All of Z_M_Davis's Comments + Replies

Open Thread: October 2009

On reflection, I'm actually going to start spelling my first name again.

0Zack_M_Davis12yHence this new account. ADDENDUM: I mean, unless we have some name-change feature that I just couldn't find. SECOND ADDENDUM: To anyone reading this on my userpage, you might be interested in my older comments [].
The Anthropic Trilemma

which has some as-of-yet unspecified implication for the merit of his position

See Furcas's comment.

that allows him to see his life as no different from any others and yet still act in preference to himself

I never said it was no different. Elsewhere in the thread, I had argued that selfishness is entirely compatible with biting the third bullet. Egan's Law.

And it was obvious what distinction he was making by using the words "very roughly the same reason" instead of "exactly the same reason".

I disagree; if it had been obvious, ... (read more)

4Douglas_Knight12yI am sad to see this comment. Perhaps you were mistaken in how clear the comment was to how broad an audience, but I think the original comment was valuable and that we lose a lot of our ability to communicate if we are too careful. []
The Anthropic Trilemma

Right, so of course I'm rather selfish in the sense of valuing things-like-myself, and so of course I buy more things for myself than I do for random strangers, and so forth. But I also know that I'm not ontologically fundamental; I'm just a conjunction of traits that can be shared by other observers to various degrees. So "I don't throw myself off cliffs for very roughly the same reason I don't throw other people off cliffs" is this humorously terse and indirect way of saying that identity is a scalar, not a binary attribute. (Notice that I said "very roughly the same reason" and not "exactly the same reason"; that was intentional.)

-2SilasBarta12yAnd ... you expected everyone else to get that out of your cute comment? You know, sometimes you just have to throw in the towel and say, "Oops. I goofed." ETA: I'm sure that downmod was because this comment was truly unhelpful to the discussion, rather than because it made someone look bad.
The Anthropic Trilemma

I was trying to be cute.

4SilasBarta12yConsidering that your cute comment was consistent with your other comments in this discussion, I think I can be forgiven for thinking you were serious. Actually, which of your other comments here are just being cute?
The Anthropic Trilemma

I would say that the ordinarily very useful abstraction of subjective probability breaks down in situations that involve copying and remerging people, and that our intuitive morality breaks down when it has to deal with measure of experience. In the current technological regime, this isn't a problem at all, because the only branching we do is quantum branching, and there we have this neat correspondence between quantum measure and subjective probability, so you can plan for "your own" future in the ordinary obvious way. How you plan for "you... (read more)

2Douglas_Knight12yQuantum suicide is already a problem in the current regime, if you allow preference over measure. Splitting and merging adds another problem, but I think it is a factual problem, not an ethical problem. At least, I think that there is a factual problem before you come to the ethical problem, which may be the same as for Born measure.
The Anthropic Trilemma

But all the resulting observers who see the coin come up tails aren't you. You just specified that they weren't. Who cares what they think?

If I jumped off a cliff and decided not to care about hitting the ground, I would still hit the ground. If I played a quantum lottery and decided not to care about copies who lost, almost all of me would still see a screen saying "You lose". It seems to me that there is a rule governing what I see happen next, which does not care what I care about. I am asking how that rule works, because it does so happen that I care about it.

The Anthropic Trilemma

I don't throw myself off cliffs for very roughly the same reason I don't throw other people off cliffs.

9SilasBarta12yAnd for the same reason you buy things for yourself more often than for other people? And for the same reason you (probably) prefer someone else falling off a cliff than yourself?
The Anthropic Trilemma

Following Nominull and Furcas, I bite the third bullet without qualms for the perfectly ordinary obvious reasons. Once we know how much of what kinds of experiences will occur at different times, there's nothing left to be confused about. Subjective selfishness is still coherent because you're not just an arbitrary observer with no distinguishing characteristics at all; you're a very specific bundle of personality traits, memories, tendencies of thought, and so forth. Subjective selfishness corresponds to only caring about this one highly specific bundle: ... (read more)

