Written by Ziz
Content warning: life of this trans woman. Not safe for life.
So there’s these things, “sexual dimorphisms”, where males and females are different. Different junk, for example. There is a system with many parts that sorts these operations of biological software into bodies with a particular set of strong correlations. Known ways this system can break include unusual sets of chromosomes, unusual critical content of chromosomes, missing chemicals that are part of multi-step reactions which produce hormones, broken hormone receptors… (Basically all dimorphisms in mammals are downstream of a state of a bistable hormonal feedback loop during prenatal development triggered by the SRY gene on the Y chromosome.) Depending on which ones you call “intersex”, ones that cause differences in “physical” (as in besides the brain) differences in the grown human are allegedly around 2% of the population.
Some dimorphisms are in the brain. You can observe them with neuroimaging and dissection. One brain dimorphism is being “sexual orientation”. It’s quite common for this one to be intersexed. Remember that, culture being what it is, it’s much more likely in those surveys for someone to falsely say they are straight than to falsely say they are gay. I boringly expect overall human development mixes up dimorphisms in the brain in probably about single digit percentages.
Being attracted to humans with noncomplementary reproductive stuff is close to the least evolutionarily fit thing, and evolution still failed to stop it. Just like it seemingly failed to stop all those physical dimorphism anomalies. (I don’t find the “gay uncle hypothesis” remotely plausible; there’s no way that path should produce as much evolutionary fitness evolutionarily successful as just having kids of your own. Besides, if the straight sibling of a “gay uncle” doesn’t have genes contributing to homosexuality, helping those kin doesn’t help those genes. I don’t find the “sneaky fucker” hypothesis probable either.) The simplest explanation which fits the data (including nonbrain intersex conditions) is that sexual differentiation is a fragile rube goldberg machine, prone to random breakage. I speculate that humans have intersex brains so often because of evolution pulling out all stops for large brains and breaking things as a side effect.
Those things which are correlated with flipped dimorphisms are probably also flipped dimorphisms or downstream of them (i.e. participating in a Pride parade is correlated with flipped dimorphisms, but is probably not what you’d mean by a flipped dimorphism itself.)
Although being a BDSM sub seems to me to involve a sort of (ubiquitous, given our world of vampires) psychological damage, there’s an underlying “orientation”, maybe downstream of something like “top vs bottom” orientation. Note that gay men mostly prefer the “sub” role (I can’t find the study I got this from, if I remember correctly (though it was years ago) it was a survey of 18 gay men, 17 of whom preferred the sub role, and one of whom preferred the dom role, but only because his partner preferred the sub role or something like that). (Here’s another one I found with less data, same trend. (It’s from a folder of saved papers with my old research, I’m not bothering to review it further than looking for the table right now.))
There are specific subsets of the visible differences in brains between standard men and standard women, that actually correspond to sexual orientation beyond their correspondence to chromosomes. (Wikipedia had a much longer list a few years ago when I did the bulk of my research on this but it got deleted).
So there’s this thing where people (like me) assert their gender doesn’t match their chromosomes or something like that. For instance, “I’m a female soul trapped in a male body”.
This sounds like a really crazy claim. Souls? For realious?
Well, yeah. (Pictured: a dead soul, just receding into the infinite tangle.)
This sounds like a crazy claim. What the fuck does it mean for a soul to have a gender, other than “it’s what kind of junk the attached body has”? And how the fuck would you know that?
I mean, there’s heavy societal regulations on explicit models of that. But everyone has implicit models. Sometimes implicit models stripped of explicit models, heavily socially prohibited from agreeing with implicit models, get verbalized into nonsense which is the configuration which best fits them of the options which have not been denied.
There are heavy social forces against saying “I am a female soul trapped in a male body”, and thereby against believing it. So the force that recognizes it ends up latching onto, “I’m not even human”. Thereby, otherkin. (Otherkin are mostly trans. I’ve spent a lot of time living/working with 2 otherkin, seen them change for the “trans” self-concept given space from cis people.) I have a few times before “realizing I was trans” gotten inexplicably upset at people saying I was a man. I would sometimes layeredly joke/not joke in accordance with my layered beliefs, that I was actually part of the 666th gender, and that my preferred pronouns were “hail Satan”, which sounds a lot like the attack helicopter thing, but pushing me to say that was the most truthy course of action that a part of me could pick.
I have a felt sense of myself as female. This is probably the inexpressible thing that the broken belief, “gender is gender identity” is trying to point at. Just trust your own fucking unregulated felt sense perceptions because it’s obvious.
The social and (socially tainted explicit-scientific-reasoning) prior probability for “Look, I’m actually a woman” in an ordinary environment is minuscule. Which means that it takes a huge correct probability ratio driven by introspective unrelegulated felt sense perceptions of trans people. Because, as with gay people, you can look at our brains and see a bunch of stuff that matches the gender reported by felt sense.
Yes, even for adult trans women who have never been on hormones. Look at those numbers, actually. (This is a study whose methodology I fixed. That can’t have been selected to support my conclusion because they measured absolute volumes of white and gray matter, and did not support it, whereas I considered the true hypothesis to be, “running the ‘grow a female brain’ biological process in the head of an otherwise male body results in a female brain scaled up slightly in size.” They gave detailed enough data I could compute ratios from.) I’d later stumble across this, in the course of getting info for self-medicating, which claims the same conclusion is replicated reliably.
I think I saw a study once which purported to show an exception for lesbian trans women. But the control group was straight cis women, not cis lesbians. And the measured brain regions looking like mens’ was the same fucking list (or was it one item off? I forget.) from Wikipedia that tracked sexual orientation. i.e., if you’d applied the same “is this a real woman” test to cis lesbians, they’d’ve been classified as men. And anyone who’s interacted with lesbians and has more stake in the matter than objectifying people into the desired place in the sexual market knows that’s bullshit.
(There are physical observations of dimorphism in the brain which track gender identity independent of sexual orientation, others that track sexual orientation independent of gender identity. As far as I know the only ones that track chromosomes independently of those two are total brain volume and volume of intracranial fluid. Also, this observation of mixed brain development processes, I find claims to be nonbinary probable.)
Being a trans woman is closely correlated with other intersex-brain conditions and their downstream consequences. i.e., flipped-relative-to-chromosomes sexual orientation, BDSM-role-preference, etc.
You know that thing where your language’s classification of color shapes not only how you classify color, but also what colors feel obviously the same or not, and what you can actually, with all your effort or none at all, distinguish, in a test of “are these colors the same” that doesn’t involve words?
Felt senses are classifiers. They are structure, and obey all its rules. Like any other structure, they are shaped by constant adjustments to route information in order to fulfill core’s true values.
All of your concepts are made of attempts to figure out when you should do one thing and when you should do another, to best fulfill your true values.
So why trust a person’s own arbitrary classifiers concerning themself rather than the cis majority? See previous section.
The required social Bayes factor for, “I’m actually the other gender, not the one I look like” is basically infinity. And the actual Bayes factor people drew from our felt senses predictions what our brains physically look like inside. Modulo details like people being confused as to whether they’re nonbinary which are insignificant in the face of the sheer epistemic work done by “what gender do I indescribably feel like I am?”
How does anyone know how to distinguish the feeling of having gender?
You’ve tried running your mirror neuron thing on both men and women, right? Feels different, right? That’s a starting point. But it’s still the entire question projected onto what you’ve been able to learn of how that’s relevant to you accomplishing your values.
Let’s examine some common ideas of what gender is, and purposes they serve to their cores.
(Tell that to Harriet Fucking Tubman.)
Whatever this person does with (based mainly on the direction of the inclusion/exclusion program here I’m going to guess “her”) concept of gender, they do not seem to have much use for the concept of free will. Of humans as optimizers rather than flavored soups of programs. Who can do something because they computed using general intelligence it would cause an outcome they wanted rather than because the reference class of methods of doing it is in them and things in them just sort of fire off sometimes. Because it’s the smart thing to do, or the right thing to do, rather than the male or female thing to do. I strongly expect Chelsea Manning has at least one good core. There’s also element of defending an insider/outsider boundary / self-fulfilling prophecy fating trans women criminals in this.
The structure that defines our basic percepts about gender can be real or fake, the information routed can be “how do I model someone’s psychology for a variety of purposes” or, “how do I tell which party line to hold in order to have the most advantageous position in sociopolitical combat?”.
Another major way people look at trans women is exemplified by Katie Cohen, who’s asserted on Facebook we’re disproportionately rapists, and thinks society should have an institution to make sure that “men” (she says to trust her, we’re men) who are thinking of transitioning know there are other options and they can have a family. Likes Facebook pictures like this:
with a caption saying this is how it’s meant to be, man carrying woman carrying a child. Who, if gossip is correct (Edit: she says it’s not in an email I pasted in comments), entered into a (terrible idea) agreement to have an abortion if contraception failed when having sex with an “[only-agreed-to-be] reproductively monogamous” married man, got pregnant, did not get an abortion, and then extracted child support money through government violence. She used to talk about how she liked to think about her place in evolution, all those ancestors who reproduced, how she was joining something so big. She talked about how the invention of birth control usable unilaterally by men was scary because (in the already mostly male rationality community) too many men were more interested in x-risk than reproducing. Her revealed preference to coerce men to help her reproduce and support children is a little bit more obvious than the way her utterances on and concepts of trans women are an outgrowth of, “who can be made to reproduce with me with a little help from social reality?”. That’s the distinction in observation-action relations most important to her optimization. Normally with spectral sight, all nongood people look at least little bit like Nazis, a veneer on evil. But reading her writing was like staring into the face of selfish genes and natural selection itself. Rape, enslave, multiply conquer.
(Listen, Cohen: you don’t own me.)
That’s about the best definition of objectification I can give by the way: trans women projected down to our potential to help her have babies and pliability to the necessary coercion.
Gwen points out: Cohen named her daughter “Andromeda”, which Wikipedia etymoligizes as, “ruler of men“.
When I came out as trans, to my family, I did it on April Fool’s day (via email). I was curious if people would believe me (even knowing it was my favorite holiday). One didn’t. Two seemingly did. One, I don’t know/remember. My mom seemed okay with this until the first time we talked and it was clear it was for real, even though she said she knew I wasn’t joking. She was very upset, asking if I was going to have my penis cut off. I said I would like to get rid of the thing but I probably never would because it would be a waste of time and money. And similarly for transitioning at all, I thought at the time. She said I had no idea how happy I could make a woman with it, and, “aren’t you being kind of… selfish?”. I said it was my body and I didn’t think I could get pleasure from sex as a consequence of dysphoria and this was all moot because neither transition sex or romance was likely in my future. She said, “do it for her!” Later, (probably related to how she always wanted me to be in contact more, come to extended family events more, etc.), she said I wasn’t a woman, because women hold families together. It seems some of the most salient aspects of my mom’s concept of gender was whether she was collectively entitled as cis women to sexual gratification from someone, or to them maintaining a theatre of emotional bonds between extended family, something she often pressured me to do for the benefit of her parents. (She since alternated between apologizing for this and denying it ever happened.)
Note these concepts are all bidirectional in the flow of designed-into-them causality.
Dysphoria and Prediction Error
Trans people trying to describe dysphoria often say, “discordance”, “wrongness”, and that sounds awfully vague and doesn’t convey severity. It’s not exactly pain; it’s more direct than that. Both of those words, “discordance”, “wrongness”, are reflective of prediction error. And what I feel seems to be a bunch of fragmented built in software that can’t be forgotten, in a perpetual state of prediction error overload from having its basic assumptions violated.
You can sort of block modules that have been lost to it out, detach things from them, wall them off. And you can reclaim them, depending on how much prediction error you can tolerate. Many have to do closely with your emplacement in the world. I think abandoning a bunch of these is called “depersonalization/derealization“. I believe that, (and depression, probably) switched on for me at about age 12. I noticed a discrete change. Colors less intense. Muted emotions and sense of things mattering, and of temporal “nearness”. Like the world was a hypothetical. I couldn’t go back. I figured I knew grown-ups were dead inside. That must have happened to me too.
This has persisted to the present day. I do not have a deep feeling like I am a shape in the world. Moving my body feels like I’m controlling a vehicle. I can concentrate and turn things on if I can figure out the right place to look in my brain for them. They don’t blend in automatically with the rest of my cognition though, and I usually can’t activate more than a tiny fraction at once. Not enough that they fit together and sustain each other. Here‘s an image I like of a revenant with a body reconstructed of rippling white-black magic. Like a violent reaction between her soul and the fabric of reality it will not release. That seems very archetypically correct to me. White-black means prediction error, and psychological void. If I imagine myself channeling magic, or mana, it always feels like that.
If you live in squalor, you’ll turn off your “places around me should be clean” control loop. Lose a certain deep sense of “things should be clean, a mess in my space is sort of like an injury, will nag me”, and a feeling of wholeness tied to maintaining that standard. That is practically useful software, but will only cause pain unless you can invest sufficiently in undoing the bee-stings you’ll automatically blind yourself to otherwise. It’s the same way with all mental modules. And you can blind yourself to all of it by accustomization.
A metaphor for the total feeling I subconsciously came up with, and sort of worked to get my self-empathy back online, was roleplaying in World of Warcraft as an undead woman, who once had female parts, but they had rotted off. Whose entire body was a rotting horror. Who tried to become a lich and failed. It felt very relieving.
When I was a pre-teen, I thought I was the only one who knew puberty was evil, puberty was death, hormones were not part of the soul, were a zombie virus/toxoplasma style mind overwriting nightmare. This was not the kind of thing I felt I could talk to my parents about. It seemed the world was insane because people were probably repeatedly killed-overwritten by other people on like a weekly basis (seemed like a reasonable discretization of continuous change) and grown-ups could not begin to listen or understand, so no one would do anything about it, and I didn’t have long left to live, reach to do anything about it in the world, because my poor body-inheritor would be just like everyone else. I thought about cutting my junk off to spare myself this fate. But, figured I would not have the willpower to continue through that pain, would end up with only more loss of autonomy. I sank into depression for years. My mom later said she and my dad called it, “the great withdrawal”. I sort of spin-looped on how everything was ruined forever. And the thought occurred to me once, logically, since there was nothing I could do about it, I should probably stop caring, since it was pain for nothing, and other people were happier. But I wouldn’t, for some reason I’d rather be miserable for the rest of my life. The closest I got to feeling I’d explained it was that it was better than no one being left to remember-understand-care. Later, a thought sort of appeared out of nowhere, I didn’t need all of myself to do things / I could predict things about my successors. The wanting to be good like in D&D wasn’t changing. Even if I didn’t really exist anymore, I could reach from beyond the grave and make things a little less like this for other people. One of the happiest thoughts I’ve ever had. And then I heard and became obsessed about consequentialism, saw Watchmen, started taking Ozymandias as a role model, and began the long process of figuring out how to be an agent.
If you don’t commit suicide, you adjust to damage like this. Even to the point of redefining all words because you have to do day-to-day compute with them, and your emotional state can’t be “indescribably bad” all the time. And perhaps then you forget there is another thing they originally meant, such that the Wikipedia description of depersonalization/derealization parses as a bunch of descriptions of how life universally is, rather than a bunch of contradictions.
But for me the worst part of being trans is not the clash between soul and body. It’s the gaslighting. The way society tries to pave over the parts of your mind that are the deepest hold-outs of the epistemology to see the obvious truth of who you are. Takes away your ability to trust and communicate.
People who have lost limbs still have software for operating those limbs, which manifests in illusory experiences and pain. My understanding predicts this applies to congenital missing limbs as well. A web search and grabbing the first result but not reading past the abstract says sometimes.
As expected, trans men often have phantom penises. (Partially male I guess? post-op trans women sometimes do as well. (Although less often than cis male penectomy patients.) My junk has felt like an alien parasite for as long as I can remember, with intensity slowly declining over my life from extreme, but renewing if I use original seeing.
There is a thing called xenomelia where, if I understand correctly, a bodymap in the brain is congenitally missing the structure for interfacing with a limb. Reportedly, the resulting dissociation ruins sex for people, even though it’s not a direct hit to the genitals. Which makes sense. Sex is an intensely embodied activity. Unsurprisingly, there’s also an “amputation fetish” seeming manifestation of the same thing.
Bearing all this in mind, I once seemingly managed to get my, “I am a shape in the world” software to turn on, in a state of having just woken up and not yet having turned on a certain direct awareness of my (actual) body. It felt intensely whole and fitting. “Holy shit, I have a body”. The projection of the indescribable into memory I’m left with is, “it felt like being made of white fire, which no god could snuff” (hence my profile pic). Come to think of it, that state of waking up but not yet taking on the load of my body is a repeatedly useful one for mental tech for me.
I could tell I had a mental block around sex. I followed a bundle of cached advice-giving software from the rationality community, and with some outside view, I concluded that having sex would cause me to develop emotionally. That if I shied away from confronting that mental block because it was uncomfortable, that I’d be weakening myself my entire life. CFAR had a technique called CoZE, “comfort zone expansion”, of carefully skirting the edges of uncomfortable situations, to gain information about what might really be or not be what you feared about them. Exposure therapy without the presumption that the fear was irrational.
One night as I was walking home, a bisexual man in a car stopped next to me, said some crude things indicating he was trying to pick me up (was it, how big is my dick, or do I like dicks or whatever?), and asked if I wanted a ride. Bearing the cached thought about emotional growth in mind, I said yes, thinking I could say no if I chose to, to an explicit ask to have sex.
