ask.fm bans "rude words"

ask.fm does not allow "rude words", "trolling", being "mean", being "upset[ing]", or "to provoke or antagonize people". also nothing "shocking", and no advocacy of anything illegal (drugs, torrents, etc)

fucking wow man.

they don’t enforce this consistently or objectively at all. people constantly use rude words and troll on ask.fm

so everyone is guilty and the site admins actually follow some other, hidden policy which they refuse to state in public.

i looked this up cuz i got asked a question about incest, answered it, then saw it was deleted. and the question wasn’t even anonymous, so i asked the submitter, and he said he didn’t delete it.

i received no notification of any kind about it being deleted, and i don’t have a record of what i wrote. (contrast with youtube where, in my experience, if your video is taken down, it becomes private so you still have it, just no one else. and of course youtube notifies you and gives a reason, and has a system for you to challenge the takedown)

http://about.ask.fm/terms/
When using the Services, you must not post or send anything which:

• Is mean, is bullying someone or is intended to harass, scare or upset anyone;
• Is deliberately designed to provoke or antagonize people, especially trolling;
• Uses rude words or is intended to upset or embarrass anyone;
• Encourages dangerous or illegal activities or self-harm;
• Depicts horrible, shocking or distressing things;
• Is obscene or pornographic, contains any pictures of naked people, is sexually explicit or depicts graphic violence;
• Contains any threat of any kind, including threats of physical violence to yourself or others;
• Is racist or discriminates based on someone’s race, religion, age, gender, disability or sexuality;
• Infringes other individual’s privacy rights;
• Is illegal, could expose Ask.fm to legal liability, or encourages people to get involved in anything which is illegal (for example, drugs, violence, or crime);
• Is defamatory or violates any third party’s rights, including breach of confidence, copyright, trademark, patent, trade secret, moral right, privacy right, right of publicity, or any other intellectual property right;
• Constitutes spam, attempts to sell anything to other users, or competes with the business of Ask.fm;
• Contains any computer virus or other malicious code designed to attack, damage, divert, take over, disable, overburden, or otherwise impair the Services;
• Collects user content or information, or otherwise accesses the Services using automated means (such as harvesting bots, robots, spiders, or scrapers) without our prior permission;
• Violates any robot exclusion headers of the site, if any, or bypasses or circumvents other measures employed to prevent or limit access to the Services;
• Shares, recompiles, decompiles, disassembles, reverse engineers, or makes or distributes any other form of, or any derivative work from, the Services;
• Attempts to scrape or collect any personal or private information from other users or from the Services;
• Pretends to come from someone other than you, or where you are impersonating someone else;
• Intercepts or monitors, damages, or modifies any communication not intended for you;
• May cause any harm or damage to you or anyone else;
• Otherwise breaches the TOU; or
• Attempts to do any of the foregoing.

We reserve the right, at any time and without prior notice, to remove or disable access to any content that we, for any reason or no reason, consider to be objectionable, in violation of the TOU or otherwise harmful to the Services or our users.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)

[Videos] How To Write Philosophy Emails

I've made 4 (and counting) screencasts. These are videos in which I write Fallible Ideas emails and explain some of my thoughts. Now you can see what writing philosophy emails looks like.

Click to watch the videos!

Compare my process to what you've been doing (if anything), ask questions, etc. Learn something or, if you think that won't work, make a suggestion.

EDIT:

"These videos are great. I highly recommend watching them." – Kristen Ely

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)

Correlation Example

Suppose, hypothetically, that most (say, 66%) therapists on TV shows are female. That's a correlation: being a TV show therapist is postively correlated with being female.

I don't know if this is true, but I think it's realistic enough to make a plausible example.

Many people would conclude sexism, gender roles, something like that. That's the fallacy of mixing up correlation and causation.

People ought to think harder about possible alternative explanations. Is there any other reason most TV show therapists might be female?

Here's one: it could be that most main character are male, and most therapists are the opposite gender of the main character.

In that case, the choice of the main character might be sexist (I won't get into debating that here), but the choice of the therapist would not be sexist in the normal way. The therapists would be chosen because, in some ways and some settings, people find male-female conversations more interesting than male-male or female-female. There may or may not be something wrong with people's preferences about that, but it's not an example of the standard, typical sexism and gender role stuff which someone might have initially assumed.

If most therapists really are female (maybe, I don't know), is this alternative explanation true? Again, I don't know. What I do know is most therapists being female would not rule out this non-sexism explanation!

This is a practical example of how correlation doesn't imply the first causation you think of, and you need to look for alternatives.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)

No One Else Discusses Ayn Rand

This is expanded from a letter I wrote to Per-Olof Samuelsson.