3Wei_Dai12yI agree that giving up anticipation does not mean giving up selfishness. But as Dan Armak pointed out [] there is another reason why you may not want to give up anticipation: you may prefer to keep the qualia of anticipation itself, or more generally do not want to depart too much from the subjective experience of being human. Eliezer, if you are reading this, why do you not want to give up anticipation? Do you still think it means giving up selfishness? Is it for Dan Armak's reason? Or something else?
1komponisto12yThe (only) trouble with this is that it doesn't answer the question about what probabilities you_0 should assign to various experiences 5 seconds later. Personal identity may not be ontologically fundamental, it may not even be the appropriate sort of thing to be programmed into a utility function -- but at the level of our everyday existence (that is, at whatever level we actually do exist), we still have to be able to make plans for "our own" future.
The Absent-Minded Driver

I count 6+ comments from others on meta-talk, 8+ down-mods, and 0 [sic] explanations for the errors in my solution. Nice work, guys.

If it is in fact the case that your complaints are legitimately judged a negative contribution, then you should expect to be downvoted and criticized on those particular comments, regardless of whether or not your solution is correct. There's nothing contradictory about simultaneously believing both that your proposed solution is correct, and that your subsequent complaints are a negative contribution.

I don't feel like taki... (read more)

-2SilasBarta12yActually, there is something contradictory when those whiny comments were necessary for the previous, relevant comments to get their deserved karma. Your position here is basically: "Yeah, we were wrong to accuse you of those crimes, but you were still a jerk for pulling all that crap about 'I plead not guilty!' and 'I didn't do it!', wah, wah, wah..." At the very least, it should buy me more leeway than get for such a tone in isolation. Sure thing. I trust that other posters will be more judicious with their voting and responses as well.
The Absent-Minded Driver

Okay, so far that's 3-4 people willing to mod me down, zero people willing to point out the errors in a clearly articulated post.

This seems like a non-sequitur to me. It's your comment of 22 September 2009 09:56:05PM that's sitting at -4; none of your clear and articulate responses to Dai have negative scores anymore.

The Absent-Minded Driver

Downvoted for complaining about being downvoted and for needless speculation about the integrity of other commenters. (Some other contributions to this thread have been upvoted.)

-4SilasBarta12yI'm not complaining about being downvoted. I'm complaining about a) being downvoted b) on an articulate, relevant post c) without an explanation In the absence of any one of those, I wouldn't complain. I would love to hear where I'm wrong, because it's far from obvious. (Yes, the exchange seems tedious and repetitive, but I present new material here.) And I wasn't speculating; I was just reminding the community of the general lameness of downvoting someone you're in an argument with, whether or not that's Wei_Dai.
Reason as memetic immune disorder

I lean toward the politically correct side because it's the side that [...]

Taboo side. Complex empirical issues do not have sides. Humans, for their own non-truth-tracking reasons, group into sides, but it's not Bayesian, and it has never been Bayesian.

Or we think we group up into sides, but I'm not even sure that's true. You write that the egalitarians are nuanced and present evidence, whereas the human biodiversity crowd (or whatever words you want to use) are just apologists for their favorite narrative, but there are a lot of people who have the exa... (read more)

Upvoted, because you make the case well that we shouldn't identify with sides when discussing issues like this.

But you're not really using "Taboo" in the sense that Eliezer described. "Sides" do exist as social phenomena. They are a certain sort of coalition that people group into when they engage in public discourse. As you say, sides exist for non-truth-tracking reasons. However, like race, we need the concept of sides to talk about social dynamics, so, like race, sides exist.

(Of course, they exist as nothing more than certain configurations of the pieces of the stuff out of which reality is made.)

The Lifespan Dilemma

It just seems kind of oddly discontinuous to care about what happens to your analogues except death. I mention comas only in an attempt to construct a least convenient possible world with which to challenge your quantum immortalist position. I mean---are you okay with your scientist-stage-magician wiping out 99.999% of your analogues, as long as one copy of you exists somewhere? But decoherence is continuous: what does it even mean, to speak of exactly one copy of you? Cf. Nick Bostrom's "Quantity of Experience" (PDF).