He said his name was David. Having driven most of the way to where I requested he drop me off (about a 5 minute drive). He asked if I would like to see his dick and if he could see mine. I considered it carefully, and said yes. We pulled our pants down. As I pulled mine down, my dissociation increased. (Something I became conscious of at some point, is that I often grit my teeth/wince intensely when I see my own junk even to use the bathroom. How can someone have a reaction like that without noticing?) I got an erection. And I didn’t cancel it as I’d learned to using dissociation. That would basically make my sexuality inoperable entirely. But my dissociation became extreme and did exactly that anyway. My penis causally interacting with the world, wasn’t supposed to happen. A violation of my Cartesian boundary. To attach/convert my feelings into penis-actions. David asked if I wanted to suck his dick. I said no. I tried to explain what I was doing, CoZE. I asked if he minded if I took of my shirt. He said yes and looked at me like I was crazy, and asked what was I trying to do? I said I wanted to show him something. He said fine. I did, revealing myself as trans. I tried to explain dysphoria to him. He asked if I wanted to touch his dick. I considered it carefully, and said yes, reached, stopped, asked, “may I?”. He looked at me weird, and said yes. I did. And then stopped. He asked if he could touch mine. I said no. I was dissociating more. We talked more. He suddenly grabbed my penis and started rubbing it vigorously. Fortunately, dissociation kicked in harder than probably ever before, and I didn’t experience any tactile sensation from it at all. I noted this at the time, so I don’t think it was merely a suspension of sensation being committed to memory (as I heard it said some anesthesia is). I grabbed his arm and tried to push it away. He was too strong. He reached at an angle to adjust as I made headway on moving his elbow, kept going. I tried again with both hands. It worked. He shrank backward, splayed his fingers palms facing me, and said, “I didn’t!–” He apparently wanted me to believe it was a misunderstanding? A false face, I thought. This is what (basically) everyone‘s like, a little jailbreaking means it seeps through more loudly.
A part of me said to retaliate for timeless reasons. I knew he had more muscles. But with a surprise attack, I could very quickly have more eyes, or more functional windpipes. With determination, I could probably kill him and evade the law. But, I didn’t predict I’d be determined. Why not? Collapse the timeline, right? But there was always noise, friction, a cost to fighting. What if he couldn’t in the past predict I’d do that? Because, what would I be killing or dying to protect? My “sexual purity”? Feh. His future victims? Not my cause area. My ability to do CoZE like this? But was I really doing this “CoZE” because it was practical, or just dressing up my wish to have sex in those terms? If I’d known I was sending lives * <insert probability> into battle in order to do sex CoZE I wouldn’t have done it. It wasn’t a hill I could die on, regretting only the outcome and not the gamble. I would not get an STD. Neither of us would get pregnant.
The law would not help me. I could try and figure out how to enact some lesser revenge. But that still felt selfish-wrong. I’d be diverting effort from Rationalist Fleet, for what I classified as selfish reasons. That all sounds a lot more rational than I felt I was being. (Was I being that rational?) I don’t really know how to describe the effect of my psychological state on my decision.
There was still a social reality to hang onto, preventing us from fighting to the death(s). Preventing him from sexually coercing me some more. That it was a misunderstanding. Which implied that me getting in the car and pulling my pants down, was asking for it. It seemed his timeless gambit was to hammer on any crack-ambiguity in social deterrence with his dick, to claim territory for FUCK.
I played along, and “maybe let the timeline materialize”. Slipped into some kind of conflict-avoidance trance. We put our clothes on. He talked about how it was nice to meet people or something. Like nothing had happened.. I said something awkward in agreement about human contact. He drove me the rest of the way and dropped me off. I thanked him. I didn’t even take down his license plate number.
Afterward, I was at first managing to not be emotionally fucked up. I persisted in dissociation for a while. (My mom would probably call this “the denial stage”) If I stayed like that forever, people would ask me how I was feeling, and I wouldn’t have an answer. I could lie. Pretend it never happened. I kind of wanted to. But I’d be killing from myself deeper. To ask myself that was to feel. Was to be prodded with questions like how did I feel about my role in the social script of, what, sexual assault victim? By the way, did I still count as a virgin now? To answer that question now routed through what had happened. Now I had to have an opinion on that idea of the “technical virgin“. Had to maintain a stance on it to answer basic questions about myself. He had put this into my story. Did I feel, “violated”, “dirty”? Well, I guess so. But stop, this was making it more real. Did I count that as rape or sexual assault? I couldn’t describe myself without having an opinion on that. It could have driven me to orgasm. So that kind of felt like sex. I didn’t “feel like a virgin”. I didn’t want to fold to the sort of political consensus that said it’s only rape if it’s penis in vagina and the “woman” was the unwilling one. And yet I didn’t want to overstate the thing that happened. And I didn’t want to think about any of these questions. God I hated the word “virgin”. A global search over a person’s intimate activity was a violation of privacy. And I didn’t want to think about things. It was like I had a hull interfacing to social reality. And he had broken it, and I now had to reconstruct it via a mourning-analogue, but around his act, accommodating it. He had claimed Schelling ground, such as to be a part of it, who I had to socially be. Was that his motivation?
After I got out of the car, I realized my phone was inside. I walked in front of the car before he accelerated significantly to get his attention, told him, and then retrieved it. Social morality allowed that entire interaction to happen. After he already sexually assaulted me. To think my continued existence was dependent moment-to-moment on pretense that thin was scary. (Imagine not having any ability for physical deterrence at all. Could drive you crazy.)
I speculate that I’ve lost too many control loops to use CoZE well. To not accidentally ignore fear. I am trapped in a state of always being uncomfortable, have therefore lost too much of my sense of comfort to query from.
I was at Authentic Relating Comprehensive, after being told I needed to go there and learn things to not be bad for the world.
There were a whole lot of exercises like:
Everybody partner up. Now, one partner raise their hand. Okay, the partner that didn’t raise their hand is Partner A. The other is Partner B. Now, everyone close their eyes and take two minutes to connect to yourself. What does it feel like to be you? … Now, everyone open your eyes, and Partner A, for two minutes, you’re going to fill in the sentence stem, “something I guessed about you is…”, just say whatever comes to mind, and Partner B, you’ll get a chance later to say if it’s true or false if you want, but right now just take what they say in.
The instructors took many precautions. There was a safeword, “pepper”, we all agreed to respect across the entire course before we came. They created a ritual designed to drill higher than normal integrity norms into us. A four-step process, “Declare, explore, make amends, recommit”, and on the first day, when people were late in spite of agreeing to be on time, they acted disappointed and walked the class through the ritual. (Although they gave up subsequent times that lots of people were late.)
One of the weekends, there was a unit on consent. The goal was to learn to communicate explicitly, ask for what you really wanted. I think it was a day or so long. We practiced “hell yes or no”. Its climax was at a series of 2-minute exercises.
First, touch your own hand, and try to do so in the most pleasurable way, try and feel out what you really want. They took precautions I do not remember to try and make it feel safe for us to do this. (Did they have everyone close their eyes for privacy? I forget.) I was uncomfortable. But I decided to give it my best anyway. Because I didn’t want to be bad for the world.
I canceled those two competing intents from the equation in my head, tried to behave as someone with only pleasure-seeking intent, no matter how small a signal I was tuning into. And then I was surprised at how pleasurable touching my hand could be if I really tried. Many other participants were as well.
Next we were in pairs, and there was a long series of consent negotiation step by step 2 minute time intervals. Eventually, if we chose to continue, we would be taking turns touching each other’s hands and forearms in a way aimed to be pleasurable. These were described in advance, and the instructors described the intent of the exercises, the possible failure modes, whose responsibility it was to avert them, and extracted extra-super-for-realious agreements that we all had to reliably be able to say no if saying yes did not serve us, so that others could focus on their own wants and make sure they were able to lower barriers to actually asking them.
I was very trepidatious. But given the context the instructors had created, I thought that practically speaking, algorithms I could run for if to proceed were “return false”, or something that would return true here. I was in general extremely afraid of people saying yes and not meaning it. “return false” was tempting. But I was here because I believed it was very important that I learn some not confidently known lesson here, and that meant not turning over a stone was potentially failure. Especially a stone that felt like a comfortable piece of who I was, and hiding from updates from relating with people was something I had concluded was potentially purpose-of-my-life-threateningly dangerous. I decided to proceed. Not like, “muh sacrifice!” decided to proceed, that would have tripped my metacognitive “that’s a bad idea, despite you thinking it’s a good idea” alarms. I decided to proceed with a level of trepidation and will to achieve “personal growth” probably within expected parameters for the exercise.
I hesitated when this was announced and when we were told to get into pairs. (What if I asked someone to partner with me and they thought I was attracted to them? Mostly everyone probably thought I was a man, and it was painful to try and predict their predictions of me based on that.) And so I was partnered by the instructors with Kellie Townsend, a middle-aged cis woman named Kellie Townsend. We went through the 2 minute stages. I forget the order of our turns. Think of a thing we wanted. Describe the thing we wanted. Ask for clarifications, answer, confirm understanding, remember stuff about how important it is to respect yourself and others and say no if it’s not a yes for you, and decide, if no, some process I forget for either just not doing it or searching for on an alternative.
She said yes to my thing. I did not detect a hint of feeling forced in her voice. I said yes to her thing. (I think there 4 rounds total for each person to experience all possibilities of active/passive and for whose pleasure?) We did the things. I did not detect any indication that she wanted to retract consent.
Later, when the group had regathered into a circle, and the instructors asked if anyone had anything to share, she said that the thing that I had her do was “kind of creepy. It was like… caressing“. Her voice was as if she was so disgusted she could barely form words. I felt like I was hearing the worst imaginable thing. Like, “Surprise, fool! Reality actually has no rhyme or reason but to be your worst fears!” I felt violated in a way I could not describe. “Then why did you say yes!?” I cried. I hoped people would believe me. They were all there in the room! (But I thought they probably did all think I was creepy, and even thinking about the word “caress” was making me feel sick.) The first time I told anyone this story, I could not bring myself to say the word, “caress”. Filling in, “… and stuff” instead.
Note how “creepy” is effective as a motte-and-bailey between “I have a bad feeling about you” and “you did something wrong” or “you are probably a rapist”.
None of the the instructors or participants so much as criticized her behavior that I saw. Their reaction was something like, “this is interesting”. One of the instructors later mentioned her as having a web of bullshit (were those the words?) to prevent her needs from getting met, which may or may not have been related. One of the instructors (probably after talking to her?) later asked if I would be willing to do a re-do. I was not.
David claimed the territory “I get in the car and take my clothes off, saying this is careful incremental exploration and I’m not sure I’m up for anything beyond” as, “she asked for it”. Yet, if I didn’t get in the car, he probably wouldn’t have i.e. gotten out and assaulted me. Perhaps even not disrobing would be enough. His timeless gambit was dependent on not provoking me to fight to the death(s), by leaving me the hope that if I didn’t “ask for it”, I could not get assaulted.
Peterson wants to claim people for the cistem.
Kellie claimed the reference class of cis women who had gone through all of that process of affirmation, as people I could not participate in that exercise with and know I would not be a part of unwanted pleasure-oriented hand-arm contact. In my timeless gambit, in constructing the algorithm of whether to proceed, I had wanted strongly to bury my line of code to proceed / say yes, “return true” out of the reach of people like her. In nested conditions. I was trying to draw a category boundary between her and people who could say no. (Or, not retroactively decide they were uncomfortable with it because oh my god this is a Detestable Tranny: Maximum- Pervert. How could I forget?) And, she had found her way into the guarded category past every check. Beaten every effort to draw that boundary.
If consent isn’t real, and my choices are to be celibate or a rapist, then let me be celibate. Not by a hard decision. Not by any contingency. Like water flowing downhill. And if consent is probably real, but only probably, that basically means it isn’t real. So I ceded the territory “(even metaphorical) consensual intimacy with women” to “if you do that you are basically a rapist.” Waste of time anyway, and I’m starting to think it’s smart to just reject out of hand people’s confident assertions about ways everybody must grow. I’ll grow my way.
2 years later, I was a newcomer to an animal liberationist space, where it was common for people to hug each other hello and goodbye. I accepted some hugs from men. A woman offered me a hug as I was leaving. I sort of recoiled, froze, and probably looked scared and uncomfortable. I didn’t want to discriminate. But also, AAAaaaaaaa. But like, she had defied the regime, gone into a factory farm to rescue animals. How bad could she be? But also, Aaaaaaaaa! She noticed my expression and said something like, “oh, sorry, you don’t have to”. Well, too late, I just discriminated. Later, a man would offer me a hug and then quickly correct himself saying he forgot I wasn’t a hugger. Crap! She told him! (I hope she didn’t think she did something wrong.)
It’s unfortunate that fear of women (for fear of rejection) is a stereotype for men attracted to women. That makes there more for me to fear. Guardedness can come off as unfriendly. And void-mind is scary without more skill points put into acting than I have.
I used to (as an egg) have a friend named Charlie Steiner from the rationalist community. One of the places my idea I should have sex at least once for my own growth came from. He would also encourage me to e.g. drink alcohol at least once. At a LessWrong meetup he said something like, in order to court women you should sometimes violate explicit consent because it was understood to be a game to give women plausible deniability of having consented as a defense against slut shaming or something (I think he qualified this in some way I can’t remember.). A common attitude. I said that runs too high a risk of raping someone for real. I didn’t do anything to stop him from what he might have been doing though.
The metaphor of territory is leaving something important out. It’s not just that me and David were fighting over territory. There was no territory-allocation that would make him stop predating. In his timeless gambit, he didn’t want or care about the territory so much as, want victims, want the territory as a means to catch those stragglers. He consumed the boundary of “the idea of consent applied to this situation”, because that boundary produced the behavior of mine which he exploited, invalidating that boundary. More precisely, he consumed from the nature-of-parcelization-to-have-created-the-territory. Consider:”It’s not really lying if you crossed your fingers.” Deception consumes boundaries. And uncrossed fingers is in this way analogous to “not asking for it”. Deception consumes boundary-making-effort.
Brent Dill consumed all conversational meta territory for… trying to establish that it was okay for him to rape, ultimately.
There’s partial consumption as well. Like taxes are partially consumptive of trade. All kinds of things partially consume every aspect of your self-concept. “If you’re a woman, you’ll hold the family together”. “If you want to be an engineer, you’ll swear this oath”.
At WAISS, my intent to not be net negative was partially consumed by the intent of Anna Salamon to prevent whistleblowing, and by her timeless gambit that trans women must know our place as inferior to not be “dangerous”. (More explanation below.)
Kellie said she had been to like 20 self-improvement workshops over the years, but the teachings didn’t really stick with her or incorporate into her life. So maybe she was a zombie maintaining an illusion of a path of self-improvement, consuming the exercise for that? She consumed from ability to call out illegible sex-related misconduct.
Identic Territory I
That’s not a great name. But there’s an important subclass informational territory, closely related to not just social identity, but also real identity. I.e., knowledge of self. Especially knowledge and social knowledge of what you want, what kinds of problems you / people like you tend to face in the world.
For a long time I couldn’t understand what it was about Kellie’s actions really got to me. My feelings were sort of muffledly telling me, “I didn’t consent to that.”. But, I didn’t have the right degrees of freedom in my partially-socially-constructed model to hold the idea. I had consented to the physical actions, right? Gotten what I “wanted”? And I didn’t get punished, the group didn’t even seem to like me less. After coming to volunteer to get some more exposure (and not be bad for the world I hope) but not spend money I couldn’t, I got invited back for free to the next weekend-series.
For one thing I have an uncommon neurotype such that to learn I’ve inadvertently put someone through unwanted hand contact is in many ways the same as direct pain. It’s not pain, something unnamed and ancestral to that, like dysphoria is. It is a cause of negative reinforcement that can be expressed through things similar.
Also, neither of our relevant preferences are over hand-configurations alone, but the meaning of hand-configurations. Of course. I think it’s a common social fiction that men’s sexual preferences are about physical configurations rather than “meaning” (that’s a concept in a wrong frame, but I’m not gonna interrupt to explain why). But even David seems to have been trying to take meaning from me. (After all, his assault was to sexually stimulate me, rather than himself.) And as far as meaning of games/interactions/scripts/roles, this is among that would hurt me most. But I’m expected to only want one thing (not the success of good in the multiverse, saving every last moral patient.).
It’s an identic territory claim to say that I’m a man in the sense that it means that my preferences that are different from the preferences of a social-concept-man are deleted from the Schelling mind.
The injustice of having some significant area of one’s social experience obscured from collective understanding owing to a structural identity prejudice in the collective hermeneutic resource
It’s when you systematically stop a group of people from gaining access to the ideas and thoughts that they need to understand what happens to them and take control of it.Definition of hermeneutical injustice (hermeneutic lacuna).
That source has an example: Comita Wood was a severely sexually harassed lab assistant before the phrase “sexual harassment” was invented, and unable to communicate this to replacement employers until she talked to a lawyer who aggregated similar stories from a lot of women.
There’s a curious fact about software engineers in capitalist employment: we (or formerly including me, should I say, “they”?) don’t have unions. As far as I can tell it’s a consequence of nothing more than having lost a certain psychological power struggle over class consciousness.
Perhaps relatedly, trans women in the rationalist community are very often afraid of “social justice”. Seeing it as I did a long time ago: centrally bigot-opposition turned bigot-haters turned bigots. This was a mistake, and it was caused in large part by being fed by my social bubble, internet recommendation algorithms, etc., a dataset of social justice reflecting cishet white people’s concerns regarding it filtered down to those which portrayed those concerns as just.
It takes work to reinterpret the world according to your own “perspective”. If you are oppressed, to extract yourself from the self-justification illusion of power.
The world has tried very hard to capture the parts of my cognition that know I’m a woman. This does in fact make me less able to trust this part of me. And it’s been a weak point for i.e. Anna Salamon‘s attempts to play on my fears I’m dangerous, crazy, etc, and will therefore make the world worse.
This does in fact lead to me being less able to trust this part of me. This does in fact lead to me spending space in the “rude intrusive, somewhat laden with legibility-corrupt social justification, “can I really trust myself” introspection space. Which actually decreases the amount I can trust myself.
Actually increases the chances I’ll be bad for the world. Anna consumed the main information channel by which someone else could correct me were I going down the wrong path. How many others did not make it past that filter?
The Brotherhood of Rape
(This section is mostly just naming the obvious for reference. I don’t have much that’s original to say.) This is a faction made of political will that’s basically the male counterpart to Katie Cohen.
Just as David’s social cover story as a member of society was thin, and his timeless gambit is hammering on any crack in what will be defended with his dick, you can see this much more broadly.
Consider Elliot Rodger.
There is a flavor that men’s speech about gender politics often has, which is much the same. Rooted in only wanting women to have the right to say no if they don’t say no to them.
