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sarahconstantin comments on Polarization is the problem, "normalization" is the answer - Less Wrong

3 Post author: Jacobian 23 November 2016 05:40PM

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Comment author: sarahconstantin 23 November 2016 06:08:49PM 0 points [-]

Normalization seems deeply wrong to me (even if you disagree with polarization.)

"Normalization" seems to be looking at things relative to the population median. If you're a middling American, you're normal, and you should feel normal, and be treated as a normal tribe member.'

This is a very different viewpoint than looking at things relative to an objective external benchmark, and it means that you can't track societal drift. If you "normalize", you won't notice that, say, societal attitudes on LGBT issues have liberalized a lot very fast, or that the omnipresence of the Internet is societally very weird. You won't notice when certain issues have outsize objective importance in the number of people they affect (like x-risk or global economic growth.)

If, indeed, Trump is an unprecedentedly terrible president (I'm not confident he is, but he might be) then it is really counterproductive to "normalize" him, in the sense of saying "this is the new normal, because this is typical of today's world." That's like those sitcoms that go on for twenty years without the characters ever getting older. It's an illusion of stasis in the midst of rapid objective change.

The way you would notice that slavery was wrong, in 19th-century America, would be to set your benchmark somewhere outside a mere opinion-poll average of typical Americans. "Normalization" never gives you the chance to personally be more ethical than your generation.

Comment author: Jacobian 23 November 2016 09:24:28PM 1 point [-]

I think you misunderstood my point (or I misunderstand your criticism).

I specifically wrote that what's "normal" isn't necessarily right, but we need to understand that it's normal and act accordingly. I'm an effective altruist and I understand how abnormal that is. When I try to push people towards EA I do it by making it sound cool and fulfilling, not by calling people who donate to the Salvation Army horrible assholes who ignore drowning kids in ponds.

My point is that Trump voters aren't evil mutants, and it's counterproductive to treat them as if they were. And yes, this applies to Trump himself: the fact that half the country voted for him should give me strong evidence that he's not a horrible mutant either and my model of him was wrong. Trump voters don't seem particularly surprised by how quickly he's softening his campaign stances on everything from immigration to Obamacare, they expected it and I didn't.

Societal attitudes on LGBT changed because people talked to their friends. I changed my grandma's mind on gay marriage, not Obama. We should keep doing that on every issue that's important, not antagonize.

Comment author: entirelyuseless 24 November 2016 02:44:59AM 0 points [-]

"Trump voters don't seem particularly surprised by how quickly he's softening his campaign stances..."

I did not vote for Trump, but I expected it. It does not even mean that he was lying before, although that may be true in some cases. He simply did not expect to win. Winning confronted him with the fact that he had to take his policies seriously. It's like how someone's probability estimate might suddenly change when you challenge them to a bet.

Comment author: Jacobian 24 November 2016 03:30:48PM 0 points [-]

You want to guess how many of his campaign promises Obama fulfilled in eight years? Pick a number.

The answer is 45%. Not because Obama is a liar or because in his campaign he didn't take the presidency seriously. It's because in a normal election everyone knows that campaign promises don't determine half the policy and Trump voters saw this as another normal election,

Comment author: ChristianKl 25 November 2016 10:45:09AM *  1 point [-]

The answer is 45%.

That page is silly. Take "Safeguard the right to privacy"

The Promise: "Will strengthen privacy protections for the digital age and will harness the power of technology to hold government and business accountable for violations of personal privacy." Update November 18th, 2016: FCC limits broadband providers use of personal data

The fact that there's a tiny regulation that protect privacy in a limit scope doesn't change that the Obama administration fights privacy enough that it sued Apple to provide less privacy by asking them to destroy their own security.

"From both a moral standpoint and a practical standpoint, torture is wrong. Barack Obama will end the use torture without exception."

Politcheck says Obama ended torture when the United Nations still said that the US engages in cruel and unusual punishment for a political dissident. There are exceptions where his administration still tortured.

Obama could have made the symbolic move of pardoning the individual when his administration tortures to signal that he isn't okay with it, but he didn't dare to create any consequences.

Obama also didn't act to produce structural changes to make it easier for the public to know the extend of US torture.

Even more silly is to say that Obama uphold the promise:

"I'll put in place the common-sense regulations and rules of the road I've been calling for since March -- rules that will keep our market free, fair, and honest; rules that will restore accountability and responsibility in our corporate boardrooms."

Obama staffed his administration with Citibank chairman Robert Rubin network. Then he put Eric Holder in charge of the justice department who managed to charge less bankers with crimes then the Bush administration. Even bankers who laundered billions of drug and terrorist money went free because the Obama administration wasn't interested in charging them personally.

Eric Holder was a corporate lawyer. Before he went in the Obama administration he fought for corporate interests. While he was in it, his law firm didn't even put another lawyer in his office and hold his office open. A nice symbolic gesture to suggest that Holder still effectively works for the firm. He did do a lot to make corporations happy by settling with them cases outside of the public eye. Afterwards he went right back to working for the law firm.

Comment author: entirelyuseless 24 November 2016 04:59:29PM 0 points [-]

I agree with this too, but Trump was particularly unserious, and that was obvious.