Are"ingroups" vs. "outgroups" as commonly used typically based on self-identification or is it not sufficient? 2021-06-07T01:03:24.912Z
Do you think "rationalists", or rationality leads people to, stereotype demographic groups less or more than the general public? 2021-06-06T16:50:25.916Z
Signalling lack of familiarity with outsiders or outside knowledge, to raise status among your in-group peers? 2021-05-24T03:42:40.055Z


Comment by orthogenesis on [Letter] Imperialism in the Rationalist Community · 2021-06-26T21:20:43.752Z · LW · GW

It's unclear to me why you would make such an accusation without bringing any examples of what uninformed things about non-white non-Western ciswomen are supposedly said on LessWrong.


The phrase "I don't see people in terms of race" is such an example. 


I don't have any stats on this, but while I wouldn't be surprised that groups considered the default say this (e.g. white, western males in the west), this seems less asymmetrical in principle in some other situations (e.g. I could see in principle a non-western non-white person being the majority in their majority non-western non-white country saying something similar if they've only lived with people of one so-called "race", under popular definitions, in their life).

When you mentioned "uninformed things about non-white non-Western ciswomen", my imagination ran towards a group of homogenous (white, western male) people who sit around and bring up "hey, I heard group X (of non-white, non-western, ciswomen) have these (insert imagined bizarre rituals and habits), I heard from (source)" "Yeah, I heard that too (from other source)", "My mom told me (insert same stereotype) is true when I was 5" or something.

Then, a newcomer (or two, or three or a bunch) from group X joins in the conversation and say "no, I (or we all) have firsthand knowledge of growing up in X society, and that is totally unlike what you described. There is no bizarre ritual like that, or perhaps it's a garbled description of something real that's exaggerated." Had the newcomers not joined, the old-timers would not have been able to shed their misconception and update their knowledge (in the charitable case that it was a genuine example of misinformation and not malicious hatred of outgroup, though with conflict theory that's always possible still).

Comment by orthogenesis on [Letter] Imperialism in the Rationalist Community · 2021-06-26T20:59:18.315Z · LW · GW

It's the premature transhumanist idea that "whether you are an  doesn't matter". A world without racism would be nice. But we live in a world with racism. Therefore pretending race doesn't matter exacerbates racial inequity and brings us further away from actually bringing about a transhumanist utopia.

To be charitable, in many types of human conversation, statements that sound like mere descriptions of people or society ("this is not who we are as a nation", "adults don't act like children", "in life, friends are more important than money") are frequently shorthand for normative ones ("I think our nation shouldn't act that way", "I think adults shouldn't act the way I perceive is childish", "people should value friendship in their lives much beyond mere economic transaction"), to the point where even people with the best of intentions don't realize they're conflating the usages. I think rationalists generally try to avoid this but even so it's still possible to slip up and intend a normative statement when you use a descriptive one.

I would distinguish between someone saying "x doesn't matter" as a sincere belief that  "x shouldn't matter" vs. "x doesn't matter" as a cop-out or denial, even cover-up of situations where x mattering is unsavory to them and they wish to pretend things are hunky-dory.

I feel like the latter tarnished the reputation of the former.

I don't know if this is the best analogy, but thinking on the fly, I can imagine someone saying "your personal happiness is more important than what people think" to justify being a jerk (after all, who cares what others think if I do something to piss them off) or "material things in life are overrated, the best things in life are free" as justification to not help the poor or solve inequality (after all, material things won't make them happier, look the poor can learn to be satisfied living with what they have already have) all the while benefitting from material prosperity itself. That doesn't mean the principles themselves don't have any (or some reasonable) amount of goodness, even if people use them for nasty justifications.

Comment by orthogenesis on [Letter] Imperialism in the Rationalist Community · 2021-06-25T17:36:33.617Z · LW · GW

This seems pretty tough because humans easily form associations with negative events, relative to positive events (for instance, refusal to visit a place ever again that they were robbed in, or eat a food that made them terribly sick, even if later on they intellectually realize it was a chance thing). 

I wonder if more positive encounters would help gradually change the bias, also for your own well-being (for example, having experiences where you were helped by, or have friendly relations with people who happen to be black, and overall being further exposed to that variability in all traits good and bad existing across humanity regardless of race).

But then again, not having been through the same situation (and not knowing if I would develop the same response, or if most people in general would, of having feelings of a certain way towards a group because of a given number of negative encounters), I'll refrain from too much theoretical postulating.

Comment by orthogenesis on [Letter] Imperialism in the Rationalist Community · 2021-06-25T03:46:44.758Z · LW · GW

The phrase keep your identity small is a good thing to tell yourself when your identity is trivial and superficial. It is a harmful, insensitive thing to tell a discriminated-against minority when you are a member of the majority.


I think the ideal would be the majority (or the powerful, capable of doing the discriminating) keeps their identity small AND the minority (or the less powerful, the target of the discriminating) keeps their identity small (without said discrimination, there then would be lowered need for defensive identity-forming). Thus, making people super individualistic.

After all in some sense, it's because the majority doesn't keep their identity small but enlarges it to be the normative "norm" that the minority suffers. It's those who don't realize they're not keeping their identity small at all (seeing oneself as default is not humility or keeping one's identity small). If the minority's traits were seen as just as neutral (neither more good or more bad than the majority's) just as the majority's traits were neutral, there wouldn't be a problem with either one's identity being kept small or large.

