All of FeministX's Comments + Replies

High Status and Stupidity: Why?

"Did I miss anything important?"

Yeah. Maybe the observation is false to begin with. I doubt high status people are less intelligent. We just expect more from them because we are supposed to be able to look up to them. They are probably intelligent people who are no more intelligent than other low status intelligent people. They disappoint us because they are only as smart, not more smart, when compared to others of the same IQ level.

3Eliezer Yudkowsky12yI've met enough high-status people to get over the initial shock about some of them being stupid. So I don't think that my remaining disappointment is a contrast with my expectations; I think it is a genuine contrast with grad students.
6AnnaSalamon12yYou should apply. I liked my 90 second skim of your blog just now, and also, everyone who thinks they should maybe apply, should apply.
Less Wrong Q&A with Eliezer Yudkowsky: Ask Your Questions

2) How does one affect the process of increasing the rationality of people who are not ostensibly interested in objective reasoning and people who claim to be interested but are in fact attached to their biases?

I find that question interesting because it is plain that the general capacity for rationality in a society can be improved over time. Once almost no one understood the concept of a bell curve or a standard deviation, but now the average person has a basic understanding of how these concepts apply to the real world.

It seems to me that we really ar... (read more)

4MichaelVassar12yI think that the average person has NO IDEA how the concept of the standard deviation is properly used. Neither does the average IQ 140 non-scientist. Less Wrong is an attempt to increase the rationality of very unusual people. Most other SIAI efforts are other such attempts, or are direct attempts at FAI.
5cabalamat12yI suspect that, on the contrary, >50% of the population have very little idea what either term means.
Less Wrong Q&A with Eliezer Yudkowsky: Ask Your Questions

I have questions. You say we must have one question per comment. So, I will have to make multitple posts.

1) Is there a domain where rational analysis does not apply?

2MichaelVassar12yAnalysis takes time, so anywhere timed. Rational analysis, crudely speaking, is the proper use of 'system 2'. Most domains work better via 'system 1' with 'system 2' watching and noticing what's going wrong in order to analyze problems or nudge habits.
3CannibalSmith12yImprovisational theater. (I'm not Eliezer, I know.)
Welcome to Less Wrong!

Hi,

I am FeministX of FeministX.blogspot.com. I found this blog after Eliezer commented on my site. While my online name is FeministX, I am not a traditional feminist, and many of my intellectual interests lie outside of feminism.

Lately I am interestedin learning more about the genetic and biological basis for individual and group behavior. I am also interested in cryonics and transhumanism. I guess this makes me H+BD.

I am a rationalist by temperament and ideology. Why am I a rationalist? To ask is to answer the question. A person who wishes to accuratel... (read more)

1RobinZ12yWelcome! Edit: I don't know if you were around when Eliezer Yudkowsky was posting on Overcoming Bias, but if you weren't, I'd highly, highly recommend Outside the Laboratory [http://lesswrong.com/lw/gv/outside_the_laboratory/]. Also, from Yudkowsky's own site, The Simple Truth [http://yudkowsky.net/rational/the-simple-truth] and An Intuitive Explanation of Bayes' Theorem [http://yudkowsky.net/rational/bayes]. And do check out some of the top scoring Less Wrong articles [http://lesswrong.com/top/].
Open Thread: November 2009

"I think I don't hear it from my male classmates because they aren't alert to this need. I would be pleased to hear one of them acknowledge it."

Why do you feel there is a need for more female philosophy students in your department?

4Alicorn12yI think a more balanced ratio would help the professors learn to be sensitive to the different typical needs of female students (e.g. decrease reliance on the "football coach" approach). Indirectly, more female students means more female Ph.Ds means more female professors means more female philosophy role models means more female students, until ideally contemporary philosophy isn't so terribly skewed. More female students would also increase the chance that there would be more female philosophers outside the typical "soft options" (history and ethics and feminist philosophy), which would improve the reception I and other female philosophers would get when proposing ideas on non-soft topics like metaphysics because we'd no longer look atypical for the sort of person who has good ideas on metaphysics.
Open Thread: November 2009

Cyan, the poster Larks wrote that response. I had not read that post before I made the comment.

