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A question about the rules

4 Post author: phl43 01 February 2017 10:55PM

I'm new to Less Wrong and I have a question about the rules. I posted a link to the latest post on my blog, in which I argue in a polemical way against the claim that Trump's election caused a wave of hate crimes in the US. Someone complained about the tone of my post, which is fair enough (although I tend not to take very seriously criticism about tone that aren't accompanied by any substantive criticism), but I noticed that my link was taken down.

The same person also said that he or she thought LW tried to avoid politics, so I'm wondering if that's why the link was taken down. I don't really mind that my link was taken down, although I think part of the criticism was unfair (the person in question complained that I hadn't provided any evidence that people had made the claim I was attacking, which is true although it's only because I don't see how anyone could seriously deny it unless they have been living on another planet these past few months, but in any case I edited the post to address the criticism), but I would like to know what I'm permitted to post for future reference.

Like I said, I'm new here, so I apologize if I violated the rules and I'm not asking you to change them for me (obviously), but I would like to know what they are. (I didn't find anything that says we can't share links about politics, though it's true that when I browse past discussions, which I should probably have done in the first place, there doesn't seem to be any.) Is it forbidden to post anything that is related to politics, even if it makes a serious effort at evidence-based analysis, as I think it's fair to say my post does? I plan to post plenty of things on my blog that have nothing to do with politics, such as the post I just shared about moral relativism, but I just want to make sure I don't run afoul of the rules again.

Comments (65)

Comment author: Viliam 02 February 2017 11:08:18AM 12 points [-]

Debates about discussing politics on LW feel to me like this:

"It is a bad idea to drive drunk."

"How can you say that? There is a huge variation among people with regards to (1) driving skill, and (2) alcohol metabolism. We are the best drivers ever, and we are smart enough to stop driving when we notice that our abilities are impaired."

"Uhm, it sounds a bit like Dunning–Kruger in action, but... a little experiment shouldn't hurt... I guess."

"FULL SPEED AHEAD! THE LAST ONE AT THE CROSSING IS A CHICKEN!"

(Loud crash; explosion; sirens wailing in the distance...)

"Uhm, I guess it actually was a bad idea to drive drunk."

Two weeks later.

"Hey guys, let's drink and drive! What could possibly happen? We are the best drivers ever, and smart enough to stop driving when we notice that our abilities are impaired."

"Uhm, you remember what happened the last time?"

"As the smart and rich people say, past performance is not an indicator of future performance. We have learned so much since then, we are the best drivers ever. Also, THE LAST ONE AT THE CROSSING IS A CHICKEN!"

Comment author: buybuydandavis 03 February 2017 04:10:12AM *  1 point [-]

Except by the analogy, we want to be able to drive better, whether drunk or sober. In fact, especially when drunk, because that's where our poor driving causes real disaster elsewhere, as opposed to the relative safety of our test track.

We want to get Less Wrong, except where it would matter the most.

Comment author: Viliam 03 February 2017 09:58:33AM 0 points [-]

I think people in real life are actually doing this kind of thing, but they don't drive in real traffic; instead they go to an empty place, and try e.g. driving between huge empty paper boxes (so that in case of crash nothing serious happens). And I think they don't do it really to learn driving well while drunk, but rather to calibrate themselves about how exactly different levels of being drunk impact their performance.

So, what would be the analogy of the empty paper boxes for LW?

Comment author: buybuydandavis 08 February 2017 11:53:02PM 0 points [-]

LW is the empty place with the empty boxes are the threads with politics in them.

Though driving isn't the best metaphor. LW is the moot court. Or boxing ring. Or dance floor. Takes two to tango.

We could segregate these things for those who don't feel their up to having a political discussion. Tag a thread with Politics. Don't want to talk politics, don't go into the thread.

Comment author: Elo 03 February 2017 05:14:02AM 0 points [-]

If you practice driving while drunk, you will crash. This will not teach you to drive well (especially if you die). If you practice driving sober, you will get better at driving generally, and also in the domain where you drive drunk. There. analogy fixed. Don't argue over analogies.

Comment author: buybuydandavis 03 February 2017 08:56:45AM 1 point [-]

But driving drunk is not exactly the same skill as driving sober, so that practicing drunk can be expected to improve your skills in driving drunk in ways that only driving sober would not.