But absent that, it's riskier for groups targeted based on some identity to keep their identity small I agree. I think a lot of the problem with the whole identity discourse is people fail to distinguish between voluntary vs. involuntary identities (glossing over problems with wording like "self-identify as"). Voluntary identities you can keep large or small based on your own will. Involuntary ones forced upon you force you to be reactive.

Comment by orthogenesis on [Letter] Imperialism in the Rationalist Community · 2021-06-25T03:19:48.325Z · LW · GW

but outside of these exceptional cases of misassignment, using these expressions gives the impression the assignation is incorrectly made way more often than it in fact is.


I see what you mean, but perhaps to be charitable (if not pedantic), I feel like the term "assigned" doesn't necessarily tell you about accuracy, reliability (or perhaps goodness) of an assignment. For example, if I hear someone say "the policy-maker assigned a high economic value to X" or "the scientist assigned a high probability to the chance of a drought", I wouldn't think absent more info, that it was likely correct or incorrect, just that someone was reporting someone else's judgement. 

Comment by orthogenesis on [Letter] Imperialism in the Rationalist Community · 2021-06-25T03:09:22.109Z · LW · GW

I don't know about the majority, but I can say for at least a few, when they say "I don't see people in terms of race", they're being literal, not metaphoric. I was like this until my late teen years, when it changed, in a bad way -- which I can detail if there's interest. But the point is, until that moment I really couldn't see race, at all. I evidently noticed people had different skin colors, hair types, and eye shapes, but this didn't register with me as significant in any way, shape or form, concrete or abstract.


I can totally relate to this description and experience. I think the term "not seeing race/being colorblind" is a bit confusing in a literal sense, even if not disingenously used, because it sounds like its literally talking about not noticing the traits when it's often meant about not treating the traits as deep meaningful aspects of human being or having (insert stereotypes, associations, connotations) triggered by observing said traits, if used positively/non-pejoratively. Or if used negatively/pejoratively these days (when talking about "colorblindness" being covertly actually "racist"), it's about denial of having said (insert stereotypes, associations, connotations) triggered by observing said traits, but pretending otherwise. 

When I was young, I too noticed the physical variability of people but did not see the social categories that came bundled with it (I still remember as a kid literally describing people by skin tone or eye color, like "he's darker than me in skin" or "her hair's curlier than his" if asked, but not having learned the social stereotypes as in I would never have associated that curly-haired dark skinned people listen to one type of music that light-skinned, straight-haired ones don't). I also never really connected culture with physical appearance/ancestry in a way that people who care a lot about cultural authenticity/appropriation today do (for instance, my priors were that anyone could speak any language, learn any skill, eat any food etc. so I never picked up why people acted surprised for instance when say a black person spoke with a Scottish accent, or say a white person ate Chinese food more often than his Asian neighbor, until later in my life).

This also changed for me (in my early to mid teens, rather than late teens as you mentioned for your case). I would indeed be interested in your mention of this sort of thing having "changed in a bad way". I also don't recall the exact details, but the "loss of colorblindness/lack of racial consciousness" for me seemed to grow out of being gradually more and more aware and socially conscious about what others around me thought and judged/stereotyped about others. I learned to pick up said stereotypes, perhaps becoming more socially savvy and accultured to normal adult life (I also didn't like that and in hindsight would have liked the, perhaps, naively blissful "unaware of racial stereotypes" phase, but I realize it wouldn't last). 

I suppose that's why people disdain  teaching"colorblindness"... trying to make naivity about social categories extend for as long as possible isn't going to last if these social categories are treated as super significant all around you, better to learn them quickly and counter the ways these social categories impact people negatively (still, I feel some part of me longs for the idealized "not noticing race as significant" phase, and hope that even if "colorblindess" is negative in that solving race-related problems involve noticing social categories and putting super strong emphasis on them, I hope that's instrumental and in some ways, is meant to lead to a world where we do get into a closer-to "colorblind" end state in the previously thought of as positive way, rather than the "fake" colorblindness of not noticing racial problems). 

Comment by orthogenesis on Are bread crusts healthier? · 2021-06-21T13:03:04.822Z · LW · GW

I only know of children and elderly people not eating the crust because it's harder to chew.


Interesting explanation, but does that hold for other foods -- do kids/adults that don't enjoy the crust because it's harder tend to also dislike other difficult-to-chew foods? Anything from jerky to raw vegetables? And those that do enjoy it, enjoy chewing other harder foods?

Clearly, there are lots of crunchy/chewy foods kids are willing to eat or at least are not stereotyped as off-putting the way bread crusts are for kids.

It'd be interesting to tease apart what is causing the dislike -- is it really texture, or taste or something else?

Comment by orthogenesis on Are bread crusts healthier? · 2021-06-21T12:55:53.740Z · LW · GW

When I try to look up the question of why kids (often) don't like crusts, there is the occasional person that frames it as an "American" thing. Other disagree pointing out Brits, Europeans etc. also feel this way.

But is there any evidence that this varies by country, culture or nationality? If so why might this be -- differences in type of bread/baking styles?

