Comment by TiffanyAching on Metrics to evaluate a Presidency · 2017-01-25T01:59:15.135Z · LW · GW

It means things like not giving preferential treatment to one sex or gender over another when there isn't an actual reason for doing so, and finding ways to reduce disadvantages faced by one sex or gender even if they are (incidental) consequences of real differences.

gjm already stated what he meant by gender equality quite clearly. I see no justification for putting words in his mouth.

Comment by TiffanyAching on Metrics to evaluate a Presidency · 2017-01-25T01:22:58.853Z · LW · GW

To stick my oar in for a minute, as I am wont to do, I didn't find your comment offensive. That which is true should never be offensive, and those are some real metrics by which gender inequality can be measured.

However I didn't get "humorous". I thought it was intended to be serious, though I could interpret the intended message in several different ways - interpretations to which my responses could range anywhere from "total agreement" to "not even worth engaging", so I decided to see where the discussion went before joining in anywhere.

I think if the humour was intended to arise from "this is not the type of list you expected", you might be underestimating how frequently points about "gender inequalities which disadvantage males" are made in public discussions of anything related to gender equality.

I'm not criticizing your tone - I think tone-policing is rarely useful unless someone's being an egregious dickhead - so I guess I'm just criticizing your comedy.

Comment by TiffanyAching on Evaluating Moral Theories · 2017-01-24T23:13:40.065Z · LW · GW

The problem with your moral theory, as I see it, is that it also fails to meet (c), because there could be many plausible, but horrific in my view, arguments you could make [...]

I was expecting this response either from you or someone else, but didn't want to make my previous comment too long (a habit of mine) by preempting it. It's a totally valid next question, and I've considered it before.

Criterion (c) is that the principles of my moral system must not lead when taken to their logical extent to a society that I, the proponent of the system, would consider dystopian. The crux of my counter-argument is that most of what you'd consider horrific, I would also probably consider horrific, as would most people - and humans don't do well in societies that horrify them. Taking any path that leads to a "dystopia" is inconsistent with the goal.

(I'm trying to prevent this comment from turning into a prohibitively massive essay so I'll try to restrain myself and keep this broad - please feel free to request further detail about anything I say.)

Eugenics, first of all, doesn't work. (I take you to mean "negative eugenics" - killing or sterilizing those you consider undesirable, rather than "positive eugenics" - tinkering with DNA to produce kids with traits you find desirable, which hasn't really been tried and only very recently became a real possibility to consider.) We suck at guessing whether a given individual's progeny will be "good humans" or not. Too many factors, too many ways a human can be valuable, and even then all you have is a baby with a good genetic start in life - there's still all the "nurture" to come. It's like herding cats with a blindfold on. I could go on for pages about all the ways negative eugenics doesn't work - but say we were capable of making useful judgments about which humans would produce "bad" offspring. You'd then have to make the case that the principle "negative eugenics is fine to do" furthers the goal (helping humanity to survive) to such an extent that it outweighs the necessary hits taken by other goal-furthering principles like "don't murder people", "don't maim people", "don't give too much power to too few people" and, on an even more basic level, "don't suppress empathy".

Do you and I consider negative eugenics "horrific" because we think we (or at least our genitals) would be on the chopping block? Probably not, though we might fear it a bit. It horrifies us because we feel empathy for those who would suffer it. Empathy is hard-wired in most people. Measure your brain activity while you watch me getting hit with a hammer and your pain centers will show activity. You can feel for me (though measurably less if we're not the same race - these brains evolved in little tribes and are playing catch-up with the very recent states of national and global inter-dependence). Giving weight - a lot of weight - to principles protective or supportive of empathy is consistent with the goal because empathy helps us survive as a species. Numb or suppress it too much and we're screwed. Run counter to it too much without successfully suppressing it and you've got a society full of horrified, outraged people. Not great for social co-operation.

Which brings me to your other example, assigning jobs based on ability without regard to choice. Again, won't work. Gives you a society full of miserable resentful people who don't give their forced-jobs the full passion or creativity of which they are capable, or actively direct their energies towards trying to get re-assigned to the job they want. Would go further into this but this is already too long!

I know those two were only examples on your part but my point is that the question "does this help humanity to survive" is always a case of trying to balance "does it help in this way to an extent that outweighs how it harms in these other ways". That has to be taken into account when considering a "horrible scenario". People having empathy - caring for and helping each other - helps us to survive. People being physically and mentally healthy ("happy" is a big part of both, by the way) helps. People having personal freedom to create and invent and try things helps. People being ambitious and competing and seeking to become better helps. We need principles that take all that value into account - and sometimes those principles are going to be up against each other and we have to look for the least-worst answer. It's never simple, we get it wrong all the time, but we must deal with it. If morality was easy we wouldn't have spent the last ten thousand years arguing about it.

Now, I noticed that elsewhere you said it was bothering you that people were going off on tangents to your main issues, so I'll try to circle back to your original point. You're trying to devise a framework for evaluating a moral system, and I do think your criteria raise some useful lines of inquiry, but I don't see how it's possible to "evaluate" something without expressing or defining what it is you want it to do. My evaluation of my hairdryer depends totally on whether I want it to dry my hair or tell me amusing anecdotes. Evaluation comes up "pretty good" on the former and "totally crap" on the latter. Now "figuring out a way to evaluate a moral system" is something I'm all for and the best help I have to give with that is to suggest that you define what it is you want a moral system to do first - a base on which build your evaluation framework.

[Edited to add: I got through two paragraphs on eugenics without bringing up the you-know-whozis! Where should I pick up my medal?]

Comment by TiffanyAching on [deleted post] 2017-01-23T21:54:34.472Z

I have nothing to add, it just delights me to see that someone out there is still using the diaeresis.

Comment by TiffanyAching on Evaluating Moral Theories · 2017-01-23T21:29:42.412Z · LW · GW

Hey, I appreciate your ability to engage constructively with a critique of your views! Rare gift, that.

if your theory rests on arbitrary principles, then you admit that it's nothing more than a subjective guide

As other people have pointed out, maybe we should consider here what we mean by "arbitrary". In your initial statement you said that non-arbitrary was that which was derived logically from facts on which everyone agrees. So to avoid ambiguity maybe we should just say that criterion (b) is "the principle(s) of the moral system must be derived logically from facts on which everyone agrees".

Now, there are no facts, as fact relates to this discussion, on which everyone agrees, and there never will be. There are, of course, facts, but among the seven-odd billion human inhabitants of the planet you will always find people to disagree with any of them. There are literally still people who think the sun revolves around the earth. I swear that's not hyperbole - google "modern geocentrism".

(By the way, you also said "if a moral theory rests on an arbitrary and subjective principle, the theory's advocates will never be able to convince people who do not share that principle of their theory's validity" - but millions of religious converts give the lie to that. Subjectivity is demonstrably no barrier to persuasion - not saying that's a good thing but it's a real thing.)

So say we cut (b) down to "logically derived from facts". I think that's useful. Facts are truly, objectively real, total consensus isn't. But upon which facts, then, do we start to build our moral system? You state that your chosen basis is the fact that not everyone agrees about moral authority. As gjm pointed out, there seems to be a gap between "we humans can't agree on what constitutes moral authority" and "nobody should impose their morality on any other person in a way that limits their freedom". After all, despite our differing views on what is or is not moral, most people do believe in the basic idea that it's justifiable to constrain the freedom of others in at least some situations.

But I'll leave that bit aside for now to go back to the issue of fact as a basis for a moral system. Your fact isn't the only fact. It's also a fact that some people are physically stronger and smarter than others. Some people base their moral system on that fact, and say that might is right, the strong have an absolute right to rule the weak, will to power and so on and on. Douchetarians, basically. There are many facts upon which one could build a moral system. How do I pick one, with some defensible basis for my choice among many?

