If it's worth saying, but not worth its own post, even in Discussion, it goes here.

New Comment
377 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 4:38 AM
Some comments are truncated due to high volume. (⌘F to expand all)Change truncation settings

I've been reading the sequences and the front-page posts for about six months and participating in the irc channel for a little bit less time than that, but I haven't made an account until now. I offer my apologies in advance if this is in the wrong place. My intuition says this would do better as its own post, but alas, I do not have the necessary karma.

I should mention that there's some hateful (specifically transphobic) content later in this post. If you think you'll be upset by this, you might want to stop reading here.

So, #lesswrong is kind of an unfriendly place. I've been calling attention to racist and sexist remarks when I see them and can work up the nerve, but it could be a lot better. I'd paste some examples of these, but I don't save logs from all conversations. It's not uncommon to do so, so I'm sure someone has the ability to grep a few choice words and come up with some examples. I should also mention that I'm white and male, so I probably don't notice a lot of hate that I should.

I'm queer, though, and I identify tentatively as genderqueer, so I noticed this:

[Tue Nov  6 2012]
<Algo> ivan: Someone just told me... "well... having their food
labeled as GMO 
... (read more)

This is concerning. I am concerned. We have a bunch of transpeople hereabouts.

I realize that, which is why I avoid anything to do with transexuals on LW: I won't defend my feelings since I know perfectly well that objectively there is no reason to dislike such people, but my feelings exist anyway and mean that anything I might write on the topic is fruit of a poisoned tree. IRC, on the other hand, is ephemeral and officially not publicly logged so I don't put as much of a filter on my stream of consciousness. Finally, I want to point out that I really don't bring up the topic very often either in absolute numbers or as a percentage of my IRC comments, with 2 mentions in 2 or 3 days being an exception. Since while the channel is not publicly logged, I do keep private logs, I can substantiate this: $ head -n1 .irssi/irclogs/freenode/#lesswrong.log Log opened Sat Sep 25 10:12:30 2010 $ grep 'gwern>' .irssi/irclogs/freenode/#lesswrong.log | wc --lines 115,700 $ grep -e transexual -e trannie -e "trans " .irssi/irclogs/freenode/#lesswrong.log | wc --lines 79 $ grep -e transexual -e trannie -e "trans " .irssi/irclogs/freenode/#lesswrong.log |g 'gwern>' 16:23 < gwern> chelz: it is an obvious prediction to check, although I wouldn't want to compare the trannies to regular hetero males 16:27 < gwern> chelz: well, that's why I suggest comparing transexuals on testosterone suppressors and estrogen to those not on; they will hopefully both be equally oppressed, and the hormone difference will be reflected in how big a cut they take = 22:31 < gwern> now with 23% less gwern, but 40% more trans fats = 13:15 < gwern> (or maybe not. I don't actually know the details of transexual's equipment.) = 14:52 < gwern> shminux: maybe she turned out to be a trannie = 15:16 < gwern> 'One of the most interesting things about the effects of testosterone and trans men is that we have something else to compare it to. Non-trans men do not. And non-trans women do not, which is why I wrote the post “It’s the Testosterone: What Straight Women Should Know.” When I started t

The morally (and socially) appropriate thing to do at this point would be to apologize and pledge not to use that kind of language on IRC in the future, rather than saying "Hey, I don't do it that often" and subtly digging at startling for publishing your abhorrent comments.

It would also be nice to get an acknowledgement that the things you said aren't just innocuous expressions of idiosyncratic preferences. They're examples of the sort of language that has been consistently used to justify and motivate oppression and violence against trans people. Since you recognize that your feelings have no objective justification, your casual transphobia is inexcusable. If you can't get over those feelings, keep them to yourself please.

The morally (and socially) appropriate thing to do at this point would be to apologize and pledge not to use that kind of language on IRC in the future

It would be appropriate to first announce that startling has been banned from the IRC channel until further notice for violating the rather clear privacy agreements. What the folks at #lesswrong decide to do after that about altering or enforcing norms about what may be said on #lesswrong then depends on said people's preferences and any public relations concerns they may have.

My explicit use of "the folks at #lesswrong" above leads me to the more important point: Someone suitably official from here (lesswrong.com) should clearly disavow any affiliation with that IRC channel. As far as I know it is in no way official and is related to lesswrong.com only in as much as some of the users from lesswrong also have accounts there (just as some users from here also participate on RationalWiki). Those times that anything about #lesswrong has bled over to lesswrong.com the impression I've been given of the former is rather unappealing.

(It is probably unenforceable but asking the group politely to rename their channel seems like a wise move and is certainly what I would do were I a lesswrong.com authority!)

Quoting without permission was clearly a mistake, but describing it as a "rather clear privacy agreement" is not particularly apt; Freenode policy on this is written as strong advice rather than "rules" as such, and the channel itself had no clear policy. As it was, it was mostly a social convention violation. I thus have to disagree that an indefinite ban for ignorance of advice or an unwritten policy would be an appropriate or optimum response. What's happened so far- the person being corrected quite sharply here and on the channel, and a clear privacy agreement added to the IRC channel topic for next time- seems like a reasonable remedy. More specifically, the Freenode policy item in question is entitled "If you're considering publishing channel logs, think it through.", the section on constant public logging by the channel staff says "should" throughout, and the bit at the end about quoting publicly as a user ends with "Avoid the temptation to publish or distribute logs without permission in order to portray someone in a bad light. The reputation you save will most likely be your own." rather than stating that it is actually a violation of anything in particular. What is fairly solid Freenode policy, though, is that unofficial channels of things have to use the ## format, and # format is reserved for generally official project channels. I don't know if the Less Wrong site admins and #lesswrong admins overlap, but if hypothetically Less Wrong wanted to disaffiliate #lesswrong, it is actually entirely possible for Less Wrong administrators to force #lesswrong to, at the least, migrate to ##lesswrong or a different IRC network. As a #lesswrong user since I started reading the Sequences originally, though, I don't think this is a good idea. Having a real-time discussion channel is a nice thing for those that benefit from it. The IRC channel, listed on the wiki, was the first place I gravitated towards for discussing LW stuff, preferring it to comments. It is fair
I'd end "indefinite" the moment the offending material was redacted with apologies. Stop breaking the rule, stop being excluded. Continue breaking the rule, stay excluded.
Ah, I see. That makes sense. They weren't actually asked to remove the whole of the quoting, just to remove some unrelated lines, which has been complied with, so there's no unimplemented requests as far as I know. Of course, it might just have not asked for because having it pulled at this point could cause a worse mess than leaving it up, with more reputation damage. Some third party moderator could request it to avoid that issue, but I think at this point the horse is long gone and going to the work of closing the barn door might not be worth it. It'd be reasonable for a hypothetical moderator taking an appropriate action to request they replace the whole thing with a summary, though; that makes sense.

subtly digging at startling for publishing your abhorrent comments.

Alright, since you are complaining about subtlety, I will be blunter; the point of that 'digging' was to say this: by publishing, startling is breaking decades-old IRC traditions and engaged in behavior flatout banned by Freenode rules - even as he quotes them at length for less clear violations - for very good reasons since real-time chat cannot and should not be held to the same high standards like, for example, LW posts or comments; publishing logs is tantamount to recording private conversations or emails and posting them online, which is a violation of their privacy that another IRCer was very upset by and why startling edited his comment. (In a more extreme example of why IRC logs are not public and have different standards than public comments, at least one IRCer has said he fears for his life if his IRC comments were to become known to his countrymen.)

It would also be nice to get an acknowledgement that the things you said aren't just innocuous expressions of idiosyncratic preferences.

I've already said as much.

How exactly should someone bring to other LWers' attention that there's a hostile environment — where some folks can expect that they will be insulted about their bodies, and that such insults will be used as metaphors for random distaste or disliking — happening on IRC under the "Less Wrong" name, without quoting it? Be specific is considered a virtue hereabouts, and vagueness or imprecision a failing.


#lesswrong is not official, is not populated exclusively by LWers, is not frequently discussed here, and if you look on the wiki, you'll see Eliezer specifically recommends against spending time in #lesswrong, so I think it's questionable that it ought to involve LessWrong at all.

Who should it involve? Well, startling was quoting Freenode rules, so Freenode is the obvious party to involve....

Or he could've been clearer and not blindsided me. I had no idea startling was personally offended because none of his comments were anything out of the ordinary for that vein of mock offensive humor - I have made many mock 'homophobic' jokes to papermachine and papermachine sometimes responds back as mock offended, but I do not really think papermachine is offended & despises me as reactionary homophobic scum. (Those jokes are buried in the other 115,000 IRC lines I have written.)

Nor do I expect Alicorn to drop by #lesswrong and mention that papermachine has written a long comment about on LW that I should probably take a look at, which papermachine has not mentioned at all despite being active in IRC at the same time as me that night.

Or he could've been clearer and not blindsided me. I had no idea startling was personally offended because none of his comments were anything out of the ordinary for that vein of mock offensive humor

I suppose one difficulty with that kind of environment is that if someone actually tries to call someone else out for being insulting, it's easy to miss the call-out or mistake it for a joke. In other conversational environments, if someone said "'deceptive' is a pretty terrible word to use for trans people" and "gwern, what a disgusting thing to say," it might have sunk in that they were serious and you wouldn't have later felt blindsided?


In other conversational environments, if someone said "'deceptive' is a pretty terrible word to use for trans people" and "gwern, what a disgusting thing to say," it might have sunk in that they were serious and you wouldn't have later felt blindsided?

Oh sure. For example: if someone says 'what a horrible thing to say' while simultaneously smiling, you would have to have Aspergers or something to not be certain that they were playing along; while if they furrowed their brow and frowned, it might be a good idea to immediately backtrack or alternately make the joke sufficiently outrageous that they'd realize that you couldn't possibly believe that and were joking.

(Definitely one of the disadvantages of IRC, although in general I find it a very congenial environment.)

Sure. On the other hand, someone who's used to being on the receiving end of hateful comments, and who's used to not being taken seriously when they object to them, might pattern-match the same conversation onto that expectation.

It's not uncommon for people to express derision or contempt honestly, then to back off by claiming to have been joking when someone calls them on it and they realize their contempt is not shared. Someone who's used to being the target of that sort of thing may abandon attempts to "be clearer" sooner than you'd prefer, because what's the point?

Simon: No, I didn't mean —
Kaylee: Yeah you did. You meant everything you just said.
Simon: Well, no. Uh, actually I was being ironic, so in in in the strictest sense —
Kaylee: You were being mean, is what. And if that's what you think of this life, then you can't think much of them that choose it, can you.

Huh, that's what emoticons are for.

I had no idea startling was personally offended because none of his comments were anything out of the ordinary for that vein of mock offensive humor

Seriously? You think it's plausible to interpret

gwern, "deceptive" is a pretty terrible word to use for trans people.


gwern, what a disgusting thing to say.

as humorous mock offended responses? How much clearer do you want him to be?


Typically when you want to break out of a language game, you use standard indicators like 'no, seriously' or going to personal messages (as I believe someone has already suggested that startling should've done) or anything like that. Like when you are roughhousing with your brother or sister and they say 'that hurts' and you continue since, well, you're roughhousing, and then they say 'no, seriously, that hurts!' 'Oh, whups!'

There are all sorts of things like that in ordinary social games; although taking things out of context and as literally as possible is a very LW thing to do, so I am not surprised that I am not getting a sympathetic hearing here (although it is enforcing on me an appreciation of Freenode's Guidelines and Ivan's new channel rule that logging or quoting is banworthy).

