I agree. I think checking some polling numbers as Monkyyy suggested is a good starting point. It’s right it doesn’t tell us enough about the dynamics of mobilizing those who typically don’t vote; and the dynamic between how much Republicans and Democrats can cause others to flip sides.
I’m inclined to agree. I think the relevant axis is likelier to be Anti-Establishment <--> Pro-Establishment, within the Democratic Party. I suspect where someone would fall on that axis is mildly/moderately positively correlated with where they’d fall on a leftist-centrist axis. This doesn’t tell us enough though. For example, I’d say Harris is perceived as almost as ‘establishment’ as Biden or O’Rourke, but she is apparently to the left of both of them on many policies. While we can _roughly_ tell how pro- or anti-Dem establishment a candidate is, this is less amenable to analysis because there aren’t quantitative tools for looking at how ‘establishment’ a candidate is, and definitely not for the current Dem establishment. Such tools exist for evaluating one’s place on the ideological spectrum. That political science is better at this I think is why by default most people are more comfortable thinking in terms of left/centrist than anti-establishment/pro-establishment. At least that’s why I expect why the debate has defaulted as about the leftist/centrist axis. I imagine this will remain the dominant framing of the issue until much later in the Dem races, when the field has shrunk enough to make more precise evaluations more useful.
Thanks for laying that all out. It’s more helpful info out of PredictIt. Unfortunately it doesn’t appear to point to a trend about whether a more progressive/leftist candidate, or moderate/centrist candidate, would be likelier to win. If I had to guess, I’d say Biden and Harris are more moderate candidates...? But that’s not based on much, and like you said the range on all those estimates is still huge.
Here is the promised video. Transcription forthcoming.
The video is up.
Here is the video. Since my friend Jordan did the event as a colloquium, and he didn’t anticipate the back-and-forth, most of the 2 hours was him criticizing Scott’s classic post I Myself Am A Scientismist, launching off into a discussion of philosophy of science from there. In spite of Scott being tired of criticisms of his post on the Dark Ages, my friend Jordan is still convinced it’s at a level of sufficient historical inaccuracy/imprecision there should be a record for SSC readers of how in fact misleading Scott can be when he is out of his depth. So, he may in the next few months do a follow-up on the Dark Ages, with a bit on other posts of Scott’s he took issue with.
He is disinterested in writing this stuff up for the rationality community, but similar events in the future will be filmed and transcribed so they’re more accessible.
They aren’t available yet. I’m sorry it’s taken us a while to move on this. I have the SD card with the video file on it. But I just realized my laptop doesn’t have a port to take it. I can probably find another computer to upload it with in a matter of days. The transcript should be up a few days after that. So at least the video if not the transcript should be up within a week.
That is the type of response I’ve gotten from you, Scott, and the LW mods, for which I’m grateful. To be clear, in this thread I made clear our intent to indeed document all this properly and exhaustively, which we would have done anyway for posterity, but, in light of the comments, we will also do to signal our good faith.
I was clarifying my intentions, but my friend, who is the main draw for the event, does intend to defend the thesis Scott is a pseudo-intellectual not worth reading. The real arguments will be up in a little over a week though.
I was contrasting it with Ben’s use of the word ‘peaceful,’ and making some background assumptions as to what the context for using the word was (Said remarked on the odd diction). Apparently those assumptions were wrong.
Thanks. We indeed have no intent, malicious or otherwise, to do any of the things it reads as though we’re insinuated as intending to do. I think what Ben might be referring to is not the chance of a literal, physical violence, even as exaggeration, but “violence” given a thicker definition of the word than its common, everyday usage implies. The Berkeley rationality community has embraced a variety of novel models/theories of communication style, including Nonviolent Communication (NVC). From Wikipedia [emphasis added]:
Nonviolent Communication (abbreviated NVC, also called Compassionate Communication or Collaborative Communication) is an approach to nonviolent living developed by Marshall Rosenberg beginning in the 1960s. It is based on the idea that all human beings have the capacity for compassion and only resort to violence or behavior that harms themselves and others when they do not recognize more effective strategies for meeting needs. Habits of thinking and speaking that lead to the use of violence (social, psychological and physical) are learned through culture. NVC theory supposes all human behavior stems from attempts to meet universal human needs and that these needs are never in conflict. Rather, conflict arises when strategies for meeting needs clash. NVC proposes that people identify shared needs, revealed by the thoughts and feelings that surround these needs, and collaborate to develop strategies that meet them. This creates both harmony and learning for future cooperation.
