritocratic grounds, though corruption and manipulation is endemic. Here is a more detailed summary.

Given the seeming economic success of this model would it be sensible for other countries to adopt it?

Is it possible to introduce sufficient additional safeguards against corruption and abuse of power?

comment by Emile · 2013-01-02T16:19:59.004Z · score: 16 (18 votes) · LW · GW

the best example of a successful non-democracy in the modern world is China.

I thought the go-to example for a successful non-democracy was Singapore - it's a much nicer place to live in than China!

comment by FiftyTwo · 2013-01-02T16:29:29.175Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

True, the standard of living in Singapore is much higher. But I didn't choose it as the example because: the transition has not been as dramatic (they had a better starting point) and there's lots of reasons to think that a system that works in Singapore won't scale well (island city state heavily dependent on trade and immigrant labour). By contrast the Chinese system has made great changes over a short period and has been applied to a much wider area and diversity of situation.

comment by Emile · 2013-01-02T21:09:01.944Z · score: 15 (15 votes) · LW · GW

there's lots of reasons to think that a system that works in Singapore won't scale well

A couple of centuries ago, common wisdom was the opposite - Democracy was a nice idea but it could never work on something bigger than a city. From Montesquieu's Spirit of the Laws:

It is natural for a republic to have only a small territory; otherwise it cannot long subsist. In an extensive republic there are men of large fortunes, and consequently of less moderation; there are trusts too considerable to be placed in any single subject; he has interests of his own; he soon begins to think that he may be happy and glorious, by oppressing his fellow-citizens; and that he may raise himself to grandeur on the ruins of his country.

In an extensive republic the public good is sacrificed to a thousand private views; it is subordinate to exceptions, and depends on accidents. In a small one, the interest of the public is more obvious, better understood, and more within the reach of every citizen; abuses have less extent, and of course are less protected.

[...] Excepting particular circumstances, it is difficult for any other than a republican government to subsist longer in a single town. A prince of so petty a state would naturally endeavour to oppress his subjects, because his power would be great, while the means of enjoying it or of causing it to be respected would be inconsiderable. The consequence is, he would trample upon his people. On the other hand, such a prince might be easily crushed by a foreign or even a domestic force; the people might any instant unite and rise up against him. Now as soon as the sovereign of a single town is expelled, the quarrel is over; but if he has many towns, it only begins.

See also here for more context. During the founding of the US, it wasn't expected that it would work, and then when the French revolution turned into a disaster (followed by similar disasters in Latin America), Democracy seemed less and less of a good idea. The tide only turned in Europe when the US failed to collapse, especially with the publication of Tocqueville's Democracy in America.

comment by HalMorris · 2013-01-03T23:21:46.512Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The U.S. may have been lucky because initially it was strung out along a seaboard which provided good transport and communication for the time, and as the U.S. spread into the interior, massive improvements in communication and transportation came along just in time, so we could have the cohesion that up til then was very hard to achieve except in a small state.

Some of the Federalist papers argued the opposite of what Montesquieu's point -- that a surplus of talented and ambitious people would tend to keep each other in check.

Anyway, Singapore poses a different question -- not whether small or large countries are best suited to democracy, but whether Singapore's (undemocratic) system could be made to work in a big country with rich and poor sections, and other wide variations of interest. Maybe Singapore, due to its nature could be administered well by one great CEO, but we haven't seen that sort of thing work well on a continental scale except maybe for short periods of time (usually followed by a traumatic succession crisis).

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2013-01-04T23:54:36.954Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

By the way Bryan Caplan has a blog post questioning how "undemocratic" Singapore really is.

comment by bramflakes · 2013-01-04T00:23:08.193Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yet it only ranks 90th place on the Happy Planet Index

comment by drethelin · 2013-01-04T09:19:19.317Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

That seems like a pretty nonsensical ranking. It ranks 11th on Life Expectancy and 33rd on "Experienced Well-being" whatever that is, and 12th on Governance. It appears to be weighting ecological footprint too strongly (at least for purposes of this discussion).

comment by gwern · 2013-01-03T04:27:19.168Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW · GW

Given the seeming economic success of this model would it be sensible for other countries to adopt it?

No. The gains from not being stupid about economics and not engaging in centralized planning and actually industrializing are so enormous that they compensate for even wretched leadership. Soviet Russia industrialized and grew for a long time despite having awful and wasteful leadership, and the same thing is happening to China.

The question is, can they, with their wretchedly corrupt non-democracy, reach similar per capitas as Japan and America? Or will they remain in a middle-income trap? If the former, then their government could indeed be considered something other countries might adopt; but if the latter, they will merely have demonstrated what all acknowledge: the Industrial Revolution is pretty damn awesome.

comment by moridinamael · 2013-01-02T16:45:20.916Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I think there's a valid alternative narrative where China's explosive growth is the result of enormous quantities of previously untapped natural resources and a previous lack of infrastructure. One could argue that prosperity was inevitable for China as soon as it eased up on its isolationism, almost regardless of what government was in place.

comment by HalMorris · 2013-01-03T23:09:03.442Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

the result of enormous quantities of previously untapped natural resources and a previous lack of infrastructure.

Previously untapped natural resources are a good thing, esp. along with a well enough educated population with a good work ethic.

Previous lack of infrastructure? I'm not sure how that can be an advantage.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2013-01-04T23:56:35.727Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Previous lack of infrastructure? I'm not sure how that can be an advantage.

One way to a have a fast growth rate is to start out very low.

comment by gwern · 2013-01-03T23:23:22.936Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Previous lack of infrastructure? I'm not sure how that can be an advantage.

May be referring to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leapfrogging ; but in general, we'd expect fast growth just from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convergence_%28economics%29

comment by HalMorris · 2013-01-03T23:28:04.961Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I was thinking more in terms of transportation infrastructure, though maybe from having so little they will end up with one that doesn't reproduce a lot of past mistakes. It's just hard to launch an industrial revolution with having as little of that as they had to start with.

comment by Alsadius · 2013-01-03T05:34:36.902Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

China is playing catch-up, not innovating. When you're as far behind as China was 30 years ago, all you have to do is make yourself less awful to grow explosively. They became an economic success by emulating us somewhat, but the reverse will not hold true, because most places where they deviate from us they bias in the direction of more corruption which is hardly a good model.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2013-01-03T08:19:28.253Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Do you consider The Great Leap Forward and The Cultural Revolution a success? That's only about 50 years ago.

When you're trying to judge the performance of a system of government, some historical perspective is required.

comment by ChristianKl · 2013-01-07T20:01:41.125Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

China has been governed quite different since Mao died. I don't think it quite fair to treat pre-Mao and post-Mao China the same way.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2013-01-07T23:48:11.577Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I agree that there has been a huge difference. That's my point. The system has not demonstrated long term stability in it's methods and results.

comment by kodos96 · 2013-01-03T03:34:19.063Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Although I disagree with FiftyTwo's conclusions, I am nevertheless disappointed that it has received net downvotes.... it's a perfectly valid question after all, and we're not supposed to be doing downvote==disagree, right?

comment by magfrump · 2013-01-03T04:09:46.143Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The original post indicates that upvotes and downvotes should be based on how convincing an argument is, so at least a bit closer to that than usual.

comment by kodos96 · 2013-01-02T08:10:27.455Z · score: 3 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Just curious... who is downvoting this post, and why? Politics is the mind killer, I know... but this regularly-occuring thread is supposed to be an accepted exception, isn't it?

comment by OrphanWilde · 2013-01-02T14:43:57.702Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW · GW

People who don't want a regularly-occurring exception.

The entertaining thing from my perspective is that the discussions here have been polite, informative, and honest, and overall I'd consider them to have been productive thus far. It is of course possible that the tone or nature of these debates will change over time, but it seems on current evidence to be that a lot of people are mindkilled about whether or not politics is in fact a mindkiller. Granted, the voting system here generally encourages controversy - fifty votes yay and forty nine votes nay is better than an uninteresting post with one vote nay, after all.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2013-01-03T01:09:20.781Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

but it seems on current evidence to be that a lot of people are mindkilled about whether or not politics is in fact a mindkiller.

Maybe the "mindkiller" business is largely a rationalization for the opposition to political discussion, and not the motivation for the opposition.

Some people like having their ideas questioned in a group, some don't. Mindkiller talk is a convenient rationalization for those who don't like it to pressure those who do like it to shut up.

comment by kodos96 · 2013-01-02T18:20:42.886Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The entertaining thing from my perspective is that the discussions here have been polite, informative, and honest

Yes, I've noticed that too, which was part of why I was confused that people objected to it.

comment by TimS · 2013-01-02T16:40:12.383Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I upvoted Vladimir's post - but I don't think the lack of "accepted exception" means you should stop these discussion threads.

comment by OrphanWilde · 2013-01-02T17:35:47.770Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I'll continue them as long as they seem to remain productive and polite, and as long as they seem to be isolating politics rather than spreading political discussion around. A failure on either count would be a failure of the purpose of these threads.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2013-01-03T05:33:27.045Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

There isn't an an official ban on politics either. The much cited "politics is the mind-killer" post, merely argued against using political examples in non-political contexts.

comment by Vladimir_Nesov · 2013-01-02T13:39:37.108Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW · GW

but this regularly-occuring thread is supposed to be an accepted exception, isn't it?

