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In Defense of Twitter's Decision to Ban Trump

Again, Trump wasn't banned for his ideas. He was banned for actively inciting violence and for a long history of poisoning the well. 

Neither of us know what Twitter's "real" motivations were. Heck, the executives of Twitter might not know what their real motivations were. 

The real question is whether it is proper for a major media platform to remove a major political figure for ostensibly breaking the code of conduct associated with the platform and for actively engaging in incitement to violence. That activity ought not to be protected by free speech or society as a whole.
 

In Defense of Twitter's Decision to Ban Trump

If there is not a "state actor," then the First Amendment does not apply. 

I'm not a First-Amendment scholar. There is literature and case law on this subject, but I wouldn't be able to summarize it well. That said, I'm fairly certain that government officials pressuring private platforms to remove certain content would not implicate the First Amendment. But it is a closer call than the Trump situation.

And, to be clear, I'm not in favor of all forms of platform censorship. I'm simply defending this instance of banning Trump from Twitter. 

Without question, this is a hard question. Too many rationalists assume it is easy. 

 

In Defense of Twitter's Decision to Ban Trump

This post once had 11 Karma and then went down to 4, so clearly this is not a popular take among rationalists. 

I feel as if too many rationalists struggle to see past the "but what about the slippery slope?" argument and fail to see the evil that's right in front of them.

In Defense of Twitter's Decision to Ban Trump

This strikes me as a weak slippery slope argument. There is no "homogeneity of acceptable discourse" on Twitter. Even after Trump's ban, far-right wing politicians such as Hawley and Boebart still use the platform. He wasn't removed for ideological reasons. He was banned because he was actively inciting a violent insurrection and aspired to continue to incite such an insurrection. 

In Defense of Twitter's Decision to Ban Trump

Fair point re: #2, but the ultimate point is unchanged. For the same reasons that Less Wrong and SSC engage in content moderation, Twitter does the same. Banning Trump, on balance, will not be harmful.

In Defense of Twitter's Decision to Ban Trump

Point 7 is a response to Yudkowsky retweeting on Jan 8 Ryan Lackey's post that said:

"If you wanted to increase the odds of an actual civil war in the next decade, pushing 10-50 mm people into a somewhat segregated communications system actively forced to evolve to resist aggressive censorship is an important first step."

 

IQ and Magnus Carlsen, Leo Messi and the Decathlon

If you take a pair of variables which are correlated r>=0.25, you have, pretty much by definition, found that one >variable 'matters' more than any other single variable can, simply because it has explained/predicted the majority of >the variance (sqrt(0.25)=0.5). Another variable can't explain more of the variance.

I agree that g is probably more predictive of success than any other single variable. Cumulatively, other factors may matter more. But it is likely true that no one factor matters more. But I think that debate is tangential to the original post.

The original post had two points.

The “first thesis” was to argue that intelligence is more like athleticism than height.

The “second thesis” was to focus on the sub-components of intelligence as better predictors of domain-specific high-level success than the general factor.

I have not been dissuaded on either thesis.

The more I read about this, the more I believe that both of these theses are supported by CHC theory, which, according to a 2005 paper by Alfonso, Flanagan, and Radwan, is, “the most comprehensive and empirically supported psychometric theory of the structure of cognitive and academic abilities to date.” (Thanks, 9eB1!) The paper goes on to say:

Others, however, believe that g is the most important ability to assess because it predicts the lion’s share of the >variance in multiple outcomes, both academic and occupational (e.g., Glutting, Watkins, & Youngstrom, 2003). >Notwithstanding one’s position on the importance of g in understanding various outcomes (particularly academic), >there is considerable evidence that both broad and narrow CHC cognitive abilities explain a significant portion of >variance in specific academic abilities, over and above the variance accounted for by g (e.g., McGrew, Flanagan, >Keith, & Vanderwood, 1997; Vanderwood, McGrew, Flanagan, & Keith, 2002).

I’m not sure whether you would disagree with the last sentence of that paragraph, but that’s really what I was trying to get at with thesis 2.

With thesis 1, I think CHC theory provides further support for my belief that athleticism is a much better analogy for intelligence than a simple variable such as height. According to the paper, “CHC theory currently consists of 10 broad cognitive abilities and more than 70 narrow abilities.” These are all subsumed in two strata below the general factor.

To me, it would be very easy to imagine breaking down athleticism into 10 general categories and 70 narrow abilities as well. I think by breaking down athleticism into those subcategories, you could explain a significant portion of variance in specific athletic outcomes, over and above the variance accounted for by athleticism generally.

But how could you possibly break down height into 10 general categories and 70 narrow abilities? Trying to break down height into 70 sub-categories would be equal parts useless and meaningless. What could you explain or predict by breaking down height into 70 subcategories?

I think the answer is nothing.

