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".

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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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Dominique is Realistic

People often complain that Ayn Rand's characters are unrealistic. This is false. There are various reasons they are confused including denial and evasion about what the world is actually like, and trying to instead believe fantasies.

There is something about Dominique, from The Fountainhead, which is uncommon but not unrealistic. I see why it confuses people. Her actions in the book, like marrying people she dislikes, strike many readers as fantastical. They are missing the point. Dominique's ideas are not fantastical. Many people have stranger ideas. What's unusual about Dominique is that she actually lives according to her ideas. While making major life choices according to one's ideas is uncommon, it's not unrealistic or impossible.

Most people have all kinds of strange ideas. Actually it's much easier for them to have bizarre, weird, or extreme ideas, because what difference does it make? Since they don't live by their ideas, they have less incentive to work on making the ideas any good. Most people, whatever they think, won't stray too far from what's normal. To them, thinking is a bit of a game, but when it comes to the important things in life, they conform. Dominique doesn't.

People think Dominique's ideas set her apart, but it's the part where she actually acts on them that's key. Plenty of people would stand out even more if they actually lived by their own ideas.

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Public Privacy and Cafes

People go to cafes for privacy, for time alone to themselves.

How can that be? Cafes are public, they have lots of people. These cafe visitors have homes with fewer people.

Most people share their homes. They have a spouse, kids, parents, siblings, roommates, something.

At a cafe there are more people, and there's less space for you, and there's some noise. You don't have all your stuff just a few portable things.

But strangers are less distracting, because you think of them less, you care what they think or what they're doing less. Strangers exist less in your mind, so you can be more alone around strangers, even if there's more people. How alone you are in your mind, in your attitude, in your psychology, is more important than physically.

Another reason people visit cafes is to get away from their stuff to avoid temptation. They want to force themselves to do something, so they remove some other options. Their choice to do it, and their lifestyle, don't match up very well. Rather than becoming a more harmonious person, they use crude manipulation such as going to a different building which doesn't have their TV.

People also visit cafes during breaks at work when they aren't near their home. Partly this speaks negatively about their work environment, and partly their co-workers have more attention in their mind than the strangers at the cafe.

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Corrupt Clintons

Clinton Foundation Donors Got Weapons Deals From Hillary Clinton's State Department.

Who, at this point, is really surprised?

If you are, educate yourself. Ann Coulter explained what the Clintons are like in 1998. You have no excuse not to know. Here are a few hints Coulter gave us 17 years ago:
Back in 1992 Clinton promised America “the most ethical administration in the history of the Republic.” Of course, he also promised a middle-class tax cut. In any event, having warmed to the theme that he, Clinton personally, was virtue and goodness personified, his 1996 campaign ran a commercial that oozed, “As Americans, there are some things we do simply and solely because they’re moral, right, and good.” His campaign could afford slapstick commercials like this one because of the extensive White House coffees and Lincoln bedroom sleep-overs for major campaign donors during his first term in office.
Besides many coffees marked as being attended by POTUS (President of the United States), documents show others denoted as FLOTUS (First Lady of the United States) [...]
In 1995 and 1996 alone, the White House, in cooperation with the DNC, held at least 103 coffees for 358 selected guests. These meetings, held in the White House Map Room, generated $27 million for the Democratic Party (that’s an average of more than $75,000 per attendee). Typically, each coffee was budgeted to raise $400,000 in contributions.
When Clinton’s deceased-parents excuse for turning the White House into a very pricey bed-and-breakfast disintegrated under a mound of White House memos, damage control from the White House was just as frantic as the fund-raising had been. (Maybe it was all that coffee.) White House Deputy Counsel Lanny Davis said, “We don’t sell access.”
Federal law—if not the Clinton administration—seeks to separate political fund-raising from public policymaking. It is a federal crime to solicit or receive campaign contributions on federal property.
This federal crime is just a tiny little slice of what the Clintons are like. If for some reason you haven't already, educate yourself and read the whole book.

With the Clintons, everything is for sale. Pretty cheaply.

As a quick aside, Ann Coulter has a bad reputation which was falsely created by her political opponents. She is actually a world class scholar.

