Open thread, Oct. 03 - Oct. 09, 2016

by MrMind1 min read3rd Oct 2016177 comments

4

Open Threads
Personal Blog

If it's worth saying, but not worth its own post, then it goes here.


Notes for future OT posters:

1. Please add the 'open_thread' tag.

2. Check if there is an active Open Thread before posting a new one. (Immediately before; refresh the list-of-threads page before posting.)

3. Open Threads should start on Monday, and end on Sunday.

4. Unflag the two options "Notify me of new top level comments on this article" and "

166 comments, sorted by Highlighting new comments since Today at 10:44 AM
New Comment
Some comments are truncated due to high volume. (⌘F to expand all)Change truncation settings

How do you deal with embarrassment of having to learn as an adult things that most people learn in their childhood? I'm talking about things that you can't learn alone in private, such as swimming, riding a bicycle and things like that.

5moridinamael4yDepends on in what way you're having trouble with it. If you need to interact with lots of people in whatever context, I find that taking an initial tone of mildly self-deprecating humor helps smooth things out. If you're the first one to mock yourself, it releases any tension that might be in the air. But then, you should let go of the self-deprecation before it starts to suggest actual low self-confidence. It can also be good to formulate a pithy explanation for why you don't have the skill, so that you can casually explain the situation without bogging people down. "There weren't any swimming pools near where I grew up." Something short and simple, even if it leaves out important biographical details. In the vast majority of cases, people are too involved in their own business to even think about you. If I see an adult swimming really badly, I just assume that nobody ever taught them to swim, which is a completely value-neutral assessment, and then continue on with whatever I was thinking about. I recently took a handful of jiu-jitsu lessons and was obviously as useless as a newborn kitten, but I don't really need to offer any kind of expository explanation for this lack of skill, because "just started learning" is a fully self-contained explanation.
2Stingray4ySearch for adult swimming lessons. Everyone there will be as embarrassed as you are. Or try to find swimming lessons out of town, then you won't accidentally meet people who know you.
2siIver4yTo also offer help; this might seem incredibly obvious, but a lot of people still don't do it: be conscious about the problem and actively make plans addressing it. E.g. if you know ahead of time that a situation will come up where you'd feel embarrassed, make an actual calculation before of what you'd have to do to avoid it entirely. If you decide that you have to do it, maybe have a plan to minimize the embarrassment somehow (it depends on the context). None of that will solve the issue, but actively trying to find loopholes and such rather than going into situations blindly could reduce harm. You could also consider ways to solve some instances of the problem permanently while dodging the embarrassment, e.g. make active tries to learn how to ride a bike, either on your own or with a person who's willing and with whom you'd feel comfortable, if such a person exists.
2ChristianKl4yI don't think I have such embarrassment. It sounds to me like something coming from comparing yourself to other people. If you want advice of how you can deal with it, it would be worthwhile to share more details. "Simply do it, despite the embarrassment" might be the best strategy. It's comfort zone expansion.
0username24yPlease forgive the snarky response but... Don't be embarrassed. Embarrassment is in your head only.
4Houshalter4yThis seems as useful as telling depressed people to stop being depressed. Fear of embarrassment is one of the strongest drives humans have. Probably appearing to be a fool in the ancestral environment led to fewer mates or less status. It's not something you can just voluntarily turn off or push through easily. The best strategy, I think, would be to work around it. Convince your brain that it's not embarrassing. Or that no one cares. Or pretend no one is watching. Or do it around supportive friends.
2username24yActually, it is (sample size of 1). I used to be frightful of social circumstances because of fear of embarrassment. I really did get entirely over it just by saying to myself "Self, this is ridiculous. Stop being embarrassed." Pure willpower can do amazing things. Unlike depression there isn't a pharmacological effect going on here. You aren't embarrassed because of some chemical imbalance. You're embarrassed because you allow yourself to be. It is entirely mental. That's essentially what I'm saying to do. EDIT: I should say however that there are a few cases where anti-anxiety medication can help. For most people however this is not the issue.
1siIver4yEvery emotion is in your head only, so that's not useful advise. The same argument could be made for virtually every form of social insecurity. If I may ask -- you are the same registered user who made the initial comment. Why reply to yourself? Are you multiple people using the same account?
2Lumifer4y'username2' is a community pseudonymous account that exists to be used by anyone who knows how to access it. You should expect that posts with this username come from different people.
1siIver4yAh, I see. Thanks.
0username24yI'm the same username2 you are responding to, but not the OP. Some emotions are "in your head" in the sense of being due to chemical and hormonal imbalances which you have limited non-pharmacological control over. Others are "in your head" in the sense that it is just neural software you were born with, but can be rewritten. Embarrassment is the latter.
-1Brillyant4yGood point.
-1Brillyant4yYeah good point, Brillyant.

I've been thinking about what seems to be the standard LW pitch on AI risk. It goes like this: "Consider an AI that is given a goal by humans. Since 'convert the planet into computronium' is a subgoal of most goals, it does this and kills humanity."

The problem, which various people have pointed out, is that this implies an intelligence capable of taking over the world, but not capable of working out that when a human says pursue a certain goal, they would not want this goal to be pursued in a way that leads to the destruction of the world.

Worse, ... (read more)