The Lifespan Dilemma

could you explain how measure in the mathematical sense relates to moral value in unknowable realites

Well, I know that different things are going to happen to different future versions of me across the many worlds. I don't want to say that I only care about some versions of me, because I anticipate being all of them. I would seem to need some sort of weighing scheme. You've said you don't want your analogues to suffer, but you don't mind them ceasing to exist, but I don't think you can do that consistently. The real world is continuous and messy: there'... (read more)

0Aurini12y"Well, I know that different things are going to happen to different future versions of me across the many worlds." From what I understand, the many-worlds occur due to subatomic processes; while we're certain to find billions of examples along the evolutionary chain that went A or B due to random-decaying-netronium-thing (most if not all of which will alter the present day), contemporary history will likely remain unchanged; for there to be multiple future-histories where the Nazis won (not Godwin's law!), there'd have to be trillions of possible realities, each of which is differentiated by a reaction here on earth; and even if these trillions do exist, then it still won't matter for the small subset in which I exist. The googleplex of selves which exist down all of these lines will be nearly identical; the largest difference will will be that one set had a microwave 'ping' a split-second earlier than the other. I don't know that two googleplexes of these are inherently better than a single googleplex. As for coma - is it immediate, spontaneous coma, with no probability of ressurection? If so, then it's basically equivalent to painless death.
The Lifespan Dilemma

I think this depends on the answers to problems in anthropics and consciousness (the subjects that no one understands). The aptness of your thought experiment depends on Everett branching being like creating a duplicate of yourself, rather than dividing your measure) or "degree-of-consciousness" in half. Now, since I only have the semipopular (i.e., still fake) version of QM, there's a substantial probability that everything I believe is nonsense, but I was given to understand that Everett branching divides up your measure, rather than duplicatin... (read more)

5pengvado12yOne Everett branch in the past has more measure than one Everett branch now. But the total measures over all Everett branches containing humans differ only by the probability of an existential disaster in the intervening time. The measure is merely spread across more diversity now, which doesn't seem all that disturbing to me.
1Aurini12yHopefully this conversation doesn't separate into decoherence - though we may well have already jumped the shark. :) First of all, I want to clarify something: do you agree that duplicating myself with a magical cloning booth for the $50 of mineral extracts is sensible, while disagreeing with the same tactic using Everett branches? Secondly, could you explain how measure in the mathematical sense relates to moral value in unknowable realites (I confess, I remember only half of my calculus). Thirdly, following up on the second, I was under the "semipopular (i.e., still fake) version of QM" idea that differing Everett branches were as unreal as something outside of my light cone. (This is a great link regarding relativity - sorry I don't know how to html: [] ) For the record, I'm not entirely certain that differeing Everett branches of myself have 0 value; I wouldn't want them to suffer but if one of the two of us stopped existing, the only concern I could justify to myself would be concern over my long-suffering mother. I can't prove that they have zero value, but I can't think of why they wouldn't.
Righting a Wrong Question

Eliezer's posts (including comments) from before March were ported from the old, nonthreaded Overcoming Bias: that's why there are no threads and no sorting option.

The Sword of Good

I don't think there's actually any substantive disagreement here. "Good," "bad," "adequate," "inadequate"--these are all just words. The empirical facts are what they are, and we can only call them good or bad relative to some specific standard. Part of Eliezer's endearing writing style is holding things to ridiculously impossibly high standards, and so he has a tendency to mouth off about how the human brain is poorly designed, human lifespans are ridiculously short and poor, evolutions are stupid, and so forth. But... (read more)

Ingredients of Timeless Decision Theory

[Has Eliezer] ever published a paper in a peer-review journal?

"Levels of Organization in General Intelligence" appeared in the Springer volume Artificial General Intelligence. "Cognitive Biases Potentially Affecting Judgement of Global Risks" (PDF) and "Artificial Intelligence as a Positive and Negative Factor in Global Risk" (PDF) appeared in the Oxford University Press volume Global Catastrophic Risks. They're not mathy papers, though.