Comment author: phl43 02 February 2017 08:46:38PM 0 points [-]

This sounds right to me, but I think it mostly applies to discussions that are directly related to politics, whereas my post was primarily about the evidence for a claim that is very popular and only indirectly about politics insofar as this claim has become part of the political debate.

Comment author: Lumifer 02 February 2017 03:13:07AM 5 points [-]

An opinion (I am not a moderator and don't have any official power on LW):

Politics are discouraged on LW and if it's a ban, it is a soft ban. Generally speaking, discussing political philosophy is fine. Also generally speaking, discussing hot topics of the day, especially in a partisan fashion, is not fine.

Discussing how how humans did, could, or should organise the society and deal with the issues of power is fine. Discussing how your favourite side are the children of the light and the opposite side are the spawn of darkness is not fine.

Talking about policies, especially when your arguments are falsifiable and you bring evidence, is fine. Talking about how every decent human being must get up right now and protest {whatever it is that you dislike} is not fine.

And, of course, there is the general rule: don't be stupid.

Comment author: Error 05 February 2017 05:49:46AM 2 points [-]

Generally speaking, discussing political philosophy is fine. Also generally speaking, discussing hot topics of the day, especially in a partisan fashion, is not fine.

This bears repeating. I'd add another distinction: If you're talking about policy, you're probably OK; if you're talking about people, you're probably not.

(also, on a purely selfish note, the contemporary political shitstorm has taken over every other venue I communicate in and I really would rather not see it here)

Comment author: phl43 05 February 2017 09:04:37PM 2 points [-]

(also, on a purely selfish note, the contemporary political shitstorm has taken over every other venue I communicate in and I really would rather not see it here)

This is definitely something I can understand.

Comment author: Lumifer 06 February 2017 12:51:09AM 1 point [-]

the contemporary political shitstorm has taken over every other venue I communicate in

That tells you something about those venues.

Comment author: Elo 01 February 2017 11:34:00PM *  5 points [-]

Link had trump in the title. I deleted it. (sorry, don't have time to explain more right now)

Comment author: username2 03 February 2017 04:31:43PM 4 points [-]

If the reason you deleted something was the title, not the content, then I would kindly suggest that you refrain from moderation.

Comment author: philh 06 February 2017 10:29:52AM 3 points [-]

Registering disagreement.

(If there were a dozen links with titles like "increase the size of your pr*fr*ntal c*rtex now" and "find high-g bayesians in your area who want to argue", do you agree that Elo could just delete those without clicking through? If so, we disagree about this particular situation, but maybe not so much about principles of moderation.)

Comment author: username2 06 February 2017 09:22:45PM *  0 points [-]

No, if you are a moderator then do you job and actively review what you moderate so that you can provide effective feedback to those who are affected by your actions in order to best help the community grow. Overzealous moderation has negative effects which it is just as much the moderator's job to avoid.

Comment author: phl43 01 February 2017 11:40:10PM 3 points [-]

Okay, I honestly don't really care about this particular incident, I just want to know the rules so I don't violate them again. I hope someone in charge can explain to me.

Comment author: ChristianKl 02 February 2017 07:59:37PM 1 point [-]

There are no fixed rules. There are values and value judgments. Don't try to optimize for rules but for what brings LW forward.

Comment author: username2 06 February 2017 09:31:06PM *  1 point [-]

Posting something to LW requires a nontrivial investment of time and energy into the crafting and editing of the article. High quality posts require much more effort than low quality posts. If the rules are not clear, or if there is not an effective and reliable process for appeal, then two things will happen:

(1) There will be fewer posts as more authors choose not to post on a topic if they think there is a chance of it being moderated. E.g. if there is some haphazard moderation of low-quality political posts, but without clraity or consistency, then you will end up seeing no high quality posts either as people who would be writing are unsure whether their time investment would be wasted.

(2) What posts do exist will be lower and lower quality as authors are not willing to invest significant time and energy into something they are uncertain will be allowed on the site.

If you have uncertainty about the rules, then you end up increasing the assessed probability that any potential topic might be moderated, which discounts the effective return for writing these posts, which decreases the quality of LW. If you want to make LW a better community, then clarify those rules.