I take as my founding fact that fact which appears to be the most fundamental, the most basically applicable to humanity, the most basically applicable to life - that it wants to keep being alive. Find me a fact about humanity more bedrock-basic than that and I swear I'll rethink my moral system.

This brings me back to criterion (a), consistency.

how do you balance justice vs honesty vs liberty? If what you are saying is "it all comes down to the particular situation", then you are not describing a moral theory but personal judgement.

The principle - there is only one - is "what serves the species". That is, what allows us to keep living with each other and co-operating with each other, because that's necessary to our continued existence. Every other moral principle is a branch on that trunk. Honesty, justice, personal liberty, civic responsibility, mercy, compassion - we came up with those concepts, evolved them, because they can all be applied to meet the goal. So the non-subjective answer to "how do you balance principles in any given situation" is "what balance best serves the goal of keeping society ticking?". Now that's difficult to decide but there's a major difference between an objectively correct answer that's difficult to find and there being no objectively correct answer.

So do I reject criterion (a)? Not exactly. What I think is that by starting with the moral principles as a tool for moral choice-making you're skipping a step. Why worry about making moral choices at all unless there's some reason to do so? The first step is to define the goal to which making moral choices must tend. Once you define that, you can have multiple principles which may seem to be sometimes in conflict with each other - the consistency comes from the goal. The principles are to be applied in a way which is always consistent with meeting the goal. Now, some people say the goal is "maximize happiness". You might say your goal falls somewhere in that band - or you might go all out and say the goal is "maximize freedom", period. I say we can be neither happy nor free if we're not here and if we're not able to successfully live together we won't be here. I say start at the start - keep ourselves existing, and then work in as much happiness and freedom as we can manage.

And just to be totally clear, I am saying that sometimes "maintaining personal liberty inviolate" is not the way to meet the goal "keep humanity existing". "Disregard personal liberty and afford it no value" is also not the way to meet the goal. But "personal freedom entirely unrestricted" is simply not a survival strategy. Forget humans - chimps punish or prevent behaviors that endanger the group. Every social animal I'm aware of does. And for all our wonderful evolved brains and tools and self-awareness and power of language, that's still what we are - social animals.

Comment by TiffanyAching on Evaluating Moral Theories · 2017-01-23T07:45:10.163Z · LW · GW

Hi ArisC! Gratz on your first post. A few thoughts:

I can't agree with your b) criterion - non-arbitrary. The fundamental principle has to be arbitrary or you end up in a turtles-all-the-way-down situation where each principle rest upon another. "The fundamental principle is to not infringe on the liberty of others". Why not? "Because everyone agrees there's no way to prove moral authority". No they don't. Billions don't. "Well they should, because it's true." Well so what if it is? "That means you have no right to impose moral authority on anyone" What's this "no right" of which you speak, what does that mean?

This "no-one has the right" statement surely implies the existence of another principle - "it is right to be just/fair, it is wrong to be unjust/unfair". Having the right to something means having it fairly. If "don't infringe on personal liberty" is not based upon any other principle, then it is itself arbitrary. If it is based upon an ideal of "don't do unjust things, (such as assuming moral authority)" then you've got yourself another, even deeper principle. And that could cause some issues with your a) criterion, consistency, because it's possible to imagine scenarios where "injustice is wrong" and "interfering with personal liberty is wrong" are in conflict - in fact we deal with those scenarios every day in the real world. And speaking of the consistency criterion:

if a theory consists of a number of principles that contradict each other, there will be situations where the theory will suggest contradictory actions - hence failing its purpose as a tool to enable choice making.

Surely a moral system fails of its purpose as "a tool for choice-making" if its comprising principles - or principle, in the libertarianism case - won't actually cover a whole range of moral-choice scenarios? To pick an example at random, imagine an honesty-based payment system for an online product. The site says "please pay whatever you think this is worth". You happen to know that the site needs $5 per customer to make the business profitable. You actually believe the value of the product to be $10. How much do you pay? Or take the old Trolley Problem, where you have choice between allowing five kids to die by inaction vs. killing one through your own act. I don't see how "do not infringe on other people's liberty" is a useful tool for making either of those choices without really stretching the definitions of "infringe" and "liberty" to breaking point. "Don't infringe on people's liberty" can only inform choices where someone's liberty is at stake - to re-frame all moral decisions as centering on someone's "liberty" would, again, seem to me to require torturing the definition of liberty.

Now I know this isn't answering your question about moral systems that meet your criteria but all I can say to that is that I don't accept your first two criteria at all. The first I've discussed. As for the second, I think that the basic idea of authority - the designation of certain individuals as rule-makers and rule-enforcers by group consensus - is justifiable. It's part of my moral system.

My bedrock principle is "survival of the human species". It is arbitrary - why care about the survival of humanity? - but it is also based in reality. We have basic biological urges to survive, to procreate (most of us) and to nurture our offspring so that they also survive and procreate. Most of us want the species to keep going. I do. So that's where I start. We have to live with each other as individuals to survive as a species. That's the second level, and I think that's also clearly based in fact. And from there a whole slew of tertiary principles arise based on what makes it possible for us to live and co-operate with each other. Justice, honesty, value for life, mutual tolerance and yes, personal liberty too. They are not "consistent" in the way I understand you to use the word, because they have to be balanced against each other in any given situation to achieve the goal - survival of the species. They do, as far as I can see, lead when taken to their logical extent to a society that is not dystopian - not perfect, but pretty functional. Optimal balancing is something we've been arguing about for millennia but we've done well enough so far that we are still here, talking about morality on the internet.

Comment by TiffanyAching on 0.999...=1: Another Rationality Litmus Test · 2017-01-23T04:43:30.467Z · LW · GW

Of all the different explanations and interpretations people have been giving in this thread this is the most satisfying to my mathematically illiterate brain. It's troublesome for me to grasp how 0.999... isn't always just a bit smaller than 1 because my brain wants to think that even an infinitely tiny difference is still a difference. But when you put it like that - there's nowhere between the two where you can draw a line between them - it seems to click in. 0.999... hugs 1 so tight that you can't meaningfully separate them.

Comment by TiffanyAching on Polling Thread January 2017 · 2017-01-23T03:58:27.801Z · LW · GW

I would think that for the purposes of the poll that doesn't count, because it's more a "guided thinking" thing - you're helping yourself to organize your thoughts by framing your problem as an imaginary dialogue. I do it too, with mixed results (I sometimes just end up scolding myself which I don't think is particularly constructive). But I would think it's qualitatively different to an actual dialogue with another mind which has at least the potential to introduce solutions or perspectives that you would not have come up with on your own. Maybe you should create a similar poll to see how many people talk to themselves and whether it helps!

Comment by TiffanyAching on 0.999...=1: Another Rationality Litmus Test · 2017-01-21T03:30:51.008Z · LW · GW

Cool, another one! I'm supposed to be sleeping now rather than working, so I can engage with this.

(b), "there are mysterious forces at work here"

we would have to multiply by infinity and that wouldn't prove anything because we already know such operations are suspect.

Infinity is weird, and it makes math weird. I think a fuzzy version of this belief is pretty widespread - look what you get when you do an image search for "divide by zero", for example. For me, and I suspect for a lot of people with a very little general math knowledge, "infinity" is a stop sign. Inquiry ends, shoulders are shrugged, hands are thrown up. "Of course it doesn't appear to make sense - it's got infinity it it!".

I don't remember where I got this notion but it must have been early, because I remember seeing a version of the "disguise a division by zero > 1=2" trick in a book (Fermat's Last Theorem by Simon Singh, if anyone's interested) when I was about 14 and being baffled by it, and going over and over it trying to find the mistake. When I gave up and read on, and saw the explanation of how one of the canceled terms in the equation was zero, I was instantly satisfied. "Oh, of course. It divides by zero which is a sneaky way of introducing infinity to the mix - so naturally the result makes no sense."