Comment by orthogenesis on Taboo "Outside View" · 2021-06-21T12:41:46.313Z · LW · GW

I'm not sure if outside (ha!) the "rationalist sphere", other people have independently invented the phrase "outside view" or not but I feel there's some spillover of the term "outside view" with similarity to "outsiders' view" which I think is common enough in layperson speak.

An outsider's view (or third party view, attempt to be objective and look "outside" your current situation as an "other") as conceived of in daily life does have elements that are pointed at in this post for popular interpretations of outside view ("Bias correction, in others or in oneself", "Deference to wisdom of the many"). 

But it also could heavily involve the original meaning described and clarified in this post too of "Reference class forecasting" if outsiders can offer broader views by adding to the reference class

For example in an argument when two people are fighting over (thing) say a married couple bickering or two friends whose relations have soured due to some problem, the two parties with vested interests may think their struggle is unique and particular, but a neutral third party or outsider can often (though not necessarily) have a better, objective view because they've also seen enough different fights over (thing) that the two involved have not seen before. 

Comment by orthogenesis on Four Components of Audacity · 2021-06-21T12:21:48.375Z · LW · GW

In particular, "boldness" and "daring" seem to me as if they have very little to do with nonconformity

So, for instance, you could be bold and risk-taking but doing so because you want to live up to a norm (or are heavily driven by chasing an ideal that's "conventional")? 

For instance, a manly warrior taking risks to show off his manliness or lack of cowardice, or desire to fill the warrior role in his tribe. Would that count? 

Comment by orthogenesis on Open and Welcome Thread – June 2021 · 2021-06-09T13:08:31.626Z · LW · GW

Here is just an example (from a fairly mainstream media source, NPR), of what I was thinking about when it comes to motivation, titled  A Daughter's Journey To Reclaim Her Heritage Language, and discussing a third-generation Chinese American who never previously spoke a Chinese language trying to learn at age 30 to reconnect with her roots.

Back in the days (perhaps even not so long ago as the 90s), it feels like this -- along with liberal arts folks, cultural intellectuals like humanities professors --  was far closer to an archetype if not one of the central examples of the average American interested in Chinese culture or language. 

Now this sort of thing is heavily swamped by the perception that interest in China is all political/business/realpolitik related. The heritage/culture side -- both Chinese Americans interested in so-called "reconnecting with their roots" or anyone of any heritage for that matter interested in the subject -- seems pretty drowned out by comparison.

Comment by orthogenesis on Often, enemies really are innately evil. · 2021-06-07T23:31:17.746Z · LW · GW

Also, l needed to show a specific example of a bully taking the extra effort to do extra harm, and giving a real example would be, well, problematic.

I think also that any bully who goes far enough to do something really bad gets called other things and becomes a non-central example of a bully (e.g. a bully that resorts to murder is labelled a murderer, not a bully). It seems bully often evokes images of doing mean-but-not-to-the-point-of criminal things where laws get involved and where the label on a kid shifts from bully to juvenile delinquent, even if the non-illegal things are still bad and traumatizing to victims.

Comment by orthogenesis on Often, enemies really are innately evil. · 2021-06-07T23:00:34.668Z · LW · GW

Depends on if you mean by that, as shorthand that the evil (insert person or thing) must be destroyed if possible.

You could get rid of something 'evil' by reforming or changing it to be 'non-evil' by whatever means, that don't involve literally annihilating it.

Unless your definition of evil thing implies unreformable (don't know if that matches intuition -- I can image stories where an 'evil' villain sees the light and becomes good) and destruction is the only option.

Comment by orthogenesis on Are"ingroups" vs. "outgroups" as commonly used typically based on self-identification or is it not sufficient? · 2021-06-07T22:46:14.621Z · LW · GW

I will admit my goal was primarily more about the second, about popular usage precisely because I perceived a mismatch with the "self-identity" emphasis which (many) more academic sources seem to focus on. 

I wanted to interrogate if this mismatch fit people's perceptions and the usage on blogs, online and in related circles.

And also if it had any implication for clearer thinking when conflicting usages arise between people talking about ingroups and outgroups.

Comment by orthogenesis on Are"ingroups" vs. "outgroups" as commonly used typically based on self-identification or is it not sufficient? · 2021-06-07T22:26:04.359Z · LW · GW

Well, I thought the rationality-and-adjacent community emphasizes and would be a good place to clarify and disentangle concepts and meanings. These are major places, on blogs etc., where ingroup and outgroup are popularly used online.

And I don't mean to bring too much whataboutism into this, but I find it noteworthy that of criticism of two posts that I got recently downvoted for, one seemed to center around not enough explicitness and usage of common language (over the term "stereotype") but the other about asking for too much explicitness (over the term "ïngroup"). 

Comment by orthogenesis on Are"ingroups" vs. "outgroups" as commonly used typically based on self-identification or is it not sufficient? · 2021-06-07T21:39:40.090Z · LW · GW

Well, first, maybe in academic settings, what is the usage most commonly accepted and understood in social science?

And second, though there's no one authority, I want to know what usage(s) is most commonly understood or widespread broadly (even outside academia) by the public. 

And if popular usage conflicts with it (not to say that it's wrong, that's just usage), I also want to know. Just like how "anti-social"can describe introverted, asocial people in popular speech but in psychology or sociology mean actively harmful or adversarial to society. 