What do you mean by that? Supposed on what grounds, accepted by whom and in what sense? (There's also a distinction between following a rule and agreeing with it, and there is no rule in this case.)

comment by kodos96 · 2013-01-02T18:20:04.937Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I was under the impression that this was an "official" thing, but it sounds like I was wrong.

comment by Emile · 2013-01-02T09:44:15.174Z · score: 10 (14 votes) · LW · GW

I downvoted this post because I don't want to see more attention to politics here. I don't see it as an "accepted exception" but as a recent push for more political discussions.

It can be interesting to talk about social issues, but doing this under the explicit heading "politics" header is likely to prime people into paying more attention to the political implications of the topic.

comment by Multiheaded · 2013-01-02T10:58:11.005Z · score: 3 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I disagree that one could talk about any kind of "social issues" whatsoever without it being 100% "political". Politics is what's going on in the polis.

comment by Emile · 2013-01-02T11:21:40.273Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The question isn't whether an issue is political or not (I'm not sure that's an interesting/meaningful question); the point is to avoid the problems of partisan thinking, and one way of doing that is to pay less attention to political alignment.

If you put a big banner over a discussion saying "HEY THIS IS A POLITICAL DISCUSSION", and you have people adding "AND THEREFORE, REPUBLICANS ARE RIGHT!" at the end of their posts, or reply with "OH, THAT'S A SOCIALIST ARGUMENT YOU'RE MAKING THERE", then everybody is necessarily going to pay more attention to partisan alignment. They may suspect others of trying to advance partisan points. They may be more selective in what arguments they accept. They may be less inclined points that go against their political inclination. It may degenerate into "Well you're just saying that because you're an anarcho-monarchist!".

comment by kodos96 · 2013-01-03T03:17:39.771Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

If you put a big banner over a discussion saying "HEY THIS IS A POLITICAL DISCUSSION", and you have people adding "AND THEREFORE, REPUBLICANS ARE RIGHT!" at the end of their posts, or reply with "OH, THAT'S A SOCIALIST ARGUMENT YOU'RE MAKING THERE"

I don't see any examples of people actually doing that, though.

comment by Emile · 2013-01-03T08:50:23.142Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Well, the first one is basically this thread, I don't think the second one happens without being downvoted to oblivion, and I think there have been a few cases where replies highlighted the political alignment of a post or comment that wasn't ostentatiously about color politics (probably in one episode of The Konkvistador And Multiheaded Show).

comment by kodos96 · 2013-01-04T02:37:43.872Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

By "the first one" do you mean "AND THEREFORE, REPUBLICANS ARE RIGHT!"? If so, please cite examples.

probably in one episode of The Konkvistador And Multiheaded Show

I've been abstaining from LessWrong for awhile now, so I've missed a lot. Can you link me to some examples of what you mean by "The Konkvistador And Multiheaded Show"? It sounds highly entertaining.

comment by TimS · 2013-01-02T14:04:50.857Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I agree that talking about partisan labels is unlikely to lead to useful analysis (although the game-theoretic and principal-agent issues in the recent budget stand-off in the US are interesting).

But I think noting the contours of ideological movements (like socialism, feminism, or Moldbuggery) is valuable. The sentence:

That point by Moldbug is interesting, but it is not unique to his philosophy. Economists, feminists, psychologists, socialists, and dwarves all assert essentially identical points.

Just as useful:

For consistency, socialists must also assert position Y, which most non-socialists reject.

Some of our disagreement might be that in the US, socialist (or green or monarchist) is not a partisan label because there is no serious political party that asserts those views. Europe has more diverse active political movements.

comment by RomeoStevens · 2013-01-03T19:32:32.044Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I take the debates that have occurred in these topics so far as evidence that LWers are capable of following the disclaimer. As such, unless it starts bleeding over into other topics, it seems okay. I prefer having a contained place with a disclaimer than to let arguments start getting political in other threads and either derail the thread or get cut off even though an interesting point was being made.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-01-05T12:23:55.931Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Paul Gottfried’s Calm Despair

John Derbyhsire's review of a collection of essays. The chosen title speaks volumes as Derbyshire is no optimist himself. It touches not so much on the content as a readable take on the life and positions of one of the Paleoconservative intellectuals I admire most.

comment by fubarobfusco · 2013-01-29T15:31:41.054Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It's been on my mind for some time that we obtain a lot of our sense of the world from fiction — for instance, that unless your family are unwell or are doctors themselves, you probably spend more time with medical fiction than with actual doctors. David Brin's recent Locus column applies a similar idea to our beliefs about the competence of our fellow-citizens and our social institutions, as reflected in popular fiction:

If movies and novels were our basis for judging – say you were an alien relying only on the testimony of our adventure flicks beamed into space – then you would conclude that no human institution can be trusted. Cops won’t answer when you call. Or they’ll arrive late. Or if they come in time, they’ll prove staggeringly inept. Or else, if they swoop in swiftly and seem competent, they will turn out to be in cahoots with the bad guy.

Now imagine that your typical film director ever found herself in real trouble, or the novelist fell afoul of deadly peril. What would they do? They would dial 9-1-1! They’d call for help and expect – demand – swift-competent intervention by skilled professionals who are tax-paid, to deal with urgent matters skillfully and well. In other words there is a stark disconnect between the world that film-makers live in, and the worlds that they portray. An absolute opposite of expectation.

— David Brin, "Our Favorite Cliché — A World Filled With Idiots…, or, Why Films and Novels Routinely Depict Society and its Citizens as Fools", Locus Online.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-01-09T19:09:03.587Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

New political position:

Reactionary Caplanism

  • "You say second "class citizens" like it is a bad idea to have more than one kind of legal status for a resident in a country and scale benefits of those to create good incentives."
  • "I agree it is an outrage! Deporting illegal immigrants engaged in productive work is almost as terrible as giving them the right to vote."
  • Limits on immigration are an unjustifiably crude method of discrimination, we need to open borders and legalize better less centralized means of discrimination.
  • Some stereotypes are bad which is why we should aim to develop and keep updated on the most accurate and instrumentally useful stereotypes.
  • The problem isn't multiculturalism, the problem is democracy. Austro-Hungary and Singapore show this is the case.
  • Western nations moving in a more multicultural authoritarian directions, eroding fiction such as privacy and freedom of speech to maximize wealth of the upper classes is admirable in intent if misguided. It will in the long term reduce quality of life. If they become authoritarian rapidly enough they may avoid populist backlash and other hits to stability but it won't bring prosperity, since the incentives of the Brahmin and their epistemology on related issues are all messed up.
  • If it is ok to trade freedom for diversity and a little bit of extra wealth, why not trade it for diversity and lots of wealth?
  • Corporations aren't people friend. This is precisely why it might be a good idea to trust them with absolute power.
  • Immigration makes native voters more right wing, but mostly in stupid and unproductive ways. Also you only have so many native voters and a practically an unlimited supply of third world immigrants, eventually it will cause the politics of Western countries to shift sharply towards the left because that is how the new majority will most effectively extract rent from market dominant group now in the minority.

This is not my current position but it seems reasonable assuming genuinely utilitarian ethics. I wonder why it isn't more popular.

comment by Multiheaded · 2013-01-10T19:59:55.921Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Corporations aren't people friend. This is precisely why it might be a good idea to trust them with absolute power.

Give absolute power to several UFAIs and hope that they dutifully compete for everyone's labour, and graciously don't cooperate against troublemakers? Um... have you ever read much about the history of the labour movement in the West? Have you heard, say about the labour struggles in China right now? Have you wondered what a megacorporation with a 100% secure source of rent would act like?

I hardly understand how this'd be supposed to work at all in your vision. (Or in anyone's.)

comment by [deleted] · 2013-01-10T21:26:13.548Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Did you ignore the disclaimer?

comment by Multiheaded · 2013-01-10T21:44:26.606Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

No, I understand this is not your current position. However, I have specifically noted that your disclaimer includes the words "seems reasonable". This felt to me like a contrast with the suggestion's apparent absurdity.

Had you not claimed that this is all supposed to relate, however tangentially, to ordinary LW-style reasoning and not just aesthetics or ideological applause lights (and I have nothing against those in moderation), I wouldn't have attacked this. I was merely confused about your intent and level of seriousness here.

comment by OrphanWilde · 2013-01-10T20:09:58.800Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm no fan of rent-seeking corporations, but the actions Gazprom tends to get criticized over are in its dealings with countries which are attempting to leverage transportation monopolies against it. There aren't really any innocent parties in those exchanges.

comment by Multiheaded · 2013-01-10T20:39:23.709Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm no fan of rent-seeking corporations, but the actions Gazprom tends to get criticized over are in its dealings with countries which are attempting to leverage transportation monopolies against it. There aren't really any innocent parties in those exchanges.

Oh, I wasn't referring to that at all. What I had in mind was how it doesn't seem to put the vast rent it extracts to much good use in my own country. And how it (and lesser rent-extracting corps like Transneft) joins into the massive state-oligarchic system of corruption that we live under. But yeah, I wouldn't expect Western media to report much on its place in Russian economy.

comment by OrphanWilde · 2013-01-10T21:02:37.662Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Laughs I'm too ignorant on the specific matter at hand to continue this vein of conversation in any depth.

I can only comment on the general case, so I'll continue it there: I think in general Russia got screwed over in its conversion to capitalism. Not even the first time, either; a major incitement to the rise of communism was how it ended feudalism, by putting all the serfs in massive debt to their landlords to pay for "freeing" them. (Granted, their debts were discharged a few decades later, but that was less a fix than a band-aid at that point, and it's not like they got a generation's worth of payments back.)