I already knew that quality discussion of Objectivism is virtually impossible to come by. It occurred to me that I've never heard a single word about one of Rand's very best quotes, anywhere, ever, besides by me and my friends who I've quoted it to. I did some Google searches and found a sad situation.

In short, no one really cares about discussing Ayn Rand's ideas in English, online, in public, besides me. (If you're interested, join my discussion group.)

The Return of the Primitive, The “Inexplicable Personal Alchemy”:
Who can take any values seriously if he is offered, for moral inspiration, a choice between two images of youth: an unshaved, barefooted Harvard graduate, throwing bottles and bombs at policemen—or a prim, sun-helmeted, frustrated little autocrat of the Peace Corps, spoon-feeding babies in a jungle clinic?

No, these are not representative of America’s youth—they are, in fact, a very small minority with a very loud group of unpaid p.r. [agents] on university faculties and among the press—but where are its representatives? Where are America’s young fighters for ideas, the rebels against conformity to the gutter—the young men of “inexplicable personal alchemy,” the independent minds dedicated to the supremacy of truth?

With very rare exceptions, they are perishing in silence, unknown and unnoticed. Consciously or subconsciously, philosophically and psychologically, it is against them that the cult of irrationality—i.e., our entire academic and cultural Establishment—is directed.

They perish gradually, giving up, extinguishing their minds before they have a chance to grasp the nature of the evil they are facing. In lonely agony, they go from confident eagerness to bewilderment to indignation to resignation—to obscurity. And while their elders putter about, conserving redwood forests and building sanctuaries for mallard ducks, nobody notices those youths as they drop out of sight one by one, like sparks vanishing in limitless black space; nobody builds sanctuaries for the best of the human species.

So will the young Russian rebels perish spiritually—if they survive their jail terms physically. How long can a man preserve his sacred fire if he knows that jail is the reward for loyalty to reason? No longer than he can preserve it if he is taught that that loyalty is irrelevant—as he is taught both in the East and in the West. There are exceptions who will hold out, no matter what the circumstances. But these are exceptions that mankind has no right to expect.
i did several searches with pieces of the paragraph about building sanctuaries. they turn up around 5 results, which are are google books and copyright violation, my own discussion group, and one quote site has part of it with no discussion.

The Virtue of Selfishness, Doesn’t Life Require Compromise?:
The excuse, given in all such cases, is that the “compromise” is only temporary and that one will reclaim one’s integrity at some indeterminate future date. But one cannot correct a husband’s or wife’s irrationality by giving in to it and encouraging it to grow. One cannot achieve the victory of one’s ideas by helping to propagate their opposite. One cannot offer a literary masterpiece, “when one has become rich and famous,” to a following one has acquired by writing trash. If one found it difficult to maintain one’s loyalty to one’s own convictions at the start, a succession of betrayals—which helped to augment the power of the evil one lacked the courage to fight—will not make it easier at a later date, but will make it virtually impossible.
this one initially appears to have around 100 google results, but there turn out to be only around 19 if you try to go through them all (google’s hit count estimates are often bad – in another case 272 turned out to be 16). most of those are just bad sites with the full text of the essay or book, and there’s also google books, dead links, and me. there is one single link with discussion, a forum post with essay full text and then one short paragraph of poor quality discussion. it received zero replies.

Philosophy: Who Needs It, An Untitled Letter:
Like any overt school of mysticism, a movement seeking to achieve a vicious goal has to invoke the higher mysteries of an incomprehensible authority. An unread and unreadable book serves this purpose. It does not count on men’s intelligence, but on their weaknesses, pretensions and fears. It is not a tool of enlightenment, but of intellectual intimidation. It is not aimed at the reader’s understanding, but at his inferiority complex.

An intelligent man will reject such a book [like Rawl's A Theory of Justice or Kant's Critique of Pure Reason] with contemptuous indignation, refusing to waste his time on untangling what he perceives to be gibberish—which is part of the book’s technique: the man able to refute its arguments will not (unless he has the endurance of an elephant and the patience of a martyr). A young man of average intelligence—particularly a student of philosophy or of political science—under a barrage of authoritative pronouncements acclaiming the book as “scholarly,” “significant,” “profound,” will take the blame for his failure to understand. More often than not, he will assume that the book’s theory has been scientifically proved and that he alone is unable to grasp it; anxious, above all, to hide his inability, he will profess agreement, and the less his understanding, the louder his agreement—while the rest of the class are going through the same mental process. Most of them will accept the book’s doctrine, reluctantly and uneasily, and lose their intellectual integrity, condemning themselves to a chronic fog of approximation, uncertainty, self doubt. Some will give up the intellect (particularly philosophy) and turn belligerently into “pragmatic,” anti-intellectual Babbitts. A few will see through the game and scramble eagerly for the driver’s seat on the bandwagon, grasping the possibilities of a road to the mentally unearned.
This one has one good mention, which has joke replies about sexual endurance and elephants being inferior to humans. (Plus, interestingly, this quote has two non-English pages which have the quote itself in English, one of which appears to have some discussion).

so there you have it. no one else discusses some of the very best of Ayn Rand’s ideas (in english, in public, online). i think this is extremely sad and messed up. i knew decent Objectivism discussion was hard to come by, but these search results are amazing. there’s approximately nothing out there.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)

Job Security Model of Relationships

I've got a great analogy to explain a common way people think about relationships that I think is really bad. This will make the most sense to the kind of people who are serious about capitalism, freedom and Objectivism. If you have a different perspective, try to understand even though you may disagree.

