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Yvain comments on [LINK] Why I'm not on the Rationalist Masterlist - Less Wrong

21 Post author: Apprentice 06 January 2014 12:16AM

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Comment author: Yvain 06 January 2014 11:53:53PM *  90 points [-]

Since it has suddenly become relevant, here are two results from this year's survey (data still being collected):

When asked to rate feminism on a scale of 1 (very unfavorable) to 5 (very favorable), the most common answer was 5 and the least common answer was 1. The mean answer was 3.82, and the median answer was 4.

When asked to rate the social justice movement on a scale of 1 (very unfavorable) to 5 (very favorable), the most common answer was 5 and the least common answer was 1. The mean answer was 3.61, and the median answer was 4.

In Crowder-Meyer (2007), women asked to rate their favorability of feminism on a 1 to 100 scale averaged 52.5, which on my 1 to 5 scale corresponds to a 3.1. So the average Less Wronger is about 33% more favorably disposed towards the feminist movement than the average woman (who herself is slightly more favorably disposed than the average man).

I can't find a similar comparison question for social justice favorability, but I expect such a comparison would turn out the same way.

If this surprises you, update your model.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 07 January 2014 08:24:46AM *  61 points [-]

the average Less Wronger is about 33% more favorably disposed towards the feminist movement than the average woman

Maybe that's exactly what makes LW a good target. There are too many targets on the internet, and one has to pick their battles. The best place is the one where you already have support. If someone would write a similar article about a website with no feminists, no one on the website would care. Thus, wasted time.

In the same way, it is more strategic to aim this kind of criticism towards you personally than it would be e.g. towards me. Not because you are a worse person (from a feminist point of view). But because such criticism will worry you, while I would just laugh.

There is something extremely irritating about a person who almost agrees with you, and yet refuses to accept everything you say. Sometimes you get angry about them more than about your enemies, whose existence you already learned to accept. At least, the enemies are compatible with the "us versus them" dichotomy, while the almost-allies make it feel like the "us" side is falling apart.

EDIT: Seems like you already know this.

Comment author: CronoDAS 08 January 2014 06:54:21PM 23 points [-]

"A heretic is someone who shares almost all of your beliefs. Kill him." - Some card game

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 07 January 2014 04:56:44PM 10 points [-]

There is something extremely irritating about a person who almost agrees with you, and yet refuses to accept everything you say. Sometimes you get angry about them more than about your enemies, whose existence you already learned to accept. At least, the enemies are compatible with the "us versus them" dichotomy, while the almost-allies make it feel like the "us" side is falling apart.

Upvoted for that.

Comment author: [deleted] 07 January 2014 09:08:16PM 10 points [-]

In my experience, groups that want something to attack will attack groups that are generally aligned with them, rather than groups that are further away -- possibly due to the perceived threat of losing members to the similar group.

I've seen so many Communists get called Nazis by other Communist groups -- and those groups never go after people who actually call themselves Nazis.

Comment author: Mirzhan_Irkegulov 02 January 2015 08:44:37PM 1 point [-]

Possible defence: criticizing specifically people and organizations of similar views can be more cost-beneficial. If you write a giant article entreating people of similar-but-not-identical position, and that article tweaks their views and massively increases their instrumental rationality, it's much better, than if you write dozens of articles addressed at your political enemies, most of whom will never read it or will never get convinced. For example, you have communist friends who are mostly correct on social issues, but are completely wrong on dialectical materialism, their organizations are polluted with death spirals, their discussions are counter-productive because of wrong usage of words, etc. It would still be more productive to direct them to LessWrong, to explain reductionism, to teach them how to use words and reasoning, how to avoid cognitive and organization failure modes, than to try to bring neo-nazis, Christian fundamentalists, New Agers or even generic consumerist Philistines up-to-date from scratch.

This of course assumes that writing a giant critical article is actually a productive way to change someone's mind. Obviously, hateful feminist anti-LW/anti-nerd rants are doing a bad job of convincing us in their points, because most of those writers have never read Dale Carnegie, let alone Cialdini. But they write angry rants anyway, because that's how they get, as Russians say it, “the feeling of fulfilled duty”, a warm fuzzy.

Comment author: Alexei 08 January 2014 06:58:54PM 3 points [-]

Would love to see these numbers broken down by gender.

Comment author: Yvain 09 January 2014 12:12:09AM 8 points [-]

For the sake of simplicity, I used sex rather than gender and ignored nonbinaries. The average man on the site has a feminism approval score of 3.75; the average woman on the site has a score of 4.40. These are significantly different at p < .001.