Its modern patterns don't seem to have deviated much; take everything the state owned, effectively give it to the people who were already in charge (nominally sold to them, but it wasn't exactly like they were sold in public auctions; the auctions were pretty deliberately manipulated), and call it privatization because now they own it instead of the state, nevermind that very little has actually changed, except that all obligations that went along with their government roles were discharged in the conversion. It would be like if a corporation seized all its shareholder's shares and gave them to the board of directors.

I'm a fervent capitalist, mind. And I don't think Russia's conversion to capitalism, in the manner it was conducted, actually did Russia any favors. They should have stuck to the voucher program. I have some choice words to describe Yeltsin.

comment by drethelin · 2013-01-09T20:51:50.453Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Immigration would be much better if we approached the issue of "How much do immigrants cost us vs how much do we benefit from them" and made laws in light of this, instead of approaching it from the moral difference between "This is our home and we shouldn't let strangers in" or "Freedom means allowing anyone to join us".

comment by non-expert · 2013-02-09T02:55:54.861Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think you're implicitly making an moral statement (putting aside whether its "correct"). Your focus on "costs to us and how much do we benefit" means we downplay or eliminate any consideration of the moral question. However, ignoring the moral question has the same effect as losing the moral argument to "this is our home and we shouldn't let strangers in" -- in both cases the moral argument for "joining us" is treated as irrelevant. I'm not making an argument, just an observation i think is relevant if considering the issue.

comment by drethelin · 2013-02-09T08:17:50.719Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I don't see why this treats the moral argument for joining us as any less relevant than the moral argument for not joining us. And yes, this does downplay or eliminate consideration of the moral question, which is what I was going for. Or to put it another way, the moral statement I'm trying to make is that the moral value of absolutist moral considerations is less than utilitarian concerns in regards to costs/benefits. I don't actually care about moral arguments for or against immigration that aren't consequentalist.

comment by non-expert · 2013-02-09T20:15:50.968Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Look, there is no doubt an equivalency in your method in that "they should join us" is put on the backburner along with "we should penalize them." I'm simply highlighting this point.

Or to put it another way, the moral statement I'm trying to make is that the moral value of absolutist moral considerations is less than utilitarian concerns in regards to costs/benefits. I don't actually care about moral arguments for or against immigration that aren't consequentalist.

In limiting the "consequentialist" argument to the "home country's" benefits and costs, you've by default given credence to the idea that "they should be penalized" in that you're willing to avoid penalizing them if they add value to your country -- another way of looking at it is to say those that want the immigrants to "join us" aren't benefited in any way by saying that the opposite moral argument was ignored. You've softened your statement now by using "moral value....is less," but you're actually going further than that -- you're saying that the utilitarian concerns on cost/benefits are SO GREAT relative to the moral issues that the moral issues should be ignored completely (or that's how your solution plays out). This is a bold statement, irrespective of its merits. How else would you interpret your statement?:

Immigration would be much better if we approached the issue of "How much do immigrants cost us vs how much do we benefit from them" and made laws in light of this, instead of approaching it from the moral difference between "This is our home and we shouldn't let strangers in" or "Freedom means allowing anyone to join us".

Your point only works if you completely ignore the moral argument. Once it matters even a little, the luxuries offered by cost/benefit analysis are thrown out the window because you now have a subjective consideration to incorporate that makes choices difficult. Again, just highlighting the consequences of your argument, don't really have an opinion on your particular argument.

Part of the problem with politics is we just say things and don't think about what they mean, since our focus is more on being right and presuming the potential certainty rather than understanding the sources and consequences of various political arguments and appreciating the inherent uncertainty that is unavoidable with any governance regime (or so I would argue).

comment by drethelin · 2013-02-10T07:33:49.317Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

What point are you trying to make? I'm really not sure. Completely ignoring the "Moral argument" seems obviously the correct thing to do, so I have to assume I'm misinterpreting what you mean by the moral argument.

comment by non-expert · 2013-02-10T17:01:35.751Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

nope, i'm just asking why you think that the moral argument should be ignored, and why that position is obvious. we're talking about a group of humans and what laws and regulations will apply to their lives, likely radically changing them. these decisions will affect their relatives, who may or may not be in similar positions themselves. when legislating about persons, it seems there is always some relevance as to how the laws will affect those people's lives, even if broader considerations (value to us/cost to us as a country) are also relevant.

to be clear, i'm NOT saying you're wrong. I'm asking you why you think you're right, particularly since its so obvious.

EDIT: i totally appreciate i jumped in mid-conversation and asked a question which is now a chain and that might come off as odd to you, so sorry -- you asked about my point -- fair question, I'm not sure I really have one other than understanding your point of view. perhaps silly, but thought you made an interesting point and wanted to see how you thought through the issue before you made it. a "non-expert" can't tell anyone they're wrong, can only try to learn why others think they are right :).

comment by drethelin · 2013-02-10T18:30:19.446Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

So from my point of view the moral argument is as I stated it earlier: We either should or should not allow immigrants because of moral laws. This argument is stupid because it is not based on consequences or information.

Your point seems to be that the consequentialist point of view should take into account the impact on immigrants, which is different than what I meant by the moral argument. I'm pretty sure I agree with yours. A country is made up out of people. The costs/benefits to those people are a subset of the costs/benefits to a country, and should be factored into same.

comment by non-expert · 2013-02-10T18:52:54.085Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

interesting, so you are dividing morality into impact on immigrants and the idea that they should be allowed to join us a a moral right, with the former included in your analysis and the latter not.

putting aside positions, from a practical perspective it seems that drawing that line will remain difficult because "impact to immigrants" likely informs the very moral arguments I think you're trying to avoid. Or in other words, putting that issue (effect on immigrants) within the costs/benefits analysis requires some of the same subjective considerations that plague the moral argument (both in terms of difficulty in resolving with certainty and the idea of avoiding morality).

Regardless, seems like the horse has been dead for hours (my fault!). Thanks for engaging with me.

comment by HalMorris · 2013-01-03T23:04:12.229Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

In a successful democracy, there is a process for electing the members of the government that appears, based on the past track record, to work.

If China has done any things right historically, perhaps it is education, and the cultivation of a disciplined workforce, and maybe a communication system that reaches into every village, and maybe these things are really quite big, esp. when combined with good natural resources.

China seems to have reasonably responsible leaders at the top for the moment, maybe because the most extravagant examples of corruptness at that level would give competitors a lever for bringing down such officials.

What is there that can conceivably be copied? Should any country imitate their historical route, hoping that it would (eventually) lead to the current more or less "good" outcome? I can't believe anyone would think that.

comment by ChristianKl · 2013-01-07T20:31:06.751Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The US didn't had an engineer as president since Herbert Hoover. China is currently run by Hu Jintao who studied hydraulic engineering. The president before Hu, Jiang Zemin got a degree in electrical engineering. China's current vice president studied chemical engineering.

Having more people with science and engineering backgrounds into political leadership positions seem like a good idea.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2013-01-07T21:20:55.639Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Having more people with science and engineering backgrounds into political leadership positions seem like a good idea.

I'm not convinced.

comment by HalMorris · 2013-01-08T15:43:53.821Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

In authoritarian countries, hi..storically, engining and science has provided some of the best independent thinkers.

In the US, I think we need much better education in science and engineering, including an appreciation for scientific thought processes and scientific culture -- not necessarily engineers in the White House, but somebody there who appreciates engineers and science.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2013-01-08T20:25:38.182Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

And yet, it is the US that tends to be ahead of authoritarian countries in science and technology.

comment by Alsadius · 2013-01-02T10:17:06.879Z · score: 1 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Let's get a bit meta. I posit that there are certain political discussions where rational debate is entirely useless, because they largely consist of choosing an axiom. Abortion is the most obvious of these - people who believe the right to life begins at conception(usually for religious reasons) are almost universally pro-life, and people who do not are almost universally pro-choice. It is not possible, even in principle, to convince either side of the other's position, because there's no argument that can change an axiom.

It's good to keep our limitations in mind.

Edit: To clarify, I don't claim that rational debate is useless at discussing issues around abortion, I claim it's useless at changing the minds of someone who has a strong position on the issue. The only people I have ever seen switch sides on this issue are politicians(who are obviously lying) and religious converts(which is in principle achievable from rationalism, but which is in practice a pretty rare result).

comment by Xachariah · 2013-01-02T14:56:56.066Z · score: 21 (29 votes) · LW · GW

Even if we're talking about axiomatic disagreements, rational debate is still useful. Eg, we can still use rationality to help identify which axioms we're disagreeing with.

Case in point is your abortion example. I think you've messed up your lines of cause and effect there. Being anti-abortion either causes or has a common cause with believing that life begins at conception. Being pro-abortion causes or has a common cause with believing that life doesn't begin at conception.

Let me posit an axiom that causes anti-abortion. Instead of the whole 'soul' thing, lets go with "Women deserve to be punished for having sex," and that 'life-begins-at-conception' is just a rationalization. If this were true, anti-abortion should coincide with religiosity (it does) and pro-abortion should coincide with women's rights (also does). Both axioms correctly fit the existing data. How could we tell the difference... which axiom is the true axiom?

