All of Freethinkers In EA's Comments + Replies

The Importance of Truth-Oriented Discussions in EA

This is one of those circumstances where changing the phrase would likely mean avoiding the issue. I agree that we don't want people to be unfeeling automatons and that there are circumstances when expressing even "negative" emotions like anger can be positive. At the same time, the idea that different people have different levels of emotional control seems to be a very useful model, even if it doesn't perfectly describe reality (ie. context-dependence). You've already noted that some behaviours put a burden on most people - having... (read more)

I'm not sure what you mean by 'low emotional control.' Are you talking about people who can't control their reactions, or who can but find it tiring, or who can but choose not to? I'm very emotional, but if someone's rude to me in the context of a government negotiation, no one would be able to tell I even heard the insult (depending - in some contexts it's strategic to assert yourself and set boundaries). If someone's rude to me in a social context, though, they're going to get an earful! I don't get paid to take your crap, so when someone insults me, either they're going to hear about it or I'm going to leave. So... Is that a low level of emotional control, or a high level of emotional control? What exactly are you referring to?
The Importance of Truth-Oriented Discussions in EA

We can accomodate people who have low levels of emotional control (this is distinct from feeling strong emotions) and who are more ideological. However, while it makes the group more welcoming for those individuals, it makes it less welcoming for everyone else, so it's not so clear that this results in the group being more welcoming overall like we were promised. In any case, it helps highlight how narrow the particular conception of inclusion put forward by Making Discussions Inclusive actually is.

1. I'd really recommend finding a different phrase than "low levels of emotional control", which is both more insulting than seems ideal for conversations in an EA context and too vague to be a useful descriptor. (There are dozens of ways that "controlling one's emotions" might be important within EA, and almost no one is "high" or "low" for all of them.)

2. "Less welcoming for everyone else" is too broad. Accommodating people who prefer some topics not be brought up certainly makes EA less welcom... (read more)

The Importance of Truth-Oriented Discussions in EA

"The claim that we should not have "limited discussions" is closing the barn door after the horse is already out." - Some discussions about what should or should not allowed to be discussed are much more politicised than others and hence much more damaging. (In case it seems like I've contradicted myself here, my point is not that discussions about what should be allowed to be discussed should be banned, merely that a serious movement towards banning particular ideas encourages more of these adversarial discussions and hence the mo... (read more)

The Importance of Truth-Oriented Discussions in EA

It's not necessarily as intentional as that. Some people have certain political goals. They can achieve those goals co-operatively by engaging people in civil discussion or by adversarily by protesting/creating negative publicity. If the later tends to be successful, a greater proportion of people will be drawn towards it. Is that clearer?

Not for me! I really don't understand what you mean.
Making discussions in EA groups inclusive

A few EAs decided to work together to write an in-depth, section-by-section response to the above post. Please note that it discusses issues which were listed in Making Discussion Inclusive as potentially alienating.

The Importance of Truth-Oriented Discussions in EA

I'll concede that the post could definitely be better than it is and as the primary author I take responsibility for post being somewhat light on references. However part of this was that the post this is responding to received many comments by people with views similar to mine, so I updated towards this post being less high priority and decided to just publish what we had.

The Importance of Truth-Oriented Discussions in EA
So if one community seems consistently wrong about something in a frustrating way, it's not surprising if someone chooses to move on to a different community which lacks this problem.

Indeed, however people will generally accept a certain level of frustration if you are providing sufficient value. As an example, couples often start picking up on the minor annoyances after they fall out of love. Continuing the analogy, focusing on these issues is the obvious thing to do, but it often won't be what is needed to fix the relationship.

How does this ver
... (read more)
The Importance of Truth-Oriented Discussions in EA

PR risk is another whole topic by itself and there are some tough questions here. One comment though: We need to be wary that acting to prevent PR damage can actually encourage more people to put pressure on you as they've seen that you are vulnerable.

Are you saying there are groups who go around inflicting PR damage on generic communities they perceive as vulnerable, or that there are groups who are inclined to attack EA in particular, but will only do so if we are percieved as vulnerable (or something else I'm missing)? I'm having a hard time understanding the mechanism through which this occurs.
I'm glad that someone mentions this. I have a strong alief that misrepresenting your opinions to be more palatable is a bad idea if you're right. It pulls you into a bad equilibrium. If you sermon [] the truth, you might lose the respect of those that are wrong, but you will gain the respect of those that are right, and those people are the ones you want in your community. Having said that, you really do have to be right, and I feel like not even EA's are up to the herculean task of clearly seeing outside of their political intuitions. I for one have so far been wrong about many things that felt obvious to me. I guess that's why we focus on meta truth instead. It seems that the set of rules that arrive at truth are much more easily described than the truth itself.
The Importance of Truth-Oriented Discussions in EA

I'm in favour of operationalization and avoiding politics (and I suspect the other collaborators would as well). However, I suspect that those coming from a social justice perspective would feel that limiting the discussion in this way would be unfair to them. The kinds of arguments they might make for minority applicants deserving AA for EA roles, for example, would most likely be based upon a claim of massive, ongoing, systematic disadvantage and exclusion both in society itself and EA. There are other arguments that they could make, but they'd still probably feel that we had excluded a pillar of their main argument for many claims by fiat. For this reason, addressing these issues seems unavoidable.