Some people really like the concept of at-will employment where anyone can be fired with no notice, for no reason given. You have to earn your job on a daily basis, and live up to it. There's no security or relaxation. You never keep a job when someone else wants it and has more merit.

Except this is mitigated by transaction costs – if you underperform by $5, but switching employees costs $500, then you can keep your job. Transaction costs keep things a little bit more stable, but really don't offer much security in most cases. Transaction costs are logical because if everyone was changing jobs every day it'd be chaotic and waste a lot of effort on retraining. They don't mess up the principle.

The principle involves interacting on a case-by-case basis, for mutual benefit each time. If the mutual benefit ever stops, the interaction stops. If someone can get a better deal elsewhere, they should do that (make sure to factor in the price of making a change, which includes researching alternative options, the risk the new one doesn't work as well as you predict, turning off any old recurring stuff, setting things up with the new guy, etc).

Other people less into freedom, capitalism, voluntary win/win interactions, economic literacy, reason, Objectivism, etc, have a different approach to employment. They want regulations to create job security. They want it to be hard to fire a person without giving a good reason. They want predictability and security, so people can relax once they get a job (they can't just do a terrible job, but they can relax and do a pretty good job and not worry about it). They want unemployment insurance/welfare and to make sure everyone has a stable job they can build a life around.

Some people prefer to be able to start and stop jobs easily, others prefer to just get a job and keep it. Both of those preferences are OK. What's not OK is regulations to make it hard to fire people and to protect their jobs even if the employer no longer considers it mutually beneficial to keep them. What's not OK is a ton of paperwork when you want to hire someone to increase the transaction costs of getting a new employee, to artificially reduce (via government policy, something built into the logic of reality) the frequency that people get replaced at a job.

If you want a stable longterm job, why not get a contract? Why not write in the contract that you're guaranteed to keep the job for 20 years as long as you meet some minimum conditions (specified in the contract), and if they want to fire you, they either have to have a good reason (specified in the contract, e.g. they went out of business) or else they have to pay you money to make up for it.

Of course such a contract would be very expensive. Who wants to commit to keep an employee long term and make it hard to replace them?

Categorize all scenarios into two groups. There are the scenarios where a person staying at a job has mutual benefit, and where it doesn't. For the first category, they are going to keep the job without any contract or regulations protecting them. But for the second category, they will only keep the job if there is a contract or regulations or something to protect their job security. The entire purpose of this sort of regulation that limits at-will employment is to keep people in jobs where there isn't mutual benefit. If you want a contract where the employer agrees that in some potential future scenarios, they will keep paying you money in a way they don't benefit from, then that's going to be very expensive. They would have to pay you a lot less, so they benefit so much most of the time to make up for the risk.

And what if, knowing it's hard to fire you, you don't do your best work? Why would anyone want to sign a contract setting it up for an employee to do that and get away with it? Well the government regulations work similarly. Those regulations lower wages, they encourage companies to have fewer employees and to be less willing to take a risk on someone they aren't really confident about (which especially hurts younger people without a long track record).

OK, now you've got a refresher on free employment – firing someone at any time without giving a reason – and regulated employment to create job security so people don't have to constantly strive to have the most merit.

Application To Relationships

Most long term relationships follow the job security model. (Most casual hookups follow the at-will employment model.) In particular, marriage tries to set up job security so you don't have to compete with everyone else your spouse might like better all the time.

The idea is you can relax and be secure in your marriage instead of constantly worrying about dog-eat-dog competition. You can have a stable situation to build a life around, at the cost of sometimes you have to sacrifice – do stuff that lacks mutual benefit, give up things you'd prefer instead. (Your spouse makes the equivalent sacrifice. You both sacrifice alternatives you regard as superior to the spouse. But also you lie that the spouse is the best, and you change your mindset to not look for alternatives and not think about whether alternatives are superior, to try to hide the sacrifice from yourself.)

Job security marriages are bad like job security regulations. Relationships should be merit and mutual benefit based, at all times, just like employment should be. If you want stability, figure out a rational contract that makes sense. If you can't do that, maybe it's because you're trying to make the future predictable in ways the future isn't predictable – so you have to sacrifice big things like the growth of knowledge to artificially create more predictability.