I'm actually surprised the answer to this question is not made more explicit (is an ingroup something you choose for yourself or not?), in many articles or blogs, for all the popularity that ingroup vs. outgroup as terms made it into the public setting from more academic terms. It makes a big difference conceptually if self-identification matters or if it is categorization by others, I would think.

Comment by orthogenesis on Suspected reason that kids usually hate vegetables · 2021-06-07T21:11:08.806Z · LW · GW

The thing that's always been weird to me about American food is that they serve you a giant slab of meat as your meal, and then everything else is sides, which leads to the whole "eat your vegetables" problem in the first place.

I think "American food" is a bit too diverse to generalize. You have your steaks and your meatloafs, but plenty of chilis, fajitas, stir fries, beef stews, soups with bits of meat in them, spaghetti-and-meatballs, chicken cut up and put-in-a-salad sort of thing, and plenty of other examples of meat "not in a big slab".

And yes, I would still consider stuff like Mexican-American, Chinese-American etc. food sufficiently "mainstream" in American culture that they are American food. Maybe most Americans don't eat those things every day, but they are parts of the culinary repertoire familiar to and used by them.

I have no idea of stats, but I bet most Americans of unspecified heritage would not find tacos, ground meat, stir fry meat, fajitas, chile, particularly exotic by any stretch and many Americans probably eat them, if not cook them themselves, a few times a week etc.

Comment by orthogenesis on Open and Welcome Thread – June 2021 · 2021-06-07T20:54:38.611Z · LW · GW

Learning Chinese because you love China and Chinese culture is a stupendous idea

There seems to be a definite shift in the last decade or two (or maybe generation) from the perception that people who are into Chinese-related things like culture/language are doing it for heritage and cultural interest reasons vs. doing it because of the perceived importance of China geopolitically, business-wise, science-wise etc. and because China is seen as "the future". 

Whether it's really practical or not, it appears claimed practical (careerist) reasons have increasingly taken over cultural reasons/liberal arts for being interested in China.

By contrast, it's interesting that say learning, French or Japanese, is still more associated with interest and appreciation for the culture than hardheaded pragmatism. Or even stuff like learning Korean because K-pop is seen as cool now.

Comment by orthogenesis on Open and Welcome Thread – June 2021 · 2021-06-07T20:43:18.048Z · LW · GW

On the lingua franca of science issue, I get the impression that for scientific careers over the last few generations, going out of one's way to learn foreign languages to read/communicate with non-English-speakers seems to have become less prevalent, rather than more, among English speakers.

For instance, mandatory foreign language requirements in US PhD programs are rarer and rarer (perhaps only in elite schools, and more or more restricted to humanities, not STEM) for fields like hard science.

Of course this is in comparison to and a holdover from when non-English European languages like French, German, Russian etc. made up a larger share of the scientific literature in past generations if not centuries, and may not apply to the rise of Asia.

But I do wonder, has the relative importance in science from the rise of China or Asia (let's say when Japan rose to prominence last generation or two ago) convinced more people to learn non-western languages in the same way people did with French, German, Russian ec. when continental Europe was a scientific center, that can be seen in language learning trends?

Most discussion of language learning centers around business, international relations, geopolitical stuff, with science relatively little discussed but that might be because scientists make up only a small proportion of the populace. 

Comment by orthogenesis on Often, enemies really are innately evil. · 2021-06-07T16:43:21.762Z · LW · GW

Wait what?

What planet are these psychologists from where if you walk away from a bully, they suddenly become stuck in place and give up?

I think the "walk away" thing works better, broadening the situation to not just school bullies, if you stretch the definition or I suppose steelman it to mean do actions where you can leave the bully behind and it's costly for the bully to follow unless they stalk or resort to means or risks that are too troublesome. 

e.g. Quit a workplace full of harassers or leave a club or an organization full of jerks. In some settings if enough victims "vote with their feet", the bully runs out of victims. Obviously totally unreasonable in settings like schools, prisons etc. 

Also moving away from situations with bullies is easier for adults or people with more agency or choice than kids.

But it doesn't work in settings where locally "walking away" doesn't put you out of the bullies reach and there is a low barrier for the bully to "walk back to you and resume bullying" -- moving to a different part of the playground, the bully will just follow. Changing office spaces, while a harasser still remains your co-worker and will still harass in regular encounter.

Comment by orthogenesis on Do you think "rationalists", or rationality leads people to, stereotype demographic groups less or more than the general public? · 2021-06-07T00:27:52.800Z · LW · GW

It worth noting here that people who form their opinion by "generalizing from one example" instead of by listening to common media are not stereotyping in your classification when they judge people by that generalization. 

Yes, indeed it would run counter to it. I didn't mean that "generalizing from one example" is "like stereotyping"in that they are similar in what type of reasoning they are, but meant to say they are similar as an example of something people could rationally admit to doing (admit to stereotyping, just like admit to generalizing from one example) and acknowledge the existence of or debate the usefulness of. 

Comment by orthogenesis on Do you think "rationalists", or rationality leads people to, stereotype demographic groups less or more than the general public? · 2021-06-06T23:45:49.175Z · LW · GW

Though if very few people besides you and I are participating, then I'd concede this conversation is not that fruitful and go discuss something else, I thought your point (2) was very interesting but I feel the ground the term "stereotype" covers is still a bit more narrow than this.