I really didn't realize this whole thing was a thing -- goes to show how little I've been paying to LW lately. Sorry to dig this up two weeks after the fact, but in the interest of being perfectly clear to any and all parties concerned or concerning themselves: This is also my understanding of those situations. Gwern (or anyone else on #lesswrong, for that matter) has never offended me in this context -- though of course I cannot speak for all homosexuals everywhere, past or future, or in alternate universes.
For those of you who aren't on irc, I realize now that publishing the logs unedited was the wrong thing to do. I've said so, apologized, removed things people have said on request, and am willing to do further. Past that, I don't think it's terribly relevant to this conversation. Sorry, where? As far as I can tell, you've been steadfastly avoiding apologizing or even addressing things at all. All you've said to me is that you think my standard is too high.
Agreed that he shouldn't have published the logs without seeking permission from any of the people involved. I do think it was legitimate (praiseworthy, even) for him to publish your comments without your permission. It is in the interest of this community that behavior of the sort you exhibited be curtailed. You did not respond well to his attempts to convey this to you on the IRC. Bringing this to the attention of the community at large, in the hope that the added pressure will have an impact, seems like an appropriate next step. The violation of privacy is a concern, sure, but in this context it is outweighed by other factors. I mean the violation of your privacy, not the others involved. The violation of their privacy was unnecessary and an unmitigated bad thing, and startling should have been more careful about that, but your bringing that up in response to Alicorn's comment just comes across as petty: "Yeah, but look at what he did!". Here's what I was trying to say: If you genuinely recognized and cared about the negative impact beliefs like yours have had on the lives of trans people, then even if you could not control the fact that you have those beliefs you would refrain from airing them in any public forum, no matter how ephemeral, where there is a non-negligible chance they will be read by trans people or by cis people who know and love trans people. The utility boost you get from posting those comments, if any, is dwarfed by the expected harm. You not only expressed those beliefs, but when startling clearly indicated he found them offensive, you proceeded to double down on them. I was hoping for an acknowledgment that this behavior was extremely ill-considered. The fact that you consider "I don't do it that often and I only do it on IRC" an adequate defense indicates you haven't really acknowledged (to yourself, even) the extent to which your comments differ from innocuous expressions of idiosyncratic preferences like, say, "Rationalists creep me out

Here's what I was trying to say: If you genuinely recognized and cared about the negative impact beliefs like yours have had on the lives of trans people, then even if you could not control the fact that you have those beliefs you would refrain from airing them in any public forum, no matter how ephemeral, where there is a non-negligible chance they will be read by trans people or by cis people who know and love trans people. The utility boost you get from posting those comments, if any, is dwarfed by the expected harm. You not only expressed those beliefs, but when startling clearly indicated he found them offensive, you proceeded to double down on them.

startling was not clear to me, but I have a more important problem with your comments and point of view:

I think you are quite wrong in your claims about utility and it is arrogant of you to presume to know what value I do or do not get out of IRC.

I am hard of hearing; no other medium lets me express myself as fluently or freely or easily or (let's call a spade a spade) thoughtlessly as IRC. That is why I spend so much time there, because LW, email, forums, personal spoken interactions, telephones - all suck for me. My verbal jok... (read more)

You're right, I didn't give sufficient consideration to the benefits you might get from IRC, and I'm sorry about that. I still think what you said about trans people (especially referring to them as "monstrous abortions", even jocularly) is really bad, but if attempting to police that kind of language for yourself would seriously damage the value of IRC as a coping mechanism for you, then it is a more difficult situation than I imagined. Perhaps you could ask a trusted friend who's also a regular on the channel to give you a heads up by PM if what you say gets a little too offensive? I don't know... I do think you're underestimating the extent to which comments of the sort you made are harmful. There are very few communities on the internet (or in real life, for that matter) that are even remotely welcoming to trans people, and I'd like LW to be one of them. But I've said my piece and I'm not going to push it. Sorry for getting too fighty. I should have appreciated that you feel a little blindsided and that piling on doesn't help.

It's OK. There's no reason you should've known I was hard of hearing or appreciate how much I get out of IRC, before I bared my heart. That's a good suggestion, but I can't think of any. startling and Algo are the only 2 to express offense in the quoted conversations but I neither trust nor distrust them as guides.
This careful reconsideration of the subject, subsequent apology, and declaration of an intent to change your behavior are admirable - and a bit ironic, in this situation.

This seems like a red herring to me. Fine, IRC gives you the same kind of socialization opportunities that most people can get in meatspace, which you can't get there, and so losing it would be particularly painful. But nobody is suggesting that you should lose it that I've seen; all you're being asked to do is apply the same sorts of filters that people are expected to apply in any public social situation, or as pragmatist said, "any public forum".

I cannot surgically excise the part of me that has issues with transexuals

In all sincerity: How hard have you tried?


About as hard as dealing with homosexuals; but that one worked much better.

Can you say more about this process? I'm just wondering if there exists some relatively low-effort way to outright fix the discomfort; that seems like it would be the best solution all around.

I'm not really comfortable discussing since it's a mix of holier-than-thou claiming ('I'm less homophobic than thou, my reader'), anecdotage, and whatever, but since you asked...

I was fortunate enough to have a gay friend, and you know what, I'll analogize it to when I went skydiving for the first time: as I sat there in the plane going up next to my tandem guy, I could feel my left thigh tensing up repeatedly and expressing my suppressed fear about jumping out of an airplane and falling thousands of feet through empty air, and I thought repeatedly to myself about how much I wanted to go skydiving and how this facility had never had a fatality and it was a beautiful day out and how the plane was full of people who were also going to jump out and how my tandem was a pro who jumped multiple times a day and probably didn't want to die either so there was absolutely nothing to fear or be bothered by since I would definitely not die or be hurt significantly. And the jump itself was a crazy-awesome experience which totally vindicated my predictions and desire.

Hanging out with the friend and dealing with the small issue was like that, minus the crazy-awesome part, and spread out over much more time.

Shouldn't you be looking for a trans friend, then?
I am somewhat sympathetic to the idea that if you need active filtering not to say awful things then you should fix that or be socially punished for it. Think "white people trying very hard and very obviously not to look racist". I don't think you said anything particularly horrible. You are clearly underinformed about transsexuality (e.g. your equal oppression assumption), and the less-than-nice things you said most likely stem from that. I will now alienate the social justice blogosphere by saying that you do not have a duty to drop everything else until you are adequately informed. I do believe that you should learn the 30-second version: * "Tranny" is, as Alicorn said, a (somewhat mild) slur. I'm not sure how much filtering it requires to stop using it, but I'd be surprised it it were an unreasonable demand. * Other slurs include "shemale" (extreme slur), "hermaphrodite", and any pronoun or combination of pronouns other that those used by the person. * For your purposes, a trans woman is and has always been completely a woman from the moment of conception, and her life as a boy was due to parental error (ditto for men and non-binaries). Failure to completely alieve that is a faulty intuition on your part. * There are a lot of stereotypes about transpeople. You cannot be reasonably expected to never propagate them. It is considered good form to say "Whoops, sorry" when they're pointed out to you. Hey, is that a Japanese cross-sex-reincarnation compersion song? Awesome.

a trans woman is and has always been completely a woman from the moment of conception, and her life as a boy was due to parental error (ditto for men and non-binaries). Failure to completely alieve that is a faulty intuition on your part.

This seems to me like an empirical question open to serious doubt. I certainly agree that people should be referred to by their preferred pronouns, that failing to do so is considered extremely rude, and that this social norm still seems like a good idea after thinking about it carefully, such that we shouldn't hesitate to shame people who willfully violate it. But to insist on editing our descriptions of the past in order to fit the categories people belong to now just seems inaccurate, unless it's actually the case that gender identity is innate and immutable in almost all instances, and I just don't think that's true.

For example, I don't think we actually know what the demand curve for sex changes looks like: there are at least some people who frequently or occasionally fantasize about being the other sex, or non-binary, but don't want it desperately enough to actually do anything about it given the constraints of currently existing medical t... (read more)

Well obviously it is false as a matter of fact. Anyone who does the slightest bit of research about transition finds a zillion cis(-ish) people who question their gender for any person who commits to transitioning, gender fluidity, effects of socialization, and a mountain of doubts and steps backwards in every trans person but the most poster-childish. Anyone who digs a bit deeper will find heavy philosophizing and introspection about how there is no "deep down" for gender or any other identity, the social construction of gender, the weird hangups and questioning about each step of social or medical transition, the hard choices between ideal gender expression and social pressure that makes the notion of real identity meaningless, and a bunch of people who detransition and sometimes kill themselves.

But someone who does not want to the research, and would even prefer to stop thinking about the creepy stuff as quickly as possible, is going to need a simplistic caricature, preferably one that doesn't take apart the concept of little neat gender boxes at all. A mainstream one is "A man decides he'd rather be a woman, and becomes one". (Another is "A man decides ... (read more)

I understand that some people don't model themselves as being sufficiently agentlike to admit that their major life choices were in fact choices; it's certainly politically convenient to claim to have an immutable innate identity that everyone needs to respect. But other people who do model themselves as agents---sometimes even genuinely dysphoric people who might partially understand a little bit of what you're going through!---might have an interest in defending social norms that let them describe their model of reality in non-contrived ways, even if that occasionally hurts some people's feelings. You can and should edit your body and social presentation if that's what you want to do. You cannot edit other people's models of reality, and people might push back if you try to shame them into doing so.
We have some idea, actually, insofar as the number of trans people who get GRS is much smaller than the number of total trans people (the procedures are quite costly, often not covered or completely covered by health care providers, seldom available without travelling long distances and rarely performed on patients less than 18 years of age, or with certain medical contraindications). The number of people who've actually had SRS serves as a very crude lower limit against which you can check other numbers and get some idea of prevalence.

For your purposes, a trans woman is and has always been completely a woman from the moment of conception, and her life as a boy was due to parental error (ditto for men and non-binaries). Failure to completely alieve that is a faulty intuition on your part.

I find this comment much more damaging than anything else I've seen on LW this month. Probably ever. It is one thing to create a tolerant environment. It is quite another to demand that people rewrite their aliefs. I do have purposes and I refuse to subjugate them to yours.

This defensiveness is uncalled for. Compare:

For your purposes, the glass floor on the Grand Canyon Skywalk is completely safe to walk on, and the appearance of imminent falling is due to your sensory system not completely understanding how glass works. Failure to completely alieve that is a faulty intuition on your part.

There would be no need for anyone to cry "subjugation to others' purposes" if someone said that. The Grand Canyon Skywalk is safe to walk on; your aliefs aren't going to cooperate; if you can edit them, it makes sense to do so, but at any rate you shouldn't act like you believe that it's unsafe, for example by forcibly preventing loved ones from walking on the glass floor.

No one has ever prefaced such a statement with "for your purposes." There is a reason for that.

No one has ever prefaced such a statement with "for your purposes." There is a reason for that.

It actually occurs fairly often. A good reason to prefix such a statement with "for your purposes", is to indicate that modelling a statement as true is effective for achieving your purposes, without getting into a more complex discussion of whether it actually is true or not.

For example, "for your purposes, the movement of objects is described by Newtonian physics". The statement after "for your purposes" is ill-defined (what exactly does 'described' mean?) as an actual claim about the universe, but the sentence as a whole is a useful empirical and falsifiable statement, saying that you can assume Newtonian physics are accurate enough for whatever you're currently doing.

As a second example, it might be true to say to an individual walker arriving at a bridge, "for your purposes, the bridge is safe to walk over", while for the purposes of a parade organiser, they cannot simply model the bridge as safe to walk over, but may need to consider weight tolerances and think in terms of more precise statements about what the bridge can support.... (read more)

What I'm trying to do is to say that (with the "for your purposes") to the tourist, then turn to the engineer and say "And for your purposes, the glass floor is ridiculously unsafe and brittle, and possibly actively malicious, and your job is to prevent it from killing people". See my reply to Zack.

I find this comment much more damaging than anything else I've seen on LW this month. Probably ever. It is one thing to create a tolerant environment. It is quite another to demand that people rewrite their aliefs. I do have purposes and I refuse to subjugate them to yours.

On a blog dedicated to refining the art of human rationality, where it is a widely-shared normative belief that human aliefs are frequently irrational to the detriment of the person holding them and moreover to net negative effect on the things we value in the world...telling someone that an alief which leads to repeated, harmful behavior and an inability to socially interact with some meaningful percentage of other members of the site (coupled with a high probability of incidentally causing them harm or stress indirectly as a result of that alief's influence on their actions) is mistaken, is more damaging than anything else you've seen here lately?



