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Perhaps you should read what Paul Graham has to say about "things you can't say." http://www.paulgraham.com/s...

His essay has a number of salient points. The one I think you are looking for is the paragraph about "moral fashions." Here are his first two paragraphs:

"Have you ever seen an old photo of yourself andbeen embarrassed at the way you looked? Did we actuallydress like that? We did. And we had no idea howsilly we looked.It's the nature of fashion to be invisible, in thesame way the movement of the earth is invisible to allof us riding on it.

What scares me is that there are moral fashions too.They're just as arbitrary, and just as invisible to most people.But they're much more dangerous.Fashion is mistaken for good design; moral fashion is mistaken for good.Dressing oddly gets you laughed at. Violatingmoral fashions can get you fired, ostracized, imprisoned, oreven killed."

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I largely agree with your comments on Hanson's intention. I anticipate a left-leaning professors characterization of university safe space would sound very similar. Their difference would be the norms and ground rules for discussion.

I don't think most people are imagining literal spaces anymore when they refer to safe spaces -- at least I don't.

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My understanding is that "safe spaces" arose as literal spaces: people in that location are all on the same page, and people posing a risk to safety aren't allowed in. Hanson's "intellectual sphere" is more metaphorical (perhaps like the "republic of letters"), and doesn't map onto even a particular application like twitter (which isn't primarily used for his preferred purpose and is hardly optimized for it). His "space" is really defined by adherence to his norms of discourse, so there's no such thing as prohibiting someone within the space from violating the norms or preventing risky people from entering the space. Instead he's saying that such people by their actions mark themselves as being outside his community, and that people who want to be part of said community (aspiring rationalists, those who claim to be concerned with truth), should consider them part of an outgroup until they change their behavior. Or, at least that's what I infer.

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You are ignoring or missing Alex K's quoted point, much like Hanson.

And with regard to safe spaces...

The idea of a large shared intellectual sphere wherein we can together analyze difficult topics holds a strong appeal to me.

Hanson objects to his critics (or at least his strawman recreation of them) by saying they aren't conforming to his idealized rules of debate. He then goes on to propose a "shared intellectual sphere" that follows his stated rules. What else is that other than a safe space?

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What a terrible comment. Complaining about the mindset behind safe space by claiming it wants a "safe space" from such a mindset is a lame and superficial gotcha. As bad as "Oh so you're intolerant of intolerance. See, you're no better!"

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Good on you, Robin. For readers that don't regularly follow his twitter feed, he's got a couple more polls following up on that.

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That actually seems like a good example of a poll in vein with the sort Robin has been doing. I hope he doesn't ignore the suggestion and just treat it as an insult (exactly the mistaken impression of the sort the poll is concerned with!).

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Rather than "liberal humanities", I would think you'd point to sociology, which is a branch of social science that focuses on such issues, and which passed the Sokal 2.0 test by actually having rigorous standards for publication! I don't know if many of Hanson's critics are sociologists, but at least one is a fellow economist.

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The obvious answer to the titular question is yes, you offend. I very much agree with Alex K's comment:

[I]t is weird to me that the post this comment is below purportedly is concerned with your reputation and fixing it, but all your theories about the problem are clueless, but *also* you do not seem receptive to being clued in as to what the problem is, as evidenced by your replies only being to comparatively unimportant factual points instead of the overall thrust of the comments.

I'm not sure why you expect to be taken seriously by your critics when you don't take their critiques seriously. You seem flabbergasted as to how they might be offended and dismiss the validity of their offense. Of course, you are welcome to ignore the critics, but feigning ignorance (or maybe just an inability to comprehend their perspective) and advocating for an intellectual safe space that conforms to your whims is unlikely to reduce the backlash you receive.

By all means, continue your discussion of controversial topics, but please spare us lamentations.

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Most people read it how he means it - as a theoretical discussion coming out of lleft field. There's too many people in the world to try to understand how all of them will react. It's worth a bit of effort to expand an understanding of an audience, but returns to that effort are quickly diminishing.

A large part of modern news, blogs, and similar is based on intentional misrepreentation and miss-interpretation for attention getting dramatic effect. There's no feasable way for an individual to anticipate and prevent that. Once someone becomes a regular target of that they might anticipate tsome of he regular misrepresetations.

By the way, I hardly agree with any of Robins proposals, but I find his different views to mine very interesting because they are so theoretically explained.

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Well, I did not mean toget into the weeds on this, but I'll give a bit of a response.

First, sorry, I haven't read that post in a while, and I was actually thinking about the Incel one, not the linked followup, which I hadn't realized was also so controversial. I was meaning to focus on the comparison of sex to income in general, though I definitely mischaracterized it there.

