Posts

Escaping Your Past 2009-04-22T21:15:14.171Z · score: 24 (39 votes)
Sunk Cost Fallacy 2009-04-12T17:30:52.592Z · score: 30 (31 votes)
It's the Same Five Dollars! 2009-03-08T07:23:41.621Z · score: 23 (30 votes)

Comments

Comment by z_m_davis on Open Thread: October 2009 · 2009-10-16T19:58:18.781Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

On reflection, I'm actually going to start spelling my first name again.

Comment by z_m_davis on The Anthropic Trilemma · 2009-09-29T05:31:47.296Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

which has some as-of-yet unspecified implication for the merit of his position

See Furcas's comment.

that allows him to see his life as no different from any others and yet still act in preference to himself

I never said it was no different. Elsewhere in the thread, I had argued that selfishness is entirely compatible with biting the third bullet. Egan's Law.

And it was obvious what distinction he was making by using the words "very roughly the same reason" instead of "exactly the same reason".

I disagree; if it had been obvious, I wouldn't have had to point it out explicitly. Maybe the cognitive history would help? I had originally typed "the same reason," but added "very roughly" before posting because I anticipated your objection. I think the original was slightly funnier, but I thought it was worth trading off a little of the humor value in exchange for making the statement more defensible when taken literally.

I'm sorry, but that's just not "how it works". [...] your full explanation [looks] blatantly ad hoc.

I'm curious. If what actually happened looks ad hoc to you, what's your alternative theory? If you don't trust what I say about what I was thinking, then what do you believe instead? You seem to think I've committed some error other than writing two admittedly somewhat opaque comments, but I'm not sure what it's supposed to be.

Comment by z_m_davis on The Anthropic Trilemma · 2009-09-29T02:37:22.056Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Oops. I goofed.

Comment by z_m_davis on The Anthropic Trilemma · 2009-09-29T00:23:21.934Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Right, so of course I'm rather selfish in the sense of valuing things-like-myself, and so of course I buy more things for myself than I do for random strangers, and so forth. But I also know that I'm not ontologically fundamental; I'm just a conjunction of traits that can be shared by other observers to various degrees. So "I don't throw myself off cliffs for very roughly the same reason I don't throw other people off cliffs" is this humorously terse and indirect way of saying that identity is a scalar, not a binary attribute. (Notice that I said "very roughly the same reason" and not "exactly the same reason"; that was intentional.)

Comment by z_m_davis on The Anthropic Trilemma · 2009-09-28T20:35:31.455Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I was trying to be cute.

Comment by z_m_davis on The Anthropic Trilemma · 2009-09-28T03:36:28.510Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I would say that the ordinarily very useful abstraction of subjective probability breaks down in situations that involve copying and remerging people, and that our intuitive morality breaks down when it has to deal with measure of experience. In the current technological regime, this isn't a problem at all, because the only branching we do is quantum branching, and there we have this neat correspondence between quantum measure and subjective probability, so you can plan for "your own" future in the ordinary obvious way. How you plan for "your own" future in situations where you expect to be copied and merged depends on the details of your preferences about measure of experience. For myself, I don't know how I would go about forming such preferences, because I don't understand consciousness.

Comment by z_m_davis on The Anthropic Trilemma · 2009-09-27T04:55:52.414Z · score: 1 (7 votes) · LW · GW

But all the resulting observers who see the coin come up tails aren't you. You just specified that they weren't. Who cares what they think?

Comment by z_m_davis on The Anthropic Trilemma · 2009-09-27T04:41:57.131Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I don't throw myself off cliffs for very roughly the same reason I don't throw other people off cliffs.

Comment by z_m_davis on The Anthropic Trilemma · 2009-09-27T04:39:32.750Z · score: 9 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Following Nominull and Furcas, I bite the third bullet without qualms for the perfectly ordinary obvious reasons. Once we know how much of what kinds of experiences will occur at different times, there's nothing left to be confused about. Subjective selfishness is still coherent because you're not just an arbitrary observer with no distinguishing characteristics at all; you're a very specific bundle of personality traits, memories, tendencies of thought, and so forth. Subjective selfishness corresponds to only caring about this one highly specific bundle: only caring about whether someone falls off a cliff if this person identifies as such-and-such and has such-and-these specific memories and such-and-those personality traits: however close a correspondence you need to match whatever you define as personal identity.

