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Vaniver comments on LW Women: LW Online - Less Wrong Discussion

29 [deleted] 15 February 2013 01:43AM

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Comment author: MugaSofer 20 February 2013 11:11:02AM -2 points [-]

If you believe that stereotypes are Bayesian evidence for the ground truth, then good science is more likely to match stereotypes,

That ... really doesn't follow.

Comment author: Vaniver 20 February 2013 05:09:07PM *  1 point [-]

That ... really doesn't follow.

Suppose G is a binary variable of the ground truth, S is a binary variable of the stereotype, and E is a binary variable of the result of an experiment.

If stereotypes are Bayesian evidence for the ground truth, that means P(S|G)>P(S|~G) and P(~S|G)<P(~S|~G). By "good" science, I mean science that is Bayesian evidence for the ground truth, so P(E|G)>P(E|~G) and P(~E|G)<P(~E|~G). Thus, for most distributions we get P(E|S)>=P(E|~S), and P(~E|S)<=P(~E|~S). (If you don't see why this is, I recommend opening up a spreadsheet, generating some binary distributions which are good evidence, and then working out the probabilities through Bayes.)

It's not guaranteed to be the case, because stereotypes and the results of experiments are probably not independent once we condition on the ground truth. The important thing about using this as a criticism is noting that stereotypes prevalent in academia and stereotypes prevalent in the general population may be rather different. Looking at the suggested results in the linked article, you'll note it's saying "hey, you should conform to my stereotypes, even when the ground truth is probably the other way" under the guise of "smash stereotypes."