1DS361812yI am sorry I am going to take a shortcut here and respond to a couple posts along with yours. So fine I partially insert my foot in my mouth... but the issue I think here is that the papers we need to be talking about are math papers right? Anyone can publish non-technical ideas as long as they are well reasoned, but the art of science is the technical mastery. As for Eliezer's comment concerning the irrelevance of Flare being a pre 2003 EY work I have to disagree. When you have no formal academic credentials and you are trying to make your mark in a technical field such as decision theory anything technical that you have done or attempted counts. You essentially are building your credentials via work that you have done. I am speaking from experience since I didn't complete college I went the business route. But I can also say that I did a lot of technical work so I built my credentials in the field by doing novel technical things. I am trying to help here coming from a similar position and wanting a PhD etc. having various technical achievements as my prior work made all the difference in getting in to a PhD program without a B.S. or M.S. It also makes all the difference in being taken seriously by the scientific community. Which circles back to my original point which is an vague outline is not enough to show you really have a theory much less a revolutionary one. Sadly asking to be taken seriously is just not enough, you have to prove that you meet the bar of admission (decision theory is going to be math). If someone can show me some technical math work EY has done that would be great, but as of now I have very little confidence that he has a real theory (if someone can I will drop the issue.) Yes I am aware of the Bayesian Theory paper but this lets face it is fairly basic and is far from showing that EY has the ability to revolutionize decision theory.
1Eliezer Yudkowsky12yAlso, volume-editing isn't as (pointlessly? signallingly?) difficult as journal peer-review.
Experiential Pica

intellectual endeavour (although people reading LW are unlikely to be doing too little of that)

There's no such thing as too much intellectual endeavor! There's too much to know!

3John_Maxwell12yThere is if doing other stuff will make your time spent on intellectual endeavor significantly more productive.
Bloggingheads: Yudkowsky and Aaronson talk about AI and Many-worlds

If anyone knows of a really good summary for somebody who's actually studied physics on why MWI is so great (and sadly, Eliezer's posts here and on overcomingbias don't do it for me) I would greatly appreciate the pointer.

You say Eliezer's posts didn't do it for you, but how much of it did you read? In particular, the point about parsimony favoring MWI is explained in "Decoherence is Simple". As for the mechanism of world divergence, I think the answer is that "worlds" are not an ontologically basic element of the theory. Rather, the... (read more)

1shirisaya12yI have read every post on overcomingbias and I'm pretty sure I've ready every top-level post by Eliezer on less wrong. Although I very much enjoyed Eliezer's posts on the issue, they were intended for a wide audience and I'm looking for a technical discussion.
Why Real Men Wear Pink

t-shirts with robots on them because it gets me into conversations about robots

I have a tee-shirt with robots on it, but it never gets me into conversations. What am I doing wrong? Does it involve going outside??

4thomblake12yWell, or having people go to wherever 'inside' is for you. But yes, it does involve interacting with humans.
LW/OB Rationality Quotes - August 2009

Most healthy intellectual blogs/forums participate in conversations among larger communities of blogs and forums. Rather than just "preaching to a choir" of readers, such blogs often quote and respond to posts on other blogs. Such responses sometimes support, and sometimes criticize, but either way can contribute to a healthy conversation. [...] In contrast, an insular group defined by something other than its rationality would be internally focused, rarely participating in such larger conversations.

--- Robin Hanson

(hint hint this thread is insanely incestuous)

Why Real Men Wear Pink

I didn't realize chickens think that way.

They don't have to.

Recommended reading: George Orwell on knowledge from authority

Yeah, yeah, very cute. I agree that folk psychology has a few problems with it, but I'm not yet ready to toss commonsense notions like knowing and wanting entirely out the window.