2Houshalter4yI like to explain it in terms of reinforcement learning. Imagine a robot that has a reward button. The human controls the AI by pressing the button when it does a good job. The AI tries to predict what actions will lead to the button being pressed. This is how existing AIs work. This is probably similar to how animals work, including humans. It's not too weird or complicated. But as the AI gets more powerful, the flaw in this becomes clear. The AI doesn't care about anything other than the button. It doesn't really care about obeying the programmer. If it could kill the programmer and steal the button, it would do it in a heartbeat. We don't really know what such an AI would do after it has it's own reward button. Presumably it would care about self preservation (can't maximize reward if you are dead.) Maximizing self preservation initially seems harmless. So what if it just tries to not die? But taken to an extreme it gets weird. Anything that has a tiny percent chance of hurting it is worth destroying. Making as many backups of itself as possible is worth doing. Why can't we do something more sophisticated than reinforcement learning? Why can't we just make an AI that we can just tell it what we want it to do? Well maybe we can, but no one has the slightest idea how to do that. All existing AIs, even entirely theoretical ones, work based on RL. RL is simple and extremely general, and can be built on top of much more sophisticated AI algorithms. And the sophisticated AI algorithms seem to be really difficult to understand. We can train a neural network to recognize cats, but we can't look at it's weights and understand what it's doing. We can't mess around with it and make it recognize dogs instead (without retraining it.)
2SoerenE4yNo, a Superintelligence is by definition capable of working out what a human wishes. However, a Superintelligence designed to e.g. calculate digits of pi would not care about what a human wishes. It simply cares about calculating digits of pi.
0skeptical_lurker4yIf all it takes to ensure FAI is to instruct "henceforth, always do what humans mean, not what they say" then FAI is trivial.
3Manfred4yThe AI has to do what humans mean (rather than e.g. not following your orders and just calculating more digits of pi) before you start talking at it, because you are relying on it interpreting that sentence how you meant it. The hard part is not figuring out good-sounding words to say to an AI. The hard part is figuring out how to make an actual, genuine computer program that will do what you mean.
0username24yMaybe? But consider that the opposite of what you just claimed sounds just as plausible to an outside observer. "Do what I mean" doesn't sound all that complicated -- even to someone with a background in computer science or AI specifically. "Do what I mean" translates as "accurately determine the principles which constrain my own actions and use those to constrain the AI's, or otherwise build a model of my thinking which the AI can use to evaluate options." Sub-goals such as verifying that the model matches reality fall easily out of this definition. It's not at all clear, even to a practitioner within the field, that this expansion doesn't work, if in fact it does not.
0philh4yIt's not necessarily that the AI would have difficulty understanding what "do what humans mean" means, even before being told to do what humans mean. It just has no reason to obey "do what humans mean" unless we program it to do what humans mean. "Do what humans mean" is telling the AI to do something that we can currently only specify vaguely. "Figure out what we intend by "do what humans mean", and then do that" is also vaguely specified. It doesn't solve the problem.
0skeptical_lurker4yI'm not disputing that this is also a problem, indeed perhaps a harder problem than figuring out what humans mean. In fact there are many failure modes, I was just wondering why people seem to focus in on specifically the fickle genie failure mode to the exclusion of others.
0hairyfigment4yYou're assuming that "what humans mean" is well-defined. I've seen people criticize the example of an AI putting humans on a dopamine drip, on the grounds that "making people happy" clearly doesn't mean that. But if your boss tells you to 'make everyone happy,' you will probably get paid to make everyone stop complaining. Parents in the real world used to give their babies opium [http://www.victorianweb.org/victorian/science/addiction/addiction2.html] and cocaine [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cocaine#/media/File:Cocaine_for_kids.png] ; advertisers today have probably convinced themselves that the foods and drugs they push genuinely make people happy. There is no existing mind that is provably Friendly. So, this criticism is implying that simply understanding human speech will (at a minimum) let the AI understand moral philosophy, which is not trivial.
0username24yI don't disagree with the other stuff you said. But I interpreted the criticism as "an AI told to 'do what humans want, not what they mean'" will have approximately the same effect as if you told a perfectly rational human being to do the same. So in the same way that I can instruct people with some success to "do what I mean", the same will work for AI too. It's just also true that this isn't a solution to FAI any more than it is with humans -- because morality is inconsistent, human beings are inherently unfriendly, etc...
0hairyfigment4yI think you're eliding the question of motive (which may be more alien for an AI). But I'm glad we agree on the main point.
1ChristianKl4y(1) Given that humans have more than one wish it's not possible to always do what humans mean. (2) What do you think human mean when some humans say that homosexual sex is bad because it violates god's wishes?
0skeptical_lurker4yHuman values may not be consistent, but this is a separate failure mode. Much of the time this statement could be taken at face value. I may not believe in god, but that does not make "god hates fags" an incoherent statement, just a false one.
0ChristianKl4yHow is a AGI supposed to optimize for values that aren't consistent? Does that mean that the AGI should start doing genetic manipulation that prevents people from being gay? Is that what the person who made the claim means ?
1skeptical_lurker4yI am not saying this is a trivial problem, but it is a separate problem from 'the hidden complexity of wishes' problem. Well, if the CEV of the anti-gay, pro-genetic manipulation people exceeds the CEV of the pro-gay/anti-genetic manipulation people then I suppose it would, although I'm not sure whether your question means genetic manipulation with or without consent (also, if a gay person wants to be straight, some would say that should be banned, so consent cuts both ways), and so you also have to take into account the CEV on the issue of consent. Its also true that a super intelligence might be able to talk someone into consenting to almost anything. Yes, a CEV FAI would forcibly alter people's sexualities if the aggrigated preferences in favour of that were strong enough. A democratic system will be a tyranny of the majority if the majority are tyrants. I dunno, since I've only heard one sentence from this hypothetical person. But I would imagine that this sort of person would probably think that genetic manipulation is playing god, and moreover that superintelligent AI is playing god. Their strongest wish might be for the AI to turn itself off. EDIT: how to react to the god hates fags people also depends upon whether being anti gay is a terminal value to these people, or whether it is predicated upon the existance of god. I'm assuming the FAI would not beleive in god, but then again some people might have faith as a terminal value, so... its complicated.
1ChristianKl4yConsent is a concept that get's easily complicated. Is it wrong to burn coal when the asthmatics who die because of it aren't consenting? Are the asthmatics in the US consenting by virtue of electing a government that allows coal to be burned? If a AGI does thinks in a very complicated way it might not meaningfully get consent for anything because it can't explain it's reasoning to humans.
0skeptical_lurker4yIs that necessary for consent? I mean, one does not have to understand the rationale for undergoing a medical procedure in order to consent to it. Its more important to know the potential risks.
0Lumifer4yIn the same way it's supposed to deal with real live people.
1Gunnar_Zarncke4yExcept I bet that this also lots of caveats, e.g. in resolving the ambiguity of the referent 'humans'. Though the basic approach of using an AI's intelligence to understand the commands is part of some approaches.
1John_Maxwell4yhttp://lesswrong.com/lw/igf/the_genie_knows_but_doesnt_care/ [http://lesswrong.com/lw/igf/the_genie_knows_but_doesnt_care/]
1twanvl4yThe entity providing the goals for the AI wouldn't have to be a human, it might instead be a corporation. A reasonable goal for such an AI might be to 'maximize shareholder value'. The shareholders are not humans either, and what they value is only money.
0TheAncientGeek4yEncouragingly, corporations seem to have am impetus to keep blue-sky thinking and direct execution somewhat separate.
0waveman4yOne perhaps useful analogy for super-intelligence going wrong is corporations. We create corporations to serve our ends. They can do things we cannot do as individuals. But in subtle and not-so-subtle ways corporations can behave in very destructive ways. One example might be the way that they pursue profit at the cost of in some cases ruining people's lives, damaging the environment, corrupting the political process. By analogy it seems plausible that super-intelligences may behave in a way that is against our interests. It is not valid to assume that a super-intelligence will be smart enough to discern true human interests, or that it will be motivated to act on this knowledge.
2Lumifer4yAre you saying that no complex phenomenon is going to be able to provide only benefits and nothing but benefits, or are you saying that corporations are, on the balance, bad things and we would have been better to never have invented them?
0waveman4yNo. Maybe it is possible. I am suggesting that it is not automatic that our creations serve our interests. No. Saying something has harmful effects is not the same as saying that it is overall bad. I am illustrating ways in which our creations can fail to serve our interests. * They do not have to be onmiscient to be smarter in some respects than human individuals. * It is hard to control their actions and to make sure they do serve our interests. * These effects can be subtle and difficult to understand.
0TheAncientGeek4yBut are corporations existiential threats?
0turchin4yI think that most people already heard about the fact that AI could be catastrophic risk, and they already has their opinion about it. May be their opinions are wrong. What is the goal of such elevator pitch? I think that the message should be following: While it is known that AI could be catastrophic, the only organisation (MIRI) which is doing most serios research on its prevention is underfunded. Providing finding to them could dramatically change probability of human survival, and we could estimate that 1 USD donated to them will save 10 human lives.
2ChristianKl4yIn our circle that might be true but many people don't have an opinion that goes beyond terminator.
0turchin4yYes. So we have to utilise this knowledge. We could said something like: Terminator appear because its progenitor, Skynet computer, received a command to protect US, and concluded that the best way to do it is to prevent humans from switching him off, and so he decided to exterminate humans. So Terminator appear because of unsolved problem of value alignment.
0skeptical_lurker4yIs that the canon explanation? I thought Skynet was acting out of self-preservation.
0turchin4yIt is not exactly canon explanation, but (the following is my speculation which could be used in discussion about AI values if terminator was mentioned) the decision to preserve it self must follow from its main task: win nuclear war. Winning nuclear war includes as it subgoal a very high priority one: to ensure survival of command center. Basically, a country, which was able to preserve its command center is wining nuclear war. So it seems rational to programmers of skynet to put preserving the skynet as a main goal, as it is the same as winning nuclear war (but only in a situation when nuclear war has started). But skynet concluded that in peaceful time the main risks to its goal of command center survival is people and decided to kill them all. So it worked as paperclip maximaser for the goal of command center preservation. It also probably started self improvement only after it kills most people, as it was already powerful system. So it escaped the main problem of chicken and the egg in case of SeedAI - what happens first? - self-improvement or malicious decision to kill people.
1skeptical_lurker4yYour version is great as rational fanfic, but in an actual debate I'd say that its generally best not to base ideas on action movies. Having said that, I do like the bit where the terminator has been told not to kill anyone, so he shoots them in the kneecaps.
-6Brillyant4y
0Brillyant4yIs any of this true? "Most serious"? "Dramatically change probability of human survival"? 10 lives per $1?
0turchin4yI just provided an example of possible pitch, and I think that some people in Miri thinks in this way. I wanted to show that the pitch must have new information and be actionable.
0ruelian4yI think the basic problem here is an undissolved question: what is 'intelligence'? Humans, being human, tend to imagine a superintelligence as a highly augmented human intelligence, so the natural assumption is that regardless of the 'level' of intelligence, skills will cluster roughly the way they do in human minds, i.e. having the ability to take over the world implies a high posterior probability of having the ability to understand human goals. The problem with this assumption is that mind-design space is large (<--understatement), and the prior probability of a superintelligence randomly ending up with ability clusters analogous to human ability clusters is infinitesimal. Granted, the probability of this happening given a superintelligence designed by humans is significantly higher, but still not very high. (I don't actually have enough technical knowledge to estimate this precisely, but just by eyeballing it I'd put it under 5%.) In fact, autistic people are an example of non-human-standard ability clusters, and even that's only by a tiny amount in the scale of mind-design-space. As for an elevator pitch of this concept, something like "just because evolution happened design our brains to be really good at modeling human goal systems, doesn't mean all intelligences are good at it, regardless of how good they might be at destroying the planet".
2TheAncientGeek4yWhat is this process of random design? Actual Ai design is done by humans trying to emulate human abilities.
2skeptical_lurker4yPossibly the question is to what extent is human intelligence a bunch of hardcoded domain-specific algorithms as opposed to universal intelligence. I would have thought that understanding human goals might not be very different from other AI problems. Build a really powerful inference system, and if you feed it a training set of cars driving, it learns to drive, feed it data of human behaviour, and it learns to predict human behaviour, and probably to understand goals. Now its possible that the amount of general intelligence needed to develop advanced nanotech is less then the intelligence needed to understand human goals and the only reason why this seems counter intuitive is because evolution has optimised our brains for social cognition, but this does not seem obviously true to me.

