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GLaDOS comments on I've had it with those dark rumours about our culture rigorously suppressing opinions - Less Wrong

26 Post author: Multiheaded 25 January 2012 05:43PM

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Comment author: GLaDOS 25 January 2012 07:44:03PM *  74 points [-]

Let's do the impossible and think the unthinkable! I must know what those secrets are, no matter how much sleep and comfort I might lose.

Watson was right about Africa. Larry Summers was right about women in certain professions. Roissy is right about the state of the sexual marketplace.

Democracy isn't that great. A ghetto/barrio/alternative name for low-class-hell-hole isn't a physical location, its people. Richer people are on average smarter, nicer, prettier than poor people. The more you strive to equalize material opportunities the more meritocracy produces a caste system based on inborn ability. Ideologies actually are as crazy as religions on average. There is no such thing as moral progress and if there is there is no reason to expect we have been experiencing it so far in recorded history, unless you count stuff like more adapted cultures displacing less adapted ones or mammals inheriting the planet from dinosaurs as moral progress. You can't be anything you want, your potential is severely limited at birth. University education creates very little added value. High class people unknowingly wage class war against low class people by promoting liberal social norms that they can handle but induce dysfunction in the lower classes (drug abuse, high divorce rates, juvenile delinquency, teen pregnancy, more violence, ... ). Too much ethnic diversity kills liberal social democracy. Improving the social status of the average woman vis a vis with the average man makes the average man less attractive. Inbreeding/Out-breeding norms (and obviously other social norms and practices too) have over the centuries differentiated not only IQs between Eurasian populations they have also affected the frequency and type of altruism genes present in different populations (visit hbd* chick for details ^_^ ).

Have a nice day! ~_^

Comment author: Jack 26 January 2012 01:28:38AM *  7 points [-]

There is no such thing as moral progress and if there is there is no reason to expect we have been experiencing it so far in recorded history, unless you count stuff like more adapted cultures displacing less adapted ones or mammals inheriting the planet from dinosaurs as moral progress.

Does this really belong or am I just lacking the requisite emotional abhorrence regarding its obvious truth?

Comment author: [deleted] 26 January 2012 07:33:05AM *  14 points [-]

In practice LessWrongers invoke directly or implicitly moral progress all the time. Like this.

They also sometimes invoke "well people changed their opinions in the past on case A, B and C, surely we will change our minds on D too!". Taking the idea of moral progress seriously, its perfectly fine to say that no thank you but you'd prefer not to change your vales to pattern match arbitrary historical processes (and further more a potentially flawed pattern match of historical processes!), so you are not changing your opinion on D.

This is even true for people who happen to disagree with modern stances on A, B or C. Preserving one's values is most likley a prerequisite for maximising expected utility. In this sense all of human history has been a horrible tragedy with the vast majority of people (including people alive today), being born in a uncaring universe with a practical guarantee of an alien valueless future.

Comment author: Multiheaded 26 January 2012 08:56:25AM *  4 points [-]

In this sense all of human history has been a horrible tragedy with the vast majority of people (including people alive today), being born in a uncaring universe with a practical guarantee of an alien valueless future.

I agree, but (sheer projection follows) I don't think that our minds can handle that thought in sufficient detail at all without just deciding to give up and play a videogame instead. I.e. such statements might indeed be unproductive and self-destructive for anyone, in any context (although I'm not sure how unproductive or self-destructive).

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 26 January 2012 12:07:32PM 2 points [-]

Like this.

The linked article has a negative karma, so this example did not convince me that LWers do this type of wrong reasoning all the time.

Comment author: [deleted] 23 February 2012 10:02:14AM *  9 points [-]

There are plenty of comments of that nature on LessWrong and they are very rarely poorly received. While the first example I gave was eventually down voted this is only because he proposed particularly bad reasoning based on that axiom. If you consider the criticism in the thread very few people attacked moral progress directly.

Also in wider society there is a strong assumption, almost a civic religion based on notions of moral progress. Even those of us who believe that we don't belive in moral progress probably have many cached thoughts and biases directly related to the belief that we haven't yet noticed and repaired.