Comment author: ChristianKl 06 February 2017 11:00:07PM 0 points [-]

People should focus on contributing the kind of content that clearly belong to LW and thus isn't likely to be moderated.

When people plan to post content that doesn't clearly belong to LW like posts about Trump and politics then I don't think there a problem with uncertainty discouraging the posts. It's okay to discourage posts on the edge.

Comment author: username2 07 February 2017 01:37:45AM 1 point [-]

We disagree about what "clearly belongs" on LessWrong.

Comment author: ChristianKl 07 February 2017 06:38:00AM *  0 points [-]

Is that still true if we define "clearly belongs" as "not containing parts that make some people wish to have it moderated away"?

In addition, many people don't need rules to avoid posting content that they fear might be unwelcome at LessWrong.

Comment author: peter_hurford 11 February 2017 06:01:42PM 0 points [-]

I think we should change this, because a lack of fixed rules makes LW pretty hard to use and helps keep it dead.

Comment author: gjm 13 February 2017 03:17:34AM 1 point [-]

It's not clear to me that a lack of fixed rules has that consequence. Why do you think that?

Comment author: peter_hurford 14 February 2017 04:37:45AM 0 points [-]

It seems to have had consequences for at least one poster (namely, the OP).

Comment author: gjm 14 February 2017 04:31:53PM 0 points [-]

Sure. That seems like a slender thread of evidence on which to hang any sort of general claim, though.

Comment author: Elo 02 February 2017 12:06:38AM 1 point [-]

We avoid politics for reasons of it being mind killing. We can talk about ideology better because it abstracts away from reality. For a abstract example communism has some good ideas. Concrete examples like, "today Vladimir Putin did this, which shows libertarianism is best" is just going to lead to hell. Ideally we like evidence and concrete reality but around politics and identity it's hard to do without challenging and inciting that others are wrong and need to change.

There is a lot of nuance to communication about politics and it leads to a lot of energy being spend to just communicate clearly. It may be your current interest but it's not the interest of many others here. There are plenty of places to talk politics on the internet. Just don't do it here.

Comment author: Douglas_Knight 02 February 2017 12:31:55AM 3 points [-]

If you still want to ban politics, whatever, your actions are law, but be transparent and say what you are doing. Don't just say "Politics is the Mind-Killer." Your rules have absolutely nothing to do with that essay. Have you even read it? I have never, not once, seen anyone cite that essay to attack a post that actually violated it.

Comment author: 9eB1 02 February 2017 02:08:41AM 1 point [-]

It certainly has something to do with his post, even if the main point of the post was specifically about domains from which to choose examples for your writing.

Politics is an important domain to which we should individually apply our rationality—but it's a terrible domain in which to learn rationality, or discuss rationality, unless all the discussants are already rational.

This is the whole crux of the issue. According to some people, Less Wrong is a site to learn about and discuss rationality among people who are not already rational (or to "refine the art of human rationality"). According to some others, it's a community site around which aspiring rationalists should discuss topics of interest to the group. Personally I think phl43's posts are decent, and will likely improve with more practice, but I didn't think that particular post was very relevant or appropriate for Less Wrong specifically.

Comment author: phl43 02 February 2017 04:26:45AM *  1 point [-]

Just out of curiosity, why did you think that my post wasn't very relevant or appropriate for Less Wrong? I ask this because, based on what you're saying (again I just arrived here), according to some people here, it's a community for people to rationally discuss topics of interest to the group. I think that, on a common understanding of "rational", my post was rationally discussing the claim that Trump's election caused a substantial increase of the number of hate crimes. After all, I'm using evidence to argue logically that, even though a large number of people asserted this claim as if it had been conclusively established, the evidence doesn't actually support it. Of course, if by "rational" you meant something stronger, such that my post wasn't rationally discussing this claim in that sense because I was using unnecessarily abrasive language, then I guess I understand.

Comment author: ChristianKl 02 February 2017 08:21:58PM *  0 points [-]

You claim "almost everyone on Facebook was apparently convinced that buckets of mostly unverified anecdotes, many of which had already been proven to be hoaxes at the time, showed that Trump’s victory had unleashed a wave of hate crimes on the US".