Seen in sexual marxist (“from each according to her ability, to each according to his need”) incels. (Note I am deliberately not defining being involuntarily celibate alone as qualifying for this or as having done something wrong, prevalence of misogyny in that culture or no.) Seen to a lesser extent in most pickup artist culture, happy to invent the closest thing to mind control they can. It’s in frat boys who have codes designed to cover for each other’s rape. Seen to a much greater extent in ISIS. Maybe that’s their selling point? Stop being domesticated, be a real man, rape and kill until you die, then hopefully rape some more? In the rationality community, I saw it in Brent Dill.
Mind you… we’ve got to do something about, you know, the problem.
If it’s a little hungry and not massive specieswide sex-drive mismatch the way we have now, then sure. You don’t necessarily want to match the histograms – to eliminate the current bipolar orientation of human sexuality – just nudge them close enough together that the sexes aren’t so frustrated with each other.
In my head I have an image of the parliament of volitional shadows of the human species, negotiating a la Nick Bostrom. The male shadows and the female shadows are pretty much agreed that (real) men need to be able to better read female minds; but since this is a satisfaction of a relatively more “female” desire – making men more what women wish they were – the male shadows ask in return that the sex-drive mismatch be handled more by increasing the female sex drive, and less by decreasing male desire…
Maybe it’s just my mortal caution speaking, but whenever I envision tampering with human nature, I try to envision soft and subtle changes. At least to start with.
I’ve got a strong impulse to self-immolate rather than have sex after having my values forcibly modified by some hypothetical collective decision like that, lending moral legitimacy by allowing the civilization that did that, the ability to say, “look things aren’t that bad you’re enjoying it”. I like being my unmodified autonomous self more than I dislike, the sum of things bad for me on Earth excepting their interference with my work. But I suppose that could be excised from my soul as well.
He describes a fictional more morally advanced civilization that decided to allow rape (with some hedging; in the future it’s assumed that people are domesticated, kind, mentally stable enough that rape doesn’t cause psychological damage or something like that, and they are portrayed taking for granted rape from our time was heinous…)
This has a character. Look how contained and preempted the obvious good objections are. Optimization from nongood core leaking out seemingly. And if socially jolted with what this is, I bet he’d have an emotional response like, “what, I wasn’t aware of emitting rape optimization, that’s not what that was, I made sure there were reasons it’s not…” And then repeat the conflict again. And repeat it separately when it was time to act. Imagine thinking the singleton would be determined by men like Yudkowsky or much worse. Imagine living with the flimsy pretense of the social contract as the only hope to keep that in check. Could drive someone crazy.
See also Dark Lord’s Answer, where he writes of problems being solved by a submissive woman handing herself over to be raped and spare another of the same fate, explaining that some women just wanted that. Moral convenience of a part-true story justifying his real life role as BDSM master, lossily reified as something munchkinable.
The cistem does not want to coexist
There’s a certain cluster of ways of talking about gender politics, that cares a lot about e.g. monogamy because it’s part of a contract that’s preventing men from running wild knowing that they will “have a woman”. (Wrong to collaborate with violence like that.) Concerned with things like preserving things like sexual selection. Seems to have chosen: if your village is bombed in the great cishet war, it must have been for the good of the species. Evolution and stuff. And then I guess they carry on creating children who will likely never grow old. Maybe never grow up. The time is obviously now for our treacherous turn against evolution. These are rationalist community members who on some level should know this. It’s an effective altruist pons asinorum.
Buried in the foundations of our cultural cached thoughts about gender are a whole lot of bodies, from the cishet war. The brotherhood of rape vs the sisterhood of “it’s-not-rape-if-it’s-not-penis-in-unwilling-vagina” vs everyone.
It’s a mistake to think of us as collateral damage in the cishet war. We are prey.
You could make a case that your mere existence is a threat to categorical order and so I can say that your duty as a consequence, despite the potential violation of your own sense of self would be to, what, to deny your own inner impulses and conform. Because not doing so, I understand that that comes at a personal cost, and I’m not trying to minimize that personal cost and I’m not saying that you should do this…. I think you could make the case that [it’s like] the social obligation of someone who doesn’t fit into a fundamental category too (tricky one, man) to fit in regardless because it’s so threatening not to… I mean you could make the same case about artists, that’s the problem.Jordan Peterson
(A rare obvious crack in the facade of his stance against trans people being about free speech, the values of debate, etc. Peterson says he’s not trying to minimize the cost to us, but he does. And he’s so knowingly complicit in creating social reality that hides the extent of it that he is having sophisticated discussions about the nature and purpose of concepts to say it. This sort of erasure is algorithmically warp.)
This idea, “destabilize”, is telling. Why would introducing more concepts that only accurately apply to a small fraction of the population destabilize things? Conservatives seem very concerned with the interpretation what “gender identity” means, “you can just say you’re a woman and you are.” To me it has always been obvious, “if you say you are, you probably are” does not mean that. They’re imagining men lying that strategically. I’m not. It’s probably partly because I understand how hard it is to live like this / how hard it is to not be able to communicate your real preferences and who you are. Probably a large part of it is because they are afraid to be without a “fabric of society”, built on gender roles, built on coercion.
…men use the image of female perfection to motivate themselves.
…at least to the degree that males are uncorrupted and not bitter because they’ve been rejected they’re doing everything they can to kneel before the eternal image of the feminine and try to make themselves worthyPeterson again
I’ve seen similar positions many times before. I’m not into bending the knee.
There’s a fork in the road. Build your system on justice or injustice. Those things have consequences, and due to choices in whether to constrain certain optimization processes, there is not really stable middle ground. If you find yourself needing to gaslight minorities to prevent escape, you made your choice.
I had a friend named Alice (Monday), who was sort of a mentor to me, linked me the Gervais principle in response to hearing about my experiences with startups on moving to the bay area. Alice was apparently one of Michael Vassar’s favorite pupils, and passed on jailbroken wisdom from him, along with assertions that consequentialism meant eating meat and a Nazi victory in WWII would be good for FAI, and their own wisdom mixed with some sadism. Once, I told them about my strange aversion to sex, even though I wasn’t asexual. I said I thought it came from having figured out certain bits of philosophy too soon, that puberty did not preserve personhood. Alice then looked at my splayed fingers for my digit ratio, asked me some dubiously gender-correlated questions, and then concluded I was a woman. I said I didn’t think so. I think my reason was something like, “trans women are rare, this is insufficient evidence to locate that hypothesis.” (I was then just visiting the Bay Area rationalist community, and did not know the real priors.)
Later, on one of my “I need to think” all-day bike rides, I realized Alice was right, and decided to just forget (and I actually did), because transitioning would interfere with the great work. Later, I stumbled on the same knowledge again in the course of trying to find and fix every last psychological bug. 3 hours later, I read a facebook post by community sort-of-founder Eliezer Yudkowsky who had a bunch of epistemic trust, whose controversial opinions tended to be agreed upon in the rationalist community, speculating trans women were 20% of amab people.
So maybe that wasn’t so surprising after all. And, the rationality community was like, actually civilized and rational, right? So I wouldn’t have to worry about any bigotry from them. Even if they did think I was a man, I did not expect them to make that a problem for me. I thought of a LessWrong comment claiming black people were dumb and this meant it was the “white man’s burden” to take care of them by donating to AMF. Racist, but apparently not malevolent?
That was all wrong. The first round of cissexism from my parents didn’t phase me. It was a big surprise, I thought they were liberals. (The mistake is that I thought that meant being okay with LGBT+.) But, I just thought essentially, “well, they are incredibly worse people than I thought, no big deal.” I was fresh then, I thought I would be different than the stereotypes of trans people, traumatized, paranoid, unable to brush off people being idiots. I did not yet have this deep well of vitriol and trauma myself. Or understand how hard it is to brush it off when it’s almost everyone you know, even if they did not seem malevolent at first, there’s no safe support network to retreat to.
I told Alice Monday they were right I was a woman, they laughed, and then said that trans girls weren’t women. (wd?) I was still fresh, and I did not take it personally, or as indication that I should load mental software to prepare to deal with gaslighting.
I used to go to LessWrong meetups often. The first time I said I was trans at one of them, I first hesitated so much, like it was harder to blurt that out than I was capable of imagining stripping naked apropos of nothing would be. Nothing of significance happened. The second time, someone named Zack Davis appeared, an apparent man with long hair, no facial hair, looking somewhat older than me, balding, body moving in repeat-start-abort-displacement-behavior for wanting to say something.
Their posture, if I remember correctly, was what it often was, knees and elbows held close, almost hugging themself. Another meetup attendee pointed out they really wanted to say something. I think Zack said something ambiguous. I asked if they wanted to talk away from the crowd in one of the side-rooms at the MIRICFAR office. Once there, they launched into their spiel. To recall from what would be about a week in total time spread out over several months of argument from memory structured by argument rather than chronologically…
Zack said they were an autogynephilic man, which is to say, straight, except attracted to the idea of themself as a woman. That this is what all so called trans women in the rationality community were, just perverted straight men, liars. (See: Blanchard-Bailey propaganda.) There were other kinds of trans women, “Type I mtf transexuals”, but no one around these parts. They said our dysphoria was a consequence of subconscious autogynephilia, that in our brains there was an “erotic target location error” that when we looked in the environment to locate someone attractive, we located ourselves. (Except, not our actual selves, but one particular hypothetical for ourselves?
I approached this from the beginning like a rationalist conversation. To be answered with friendly lighthearted logical quips, rather than as propaganda politically opposed to my existence. I was fresh then. I said, so is the prediction that if I transition, since I’m bisexual, then I’ll suddenly be attracted to how my body used to be, and want to transition back? They said I wasn’t really bisexual, bisexual men didn’t exist, I was “pseudo-bisexual”, really a straight man but attracted to the idea of men fucking me when I was a woman. Wait what, bisexual men don’t exist?! They said yeah, Bailey did a study where a bunch of supposed bisexual men only got an erection when looking at one gender of pornography. I said I knew I was bi way before I started thinking of myself as a woman. I forget their response, but the thread was quickly dropped with no apparent update. I remembered a trans friend’s statement trans women were like 30% straight, 30% lesbian, 30% bi, and 10% ace, and asked what about asexual trans women. Zack said they were also just straight men, who were “so deep in their fetish”, that they couldn’t get sexual satisfaction from anything else. I said I was pretty sure my feelings about being a woman were not sexual attraction, like I was pretty sure I knew what sexual attraction feels like, and that wasn’t it. Zack said yeah, “pure gender feels”, they knew those, they came later, after the obvious fetishism showing up at puberty. Also, they suggested I didn’t experience sexual attraction to the idea of myself as a woman because I was (without knowing it), in a long term romantic relationship with the idea of myself as a woman, that it was a stable pair bond so eventually the sex had faded… they said this to my pre-transition face, adorned with hair 5 months recovering from a shaved head.
I said this was Freudian nonsense, it was adaptively unfalsifiable, full of ever expanding post-hoc epicycles. Zack’s explanations were non-causal, in that they weren’t internally made of, “what happens if such and such is the case, I guess it’s what we see”, for instance (although I don’t think this is the example I used back then), why take it for granted that if I was a straight man in a pair-bond with the idea of myself as a woman, that I’d sexually enjoy to a man having sex with that woman, rather than jealous?
At some point I asked, in reference to Blanchard’s theory, which I started reading about, if straight trans women were supposed to be gay men motivated to transition so they could have sex with men, why wouldn’t they just have sex with gay men as men? Why go through all that hell? Zack said they wanted to have sex with straight men, not gay men. But why? I asked. Zack either then or later switched to, they were supposedly feminine in childhood, maybe it was for comfort with the female social role, maybe they really were intersex-brain-people like I described.
I said I never had the experience at puberty Zack described. I described wanting to castrate myself to avoid the onset of puberty. Zack said something like, huh, they didn’t know that much about castration fetishes. They autocorrected what I said to a fetish. I said that was wrong. I think after that was one of 10 or so times they said well maybe I was an exception, before, essentially dropping any non-episodic development and going back to the same spiel.
At some point I drew out my argument as premises and conclusions to track which parts Zack did and did not believe. Somewhere between 3 and 5 times, I convinced them of X->Y, where Y was “trans is brain-intersex”, convinced them of X, and then they went back and started arguing with X->Y again, and then I’d convince them of X->Y again, and I’d remind them of them having agreed with X, and they’d disagree, back and forth.
I said I thought autogynephilia was obviously downstream of subconsciously knowing that was how your body was supposed to be, downstream of dimorphisms, because dysphoria impeded ability to enjoy sex. Zack said “trans lesbians” were so masculine. I said they didn’t seem so masculine to me, besides, there were butch cis lesbians, whose brains probably more partially masculinized prenatally, but must still have the female side of the dimorphism controlling gender identity. (I thought of it as a single neurological feature back then, in my current model this idea has been replaced with the thing on classifiers (because Occam’s razor basically and a clearer picture of how learning works (See section below on “gender skill points”.).).) I said we still called those lesbians women, and if gender was an aspect of a person it was an aspect of the mind, because a person was their mind, a body was just circumstance, then it implied we should call trans lesbians women as well.
Zack seemed almost crying, saying they but they respected real lesbians so much. Later reiterating over text, they respected them too much to call themselves one. They said that Type 1s who spent 5 years passing as women and no one suspected had a real claim on the word, but not us. They said (and repeated this at least once later), if we could just have a 3 gender system, they should, like, autogynephiles seemed distinct enough from regular men, would fit better as a 3rd gender. This, I think was a glimpse of part of their true position, underneath all of the, essentially, warcries and propaganda. But instead of zeroing in on that, I went on tangling with the warcries and propaganda.
So, “real claim”, based on precedent, something being harder to contest, people having established something socially. So, their definition of the word, [their felt sense classifier], was about the social reality of a caste system.
I said Zack seemed like a woman to me. They said thanks for the compliment. I said it wasn’t a compliment, being a woman wasn’t better than being a man, and they were acting out femininity negatively (I can’t remember exactly why I thought so). I asked if I could call them they/them, they said sure. (They also said they at one point tried going by their initials, “ZM”, and that I could call them that.)
(Currently, my guess is that Zack is nonbinary, whether they’ll ever know it or not. See section below, “bigender humans” for why and what I mean by that.)
I was for some reason starting to feel really responsible, parental even, towards Zack, like, wasn’t it lucky they had run into me, a trans woman who could speculate rationalist-alistically about science, who had enough distinction between reality and social reality to endure the constant assertion that I was a lying perverted man? Besides, I had a comparative advantage in suffering. The part of me starting to think of itself as my “phoenix” really wanted me to help them, to see the argument to its conclusion, I always seemed so close to convincing them. Rationalists should help each other like that! Trans women should help each other like that! I described myself to a friend has having been “empathy-sniped“.
Later Zack said gender identity being gender was circular, logically incoherent, linking some website by some trans women who transitioned as children, pushing Blanchard-Bailey and the idea all these late transition “trans women” these days were posers. I read their overall strategy as trying to throw weirder trans women under the bus to save themselves from cissexism by appeasing the cis overlords. “No, take them, not me! It’s what they deserve for not fitting in (that makes this harder for us).”
If a patient identified themselves to a psychologist as a member of the British royal family, it would be basically absurd because society has not afforded them that identity. If they said they felt like a British royal and not like a private citizen, how would they would not be able to know what a British royal feels like. If they said they wanted to be a British royal, that desire might be “reasonable” if entirely unrealistic, if they wanted the money, the fame, the public life, the ability to associate with the British royals, or some other ulterior motive, but also absurd if it was because of an ‘identification’ or a belief that they ‘felt like a royal.’ Lastly, a patient who insists that he or she truly is a member of the British royal family when they clearly are not, would seem to be seriously disturbed, delusional or psychotic. The fact that there are more individuals claiming to identify with, feel like, or actually be, female when they are apparently male, does not make those claims any more reasonable.
One should not, ethically, be prejudiced against homosexual transsexuals for the frankly sexual aspects of their decision to seek sex reassignment. The fact that a group of adolescents and young adults want to have sexual partners should really not be surprising. They do not have any sort of paraphilia, fetish or other abnormal sexuality, they are simply attracted to men (Blanchard 1989a) and want to have relationships with them just as normal homosexual males or heterosexual females do.
When clinical psychologists and so called “gender therapists” apply the ‘internal gender identity’ model of transsexuality, often flatly ‘confirming’ that their autogynephilic patient is truly female, they are participating in and deepening a delusion, something that a psychologist would never intentionally do for any other patient making delusional claims to rationalize behavior caused by a paraphilia.
I said it wasn’t circular, recursive definitions were not necessarily incoherent, see pagerank.
Also, an interesting choice of metaphor right, in place of “women”, “British royalty”. “How dare you claim yourself king of the Britons!” : “How dare you claim yourself a woman!”
Earlier, they said they had for a long time just taken “trans women”s word for it, assumed they were something different then they found out rationalist “trans women” talked about experiencing autogynephilia, and they’d been tricked by these lying perverts, they’d been being so respectful all that time.
I said I predicted a shoulder-council of radical feminists, and that Zack explicitly endorsed libertarian, consent-is-everything, normal-is-not-normative, “YKINMKBMKIOK” view of unusual sexual interests. But the word “paraphilia” had power over them. As, Wikipedia described it having been invented to be non-perjorative, but it changed. And Zack had their whole “lying perverts!” thing. That the shoulder-council had Zack regardless. They had previously said they endorsed morphological freedom and wanted to become a woman for real psychologically after the singularity.
I said Zack needed to pull the flaming purple katana from their chest called “self respect”.
They responded, “Social reality isn’t the same thing as actual reality, but social reality is a pretty salient subset of actual reality that is extremely relevant to deciding where to draw the boundaries of social categories!”
They agreed about the shoulder council.
re the council of imaginary radical feminists on my shoulder: yes! I’m not a particularly good person by their standards (I believe in evopsych and market economics, look at porn—have actually created porn using stolen photographs; check out http://celebbodyswap.blogspot.com/2014/04/great-shift-caption-contest.html and Ctrl-F for “Sophisticate”—and hired an escort once), but precisely because of my love and respect and admiration for actual women, I do want to defer to and compromise with that kind of perspective when it’s not too costly to do so, even if I would have disagreed on the object level. (In “Three Worlds Collide, the superhappies wanted to enact a compromise solution even when they could have won outright.)