Eliezer says that authority is not 100% irrelevent in an argument. I think this is true because 100% of reliance on authority can't ordinarily be removed. Unless the issue is pure math or directly observable phenomena. But removal of reliance on a particular individual's authority/competence/biological state etc. is one the first steps in achieving objective rationality.

1CannibalSmith12yWhat did you think when you first saw my "we need more girls" remark?
2Eliezer Yudkowsky12yBecause advertising your lack of girls is not viewed by the average woman as a hopeful sign. (Heck, I'd think twice about any online site that advertised itself with "we need more boys".) Also, the above point should be sufficiently obvious that a potential female reader would look at that and justifiably think "This person is thinking about what they want and not thinking about how I might react" which isn't much of a hopeful sign either.
0Vladimir_Nesov12yInapt.
Open Thread: November 2009

"This is a bit strong: a more reasonable interpritation is that women are simply much less capable or liable to discern the truth than men."

That's not an argument against anyone even if it is true. The relative liklihood of one person vs another arriving at a correct outcome is irrelevant when you see the actual argument and conclusion before you. At that point, you must evaluate only on the merits of the argument and the conclusion.

Secondly, that's not a reasonable interpretation because it is too vague to determine whether it is true or not... (read more)

1CannibalSmith12y... Actually, forget the whole hypocrisy thing. Forget about the commenters. Correct your mistakes, learn the facts, put more effort into writing clearly. If you do all that, your next post will be much more persuasive and will consequently attract comments of higher quality. Heck, it might even attract us! :)
0Cyan12yJust out of curiosity, were you familiar with this post [http://lesswrong.com/lw/lx/argument_screens_off_authority/] before you wrote the above? (And who wrote "This is a bit strong: a more reasonable interpritation..." ? It doesn't currently appear in the parent to your post.)
Open Thread: November 2009

But those are celestial virgins. I mean the real women that die and go to heaven. What happens to them? Perhaps they also enjoy the celestial virgins.

6spriteless12yThey are united with their husbands. If they were widows and had had multiple husbands, they can choose the best husband to be with. They are also, being a real woman and therefore superior to creatures that have never been mortal, the boss of the 40 virgins of their husband. What, you think they didn't think of this?
Open Thread: November 2009

" An assertion that murder is wrong is not falsified by it being said by a murderer."

No, but saying that there is no point in arguing with a woman because women are not capable to discerning objective truth is an instance of making an assertion which is not based on objective truth (unless you can provide evidence that being female necessarily prevents capacity for objective reasoning in all cases and subsequently prevents the ability to arrive at objective truth).

It is like saying, "you rely on personal attacks, therefore your perspective on the environment is not correct"

0Larks12yThis is a bit strong: a more reasonable interpritation is that women are simply much less capable or liable to discern the truth than men.
0CannibalSmith12yWhat I'm saying is that you should make sure you're right before calling other people wrong lest you be a hypocrite just like them.
Open Thread: November 2009

I saw that Eliezer posts that politics are a poor field to hone rational discussion skills. It is unfortunate that anyone should see a domain such as politics as a place where discussions are inherantly beyond salvage. It's a strange limitation to place on the utility of reason to say that it should be relegated to domains which have less immediate affect on human life. Poltiics are immensely important. Should it not be priority to structure rational discussion so that there are effective ways for correcting for the propensity to rely on bias, partisanship... (read more)