"2. When you are faced with a person about whom you have little information, to what extend are you willing to have an explicit model of the person. How strongly does that model influence your actions in the context of the person."

Stereotypes aren't just any explicit model based on limited information but are particular models based on larger group membership and assumptions of homogeneity in that group membership (for instance, if based on limited information, I look at Jane glancing at me funny and frowning and make up a mental model about Jane that maybe she hates me because some conspiracy against me as evidenced by her frown reminding me of my childhood bully that also frowned against me that way before plotting against me, that's an explicit model of her but not a conventional thing people would call a stereotype -- it's too thoughtfully individualistic, deliberate, explicit and idiosyncratic a model of a person. If I see Jane frown at me, and then think Jane frowns on me because she is a member-of-group and we all know member-of-groups don't like people doing X, which I just did, that falls more into a typical episode of stereotyping based on limited info).

I think a few traits of stereotypes (but not always) involve

  • Being part of the "common knowledge" of a society that most people share (in mass media societies it could be propagated through it, or orally as part of common knowledge elsewhere).
  • Homogeneity assumptions that may have some statistically average grain of truth or sometimes not, but is heavily played up in tropes that people rightly or wrongly see as over-the-top in some settings (people say stereotypes are played up in comedy, ads etc.).  For example, stereotypes of women shopping for shoes are popular and may be backed up by real stats (e.g. data on purchases) but take on a life of their own grander narratives in media.
  • Often passed on without firsthand knowledge to others through hearsay (though firsthand knowledge can confirm or disconfirm it) -- e.g. think of the father telling the young son "what women are like" even before the son has any good mental model from experience, though also heavily backed up by people who have tons of firsthand knowledge insisting it's common sense ("or I know it's stereotypical but it's true, I've been married 40 years"). The thing is stereotypes are things widely recognized by the culture -- something you discovered yourself through years of experience about generalizing about people but are not celebrated in mass culture, common knowledge are generally not called "stereotypes".
  • Not saying all stereotypes have these traits but possessing more of these traits makes something more likely to be called a "stereotype".
  • 3. How much entropy do you see in the information that's assessible in a few seconds. 
  • Yes, stereotypes seem to be reliant on certain cache'd thought/models and rely on thinking fast. If you think too much about the information and modeling, it almost becomes less  "stereotypical". But not all examples of thinking fast or relying on judgements accessible in a split second are stereotypes though.
Comment by orthogenesis on Do you think "rationalists", or rationality leads people to, stereotype demographic groups less or more than the general public? · 2021-06-06T22:48:16.592Z · LW · GW

I don't know a better way of phrasing the central example of category of thinking that is "social generalizations about categories of human that are statistical but commonly discussed in mass media, culture etc." in a clear and concise way other than "stereotypes" or "stereotyping". (One of the most common examples I started off with was fast, physical-appearance-based processing of demographic attributes like sex, appearance, accent, dress etc., which then trigger assumptions about people like personality, dispositions etc. most agree are a component in what people label as "stereotypes").

I was trying to get at a cluster of traits -- the "family resemblance thing" even if I couldn't formalize it well the first time. I was not trying to "Motte-and Bailey" the term "stereotype" but genuinely having a hard time grasping at a less charged term but still had the cluster of traits (in the sense of "what is art" is hard and heavily debated but you could still have a question like do rationalists value art or want to fund art more than average members of the public?).  

By analogy, people talk about westerners thinking more individualistically and easterners prefering collectivism, or STEM-types thinking analytically and humanities thinking more holistically or "people orientation" vs. "thing orientation" all the time, even though all those ways of thinking are politically charged ("what is collectivism" it's a fuzzy set of traits and has a negative connotation in some places but not others) but we can still rationally discuss them.  

I didn't even think "stereotype" was that politically charged in any particular direction (particular stereotypes are, but the concept of there being a thing called "stereotyping" which people of all political persuasions agree exist and people should rationally admit to doing (just like people rationally admit to "generalizing from one example" -- I do myself). I avoided focusing on any one subcategory of stereotyping precisely because I wanted to be more meta (instead of asking "are rationalists more skeptical of gender stereotypes", or "are they more skeptical of national stereotypes"?).

I suppose I could reword to something like "are rationalists less likely to make broad brush social generations from the "general culture" versus firsthand experience and waiting until getting more data firsthand from individuals" or something? Or even "are rationalists more skeptical about broad generalizations about human beings based on limited data about demographic categories than the average member of the public would be?" perhaps chanelling ideas like being aware of "generalizing from one example" or "typical mind fallacy" or "thinking fast and slow". Would that sound better?

And if others don't think this discussion is fruitful (as the initial downvotes show), than that is fine too. I am willing to concede and say maybe I'll spend time on, or discussing, other things. No hard feelings. 

Comment by orthogenesis on Do you think "rationalists", or rationality leads people to, stereotype demographic groups less or more than the general public? · 2021-06-06T22:20:49.752Z · LW · GW

I think it goes without saying that more data is good. But the quality or strength of the data is important too. I think some debates over stereotypes rest on if they count as good quality data, or data that should override other data (firsthand experience) on how to update your prior. For instance, if you get data from mass media that "all women like chocolate more than men" but get data from most of the men and women you know that both like chocolate equally, which trumps which in if you are more likely to consider chocolate as gift to male or female friends? 