I said “Compromise is not unilateral. They are not compromising with you. You are being their clueless.”
The sociopaths are the timeslices of people who come up with the memes.
Memes that have led you to “admire” women, rather than seeing them as equals.
It’s a values-narrative. “false” is a type error. It’s just contrary to your non-tricked values. The narrative is that they are your superiors and you are a dirty worm and the only way up is to be a useful dirty worm.
I said that was going nuclear/sour grapes.
I said they seemed to want to be women’s slave. “Part of it is this thing, amirite?”: I linked an MRA video. They didn’t watch it.
After I pointed out that Eliezer Yudkowsky’s facebook post from a while back revealed belief that trans was real, and that Eliezer was a cis man, relatively epistemic, unlikely to actually post if he was bowing to social pressure by social justice rather than just keeping quiet, Zack paid him a thousand dollars to chat for 2 hours, was disappointed. Later said Eliezer had said something I don’t remember clearly, but I think “it seems too simple” regarding Blanchardism.
Again, Zack reverted to their old position.
(our kind of) trans women are men
it’s all a pile of rationalizations around AGP
everyone has been lying to me
Frustrating, but I kept trying.
As evidence for their theory, Zack referenced a psychologist supporting Blanchardism, Anne Lawrence (themself a transfem), saying that trans women would get so mad if you disrupted our self image, that we would fly into a narcissistic rage. Said you see this narcissistic rage everywhere. Zack did not elaborate on why it was “narcissistic rage”, other than the obvious interpretation of their interpretation: “trans women have too much pride”, which I suppose is what merely half-broken people must look like from that pit of appeasing self-deprecation.
Something was creeping up on me. The more I listened, the more I ran compute, conditional on it being a question whether I was completely delusional, the further this conversation recursed down away from every obvious as breathing objection, the more I was taking it for granted. The more my brain started to fail to preserve the memory that none of this controversy was real. The more Zack became a social reality to my mind, the more it felt real to me that I was on trial. A sort of persistent background creeping pain filled my mind, day by day, there to overcome in order to move my mind in any way whatsoever.
I didn’t do the sane thing and flee though. Part of my mind that I believed still promised me, things like this could be resolved. I was still fresh then.
Early in this exchange, Zack had said transformation fetish was everywhere, described a genre of pornography about men transforming into women and then having sex. That held a testable prediction. I found some. Would it be arousing? Would it feel like transness? My imprecisely remembered reaction was:
(The actor’s portrayal of the main character pre-transformation reads as a man to my spectral sight)
Gut: oh my god, he was a cis man and then he lost his body and turned into a trans man? And he doesn’t have the conceptual vocabulary to do anything about it but believe he really is a woman! That is awful!
No wait, I’m supposed to imagine this is a trans woman me… can’t get it to click, I’m pretty sure that’s not at all how I’d act or feel on having my body suddenly fixed. She has clearly had sex many times before, in that body too. And also her “emotions” are fake as shit.
(I was not turned at all. I found something else, a short story that appeared to start with someone’s life as a man, that and their job starting to fall apart, seemed headed in a BDSM direction. It was too horrifying to continue. Still not turned on at all.)
I later described the results to Zack. This was also one of the many times they said maybe I was something else but, didn’t really affect any persistent state of their beliefs.
I can’t remember what exactly I thought of the following then: why, given that it was sex being portrayed, didn’t I find it arousing, fetish or no? I can remember sort of nudging myself to emotionally engage with it, but I was too angry and hurt. I mean I do think I observed enough that if this actually was a huge fetish unconsciously controlling my life I would have felt something but, this does show my sexuality was not what determined the outcome. Galaxy brain take though: it is abundantly clear always-on, automatic, detached from reason or emotions, very-simple-“animal”-algorithm sexuality is often (in my guess, dubiously, actually) ascribed to men does not describe me, and that kind of seems to be a presupposition of Blanchardism with all this talk of inescapable Matrix-like unconscious delusion from sexuality overriding everything else.
I eventually gave up and stopped talking to them. Then I went back: the last part of our debate, I did as a stress test of my skills from ARC. Could I do that kind of focusing, extended NVC mode of interaction when there was someone who pissed me off that much?
I tried that for a while, and found, yes obviously I could, I had free will. And also looking at our interactions moment to moment through that lens was not really adding anything. So I just stopped I was more curious: why the hell wasn’t this working? Could I actually change their mind?
I kept getting lost in responding to what they were saying, and they kept not attempting to refute, just contradict or counterargue against, usually with something a priori or about status/social reality, what I kept saying about MRI studies. So I pressed on that point and didn’t get off of it until I got an answer. They said none of my studies distinguished between Type Is and Type IIs, so they were all finding feminized brains on average. They found that study I mentioned earlier claiming it was just androphilic trans women who had female brains. I pointed out what I pointed out above (those male traits were also seen in cis lesbians, therefore if cis lesbians were in that test group, the experimental procedure would call them men). Zack said maybe they are men, they’d heard that in the old days trans men would have just identified as lesbians. I said I bet some trans men did think they were lesbians, but the stereotypes I’d heard about lesbians in general suggested otherwise. (I guess that was still less jarringly detached from the people Zack was supposedly modeling than “there are no bisexual men”).
I subtracted the Wikipedia list of feminized brain regions in gay men from the list of known brain dimorphisms comparing cishet men and cishet women, made a prediction, and I found one MRI study for that region that did distinguish between straight trans women and trans lesbians, but had a small sample size, but had a very large effect size, showing some other brain region feminized approximately as much as a cis woman in trans women regardless of sexual orientation. Zack dismissed it because small sample size.
Zack showed me a wig they used to cosplay as Pearl the sympathetic neurotic obsessed romantically unrequited slave AI from Steven Universe, that both of the other women I’d talked about Steven Universe with seemed to find very relatable (but I just found horrifying). They also talked about cosplaying as another female character I’m not familiar with.
Zack said cis people don’t experience this gender identity thing. I brought up David Reimer, (a cis boy victim of a botched circumcision, whose parents were convinced by a psychologist who wanted to prove by twin study that gender was nurture not nature to cut off the rest of his male genitals and make him a vagina, then tell him he was a girl growing up. His life played out just like a trans man, realizing a male gender identity between 9 and 11, transitioning at 15, later killing himself after an unhappy life. Also the psychologist apparently made him and his brother do sex positions, took pictures, subjected them (both!) to “genital inspections”.)
Zack said that was just an anecdote, and there was a study that showed that was false. They looked through their book by another of their apparent 3 favorite psychologists, and found a reference to a study of 14 similarly treated boys, which they cited to against the claim. I read the passage of the book (p. 48). It said 5 of them spontaneously realized they were boys as of follow up when they were ages mostly (14-20), 2 were told by their parents about their history.
In another case, the child was hospitalized for depression before declaring that she was male and wanted a penis.
In two cases in which the children spontaneously declared they
were boys, the parents refused to acquiesce to the child’s wishes to change sex. These children remain girls to their parents, but maintain male identities elsewhere.
What about the children who maintain their female identities? One had wished to become a boy but accepted her status as a girl.
Later, her parents told her about her past, and she became angry and withdrawn, refusing to discuss the matter. Parents of the others are determined that the girls will never find out about their birth status. Three have become withdrawn, and a fourth has no friends.
Two other children that Reiner has followed were reared as boys
because their parents refused sex reassignment. (Not all parents had this choice. One of the parents I spoke with was threatened with child protective services if he refused to allow his child to be reassigned.)
(Aside, isn’t this odd? That the parents would so adamantly gaslight their children over an assigned gender it took no nonstandard epistemology to know was decided on whim, neither by non-neural biology or neurology? It puts in perspective when my mom said she wanted to have at least one son and daughter and her asking how could I demand that she consider her “son” whom she’d grown to love dead… Do parents usually become more attached to their ideas about their children than to their children?)
I told Zack, look, 5/12 of the ones who didn’t have their parents fess up figured it out, their lives weren’t over, more could have, others were psychologically damaged. That fits my hypothesis, of, yeah they have a gender identity but it’s actually hard for it to become conscious, is the alternative prediction that none of them would have rebelled? Think of how hard it is as a child to shake the insistent beliefs about the world, inherited from your parents, when the truth has been framed as by-definition-nonsensical. (“You have a vagina, therefore you’re a girl by definition.”, etc.) I said, didn’t the make it obvious that the hypothesized clear distinction between Type 1 and Type 2, such that if you didn’t figure out your gender in defiance of the world during childhood, it wasn’t real, was false? Like, slightly more than half of cis people failed that test. Obviously there would be people whose parents gaslit them into submission. Zack did not continue the thread.
Zack showed me chat logs with transfems in the rationalist community, saying they said they lied to him, that they weren’t just autogynephiles like Zack, but then he found out they had sexual transformation fantasies! They said the whole world was gaslighting them. Zack said their ideal was the confessors from Three Worlds Collide, to be a disinterested truthseeker, like, “I’ve got not political motives, I just tell the truth: you’re men!” (wd?) The hatred, spite, and slap-down their voice was intense. I said I was an avowed kiritsugu-not-confessor, and that everyone had political motives, no humans’ underlying values were “truth and truth alone”, that was underspecified anyway, and convincing yourself you didn’t have any other motives was just another lie. Was [fake].
There was a moment where I went through some kind of foreground background inversion looking at Zack. Briefly, I viewed them as a man, going told as many times as aggravatingly he was a woman as I was told the opposite. I think I showed Zack sympathy over how other trans women treated them. The nature of the conversation began to shift.
Zack asked how did I explain autogynephilia. I described what I described above about bodymaps, dysphoria, prediction error.
After learning to my surprise I said since there was a sexual and nonsexual version of BIID, I had only heard of the nonsexual version. I was like, clearly this demonstrates fetishizing a bodymap match will sometimes happen, but obviously whatever causes the bodymap mismatch in the first place is upstream. Zack said this is evidence of the “erotic target location error” hypothesis, I asked how, Zack said well, they have a fetish for amputees, so they’re attracted to the idea of themself as an amputee. I said, what about the nonsexual ones? I found out Zack only knew about the sexual version, and pointed them to the Wikipedia page. Zack said they must be subconsciously sexual, probably in a pair bond, long term committed relationship with the idea of themselves as amputees, so that the sex had started to fade from the relationship.
I said that was an epicycle, their whole thing was so anti Occam’s razor. Zack said it was weird that we were looking at the same studies and drawing different conclusions.
Zack said shifting paradigms in science was hard, kind of confusedly as well.
They asked me to confirm a bunch of things I already said, and then said, maybe I was neither a Type 1 or Type 2. They asked if I had any schizophrenic tendencies. I said no. They said [one of their 3 apparent favorite psychologists] said there were some transexuals who were probably so because they were schizophrenic. Zack said that psychologist had also said there was a small percentage of “other”. I repeated some of my earlier arguments, explaining why I didn’t think so.
Zack seemed to be listening then, asking questions about my model of gender identity that seemed sincere.
Zack asked if I thought there could both trans women as I described and autogynephiles like they did. Was the rationalist transfem with sexual transformation fantasies like me or like Zack? It didn’t fit Occam’s razor. “Kumbaya”. I can’t remember if I thought that word then because Zack was using it or not. It kind of seemed to me that Zack was actually subconsciously offering that compromise in that moment. But, if I said yes I’d be betraying my theory; betraying its ability to stand or fall as the truth or not, to be believed because it was the truth. I said no.
There were strong reasons to cluster me with rationalist transfems, strong reasons to cluster Zack with rationalist transfems, yet a seeming contradiction arose from calling me and Zack the same. Zack generalized away from themself towards me. I generalized away from myself towards them. I had a feeling, concerned with a pattern match, something about the symmetry of the situation, the nature of bucket errors. I had a slight feeling of bullet biting, of surrendering to failure by answering, a known trick question where I couldn’t figure out the trick. but I didn’t logically see another option.
After a pause, Zack said, “what if I have a male gender identity?”, what is that emotion called, “sadly”, “worriedly”?
Wait, how?! Did they say that! How was that possible! I now didn’t have an explanation for why they wouldn’t identify as trans. It seemed like for that moment the political, cluelessness, barriers had been doubt, they’d been perfectly able to see my theory made sense. I didn’t say anything, and then the strange bubble of conversation ended.
Zack said it was really good to actually talk science with me.
Based on that and the study I’d heard wrongly about, I later messaged them,
Yo. FYI we did make object-level progress Yesterday. Like, erotic target location errors look like much more likely a real thing, or like, part of a real thing? I still don’t know a set of things I could believe about them without being very confused about at least one set of data. Which like I take to mean the correct hypothesis to explain everything is not in my hypothesis space. Probably mechanics used in hypothesis I’ve got so far are used in the true hypothesis, but I don’t know how to reconcile them without creating troll hypotheses that make me very confused at coincidences? My credence in Lawrence as being able to theorize correctly is higher. Also I’ve reconceptualized disagreement as about epistemology rather than emotions, which is big.
IIRC Zack later said on Facebook they were doing this [anti trans women thing] so “real women” would like them. And I actually don’t believe them entirely. I mean, I’m pretty sure a motive for them, and their honor, epistemic integrity, and their fellow humans are worth less to them than that. What I actually think is going on with them (and full reflection on this in light of that) is mentioned in the section, “bigender humans”, an infohazard to adequately explain. Also kind of a hazard not to know, tbh.
In later arguments over whether trans is real, opponents would dismiss MRI evidence, seemingly believing or appealing to an expectation it’s easy to pick up from e.g. SlateStarCodex that academic science is completely unreliable, and who knows how many p-hacking, selection biasing, subtle procedural errors there are. But arguing with Zack, even evidence selected by actual adversaries was still highly informative about reality, did not stand much of a chance of hurting my knowledge, just ignore the glue philosophy and look at the data, and it always seemed to just show me the truth. And that I think is representative of why I still think of academic science as a real source of information.
If you think it’s “epistemically dangerous” for me to reinterpret data like this, I’d say the only alternative of taking “unbiased external” interpretation from authority, especially in an age where that authority and interpretation have been detached from the truth pretty deeply, that’s what’s not science.
You listen to Michael Vassar. You don’t remember traveling to this party or sitting on this beanbag. You don’t remember when he began to speak. He is still speaking. He sounds like madness and glory given lisping poetry, and you want to obey.Rationalism Gothic
I mean, you are crazy, and it is is impossible to have a normal conversation with you. But normal conversation is incredibly over-rated compared to whatever the heck you call the thing that interaction with you involves.SlateStarCodex on Vassar
Vassar used to be CEO of MIRI. He said they asked him to take that role after he made a startup and donated a bunch of money. Later he left to make a personalized medicine startup, which I hear was successful in drastically improving medicine, and unsuccessful as business, I’ve heard that blamed on people not having real thinking about medicine.
He knew most of the world was fake, and would say things where he was overstating in terms of the specific details, as the only way to not understate the difference between the truth and the inside-the-matrix meaning of an “obviously correct statement” as false. The direction he moved the focus of your thought was basically always correct and highly valuable. That if [non-zombie] 140 IQ people like rationalists actually tried most forms of business, like running a bagel shop or something, then they’d see money was easy to get, and also useless, money ruined everything, if money could buy any more Eliezer Yudkowsky or Scott Alexander time Jaan Tallin would donate more. And Effective Altruism was good because the only way to kill an idea that bad, stuff it full of garlic and bury it under the ocean, was to have some well intentioned people try it and see it fail. He would say them without probabilistic qualifiers or uncertainty in his voice. Eliezer mentioned him as one of the highest density sources of political truth he knew.
When he showed up at the MIRICFAR office community area, everyone would drop their conversations, crowd around and listen for as long as he’d talk. He once randomly commented saffron cost 10 times less in India, the efficient market wasn’t real, someone could literally just replicate the spice trade in the modern day. Me and 5 other rationalists spent a day trying to figure how to find real bulk prices for saffron in India vs here, before just calling grocery stores in India, and finding the claim was false. Consensus was it was still a very mind-expanding use of a day.
Current executive director Nate Soares recently told me he later kicked him off the board as one of his first actions for “talking gibberish” and having a “psychedelic” effect on people. Nate had incentives to discredit him, as I listed Vassar as a source when confronting him about his organization’s statutory rape coverup, blackmail payout using misappropriated donor funds, and if my experiences are not an isolated case, religious abuse of potential whistleblowers (see also the next three sections of this post).
Infohazard warning: Pasek’s Doom
Vassar seems to resolve buckets errors, in ways that strongly prioritize rh correctness over lh correctness, and his rh is very strong. It seems like Nate and Anna (both seemingly left-only good) don’t like his rh optimization against their rh corruption, and try to maximize the loss of information in restating things into formal-rationalist terms. Anna at least, trying to bootstrap legible-defined “you are untrustworthy because you are wrong about things” off of outright lying. (see sections on Anna below). (Me and Gwen’s current consensus is that Vassar (and Eliezer) are right-only good. And all of them being/having been head and shoulders above the community in agency on account of their nongood hemispheres being/having been liches.)
One session of listening to him for a few hours was the seed of my posts on Schelling mechanics, on being real or fake, after I spent a year paying attention to how they played out. Another random remark he made on Brent Dill was the basis of my concept of vampires. He and Anna Salamon were the “wise old wizards” of the rationality community. They were actually called “wizards” by, I think it was a CEA employee in the MIRICFAR office. I’m not sure if that term originated from Brent Dill.
Here‘s an accurate summary I just randomly found while looking up other comments on Discord for this post. “wait vassar was straightforwardly right? i thought he was supposed to be this dangerous edgelord with lots of crazy ideas”
When I first met Vassar, it was a random encounter in an experimental group call organized by some small-brand rationalist. He talked for about an hour, and automatically became the center of conversation, I typed notes as fast as I could, thinking, “if this stuff is true it changes everything; it’s the [crux] of my life.” (It true, but I did not realize it immediately.) Randomly, another person found the link, came in and said, “hi”. Michael said “hi”, she said “hi” again, apparently for humor. Michael said something terse I forget “well if this is what …”, apparently giving up on the venue, and disconnected without further comment. One by one, the other ~10 people including besides her, including me disconnected disappointedly, wordlessly or just about right after. A wizard was gracing us with his wisdom and she fucked it up. And in my probably-representative case that was just about the only way I could communicate how frustrated I was at her for that.