That's a central claim for which you don't provide any evidence and you don't steelman the opposing position.

You try to speak in tribal terms when there's no necessity for doing so. Unnecessarily abrasive language is not helpful.

You say that you haven't found any evidence but don't address the fact that the NYPD claimed it has evidence (http://observer.com/2016/12/nypd-reports-huge-spike-in-hate-crimes-since-donald-trumps-election/). You didn't provide evidence of why the NYPD shouldn't be believed.

There's also a valid intererst of LW of not having people who aren't established members post a lot of link about Trump here.

Comment author: phl43 02 February 2017 09:10:53PM 2 points [-]

I think one can reach a point past which asking for evidence is not a sign of rationality, but rather of pedantry. And I think that asking for evidence in favor of the first claim you mention definitely falls under that description. I didn't provide evidence for that claim, because if someone denies it, I simply don't believe they are saying that in good faith. Of course, you could argue that one could totally deny in good faith what I literally said in the passage you quote, because it's probably not true that almost everyone seemed convinced of the claim I was talking about, but any person who has normal conversations should be able to recognize that kind of rhetorical hyperbole when he sees it and interpret it charitably. Now, I agree with you that my tone in that post didn't invite charity and that rhetorical hyperbole doesn't help the argument, but that's not a reason to be voluntarily dense.

As for the data from the NYPD, I think it's incredibly poor evidence. It really wouldn't be surprising if, after Trump's election, the propensity to report hate crimes to law enforcement had increased. It also wouldn't be surprising if the NYPD, who reports to a Democratic mayor, had become more proactive on that kind of crimes. The article also doesn't make any attempt to determine how inconsistent with past variability this spike in the number of incidents recorded by the NYPD was. It also seems to be driven by attacks against Jews, which is probably not what most people would have expected, if they had predicted a spike in hate crimes after Trump's election. Now, it's true that I didn't make any of those points in my post, but I did point out that, for any kind of crime, data from law enforcement is problematic for all sorts of reasons (some of which I just mentioned), so it's better to use victimization surveys.

Also, my post was criticizing people who claimed that Trump's victory had caused a substantial increase in the number of hate crimes immediately after the election, whereas the NYPD made the announcement you mention almost a month later. The claim that Trump's election caused a substantial increase in the number of hate crimes is not harmless, it has real effects such as making people who are members of minorities freak out, so I think it should require strong evidence before people can assert it. I really don't see how anyone could reasonably maintain that we have strong evidence that it's true and I also think that my post was doing a perfectly good job at showing that the evidence most commonly used immediately after the election to support that claim was clearly insufficient.

Comment author: ChristianKl 03 February 2017 04:20:24AM 0 points [-]

so I think it should require strong evidence before people can assert it.

That a valid opinion but "other people should provide more evidence when they make claims on facebook" in not a good basis for a post on LW when arguing against a political opinion.

When addressing bad arguments made on facebook it's your burden to steelman them if you want to have a discussion about them on LW.

it's probably not true that almost everyone seemed convinced of the claim I was talking about, but any person who has normal conversations should be able to recognize that kind of rhetorical hyperbole when he sees

Engaging in hyperbole instead of rational discussion is a choice. You made it. Hyperbole doesn't help rational thinking about the subject.

Removing hyperbole from political discussions on LW is useful. Removing posts that engage in too much of it is useful.

Now, I agree with you that my tone in that post didn't invite charity and that rhetorical hyperbole doesn't help the argument, but that's not a reason to be voluntarily dense.

If you want to submit your posts to LW, you should expect to have them judged by LW's rhetoric standards. If you want to play with different rhetoric standards there are many fora on the internet who have other standards.

Comment author: phl43 03 February 2017 04:57:57AM 2 points [-]

Engaging in hyperbole instead of rational discussion is a choice.

I don't think the kind of rhetorical hyperbole I'm using in my post, that any normal person can recognize as such, is incompatible with rational discussion. Other than that, what you say is fair enough.

(On another topic, you're using the verb "steelman", which I think you already used before. I had never encountered this word before. I'm guessing that it's local jargon for the opposite of "to strawman", meaning something like "making the position you attack as strong as possible"?)

