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Link: quotas-microaggression-and-meritocracy

-7 Lexico 19 September 2014 10:18PM

 

I remember seeing a talk of the concept of privilege show up in the discussion thread on contrarian views.

Some discussion got started from "Feminism is a good thing. Privilege is real."

This is an article that presents some of those ideas in a way that might be approachable for LW.

http://curt-rice.com/quotas-microaggression-and-meritocracy/

One of the ideas I take out of this is that these issues can be examined as the result of unconscious cognitive bias. IE sexism isn't the result of any conscious thought, but can be the result as a failure mode where we don't rationality correctly in these social situations.

Of course a broad view of these issues exist, and many people have different ways of looking at these issues, but I think it would be good to focus on the case presented in this article rather than your other associations.

Comment author: Lexico 05 August 2014 08:47:43PM 5 points [-]

Looking at this topic more broadly than solely in terms of HPMOR and it's reviews, I would argue that for many people their exposure to the concept of rationality is predominantly made up of half rationalists.

Rationality is hard. It gives us tools that allow us to update old preconceptions of the world. However in practice we will often fail in our rationality due to insufficient information or other cognitive limits while still identifying our actions as being superior due to rational principles. It is very off putting to see others claiming superiority yet still be full of flaws in reasoning due to bounded rationality. From your perspective you might clearly see a flaw in their reasoning, perhaps one you can't communicate well, even if from their perspective they have applied rationality.

This creates cognitive dissonance for accepting the idea that rationalism leads to better reasoning.

EY wrote a bit about the dangerous of being half a rationalist within the body of this post if you want to continue this train of thought.

Comment author: Vulture 25 July 2014 10:29:33PM 1 point [-]

Side #3 there looks more like a strawman/weakman of side #1 - surely there isn't much of a movement to eschew the word "trigger" or the concept of triggers in the context of medical discussion of PTSD? Or to disbelieve in one of the principal symptoms of one of the most normalized and well-publicised mental disorders in modern America?

Comment author: Lexico 26 July 2014 03:36:33AM -2 points [-]

I think it's more that there seems to be a cluster that will vocally declare anything that is short of the clinical definition of PTSD trigger, to be completely invalid morally. IE there is no moral value or obligation to markup our language with these warnings and it is completely the responsibility of others to toughen up and handle it.

This is in opposition to the viewpoint of side two who argue that we should invest effort to create more pleasant and safer environments.

Hence side 2 and 3 argue different moral claims while side 1 associates the term without considering moral obligations in the use of language.

In response to Alpha Mail
Comment author: DanielLC 24 July 2014 05:16:51AM 3 points [-]

If I were trying to communicate with a simulation, I'd be more overt. I suppose that it's possible that things like light are so much more complicated than we imagine that whoever's running the simulation wouldn't be able to just make light, but it seems unlikely. Just set up some kind of broad-spectrum broadcast all over the universe that shows some simple math puzzle, and look for a place that solves it.

In response to comment by DanielLC on Alpha Mail
Comment author: Lexico 24 July 2014 06:45:00AM 0 points [-]

You might want to make the signal hard to find. If it's your test for intelligence, the harder it is to find the alpha mail and construct a response, the higher the level of intelligence it would select for.

Maybe no puzzles are seen from our perspective simply because we aren't on the order of magnitude of the level of intelligence that any who have the power to simulate a universe like ours would be looking for.

Comment author: Yvain 24 July 2014 01:05:22AM *  12 points [-]

Politics is the mind-killer', as most people use it, carries approximately the same content as 'boo politics'. If one of LW's top catchphrases is 'boo politics!', we're more likely to alienate people with the connections and expertise needed to handle politically charged blow-ups, group dynamics, etc. well.

I think this conflates "people who are good at group dynamics" and "people who argue a lot about abortion" into the category "politics people". I doubt there is much of a correlation between the two categories. If we really wanted people who were good at handling these sorts of things, I would look for business managers, sports team captains, and people with nonprofit experience before I started looking for people marked by an interest in politics.

From what I can tell, when organizations, communities, and movements avoid getting dragged through the mud due to misinformation being circulated online, it's frequently because they have friends who are skilled or connected e.g. at social media, diplomacy / PR.

Huh. That's neither of the two things I previously accused you of conflating. It's a third thing.

