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Comment author: Duncan_Sabien 01 June 2017 03:03:02AM *  6 points [-]

An excellent post from Slatestarscratchpad that sums up (I think) something like 85% of the fundamental disagreement that's fueling the more heated clashes:

One thing that’s seemed striking to me in this Dragon Army discussion is the priors on different people’s threat assessments.

I remember when I was younger, I used to want to meet my friends from the Internet, and my parents were horrified, and had all of these objections like “What if they’re pedophiles who befriended you so they could molest you?” or “What if they’re kidnappers who befriended you so they could kidnap you?”, or less lurid possibilities like “What if they’re creepy drug people and they insist on bringing you along to their creepy drug abuse sessions and won’t let you say no?”

And I never developed a good plan that countered their concerns, like “I will bring pepper spray so I can defend myself”. It was more about rolling my eyes and telling them that never happened in real life. I’ve now met hundreds of Internet friends, and I was absolutely right - it’s never happened, and any effort I put into developing a plan would have been effort wasted.

I’m not claiming there are no Internet pedophiles or kidnappers. I’m saying that based on my own Internet communities, and my threat-detection abilities, and the base rate, I was pretty sure it was more in the realm of terrorism (the kind of stuff you hear about on the news) than the realm of car accidents (the stuff that happens to real people and that you must be guarding yourself against at every moment).

This is also how I think of people turning out to be abusers. It’s possible that anyone I date could turn out to be an abuser, just like it’s possible I could be killed by a terrorist, but it’s not something likely enough that I’m going to take strong precautions against it. This is obviously a function of my personal situations, but it’s a real function of my personal situation, which like my Internet-friend-meeting has consistently been confirmed over a bunch of different situations.

(Please don’t give me the “that’s just male privilege!” speech; men and women get abused at roughly similar rates. I do think that probably women are socialized to fear abuse much more, and that’s a big part of this, and probably other axes of marginalization contribute more)

One interesting thing about Tumblr and the SJ-sphere in particular is that because it comes disproportionately from marginalized communities, it has this sort of natural prior of “people often turn out to be abusers, every situation has to be made abuser-proof or else it will be a catastrophe”. I once dated someone I knew on Tumblr who did a weird test on me where (sorry, won’t give more details) they deliberately put me in a situation where I could have abused them to see what I would do. When they told me about this months later, I was pretty offended - did I really seem so potentially-abusive that I had to be specifically cleared by some procedure? And people explained to me that there’s this whole other culture where somebody being an abuser is, if not the norm, at least high enough to worry about with everyone.

I’m not sure what percent of the population is more like me vs. more like my date. But I think there’s a failure mode where someone from a high-trust culture starts what they think is a perfectly reasonable institution, and someone from a low-trust culture says “that’s awful, you didn’t make any effort to guard against abusers!”. And then the person from the high-trust culture gets angry, because they’re being accused of being a potential abuser, which to them sounds as silly as being accused of being a potential terrorist. If you told your Muslim friend you wouldn’t hang out with him without some safeguards in case he turned out to be a terrorist, my guess is he’d get pretty upset. At the very least it would engender the “stop wasting my time” reaction I had when my parents made me develop anti-pedophile plans before meeting my Internet friends.

And then the person from the low-trust culture gets angry, because the person has just dismissed out of hand (or even gotten angry about) a common-sense attempt to avoid abuse, and who but an abuser would do something like that?

I think it’s interesting that the Dragon Army idea received more positive feedback or constructive criticism on LW (where it was pitched to, and which is probably culturally more similar to me) and more strongly negative feedback on Tumblr (which is more full of marginalized people and SJ-aligned people, and also maybe more full of abusers as judged by the number who get called out all the time).

Comment author: taygetea 03 June 2017 09:02:11AM 2 points [-]

I think people tend to need a decent amount of evidence before they start talking about someone looking potentially abusive. Then the crux is "does this behavior seem normal or like a predictive red flag?". In those cases, your lived experience directly influences your perception. Someone's actions can seem perfectly fine to most people. But if some others experience spooky hair-raising flashes of their questionably abusive father or a bad ex, that's evidence. The people who didn't think anything was weird brush off the others as oversensitive, risk averse, or paranoid. Then those raising alarms think of everyone else as callous, imperceptive, or malicious. It's not just people who don't alieve the correct base rates. Certainly those people exist, though they're much more plentiful on Tumblr than in person or on LW. It's very non-obvious whether a strong reaction is correct.