Comment author: Lumifer 02 February 2017 09:26:22PM 0 points [-]

because if someone denies it, I simply don't believe they are saying that in good faith

I thought you said something about attracting intelligent people and not wanting to live in an echo chamber..?

Comment author: phl43 02 February 2017 09:57:27PM 1 point [-]

I don't see how that's incompatible. If I say that Trump often speaks unintelligibly and someone denies it or even claims not to be sure that it's true, provided that person is intelligent and has a decent mastery of the English language, I would not believe they are saying that in good faith. Similarly, when I say that immediately after the election a lot of people were asserting that Trump's victory had caused a substantial increase in the number of hate crimes and someone denies it or claims not to be sure it's true, I think it's perfectly reasonable of me to conclude that they are not seriously engaging with me.

Of course, people here didn't deny it, they just asked me to provide evidence for that claim. But I don't see the point of asking for evidence for a claim that you agree with unless you have some serious reason to think that you might be wrong in believing it's true. (In this case, if someone had any doubt, Google would solve that problem in 5 seconds.) To my mind, this isn't really being rational, it's pedantry that can only serve to avoid dealing with the part of the argument that is actually contentious, which in this case was my argument that the evidence doesn't support the claim that Trump's victory had caused a substantial increase of the number of hate crimes.

Comment author: lsparrish 02 February 2017 02:10:29AM 0 points [-]

If you still want to ban politics, whatever, your actions are law, but be transparent and say what you are doing.

Is there a reason to do that? Nobody said that a rule was violated, and the explanation given makes sense to me as it stands. What is the problem with just deleting the (not necessarily rule violating) post and explaining that we usually avoid stuff like articles with Trump in the title?

Comment author: Error 05 February 2017 05:53:08AM 0 points [-]

That wasn't a great way to put it and probably shouldn't have been written in haste...but just for the record, I would favor such a policy, at least for the next few months. I don't want either file of the hate parade getting a foothold here.

Comment author: NatashaRostova 02 February 2017 06:17:42PM *  2 points [-]

The style of your blog is very very much at odds with the style of Less Wrong. I would never submit anything here that classified as a cohesive set what 'liberals' think, and then attacked that classification. Writing here should map more to statistical estimation and modeling, where every word and claim is scrutinized, thoughtful, and attempts to avoid invoking needless emotion. That last point is harder to nail down. It is of course possible to have an excitable tone that runs orthogonal to the strict argument, but it's pretty hard to do right.

I do, sometimes, write more in line with the tone you choose on my personal blog, but I wouldn't ever submit it here. And as I write more and think more, I've become increasingly convinced it's not the best way to think. Trying to be persuasive, methodological, and charitable, is more fun since it's much more challenging.

You'd have better luck in the reactosphere, which probably gets more readers than LW anyway.

Comment author: phl43 02 February 2017 08:44:26PM 1 point [-]

But, as I explained in the post I published yesterday about what I would like to do with my blog, I don't want it to become an echo chamber. So I don't just want to increase the number of people, I also want to attract intelligent people. I'll probably just post here only things which deal with evidence and I will tone down the language so as not to turn off people. That being said, I think the argument in my piece on hate crimes was perfectly sound and did provide evidence, notwithstanding the abrasive language.

Comment author: NatashaRostova 04 February 2017 01:13:28AM 0 points [-]

Yeah that's totally cool. LW style is different though. Not necessarily in a good way, and this difference might even be why it's less popular than other sites these days. But it's different in that LW doesn't, as far as I have observed, want lots of people from different sides. It wants an almost algorithmic approach to reality, where more colorful language is viewed as disrupting the truth by inflaming tribal parts of your brain.

Everything you're saying is totally reasonable for someone who doesn't understand the very very specific thing LW is trying to accomplish, and the idiosyncratic rules of engagement for this site.

Personally I don't come here as often as other sites in part due to these rules, at times, feeling stringent shrug

Comment author: Lumifer 04 February 2017 03:17:54AM 1 point [-]

Colorful language is perfectly fine. It's refusing to reason and to support one's arguments with evidence that is frowned upon.

Comment author: phl43 04 February 2017 03:48:46AM 1 point [-]

But of course I have done nothing of the sort.

Comment author: Lumifer 04 February 2017 11:19:13PM 0 points [-]

Banish the thought.

