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TimS comments on LW Women- Minimizing the Inferential Distance - Less Wrong

58 [deleted] 25 November 2012 11:33PM

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Comment author: ewbrownv 03 December 2012 07:30:48PM 1 point [-]

The problem with this seemingly high-minded ideal is that every intervention has a cost, and they add up quickly. When oppression is blatant, violent and extreme it's relatively easy to identify, the benefits of mitigating it are large, and the cost to society is low. But when the 'oppression' is subtle and weak, consisting primarily of personal conversations or even private thoughts of individuals, the reverse is true. You find yourself restricting freedom of speech, religion and association, creating an expanding maze of ever-more-draconian laws governing every aspect of life, throwing out core legal principles like innocent until proven guilty and the right to confront one's accusers - and even then, success is unlikely.

Another important factor is the fact that those who consider themselves victims will never be satisfied, and indeed this whole campaign in their name quickly ceases to improve their lives to any measurable degree. As you noted yourself, individuals tend to rate the trauma of an unpleasant incident relative to their own experiences. So once you stamp out the big, easily measured objective forms of oppression, you find yourself on a treadmill where working harder and harder to suppress the little stuff doesn't do any good. Each generation feels that they're as oppressed as the one before, even if objectively things have changed dramatically in their favor. The only way off the treadmill is for the 'victim' group to stop viewing every experience through the lens of imagined oppression.

Comment author: TimS 03 December 2012 07:40:28PM 1 point [-]

Each generation feels that they're as oppressed as the one before

That has not been my impression. Some advocates might think things are as bad as they were 5 years ago, but I'm not aware of anyone with influence who thinks things are as bad as 50 years ago. Or any advocate at all who thinks no improvement has happened in the last 500 years.

Comment author: Eugine_Nier 04 December 2012 12:31:41AM *  3 points [-]

That wasn't ewbrownv's assertion.

His assertion is that if you scanned the brain of a victim 50 or 500 years ago you'd find the same amount of subjective "oppressed feeling" as scanning a modern victim, i.e., that people have an "oppression set point" similar to the happiness set point.

Comment author: ewbrownv 04 December 2012 08:41:39PM 3 points [-]

Well, 500 years ago there was plenty of brutal physical oppression going on, and I'd expect that kind of thing to have lots of other negative effects on top of the first-order emotional reactions of the victims.

But I would claim that if you did a big brain-scan survey of, say, Western women from 1970 to the present, you'd see very little correlation between their subjective feeling of oppression and their actual treatment in society.

Comment author: Document 10 August 2017 12:28:54AM 0 points [-]

Interesting to read this shortly after this. Does Ta-Nehisi Coates have "influence"?

Comment author: TimS 25 September 2017 11:22:18PM 2 points [-]

He does have influence, but I don't read that as saying things are as bad as they were in the 1950s. He's pointing out that a lot of the power structure of the Confederacy is still around, to the point that imagining if the Confederates had won is less different from now than many folks ignorant of history believe.

Ta-Nehisi has written very pointedly about DT's victory, but even then I don't read him as saying things are the same as 50 years ago. Factually, I don't see how anyone could claim that. Leading protest in 1950-1960s was literally life threatening. Blessedly, that doesn't seem to be true in the present.