NVC supports change on three interconnected levels: with self, with others, and with groups and social systems. As such it is particularly present in the areas of personal development, relationships, and social change. NVC is ostensibly taught as a process of interpersonal communication designed to improve compassionate connection to others. However, due to its far-reaching impact it has also been interpreted as a spiritual practice, a set of values, a parenting technique, a method of social change, a mediation tool, an educational orientation, and a worldview.
And from Dictionary.com:
1. acting with or characterized by uncontrolled, strong, rough force:
a violent earthquake.
So in this sense a ‘violent’ wind could pick up, as it’s rougher than a ‘calm’ or ‘soft’ wind. Using NVC as a conflict resolution methodology is odd when most people might assume something like that when using the word ‘violent’ refers to physical violence. And, technically, it makes sense physical violence is likelier to result from the escalation of tension in verbal conflict rather than the deescalation of verbal conflict. So even in a tenuous sense a link between ‘violent’ in its everyday parlance, and how it’s use is extended beyond the normal range in NVC, can be made.
I don’t think the thick conception of violence given by NVC is the same as the connotation made by some social justice activists or others about how words or verbal abuse alone can be as bad as physical violence. Though this connotation of the word ‘violent’ may have been loaned from NVC to social justice movements, since NVC has been popular for decades.
That this appears odd wouldn’t mean much to me if NVC achieves the goals it’s applied to achieve, as that’s the story with plenty of stuff in the rationality community. But to understand how it works or what to use NVC for, someone would have to convey it to me. Perhaps Ben thought I understood NVC from the inside. I don’t. It appears hard to transfer NVC skills over the internet, which is why like other memes it maybe hasn’t spread among the rationality community as widely.
I’m genuinely curious what you expect the very bad effects might end up being after you read this comment clarifying the nature, background and details of the planned meetup.
[Note: scroll down and start at the paragraph just before the blockquote, and read to the end, for the tl;dr/conclusion of this comment.]
My friend and I are each critiquing a set of ideas, respectively, which happen to come from Scott. My disagreements with Scott I see as at odds with themes in his writing on discourse he himself created. For example, several posts I’m at odds with Scott wrote are part of the Community and Cooperation sequence put together from SSC posts. The rest of them are related to discourse norms specific to the rationality or similar intellectual communities (e.g., New Atheism). I should state at the event these are opinions we will express, separate from each other as individuals. And on that basis, attendees may change their mind about some ideas from SSC. But neither my friend nor I expect that to be the likely outcome. To be fair, Scott himself often builds upon his own ideas sequentially. He doesn’t do it along a single theme in as short a period as Eliezer did when he wrote the Sequences. But if one could disagree with a set of ideas that were intended to be read as such with the Sequences, which doesn’t seem like it’d be out of question on LW, I don’t know why the same standard shouldn’t apply to posts by Scott either.
My friend thinks Scott has systematic biases, which I think is a tougher case to make, but he is well-aware with the audience he is facing it’s an uphill battle.
While my friend doesn’t think Scott’s writing is particularly good, I disagree. I think he’s as a good a writer as most to be found online, and occasionally much better. I did say both of us disagree with Scott in systematic ways. I don’t think Scott is systematically biased. But I believe he has overstated the value of some discourse norms, or that they’re generalized to too many types of circumstances. But I didn’t state Scott’s writing is bad in particular (i.e., his writing style), which is distinct from the content of some of his writing. That’s what both of us will be addressing. For example, neither of us take issue with any of Scott’s posts on psychiatry.