The average man on the site has a social justice approval score of 3.55; the average woman on the site has a score of 4.21. These are, again, significantly different at p < .001.

Comment author: Alexei 09 January 2014 12:20:23AM 2 points [-]

Wow, this is exactly opposite of what I expected. Thank you!

Comment author: Yvain 09 January 2014 12:26:45AM 5 points [-]

You expected men to be more feminist than women? Why?

Comment author: [deleted] 10 January 2014 08:29:49PM *  2 points [-]

Because the Internet is weird? I've seen conversations in which the only feminists were men and the only MRAs were women.

(Myself, I expected the difference to have the same sign but be an order of magnitude smaller.)

BTW, FWIW in the survey on your blog men thought that being a woman is 3% worse than being a man and women thought that being a man is 3% better than being a woman, though the exact numbers varied noticeably depending on which question exactly they were answering.

Comment author: Vulture 11 January 2014 02:23:50AM 1 point [-]

Because the internet is weird? I've seen conversations in which the only feminists were men and the only MRAs were women.

Do you mean that this specific demographic difference is "weird" on the internet relative to real life?

Comment author: gjm 09 January 2014 12:38:21AM 2 points [-]

Perhaps what he expected was for men to call themselves more feminist than women, for some sort of signalling reasons (of course anon survey responses aren't much use for signalling, but maybe the idea is that people get into the habit of describing themselves in particular ways and then continue to do so for consistency even in contexts where there's no signalling benefit.

Comment author: hyporational 09 January 2014 04:57:13AM *  2 points [-]

anon survey responses aren't much use for signalling

They are if you signal for the group and expect other people do the same.

Comment author: pgbh 08 January 2014 04:08:07AM 9 points [-]

Perhaps this is obvious already, but the positions people explicitly endorse on surveys are not necessarily those they implicitly endorse in blog comments.

Comment author: hyporational 09 January 2014 04:27:11AM 8 points [-]

Also, people are free to interpret blog comments as it suits their goals.

Comment author: jaibot 09 January 2014 07:20:10AM 6 points [-]

Anyone want to set up an implicit association test for LW?

Comment author: bramflakes 07 January 2014 03:29:23PM 3 points [-]

Offtopic, but ETA on the survey results being published?

Comment author: Yvain 09 January 2014 12:06:56AM 6 points [-]

Probably before the end of this month.

Comment author: [deleted] 12 January 2014 04:07:22PM 1 point [-]

Probably

How big is the probability?

Comment author: jaibot 07 January 2014 04:57:15AM *  4 points [-]

~~Update: Likely that feminist-inclined LWers are less likely to comment/vote and more more likely to take surveys.~~

Meta-update: This hypothesis ruled highly-improbable based on more data from Yvain.

Comment author: Yvain 09 January 2014 12:06:17AM 9 points [-]

Among lurkers, the average feminism score was 3.84. Among people who had posted something - whether a post on Main, a post in Discussion, or a comment, the average feminism score was 3.8. A t-test failed to reveal any significant difference between the two (p = .49). So there is no difference between lurkers and posters in feminism score.

Among people who have never posted a top-level article in Main, the average feminism score is 3.84. Among people who have posted top-level articles in Main, the average feminism score is 3.47. A t-test found a significant difference (p < .01). So top-level posters were slightly less feminist than the Less Wrong average. However, the average feminism of top-level posters (3.47) is still significantly higher than the average feminism among women (3.1).

Comment author: jaibot 09 January 2014 04:25:32AM 9 points [-]

I update in the direction that the model of people I form based on LW comments is pretty inaccurate.

Comment author: Alejandro1 11 January 2014 03:25:41AM 3 points [-]

My conclusion is that most posters in LW have conventionally liberal views (at least on social issues) but many of them refrain from participating in the periodic discussions that erupt touching on these issues. Some possible reasons for this: i) they hold these opinions in a non-passionate way that does not incline them to argue for them; ii) they are more interested in other stuff LW has to offer like logic or futurism and see politics as a distraction; iii) they mistakenly believe their opinions are unpopular and they will suffer a karma hit.

Comment author: Eugine_Nier 11 January 2014 07:39:46AM 12 points [-]

iv) they absorbed these views from their surrounding culture and don't actually have good arguments for them.

Comment author: Alejandro1 11 January 2014 11:55:26PM -1 points [-]

I agree that this is a very plausible possibility as well. However, IADBOC for two reasons.

First, a large part of views like "feminism" and "social justice" are plausibly terminal values. These terminal values are probably absorbed from the surrounding culture, but it is not clear how they could be argued for against someone who held opposite values. In addition, for the descriptive components of these views, "most people hold them absorbed from general culture and can't argue for them" is not correlated with "unjustified, untrue beliefs". The same description would apply to most ordinary scientific beliefs held by non-experts.