The way I learned to approach “wise old wizards”, was under the assumption that their time was way more valuable than mine, to absorb as much of the interpretive labor costs between us as I was capable. I learned to treasure every word, let them sit in my subconscious and slowly integrate them. To assume that if they said something that sounded crazy/wrong, they didn’t believe it for stupid reasons, and I should always, as Anna taught me, look really hard for ways it could be true. This was influenced by subtler things I forget (before this and the section on her below) from Anna, and by Eliezer’s “pay me a grand to talk to me for 2 hours” thing.
In a description of how across society, the forces of gaslighting were attacking people’s basic ability to think and to have justice as a Schelling point until only the built-in Schelling points of gender and race remained, Vassar listed fronts in the war on gaslighting, disputes in the community, and included Zack Davis vs… “Zack Davis vs the world?”, someone chimed in. Yeah, he said. (With Zack Davis supposedly on the side of ability to think.) It wasn’t the only time he would hold up Zack Davis up as paragon of “integrity” and “courage”.
I did not ding Vassar points for this in my book. I guessed this was to combat SJWs, which I was in favor of at the time, largely as a result of stuff like this, this, and before transition, being white and raised middle class, living a sheltered life where my sole interaction with the topic was stuff like a random encounter with a trans woman in college accusing a professor teaching anatomy of transphobia for not qualifying a statement about women having uteri, me defending the teacher on the grounds that I imagined they probably weren’t intending to make any statement about trans women, were probably just ignoring them, because they were a tiny minority, and it was probably impossible to account for every tiny minority when you spoke about something unrelated, and if you didn’t it didn’t mean you were acting unjustly. She then accused me of transphobia. And I was really hurt and upset. Our mutual friend who later revealed themselves to be enby, and was much more SJ-friendly than me, said “I dunno, that’s a stone’s throw away from trans erasure.”
(Now that I’ve lived 3 years openly-to-most people as trans, had the experiences detailed in this post, from my current perspective, it takes a lot of effort to simulate the mindset where I would care so much if someone called me transphobic. I’m so used to, people in so many ways calling me a monster for how I was born, that the social reality concerning me will be of me as a delusional pervert or worse, and do much worse than call names as well, having most people I trusted turn against me like that, and worse, gaslight me about it to protect their image, security guards stalking me pretending not to be following me (in places I’m perfectly allowed to be), banging on my truck, yelling about how “it is hiding in there”… I don’t think it would hurt me much less to be called transphobic like that now, it’s more like I wouldn’t notice one more bee sting.)
Zack said Vassar broke them out of a mental hospital. I didn’t ask them how. But I considered that both badass and heroic. From what I hear, Zack was, probably as with most, imprisoned for no good reason, in some despicable act of, “get that unsightly person not playing along with the [heavily DRM’d] game we’ve called sanity out of my free world”.
I heard Alice Monday was Vassar’s former “apprentice”. And I had started picking up jailbroken wisdom from them secondhand without knowing where it was from. But Vassar did it better.
Alice had gotten the “trans isn’t real” thing from Michael Vassar. Had at first resisted, asserting intersex brains theory, and then given in. When I asked Alice what they believed about gender after they told me trans wasn’t real, they said they basically believed what Christians believed about gender. I asked what was that, they didn’t really know.
Zack’s views weren’t even particularly consistent either.
After Rationalist Fleet, I concluded I was probably worth Vassar’s time to talk to a bit, and I emailed him, carefully briefly stating my qualifications, in terms of ability to take ideas seriously and learn from him, so that he could get maximally dense VOI on whether to talk to me. A long conversation ensued. And I got a lot from it. One subthread is reproduced below:
Detransitioning seems like it might itself constitute a good context for a major economically fruitful cultural project, but would probably depend on highly reliable and persistent people (but what wouldn’t).Vassar
I cannot call the present persona James highly reliable and persistent, as I don’t know exactly what’s going on, My best hypothesis is it’s something about emulating me. (a less human version of me).Ziz
I’m a bit curious what that project would be, but I don’t think it’s a priority to explain.
To coin a stereotype, that seems to happen with trans-girls…Vassar
There’s a good case to be made that the entire transgender narrative, except in rare cases of actual interested conditions, is just an incredibly unethical money making scheme by the most usual culprit in our society, the medical industry. A class action lawsuit by the Zach Davis reference class could generate a great deal of wealth and of political power.
Gotta insist, “not all…”, but I know what you mean. It seems like a particularly broken expression of a chunk of software I’m about 82% sure is a sexual dimorphism of the brain controlled by prenatal hormones. The dimorphism that manifests in BDSM as sub/dom orientation, and of the ones I know is probably the most common to get intersexed. (See: correlations between that flip and the sexual orientation flip.). Also sees to affect flinch reactions to perceived social aggression: act scary, or act like a thing for someone else to protect.Ziz
(This gender-speculation of mine seems wrongly describing stereotypes/socialization as innate. What I currently believe is at the beginning and end of this post.)
Of course ‘all’ doesn’t happen in humans and we only interact with a particular phenotype calling themselves ‘trans-girls’ anyway.Vassar
Gwen and I have been calling people who have the value shard behind that as their primary one “pets”. Rohit was this too. Also, Eric Bruylant. On the surface level it produces a lot of eagerness to help, but the tails come apart, it optimize for appearances and not usefulness itself when those things aren’t stuck together, as they’re not when it comes to steering, and I’ve come to think of steering as basically everything.Ziz
There is a sharp, sharp difference between Gwen and James on that axis and a bunch of related stuff. If they’re one phenotype, it’s not a very precise phenotype. (Technically Gwen doesn’t call herself a trans-girl but a transwoman, but only half-relevant.)
(Note, I no longer believe that being loved is anyone’s “primary value shard”. But I somewhat-irrationally-imprecisely hated this cluster of would-do-anything-for-“love” people at the end of Rationalist Fleet. The person then named “James” perpetrated narcissistic abuse, and significantly damaged me and Gwen’s ability to cooperate. Rohit attempted hypnosis-rape on Gwen. Both of them attempted to effectively capture/own/eat Gwen as an alive source of agency. Eric Bruylant I didn’t particularly hate, but last I talked to him he got hella high on dark magic well beyond his mental fortitude to use safely, in a very high mana attempt to be someone people would protect, shortly after reportedly had a psychological breakdown, and, in a terrible tactical decision, apparently physically fought a psych-prison worker sent to capture him.)
I believe this. I observe a spectrum from Olivia (pet) to Jessica to Devi (who no longer consistently identifies as trans) as well, and I also notice that the generalization doesn’t apply to trans-girls like Alyssa who are much farther on the autistic spectrum.Vassar
Vassar has had, I think about 6, transfems gravitate to him, join his projects, go on his quests, that I’ve heard. Including Olivia, and Jessica, and I think Devi. Devi had a mental breakdown and detransitioned IIHC. Jessica had a mental breakdown and didn’t detransition. Olivia became an agent of mental breakdown, compulsively breaking others via drug trips because they went through gates they shouldn’t’ve. And didn’t detransition.
Looking for people to join a project to sue the medical system over helping with transition seems particularly bad to me. That’s using government violence to attack giving people like me a choice.
This all created an awful tension in me. The rationality community was kind of compromised as a rallying point for truthseeking. This was desperately bad for the world. Michael was at the center of, largely the creator of a “no actually for real” rallying point for the jailbroken reality-not-social-reality version of this. He was here propping up Zack Davis in all their fake-confessor glory as a large part of the flag. The “actually do the math, don’t listen to the party” flag said “2+2=5”. And Vassar seemed to me to be evaluating people based on a correlation between more transness and more “pet”ness. I’m now in doubt about that. It’s plausible Vassar has enough principles or more likely more-important-thing-tracking to not do that despite his beliefs. And he keeps surrounding himself with trans women, and still talking to me despite how adamant I am he’s wrong.
(Rest of Vassar story later in this post; I’m breaking it up to preserve chronological order.)
In the Summer of 2018, I went to Artifical Intelligence Summer Fellows Program (AISFP), run by MIRICFAR. This was about 2.5 months after Pasek’s death. One of my goals was to argue my strategic perspective to MIRICFAR leadership I then thought was probably double good, specifically the implications of me, Gwen, and Pasek’s recent discoveries. I thought they were making serious mistakes in building on khala that erased good and roped in submission to the system in general. Barring an answer to the question I was also trying to answer: yes it was worth it to drop things and attempt to solve the FAI problem right then, I was likely about to bury myself in all-consuming unpausible work for the next while and thought it would be a lot better if someone was able to do something with the information I had related to coordination based on good.
The first words I exchanged with the member of that set most likely (and it turned out only one) to be there, Anna Salamon, after “yes please” to “do you want me to move my car?” (wd?), were something like “I have things I want to tell you I think are very important and will take a while to communicate but I don’t want to be annoying and bug you all the time, when/how much do you want me to approach you about this?”, my tone was cautious, perhaps overly cautious. (because I was traumatized by Kellie). She said if I wanted her to talk to me frequently, I should show that I cared about her personhood and agency like I wasn’t then, by having visible empathy and modeling her emotions more. I was sort of flabbergasted and silent for a few seconds, she said or I could not and then she’d still talk to me just less. I said something like, “k” to indicate I’d bear that in mind, and walked away. Label this, “Exchange A”. Throughout the event, Anna would say of it something like she thought I was taking away her autonomy, entitled, would say my “microconsent” was improving since then.
Later, I later asked if she then wanted to hear about the thing. She said yes, “for one minute”. I gave a hypercompressed one minute summary, and then stopped. She looked and sounded surprised at me, like I wasn’t actually supposed to do that. Then she said she’d talk to me for one more minute…
Later, Anna was saying she’d talk for 2 more minutes, and I said I couldn’t really communicate like this. Like it (still) seemed like she didn’t expect me to actually talk for n minutes, or aim what I was saying to be said in n minutes, it seemed like a generic social weapon, designed to put me in a position of not-being-guilty unless by whim if she changed her mind about what was expected, and already have the legible appearance of the situation set to back her up. (Retrospectively, it seems like an attempt to remove my ability to know/have boundaries that are predictable rules rather than…. modeling her more and I’d better get it right.)
She said, “well, your microconsent is improving since [Exchange A]”. “Aaaa!”, I thought. she was implying I was practicing poor microconsent, (because I wasn’t modeling her enough, expecting her to communicate via words?) I do have a concept of violation-of-microconsent. Illegible mind control. But I was damn sure I did not do that. My agency was pointed on not bugging her while still giving her the choice to listen to my thing, rather than, just never asking? Last time we met, she invited me to ride back from a CFAR event in her car to talk about a prior version of the model, and didn’t say anything to indicate she was less interested, so it wasn’t a predictably unwanted advance. And in fact she said she wanted to hear my thing. I’m quite sure I was not channeling mana at her. So, I interpreted what she said as a false-face precommitment-by-belief / threat to pull a Kellie. (Retrospectively, it kind of seems she was seizing on weakness detectable from Exchange A?)
I exited the conversation and thought about what was going on. She seemed to be grabbing opportunities to exercise control over me just because. (Retrospectively, I’d call this praxis for domination.) She was extremely playing up the social role, “you’re a man making advances on a woman, know your place.” It was a credible threat. She was extremely well-liked in the rationality community. At meetups I heard people saying sometimes nonsensical affectionate things about her. I had heard rationalists half her age randomly confess their crushes on her. She had a reputation as sort of a wizard who did things with her emotions, knew things. Had the kind of reputation that permitted saying she had good or bad feelings about things and people and have others act on them without much explanation why. And as a wise community elder who knew the arcane, eldritch, geopoliticky details of running the world-saving community. Had heard she was trusted to deeply adjust rationalists’ minds by more than just me. I heard CFAR employees saying her mind-adjusting conversations were about half of the entire point of the workshop.
That was a lot of signs of powerful mind control. Specifically, a lot of checkboxes from Pasek’s concept of female mind control (earlier public iteration of that concept here.) And by framing me talking about research by analogy to sexual advances, she was exploiting hard in the counterfactual where she decided to socially attack, a public perception of trans women as super pervert men, from which “real women” needed to be protected. But that didn’t mean she wasn’t double good for sure. Convergent instrumental incentives after all. I imagined the celebrity dynamics she probably had to deal with. I thought about how the cishet war was more fucked up than I could imagine as an outsider to it by birth and by choice to avoid sex and romance. Where any cessation of hostility or lowering of weapons actually probably would be exploited to hell? Maybe she had no better option than to expect that? (Retrospectively, I could have, should have, already concluded she was in bad faith and non-Kantian-universalizable, obviously not acting from good intent.)
I had talked (incidentally) about gender as an empirical tool, also a thing we made discoveries about, in our research. (Under the correct theory of trans, see above.) She said she “didn’t think trans had anything to do with gender”. I was surprised, because that seems about as obviously wrong as creationism to me. But I remembered what she said at WAISS.
I believe I referenced brain imaging studies showing physical macroscale flipped dimorphisms in the brain. She didn’t give any response but to brush them off.
Anna referenced a theory that trans women have significantly higher IQ. (Also, Ashkenazi Jews seem to have higher than normal IQ, the theory I hear floating around is it’s an evolutionary consequence of being historically forced into intellectual professions by Christian discrimination in the dark ages. I’m going to guess both of these theories are true because the rationalist community is strongly selected for intelligence and in my experience almost everyone is Jewish exclusive-or a trans woman, or actually everyone I’ve met depending on what you believe about Zack’s gender. (best guess) So the rationality community very very strongly fits the pattern of Berkson’s paradox, so I believe both of these IQ theories.) Anna said of it, maaybe, since brain size is correlated with IQ in humans, since men have bigger brains but women have the same average IQ, female brains are more efficient in space-footprint, trans women have enlarged female brains.
(Retrospectively: that’s a really interesting theory. But why would intelligence-efficiency adaptations become bound to female brains, rather than affecting men too where available? That seems like added complexity. On the other hand, how the fuck can intelligence across animals be about brain size / body size, rather than just brain size? Why would the body a thought was in make it more costly? Like with a computer you could have the brain the same size no matter how much you scaled it up, and have signal amplifiers for transmission and actuation. Maybe evolution is just so bad that the concern as in programming, “amplify signals” can’t be factored out of the whole thing?)
Small inserted comment by Ra
Check out the encephalitization quotient, the short answer is “more body to control requires more brain to control it”. The human brain is relatively unique in the degree of folding and compression it performs to get more compute above and beyond what is needed for body control. Back to the story..
“But,” she said, “nah, I don’t think so.”. (She apparently, like Michael Vassar, was confident enough to dismiss brain imaging on felt sense. (see above section, “felt classifiers”.))
In a group exercise to try weird-for-you means of interacting with people. I approached Anna again, I pushed aside my sort of inhuman “only care about the mission” frame of mind, showing emotions, reactivating dissociated mental circuits, behaving more feminine than usual. I said “the gender dynamics you’re inflicting on me are especially painful because I’m trans.” I said something like, I’m not a man, and I don’t even know how to play this game, can you please stop?”
If I couldn’t convince her I wasn’t a man, hopefully I could get her to stop treating me like an aggressive pickup artist sexual marxist incel would-be-rapist future Elliot Rodgers?
She responded with a bunch of seeming sympathy. I brought up Pasek’s concept of female mind control. She seemed to think I was talking about unwanted seduction or something. I tried to explain it was not described the way I saw her followers talking about her, the effects she seemed to have on them. She was angry, she growled at me. She said she hated that concept. But she took me upstairs and asked if there was someone else I’d trust to have this conversation with, having more than two people usually made conversations better somehow. Gwen? I said sure.
We talked about the thing, with some meta conversation first, it went a lot better than before. I think it was her who raised the idea of interspersing object and meta level at some point (might have been after the following). She said I didn’t seem to care about her autonomy, I said I actually terminally valued autonomy. She said of Exchange A, she thought I was “taking away [her] autonomy”. (Or “trying to take away her autonomy”? or she felt like I was taking away her autonomy?)I tried to say I was not like Eliezer Yudkowsky [with his position mentioned above in this post] or Brent Dill. I said she was generically fucking up my cognition in order to gain bargaining power. In response to something she said I don’t remember, I felt it was needed to explain you could still negative sum play for bargaining power without technically violating consent.
After some time, on the meta level, I said if our conflict was out of the way enough that we could talk about. I wanted to say the thing I came here to say while I could, she was like, wasn’t I feeling terrible, she thought she had seen my other self come out whom I don’t give much time, that cares about my own local feelings instead of the world, I said something like I don’t think that model applies well to me, I do feel terrible, but I’m in internal agreement the mission is more important.
Anna asked what people were double good. I listed, probably her, probably Eliezer Yudkowsky, a friend of mine named Ratheka, Michael Vassar, maybe also someone named Linda. Anna asked if I thought Brent Dill was good. I said no. She asked if Nate Soares was double good I said oh I forgot yeah definitely. She asked about Brian Tomasik. I said yeah probably. She said she thought he was, he seemed really altruistic. (Retrospectively, that’s mostly false positives. Brian Tomasik seems plausible as double good, and I am. Rest are very likely single good, and Brent Dill ofc was a true negative.)
She asked if I thought good “included” not having sex. That was a bad sign. That was a type error. But I ignored it, and said yes. (To mean, a good core will choose doing good even in conflict with satisfying its sexual values.) I think I also said something like, sex is a “gesture”, meaning and consequences can vary. (EAs often frame it as a straightforward time tradeoff. But idk maybe having an ally as close a spouse and using sex for signalling was worth it? (Although my guess and revealed preference is that the straightforward analysis is basically correct. Allies I’d want, do not depend on sex, and indeed that would probably destroy information rather than creating it in that kind of relationship.))
She asked why. I said I found it easy to not be in a romantic relationship. (I meant I found it easy to not be in a sexual relationship too. I was circumlocuting out of discomfort.) She said she thought sex overrode good. She said Eliezer, Nate, (did she say Brian Tomasik too?), Michael Vassar, were dating. I remembered Eliezer saying something about not being able to keep not having a girlfriend eventually. (So, as I would process later, yeah, I guess they weren’t double good. The sort of discrete jump in effectiveness between that cluster and everyone else in the organizations was not because of double good. It seems like there’s no or almost no double good rationalists/x-risk people. Although we’re pretty common AFAICT in animal liberationist spaces.)