Comment author: SkyDK 19 March 2012 10:12:56PM 1 point [-]

I'd actually take it half a step further and said that we've spent most of the years since WW2 on how to distance ourselves from ethical questions so as to allow ourselves to commit greater atrocities than ever before and still happily go home to watch Paradise Hotel afterwards.

I s'pose examples would be in order: 1. Undermining food production while at the same time burning food. 2. Specifically undermining the life quality of vast amounts of people so as to keep up a standard of living and increased consumption in quite a small part of the world. This includes, but is not limited to, instigating wars for the sake of resources, letting children deal with poisons, dumping nuclear waste where fellow human beings live and so on and so forth.

Comment author: J_Taylor 26 January 2012 06:45:04AM 1 point [-]

Most people feel some abhorrence to the idea, although many conservatives will draw an arbitrary line at which moral progress ended. However, among the more philosophically inclined, it is hardly a shocking idea.

Comment author: Jack 26 January 2012 06:46:58AM 2 points [-]

Yeah, it's a straightforward implication of moral non-realism which I've argued forcefully for here many times without feeling suppressed.

Comment author: Multiheaded 25 February 2012 09:15:48PM 1 point [-]

Exactly. As I've once said on a certain other forum, anyone who at least understands what the disasters of the 20th century have meant for our image of ourselves will be aware of, and likely resigned to, getting one's reasons to act on the world from the same source as the Nazis or whoever one most despises. No matter how reasonable the actions and the surface reasons might be, the meta-reasons are always going to be instincts, cultural assumptions and self-deception.

All in all, only Konkvistador's stronger proposition, on which I commented above, is in any way disturbing to me. And I even manage to mostly excuse the believers in moral progress; my reasons for that are a complicated story.

Comment author: Prismattic 26 January 2012 01:14:26AM 10 points [-]

Too much ethnic diversity kills liberal social democracy.

This one really doesn't belong on the list. The political science research showing a negative correlation between support for the welfare state and ethnic diversity is widely known and not-at-all secret.

Comment author: [deleted] 26 January 2012 07:39:41AM *  12 points [-]

This one really doesn't belong on the list.

It probably should have been given as something like "Diversity is not strength." to make apparent its political implications as well as cover other cases.

Comment author: [deleted] 26 January 2012 02:05:04AM 2 points [-]

Actually, this one is new to me. Any links?

Comment author: Prismattic 26 January 2012 02:11:12AM *  7 points [-]

A Google Scholar search for "ethnic diversity welfare state" will turn up a ton of links, but the specific evidence I had in mind is the graphs you can see here.

Comment author: hairyfigment 26 January 2012 08:16:38AM 3 points [-]

At a glance, "ethnic diversity" looks more like 'a history of one internal ethnic group imposing its will on another by force'.

The first Google result for your terms may cast doubt on this -- I can't tell right now -- but it definitely minimizes the effect, in Europe, of increasing diversity (whatever that means).

Comment author: CaveJohnson 26 January 2012 10:18:08AM *  13 points [-]

In recent years, Putnam has been engaged in a comprehensive study of the relationship between trust within communities and their ethnic diversity. His conclusion based on over 40 cases and 30 000 people within the United States is that, other things being equal, more diversity in a community is associated with less trust both between and within ethnic groups. Although limited to American data, it puts into question both the contact hypothesis and conflict theory in inter-ethnic relations. According to conflict theory, distrust between the ethnic groups will rise with diversity, but not within a group. In contrast, contact theory proposes that distrust will decline as members of different ethnic groups get to know and interact with each other. Putnam describes people of all races, sex, socioeconomic statuses, and ages as "hunkering down," avoiding engagement with their local community—both among different ethnic groups and within their own ethnic group. Even when controlling for income inequality and crime rates, two factors which conflict theory states should be the prime causal factors in declining inter-ethnic group trust, more diversity is still associated with less communal trust.

Lowered trust in areas with high diversity is also associated with:

  • Lower confidence in local government, local leaders and the local news media.

  • Lower political efficacy – that is, confidence in one's own influence.

  • Lower frequency of registering to vote, but more interest and knowledge about politics and more participation in protest marches and social reform groups.

  • Higher political advocacy, but lower expectations that it will bring about a desirable result.

  • Less expectation that others will cooperate to solve dilemmas of collective action (e.g., voluntary conservation to ease a water or energy shortage).

  • Less likelihood of working on a community project.