Having fully general counterarguments against your hated enemies, and lots of blog posts readying your troops for battle with those hated enemies, is not generally a winning way to avoid getting into lots of messy time-wasting fights. If one of LW's top catchphrases is 'boo politics!', we'll thereby by setting ourselves up as the Anti-Politics Tribe, a hated enemy of the Politics Tribes. The Politics Tribes are precisely the people we're trying to avoid picking fights with, especially not fights framed as tribalistic no-holds-barred absolutist sloganeering shouting matches.

Compare "We can't be against war in the Middle East, or else the Middle-Eastern-War-Fighting-Tribe will recognize us as their hated enemy and destroy us." This is not how it works. The Israelis dislike the Palestinians. The Palestinians dislike the Israelis. There is not a Middle-Eastern-War-Fighting-Tribe, composed of Israelis and Palestinians in equal parts, which values war in the Middle East as a terminal value and coordinates to defend it against its detractors.

There is no Politics Tribe who get offended by criticizing politics. There are various political groups who get offended if you allow politics and then some tiny subcomponent of you associates with the wrong side.

I've previously speculated that tribalism is so inescapable that the only way to have any hope of working towards correct beliefs rather than tribal signaling is founding a tribe around epistemic virtue. As such, I think you're right that we might sort of be starting an Anti-Politics Tribe, insofar as epistemic virtue and standard partisan politics don't mix. But I don't think anyone is going to start identifying as the Anti-Epistemic-Virtue Tribe to oppose us.

That's not my experience, but if that's true, then a lot of the people I'm interested in building ties to are in that high-value has-a-nuanced-position minority.

Is it fair for me to describe your goal as trying to shift our self-presentation to appeal to highly-political people?

I think we can both agree that we shouldn't exclude anyone a priori based on their meta-level beliefs about politics.

But I am also getting the impression that you think highly-political people are especially high value, whereas I think they are especially low value.

Consider the situation of a meetup group in a sketchy part of town. Occasionally there is gang violence nearby, but the meetup group is made up of nice people and has thus far mostly avoided it.

A member of the group has a bright idea. "Let's try especially hard to recruit hardened gangsters to our group. After all, they are extremely knowledgeable in gang violence and can protect us if any violence comes our way. At the very least, they can tell us from a position of experience what we should do to minimize our risk."

There is some truth to that argument.

But there's the counterargument that having lots of hardened gangsters in a group might make it a much more likely target for gang violence, and that inviting them in puts everyone at much greater risk.

More important, there's another counterargument that hardened gangsters are often violent people, and even if they don't provoke conflicts with gangsters outside the group, the next time the group has an argument about what kind of soda to bring to the meetup they might find that being full of hardened gangsters from opposing gangs makes it really hard to solve problems peacefully and cooperatively.

I think importing a lot of political people is likely to have the same dynamics - increased threat of violence from outside, increased threat of conflict from within. We already dodged a huge from-outside-bullet when most of the neoreactionaries moved over to More Right and Eliezer very publicly denied having any idea what they were talking about, thus denying Slate the "weird technolibertarian nerds probably in bed with crazy racists" article we both know they would have loved to write. And we already had to ban Eugene - a man interested in politics if ever there was one - for causing internal strife in a way that took years to detect and resolve and probably drove away a lot of good people. Do we really want to select our recruitment efforts for people with the same risk profile?

Comment author: Lexico 24 July 2014 03:18:04AM *  1 point [-]

I do think there exist quite a large number of groups who would fall into the category of the politics tribe. In fact from what I've seen much of the spectrum of social activists.

From there point of view they may identify the status quo that is considered apolitical from the main stream point of view, to in fact have harmful effects for some. On these issues they identify 3 groups.

Those who agree with them that the status quo has issues. Those who disagree and wish to actively maintain the status quo. Those who have not engaged with the issue but inadvertently are supporting their political enemies due to Status Quo Bias

Comment author: Yvain 24 July 2014 01:05:22AM *  12 points [-]

Politics is the mind-killer', as most people use it, carries approximately the same content as 'boo politics'. If one of LW's top catchphrases is 'boo politics!', we're more likely to alienate people with the connections and expertise needed to handle politically charged blow-ups, group dynamics, etc. well.

I think this conflates "people who are good at group dynamics" and "people who argue a lot about abortion" into the category "politics people". I doubt there is much of a correlation between the two categories. If we really wanted people who were good at handling these sorts of things, I would look for business managers, sports team captains, and people with nonprofit experience before I started looking for people marked by an interest in politics.