Marriage and job security encourage taking things for granted and coasting through life. And even if you're not married, having "the talk" and being officially "boyfriend and girlfriend" can also put things into that same mode where all the inertia is in favor of continuing on, and there's a lot of pressure to prevent changes. When you make relationship commitments that make change hard and artificially add extra cost to making a change, then that's irrationally propping up something that wouldn't work on merit alone.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (4)

Daily Mail vs. Israel

Someone told me the Daily Mail (UK newspaper) is right wing (to a comparable extent to US right wing thinking), BDS is small in the UK, and the UK isn't majorly anti-Israel. (I consider anti-Israel a smokescreen for anti-semitism).

I Googled for "daily mail israel" (no quotes) and clicked one single front page article that caught my eye. I didn't have to go hunting for this.

Israel demolishes home of Palestinian who killed a woman and baby by ramming into a tram stop in Jerusalem

The article begins by blaming Israel's policy of self-defense – which includes retaliation for violent attacks – for inflaming tensions. Then:
Violence in Jerusalem and other areas of Israel and the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories has surged since July when a Palestinian teenager was burned to death by Jewish assailants, an alleged revenge attack for the abduction and killing of three Jewish teens by Palestinian militants in the occupied West Bank.
This attributes a surge in violence to Jews assaulting a Palestinian teenager. That's not a neutral or evenhanded conception of the causes of violence in the region. It's anti-Israel.

The Jews' motive of revenge is merely "alleged". Biased articles routinely question pro-Israel statements like that, while treating anti-Israel sources by a different standard. The anti-Israel organization Amnesty International (which is presented as neutral) accused Israel's actions of being, "collective punishment and is prohibited by international law". The article did not say Amnesty "alleged" that it's collective punishment or "alleged" that Israel violates international law.

Now read the quote again and stop at the comma. See how bad for Israel that sounds? That's not an accident, it's a common tactic of biased writing. It tries to form an initial impression one way, then to appear more neutral it puts information for the other side in a later clause. (If it was just done once, and sometimes went the other way, it wouldn't be a big deal. But I've read sentences structured like this over and over and over in reporting on Israel, and they consistently go against Israel.)

That's just a few ways the article is anti-Israel. See if you can spot more and post them in comments.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)

UK Conservative Party Isn't Very Conservative

UK Conservative Party Manifesto Introduction
We can be proud of what we have achieved so far together, and especially proud that as we have taken hard decisions on public spending, we have protected the National Health Service, with 9,500 more doctors and 6,900 more nurses, and ensured generous rises in the State Pension.
Government doctors and big government pensions are not conservative ideas.

Objectively, it's wealth redistribution. It's taking money from some taxpayers to give it to others or spend it on others. It's deciding, contrary to the free market, that some people should have less wealth and others more. That is anti-capitalist.

UK Conservative Party Manifesto
We have a plan for every stage of your life
What about small government? What about being hands-off? What about letting people plan and run their own lives? Why does the government need to be involved with your whole life? Why can't the government stick to functions like police and courts which have to do with the use of force?
we will continue to increase spending on the NHS
we will maintain the amount of money that follows each child into school
More money for government healthcare, no cuts for government education. What's conservative about that?
we will create 3 million new apprenticeships; take everyone earning less than £12,500 out of Income Tax altogether and pass a law to ensure we have a Tax-Free Minimum Wage in this country
Minimum wage is an anti-capitalist idea. Lowering taxes specifically on low earners is not exactly a conservative idea.
we will extend the Right to Buy to Housing Association tenants, build 200,000 new Starter Homes – 20 per cent below the market price, for first-time buyers under 40 – and provide 30 hours of free childcare to working parents of three and four year-olds – so you are able to work while having the security of your own home in which to raise your family
Government housing and government paying for childcare? What is conservative about that? This is left wing. In the UK, Labour is left wing, and then the Conservative party is full of left wing ideas too.
we will continue to increase the Basic State Pension
we will cap the amount you can be charged for your residential care
Price controls too?

Out of the 7 stages of life, 6 have substantial anti-conservative ideas. One (not quoted) said they won't raise some taxes and will help with a couple specific taxes.

It's not just that a lot of this stuff is anti-conservative. It's also that you read their plan and where is the conservative stuff? The anti-conservative stuff is most of the stuff.
The next Conservative Government will secure a better future for you, your family and Britain.
What happened to the idea that the government should get out of the way, and individuals secure their own futures?
A strong economy allows us to invest in and protect our public services like the NHS and schools
What about the people who think public services are a bad idea? The Republican party platform doesn't read like this.
We will increase the number of teachers able to teach Mandarin in schools in England, so we can compete in the global race.
The Republican platform does not have the words "Spanish" or "Mandarin". Having the government promote foreign languages is not a conservative policy.