You could say the societal stereotype is better data -- after all stereotypes have been built up over generations, are "common knowledge". You could say your personal, thoughtful experience is better (I trust my own people around me, not secondhand, thirdhand, or mass media cultural tropes -- but what if I'm in an unrepresentative bubble, what if my friends, knowing the stereotypes are ashamed to fulfil them and say the opposite, in which case I should downweigh their claims and actually follow the stereotype more).

Also in adversarial settings you want to know if stereotypes are accurate data or are created with an agenda (e.g. in wartime many stereotypes about the enemy's traits are not based on accurate understanding of the enemy; okay in a less obviously conflict-driven setting you might get this still -- like stereotypes exaggerated to sell a product "get this for dad" even though your dad doesn't fit the stereotypes, or "this city has friendly people" obviously sponsored by the tourism industry). They could be accurate however and in your best interest (e.g. the stereotype of citizens of this city being mean and unfriendly might be unflattering but your friend might generally care and tell you the stereotype (against the fear of generalizing) because if you're stranded there, it's good to know how much help you can expect from friendly strangers in borrowing a phone).


Comment by orthogenesis on Alcohol, health, and the ruthless logic of the Asian flush · 2021-06-06T21:57:30.724Z · LW · GW

Any other, alternative hypotheses to explain why Europeans and European-descended peoples drink far more than most others (this holds true for country to country comparisons though some places like Nigeria with little European descent are high, and less so but somewhat true within places like the US where whites seem to drink a bit more than racial minorities)?

I'm struck that "Europeans drink more than most of the world" is a bigger thing than "East Asians drink less than most of the world" by a long shot. That still seems to ask for an explanation, even if not genetic (e.g. cultural, historical etc.).

Comment by orthogenesis on Do you think "rationalists", or rationality leads people to, stereotype demographic groups less or more than the general public? · 2021-06-06T21:35:38.562Z · LW · GW

I don't know why this is being downvoted so much as I am trying to argue in good faith (I hopefully had tried to give the impression I'm not deliberately stoking culture war but want a clearer rational discussion about this) even though "stereotype" is a fuzzy set. 

Clearly stereotyping is enough of a "thing" that academics (e.g. Lee Jussim etc., people arguing about the validity or invalidity of things like stereotype threat, how important mass media perpetuating stereotypes matter vs. "common sense, people seeing what's in front of them") heavily cite each other and debate intensely over it.

I am thinking about the central examples in social psychology (fast judgement of demographic characteristics that emphasize social differences between groups that are at best statistical, so not "all humans breathe air", particularly traits that are amplified or played up due to their salience in mass culture, society, or media etc like "women like shopping".). 

I hate to do a "I know it when I see it" when it comes to the word stereotyping but even discussing what are the central "traits" of stereotypes are worth discussing.

I do think breaking down those questions makes sense. On your point about mental, explicit models, it seems what most people call "social" stereotypes have certain traits that rationalists would utilize (e.g. being explicit about how you might not be able to predict one individual's traits, but can rely on group averages like "men are more risk-taking") or using correlations of one trait to predict another trait.

Perhaps stereotypes are better framed as a type of prior -- but one that usually apply to people (you rarely hear about animal or inanimate object "stereotypes" but those are usually called generalizations like "the sky is blue -- well in sunny locales", or "dogs are friendly -- mostly") and subgroups or people, whose validity is heavily disputed.

Maybe framed another way, my central question is something like:

Are rationalists more likely to stray from the type of priors based on group-level characteristics that in academia/pop culture etc. are labelled "stereotypes". Because of various reasons -- higher prior on individual variation (less on homogeneity)? 

More focus on analytical thinking -- less gestalt belief in essentialism of clusters even if you use cluster thinking (i.e, the categories are made for the man)? More awareness that even if using stereotypes can be useful, they are a tool only, and stereotypes are in the map not the territory (a poorly drawn but still-occasionally handy map is a trait of the map, the territory is still complex).

Maybe other traits like less reliance on mass media/pop culture (people are rarely explicit on where the "model" for stereotypes come from -- is it personal experience like "stereotypes are really just a name for my personal accumulated experiences, prior updating to posterior, and then many times over and over time I become more accurate so they become second nature" or are their particular sources amplifying stereotypes, like this is true for X% of some group people, but everyone shouts about, jokes about the stereotype as to give the impression that it's 3X% of people,, biasing my priors, amount of updating etc. and if rationalists fall prey to them less)?

Also I'm not trying to use "stereotype less" as "applause light for "yay us, thoughtful individualists" entirely as I agree with the academic Lee Jussim that stereotypes can be useful and academics have overplayed the "things people call stereotypes are inaccurate and useless in providing information" card too much.

I acknowledge there can be stuff that is sacrificed for being less stereotypical and more open-minded (e.g. take longer to think, get mocked as "lacking common sense", "of course group X and Y differ" etc.). But at some benefits like being careful and thoughtful about the (possibly smaller numbers of) individuals who buck the trend or don't follow the stereotype (that society or other individuals might not always see as worth the trade-off vs. quick demographic judgement like in the insurance risk scenario).