0bogus12yI agree with your assessment, but applying our skills to the political domain is very much an open problem--and a difficult one at that. See these wiki pages: [Mind-killer] [http://wiki.lesswrong.com/mediawiki/index.php?title=Mind-killer] and [Color politics] [http://wiki.lesswrong.com/mediawiki/index.php?title=Color_politics] for a concise description of the issue. The gist of it is that politics involves real-world violence, or the governmental monopoly thereof, or something which could involve violence in the ancestral environment and thus misleads our well-honed instincts. Thus, solving political conflicts requires specialized skills, which are not what LessWrong is about. Nevertheless, there are a number of so-called open politics websites [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_politics] which are more focused on what you're describing here. I'd like to see more collaboration between that community and the LessWrong/debiasing/rationality camp.
2loqi12yIt's not so strange if you believe that reason isn't a sufficient basis for determining values. It allows for arguments of the form, "if you value X, then you should value Y, because of causal relation Z", but not simply "you should value Y". Debates fueled by ideology are the antithesis of rational discussion, so I consider its "ineffectiveness" in such circumstances a feature, not a bug. These are beyond salvage because the participants aren't seeking to increase their understanding, they're simply fielding "arguments as soldiers". Tossing carefully chosen evidence and logical arguments around is simply part of the persuasion game. Being too openly rational or honest can be counter-productive to such goals. That depends on what you gain from a solid understanding of the subject versus what you lose in sanity if you fail to correct for your biases as you continue to accumulate "evidence" and beliefs, along with the respective chances of each outcome. As far as I can tell, political involvement tends to make people believe crazy things, and "accurate" political opinions (those well-aligned with your actual values) are not that useful or effective, except for signaling your status to a group of like-minded peers. Politics isn't about policy [http://www.overcomingbias.com/2008/09/politics-isnt-a.html].
4DanArmak12yOne of the points of Eliezer's article, IIRC, is that politics when discussed by ordinary people indeed tends not to affect anything except the discussion itself. Political instincts evolved from small communities where publicly siding with one contending leader, or with one policy option, and then going and telling the whole 100-strong tribe about it really made a difference. But today's rulers of nations of hundreds of millions of people can't be influenced by what any one ordinary individual says or does. So our political instinct devolves into empty posturing and us-vs-them mentality. Politics are important, sure, but only in the sense that what our rulers do is important to us. The relationship is one-way most of the time. If you're arguing about things that depend on what ordinary people do - such as "shall we respect women equally in our daily lives?" - then it's not politics. But if you're arguing about "should women have legal suffrage?" - and you're not actually discussing a useful means of bringing that about, like a political party (of men) - then the discussion will tend to engage political instincts and get out of hand. There's a lot to be gained from rationally working out your own thoughts and feelings on the issue. But if you're arguing with other people, and they aren't being rational, then it won't help you to have a so-called rational debate with them. If you're looking for rationality to help you in such arguments - the help would probably take the form of rationally understanding your opponents' thinking, and then constructing a convincing argument which is totally "irrational", like publicly shaming them, or blackmailing, or anything else that works. Remember - rationality means Winning. It's not the same as having "rational arguments" - you can only have those with other rationalists.
Open Thread: November 2009

"

Also, what is a leader other than an authority figure to be obeyed? "

In our world, that is what a leader must be. In the general human concept of an ideal world, I do not know if this is the case. I actually think that humans have some basic agreement about what an ideal world would be like. The ideal world is based on priorities from our instincts as mortal animals, but it is not subjected to the confines of natural experience. I think the concept of heaven illustrates the general human fantasy of the ideal world.

I get the impression that almo... (read more)

0[anonymous]12yRe: heaven: http://lesswrong.com/lw/y0/31_laws_of_fun/ [http://lesswrong.com/lw/y0/31_laws_of_fun/]
2wedrifid12yI suggest that this is to constrain the natural dynamics of leadership, not to formalise it. It saves on the killing.
3wedrifid12yNo gendered personalities? How many people strap bombs to themselves, working themselves into a frenzy by reminding themselves of their heavenly reward of 40 androgynous virgins?
3Vladimir_Nesov12yA theological heaven can actually exist, but shouldn't. See Fun theory [http://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Fun_theory], for this reference in particular Visualizing Eutopia [http://lesswrong.com/lw/wu/visualizing_eutopia/] and Eutopia is Scary [http://lesswrong.com/lw/xl/eutopia_is_scary/].
5DanArmak12yYou must not know your way around the actual heavens of the big religions (as officially described). For instance, an important and (according to many Christian theologists) necessary part of the Christian heaven is being able to view the Christian Hell and enjoy the torture of the evil sinners there. And an important part of Muslim Heaven, according to some, is a certain thing about female virgins you may have heard of. I could go on for a while in this vein if you want real examples... because I happen to have a thing for completely un-academically reading popular history of religion & thought in my free time. Really, if we're going to get into religious (historical & contemporary) conceptions of heaven, the best one-line summary I can come up with is - heaven is just like Earth ought to be according to your cleric of choice and taken to an appropriate extreme. And most people's conception of how things "ought to be" is horrible to most other people. One of the most common issues for idealists to face is that most people don't want any part of their ideal world, no matter what that ideal happens to be. If the difference is imperceptible, even to people who have experience with similar hierarchies but don't happen to work inside this one, then why is the difference at all important? Why are we even talking about such a minute difference? It sounds to me like "there are no real status hierarchies and no leader" is a pretty good summary of this situation.
4LucasSloan12yI was hoping for an example of a large scale usage of your ideal. It seems to me that as social systems get larger, the difficult of co-ordination gets more difficult, necessitating more power into the hands of those who lead. Much as communism can work in a small village, but not on a national scale, I suspect your ideal fails at the large scale.
Open Thread: November 2009

"May I ask the moral difference between a female supremacist and a male supremacist?"