Let's now look at Republicans, in teal.
This platform affirms that America has always been a place of grand dreams and even grander realities; and so it will be again, if we return government to its proper role, making it smaller and smarter.
Trust the people. Limit government.
We are the party of maximum economic freedom and the prosperity freedom makes possible.
Parents are responsible for the education of their children. We do not believe in a one size fits all approach to education and support providing broad education choices to parents and children at the State and local level.
School choice—whether through charter schools, open enrollment requests, college lab schools, virtual schools, career and technical education programs, vouchers, or tax credits—is important for all children, especially for families with children trapped in failing schools.
The US has a more diverse political spectrum than Europe. We have plenty of extreme leftists, but we also have, in the mainstream, ideas like capitalism and limited government. In the UK, the supposedly right of center mainstream party likes government services.
In sum, on the one hand enormous amounts of money are being spent for K-12 public education with overall results that do not justify that spending. On the other hand, the common experience of families, teachers, and administrators forms the basis of what does work in education. We believe the gap between those two realities can be successfully bridged, and Congressional Republicans are pointing a new way forward with major reform legislation. We support its concept of block grants and the repeal of numerous federal regulations which interfere with State and local control of public schools.
This is not what I regard as perfect. It's not getting the government totally out of schools. But it's going in that direction more instead of praising public services. It's looking for more variety of education, chosen by local communities, rather than a gigantic public school system with decisions made by central government.
Federal student aid is on an unsustainable path
That's about college tuition. (The problem is colleges ask about your finances, then charge whatever you can pay, plus whatever the government will pay.)
The United Nations remains in dire need of reform, starting with full transparency in the financial operations of its overpaid bureaucrats. As long as its scandal-ridden management continues, as long as some of the world’s worst tyrants hold seats on its Human Rights Council, and as long as Israel is treated as a pariah state, the U.N. cannot expect the full support of the American people.
Our Unequivocal Support of Israel
That's a section title, read the pdf for details. In the US, we have pro-Israel and anti-Israel (e.g. Obama's) ideas.

Now let's go back to the UK Conservative party:
support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, robustly defending the right of Israel to protect its security, while continuing to condemn illegal settlement building, which undermines the prospects for peace
This is the only text on Israel. It is anti-Israel. It condemns Israelis building and living in homes on land they own – a standard applied to no other country. This is trying to compromise between civilization and terrorism, by evenhandedly and neutrally expressing some sympathy for both sides. Compromising with terrorism, murder and anti-semitism, and allowing it some legitimacy and support, is not a neutral policy anymore than being evenhanded about murderers and their victims.

In any case, this is something completely different than the mainstream right wing US position on Israel. A large part of the US population considers stances like this very bad, whereas most of the UK population will either vote for this or, worse, Labour.

Here's the environment:
Over the next five years, we will put in place stronger protections for our natural landscapes
vs.
Since 2009, the EPA has moved forward with expansive regulations that will impose tens of billions of dollars in new costs on American businesses and consumers.
The UK conservatives want more government protections, the Republicans think our government's Environmental Protection Agency is harming business and generally doing too much, not too little.

OK finally let's play a game. You guess which party these come from. All changes in brackets only change a couple words to hide which country it is.
The goal of welfare reform should be to reward hard work and protect the vulnerable
Each year, this system dispenses nearly [large money amount] in taxpayer funds across a maze of approximately 80 programs that are neither coordinated nor effective in solving poverty and lifting up families.
We will support you as you raise your family
We believe that taking care of one’s health is an individual responsibility.
Every school needs high standards, proper funding and accountability
criminals behind bars cannot harm the general public.
We are set to increase health spending by more than [large money amount] above and beyond inflation in the five years since 2010. And we will continue spend more
peace through strength
We have legislated to ensure that mental and physical health conditions are given equal priority. We will now go further, ensuring that there are therapists in every part of the country providing treatment for those who need it. We are increasing funding for mental health care.
We reject the use of taxation to redistribute income, fund unnecessary or ineffective programs, or foster the crony capitalism that corrupts both politicians and corporations.
We will deliver better public services
without property rights, individual rights are diminished
We will build new infrastructure in an environmentally-sensitive way
review the environmental laws that often thwart new energy exploration and production
We want to protect our environment for future generations
The environment is getting cleaner and healthier. [...] air and waterways, as a whole, are much healthier than they were just a few decades ago.
Tackling global poverty is both the right thing to do and in [our nation's] interests. We have delivered on our promises to meet the UN target of spending 0.7 per cent of national income as aid and to enshrine this in law.
We support keeping [...] funds from being used in mandatory or universal mental health, psychiatric, or socio-emotional screening programs.
I posted the answers in comments. I hope you can see the difference. All the comments that sound more left-wing are the UK Conservative ones.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comment (1)

Stimulants Treat Hyperactivity?

help, doc, my kid doesn’t sit still in class. he’s hyper. he’s got ADHD.

ok no problem. i’ve got a nice drug here. it’s Ritalin, a stimulant. it’ll set him straight.

you mean a sedative?

no, it’s a stimulant. like Speed. it’s good at keeping people wide awake.