I'll keep those terminological points in mind. Shortness and brevity is a virtue for a word, but 'trans' is shorter than 'trannie' or 'tranny' so that would work while apparently not being offensive. Well, that video is something alright... Vocaloid is actually a bit relevant to discussions of moderation/censorship - because there's essentially no filter on the music/video host NND and making Vocaloid songs or videos is open to anyone who wants to, you get plenty of poor quality or offensive videos (sexism, homosexual stereotyping, ethnocentrism) but you also get all sorts of bafflingly idiosyncratic or strange or unique gems. (To give a memorable example, a few days ago I was watching a pair of BDSM-themed songs pairing Miku as top and Luka as bottom, each song giving one's perspective, with the usual cute drawings and short animation. Not one's usual fare.)
Quoth Gwern: How is that anything other than premeditated and malicious, deliberate bigotry? Gwern's said he knows he has issues with trans people, so the idea that he just didn't get the connotations here or how it would sound to someone who doesn't share his feelings doesn't apply. And he said it in a public venue without even bothering to feel his audience out, again, apparently in the knowledge that he has specific issues with the group in question, which means he was pretty confident that it was safe to do (and judging by the degree to which he's managed to shift focus onto starling's publishing of IRC logs and otherwise dodge the actual issue, he seems to have been right). If that's not horrible (in an everyday, pedestrian sort of way -- the kind of horrible that doesn't even vaguely imply par with $MindkillingHistoricalFigure but does imply the person shouldn't exactly be surprised that other people think they're a bit of a shithead), then what is?

Well, I am a weird fruit.

There's something... dissonant... about putting gwern on trial and deliberating on whether he's guilty of second-degree shitheadedness. It doesn't sound like the right question to ask; gwern has explained how the inside of his head works, and I've given advice for not acting like a dick taking his explanations into account. I don't see the point of determining which mean names he should be called, even for the purpose of social punishment.

I'm confused by the ethics of inner prejudice. I would certainly prefer gwern not to need to control himself to be decent to transpeople, and barring that I would prefer him to control himself 24/7 without going wonky in the head. But since that is not to be, what are we supposed to do? Boycott his statistical analysis of Harry Potter fanfic?

That'd be another point missed. I am not interested in a ritual condemnation of gwern, or advocating for it (or chastising you for failing to advocate for it). I am a bit confused at what exactly your standards are, such that the behavior described (do you feel my description is inaccurate?) doesn't get to be fairly described in such terms. Then why did you ask it, and answer in the negative, by stating Gwern hadn't done anything horrible? Isn't that intrinsically subjective? Why the need to defend the behavior as something no reasonable person could take issue with? That's what I'm getting at here. Not go out of your way to absolve him of it either? This isn't like, a ravening mob with pitchforks and torches calling for Gwern's blood. Your options are not limited to a choice between offering sanctuary and tossing him to the wolves, and it's kind of scary that you appear to view it that way.

The morally (and socially) appropriate thing to do at this point would be to apologize and pledge not to use that kind of language on IRC in the future, rather than saying "Hey, I don't do it that often" and subtly digging at startling for publishing your abhorrent comments.

It's not clear to me this is the case. It was inappropriate to publish the logs publicly, rather than pursuing a private resolution (by messaging gwern, a moderator of the channel, or so on) or asking about the issue in general terms, and seems generally unhelpful to claim that gwern intended to provoke the author of the great-great-grandparent.

I agree with you that now that the logs have been published, apologizing and pledging is more transfriendly than not, but it may be better for gwern's reputation in general to point out that this is an isolated incident, rather than a trend (which apologizing is evidence for). I should note that the question of whether or not to apologize and the question of whether or not to publish logs are distinct, and that I am unsure about the right choice for gwern on the first (but would personally apologize) and agree with him on the second.

I suspect a contributor to... (read more)

I remember watching a Newsnight debate between a reporter from the now-defunct News of the World and the reporter from the Guardian who revealed the extent of the NotW phone-hacking scandal. The NotW reporter kept accusing the Guardian guy of shoddy journalism for getting two facts about the story wrong, even though the vast majority of the story was uncontested. This struck me as contemptible, not because the accusations were incorrect, but because they were clearly motivated by pique at being called out (and perhaps a desire for deflecting the issue) rather than genuine concern about the quality of journalism. I wouldn't have minded, in fact I would have been appreciative, if someone not involved with the scandal had pointed out the Guardian's mistakes.

I got the same sense reading gwern's response. Perhaps startling shouldn't have published those logs -- in fact, he certainly shouldn't have published them in their original form -- but hearing that from gwern as a response, in lieu of any serious demonstration of regret or contrition, struck me as contemptible (to be clear, I find the action comptemptible; I still have fairly high, though much diminished, regard for gwern). So fro... (read more)

I agree with much of the sense you got, but I think there is a genuine question as to whether making unfriendly comments about transfolk in an irc channel or posting the logs of an irc channel without permission is a more serious breach of norms. I should be a bit clearer- apologizing requires acknowledging that the event occurred, which is stronger evidence for the trend than apologizing is evidence against it (if apologizing is even evidence against). Denying or belittling complaints is a fairly common status-protection impulse, as in many situations agreeing with complaints is status-lowering. One of the reasons it's beneficial to raise issues as privately as possible is because that puts as little of the other person's status on the line as possible, and makes it easier to resolve any interpretational disagreements. In this particular situation, someone mentioned that the channel is an unfriendly place, and then posted comments by a specific user that are unfriendly. How likely is it that the user has made other, similar unfriendly comments? As it turns out, gwern keeps logs, and was able to substantiate the claim that those were basically isolated incidents. For the apology to be specific, the apology has to be specific: instead of gwern publicly repenting for all unkind things he's even said about transfolk in an LW open thread, it's gwern acknowledging in front of the original audience that, yeah, that joke was ill done. I am of mixed opinion on this; I think that LW should not welcome some behavior, and I pretty confidently include moralization as a behavior that should not be welcomed. There are times and places where honesty is more appropriate than reticence. The emphasis placed here on rationality and correctness has the cost of making it less friendly than if we did not have those focuses. That said, I think that friendliness is generally good, and would like to see more of it, and would like to take actions that increase it at acceptable cost. You

I am of mixed opinion on this; I think that LW should not welcome some behavior, and I pretty confidently include moralization as a behavior that should not be welcomed. There are times and places where honesty is more appropriate than reticence. The emphasis placed here on rationality and correctness has the cost of making it less friendly than if we did not have those focuses. That said, I think that friendliness is generally good, and would like to see more of it, and would like to take actions that increase it at acceptable cost.

I agree. Furthermore, while I'm not an expert on irc culture I have the impression that it is meant to be a place were people can talk without worrying too much about the consequences of their words, thus freeing them from a significant psychological cost. I see this as a related, but separate concern and think it is reasonable for the two to stack when it comes to the LW irc channel. Basically, I don't approve a Gwern's comments per se., but think it is a reasonable social norm for people able to 'get away with' that sort of speech in LW irc channel.

I am of mixed opinion on this; I think that LW should not welcome some behavior, and I pretty confidently include moralization as a behavior that should not be welcomed. There are times and places where honesty is more appropriate than reticence. The emphasis placed here on rationality and correctness has the cost of making it less friendly than if we did not have those focuses. That said, I think that friendliness is generally good, and would like to see more of it, and would like to take actions that increase it at acceptable cost.

I'm not sure what you mean by "moralization". The word has a connotation of disingenuousness, I think, and if that was intended then I dispute that it is an apt characterization of what I have said on this thread. If all you mean by "moralization" is "making moral judgments", then I'm not sure why concern for honesty, rationality or correctness would conflict with moralization. My interpretation of your claim is that if users believe that expressing their controversial beliefs will lead to moral condemnation from other users, they will refrain from expressing those beliefs and that is a net loss to the community. But mor... (read more)

That is mostly what I mean as moralization. Moral beliefs seem more difficult to discuss, and especially more difficult to productively disagree with, than normal beliefs; rather than operating in the realm of expected values, they operate in the realm of trumps.
I appreciate the ombudsman sentiment -- it certainly would have helped if something like that had existed.
I'm glad you appreciate it! And, also, since no one's said it yet, welcome! We're glad to have you. There's an intro thread over here where you can tell us about yourself.
"The morally (and socially) appropriate thing to do" would be to learn the difference between a chat and a public forum before jumping to hasty conclusions.
The conclusions drawn, while erroneous, were erroneous for reasons unrelated to the difference between an IRC channel and a public forum. They were not wrong to think that they were being insulted because they were wrong to post logs. Strongly establishing that they made an error in quoting from the channel here does not establish that their issue is groundless. Conflation of issues like this is exactly why it is normally a faux pas to mention errors by a person unrelated to their complaint when responding to it, and bring them up separately. Edit: To be more specific about the conflation I'm pointing at... the "hasty conclusions" they came to are not made less plausible by knowing about the "difference between a chat and a public forum". Knowing that quoting is not socially normal does not make the conclusion "the things said were serious insults and there are unfriendly social norms here" less likely. That lack of knowledge thus does not invalidate the conclusion, or the presence of issues or mistakes leading them to that conclusion. Edit 2: And to be more specific about why this matters... it's a claim which doesn't actually make any sense which is a snappy comeback. It's not actually a rebuttal to what it's replying to, because they don't conflict, seeing as they're talking about moral/socially correct actions for different people, but it takes the form of one, carrying negative signals about what it replies to which it doesn't actually justify. It also conveys substantial negative connotations towards the person complaining, and rhetoric running people down isn't nice. It not making sense is a thing which should be noticed, so it can be deliberately discounted.
Sorry, I don't understand. Is #lesswrong a private chatroom?
No. IRC supports invite-only channels (and anyone can create one), but #lesswrong is not one.
I would say that if you don't want to be thought of as the sort of person who propagates odious bullshit, the very first thing to do would be not to propagate odious bullshit, not to complain that the person who called you out on propagating odious bullshit didn't touch third base. But perhaps that's just me.
You should probably be aware that "tranny" is frequently interpreted as a slur.
I think the shortest benign and obvious replacement I've seen is "transfolk;" "trans*" is shorter but not nearly as clear. Are there other replacements you would recommend?

As a trans person: Use trans as an adjective, and with about the same heuristics you would for noting some other aspect of a person.

"Cindy is a tall woman" is socially-comfy if it's relevant that Cindy is tall. If you always refer to Cindy as a "tall woman" specifically, omitting opportunities to drop the adjective or including it even where it's not obviously pertinent information, it usually comes across as awkward. If you emphasize it or bring it up pretty much at random even in situations where it's clearly not relevant, people begin to notice the unusual emphasis you place on it and wonder if there's some reason you're doing it: Does Vaniver dislike tall women for some reason? Or find the idea so difficult to take at face value, when paired with the more obvious, mundane, un-adjectived noun that they cannot not notice it? The difference is that since most cis people don't know anyone who's trans and aren't reliably given the cultural context for understanding and including us in their "just folks" category, the fact that someone is trans can seem disproportionately interesting or relevant. Your best bet is to counter for that -- not necessarily ignoring that someone is trans, but not calling special attention to it either.

Different people also have different preferences, of course, but it tends to signal casual acceptance and respect for trans folk to a pretty thorough extent.