  • Less likelihood of giving to charity or volunteering.

  • Fewer close friends and confidants.

  • Less happiness and lower perceived quality of life.

  • More time spent watching television and more agreement that "television is my most important form of entertainment".

Comment author: hairyfigment 28 January 2012 05:22:11AM 5 points [-]

Well, this certainly leads me to change my view, but perhaps not in the way you think.

At first I doubted this evidence (and I still wonder how much of it people could replicate). I would expect contact with different people to reduce fear of outsiders. Indeed, Putnam suggests as much and this later source confirms it -- having neighbors from a different ethnic group increases inter-group trust. Yet the same sources claim that an ethnically diverse neighborhood reduces trust in 'hoods and neighbors. I didn't get the impression that racial prejudice started out strong enough to explain this, though I could be wrong.

I think y'all may have buried the lede here. If these and the other results you quoted hold, then maybe all altruism comes from tribal instincts and ethnic diversity interferes with our evolved tribal sense (until the mental categories change, about which more in a second). This might explain the greater participation in marches and reform groups. The loss of a tribe leads to desire for a new one.

Comment author: hairyfigment 28 January 2012 05:28:33AM 2 points [-]

Note that the original claim said, "Too much ethnic diversity kills liberal social democracy." This seems false and certainly contradicts Putnam (see sibling comment), who gives historical reasons for thinking these effects will vanish in the long term.

In the narrow matter of support for a welfare state, the source I found earlier purports to show that ethnic diversity as such has little to no effect.

Comment author: CaveJohnson 28 January 2012 08:53:23AM 3 points [-]

This seems false and certainly contradicts Putnam (see sibling comment), who gives historical reasons for thinking these effects will vanish in the long term.

I obviously think he is wrong.

Comment author: GLaDOS 09 February 2012 09:30:58AM *  3 points [-]

At a glance, "ethnic diversity" looks more like 'a history of one internal ethnic group imposing its will on another by force'.

I think that's the point. When you have ethnic diversity in single society or state, one group always does better than others and the others will resent it its success.

Comment author: [deleted] 27 January 2012 11:21:09PM 13 points [-]

High class people unknowingly wage class war against low class people by promoting liberal social norms that they can handle but induce dysfunction in the lower classes (drug abuse, high divorce rates, juvenile delinquency, teen pregnancy, more violence, ... ).

Roissy recently quoted and linked to a disturbing parable on this:

The Parable Of The Smart Birds

Once there were 3 classes of birds of a feather: Dumb birds, Smart birds and Genius birds. There was also a genius bird of a different feather hanging around. All summer the genius bird of a different feather went around to the smart birds of a feather telling them how ridiculous it was to fly south for the winter — that these atavistic instincts were a terrible legacy from “the bad old days” and gave very sophisticated-sounding arguments that the smart birds of a feather couldn’t quite understand but understood quite well that they’d better pretend to understand lest they be accused of being dumb birds.

Fall cometh. The dumb birds fly south to the derision of the smart birds. The genius birds of a feather think, “I’ve heard the arguments about flying south for the winter being only for dumb birds, but where really do these feelings come from? Could they have survival value? Could the genius bird of a different feather have a conflict of interest?” Even before thinking the answers through, the mere doubts raised were sufficient to motivate flying south. The smart birds of a feather, hearing these doubts raised by the genius birds of a feather proceeded to attack them as “dumb birds”. They felt superior to the genius birds of a feather. Some genius birds of a feather were even injured enough to stop them from being able to fly south.

Winter hits. The smart birds of a feather die. The injured genius birds of a feather die. The genius birds of a different feather turn out to have an adaptation to cold weather. Spring comes. An evolutionary dynamic reveals itself…

Comment author: Multiheaded 28 January 2012 01:39:28AM *  5 points [-]

Aren't the hypothesis above (could OP please elaborate on which social norms do they perceive as damaging in this way? it's too damn vague) and the parable opposed on who gets hurt and how? It's the lower classes that prove immune to direct destructive propaganda in the parable.

Comment author: [deleted] 28 January 2012 08:34:47AM *  8 points [-]

It's the lower classes that prove immune to direct destructive propaganda in the parable.

You are right, it is a somewhat different example. I considered it a case of genius birds using their smarts to eliminate competition of smart birds, while not realizing they do so.