Two, it is weird to me that the post this comment is below purportedly is concerned with your reputation and fixing it, but all your theories about the problem are clueless, but *also* you do not seem receptive to being clued in as to what the problem is, as evidenced by your replies only being to comparatively unimportant factual points instead of the overall thrust of the comments.

Three, the kinds of problems of 'glaring omission' I am talking about are, for instance, your continuing insistence in the use of the word 'redistribution' in its technical rather than colloquial sense in a public forum -- and reminders of its technical definition don't matter in this, because that makes this parse even worse, as one of those annoying Internet-trolling-tactics (specifically: to explicitly change to or use a meaning of a word such that soundbites be inflammatory, but leaves you a plausible-sounding bailey to hide in).

Another example, from, heck, the same tweet ( https://twitter.com/robinha... ), is the inflammatory use of the word 'strikingly' for something which is not striking at all, implying that you either can't see or are pretending not to see the difference, each of which is offensive (pretending: because it's trolling. can't: because that would be likening sex to income and expecting others to do the same, which is so wrong it's infuriating, in the same way as would result from saying "well isn't slavery plausibly like a job?" and if you think that's obviously not true... that's my point!)For more words which are dramatically and horrifyingly out of place in that tweet: "plausibly" and "suffer" and "similarly".

If you can't see the problems with these words -- at least *why they would bother someone* -- then that's your problem with offense: that you don't understand other people. Not that people are misrepresenting your opinions or acting in bad faith. You're just clueless.

I am not going to try to convince you that your model of sex vs income is good or bad here, though I do think it's terrible. I am just making the point that you don't seem to understand how people read the stuff you write, and so Why Don't You Actually Try?

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I did not frame sex as a "simple economic exchange".

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I think I disagree about disclaimers.

Political discourse is a domain which 1) matters personally to many participants 2) includes a vast number of "conversational participants" 3) who might take unilateral action, on the basis of whatever arguments they hear, good or bad.

Given that setup, it is quite reasonable to treat arguments as soldiers. When one sees someone supporting, or even appearing to support a policy or ideology that you consider abhorrent or dangerous, there is a natural and reasonable anxiety that the value you're protecting will be lost. And there is a natural (if usually poorly executed) desire to correct the misconception in the common knowledge before it gets away from you. Or failing that, to tear down the offending argument / discredit the person making it.

(To see an example of the thing that goes wrong, see the history of Eric Drexler's promotion of nanotechnology. Drexler made arguments about Nanotech, which he hoped would direct resources in such a way that the future could be made much better. His opponents attacked strawmen of those arguments. The conversation "got away" from Drexler, and the whole audience discounted the ideas he supported, thus preventing any progress towards the potential future that he was hoping to help bring into being.)

I think that when Social Justice advocates attack Robin on Twitter, they should be seen as acting from a visceral anxiety that something like what happened to the nanotech proposals will happen to their agenda. If prestigious academics can slip harmfully (untrue?) statements into the common knowledge, there's a fear that the Good things that they want might be lost.

Now Social Justice culture has much more social influence than the nanotech proposals did. That ideology is currently winning, and is several orders of magnitude less vulnerable than the nanotech proposals were.

One might argue that it is ridiculous to think that progressivism could be so thoroughly discredited the way the ideas of nanotech were. I might disagree, but regardless, I mean the analogy only as an aid for empathizing with the visceral anxiety that motivates such attacks, without claiming that that anxiety is calibrated. I think that this instinct is natural and common in humans.

And overall, I think that making disclaimers is a reasonable way to defuse some of this. If someone is making a claim X (say, "there are some statistical difference between different races") that is often conflated with another claim Y that is of deep importance to someone else's values ("some individuals have less moral worth than others"), it seems reasonable to explicitly declare that you don't mean Y (if you in fact, don't). Carefulness of this sort is courteous. It takes into account the reasonable anxiety that a person might feel about your introducing, into the common knowledge a false claim that could hurt their agenda. Which, in my experiencing talking with people in person (not online), makes the conversation go better, because it frees their attention to listen when they know that they don't have to be on guard to defend what they value.

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I generally think you are correct, but if someone *wants to understand why they are offending people*, it's not sufficient to say "but I should be allowed to say this stuff!" - you also have to *not say it*.

Or, rather, say it better.

And I'm not talking about social-justice lip-service. I don't have time to go into the details, but I'm referring to, for instance, the utterly nonsensical framing of sex as a simple economic exchange of value, which has (I think) almost no relationship with people's actual experience of sex, and which they actively do *not* want to see it as.

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