The popular concepts of altruism and selfishness weren't designed for people who understand materialism. Once you realize this, you can just recast whatever it was you were already trying to do in terms of preferences over histories of the universe. It all adds up to, &c., &c.

Comment by z_m_davis on The Absent-Minded Driver · 2009-09-23T16:14:17.034Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

I count 6+ comments from others on meta-talk, 8+ down-mods, and 0 [sic] explanations for the errors in my solution. Nice work, guys.

If it is in fact the case that your complaints are legitimately judged a negative contribution, then you should expect to be downvoted and criticized on those particular comments, regardless of whether or not your solution is correct. There's nothing contradictory about simultaneously believing both that your proposed solution is correct, and that your subsequent complaints are a negative contribution.

I don't feel like taking the time to look over your solution. Maybe it's perfect. Wonderful! Spectacular! This world becomes a little brighter every time someone solves a math problem. But could you please, please consider toning down the hostility just a bit? These swipes at other commenters' competence and integrity are really unpleasant to read.

ADDENDUM: Re tone, consider the difference between "I wonder why this was downvoted, could someone please explain?" (which is polite) and "What a crock," followed by shaming a counterfactual Wei Dai (which is rude).

Comment by z_m_davis on The Absent-Minded Driver · 2009-09-23T03:38:48.191Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Okay, so far that's 3-4 people willing to mod me down, zero people willing to point out the errors in a clearly articulated post.

This seems like a non-sequitur to me. It's your comment of 22 September 2009 09:56:05PM that's sitting at -4; none of your clear and articulate responses to Dai have negative scores anymore.

Comment by z_m_davis on The Absent-Minded Driver · 2009-09-22T23:03:43.661Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Downvoted for complaining about being downvoted and for needless speculation about the integrity of other commenters. (Some other contributions to this thread have been upvoted.)

Comment by z_m_davis on Reason as memetic immune disorder · 2009-09-21T19:27:07.256Z · score: 20 (24 votes) · LW · GW

I lean toward the politically correct side because it's the side that [...]

Taboo side. Complex empirical issues do not have sides. Humans, for their own non-truth-tracking reasons, group into sides, but it's not Bayesian, and it has never been Bayesian.

Or we think we group up into sides, but I'm not even sure that's true. You write that the egalitarians are nuanced and present evidence, whereas the human biodiversity crowd (or whatever words you want to use) are just apologists for their favorite narrative, but there are a lot of people who have the exact opposite perspective: that the hbd-ers are honest and nuanced and the egalitarians are blinded by ideology. But in fact, there are no sides physically out there: rather, there are only various people who have studied various facets of the topic to various degrees and who believe and profess various things for various reasons. And this question of what various people believe is distinct from the question of what's actually true.

I realize that this kind of aggressive reductionism isn't very predictively useful---that indeed, I'm probably just a few steps above saying, "Well it's all just quarks and leptons anyway." But sometimes it is worth saying just that, if only to wrench ourselves free of this adversarial framing so that we can actually look at the data.

It's [...] humane to assume

Humaneness is central to policy, but it should have nothing to do with our beliefs.

Comment by z_m_davis on The Lifespan Dilemma · 2009-09-14T15:28:13.953Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It just seems kind of oddly discontinuous to care about what happens to your analogues except death. I mention comas only in an attempt to construct a least convenient possible world with which to challenge your quantum immortalist position. I mean---are you okay with your scientist-stage-magician wiping out 99.999% of your analogues, as long as one copy of you exists somewhere? But decoherence is continuous: what does it even mean, to speak of exactly one copy of you? Cf. Nick Bostrom's "Quantity of Experience" (PDF).