This is one of those situations where a little incomplete knowledge is actually worse than none - a person who hadn't ever heard about the infinity-makes-everything-weird "rule" could see something like 0.999... = 1 and keep digging, instead of saying "yeah, that's infinity for you, what can you do".

The idea that infinity is some sort of magical spell that you can cast upon "real" math and turn it into a frog (using real in the everyday sense, not the math-sense) is obviously an irrational thought-stopper. It means you could present a false statement to me and I wouldn't question it so long as infinity was there to point to as the culprit.

(If you're able to quickly formulate an example of a superficially math-y looking proposition involving infinity that's actually total BS, that would be awesome - I could use it in future conversations about the topic.)

By the way, I'm not talking about some version of me in the distant past - I realized that I use "infinity makes everything weird" as a thought-terminating cliche five minutes ago. I didn't realize I was exempting mathematics from the same sort of bias-questioning rationality I try to apply to everything else until you pointed it out.

So, thanks for that - I still may not understand why 0.999... = 1, or how dividing by zero leads to results like 1=2, but at least from now on I won't let a non-answer like "infinity did it!" kill my curiosity.

Comment by TiffanyAching on Thoughts on "Operation Make Less Wrong the single conversational locus", Month 1 · 2017-01-21T01:28:01.899Z · LW · GW

It's awesome that you guys are really considering ways to incorporate changes people want.

I wonder, since you're going to have to put a lot of work into the refurbishing project and resources are finite, would it be worth generating some kind of survey for members to take about what kind of features/alterations/options they'd most like to see? I ask because it occurs to me that soliciting ideas in open threads, while absolutely useful as far as encouraging discussion and exchange of ideas goes, might present a patchy or unduly-slanted picture of what the majority of members want. Prolific commenters (like me!) might dominate the discussion, or certain ideas might look more important because they generate a lot of discussion. A survey of some sort might give you clearer data.

That's not to say you should necessarily do things because the majority want them, this isn't a democracy as far as I'm aware and some popular requests might be unworkable. It just could be useful to know. Of course you're better placed to determine if it's worth the effort.

(Also, this isn't in any way prompted by Raemon's point about the link posts - it was your reply about possible implementation options that put it my head).

Comment by TiffanyAching on Marginal Revolution Thoughts on Black Lives Matter Movement · 2017-01-21T00:09:41.089Z · LW · GW

So the cop can create a self-consistent time loop, where he predicts that you will resist arrest, arrest you for this specific crime, and if you resist that arrest, that retroactively makes the arrest legal. (Sorry, I don't have a link, but at least in one situation the court said that such reasoning was okay.)

Here's an example via one of my favorite blogs, if you'd like to have a look. Summary - a lawyer who was verbally objecting (calmly) to a cop's interaction with her client was told that she would be "arrested for resisting arrest" if she did not stop verbally objecting. She said "please do" and was promptly arrested and left handcuffed in a holding cell for an hour. Whole thing caught on camera - the interaction takes less than two minutes.

On a more serious note, the arrest of Sandra Bland followed similar lines. Again, all on camera - the officer's own dash cam, not a bystander's recording.

Just the fact that something is too complicated to prove, doesn't make it automatically false. Doesn't make it automatically true, either. It's true that higher average racism in general society most likely implies higher average racism among cops. It's also true that innocent black people are going to be killed disproportionally more often whether there is a racism or not. So... further research is needed?

That's a neat, clear statement of what I took over a thousand words to say. What is this sorcery!

Comment by TiffanyAching on Thoughts on "Operation Make Less Wrong the single conversational locus", Month 1 · 2017-01-20T23:20:56.502Z · LW · GW

This would be a problem with an obvious solution if Discussion was structured anything like a normal forum.

Main is one thing. The "community blog" structure works there. But Discussion in reality functions like a forum and it suffers from the lack of basic, common forum-features like sticky threads, posts bumping based on activity, and the ability to create sub-fora.

If politics had its own sub-forum, people could choose to enter it or not, simple as that. Nothing fancy about it - political discussion available, but cordoned off behind one more click. Same feature could help organize the subject matter more effectively in other areas too. No need to slice it too fine. Say you have a main area for all the general rationality and logic stuff, as well as site-business things like a welcome thread and site-related posts like this one. Then you have a few - two or three, no more than five - sub-fora split into "Science", "Politics", "AI" etc.

Now one could argue that the creation of a politics section of any sort would attract a different type of member and that could impact the discourse in other areas. Not saying that's not a possibility but heck, LW attracts a fair few cranks anyway.

Mind, I don't know how possible any of these changes are - I'm only arguing their desirability.

Comment by TiffanyAching on Infinite Summations: A Rationality Litmus Test · 2017-01-20T10:14:50.778Z · LW · GW

I'll try to come back and engage more substantively with the material later when I'm not actually supposed to be working, but for now just wanted to say bravo - this is exactly the kind of thing I was hoping to see when you mentioned making math posts. I'd take posts like this every day if I could get 'em.

Comment by TiffanyAching on Universal Hate · 2017-01-20T01:53:52.189Z · LW · GW

That's not helpful. One definition is "being willing to oppose someone even at personal cost", but that doesn't include cases like "I hate chocolate ice cream."

Okay - what would you say is the best way to articulate what you mean by "hating" liars, for example, as opposed to "hating" chocolate ice cream?

(You don't really hate chocolate ice cream, do you?)

Comment by TiffanyAching on Marginal Revolution Thoughts on Black Lives Matter Movement · 2017-01-20T01:41:33.433Z · LW · GW

Well, your original point was that Black Lives Matter is justified in insisting upon Black Lives and that countering with All Lives Matter was a bad thing to do. I would guess that BLM would strongly object to e.g. Poor Lives Matter as well.

Maybe they would, but I don't think I would be quite so quick to dismissive Poor Lives Matter, as they would have legit beef, so to speak.

Actually if a real movement sprung up with the intention of uniting poor blacks and poor whites in a shared resistance to police brutality and systemic injustice generally, that could be a really good thing. And maybe BLM would be pissed, and maybe they would have some reason on certain grounds, but I don't think I'd dismiss PLM without a hearing.

ALM, on the other hand, is vacuous crap. It's basically true but that's where the merit ends. It means nothing, it adds nothing, it represents nothing. Imagine in it in other contexts. Someone's talking about a cystic fibrosis charity and I respond "all diseases matter!". Someone's raising money for Dog's Trust and I chime in with "all vertebrates matter!". (This could actually be a fun parody Twitter account if I were trollishly inclined).

The thing is, there are systematic selection biases. People with certain character traits (note: not clinical mental health issues) self-select into specific jobs.

Yes, absolutely, good point. But for jobs like policing, paramedics etc. there's a high occupational risk of picking up mental health issues on the job too.

Comment by TiffanyAching on What would you like to see posts about? · 2017-01-20T01:11:34.950Z · LW · GW

Absolutely. There are link posts to decent content sitting with no discussion. There was an article about octopuses a couple of days ago that I really enjoyed and would have liked to discuss - plenty of LW-relevant material in it about how brains work - but I couldn't think of anything to start the ball rolling other than "aren't octopuses cool?" which I think would have been Frowned Upon.

(To be fair to morganism, who posted that link, they do at least create a comment on each one with a relevant quote from the article, which is more than some people do.)

Comment by TiffanyAching on What would you like to see posts about? · 2017-01-20T00:40:15.203Z · LW · GW

Could you maybe consider creating "split-level" math/physics/computer science posts? A few interesting bits of beginner-level information or introductions to basic concepts for the noobs like me, and then proper meaty technical stuff for the well-informed. There'd be something for everyone that way - no need to choose between turning off the beginners or boring the advanced.