From what I can tell, when organizations, communities, and movements avoid getting dragged through the mud due to misinformation being circulated online, it's frequently because they have friends who are skilled or connected e.g. at social media, diplomacy / PR.

Huh. That's neither of the two things I previously accused you of conflating. It's a third thing.

Having fully general counterarguments against your hated enemies, and lots of blog posts readying your troops for battle with those hated enemies, is not generally a winning way to avoid getting into lots of messy time-wasting fights. If one of LW's top catchphrases is 'boo politics!', we'll thereby by setting ourselves up as the Anti-Politics Tribe, a hated enemy of the Politics Tribes. The Politics Tribes are precisely the people we're trying to avoid picking fights with, especially not fights framed as tribalistic no-holds-barred absolutist sloganeering shouting matches.

Compare "We can't be against war in the Middle East, or else the Middle-Eastern-War-Fighting-Tribe will recognize us as their hated enemy and destroy us." This is not how it works. The Israelis dislike the Palestinians. The Palestinians dislike the Israelis. There is not a Middle-Eastern-War-Fighting-Tribe, composed of Israelis and Palestinians in equal parts, which values war in the Middle East as a terminal value and coordinates to defend it against its detractors.

There is no Politics Tribe who get offended by criticizing politics. There are various political groups who get offended if you allow politics and then some tiny subcomponent of you associates with the wrong side.

I've previously speculated that tribalism is so inescapable that the only way to have any hope of working towards correct beliefs rather than tribal signaling is founding a tribe around epistemic virtue. As such, I think you're right that we might sort of be starting an Anti-Politics Tribe, insofar as epistemic virtue and standard partisan politics don't mix. But I don't think anyone is going to start identifying as the Anti-Epistemic-Virtue Tribe to oppose us.

That's not my experience, but if that's true, then a lot of the people I'm interested in building ties to are in that high-value has-a-nuanced-position minority.

Is it fair for me to describe your goal as trying to shift our self-presentation to appeal to highly-political people?

I think we can both agree that we shouldn't exclude anyone a priori based on their meta-level beliefs about politics.

But I am also getting the impression that you think highly-political people are especially high value, whereas I think they are especially low value.

Consider the situation of a meetup group in a sketchy part of town. Occasionally there is gang violence nearby, but the meetup group is made up of nice people and has thus far mostly avoided it.

A member of the group has a bright idea. "Let's try especially hard to recruit hardened gangsters to our group. After all, they are extremely knowledgeable in gang violence and can protect us if any violence comes our way. At the very least, they can tell us from a position of experience what we should do to minimize our risk."

There is some truth to that argument.

But there's the counterargument that having lots of hardened gangsters in a group might make it a much more likely target for gang violence, and that inviting them in puts everyone at much greater risk.

More important, there's another counterargument that hardened gangsters are often violent people, and even if they don't provoke conflicts with gangsters outside the group, the next time the group has an argument about what kind of soda to bring to the meetup they might find that being full of hardened gangsters from opposing gangs makes it really hard to solve problems peacefully and cooperatively.

I think importing a lot of political people is likely to have the same dynamics - increased threat of violence from outside, increased threat of conflict from within. We already dodged a huge from-outside-bullet when most of the neoreactionaries moved over to More Right and Eliezer very publicly denied having any idea what they were talking about, thus denying Slate the "weird technolibertarian nerds probably in bed with crazy racists" article we both know they would have loved to write. And we already had to ban Eugene - a man interested in politics if ever there was one - for causing internal strife in a way that took years to detect and resolve and probably drove away a lot of good people. Do we really want to select our recruitment efforts for people with the same risk profile?

Comment author: Lexico 24 July 2014 03:10:03AM -1 points [-]

I think at least in my case, what associations I have behind the symbol "politics" is a bit different from the way you view it. I see how your arguments are consistent from that perspective, so I think that a lot of the difference in view might come from that difference.

In my view something that is political need not be something related to any formal party politics, but includes the set of any group power dynamics.

In my case I can imagine political people as both people who are interested in partisan conflicts, but also I would consider the main skill of managers of people to fundamentally be to manage the politics of the group.

Comment author: Lexico 22 July 2014 06:33:26PM 1 point [-]

I wonder if the number of comments might be a better heuristic for measuring the variance in people's perspective on the article. If you look at those 3 examples, the first had the most comments, but the least upvotes and lowest percentage positive.

