AnneC

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Rationality is Not an Attractive Tribe

Re. "the reason most people don't agree with us is that they're just not smart enough"...totally aside from the question of whether this sort of sentiment is liable to be offputting to a lot of people, I've very often wondered whether anyone who holds such a sentiment is at all worried about the consequences of an "Emperor's New Clothes" effect.

What I mean by "Emperor's New Clothes" effect is that, regardless of what a person's actual views are on a given subject (or set of subjects), there's really nothing stopping said person from just copying the favored vocabulary, language patterns, stated opinions, etc., of those they see as the cleverest/most prominent/most respectable members of a community they want to join and be accepted in.

E.g., in self-described "rationalist" communities, I've noted that lots of people involved (a) value intelligence (however they define it) highly, and (b) appear to enjoy being acknowledged as clever themselves. The easiest way to do this, of course, is to parrot others that the community of interest clearly thinks are the Smartest of the Smart. And in some situations I suspect the "parroting" can occur involuntarily, just as a result of reading a lot of the writing of someone you like, admire, or respect intellectually, even if you may not have any real, deep understanding of what you are saying.

So my question is...does anyone even care about this possibility? Or are "communities" largely in the business of collecting members and advocates who can talk the talk, regardless of what their brains are actually doing behind the scenes?

Do you have High-Functioning Asperger's Syndrome?

Well in my case the thing that stands out is that the ADHD diagnosis was given after a very quick/superficial evaluation, whereas the AS diagnosis came after many months of testing, evaluation, and thorough analysis of my developmental history. I cannot exactly speak to whether the two configurations can or cannot coexist in the same person without further study, but my suspicion is that AS and ADHD can appear superficially similar to adults who are observing children and teenagers, merely because of the fact that the child/teenager does not appear to be attending to what the adult wishes they were.

Do you have High-Functioning Asperger's Syndrome?

Full disclosure: I have been diagnosed with Asperger's (and prior to that, PDD-NOS and ADHD). I am also female and 31 years old at the time of this writing.

All that said, one thing I persistently have trouble with is thinking in terms of "isms" in the first place (well, with the exception of "autism", though that is a neurological configuration rather than an ideology). Hence I have no idea, really, whether my default mode(s) of thought fall into the "utilitarian/consequentialist" schools, and I have a very difficult time following the sorts of discussions wherein people are constantly trying to figure out whether a given notion fits in with this-ism or that-ism, or even where folks seem to be worrying about keeping everything they decide in line with a given, externally-sourced "system" of organizing ideas.

(This, incidentally, is why I stopped identifying as a "transhumanist" -- I just could not figure out what the word meant, it seemed to "lose meaning" the more I examined it, and eventually I determined the energy expenditure of even continuing to attempt discerning that thing was not worth it, so I disconnected myself from identification with the term. I still maintain my strong interests in longevity, human-machine interface, and whatnot, but I do not believe they NEED an over-arching ideology or what-have-you in order for my interest to be legitimate).

As far as making ethical decisions goes for me, my impression (as much as my own insight can be considered reliable here; I don't know for sure) is that I do usually invoke certain very basic principles (bodily autonomy, for instance) but that I tend to consider specific situations on a very individual basis each time, without concerning myself so much over being "consistent". Different situations can certainly share pattern-elements with one another, of course, and I can notice that, but for the most part -- and I don't know if it is a language processing thing or what -- I seem to have more trouble than most people on this site (who frequent it) with "ism"-based discussions. Moreover, while I believe my thinking to be quite rational and logical most of the time, I sort of burned out on heavy debate/argument over the 2006-2008 time frame and hence I say less about "heavy" subjects on the Internet than I used to these days,

EDIT: ...and the point of all that was to basically suggest (albeit without reference to data other than my own observations and pattern-identification skills, so take the suggestion for whatever you think it is worth on that basis) that while you may indeed find SOME correlation between AS/autism and whatever you consider to be particularly "utilitarian" or "consequentialist" thought, my take is that this is only one specific possible manifestation of "autistic specialization". Which is to say that some of us may indeed specialize in more abstract areas, however, there are also those of us who remain welded to the "concrete" and hence are less likely to be found as, say, regular LW commenters. Personally I identify, for instance, more with the "engineer" than the "philosopher" archetype, though that has little to no bearing on the presence of otherwise-inclined autistic persons in this or other forums.