What I call female supremacism does not mean that females should rule. I feel that the concept of needing a ruler is one based on male status hierarchies where an alpha rules over a group or has the highest status and most priviliges in a group.

To me, female supremacism means that female social hierarchies should determine overall status differences between all people. In my mind, female social hierarchies involve less power/resource differentials between the mo... (read more)

5LucasSloan12yI think you overestimate the differences between male and female interpretations of status. Can you provide an example of one your female social hierarchies? Also, what is a leader other than an authority figure to be obeyed?
Open Thread: November 2009

"Why do you think of the discussion of gender roles and gender equality to necessary break down into a camp for men and a camp for women?"

I don't personally think this. I don't think there are two genders. There are technically more than two physical sexes even if we categorize the intersexed as separate. I feel that either out of cultural conditioning or instincts, the bulk of people push a discussion about gender into a discussion about steryotypical behaviors by men and by women. This then devolves into a "battle of the sexes" issue... (read more)

However, on my thread, there are a number of people that seem to have no qualms with the idea of barring female voting and such things.

On the internet, emotional charge attracts intellectual lint, and there are plenty of awful people to go around. If you came here looking for a rational basis for your moral outrage, you will probably leave empty-handed.

But I don't think you're actually concerned that the person arguing against suffrage is making any claims with objective content, so this isn't so much the domain of rational debate as it is politics, wherein you explain the virtue of your values and the vice of your opponents'. Such debates are beyond salvage.

6LucasSloan12yYes, those who would deny women suffrage are anti-female. But in order to feel they deserve suffrage, one need not be pro-female. One only need be in favor of human rights.
Open Thread: November 2009

The discussion here helped me reanalyze my own attitude towards this kind of issue.

I don't think I ever had a serious intention to back up my arguments or win a debate when I posted on the issue of why men hate feminism. I am not sure what to do when faced the extreme anti feminism that I commonly find on the internet. I have a number of readers on my blog who will make totalizing comments about all women or all feminists. Ex, one commenter said that women have no ability to sustain interest in topics that don't pertain to relationships between individual... (read more)

0bogus12yIf these commenters are foolish enough to disparage and denigrate any political role to women generally, then do them a favor and flame them to a crisp. If that's not enough to drive them off your site, then feel free to ban them. These are thinly-veiled attempts at intimidation which are reprehensible in the extreme, and will not be taken lightly by anyone who cares seriously about any kind of politics other than mere alignment to power and privilege--which is most everyone in this day and age. Especially so when coming from people of a Western male background--who are thus embedded in a complex power structure rife with systemic biases, which discriminates towards all kinds of minority groups. Simply stated, you don't have to be nice to these people. Quite the opposite, in fact. Sometimes that's all they'll understand.
3ShardPhoenix12yPersonally I'd say you shouldn't "be a feminist" at all. Have goals (whether relating to women's rights or anything else) and try to find the best ways to reach them. Don't put a political label on yourself that will constrain your thinking and/or be socially and emotionally costly to change. Though given that you seem to have invested a lot of your identity in feminism it's probably already hard to change.
2CannibalSmith12yBan them.
3DanArmak12yIt's almost certainly not possible for you to have a discussion about feminism with such a person. I haven't read your blog, but perhaps you should reconsider the kind of community of readers you're trying to build there. If you tend to attract antifeminist posters, and you don't also attract profeminist ones who help you argue your position in the comments, that sounds like a totally unproductive community and you might want to take explicit steps to remodel it, e.g. by changing your posts, controlling the allowed posters, or starting from scratch if you have to.
Open Thread: November 2009

"winces* So, I agree that no one is competent and everyone has an agenda, but it's not as if everyone sides with "their" sex."

I didn't mean to imply that they did always side with their physical sex.