Another author, Ayn Rand, offered some warnings about these issues. Atlas Shrugged (my emphasis):
Orren Boyle made a selfless sacrifice to the needs of others. He sold to the Bureau of Global Relief, for shipment to the People's State of Germany, ten thousand tons of structural steel shapes that had been intended for the Atlantic Southern Railroad. "It was a difficult decision to make," he said, with a moist, unfocused look of righteousness, to the panic-stricken president of the Atlantic Southern, "but I weighed the fact that you're a rich corporation, while the people of Germany are in a state of unspeakable misery. So I acted on the principle that need comes first. When in doubt, it's the weak that must be considered, not the strong." The president of the Atlantic Southern had heard that Orren Boyle's most valuable friend in Washington had a friend in the Ministry of Supply of the People's State of Germany. But whether this had been Boyle's motive or whether it had been the principle of sacrifice, no one could tell and it made no difference: if Boyle had been a saint of the creed of selflessness, he would have had to do precisely what he had done. This silenced the president of the Atlantic Southern; he dared not admit that he cared for his railroad more than for the people of Germany; he dared not argue against the principle of sacrifice.
Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, "The Pull Peddlers" (my emphasis):
Although cases of actual corruption do undoubtedly exist among legislators and government officials, they are not a major motivating factor in today’s situation. It is significant that in such cases as have been publicly exposed, the bribes were almost pathetically small. Men who held the power to dispose of millions of dollars, sold their favors for a thousand-dollar rug or a fur coat or a refrigerator.

The truth, most likely, is that they did not regard it as bribery or as a betrayal of their public trust; they did not think that their particular decision could matter one way or another, in the kind of causeless choices they had to make, in the absence of any criteria, in the midst of the general orgy of tossing away an apparently ownerless wealth. Men who would not sell out their country for a million dollars are selling it out for somebody’s smile and a vacation trip to Florida. Paraphrasing John Galt: “It is of such pennies and smiles that the destruction of your country is made.”
This general situation helps protect the Clintons, who are guilty as sin, and have no honor. There's less of a clear distinction between the Clintons, and non-criminal-traitors, than their should be.

Going back to the current article about a few of Hillary's most recent crimes, note the small bribes:
Under Hillary Clinton, the State Department approved $165 billion worth of commercial arms sales to 20 nations whose governments had given millions to the Clinton Foundation.
Compare billions with millions.
A consortium of American defense contractors led by Boeing would deliver $29 billion worth of advanced fighter jets
In the years before Hillary Clinton became secretary of state, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia contributed at least $10 million to the Clinton Foundation
Just two months before the deal was finalized, Boeing -- the defense contractor that manufactures one of the fighter jets the Saudis were especially keen to acquire, the F-15 -- contributed $900,000 to the Clinton Foundation, according to a company press release.
A $900k donation from Boeing related to a $29b deal. That's 0.003%. (Yes, the value of being able to buy or sell $29b of arms is not $29b to either the buyer or seller. They are only benefitting – coming out ahead – a fraction of the price. It's still small bribes compared to profit.)
In all, governments and corporations involved in the arms deals approved by Clinton’s State Department have delivered between $54 million and $141 million to the Clinton Foundation as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments to the Clinton family, according to foundation and State Department records. The Clinton Foundation publishes only a rough range of individual contributors’ donations, making a more precise accounting impossible.
The Clinton-led State Department also authorized $151 billion of separate Pentagon-brokered deals for 16 of the countries that donated to the Clinton Foundation
That's in addition to the $165 billion mentioned before. $316b for around $100m. That's around 0.03% for the average bribe size. That's pathetically small. And illegal:
Under federal law, foreign governments seeking State Department clearance to buy American-made arms are barred from making campaign contributions -- a prohibition aimed at preventing foreign interests from using cash to influence national security policy. But nothing prevents them from contributing to a philanthropic foundation controlled by policymakers.
During Clinton’s tenure, the State Department authorized at least $2.4 billion of direct military hardware and services sales to Algeria -- nearly triple such authorizations over the last full fiscal years during the Bush administration. The Clinton Foundation did not disclose Algeria’s donation until this year -- a violation of the ethics agreement it entered into with the Obama administration.
The Clintons have a history of both skirting and breaking the law. If you vote Hillary, you have only yourself to blame when she skirts around and breaks more laws, and sells out your country for pennies on the dollar.

You may already know that Bill is a liar. If you didn't know Hillary is too, read this and consider who she is lying to and the gravity of the situation:
During her Senate confirmation proceedings in 2009, Hillary Clinton declared that she and her husband were “committed to ensuring that his work does not present a conflict of interest with the duties of Secretary of State.” She pledged “to protect against even the appearance of a conflict of interest between his work and the duties of the Secretary of State” and said that “in many, if not most cases, it is likely that the Foundation or President Clinton will not pursue an opportunity that presents a conflict.”