Okay, think of it this way: we can see why natural selection would result in organisms with a folk psychology of selves that have beliefs and desires, even if these abstractions are a little leakier than we think they are. But human societies haven't faced the same kind of selection pressure that could produce such adaptations, so whatever sense human societies can be said to know... (read more)

0Nominull12yEvolution is no longer the only optimization process in this world - human societies don't need to undergo evolution, they are intelligently designed. If you think human societies don't develop a sense of self, just wait for the next July 4, or whatever your local day of nationalistic celebration is.
She Blinded Me With Science

Why isn't there more amateur computer science [...]?


Recommended reading: George Orwell on knowledge from authority

I'm not sure I know what it means to say that the system "knows" things. We often speak as if evolution or genes "want" things, but everyone knows that it's only a metaphor. When you speak of the global brain, do you mean it strictly as metaphor, or are you saying something more?

0Nominull12yI'm not sure I know what it means to say that humans "know" things. We often speak as if humans "want" things, but everyone knows that it's only a metaphor.
The Machine Learning Personality Test

As far as I know, there are no personality tests constructed in the proper way, which would be to give a lot of questions and then perform either factor analysis or PCA on the answers in order to discover from the data what the true dimensions of personality are.

But I thought that was exactly how we got the Big Five.

1PhilGoetz12yGlad to hear it! I will fix that, then.
Why You're Stuck in a Narrative

Does it help if we think of our lives as a story about the sort of brave truthseeker who knows about the narrative fallacy and constantly reminds herself to make falsifiable predictions? 'Cause that's totally what I do.

1Will_Newsome11yVirtue ethics for consequentialists. []
1Aurini12yTrue, but not often enough!
1Wei_Dai12yEliezer's solution to Newcomb's problem doesn't apply to human cooperation. []
The Nature of Offense

I suspect there is a substantive disagreement lurking here. Specifically, as much as it hurts my liberal feminist heart to say it (or it did hurt, before I got jaded), I'm going to have to deny this:

But for any given observed behavioral difference, it's sensible to assume it's a learned behavior lacking strong evidence otherwise

Maybe we're tripping over this word genetic? When I say that the number of shared genes doesn't matter, what I'm getting at is that while SRY may "just" be "one gene," it triggers this entire masculinizing de... (read more)

The Nature of Offense

I agree that in the case of behavioral differences, we have a prominent "learned social behavior" hypothesis that we do not have in the case of physiological differences, but it's not because of the number of genes shared between sexes; it's because of the common-sense intuition that culture influences behavior in a dramatic way that it doesn't influence physiology.

Suckling an infant is pretty clearly essential behavior. "Women are more practical", not so much.

I agree here. (In particular, "Women are more practical" is vag... (read more)

1SoullessAutomaton12yWell, in a counterfactual world where somehow genetic differences between the sexes were much larger, comparable to the genetic differences between humans and other primates, genetic reasons for behavior differences would be a lot more plausible, just as genetic differences explain behavioral differences between us and other primates now. That this is not the case in reality is why "learned behavior" is a stronger, common-sense hypothesis. Of course. In fact, there are probably quite a few. But for any given observed behavioral difference, it's sensible to assume it's a learned behavior lacking strong evidence otherwise (such as consistent observation of the same difference in multiple unrelated cultures). I think we're arguing 95% terminology and 5% substance here.
Welcome to Less Wrong!

I agree with some things you've said, but about some of the things you've said there seems to be no convincing argument in sight

Downvoted for lack of specifics.

The Nature of Offense

Given the stunted nature of the Y chromosome [...] and the fact that all other genetic material is shared, this still means the burden of proof is stacked against the idea of non-obviously essential sexual dimorphism

I don't think simply counting genes tells us much of anything about the amount of sexual dimorphism in a species, one way or the other. The vast majority of genetic material is shared between sexes in any species, and some species don't even use genes to determine sex. If the fact that most genetic material is shared between sexes really did... (read more)

2SoullessAutomaton12yThe discussion here was about behavior, not physical differences. My apologies if I was unclear about that. Furthermore, you seem to be reading "stack the deck against" as referring to likelihood of differences arising, I meant it more in the sense of "here is an observed behavioral difference between human sexes, is it due to 1) statistical noise 2) learned social behaviors 3) intrinsic genetic differences, &c." It seems reasonable to have a fairly low prior for #3 vs. #2. Also, "obviously essential" in the the sense of "the whole point of sexual dimorphism". Suckling an infant is pretty clearly essential behavior. "Women are more practical", not so much.
Welcome to Less Wrong!