Sure. To make the purpose of the grandparent comment more explicit: I find that adding object-level positive examples to my suggestions makes people more likely to act on them. If all someone knows is that tranny is a slur, and they want to refer to trans people in general, then tranny is still the most available word. They have to choose in the moment between making their point conveniently and impolitely or spending time determining how to make that point politely (maybe 'people who are trans'? Yeesh, that's so long). Giving them a tool- "instead of using tranny, why not use 'transfolk'?" that respects their concerns (it's hopefully intelligible to outsiders, about as short, memorable, and they have another person's judgment that it's not likely to be considered a slur) signals mutual understanding and is more useful to them.
Except some fair portion of trans people do find it alienating and weird when it's affixed to the word like that. "Use 'trans' like you'd use the words "tall" or "blonde" to describe somebody" doesn't have nearly as wide an exceptional case and it's also very easy to remember.
What, really? I have never seen this. Why? Who?
Well, m'self for one. Any number of other trans people I've met in person and online. As for the why: one of the really core issues trans people face is invalidation of our identities, both overt and subtle. Marking us off as "other" in situations where it's not relevant is a part of that -- even non-bigoted folks often consciously or subconsciously perceive us as not really who we claim to be, and while they don't wish to antagonize us directly, they can't quite bring themselves to take our claims of being men or women at face value, at par with those of cis people. (Not even getting to what nonbinary folks face there.) One thing some of us have observed is that using "trans-" as a prefix is a way to keep us comfortably-other, mostly in a subconscious way. Would you expect to ever see someone regularly and preferentially referring to Alice as a blondewoman, or Sally as a fatwoman, or Cheryl as a blackwoman? Not barring some kind of long-term shift in colloquial English use. Basically, for some trans folks "transwoman" and "transman" just come off as fenced off from "woman" and "man" in a way that amounts to a sort of compromise, one we aren't comfy with. This is not universal; even for people who have that pet peeve, it's not something they always bring up at every juncture, but it's probably worthwhile to know about.
But the term that was suggested in the ancestor to which you objected was "transfolk". I can see - barely - the issue with "transman" and "transwoman", but I don't comprehend the implied extension to "transfolk".
Not sure I have the energy at this point. Trying to explain stuff like this in a space like this feels a bit like whispering into a tornado.
Further thought, now in relevant quote form (translate as appropriate): "There are the occasions that men—intellectual men, clever men, engaged men—insist on playing devil’s advocate, desirous of a debate on some aspect of feminist theory or reproductive rights or some other subject generally filed under the heading: Women’s Issues. These intellectual, clever, engaged men want to endlessly probe my argument for weaknesses, want to wrestle over details, want to argue just for fun—and they wonder, these intellectual, clever, engaged men, why my voice keeps raising and why my face is flushed and why, after an hour of fighting my corner, hot tears burn the corners of my eyes. Why do you have to take this stuff so personally? ask the intellectual, clever, and engaged men, who have never considered that the content of the abstract exercise that’s so much fun for them is the stuff of my life."
I am not arguing for fun, I don't think I'm being some kind of intellectual bully - but I object to constraining my speech for reasons I do not understand.
I never found that one convincing. Clever arguing for fun seems to be a personality trait much more than a function of topic. I know I've toyed with the stuff of my life until my interlocutor with no stakes blew their top.
One of the interesting sub-issues here is whether one naturalizes gender or regards it as a construct. That is, a person might defend their right to be regarded as female or male despite their birth anatomy, on the grounds that this has always been their true gender; or they might defend it on the grounds that gender is a person's choice. I see much greater cultural receptivity to the first idea, and yet I also see fantasy, socialization, and escape from contingent gender norms playing a large role in why people want to transition.
I'm not quite sure what you're pointing at, but suffice it to say, the dialogue around this is skewed by history: recognition of trans people as a distinct group (in the West) was pretty much driven by the psychiatric system, and controlled by gatekeepers who basically had veto authority over whether you'd get access to support, hormones and surgery. These gatekeepers used their own personal aesthetics to filter patients, often in very blatant ways ("could I see myself being attracted to this person if they were presenting en femme", as an example); their theories and inside jargon also became the basis for what they told patients was going on with them, and what they felt constituted evidence of that. The trans communities with seniority and connections mostly date back to this. They used to have nearly absolute power to shape the dialogue; that changed by and by, with the internet as a resource for gathering and talking, but the fingerprints of that period are still all over trans communities on and offline. There's a generation gap effect; on one side you get mostly trans folks who remember those days directly and are much more likely to conceive of their identity in such terms, and on the other side you have a big scattering of various ideas about and attitudes to transition, facilitated imperfectly by medical practitioners who take a more pragmatic, nuanced line about the issue.
I sometimes say "transpersons", but "transfolk" or just "trans people" is probably the best thing.
If you were trying to avoid anything to do with it, why would you make transphobic comments apropos of nothing in unrelated discussions? That's either not trying very hard at all, or failing really spectacularly despite one's efforts. When I'm genuinely trying to avoid a topic -- as opposed to merely claim avoidance for signalling reasons while actually wantiing to broach it in conversation -- it doesn't tend to suddenly crop up in the most random of places, unbidden, in crowds that haven't been preselected for a willingness to hear it.
Without getting into whether you should be publishing IRC logs, I'll just note that people are very apt to remember insults. This means that unless you want to hurt the people you're insulting, you should avoid insults even in ephemeral media.
This is just so utterly over the top I'm mystified that it was taken as anything but ritual insulting for the purpose of bonding/hazing in an informal group. This kind of thing in formal circumstances looks incredibly bad, but that's just it the circumstances aren't formal. These kind of misunderstanding of social norms are easy to stumble into. Maybe a link to an extensive argument in favour of hazing and joke insults among social equals should be put up to avoid this in the future? I find it kind of funny that the LessWrong site's active users are less racially diverse and have a smaller share of women than the active users and regulars of the unofficial IRC channel yet "sexist" and "racist" jokes on it are also ominously referenced. Related: Everyones A Little Bit Racist.

This is just so utterly over the top I'm mystified that it was taken as anything but ritual insulting for the purpose of bonding/hazing in an informal group.

You've been lucky to avoid seeing jokes like this more often when moving around the Internet, then. Over the top jokes at the expense of minority groups are popular when representing actual opinions, not just as jokes to people you already know, particularly in communities where those opinions are accepted norms and the group in question is an acceptable target. The desire to score points often leads to gross caricatures of such acceptable targets being thrown around. It's repugnant, but not that unusual. I've seen plenty of worse things said about gay people when trawling things.

To anyone who knows that these opinions aren't actually accepted norms, from time spent in #lesswrong, they're obvious jokes. But for a fairly new arrival, in the absence of this knowledge, and possibly with more experience of genuinely unpleasant communities, it's not an unreasonable interpretation.

Hahaha no. That wasn't a "hazing ritual". Not even slightly.
Downvoted for drama-queening. I have previously participated in forums which had supplementary IRC channels. In all cases it was expressly stated that airing a chat drama in a public forum is a bannable offense on the forum. This is a purely consequentialist approach. People filter what they say in private much less than what they say in public, so misunderstandings happen and tempers flare, then settle, usually just as quickly. Dragging an issue to a public forum makes it last much longer than warranted, drags in people who lack context and are unfamiliar with IRC dynamics and generally makes the forum a worse place. An extreme case: what if everything you say was logged and someone with a grudge could make some particularly unflattering snippets accessible to the general public? So, if you have issues with gwern or someone else on #lesswrong, PM him and talk it over, or do it in the channel, not here, where people unfamiliar with the situation get "concerned" and request an apology.

Dragging an issue to a public forum makes it last much longer than warranted

Contrary hypothesis: Stuffing an issue back into the closet, and shaming people for seeking help, makes problems last much longer than otherwise. What kind of evidence would lead us to favor one hypothesis over the other?

Also: "Drama" is just people being upset. Telling people they're bad for expressing their upset means that problems don't get fixed. Maintaining an illusion that everything is perfectly all right, when actually people are upset but disallowed from complaining, does not seem to be a recipe for a healthy community. It also seems to be a recipe for developing false beliefs about how happy the community is, on the part of the people who are causing the unhappiness. For instance, they may mistakenly come to believe that upset people are joking, nonserious, or unimportant.

It's not a contrary hypothesis, I never suggested "Stuffing an issue back into the closet", as you can read right there in my comment: Feel free to read my comment again, now without the desire to strawman it.
Hmm ... if you think "stuffing an issue back into the closet" is unfair, what do you think of "drama-queening" in retrospect? The former was intended as an echo of the latter, including the — rather odd, considering the topic — undertones.
Drama-queening in this case is complaining loudly to an inappropriate audience and escalating the issue out of proportion. A simple private message to gwern would have cleared things up pretty quickly.

It's true that with all the information available now, a simple private message would have cleared it up. It's also true, though, that with all the information available now, simply not saying those specific lines would have avoided the whole issue in the first place. It was not realistic to expect either party to have known that at the time.

It isn't reasonable to expect someone who feels they have been insulted, and who has already responded in public with complaints like "what a disgusting thing to say", and observed everyone fail to care, to go PM the person- the very high status person- with a direct complaint. As far as they're concerned, they already tried complaining and the person didn't care. There would be no reason for them to expect this to be productive, and it would likely feel very intimidating. No one in the channel seemed a reasonable source for help; the operators were presumably fine with it, gwern being one of them.

Considering the situation myself, with the knowledge that one would actually have in the situation, the only reasonable alternative to asking for help on Less Wrong itself is leaving the channel, and we should be glad they didn't take that o... (read more)

FWIW, my line of thinking there was 'Grognor says his aggression has disappeared; testosterone is popularly associated with aggression (even though my old post on testosterone quotes some material suggesting this is partially due to cultural expectations), so that can't be it, but the opposite of testosterone is estrogen'; a line later, 'in my search for funnier and more exotic explanations for Grognor being less misanthropic than usual, why would Grognor be taking estrogen? Oh, transexuals.'
Well, there goes whatever respect I had for this "gwern" fellow; at least regarding topics involving gender. Good to know these things, I guess. Upvoted.

The "recent wiki edits" sidebar feels pretty useless since it seems to hardly ever display anything that isn't spammer activity.

When someone offers me a favor (say, letting me sleep over) how to I distinguish between:

  • They would personally enjoy carrying out the favor. (Maybe they enjoy my company or something).
  • They wouldn't enjoy carrying out the favor, but they care about my well-being. (They're willing to make a sacrifice on my behalf).
  • They don't care about me and are hoping I turn down the favor. (Maybe they feel socially obligated to offer).
  • They're not actually offering at all. (They're just saying something that naively sounds like an offer, but they expect me to know that it isn't really).

Literature recommendations welcomed.

The first can often be distinguished from the latter two and sometimes from the second by talking as-though-idly to the person about your alternatives. ("But if I stay home, I can go see that movie with my sister on Tuesday." "On the other hand, the hotel has a pool.") They can then say positive things about the alternatives, which is your cue to go with one of those.

This doesn't work if you have no alternatives or your alternatives are all so terrible that there is nothing plausibly good about them - if you do that in that case you sound passive-aggressive ("Or I suppose I could just sleep in my car", "Well, I could crash with my cousin in Albuquerque if I were willing to get rid of my beloved cat").

IME, there's no one way; cultures vary. My preferred method is to ask "hypothetically, if you didn't actually want to do that, is there any way I could find that out?" The reason I prefer this is because the people it works with are generally people I get along with more generally, and over the decades my life has been improved by accumulating such people within it. That said, it fails often, and sometimes dramatically.
It depends on where they come from. (Ask culture vs Guess culture, etc.) If you don't know, try asking “Are you sure it wouldn't inconvenience you? I could also find a hostel nearby” or something.
2Paul Crowley11y
I really wouldn't say that, at least not in that way. It will generally be heard as "Please provide more reassurance that it won't inconvenience you". If I've offered something and am thinking better of it, there's still no way to respond to "are you sure that's OK" with anything other than "yes, I'm sure that's OK", and I resent it all the more for being forced to say that. Alicorn's suggestion is good.

http://www.bmj.com/content/331/7514/433 ("I heard you like publication bias")

"We restricted the search to publications that primarily investigated publication bias and whose acceptance therefore might have depended on whether they had found publication bias or not."

Nate Sliver, the The Signal and The Noise guy, offers pundit a bet on the US presidential election. Apparently he's fairly confident in his mathematical model, which currently gives Obama about a 75% chance of reelection. I'm a bit wary of mentioning politics, but firm predictions with monetary backing making the news seems worth mentioning.

-edit removed extraneous comma and fixed 's'es

While you're fixing commata, why not fix the guy's name as well? :p
He was right about everything. The publicity around this would be a good oppurtunity to promote empiricist/statistical/bayesian thinking.
I've been doing so on other web venues, and the media seems to have noticed as well.