Comment by TiffanyAching on Thoughts on "Operation Make Less Wrong the single conversational locus", Month 1 · 2017-01-19T23:09:30.102Z · LW · GW

Well, I've been here two weeks now and it's been good. Interesting. Learned some things, had some decent discussions.

I don't mind the links, I just don't think they should be posted one by one, and I don't think the post title should be the link. Put the link in the body of the post. And users who like to contribute lots of links to random articles rather than their own blogs - that's fine, good even, but maybe consider collating a week's worth into one post. So you might have a few different conversations going on in the comments, so what? Better than half the links posted being a "miss" and sitting there with no comments.

Comment quality. Now look, it's awful cheek from a newbie like me, I know, but I'll give my honest opinion because it might be useful to see the perspective of a new member - not a returning old member or a long-time lurker but a really new member. After all, if you want the place to thrive to you need to attract and retain new members, right?

It's not just the number of comments, or even their level of engagement with the main post, it's the whole tone. There's this sort of... malaise, for want of a better word, that seems to hang over the place. I sometimes get the sense that people aren't really enjoying being here. There's this sort of dry, formal detachment in a lot of the comments and it's hard to separate out personalities and characters (with several notable exceptions - gjm, for one). Basically, it feels like people either aren't having fun or don't want to look like they're having fun. (Not Lumifer, obviously. Lumifer definitely has fun.) Point is, I came here all enthusiasm, ready to enjoy myself having interesting debates with interesting people - which I have had, but the atmosphere is like, totally harshing my buzz, man.

That's my two cents, I'll shut up now.

Comment by TiffanyAching on Universal Hate · 2017-01-19T22:40:44.582Z · LW · GW

Well, Science having pointed out above that membership in a political party is a choice made by an adult, rather than a group people are born into like nationalities or - I'd argue - many religions, I conceded the point you're making. It was in among a bunch of other stuff so here's the quote:

With big demographic groups, your hate cannot be directed at a specific action that they all, by definition, must have taken - except, as you pointed out, in the case of freely-chosen political party membership, but then only in the case that you consider membership of that party in and of itself, regardless of other actions or beliefs, such an awful thing as to deserve hatred.

Comment by TiffanyAching on Thoughts on "Operation Make Less Wrong the single conversational locus", Month 1 · 2017-01-19T21:53:07.948Z · LW · GW

FWIW, I was linked to a SSC post today about "race and criminal justice in America" - so, five-alarm hot button topic - and I quickly read through about half of a super-long comments section, and it was great. Plenty of debate, minimal spittle, collaborative and civil, fact-based and in good faith.

Comment by TiffanyAching on Open thread, Jan. 16 - Jan. 22, 2016 · 2017-01-19T21:26:49.525Z · LW · GW

The urge to protect and prioritize children is partly biological/evolutionary - they have to be "cute" otherwise who'd put up with all the screaming and poop long enough to raise them to adulthood? The urge to protect and nurture them is a survival-of-the-species thing. Baby animals are cute because they resemble human babies - disproportionately big heads, big eyes, mewling noises, helplessness.

But from a moral perspective I'd argue that there is a greater moral duty to protect and care for children because they can neither fend nor advocate for themselves effectively. They're largely at the mercy of their carers and society in general. An adult may bear some degree of responsibility for his poverty, for example, if he has made bad choices or squandered resources. His infant bears none of the responsibility for the poverty but suffers from it nonetheless and can do nothing to alleviate it. This is unjust.

There's also the self-interest motive. The children we raise and nurture now will be the adults running the world when we are more or less helpless and dependent ourselves in old age.

And there's the future-of-humanity as it extends past your own lifetime too, if you value that.

But of course these are all points about moral duty rather than moral value. I'm fuzzier on what moral value means in this context. For example the difference in moral value between the young person who is doing good right now and the old person who has done lots of good over their life, but isn't doing any right now because that life is nearly over and they can't. Does ability vs. desire to do good factor into this? The child can't do much and the end-of-life old person can't do much, though they may both have a strong desire to do good. Only the adult in between can match the ability to the will.

Comment by TiffanyAching on John Nash's Ideal Money: The Motivations of Savings and Thrift · 2017-01-19T20:41:56.164Z · LW · GW

...that's a very plain-vanilla story with little drama -- compared to the baseline of 'net forums and online communities in general.

Well yeah, I suppose that's true. But the screenwriter can zhuzh it up a bit, throw in a murder somewhere.

It would be... regrettable if LW turned into an ideologically homogeneous place where everyone sees the world in a basically similar way.

Absolutely. I didn't come here for everyone to agree with me. But disagreement, even passionate ideological disagreement, isn't the same as obsessively following people around to downvote everything they say. That's just plain old batshittery. I'll probably disagree with you at some point but I'm not going to put your name down on my List of Enemies Who Must Be Destroyed. It's getting cluttered anyway.

Comment by TiffanyAching on Marginal Revolution Thoughts on Black Lives Matter Movement · 2017-01-19T20:32:15.148Z · LW · GW

Good point well made. I have nothing to add but agreement. Also I may steal this analogy and use it in future, just so you know.

Especially because you've noted that getting rid of the third guard does help. The argument that I see often but don't understand is that trying to ditch the third guard is not worth doing because it doesn't solve the wider peasant-injustice issue.

I don't mean just with the police brutality/American race-relations thing either - it seems almost any time people want to put work into fixing Specific Issue X, there are other people standing back and saying it's a waste of effort because it won't solve Larger Issue Y. Winds me right up.

Comment by TiffanyAching on Universal Hate · 2017-01-19T20:12:30.403Z · LW · GW

As far as "rational" in some situations in may not be worth spending the effort to determine if this person is one of those extremely rare "good X's".

Granted - but it's not necessary to determine that. It's only necessary to recognize that there are "good Xs" and direct your hate to what you hate about the "bad Xs". If some but not all Blues are thieves and you hate theft, it's only necessary to recognize that and say "I hate thieves" instead of "I hate Blues" in order to make your real meaning and position clear.

I was going to start by questioning the utility of hating abstract concepts, then I realized part of the problem is that we may be conflating several things under the word "hate".

I think you're right. Maybe "abhor" is more useful in this context?

Comment by TiffanyAching on John Nash's Ideal Money: The Motivations of Savings and Thrift · 2017-01-19T20:00:35.017Z · LW · GW

Thanks gjm! Once again you have used your presumably-valuable time to give me a really thorough explanation. Jeez, what a story.

Eugine's new account was banned. Another one appeared. That was banned. Another appeared. After a while, new Eugine accounts were appearing faster than the old ones were closed down.

There's movie material here. A dark psychological indie-thing about obsession and rage. "Troll", starring... Steve Carrell? He was dead creepy in Foxcatcher.

I mean, to mess with a community once or twice is one thing. To keep coming back and back, unable to let it go or move on, is the stuff of tragedy.

Here's a rough sketch of how I think he sees the world...

Good thing I joined after downvotes were disabled. I do not think we would be pals.

Comment by TiffanyAching on Marginal Revolution Thoughts on Black Lives Matter Movement · 2017-01-19T19:49:31.044Z · LW · GW

Let me offer you alternative hypotheses. One is that victimization is determined by the socioeconomic status -- basically your wealth and/or ability to demonstrate high-class markers. For example, I doubt that white trailer trash is treated particularly gently by the cops.

Actually I think that's true too. There's nothing mutually exclusive about them, as you point out yourself. When I said "disproportionately determined by race" I didn't mean determined only by race. I'd guess - just a guess, no data - that there's a gender disproportion too - men are probably more likely to be victims of police brutality even adjusting for their greater likelihood to commit violent crimes. But biases are stackable. A cop who is more likely to be inappropriately violent towards poor people in general might be more likely again to be hard on poor, black people.

Why did you pick race?