I'm still hoping that the professed rationality is enough to overcome the failure modes that are currently so common here[.] But unfortunately I think my possible contributions won't be missed if I rid myself of wishful thinking and see it's not going to happen. [...] I'd really like to participate in thoughtful discussions with rationalists I can respect. For quite a long time, Less Wrong seemed like the place, but I just couldn't find a proper place to start (I dislike introductions). But now as I'm losing my respect for this community and thus the will to participate here, I started posting. I hope I can regain the confidence in a high level of sanity waterline here.

Oh, please stay!

Missing the Trees for the Forest

I have replied in the other thread.

Please correct me if I’m misreading you here. You don't trust yourself to assess whether a comment deserves a downvote, because humans are subject to an array of egocentric biases, and yet somehow you do trust yourself to assess that the other person has no idea of what she's talking about, even though humans are subject to an array of egocentric biases?

You might want to consider doing this the other way, extending interpretive charity but not karmic charity. In fact, I hereby urge you to vote however you want to on whate... (read more)

5SoullessAutomaton12yIf only because the former is much easier to correct. I frequently upvote comments (including ones I disagree with) with negative scores that seem to have no obvious, objective flaws, on the assumption that they were downvoted for disagreement.
Of Exclusionary Speech and Gender Politics

Now for the hard part! For this comparison to make any point in your favor, you need to show how there's a kind of language used in Sports Illustrated, etc., that most men here consider beyond the pale in its offensiveness, no matter who uses it. Can you do it? No? Then you don't have a point.

While it's true that I probably can't find an example of something most men here would find "beyond-the-pale offensive," I don't agree that that's the correct standard to apply here. If I'm reading you correctly, you're saying that Cosmo is evidence that ... (read more)

Missing the Trees for the Forest

but you could provide a better explanation for why it never occurred to you that you have a bias during a flamewar.

There's no further explanation! It really didn't occur to me that that was a reason to not vote! And it's still not obvious to me that not-voting is unambiguously the right ethical standard. Of course I agree that it's unethical to downvote a comment solely because you don't like the conclusion or you don't like the commenter---but that remains true whether or not you're personally involved in the conversation. So as long as we're going to ... (read more)

-3SilasBarta12yThe problem with your alternative is that being in an argument alters your judgment of what counts as a good quality post. In additional to the usual "Politics is the mind-killer" truism, remember that we run on corrupted hardware []. You may think that it's better to go by: "Don't do X unless, all things considered, it would work for the greater good." But even if you want to follow that rule, you actually do a better job following it if you just go by "Don't do X", as long as X is easily abused and self-serving. That's the point of the post in the link. And that's why I think it just doesn't work to say, "Oh, I'm modding down this comment because it's an obectively bad comment, not because I'm in a heated flamewar with them." See above for why I don't downvote in arguments I'm currently involved in. But even setting that policy aside for a minute, you got several upmods, which gave the false impression your post was high quality, when it wasn't, and used a deceptively simple comparison that you didn't understand how to use correctly. Changing you from 3 to 2 wouldn't have done anything; people would still think you had a good point, since they probably didn't know the entire context that led up to the point about Cosmo. And since the point about Cosmo was strong, and used to highlight a critical hole in Alicorn's point, I couldn't ignore it either. Now, as long as we're suggesting ways it could have gone better, how about this: why don't you make sure you know what you're talking about before you get involved? In this case, that would mean presenting the evidence your comparison requires: a case of a male-oriented magazine that uses language that the men here consider beyond the pale in its offensiveness. I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that you still don't have an example in mind.
Missing the Trees for the Forest

It never occurred to you that you might not be neutral enough to accurately moderate during an argument you're personally involved in?

