[DEACTIVATED] Duncan Sabien


Civilization & Cooperation

Wiki Contributions


It is only safe for you to have opinions if the other people don't dislike them?

I think you're trying to set up a really mean dynamic where you get to say mean things about me in public, but if I point out anything frowny about that fact you're like "ah, see, I knew that guy was Bad; he's making it Unsafe for me to say rude stuff about him in the public square."

(Where "Unsafe" means, apparently, "he'll respond with any kind of objection at all."  Apparently the only dynamic you found acceptable was "I say mean stuff and Duncan just takes it.")


I won't respond further, since you clearly don't want a big back-and-forth, but calling people a weird bug and then pretending that doesn't in practice connote disgust is a motte and bailey.

@Raemon FYI there isn't internet at our place since ~26h ago so Logan probably hasn't looked at this or any other responses yet.

My objection is that it doesn't distinguish between [unpleasant fights that really should in fact be had] from [unpleasant fights that shouldn't]. It's a very handy term for delegitimizing any protracted conflict, which is a boon to those who'd like to get away with really shitty behavior by hijacking politeness norms.

"There was a Muggle once named Mohandas Gandhi," Harry said to the floor. "He thought the government of Muggle Britain shouldn't rule over his country. And he refused to fight. He convinced his whole country not to fight. Instead he told his people to walk up to the British soldiers and let themselves be struck down, without resisting, and when Britain couldn't stand doing that any more, we freed his country. I thought it was a very beautiful thing, when I read about it, I thought it was something higher than all the wars that anyone had ever fought with guns or swords. That they'd really done that, and that it had actually worked." Harry drew another breath. "Only then I found out that Gandhi told his people, during World War II, that if the Nazis invaded they should use nonviolent resistance against them, too. But the Nazis would've just shot everyone in sight. And maybe Winston Churchill always felt that there should've been a better way, some clever way to win without having to hurt anyone; but he never found it, and so he had to fight." Harry looked up at the Headmaster, who was staring at him. "Winston Churchill was the one who tried to convince the British government not to give Czechoslovakia to Hitler in exchange for a peace treaty, that they should fight right away -"

"I recognize the name, Harry," said Dumbledore. The old wizard's lips twitched upward. "Although honesty compels me to say that dear Winston was never one for pangs of conscience, even after a dozen shots of Firewhiskey."

"The point is," Harry said, after a brief pause to remember exactly who he was talking to, and fight down the suddenly returning sense that he was an ignorant child gone insane with audacity who had no right to be in this room and no right to question Albus Dumbledore about anything, "the point is, saying violence is evil isn't an answer. It doesn't say when to fight and when not to fight. It's a hard question and Gandhi refused to deal with it, and that's why I lost some of my respect for him."

"And your own answer, Harry?" Dumbledore said quietly.

"One answer is that you shouldn't ever use violence except to stop violence," Harry said. "You shouldn't risk anyone's life except to save even more lives. It sounds good when you say it like that. Only the problem is that if a police officer sees a burglar robbing a house, the police officer should try to stop the burglar, even though the burglar might fight back and someone might get hurt or even killed. Even if the burglar is only trying to steal jewelry, which is just a thing. Because if nobody so much as inconveniences burglars, there will be more burglars, and more burglars. And even if they only ever stole things each time, it would - the fabric of society -" Harry stopped. His thoughts weren't as ordered as they usually pretended to be, in this room. He should have been able to give some perfectly logical exposition in terms of game theory, should have at least been able to see it that way, but it was eluding him. Hawks and doves - "Don't you see, if evil people are willing to risk violence to get what they want, and good people always back down because violence is too terrible to risk, it's - it's not a good society to live in, Headmaster! Don't you realize what all this bullying is doing to Hogwarts, to Slytherin House most of all?"

In particular, I note that the set of people with vocal distaste for demon threads seems to strongly disoverlap with the set of people I've seen actually effectively come to the aid of someone being bullied. The disoverlap isn't total, but it's a really good predictor in my personal experience.

I've tried for a bit to produce a useful response to the top-level comment and mostly failed, but I did want to note that

"Oh, it sort of didn't occur to me that this analogy might've carried a negative connotation, because when I was negatively gossiping about Duncan behind his back with a bunch of other people who also have an overall negative opinion of him, the analogy was popular!"

is a hell of a take. =/

Claim: this sequence is almost one hundred percent about studying something other than your mind, and what's happening is a confusion between tools and purposes.

At a very coarse/gross level of understanding, the way that we gather information about objects is by hurling other objects at them, and watching the interaction. This is one way to think about light—we throw trillions of tiny photons at an object, and the way they bounce off gives us information about the object (its location, shape, surface properties, etc).

Ditto sound waves, now that I think of it (the photon analogy is from Brian Greene's The Elegant Universe).

The key point is that we never quite interact directly with the object. We do on human scales; there's a thing we call "direct interaction" that makes sense to talk about. But actually what's going on is that we're perceiving photons that are out there hurtling through the void, and constructing understanding via extrapolation about what those photons interacted with a fraction of a second earlier.