Even so, Bill Clinton took in speaking fees reaching $625,000 at events sponsored by entities that were dealing with Hillary Clinton’s State Department on weapons issues.
Note that oversight does not work:
Just before Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State, the Clinton Foundation signed an agreement generally obligating it to disclose to the State Department increases in contributions from its existing foreign government donors and any new foreign government donors. Those increases were to be reviewed by an official at the State Department and “as appropriate” the White House counsel’s office. According to available disclosures, officials at the State Department and White House raised no issues about potential conflicts related to arms sales.
Federal records show that ethics staffers at the State Department approved the payments to Bill Clinton from Goldman Sachs, and the Lockheed- and Boeing-sponsored groups without objection, even though the firms had major stakes in the agency’s weapons export decisions.
You can't let these people police themselves, or expect someone else in government to keep an adequate leash on them.

I bet you don't have time to monitor the government yourself very carefully. You don't have the inclination to sort through all this stuff. But it's better if you don't support terrible politicians and only find out years later. Who else is truly awful besides the Clintons? I doubt you know. So what can you do that won't take too long? Let the experts figure it out for you and hang on their every word. Read Ann Coulter religiously and read Front Page Mag.

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help, my partner isn't ARR! a practical guide

i want my partner to be more Autonomy Respecting in our Relationship.

well, there's 5000 posts at the ARR Yahoo Group.

they can read them, discuss on FI, and become ARR.

but they won't do that!!!!

well then ATD.

no, they're so great, we can make it work.

umm how? if they don't wanna reason, how is stuff gonna work?

well you tell me, mrs. fancypants guide author.

if you want a contradiction, too bad. a guide can't help.

can't i just like be ARR myself and tell them a few things like i'm gonna have my own room now and don't be a needy helpless dependent bitch? and if i don't follow all my socially expected roles, get over it.

they might put up with that, for now, if it seems like they can't negotiate a better deal and don't want to find someone else yet. but why would they like and appreciate that? aren't you just kinda burning good will? even if they say it's fine, why would it be? it's not what they signed up for and they haven't rationally learned better ideas. they are just compromising.

no they totally understand, cuz i told them ARR, even tho they won't read it or discuss it properly.

no.

yes.

no.

yes way.

look, even if they wanted to disagree with you, most people don't know how to argue back any of the stuff you're saying. and if they do agree but don't know any rational arguments, they won't know how to express it. just cuz someone says they agree and seems to go along with stuff doesn't mean much because the same people who won't discuss it on FI also lack the skills to express/get what they want IRL.

so we're doomed?

yup.

doom and gloom? pessimism? sadness for eternity?

uhh, anyone who genuinely wants to think has that option. for those who don't, yeah it's grim. this isn't a negative view. it's quite a nice situation. choose life, choose reason, and you're fine.

If you need some help with that, besides FI, read Ayn Rand.

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Learning; Bad Syllogism

Quotes from Atheism: The Case Against God by George H. Smith, in the section on Rational Morality.

The section begins:
A rational morality, in essence, is a code of values required by man for his survival, well-being and happiness. The term “rational” is used because such a code must be based on the facts of human value, and only reason can determine what is and is not of value to man. A rational meta-ethics, therefore, is based on man’s need for objective values, his need to determine those goals that are conducive to his well-being. To take a simple illustration, food is of value to man, it is instrumental in maintaining his life; poison is not. If man is to survive, he must value food and disvalue poison. Man’s evaluations must be based on, and agree with, those things that are actually of value to him.

Just as a rational man is committed to facts and the use of reason, so a rational morality is based on the facts of human value and the role of reason in man’s survival. Three aspects of man’s nature constitute the foundation of a rational meta-ethics: the fact that man is a conceptual being, the fact that man is a volitional being, and the fact that man is a purposive being.
Can you tell what perspective the author has, what worldview, what allegiances?

If you can't tell, that's a really damning criticism of you. You have a big problem. To avoid spoilers, I'll provide the answer at the bottom of this post. Think about it a bit.
... A general example of this syllogism is the following:

Mr. Jones wants x.
In order to obtain x, one must do y.
Therefore, Mr. Jones ought to (or should, or must) do y.
This syllogism is false.