But even in the original context the High classes aren't really competing with the underclass for anything like a socioeconomic niche, it is the people who need cultural adaptations or rely on more vunrelable support structures (because of their more modest material means), to make it to the upper class that need to be kept out. By attacking their cultural adaptations and support structures you can significantly reduce competition. Attacking the cultural adaptations of the lower classes might make them more useful tools for maintaining anarchy-tyranny but isn't directly beneficial.

I didn't interpret the parable as being literally about the evolution of the biology of various classes, I did however see it as being about the evolution of cultural norms and intellectual fashion.

Comment author: Will_Newsome 25 January 2012 10:47:50PM *  8 points [-]

[redacted]

Comment author: drethelin 26 January 2012 04:22:22AM 32 points [-]

technology has indirectly caused millions of deaths by directly causing enough food to create millions of lives.

Comment author: J_Taylor 26 January 2012 06:46:22AM 23 points [-]

Technology has indirectly prevented millions of deaths by directly providing easy means of birth control.

However, now I am getting silly.

Comment author: Eugine_Nier 26 January 2012 01:04:21AM 13 points [-]

Scientific and technological progress has indirectly caused millions upon millions of deaths that would not have occurred in the absence of scientific-technological progress.

It has also directly saved millions upon millions of lives.

Comment author: Will_Newsome 26 January 2012 01:36:34AM *  0 points [-]

Is that true? It sounds plausible, but I'd like to see evidence.

Comment author: Eugine_Nier 26 January 2012 01:40:38AM 11 points [-]

Given that we haven't achieved immortality yet, we'd have to specify what it means to "save a life".

Comment author: Will_Newsome 26 January 2012 01:47:32AM 5 points [-]

Yeah, I was thinking that. QALYs would be nice but tricky to deal with.

The first thing that comes to mind as establishing a lower bound are antibiotics but their effects are pretty complicated I think.

Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 26 January 2012 11:00:05PM 4 points [-]

Hey, people are taking you seriously even though you're not justifying your beliefs. That's not fair.

Comment author: CharlieSheen 27 January 2012 05:56:09PM *  13 points [-]

GLaDOS has extensively discussed many of these issues on the past if you check out her comment history. I think the average LessWrong reader considers most of the statements both plausible and clearly at least partially stuff that might be suppressed via lowered status or other negative consequences.

Its actually a quite good and convincing list, since her first three examples are clearly people who have suffered negative consequences or at least status hits because they held them. Watson and Summers are pretty self-explanatory. Roissy seems to have suffered infamy for his opinions so far. But he allegedly had some problems when his "real" identity was leaked at a time, the people who "revealed it" did so with the hope of hurting him. So clearly the opinions that he holds are by most people classified as of that kind.

Such users may up vote it or read it, but definitely won't down vote it in this thread. Also there are probably people who find many of the statements on the list basically "sky is blue" stuff.

I found only the last statement on the list as something that I'd put a confidence below 0.9 on, but she did provide a link to a blog that discusses it quite widely (haven't yet had time to read the key posts there properly).

Comment author: syllogism 25 January 2013 02:44:09PM 2 points [-]

This was mostly a bunch of meta-contrarian crap, but this one:

High class people unknowingly wage class war against low class people by promoting liberal social norms that they can handle but induce dysfunction in the lower classes (drug abuse, high divorce rates, juvenile delinquency, teen pregnancy, more violence, ... ).

is a novel thought to me. Thanks.

Comment author: whowhowho 25 January 2013 03:18:06PM -2 points [-]

What kind of "more violence" do the nobs practice? Beating the servants?

Comment author: Multiheaded 30 January 2012 08:00:57PM *  2 points [-]

For those who don't know what this Roissy character is all about and what the scandal was, here's a third-party account:

http://www.feministcritics.org/blog/2010/01/19/roissy-and-raine-make-a-right-noh/

(Just dug it up myself right now)

Comment author: CaveJohnson 26 January 2012 10:14:48AM 1 point [-]

High class people unknowingly wage class war against low class people by promoting liberal social norms that they can handle but induce dysfunction in the lower classes (drug abuse, high divorce rates, juvenile delinquency, teen pregnancy, more violence, ... ).

Reminds me of this.