Really want to recommend InTrade to LWers next election cycle. I put in $2000 and am up about $1200. Obviously if you follow politics intensively (or Nate Silver) you can make lots of smart bets against people betting on what they want or on the popular media narrative. But the markets were illiquid enough in this cycle that you can grind out more modest profits on arbitrage. For instance, even after it was clear Romney was the nominee, I could pick up 1 share Romney win + 1 share Obama win for about $8.20 and one of those bets was going to pay out $10.

How much did you pay in fees to Intrade?
Nothing. I put my money in by check (10 day processing lag but no fees) and will withdraw it by wire transfer (no fees on InTrade's end, last time I checked, and, at my bank, incoming wire transfers are free). InTrade just made money on the float from me.
The fee is $20 for processing a wire withdrawal and 4 Euros for a check withdrawal.
Looks like that changed at some pt. Ah well, I've got plenty of margin for a 4 euro fee.
InTrade doesn't charge fees anymore and just makes their money off the float? Hm. Maybe my old verdict 'too expensive for small players' needs revising.
Their website suggests just a $5 monthly fee.
Ah, so it hasn't changed. That still makes long-term bets there infeasible for people with small bankrolls (I've believed Obama had 60% odds since well before the primaries, but I'd find it hard to profit on Intrade with as much as 5% of my tolerable investment disappearing each month...)
If Nate Silver or the equivalent is making public predictions, it might be a lot harder to find people to take the other side of the bet.
I made money at this too, but I'm starting to wonder whether it's morally superior to running a casino, or a lottery. I made thousands of dollars off of a pack of fools who bet with their hopes instead of the evidence, and at the time I felt very clever, but now...I don't know.
One way to think of it is: when you wager on Intrade because you think the price is inaccurate, are you more like 1. a pundit being paid to bloviate, cheerlead, and mislead ordinary people (one thinks of the more right-wing writers who up until election day were confidently predicting an Obama victory and trashing Silver or polls in general), who even if one's motives are pure still contribute to the blinding white noise of media and is wasting people's time and leaving behind false ideas, delusions, questionable datapoints etc. 2. or a polling firm who, while motivated by profit, still seeks to add in real data to the race and which profit is ethically justifiable by the value-added of better data about how the race is going
I know Obama and Romney have similar political positions, but they aren't that hard to tell apart! :P
I dunno, all you monkeys look the same to me with your wrinkly skin and weird little noses and disturbingly lengthy forepaws. ...Not that there's anything wrong with looking like you could have bits snapped off you at any moment - I mean, my best friend is a monkey, you know? (We get along great, I bring him bananas every time I go over; he says they're a good source of potassium and fiber, and I suppose you guys'd know eh?)
I'm somewhat amused that the focus is on the lengthy forepaws, when the aftpaws are distinctly longer in almost every specimen. ;)
Sure they are longer, but you ever try snapping one of those thick boney aftpaws on a monkey? On second thought, don't answer that.
Sadly, it's easier than we monkeys would prefer.
I think the high barriers to entry for the US crowd mean I'm unlikely to be betting against gambling addicts, who have much easier options. I'd assume that InTrade skews well-educated and well-off. They can afford to lose a few hundred dollars to me.
Betting against US gambling addicts. There are gambling addicts all over the world.
I made a comment about this a few days ago and was seriously contemplating funding an account. It was too close to election day and was nervous I wasn't going to be able to get my account funded in time while the edge was still high so I decided not to. I believe I will wait to fund because the other products on InTrade lack either market depth of bid/ask or overt mis-pricing, it wouldn't make any sense to fund now. Some Senate and gubernatorial contracts literally have no market depth.

A computer-generated nonsense math paper by "Marcie Rathke", which was created using Nate Eldredge's Mathgen program, was accepted for publication in the journal Advances in Pure Mathematics. However, it will not actually be published, because Eldredge did not want to pay the $500 publication fee. Mathgen is also not capable of making the revisions recommended by the reviewer, such as:

(3) In part 2, the author gives the main results. On theorem 2.4, I consider that the author should give the corresponding proof.

I'm back from my self-imposed month-long break from LW. It was nice :-)

Nice one. The "0" in the 30 day karma is like a badge of honor.

Does anyone have advice for someone suffering from many of the subjective (there is no reliable objective criteria) symptoms of gender identity disorder?

This is very scary to deal with so I would really appreciate any help.

Maybe think of it as not a disorder, but rather an unusually weak match between your identity and your genitalia (and/or societal gender norms), assuming this is what you feel. Would you still be suffering if there were no behavioral expectations of you? Would you feel normal and happy if a lot of people were like you and you associated with them at will without any stigma attached? Would you still strongly desire sex reassignment?
Yes, that would not change my body No, same as above Yes
You have physical dysphoria independently from perception of gender by others. How does that not clinch it utterly and completely?
Because while it exists for both primary and secondary sexually dimorphic characteristics, it is much stronger for the secondary ones. Also, can such feelings not be generated by motivated cognition? See body dysmorphic disorder.

Many of the trans women and most of the trans men I've known are okay with their primary sexual characteristics. Women's T-shirts reading "I heart my penis" exist for a reason.) My sample is rather biased toward the less-than-binary, but still it goes to show that this isn't rare.

BDD looks social, not physical, to me but I'm not an expert. (Not that social dysphoria is irrelevant, anyway.)

I'm in a similar boat as yours. What I recommend is:

  • Don't panic. Litany of Gendlin; whatever your true gender (defined as the gender you would be happiest living as, to appease the anti-essentialists) turns out to be, it's already itself and knowing it will make you happier than denying it or making something up for the sense of closure.

  • It's okay to be whatever you turn out to be. (Yes, even "someone who guesses wrong and tries to live as the wrong gender for decades".) I never really had a problem internalizing that but Internet strangers telling you it's okay seems to help.

  • Try it on for size! Use text-based support groups, with people sufficiently open-minded that they'll happily comply if you tell them you're trying names and pronouns to see how they feel and change th

... (read more)
All good points. I have two to add: * Genderfluidity is a thing, and some people do have 'phases' of feeling like one gender that eventually end. Neither of those things invalidate the individual's feelings in the moment, or make it less necessary to have a way of handling the current situation so that it doesn't take over your life. * It may be worth considering what happens in the worst case if you go through with a modification you're considering, and how you might handle that. Like, to use a personal example, I'm genderfluid between female, third gender, and agender, and I'm considering top surgery; the worst case scenario is that my gender might solidify on 'female' in such a way that I find it unpleasant to be flat-chested. I don't think that's very likely - as of right now I'm perfectly fine with the idea of being flat-chested even when I'm 'in female mode' - but even if it happens I think I can handle it, and it also suggests that I might want to go with a reduction, to the point where I can comfortably wear a binder when I feel particularly inclined and not have 'em be such a big deal the rest of the time (kinda not an option right now) rather than an outright removal.
I may feel that the concept of the "other" gender applies more to myself than my own, but I don't know that my concept of genders is in any way correct in that it matches what other people think, or even matches what I will think in the future. I have some strong hang-ups regarding sex that I know are deeply influencing me and no way of getting rid of them to see how gender identity feels to me without them. There is no real reason for these hang-ups to exist, I received no unusual conditioning. For all I know they could be a result of GID. If I expect that further analysis will produce a certain result, should I just update now to that result and act appropriately?
I don't know what your hang-ups consist of, but wanted to note that asexuality is a thing -- I've heard a few stories from people who [now] identify as asexual who had thought [previously] that they were broken. * I have now read downthread and suppose it likely that you have already considered this.
Not necessarily, because training/becoming accustomed to things is an important human trait that decision theorists generally ignore. If you think you'll feel something at a certain point, trying to force it now might still be the wrong choice. IE, trying something might be the best way to find out how you feel about it, because without trying it you might be stuck wondering or might have other problems.
That is actually not uncommon -- I can only offer anecdata here as I'm not aware of any studies on the matter, but have met rather a lot of trans and genderqueer people who find secondary dimorphic characteristics to be much more emotionally-salient to dysphoria than the state of their genitalia. It also not infrequently shifts over time -- some people seem to change on that after being hormones for a while, or after getting some major procedures (not necessarily GRS) done. I know a post-op trans woman who still gets very strong dysphoria because the secondary characteristics still feel wrong to her.
Even if these thoughts are "motivated cognition" as far as I can tell there's not any cure for them. You can view surgery and/or HRT as a palliative answer for not hating your body.
Might not be. In the worst case (as in BDD), body mod doesn't help. In the best case, you actually have a different problem (gender roles too stifling, some genderqueerness that only requires some accommodation rather than full transition, a different problems with your body or with social roles, a different psychological problem) and solving that helps.
This is why most things recommend transitioning slowly and/or in steps. HRT before surgery, living as whatever gender before surgery, etc.
I don't understand how feeling like you're in the wrong body manifests as suffering. If I woke up as someone or something other than what I feel like I am, I would react positively or negatively on a case by case basis. Whether my self-image matched my body would not be at all relevant. If you were transformed into a being with no sexual characteristics at all, say, a magical non-anthropomorphic helium balloon, would you expect your suffering to be abated or partially abated or unchanged?
Me either really. It just hurts when I notice it. You may as well ask how feeling a wound on your flesh manifests as suffering. The thought experiment is nonsensical to me. My brain would not be able to consider that my body and if it were modified to be able to do so, the method by which it were modified would entirely determine the effect. I cannot imagine myself as a helium balloon. I can imagine a helium balloon and attach the label "me" to it, but this does absolutely nothing for me in terms of self-image or emotion.
Attaching the label "me" to the image I see in the mirror is essentially all I do when thinking of myself as my body. What are you doing apart from that? I assume you meant the wound thing as an example of irreducibly simple suffering, but actually I've spent quite some time investigating things of this kind through meditation, and they do break down further, in ways that make them much easier to deal with. In fact, physical pain is one of the forms of suffering most amenable to this. What I was trying to get at with the balloon question is are you troubled by your body being gender A, or by it not being gender B? Is it an aversion, or a desire, or a restlessness, or what?
I can't speak for Liza, but what I mean when I talk about thinking of myself as my body (though I'm more likely to use the language "identifying with my body") is something like attending to the experiences that come from that body. The extent to which I do this varies greatly; in particular, in certain forms of meditation I attend to those experiences to the exclusion of almost everything else. That said, if I've been doing a lot of that sort of meditation in a short period of time, I find that my default level of identifying with my body changes without reference to how much attention I'm actually paying at that moment. (It's also true that my default level of attention changes, but that's a separate issue.) So "I'm identifying a lot with my body" can either describe a right-this-moment altered state of my attention, or a more broad frequently-over-the-last-few-weeks altered state.
I really don't know. Perhaps my ability of introspection is inferior to yours. All three. It exists at every level of abstraction. If I try to ignore it, the aversions and restlessness do not go away.
Also some of Eliezer's statements on gender have made me worried. http://lesswrong.com/lw/bd/my_way/86u Does this mean my personality has no depth? I feel very complicated and very confused but I don't know how to tell if my personality is masculine or feminine. I want to repair myself in the way that produces as whole and real a person as possible. Or perhaps I am incoherent entirely, knowing both too little and too much simultaneously. P.S. I decided to read Kushiel's Legacy to which Eliezer keeps referring. The writing is intensely beautiful.

I doubt Eliezer has very thought out views on this issue and you shouldn't take seriously things he says on the topic as condemning of your identity/personality.

As far as advice: From the people in my life who are trans it seems like the best way to feel better and learn is to talk to other people who are going through or have gone through the same thing. You can find forums or chats like #transgoons that are supportive, or look for groups to talk to in your area physically (though obviously this can be intimidating, especially if you're uncomfortable with being public with who you are/might be).

From my point of view I will say: Don't feel like any of your potential identities have to conform to very specific ways of being and acting. A lot of people seem to think you need to be a manly man entirely or a girly girl entirely, but that's constraining the options open to you by A LOT. You can be attracted to men and like wearing skirts without having to give up being aggressive or car repair, and you can cut your hair short and wear oxfords and slacks and a tie without needing to change who you're attracted to or how you talk. If you don't already I recommend hanging out with lots of queer people to get a better idea of the kind of options open to you and also to the kind of acceptance that you can get for whatever you want to be.