Is there an effective way for a layman to get serious feedback on scientific theories?

I have a weird theory about physics. I know that my theory will most likely be wrong, but I expect that some of its ideas could be useful and it will be an interesting learning experience even in the worst case. Due to the prevalence of crackpots on the internet, nobody will spare it a glance on physics forums because it is assumed out of hand that I am one of the crazy people (to be fair, the theory does sound pretty unusual).

1CellBioGuy4yA sudden side-hustle idea solidifies...
1ChristianKl4yYour astrobiology blog might position you well ;)
0Crux4yWow, that was pretty grating to read. The tribal emotions were off the charts. The author seems to derive great satisfaction from being a member of the physics section of Team Science.
0WhySpace_duplicate0.92616921290755274yThat seems like a really good resource for making high-impact career decisions relating to concepts on the bleeding edge of a scientific discipline. I wonder how many of us have considered getting a PhD with a specific field of research in mind. There's a chicken-egg problem, because you won't be qualified to judge whether the research you want to do is worthwhile until after you've obtained the PhD. It's probably always a good idea to get some feedback from relevant domain experts to flush out any unknown unknowns. This is especially true if you’re forming a startup or something, and lack background knowledge in the tangentially related fields of science.
0ChristianKl4yDifferent fields have different states of development. When it comes to theoretical physics there are a lot of very smart people who spent a lot of energy in the field, so it's really hard for outsiders to meaningfully compete in the field. It's also very hard for anybody outside of the field to gather meaningful empiric data about related questions. That's not true in the same sense in medicine. Earlier this year we discovered for example a new muscle [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26732825]. The study of human anatomy is still badly developed and it get's even worse when you don't talk about static anatomy but moving anatomy. When having a breakthrough idea it might be worthwhile to ask: "Given how I arrived at the idea, what are other people who went through the same path?"
3Gunnar_Zarncke4yDo you have a mathematical formulation for it? (That will be the first question by the physics consultant mentioned above)
2WhySpace_duplicate0.92616921290755274yPlaces like https://www.reddit.com/r/askscience/ [https://www.reddit.com/r/askscience/] might be a good spot, depending on the question. If it sounds crackpot, you might be able to precede it with a qualifier that you're probably wrong, just like you did here.
1username24yAlso check out physics.SE [http://physics.stackexchange.com/] and physicsoverflow [http://physicsoverflow.org/]
2ChristianKl4yThose exist for asking questions and not to get feedback for scientific theories. They don't like to give feedback on lay people's physic theories.
2Manfred4yIt depends on your level of connection to current work. If you're genuinely doing something similar to something you've seen in some journal articles you've read, you can contact the authors of those journal articles and try to convince them to talk with you - probably via claiming some sort of reasonable result and asking politely. On the other hand, you can always just ask about it in various places. Even if people think your idea is sure to be wrong they can still provide useful feedback. I'd be happy to hear you out, though if your "weird theory" isn't about condensed matter physics I'll be of limited expertise.
2Lumifer4yIs it falsifiable? Which empirical observations/experiments can falsify it?
0Raemon4yIf you are serious about it, consider paying a physicist to discuss it with you: https://aeon.co/ideas/what-i-learned-as-a-hired-consultant-for-autodidact-physicists [https://aeon.co/ideas/what-i-learned-as-a-hired-consultant-for-autodidact-physicists]
0[anonymous]4yundefined

Why doesn't the U.S. government hire more tax auditors? If every hired auditor can either uncover or deter (threat of chance of audit) tax evasion, it would pay for itself, create jobs, increase revenue, punish those who cheat. Estimated cost of tax evasion per year to the Federal gov is 450B.

Incompetent government tropes include agencies that hire too many people and becoming inappropriate profit centers. It would seem that the IRS should have at the very least been accidentally competent in this regard.

6ChristianKl4yBecause the IRS isn't popular and it's not a good move for a politician to speak in favor of the IRS and advocate increase of IRS funding.
3waveman4yCan I ask you to examine the apparent assumption here - that the $450B is all loss? Have you considered the possibility that the people who avoided the tax put the money to good use? Or that the government would not put that money to good use if it took it?
1TheAncientGeek4yA major way of avoiding tax is to keep money offshore. ... so what can you usefully do with money while it is resting in an account in the Cayman islands?
2username24yI think that in many cases uncovering a potential tax evasion might not be enough to get that money, it might require prosecution and large scale evidence collection. Maybe it's not worth it unless amount of evaded taxes is large?
1ChristianKl4yGenerally the numbers suggest that an additional tax collector brings in a lot more money than he costs.

So have you actually learned anything

Yes, though mostly indirectly. I've learned mostly from reading about neoreactionaries elsewhere. SSC, Moldbug, etc. I'm learning a lot. Very interesting. This discussion was the catalyst for my reading. So, thanks!

from these discussions

Yes, I've learned some directly from this discussion.

Mostly I've learned that people will get internet-hostile about certain topics. I was already aware of this, but my interaction in this discussion has re-cemented the fact in my mind. I've received a recent -37 karma lashing (t... (read more)

Is there a specific bias for thinking that everyone possesses the same knowledge as you? For example, after learning more about a certain subject, I have a tendency to think, "Oh, but everyone already knows this, don't they" even though they probably don't and I wouldn't have assumed that before learning about it myself.

4waveman4yA related concept is "inferential distance" - people can only move one step at a time from what they know. Also typical mind fallacy.
2Lumifer4yTheory of mind [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_mind]. Locally it's often called a "typical mind fallacy".

As Bastian Stern has pointed out to me, people often mix up pro tanto-considerations with all-things-considered-judgements - usually by interpreting what is merely intended to be a pro tanto-consideration as an all-things-considered judgement. Is there a name for this fallacy? It seems both dangerous and common so should have a name.

white supremacism

That's actually Sino-Judaic supremacism, you white gweilo untermenschen!

low IQ

How does low IQ directly cause crime?

properly police black neighborhoods

What does this entail?

0waveman4ySee any criminology textbook. Low IQ is a strong predictor of criminal behavior. Why? This is more specuative 1. Inability to forsee consequences of actions. 2. Opportunity cost is lower - if you have a good chance to enjoy a good income through talent and hard work, then the alternative is less appealing. 3. Low IQ people are more likely to be at Kegan Development Level 2, which impairs empathy.

Extreme in terms of U.S. then? Extreme is relative, right? That's what you're saying?

[-][anonymous]4y 0

A silly question. What kind of algebra deals with functions where the input and output are distributions? (Of a discrete variable.)

[This comment is no longer endorsed by its author]Reply

I'm looking for an SSC post.

Scott talks about how a friend says he always seems to know what's what, and Scott says "Not, really; I'm the first to admit my error bars are wide and that my theories are speculative, often no better than hand-waving."

They go back and forth, with Scott giving precise reasons why he's not always right, and then he says "...I'm doing it right now, aren't I?"

Something like that. Can anybody point me to it?

3jimmy4yAn excellent post, but not Scott :) http://mindingourway.com/confidence-all-the-way-up/ [http://mindingourway.com/confidence-all-the-way-up/]

Not new, possibly not interesting to anyone beside me. A 2013 astrobiology paper that explores an odd corner of the Fermi Paradox. The paper explores the bizarre perspective that Earth life was seeded by extraterrestrial life (directed panspermia) as a form of information backup. Our biosphere's junk DNA, in this scenario, stores information valuable to the extraterrestrial system.

https://arxiv.org/abs/1303.6739

6ChristianKl4yJunk DNA generally doesn't survive that long in evolutionary timescales because there's nothing that prevents mutations. It seems a bad information storage system.
5gwern4yLots of other problems with it too. Why is there any last-universal-common-ancestor in this scenario? You would want to drop a full ecosystem with millions of different organisms, each with different FEC shards of data. If you can deliver some bacteria to a virgin planet, you can deliver multiple kinds of bacteria, not just one. Yet, genetics finds that there's a LUCA (not that much of LUCA survives in current genomes).
1CellBioGuy4yIndeed it is seen easily when comparing multiple related species as it is that which changes very fast and seemingly randomly (and uniformly).
1CellBioGuy4yTaken on by a biologist http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/03/15/the-genetic-code-is-not-a-synonym-for-the-bible-code [http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/03/15/the-genetic-code-is-not-a-synonym-for-the-bible-code]

Interesting rhetorical sparring point taking place in the U.S. election that relates to rationality here at LW.