Of course, since IQ is relatively easy to measure via SATs and grades (look at how easy TIP/SMPY were to do - >picking out future movers and shakers from millions of kids using just a cut-down SAT - please appreciate how >astounding it is that you can just administer a short pencil-and-paper test to millions of kids and taking the top >thousand or so, get such an incredible enrichment, with huge odds ratios for accomplishment), it is easy to create >these selected extremes, and so we have a pleasant problem:

I don’t disagree with any of this.

Openness and Conscientiousness do not outpredict IQ, and are not causally more important for accomplishment.

I’m not arguing that, either.

What I am arguing, is that by breaking down intelligence into various subcategories, researchers are better able to predict who will do well at what specific tasks. That the breakdown of the subcategories of Carlsen’s intelligence would likely provide much better insight into his abilities than his raw IQ.

Since we’re all NBA fans here, I’ll continue working with that theme. If you look at any given player in the NBA, it’s obvious why they are there. 5’11” Allen Iverson had one in a billion-ish speed and agility. Yao Ming had one in a billion-ish height and coordination. Lebron James has a one in 10 billion-ish combination of strength, speed, size, and coordination (there may never have been anyone in human history with his combination of those talents). They’re all Hall of Famers or will be eventually. They’re all genetic freaks. But they are very different kinds of genetic freaks.

Just as the sub-categories of athleticism will predict whether someone will be better suited to point guard or center, so, too, will sub-categories of intelligence better explain whether someone will be better suited English literature or chess. And that sub-categories may even be capable of predicting prodigies, savants, and geniuses in given fields.

As we break down the top tiny fraction of 1% of the population, those nuances in what constitutes their sub-categories athleticism and intelligence are what makes them interesting and likely to accomplish extraordinary things at any given task.

Ultimately, I would guess that further exploration of the sub-categories of intelligence are likely to reveal much more about Einsteins, Musks, Carlsens, and Mozarts. And that improved understanding and modeling of the sub-categories will eventually enable us to have a much better understand about what makes them who they are -- and perhaps predict future versions of them. But I think it will be the more nuanced understanding of these sub-categories, not further emphasis on the general factor, that will enhance this understanding.

From the same Alfonso paper:

Future research will probably continue to examine the importance of specific cognitive abilities in the explanation of academic outcomes, above and beyond the variance explained by g. Also, it is hoped >that future research in the field of learning disabilities will be guided by CHC theory, and that the search for aptitude–achievement interactions will be revisited using CHC constructs as opposed to Wechsler’s traditional clinical composites (i.e., Verbal and Performance IQs)

(emphasis added)

IQ and Magnus Carlsen, Leo Messi and the Decathlon

I suppose that's a fair criticism. But you have cherry picked these examples. In my defense, I also reference SSC and a 448-page book by Stephen Jay Gould on IQ, which is entirely about the history of psychometrics.

It's an area of interest, not necessarily an area of expertise. I wrote a post to get feedback and improve my understanding of the topic. I have a richer understanding of the issue than I had two days ago. And so I accomplished what I aspired to do.

IQ and Magnus Carlsen, Leo Messi and the Decathlon

First of all, I very much enjoy your blog and writing in general. So thank you for commenting.

The existence of successful scientists or chess players whose rank-percentile in IQ is less than their rank-percentile in >scientific accomplishment or chess playing does not shed any light on what the neurological basis of IQ, as this is a general >phenomenon of regression to the mean and the extreme order statistics of two variables which are correlated rhttp://lesswrong.com/lw/km6/why_the_tails_come_apart/ I'm not sure how this is relevant to any discussions of what >neurological features IQ is caused by or what the causal nature of IQ is - but looking at the extremes doesn't tell us >anything I can think of.

I had not seen this before. I appreciate that this piece does a better job of explaining (at least part of) what I was trying to get at in my second thesis than I did in my original post.

I think what what Thrasymachus articulates well is that is that when we are looking to explain stratospheric performance in any given field, other factors matter more than raw IQ.

No, it won't; it will depend on how you measure it and when and where and by whom, just like a LSAT will be highly >correlated with but not identical with an IQ test.

Ok - everything has measurement error in it. But the degree of variation when measuring intelligence is far greater than when measuring height. Perhaps that's because it's merely harder to measure, but it might also be attributable to differences in what's being measured.

I'm not saying that intelligence isn't real any more than I was suggesting that athleticism isn't real. Just that they are best understood as composite measures.

IQ and Magnus Carlsen, Leo Messi and the Decathlon

Wrong. For example, Raven's Progressive Matrices only have one category.

Ok. Fair point. But nearly all intelligence tests use a variety sub-tests. And I think the consensus among psychometricians is that more tests provide a better measure of intelligence.

My point isn't that IQ is stupid. My goal is to explore its boundaries and limitations.

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