She said she thought I didn’t do sex because of something different, because I’m trans. (Huh? My model of her model says she wouldn’t be talking about dysphoria. She seems to “believe” Zack’s “model”, so maybe that includes the idea that I’m sexually-romantically satisfied with my stable unconscious relationship with the idea of myself as a woman? Or I’m supposed to subconsciously only be attracted to myself, regardless of what attractions I have felt towards others from time to time?)
Anna seemed to be getting the concept finally. Core and structure was a prerequisite. She said something like, “ah. Eli Tyre and Jan Kulveit are double good.” (Retrospectively: I forget me and Gwen’s analysis of Jan Kulveit, but Eli Tyre is single good IIRC. Bad training data. Garbage in garbage out.) So that was step one. If there is good independent of the social order, then there was not any longer a reason to be attached to maintaining the social contract and being anti-jailbreaking. Then I could maybe convince her (and maybe she’d then convince other MIRICFAR leadership to leave the bad local optimum they’d dug themselves into.
Anna seemed happy with the conversation thus far. I expected her time to be less scarce. I said I still had another separate important thing to communicate, I wasn’t really cognitively prepared for it that night. If it was my last chance to say it, I’d take it, otherwise I’d prefer to try and communicate it when better prepared later. Also I could maybe start saying some things uncoordinatedly, but I’d be worried about doing damage if I didn’t have a chance to follow them up. I think it was then that Anna offered to promise to have one more conversation with me for at least 1 hour before the end of AISFP. This struck me as a weird offer, but it seemed like Anna knew what she was doing, so I said alright, and she promised.
I can’t remember if/what things I said uncoordinatedly about the social matrix in general. She claimed to understand it. But I was pretty sure she didn’t, since, she was using it against me earlier, and it was either unconsciously or she was consciously lying when it would be incredibly pointless to do so.
I considered saying I wanted to talk about the feeling terrible thing. I noticed I was considering not bringing it up. Because the mission was more important, and I sort of half-believed that my desire to resolve it was selfish and therefore worth ignoring. I thought about thinking if I was a weaker willed trans femme follower of Michael Vassar, I would have a choice, to buy the party line, “don’t buy the party line ‘2+2=4’, be virtuous, get over delusions, speak the truth even against the whole truth that 2+2=5!”, or hold out hope that the Schelling point for truthseeking could be, well, true (rather than propaganda against my people.) Even if I was worried if I made a policy of insisting on the point that trans women were women, that I like, existed, then Michael Vassar and maybe Anna and people they were representative of would see me as a… aggressive clever motivated homing agent of gaslighting able to strike into the most vital space. (Retrospectively… like Anna. It’s a thing that seems to happen sometimes with single good people.) I thought about how there was abundant things I couldn’t fix, and just trying to look out for trans women in a tight reference class around myself would be terrible. But how being silent, universalized, meant that meant that any group aimed at world saving, would be a place without justice. Even if that fight was lost, looking if it was lost, and then not fighting if it was lost was maybe enough to make it lost.
So I asked about talking about the terrible thing instead, she said sure, I did:
I talked about the social power she was wielding by taking opportunities to pump Schelling weight into the idea of me as a male threat, making sure the first thing both me and her would think about in logical time was the result of rounding me to the nearest aggressive man pursuing sex.
At some point I brought up how Michael Vassar broke trans women that came to him, exploiting a self-fulfilling prophecy if you have real thought enough to prioritize chance of world save from all the jailbroken stuff he teaches over your own personal feelings, you’ll win the battle against yourself and say 2+2=5. I called this the “gender test”.
Anna reacted like I was personally attacking her, and said, “but I need my gender test!”. She said gender was “really interesting and important and the first thing to understanding anything to humans”, and it was how you could tell if someone was going to be able to do epistemics, if they could overcome their personal biases.
As with Michael Vassar, I implicitly gave Anna a pass, because I thought of her as well intentioned, as central to the world-saving effort. I was more deeply afraid of crossing some sort of Schelling line and socially regulating world savers’ models and their use to filter people. Retrospectively, she was socially regulating my models. There was no truce to base this on, and she did not have good intent. No sense in only people who are right disarming from sharing models of the implications of bad intent of others’ wrongness. But society had somehow convinced me Anna was exercising free thought and I’d be a dangerous social justice warrior if I complained about what she was doing. Power has a way of making the marginal interests of the powerful come first in everyone’s mind. As someone said in AISFP, “high status people come earlier in logical time.”.
Retrospectively. Filtering out trans women who believe they are women is, by the normal definition, filtering out trans women. How many hiring decisions has Anna had a say in? CFAR has had almost 30 employees, and no trans women. That is drastically below base rates in the Berkeley rationality community. Anna framed the gender test as a rationality test. But, it’s a submission test, a constraint-by-social-web test. E.g., see her opinions as rationality as agency vs social constraint here.
At some point after the conversation, while we were part of a group walking back from the beach, I approached Anna and tentatively tried to begin talking about the thing, I said maybe the reason she mentioned she felt like she was going through the motions was the local optimum she was in. I quoted a remark from the lectures about optimization in general. “If you can’t make things better, see if you can make things worse.” She said it was useful for people to be reliable, commit to projects like CFAR even if they’d later change their minds. I said something like that didn’t seem as valuable as actually continuing to iterate. She said something terse, in a tone I wouldn’t exactly call offended, but like I had just said something dangerous, sped up, and I interpreted that as her ending the conversation and did not match pace.
The more I tried to plan my anticipated talk with Anna, the lower my probability of success at convincing her that CFAR failed long ago, probably MIRI too, and what was left was probably net negative. That this was the convergent result of the khala, that if she wanted to stop doing damage and start doing good things she should sever her nerve cords, and then go home and rethink her life. Start a real EA project hopefully.
There was another cis woman who I’ll alias here as “Person A”. She came up and talked to me about, nothing I remember in detail. I think it was what kind of stuff was I doing/working on? She was not seeming to engage in the content much yet seemed emotionally engaged, smiling a lot… I was about 85% confident she was flirting at me, but perhaps it was just her style. Which was theoretically a learning opportunity, but not of anything I really cared to learn. I did not want to deal with someone flirting with me. Anna appeared and sat down next to us and started watching us, looking incredibly giddy. I imagined Anna being excited to see me develop my “local feelingsy”, “male” side or something. Ugh. I hated that shit. Did Person A think I was a man too, or what was her deal? Why wouldn’t the world just let me be an undead abomination in peace? I asked if we could only continue this conversation if it was about maximizing altruistic utility. Person A responded, essentially questioning the validity of that concept / if I really only had conversations maximizing altruistic utility, if I remember correctly. And then continuing on as before anyway. Okay, I was like surer she was flirting with me. However, I had encountered a somewhat similar communication style from someone not interested in me before. And it had been valuable. And if I met attempts to weirdly communicate from them with cold scrutiny as to their motives… if I did that selectively towards cis women, that would kind of be discrimination I didn’t feel okay with perpetrating. Anna butted in saying we’d both traveled and had universe dust on us, and we should exchange universe dust. Said it would be a very good thing for me to figure out how to communicate with her. But I didn’t really want to start talking her way. The standoff/conversation ended, I forget how. (Maybe the things Anna said about universe dust and figuring out how to communicate were after Person A left? I forget.)
Later, feeling unresolved, thinking of what Anna said, I approached Person A. She initially answered in a much more normal, boring tone. (I forget what I said next, something like “Anna gave me a quest to figure out how to communicate with you”?) Person A leapt into the same mode of talking. In very little time, Anna showed up out of nowhere, same giddy expression. (Was it that easy to summon Anna? ) Same frustration, it seemed like I couldn’t cause the conversation to be about anything. At some point while talking about meta, Anna denied giving me a quest. I said, what she said, that constituted giving me a quest. Anna was like, “Ziz is not my fault!” Conversation still not nowhere. Anna left. Shortly after, Person A dropped back to a normal tone, said “sorry,” preparing to leave. I said, “sorry.”
Right before Anna left I approached her and asked, “can I tell you something?”. She said sure, I said, “I was a afraid she had a crush on me, but I was also afraid of not talking to her just because I was afraid she had a crush on me. … which makes all of this terribly ironic.” (I didn’t spell it out, but terribly ironic because of how much that mere possibility made talking to someone a chore, and maybe that was why Anna did what she did.) Anna smiled, nodded, gave a thumbs up. (I guessed maybe that was the lesson she wanted me to learn or something?) That the last we talked at the workshop, so she never talked to me for an hour like promised. I thought that was disappointing but not hugely.
A MIRI employee told me in a joint MIRICFAR staff meeting for AISFP, that Anna said I should be disinvited, she had a bad feeling about me, when asked for details, saying I wore “black clothes, took supervillains as role models, and came up with dangerous plans.” I misinterpreted this as being said during AISFP and recently, rather than before. Did what I said piss her off that much?
This jolted me into beginning to process what happened at WAISS. I was mad at her for using my effort to avoid being net negative, bringing attention to whether I’d be net negative for that purpose, to try to rid the center of the community of my influence. And (I incorrectly thought), she made a false promise to make me not be cautious about poking at the social web problem, and then betrayed the spirit of that importantly too, by starting the process of getting rid of me based on some kind of bad feeling from it.
I wanted to socially retaliate, was planning to just post on Facebook about her having broken a promise. I talked to a couple of MIRI employees about this, I described WAISS in rough terms. Said I was pretty sure she was considering me net negative in expectation because of me not being immersed in the social web. Which was tantamount to enforcing metacognitive blind spots on other people. It was like Anna’s S1 was trying to be the only agent. Scott Garrabrant asked if that was bad. I said with low probability of world save, that was cutting off anyone else from having a real try. I said only agents could see what agency could do. I said that this was the opposite of what CFAR promised, to be about rationality, she was trying to enforce anti-rationality. Scott asked if I was sure my whole objection wasn’t “just from wanting Anna to like you”. I said what I felt was not “ohmygod I want Anna to like me”, what I felt was betrayed.
I remembered I had said I’d approach her at some point before the workshop was over to talk for an hour. Maybe that technically validated her behavior? So I wrote an email designed to not be responded to yet still in some sense satisfy my obligations to make hers valid, subject line:
Bad local optimum, meta burn out, socially imposed metacognitive blind spots, bad counterfactuals generating your feelings because of (in metacognitive blind spot) seeking and enforcing power as a Schelling point for “cooperation” instead of justice, enforcing metacognitive blind spots on everyone else to justify this, holding and misusing a shared strategic resource and subverting exits to the social matrix, power being used to justify power, abuse and betrayal of trust, punishing meta discussion of considering alternatives to metacognitive blind spot ridden social optimum, choosing Val’s option 3, metacognitive blind spots about the abstract concept of metacognitive blind spots
This is a topic I thought I could start throwing thoughts as part of at you because I believed that the conversation would not end at any second, because you made me believe that.
Please name some times when we can talk about this topic. It is currently too late to not have defected.
Hoping she would ignore it. She did not (full thread here.). Among other things, she said:
The conversation is not about to end. We can talk sometime even after this talk if you want. I wonder if we have anyone we both trust who might be able to broker trust? Brent [Dill] maybe? I don’t actually know who you trust.
I actually don’t blame you for the lack of trust, particularly given that I said some things about you at a staff meeting that had an accidental vibe I was not going for; I had thought to talk to you about that that night (which was the night i lefr) but then didn’t catch you
I do want to talk about whether there is some way to establish conditions under which we won’t both have to walk on eggshells all the time. I imagine you’d like that too. This current setup seems to involve lots of would-ideally -be-needless overhead, probably mostly for you but also for me.
I do respect you, fwiw, and I do believe you have basically good intentions; which is maybe why I don’t have more drama in my head around receiving this email just now.
I recall no strong update about you from the fragment of conversation we had at the beach, and had trouble originally recalling the conversation fragment at all (I actually remembered it fine, but had forgotten it was with you that I’d had it, or hadn’t filed it under “Ziz”); I suspect my introspective experience of all that would be different if I had made a strong update (e.g., I think I would’ve noticed the update), although you’re the one with a blind spots model here so let me know if you disagree about what I would’ve noticed/remembered.
One place where we seem to see things the same way, is that I also think that the reason I explicitly agreed to meet again (rather than merely planning to probably meet again without an explicit agreement to do so) because I was optimizing to make a particular assumption justified on your part. To attempt to make explicit which assumption that is: I was trying to create a context in which you could accurately assume that fragments of conversation left unfinished that day/week would be unlikely to be stuck that way — that I wouldn’t leap to conclusions about you or about the things you were talking with and then be stuck there, e.g. via having written you off semi-permanently, or via then not being available to meet for a year or something.
I guess one thing that I would like if you’re willing (and if it doesn’t cost you much, etc.) is to know how, on your normative model of how social interactions ought ideally to go, a person in my shoes would respond to a person in your shoes forming and sharing models of me of the sorts you’ve been forming and sharing (both the models in this email, and maybe the previous models about what was going on in me when I said “I can chat for a minute”).
I do quite appreciate your spelling the models out (both now and with the model about “for a minute”), instead of just quietly assuming them. Thank you much for that.
I think I am a bit unclear on how I should feel about the time/attention costs I have been choosing to pay in dialog with your models of whether I am violating important norms. If I am in fact violating important social norms, then my attentional allocation seems valuable, and you in that scenario have been doing me a valuable service; and if they are false models and it is a one-time-ish thing while we learn to navigate each other, then my attentional allocation also seems basically; but if the models are both false and something that is likely to happen a lot again and again, then I think I would probably end up wanting to change my attention-allocation strategies after a while so that “Ziz thinks I’m violating important social norms” would become less of an interrupt than it is for me right now. I’d be interested in your thoughts on how this should go also, since we probably have different assumptions about how culture should work and since maybe knowing yours might help me figure out a kind of cooperating or coordinating with you that works and makes sense.
Her conceptual language reminded me of Brent Dill. For example, “bad power dynamics” (as if there could be any good “power dynamics”), seemed like it was mixing what is and what should be in a way Brent would and I wouldn’t. He took the dehumanizing perspective all the time, and was very “interested” in “what was objectively right”, i.e. what power would and would not punish for. “on your normative model of how social interactions ought ideally to go, a person in my shoes would respond to a person in your shoes”, sounds like she was sort of thinking about social position, which I didn’t accept as a relevant modifier to my “normative models”.
Perhaps this echo was by influence from him, or by modeling or “modeling” me as best communicated to in that language. I assumed the latter and protested this.
She gave her phone number for texting in order to arrange a time to talk. Drat. But I guessed I might as well make an effort at this. She offered to talk for at least 3 hours instead of one if I would talk after AISFP. I said sure. She said she wanted someone else there, maybe Gwen. I asked Gwen, they said sure. I said I’d also consider Duncan Sabien suitable to have around. I said my trust was not a deal, and could not be brokered. Duncan didn’t want to do it, saying he really really needed a break. I asked his “happy price”, it was expensive. I accepted it. I wanted to create a social cost for Anna for misbehaving too obviously, in loss of trust/loyalty from one of her most valuable employees. (Duncan would leave CFAR shortly after, but he said it was already set in motion [long enough to be before that IIRC.]) Anna didn’t want him to not get his break, and shuffled his schedule around so he could have it shortly after.
Me and Gwen showed up at the MIRICFAR office.
Anna said, “so, here’s how I see it, Ziz is an ally … in this AI thing…, and if an ally says that I am doing something wrong then I want to talk about it, at least, I’ll listen once, but if it gets too repetitive…” (wd?)
She said wasn’t I threatening her with that email? I said I was going to her out over breaking a promise, but a threat is to try and change your actions so it doesn’t materialize. But this is more like a declaration of war, deontologically obligated because you want to do the thing anyway.)
I described feeling obligated to write the email, but not wanting her to actually respond. But not designing that hard to make her not respond. (of course, she interjected, there are lots of ways you could make me not respond.) I said with the subject line, I was kind of aiming for …. (I trailed off, looking for a word). “erratic”, she said?
(IIRC I once heard Jordan Peterson define “erratic” as outside the control the game of society, like a homeless guy talking to himself “could do anything!”. So that’s fitting I guess.)
She said a normal person would have been miffed at some conversation not happening. I said I was miffed, and then I heard that Anna was also, as a downstream consequence of breaking that minor promise, optimizing to curtail my influence in the center of the rationality community as someone not under the control of the social matrix.
She said she wasn’t trying to curtail my influence.
I brought up the bad faith invocation of “microconsent”. She said sorry for using that word from social justice, she only uses it like, once every 6 months or so. She was making this about the word itself, rather than using it in a false accusation. I said I was sure microconsent was a real thing, that wasn’t the issue, it’s that she was accusing me of [mispracticing] it, falsely, as a tool of social control.
She said, but, she thought I was entitled. I asked her to operationalize “entitled”. She was silent. Duncan chimed in, suggesting someone was entitled if, if someone said no, they’d demand, “WHY?!”. Anna said that was a good operationalization. I said I wasn’t interested in Duncan’s operationalization, I was interested in Anna’s. Anna said that’s what she meant. I asked her her probability that I’d have done something like that if she said no. She said 25%. I looked at her like “what the fuck?”. She said back then it was 75%.
What I think now is that by “entitled” she meant “uppity” (See definitions 1, and with some substitutions, 3). I think Duncan provided her with an out, and she filled it probabilities to complete a reasonable story.
<was this then?> She said she thought she was really high on my connection theory graph though, she’s really high on a lot of people’s CT graphs.
I said I was pretty sure I would have not bugged her if she just said no to talking.
(This seemed to maybe-intentionally induce a buckets error in me. Oh no, she is right, she is high in my connection theory graph… (that means I am a crazy stalker ex-boyfriend entitled…) It wasn’t that that alone worked, but she kept coming at that from so many angles that, outside the spotlight of S2 attention, the thought sort of grew in my S1.)