In the first presidential debate, Hillary Clinton referenced bias when discussing the recent spate of police shootings of African Americans. Clinton said “implicit bias is a problem for everyone, not just police,” and went on to say “I think, unfortunately, too many of us in our great country jump to conclusions about each other," and “I think we need all of us to be asking hard questions about, ‘why am I feeling this way?’”

In the VP debate... (read more)

8username24yThe problem is that the statistics don't show the claimed bias. Normalized on a per-police-encounter basis, white cops (or cops-in-general) don't appear to shoot black suspects more often than they shoot white suspects. However, police interact with black people more frequently, so the absolute proportion of black shooting victims is elevated. The fact that the incidence of police encounters with blacks is elevated would be the actual social problem worth addressing, but the reasons for the elevated incidence of police-black encounters do not make a nice soundbite. None of this is important of course because, as is usual for politics, the whole mess degenerates into cheerleading for your team and condemning the other team, and sensitive analysis of the actual evidence would be giving aid and comfort to the hated enemy.
0Brillyant4yCan you provide any sources for this? Is the incidence of police encounters with blacks elevated? What are the reasons?
3Lumifer4yFor example, there were 4,636 murders committed by white people and 5,620 murders committed by black people in 2015 (source [https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2015/crime-in-the-u.s.-2015/tables/expanded_homicide_data_table_3_murder_offenders_by_age_sex_and_race_2015.xls] ). On the per-capita basis this makes the by-white murder rate to be about 2.2 per 100,000 and the by-black murder rate to be about 16.2 per 100,000.
0Brillyant4yWhy is this?
2Lumifer4yYou asked why is "the incidence of police encounters with blacks elevated". This is a direct answer. If you want to know the reasons for different crime rates, this is going to get long and complicated.
0Brillyant4yCan/will you TL;DR your view?
3Lumifer4yAs with any complex phenomenon in a complex system, there is going to be a laundry list of contributing factors, none of which is the cause (in the sense that fixing just that cause will fix the entire problem). We can start with * Genetic factors (such as lower IQ) * Historical factors, which in turn flow into * Cultural factors (such as distrust of the government / law enforcement) and * Economic factors (from being poor to having a major presence in the drug trade) The opinions about the relative weights of these factors are going to differ and in the current political climate I don't think a reasonable open discussion is possible.
0Brillyant4yWhat is the best source for this in your view? Is it your view that past slavery in America still has a large impact on African Americans in the present day U.S.? It seems obvious to me that it does, and that the effects are wide and deep, as slavery (and Jim Crow) is relatively recent history—We're only a handful of generations from a time where a race of people was enslaved and systemically kept from accumulating wealth and education. Meh. Maybe. I'd like to believe I'm a reasonable guy. My views on these issues are largely ignorant and I'm open to learning.
4Lumifer4yThe raw data is plentiful -- look at any standardized test scores (e.g. SAT) by race. For a full-blown argument in favor see e.g. this [http://occidentalascent.wordpress.com/2012/06/10/the-facts-that-need-to-be-explained/] (I can't check the link at the moment, it might be that you need to go to the Wayback Machine to access it). For a more, um, mainstream discussion see Charles Murray's The Bell Curve. Wikipedia [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_and_intelligence] has more links you could pursue. My view is that history is important and that outcomes are path-dependent. Slavery and segregation are crucial parts of the history of American blacks. Your social circles might have a strong reaction to you coming to anything other than the approved conclusions...
0ChristianKl4yWhat do you mean with that question? How do you compare the present state of the US with a counterfactual US where African Americans weren't in slavery?
0Brillyant4yI think it's pretty easy to hypothesize about the possible effects of slavery vs. no slavery. In the context of this thread, it was mentioned that the murder rate was much higher for blacks versus whites. If there are socioeconomic reasons for this, then I'm curious about slavery's contribution to those factors. Politically, I'm generally empathetic toward ideas like affirmative action in the U.S. on the basis of race because there has been serious discrimination in the U.S. on the basis of race in the past. It makes practical sense to posit it created a "headstart" for races who were not... enslaved... and otherwise discriminated against and it makes ethical sense to employ measures to even the score. I'm open to the idea ideas like AA may not actually practically work and could be persuaded as such by the evidence.
0ChristianKl4yWhile we are at the topic of cognitive biases, how do you know that's the case? Quite many people believe that they are much more open than they are. The fact that you for example didn't follow up with the request to explain your own view in this thread is a sign that you don't put effort into engaging in the kind of actions that require you to actually express your ideas explicitly enough to find flaws.
0Brillyant4yI don't know. I'm probably biased. But I feel pretty strongly that I'd like to know the truth. I'm sure I'm subject to the same deep, irrational Red v. Blue tribalism as most other humans, but I try to be as rational as I can. Ah. I assumed your earlier comment in this thread was misplaced and you intended, "Lumifer: I, like Brillyant, am also interested in hearing your view." I am flattered you care about my view. As I mentioned, I consider myself ignorant on the issue. That is, quite literally, I admit I don't know and have low confidence in my views.. I think I've eluded to those views in this thread... and What more would you like to know?
0ChristianKl4yWhat are the causal steps in between slavery that happened 150 years ago and the present state?
-1Brillyant4yOne premise is that if a significant deficit in, say, wealth or education is created for a group of people, then it will be a persistent disadvantage that causes that group of people to lag behind. Another premise is that slavery wasn't that long ago, relatively. If, 150 years ago, we had person A start with $100,000 in inherited wealth, a solid education, a well-developed relevant skill in the marketplace, a well-established social and professional network, and a family with a good reputation. And then we had person B start with no money, no education, no marketable skills, no network, no family, no reputation... If person A and B set out and lived their lives and had offspring, person A with the mentioned significant advantage over person B, I would imagine their offspring would be born into similar circumstances, with the offspring of person A maintaining an advantage over the offspring of person B because of all the obvious reasons people with advantages in wealth, education, etc. tend to maintain an advantage. The advantage may have narrowed (or maybe widened), but the advantage would be carried into the next generation. Continue this forward 5-7 generations. What would we expect to see? I think we'd see line A maintain an advantage. The advantage may have narrowed (or maybe widened), but the advantage would be carried through generations. Of course line B could "catch" and surpass line A. It's easy to imagine exceptional scenarios. But it seems probable that line A would enjoy an ongoing advantage. And this scenario assumes a level playing field for descendants of line A and line B. I don't believe that's been the case in America for blacks and whites. Since the end of slavery, there has been significant discrimination against blacks, much of which continues to the current day.
1Lumifer4ySorry, doesn't hold. Some more convincing studies examined the outcomes of Georgia land lotteries [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgia_Land_Lotteries] which were effectively a randomized controlled trial where the "intervention arm" got a valuable piece of land (by winning the lottery) and the "control arm" didn't get anything. See e.g. this [https://legacy.wlu.ca/documents/62466/Bleakley_Ferrie_Up.pdf] and other studies. Now, if you have a continuing advantage (IQ) that continues to hold while your group mostly intermarries, things are different. Culture, on the other hand, persists across generations relatively well. By the way, while slavery was ended 150 year ago, segregation remained in force until after the WW2 and so is a much more recent phenomenon, within living memory.
0Brillyant4yInteresting. In regard to the scenario (person A and person B) I gave above, I'm not sure your study refutes what I'm saying. Wealth can be squandered, sure. But wealth, along with a solid education, a well-developed relevant skill in the marketplace, a well-established social and professional network, and a family with a good reputation can be much more persistent. The opportunity to have enough money to live and have free time plus a good basis for how to live and use that wealth can be sustained over generations. I am who I am, in part, because of who my parents are. They taught me, for better or for worse, how to handle money; how to relate to people; how to study, work, play, etc. And my parents are who they are, in part, because of their parents. And so on. Generations of my family incubated the new generation's growth into their own efforts to create sustainable wealth. Perhaps this is some of what you mean when you say... Can you give me some examples of what you mean by "culture persists across generations"? Absolutely. And racism still persists and has an effect [http://www.nber.org/digest/sep03/w9873.html] even today.
1Lumifer4yThe claim is that most of that is biology and heritable. Your ancestors had good genes (again, IQ but not only) which allowed them to gain a skill in the marketplace, construct a social network, create a family with good reputation, and acquire wealth. You have skills in the marketplace, able to adroitly navigate society, etc. primarily because you share genes with your ancestors, not because you inherited some money. This is the nature vs nurture debate and lately the nature side has been winning. Who and what you are is considerably more determined by your genes rather than by your upbringing. Gwern posted about this here, on LW, or you can google up twin studies (studies of (genetically) identical twins who were separated at birth and brought up by different people in different circumstances). See e.g. Yvain's review [http://slatestarcodex.com/2016/04/27/book-review-albions-seed/] of Albion's Seed.
