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pnrjulius comments on Changing Emotions - Less Wrong

22 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 05 January 2009 12:05AM

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Comment author: pnrjulius 06 June 2012 11:16:15PM 3 points [-]

I actually agree with your main point: Messing with human emotions is a very difficult and complicated task.

But I have to say... I think you're overestimating the differences between men and women.

I say this as a bisexual man who has a fair amount of experience in relationships with both men and women: They're not that different. (I guess you can make the argument that I've been with gay men and straight women, who are perhaps more similar than straight men and straight women... but then, I'm also sort of a straight man---fifty-fifty?---and not that different from the gay men I've dated.)

So for instance, people have this notion that males are polygamous and females are monogamous... and yet I have definitely been in the situation where my girlfriend wanted to date other men and I had no interest in trying to handle two girlfriends at the same time.

And yes, gender is not just anatomical; there are cognitive and emotional differences. Otherwise, where would trans people come from? But it's also not this vast, uncrossable divide you're making it out to be.

In fact, most of the vast---but still not uncrossable---divides I've found among people are things that have nothing to do with gender; autistic/neurotypical is a tricky one, as is rationalist/religionist. Nerd/jock and Democrat/Republican are also fun ones to think about.

Yet, I know exactly what a religious me would look like; I used to be that, about 10 years ago. What a neurotypical me would look like is a bit harder to imagine, but I have neurotypical friends who aren't that different from me, and I can more or less imagine what I would be like if I were them (worse at calculus, better at romance). So yeah, I think I can fairly well imagine what a female me would be like; indeed, she'd probably still be bisexual, and it might even work out better for her since that's more normative for women.

In fact, it's harder for me to imagine myself as a jock, or as a hardcore social conservative, than it is to imagine myself as a woman. Yet even then there is a relatively simple series of transitions one could go through to get me there (not that I'd want to), and a lot of intermediate states (political moderates, people who play sports and video games alike).

We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 07 June 2012 12:16:41AM 0 points [-]

Sure. I mean, compared to, say, stars or the color blue, we're interchangeable. But that doesn't preclude me caring about variation along a particular axis, nor does it mean I'm wrong to do so.

Comment author: pnrjulius 07 June 2012 02:39:49AM 0 points [-]

I didn't mean to imply that. My point was rather that there isn't this huge divide between men and women that involves radical differences. The differences can still matter for various purposes, but my point is that they aren't huge irreconcilable divides. It's really not that hard to change a man into a woman or vice-versa, if you really wanted to do so.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 07 June 2012 02:50:14AM 1 point [-]

How hard it is to modify a man such that he is equivalent to a woman along all the dimensions I care about depends quite a lot on which of the dimensions along which men typically differ from women I care about.

If I don't care about any of them, then there's no modification involved; a man is already equivalent to a woman along all those dimensions of variance.

If I care about the ability to sire or bear children, there might be modifications involved that modern science is not yet capable of.

Values matter.