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Comment author: David_Gerard 24 July 2014 09:47:19AM 1 point [-]

+1 for excellence in interesting original research!

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 23 July 2014 07:20:06PM 1 point [-]

In some sense you are right. But not everything that impacts real life is an obvious power grab. Here are a few things one could try as solutions to the "women as a group are underrepresented in rationalist groups (possibly because they don't feel welcome)" problem:

  • Emphasise the work already done by women in the rationalist community. For example, make a collection of online videos of female rationalists giving lectures on rationality / AI topics. (This could encourage any woman hesitating about making her own contribution.)

  • Write an article or a series of articles about women who contributed significantly to mathematics / computer science / heuristics and biases / AI. (Just do your research well, and instead of "Ada Lovelace invented programming" meme write something about Grace Hopper.)

  • Make a "Women Debate Thread" on LW, a space for women to express their opinions and experiences. Men can join the debate only by linking a comment from an Open Thread. Alternatively, men can join only 24 hours after the thread was created, and even then cannot post top-level comments. (Let those women speak for themselves; they don't need anyone to be their speaker.)

There are also some good off-line ideas (invite a female scientist to give a lecture at the meetup; make a presentation of rationalist community at some school with mostly female students; create a rationality seminar specially for women... you could probably get some grant money for that), but I guess it's not fair to ask that much on a website where most people participate only virtually. Just saying that if making a rationalist community a space for women is very important for someone, there is a way.

How are these suggestions different? Seems to me the main difference is that they don't have an enemy. There is no blaming anyone, attacking anyone, asking the LW community to take a side against anyone. I believe almost all LW readers would be okay with them (okay, the third one would be more controversial), and they don't violate the LW soft taboo on politics.

Yes, under some definitions, increasing female presence on LW or making women more comfortable on LW is a political goal. But I believe most people here wouldn't object against that goal. The objection is against specific methods of achieving this goal.

Comment author: David_Gerard 23 July 2014 08:54:15PM -1 points [-]

Are you familiar with the tone argument? In the sort of political problem you are describing, it's claiming that an apparent objection to a viewpoint is actually an objection to the way the arguments are made. This tends not to convince people who don't already agree with the arguer.

Comment author: David_Gerard 23 July 2014 02:33:33PM *  1 point [-]
Comment author: Viliam_Bur 23 July 2014 09:20:12AM *  6 points [-]

I am a member of a political tribe. We believe that there exists a powerful opposing tribe that oppresses women. Our proposed solution is to give more power to members of our tribe, so that we can improve the situation for women.

(The analysis of the oppression of women may be correct, incorrect, or partially correct. However, as a rational member of homo sapiens I should be aware that I run on a corrupted hardware which has "...and therefore my tribe should be given more power" pretty much hardwired as the bottom line, so any analysis that leads to this conclusion has a decent chance to be a rationalization.)

Our preferred way of getting more power is preventing the members of the opposing tribe from expressing their opinions, and punishing them if they do. I demand that LW make this a community norm. LW refuses to comply. I realize that LW is not automatically my ally. So I try to find an argument that will make LW believe that the best way to reach their goals is to give my tribe more power.

One strategy that our tribe uses successfully a lot is to focus on the experiences of women, excluding the experiences of men. The strategy works, because if women really have a worse situation, this will make it visible, but even if both women and men have a bad situation, only the bad situation of women will be visible, so we will still get the impression that women have it worse. Also, by focusing on "women have it bad" part we are taking attention away from a debate whether giving our tribe more power is really the optimal solution for helping women.

(There are also known ways to react to an opposition here: If someone tries to include the experiences of men, we accuse them of derailing the debate. Or claim that this is not an "opression olympics", although in fact it is actually an oppression olympics where only one side is allowed to participate.)

So, I ask women on LW to send me anonymously their stories, and I publish them in a series of articles. This is the strategy that works, and it also helps to establish me as a speaker for these women. As much as LW members care about their fellow female readers, I can now start making demands in their name, even without their explicit support for my specific demands, because that part is already implied connotationally.

...uhm... does this make it more clear how this is "political"?

On the surface, it is about helping women. But the only acceptable way of helping women, the only strategy worth debating, is to give my tribe more power.

(One way to realize this is to imagine whether I would be satisfied if suddenly a lot of women would become high-status on LW, but none of them would be a member of my tribe. Imagine one smart neoreactionary lady, one smart bio-realist lady, and dozen smart ladies who refuse to take any political sides because they believe that politics is the mindkiller. All of them writing great, highly upvoted articles, and having a lot of support in the discussion; not hiding their feminity, but also not making it a political argument for anything.)

Comment author: David_Gerard 23 July 2014 12:37:06PM *  0 points [-]

...uhm... does this make it more clear how this is "political"?

Yes, but only in the sense that pretty much everything that impacts real life is political.

The other problem is when people have discussions they consider "nonpolitical", but other people consider "political". You'll see this one play out on techie sites quite a lot.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 22 July 2014 12:44:13PM *  3 points [-]

And selectively outlawing personal stuff gets even messier. Last year, daenerys shared anonymized stories from women, including several that discussed past experiences where the writer had been attacked or made to feel unsafe. If those discussions are made off-limits because they relate to gender and are therefore ‘political,’ some folks may take away the message that they aren’t allowed to talk about, e.g., some harmful or alienating norm they see at meet-ups.