In principle, personality issues are detachable from gender issues. You can just make a list of masculine personality traits and feminine personality traits, remove the gender labels and scramble them all together, and then try to assess which of those traits you have, and which of those traits you'd like to have. Voila, you now have a personality analysis and a personality ideal and it says nothing about gender. Could it be that your real issue now is what philosophy of gender to believe? The basic divide is between "essentialism" and "non-essentlalism". An essentialist says masculinity and femininity are something more than arbitrary groupings of qualities. A non-essentialist says they are fictitious categories, held in place by custom, privilege, etc. Halfway positions are possible. Also one needs to distinguish between descriptive and normative philosophy of gender. Essentialism can be regarded as the ideal and non-essentialism as the reality, or vice versa. (Or analysis and ideal can both be essentialist or both non-essentialist.)
Thank you for the information. Is Eliezer's position gender essentialist?
In the thread from three years ago, there is definitely some rather strong gender essentialism present. He considers the categories meaningful, and he says that empirically he hasn't ever seen them violated in a specific way. ("I have never known a man with a true female side, and I have never known a woman with a true male side, either as authors or in real life.") Eliezer undoubtedly interprets all of this in an evolutionary way, and one of the ironies of evolutionary gender essentialism is that the gender categories are considered meaningful but still ultimately contingent - unlike older, more metaphysical essentialisms like yin and yang, in which masculinity and femininity are associated with a polarity of being that extends far beyond the animal kingdom. Evolutionary gender binaries aren't supposed to result from essences, they are a contingent coupling of physiology and personality brought about by natural selection. So the humans with the wombs could have been the hunters, and the humans with the testes could have been the nurturers, but we got locked into a phenotype and a survival strategy that works the other way around. What Eliezer's normative views on gender are, I have no idea. He's a transhumanist so he probably favors radical self-determination. He might be normatively non-essentialist while still employing essentialist categories. People who really disapprove of essentialism would think it a bad thing to even say "you can choose to be male, female, or any mixture thereof", because it implies that maleness and femaleness exist.
I have I have! flies over and says something to Eliezer Absolutely not! It just means Eliezer is working from a biased sample and therefore his perceptions should not be taken as scientific fact. I am sorry you're having such problems, Liza. I kind of relate because I didn't even believe in gender for a long time. Then I realized that there were a few things about me that I had never accepted and couldn't seem to change: 1. I live to make other people happy. This is a very feminine trait - probably related to maternal instincts. 2. I have never been as aggressive as I want to be. I force myself to be aggressive when life demands it, and I'm very proud of this -- but the fact that I have to force myself and that I feel proud of it are signs that I'm not naturally aggressive. Men often have a natural aggression that ... actually allows them to have fun while being aggressive. I don't get that, and I want to, but I don't. I hope you have encountered alternative gender labels like "genderqueer". You do not need to choose between male and female! There are even more options. You can also be N/A, gender apathetic, not believe in gender, or make up a new gender term and define your gender for yourself. Not saying everyplace will always have a drop down for that, but there's no reason you can't do something other than pick "male" or "female". There's a TED talk on gender (I forgot the exact ted.com URL but it shouldn't be too hard to find with the search) that explains that human bodies can have soooo many variations when it comes to gender that there are hundreds of combinations and sometimes people can have both male and female parts and not realize it because they are internal. The video makes a pretty good case that our binary gender concept is a false dichotomy. If I was you, I'd feel comforted to know that there are some who are attracted to people regardless of their gender. I am one of them. And I don't just mean that there are bi people who date the binar
That's great that you can be so clear about a goal like that! I am not sure what I live for, I like making people happy but I also like trying to encourage them to experience new things. If I behave too aggressively it makes me feel very uncomfortable so I kind of understand what you mean. When I'm aggressive, like when playing a competitive game, there's always a certain playfulness to it that reminds me it's all in fun. I think this is what let's me be aggressive without feeling uncomfortable; the knowledge that everyone else knows I would never seriously be aggressive. You did. : ) And I'm still trying to figure out my sexuality but I'm probably some form of pansexual too.
Well... do you think encouraging them to experience new things is likely to make them happy? For me, it's just tiring. I want to be making people happy, not competing and winning. I like doing things that are awesome, and I like doing things that are challenging. But I don't enjoy defeating people. I can get angry enough that I'm able to be very aggressive and not feel drained by it, but I almost never get that angry. Oh good! Cool. (:
Yes, and I wouldn't do it if I thought it would make them sad, but, I don't do it just because it makes them happy. I feel I can understand a person more deeply if I am with them as they react to new situations; it makes them feel more human to me and increases my ability to empathize. The more I reflect on them, the more complicated my feelings on competition and winning seem to be... I want to be valuable to other people and accomplishment proves that I have the necessary ability; for example, if I do well on an assignment relative to my classmates then they will ask me to help them in the future. But I also feel like there are competing forces within me. Winning leads to praise which helps me with insecurity but this bothers me; I want to be at peace with myself so I can focus on other people. If I won and it didn't make anybody like me, I would just feel empty. I know other people can value for me for who I am rather than what I can do, and it is really important to me to learn how to accept this. As for whether any of this is masculine or feminine I don't know... I'm mostly happy with how I am inside, but often not happy with how I express it. I do love feeling at peace, and so want to recover from my insecurities.
Seems to me there is some tension between "repair" and "as real as possible". I mean, at this moment, you are a real person, not an imaginary person. On the other hand, imaginary person is... well, at this moment it is the person you imagine yourself to be after the repair. Make a list of traits that you know to have. That is real. Whether it fits some predefined category, that's a completely different question. By the way each category has some range, not just one narrow specific model; and especially not just one "strawperson" model (a hysterical anorectic blonde woman in pink, or a silent frowning man with gigantic muscles). So if you have a trait or two outside of what you think is typical for the category, I would guess most members of the category are also like that. I also propose a hypothesis that intelligent people have it more complicated by the fact that intelligence makes them different from an average person, and consequently also from an average person of their gender. If stupid women spend 24 hours a day discussing shopping, gossip and boyfriends, a smart woman seems "manly" compared with them, just because she does not care about those topics that much. Similarly, if stupid men spend 24 hours a day discussing beer, football and women, a smart man seems "girly" compared with them, just because he does not care about those topics that much. Even if they care somewhat about those topics, just because they don't want to discuss the topic 24 hours a day, makes them comparatively uninterested.
I feel that you are unpacking some of the statements in the quote incorrectly. A "male person" here refers to the set of authors that Eliezer_Yudkowsky has read. The vast majority of these authors are cisgendered and do not suffer from any form of gender identity disorder, nor do they otherwise bend gender norms. Statements made about said "male persons" do not reflect you because you are outside the set of (presumably cisgendered and non-GID suffering) male authors that Eliezer_Yudkowsky has read. One of the side effects of bending gender norms is that generalizations about gender don't usually apply to you. In any case, it seemed Eliezer_Yudkowsky was not making a claim, but telling his personal experience (which again, has no bearing on you since you presumably haven't met him) Regarding your other question, there is no reason that you need to necessarily put yourself in the masculine or feminine category. What makes a "whole and real person" has absolutely nothing to do with gender. Lesswrong might be poorly equipped to address these types of questions. Have you explored any of the LGBT/transgender subreddits on reddit? I think this graphic is pretty helpful in conceptualizing gender and sexuality constructs, if it helps. http://itspronouncedmetrosexual.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Genderbread-2.1.jpg
I've obtained much information from other sources but there is a lot of poor epistemic hygiene to sift through so I was wondering what I could find on LW.
I know what you mean. Maybe if you give more specific details about which aspects of GID you are struggling with, we can give more helpful advice?
I've never experienced anything else so obviously liable to cause motivated cognition. I have no accurate way of predicting how I will feel years in the future, because my identification is so strong it would influence me to believe anything in its favor. In general, it seems to me that none of my thoughts are evidence because the hardware is so biased and I can conceive of no way of correcting for this.
I'm afraid I'm not following. What is the judgement you are attempting to accurately make which your identification is interfering with?
Whether I would actually prefer being the "other" gender socially long term. Especially say, 10 years from now.
1) Unless you are considering surgical or hormonal modification, there is no reason you can't change your mind later - though it does get confusing to others, that's far less important than your comfort. 2) It's okay to be in a socially in-between state. There are other identifications, such as http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genderqueer This is really more a matter of preference than a problem that can be solved through logic.
Our society is not very accepting of people who don't fit into gender roles. Hormonal modification is necessary to "pass". Also, hormonal modification is much more effective the earlier you start.
If it is society's acceptance you are after, it would be easiest to present as the gender that you display physically. Society's preferences will clash with your own in this regard. You have to decide the extent to which you care about that. Societal advancement is slower than technological advancement, and it is likely that the technology to pass completely will be available before society gets to a point where they do not judge people who don't fit gender roles. Have you tried presenting as the "other" gender socially for a few months? How did it suit you? Also, have you considered that you might reverse the transition, if you change your mind? (Assuming you have the money)
That's just another issue to throw into the pot, and then decide whether it matters and how much, and what options exist for dealing with it.
It's also possible that Eliezer is mistaken. It might be worth asking him what he means by male and female personalities, and what he thinks happens when someone transitions to the other gender.
He was asked and neglected to respond.
Wasn't he talking about authors?

My Nicotine/DNB experiment finished & analyzed: http://www.gwern.net/Nootropics#experiment-1

I used primarily a Bayesian library in analyzing it, which may add some interest.

Fields Medalist Timothy Gowers reasons about medical risks.

The risk of death is put at one in a thousand, and this is where things get interesting. How worried should I be about a 0.1% risk? How do I even think about that question? Perhaps if my life expectancy from now on is around 30 years, I should think of this as an expected loss of 30/1000 years, or about 10 days. That doesn’t sound too bad — about as bad as having a particularly nasty attack of flu. But is it right to think about it in terms of expectations? I feel that the distribution is importa

... (read more)

I found on this site that the average risk of death in the UK for a man between 45 and 54 is 1/279, much higher than 1/1000.

Shudder. The United States has 74,000 troops deployed in Afghanistan.. In 2011, 418 Americans died while deployed in Afghanistan. So roughly 1/180 chance of dying in Afghanistan if you're deployed there for a year. Being a man in your early fifties is not quite as dangerous as working in Afghanistan, but it's in the same ballpark.

Also, I had a nightmare last night where my mom decided to risk swimming on a beach that had a 1 in 1700 chance of drowning her. When I woke up, she was alive again. But then I read this article, and learned that she her chance of dying naturally next year is four times greater than her chance of drowning on that nightmare beach. And my dad's chance of dying is greater still. I'd better Skype them.

I noticed in Eliezer's latest MoR update that he now has 18,000 words written, and even when that 'chapter' is finished, he still doesn't plan to post anything, on top of a drought that has now lasted more than half a year.

This doesn't seem very optimal from the point of view of gaining readers.

But I was wondering how one would quantify that - how one would estimate how many readers Eliezer's MoR strategy of very rare huge dumps is costing him.

Maybe survivorship curves, where survivorship is defined as 'posting a review on FF.net'?

So if say during the week... (read more)

The long drought may cost Eliezer some readers, but the fan base is so enthusiastic that I don't think it's a huge loss. On the other hand, I might be generalizing from myself-- I've been swamped in good things to read for so long that I'm not extremely focused on the wait for any particular thing.

Reactionary Rationalist Plotting, Advice Requested

I'm an atheist that lives in Slovenia a mostly secular place with a cosy social democracy yet I'm also a young no income white male and seeing some deeply disturbing kinds of language among the cool set referring to my demographic. Seems pretty stage three-ish by Stanton's scale. I'm quit sure my country will import them in a matter of a few years because we've had rapid cultural convergence with US norms after the fall of Communism. I'm also quite certain at this point that there is a real risk about 0.05... (read more)

What's Stanton's scale? Google only turned up references to measuring scales.
The Eight Stages of Genocide:
Sorry, could you be more explicit here? It sounds like you may be talking around a topic that you think is obvious, but that may be illusion of transparency.

Konkvistador is a concerned Tutsi living in a politico-cultural regime which seems increasingly pleased at the prospect of watching Hutus eat Tutsis.

