Ives Parr

357 karmaJoined Feb 2022parrhesia.substack.com


Answer by Ives ParrFeb 15, 20236-1

I would recommend not reading about this topic anymore even if it is interesting unless you’re working in AI research. I think it can be upsetting and so keeping it out of your mind can help reduce these feelings. I would treat avoiding the topic seriously.

Thanks for the pushback. I crossed out my interpretation. I'll await an answer. Perhaps I should've waited for clarification before responding.

 I'll explain why I interpretted it the way I did:

This is also particularly disturbing as I try to convince myself and others, including and especially humans who look like me, that we might want to ignore EA's glaring diversity problem and parts of EA's unwillingness to change to build a better world for future generations rather than focus on direct threats to our lives, voting rights or civil liberties.

I parsed it as EA is unwilling to change and would rather focus on direct threats. And since there was a "rather" I thought it was constrasting building a better world with with focusing on threats. So, I interpretted the threat to be Bostrom's views/these discussions.

...I try to convince myself and others, ... , that we might want to ignore EA's glaring diversity problem and parts of EA's unwillingness to change ... rather than focus on direct threats to our lives, voting rights or civil liberties.

Ives Parr

Bostrom did not take a position on the contribution of genes to group differences in his apology. However, I suspect he believes there is a non-zero genetic contribution.

Regardless, your justification for your feelings is aided by rephrasing the hereditarian position in an extremely inflammatory and morally-loaded way. It makes your opponent look worse than they are when you phrase it in such a provocative and somewhat misleading way. 

I think people with Down syndrome, severe traumatic brain injury, and Alzheimer's have lower average cognitive ability when compared with the population at large. And yet, I don't go around saying that these groups have "inherent intellectual inferiority." Talking like that makes you seem like a jerk.

If you think that genetic differences in IQ immediately imply inferiority, then unless you deny that individuals have different levels of cognitive ability because of genetic differences, you must be committed to thinking you are "intellectually superior" than a bunch of people. But you probably don't talk like that because it makes you seem like a jerk. (which I don't think you are).

What do you mean by EA is focusing on "direct threats to our lives, voting rights or civil liberties." Do you mean to say that discussing these topics literally directly threatens your life? I think hyperbolic statements like this are detrimental to openly reasoning about topics because someone can claim "this discourse is going to get people killed" and calling this sort of thing out as hyperbolic makes one look insensitive to your emotional concerns, and people do not want to look insensitive.  

Edit: Striking my interpretation and critical response. Disregard if I misunderstood. 

Ives Parr

Many progressive institutions spend a great deal of time highlighting racial differences. I really wish they would not. Even worse, they go on to attribute these gaps to discrimination and nefariousness on the part of oppressor groups. If gaps are not due to discrimination, then it is immoral to place blame on a the designated oppressor group for discrimination. In other contexts, this is common sense. It is wrong to attribute Jewish success to coordinated conspiracies and exploitation because their success is largely attributable to higher average cognitive ability and intellectual culture. 

There are successful minority groups throughout the world who are resented because their higher socioeconomic status is attributed to exploitation. I think this is an unfortunate situation. If anything, attributing socioeconomic outcomes to exploitation leaves a group open to violence moreso than attributing socioeconomic gaps to average cognitive ability differences. 

Few people think it is moral to commit acts of violence against less intelligent people. Even fewer probably think it is acceptable to commit acts of violence against a group because they are a member of a groups with a lower than average level of cognitive ability. I really never see these attitudes. Eventually whatever is true about differences will come to light. The truth cannot be supressed for ever. It is best to argue now that nothing like violence comes from the existence of non-negligable gaps. What does follow is that a certain way of thinking about politics in mostly egalitarian societies, namely as race and class conflict, needs to be less dominant. 

We ought to move back to the attitude that it is an ideal to not care about race, sex, gender, sexual orientation etc rather than that we need to always be thinking about these things. It is hard to pushback against this narrative without touching on extraordinarily tabboo topics because absolute fairness creates disparity and mentioning the better explanations will get you regarded as a "bad person" and in some cases fired from your job.

I think it is bad to deny a person access to a position because of the statistical average of their group. If a 23 year old is competent, then hold them to the same standard. 

It is odd to me that you would comment that highlighting differences in cognitive ability between groups should be taboo and suppressed and yet openly state that 23 year olds should have to face different standards in order to be entrusted in decision-making positions. I think you would find it utterly repugnant to say that blacks should have higher standards before we trust them. 

Edit: I don't think this is particularly bad and this attitude is relatively common. I just want to point out that I think this looks like an odd double-standard in my view, although many may disagree. Sorry if this comment comes across as aggressive.

Ives Parr

I meant to link to Gottfredson's statement. Do you think that black people and other racial groups scored equally on IQ tests in 1996? I don't. My point is that there was a good number of people who had this belief and if Bostrom formulated a true belief, it seems odd that he should face criticism for this. If you think it is false, we can discuss more.

I don't know whether exactly it is a "poor choice" but the reason people talk about genetics and race is because they believe that the social categories have different gene variant frequencies resulting in phenotypic differences on socially relevant traits.

The Tuu are an unusual case. I fully grant that many would see a Tuu and not recognize that they are genetically much more distant. But most Americans have probably never even met a Bushman (I think this is the more respectful term than San).I do not think that these categories are perfectly defined and unambiguous, and yet I think they can have genetic differences. 

This may not apply to you in particular, but I feel there is often isolated demands for semantic precision. People don't object as often  to arguments about race in this way in other contexts. For example, "black people are abused by the police more" doesn't get the response of "what do you mean by black? Is a mixed race person black? What if they look mostly white? What is a police? Does that include security guards? What if a police officer abused a black person but it turned out it was actually a rather dark skinned Sri Lankan? Do Bushmen count as black?" I understand what progressives are talking about when they say Black people even if there is not a platonic ideal definition. And although you can find some counter examples, I think it is generally true that black people tend to be more related to eachother than white people.

Ives Parr

Population geneticists tend to use the term "populations" from what I understand rather than race. Race is an imprecise term. However, people of the white race, black race, and Asian race tend to have different allele frequencies. That is why 23andMe is able to determine a persons ancestry. People of a shared ancestry tend to be more related to one another. 

I'm not sure if IQ is particularly mysterious. There was a rise in average IQ  score across several decades in the 20th century. IQ tends to be the determiner of social position rather than the other way around. 

Regardless of the cause, Bostroms statement about the relative scores of whites and blacks was accurate. I do not think it is "bad" in the moral sense. His view was not out of line with mainstream intelligence researchers at the time. It is still not inaccurate to recognize there exists a disparity. Progress minded people still speak about college entrance exam disparities which are rather highly correlated with IQ. 

I do not like the above fact. I would rather it not true. But I do not think I am bad for believing it because I think it is true and believing the truth is morally good. If I have been duped by the intelligence research community, then I have made an error in reasoning, but I still do not think I am immoral for doing so.

Ives Parr

It is not irrational given this persons beliefs:  

If you have the belief that groups are the same, then disparity in representation points to someone putting their finger on the scale (intentional racial discrimination).

If you have the belief that groups are different, then equality in representation points to someone putting their finger on the scale (intentional racial discrimination). 

Whether or not this is "seriously wrong" depends largely on whether or not this persons belief is true. I suppose this could be called "racist" but I think that this term is not particularly useful because it is ambiguous, morally-loaded, and seems to point at the belief being false (does a belief stop being racist if it turns out true? I'm not sure).

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