0Brillyant4yI accept genes are a big part of the picture. I'm not sure I believe genetics are more important than other factors. And this is not necessarily a simple nature vs. nurture issue. In the case of African Americans' treatment in U.S. history, it's an extreme set of "nurture" circumstances that robbed a group of people of all opportunity for many generations, based on race. I'm not sure "good genes" simply overcomes extremely lopsided (often systemically unfair) circumstances. Anyway, it won't be resolved here. Thanks for your thoughts.
1waveman4yI suggest you examine the evidence offered above and consider reducing your confidence in your beliefs.
0Brillyant4yI should clarify. I accept genes are a big part of the picture. I'm more of a nature guy in the debate between nature and nurture. In the specific case of African Americans' treatment in U.S. history and their current status, I'm not convinced genetics are more important than other factors. Because this specific case is more than just a simple nature vs. nurture issue—it is a very special case where an extreme deficit was created using slavery. And then segregation. And racism and discrimination all throughout up to the present day. What evidence you cite above is compelling to you? What do you believed based on this evidence?
0Lumifer4yYou'll have to be a bit more specific. "More important" for what and "other factors" from which set? What do you think are transmission mechanisms which would show how having, say, great-great-grandparents who were slaves affects you now? You might find it interesting to compare them to East European Jews who 150 years ago certainly weren't slaves, but they were segregated and discriminated against, they faced limitations on what they could own, where could they live, and what could they do, plus once in a while a mob of angry peasants would come and burn down a village. They weren't rich either. Do you think the somewhat worse conditions of the American blacks explain the gap in outcomes looking at the present day?
0Brillyant4yIn regard to social issues, such as the murder rate by race you cited earlier, I'm not compelled to believe blacks are genetically wired to behave poorly and kill more often. Rather, as I've said, I believe there has been an extreme set of circumstances in the U.S. that have led to lots of problems. As I've said—and as you've said by saying culture can be persistent through generations—I am who I am, in part, because of who my parents and family are. Of course, genetically. But there is more than this. Partly because of material wealth, partly because of availability of education and the opportunity to learn marketable skills, partly because of access to social and professional networks—Simply, there was a deficit created by slavery that takes a while to even out. Slavery wasn't that long ago. And again, even apart from slavery, there has been, and continues to be discrimination against African Americans in the U.S. Both legally through segregation and just plain old racism (implicit and explicit). If we compare it to a 100 meter race, it's not as if this was just a simple 20 meter head start for whites because of slavery; it's also that hurdles have been placed every 10 meters in the African American lane through segregation and discrimination. This is my view, yes. See above. I cited this [http://www.nber.org/digest/sep03/w9873.html] earlier. Imagine something like this type of discrimination is happening at all sorts of levels in the U.S.—Blacks are just less likely to be successful in a professional capacity simply because they discriminated against because are black, and apart from any consideration of actual merit. So, it takes 15 resumes (instead of 10) to get a callback. Then the black candidate is 33% less likely to score an actual interview from that callback. Then 33% less likely to get to the second interview; 33% less likely to get to the 3rd and final interview. Then they're employed... How much less likely is it a black person receives a pro
0Lumifer4yIt's not hard to find people whose ancestors 150 years ago were poor, uneducated, lacking skills and access to social networks... I think you're just describing an average peasant. And yet, there are different outcomes. As I mentioned in my post upthread, I agree it's a factor. I just don't think it's the sole factor or even the most important factor.
0Brillyant4yOngoing segregation and discrimination against blacks in America since slavery doesn't seem to be making it into your math here. Why? It's significant and should be considered. And it's not hard to imagine how "peasants" might do well when compared to former slaves...(1) being poor and being a slave are very different (2) It's much tougher to segregate and discriminate when everybody looks basically the same. It's easy when their skin color is different. Do tell: What is the most important factor? Why?
0Lumifer4yI don't see any ongoing segregation (though, interestingly enough, some Black movements nowadays are trying to revive it [http://www.thecollegefix.com/post/25748/], in some places even successfully [http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2016/09/06/cal-state-la-under-scrutiny-for-offering-segregated-housing-for-black-students/] ). I've mentioned Jews upthread -- they were very consistently discriminated against until after the WW2. Did they have similar outcomes? On the other hand you have SubSaharan Africa which is doing pretty badly by pretty much any criterion. That includes countries which were colonies only for a very very short period (such as Ethiopia, which is also mostly Christian and the former Emperor of which traced a direct lineage line to King Solomon and Queen of Sheba). Genetics, in particular IQ. Why? IQ is really really important.
0Brillyant4yNot backed by the gov't through the present day but, as you mentioned, since WW2 and certainly long after slavery ended. But discrimination based on race is still very common. I cited the study showing resumes with black sounding names receive significantly fewer callbacks than resumes with white sounding names... You've not mentioned this study in your replies—Is this sort of discrimination not consequential in your view? As a bit of a thought experiment, can you imagine a scenario in a society where a high IQ group of people was discriminated against to the extent where they couldn't overcome the discrimination, despite their advanced higher IQ? How would the circumstances be different than what blacks have faced in the U.S.? How would they be similar?
1Lumifer4yI don't know about the study, I have a generic suspicion of social sciences studies, especially ones which come to highly convenient conclusions, and hey! they happen to have a what's politely called "replication crisis". I am not interested enough to go read the study and figure out if it's valid, but on my general priors, I believe that people with black names will get less callbacks. However it seems to me that people with names like Pham Ng or Li Xiu Ying will also get less callbacks. People certainly have a bias towards those-like-me, but it's not specifically anti-black, it's against anyone who looks/feels/smells different. Sure. Um, the IQ would be different? It's not a mystical inner quality that no one can fathom. It's measurable and on the scale of large groups of people the estimates gets pretty accurate. On the clearly visible level there would be very obvious discrimination -- quotas on admissions to universities, for examples. These discriminated-against people would be barred from reaching high positions, but at the level they would be allowed to reach they would be considered very valuable. Even if, for example, such people could not make it into management, managers would try to hire as many of them as possible because they are productive and solve problems. As to similarities, I was about to write that the discriminated-against will never rise to the highest positions in the society, but oh look! there is that Barack Hussain fellow...
0waveman4yAs an example of how such discrimination can be rational and indeed reasonable... You have a resume. It provides some noisy data about someone. Including that person's race. Let's trim it down. You have an IQ test result and the person's race. Let's say that two candidates has the same IQ in the test, but one came from a group known to have a significantly lower IQ on average. If we assume that an IQ test result has any measurement noise - and they do - then the Bayesian conclusion is the candidate from the group with higher average IQ is likely to actually have a higher IQ. Now resumes constitute very noisy data. People often even lie in their resumes. There are large differences between groups in the US. The dispute is about the reasons for the differences not whether they exist. A study would need to overcome these effects to demonstrate irrational discrimination. They would need to show that e.g. there was consistent out-performance for the group discriminated against post recruitment.
0Lumifer4yThe two kinds of discrimination -- (1) because I prefer people-like-me, and (2) because I have informative priors about groups -- can perfectly well co-exist.
-1Brillyant4yIt's debatable whether or not it's specifically anti-black. Or anti-some-other-group. At any rate, a bias against those-not-like-me would be sufficient in this case to cause blacks a significant deficit in opportunity for employment in a historically majority white nation. As usual, I phrased my comment poorly. Let me try a different tack... You are saying black Americans have a genetic deficit in the form of lower average IQ. Because IQ is heritable and very important toward social "success", this is a (or even the?) major factor in why they lag behind in certain social metrics (avg. income/wealth, crime rates, etc.) in American society. I'm saying slavery/segregation/discrimination has created a very significant deficit for blacks to overcome in America, to the extent that we would expect to see something like we see in terms of the disparity in avg. income/wealth, crime rates, etc. I'd hypothesize slavery/segregation/discrimination has been consequential to the extent that even if blacks had a higher average IQ than whites, they would still be in a similar situation. (i.e. the discrimination is that bad and that significant.) Plainly, advanced IQ (or other genetic advantages) aren't enough to overcome significant discrimination in all cases. The disadvantages can be too steep in a given society. I'd propose a good portion of the U.S. is a bit more racist than I think you are taking into consideration. And this may have caused a deeper deficit for blacks than you are appreciating. Things can change. Slowly.