Comment by z_m_davis on The Lifespan Dilemma · 2009-09-14T06:09:10.102Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

could you explain how measure in the mathematical sense relates to moral value in unknowable realites

Well, I know that different things are going to happen to different future versions of me across the many worlds. I don't want to say that I only care about some versions of me, because I anticipate being all of them. I would seem to need some sort of weighing scheme. You've said you don't want your analogues to suffer, but you don't mind them ceasing to exist, but I don't think you can do that consistently. The real world is continuous and messy: there's no single bright line between life and death, between person and not-a-person. If you're okay with half of your selves across the many worlds suddenly dying, are you okay with them gradually dropping into a coma? &c.

Comment by z_m_davis on The Lifespan Dilemma · 2009-09-14T04:41:38.339Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I think this depends on the answers to problems in anthropics and consciousness (the subjects that no one understands). The aptness of your thought experiment depends on Everett branching being like creating a duplicate of yourself, rather than dividing your measure) or "degree-of-consciousness" in half. Now, since I only have the semipopular (i.e., still fake) version of QM, there's a substantial probability that everything I believe is nonsense, but I was given to understand that Everett branching divides up your measure, rather than duplicating you: decoherence is a thermodynamic process occuring in the universal wavefunction; it's not really about new parallel universes being created. Somewhat disturbingly, if I'm understanding it correctly, this seems to suggest that people in the past have more measure than we do, simply by virtue of being in the past ...

But again, I could just be talking nonsense.

Comment by z_m_davis on Righting a Wrong Question · 2009-09-12T02:48:16.280Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Eliezer's posts (including comments) from before March were ported from the old, nonthreaded Overcoming Bias: that's why there are no threads and no sorting option.

Comment by z_m_davis on The Sword of Good · 2009-09-05T21:34:23.098Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think there's actually any substantive disagreement here. "Good," "bad," "adequate," "inadequate"--these are all just words. The empirical facts are what they are, and we can only call them good or bad relative to some specific standard. Part of Eliezer's endearing writing style is holding things to ridiculously impossibly high standards, and so he has a tendency to mouth off about how the human brain is poorly designed, human lifespans are ridiculously short and poor, evolutions are stupid, and so forth. But it's just a cute way of talking about things; we can easily imagine someone with the same anticipations of experience but less ambition (or less hubris, if you prefer to say that) who says, "The human brain is amazing; human lives are long and rich; evolution is a wonder!" It's not a disagreement in the rationalist's sense, because it's not about the facts. It's not about neuroscience; it's about attitude.

Comment by z_m_davis on Cookies vs Existential Risk · 2009-09-01T00:55:19.038Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

NormalHumanHeroes

Comment by z_m_davis on Ingredients of Timeless Decision Theory · 2009-08-20T18:34:20.940Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

[Has Eliezer] ever published a paper in a peer-review journal?

"Levels of Organization in General Intelligence" appeared in the Springer volume Artificial General Intelligence. "Cognitive Biases Potentially Affecting Judgement of Global Risks" (PDF) and "Artificial Intelligence as a Positive and Negative Factor in Global Risk" (PDF) appeared in the Oxford University Press volume Global Catastrophic Risks. They're not mathy papers, though.

Comment by z_m_davis on Experiential Pica · 2009-08-18T04:07:58.613Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

intellectual endeavour (although people reading LW are unlikely to be doing too little of that)

There's no such thing as too much intellectual endeavor! There's too much to know!

Comment by z_m_davis on Bloggingheads: Yudkowsky and Aaronson talk about AI and Many-worlds · 2009-08-18T03:56:33.073Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

If anyone knows of a really good summary for somebody who's actually studied physics on why MWI is so great (and sadly, Eliezer's posts here and on overcomingbias don't do it for me) I would greatly appreciate the pointer.

You say Eliezer's posts didn't do it for you, but how much of it did you read? In particular, the point about parsimony favoring MWI is explained in "Decoherence is Simple". As for the mechanism of world divergence, I think the answer is that "worlds" are not an ontologically basic element of the theory. Rather, the theory is about complex amplitude in configuration space, and then from our perspective embedded within the physics, the evolution of the wavefunction seems like "worlds" "splitting."

Comment by z_m_davis on Why Real Men Wear Pink · 2009-08-10T23:42:32.346Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

t-shirts with robots on them because it gets me into conversations about robots

I have a tee-shirt with robots on it, but it never gets me into conversations. What am I doing wrong? Does it involve going outside??