I guess I'm just retarded???

I humbly recommend you cancel any votes for or against me in exchanges you've been involved in.


I have a much lower karma level [...]

I agree that drive-by mass downvoting out of personal animosity is bad, and it is of course unjust that you have apparently been subjected to it. But again, you should also consider that a nontrivial proportion of your recent karma loss has been becau... (read more)

-1SilasBarta12yNo, you're not retarded, but you could provide a better explanation for why it never occurred to you that you have a bias during a flamewar. Holy ----! Since I last came here an hour or so ago, my karma shot up about a hundred points. I don't know how much of that was you, but I very much appreciate that you are taking my suggestion. I accounted [] for this already. There were severe downmods for recent comments, accumulating over the past 18 hours. Then, in a much shorter period, I lost ~30 more, mainly on much older comments. I accept that my tone has gotten worse recently. But please, take a second look at that exchange []. You refuted one analogy with another one which revealed you didn't understand the topic. To untangle your misunderstanding required me to restate the context of the conversation, and then spell out the mapping in your proposed analogy, basically, doing all the intellectual heavy lifting for you. I derived what your analogy needed to contain for it to be relevant to my point. But, if you could present such evidence, or even realize its applicability, you would have already done so. And so I had to spend far disproportionate time responding to you, compared to your investment in the discussion. Yes, I could have said something instead, like, "Is there a quote from a men's magazine that meets the criteria? I don't think there is, which is what you need to make your point applicable." But please understand my frustration there.
Missing the Trees for the Forest

Sadly, my ethics prevent me from modding comments in exchanges I'm directly involved in.

Honestly, this notion never occurred to me. I interpret downvotes (upvotes) as a "I would like to see fewer (more) comments like this," and feel free to vote on exchanges I'm involved in, trying to base my votes on quality of discussion and argument, rather than strictly whether I agree or not. Do you think your standard should be a community norm (even if it can't be enforced)?

-2SilasBarta12yYou're kidding. It never occurred to you that you might not be neutral enough to accurately moderate during an argument you're personally involved in? What's your "working theory" for why the site prevents upvoting your own comment, "even though" you could just register with a different name and upvote as a sockpuppet? Great, but why don't you think your involvement compromises your ability to do so neutrally, especially when it's a heated discussion? (Btw, on Slashdot, you're prevented from moderating on any discussion where you've posted anywhere, which is probably where I got that ethic, plus previous EY rationality writings about when one's neutrality is compromised.) Yes. I assumed people already had my level of restraint. But, like with following feminist advice, "no good deed goes unpunished". I have a much lower karma level, and others a higher karma level, because I followed obvious rules about watching one's own bias. I humbly recommend you cancel any votes for or against me in exchanges you've been involved in.
Of Exclusionary Speech and Gender Politics

So, one of the most-read women's magazines isn't suggestive of how women think, a major high-grossing film that describes Cosmo as "the Bible" and expects viewers to get the joke isn't suggestive of how women think

I agree that Cosmopolitan knows a lot about how many women think, but this isn't the same thing as Cosmo being representative of women-in-full-generality. The qualifier really does seem important here. Compare: Sports Illustrated or Esquire know a lot about how many men think, but (I submit) we wouldn't want to say that these publica... (read more)