Comment author: shev 02 February 2017 03:20:14AM *  2 points [-]

It's true that politics is generally discouraged around here. But, also -- I'm the person who commented negatively on your post, and I want to point out that it wasn't going to be well-received, even if politics was okay here. You wrote in a style that assumed a lot of opinions are held by your readers, without justification, and that tends to alienate anyone who disagrees with you. Moreover, you write about those opinions as if they are not just true but obviously true, which tends to additionally infuriate anyone who disagrees with you. So I think your post's style was a specific example of the kind of 'mind-killing' that should be avoided.

I appreciate exhaustive research of any kind, and the body of your post was good for that. But the style of the frame around it made it clear that you had extremely low opinions of a large group of people and wanted to show it, and.. well, I personally don't think you should write that way ever, but especially not for this forum.

Comment author: phl43 02 February 2017 04:18:56AM 0 points [-]

I now understand that people on LW don't like to talk about politics here, and like I said I don't really care about this particular incident, nor do I want to argue that you should change the customs around here. But I want to point out that, as far as the claim I was attacking in my post was concerned, I don't think I was assuming anything controversial to show that it was not supported by the evidence.

I'm guessing that's not really what you meant when you said that "[I] wrote in a style that assumed a lot of opinions are held by [my] readers, without justification", but just in case it was, I wanted to make that clear. It matters to me because, although I have a natural tendency to write in a polemical style on political issues, I usually try to give rational and evidence-based arguments in favor of my views, and I think it was also true of the post we are talking about.

Comment author: shev 02 February 2017 04:58:15AM *  9 points [-]

The assumed opinions I'm talking about are not the substance of your argument; they're things like "I think that most of these reactions are not only stupid, but they also show that American liberals inhabit a parallel universe", and what is implied in the use of phrases like 'completely hysterical', 'ridiculous', 'nonsensical', 'proposterous', 'deranged', 'which any moron could have done', 'basically a religion', 'disconnected from reality', 'save the pillar of their faith', etc. You're clearly not interested in discussion of your condemnation of liberals, and certainly not rational discussion. You take it as an obvious fact that they are all stupid, deranged morons.

So when you write "I’m also under no delusion that my post is going to have any effect on most of those who weren’t already convinced", I think you are confused. People who don't already agree with you won't be convinced because you obviously disdain them and are writing with obviously massive bias against them. Not because their opinions are "basically a religion, which no amount of evidence can possibly undermine."

I think your post would be much stronger if you just removed all your liberal-bashing entirely, quoted an example of someone saying hate crimes had gone up since trump's election, and then did the research. I'm totally opposed to polemics because I think they have no good results. Especially the kind that is entirely pandering to one side and giving the finger to the other. (I also think you're wildly incorrect about your understanding of liberals, as revealed by some of your weird stereotypes, but this is not the place to try to convince you otherwise.) But I guess if that's the way people write in a certain community and you're writing for that community, you may as well join in. I prefer to categorically avoid communities that communicate like that - I've never found anything like rational discussion in one.

I also think such obvious bias makes your writing weaker even for people on your side. It's hard to take writing seriously that is clearly motivated by such an agenda and is clearly trying to get you to rally with it in your contempt for a common enemy.

Comment author: phl43 02 February 2017 06:52:54AM 0 points [-]

You're clearly not interested in discussion of your condemnation of liberals, and certainly not rational discussion.

Look, if you had just said that my tone makes it unlikely that I'm interested in rational discussion for someone who doesn't know me, I would have conceded that point to you. But it's simply not true that I'm not interested in rational discussion and, crucially, anyone who has read my post can see that it's not true. Indeed, in the note at the end of the post, I say that on the blog where the original version of this post was published, I report a conversation about that post I had with a friend which led to some useful clarifications. I actually report the conversation verbatim and, if you go read it, you will see that it's not only civil and rational, but also fruitful. Now, you may think that, given the tone of the post, people are less likely to read that conversation and you're probably right about that. But it doesn't change the fact that it's not true that I'm clearly not interested in rational discussion and the evidence to the contrary is available to anyone who has read my post.