8LucasSloan12yWhy do you think of the discussion of gender roles and gender equality to necessary break down into a camp for men and a camp for women? By creating two groups you have engaged mental circuitry that will predispose you to dismissing their arguments when they are correct and supporting your own sides' even when they are wrong. http://lesswrong.com/lw/lt/the_robbers_cave_experiment/ [http://lesswrong.com/lw/lt/the_robbers_cave_experiment/] http://lesswrong.com/lw/gw/politics_is_the_mindkiller/ [http://lesswrong.com/lw/gw/politics_is_the_mindkiller/]
Open Thread: November 2009

"And now I've gotten to this part of the page and I've decided I don't want to read anything else you have to say:

I am a female supremacist, not a true feminist "

Why does this bother you so much? Why would it invalidate everything I have to say or render everything I say uninteresting?

It is indeed impossible to find someone who will remain detatched from the issue of feminism.

5LucasSloan12yMay I ask the moral difference between a female supremacist and a male supremacist? Your pre-existing bias against males calls into doubt everything you say afterward. If you have already decided that men are oppressive pigs and women are heroic repressed figures who would be able to run the world better (I assume that is what female supremacist means, correct me if I'm wrong), you will search for arguments in favor your view and dismiss those contrary to your opinion. Have you ever seen an academic article discussing gender and dismissed it as "typical of the male dominated academic community?" These articles might explain further: http://lesswrong.com/lw/js/the_bottom_line/ [http://lesswrong.com/lw/js/the_bottom_line/] http://lesswrong.com/lw/ju/rationalization/ [http://lesswrong.com/lw/ju/rationalization/] http://lesswrong.com/lw/iw/positive_bias_look_into_the_dark/ [http://lesswrong.com/lw/iw/positive_bias_look_into_the_dark/]
Open Thread: November 2009

And I should add that it was foolish of me to present that post, which was possibly my most biased, as an introduction to my blog. Actually, my blog gets more insightful than this. Please don't dismiss my entire blog based on the content of that post about the motivations for a visceral reaction against feminists as indicative of what my blog is usually about. That particular post was designed to spur emotional reactions from a specific set of readers I have.

2Eliezer Yudkowsky12yEh, just say "Oops" and get it over with. Excuses slow down life. Never expend effort on defending something you could just change.
3saturn12yOf what use is rationality, then?
Open Thread: November 2009

Oh, sorry. To clarify, I know my original post was never substantiated with any evidence based analysis for the true motivations behind anti-feminism. What I was referring to was the latter part of the comment thread between a commenter, Sabril and a few other commenters and me.

I think their attacks on my capacity for objective reasoning are a bit hypocritical.

5wedrifid12ytu quoque, it's like ad hominem light.
6CannibalSmith12yYou should rectify that as soon as possible. Hypocrisy doesn't make one wrong. An assertion that murder is wrong is not falsified by it being said by a murderer.
4Alicorn12y*finds name "sabril" and reads from there* This first comment, and the later ones, betray a repulsive attitude, and I wouldn't blame you for being furious and therefore slightly off your game thereafter. That said, Sabril makes several moderately cogent points - the numbered items in particular are things I've noticed with disapproval before. I'm about to go to bed, so I'm not going to delve too deeply into the history of your blog to find an exhaustive list or lots of context, but it looks like he also has a legitimate complaint or three about your data regarding the Conservative Party in the UK, your failure to cite some data, the apparently undefended implication about war, the anecdote-based unfavorable comparison of arranged marriage versus non-arranged, and your tendency to cite... uh... nothing that I've run across so far. Also, this seems to beg your own question: And now I've gotten to this part of the page and I've decided I don't want to read anything else you have to say:
1FeministX12yAnd I should add that it was foolish of me to present that post, which was possibly my most biased, as an introduction to my blog. Actually, my blog gets more insightful than this. Please don't dismiss my entire blog based on the content of that post about the motivations for a visceral reaction against feminists as indicative of what my blog is usually about. That particular post was designed to spur emotional reactions from a specific set of readers I have.
0[anonymous]12yIt would have been a good idea to link to that thread as the inspiration for the post, if that's what's going on.
Open Thread: November 2009

Hi, I have never posted on this forum, but I believe that some Less Wrong readers read my blog, FeministX.blogspot.com.