Let me say that:
a) those stories were published, in multiple articles, and there was a big debate about them, and
b) some objections were not against the stories per se, but about the way daenerys used them to make a political point.

So I think this part doesn't prove your point. Instead of "selectively outlawing personal stuff" it seems to me like a case of not outlawing personal stuff even when it is blatantly used for a political purpose; just pointing out that the political purpose is obvious to the readers.

Comment author: David_Gerard 22 July 2014 08:55:19PM *  1 point [-]

Define "political purpose" in this context, and distinguish from definition of "not a political purpose".

(Your response seems to pattern-match regarding their concern for problems that happen to them personally as "political" because those problems don't happen to you, but I can't point to anything that would let me reasonably directly assert that about you.)

Comment author: Lumifer 22 July 2014 03:11:18PM 10 points [-]

Being mindkilled feels from the inside like clear thinking.

Seems to me that being mindkilled feels from the inside like being so sure about something that no thinking is necessary.

Comment author: David_Gerard 22 July 2014 08:52:29PM 1 point [-]

Yeah, I mean it feels like the obvious results of clear thinking, even if it was effectively cut'n'pasted in.

Comment author: shminux 21 July 2014 10:54:57PM *  19 points [-]

I don't think "Politics is hard mode" conveys the point.

Any mention of politics is a minefield of unintended triggers. In the "politics is the mind-killer" post Eliezer refers to the mind-killing properties politically charged examples have on any discussion, precisely because of these triggers. That's the reason that

political examples should not be used in a non-political discussion.

Just like any trigger-heavy example should not be used unless explicitly intended to trigger people. (I used it in one my posts for that purpose.)

TL;DR: the original meaning of "politics is the mind killer" is "avoid unintended triggers in your arguments".

Unfortunately, this slogan became a catch-all "boo! politics" attitude. Maybe what is needed is a post "How to discuss politics (race/gender/...) rationally". Unless one has been written already, though I came up empty after a cursory look.

Comment author: David_Gerard 22 July 2014 10:43:04AM *  0 points [-]

political examples should not be used in a non-political discussion.

And yet LW is full of political discussions. (e.g. I'm trying to think how someone could think of advocacy of race realism as "not political". I suspect this is a problem that changing the saying to "politics is hard mode" won't remedy, however.)

Comment author: jimrandomh 22 July 2014 12:23:25AM *  11 points [-]

While "politics is hard mode" is technically closer to the truth than "politics is the mind killer", it fails to serve the phrase's social function as well.

There is a common adage that good startup ideas are worthless. This is false. However, there are a lot of people with bad or not-unusually-good startup ideas, which they think are great, but which aren't worth spending time on. It is usually bad to tell people that their ideas suck, or that they aren't even worth listening to. So instead, we have a standard piece of wisdom that all startup ideas are worthless, and use this to deflect frustrating conversations in a way that won't cause offense.

When a political topic comes up, I look around the room. I predict who is likely to be triggered, I check my own mental state, and I predict how the conversation is likely to go. If I expect it to go badly, I say: politics is the mind killer. It's not you, it's everyone, now let's talk about something else.

(Sometimes I forget to do all that, and regret it. And sometimes "the room" is a public thread on the internet, which usually means fools will come crawling out of the woodwork.)

(Please don't explain this to people who would be hurt by that knowledge.)

Comment author: David_Gerard 22 July 2014 10:41:18AM 1 point [-]

While "politics is hard mode" is technically closer to the truth than "politics is the mind killer", it fails to serve the phrase's social function as well.

I concur with the problem assessment: its social function in practice is to assure the group that other people's politics are mindkilled, whereas their own politics are just the normal background.

This has a number of fairly obvious problems.

Being mindkilled feels from the inside like clear thinking.

Comment author: Jiro 21 July 2014 07:58:53PM 0 points [-]

Presumably, you don't believe the basilisk would work.

If you don't believe the basilisk would work, then it really doesn't matter all that much that people don't understand the prerequisites. After all, even understanding the prerequisites won't change their opinion of whether the basilisk is correct. (I suppose that understanding the sequences may change the degree of incorrectness--going from crazy and illogical to just normally illogical--but I've yet to see anyone argue this.)

Comment author: David_Gerard 22 July 2014 10:17:51AM -1 points [-]

Are you saying it's meaningless to tell someone about the prerequisites - which, as I note, are pretty much straight out of the Sequences - unless they think the basilisk would work?

Comment author: gwillen 21 July 2014 11:31:23PM 2 points [-]

I would love to hear more about what makes you think Urbit is valuable.

I looked at it quite a bit because it sounded extremely intriguing, but I eventually concluded that it seemed rather cranky and unlikely to get anywhere useful.

(Then again, this was my first thought about Mill, which I have now made a small investment in, so.)

Comment author: David_Gerard 22 July 2014 10:15:21AM 0 points [-]

I don't have any particular reason to think it's valuable. But it looks like an interesting toy ("intriguing", as you note), includes created scarcity and succeeded in getting itself a small amount of publicity. That strikes me as enough to be worth a small amount of attention.

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