Also, while I agree with you that, by saying the kind of things you quote, I made it less likely that people will read my post,I want to make clear that it doesn't mean they are just false, gratuitous assertions. It's certainly true of some of them, so I'll grant you that, but I don't believe for a second it's true of all. For instance, when I say that Trump's victory led to hysterical reactions in academia, I don't see how any reasonable person who works in academia and understand the meaning of the word "hysterical" could deny it. Of course, we could even argue about this, but that's because as philosophers know, you can always give a seemingly reasonable argument for virtually every claim no matter how absurd. But this doesn't mean that you're being rational.

People who don't already agree with you won't be convinced because you obviously disdain them and are writing with obviously massive bias against them.

Again, I would have conceded a weaker point, but this is just false. I actually have argued for the claim I'm defending in my post with some of my liberal friends in a non-confrontational way and, not only did it fail to have any effect on them, but it was met with accusations that I was insensitive to the plight of minorities. (To be clear, I'm not suggesting that it justifies the tone I'm using in my post, I'm only saying that it's evidence against the strong claim you make.) Most of them are highly intelligent people with a PhD, yet when it came to this issue, they adopted standards of evidence that on any other issue they would have rejected as completely unacceptable. So while I would be happy to concede that, in some cases, the fact that I used abrasive language may have prevented me from convincing people whose mind I would otherwise have changed, but it doesn't mean that, in most cases, it's because I used that kind of language that I failed to convince people and, indeed, I think it's false. Some facts are causally overdetermined and I think it's one of them.

It's not even true that I didn't convince anyone who wasn't already convinced, since I know for a fact that some people were. This should not be surprising since, although there is a sense of "strength" according to which my tone make the argument in my post weaker (i. e. the probability that I will succeed in convincing people who have a look at it), there is another sense of "strength" (i. e. how well my evidence and my reasoning establish my conclusion from a purely logical/statistical point of view) according to which my tone is completely irrelevant to how strong my argument was. Intelligent people should be able to make abstraction of the tone to assess the merits of the argument independently of it, although I agree with you that intelligent people should also be able to avoid the kind of language that makes it less likely that others will read what they have written.

Comment author: username2 02 February 2017 08:05:30AM 0 points [-]

Shev's comment was an informative response to your original question about what Less Wrong is looking for in political discussions, and why LW rejected your earlier post. Shev shared some information on LW's "house style", and on what inferences LWers will tend to draw about people who do not follow that style when writing about politics. Arguing about some of the details in shev's comment is unlikely to accomplish anything valuable.

Comment author: phl43 02 February 2017 08:33:11AM 0 points [-]

I agree that shev's comment was informative, but he or she also made claims I disagree with. Just because they are only indirectly related to my original question, I don't see why I should not explain why I disagree with the claims in question. If shev doesn't think continuing this conversation is likely to be productive, which I would understand, I imagine he or she will just not stop replying. I know I'm new here, so I'm not used to your customs, but this kind of comment strikes me as weird.

Comment author: phl43 02 February 2017 08:53:42AM 0 points [-]

Actually, you're probably right, I should work on my dissertation.

Comment author: phl43 02 February 2017 07:27:45AM 0 points [-]

Note, however, that a took a good resolution.

Comment author: evand 03 February 2017 01:21:30AM *  0 points [-]

Have you read Politics is the Mind-Killer? I get the vague sense you haven't, and I see lots of references here to it but no direct link. If you haven't, you should go read it and every adjacent article.

Edit: actually there is a link below already. Oops.

Comment author: phl43 03 February 2017 01:32:39AM 1 point [-]

Yes, I read it, there was a link in one of the first replies I got.

Comment author: phl43 03 February 2017 01:39:15AM *  2 points [-]

I find it funny, by the way, that people here are criticizing me for not giving evidence for a claim that is not only known to be true by almost everyone, but which can be verified in 5 seconds with Google if you have a doubt, while recommending a piece that begins with a very strong and arguably unverifiable claim about the evolutionary origin of the way in which humans talk about politics... (Which is not to say, to be clear, that I disagree with everything Yudkowsky says in that essay.)

Comment author: siIver 05 February 2017 10:35:54AM 0 points [-]

While I would agree that those kinds of accusations are used unfairly at times, I don't think it's unreasonable to assign Yudkowsky's statements a higher a priori chance of being true.