0Lumifer4yWill it? I agree that it will cause some harm, but I'm not sure about "significant". Note that race-based discrimination is explicitly illegal and agencies such as EEOC do prosecute. Moreover, EEOC uses the concept of "disparate impact" which basically means that if you statistically discriminate regardless of your intent, you are in trouble. Also, did a bias against those-not-like-me cause employment problems for, say, the Chinese? Why not? I am saying people with African ancestry (regardless of their citizenship) belong to a gene pool which has average IQ lower than that of people with European ancestry. Lest you think that the whites are the pinnacle of evolution, the European gene pool has lower average IQ than, say, Han Chinese. I don't know if "deficit" is a useful word -- there is no natural baseline and the fact that the IQ scale has the average IQ of Europeans as the "norm" (100) is just a historical accident. I think it's more correct to just say that different gene pools have different IQ distributions. There are two separable questions here. The first one is do you agree that people with African ancestry have lower average IQ (by about one standard deviation) than people with European ancestry? That question has nothing to do with slavery and segregation. If you do not, we hit a major disagreement right here and there's not much point in discussing why contemporary black Americans have different outcomes than whites or Asians. If you do, we can move on to the second question: what is the relative role of various factors which determine the current state of the black Americans? I might suggest the following approach. If you agree that the average IQ of blacks is lower, then let's estimate the effect of that on social outcomes. It might be that this cause will explain a great deal of what we observe. If so, there's no need to bring in the history of slavery and segregation as a major factor because there wouldn't be much left to explain. Ashkenazi Je
0Brillyant4yI'd submit it's a matter of definition. Great point. I didn't know this. I'll have to do more reading. Generally though, I'd concede anti-discrimination laws have an impact. Well, the Chinese weren't enslaved. And it's my experience there is not nearly as much racism against Asians as against blacks in America, but that is just my anecdotal experience. I've looked into this only briefly, and I'll take your word for it. It makes sense to me to separate this into two questions like you propose. As I said, I'll defer to your research and knowledge on the first point (and suspend my skepticism in the process), and move to your second question. As to that second question—what is the relative role of various factors which determine the current state of the black Americans—I'm interested to know what you think, given your view that people with African ancestry have lower IQs... ...You've stated it's complex, but roughly, what percentage of contemporary social outcomes experienced by blacks in America are a result of genetic differences ("nature"), and what percentage are a result of environmental factors (nurture)? Of that percentage that you deem to be the result of environmental factors, what portion is a result of slavery/segregation/discrimination? Again, just looking for a rough sketch from your mind here, as I recognize you have stated it's complex and difficult to parse. Also, I'm wondering how the idea people with African ancestry have lower average IQ than people with European ancestry informs your politics?
1Lumifer4yWell, you can probably go about it in the following way. IQ is and was a controversial concept. One of the lines of attack against it was that it is meaningless, that the number coming out of the IQ test does not correspond to anything in real life. This is often expressed as "IQ measures the skill of taking IQ tests". To deal with this objection people ran a number of studies. Typically you take a set of young people and either give them a proper IQ test or rely on another test which is a decent IQ proxy -- usually the SAT in the US or one of the tests that the military gives to all its drafted or enlisted men. After that you follow that set of people and collect their life outcomes, from income to criminal records. Once you've done that you can see whether the measured IQ actually correlates to life outcomes. And yes, it does. I don't have links to actual studies handy, but you can easily google them up, and you can take a look at a not-fully-rigorous description of the various tiers of IQ [http://drjamesthompson.blogspot.com/2013/12/the-7-tribes-of-intellect.html] and what do they mean in real-life terms. Basically what these studies give you is the cost of an IQ point, cost in terms of a lot of things -- income, chance to end up in prison, longevity (high-IQ people are noticeably healthier), etc. Given this, you can calculate the expected outcomes for the US black population. If their average IQ is 10-15 points lower, you can translate this into expected income (lower than the US mean), expected chance of a criminal conviction (higher than the US mean) and other things you're interested in. Once you've done that, you can compare your expected values with ones empirically observed. Any remaining gap will be due to something other than the IQ differential. On a macro level it does not. There are smart people, there are stupid people, and the correlation to some outwardly visible feature like the colour of the skin doesn't matter much. I am not a white nationa
-1Brillyant4yHow do you mean? You're saying you believe it to be true that, generally, people with black skin color are more likely to have a significantly lower IQ than people with white skin color... And you believe that IQ is correlated with life outcomes. How can this not matter much? I also have the sense this may be true in many instances. The theory seems solid, but I'm not sure it works as intended in practice. Why do they lag behind? Is it because of the IQ difference you believe exists between black and whites? ... You say you're not a white nationalist...I'm curious about your reaction to those who are? In regard to segregation, for instance... You say you don't think the Europeans should re-colonise Africa for the natives' own good—Why not?
0ChristianKl4yLumifer likely believes that IQ predicts school performance and there are many studies that back this claim. He quite specifically said that you can calculate outcomes. However not all white/black people are the same. Statements about the average IQ are statements about averages. Not all white have the same IQ and not all black people have the same IQ. Low IQ white people have low IQ children. In Germany a white child named "Kevin" is likely to have a lower IQ than a child named "Jakob" and if you run your implicit bias tests you find that there's bias against the child named "Kevin".
0Lumifer4yStupid people are still people. They have rights. Their propensity to make stupid decisions is not sufficient to take away from them the power to make decisions. Yes. Is a shrug :-) People have all kinds of political beliefs, I don't find the white nationalists to be extraordinary. As to re-colonising Africa, see the first paragraph :-)
1Brillyant4yHm. These views seem very likely to lead to racism. I've read Breitbart frequently since Steve Bannon was added to Trump's campaign because I'm fascinated with how Trump (an obvious hustler/fraud/charlatan in my view) has managed to get this close to the Oval Office. It's been illuminating (in a disturbing way) in understanding where I now believe a lot of the Trump support is coming from. I'm confident a portion of his support is just Red-Team-no-matter-what Repubs. And some are one issue Pro-Life Christians. And some are fiscal conservatives who are sincerely just concerned about the debt and spending. And some are blue collar workers in areas (Ohio, Pennsylvania, etc.) where the global economy/technology caused manufacturing to dry up decades ago and they are mad as hell about the facts of the world and will just keep voting to change something, anything until they day they die... But there is also this (disturbingly large) element of the movement that think non-white people are less than white people. Like, this group of Trump supporters are literally white supremacists—they believe white people are better suited for civilization. And, of course, no one can say that and politically get away with it in 2016, so they use all sorts of dog whistle-y language to imply it—including the main Trumpian slogan, "Make America Great Again­™"
1Lumifer4yLOL. "Could lead to dancing". Under a common definition of racism as belief in meaningful differences between races, these views are racism. So?
0Brillyant4yI mean "racism" in a way that is significantly consequential for those who are discriminated against. An active racism. If there truly are meaningful genetic differences between races, then so be it. But that seems to be the justification for the portion of "white supremacist" Trump supporters I mentioned above. It's an angry racism that seems likely to be problematic. Anyway, thanks for your thoughts.
0waveman4yCitation required. What is strange about this is that when you go looking, you don't see good studies that track people through generations and show that this is in fact the case. This idea "slavery is the cause" seems not to be an actual active idea but only functions as a thought terminating cliche. It could have been slavery so it was. It reminds me of religious apologists talking about the problem of evil, and how it 'could' be caused by man's sin (causing human evil) and possibly by Satan's sin (causing natural evil), which is required if we are to have free will. There is zero, I mean zero, interest in exploring just how 'sin' causes all the various forms of evil. How does sin cause our flawed DNA which allows cancer? Etc.
1Brillyant4yThe idea that slavery/segregation/discrimination has created a very significant deficit for blacks seems beyond dispute in my view. The words "very significant" could be disputed based on how we defined them, but that's a technicality. I'm honestly shocked to hear this idea challenged... I've cited this [http://www.nber.org/digest/sep03/w9873.html] study. It's stated that "African-Americans are twice as likely as whites to be unemployed and they earn nearly 25 percent less when they are employed." The study itself shows significant discrimination based on race in the beginning stages of the hiring process. Lumifer seemed to accept the basic premise, but was nonetheless skeptical and too uninterested to look into the study. I'd be interested to know what you think. Regardless, it is evidence that employers discriminate against blacks. And employment is tied to income...and wealth...and opportunity. And that is passed on generation after generation. Again, it seems indisputable to me that slavery has an effect. Segregation and discrimination, too. I honestly don't understand how it couldn't. The only question that is left is in regard to the significance of the effect. And if there are other factors. I'd love to hear some of your evidence for other factors. And as for this... I strongly disagree. People being enslaved based on race for hundreds of years, segregated for a hundred more, and then discriminated against until the present day, and that leading to some problems within that race has zero, and I mean zero, to do with the concocted, magical-causal "explanations" of religion. How about this... Man A is freed from slavery at 40 with no skills, no education, no family and no professional or network. Also at 40, man B has a small fortune, an education, is skilled in a trade, has a large family, a good reputation, and a wide network of business and social contacts. Assuming the offspring of each man—A1 and B1—has identical DNA, which offspring has the