It doesn't follow that if you want something, and there is a particular way to get it, that you should do that. Maybe you shouldn't want it.

This kind of thinking is really bad and stupid. It's so grossly wrong it's hard to explain much about it. It's a non sequitur. He missed the possibility that a want could be immoral. There isn't much more to say. It's just awful and such a basic error it doesn't require much explanation.

That people don't know better is why the world is currently burning.

The perspective above is Objectivism. The author is an Objectivist. If you couldn't tell that from the two paragraphs I provided, then you don't know Objectivism very well. Objectivism is the most important and best philosophy. You should learn it really well. If you don't, you're living a bad life, and that disaster is totally avoidable. Read Ayn Rand. Study it. Ask questions, discuss it, learn it. It's that or bad a bad person with a bad life, forever – and when you say you didn't know any better, you will be lying.

Information about Objectivism is readily available. If you have any criticisms of learning Objectivism, post them here or at the Fallible Ideas Discussion Group and I will refute them or else send you $500. If you have no criticisms, do it.

(I make this money offer to remove some excuses to evade the issue. If you know better, no you aren't too busy to tell me for $500. No that isn't a waste of your time. Also to be clear, I'm talking about criticisms to the effect that people shouldn't study Objectivism so much. If you merely argue that it's only got 9999998 importance instead of 9999999, I will not pay you, because in that case you should still learn about Objectivism in detail.)

EDIT: I raised the issue of the syllogism with the author. He replied:
You don't understand the point of the practical syllogism, nor do you understand the reason I included a discussion of it in ATCAG. How you got the idea that I was saying that merely wanting x is sufficient reason to pursue x, or how you came to believe that this is entailed by the practical syllogism, boggles the mind. Any such notion contradicts everything I said in my discussion of ethics. So, no, I am not grateful for your "help."
I don't see any substantive counter-argument here, nor any clarification of the book material. He just flames me as a stupid person who doesn't understand – a claim he merely asserts and leaves at that.

Well, it's like I said: this is why the world is burning. Maybe his reply will clarify that for someone who didn't see the connection initially.

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Negotiating Sex, Gender Roles

Girls today in the West are pretty clever. somehow their negotiating position regarding sex is “if you want sex, you're pretty much scum. i'll put up with you being a nasty objectifier and borderline abuser of women, but you will pay for it, heavily. you better be hella nice to me whenever you aren't using my body."

despite the fact that girls want sex too. and get it. tons of girls will go have casual sex with an alpha. then when they get into a long term relationship they find a beta and make him feel guilty for looking at her sexually, and take a very hard line about sex.

and at the same time, girls also managed to give out semi-free samples early to get guys more hooked. and say it's mutual attraction, they like the guy too, etc. and still then they manage to extract a huge amount of favors, sympathy, etc, for having sex with their partner.

contradictions? who cares. "i love you so much and sex is an expression of our love. as a girl. but as a guy, for you, wanting me sexually is evil, so you owe me big time."

and so many guys think relationships don't involve negotiation. you mutually support each other! so sweet! it's all win/win! we both get as much benefit as possible. negotiation is mean. she agrees with this. she said so.

then the girl, without calling it a negotiation, makes the guy be her bitch.

and then cuz he's her bitch, she stops finding him attractive. a real man wouldn't let her make him her bitch.

then, reasonably often, if she gets a good opportunity with an alpha, she cheats on him (note the stuff in the video is merely what they are eager to admit to in public, on camera. the reality is much worse). girls cheat more because they care more about emotions and less about logic. in our culture, cheating is considered bad logically, but sometimes a fun emotional temptation. guys are better at resisting that because they care more about doing the right thing logically, and less about feeling good in the moment.

most guys have enough trouble getting one girl to fuck them, so cheating isn't an easy and great option. a lot the guys with an abundance of girls do cheat, but they are the minority, and also some of the players don't cheat because they just don't agree to be monogamous in the first place unless they actually want to. but tons of girls easily have lots of guys who'd be eager to fuck them (and pay a lot of money for the privilege – indirectly of course because whores are evil or something).

sex itself is dramatically overrated, by the way, so it's not really necessary to learn these social dynamics, although it's a fun challenge. sex is basically like doing drugs – your body releases chemicals and you feel good. but for no reason, non-procreative sex is treated as a completely different category of activity – as something important instead of like sitting around wasting your life getting high.