I'm supposing he's a croat or serb - see some discussion here for context on stereotypes and politics and faction (also maybe here, though that's more about the position of Slovenia and Croatia vis a vis the rest of Yugoslavia). (Konkvistador, plays say so if you don't want people publicly speculating about you)
You're the Anti-Zizek. European communism disintegrates and one of the byproducts is a Lacanian Hegelian who becomes the Sartre of his generation. Now European neoliberalism goes into crisis and Slovenia gives us a "reactionary rationalist". Though "cyber-gypsies" seems out of character. Does Slovenia have real gypsies?

Heh upvoted. Ok I'll try to play the part, please read this in his distinct voice and style of speech:

What we see in Europe today isn't a crisis of Capitalism, my God no, many see it that way but it couldn't be farther from the truth nervous twitch what we see is a crisis of social democracy, all key things that went wrong in this recession would have gone wrong anyway just in a decade or two, aging demographics, bureaucratization social fallout from consumerism and economic globalization. Some people grow confused when I say this here in small minded Slovenia ... what are you anti-Žižek some kind of Americanized pro-capitalist running pig-dog? To these Comrades anti-Žižek seems to convulse I say NO! I am not criticizing socialism to bolster capitalism I am criticizing both capitalism and socialism in favor starts yelling of FEUDALISM!

You see there is no fundamental conflict you see between the good feel social liberalism and the feel good consumerist capitalism. Both appeal to the most base uncivilized forager moral instincts, which have negative externialities when running complex society.

I still have no idea what you're talking about. What would a Konkvistador approved government look like?
I have no idea either, but for some reason it's still hilarious to read.
Anti-Žižek much like Žižek doesn't want to be understood too well. But Konkvistador doesn't mind. In an earlier post I cited three different kinds of governments I'd like to see run in different countries as a good starting point in the search for something better than what we have now. I'd also like to see a country with a mostly Amish population divided into cantons ruled by local Amish religious elders & councils. It might prove to be the happiest society in the world. Even if not I suspect we'd see very interesting results.
Would you mind sharing some of this evidence so we can assess its significance, Bayes style? From an American point of view, money seems to be really helpful in terms of insulating yourself from bad consequences. Are there the Slovenian equivalents of gated communities where you're safely away from inner city war zones and so on, for a small price? It seems that market dominance is a net positive not a negative, especially if class lines are hardening. That is my plan as well. This Atlantic article may give some ideas of how to pull it off. But do note the tradeoffs - cultural integration is hard and pretty much requires lifelong residence to learn the culture well enough to get the benefits of being considered an ingroup member. Gaining mobility means being considered an outsider and yes this means significant penalties even in "tolerant" liberal democracies. (This may be mitigated if a clade of transient elites actually takes off, with its own ingroup dynamics and everything - but I sense some internal contradictions within that idea.)
It appears that this is happening among the billionaire class- residences in London, New York, and wherever else they like. It doesn't appear to be common among the millionaire class- there are a few people that have Ferris-style lifestyle businesses and travel wherever they like, but that seems like the sort of thing that is not very robust to global insecurity.
Yeah, the billionaire class may be interesting but naturally I don't know much about it and at any rate it's mostly unattainable. The Ferris-style folks may be more interesting. Another place to look is ethnic diasporas, but I don't really see a strong trend of ethnic ties superseding national ones. The incentives for success usually favor cultural assimilation over maintaining ethnic ties. (The aside one exception is Jews, who have some fairly unique history favoring cohesion).
As an interesting aside, converting to Judaism may be one way to join something like a "clade of transient elites" (more attainable than the billionaire club, anyway).
Is the 'no income' qualifier one you expect to change soon? Why or why not?
Its more "no income" than actually no income. But yes. Working on a start up, even if it fails I think I'll get a better skill set in the process.
It's not much better in the US. I live in a fairly Townie area, but there is a University, which has a student body unanimous in its adoration of Brahmin values. All of my young coworkers chattered with glee this morning at the "humiliation" of the "enemy".
Not UR comments, go easy on the jargon
Jargon separates the raw value systems I'm talking about from the tribes that cling to them. I figured this would be less mind-killing but still communicative to the sort of person who cares about this thread.

This is a random question, and I have poked around a bit on Google looking for the answer: what's the convention for pronouncing particular instances of Knuth's up-arrow notation? Like, if you had 3^^^3, how would you actually say that out loud? I always find myself stumbling through something like "three three-up-arrows three," but that seems terribly clunky. I also read somewhere that "3^^^3" would read as "three threes," which is more elegant, but doesn't seem to work when the numbers are different -- e.g., how would you say "3^^^4"? Anyway, I figured someone here would know.


Regardless of the specific numbers, or the number of up-arrows, the correct pronunciation is "kajillion".

Well, 2^2 is closer to 3^^^3 than almost every other positive integer, so we can round it up to 3^^^3 and then call it "kajillion".
Gazzillion feels bigger to me
I've heard "three up up up three", which is concise and not easily confused with other operations. If I heard "three threes", I'd interpret that as meaning 9.
I don't care what the convention is, but I say "three to the to the to the three!".
That implies exponentiation; up-arrow notation is two steps beyond that.
It's been a few years since I heard this pronounced aloud, but my old undergrad prof's pronunciation of "3^^^3" was "3 hyper5 3". The "hyper5" part refers to the fact that three up-arrows is pentation. Similarly, "x^^y" is "x hyper4 y", because two up-arrows indicate tetration. In general, add 2 to the number of up-arrows, and that's the hyper number you'd use. (I should mention that I've never heard it used by anyone other than him, so it might have been just his way of saying it, as opposed to the way of saying it.)
Thanks to everyone for all the answers. I'd say this one makes the most sense to me -- pretty quick to say and easily scalable for any number -- but I guess there's just not one, well-accepted convention.
The ^^ operation is called tetration, so I'd guess ^^^ is pentation. So 3^^^3 would be “three pentated to three”, or something like that.
(Not serious:) Instead of the third power of three, it's the "third triforce of three"!
"Three triple-caret four" is what I've heard. I'm not a math person though, so take it with a grain of salt.
I would say "power of" So "three to the power of the power of the power of three"
Those '^'s are being used in up-arrow notation, not exponentiation.

You may have heard of this experiment in which participants were able to lose a significant amount of weight using a game theory concept of the credible threat. Participants risked public humiliation by exposing their out-of-shape bodies on a JumboTron. I wonder if this would work on an online community. Finding a trusted third party that is precommitted to posting pictures of participants' bodies in underwear probably isn't very hard, but something tells me the average Less-wronger would not find this type of humiliation a sufficiently motivating negat... (read more)


credible threat

The other part of the story being that the other team lost more weight in the same amount of time using positive reenforcement.

And Nancy's question is one without which no weight loss reporting is complete. There are many ways to lose a little weight quickly if you are motivated. The interesting part is staying at a healthy weight afterwards.

I don't expect the other team to sustain their weight loss, either. There's a huge amount of social pressure against being fat and for being thin, and it doesn't work to get a large majority of fat people to stop being fat.

I'd want to see whether the weight loss was maintained, and I'm betting that it wasn't.

The problem with threat is that it sometimes paralyses people ("fight or flight or freeze"). Also, if the consequences of X are unpleasant, it conditions people also to not think about X. So I would not be surprised to see such motivational systems fail. Humans don't maximize their utility functions. They are composed of subsystems, selected by evolution to more work than fail on average, but some kinds of inputs can still mess them up. Threatening people if they do something undesired is sometimes just as efficient as kicking your TV set if it does not work properly. Whether it works or not, it makes the punisher feel good, and it can be socially justified, so we continue doing it even in absence of results.
What evolutionary reason is there for it to make the punisher feel good to some degree, if it does not work? We didn't evolve with televisions, but we did evolve with other people. If a strategy of punishment doesn't have any actual effect, then we wouldn't have that instinct.
Punishment works to some extent, but my impression is that punishment is so reinforcing for the punisher that it tends to crowd out other approaches, even when those approaches would be more effective.
Punishment has some side effects unrelated to its official goal. It signals that the punisher has higher status than the person being punished. (You rarely see weak people punishing strong people, or unpopular people publicly punishing popular people.) So the evolutionary reason for person X supporting situations where they have opportunity to punish person Y, is simply that doing so increases X's status, regardless of what the actual effect on Y is. In other words, it has the actual effect. It's just a different effect, and on a different person.
So punishment originally had an effect of discouragement of behaviour that the punisher did not like. Then since only those who were higher status could get away with punishing others it developed the status-signalling effects too, and now that status signalling is the primary purpose. That makes sense. Thanks.
I don't think it's necessarily a temporal sequence. Punishment as social control and as status enforcement could have evolved simultaneously.
Indeed, there already are pictures of me in underwear on the Internet.
Conversely, I would not want pictures of me in underwear on the Internet no matter how I looked in them.
If I understand correctly, in that scheme the pictures are only posted if the participant fails to lose weight.

I am close to finishing a new essay: http://www.gwern.net/Death%20Note%20script

If anyone could read it and check for errors, especially in the parts using Bayesian concepts, I'd appreciate it.

Are you reading the creation date with Evince as your PDF viewer? The timezone reported by Evince for the file seems to be buggy as it simply returns the timezone that it is currently in.
Damn. You have a point there, well done: I've examined closely the creation date with pdftk dumping the raw metadata, and while it turns out the datestamp can include timezone information, this one doesn't because it is suffixed with 'Z' indicating that it is UTC time. Looking at the API docs for the listed creating program, it turns out that the makers were lazy and just used a default Java library - which doesn't support timezones by default and is always UT time! So it seems Evince did mislead me. So I guess I have to excise that entire section and update all the numbers... I'm not happy about this (especially since I put multiple hours into trying to pin down when the Parlapanides moved to California, to check that the analysis was right even on the face of it).

Where should one ask unusual questions that can't easily be looked up because they require broad domain knowledge? In particular, how does one identify knowledgeable people who may be willing to answer?

Current such question: Are there any cultures where hand spinning is widespread and not strongly gendered female?

Ask Metafilter
Some university websites list members of staff who will answer questions from the press about their field. Those researchers might be receptive to questions from the public too. (Also, reference desk librarians probably can't answer most questions with their own knowledge, but might point you to people or sources that can.)
Hand spinning? As in weaving? India comes to mind with Mohandas Ghandi advocating and practicing hand spinning himself, although I don't know if the whole Indian culture has textiles being strongly gendered.
He was advocating Indians spinning and weaving themselves rather than exporting to England who would import it back making ridiculous profits. I can't find many mentions of spinning in Indian culture, though those that do involve women, such as mentions of women spinning while men are away. Spinning with a spindle is listed among important arts, though I don't know how significant that is and why specifically a spindle when India has had spinning wheels since forever. In practice all genders weave, which doesn't mean there isn't gendered symbolism.

Are the cads outbreeding the dads? by the anthropologist Peter Frost

That natural selection is shifting males to a more caddish build seems plausible considering the wide variety of social changes in the past few decades caused in part by the changed economics of sex, these include the rise of single motherhood and the various indicators showing a relative decline in male economic and academic performance (Baumaister 2012). The question is whether humans had enough preexisting variation on these traits for natural selection to do this so rapidly. I would ... (read more)

I think I remember reading something on less wrong about scientists debating the utility of chins before realizing that they were just a natural consequence of other adaptations. It related this to a similar situation in architecture. I was recently trying to recall the architectural term to apply the same idea to something unrelated, but came up blank and then failed to find the old post. Does anyone know what I'm talking about?

Spandrel), perhaps? In architecture it refers to the extra space between an arch and a flat ceiling that is often filled with decorations.
That's exactly it. Thank you.

Possible idea for a post:

There isn't much material here on the problem of multiple comparisons. This is something that humans routinely stumble over, while for an ideal Bayesian it wouldn't even be a problem requiring a solution (much like e.g. confirmation bias). The post would describe the multiple comparisons problem, explain why it's a non-issue for Bayesians, and look into plausible candidates for the psychological mechanisms that give rise to it (hindsight bias, privileging the hypothesis, base-rate neglect; any others?).

Reply here if you are (actually) starting to work on this.

