Why would it be possible to have stronger regulations on ordinary gossip?

I think he means we could have stronger regulation on ordinary gossip than we currently have, not that we could have stronger regulation of ordinary gossip than "firm gossip".

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Not sure gossip-production and consumption is automatically low status. When low status people do it, we call it "gossip." When high-status do it, it's called reputation, taking a man's measure, etc.

Personally, my guess is the business vs non-business distinction is more about presumed motivation than tribes per se.

Like you, just guessing.

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I argued (poorly) on FB that the snapshot we see today may simply represent the output of a competent group of individual regulatory entrepreneurs. This doesn't mean these are eternal distinctions. Indeed, we are seeing the first green shoots of personal gossip regulation eg anti-discrimination laws, anti-bullying rules, and lawsuit awards for damaged esteem.

I other words, are we simply looking at 2 regulatory business plans, one of which is further along because it was pushed by a more-competent team? Is this like asking why humans prefer to search using quasi-numeric terms like Google and not with Spanish-sounding words like Altavista?

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Fertile women are wary of "out-group" men. Slightly off-topic, but more:


This has implications in coed dorm housing, whether birth control pills regulate discrimination, and maybe even the emergence of different types of discrimination as more women rise to power in corporations and politics.

I remember a previous study that argued women are wary of different races at peak fertility, but this one goes further to suggest that masculinity and musculature compound the problem, polarizing if you will, valued in in-group men, but feared in out-group men. An out-group male may be better off opportunity-wise as a beta male.

This study also suggests that women discriminate in similar fashion based on arbitrary distinctions like shirt color. I can imagine one function of gossip is "us" or "not-us".

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This may be an interesting way to look at it ... there are two regulatory frameworks: an explicit (laws governing human behavior) and an implicit (normal modes of human behavior).

Gossip seems to be the enforcement mechanism of the implicit regulatory framework. It makes sure you pay your share when you split the check or don't mistreat your spouse. The explicit regulatory framework has fines and jail and disbarment. Credit ratings seem to be in the area between these two frameworks. Regulating gossip damages a functioning system. It would be like firing the police. However regulations that mitigate the "market failures" would be a good idea.

Aside: Social tolerance in the implicit framework can be seen as an analog to deregulation in the explicit framework.

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So we have an institutionalized reputation market. Eventually it will just sell positive reputation to people on the margin and those that were put near the margin by their own inacurate data. I wonder, what will the incentives be for them...

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Privacy ought to be respected, based on mutual understanding and good communication system. I am strictly referring to the governance field. A well-established governance system needs high level of transparency so that rumors and gossips could be immediately falsified without further escalation. That's something unaccepted in the American culture, as many people are extremely defensive of individual rights and privacy over collective duty and obligations.

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"Chinese culture is filled with sayings and stories about how all merchants are liars"

That's not gossip. Chinese culture has long downplayed the importance of merchants in favor of agriculture. The recent disdain on the merchants in China has a lot to do with the dissatisfaction of current merchandise quality in China.

Either way, there's no need to regulate the gossip. All you need to do is to increase the transparency and maintain smooth communication to build a trustworthy system

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Weird Al has a few things to say about gossip and transparency.

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Completely agree. I particularly like the possible apocryphal Dutch practice of doing whatever you want in your home without blinds, and people studiously not seeing what you're doing via your windows.

Seems to carve Mill's public / private sphere more where I'd like it to be, then current American culture.

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Caring about gossip is low status, signals that you are on the outside, poorly informed, not influential, or vulnerable to group censure.

Not caring about gossip indicates either that you are in control of the group or are sufficiently powerful independent of the group that they can't harm you.

However, this is counterbalanced by the real risk to your livelihood of not having control of collective opinion i.e. gossip.

How do you explain the difference between near vs. far regulation of gossip?


1. Signalling by not caring about gossip is only useful within your own tribe, since these are your potential allies and mates.

2. Consumers perceive business as being in a separate (and often opposing) tribe -- Chinese culture is filled with sayings and stories about how all merchants are liars, people feel that mixing profance (money) and sacred (organ donation) is taboo, et cetera.

3. An opposing tribe is not a useful source of allies or mates. Their secrets are only a threat.

There's my guess.

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There is really no need for more rigid regulations on ban of gossips of whatsoever. There's only one magic word: TRANSPARENCY

In order to regulate gossiping, it is much more effective to lift up the level of transparency in the public and private sectors, especially in financing. Governance also needs higher level of transparency so that it could build a trusty relations with the governed ones and in return ensure the healthy and optimal performance of the governance system.

A higher level of transparency is better than 10 rigid bans and regulations.

Transparency down to the individual level is called smooth communication. A well-informed communication among individuals would naturally eliminate the spread of gossips.

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Regulations on "finance gossip" would fall on artificial persons, and only apply to real people at the margins and in a setting where we're used to being bossed around. Regulations on regular gossip would be extremely intrusive into every aspect of the lives of pretty much all real people.

Or like someone else said, there are very good reasons for regulating businesses more heavily than humans.

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Robin hasn't explicitly said it is irrational, but he has said the reasons given are few and/or weak. To a rationalist that may be a damning indictment, but many strains of conservative thought deny that we need to understand social institutions in order to continue supporting them. They could even make the Hansonian/Sperberesque argument that rationalism leads to excessive reliance on the highly fallible "far-mode".

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Robin is calling into question the motivations behind this boundary. He is asking whether we are honest with ourselves about why we created such a boundary and place it where we do.No he's not. He's mystifying it by implying that it is based on an irrational prejudice against money and business.

I don't know that it helps to say that "we created such a boundary". That particular distinction is a very fundamental part of how our culture works, and probably how all cultures work although they draw the boundary differently. It would be hard to imagine a humn society without such a boundary.

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This was supposed to be a reply to Psychohistorian.

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