My rationalist shoes say we'd want to identify a differentiation point where these two axioms would cause different results. Have there been any occasions where "reduce number of abortions" and "punish women for having sex" come into conflict? Here's one. Turns out free access to birth control slashes the abortion rate. Less punishing women, less abortions. Cool, we've identified a point of differentiation.

Okay, so what did most of the 'pro-life' side go with? Shit, turns out they went with punishing women instead of fewer abortions and again and again and again. Well, that's not cool. For fairness' and balance's sake, I'll say that the pro-choice is probably less about integrity of body and more about wanting to fuck without consequence.

As you note, we've still got an axiomatic disagreement. In order to change the opposing side's mind we still need to shift their axiom. However, rationality has let the pro-abortion side aim their rhetorical firepower at the correct target. Instead of talking about the neural activity of fetuses, they can start making people feel more comfortable and accepting of sex. Once they're correctly targeting the true axiom, they'll have a lot more luck in shifting the opposing side's position.

comment by MileyCyrus · 2013-01-03T13:45:32.184Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Instead of the whole 'soul' thing, lets go with "Women deserve to be punished for having sex," and that 'life-begins-at-conception' is just a rationalization.

Every pro-lifer I've ever met has shared two characteristics: they don't think women who have abortions should go to jail, and they think that women who have abortions are worse off than women who choose to give birth. That doesn't fit with the pregnancy-as-punishment theory.

(It does however, expose another type of misogyny: they refuse to believe a mature woman in a sound mind could ever choose abortion.)

comment by [deleted] · 2013-01-03T16:02:02.610Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The first characteristic, even if it doesn't fit the pregnancy-as-punishment theory terribly well, fits far worse with the abortion-as-murder theory.

comment by Randy_M · 2013-01-05T00:22:20.496Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

"don't think women who have abortions should go to jail" I'd be open to it personally (though I think prisons have a slew of their own problems) but it makes for lousy arguments if your goal is to slowly shift public opinion. rather than being scrupulously consistent.

comment by Alsadius · 2013-01-03T10:55:20.553Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Many religious objections to birth control consist of "It's actually abortion, just a bit more subtle" - preventing implantation of a fertilized embryo is the same as a surgical abortion, if you don't distinguish between a day's gestation and two months'. Most of the rest seem like generalized objections to sex - human biology being what it is, the punishment for that will inevitably fall largely on the shoulders of women. It doesn't seem like it's just a female-specific objection, though - I doubt your average religious objector would get too worked up at the thought of alimony or a shotgun marriage, and most seem to actively encourage adoption.

As for your proposed strategy, it seems like it's basically trying to do the same thing, given how liberalized sex and liberalized religion are so tightly bound in practice.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-01-03T13:31:50.229Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

What about ways to prevent the ovum from being fertilized in the first place, e.g. condoms or vasectomy?

comment by Alsadius · 2013-01-04T05:29:12.389Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The objections there are mostly "It'll lead to evil nookie!", and to a lesser extent "It's not 100% reliable"(as though anything in life is...oh wait, abstinence can't lead to pregnancy, because the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down - how could I have forgotten?). They're stupid objections, but to people who literally believe that sex outside of marriage will lead to an eternity of torture, I can sort of see how they connect the dots.

comment by Xachariah · 2013-01-05T04:09:34.745Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If there are objections on the soul level, you should still expect to see a hierarchy based on preventing/allowing fertilization per birth control.

For example: Going by pure number of 'abortions' (counting as any termination of a fertilized ovum), there is a continuum for birth control. IIRC it's pill -> patch -> condoms -> spermicide+condoms -> shot -> implant -> IUD -> surgery. Implants and especially IUDs cause up to an order of magnitude fewer of these 'instant abortions' compared to the pill.

We should expect to see pro-life campaigns saying "get an IUD, NOT the pill!" (Or supporting vasectomy / tubal ligation, but fat chance on those.) But again, we don't see that. Because those 99.9% effective things will lead to sin.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2013-01-02T18:39:42.660Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Turns out free access to birth control slashes the abortion rate. Less punishing women, less abortions. Cool, we've identified a point of differentiation.

Okay, so what did most of the 'pro-life' side go with? Shit, turns out they went with punishing women instead of fewer abortions and again and again and again. Well, that's not cool. For fairness' and balance's sake, I'll say that the pro-choice is probably less about integrity of body and more about wanting to fuck without consequence.

This isn't necessarily a good argument given that they have theological objections to birth control. This maybe indicates a general value which is an objection to technological modification of issues connected to reproduction as part of what may be a general reactionary attitude. This is consistent with for example, the early objections to IVF and the use of anesthesia in pregnancy. However, the second one of these could also be construed as a "punish women" goal, even as it has become uncommon. It might be noteworthy in this context that the IVF issue still is an issue for Catholic official doctrine but not almost any Protestants, and the objection to anesthesia in pregnancy is essentially gone completely. On the other hand, maybe looking at something more connected to male biology might help: if this is purely an objection to technical intervention in sex, then one would expect objections to Viagra and similar drugs. But they don't exist. So that's an argument against the technical intervention hypothesis.

Another possibility is that trying to understand is part of a general attempt to give broad explanations for what amounts to an attempt to modify old theology to handle modern technologies and dilemmas. Thus the exact results may be to some extent essentially stochastic. One example that might prove an interesting contrast in this context to the Christian right outlook is that of Orthodox Judaism. In some respects, Orthodox Judaism has more of an objection to birth control than it has to abortion. Fitting this sort of norm into any of the above hypotheses really seems like shoehorning.

comment by OrphanWilde · 2013-01-02T20:47:42.516Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Why do people insist on comparisons to -Viagra- when discussing birth control? Vasectomy would be a better comparison. Of course, it doesn't illustrate the same kind of point, because religious objections to vasectomy do exist (and get almost no media coverage compared to religious objections to comparable procedures in women).

comment by JoshuaZ · 2013-01-03T01:12:53.324Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Why do people insist on comparisons to -Viagra- when discussing birth control? Vasectomy would be a better comparison. Of course, it doesn't illustrate the same kind of point, because religious objections to vasectomy do exist

So this is an interesting point but actually reinforces the sorts of claims being made by Xachariah, since the amount of objection to vasectomies is much smaller than the amount of objection to birth control, which is consistent with his hypothesis. But I suspect that in fact the reason vasectomies aren't used as an example are far the same (actual) reason that they don't have nearly as much objection: they aren't that common.

Thinking more about this though, there's another interesting hypothesis that hasn't been discussed yet: the goal might not be punishing a specific gender for having sex, but punishing sex in general. That seems by and large consistent with almost all of the discussed issues here with viagra being possibly a counterexample.

comment by MileyCyrus · 2013-01-06T12:25:27.948Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

So this is an interesting point but actually reinforces the sorts of claims being made by Xachariah, since the amount of objection to vasectomies is much smaller than the amount of objection to birth control, which is consistent with his hypothesis.

If you're thinking about US politics in 2012, most of the "objection to birth control" was objection to Obama's mandate that insurance companies to fully cover birth control for women, but not men.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2013-01-06T19:06:59.506Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

More generally, in the US there's much more objection to birth control. This is a long-term trend independent of any recent issues. Moreover, the objections made about the recent health-care mandate were not made by and large based on gender equality issues.

comment by MileyCyrus · 2013-01-06T22:16:17.503Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Moreover, the objections made about the recent health-care mandate were not made by and large based on gender equality issues.

Sure. My point was that no one was requiring employers to cover vasectomies, so of course no one will get angry about having to provide vasectomy coverage.

comment by Alsadius · 2013-01-03T10:59:15.757Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Vasectomies(and tube-tying) tend to be used very differently than temporary birth control. Usually they're done either in the context of a married couple who has as many kids as they want, or someone with serious enough medical issues that reproduction would be ill-advised. As such, the impact on casual sex is dramatically different than the impact of the Pill or abortions.

comment by MileyCyrus · 2013-01-06T12:38:18.722Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Someone started a rumor last decade that a large portion of health insurers cover Viagra but not birth control. It's not true.

comment by OrphanWilde · 2013-01-10T01:48:29.070Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure that state laws mandating specific corporate policy make a good basis for defending corporate policies.

That said, even if it were true, I am not sure it's really that objectionable. Viagra is intended to treat a dysfunction of the body, whereas birth control is intended to prevent a function of the body; they're not comparable in kind, even if they both enable the same behaviors.

comment by fubarobfusco · 2013-01-03T04:55:30.727Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

This isn't necessarily a good argument given that they have theological objections to birth control.

Given that there's no god to specify what theology you get, this just raises the question — why do they have those theological objections? You're proposing what amounts to a null hypothesis in your notion that "the exact results may be to some extent essentially stochastic".

One example that might prove an interesting contrast in this context to the Christian right outlook is that of Orthodox Judaism.

Or the various cultures wherein are found the murder of women who have extramarital sex and other forms of "honor" violence. The differences do not seem to be described well as theological differences, since some of the same behaviors exist across different religions in some regions of the world.

It is easy for atheists to come to the conclusion that religious people do nasty things because of religion. I suspect that it would be more accurate to say that religion provides a set of powerful rationalizations for certain emotional reactions; and that which reactions a person manifests has as much to do with other elements of culture as with their theology.

comment by kodos96 · 2013-01-03T03:25:30.665Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

For fairness' and balance's sake, I'll say that the pro-choice is probably less about integrity of body and more about wanting to fuck without consequence.