Comment author: Eugine_Nier 12 January 2014 06:59:51PM 7 points [-]

First, a large part of views like "feminism" and "social justice" are plausibly terminal values.

Disagree here. Unless your terminal values include things like "everyone believing X regardless of it's truth value" or "making everyone as equal as possible even at the cost of making everyone worse off", the SJ policy proposals don't actually promote the terminal values they claim to support. One could equally well claim that opposition to cryonics is based on terminal values.

In addition, for the descriptive components of these views, "most people hold them absorbed from general culture and can't argue for them" is not correlated with "unjustified, untrue beliefs". The same description would apply to most ordinary scientific beliefs held by non-experts.

Or for that matter religious views by non-theologian theists.

Comment author: jaibot 04 February 2014 11:36:08PM 0 points [-]

Your model of Feminism/SJ differs from mine. Most of the cluster of my-model-of-SJ-space consists of the terminal value "people should not face barriers to doing what they want to do on account of factors orthogonal to that goal" (which I endorse).

My model of SJ also includes (as a smaller component) the terminal value "no one should believe there are correlations between race/sex/gender and any other attribute or characteristic", which I don't endorse.

Comment author: Eugine_Nier 05 February 2014 06:33:22AM 3 points [-]

"people should not face barriers to doing what they want to do on account of factors orthogonal to that goal"

What kind of factors count as "orthogonal to that goal"? If my goal is to become a physicist, say, does the fact that I'm not very intelligent count as an "orthogonal factor"? If the answer is no, then this is one form of my claim of them trying to make everyone as equal as possible even at the cost of making everyone worse off.

If the answer is yes, the question arises what they're objection is to some disciplines having demographics that differ from the general population. Given that they tend to take this as ipso facto evidence of racism/sexism/etc. this shows that denial of correlations between race/sex and other attributes is in fact much more central to their belief system then you seem to think.

BTW, the other form of my claim can be seen in the following situation: You need to choose between three candidates A, B and C for a position, you know that A is qualified and that one of B or C is also qualified (possibly slightly more qualified then A) but the other is extremely unqualified (as it happens B is the qualified one but you don't know that). However, for reasons beyond either A or B's control it is very hard to check which of B or C is the qualified one. Does hiring A, even though this is clearly unfair to B, count as "creating a barrier orthogonal to the goal"?

Comment author: tut 20 January 2014 03:17:59PM *  1 point [-]

"most people hold them absorbed from general culture and can't argue for them" is not correlated with "unjustified, untrue beliefs"

But is, as Yvain has explained on his blog, more likely to be associated with true or at least reasonable beliefs. Reasonable beliefs are more likely to become commonly accepted beliefs, and most people who hold commonly accepted beliefs absorbed them from general culture and have never seen a need to make sound arguments for them.

Comment author: Eugine_Nier 21 January 2014 07:09:08AM 3 points [-]

Observe that this argument applies even more strongly to beliefs that have lasted a long time. In particular it applies much more strongly to religion.

Comment author: tut 21 January 2014 11:10:51AM *  1 point [-]

I don't think that that is an important distinction. Most of the effect I was talking about is that it is easier for something reasonable (something with a relatively large probability of being true) to make the jump from controversial belief to generally accepted belief. Once something is generally accepted and people stop arguing about it, there is no strong mechanism rejecting false beliefs.

To the contrary, new beliefs can seem more reasonable by being associated with previously accepted beliefs, so beliefs in clusters of strongly held beliefs such as religions and certain ideologies are less likely to be true than the first belief in the cluster to become generally accepted.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 11 January 2014 04:58:59AM 0 points [-]

In my case it's something similar to (ii)... I often feel that arguing in favor of my views will not be a useful contribution to the discussions that periodically erupt on these issues, so I don't. (Sometimes I do.)

Comment author: Erdrick 07 January 2014 07:33:04AM 6 points [-]

Possible, but I suspect the "Why our kind can't cooperate" both has a stronger effect and is more likely.

Comment author: Vulture 08 January 2014 03:07:57PM 1 point [-]

Indeed. I weep to imagine what the author of the linked article would think of us if she decided to check out the discussion her piece had inspired.

Comment author: [deleted] 10 January 2014 08:14:44PM 2 points [-]

on a 1 to 100 scale averaged 52.5, which on my 1 to 5 scale corresponds to a 3.1

I'm not sure about that. To my System 1, “50/100” means ‘mediocre’, whereas “3 stars (out of 5)” means ‘decent’.