Comment by z_m_davis on LW/OB Rationality Quotes - August 2009 · 2009-08-07T06:08:23.281Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Most healthy intellectual blogs/forums participate in conversations among larger communities of blogs and forums. Rather than just "preaching to a choir" of readers, such blogs often quote and respond to posts on other blogs. Such responses sometimes support, and sometimes criticize, but either way can contribute to a healthy conversation. [...] In contrast, an insular group defined by something other than its rationality would be internally focused, rarely participating in such larger conversations.

--- Robin Hanson

(hint hint this thread is insanely incestuous)

Comment by z_m_davis on Why Real Men Wear Pink · 2009-08-06T21:33:37.038Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I didn't realize chickens think that way.

They don't have to.

Comment by z_m_davis on Recommended reading: George Orwell on knowledge from authority · 2009-08-05T21:03:08.087Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, yeah, very cute. I agree that folk psychology has a few problems with it, but I'm not yet ready to toss commonsense notions like knowing and wanting entirely out the window.

Okay, think of it this way: we can see why natural selection would result in organisms with a folk psychology of selves that have beliefs and desires, even if these abstractions are a little leakier than we think they are. But human societies haven't faced the same kind of selection pressure that could produce such adaptations, so whatever sense human societies can be said to know things, it's probably very different from the sense in which individual humans can be said to know things.

Comment by z_m_davis on She Blinded Me With Science · 2009-08-05T19:10:13.165Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Why isn't there more amateur computer science [...]?

GNU?

Comment by z_m_davis on Recommended reading: George Orwell on knowledge from authority · 2009-08-05T18:55:25.382Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure I know what it means to say that the system "knows" things. We often speak as if evolution or genes "want" things, but everyone knows that it's only a metaphor. When you speak of the global brain, do you mean it strictly as metaphor, or are you saying something more?

Comment by z_m_davis on The Machine Learning Personality Test · 2009-08-05T02:14:35.844Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

As far as I know, there are no personality tests constructed in the proper way, which would be to give a lot of questions and then perform either factor analysis or PCA on the answers in order to discover from the data what the true dimensions of personality are.

But I thought that was exactly how we got the Big Five.

Comment by z_m_davis on Why You're Stuck in a Narrative · 2009-08-04T17:05:58.780Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Does it help if we think of our lives as a story about the sort of brave truthseeker who knows about the narrative fallacy and constantly reminds herself to make falsifiable predictions? 'Cause that's totally what I do.

Comment by z_m_davis on The Obesity Myth · 2009-07-30T03:57:27.290Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Huh? It happens all the time around here.

Comment by z_m_davis on The Second Best · 2009-07-27T19:29:07.477Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

One box!

Comment by z_m_davis on The Nature of Offense · 2009-07-27T02:23:52.160Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I suspect there is a substantive disagreement lurking here. Specifically, as much as it hurts my liberal feminist heart to say it (or it did hurt, before I got jaded), I'm going to have to deny this:

But for any given observed behavioral difference, it's sensible to assume it's a learned behavior lacking strong evidence otherwise

Maybe we're tripping over this word genetic? When I say that the number of shared genes doesn't matter, what I'm getting at is that while SRY may "just" be "one gene," it triggers this entire masculinizing developmental process, and while I haven't studied the details (yet), it doesn't look trivial. Obviously culture exists, but the capacity to generate and transmit culture is a specific ability of human brains that happens in a specific manner, and if there are innate sex differences in human brains, then we are not justified in assuming that a given behavioral sex difference is a strictly cultural artifact that could have just as easily gone the other way. Culture is---I don't have the word for it---informed, constrained?---by human nature. We have to reason these things out on a case-by-case basis. Suppose---suppose American males score better than females on a test of mental rotation by eight-tenths of a standard deviation, and suppose we don't have any cross-cultural data, however dearly we might wish for it. I can't bring myself to presume a social explanation.

Comment by z_m_davis on The Nature of Offense · 2009-07-26T19:05:17.195Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I agree that in the case of behavioral differences, we have a prominent "learned social behavior" hypothesis that we do not have in the case of physiological differences, but it's not because of the number of genes shared between sexes; it's because of the common-sense intuition that culture influences behavior in a dramatic way that it doesn't influence physiology.