Comment by orthogenesis on Alcohol, health, and the ruthless logic of the Asian flush · 2021-06-06T20:59:29.225Z · LW · GW

Yes, but it seems like the genetic predisposition hypothesis is about or at least usually framed as "East Asians vs. others (unless there are other groups where genetic predispositions are relevant)". Implying to test the protective effect of one trait, you want to see if East Asians who have the trait at higher levels differ from all others (presumably not having the trait at all, or at lower levels?). Yet the patterns/statistics for alcohol consumption or problems with alcoholism doesn't line up with "East Asian vs. the rest" as opposed to the West and the rest. What seems more notable to me is why the West is higher than everyone else. As opposed to East Asians who drink a middling amount (relative to the world) neither particularly high or low, and many East Asian countries are within the range of the west.

I suppose you could make the argument that East Asians would drink even more (perhaps as much as or even greater than the highest western countries) if not for the genetic predisposition that puts a brake on it. But counterfactuals are hard, and I don't know what would be an easy way to test that. 

Comment by orthogenesis on Do you think "rationalists", or rationality leads people to, stereotype demographic groups less or more than the general public? · 2021-06-06T17:36:42.285Z · LW · GW

I don't know if wikipedia's entry helps here but hopefully I'll try to formalize or at least give some central examples: 

In social psychology, a stereotype is a generalized belief about a particular category of people.[2] It is an expectation that people might have about every person of a particular group. The type of expectation can vary; it can be, for example, an expectation about the group's personality, preferences, appearance or ability. Stereotypes are sometimes overgeneralized, inaccurate, and resistant to new information, but can sometimes be accurate.[3]

Lee Jussim has published on stereotyping academically and argued (in a way contrarian to the popular consensus) for its accuracy in many settings. For instance "The Empirical Assessment of Stereotype (In)Accuracy, summarizes what is now an impressive body of literature assessing the (in)accuracy of racial, gender, age, national, ethnic, political, and other stereotypes".

Even though it's fuzzy, let's just go with some of the standard central examples:

Attributing a large cluster of traits such as personality, preferences, ability based on a relatively small amount of information about some of the most widely collected demographic attributes -- like gender, age, sex, political views, region etc. 

And notably, for some (most?) examples, the central example is often that judgement is "quick" and based on small pieces of information, such as physical appearance or looks, accent, surname, some official label etc. For example, meeting someone for the first time and either finding out they're group X.

In many cases, the bundle of traits that make up the stereotype are triggered by knowing the demographic category and deployed as assumptions or priors without asking. The priors might come from personal experience, mass media or a combination of them. Another trait pointed out in the wikipedia article is resistance to updating from new information.

Comment by orthogenesis on Alcohol, health, and the ruthless logic of the Asian flush · 2021-06-06T16:17:06.457Z · LW · GW

Looking at alcohol consumption by country, however, East Asia seems pretty middle of the pack. The main trends seem to be Europe and majority European-settled countries are rather high, and the Middle East and North Africa are very low (religious prohibition).

Since the west is high, the rest is low, or not so-high, with parts of East Asia overlapping parts of the west, it seems like these genetic predispositions aren't as strong in effect as someone might predict given the culture. I have heard Japanese and Korean drinking culture rivals European ones.

Within the US, whites and racial minorities (e.g. African Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans etc.) do somewhat differ in drinking rates, alcohol problems, but the differences aren't nearly as drastic as super strong "innate" differences would predict (e.g.

It also seems like a religious prohibition making entire regions in the Islamic world far lower in alcohol consumption which is (almost?) entirely cultural has a strong effect with no need to resort to genes, unless there have been studies on if other non-East Asian populations are predisposed to be disadvantaged by alcohol consumption.

Comment by orthogenesis on Sabien on "work-life" balance · 2021-05-24T17:08:13.517Z · LW · GW

That context is still relevant to a lot of people, but for many it makes a lot less sense, and work-life balance more seems to be refer to not letting work consume your life when you can be contacted anytime anywhere day or night.

Right -- though you could say the underlying core sentiment is still somewhat similar in that regard.

 "Old work-life balance" -- work and life are separate spheres, don't let the work sphere (a time block of say 9-5) expand to take up space at the expense of the other sphere, a separate time block. 

"New work-life balance" -- let's try to not let the work sphere intrude too much into the other sphere as a single time block (e.g., turn off the screen after 5 pm and that's it) but if that doesn't work pragmatically (e.g. on-call, work from home), still minimize the time/effort that work saps from you (that 10 min interruption to check an email followed by 5 min of worrying and planning for the next day could be shortened to 3 min total, or something, then forgotten about before returning to dinner).

In one case, I imagine work as one single bloc of contiguously colored territory and non-work as another, and you want to avoid the one territory expanding too much at the expense of the second.   In the other one territory has made small patches of enclaves into the other, but the balance is the same -- you want to make sense total area of one color is not too big or small, whether it's contiguous or not. (The area or size of patches could be time, mental effort or whatever in the metaphor).

Comment by orthogenesis on Signalling lack of familiarity with outsiders or outside knowledge, to raise status among your in-group peers? · 2021-05-24T16:23:28.529Z · LW · GW

Well, it seems like it's still the case in situations where people can't (or won't) leave their tribes. For example, men and women aren't usually each other's outgroup and in situations where no one plans or gives indication of "leaving" a gender, it's still bad for say men who have all intentions of remaining men to signal too much knowledge of girly movies, chick flicks etc.. But that works in the other cases I brought up -- the local citizen who is too into foreign stuff might pack up and leave, or a nerd/jock/artsy person who is too into the other clique's stuff might also switch peer groups. 