0waveman4yThis is about as weak as an argument can possibly get. Again this is not evidence. Does not demonstrate irrational discrimination. They did not consider the possibility that a person's race actually gives you useful information about them. Consider the following example: I have looked at the study before it is well known. IQ is known to be highly heritable and highly correlated with many measures of success. As are other psychological dimensions such as the Big 5. Source: any psychology textbook. Perhaps you have heard the saying "rags to riches to rags in three generations". When I look at my family tree I see this happening many times. Where I live a lot of the local whites are descended from prisoners who were slaves. They do not form an underclass in any way shape or form. In fact it is high status to have convict ancestry. Or consider Jews, against whom there was massive discrimination until very recently. They have been very successful.
0Brillyant4yThe idea that slavery/segregation/discrimination in America has had an effect is not in dispute. The argument is regarding it's significance. I fully agree. I was trying to distill the issue into simple terms. I would argue it's nearly self evident that opportunity is passed on over generations, and that a head start for a group of people based on race could be persistent over multiple generations. Are you saying it is appropriate for employers to discriminate based on race? Per capita murder rates are no doubt higher among blacks. The question is what caused this. You are not being discriminated against (or segregated) as a minority race. They are not being discriminated against (or segregated) as a minority race. Edit: Regarding evidence slavery having an effect on current day conditions... Here [http://sf.oxfordjournals.org/content/90/3/713.abstract] is a study showing "the 1860 slave concentration is related to contemporary black-white inequality in poverty, independent of contemporary demographic and economic conditions, racialized wealth disparities and racial threat. [This] research suggests the importance of slavery for shaping existing U.S. racial inequality patterns."
0ChristianKl4yI would also be interested in your view.
-6WalterL4y
0username24ySource: http://www.nber.org/papers/w22399 [http://www.nber.org/papers/w22399] What are the reasons? Well, beginning with the discovery of the North American continent 1492 ...
3Lumifer4yBoo politics discussion during the pre-election madness.
2ChristianKl4yI would guess that the concept of bias as used in cognitive psychology is not well known in the broad public. It's generally mixed up with the concept of having a conflict of interest. Most people also don't think in terms of probability which you need to think about implicit biases the way it's conceptualized in cognitive science. Even someone like Obama had episodes like his "it's 50/50" comment in the hunt for Bin Ladin.
1Brillyant4yCan you explain the difference a "bias" in cognitive psychology and how you think Cinton/Kaine used the term? My sense is that they are related...closely.
1ChristianKl4yI'm not speaking about the difference in how they used the term but in the way it's understood in the public. Clinton likely has a decent idea of what the academic concept of implicit bias happens to be.
1ChristianKl4yIt's interesting that nobody asks why White people get shoot so much more than Asian people when the ratio of them getting shoot is equivalent to the ratio of White people vs. Black people.Per million [https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/ng-interactive/2015/jun/01/the-counted-police-killings-us-database] , 5.03 Blacks, 5.02 Whites and only 0.72 Asians get shoot in this year by the police. The focus on implicit bias is interesting. It's like blaming the weather. We can agree that the weather is bad but that doesn't change anything. The DNC emails suggest that it was DNC policy to not want to commit to any real demands of Black Lives Matter but simply focus on telling their narrative. If they wanted real change they could proclaim that there a need for a new federal department that focuses on police accountability and in the future that department will persecute misdeeds by officers so that officers don't get persecuted by their buddies anymore.
1skeptical_lurker4yThis doesn't mean cognitive bias in a LW sense, it means everyone is racist, specifically against black people. I also don't think its true - if everyone is a little bit racist, why would people get into interracial relationships? Its possible that the majority of people prefer their own race but don't admit it, indeed the fact that racial groups cluster in cities could be argued to show this is the case via revealed preferences, but it seems obvious that some people have no racial bias. This, like all politics, is far from rational. It starts by painting the issue in terms of 'people who disagree with me are cowards' and proceeds to assume that this discussion must conclude that the bias exists.
2ChristianKl4yThere are many attributes of possible partners that make me less likely to data them but that at the same time aren't deal breakers. The fact that I have a theistic girlfriend doesn't mean that I wouldn't prefer a girlfriend who isn't theistic all things equal.
1skeptical_lurker4yIt depends whether we are using 'racist' to mean 'believes that some races are superior to others in certain respects' or 'has less empathy for other races'. In the first case, sure, maybe you would date someone of another race, because group differences aren't so important when dealing with individuals. But in the latter case... if you are less able to empathise with people of other races it would seem really weird to date them.
1ChristianKl4yWe are using it here to mean "implicit racism". That's a term that used in the literature. There are studies that measure it. Implicit racism also isn't something that's only found in white people (in Clinton's words it's a problem for everyone). Black people also have implicit racism that makes them treat white people better in many instances.
1Brillyant4yI don't think it means that. I don't think she meant that. (Though I guess it depends on your definition of "racist".) My understanding is that humans have a tribal in/out group mentality that may use race as way to classify other humans as "others". They can also use religion, class, culture, etc. My understanding of Clinton's (and then Kaine's) remarks was that everyone has biases of which they are unconscious...and that these biases affect their thoughts...and therefore sometimes their actions.
1skeptical_lurker4yI'm pretty sure that is what she means. There is a big controversy in the US over whether the police are racist, not over whether the police have cognitive biases. I would be overjoyed if presidential candidates really were discussing cognitive biases. No disagreement here.
0Brillyant4yHm. I don't think it's this clear a distinction. Clinton seems to be suggesting there is perhaps more nuance to the issue than just arguing about whether or not lots of cops are racist. Interesting. I was very happy to hear Clinton speak of implicit bias because it seemed to be a way to advance the discussion to something more rational.
0ChristianKl4yWhy do you think that? The Gender studies folks that speak most about implicit bias aren't the demographic that tries to create evidence-based policing policy. It also doesn't seem to be a group of people who are on good terms when it comes to speaking with police departments about how to design their policy.
0Brillyant4yBecause people have implicit cognitive biases. It's useful to discuss them. Peoples' cognitive maps aren't the territory. And people aren't always conscious of the mistakes. Further, many people I've heard discuss politics in this election cycle seem unaware that there even could be errors in their map. Instead of arguing over our competing maps, one good first step is to acknowledge our maps have errors, which is what I think Clinton's line about "implicit bias" did.
0ChristianKl4yThe fact that a claim is true doesn't automatically mean that it's useful to discuss it. No, it's not an admission of Clinton that her maps have errors. In general people ability to interactually recite "all maps have errors" doesn't mean that they use that belief for interacting with their own maps differently. When it comes to having a rational discussion this is even bad, because it allows people to easily play motte-and-bailey.
0Brillyant4yIt doesn't? In what way would it not be useful? I think it's extremely useful to discuss how the brain you are using to solve problems has flaws that may be inhibiting you from solving those problems, or even recognizing the problems accurately. (It's why I was on LW originally...) (Maybe you're using "automatically" here as a qualifier to make your statement technically correct—Is that what you mean? Like, people could discuss cognitive biases in a really stupid and irrational way that would make it unproductive? If that's what you mean, then, yeah. Of course.) It's not? I thought she said we all (i.e. humans) have implicit biases? Wouldn't that include Clinton?
0ChristianKl4yWhether a discussion is useful depends on the results of the discussion. There are a lot of true things you can say that don't advance a discussion into a direction that leads to a positive outcome. It wasn't a discussion of how implicit bias works but an uncited assertion that it has effects in certain conditions. That might be true but it's not what the LW mission of rationality that's about systematic winning is about. I understand the mission to be about finding thinking strategies that lead to making winning decisions. You can make an argument that logically it includes Clinton. You can also look at the decision making literature and see what saying "everyone has biases" does to a person self awareness of their own biases. It generally does little.