Suckling an infant is pretty clearly essential behavior. "Women are more practical", not so much.

I agree here. (In particular, "Women are more practical" is vague to the point of not-even-wrong-ness.) However, it does seem worth noting that if there are non-obviously-essential physiological differences (such as male facial hair), then it's at least not implausible that there might also be non-obviously-essential brain development differences that manifest as behavioral differences.

Comment by z_m_davis on Welcome to Less Wrong! · 2009-07-26T05:13:15.487Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I agree with some things you've said, but about some of the things you've said there seems to be no convincing argument in sight

Downvoted for lack of specifics.

Comment by z_m_davis on The Nature of Offense · 2009-07-26T04:47:25.528Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Given the stunted nature of the Y chromosome [...] and the fact that all other genetic material is shared, this still means the burden of proof is stacked against the idea of non-obviously essential sexual dimorphism

I don't think simply counting genes tells us much of anything about the amount of sexual dimorphism in a species, one way or the other. The vast majority of genetic material is shared between sexes in any species, and some species don't even use genes to determine sex. If the fact that most genetic material is shared between sexes really did stack the deck against large sex differences, then we would never see large sex differences anywhere.

Futhermore, I'm not sure what you mean by "non-obviously essential." Obvious to whom? It's not at all obvious to me why (say) it would be adaptive for human males to have so much facial hair compared to human females, and yet human males really do have a lot of facial hair.

Comment by z_m_davis on Welcome to Less Wrong! · 2009-07-24T23:08:35.516Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I'm still hoping that the professed rationality is enough to overcome the failure modes that are currently so common here[.] But unfortunately I think my possible contributions won't be missed if I rid myself of wishful thinking and see it's not going to happen. [...] I'd really like to participate in thoughtful discussions with rationalists I can respect. For quite a long time, Less Wrong seemed like the place, but I just couldn't find a proper place to start (I dislike introductions). But now as I'm losing my respect for this community and thus the will to participate here, I started posting. I hope I can regain the confidence in a high level of sanity waterline here.

Oh, please stay!

Comment by z_m_davis on Missing the Trees for the Forest · 2009-07-24T07:39:37.167Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I have replied in the other thread.

Please correct me if I’m misreading you here. You don't trust yourself to assess whether a comment deserves a downvote, because humans are subject to an array of egocentric biases, and yet somehow you do trust yourself to assess that the other person has no idea of what she's talking about, even though humans are subject to an array of egocentric biases?

You might want to consider doing this the other way, extending interpretive charity but not karmic charity. In fact, I hereby urge you to vote however you want to on whatever comments you want to. After all, a few undeserved downvotes are of little importance, whereas, say, continuous swipes at other people's intellectual competence and integrity (e.g., "Yeah, wanna rethink that one?" "This is the part where you're supposed to realize the absurdity of your original response to my reaction," "I heard you make an all-too-convenient claim about what you were, like, totally about to do," "Now for the hard part!" "You're kidding. It never occured to you [...]?" "a deceptively simple comparison that you didn't understand how to use correctly," "doing all the intellectual heavy lifting for you," "if you could present such evidence, or even realize its applicability, you would have already done so," "why don't you make sure you know what you're talking about [...]?" "I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that you still don't have an example," &c.) have a tendency to drag the quality of discourse down. It's worth keeping in mind that the karma system is supposed to be a mechanism that exists in the service promoting good discussion; discussion does not exist in the service of amassing karma points. I would much rather someone abuse her voting power than constantly taunt and belittle people.

Comment by z_m_davis on Of Exclusionary Speech and Gender Politics · 2009-07-24T07:29:54.905Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Now for the hard part! For this comparison to make any point in your favor, you need to show how there's a kind of language used in Sports Illustrated, etc., that most men here consider beyond the pale in its offensiveness, no matter who uses it. Can you do it? No? Then you don't have a point.