Neither side can truly accept the other's arguments. It's a bad situation when both sides consider the other's reasoning compromised beyond repair. That brings politics and accusations of bad faith on all sides. But there is a fact of the matter, and the truth is actually unclear. Anyone thinking at enough of a distance from the issue should have honest uncertainty. I suspect you're particularly prone to refusing to let the conflicting experience of others be seen by your deep internal world-models, to strongly underestimating the validity and reliability of that type of evidence. That would cause what you say to be parsed as bad faith, which other people then respond to in kind. That would cause a positive feedback loop where your prior shifts even further away from them having useful things to say. Then you'd end up a frog boiled in a pot of drama nobody else is experiencing. I'm not sure this is what's happening, but it looks plausible.

Comment author: taygetea 27 May 2017 02:39:10PM *  8 points [-]

This post puts me maybe 50% the way to thinking this is a good idea from my previous position.

My largest qualm about this is well-represented by a pattern you seem to show, which starts with saying "Taking care of yourself always comes first, respect yourself", then getting people to actually act on that in simple, low-risk low-involvement contexts, and assuming that means they'll actually be able to do it when it matters. People can show all the signs of accepting a constructed social norm when that norm is introduced, without that meaningfully implying that they'll use it when push comes to shove. Think about how people act when actual conflicts with large fight/flight/freeze responses interact with self-care norms. I suspect some typical-mind, as my model of you is better at that than most people. I think it depends on what "running on spite" cashes out to. This is kind of a known skull, but I think the proposed solution of check-ins is probably insufficient.

My other big concern is what comments like your reply to Peter here imply about your models and implicit relationship to the project. In this comment, you say you'll revise something, but I pretty strongly anticipate you still wanting people to do the thing the original wording implied. This seems to defuse criticism in dangerous ways, by giving other people the impression that you're updating not just the charter, but your aesthetics. Frankly, you don't seem at all likely to revise your aesthetics. And those, ultimately, determine the true rules.

To summarize the nature of my issues here in a few words: aesthetic intuitions have huge amounts of inertia and can't be treated like normal policy positions, and people's self-care abilities (and stress-noticing abiities) cannot be trusted in high-stress environments, even under light to moderate testing.


Comment author: Stuart_Armstrong 26 December 2016 06:41:48AM 2 points [-]

Cheers :-)

the world felt kind of unsatisfying, though the bar I'm holding it to is exceptionally high-- total coverage of my utility-satisfaction-fun-variety function.

Would you expect to be able to achieve that - maybe eventually - within the world described?

It seems kind of quaintly skeuomorphic. I realize that it's hard to write outside those metaphors though.

It's partially that, and partially indicative of the prudence in the approach. Because a self-modifying human mind could end up almost anywhere in mindspace, I conceived of the Powers going out of their way to connect humans with their "roots". There's the extended "humanish" mindspace, where agents remain moral subjects, but I'm conceiving the majority of people to remain clustered to a smaller space around baseline human (though still a huge mindspace by our standards).

But you're right, I could have been less skeuomorphic (a word to savour). I can only plead that a) it would have meant packing more concepts into a story already over-packed with exposition, and b) I would have had to predict what metaphors and tools people would have come up with within virtual reality, and I'm not sure I'd have come up with convincing or plausible ones (see all those "a day in the life of someone in 50 years time" types of stories).

Comment author: taygetea 26 December 2016 11:52:06AM *  1 point [-]

Would you expect to be able to achieve that - maybe eventually - within the world described?

Definitely. I expect the mindspace part to actually be pretty simple. We can do it in uncontrolled ways right now with dreams and drugs. I guess I kind of meant something like those, only internally consistent and persistent and comprehensible. The part about caring about base reality is the kind of vague, weak preference that I'd probably be willing to temporarily trade away. Toss me somewhere in the physical universe and lock away the memory that someone's keeping an eye on me. That preference may be more load-bearing than I currently understand though, and there may be more preferences like it. I'm sure the Powers could figure it out though.

It's partially that, and partially indicative of the prudence in the approach.

Perfectly understandable. I'd hope for exploration of outer reaches of mindspace in a longer-form version though.

Comment author: taygetea 25 December 2016 09:52:17PM 5 points [-]

This was great. I appreciate that it exists, and I want more stories like it to exist.