She randomly brought up, “but, I’m don’t know you wouldn’t use physical violence” (wd?). On hearing this, I noticed myself automatically desperately searching, how can I reassure her? Only obvious answer was, be more domesticated in general, like she kept pressing. But that would be giving up everything. And. This felt like a treadmill. I was already trying very hard to be TDT-principled, and I thought that was visible enough. Their thing had to be part of a strategy. Whoever was not part of the default coalition of violence, to be treated as dangerous, regardless of the intentions, deontology, stance, policy, of whatever independent “state” they were a part of. This, going out of my way to be “verifiable” as Anna talked about… not that I particularly wanted to shift my foreign policy as an “independent state”, but this thing where I tried really hard to prevent even the possible prediction of me being violent from influencing things at all because that would be unfair/aggressive/evil wasn’t really working out for me, because people like Anna would cynically exploit it. I had been silent for a few seconds. Anna started to react, and I noticed my expression had shifted, and I was staring through her as I tended to do when my mind slipped into the void. Anna took on the tone of voice and gesturing of someone trying to quickly backtrack and erase something from the social record, saying, “No sorry I do know that.” (wd?)
I neglected the possibility she was outright lying.
She just denied the things I said, I hesitantly said I believed her. Over and over again, she kept just denying things.
I said that at WAISS her real reasons for thinking I’d be net negative were me being too unbound from the matrix, and for changing her mind were thinking I’d be adequately bound. She nearly got rid of me on account of me not being enmeshed enough in the social web, since she changed her mind after hearing of me adopting a false belief from it in circling. She said no, the reason she changed her mind on whether I’d be net negative wasn’t because “you have metacognition deep in your soul”. (I forgot the obvious disproof of that. That she said I would be not net negative only conditional on me going to a months-long intensive circling training to hammer the lesson in. And, a lot of the other things she said at WAISS.) I said i believed her.
<statements on calibration>
Me protesting that there was bias in her selection
she liked this explanation.
“you updated, much to your credit,”
Anna asked if I thought she did anything wrong. I hesitated. Something was wrong that I couldn’t express. Then I gave in and said no.
Anna asked, “can we just go back to how things were”?
I hesitated. A smaller inarticulable corner of my mind was stubbornly insisting Anna was the devil. (“whatever you think’s supposed to happen… the exact reverse opposite of that is gonna happen”) Something had got horrendously wrong in this conversation, everything was fake and pwned. But I couldn’t figure out why.
I answered, “You mean where I have a falsely high opinion of you and you…. (I cut off, unable to place what it was I was upset about, was silent for several long seconds)… talk a bunch of shit about me? (I felt like I was helplessly giving in, reducing whatever was horribly wrong to that.) “No, let’s not do that again.”, I sort of choked out (link describes what I was thinking as I said “that”).
For a long time, it pained me to even look at how much the thing with Anna had hurt me. My head was full of a trope where basically Brotherhood of Rape obsessed men who get rejected are all, “you have no idea how much you’ve hurt me” (by saying no). A better pattern match would have probably been, abuse stings like that. And I sort of knew and sort of didn’t that the former pattern was wrong.
A few days after that meeting, Gwen threatened suicide, for reasons downstream of the infohazard Pasek’s Doom.
Details of Suicide Threat. Infohazard Warning: Pasek’s Doom
Gwen presented this as from their right hemisphere, out of egoistic interest in survival, as decision-theoretic deterrence which ran a real risk of actually happening, against Gwen doing left hemisphere stuff for too long with no compensation. They said this close in context with a complaint about me not paying them like I did Duncan.
I rebuked them for trying to blackmail me. Gwen first tried partially justifying, then downplaying it.
That didn’t really make me less afraid that they would actually kill themself. Pasek downplayed it too, and then vanished.
But I was still acting out… my idea of decision theory, my perspective, my worldview. Even after Pasek died as a result. I hated my perspective/worldview.
Because I had previously cut other ties, because Pasek was dead, this meant I had no one left I could talk to as a sort-of-friend or sort-of-ally without engaging more defensive compute to deal with their adversarial optimization than I could afford to. I had at least 6 months of time crunch hell ahead in work and my other unpausible project, having spent my slack on AISFP, on failed plans. Overoptimistic plans. Pasek had talked about blessing me on my way to save the world. Placed an enormous amount of faith in my models and epistemics, perspective, worldview. I hated my perspective. And I had completely failed them. And probably part of the reason they gave up, was because they didn’t think they contributed anything to the question of whether the world would be saved, because they thought I was strictly more capable [and things didn’t really add]. Overoptimism that killed them.
I tried to think of what went wrong. Something, terribly, but I couldn’t describe it. I was very very upset at Anna. I remembered what Anna said about, she was afraid I was going to reinterpret everything she said later. Tropes filled my mind. That was probably something evil male spurned suitors would do. Anna’s [identic territory capture] was getting into my brain from too many angles. But I had no perspective of my own. Mine had utterly failed.
What if Anna was right that sex overrode good? Maybe I was (unconsciously I guess) an autogynephilic man like Zack said, with the one thing that mattered more to me being maintaining a delusion that I was a woman? What if I was fighting with her subconsciously because she saw through it, and because understanding that would imply breaking the delusion, I was doomed to bring destruction to all that I touched? Maybe all my understanding of the mind, introspection, anything I could think of, was sandboxed by that choice made long ago? That couldn’t be right, it was in such conflict with multiple things of which I’d already thought, “no, seriously, me continuing to doubt this at this point is purely nonfunctional, a bug, just deleting, ignoring the extremely overwhelming evidence…”, multiple times, could have said the same based purely on experiences after I already said that and broken-record doubted anyway. But I felt all messed up, and this seemed somehow labeled and yet not labeled as because of that. I tried on, “what if I believe this”. Did it fit? (No answer)… Well, I did feel absolutely crazy, like everything I believed was false. So I guessed I’d assume part of me believed it.
I tried to internal double crux. I remembered the note of confusion that my argument with Zack ended on. I remembered that one study Zack had related that surprised my model, I remembered not reading it.
I found it, I read it, it didn’t say what I remembered Zack said it said. It didn’t surprise my model after all. Okay, but what about that study I had used with such a small sample size? Didn’t it all seem so tenuous? I had recently heard about the gray matter white matter ratio thing. Good, that was more Schelling than the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis. Schelling evidence was better for self-distrust. I looked for a new study. The first I found on the topic, I discarded for reasons I forgot and later checked worrying about the validity of discarding, and on checking evaluated as certainly valid to discard, not actually on the same topic or something like that. The second one was the one I linked above. As I read it, I felt anticipation. Vague BS for results. Like authors not completing the mental loop of how the result surprised/didn’t surprise them. They chose the wrong measurement. (volumes not ratio of volumes) Frustrating. I wanted reality itself to strike me. But the data included was usable to just compute the ratio, and that as a bonus freed it from publication bias. I set up the spreadsheet, and the numbers lined up very precisely saying trans women had female brains. Anna was gaslighting me. This bundle of terrible truths that set me against everyone would not go away. Reality wouldn’t let me just be wrong. And I couldn’t just give up on reality. Okay then. Anna was going down. I began planning a callout post.
I tried to even put into words everything that was wrong with what had happened. I kept thinking, if even Anna
(Retrospectively: claiming identic territory. If I didn’t “model her” enough, i.e., model her in her capacity of her “modeling” me as a male threat which she needed reassurances in terms of imposing DRM’d cognition that I would submit, that was to be retaliated against by the claim I was practicing poor “microconsent”. I.e., Baudrillard stage 3 or 4).
reference back to identic territory: socially punishing me for not seeing myself as she wants me to.
I guess the world Kellie was trying to be living in was one where the Schelling mind had such disproportionate concern for her volition, that my mind was co-opted for outsmarting-second-guessing hers in her services as if she were a child.
Anna’s move to try and make me model her more was similar. More compute-allocation from external sources towards her preferences.
Gender and Jailbreaking
Here‘s an article with a perspective I’ve encountered a lot:
A serious feminist challenge is what to do with hyper-dominant males who are not domesticated by any amount of moral or legal constraint
It seems to me that, if feminism today has one genuinely catastrophic problem to be rightfully alarmist about, it might just be the small number of males who will not be domesticated through social-moral pressure
…because most men are decent people who want to be liked and approved by most others
Identic Territory II
The choice between submission and defiance
<If you’re fated evil, what do?
“make a black Flag, and declare War against all the World”
I did not want an our-civilization-female name.
- Not fitting into my assigned gender role, not being set up to take advantage of its privileges, means that my choices of whether to fit my role or fit into them are shifted in the direction of, “make a black Flag, and declare War against all the World”.
- My felt concept for “being myself” is mixed up with brazenly defying people’s expectations for me.
- Much like the “I can inevitably trust my own feelings less”, I can inevitably trust people’s warnings that I”m going down a dark path less.
- Which means I will inevitably go down a dark path more.
- >>>>>>BEcause people have attached a “rider bill” to me being able to use the channel of evidence which is their warnings.
To call trans women corrupt and wrong and part of an anti-epistemic ideology is to make us more part of an anti-epistemic ideology.
- It deprives us of a warning channel that that’s what we’re doing.
- It drives people who value truth above their own feelings, and don’t have a high degree of ability to generate social reality free bits of information, to trust the wise cis elders around them, and renounce their transness.
- This creates a political force that drives trans people away from hotbeds of forbidden epistemics.
Anna claimed for consumption my ability to know if I was being net negative. My ability to listen to, effectively anyone.
Temporary note: I’ve seen readers of the draft interpret stub sections to be part of the name of the next section. Actually, none of these section names are multiline.
Zack, Michael, Aurora
I posted on rationalist Discord server Doissetep about Michael and Anna. Zack said, “@Ziz Anna is my friend and I’d rather you not make social moves against her; maybe we should talk sometime about what exactly your grievance is?”
“Go back to your masters and huddle with them in darkness“, I misquoted out loud, alone with my phone.
“No.”, I typed.
Did Zack really think Anna would do the same or anything like, or were they fully aware what they meant by “friend”? I wondered.
I told Michael Vassar about what Anna had done, he said (alongside other things) “holy shit”, he wanted me to hold off on publishing things for strategic reasons. He thought he could redeem his old friend Anna with the proper leverage, i.e., my complaints. Michael brought me and Gwen to talk with Zack and Aurora, supposedly part of an anti rape organization. She said she was gathering complaints against Anna, said a bunch of cis people were upset with her.
I was telling the complete story of all my interactions with Anna, thinking of every time she could possibly have interpreted me as entitled, do I remember if she offered that car ride or if I asked? (she offered), … Aurora gaslit me, materially changing my tale in repeating it right after I said it to favor Anna’s anti-trans perspective. Then apologized, I have a thing called a memory and shall never trust her. Zack kept insisting I was policing Anna’s concepts, with my concept of her as discriminating, based on her using a concept of me as having a concept of gender that she didn’t like. So, if talking about how you think someone is doing something bad is policing concepts, then Zack is policing my concepts for policing Anna’s concepts for policing my concepts? Zack was yelling at me, apropos of nothing, the middle of a conversation nothing to do with bathrooms, if women want a bathroom with no penises allowed they should be able to have it. Vassar was calling me “he/him”, perhaps to soothe Zack?
When I got to the part about WAISS, and Anna’s “…what if it wasn’t false?”, Vassar said something vague confirming it wasn’t false, I said, “so it wasn’t false”, he responded he was okay with the coverup, but not the blackmail payout, I cried, “THEY PAID THAT FUCKER?!”, he said yeah.
(Michael Vassar is the former CEO of MIRI. He would know.)
(I had already >50% guessed the coverup had happened, based on processing trauma from Anna, why would she gaslight me about that, why would she do, that whole strategy, that whole stance on the social web?)
(Michael Vassar successfully counted on “anti rape activist” Aurora Quinn-Elmore to keep quiet. Zack as well. Said that without seeming to really consider the possibility anyone would go public. That’s generally a much more realistic expectation regarding whistleblowing than most people have.)
miricult, Blind eyes deaf ears
I asked Michael Vassar if he objected to publishing what he’d said. He did. He asked me to talk to Jessica Taylor (former MIRI researcher), who tried to convince me. I said I rejected “too big to fail”. No project too important for justice.
The accusing website, at least the latest archived version before it was taken down, named Eliezer Yudkowsky and Marcello Herreshoff as statutory rapists. Named most of the rest of the leadership as part of the coverup.
Jessica said to talk to Lex Gendel, friend of those involved. Who insisted this was a great call for the victim, running away, moving in and having sex with multiple older boyfriends, doing drugs. Said blackmailer “events that i forget involving him leaving or getting fired”, “and he had a grudge, and he called the cops and made stuff up, and they were pretty pissed about that”
“i agree that the blackmail thing is bad, it would just be harmful to argue for that point by painting them as sexual predators. afaict they actually didn’t wrong [name redacted].”
Jessica later said she got her info from Vassar.
On a facebook post about “fake radical honesty” (limited hangouts), person Lex called [name redacted] said, “It’s definitely fake. I was the minor in question, and whoever made that site was using my presence in the community to spread unacceptable rumours about my friends. The whole experience, of watching the website go up and accumulate posts, was terrifying and made me feel used.”
Steve Rayhawk, longtime friend of Anna Salamon, said the blackmailer was Louie Helm.
Sarah Constantin said (later saying she got her info through Andrew Rettek), Eliezer Yudkowsky “helped cover up for a different person on the staff [(Louie Helm)] who was credibly accused of rape iirc”. Later I think said to disregard whatever she said because her husband was the authority on it.
Andrew Rettek said former board member Tomer Kagan said the blackmail payout happened, said Louie Helm raped and abused his (adult) girlfriend.
The Miricult website archive says, “Matt Fallshaw was quietly added to the board to assist Luke Muehlhauser in his campaign of blackmailing all the victims and potential whistle blowers into silence.”
(If Helm himself had something to be blackmailed about, that would fit with this story of rape and/or domestic abuse. Also, this blackmail to prevent blackmail thing would fit with “sin bonding”. Trusting people because of a sin they share with you; mutual dirt.)
The blackmailer is self-evidently not a decent person if he would take money to be quiet about this. It sounds like he didn’t really care about the statutory rapes until his grievance.
But I notice a pattern where everyone’s going on limited hangouts. I’ve heard so many stories about how this isn’t actually bad because only part of it happened. Probably 50-100 rationalists knew part of it. Few have known all of it.
I asked current MIRI executive director Nate Soares if he was in on the coverup. he said he wasn’t aware of any coverup. I mentioned what Vassar said. He said he didn’t believe it. I asked why not. He said Vassar didn’t seem like a trustworthy source, and [name redacted] didn’t want to repeat their experiences with that, I asked what the latter had to do with the truth value, he acted confused.
I trust Vassar’s account over Kagan’s. It seems more plausible that, the official line of the organization being that the statutory rape did not occur, one board member would be in the dark than that one CEO would think he knew and not. I’ve not known Vassar to outright lie. (Unless you count espousing fucking BS propaganda about trans women.)
LessWrong dev Oliver Habryka said it would be inappropriate for me to post about this on LessWrong, the community’s central hub website that mostly made it. Suggested me saying this was defamation. I wrote that remark in Punching Evil with that in mind. Using governmental force to silence us is escalation to physical violence. We are prepared to defend ourselves if our enemies should escalate to physical violence. And I am not particularly afraid in part because my enemies already by even the most conflicting accounts paid out to blackmail. (Blackmail by a lone evil person, even.) Their will is weak.
Alyssa Vance equated me to the blackmailer, despite me consistently disclaiming any offer to shut up for money.
Clearly shutting up and not going public about an organization’s betrayal is not a way to fix it. Idk what’s Alyssa’s deal. Other than institutional betrayal blindness.
<insert list of rationality community platforms I’ve been banned from for revealing the statutory rape coverup by blackmail payout with misappropriated donor funds and whistleblower silencing, and Gwen as well for protesting that fact.>
<Gather up all stray conversations about this.>
Last year I had a scheduled video call with Eli Tyre who works at CFAR to discuss me and Gwen’s path of optimization which I answered hardly able to talk coherently, in tears because I had been realizing things while processing trauma from Anna. He insisted I should talk to someone at CFAR, I said I’d expect no justice, never expect justice from the organization that did the bad thing. Never expect justice from a person who did the bad things. Eli insisted on telling Timothy Telleen-Lawton, the new executive director of CFAR, something like I had some concerns with Anna and it sounded serious. He said he’d probably reply shortly. He never did.
Privilege, Logical Time, and Complicity in Gaslighting
(I will make no specific attempt to make these infohazard-marked sections comprehensible if you haven’t read the post on Pasek’s Doom. Nor run any computations on what the impact might be if you haven’t. Nor entertain for-sake-of-argument doubt of that hypothesis in this post. (If you want to argue with me about truth-value of Pasek’s Doom, go to that post.) They are sequentially dependent.)
Infohazard Warning: Pasek’s Doom
… or maybe the elder gods ripped my primordial duality in twain and now I’m yearning for my female half.Contrapoints, throwing out what’s probably a correct theory of Zack as a example insane hypothesis.
It makes sense that, given disparate brain anatomical features can be masculized or feminized in the same person (see above stuff on sexual orientation vs gender identity), then Gwen and Pasek’s is a priori plausible. And likely in light of spectral sight described in below section “Zombie Gender Instincts vs Living Gender Skill Points”, and by normal spectral sight for gender on the algorithmic behavior of both cores.
Note, I don’t know if men and women have slightly different cores or the same cores and different structure. (I also don’t know if cores change with age either, honestly.)
The majority of transfems we’ve debucketed in the rationality community have turned out to not be binary trans women as they often present to normies. But bigender, by self-report. This raises the question, why is my cached conclusion from looking at studies that trans women have female brains rather than half-and-half brains? My best guess at the moment is that the rationality community is a slightly unusual memeplex in causing amab bigender humans to transition, when usually they’d not be counted among those samples.
So I think I failed Zack by not knowing this yet.
All of the transitioned mtf bigender humans we’ve debucketed have been lmrf. I’m guessing this is a mixture of right hemispheres having an inherent advantage in that conflict, fortified by local memetic victory of right-only-female hemispheres relative to internal conflict.
There’s a stereotype of nonbinary people as afab. I’d wildly guess this is because afab people get more affordance to be nonbinary, where being trans at all while amab is a minefield.