I didn't pick it, that's what the discussion is about. OP picked it. If it was just a thread about police brutality in general I don't think I'd have stuck to race alone.

Sure. But a fair number of cops are black. Some of them are racist, right? You are arguing that this must lead to disproportionate impact on non-blacks. Is that so?

Sure, there are black cops, a certain percentage of whom must be racist. I don't know why I wouldn't consider that "racism". So that could lead to a disproportionate impact on non-black people in terms of the actions of those specific cops. But given that A. the black population share is about 13% of America and B. the percentage of cops who are black is lower than that again, I don't see how the disproportion could be equivalent unless each racist black cop was having ten times the negative impact of each racist white cop - and that's not even accounting for the possibility of black cops discriminating against black people, because of internalized prejudice or over-correction to avoid the appearance of going easy on members of their own race.

talking specifically about some variation of white supremacism

No, I didn't have white supremacists specifically in mind, as I think of them - though there must be some white supremacist cops. We might be defining them differently though, I strongly associate white supremacism with some kind of group-membership or at least a very explicit, conscious avowal of racism as right. Someone else might argue that all white racists are white supremacists by definition but I think that would be an oversimplification.

Consider Asians. They are not white and a white supremacist should be strongly biased against them (as indeed white supremacists are). So, are Asians brutalized by police more than whites? No? Why not?

Aren't they? I have no idea. If not, I'd point out that someone can be biased against different groups while not necessarily treating them the same way. What I've seen of white-to-Asian racism in the US it looks more contemptuous and dismissive - negative stereotypes of Asian men seem to revolve around "weak, geeky, submissive". That kind of view might well lead to less violence than the negative stereotypes about black men.

I'd also like to point out here that I don't think police brutality is America's biggest race-problem or even America's biggest policing problem. I'm actually pretty sympathetic to cops in general, as I am to anyone who does a job I need someone to do but wouldn't want to do myself. Pointing out that they sometimes do wrong is not to call them all a bunch of fascist pigs or whatever. I think overwork and undiagnosed mental health issues probably played a role in some of their more high-profile fuckups, not just assholery, racism or incompetence.

(Am I allowed say fuckups?)

Comment by TiffanyAching on Marginal Revolution Thoughts on Black Lives Matter Movement · 2017-01-19T17:01:26.371Z · LW · GW

Thanks for the link, that's an interesting and useful article. Updated my probabilities in a few areas. Also an amazingly civil, rational comments section given the nature of the material.

It didn't help me very much on police shootings though - lot of way-out-of-date data that points both ways depending on area. No racial bias in shooting recorded in New York, seriously significant effect in Tennessee. Given what I know about American racism-by-state that's almost disappointingly obvious. (Again though, out of date - relevant laws in Memphis have changed since).

Okay, strap in, this is a long one. First I'm going to cheerfully steal a chunk directly from one of those comments on SSC for your consideration:

Suppose that you notice that on average, green shows up twice as often as red, but you can’t see a pattern to it. If you want to maximise your winnings, should you on average bet on green twice as often as red to match the frequencies you’re seeing? No, you should strictly bet on green every time.

(Anyone know where I might have read about this before? Pretty sure it’s somewhere on LW, but I can’t find it.)

Similarly, if a random black person is statistically more likely to be a criminal than a white person, then a police officer’s or prosecutor’s career incentive is to focus on them.

Of course this wouldn’t fly as a practical policy. Green and red lights may be independent from your choices, but humans are not. If you completely removed police overwatch from non-black populations, this would encourage crime in those populations. Even if you didn’t care, there’s no way you’d defend yourself from accusations of blatant racism and unfairness.

Still, the incentive is there. And it’s based on math – racial prejudice not required.

Because I believe people tend to follow incentives, my current best guess is that police do over-profile (target the higher risk groups more than the actual risk differences would suggest), and they are going to, and the only question is to what extent this can be mitigated.

I'd be interested to see what you think of that.

Now, speaking for myself -

I find no flaw with your buggy-robot analogy. That would indeed in result in more shootings of innocent black people without any need for racial prejudice influencing the decision to shoot, simply because of disproportionate exposure given higher crime rates.

My contention, however, is that racial prejudice is a factor in real-world police shootings/violence. So the question I ask as a half-decent wannabe rationalist is how my belief should constrain my expectation - how do I expect my world to look different from a non-racist buggy-robot world? How do I test it? Honestly I don't have a particularly satisfactory answer. Some attempts follow, feel free to skim if you're not arsed reading them.

  1. I would expect the disproportionate impact of police shootings/violence upon innocent black people (innocent meaning unarmed/non-dangerous here, not necessarily innocent of any crime) to be measurably higher even when adjusted for the higher crime-rate/residential grouping effect as it was in the Memphis study. (Though not to such a degree - important to state I do believe that this problem is getting better). However, the way a shooting event or other incident of violence is recorded depends very heavily on the word of the officer involved (the event is assumed to be "an "assault on law enforcement" and the officer is referred to as "the victim" in the report on a fatal shooting by default). If racial prejudice influenced his/her decision to shoot it could also - with or without any deliberate lying - influence his/her assessment of whether the individual shot was behaving as a threat. (You'd be amazed what some police officers will call "assault on an officer" or "resisting arrest" with a straight face - that's a problem even without touching any racial-disparity issues). So that's also in my model, and the fact that the two effects counter each other means they're of little use to me as a measurable anticipation-constraint.
  1. I'd expect a higher impact on black people of what I'd call "WTF shootings" - shootings where the victim could not have been deemed a threat by a reasonable observer. Unresisting arrestees, fleeing suspects holding nothing in their hands, kids holding toy guns shot before being given any chance to comply with verbal directions - or being given no verbal directions. Not tragic-but-understandable mistake type shootings - "itchy trigger finger" shootings that baffle reasonable explanation and appear to proceed directly from some kind of gut feeling on the part of the officer.

Interesting to think of this in relation to what seems like an odd number of reports of police shooting securely-tethered pet dogs that barked at them. I've seen an actual cop try to explain this phenomenon by saying that police often have terrifying, dangerous encounters with vicious guard dogs owned by drug dealers and the like, and develop a fear that leads them to react with instinctive aggression to a barking dog without taking the time to evaluate whether or not it's a threat. Interesting, that. I have no data for it though, so just an idea.

Anyway, I'd expect these "WTF shootings" to hit black people harder, but one can only apply the "reasonable observer" test if the incident is recorded on camera or there are a decent number of witnesses - and in this case I'm willing to admit that the political heat around this issue might lead to WTF shootings of black people being *over-represented" or identified where they don't exist. So, measurement problem here again.

  1. Police shooting disproportionately affecting black people even when you only count the shooting events that occur in locations that mitigate the grouping effect. Put simply, your robot that shoots innocent people is disproportionately likely to hit a black person because it's in a black neighborhood interacting with black people for a disproportionate number of hours of the day. But real policemen are assigned to patrol specific areas - the racial mix of the people they interact with is governed by the demographics of their "beat", not overall crime stats. There are whole all-white towns in America. Pretend for a second that the crime rate among black Americans is four times that of white Americans. Now imagine a police officer in a neighborhood - or city, even - with a 3% black population. Adjust for higher crime rate and their interactions with black citizens go up to 12% which neatly matches the actual demographics (if I remember the figures.) That could be an adequate sort of "controlled environment" where interactions mirror actual population demographics. If black people are disproportionately shot within that neighbourhood, I'd say that's a measurable indication that racism is playing a part. If they aren't, it indicates the opposite.

But after all that, I just don't know where to find current objective data or how to look at it, and at the end of the day I'm looking for something that is capable of covering its own tracks. I'm not quite at "no sabotage is evidence of Fifth Column" yet but I'm brushing dangerously close to a universally applicable argument. Racism not evident in data? Data could be skewed by racism! Sounds dodgy but common sense says it is possible and has happened before and I can't discount it. But given my difficulty making my beliefs pay rent, I've revised my certainty down a bit just by writing all this out.