Doc, Doc, I want him to be LESS hyper, not more.

yeah, i know. just leave this to the experts. give him the stimulant and he’ll calm right down. i have a PhD and you don’t.

well, ok then. would giving him a lot of sugar help too?

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)

Hatewatch Hates Ann Coulter

Ann Coulter – A White Nationalist in the Mainstream?
Ann Coulter was back in the news again this week following racist comments she made during an interview with Fusion TV host Jorge Ramos. Coulter claimed the Mexican culture is “deficient” and went on to claim that part of Mexican culture includes “uncles raping their nieces.”
Well, what's wrong with saying that? It's true. It's documented in her new book!

Hatewatch doesn't present some other version of the facts, or criticize Coulter's scholarship. They just assume there's obviously nothing wrong with Mexican culture, so anything contradicting that must be false and hateful.

Rather than make any kind of rational argument, Hatewatch tries something else:
Below is a selection of racist quotes from Coulter juxtaposed with similar quotes from other members of the radical right:
They then proceed to quote Coulter making good points, and offer no rebuttals. They also quote disreputable people making vaguely similar statements.

Their point, which they don't explain, goes something like this:

1) find people your audience already accepts are racist

2) quote them on the premise that anything ever said by a racist is automatically racist

3) quote Ann Coulter on the premise that all statements kinda a little similar to racist statements are also racist

If Coulter got anything wrong, they'd point it out. If they had any counter-argument, they'd offer it. They pretend to hatefully flame her because she's intellectually beneath them. Actually they do it because they have no intellectual answer to her (if they did, they'd use it, it'd be more persuasive and they'd be better off).

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)

You Must Read Adios America

Adios, America by Ann Coulter is a must read book about modern US immigration.

Did you know that in 1965, Teddy Kennedy radically changed US immigration policy? Previously, immigration made sense. Immigrants to the US were educated and hard-working people who aspired to the American dream. They spoke or learned English. They came here because they wanted to be Americans. They received less welfare than native Americans (no I don't mean Indians – I'm an example of a person who is American and a native to America, i.e. a "native American"). They didn't fill up our prisons. The US used to accept immigrants who benefited the country.

It's pretty hard to get Americans to vote for Democrats. It's much easier to get ignorant third world peasants to bloc-vote Democrat – especially if they don't speak English, so they can't read books like Adios America.

The Democrats say we need "diversity" – by which they mean mostly Mexicans who vote Democrat in unison. No more whites allowed.

America used to be a melting pot. Assimilation made sense. You could come here if you liked and benefitted America. You changed yourself to fit in. We didn't change America for you.

Now we bring in a mob of "multicultural" child rapists who keep their own primitive cultures.

These are facts. Ann Coulter is a top scholar and documents this in the book. Read it.

The truly scary part is how much we accommodate this nonsense. A Hmong immigrant demanded – in US court – money to buy animals to sacrificially murder. An American was ordered to pay up, and lost on appeal.

What do you suppose animal rights activists think of bringing people to the US to brutalize American animals? Do they want them to assimilate the American value of not killing animals in shamanistic rituals?
Instead of criticizing the Hmong’s house pet holocaust, the head of Fresno’s Humane Society, Don Pugh, called Americans racist for objecting to it. Pugh told the LA Times that he got more calls about animal sacrifice than he found animal carcasses. Thus, he concluded, complaints about Hmong clubbing dogs to death was “racism, pure and simple.”
I'll leave you with a true story that would come off as unrealistic in Atlas Shrugged:
Mohammed Salameh, another terrorist convicted in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, was also in the United States because of [Chuck] Schumer’s special agricultural worker amnesty. The unskilled nineteen-year-old first came to the United States on a tourist visa because, as the U.S. consulate later explained, someone in the office “took a chance” on Mohammed. Mohammed not only had never worked on a farm, but he was not even in the country until 1988, two years after the special amnesty became law, though it was explicitly limited to those who had worked on farms in the United States in the year before May 1, 1986.

By the most basic definition of the law, Mohammed was not eligible, but he was allowed to stay in the United States and obtain a work visa—while the INS processed his petition. Moving with the lightning speed of a government agency, the INS rejected his petition for amnesty as a farmworker three years later. Then, Mohammed applied for a general amnesty, claiming he had been living continuously in the United States from 1982 to 1986. Actually, he was a teenager in Jordan then, but again, Mohammed was allowed to stay while the INS considered his request. As it was considering, Mohammed bombed the World Trade Center.