While it's true that I probably can't find an example of something most men here would find "beyond-the-pale offensive," I don't agree that that's the correct standard to apply here. If I'm reading you correctly, you're saying that Cosmo is evidence that Alicorn's reactions are not gender-typical, and that therefore the fact that Alicorn was offended by some behavior, doesn't tell us that that behavior discourages potential female users. But the fact that P(Cosmo-reader|female)!=P(female|Cosmo-reader) does seem relevant here, because honestly, Less Wrong's potential female user base is probably not primarily composed of the type of women who read Cosmo; probably, it's primarily composed of women like Alicorn. We really are drawing from the tails here. I made an analogy: I said that mainstream women's magazines aren't representative of the women here, just as men's magazines aren't representative of the men here, and you seem to be pointing out that the analogy isn't perfectly symmetrical, saying that there's nothing in the mainstream men's magazines that would offend a majority of the men here to such a degree as Alicorn was offended by what she perceived as objectification, which you are saying is condoned by mainstream women's magazines. Well, I agree that the situation isn't perfectly symmetrical: gender issues are never perfectly symmetrical. But the analogy still seemed worth making. For what it's worth, I'm male, and I'm frequently offended or annoyed by mainstream men's culture claiming to represent the interests of men-in-general, when they certainly don't represent me.

Comment by z_m_davis on Missing the Trees for the Forest · 2009-07-23T20:08:09.140Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

but you could provide a better explanation for why it never occurred to you that you have a bias during a flamewar.

There's no further explanation! It really didn't occur to me that that was a reason to not vote! And it's still not obvious to me that not-voting is unambiguously the right ethical standard. Of course I agree that it's unethical to downvote a comment solely because you don't like the conclusion or you don't like the commenter---but that remains true whether or not you're personally involved in the conversation. So as long as we're going to talk about unenforceable personal standards of ethics, maybe the standard (which had been my policy) of "always and everywhere try to vote solely based on quality of discussion" is better than "don't vote when I'm part of the discussion."

I don't know how much of that was you

Not very much. During the recent madness, I had downvoted you I think maybe three or four times, and upvoted you I think once, all of which have now been cancelled.

I accounted for this already.

Sure. Notice that I wrote that a "a nontrivial proportion of your recent karma loss" (emphasis added) could be legitimate; I didn't mean to suggest that all of it was.

And so I had to spend far disproportionate time responding to you, compared to your investment in the discussion.

If you don't think it's worth your time to correct (what seems to you to be) someone's egregious misapprehension, then don't bother to do so. If you think a comment is poorly argued---maybe just downvote it?

Comment by z_m_davis on Missing the Trees for the Forest · 2009-07-23T17:32:20.031Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

It never occurred to you that you might not be neutral enough to accurately moderate during an argument you're personally involved in?

I guess I'm just retarded???

I humbly recommend you cancel any votes for or against me in exchanges you've been involved in.

Done.

I have a much lower karma level [...]

I agree that drive-by mass downvoting out of personal animosity is bad, and it is of course unjust that you have apparently been subjected to it. But again, you should also consider that a nontrivial proportion of your recent karma loss has been because people legitimately find many of your recent comments to be of low-quality. For example, your tone is oftentimes rather hostile and condescending ("Can you do it? No? Then you don't have a point," "Like any bad lie, your position has forced you into defending ever-more-absurd positions," "Know anyone like that?", "There is no hope for this one," "Is that too much to ask of you these days?" &c.), and maybe you can see why some people might think this worthy of a downvote?

Comment by z_m_davis on Missing the Trees for the Forest · 2009-07-23T05:00:26.653Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Sadly, my ethics prevent me from modding comments in exchanges I'm directly involved in.

Honestly, this notion never occurred to me. I interpret downvotes (upvotes) as a "I would like to see fewer (more) comments like this," and feel free to vote on exchanges I'm involved in, trying to base my votes on quality of discussion and argument, rather than strictly whether I agree or not. Do you think your standard should be a community norm (even if it can't be enforced)?

