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username2 comments on I Want To Live In A Baugruppe - Less Wrong Discussion

42 Post author: Alicorn 17 March 2017 01:36AM

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Comment author: username2 17 March 2017 08:49:43PM 8 points [-]

I feel a little bit morally obligated to point out the following.

The FBI estimates that each child has almost a 25% chance of being molested, that 4% of adults are sexually attracted to children, and that 70% of children were molested by people they knew and trusted. These number seems to at least roughly comport with my personal understanding of the world and my knowledge of the lives of people close to me.

The horrifying ubiquity of sexual predation of children must at least be mentioned under "Obstacles".

The unfortunate reality is that invitations to group living situations select for predators. No, your radar is not tuned to keep them out. No, you cannot sufficiently vet them after a few hours of interaction and observation of their children. If you think I'm being paranoid, I would argue that no, if 25% of children are likely to be molested, you're probably not being paranoid enough.

I would love it if this weren't true, but this is the world we live in.

I'm sure there are measures that can be taken to ameliorate this issue, but just ignoring it is not one of them.

Comment author: Viliam 18 March 2017 06:20:45PM *  12 points [-]

I want to urge people to not dismiss this without a thought. And it's not just about children.

There are already a few sexual predators hanging around with the rationalist community. I can't say names, because it is typically a "they said, they said" situation, and these types usually have a lot of practice at threatening legal consequences for "slander". (But if you know someone who used to be around and suddenly lost all interest at coming to your meetups, it might make sense to ask them discreetly whether they had a bad experience with someone specifically.)

I personally often don't care much about the statistics for general population, because we are obviously not average. Problem is, "not average" doesn't in itself show the direction. For general intelligence, we are obviously smarter, and that generally correlates with lower (detected?) crime. On the other hand, we also seem to score quite high for unusual sexual behavior in general.

As long as each family has a door they can close (and everything necessary to survive the day is inside), living in a community doesn't seem worse than simply living with neighbors. But there are good reasons why neurotypical people require long time before they start trusting someone; so "they are a member of the same community" should never be used as a replacement for "I have a lot of personal experience from gradually deepening interaction with this specific person". In other words, just because someone says "hi, I also like Less Wrong", doesn't mean I would invite them to my home and leave them alone with my child. Some nerdy people may need to be explicitly reminded of this.

Comment author: Rubix 18 March 2017 07:18:55PM 1 point [-]

Endorsed.

Comment author: Alicorn 17 March 2017 11:29:30PM 8 points [-]

I'm pretty sure the solution to this problem is not "trust no one, be a hermit".

Comment author: username2 18 March 2017 01:16:17AM 1 point [-]

I think the word "trust" probably wouldn't exist in a rationally designed language. If I know the base rate of pedophiles is 4% then I will expect that each person I meet has a 1 in 25 chance of being one. If they demonstrate certain qualities to me I will gradually update downward until I reach a point where they become an acceptable risk. There's absolutely no reason to trust anybody on this front without such an analysis.

Comment author: Rubix 18 March 2017 01:49:05AM *  13 points [-]

Source on those statistics, please? I find the claims dubious: in particular, the 25% figure seems to come from this "information packet", which is unsourced and uncited, suggesting that it may not exist. The two Jensens, Cory Jewell and Steve, seem to build a career around inflating the numbers associated with child sexual assault. I can't find sources for either of the other figures.

My stake in the game: I strongly distrust statistics given about child sexual assault unless they are highly specific about what is being discussed, for two reasons.

One is that the definition is incredibly vague: some sources mean "an adult engaging in intercourse with a minor under 13", others mean "touch intended to be sexually gratifying, of a minor under 18, by another party of any age", and definitions run the gamut. Another example: under this website's definition of child sexual abuse, "any sexual activity between adults and minors or between two minors when one forces it on the other (...) like exhibitionism, exposure to pornography", I was sexually abused at 11 when a chatroom troll sent me a link that turned out to be Two Girls, One Cup.

My second reason for reservation around these statistics is that they rarely take into consideration the preferences of the minor. When I was a minor, I had healthy and fulfilling sexual relationships; under many existing definitions, I was sexually assaulted by my loving sixteen-year-old boyfriend when I was sixteen, and under many more I was sexually assaulted by him when he turned eighteen and I was still seventeen. This seems ridiculous and objectionable to me.