But not a lot down and here's why - the other side - the part two of this ridiculously long comment.

A certain percentage of Americans are racists. Lots are a teeny bit racist (arguably we all are), but a few are massively, viciously racist. This isn't distributed equally over the states or within them - there are clusters. If American police are a fair sample of the American population, then many of them are a wee bit racist and a few are massively racist, and there are clusters in certain areas. (By the way, I wouldn't be overly surprised if American cops were less racist on average than Americans as a whole. That still leaves a goodly few "bad apples"). How could that not impact their treatment of minority-group individuals? What negates the effect of that bias in a given situation? I'm willing to accept the impact could be neutralized to a large extent by complex structures and redundancies within, say, the court system - but in the personal, individual, encounters - split-second decisions whether or not to shoot, whether or not to resist the impulse to kick someone in the head while they're on the ground, what check is there? You can say that the buggy-robot is a simpler explanation, but to me it's just a shorter one. The more complex idea, as I see it, is that somehow there's far less racism among police officers than among the genpop, or that somehow the racism there is is prevented from impacting its targets in situations where no apparent check is provided. The absence of racism as a motive force in any instances of police misbehavior or misjudgment would need explaining to me.

I'm done. Sorry about the novel, it's been a slow day at work.

TFL;DFR - the evidence is complex, patchy and difficult to interpret but doesn't appear to be stronger for my position than the converse; however cops are people, some people are racist, therefore some cops are racist, and cops have a lot of discretion as to how and when it's appropriate to use physical force which means some whacking great racists make decisions about whether or not to shoot or brutalize black people, and I don't see how that can't equal disproportionate impact, at least in certain states or areas.

My reasoning on some parts is probably lousy with holes, so if you've slogged through this far, have at it is with a hatchet, and if you haven't, I don't blame you.

Comment by TiffanyAching on Marginal Revolution Thoughts on Black Lives Matter Movement · 2017-01-19T09:38:00.585Z · LW · GW

Why? Because I'm showing that your position is BS?

Believe it or not, there are other reasons for considering the usefulness of continuing a discussion. But if you've decided I'm "afraid of losing" there's not much I could say to convince you otherwise, is there?

In that case the OP doesn't belong on LW.

You're right - it doesn't at all, and that's the first and last thing I should have said on the topic here. I don't think political posts never have a place on LW, but they have to clear a certain bar of relevance to be worth the potential downsides and this one doesn't do that.

As for this discussion, what are we doing here? What useful outcome could there be? You haven't convinced me of anything, I haven't convinced you of anything. We're not arguing any specific point anymore, we're just batting statements back and forth at each other, and they don't even have the merit of being original - everything you've said so far I've seen before many times, and I'm sure that's also true of my statements for you. We're having a perfectly civil exchange on another thread so it's not that either of us are fundamentally crappy discussants, but this one is turning acrimonious.

race relations in America in general is relevant to BLM.

Our differences clearly go miles beyond BLM, and if we have to comb back through all of America's racial history - maybe even further - until we find common ground, and then argue forward from there, we'll be here for months.

Even if we were unlikely to reach an agreement, but were gaining useful insights into each other's positions, or gaining respect for each other as rationalists, this might be worthwhile, but we're not.

I am tapping out. If you want to put that in your win column, that's up to you.

Comment by TiffanyAching on Universal Hate · 2017-01-19T07:38:27.740Z · LW · GW

I'd say the most important property is whether being Catholic is part of one's identity. Specifically "I admire those who are better Catholics than myself and consider them to be holier and more virtuous people than myself. I feel somewhat guilty about not being more like them."

I take your point, but that gives the notional I-hate-Catholics guy a pretty difficult task of differentiation, since plenty of people who identify as Catholics - if you asked them if they were Catholics, they'd say yes - don't mean that. They mean "I was baptized". So a more accurate statement for IHC guy would be "I hate Catholics who do/say/believe X, Y or Z - though I don't count as real Catholics, and therefore do not hate, people who refer to themselves as Catholics but who don't do/say/believe X, Y or Z". Even among self-identified Catholics who do the odd bit of practicing - midnight Mass at Christmas, funeral services, praying to St. Anthony when they've lost their keys - many don't align with Catholic dogma on many subjects (pre-marital sex, contraception etc.). Identifying as Catholic means a different thing to them than the Pope would like it to, but they still do it.

And if IHC guy instead says "I assume that everyone who claims to be a Catholic means that they do/say/believe X, Y and Z, and therefore I will hate everybody who describes themselves as Catholic", then that's where "useless and irrational" comes in - because he's including in his hatred people who don't actually do/say/believe the actual things he has a problem with. That's the basic problem with attributing a negative characteristic to a huge group of people - the likelihood that it holds true for all group members diminishes as group-size goes up, unless the group is specifically defined as "people who have done X".

This is more-or-less where we disagree. Yes, you could define such a category by using a fractal shaped boundary, but it's unclear why it would be relevant to the question of whether one should hate members of that category.

I think my point above goes to this. If you hate the crime of murder then it makes sense that you would direct your hate at every "murderer". By definition they have done the thing you object to. Russians, however, are not alcoholics by definition, so hating Russians for being drunks makes no sense. With big demographic groups, your hate cannot be directed at a specific action that they all, by definition, must have taken - except, as you pointed out, in the case of freely-chosen political party membership, but then only in the case that you consider membership of that party in and of itself, regardless of other actions or beliefs such an awful thing a as to deserve hatred.

A decent definition is "one who lives by lies".

Thanks for clarifying.

Comment by TiffanyAching on Marginal Revolution Thoughts on Black Lives Matter Movement · 2017-01-19T06:43:15.463Z · LW · GW

But why is it fair to focus on "Whichever Lives Are Most Affected By Police Brutality At The Moment" when that's a tiny subset of the lives being affected by brutality. The number of lives affected by the "brutality" of blacks is much much larger, yet focusing on that would be racist.

In the specific context of police brutality in America, victimization - of the innocent, by the way, as well as the guilty - is disproportionately determined by race. This disparity is the specific problem BLM was set up to address. By the logic that says it is not useful for anyone to focus on this specific problem because other, more widespread problems exist, you can say it's worthless to focus on any specific problem if there exists a greater problem. Why waste any energy on any problem in America at all? America is a small part of the world. Focus on malaria instead. Or focus everything on climate change. That's a bigger problem than any other.

So if it makes sense to focus on the fact that rapists are more likely to be male why doesn't it make sense to focus on the fact that rapists are more likely to be black and/or Muslim?

That was nowhere stated or implied in what I said. It's one thing expanding the discussion from "debating the relationship between BLM and ALM" to "debating the motive force behind BLM in general", as has happened here, but I don't want to get into a discussion of sexual violence right now so we'll leave that.

The argument for, e.g., "Black Lives Matter" is that we should focus blacks beaten up or shot by cops because those are more common.

No, not because it's more common - it's nowhere near more common, given the difference in population sizes - because it's disproportionate.

The argument for "Black History Month" is that we should focus on blacks who have accomplished historically significant things because there are less common.

Again, no - the argument for Black History Month is that history as generally taught focuses on the historical roles played by white people to the near or total exclusion of black people.

I think we ought to pause for a second here and query whether this discussion is worth pursuing. We're discussing a hot-button, emotionally-charged political topic on LW, which isn't really the place for that, and we're coming at it with, I think, a different set of previously accepted truths and values. It's hard to see a clear path to one of us changing our mind or our outlook because there's not a clear argument here. We've already gone from "BLM v. ALM" to "BLM in general" and are starting to creep into "race relations in America in general". If the topic's too broad and the ground too easily shifted, we risk devolving into a useless arguments-as-soldiers sort of exchange that doesn't lead anywhere. Unless we can agree on one specific issue and stick to hashing that out, we might be better off wrapping up this discussion - after you've made any counter-points you'd like, of course.

