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Z_M_Davis comments on You Are A Brain - Less Wrong

110 Post author: Liron 09 May 2009 09:53PM

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Comment author: Z_M_Davis 10 May 2009 03:00:57PM 10 points [-]

Why?

The current wording implicitly suggests that the normative human is sexually attracted to women, whereas in fact this is only true of approximately half the population. I understand that this interpretation is not what was explicitly intended, but clear language is important, especially if one is going to hold forth on "unconscious map computation".

Comment author: cabalamat 10 May 2009 03:48:47PM 3 points [-]

The current wording implicitly suggests that the normative human is sexually attracted to women

The wording "you might feel aroused anyway" suggests no such thing. "Might" carries no implication that P>0.5, merely that P>0.

The next sentence "So your feeling of horniness is not connected to what’s in reality", however does tend to imply the default is sexual attraction to women. It's also untrue: the pixels on the screen are real, they just happen not to be a different reality (Jessica Alba being in the room).

Comment author: Z_M_Davis 10 May 2009 05:04:13PM *  3 points [-]

The wording "you might feel aroused anyway" suggests no such thing.

I noticed this too, but in context I don't think it's the most natural reading. It seems as if the audience is assumed by default to be composed of heterosexual males, with the word might acknowledging that they might or might not be aroused by this particular picture at this particular time. See notes to slide twenty-nine: "You stealth-compute 'sexiness' as a property of Jessica alba by unconsciously evaluating signs of her health and fertility in her appearance."

It's also untrue: the pixels on the screen are real,

Here I'm inclined to defend the original phrasing. Criticism in the service of inclusiveness and clear language is one thing; literalist nitpicking is another. When we say "The picture isn't real," I think it's rather clear from context that we mean "the picture is not a veridical rendering of reality," not "the picture does not exist."

On the other hand---it is worth pointing out that men viewing pornography should not be said to be making a mistake (as is suggested by speaking of a "feeling of horniness {being} not connected to what’s in reality"). The men know perfectly well that it's only a photograph, they just don't care. Why would they or should they? Humans are adaptation-executers, not fitness-maximizers.

All this mess could be sidestepped entirely by using "sunset/beautiful" or "chocolate/tasty" rather than "Jessica Alba/sexy," although I imagine some would argue that this would damage the presentation by making it less entertaining.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 10 May 2009 08:54:05PM 10 points [-]

I also note that using a photoshopped image (or playing the Dove natural beauty youtube thingy) would convey the point even more strongly.

Comment author: MBlume 10 May 2009 10:22:40PM 6 points [-]

It seems that this can all be dodged by simply showing Jessica alongside, I don't know, Brad Pitt or someone. Should take care of most viewers.