A last note: I agree that it is impossible to tell from a few hours of interaction whether someone will abuse your child. Many people can't tell even after years of loving marriage whether their spouse will abuse their children, so "demonstrating acceptable qualities" is not a very good intervention. The absolute best defense against one's children having unwanted/traumatic interactions is to tell them how to set boundaries, tell them to yell if they're touched in a way they don't want, tell them that their body is their own and that nobody gets to touch it without their permission. This has the virtue of defending against all manner of abuse and mistreatment, at the hands of parents, extended family, family friends and acquaintances alike.

Comment author: username2 18 March 2017 04:51:34PM 3 points [-]

I couldn't find the original page I was getting those numbers from, but here's another that gives a bit more granularity. It does seem like that 25% number interprets "sexual abuse" very broadly, but the more detailed numbers are still horrifying and still cause for alertness.

A last note: I agree that it is impossible to tell from a few hours of interaction whether someone will abuse your child. Many people can't tell even after years of loving marriage whether their spouse will abuse their children, so "demonstrating acceptable qualities" is not a very good intervention. The absolute best defense against one's children having unwanted/traumatic interactions is to tell them how to set boundaries, tell them to yell if they're touched in a way they don't want, tell them that their body is their own and that nobody gets to touch it without their permission. This has the virtue of defending against all manner of abuse and mistreatment, at the hands of parents, extended family, family friends and acquaintances alike.

Indeed, I didn't say "this is a horrible idea, Alicorn." I was just trying to mention this consideration, which I was a bit surprised not to see mentioned in the original post. If the children are all well-educated about how to respond to attempted abuse, and the adults all know this, a strongly abuse-deterring environment is created.

Comment author: Lumifer 18 March 2017 03:23:46AM 0 points [-]

Y'know, there is a medical diagnosis for this...

Comment author: username2 18 March 2017 09:43:50AM *  0 points [-]

I'm also pretty sure the solution is to NOT put your children in a shared living situation with a dozen other possibly-predacious adults. There is a middle ground of having a secure, private environment for your family with walls and clear separation. Such as most conventional living situations.

Comment author: tenshiko 18 March 2017 12:16:33AM 6 points [-]

If these statistics are likewise correct, about half of child molestations involve a direct family relationship. "Stop adding children to your family" seems like a pretty unrealistic method of preventing child molestations from occurring. Then again, a pretty substantial chunk of child molestors are trusted non-relatives, so I see how the baugruppe would disproportionately enable that demographic.

"Do not let parents be alone with their own children" likewise seems pretty unrealistic. Would you want to suggest that a non-parent should be limited in their time alone with a child?

Furthermore, there will only be one baugruppe. Perhaps two. Aren't the participants in such an enterprise disproportionately likely to be economically advantaged with consistently present parents, and therefore less appealing targets for child molestors?

Comment author: username2 18 March 2017 09:53:24AM 2 points [-]

The whole point of the objection. as I (different persona) interpret it, is that a shared living situation is effectively adding more adults to each family. The whole point is to have one big cohesive group living together, which means a lot more people in the same proximity and familiarity as family members in more conventional arrangements.

Put differently, the underlying causes of why most predation seems to come from family has nothing to do with sharing genetic material, but rather things like availability of opportunity and trust. Both of which are features of this shared living environment. So we should expect the individual risk to be higher than 1 in 25 and in fact closer to the rates from family members.

Comment author: Jonathan_Lee 18 March 2017 07:29:23PM 4 points [-]

Even if it's the case that the statistics are as suggested, it would seem that a highly effective strategy is to ensure that there are multiple adults around all the time. I'll accept your numbers ad arguendo (though I think they're relevantly wrong).

If there's a 4% chance that one adult is an abuser, there's a 1/625 chance that two independent ones are, and one might reasonably assume that the other 96% of adults are unlikely to let abuse slide if they see any evidence of it. The failure modes are then things like abusers being able to greenbeard well enough that multiple abusers identify each other and then proceed to be all the adults in a given situation. Which is pretty conjunctive as failures go, and especially in a world where you insist that you know all the adults personally from before you started a baugruppe rather that letting Bob (and his 5 friends who are new to you) all join.

You also mention "selection for predators", but that seems to run against the (admittedly folk) wisdom that children at risk of abuse are those that are isolated and vulnerable. Daycare centres are not the central tendency of abuse; quiet attics are.

Comment author: drethelin 18 March 2017 03:19:28AM 3 points [-]

This is paranoid, but even if it wasn't: The more people living in one house the LESS likely someone is to get away with molesting someone else unnoticed.