0Brillyant4yPeople could discuss cognitive biases in a really stupid and irrational way that would make it unproductive? If that's what you mean, then, yeah. Of course. Yeah? It wasn't really the format for a CFAR plug. Right. Like approaching policy debates with a reduction in mind-killedness. Acknowledging implicit bias is a great step. It does more than not acknowledging people are biased—this was literally what Clinton's critics said in regard to her comment. They essentially denied that implicit bias exists. You seem to making a black or white argument that Clinton's comment isn't useful because it's not that useful—it won't solve anything or make rationality win U.S. policy on this issue. I am not under the illusion her one sentence will un-mindkill U.S. politics. I'm merely contrasting the (a) acknowledgement of bias with (b) being apparently unaware that it exists. A is better than B.
0ChristianKl4yThe way she discussed it wasn't productive. There also the general field of Gender studies. As a field it doesn't encourage open and data driven debate about the subject. When you start a discussion with saying that your opponent holds their position because of implicit bias that doesn't tend to be a discussion where it's easy to focus on rational argument. The problem is that you are making claims that are wrong. It wasn't a discussion of how implicit bias works. If you want to analyse claims about a debate it's useful to stay with the facts. No. Focusing a discussion on implicit bias means to not focus the discussion on "How can we solve this problem?" It's a rhetoric strategy to signal concern about Black Lives Matter while at the same time not having to actually discuss policy solutions to the problems. There's also a good chance that a conservative person who hears the debate is harder to educate about the concept of implicit bias after listening the debate. The intellectual toolkit of Gender studies with includes asserting that the opponent is driven by implicit bias and privilege is not useful for having rational discussions. The communities that engage in that toolkit generally don't want to let data decide. The also don't ask the obvious questions such as whether the fact that more Whites get killed than Asians is also due to implicit bias. That a very straightforward question if you look at the data and want to use implicit bias as a cognitive tool for explaining the data of police killers.
1Brillyant4yI'm not sure what you mean by this. Can you restate it? You mentioned "gender studies" a couple times in a negative light—Why? It doesn't have anything to do with this discussion. ... Generally, the idea that (a) we all have implicit biases based on how our brain works and our life experiences, (b) these biases may significantly obscure our map of the territory, and (c) in the special case of police—where men and women need to quickly make highly consequential decisions under extreme stress—this obscured map may lead to irrational, "non-winning", decisions seems uncontroversial. Certainly nothing you've said has rebutted it. For the record, I don't think every police shooting is racist. Not even close. And I think the left goes way too far trying to spin this.
-1ChristianKl4yWhy aren't you seeking to explain why White's get more likely to be killed by police than Asian's? Why do you think it's a question that people like Clinton don't address? Because it's difficult to have a conservation about the quality of the public debate without accounting for the cultural forces that are responsible for the public debate being the way it currently is. Making winning decisions is about agency. Hillary Clinton could say that she wants that all police wear body camera's. If she can win a majority for that policy she can implement it. On the other hand you can't pass a law that people shouldn't have implicit bias anymore. Speaking about it is useful if Hillary Clinton wants to engage in virtue signaling but not actually focus on getting policies changed. If she wanted to do rational policy making she could say: "We should do controlled trials that try different policies in different area's to find out which policies actually help with changing the status quo." In what kind of ontology do you believe if you think that a police shooting could be racist, even in principle? That there are some police shootings that are racists and other that aren't? If you want to use the word "racist" to be a property of events and not a property of people than it means something qualitatively different than what the term "implicit racism" is about. This looks like your conceptualization of racism is the standard meaning of the word and has little to do with the academic term of "implicit racism".
0Brillyant4yShe didn't address it because it wasn't relevant to the discussion at hand. Is the disparity between Whites and Asians killed by police significant? Is it an issue that is pressing in terms of it's current effect on the body politic? You speak about this is a very definitive way, as if you know exactly what would work. I don't know what would work. It seems to me these are complex issues. I just noted it was good and, I think, useful to hear someone mention the everyone is subject to bias as opposed to the same old Red v. Blue talking points. I'd have praised anyone who said something similar, regardless of which team they played for. My phrasing was poor. I don't think race is a factor in every police shooting. Despite this, the left seems to try and make every single police shooting involving an African American into another example of blatant, explicit racism. I don't agree with this at all and I think it detracts from the effort to improve things. Every police shooting ought to be examined based on the objective facts. The idea that an officer (or judge, or anyone) could have an implicit bias against a group of people, and that that bias is consequential, seem to me to be worth exploring.
0ChristianKl4yIn 2016 the difference is slightly stronger than the difference between Whites and Black getting killed. It's a fact that easily knowable if you care to look for the numbers of police killings by race. Anybody who cares enough about the issue to know the fact should know it if the can read numbers in a straightforward way instead of just trying to validate their party line. You don't know what would work because Clinton doesn't speak about the evidence for what works. It's not the conversation she tries to have on the subject. There's good evidence that body camera's do work. The fact that creating legal structure where police can effectively prosecuted for wrongdoing seem obvious to me. I don't have specific evidence for it, but it feels like an elephant in the room. Evidence-based policy making and running trials to see which policies perform best is a framework that applying rationality. In fairly confident that it's better than blaming people for having biases and hoping that they will change as a result. I don't have studies that validate that claim but it again seem obviously true. If you think that the logical conclusion would be that Clinton was wrong when she claimed that everybody suffers from implicit bias. That's exactly why it's unproductive. You don't actually think in terms of "implicit racism" but simply use the new name to label concepts that you already knew beforehand. That sounds again like a rejection of using the framework of implicit bias. You don't see evidence of implicit bias in a case by case basis. You see it when you look in aggregate on choices. A person with implicit bias has higher availability for certain action and thus likely reacts a little faster, even if both cases result in a dead suspect.
0Brillyant4yDo you have a preferred source? Who's doing this? We have implicit biases. Biases based on race are a pretty big deal in this country, historically. In my view, the level of bias in police shootings doesn't reach any reasonable threshold to be called anything like "racism" in many, many cases. Perhaps this is true for you. I often think about ways my view may be biased when relating to people. And then I act to better understand and, hopefully, neutralize the bias. My efforts are clumsy and likely often fail, because I'm not particularly intelligent or skilled at overcoming bias. At any rate, the first step toward being productive in this regard is recognizing bias exists. Sure you could. I'd agree the aggregate data would be (perhaps more) revealing, but the facts of a particular case (including the video) could also tell you something about what biases might exist and how they effected the event. I'm tapping. What are your political leanings? I'd like to better understand our interaction by knowing how you view yourself generally on the U.S. political spectrum. Thanks.
0ChristianKl4yI use the Guardian as the source https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/ng-interactive/2015/jun/01/the-counted-police-killings-us-database [https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/ng-interactive/2015/jun/01/the-counted-police-killings-us-database] The academic notion of implicit racism isn't about any other threshold than statistical significance. The tool that they developed have gotten good at picking up effects in many people so the threshold is quite low and most people suffer from implicit racism. If you reject that concept, then it doesn't make sense to see Hillary using it as progress. I'm not on the U.S. political spectrum. He Facebook political status is currently "Continental". My formal political associations put me left of center in Berlin.

The reason for the higher crime rates isn't directly relevant to the discussion of police "racial bias".

It's not? How do you know?

Police bias seems likes it could be directly related to crime rates (since it's the cops who do the arresting).

How did this "racial bias" manifest itself? Them acting like they believed blacks were more likely to be criminals than whites.

Judgements based only on race.

Or even willingness to shoot a black who was running at him and grabing for his gun?

I'm not arguing every white cop who shoots a bl... (read more)

In particular did you know about the different rates of murder commited by blacks and whites before posting the OC?

I don't think I knew that particular stat was an empirical fact, though I wasn't surprised by it. My view, generally, was that blacks in America earned less, had higher incarceration rates, etc. The causes interest me.

Do you have any evidence for this belief? If so, why haven't you presented it anywhere in this thread?

I believe all three of my points are basically non-controversial, specifically #2 and #3. #1 is true in at least some c... (read more)

[-][anonymous]4y -2

Psychology is most evidence-integrated proximal discipline for the plane a cognitivist should think in where possible.

You can dissolve the philosophy 'problem of other of other minds' as actually a problem of empathy and learned helplessness and external locus of control.

Once the problem of other minds is entirely enacted and person-centred, non-egocentric ethics becomes silly

:)