wives are dramatically overrated too. most women today are not very smart or rational, so where is the appeal in that? especially if you actually try in life and make a ton of progress, because there's very few great women. today we have Ann Coulter and who the hell else? if you look at the interesting, cool, worthwhile, awesome, etc, people in history, it's very male dominated. that dynamic is still in place today.

women are not biologically inferior, but for cultural reasons they typically emphasis reason and thinking less, and are less willing to go to extremes or be an outlier. a lot more men are willing to aim high than women. if you aim high – and if you don't you're reading the wrong blog, lol – then odds are you're a man who won't be able to find a woman to match him. but may settle for less, make excuses, etc. even semi-notable semi-interesting men with a mere hint of greatness have a very rough time trying to find women to match them. so they marry a dumb bitch and then put her on a pedestal, and hold her to a different standard of intelligence than a man, and she uses social skills (the thing she worked on instead of intelligence) negotiates-manipulates a ton of concessions.

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Eugene Gendlin Philosophy Introduction

Introduction to Philosophy
Rather, he has a felt sense of the answer.
This, in bold, pretends to be an explanation or important conclusion, but doesn't really say anything useful.
Earlier Meno had asked Socrates about the following puzzle: If we don't know something how can we even ask about it? We wouldn't know what we are asking about. But if we already know it, why ask about it? So it seems we cannot inquire into anything, since we must either know it or not know it. Socrates had answered the puzzle by saying that the soul has lived before and knows all things. We need only "recollect" them.
Recollection is the wrong answer to knowledge creation. It's not quite as dumb as it sounds though. Where can new knowledge come from if you don't know about evolution? It could be created out of thin air magically. Recollection is perhaps a better answer than that – the knowledge already exists somewhere so it doesn't have to be created, you just kinda have to find it.

The main question here is kinda silly. One can have partial knowledge of a topic, and already know something about it, and ask questions and try to know more. There isn't really a mystery there. This also gets into the issue of reach where an idea you know about one thing may help lead to a new issue.
The puzzle of either knowing or just not knowing is solved because we can think on the edge of what we know, and enter there.
Thinking on the edge of your knowledge is a kinda OK way to put it. I think it's OK as a rough indication of the concept here, but when it gets taken more seriously in detail, and the essay tries to build on it later, I think that's a mistake. It's just a loose metaphor.

That's the end of the first section. My main comment so far would be this claims to be an introduction to philosophy, but so far it isn't. It's just talking a little about some specific philosophy problems, it's not giving an introduction to the field. I think a philosophy introduction ought to say things like what the purpose of philosophy is, why one would be interested in it, what problem(s) it can help solve, some indication of how one can learn about it, maybe some very brief overview of the history of the field, and maybe try to teach some especially important and general (but also simple) philosophical idea. Like fallibility is a pretty good starting point because it's pretty easy to understand and then it leads into other philosophical problems like, now that you see error is possible, how do you deal with error? That question of how to deal with error is a lot harder and more involved, but once you understand fallibility then you can see why it's important and valuable to you.

The Plato section starts really emphasizing words which I think is bad.
For example, someone leaves a weapon with you for safe-keeping. Months later the person comes and asks you to return it. Is it fair and just to give it back? Yes. All right, but what if the person is obviously berserk and crazed with anger just now? If you return the weapon, you harm the person.
Umm they might harm themselves with it, or might harm someone else they shouldn't. Or not. And people's mental states are not obvious.

This part is really far removed from a good introduction to philosophy. A philosopher questions what everyone thinks they know. This, instead, takes for granted a bunch of vague common sense nonsense. A big part of philosophy is recognizing that some stuff people consider obvious is false, and trying to understand things better than the ordinary.

One thing the author is trying to do is show that life is complicated. Normally you would give someone their property back that you held for them. But then in some circumstances, maybe you shouldn't. So life is more complex than "always give back property" or "never give back property". Life takes more thought than that. And, the author says, Plato and other philosophers were good at asking questions to point out some issues in life. But the author doesn't really say this very well. You have to read between the lines a bit to get the point, which is especially bad for an introduction. And a fair amount of what the author writes, like the next paragraph, is rather confusing.

For the Aristotle section, you can now figure out the author is trying to show a progression of philosophy, something about how it was discovered and developed. He should have said something about this at the start, so you'd know what you were reading. In any case I think he's chosen poorly for a general introduction to philosophy that'd be useful and valuable to someone today.