I'd love to see a post on this, ideally with R code. In particular, I need to know about this because I'm running a big sleep experiment with 5 separate interventions, each with multiple endpoints. You can see the problem. I've done multiple correction of p-values with my previous frequentist analyses with the same problem of multiple endpoints, but I'd rather do a Bayesian analysis; however, I don't know how to do multiple correction with Bayesian results. Reading, a Gelman paper tells me that I don't need to because if I'm doing hierarchical models, probability mass gets automatically reallocated across models and obviates the need for correction - whatever that means, not that I know hierarchical models either!
My idea was less about statistical practice than about very simple toy models illustrating some general points (in particular, if you write down your priors beforehand and use likelihood ratios, you can do as many comparisons as you like, without any 'adjustments'; the reason multiple comparisons are suspect in practice has to do with human biases and the circumstances under which scientists will engage in this sort of data mining). I've since read a paper that makes pretty much the same theoretical points, although it overstates their practical significance.

Aaron Swartz on the various game theory games that are going on in the Dark Knight Batman movie.


This was a fun read. I am confused by the pirate game example though.

The film opens with the Joker hiring five men to rob a mob bank: Dopey silences the alarm, Happy shoots him and drills through the vault, Grumpy shoots him and empties the cash into duffel bags, a bus runs him over, Bozo shoots the bus driver. Finally, Bozo pulls off his mask to reveal he’s the Joker. This is a classic pirate game and, just as in the theory, the Joker gets to keep almost all the cash.

This just seems like a string of betrayals that leaves one man standing at the end with all the money, not a demonstration of the pirate game equilibrium.

If you haven't seen the Dark Knight Rises, there's no real spoilers except for the last paragraph.

After seeing some pictures from New York, I thought about the New York meetup group, and wondered how everyone over there is doing.

I also thought of how nothing that I do or decide has any effect on issues like hurricanes.

I hope all the LessWrongians on the east coast are doing okay.

But I'm also wondering if there are any new rationalist stories to be told. It seems to me from the outside that things like being agent-y (whatever that means) and contributing to public goods will be really important in the wake of a disaster, an if that is or is not borne o... (read more)


Lots of people lost power and dealt with a variety of hardships, but we did pul together as a community in a way that I'm proud of. Five of us had recently acquired Wintefell House, a three story brownstone building in Harlem which ended up being useful as a refugee center. Ended up with 14 people total living there for a few days (5 original inhabitants, 7 people from the powerout zone and one passing traveler), and while it was difficult for the people whose work got interrupted, it seemed like a pretty warm and supportive environment. People pitched in and made big communal dinners and huddled up from the cold weather. Surprisingly Christmas-like.

Whenever I've been coming across someone who I perceive as both highly intelligent and biased, I've been sending them here. It took me until today to realize that this might be an awful sort of recruiting strategy for the website.

Do the pros outweigh the cons, is sending intelligent yet biased people here a good idea?

It's a good idea if they actually want to learn more about rationality, and a better idea if they have enough patience to hang around LW long enough to learn anything. It might be a better idea if you referred them to specific articles; if their free time is limited, "start with the sequences" is frustrating advice.
Poll: What should newcomers be pointed to on the about page? [pollid:208]
It feels to me like we can weather it. I'd be more worried about your referrals learning all about biases and only using their knowledge to spot biases in others, as EY describes here, but even this risk doesn't seem that large to me--I've only seen like 1-2 LWers do something resembling this, ever.
how many of those people have gone on to troll us or be terrible influences?
No clue.

Why is there such a large statistical "arbitrage" opportunity on Intrade right now? I am not all too familiar with prediction markets but Obama re-elected at $6.61 ask at current prices and Obama is predicted to be 84% likely to win seems like a large enough spread to make this a smart bet.

Worse, there is a 10 point actual arbitrage between Pinnacle and Intrade. Also, Betfair is close to Pinnacle. I haven't followed this long, but I believe there is a long-standing 5 point arbitrage.

The Economist writes:
The failure of that article to mention Betfair makes it hard for me to take it seriously. If the Economist thinks the explanation is that Intrade is thinly traded, it should think it volatile. It is true that a small wager moves the market, but it consistently returns to 5-10 points below the bookies. Similarly, the prediction market Betfair is in exactly the same legal situation as the Intrade, has matched the same amount of money ($30 million) and has about the same amount of open interest, but consistently tracks the bookies. The question is not why do prediction markets diverge from the bookies, but why Intrade consistently diverges from everyone else.
The question is how much do you agree with Nate Silver?

Dammit, please tell me that I didn't just waste all that time answering the 2012 Less Wrong Community Survey - I don't want to have to remember all the answers to those tests community members wanted respondents to take if the form I filled out has been taken down...

It'll be back up later today and your answers have been saved. Sorry about this.

That's a relief. It's slightly broken in the sense that trying to copy urls (Chrome) consistently led to the cursor being snapped into the answer box and I don't think the url went into the clipboard. The test gave me ISTP, but the middle two are so close to the nothing much that I might as well be IXXP. A bit of a surprise-- I think of myself as fairly strongly N. Too late for this year, but "independently wealthy" is an off-key question in the sense that there probably more people who are independently middle-class-- possibly even independently poor. This is people I think of as the petite riche-- they don't have to work as long as they have a middle class or lower life style. I know a few of them. I don't know if they've ever been studied-- they aren't conspicuous. The 5 factors test devoted a whole question to making distinctions in that range, which may be overdoing it.
I've always thought of "independently wealthy" as "No debt, no need for paid employment, no need to labor away for sustenance and basic needs." After all, wealth isn't just money, but also (and much more importantly) what you trade money for. Someone who has no money whatsoever, but owns some land with a house and an army of self-maintaining food-producing robots and has free high-speed internet is just as independently extremely wealthy in my books as the guy who earns $1 000 000 USD a year from investment returns.
I think of "independently wealthy" as connoting being able to afford really nice stuff-- big house, frequent travel for fun, etc. without having to work.
Hmm. Seems like the central common empirical cluster might be something like "Above-sufficient personal quality of life without need for work".
Can't wait!
Got hit by this too. The survey post was on the front page for a bit and then disappeared.
Yeah, looks like Yvain had a last minute change of mind or something, maybe there was a mistake on one question or something missing (like CFAR needing different questions). I remember my random number in case it can help transferring.

Minor thing, but it would be good if the 'recent comments sidebar' allowed you to open the whole post with one click in the same way it links to individual comments and usernames. I generally go to the whole thread for context.

Is getting a personal brain scan affordable? Has anyone done it and had any interesting results? It strikes me that it might be cool to have a 23andme style service for brains. I'd personally be fascinated by it, but I don't know how much useful information an amateur could extract from it.

Depends on how detailed / what kind of brain scan you want. The Emotiv Epoc is commercially available, and can probably give just as much useful information to an amateur as a full brain scan without professional explanation could. If the detail and type are appropriate, then I'd definitely consider this "affordable" for the majority of LW users. If you want to push deeper, the SDKs and general development stuff are available for >500$, with the "Researcher Edition" priced at 750$. This would probably involve coding your own interface or buying one, though. I don't know how this would compare in price or precision to the sort of brain scan you'd get in a hospital when looking for tumors or something. This option does have the added bonus that once you own the hardware and the software licenses, you can have brain scans whenever you want.

Am I the only one who is getting tired of all those threads about the elections in the US?

I believe that in the past there have been "where are we?" threads used to try to locate other LWers, and possibly also a map. These things need constant maintenance as people move, disappear, etc. And they do not get this maintenance. So they're only useful for a few months at a time, at a guess.

I've been thinking that a solution might be for people to enter their location and email address in a webapp, and once a month they get an email asking them to confirm that they're still there. They can either stay in the same place or remove themselves ... (read more)

The better way of doing this would be to allow people to fill out their location in their profile and then the website could just display all the users who posted in the last x amount of time. The emails would be annoying. Could you imagine if you got a monthly email from every site that had information about you? shiver
This is probably a reasonable official solution with an opt-out (possibly the recent email-me-about-nearby-meetups option could double as that), but I don't know how comfortable people would be with an outside app aggregating that information. I think that if I got a monthly email from every site that a) had information about me, and b) I expressly authorised to send me a monthly email asking if that information was still correct, that would not be too bad. Most sites satifsying (a) would fail (b). The only exceptions I can think of offhand are things like this, and dating sites.

Has anyone here know how to lip read at all and if so has it been worth the time learning? I spend a large amount of time with ear buds in and a large amount of time in night clubs so I think it could be particularly valuable for me.

I was taught a little lipreading when I was a child to help with my hearing-impairment. I wasn't that impressed although apparently really good lipreaders can get a lot out of it. Not sure how you'd learn it, though.
Yeah, for it to be worth learning I might need to find a teacher and it would probably be very hard. I could try looking for youtube videos on it and then practising the techniques in everyday life, I suppose.
As it happens, a while back I was musing that lipreading could be a good online business for a few people: http://www.gwern.net/Notes#lip-reading-website (I used to be worried that puberty would cost me my remaining hearing - it seems to randomly happen to some people - and that I might have to really depend on lipreading. It didn't happen, fortunately.)

Someone is systematically down-voting my comments.

To the person doing so: can we talk about it? The behavior is passive-aggressive, which indicates to me that I've said something to upset you. I'd like to know what that was so that - if your feelings are justified - I can apologize and refrain from saying similar things in the future.


Does anyone have experience using a standing desk (at home, if it matters)? If so, do you use one of those mats to stand on, or a high chair/stool, or both or neither? Obviously the best advice is to get off the computer and do something else, but that's not a good option if I'm in the middle of something and want to sit.

This is a keyboard tray that converts between a sit configuration and a stand configuration. So it's pretty cheap, you can probably put it on your existing desk, and it'll also improve your sitting ergonomics. I bought mine a few months ago and am very pleased with it. (One reviewer mentions something about the knob on the bottom being kinda big. I sawed a bunch of the knob on mine off, making it substantially shorter.)
I do work standing at the computer for extended time sometimes at my workplace (at my own whim and for purely comfort-related reasons). I received a SIGTHTBABW (signal sent by Unix to its programmers to remind them that There Has To Be A Better Way), took some materials I have stashed for this project and assembled Something. It is somewhat strange and could be way more symmetrical, but I work in a nice enough place to afford not caring about that. So, it is a very light thing out of plastic which I put on top of my desk (and then the notebook goes on top). The height was choosen more or less arbitrarily by standing in a random comfortable position. What poses happen: 1) I am standing at my desk, notebook on The Thing, hands resting on the notebook. 2) The same, one leg bent in the knee and on the chair. 3) The same, but standing on my knees on the chair. 4) The Thing is stashed, I sit on my desk, custom-made notebook legs ensure that notebook keyboard is in a comfortable position for me. 5) I stand at my desk, The Thing slightly moved further from the front of the desk, a second monitor lies on the desk upside towards me. Its downside (further from me) is lifted by its leg. There are cases when I work sitting all the day, or when I work standing all the day. What I have already noticed: Standing desk illustrates that it is easy for a human to maintain physical comfort by slightly changing the pose across a wide range of options, and keeping a single pose - whatever it is - is often less comfortable. So, having easily accessible options turned out to be very nice. With some variability in poses, even using the second monitor (and suboptimal hand placement) doesn't tire me. It looks like whether I sit or stand doesn't matter too much for my typing speed. Of course, you need to have good leg stamina or switch between sitting and standing every so often. By extrapolating my experience, I'd guess that if you get a real standing desk you might want to have
I tried 'position 2' and it works fairly well; 3 doesn't work for me though because my chair rotates. I also occasionally sit for short periods at my desk, even though the keyboard tray is just below shoulder height and I have to tilt my gaze upwards about 20 degrees to see the screen. I can also set my laptop on the top (monitor) level of the desk (not optimal for typing), or use it sitting down in a variety of positions. If I pay attention, I do notice that I shift around a decent amount while standing, most likely only because it's uncomfortable to stand perfectly still for any length of time, as you mentioned. I've only been using the standing desk for 2 weeks; I'm not sure whether I'll revert back to sitting all the time if I do get a high stool, but I'm considering getting one so I can have the option.