Consider the following two polls I recently held on Twitter: Imagine argument for non-normative (= factual) claim on policy-relevant topic. For you to be willing to engage it, author must in essay explicitly affirm related values shared by most people in my:
Thank you, Robin
"But as readers they think they need no signal of shared values to convince them to engage such an argument. If these readers and writers are the same group, then they believe themselves to be hypocritical."
Seems like such people could simply think they are much less biased than people in general. Some would be right about that, most would be wrong - but how is that hypocritical?
The choice of what to study, and the choice of hypotheticals, is not value-free. The claim that affirmative action is harmful to minorities is quite popular among right wing ideologues and serves a political purpose -- to attack and undermine affirmative action. A concern for evidence is (not even) secondary; if evidence can be misinterpreted to support the claim, all the better; evidence (which is in fact overwhelming) against the claim is ignored. To offer this hypothetical is to implicitly demand acceptance of the plausibility of the claim despite the massive evidence against it and the ideological motivation behind the claim. Concern for minorities is rarely evident in any of the other behavior of those who offer this claim -- that's just posturing, a bit of "we all care about minorities, we just go about it differently" nonsense.
Hanson's choice to discuss "incels" is not so transparently ideological, but it does serve incel ideology. Hanson claims that incels seek sex equality (which he bizarrely and blindly measures as "individual counts of simple sex acts" -- is there a woman on the planet who measures sexual satisfaction that way?), but this is very far from the truth ... incels show no concern about women's sexual desires -- quite the opposite -- so they certainly are not devoted to *equality*; they would be fine with massive inequality in favor of men. And their complaints are not about low intercourse counts, they are about being rejected as sexual or even romantic partners -- and their solution is to force women to be their partners regardless of the women's desires. Sex redistribution is not an alternative solution, because it isn't thick with the misogyny and desire to control that drives incels. Hanson's absurd pretense that one can discuss such things as sex redistribution neutrally and value-free is made all the more absurd by his complete misunderstanding or misrepresentation of incel reality.
Sam Harris has engaged in the same intellectually dishonest nonsense in defense of his supposedly academic discussions of (extremely counterfactual) hypotheticals in which torture could be justified that he *just happened* to present while the legality and morality of torture actually occurring under the Bush administration was a huge political issue.
To clarify, is your claim that in the context of academia, it's only ok to target progressives with humor, as they are currently by far the most powerful and famous academics? That it would be punching down to target, or deflate, someone who speaks out or writes academic articles/blogposts which don't conform to the base progressive ideological conformity?
I'm sorry, but it really appears to me that according to your contentions, you're "punching down" at Robin Hanson in these comments. Does that influence your thoughts about your contentions in the slightest?
If the argument is actually built on a value system, then it is fine to make that connection explicit. I'm talking about signaling values that aren't directly relevant for the claims at hand.
It's difficult enough to be an expert on important issues. Expecting experts to also be "sufficiently aware" is indeed a big thing.
Figuring out what topics are going to push people's hot buttons, or how a dispassionate discussion about facts might or might not be "weaponized" and against whom isn't always trivial.
Especially for narrow subject-matter experts who necessarily specialize at the expense of more general knowledge.
Sure sometimes a general disclaimer is easy and useful. But to expect experts to figure out when and what kind - is asking too much.
Readers have a responsibility to read things in context, and to observe the Principle of Charity ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wi... ).
If I had thought I was expected to say such a thing to be heard, I'd have been more reluctant to say it.
Robin, perfection is the enemy of better-than-nothing. And instead of a complex scattershot approach, an author can (depending on the medium) seek early feedback from others and/or tweak disclaimers post-publication.
I wonder though whether *difficulty* of disclaimers is your core issue here. R U sure it's not mostly just annoyance at having to consider such things when truth-seeking alone is already quite challenging?
Of course there are lot of arguments around and I might not want to spend much time engaging with an argument built on a fundamentally different value system. Signals may help sort out which arguments I decide to engage.
Its likely positive to promote these norms , but I can't help feel that it might lessen the impact of your work without these signals. Also perhaps it might lead to (intentional or unintentional) confusion and (intentional or unintentional) straw men.
Also, this all explains the poll results. No one is going to explicitly admit that they trade away truth for other things, because this will provide a good argument for the people holding opposing values. But they expect other people to engage in such trades, and they engage in them themselves, while trying to hide this from view.
I think you will get a lot of pushback against this implicitly or explicitly, and some people already have done this in the comments.
The problem with the position is this: "If people who respond leap to the conclusion that you must hold opposing values, calmly correct them, pointing out that you neither said nor implied such a thing."
It is not even entirely true. You are in fact implying that you hold opposing values. Not opposing e.g. on a specific political position, but opposing in the sense that adopting this conversational norm means that you put a high value on knowing the truth about factual matters. Other people put a higher value on other things, and if you write and speak in such a way that you show that you are unwilling to trade away truth for other things, you are opposing their values, because you are unwilling to accept the trades that they offer, which include accepting less truth for the sake of other things they care about.
In your "Disagreement is disrespect" post you include the parenthetical statement "(Of course since I’m not religious about God, sexual preference, or democracy, this all bothers me lots less.)" This strikes me as playing the same functional role as a virtue signal ~"I'm on your side". No?
(I'm not trying to play gotcha here. I think your quoted statement has a useful purpose for communication. Just trying to understand the line you're drawing.)
Under any conversation norm, many people will write in misleading ways to hide agendas. That's just how humans work.
This post seems to ignore the cognitive load efforts that readers of a wide variety of sources would need to expend in order to function during this transition that you're proposing, since "presenting extreme positions with the verbiage of a less extreme position" has been a memetically virulent tactic of many people on the internet, and the effort of context switching becomes a requirement for readers at that point.
This sounds awesome. However I really doubt that it works well outside the Grey Tribe. I have already given up on getting most humans to be rational because it is simply impossible. People love forming angry moralistic mobs and hate facts.
One can of course switch conversation styles as one changes communities. This is another problem with taking a quote within one community to demand that another community express outrage to it.