Funny, from my point of view this evidence suggests that pro-lifers are actually more concerned with controlling women's sex lives, than with saving unborn babies.

comment by Alsadius · 2013-01-03T11:00:05.887Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Can't it be both?

comment by kodos96 · 2013-01-03T19:06:26.386Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, I suppose so. Good point.

Edit: Seriously? Downvotes? For conceding that my political opponent made a good point? Seriously?

comment by Randy_M · 2013-01-05T00:19:43.948Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I bet the down votes are for re-iterating the parent comments main point as if it were novel and original to you? Didn't you understand what this meant: "lets go with "Women deserve to be punished for having sex," and that 'life-begins-at-conception' is just a rationalization"?

comment by kodos96 · 2013-01-05T01:45:24.223Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Re-reading the grand-grand-grand-grand-parent post, yes, I now see that you're correct that that was what he was trying to get at - although he certainly wasn't being particularly clear.

But regardless, downvoting someone for conceding a point to someone they're engaged in debate with is pretty lame.

comment by ChristianKl · 2013-01-07T21:22:59.239Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Your model assumes that all people believe in a position for the same reason. In my debates with different people about abortion different people seem to hold their positions for different reasons.

Thinking that all people who disagree with you are on one side and think exactly the same is a good way to prevent rational debate.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-01-03T12:11:07.160Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Being anti-abortion either causes or has a common cause with believing that life begins at conception. Being pro-abortion causes or has a common cause with believing that life doesn't begin at conception.

It's not obvious a priori that being anti-abortion isn't caused by believing that life begins at conception (but I agree that, except for people deep down the valley of bad rationality, it's way less likely that their morality depends on their definition of the English word life than the other way round).

comment by Emile · 2013-01-02T17:09:26.943Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think it's a matter of different axioms - humans aren't expert systems after all!

It's more about a tension between two systems for regulating reproductive behavior.

In system A, girls are expected to abstain from sex until marriage, girls that don't are shunned, men are discouraged from marrying "used goods", and anything promoting sexual promiscuity is dangerous. Parents are expected to have an important input into they're children's decisions, and women are expected to be mostly dependent on a man. This is what you'd get in traditional "farmer" communities, i.e. most of the civilized world in past centuries.

In system B, Marriage is about Love, which is considered kind of mysterious and spontaneous; sex is not frowned upon, though it's expected that girls will take the reasonable steps to avoid unwanted pregnancy. The law also steps in to make sure fathers take their responsibilities.

Basically, both feature ways of avoiding unwanted pregnancies, though system A is much more gung-ho about doing so; probably mostly because in a village a couple centuries ago, having a fatherless child would be one of the worse things that could happen to a girl.

But many of the norms in this are not considered as "ways to avoid unwanted pregnancies", but rather as things that are valuable of themselves (and the norms are supported by connotations in the language, common stories, etc.) - they are lost purposes. So from the point of view of someone raised mostly with System A values, abortion looks like something that reduces the bad consequences of immoral behavior, and thus encourages immoral behavior, so of course it's bad! They ignore the fact that the main reason such a behavior is considered immoral is because it leads to those consequences!

... or at least, that's one part of the story. There's also a good deal of identity conflicts involved (religion and culture more than politics), and of course it's entirely possible that overall, System A does work better than System B.

comment by Emile · 2013-01-02T17:12:36.297Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

For a better example of a case where rational debate is useless, I'd take an exiled Tibetan and a Chinese Nationalist debating about the status of Tibet.

comment by Alsadius · 2013-01-03T05:31:31.225Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I think that's somewhat more amenable to rationality - the "Screw Tibet, free China!" bumper sticker I once saw comes to mind here. But I mostly picked abortion because it's the most prominent such example and the one I've thought most about, not because it's necessarily the best illustration.

comment by buybuydandavis · 2013-01-03T00:57:03.870Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If someone believes something about the moral implications of conception, that is something they likely just took in as a social truth, and then later learned and crafted a rationalization for. I don't think we have moral instincts about cellular organisms.

To the extent that their in group remains constant, it would take a lot of serious moral argument to overcome that social truth. The problem with political arguments is that people don't seriously have them. They volley a couple of bumper stickers at each other, and then go off in a huff. They may do it a million times - but a million bogus arguments designed to achieve nothing individually will likely achieve nothing in the aggregate as well.

The social truth remains intact - no serious moral arguments oppose it - why would we ever expect a change?

Where you might expect a change - when one moves between social groups, or when one commits to and is capable of serious moral argument.

The social aspect is at least theoretically testable - how big are the moral shifts when people change in groups? I suspect pretty large.

And in the relatively rare ideologue class, the shifts are often pretty big too. I knew a gal who went from seminary->Leninism->WIcca/EnviroProgressivism. Lots of atheist ideologues are former fundamentalists. Conservatives who were former marxists.

Arguments work on people who engage in them. I'd guess that a changing social truth works even better on most.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-01-03T12:08:26.221Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

And in the relatively rare ideologue class, the shifts are often pretty big too. I knew a gal who went from seminary->Leninism->WIcca/EnviroProgressivism. Lots of atheist ideologues are former fundamentalists. Conservatives who were former marxists.

This kind of stuff happens very often among people in their late teens in my home town. (Most but not all of them just support political ideologies the way they'd support football teams.)

comment by buybuydandavis · 2013-01-03T21:42:06.799Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

That's it.

A small class of people care about and are interested in ideas. You can change their minds through argument. The vast majority are Green Team Blue Team, and they change their ideology if required by a change in their social affiliation.

comment by ChristianKl · 2013-01-07T21:12:12.093Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Actually there are many more possible position in the abortion debate than pro-life and pro-choice. The fact that the position exist like this in US society is a result of the fact that the issue didn't get resolved democratically via congress but via the Supreme Court.

Different European countries have different abortion laws and it makes sense to discuss with laws around the issue are best. If you want to have a senisble discussion about the topic, don't treat it binary. You look at a bunch of different legal solutions to the abortion issue and start comparing which laws you prefer over which other laws.

comment by Alsadius · 2013-01-13T07:13:40.520Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Restrictions on procedures can take a lot of shades, but the basic choice of yea or nay is pretty binary. For comparison, Canada also had abortion law determined by the Supreme Court(it was legal but heavily restricted before, and now we have literally the loosest abortion law in the world - there are no restrictions whatsoever), but the issue is nowhere near as controversial. I think the difference has a lot less to do with the Supreme Court, and a lot more to do with the US level of religiosity.

comment by ChristianKl · 2013-01-13T22:11:34.794Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Accepting that a woman, who was raped and has complications with her pregnancy that would mean that she would die if there was no abortion, is a long way from accepting that every pregnant woman in a late stage pregnancy can just decide to have an abortion.

When you start talking rationally about the shade of gray of different laws it also becomes easier to have a rational discourse about the extremes.

comment by Alsadius · 2013-01-16T09:37:33.775Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

One exemption to anti-abortion views I've seen expressed almost universally among pro-lifers is that abortion is okay if the mother's life is at risk(because at that point, abortion isn't murder, any more than an operation that kills one Siamese twin to save the other is). A lot of people try to start blocking out other exemptions for semi-random reasons, mostly because of the hemisphere fallacy, but the arguments are usually the sort of incoherent nonsense you only hear from politicians.

comment by ChristianKl · 2013-01-16T11:53:23.129Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

That's why it makes sense to give them multiple laws that regulate abortion and ask them to rank them instead of asking them for their ideal abortion law.

They will have to give you reasons about why they prefer one exception over another even if they would reject both exceptions in a perfect world. That usually requires them to reason in a way that's more than just reiterating talking points.

comment by Alsadius · 2013-01-19T06:45:37.824Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Agreed, that seems like a good approach to teasing out details of a stance. (Most real people will just ignore you in various ways, of course, but if you can make them sit still long enough it's viable)

comment by ChristianKl · 2013-01-19T11:49:31.828Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If you tell people that they are doing things wrong, they usually dont ignore you but get emotional about what you are saying.

If people just ignore you, maybe you are arguing against straw mans or otherwise not addressing the real reasons of why they acted the way they did in the past.

comment by kodos96 · 2013-01-03T03:22:13.471Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Upvoted, beacause I agree in principle, but I don't actually see any examples of this in this thread.

comment by TimS · 2013-01-02T14:07:18.178Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I agree with you, but I'm not sure that "moral value conflict" is the mainstream position in this community (or in society in general).

comment by Alsadius · 2013-01-03T10:44:16.174Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I think the mainstream position in society is "People who disagree with me are evil", so that's not saying a lot. But fair point.

comment by Spectral_Dragon · 2013-01-20T02:27:37.075Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm curious about the general stance towards alcohol, from Lesswrong. It (1) lowers the quality of life, and life expectancy (3rd highest cause of preventable death in the US), for almost all people drinking, or closely linked to people who drink, (2) costs a fair bit (The money spent per year in europe on alcohol-related damages could fund a manned mission to mars), (3) and offers little to no positive effects (Only proven short-term effects are temporary loss of motor control and some brain functions like balance and memory, anything else seems to be a placebo).

So, I'd like to know if you're for or against limiting alcohol (through laws lowering sales, altering public opinion etc.) and why.