Since this at least started out as an open thread, I have a request of all who read this comment, and an idea for a future post topic.

On my blog, I have a topic about why some men hate feminism. The answers are varied, but they include a string of comments back and forth between anti feminists and me. The anti feminists accuse me of fallacies, and one says that he "clearly" refuted my argument. My interpretation is that my argu... (read more)

I read through a couple of months worth of FeministX when I first discovered it...

(Because of a particular skill exhibited: namely the ability to not force your self-image into a narrow box based on the labels you apply to yourself, a topic on which I should write further at some point. See the final paragraph of this post on how much she hates sports for a case in point. Most people calling themselves "feminist" would experience cognitive dissonance between that and their self-image. Just as most people who thought of themselves as important ... (read more)

1wedrifid12yWhat exactly is an anti-feminist? I've never actually met someone who identified as one. Is this more of a label that others apply to them and if so, what do you mean when you apply it? Is it a manner of 'Feminism, Boo!' vs 'Yay! Feminism!' or is it the objection to one (or more) ideals that are of particular import? Does 'anti-feminist' apply to beliefs about the objective state of the universe, such as the impact of certain biological differences on psychology or social dynamics? Or is it more suitably applied to normative claims about how things should be, including those about the relative status of groups or individuals?
3Jack12yHi! Feel free to introduce yourself here. [http://lesswrong.com/lw/b9/welcome_to_less_wrong/] There are a couple general reasons for disagreement. 1. Two parties disagree on terminal values (if someone genuinely believes that women are inherently less valuable than men there is no reason to keep talking about gender politics) 2. Two parties disagree on intermediate values (both might value happiness but a feminist might believe gender equality to be central to attaining happiness while the anti-feminist thinks gender equality is counter productive to this goal. It might be difficult for parties to explain their reasoning in these matters but it is possible). 3.Two parties disagree about the means to the end (an anti-feminist might think that feminism as a movement doesn't do a good job promoting gender equality) 3. Two parties disagree about the intent of one or more parties (a lot of anti-feminists think feminism is a tool for advancing interests of women exclusively and that feminists aren't really concerned with gender equality. I don't think you can say much to such people though it is worth asking yourself why they have that impression... calling yourself a female supremacist will not help matters.) 4. Two parties disagree about the facts of the status quo (if someone thinks that women aren't more oppressed than men or that feminists exaggerate the problem they may have exactly the same view of an ideal world as you do but have very different means for getting there. This is a tricker issue than it looks because facts about oppression are really difficult to quantify. There is a common practice in anti-subordination theory of treating claims of oppression at face value but this only works if one trusts the intentions of the person claiming to be oppressed.) 5. One of more parties have incoherent views (you can point out incoherence, not much else). I think that is more
-2CannibalSmith12yLet me be the first to say: welcome to Less Wrong! Please explore the site and stay with us - we need more girls.
3FeministX12yThe discussion here helped me reanalyze my own attitude towards this kind of issue. I don't think I ever had a serious intention to back up my arguments or win a debate when I posted on the issue of why men hate feminism. I am not sure what to do when faced the extreme anti feminism that I commonly find on the internet. I have a number of readers on my blog who will make totalizing comments about all women or all feminists. Ex, one commenter said that women have no ability to sustain interest in topics that don't pertain to relationships between individuals. Other commenters say that feminsm will lead to the downfall of civilization for reasons including that it lets women pursue their fleeting sexual impulses, which are destructive. i suppose I do not really know how to handle this attitude. Ordinarily, I ignore them since I operate under the assumption that people that expouse such viewpoints are not prone to being swayed by any argument. They are attached to their bias, in a sense. I am not sure if it is possible for a feminist to have a reasonable discussion with a person that is anti feminist and that hates nearly all aspects of feminism in the western world.
6Zack_M_Davis12y\winces* So, I agree* that no one is competent and everyone has an agenda, but it's not as if everyone sides with "their" sex. No, historically we suck at this, too. Got any decision theory questions?
6RobinZ12yI hate to say it, but your analysis seems rather thin. I think a productive discussion of social attitudes toward feminism would have to start with a more comprehensive survey of the facts of the matter on the ground - discussion of poll results, interviews, and the like. Even if the conclusion is correct, it is not supported in your post, and there are no clues in your post as to where to find evidence either way.