Comment author: username2 18 March 2017 04:44:04PM *  3 points [-]

As the other anonymous said, this doesn't follow at all. A group living situation creates a larger field of "trusted adults" per child. Unless all the adults are mindful of these risks, a situation arises where any adult may at any time be put in charge of watching any child or children. This is frankly the textbook definition of what not to do.

If the adults are mindful of the risk, then they can be open about it, and ensure that two or more adults are always tasked with watching children, so that the adults can watch each other. And even this may eventually cease to be necessary.

Also, I find that your definition of paranoid must be different from mine if you look at those statistics and think "nothing risky going on here". I have to assume you have no personal experience with this issue. I can't help but feel like people in this thread are conflating a feeling of "I don't want this to be true and I don't want to have to think about it" with "this is obviously overly paranoid".

Comment author: drethelin 18 March 2017 09:44:28PM *  4 points [-]

I think the statistics you quote are exaggerated in order to terrify. When I tried to look up "4% of adults are sexually attracted to children," for example, I found nothing. Similarly, the news is often full of stranger danger fears because terror is what gets attention and therefore revenue and funding. And as others have said, they also include stuff like 18 year olds having sex with 17 year olds, which some people may find unacceptable but I don't.

Comment author: gjm 19 March 2017 01:38:41AM 7 points [-]

Note also that "4% of adults are sexually attracted to children" is a very different statement from "4% of adults are likely to molest children if left alone with them".

(I suspect rather more than 4% of adults are sexually attracted to Angelina Jolie[1], but that doesn't mean they'd molest her if left alone in a room with her.)

[1] Chosen by putting "famous actress" into Google and picking the first name it gave me. If she isn't your type -- she isn't particularly mine, as it happens -- feel free to imagine I chose a different name.

Comment author: username2 19 March 2017 02:05:30AM 0 points [-]

Sounds a lot more like rationalization than rationalism.

Comment author: drethelin 19 March 2017 02:52:34AM 0 points [-]

This is why we need downvotes.

Comment author: username2 19 March 2017 05:38:44AM 0 points [-]

I was being quite serious. When given a quantitative argument you responded with a grab bag of abstract objections not backed by data but vaguely supporting your original viewpoint. A natural human response designed to keep one from changing their mind, generally called rationalization. I encourage becoming aware of when this is happening and use that awareness to improve your model of the world.

Comment author: ozymandias 19 March 2017 03:12:06PM 3 points [-]

I think an accurate qualitative argument is better than a sourceless quantitative argument.

Comment author: Lumifer 19 March 2017 04:19:05PM 1 point [-]

When given a quantitative argument

Numbers are not particularly magical and being quantitative doesn't imply the argument is more likely to be correct. After all, "there are lies, damn lies, and statistics".

Comment author: Viliam 20 March 2017 10:41:50AM 2 points [-]

ensure that two or more adults are always tasked with watching children, so that the adults can watch each other.

This may feel exaggerated, because many people not living in communities are not following this rule consistently either. People often leave their children alone with grandparents or babysitters. Sure, there is a risk involved, but... life sometimes gives you constraints.

Comment author: username2 18 March 2017 09:56:45AM 1 point [-]

That seems entirely unjustified. More people and ore space means more threats and more opportunities. Most child molestation happens from a SINGLE close and trusted family member, acting alone. Yet your same argument could be applied to the single-family household -- with a family living together it is more likely that someone else in the family will notice. But the data doesn't seem to support that.

Comment author: drethelin 18 March 2017 09:49:45PM 1 point [-]

most single family households have a lot fewer than 10-20 people in them.

Comment author: RedMan 20 March 2017 12:29:38PM *  0 points [-]

This problem is an easy one to solve. Implicit association tests are effective at discriminating pedophiles from non-pedophiles.

Have 'age of consent' set as a community norm (keep it legal folks!) and 'must score under community-assessed maximum tolerable score on the pedo-IAT' as a condition of moving in.

You'd be the first neighborhood association to take this sort of strong, invasive(?) measure for preventing child abuse in a close knit community, I don't think they do this in Celebration, Florida (or whatever the Disney World community is called)

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23613137

Note, any implementation should also include eye tracking, or another analytic to detect a user looking away and clicking at a constant rate. Looking away and clicking to advance at random or at a constant rate is the only mechanism for defeating an IAT.

How do I apply for a slot in the house? I'm tired of living by the sword and would love to relocate to a tech hub but don't know anyone.

Comment author: philh 22 March 2017 12:22:17PM 2 points [-]

I am skeptical that the IAT can accurately detect pedophiles. The article is paywalled, so I can't say anything specific about it, but I can gesture in the general direction of the reproducability crisis.