[pollid:393]

comment by Qiaochu_Yuan · 2013-01-20T07:15:43.883Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

That "offers little to no positive effects" comment suggests to me that you have limited personal experience with alcohol. The primary benefit I (and I think most drinkers my age) derive from alcohol is social: it helps me make new friends and connect more closely to existing friends. Lots of people drink, and it's easier to become friends with those people if you also drink. If that isn't enough LW lingo for you, drinking is a Schelling point.

Also, what do people have against placebo effects? Quoting myself seems dangerously egotistical, but "a placebo effect is still an effect." Maybe someone should write a top-level post about this.

comment by Spectral_Dragon · 2013-01-20T18:51:18.281Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I've had enough experience to compare interactions with and without alcohol, and I've noticed it's much more difficult to connect with anyone who's been drinking, even if I've also been. Merely personal, but with no alcohol in my regular life, I still gain friends easily, now having gained far above my Dunbar's Number. Have you tested if it actually is more difficult if all parties are sober?

I'm against this particular one, since as a placebo, something lacking the negative effects while achieving the positive placebo effects would be much more awesome.

comment by Qiaochu_Yuan · 2013-01-21T04:51:31.623Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Doesn't agree with my experience. I generally find that people are more relaxed and open when not sober.

I am also generally skeptical of arguments of the form "if we counterfactually modified aspect X of the world to aspect Y, the world would be more awesome, therefore we should start trying to change X into Y" because they ignore transition costs. (A simple example is X = imperial units and Y = metric in the US.) The world would probably be a better place if the social role of alcohol was replaced by a less destructive drug, but I don't think it's feasible to actually force such a replacement to occur, or at least I don't think it's a good use of political resources.

comment by Kawoomba · 2013-01-20T06:57:26.169Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Moderate drinking can offer some health benefits. Plenty of sources, here's one.

Just because many abuse alcohol does not mean it cannot confer health benefits in controlled doses.

comment by Wakarimahen · 2013-01-20T07:08:06.020Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

One should also distinguish between different kinds of alcohol. Unpasteurized beer or organic dry wine, for example, I imagine is way less likely to be a problem for one's health than cheap beer or wine with all sorts of additives and shortcuts with the process.

comment by Wakarimahen · 2013-01-20T06:46:08.056Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Alcohol causes temporary loss of motor control and some brain functions, and this is exactly the point. Any mistakes can be blamed on 'being drunk', and thus people are able to cast of the shackles of social inhibition, and enjoy themselves more unimpeded. Our society is rather oppressive when it comes to making mistakes or looking 'low status' in normal situations, so alcohol is the perfect way for many people to compensate, and allow themselves temporary spans of time where they're less afraid to make mistakes or look incompetent (and I would argue this general fear of making mistakes or looking incompetent is one of the main plagues in society, preventing all sorts of people from improving their lives).

Call it placebo if you want, but placebo is great if it works. Anything is great if it works.

comment by Spectral_Dragon · 2013-01-20T19:14:13.465Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I've never noticed it used as an excuse, and to me that seems a lot like saying "I was biased!", to cast away blame. Though I have a different frame of reference - here you're accountable for anything you do, sober or drunk, including making mistakes/looking incompetent. Where is the line drawn where you can just shrug off any blame? I can't think of any rational reason to want to drink, then, unless you want to... Act incompetently and get away with it? Is this then a good thing?

I agree on the placebo bit, anyway.

comment by Unnamed · 2013-01-20T05:46:27.274Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Does increasing the tax on alcohol count? I'm in favor of that (at least in the US), for basically the reasons given by Mark Kleiman here. Problem drinkers are a relatively small fraction of the population but they account for a relatively large fraction of the alcohol market - one statistic that Kleiman mentions elsewhere is that (in the US) half of all alcohol is consumed by people who average 4 or more drinks per day.

comment by Spectral_Dragon · 2013-01-20T19:18:28.366Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It's one of the more effective ways of lowering consumption. It's not the problem drinkers that cause the worst effect though - it's the casual drinkers that cause the most damage (for example by overestimating themselves and driving). Taxes would still work on most groups, so yes, it definitely counts.

comment by satt · 2013-02-03T16:04:16.806Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Does this put me in the "Against" category too? I don't care if people drink alcohol in moderation, but I'm in favour of minimum alcohol pricing laws for Kleimanesque reasons. But minimum pricing is unlikely to reduce most groups' alcohol consumption by much, as only the cheapest booze would go up in price.

comment by Spectral_Dragon · 2013-02-03T21:00:51.384Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'd actually put you in "for", as you're favouring a suggestion that raises prices and lower consumption. For this I'd say effect is more central than opinion. And no, it wouldn't lower it much - on average just under 7 percents, but it'd reduce health care costs as well.

comment by satt · 2013-02-04T00:25:40.993Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Oops, I'd misread the voting question (as a question about being for/against alcohol rather than being for/against limiting alcohol). Good thing I didn't vote yet!

comment by [deleted] · 2013-01-20T06:40:38.767Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Neutral. I don't drink and I think it's a waste of money, but I think worrying about it is an even bigger waste of money.

Also, I don't work for the government.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2013-01-20T06:11:20.002Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Neutral.

I'm against legal alcohol prohibition, for lots of reasons. And of all the things I could devote effort to altering public opinion about, alcohol isn't a priority.

That said, I don't drink, and I don't tend to serve alcohol at parties (though if guests want to bring some they're free to, and I made an exception at my wedding because to do otherwise seemed inhospitable), and I tend to push back on the assumption more generally that social interactions have to be lubricated by alcohol. If alcohol became as unpopular tomorrow as, say, chewing tobacco is today, I wouldn't mind.

comment by ikrase · 2013-02-03T17:01:25.832Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Well, hedonics is a positive effect. Kind of. Would probably go for altering public opinion.

comment by GLaDOS · 2013-01-10T19:01:43.177Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

John Derbyshire Wonders: Is HBD Over?

The flourish of HBD books and talk in the years around 2000 was, to switch metaphors, early growth from seeds too soon planted.Had the shoots been nourished by a healthy stream of scientific results, they might have grown strong enough to crack and split the asphalt of intellectual orthodoxy.But as things turned out, the maintenance crew has had no difficulty smothering the growth.

Even the few small triumphs of HBD—triumphs, I mean, of general acceptance by cognitive elites—have had an ambiguous quality about them.

For example, Freudian psychoanalysis (defined by Nabokov [33] as people’s belief“that all mental woes can be cured by a daily application of old Greek myths [34] to their private parts”), which was radically nurturist in its “explanations” of human personality development, is now defunct, thanks to developments in pharmacology.

But, while this anti-nurturist victory has diminished the quantity of nonsense in the world, like one of Robert E. Lee’s [35] battles it has not been followed by any significant occupation of enemy territory. In the applied human sciences pure “blank slate [36]” nurturism is still entrenched. Educationists, for example, insist that given the right environment, any child can do anything [37]. In criminology, even the boldest of conservative writers tell us that illegitimacy and fatherlessness are the root causes, as if those factors themselves were uncaused.

Half-Sigma's probably last post on his old blog. HBD has no future?

Related blog post by HBD chick.

comment by GLaDOS · 2013-01-10T19:02:52.973Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Related article:

John Derbyshire Wonders: Is HBD Over?

comment by [deleted] · 2013-01-09T20:00:59.671Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Quoted in the post A word of warning from Lev Navrozov:

Tsar Nicholas II and his advisers. In 1914 the mere though that Russia might become a German colony was horrible for ethnic Russians. But after 1917 the Kaiser’s Germany seemed in Russia to have been an idyllic, humane, civilized country. Nicholas II should have made any concessions to the Kaiser rather than plunge into the war which undercut the European civilization perhaps forever and ushered in something no European could even imagine in his most fanciful diatribes against the existing regimes before 1917.

As I've said before, if only the Good Emperors of the Central powers had achieved victory... The world would have been spared Hitler and Stalin. The collective institutional wisdom of tradition would have been depleted more slowly, probably giving us higher standards of living and faster technological progress. Not only that the end of colonialism would have been postponed, which would likely translate into millions more lives saved, perhaps even an Africa that could handle its independence as well as India did.

And what might we have enjoyed if the French, the American or Glorious Revolution was crushed by those tasked with preserving civilization and order! Such waste. But this is daydreaming, as beautiful as visions Western civilizations continued rise through the universe is I now notice they taste of ash.

Gentlemen we have been robbed of tradition, it is time to be much less conservative and more willing to adopt new radical courses, even those based on long chains of fragile reasoning. To use a metaphor, the background radiation level has reached the point where the organism of our value system must be much simplified it it is to carry forward any of its DNA at all. Taking this line of thinking seriously I now think some parts of our cultural tradition will have to be euthanasied. James_G and Nick Land as much as I have tried to deny it have discovered the first steps on a golden path of greater good or maybe I should say lesser evil. My heart sinks thinking what may have to be done to our humanity yet the most likely alternative will do far worse to it.

comment by BlazeOrangeDeer · 2013-01-06T07:51:06.718Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

On immigration, not necessarily limited to the united states. I find laws that discriminate based on national origin to be unfair, in the sense that they limit good outcomes arbitrarily. On the other hand, I do not know of a way to transition to more lenient immigration laws successfully (though I haven't thought about it much and it's far from my areas of interest). I want to know if there are arguments for limiting the rights of immigrants (legal or not) that aren't rooted in excessive self-interest ("they took our jobs!") Or perhaps xenophobia.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2013-01-07T04:21:44.776Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It is clear that some countries are more productive and generally nicer places than others. Why is that? A large part of it is because of the people in those countries. (I'll not get into the question of whether genetic or memetic differences are more important since it's not directly relevant to my point.) Thus it makes sense to restrict immigration from the type of people likely to make the country a worse place to live.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-01-07T11:35:58.803Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

people likely to make the country a worse place to live.