As a model for what I'd actually want myself, the world felt kind of unsatisfying, though the bar I'm holding it to is exceptionally high-- total coverage of my utility-satisfaction-fun-variety function. I think I care about doing things in base reality without help or subconscious knowledge of safety. Also, I see a clinging to human mindspace even when unnecessary. Mainly an adherence to certain basic metaphors of living in a physical reality. Things like space and direction and talking and sound and light and places. It seems kind of quaintly skeuomorphic. I realize that it's hard to write outside those metaphors though.

Comment author: taygetea 24 December 2016 06:10:57AM 0 points [-]

This seems very related to Brienne's recent article.

Comment author: Benito 23 December 2016 12:57:55AM *  5 points [-]

Ugh... I get that you wanted to take it upon yourself to name the person, but you could've written this a bit more sensitively. My guess is that the mother will feel pretty awful reading your comment, and also be uber-defensive.

Edit: The comments replying to me seem correct, and I think it's probably more important to positively reinforce you actually stating this.

Comment author: taygetea 23 December 2016 01:20:15AM 4 points [-]

For context, calling her out specifically is extremely rare, people try to be very diplomatic, and there is definitely a major communcation failure Elo is trying to address.

Comment author: gwillen 22 December 2016 07:09:54AM *  1 point [-]

Hm, I did notice a child -- I suspect and presume the same one you mean -- who made a number of loud comments during the performance. (That one couldn't have been Alicorn's, who is too young to make comments.) At least for the comments that happened while I was on stage with choir, I felt like they got a laugh from the audience, and I found the whole thing mildly entertaining. The rest of the time I didn't really notice them well enough to recall details. But I can totally see how they could be distracting and bothersome to others.

I fear, though, that -- if you feel that the event was truly 'ruined' by this -- it may be hard to find sufficient common ground between you and child-havers for both to be happy attending the same event. As a non-child-haver myself (and a non-child-wanter) who doesn't especially dislike children, my suspicion is that you are a significant outlier on the "degree of annoyance" spectrum? But I now find myself interested in data on this.

(EDIT: I just realized that it's possible that the child was much closer to you than to me, so we might have had different experiences that might color my views differently if I were sitting where you were.)

Comment author: taygetea 22 December 2016 07:26:54AM 4 points [-]

Replied above. There's a strong chilling effect on bringing up that you don't want children at events.

Comment author: dropspindle 22 December 2016 06:28:24AM *  15 points [-]

I like having a community that supports children, but at the same time let's not close our eyes to the truth. If there actually is a child screaming throughout Solstice and running around rampant it will, in fact, ruin the experience. I don't know what the Bay Solstice was like, so I don't know if this was really the case or if it's an exaggeration.

Comment author: taygetea 22 December 2016 07:22:46AM 8 points [-]

It was not an exaggeration.

Comment author: Anders_H 22 December 2016 06:00:51AM 6 points [-]

While I understand that some people may feel this way, I very much hope that this sentiment is rare. The presence of young children at the event only adds to the sense of belonging to a community, which is an important part of what we are trying to "borrow" from religions.

Comment author: taygetea 22 December 2016 07:22:12AM 13 points [-]

From what I've seen, it's not rare at all. I count... myself and at least 7 other people who've expressed the sentiment in private across both this year and last year (it happened last year too). It is, however, something that is very difficult for people to speak up about. I think what's going on is that different people care about differing portious of the solstice (community, message, aesthetics, etc) to surprisingly differing degrees, may have sensory sensitivites or difficulty with multiple audio input streams, and may or may not find children positive to be around in principle. I think this community has far more people for whom noisy children destroy the experience than the base rate of other communities.

From what I've observed, the degree to which children ruin events for certain people is almost completely lost on many others. It's difficult to speak up largely because of sentiments like yours, which make it feel like people will think that I'm going against the idea of the community. For me, and I don't think I'm exceptionally sensitive, I think it removes between a third and half of the value of going to the event.

Comment author: JonahSinick 21 December 2016 04:32:49AM 4 points [-]

What I had in mind was that the apparent low average conscientiousness in the Bay Area might have been one of the cultural factors that drew rationalists who are involved in the in-person community to the location. But of course the interpretation that you raise is also a possibility.

Comment author: taygetea 21 December 2016 07:20:14AM 0 points [-]

Ah, I spoke imprecisely. I meant what you said, as opposed to things of the form "there's something in the water".

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