2SilasBarta12yIt isn't necessary for the latter claim to be true to make my point. (See below) Let's go over this again: 1) Alicorn claimed that viewing women as something to "get" once you achieve a certain status, is objectifying and thus obviously beyond the pale. Not some idiosyncratic preference on her part, but something we really need to discourage, wherever it occurs. 2) Cosmo was brought up to show that, no, clearly women generally don't find it beyond the pale to think of other humans in exactly these terms. Even if Alicorn is bothered, it is therefore not the case that women agree with her, and this language is therefore not something we should worry about in terms of scaring away women. 3) Alicorn and thomblake go to herculean efforts to downplay the relevance of such an obscure, poorly-regarded publication as Cosmo. Now, your turn: 4) You say there's a difference between the kind of woman who reads Cosmo and the kind who reads (???), just as there's a difference between the kind of guy who reads Esquire vs. the guy who reads IEEE Spectrum. Now for the hard part! For this comparison to make any point in your favor, you need to show how there's a kind of language used in Sports Illustrated, etc., that most men here consider beyond the pale in its offensiveness, no matter who uses it. Can you do it? No? Then you don't have a point. Look again: the downmods are concentrated in this thread. Why do all my good posts just happen to fall in the other thread and accumulate upmods gradually, while the bad ones fall in this thread -- and get modded minutes after they're made. Oh, and go on up/down rollercoasters, apparently being defended by some people trying to restore sanity. While again, the other thread has no such rollercoaster effect. I avoid modding commenters in exchanges I'm directly involved in. I guess not everyone has that kind of restraint? (Alicorn, this is where you learn the dangers of unilateral disarmament.)
Of Exclusionary Speech and Gender Politics

Every non-Alicorn commenter "bothered" by it was only bothered because Alicorn claimed to be

Not true.

Sayeth the Girl

Also recommended: Anne Campbell's A Mind of Her Own: The Evolutionary Psychology of Women, which has chapters on status, competition, and aggression amongst women.

3cousin_it12yThanks! I found this review [], and at first look it seems to support me more than y'all: unless I'm reading it wrong, it says that women's desire to look good is explained only by competition for good mates. Now, I'm a total amateur and would love to be corrected, but the arguments offered so far just aren't very convincing.
Outside Analysis and Blind Spots

This is not a failing of one part of this community or another; this seems to be part of the current human condition

This is a failing of all parts of this community, and seems to be a part of the current human condition. (The eighth virtue is humility; the ninth virtue is perfectionism.)

0[anonymous]11yOhhhh, good catch. Nice touch, Eliezer.
Being saner about gender and rationality

[notice how I objectified her there, leaving behind the language of a unified self or person in favour of a collection of mechanical motivations and processes whose dynamics are partially determined by evolutionary pressures, and what a useful exercise this can be for making sense of reality]

I still don't think you understand what feminists mean by objectification. It's not the same thing as cognitive reductionism, which I think hardly anyone here would object to. I mean, yes, minds are causal systems made of parts embedded in the universal laws of phys... (read more)

Absolute denial for atheists

Masturbation is not sex.

No, but it should be similar enough to break the analogy to starvation or heroin deprivation.

Well, that seems right, but allow me to clarify.

To use the food analogy, masturbation is like subsisting on flavorless but nutritionally adequate food, the proverbial "bread and water." Sex with someone who finds you desirable is more like that rich, delicious dessert that advertisers hope you've been fantasizing about recently. (Note the with someone who finds you desirable. It's important.)

If we have to use the drug metaphor, masturbation is more like giving a heroin addict all the methadone he wants.

5AllanCrossman12yI'm just questioning the idea that masturbation is to sex-starved people as food is to actually starving people. (Course, that's not exactly what you said either.)
Absolute denial for atheists

involved objectifying me.

I do not think that word means what you think it means.

Absolute denial for atheists

Do please try to understand that for many men, lack of sex is sort of like missing your heroin dosage - at least that's the metaphor Spider Robinson used. Anyone in this condition is probably going to go on about it, and if you're not starving at the moment you should try to have a little sympathy.

Of course it is well known that men on average have a higher sex drive than women on average, but I think the analogy to drug addiction or starving is ridiculous hyperbole. For just one thing, starving people and heroin addicts do not have the option of simply learning to masturbate.

6MichaelBishop12yPornography may reduce rape [] though I haven't investigated the methodology too thoroughly. If true, it is certainly another sign that lack of sexual satisfaction is a big problem. The heroin metaphor certainly entails exaggeration, but I'm undecided as to whether that makes it inappropriate. Do you have a proposed substitute?

Masturbation is not sex. If the only good thing about sex is having an orgasm, you're doing it wrong!

(That's not to say the analogy to heroin addiction is a reasonable one.)

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