Comment by TiffanyAching on Universal Hate · 2017-01-19T06:30:07.884Z · LW · GW

What about practicing membership? What about identifying as?

Well, what about it? There are people who practice Catholicism and people who don't. There are people who say "I am Catholic" meaning "I actively follow the rules of Catholicism", and and people who say "I am Catholic" meaning "I was baptized and confirmed in the Catholic Church when I was a kid". They all go down as Catholics on the census. Practicing Catholics are a subset of the number of people recorded as Catholics in the world.

How so? What's the relevant difference, and why? Especially when the comparison is with something like "fraudster"?

To be quite honest, simply because I think there's a category of group-memberships that includes things like nationalities and political affiliations and religions, and doesn't include things like "fraudster", "golfer" or "rationalist" and it was the former meaning I intended to convey in my original post. Group is clearly too vague a term. If I said "demographics" instead of groups would that be clearer?

Why is the size relevant here?

Moral uniformity and broadness of political platform, I'd say. As the party gets larger the pool of potential beliefs/positions that can be held under that party's banner becomes more broad - I accept that those two things don't always go hand in hand, but they do usually in democracies where people are free to choose their party, and in systems where people are less free to choose their party there's a whole other moral aspect to membership. As the potential beliefs or positions that can be held by an individual who still calls themselves an X-member rises it becomes less accurate to ascribe one specific noxious characteristic to all group members.

And to bring it back round to the initial topic of debate, would you say that it is useful to hate all members of a particular political party given that you thought that membership in it was immoral? Can you give an example? And what about the liars? I'd like to understand your position more clearly.

Comment by TiffanyAching on Universal Hate · 2017-01-19T05:37:40.037Z · LW · GW

Okay. I assume you mean religions and political parties. Nominal membership in a religion requires no specific action. 90% of Irish people would be considered "Catholic" by virtue of having been baptized and confirmed as children. They need not have taken any specific action as adults to be afforded that designation, nor do they need to be "practising" in any active sense - going to Mass, for example. Many don't. They still go down as Catholics.

In the case of political parties, you're right that an individual needs to register, or vote a certain way, or take some action as an adult to be counted as a "member of that group". I still think that's a very obviously different kind of category to one like "murderers". Of course it's possible to argue that claiming membership of a specific political party is inherently immoral - a lot of people would argue that for membership in a neo-Nazi party, for example, though I did specify "large" parties up above (large as in mainstream, not niche or fringe, one of the main political parties of a nation, containing a decent percentage of that country's population). Is that what you're arguing?

And any comment on the "liars" question?

Comment by TiffanyAching on Universal Hate · 2017-01-19T05:11:43.679Z · LW · GW

Perhaps I should have been more specific - I did not mean groups in the sense of "people who have all performed a certain action", like murder. I meant "groups" in the sense of things likes nationalities, ethnicities, major religions, large political parties. The kind of groups that are not morally uniform, if only by virtue of their size - even if membership in that group correlates to some degree with a negative action or attribute. Russia has the highest rate of alcoholism in the world, but saying "I hate Russians because they're drunks" is irrational. Millions of Russians - in fact most Russians - are not alcoholics. If you can suggest a more precise term than "group" so that I can convey my meaning better I'd be grateful.

That said, I'd be interested in a more detailed explanation of what you mean by "hating all liars". Do you mean that you hate people who have told at least one lie, people who frequently lie, people who habitually lie, or people who lie for specifically selfish reasons? "I hate all liars on principle" is a pretty broad statement.

Comment by TiffanyAching on Marginal Revolution Thoughts on Black Lives Matter Movement · 2017-01-19T03:08:08.297Z · LW · GW

I think there's some miscommunication here regarding the quoted sentence. You used the phrase "Whichever Lives Are Most Affected By Police Brutality At The Moment". I stated that this group, right now at the moment, is "black Americans". I wouldn't have thought you would disagree with that statement given that you said it was acceptable for "Black Lives" to be used as a "convenient shorthand" for WLAMABPBATM, and you've just reiterated that being black is highly correlated with being unfairly victimized. Where's the disagreement here?

As regards "ALM", the only argument you've advanced is that the idea that it can derail discussions may not be meaningful. So say I ceded that, for the sake of argument - though I don't think you've actually demonstrated that it's a semantic stopsign, etc. What are your responses to my other points? I'll restate them clearly in case my previous comment was not sufficiently well-structured.

  1. "All lives matter" adds nothing to the discourse.
  2. "All lives matter", as a response or counter to "Black Lives Matter" (which as far as I've seen is all it is), is an implied rebuke carrying a tacit accusation of unfairness.
  3. As "Black Lives Matter" exists as a slogan specifically referring to the higher probability of unfair victimization at the hands of police faced by black people, "All Lives Matter" carries with it an implication that this higher probability is minimal, non-existant or unimportant.

If you can present an alternate explanation of why people say "All Lives Matter" as a response to "Black Lives Matter", I'm perfectly willing to hear it.

Comment by TiffanyAching on Marginal Revolution Thoughts on Black Lives Matter Movement · 2017-01-19T01:28:02.325Z · LW · GW

I don't know if this is the right place to have this conversation but I can't help myself. Mods - feel free to kill this.

Disclaimer, I'm not American. I don't have a dog in this fight one way or another, but I can pattern-match.

People object to "All Lives Matter" because it derails the discussion and implies that it's somehow unfair to focus, as you said, on "Whichever Lives Are Most Affected By Police Brutality At The Moment" - which in America means black people specifically. It's the same reason people object when a discussion of sexual violence is cluttered up with comments insisting that everyone recognize "women can commit rape too!" or when a discussion of social discrimination faced by disabled people meets a response like "able-bodied people can be bullied too! I was bullied for being ginger!". I've seen that kind of "what about me" response in a dozen different forms and it's almost never useful. It's a cry of not fair along the same lines as "Why can't we have a Straight Pride Parade?" "Why isn't there a White History Month?" and so on and so on.

Nobody was tweeting "All Lives Matter" before "Black Lives Matter". It's not the slogan of any particular group or movement. It's a response, and a clear implied criticism. While I wouldn't go so far as to say it's inherently racist, I'm not surprised in the least to see that motive attributed to it. If I was American I'd certainly be objecting to it too.

Comment by TiffanyAching on John Nash's Ideal Money: The Motivations of Savings and Thrift · 2017-01-18T23:48:16.242Z · LW · GW

I'm dying to know, who the heck is this Eugine character? I keep seeing the name but I don't know the backstory.

Comment by TiffanyAching on Universal Hate · 2017-01-18T20:19:34.925Z · LW · GW

I must state that I don't think this meets the general "relevance" standard for political posts on LW, and I don't personally want to see that standard lowered.

That said, I do agree with the central point - in fact it's because it seems so ethically obvious that I don't think it clears the relevance bar. Is there anyone here on LW who is likely to disagree with the statement "hating every member of a group X on principle is irrational and counter-productive"? I'm not trying to be sarky, it's a good post, I just don't see how it's likely to provoke a discussion or a debate here.

Comment by TiffanyAching on The trolleycar dilemma, an MIT moral problem app · 2017-01-18T19:25:03.697Z · LW · GW

They're allowing users to build their own scenarios and add them as well, so it looks like the intention is to let the complexity grow over time from a basic starting point.

Actually, I wonder whether they might find that people really don't want a great deal of complexity in the decision-making process. People might prefer to go with a simple "minimize loss off life, prioritize kids" rule and leave it at that, because we're used to cars as a physical hazard that kill blindly when they kill at all. People might be more morally comfortable with smart cars that aren't too smart.