We don't talk about "studying the photons" when we describe looking at an object, though. We gloss over that step, handwave it away.

This sequence is, I think, about looking at things other than your brain.

But it focuses on the analogue of the photons themselves. It's looking through your own phenomenology, to understand what's really going on out there. It's saying (roughly) "notice how these photons bounce off this way, and these other photons bounce off that way, and these other photons get absorbed, and see what you can reasonably conclude about the object, given those facts."

So there's a heavy focus on your own perceptions, and your emotional reactions, and so forth, but it's in service of understanding the object that is upstream of [your brain reacting in such a way].

Honestly, I was somewhat surprised to hear @Raemon 's complaint, and at first bewildered/taken aback, because it hadn't even occurred to me that this sequence might be mistaken for being about minds/brains. But of course it does talk a lot about the internals of one's experience, so I understand the confusion! Ray's complaint isn't coming out of nowhere!

But to tack on yet another analogy, I feel sort of like just ... reassuring the complaint away? In the same way that, if I were teaching a parkour class and a student was like, wait, why are we doing pushups and stretches, I thought we were here to do vaults, I would be like yes, yes, don't worry, we are absolutely getting to the vaults, but this is important preparation for the vaults, and will help you build up the strength and physical vocabulary necessary to be non-lost once we start working on the vaults, which is coming right up, actually.

"Let's imagine that these unspecified details, which could be anywhere within a VERY wide range, are specifically such that the original point is ridiculous, in support of concluding that the original point is ridiculous" does not seem like a reasonable move to me.



… well, then regardless of whether you agree with the author in question about whether or not my comments are good/important/whatever, the fact that he holds this view casts very serious doubt on your thesis. Wouldn’t you agree?

Said is asking Ray, not me, but I strongly disagree.

Point 1 is that a black raven is not strong evidence against white ravens. (Said knows this, I think.)

Point 2 is that a behavior which displeases many authors can still be pleasant or valuable to some authors. (Said knows this, I think.)

Point 3 is that benquo's view on even that specific comment is not the only author-view that matters; benquo eventually being like "this critical feedback was great" does not mean that other authors watching the interaction at the time did not feel "ugh, I sure don't want to write a post and have to deal with comments like this one." (Said knows this, I think.)

(Notably, benquo once publicly stated that he suspected a rough interaction would likely have gone much better under Duncan moderation norms specifically; if we're updating on benquo's endorsements then it comes out to "both sets of norms useful," presumably for different things.)

I'd say it casts mild doubt on the thesis, at best, and that the most likely resolution is that Ray ends up feeling something like "yeah, fair, this did not turn out to be the best example," not "oh snap, you're right, turns out it was all a house of cards."

(This will be my only comment in this chain, so as to avoid repeating past cycles.)

Strong disagree that I'm describing a deeply dysfunctional gym; I barely described the gym at all and it's way overconfident/projection-y to extrapolate "deeply dysfunctional" from what I said.

There's a difference between "hey, I want to understand the underpinnings of this" and the thing I described, which is hostile to the point of "why are you even here, then?"

Edit: I view the votes on this and the parent comment as indicative of a genuine problem; jimmy above is exhibiting actually bad reasoning (à la representativeness) and the LWers who happen to be hanging around this particular comment thread are, uh, apparently unaware of this fact. Alas.

Just noting that "What specifically did it get wrong?" is a perfectly reasonable question to ask, and is one I would have (in most cases) been willing to answer, patiently and at length.

That I was unwilling in that specific case is an artifact of the history of Zack being quick to aggressively misunderstand that specific essay, in ways that I considered excessively rude (and which Zack has also publicly retracted).

Given that public retraction, I'm considering going back and in fact answering the "what specifically" question, as I normally would have at the time. If I end up not doing so, it will be more because of opportunity costs than anything else. (I do have an answer; it's just a question of whether it's worth taking the time to write it out months later.)

Cranks ask questions of people they think are wrong, in order to try and expose the weaknesses in their arguments. They signal aloofness, because their priority is on being seen as an authority who deserves similar or higher status (at least on the issue at hand) as the person they're addressing. They already expect the author they're questioning is fundamentally confused, and so they don't waste their own time trying to figure out what the author might have meant. The author, and the audience, are lucky to have the crank's attention, since they're obviously collectively lost in confusion and need a disinterested outsider to call attention to that fact.

And this attitude is particularly corrosive to feelings of trust, collaboration, "jamming together," etc. ... it's like walking into a martial arts academy and finding a person present who scoffs at both the instructors and the other students alike, and who doesn't offer sufficient faith to even try a given exercise once before first a) hearing it comprehensively justified and b) checking the sparring records to see if people who did that exercise win more fights.

Which, yeah, that's one way to zero in on the best martial arts practices, if the other people around you also signed up for that kind of culture and have patience for that level of suspicion and mistrust!

(I choose martial arts specifically because it's a domain full of anti-epistemic garbage and claims that don't pan out.)

But in practice, few people will participate in such a martial arts academy for long, and it's not true that a martial arts academy lacking that level of rigor makes no progress in discovering and teaching useful things to its students.

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