Even if someone at the INS had promptly rejected his application, noticing that Mohammed only arrived in the United States in 1988—he still couldn’t have been deported. Schumer had included a provision prohibiting the INS from taking any action against any immigrant who merely applied for agricultural amnesty. That might discourage fraudulent applications! No matter how laughably fictional, Mohammed’s request for a farmworker amnesty immunized him from deportation. He would still be setting off bombs as a frustrated farmworker had he not returned the van used in the bombing to the Ryder rental agency to get his deposit back. Gosh, we really are getting the smartest immigrants.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)

Bad Study Claims Lawyers are Racist

Written in Black & White

Exploring Confirmation Bias in Racialized Perceptions of Writing Skills
This is a paper about bias which claims lawyers are racist. But they don't know what bias is:
CONFIRMATION BIAS: A mental shortcut – a bias – engaged by the brain that makes one actively seek information, interpretation and memory to only observe and absorb that which affirms established beliefs while missing data that contradicts established beliefs.
Some mental shortcuts, like some shortcuts while driving, are good ideas. They can be time savers. This is a stupid definition of what a "bias" is.

Some mental shortcuts work, and are valuable. Others don't. It's important to try to figure out which are which. And an unbiased person can make a mistake evaluating whether a particular mental shortcut works well.

Shortcuts don't make one do anything. They are options but can't control you.

The idea of a bias making someone do something makes more sense than a shortcut controlling a person, but is still mistaken. One way to see it's mistaken is to consider that sometimes a person recognizes he's biased and doesn't obey the bias.

The dictionary doesn't know what a bias is either:
a tendency to believe that some people, ideas, etc., are better than others that usually results in treating some people unfairly
Is the belief rational? This definition doesn't care.

I believe Objectivism is better than most rivals one might compare it with. But some anti-Objectivists believe I treat them unfairly in discussion by not conceding that Ayn Rand is a monster.

Recognizing something is superior isn't automatically bias. Some things are superior. Bias has to do with irrationality: e.g. believing something is superior for bad reasons you are unwilling to reconsider.
The partners were originally given 4 weeks to complete the editing and rating, but we had to extend deadline to 7 weeks in order to obtain more responses.
The study changed the rules midway in order to reach different conclusions than it would have if it followed the original plan.
we deliberately inserted 22 different errors
Maybe the response rate was worse than expected because people weren't thrilled about editing an essay containing 22 deliberate errors. I wonder how realistic the errors were, and why they didn't use a real research memo. Using an artificial memo adds an extra source of error: it could be poorly designed.
Name: Thomas Meyer

Seniority: 3rd Year Associate
Alma Mater: NYU Law School
Race/Ethnicity: African American
Half the participants saw the same headings except with "Caucasian" instead of "African American". I see a danger here that people would find it strange to be told the Race/Ethnicity of the author of what they are reading, and therefore act differently than in regular life.

One possibility is some people saw this was a transparent attempt at a racism study and gave a reply to manipulate the results according to their political preference. Others might decide not to participate when they see this. It's important the participants don't know it's a racism study, but this is a big clue.

An even bigger issue here is there was no control group which received memos with no Race/Ethnicity heading. Wouldn't a control group be a good idea?
There was no significant correlation between a partner’s race/ethnicity and the differentiated patterns of errors found between the two memos. There was also no significant correlation between a partner’s gender and the differentiated patterns of errors found between the two memos.
What about the partner's political party? His age? Or a million other things.

Why are race/ethnicity and gender the two things they looked at? It's plausible that one major US political party is more racist than the other one. And it's plausible that old people are more racist than young people.
In order to create a study where we could control for enough variables to truly see the impact of confirmation bias, we did not study the potential variances that can be caused due to the intersection of race/ethnicity, gender, generational differences and other such salient identities.
How does ignoring the age of participants make the study better controlled?
The exact same memo, averaged a 3.2/5.0 rating under our hypothetical “African American” Thomas Meyer and a 4.1/5.0 rating under hypothetical “Caucasian” Thomas Meyer.
This is their main point: they claim lawyers are racist.
We undertook this study with the hypothesis that unconscious confirmation bias in a supervising lawyer’s assessment of legal writing would result in a more negative rating if that writing was submitted by an African American lawyer in comparison to the same submission by a Caucasian lawyer.
What about conscious bias? They explicitly said the race. A participant could consciously notice.
When expecting to find fewer errors, we find fewer errors. When expecting to find more errors, we find more errors. That is unconscious confirmation bias. Our evaluators unconsciously found more of the errors in the “African American” Thomas Meyer’s memo, but the final rating process was a conscious and unbiased analysis based on the number of errors found.
This is a story which isn't contradicted by their study. Many other stories also aren't contradicted by the study. Why are they concluding this particular story? For example, the evaluators could have had conscious bias. Saying it's unconscious bias is just making up a story about what happened.