Most of the Aristotle section is confusing. I think this kind of "introduction", which an expert can find confusing, turns people off philosophy. To a lot of people, philosophy is supposed to be confusing. You ponder and get kinda confused and call that a good day. But better philosophy explains itself better, and actually solves clear problems and is used in life. This author has vague answers to vague problems that largely aren't connected to his life or to my life.
Galileo began the great advance in Western science by the radical -- seemingly insane -- concept that everything in nature is ordered by numbers.
Introductions ought to be way more careful not to introduce very complex and controversial ideas – like what is "insane" – when it's unnecessary and they aren't going to discuss it. I think the author doesn't realize he said anything non-trivial. That's a really bad trait for a philosophy introducer to not know about what's messy or simple.
Of course sometimes the data just says "yes" or "no,"
He shouldn't be saying "of course" in front of his claims, or thinking his ideas are obviously true. That's so contrary to the spirit of philosophy.

And, as I've so often noticed after an "of course" or "obviously", this claim is false. Data doesn't say things. BTW the author should have been more suspicious because he was using a metaphor – he knows data doesn't speak literally. So what's the non-metaphorical version of his claim, and why didn't he say that? (He hasn't thought that through, and his position doesn't actually work.)
In philosophy a human being was long thought of chiefly as a rational process. Emotions and desires were discussed, of course, but the human being was chiefly the source of the kind of connections which move from 2+2 to 4.
Now he's decided to talk about whether humans are rational without talking about what "rational" is.

He is taking for granted the common misconception that rationality has to do with being right or intelligent or an authority. This position is vague and doesn't have a clear conception of what reason really is or how it works, and people who think this way don't use words like "rational" totally consistently.

There's also a vague premise here that all emotions and desires are irrational, and a fully rational person would be a kind of ivory tower monk with no personal preferences, and quite possibly no interest in material comforts. Ideas like this turn people away from reason. No argument is given here. And anyway if you want to call this "reason", my concept of "reason" would still be a separate concept and we could just name it something else and pursue it instead. That is, we could say something like, "reason2 means thinking using methods that are good at error correction – the better at error correction, the more rational2 the thinking". So having the dumb concept of reason, even if it was explained and argued about and fleshed out, still wouldn't be an argument that reason2 is a bad thing to pursue, or reason2 doesn't work how i think it does, etc
Kant pointed out that 2+2 is just 2, and at the next moment again 2, and then still only 2, unless there is a unifying continuity that keeps the first 2 and unites it with the next 2, and makes a new unity, the 4. The number series requires keeping and continuing.
This is basically incoherent nonsense plus some kinda vague claim that without causality and continuity over time stuff would break (which could have been said better without the arithmetic – and which isn't a good summary of current physics with, as David Deutsch talks about, no flow of time).

2+2 in general is dealing with abstracts, not physical objects that change over time. If you want to get into physical objects then the issue is computation. Saying something "unites" the first 2 with the second 2 and makes a "new unity" is a terrible vague nonsense description of how computers work with electrical currents, memory storage, NAND gates etc. When people do math, it's more complicated, but the stuff about uniting isn't helping anything.
This view of humans has some great advantages. For example, it implies the inherent equality of all human individuals. You can see it in the inherent "unalienable" and "self-evident" equality in the U.S. Declaration of Independence. After completing this historical sketch, I will take up the question how we can preserve logic and equality within the wider order of experiencing ......
This comes right after the Kant junk. It's a good example of how this whole essay keeps skipping around with very little attempt to explain what one thing has to do with the next. First it was geometry and squares, then metaphorical edges and words and changing concepts, and asking questions and noticing complexity in life, and then stuff about sounds with no one around to hear them for no apparent reason, and that's just the first 3 sections. It's really jumpy and doesn't even try to give an outline of the plot. It's in chronological order though, I think that was one of the main organizational tools.

The next section brings up some stuff from earlier. But also starts talking a bunch about rights. This essay tries to say way too many things and none are explained well.

It doesn't end with a summary or bring everything together. It's just talking about another specific topic and then there's no more text.

It still never tries to say what philosophy is, why to care, or other basic introductory stuff.