I feel like things in some cases may be driven by "neutral" outsider stuff competing for attention/time/cost from "good" ingroup stuff,  even in situations where you don't leave your ingroup, so maybe it's "bad" in a non-zero sum way even in situations where you don't see the outsider stuff as bad in absolute terms (i.e., why don't you spend more effort on ingroup stuff, which would be "even better", even if I'm not opposed to outsider stuff?). 

Comment by orthogenesis on Signalling lack of familiarity with outsiders or outside knowledge, to raise status among your in-group peers? · 2021-05-24T16:16:06.992Z · LW · GW

It's mainly about associations.

The outgroup is bad. There are beliefs and behaviors associated with the outgroup.
Therefore these beliefs and behaviors are bad. If I show any of these beliefs and behaviors people might think I'm bad.

Fair, but I mentioned examples where the (not necessarily outgroup in an rivalrous way but non-ingroup) outsiders are not seen as bad per se, but neutral whereas the ingroup is good. 

For instance a local citizen might not be seen as "bad" for being interested in foreign stuff (if the foreign countries in question are not seen as bad, just "other", or possibly fargroup, or even viewed positively just "not us"), but this would still take away from perception of patriotism (here, assumed as positive trait) that a similar local citizen who all else being equal totally lacks interest or curiousity in foreign stuff. 

Also,  men and women aren't each other's outgroups usually (barring some more radical views) but a man who in too interested into "girl stuff" or vice versa can be seen as bad even in situations where there is no confusion where the ingroup can't be confused with the other group. I suppose the "outgroup stuff is bad" still works if you define "bad" relative to the person's social role.  Such as  "girl stuff" is "good" for girls", "bad for boys", even if boys and girls are equally good. "French stuff is good for French people but bad for British people", even if British and French folks are equally good. 

Then it's about transgression of roles I guess and policing which stuff are for what people.

The opposite is also true, I've known some people who seriously neglected their health because they associated exercise with not-so-bright folks. Notice how it has the same process behind it, but it's not related to knowledge the same way your example was. 

I would agree that that reversed example of the nerd and jock is also bad, and perhaps could generalize that to avoid learning skills/abilities/things, instead of just intellectual knowledge, that would benefit you because it's associated with the other outgroup/non-ingroup members. 

Comment by orthogenesis on The Flexibility of Abstract Concepts · 2021-05-23T23:09:05.602Z · LW · GW

I know this wasn't the main point but some thoughts on this.

There is a secret game Asian-Americans play among ourselves called the "What kind of Asian are you?" game.

This is a topic that is much discussed (often labelled under the term "microaggression") but I get the impression in contemporary American society, it's increasingly seen as rude to ask in an unsolicited manner about someone's ancestry in that way. Perhaps it's different among familiars than strangers.

Whenever an Asian-American meets another Asian-American we try to guess each other's nationality. If you guess right you gain charisma points. If you guess wrong you lose charisma points. Of course, you don't literally say "I know you are a <whatever>." 

That's easy. They're American, by definition! Okay, I know what you mean, but in many settings commenting on someone's ancestry at all unsolicited makes one lose charisma points. You have to know the context.

That is a faux pas. Instead you imply it by demonstrating common cultural understandings not shared by the wider Western world.

Is this really particular to Asian Americans though? Do Americans of European, Latin American, African or other continental ancestries differ in this way? Plenty of European-Americans go around discussing if someone's Irish or German or Italian or whatever in origin because of some residual old-country cultural trait that is still perceived as distinctive ("Oh, my grandma's Italian and also does so-and-so").

And yes, I know obviously due to the history of slavery in the US, it would be seen as awkward to ask many Americans of African descent their particular old world ancestry (though there are still many who descend from voluntary African immigrants).

You have to read subtle cultural cues.

That's assuming culture aligns with place-of-ancestry origin, an increasingly less accurate view as people in many societies become more mobile and culture spreads around even within a generation. An African American and Asian American born and raised in the same town attending the same high school, college and then working in the same industry, would likely share much more in common with one another -- in fact it'd be surprising if this what not true -- than an African immigrant or Asian immigrant who shares more of their genealogical ancestry but just stepped foot in their town last week. 

When I want to look white I use words like "Manuchuria"

I don't see what's "white" about this. Yes, westerners use it, but anyone nonwhite socialized in American culture could pick it up from American pop culture (e.g. the Manchurian candidate), or another English-speaking social milieu just as well. 

From the Wikipedia article on "Manchuria", "First used in the 17th century by the Japanese, it remains a common term elsewhere but is deprecated within China, where it is associated with ethnic chauvinism and Japanese imperialism." 

So, it's more about an insider view of China vs. outsider and says more about knowledge of or lack thereof of China that I don't think follows racial lines or "whiteness", unless your default person who knows enough about the topic but has an "outsider" view is white (yes, I realize many people will imagine the default person as "white" if they are living in an English-speaking white-majority society simply because they don't have any indications of the person's race otherwise).