Other things could be going on. Maybe the writing style of the memo was culturally white. Then the people told it had it had a white author would just read it and nothing special happens. But the people told it had a black author might notice the clash between the white style and the black author claim. This could get them to wake up and pay more attention because there was something unexpected or surprising or interesting about the memo. They could then have found more errors simply because they were more awake while reading.
When partners say that they are evaluating assignments without bias
Wait, were they asked if they were racist? Wouldn't that give away what kind of study it was? Or was that only done afterwards? Why wasn't the procedure explained?

In any case, wouldn't you expect a lot of conscious racists to lie? So people claiming they aren't racist doesn't differentiate between conscious and unconscious racists very well.

Conclusion

The paper is too light on details, and has too many errors, to make a big deal out of. If racism is a big problem, it shouldn't be that hard to do a high quality study to show it. I would expect that already to have been done, given the intense interest in this topic.

So, people claiming racism is a big problem: where is that high quality study? Link me to it or tell me why it hasn't been done yet.

Addendum

At the end of the paper there is some extra stuff like brags about how the people doing the study are biased. They get paid to teach people to be less racist. Their study is marketing for their services. Is that sad or is it amusing? I don't know. I want to point out one more error:
EXAMPLE: In one law firm where we found that minority summer associates were consistently being evaluated more negatively than their majority counterparts, we created an interruption mechanism to infuse the subjective with objective. We worked with the firm to create an Assignment Committee, comprised of 3 partners through whom certain assignments were distributed to the summer associates and through whom the summer associates submitted work back to the partners who needed the work done. When the work was evaluated, the partners evaluating the work did not know which associate had completed the work. The assignments for this process were chosen judiciously, and there was a lot of work done to ensure buy-in from all partners. At the end of the summer, every associate had at least 2 assignments that had been graded blindly. The firm then examined how the blind evaluations compared with the rest of the associate’s evaluations and found that the blind evaluations were generally more positive for minorities and women and less positive for majority men.
It could be that people give better evaluations to their friends. And it could be that of the new employees, white men have the best social skills, due to different upbringings. So they make friends with the people doing the evaluating the best, and then get the best evaluations when it's not blind. But when there's blind evaluations, the social skills are irrelevant.

This is merely a story I made up. The point is it's possible. What happened in the example could involve racism by lawyers, or not. That the study authors only think about how their material is compatible with racism happening, but don't consider and discuss the non-racist explanations that account for it, shows their own selective attention, which they would call "bias".

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)

Say What You Want

lots of guys feel the need to give the girl the explicit option to decline sexual escalation. and this is encouraged by e.g. “anti-rape” feminists.

if she says time to go, and you say “you gotta kiss me first”, you are not forcing her. she can decline. she still has the option to decline. i bet you she knows how to say “haha no thanks” or many other things.

this applies to other stuff too. if you say “pay me $200/hr for this”, you don’t have to say “or if that doesn’t work for you, you could negotiate a lower rate”. they have the option to try to negotiate a lower rate without you telling them. it’s not your responsibility to suggest to them that they counter-offer. and it’s not your responsibility to suggest to a girl you want to kiss that she consider the “no” option in addition to the “yes” option.

not explicitly telling people they can say “no” is not force, it’s not rape, it’s not aggression. it’s perfectly reasonable.

bringing up the options you don’t want people to do just communicates you think there’s some reason they should or will seriously consider them. you are encouraging people to say now. you communicate there is something wrong with your proposal and/or you lack confidence and/or you are really passive/beta (it’s actually possible to be confident that saying “want to have sex? or also want to not have sex? your choice!” is the right and morally best thing to do. it’s very rare to be totally confident and say that, but a mix of partly lack of confidence and partly thinking it’s morally right is common.)

phrasing matters. if you think it doesn’t, then why do people resist saying “do X” instead of “would you like X, or not?” all resistance on this topic is because people are aware it matters. but it’s merely being assertive, not aggressive. it’s making a judgement about what should happen next and saying so, rather than asking the other person to decide for you. it’s good to make decisions yourself and doesn’t stop people from saying “no” if they want to. lots of people, especially girls in a dating context, would rather that you judge and they only have to think or take charge if a problem comes up, but by default you make good judgments and they go along with it. be the person who makes good judgments, instead of another person who is scared to think and decide and say so.

Ironically, lots of people only argue their side in what's supposed to be a truth-seeking, objective discussion. They look at things one way and try to say why their side is right, and other sides are wrong. But they don't think through what's good about alternative ideas and what's bad about their own idea. They are biased. But then when it comes to social interaction, a lot of people start being more broad minded – instead of only saying what they want, they also bring up alternative ideas they don't want.

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