Would they, actually?

comment by OrphanWilde · 2013-01-07T12:33:05.390Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I think you're arguing at a cross purpose; Eugine is, I believe, suggesting that there are other potential costs; for example, the -politics- of immigrants could cause problems. Suppose, for argument's sake, that socialism is the best economic system (you can easily reverse this argument for the sake of argument; I'm a laissez-faire capitalist, so I'm choosing a hypothetical that fights me); if laissez-faire capitalists immigrate to a socialist area because it has more opportunity, their subsequent demands for economic reform could destroy the very economy that brought them in to begin with.

comment by [deleted] · 2013-01-09T18:51:30.384Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think Eugeine_Nier is talking about wages.

comment by satt · 2013-01-10T00:25:53.316Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I want to know if there are arguments for limiting the rights of immigrants (legal or not) that aren't rooted in excessive self-interest ("they took our jobs!") Or perhaps xenophobia.

I'm unsure whether you want arguments for limits on (1) immigration in itself, or (2) the rights of immigrants once settled in a new country, but I'll focus on arguments against (1), since they can be turned into arguments against (2) by observing that policies in favour of (2) are likely to encourage (1). I don't know how you draw the line in terms of excessive self-interest or xenophobia so I've set those worries aside in listing these arguments; take 'em or leave 'em.

  1. Potential immigrants might be worse than current residents, however you choose to define "worse". (Similar to Eugine_Nier's point.)

  2. The sheer rate at which people would immigrate to a given country in the absence of limits might overwhelm that country's resources.

  3. The loss of migrants from their home countries might harm those countries.

  4. Immigrants themselves might actually be worse off in a different country.

  5. Immigrants, regardless of their personal characteristics, might generate a negative reaction from the existing residents, institutions, and/or economy of their destination country.

  6. Other countries might suffer negative externalities from immigration even if immigrants, their countries of origin, and their destination country all enjoy a net benefit.

  7. Allowing certain immigrants to enter a country could provoke interference or punishment from their home country.

  8. Limiting (or outright banning) immigrants from a particular country could be a useful signal or sanction against that country.

comment by shminux · 2013-01-06T08:12:50.265Z · score: -3 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I find laws that discriminate based on national origin to be unfair

What is this "fair" thing? Life isn't fair. The governments are responsible to the citizens a single country, not the whole world, so they are unfair to non-citizens when it makes sense economically or politically. The immigration laws will be relaxed once it's in the interests of the country to attract more immigrants and tighten when there are enough. Happens all the time all over the world. You can pretend that this is about human rights, but it's really economics, with a healthy dose of politics.

comment by BlazeOrangeDeer · 2013-01-06T11:25:35.865Z · score: 4 (8 votes) · LW · GW

"Life isn't fair" is one of the least effective arguments I have ever heard, though it is a great example of naturalistic fallacy (this thing is better because it's natural / don't try to mess with the way things are meant to be). I also said why I thought unfairness in this particular case is bad, so I'm down voting.

comment by shminux · 2013-01-06T20:06:04.053Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I also said why I thought unfairness in this particular case is bad

You said "I find laws that discriminate based on national origin to be unfair, in the sense that they limit good outcomes arbitrarily." Good outcomes for whom? Often a good outcome for one person is a bad outcome for another. What are the reasons you would prefer one person over another?

comment by BlazeOrangeDeer · 2013-01-06T21:02:42.814Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Society is thankfully not a zero sum game. In many cases, an immigrant having the option to move to a new country is gaining a significant amount of utility, and the citizens of that country do not lose as much as the immigrant gains (they usually even benefit from the immigrant's presence). And in the cases where the immigrant is taking too much, there already laws in place to counteract antisocial behavior such as stealing or fraud. We already have laws to limit bad outcomes, so restrictions on immigration should tend to cause more harm than good by blocking outcomes regardless of utility. This is in the case where I do not give any advantage to the citizens already in the country by valuing their happiness more, and I don't see a reason why I should.

comment by drethelin · 2013-01-07T06:02:17.501Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Tragedy of the commons. On the margin, what a first world society loses and what the immigrant gains from coming to a vastly better country are unbalanced in the favor of the immigrant. On the other hand, unrestricted immigration can lead to cultural shifts, more crime, etc. Eg, if I live in a mansion by myself, and I let someone move in from out on the street, I'm a little worse off and they are vastly better off. If I let every homeless person into my mansion, it very quickly becomes its own slum, I am vastly worse off and on margin each homeless person is slightly better off. Not only do I now not have the use of all that space for my own pleasure, I have to deal with more crime, smelly housemates, and drugs and alcohol. Maybe I don't want to raise a family there anymore. It's easy to argue that a nation should take a small loss to its citizens to greatly improve the life for a non-citizen, but a lot harder to argue that it should screw itself over to make life better for a lot of non-citizens.

comment by TheOtherDave · 2013-01-07T06:19:14.887Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

On your account I am worse off with one person in my house, albeit marginally, and I am vastly worse off with lots of them in my house. In other words, on this account people are negative-value, and I am best off living alone in my house while the homeless people stay outside.

At some point it seems worth asking under what conditions (if any) an additional person in my house provides positive value (for example, if they can provide valuable labor or entertaining company).

It also seems worth asking whether and how we can make those conditions obtain more generally, and whether the cost of doing so offsets the value obtained by doing so or not.

comment by drethelin · 2013-01-07T07:44:37.873Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think the most popular solution is rent but it's hard to generalize to nations

comment by TheOtherDave · 2013-01-07T14:13:43.783Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Rent is a popular solution, yes. So is an exchange of labor (e.g. spouses, household servants, children). The latter is easier to generalize.

comment by wedrifid · 2013-01-06T18:57:13.257Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

What is this "fair" thing?

It refers to aspects of behavioral symmetry that the speaker prefers and is willing to use power to enforce in his or her environment of interest. (At very least via an attempt at moral persuasion.)

comment by Multiheaded · 2013-01-09T05:29:05.065Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Edit: low quality rambling comment, sorry. Retracted, might redo it later.

An interesting post on some transhumanist blog/community about dominance and counter-dominance (and not equality/inequality or the method of governance per se) as the possible underlying political "drives" between Left and Right.

The blog itself is thoroughly unimpressive - all the standard transhumanist applause lights, and the modern progressivist ideology smuggled in as common sense. Yet my ears perked up at this particular argument. I've been thinking across similar lines recently, reading about the Social Dominance Theory and some earlier left-y works that invoke the problem of dominance (e.g. Adorno's The Authoritarian Personality), as well as Corey Robin's recent The Reactionary Mind (I found the whole book just lying unattended online, btw). I think that, as biased as the view from the left might be here, it's a serious challenge to conservative/reactionary criticism of left-wing "radicalism"/"moralizing"/"utopianism"/whatever.

Think of it: if some people and groups might - for ev-psych or neurological or whatever basic reasons - be more accepting of relations of dominance (especially coercive/enforced ones) between humans, and others might have the moral intuition that such relations are repugnant... could it be that "Left" and "Right" have a deep and irreconcilable opposition to each other? That it lies more in moral intuitions and less than factual claims or ideas about society?

P.S.: I'm pleasantly stunned to see that at least one person, who apparently previously identified with the mainstream American Right worldview, publicly changed his mind on some issues after reading Social Dominance. And not just by flipping his tribal self-identification to "Marxist" or whatever, but trying to genuinely engage with the argument. Impressive!

P.P.S. sorry for my somewhat obtuse language, I'm trying to avoid mind-killing LWers, as happened when I first linked to a passionate review of The Reactionary Mind by Exiled's Connor Kilpatrick. (Now I narrowly resisted linking to a thoroughly unfair, indignantly nitpicking, downright embarrassing "review" by none other than John Derbyshire.)

comment by pleeppleep · 2013-01-02T04:18:10.635Z · score: -4 (22 votes) · LW · GW

This question is probably a violation of rule 4, but I think if we're discussing politics then it just has to be asked:

Regarding American politics, which party's general stance is more optimal for ensuring prosperity?

I realize that politicians often fail to meet the idealistic standards of their affiliations, and that both parties' s positions are too biased, general, and simple to actually be correct, but which one do you think comes closer to the mark, overall?

I believe Eliezer said somewhere that, if you had to choose between one of the two major tribes, the Republican camp was slightly better. He may have updated since then. Politics may kill minds, but it is still important, and individual votes do influence it even on a national scale, so if we're going to talk politics, we may as well spend the time trying to figure out how best to apply our conclusions.

Again, I'm sorry if this question is too mindkill-y even for this thread, but I believe that this is the most relevant question we can ask if we're talking politics. Also, I don't mean to fence off non-Americans, but I am American, as are the majority of Lesswrongers, and in any case, America has enormous influence on other nations one way or the other. If you have an opinion on the matter, please share it, whether you're American or not.

comment by fubarobfusco · 2013-01-02T05:17:06.503Z · score: 18 (18 votes) · LW · GW

A prerequisite to the above question:

Do the political parties, when elected, implement the policies that they advocate when campaigning?