I think the concept is more like: philosophy is about stretching your mind with ideas you don't fully understand. So it shows you what that's like while going over some major historical examples (in the author's view, I'm not agreeing they are major). The author is satisfied with vague understandings of things, and expects his audience to be too. Not just satisfied but actually impressed. There is a common mistake, which Ayn Rand especially criticized, where people think if they don't understand an idea (and it's said by someone with some credentials or status, or appears to be. in this case even if you don't know who the author is, he writes with big enough words and names enough famous philosophers – like he's just repeating their ideas – to give enough sense of authority to the essay. and he actually does have a PhD) then it must be really important and above you. People sort of defer to what they don't understand and get impressed. Lots of philosophers write confusing on purpose. This is a good introduction to that, in the sense that it gives you a sample of it. If you didn't understand this essay but somehow liked it, then I guess you'd like a lot of other philosophy too. (But the good philosophers, like Ayn Rand and Karl Popper, are different. They write to be understood.)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)

RSI

computers are very important but using computers all day can hurt your hands and wrists (and eyes, neck, shoulders). this is called RSI (repetitive stress injury).

it’s VERY VERY important to a good life to understand how to deal with RSI. there is a lot of information about this, but i wanted to add my emphasis to how important it is. and i noticed a lot of the information is lacking in the stretches and squeezes area – it will list several and leave out a ton of others. so making a better list there is my main motivation for writing this.

RSI can absolutely cripple people's lives and doing some stretches and squeezes can make a huge difference in staying healthy.

here are some of the most important general things:

do not wait until you have a problem and then learn about RSI afterwards. by then a lot of damage is already done and it will be much harder to manage and you might not fully recover ever.

take breaks. regularly. seriously, do it.

if anything hurts, that means you should have taken a break BEFORE IT HURT. you need to stop immediately, but more importantly take a break sooner next time. never ever ever ignore pain.

you should type with your wrists straight. whatever you do, DON'T put your palms on the table at the base of the keyboard, then bend your wrists up to type on the keyboard.

using a trackpad a lot can hurt your index finger which does most of the work. laptop users should seriously consider using a mouse part of the time. (mice are also better input devices – faster and more accurate. if you don’t experience it that way, that’s due to a lack of skill with a mouse which is completely fixable. also having acceleration enabled can make a mouse a lot worse to use.)

if you use a trackpad a lot or have issues with a mouse, you should learn to use trackpad and/or mouse left handed in addition to right handed. you'll be slow at first but you can learn it. then switch off sometimes. if you use your left hand a quarter of the time, that's a lot less work for your right hand.

trackpads and mice are harder on your hands than a keyboard. learn keyboard hotkeys/shortcuts and create new ones.

get a keyboard which requires a low amount of force to press keys down. apple's recent keyboards (with the very thin keys) are good here. there are other good ones too. if you have an old keyboard with full size keys (like half an inch tall) it's probably really bad. type with a light touch.

also a lot of mice really suck – they have problems like weighing too much, requiring too much force to click, having too much traction when you try to move them, and being imprecise. get a mouse that you can use with a light touch. also you need a good surface, probably a mousepad, so it actually works well (mice work poorly on most desks). Razer makes good mice. Apple makes bad mice (i tried an apple wireless mouse several years ago and it was heavy and the bottom had a ton of friction with the mousepad instead of sliding easily, and it took more force to click than a razer mouse and it wasn't very precise.)

get a good chair. and think about the arm rests. i use an Aeron chair with a pillow over the arm rests which creates like a big arm rest accross my entire lap. (i like this a lot but you need the right kind of pillow in terms of size, shape, softness. most pillows wouldn't work very well. i don't know where to buy a good one, sorry). i used to use a cheap office chair that was good too, but a lot of the cheap ones suck.

eyes: staring at a screen can hurt your eyes. look away and focus on distant objects sometimes. close and squeeze your eyes shut hard sometimes. massage your closed eyes with your palms sometimes. look into Flux and Gunnars.

google information about monitor height, keyboard height, chair height, etc. i won’t go into details on that for now except to mention that by attaching the screen the the keyboard, laptops make good ergonomics impossible without an external keyboard and/or external display. a good computer setup has the keyboard lower than the screen. it’s fine to use a laptop in your lap or in bed sometimes, part of the time, but using it like that all the time is a bad idea.

