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Comment author: wedrifid 24 July 2014 11:11:09AM 0 points [-]

There are tribes who believe that you should automatically join them... and if you refuse to join them at least partially, for whatever reason (including an explanation that as a matter of principle you ignore such requests from all tribes), then in their eyes you have kinda joined the enemy side

You are right, and I am entirely comfortable with such tribes being treated as enemies (or at least opposed or dismissed contemptuously in that particular regard).

One thing that doesn't quite fit is this: If you are the weaker side, how is it possible that you come and bully me, and expect me to immediately give up? This doesn't seem like a typical behavior or weaker people surrounded by stronger people. (Possible explanation: This side is locally strong here, for some definition of "here", but the enemy side is stronger globally.)

Another explanation could be that the side is dominant in one form of battle (moralizing) but weak at another kind (economic power, prestige, literal battle) and wish to play to their strengths. More often it is merely the already powerful bullying whoever they can. Discrimination is worst against subgroups that have not formed alliances and mobilised sufficiently to have made discrimination them a legitimate moral claim. (Short people?)

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 24 July 2014 12:00:08PM *  0 points [-]

Discrimination is worst against subgroups that have not formed alliances and mobilised sufficiently to have made discrimination them a legitimate moral claim. (Short people?)

Asians in USA (internment camps, college quotas...) They deal with discrimination by working harder, which doesn't bring them media attention, but maybe it is a winning strategy in long term.

Also, no one cares about Asians being underrepresented on LW. 這不公平!

In response to Jokes Thread
Comment author: Metus 24 July 2014 01:48:34AM -1 points [-]

A Bayesian apparently is someone who after a single throw of a coin will believe that it is biased. Based on either outcome.

Also, why do 'Bayes', 'base' and 'bias' sound similar?

In response to comment by Metus on Jokes Thread
Comment author: Viliam_Bur 24 July 2014 11:27:23AM *  1 point [-]

Heck, I had to stop and take a pen and paper to figure that out. Turns out, you were wrong. (I expected that, but I wasn't sure how specifically.)

As a simple example, imagine that my prior belief is that 0.1 of coins always provide head, 0.1 of coins always provide tails, and 0.8 of coins are fair. So, my prior belief is that 0.2 of coins are biased.

I throw a coin and it's... let's say... head. What are the posterior probabilities? Multiplying the prior probabilities with the likelihood of this outcome, we get 0.1 × 1, 0.8 × 0.5, and 0.1 × 0. Multiplied and normalized, it is 0.2 for the heads-only coin, and 0.8 for the fair coin. -- My posterior belief remains 0.2 for biased coin, only in this case I know how specifically it is biased.

The same will be true for any symetrical prior belief. For example, if I believe that 0.000001 of coins always provide head, 0.000001 of coins always provide tails, 0.0001 of coins provide head in 80% of cases, 0.0001 of coins provide tails in 80% of cases, and the rest are fair coins... again, after one throw my posterior probability of "a biased coin" will remain exactly the same, only the proportions of specific biases will change.

On the other hand, if my prior belief is asymetrical... let's say I believe that 0.1 of coins always provide head, and 0.9 of coins are fair (and there are no always-tails coins)... then yes, a single throw that comes up head will increase my belief that the coin was biased. (Because the outcome of tails would have decreased it.)

(Technically, a Bayesian superintelligence would probably believe that all coins are asymetrical. I mean, they have different pictures on their sides, that can influence the probabilities of the outcomes a little bit. But such a superintelligence would have believed that the coin was biased even before the first throw.)

Comment author: Azathoth123 24 July 2014 04:30:54AM 0 points [-]

Your examples have the same problem that you criticized daenerys for:

focus on the experiences of women, excluding the experiences of men.

Your first two examples amount to focusing of the accomplishments and contributions of women at the expense of the (much larger) accomplishments and contributions of men.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 24 July 2014 11:00:50AM *  0 points [-]

Technically you are right, but there is a difference in context:

Saying "Grace Hopper wrote a COBOL compiler" can show some readers that "some women made significant contributions to computer science", but is unlikely to make them think that all (or majority of) significant contributions were done by women.

(Okay, I can imagine doing that in a crazy way which could completely confuse a very naive reader... but I don't suspect anyone would do this on LW, or that such kind of a naive reader could survive on LW.)

But in internet debates... well, sometimes I have this impression that some people really do believe that experiences like "people devalue my opinions because of my gender or because of my looks" are specifically female experiences, as opposed to generally human experiences. Then a discussion about this kind of experiences, focused only on women, serves to strenghten this prejudice. -- It would be an equivalent of saying "please send me a list of computer languages and people who wrote their compilers, but only if those authors are men". Then publishing the list to show everyone that writing compilers is a uniquely male experience.

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: Viliam_Bur 24 July 2014 10:16:30AM *  1 point [-]

No, the "pleasant tone" is a strawman. I am speaking about a difference between:

a) suggesting to fix a problem directly; and

b) suggesting that your tribe should be given more power, and then your tribe will fix the problem.

The proponents of the latter solution may believe that all solutions of the former type are obviously doomed to fail, thus they are not even worth considering. (Motivated stopping.) Or even invent rationalizations about how all solutions that don't give more power to their tribe would actually make the whole problem worse.

