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phl43 comments on A question about the rules - Less Wrong

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

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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: 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?