you should stretch sometimes. with skill, you can tell when you need it, when stuff is tight, etc. if you don’t have a lot of experience and understanding of this, do it regularly. you can stretch when away from the computer, e.g. when waiting in line, when waiting for your microwave, while walking to another room, while on the phone, etc

lots of websites and videos with information about stretches are way too incomplete and leave out a ton of great hand stretches (and often all the squeezes and all the shoulder/neck stuff too). here is a better list:

note that in general anything done with one hand should be repeated with the other, and all stretches should be held for a few seconds. that can be 5 seconds or 15, it depends what you’re comfortable with. at first you should do ALL of these things (it really doesn’t take that long once you’ve done them a few times and remember everything). as you get more experience with them and get a better understanding of your body, you can get a sense of which are most helpful to you.

you should read a bunch of different guides on this stuff and learn a lot about it. my above information is pretty quick just to give a general idea. learn more. now here are stretches and squeezes which i will be more complete with:

STRETCHES AND SQUEEZES:

make one hand flat, gently push on your fingers with the other hand to bend your wrist back. also repeat the same thing without using your other hand – just using the muscles in the first hand instead of pushing on it. and anything that’s for one hand, repeat it with the other hand after.

push the other way, on the back of your hand, to bend the wrist the other direction. and repeat without using the second hand to push.

pull your thumb back with the other hand.

put your two flat hands together (palms and fingers aligned). press downward so your wrists bend back.

rotate your wrists both ways and push gently with the other hand.

grip around your wrist and the area behind it with your other hand and twist the skin both directions. then move your hand up your arm a little and repeat. this massages it. also squeeze and slide your hand instead of twist to massage more.

put your hands on your hips with the thumb separate from the other fingers and press in to stretch the thumb away from the rest

spread out all your fingers. push them all outwards and backwards. (with their own muscles, not your other hand)

bend fingers over and under the next finger over. index to middle. middle to ring. and ring to pinky.

squeezes (it’s very important to do squeezes and use your muscles, not just stretches): make a fist, squeeze hard. bend just the tips of your fingers in and squeeze. make a fist with your thumb inside it and squeeze. grip one forearm with the other hand and squeeze. also get one of those balls to squeeze in your hand if you want.

put your left hand flat with fingers facing up. then grip it with your right hand, so your palms are together, but your hands are rotated 90 degrees to each other, so the fingers on your right hand will point left or forward. you should have your left thumb, then right thumb, then left 4 fingers, then right 4 fingers, in that order, counter-clockwise. then bend in your fingers and squeeze. and repeat with the other hand facing up.

interlace your fingers so they alternate one from each hand. with your palms together, squeeze – press in with all your fingers.

fingers still interlaced, put your arms at full length, palms facing away from you, and press outward.

shoulder and neck rotations (both directions) and stretches (move or turn head or shoulders in each direction they go to the max and hold it a bit)

yes, try ALL of these stretches and squeezes. over time you can learn to feel which ones your body needs when and see which are most valuable to you. you should still do ALL of them sometimes, but you can adjust the frequency and amounts for different ones.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)

Suffering

To suffer, you have to prefer X and then something contrary to X happens. If everything that ever happens matches your preferences, you’d be pleased with it.

If you do prefer X and things go another way, then consider:

What kind of preference is it? Is X a “nice to have”? A vague dream? An aspiration? Or a must-have?

And, specifically, either you are OK or NOT OK with not getting the X preference met. There’s only two possibilities there.

If you prefer X, and consider no X to be NOT OK, and X doesn’t work out in reality, then you’d suffer – you are NOT OK with how reality is.

There’s no other way to suffer.

And even if you get this kind of situation, you can think “well, this is a problem to be solved. so i’ll temporarily be OK with no X while looking for a solution. maybe i can find a different way to get X, and the delay would be OK rather than NOT OK. maybe i can find out X isn’t so great after all and genuinely lose interest in it. i’ll take a look.”

So suffering also requires that attempts to do rational problem solving like this fail.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)

Missing Parts of Books

i stop listening and think about other stuff when listening to Atlas Shrugged sometimes

i don’t pause or rewind. i just tune back in later. i know the book well enough it’s not a problem. i know what’s going on where i pick up.

i do the same thing, sometimes, with books i’ve never read before. if that’s how it’s convenient to read, so what? why try to get every detail out of the book? if it’s so great, read it again later in the same low-burden way.

figuring out what’s going on after missing some is interesting anyway. both with books about ideas and books with plots.

and it’s actually not fundamentally different than reading without skipping anything – where you also have to make guesses and use creativity to figure out what’s going on. all novels give incomplete information about the plot and leave you to try to figure some things out. all philosophy books try to explain a lot but can never do all your thinking for you.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (6)