EDIT: There is usually also a lack of specific details. Let's say that every mention of politically incorrect topics on LW would be banned, and that feminism would become an official belief and moderation policy. How specifically would that bring to LW more women interested in artificial intelligence and rationality (as opposed to merely interested in evangelizing feminism among people interested in rationality). Uhm... I guess there is only this vague belief that what is good for feminism is by definition good for women, therefore the problem will either magically fix itself, or we will have to find some other guy to blame. (Maybe after a few iterations we will decide that Eliezer's writings are irrepairably sexist, or maybe that the whole idea of rationality was just rich white cishet males' invention to oppress the voodoo believers.)

Comment author: shminux 23 July 2014 08:23:05PM *  0 points [-]

Why? is the word trigger itself a trigger?

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 24 July 2014 09:10:25AM *  3 points [-]


Because its typical internet usage is an exaggeration.

It is wrong to call every form of sadness a "depression", every form of aversion a "trigger", every lack of social skills an "autism", etc.

is the word trigger itself a trigger?

No, unless there is some weird form of torture when the prisoners are shown a word "trigger" written on screen, immediately followed by pain. So that even months or years after their torture ended, when they see the word "trigger", their hearts automatically starts beating fast, and they crouch and scream incontrollably.

Mere "I am so annoyed when I see someone speaking about triggers" is not a trigger.

Comment author: Yvain 24 July 2014 01:05:22AM *  7 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: Viliam_Bur 24 July 2014 08:59:35AM *  3 points [-]

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.

Unfortunately, it's more complicated than this. There are tribes who believe that you should automatically join them... and if you refuse to join them at least partially, for whatever reason (including an explanation that as a matter of principle you ignore such requests from all tribes), then in their eyes you have kinda joined the enemy side. Because there is only their side and the enemy side, and no one can be neutral. Saying "I am neutral" is just a bullshit for "sorry, I have already joined the enemy side, I just want to avoid a direct conflict with you personally". These people are offended by criticizing politics, and will even accuse you of hypocrisy: how can you criticize politics, when your actions (your refusal to join us) make it obvious that you support the enemy side?

An explanation they will give you is probably something like this: In a conflict between a stronger side and a weaker side, a decision to stay neutral is de facto a decision that the stronger side should win. In this metaphor, they are the weaker side, and their perceived enemy is the stronger side; so if you don't join them, you support the enemy.

One thing that doesn't quite fit is this: If you are the weaker side, how is it possible that you come and bully me, and expect me to immediately give up? This doesn't seem like a typical behavior or weaker people surrounded by stronger people. (Possible explanation: This side is locally strong here, for some definition of "here", but the enemy side is stronger globally.)

Comment author: Wei_Dai 24 July 2014 12:26:09AM 1 point [-]

Can anyone suggest a good book, article, or discussion thread about office politics? (Someone keeps coming to me for advice, even though I told them I haven't worked in an office since 2002 and I didn't pay any attention to interpersonal relationships when I did work. I want to try to avoid disappoint them on the powers of rationality and general intelligence, if possible. :)

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 24 July 2014 07:57:30AM *  1 point [-]

This blog provides a cynical view on the workplace: http://michaelochurch.wordpress.com/

I like the cynicism, but I don't know how realistic it is.

Also, there is Stack Exchange: http://workplace.stackexchange.com/

Comment author: AmandaEHouse 24 July 2014 06:09:09AM 0 points [-]

Quick question on karma: why is my score for the past 30 days greater than my total score?

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 24 July 2014 07:50:50AM 0 points [-]

My guess is that the over 200 points you have received recently for writing the article have not yet been added to the "total karma" and an older cached value is displayed instead. If I am correct, then this problem should fix itself in a few days.

(My first suspicion was "someone was mass-downvoting your old comments", but the numbers don't allow this interpretation. At this moment, your total karma is 101, 92% positive, which means you lost at most a dozen points by downvoting, which couldn't explain a drop from 245 to 101.)

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 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: NancyLebovitz 23 July 2014 02:50:23PM 2 points [-]

How is individual happiness bad for society? While people are enjoying sex at their homes, churches and supermarkets are empty.

It's not just that-- I go with Wilhelm Reich in the idea that getting people to give up harmless pleasures is a way of getting more extensive control of them.

Getting people to wear uncomfortable clothes or give up sleep for no good reason is also a way of getting them to overwork or get themselves killed for your purposes.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 23 July 2014 05:11:31PM 0 points [-]

Making people give up sleep is a traditional method of reducing their intelligence, so they are less likely to see through the bullshit or design an escape plan. Every decent cult does this to their new members.

But reducing their attention by uncomfortable clothes -- that's subtle!

Either way, seems to me this is not about pleasure per se, but rather about reducing mental abilities using unpleasant means. There are also pleasant things that reduce mental abilities, such as singing or praying together, though. It would be interesting to have data about how this correlates with the "ban on happiness" -- whether cultures opposed to happiness consistently oppose both "anti-system" and "pro-system" happiness, or whether the ban on "anti-social" happiness is used as a motivation to engage more in the "pro-system" happiness.

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