If someone feels that they are in agreement and their viewpoint is already present in the discussion they might have a lower likelihood of adding another comment, but if there is a larger variance in the viewpoints on an issue than people would be more likely to have what they feel is unique information to add to the discussion.

Comment author: Lexico 22 July 2014 07:07:22PM 0 points [-]

As a continuation of that idea though. One of the prerequisites of factionalization / triblization is the existence in enough variance in viewpoints to create distinct independent clusters. Others in the same cluster become the in group, and those outside of the cluster become the out group.

However, while variance is required for clustering, clustering isn't always present with high variance. You can still have more uniform distributions with large spreads.

Being aware that clustering effects are more likely in areas of high variance seems to me to a a good heuristic to internalize.

Comment author: Yvain 22 July 2014 05:00:45PM *  37 points [-]

LW is not at risk anytime soon of falling in love with politics, but it is at risk of appearing arrogant, dismissive, insulting, thoughtlessly-opposed-to-local-politics-and-groupcraft, etc.

This might be the crux of our disagreement.

I don't have statistics for Less Wrong, but here are some for SSC. The topic is "median number of page views for different types of post throughout 2014".

As you can see, interest in charity and statistics is the lowest, followed by interest in transhumanism and rationality. Politics is the highest of the group that clusters around the 3000s. Then comes "race and gender" at 8000, and "things i will regret writing" (my tag for very controversial political rants that will make a lot of people very angry) at 16000, ie about five times the level for rationality or transhumanism.

This seems to correspond to how things work on Less Wrong, where for example a basic introduction of misogyny and mansplaining got almost twice as many comments as Anna's massive and brilliant post resolving a bunch of philosophy of mind issues and more than three times as many as Luke's heavily researched primer on fighting procrastination.

Not to mention that disaster with Eugene was politically based. I'm pretty sure nobody mass-downvotes because someone else disagrees with them about GiveWell.

Less Wrong is massively at risk of falling in love with politics. Politics is much more interesting and attention-sucking than working on important foundational questions, and as soon as we relax the taboo on it we are doomed. On the other hand, most of the people who say we're "arrogant" will find a reason to think so no matter how we phrase things. I mean, what happens when they're okay with our pithy slogan on politics, look at the site, and figure out what we actually believe?

That having been said, if you've been doing a lot of public relations work and empirically find a lot of people are turned off by the way "politics is the mind-killer" is used in practice, I can't tell you you're wrong. I just hope that however you choose to push the same idea doesn't result in a sudden influx of people who think politics is great and are anxious to prove they're capable of "hard mode".

Comment author: Lexico 22 July 2014 06:33:26PM 1 point [-]

I wonder if the number of comments might be a better heuristic for measuring the variance in people's perspective on the article. If you look at those 3 examples, the first had the most comments, but the least upvotes and lowest percentage positive.

If someone feels that they are in agreement and their viewpoint is already present in the discussion they might have a lower likelihood of adding another comment, but if there is a larger variance in the viewpoints on an issue than people would be more likely to have what they feel is unique information to add to the discussion.

Comment author: Lexico 22 July 2014 07:37:57AM 3 points [-]

As a less wrong lurker this thread did a great job at putting into words the main reason I've been very hesitant to get more involved with the community.

I do think that anything politic is some of the hardest materiel to have any sort of discussion about while remaining rational and effective and not falling prey to our bias.

On the other hand from my experience I strongly agree that what is and isn't political is highly contextual and variable for different people. I worry that the aggregate limits of what can and cannot be discussed as political are to a degree driven by the group dynamics itself and can lead to group think fail cases. This can lead to fragmentation where different groups with different biases in their group makeup will still settle on different limits for what is political and apolitical, and create barriers between any sort of integration between those cultures.

An issue that is highly political from one perspective but not from another might still get discussed at some great length if the majority don't find that given topic political. This then creates a mine field that those in the minority that can be hard to address. Trying to address this problem in the first place often requires someone with a minority viewpoint trying to inform others that from their perspective something that was apolitical to the speaker was still political for others.

But then again this is a hard problem. I would argue that at the very least, the current approach of politics as a mind killer does have a lot of failure cases that can be harmful for the community, especially when it creates divides between a majority opinion on what is and isn't political. Any progress the community can make to improve the methods we use to deal with this problem to help minimize the failure cases is a step in the right direction. I don't see anyway this problem is one that can be solved with a greedy heuristic approach an optimal method. It's a fundamentally social problem, and social cognition is far too complicated and chaotic to ever be fully reduced.

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