Comment by TiffanyAching on Open thread, Jan. 16 - Jan. 22, 2016 · 2017-01-18T19:05:55.475Z · LW · GW

Yes, that's the sort of idea I was getting at - though not anything so extreme.

Of course I don't really think Elo was saying that at all anyway, I'm not trying to strawman. I'd just like to see the idea clarified a bit.

(We use substitution ciphers as spoiler tags? Fancy!)

Comment by TiffanyAching on Open thread, Jan. 16 - Jan. 22, 2016 · 2017-01-18T01:30:56.073Z · LW · GW

Could you explain this a little more? I don't quite see your reasoning. Leaving aside the fact that "morally valuable" seems too vague to me to be meaningfully measured anyway, adults aren't immutably fixed at a "moral level" at any given age. Andrei "Rostov Ripper" Chikatilo didn't take up murdering people until he was in his forties. At twenty, he hadn't proven anything.

Bob at twenty years old hasn't murdered anybody, though Bob at forty might. Now you can say that we have more data about Bob at twenty than we do about Bob at ten, and therefore are able to make more accurate predictions based on his track record, but by that logic Bob is at his most morally valuable when he's gasping his last on a hospital bed at 83, because we can be almost certain at that point that he's not going to do anything apart from shuffle off the mortal coil.

And if "more or less likely to commit harmful acts in future" is our metric of moral value, then children who are abused, for example, are less morally valuable than children who aren't, because they're more likely to commit crimes. That's not intended to put any words in your mouth by the way, I'm just saying that when I try to follow your reasoning it leads me to weird places. I'd be interested to see you explain your position in more detail.

Comment by TiffanyAching on Open thread, Jan. 16 - Jan. 22, 2016 · 2017-01-17T19:06:53.555Z · LW · GW

Fair enough. Kindest thing to do really. I think people have a hard time walking away even when the argument is almost certainly going to be fruitless.

Comment by TiffanyAching on John Nash's Ideal Money: The Motivations of Savings and Thrift · 2017-01-17T19:01:57.628Z · LW · GW

Flinter, I'd like to know what you want to happen here. I know that people aren't reacting to you the way you think they should. So what if they did?

Say everyone here shut up and let you make as many posts as you need to give us this important information. Then what? What do you want everyone to do then? It seems to shock and upset you when anyone raises a counterargument or looks for flaws in the argument or even expresses doubt. And it appears to be tantamount to heresy to suggest that John Nash might have had an idea that is imperfect or inapplicable.

So what is there left for us to do, if we're not supposed to argue or debate the question?

Comment by TiffanyAching on Feature Wish List for LessWrong · 2017-01-17T18:40:47.586Z · LW · GW

I don't know if this has been discussed before, but what's the argument against the standard response-bumps-thread model? You've got active threads falling off the first page while threads that haven't successfully started a discussion are just sitting there.

Thread-bumping also allows for the creation of long-term threads - threads that might not be worth turning into stickies but are worthy of being resurrected many times when somebody has something new to contribute to them. "Your Favorite Rationality-Related Books", just as an example. Somebody creates it, people throw in a few names, then it sinks off the bottom of the page. A few weeks later somebody reads something new and wants to tell everyone about it so they post to the Book thread. It jumps back up to the top of the page and more people who didn't see it the first time round add their suggestions, and it sinks again. Over months and years contributions build up until you have a really useful resource for people looking for a good rationality book. That's the kind of thing I mean by a long-term thread.

While I'm at it, other fora usually have discussion sections broken into broad areas of interest - say Economics, Ethics, AI etc. (maybe even Politics) - and people post within the appropriate section. That might be a model to consider.

Finally, I think that if people want LW to be anything like a community, you need to consider making some sort of space for people to get to know each other and bond socially. The open threads don't cover that, comments there are still expected to be related to the site's purpose. I mean a random chat space where people can go to bitch about the weather or argue about whether Kirk was a better captain than Picard. I honestly believe it would improve the quality of the real discussions too. Social bonds incentivize civility. If we were all perfectly rational discussants that wouldn't be necessary but none of us are. So why not take a tip from evolution?

Comment by TiffanyAching on Feature Wish List for LessWrong · 2017-01-17T17:18:20.360Z · LW · GW

I agree totally about sticky threads. I'd never even seen a forum without them until I came here. Having to repost the Welcome thread and the open threads over and over seems like such a PITA.

Comment by TiffanyAching on The trolleycar dilemma, an MIT moral problem app · 2017-01-17T00:52:17.961Z · LW · GW

This is pretty fun in a sick way. Suck it, pedestrians! I wonder how much their results will be skewed by people answering flippantly?

For the record I didn't mess with the test, I honestly tried to judge the scenarios, even though trolleycar problems drive me nuts. I swear if I'm ever in that freakin' trolley I'll run over the five kids on one track then go back and beat the other one to death with a shovel.

If a consensus emerges I predict that it would go "kids over adults, humans over animals, law-abiders over law breakers" and maybe "old adults over young adults" but what the hierarchy would be when rules conflict is trickier to guess.

Also interesting that they chose the emotive term "flouting the law" over the more obvious "breaking the law".

Comment by TiffanyAching on Welcome to Less Wrong! (11th thread, January 2017) (Thread B) · 2017-01-17T00:21:05.238Z · LW · GW

Then write a clear and cogent post about Ideal Money - in one single thread, not three - that meets the posting standards.

That's your only option right now. You can stamp your foot about it all you like but that is the case. Show people that you can behave sensibly and they will listen to you. If you keep allowing your frustration to override your common sense you'll just keep having discussions like this.

I've tried to be helpful because you're new, but I don't think there's any more I can say. I'm tapping out.

Comment by TiffanyAching on Welcome to Less Wrong! (11th thread, January 2017) (Thread B) · 2017-01-16T23:17:05.865Z · LW · GW

I think the problem here is that this a place for people who accept the possibility that they could be wrong and look to others to check and maybe improve their ideas - so that we can all help each other be "Less Wrong".

You have an idea that you're certain is right, and you don't think anybody here can possibly improve it or contribute anything to it. That's why people are questioning whether this is the right place for your material.

You also haven't had time to build up credibility - not John Nash's credibility, your credibility. That's why I suggested participating in the community a bit before insisting that people listen to you.

Comment by TiffanyAching on Welcome to Less Wrong! (11th thread, January 2017) (Thread B) · 2017-01-16T23:03:10.464Z · LW · GW

Okay, I hear you, but the site has its own rules about presentation and dialogue. Given that you've said it's something that only you can explain correctly to people, maybe you'd actually be better off starting a blog and putting it in there? Then you could do it your own way and present your information as you see fit. Because if you explain it here people might not listen the way you want them to, and that might be very frustrating for you.

Comment by TiffanyAching on Welcome to Less Wrong! (11th thread, January 2017) (Thread B) · 2017-01-16T22:49:24.473Z · LW · GW

Hi Flinter, welcome to Less Wrong.

Don't be too upset about a mod moving your post. You just need to get a bit more familiar with the site rules before you dive in. I'm sure it's nothing to do with their views on John Nash. If I made a post about how much I love Terry Pratchett, a mod would take it down for being irrelevant, but that wouldn't mean they necessarily disapproved of Terry Pratchett, would it?

Maybe take a day or two to read some threads, make a few comments and settle in here. You've got plenty of time to make your arguments once you've found your feet a bit.

Comment by TiffanyAching on X Is Not About Y: Technological Improvements and Cognitive-Physical Demands · 2017-01-16T22:19:00.371Z · LW · GW

And then every job applicant needs a WOC (Widget Operations Certificate) before they'll even be considered for the role, and then there's a whole quasi-academic professional body set up to provide training courses and administer the WOC test, and so that provides employment to a bunch of Widget Operations Instructors... Economics is weird.