Of Exclusionary Speech and Gender Politics

This. I'm not "creeped out" by people merely talking about PUA techniques, but I do find it boring, irrelevant, and pretty much useless in terms of any capacity to improve my thinking abilities. I don't think all examples / analogies used to make a point about rationality, etc., need to be things everyone can identify with (that would likely be impossible anyway), but PUA stuff really is sort of distractingly specific to the "hetero males trying to score hot chicks" demographic. I'd just as soon be reading about how to choose the best golf shoes.

My Way

Data point: I am physically (and I am figuring, genotypically) female but have never felt that I have an "internal feminine identity" of any kind. I used to think the whole idea of such an internal identity was a socially-imposed myth. It was not until I encountered trans women / trans men who very, very clearly had an internal identification that strongly differed from their sex phenotype that it became evident to me that some people (and possibly most cisgendered persons, even) really and truly did have an internal gender "sense".

My Way

Look up James Tiptree Jr. (the pseudonym used by sf writer Alice Sheldon) for a great example of a female sf author who "passed" not only as male, but as manly (in the opinion of many men who read her work) until her true identity was revealed.

Ask LW: What questions to test in our rationality questionnaire?

Another nit about drivers' licenses (full disclosure: I don't have one, and I live in the USA): from what I've seen, drivers' license as an indicator of "real world success" is a very American phenomenon. Anecdotally, the Europeans I've encountered seem significantly less likely than Americans of the same age to have licenses on average, nor is there a stigma (or as much of a stigma) associated with not having one.

Your Price for Joining

No one person is "in charge of the future of humanity". I know you were probably being somewhat flippant, but still.

You're Calling *Who* A Cult Leader?

Well, for one thing, privilege is a major source of bias, and when a person doesn't even realize they (or those they admire) have particular types/levels of privilege, they're going to have a harder time seeing reality accurately.

E.g., when I was younger, I used to think that racism didn't exist anymore (that it had been vanquished by Martin Luther King, or something, before I was even born) and didn't affect anyone, and that if someone didn't have a job, they were probably just lazy. Learning about my own areas of privilege made it possible for me to see that things were a lot more complicated than that.

Of course it's possible for people to go too far the other way, and end up totally discounting individual effort and ability, but that would fall under the category of "reversed stupidity" and hence isn't what I'm advocating.

(And that's all I'm going to say in this thread for now - need to spend some more time languaging my thoughts on this subject.)

You're Calling *Who* A Cult Leader?

For what it's worth I don't think you've deliberately set out to become a "cult leader" -- you seem like a sincere person who just happens to be going about life in a rather nonstandard fashion. You've got some issues with unacknowledged privilege and such, and I've gotten impressions from you of an undercritical attractance to power and people who have power, but that's hardly unique.

I think mostly it's that you confuse people via sending off a lot of signals they don't expect -- like they think you must have some weird ulterior motive for not having gone to college, and instead of seeing public discussion of your own intellect as merely the result of somewhat atypical social skills, it's seen as inexcusable arrogance.

That said, because of my own negative experience(s) with people who've seemed, shall I say, rather "sparkly" at first, but who HAVE turned out to be seeking puppy-dog supplicants (or worse), I tend to be very very cautious these days when I encounter someone who seems to attract a fan club.

With you I've gone back and forth in my head many times as to whether you are what you first struck me as (a sincere, if a bit arrogant, highly ambitious guy) or something more sinister. It's been difficult to tell as you're sort of surrounded by this buzzing cloud of subcultural interference, but at this point I've sort of determined that if there's anything sinister there it's not a special sort above and beyond what you'd find in any given random middle/upper class American geek.

I think you get called out as a symbol of "smartypants white boys obsessed with trying to save the world from their basements" because you've ended up more visible than most. But, no, that doesn't make you a cult leader, it just makes you someone who would (like many of us living in wealthy, industrialized nations) benefit from making a greater effort to understand the effects of power and privilege.

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