The title of this post, and of the event, and leaving up top the line about the pseudo-intellectual, have made it appear as if that is all this event will be about. Perhaps that was a mistake. However, that is what my friend called the event when he set it up, and that is the tone he set for the event. So I thought to include those parts to accurately represent what this event might be like. The tone of it is meant to be facetious, but the edge of that humour has apparently been lost.
My friend is certainly no fan of Scott (I think he is a conflict theorist, but I’m unsure). I think he just as a chip on his shoulder, as many of us attending do, which is what we’ll be putting to the test when he is in the hot seat, and we challenge his conjectures (shminux corroborates this state of affairs in this comment). I myself certainly didn’t mean to imply Scott was bad as a person. I just think he is wrong about some stuff. I do wish that his status within the rationality community didn’t make it feel so hard among rationalists to express significant disagreement with Scott. But going by Scott’s comment, he doesn’t share that attitude.
Since neither of us is calling Scott a bad person, it’s inaccurate to say we’ve organized an event for people to coordinate around him being bad. Most of the attendees think Scott is a rationalist par excellence. In Vancouver, the SSC meetup is actually bigger than the rationality meetups (at least in terms of regular attendance to events, though there might be more a unified culture among local rationalists). Scott is held in higher regard than Eliezer among a lot of Vancouverites. So that’s an odd state of affairs that several local community members are open to hearing out a voice critical of Scott. This event is coming from a place of rationalists seeing it as test of their epistemic virtue and mettle, and a form of comfort zone expansion, in the face of a presentation they expect to walk away from still in disagreement with the theses presented. Both my friend and I are coming into this meetup very much being perceived as filling the role of Devil’s Advocates.
What this is meant to be about, then, is organizing an event to criticize multiple, distinct sets of ideas from a single author/blogger (Scott), from different speakers (myself and my friend), who will be speaking to a single audience who are fans of that blogger. The goal is for us to rise to a challenge given to us by the audience, local community members: to convince them some overarching themes from SSC spread out over multiple, thematically related posts. My friend and I will be coming at this from two different angles, as I laid out in another comment, quoted below:
Right, if it wasn’t clear in the OP, the statement “Scott Alexander is a pseudo-intellectual not worth reading” is a claim from a friend who is doesn’t self-identify as part of the rationality community, but is involved in local hangouts and occasionally attends meetups. I should clarify he will be expounding upon on in his opinion “SSC bungles history and philosophy in general [much of the time], and the history and philosophy of science in particular.”
I don’t personally believe Scott is a ‘pseudo-intellectual.’ I think my friend believes something like how Scott has such a degree of influence over so many people that, like it or not, he has found himself as a sort-of intellectual in an age when bloggers wield more influence over public opinion, and accordingly, he should take more intellectual responsibility to not misrepresent the history of ideas. He will be making a case along these lines. Like others in this thread, I’m looking forward to how my skeptic friend will try to convince us of his definition of ‘intellectual’ or ‘pseudo-intellectual,’ and that Scott fits the bill for the latter, since he’s facing such an uphill battle. I personally believe that to call Scott a pseudo-intellectual is erroneous as he doesn’t fit a conventional and common-sensical definition of ‘intellectual’ in the first place, nor self-identifies as one.
So the claims about SSC being a pseudo-intellectual who misrepresents history, intellectual and other; and my claim about how discourse norms from SSC are over-applied within communities which closely follow SSC, are from two different people. Our thematic disagreements with SSC have little in common.
Some ambiguity from my post might be about how I use ‘we’ to refer to my friend and I as if we’ll be doing the whole event together, as opposed to it being separated into two mostly unrelated halves.
What we’re not trying to do is coordinate a hack job to oust someone from the community. Nor are we trying to unilaterally ruin their reputation locally. It’s being recorded for those who can’t attend who want to watch after. Also, there will likely be a transcription. If it helps, I can ensure the transcription is released before the video, if that’s strongly preferred. However, multiple people have expressed an interest in watching a video recording of the live event, so that will also probably go ahead.