Are there other affiliations besides party which more accurately predict a politician's actions?

comment by mwengler · 2013-01-03T17:18:02.863Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Reagan deregulated, Bush lowered taxes, Clinton balanced budgets and reformed welfare, etc. etc.

Of course the record is not perfect, but in the grand scheme of things, large sweeping points of discussion tend to get attention correlated with the discussion.

comment by Alsadius · 2013-01-02T10:11:54.475Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW · GW

I think that this thread will go better, by the established norms of LW, if we stick to single, small topics that can actually be taken apart. The question you ask has far too many nested unknowns - definition of party platforms is hard, and economic outcomes of various policies is even harder - and too many places for discussion to go off the rails. Even with this group, that debate will devolve into talking points within three layers of replies. I'd rather have that sort of discussion in an ordinary group, and use LW for political debate of the sort LW actually has an advantage at.

comment by mwengler · 2013-01-03T17:13:11.185Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yes many moving parts, but an important part of this discussion could be which are actually more important and which are sideshows.

comment by 9eB1 · 2013-01-02T05:43:26.308Z · score: 10 (12 votes) · LW · GW

This question strikes me as both too mindkill-y, and as unimportant in light of the fact that you don't get to vote for political parties, only for individual candidates in individual races. What do you think would be the important change in your behavior if you were convinced, in general, that Republicans were "better" than Democrats or vice versa, and how do you think that would impact the political process?

comment by mwengler · 2013-01-03T17:16:23.330Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

What do you think would be the important change in your behavior if you were convinced, in general, that Republicans were "better" than Democrats or vice versa, and how do you think that would impact the political process?

The political discussion moves the parties around. Economics discussion resulted in significant deregulation which has since been pretty broadly adopted by both parties. A discussion of what features make one party better than the other will, if it bears up, tend to contribute to making both parties more like the better position.

Since politics is a team sport, if it turned out that one team is doing better at what you want (assuming it is prosperity, hardly the only metric possible), then you would be well advised to support that team in some ways.

These are two practical implications for this discussion.

comment by RomeoStevens · 2013-01-03T19:37:54.285Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I hear the deregulation thing touted a lot and I don't buy it. Do you have any links or sources? It seems like "deregulation" usually refers to less explicit rules in favor of a closer alliance between government and the major players of the industry in question.

comment by mwengler · 2013-01-04T13:59:51.360Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Reagan further removed controls on oil and gas, cable television and long-distance phone service, as well as interstate bus service and ocean shipping.

from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deregulation#Deregulation_1970-2000

Reagan was not the only president who reduced regulation, but he was one of them.

comment by Emile · 2013-01-02T09:56:37.962Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I believe that this is the most relevant question we can ask if we're talking politics

Why ???

One of ways politics messes up people's reasoning is that they tend to pay excessive implication to the political alignment of issues. When considering policy X, they first ask themselves, "is X a left-wing or a right-wing policy"? (I know I used to, though I try to do so less and less), which in turn is likely to subconsciously influence how skeptical they are of pieces of evidence, etc.

This isn't a very big problem for elections, where one's vote has very little weight anyway, but you also get the same effect when judging ideas about society or history, or parenting styles, or careers ...

So paying less attention to politics should reduce emotional priming and increase decision quality.

I don't see what benefit one could get from paying attention to politics, apart from maybe getting along better with people who care about politics.

comment by FiftyTwo · 2013-01-02T15:48:31.795Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

How do you define 'prosperity?' Do you mean it in a narrow economic sense of a wider sense (e.g. ensuring general utility).

comment by buybuydandavis · 2013-01-03T08:30:10.498Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Whose prosperity are we talking about? What time frame?

comment by RomeoStevens · 2013-01-03T19:41:32.988Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'll take maximum economic prosperity now and leave maximum social prosperity to the point when most of the world is industrialized and children aren't being arbitrarily tortured by disease and starvation. I don't care about the first world poor.

comment by mwengler · 2013-01-03T17:12:01.936Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

First, I think this is a very useful and interesting question. It actually impacts decisions.

Second, I think the question itself is biased, in a sense. It asks which is more optimal for ensuring prosperity implicitly leading some to think this is the only possible criterion for choosing. However, the party that leads to more prosperity by many definition might also be the party that produces a poor underclass and a society which is, overall, significantly less happy or healthy on average. Might do, I'm saying, the point being that prosperity alone is not necessarily even the most intuitive figure of merit.

Indeed another very important figure of merit is societal survival. What profiteth it a political system if it raise the happiness but succumb to an external enemy? Nature is "red in tooth and claw," this is not a value judgement, just a description of the survivors. There is no seriously large (i.e. successful) political system that isn't pretty amazingly cynical about basic rights when protecting itself. It can be codified and above board (such as passing laws about which "coercive interrogation" is allowed and what the rules for "extraordinary rendition" are) or it can be hidden and lied about, but even seeming peacey countries have militaries and intelligence services and are not anxious to repeat any subjugation they might have experienced in world war I or II or some other conflict they did not do well in.

Having said all that, my considered opinion (sort of like a conclusion I guess) is that the policies of either major party in the US can be made to work for prosperity. That the more fundamental difference is values, primarily a belief in different amounts of government redistribution (both parties support redistributive policies). If you can accept a repressed underclass, you can get an efficient economy carried out by the overclass. If you want to mitigate the bottom, you can get an efficient economy carried out. The provable results of economics are more about what mechanisms work and less about what the ultimate goals of the produced prosperity are.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2013-01-02T17:51:52.967Z · score: -2 (14 votes) · LW · GW

Disclaimer: Republicans spend a lot of time torturing non-Americans and then laughing about it in their Republican forums, so as a non-American, I'm probably about as biased against them as a black guy would be biased against the KKK.

Regarding American politics, which party's general stance is more optimal for ensuring prosperity?

The Pirate Party.

I believe Eliezer said somewhere that, if you had to choose between one of the two major tribes, the Republican camp was slightly better.

Really? I wouldn't expect it of him. Frankly without context and certainty, I think this sentence is more distracting than useful, as I'm trying to figure out reasons he would say that, instead of actually judging an actual argument for or against a party.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2013-01-03T20:22:05.026Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Republicans spend a lot of time torturing non-Americans and then laughing about it in their Republican forums, so as a non-American,

There are two ways to interpret the above statement, one of which makes it false, the other true but highly misleading.

The false interpretation: Republics support torturing random non-Americans and than laugh about it on their forums. (Seriously, if this statement sounds at all plausible to you, you have bigger problems.)

The misleading interpretation: Republics support torturing certain particular non-Americans and laugh than laugh about it on their forums. Of course, those particular non-Americans are terrorists, dictators, dictators' thugs, and otherwise nasty people who one could reasonably say deserve it.

comment by Alsadius · 2013-01-03T07:35:24.195Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I believe his stated reason was their economic policy.

comment by Eugine_Nier · 2013-01-03T20:21:53.473Z · score: -3 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Republicans spend a lot of time torturing non-Americans and then laughing about it in their Republican forums, so as a non-American,

There are two ways to interpret the above statement, one of which makes it false, the other true but highly misleading.

The false interpretation: Republicans support torturing random non-Americans and than laugh about it on their forums. (Seriously, if this statement sounds at all plausible to you, you have bigger problems.)

The misleading interpretation: Republicans support torturing certain particular non-Americans and laugh than laugh about it on their forums. Of course, those particular non-Americans are terrorists, dictators, dictators' thugs, and otherwise nasty people who one could reasonably say deserve it.

comment by mwengler · 2013-01-04T14:07:01.369Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Of course, those particular non-Americans are terrorists, dictators, dictators' thugs, and otherwise nasty people who one could reasonably say deserve it.

Or innocent bystanders mistaken for, or even cynically denounced without merit. The same legal and practical protections against torturing or even mistakenly imprisoning Americans are deliberately not applied when torturing or imprisoning foreigners.

The U.S. has, and all countries have, to some extent, a double standard, one for citizens and one for non-citizens. In the U.S. the distance between the two different standards has increased gigantically since 9/11/2001.

This may be what Aris was referring to.

comment by ArisKatsaris · 2013-01-03T23:32:34.897Z · score: 0 (8 votes) · LW · GW

The misleading interpretation: Republicans support torturing certain particular non-Americans and laugh than laugh about it on their forums. Of course, those particular non-Americans are terrorists, dictators, dictators' thugs, and otherwise nasty people who one could reasonably say deserve it.

No, it's not just "particular" non-Americans, because then you'd see Republicans debate in their forum what criteria should be used to determine those "particulars" -- WHICH I'VE NEVER SEEN THEM DO. The more accurate relation is just this: Republicans support torturing non-Americans. They support torturing certain kinds of non-Americans more than other kinds, but there's never been a torture of a non-American by Americans that they've ever found a legal or moral problem with. Not even taxi-drivers that were tortured to death for being in the wrong place.

Being a non-American is the sufficient condition for most Republicans to support the right of Americans to torture you, even to death.

That's been my impression from the Republican forums I've had the misfortune to observe.

comment by Alsadius · 2013-01-04T05:26:23.254Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I spent several years hanging around in the warblogger community around 2003. I literally have no idea what you're referring to. Yes, a lot of people were very happy when Saddam Hussein got hanged, myself included. Some(though not all) favoured waterboarding in extreme circumstances. Absolutely nobody would have favoured taking a cheese grater to a random Canadian.