Comment by z_m_davis on Of Exclusionary Speech and Gender Politics · 2009-07-22T04:26:20.947Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

So, one of the most-read women's magazines isn't suggestive of how women think, a major high-grossing film that describes Cosmo as "the Bible" and expects viewers to get the joke isn't suggestive of how women think

I agree that Cosmopolitan knows a lot about how many women think, but this isn't the same thing as Cosmo being representative of women-in-full-generality. The qualifier really does seem important here. Compare: Sports Illustrated or Esquire know a lot about how many men think, but (I submit) we wouldn't want to say that these publications represent men-in-general. I mean, I would bet that most of the men here given their choice would rather read, oh, let's say, IEEE Spectrum.

Oh, and to the downmod squad: check out this comment before you view me as just another bad guy on the other team worthy of lower karma.

Considering that the linked comment presently has 9 points, I wouldn't rule out the hypothesis that your comments are largely being voted on by their perceived individual merit, rather than an aspersion cast upon everything you write as the words of a "bad guy."

Comment by z_m_davis on Of Exclusionary Speech and Gender Politics · 2009-07-22T03:44:12.254Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Every non-Alicorn commenter "bothered" by it was only bothered because Alicorn claimed to be

Not true.

Comment by z_m_davis on Sayeth the Girl · 2009-07-21T08:26:48.599Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Also recommended: Anne Campbell's A Mind of Her Own: The Evolutionary Psychology of Women, which has chapters on status, competition, and aggression amongst women.

Comment by z_m_davis on Outside Analysis and Blind Spots · 2009-07-21T07:50:13.674Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

This is not a failing of one part of this community or another; this seems to be part of the current human condition

This is a failing of all parts of this community, and seems to be a part of the current human condition. (The eighth virtue is humility; the ninth virtue is perfectionism.)

Comment by z_m_davis on Being saner about gender and rationality · 2009-07-20T18:54:35.174Z · score: 13 (15 votes) · LW · GW

[notice how I objectified her there, leaving behind the language of a unified self or person in favour of a collection of mechanical motivations and processes whose dynamics are partially determined by evolutionary pressures, and what a useful exercise this can be for making sense of reality]

I still don't think you understand what feminists mean by objectification. It's not the same thing as cognitive reductionism, which I think hardly anyone here would object to. I mean, yes, minds are causal systems made of parts embedded in the universal laws of physics and can be understood as such. Everyone knows that!---and given that everyone knows that, you should be able to deduce that whatever it is people really mean when they criticize this objectification-thing, it has to be something other than cognitive reductionism.

Let me explain what I understand by objectification. So, even though (as everyone here already knows) everything that exists, exists within physics, we still find it useful and necessary to distinguish structures within physics which we think are conscious and intelligent (whatever it is we refer to with those words), which we call minds or people, and structures that are not, which we call objects. So when we express the proposition that objectification is unethical, we mean that we have special ethical standards for dealing with physical-structures-deemed-people that do not apply when dealing with physical-structures-deemed-objects. For example, in matters of sexual relations, you shouldn't deceive people into doing things that they wouldn't on reflection want to do if they were better informed; rather, when dealing with a person, you should take into account the desires, beliefs, and autonomy of that person, even though (as everyone already knows) none of these things are ontologically fundamental.

Now, perhaps you don't hold this ethical standard yourself. In light of the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad truth, there's probably not a whole lot feminists can do to talk you into it. But in order to have a sane discussion, you should at least understand what it is your fellow discussants actually believe. And I really don't think you do.

Comment by z_m_davis on Absolute denial for atheists · 2009-07-18T01:07:45.281Z · score: 5 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Masturbation is not sex.

No, but it should be similar enough to break the analogy to starvation or heroin deprivation.

Comment by z_m_davis on Absolute denial for atheists · 2009-07-18T00:57:04.583Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

involved objectifying me.

I do not think that word means what you think it means.

Comment by z_m_davis on Absolute denial for atheists · 2009-07-18T00:55:13.489Z · score: 16 (22 votes) · LW · GW

Do please try to understand that for many men, lack of sex is sort of like missing your heroin dosage - at least that's the metaphor Spider Robinson used. Anyone in this condition is probably going to go on about it, and if you're not starving at the moment you should try to have a little sympathy.

Of course it is well known that men on average have a higher sex drive than women on average, but I think the analogy to drug addiction or starving is ridiculous hyperbole. For just one thing, starving people and heroin addicts do not have the option of simply learning to masturbate.