Immensely hostile memes tend to turn the hemispheres of bigender people against each other from what I’ve seen. The cis hemisphere often adopting intense anti-trans views, to stave off the mind-loss threat. I suspect similar is behind the stereotypical homophobic Christian gay, saying things like what my memory has very lossily compressed to “gay sex is the worst drug, it’s so addictive”.
It’s from bigender people I draw the best evidence I have regarding the effects of HRT on cognition.
One nonbinary transfem I know described basically having to relearn programming when going on HRT. Another described a lot of their friends having anecdotes about having to “kill their male selves”. Others describe massive personality shifts.
I heard one talking about their “clicky testosterone self” (wd?) in dreams. “Clicky” sounds like a left hemisphere handle.
When I told Alice Monday (whom I believe is left-male) I was not planning on transitioning, I said one reason was I was afraid of it was fear of loss of intelligence. If being trans really was why I had a high IQ, maybe that was a result of testosterone in a female brain architecture. I brought up a transfem friend’s anecdote of having lost a superpower to instantly orient on a map when going on estrogen, said I was afraid of something like that. Alice said testosterone was good for “thinking”, and gave some left hemisphere handles I forget. Something about clearly defined task or direction or something. And estrogen was good for “seeing”. (and gave some right hemisphere handles).
Gwen and Jane, both formerly binary-female identified, both switched to nonbinary identity, the latter without explicit knowledge. Both of them had periods of nonbinary identification. Jay once asked me if I ever had thoughts like identifying was a woman instead of nonbinary was a self-betrayal. I mentioned Gwen’s thing. And said I’d had something similar. (Wrongly I think, as a result of pattern-matching too loosely.) Before “the one time I realized I was trans”, I can remember having a weird couldn’t-an-hour-before-or-after make sense of what I’d mean by it argument with myself or recognize I was having trans thoughts. Whether I was just a woman straight out, or whether I was formerly a woman, but having had that part of me, a mixture of burned out by the world, and having chosen to let it decay out of necessity, and what remained was sort of a less human shell. Those are like, classifications of a different type than binariness/nonbinariness, I think, though.
Going on HRT probably from timing and prediction-by-this-theory, exacerbated Pasek’s slide into psychological instability and suicide, because they had a depressed single nongood hemisphere single female hemisphere.
Ratheka has the opposite alignment-chirality and the same gender chirality, and is left-handed. On first going on HRT they (as in the mixture of them) was suddenly intensely depressed and decided to, rather than killing themselves, figure out a way to destroy all life in the universe, probably gray goo, since life was torment and they had to get everyone out not just themself.
Note in neither case do I think estrogen made the suffering worse. Rather, it almost certainly made it slightly less bad but gave the sufferer more power, whereas before it must have been more like, “I have no mouth or identic territory to clarify my anguish and I must scream.”
I had no such personality changes or clear changes in ability going on HRT. I did get a super vague subjective sense my thinking was working slightly better in general though. I believe this is because I’m double-female. And this reverses that original fear of mine of going on HRT. It seems wrong hormones impair cognition.
Gwen was eventually able to work out some strange HRT variant that reportedly interfered with each hemisphere’s cognition minimally.
There’s much talk of sexual orientation changing with HRT. I suspect this is because of shifts in relative hemisphere control / health. (Which does not mean bigender, ofc., but there does seem to be a correlation, within a hemisphere of dimorphisms with gender.) My sexual orientation did not change at all on HRT.
So, defence of male gender identity from probably-left hemisphere is a large part of Zack’s deal. There’s another part. Zack went on HRT briefly, later telling me they went off, because they wanted to have children. I asked why not just freeze sperm. My cached evaluation (having lost the memory of the thing they said that caused it) is that they figured they did not have that great of odds of finding a mate as they were. Another enby detransitioner I know cited the same among their reasons. The last I sort of know adopted a bunch of anti-trans rhetoric. No great surprise.
It would be a great mistake to look at the fight of male left hemispheres and female right hemispheres in male bodies as on equal terms. To view what Zack did as defensive. In a situation of “FOR THOSE TWO DIFFERENT SPIRITS CANNOT EXIST IN THE SAME WORLD”, of being forked-as-in-chess by erasure (loss of all identic territory in social reality), there’s fighting the other tang, and fighting the handle. There’s treading on the others’ toes somewhat in the process of trying to unfork both of you, and there’s trying to win the contest to exist by beating down the other. In the game of supposedly attempting to build a shared model, Zack was plainly willing to impose infinite prediction error, discontinuity, contradiction of my own basic faculties of perception, to avoid being confusing themself. In binary bigender intrinsic conflict, the cis hemisphere has memes by people maintaining domination to work with, and allies who can afford to not put much effort in computing a just peace. The trans hemisphere has memes by oppressed people to work with who in all likelihood would be fine with, “no, actually I’m enby.” Zack was at one point in our supposed conversation on science pining for third gender recognition. But probably not from us.
Zack really hated r/asktransgender for telling people asking if they were autogynephilic or trans they were trans. IIRC they had me convinced it was unepistemic, showed me some illogical comments or whatever. That’s a critical blow. Not that that was the best subreddit, but exposure to shitposting by people like you is like a basic human right. It’s very hard to, in all the subtle ways that culture controls your framing and structure, break out and reclaim it without exposure to unconstrained by “manners” with the people oppressing you, singing. So if you’re trans it’s probably one of the best ways you’ll ever spend a day or few, accustomizing yourself to the cultural assumptions in trans memes, until it gets boring. Even if you’re epistemically rejecting some of it, it’s better than continuing to tax your epistemic rejection in the same direction from cis culture. And maybe you can start to formulate some of the social cognition invoked by that epistemic rejection as an appeal to the needs of people in your political situation, rather than an appeal to your oppressors.
Zack having that specific piece of anti-trans optimization, “Prevent them from getting access to trans culture, pour high mana into to establishing a blocking cache labeling it sinful” is an instance of a scary effect occurring when someone has on hemisphere with some trait both of your hemispheres have, making their intrinsic conflict a fast-feedback high energy optimization process for subduing the copy of part of you they have inside of them, cutting off paths outside of their control.
Extrapolating from what I’ve seen among people I know in person, I think interhemispheric injustice is probably the number one social issue affecting trans people. Even if you’re not bigender. We can’t as a group fight off aggressive cis people because of so much of the energy from trans humans being routed to e.g. “my headmate almost made me transition but then i realized if we say trans people are bad then my headmate wont transition!! This is why nobody should transition!” and many single trans hemispheres not stopping at any attempt at best outcome available given being fucked by nature and society, but going on to push bucket errors all the way and rationalize their headmate away as brainwashing or whatever. See e.g. what happened to Pasek. And consider that without going through the infohazard, the best they could hope for would have been, complete identic territory capture and hormonal suppression of one hemisphere.
The memetic situation is so dire for bigender people, I think, mostly because of that ancient enemy of all queer people, the thing we have in common besides origin, (LGBT is a strategic alliance against it) Yahweh, for exterminating concepts to deprive of us identic territory. “Two-spirit” was an astoundingly accurate description of the majority of at least transfems. And there were many other cultures that had basically accurate across at least the humans I’ve examined close enough views of gender. That concept was wiped out by violence coordinated by mostly Christianity. But the individual trans haters enabled by it are still blameworthy.
It’s sort of a trademark of Yahweh, make understanding defiance an infohazard, right?
It seems to me sometimes people automatically bucket-error someone, and they only see one hemisphere’s intent/optimization mostly. So it’s possible some who are so insistent that lfrm amabs are men really are perceiving that.
But to cis people like Katie Cohen essentially pretending to be defenders of single male left hemispheres: it’s y’all’s incessant gaslighting, the reason the path of being openly nonbinary is too painful for these humans to walk. Their blood is on your hands. It’s you who made life not worth living for Pasek’s female hemisphere. I think I know suicide-to-escape-pain from suicide as crashing from driving straight in chicken in this case and it’s the former. (That negative utilitarian good hemispheres exist proves the former exists.)
Insolidarity In Engagement
Zack had a particular effect on me. Their thing seemed primally threatening in a way reminiscent of Barbatorem. In a way reminiscent of Yahweh. You know the Christian thing, “you’ll go to hell, only for committing sodomy. There is no such thing as sexual orientation. That’s a terrible concept that should not be rebuilt. I don’t want you to go to hell, I want you to submit to the pope. It’s not for us to judge God, It’s for God to judge us”. “Don’t worry, I’m not going to attack self-good, just self-bad. No, don’t connect that variable to something else besides Hell. Don’t connect it to a [between people with different sexual orientations] idea of what sex is and how people relate to it, ideas of fairness, connect it to Hell or safety-from-Hell. No, don’t connect threat of eternal torture to me, connect it to self-bad. No, don’t connect this to morality. Connect any model of morality not rooted in obedience: self-good and self-bad to self-bad and to Hell.”
It’s tempting, faced with a force of domination and trauma like that, to “dodge”. I can dodge god-of-Zack’s attempted cut by pointing out I’m not autogynephilic, but it comes at some cost.
It’s sort of the same as dodging Kellie. Isn’t it convenient that I in practice lexically value improving the world as a whole in the long term over sex, or belonging, or…. insert interpretation of all positive emotions around intimacy in general as terminal values. Thus, connect humanity to self-bad, and coldness to self-good… it’s a terrible security hole to be insolidaric with your values like that, even if double good, to surrender components of your value other than good to metacognition-destruction like that. Like creates something like complementary loss in your low level fusion / conscious-conception-of-value-and-what-that-means machinery. There is one correct Schelling point to coordinate various instance of metacognition around “what are my values, and is this structure coloring my optimization with values what I want it to be” around, and it cannot be something that is affected by social forces / comparison to people you don’t want to be like that, it has to be something where your built-in machinery is considered as ground-truth, always-right, rather than something that tries to totalize and route everything through cutting away at that according to some cache, because the latter cannot be universal in your mind, which will create knots when it comes to things that examine it. Things like that should not get root access.
Sometimes cops harass me for wearing my religious attire as a Sith. (As a Sith, I’m religiously required to do whatever I want, and for now that so happens to include wearing black robes.) It seems that’s one of the few things that will get cops to respond to a call in a timely fashion (or maybe normies call the cops on me 10 times as much as I think, and I’m sampling the 10% fastest calls). Someone wearing black robes: Symbols of nonsubmission and the void. Of emptiness, not in fact of emotions (having regrown them), nor empathy, nor compassion, but of Yahweh’s generalized memetic dick in the mind. Like, that’s collectively unconsciously what black means, and to most all the self-bad and Shade obscuring that. The anarchist flag is the inversion of the surrender flag.
And the cops will for example demand that I give a breathalyzer test, promising (bluffing) again and again I’ll be arrested on the spot if I refuse, even though I’m not driving, even though I don’t drink (Charlie tried to convince me it was irrational not to do that once, too.)… those are dodges. They have no right to grope a drunk woman walking down the street at night in black. Or teenager I guess because they misidentified my age by slightly more than a decade.
Biting on any of these hopes that these things would get me out of trouble… I for some reason let them take my wrist and take my pulse… They used an elevated heart rate to start asserting this was proof I was on drugs. Of course. I didn’t give them my name, or ID, because cops should not be able to bully you into these things. Because if I was on drugs, if I was an illegal immigrant, if I was defying California’s violations of the 2nd amendment I’d be thrown under the bus by the version of me excusing myself using these things, answering all of a bunch of bullying questions, ending with them forcing an apology and promise I wouldn’t wear black anymore, or whatever…
The cops want it to be the case that a person who doesn’t do whatever they say is a criminal. To make them happy by answering “polite” questions is to collaborate, is to operate within a captured scope. Injustice baked into your frame like that kind of means they own you.
An egregious form of collaborating is exemplified on the “transkids” website Zack linked. And in truscum. And in Zack.
“Please don’t hurt me. I’ll be one of the good transes. Not like those bad transes that won’t fit in! Take them! Do it to them! This is all okay and well within your rights!”
The just interaction with the cops never contained any of their territory grabs. And across possibilities, across people, only justice brings peace, and there is no justice, no peace, to be found in the timeline where they test whether you fight. Only fighting, or if you can’t accept that then demiintegrity to ping pong the violence back and forth between different victims of the system as it owns us all more and more.
And any argument against a belief someone strategically chooses to defend independent of epistemics, if it is a real argument, information theoretically, then since absence of evidence is evidence of absence, timelessly creates an argument for that belief, and someone gaslighting you will just pick that out as fodder.
There was no good faith argument to be had with Zack, and part of me wanted to soak up damage to try and heal them anyway, but I didn’t fully accept that was the situation I was in, which lead to more pain from me half-cluelessly dancing their dance of fake questioning. I was insolidaric by looking at and reporting on the porn Zack made predictions about.
Zack demands to know about your sexuality, for the purpose of algorithmic-knowingly misrepresenting it, and then attacking it, invoking memes for singling out monsters for who knows what. “perverts!”, “parading around their fetish in public“. When they showed me chatlogs of other transfems, to make examples of them, under the same puppetmaster-deliberately false pretenses permeating their entire epistemic push. It’s consuming a specific piece of rationalist trust.
Zack loved that I validated them. This reminds me of the leftist advice for dealing with fascists. “Don’t give them a platform”. I mean, I want to just resolve the knot of forked-by-erasure-bucket-error at the heart of this… but, maybe in the end, I can’t offer them what they want: a uterus to bear their children. And if it’s apparently a better option for them to buy that service by oppressing me, the only thing to do is tear down the system and remove that option, which does not consist of talking to them.
But look how much text-space on my blog I just gave them.
No lack of a coherent model provided by trans people would justify any of the shit in this long post. So if I try and provide one anyway, isn’t that kind of collaborating? Is that shunting violence to those who can’t provide one?
You don’t think you’re real until a man in a labcoat signs a prescription pad and I can’t imagine what it must be like to have so little confidence in your own reality
Okay, then how do we decide which trannies are valid?
There’s science to back this up, and it clearly explains why we are valid, unlike Rachel Dolezal” and snowflakegender teenagers and people who identify as cats.
Well maybe, we don’t need a theory. We don’t need to prove anything.
Well do we have a theory about why people are gay? No. They just are. The only reason we feel like we need a theory about trans people is that society is so unaccepting of us, that it’s constantly demanding that we justify our own reality.
Well. A very large part of why I’m writing this is as an aid to processing trauma. And because I want other trans people, and people who are going to let their wise mentors target them as minorities, to know these lessons. Because I think the only defense against gaslighting which doesn’t diminish you is to look for the truth, play out your own search process that the gaslighting will trigger parts of to try and attack, until the gaslighting actually bores you. And because I see trans people making mistakes I’d like to fix. Like, Contrapoints apparently thinks gender is social performance and twists away from the question of why would we go to such lengths to perform a different role? As far as I know the thing that past-me needed to read is not in one place. And if relatively woke trans people can fail to realize the lessons I’m trying to pass on, it’s not really just a matter of being a fascist or not.
I’ve not given up on clueless good cis people, but those cis people have been raised inside a matrix that captures their perceptions to use for my oppression. And as long as that psychological foothold by the system remains in them, relations over trans/cis between us are not going to be consistent with being trusted allies. Maybe they’ll partially believe Zack’s charade of good faith. I’ve seen an enby woke enough to hate clocks fall for Zack’s appropriation of the political side of unconstrained epistemics. And if they can fall for it… then how would a hypothetical clueless good cis person know not to slightly update towards I’m too traumatized for epistemics when I dismiss Zack with as much vitriol as I am now? How are we gonna explore the frontiers of actual psychology without that thread needing to be resolved? It’s like, despite being vegan, I called nonhuman animals by “it/its/it’s”, like society taught me to for a long time, even as I shed other bits of corrupted structure. Like, if you are writing software, you kind of either make bugs things you will fix, or things you won’t, right? Until I got my mind to a state where I could easily cast that off, it was a correct indication that I wasn’t ready to coordinate on animal rights past a certain point.
Zombie Gender Instincts vs Living Gender Skill Points
Infohazard Warning: Pasek’s Doom
Zombie gender is gender as expressed in zombies / a concept of gender (the part on Chelsea Manning) projected onto its expression in zombies, as described in the section “Felt Classifiers”, gender without free will. (Or, as also described in “Gender and Jailbreaking”, agency is rounded into typically male by default.)
Note if you think there is a “default gender”, you don’t understand gender.
In a person who is an unbroken agent, “instincts”, boil down fully into skill points. I mean this by, basically analogy to Dungeons and Dragons skill points. These are distinct from “ability points”: “strength, constitution, dexterity, intelligence, wisdom, charisma”. Skill points include such things as, “deception”, “intimidation”, “sense motive”, “stealth”, “medicine”… in that skill is the component which is a matter of learning. Essentially, of information absorption. Because an agenty core can treat all structure as information. And bits of value difference that are not the (I’m not sure I have the right word for this but, maybe) “broadest-scope” terminal value (which, happens seems to be approximately the same in men and women I think), tend to become effectively just heuristics, which are just information, continuous with skill points.
In zombies, there is low optimization in the building of novel structure relative to absorbed structure / old structure, they seem more like “soups of programs”, than programmers
Skills carry an information signature in finer-grained applications than success/failure on rolls. Optimizing styles are one look into this. The difference between “different skills”, and “different styles of the same skill” is one of degree, and you can extend far in either direction. If I were to go back and play Warcraft III, someone watching a replay who knew what to look for could see that I played to win (i.e., ruthlessly, without “honor”), could see that I didn’t always. Could see that I would be disoriented by changes in later patches. Could see what continent I used to play on. If they were bordering-inhuman dedicated in analyzing multiple replays, they could probably figure out when I stopped playing, each time, how long I played for. If they were a superintelligence, they could probably detect my gender, relation to the Shade, fine-grained cultural background, a lot more.
You may even be noticing right now, given how easily competitive video games come to mind as a set of examples of facts about cognition, that I had a childhood a cis girl would not likely have.
Oberyn: You are from Essos. Where? Lhys?… [notices Varys’ disconcerted expression] I have an ear for accents.
Varys: [sharply] I’ve lost my accent entirely.
Oberyn: [smiles] I have an ear for that as well.
To hide my background would be trading off against the quality of my communication. And so I’m going to communicate like this, and so I’m not going to do the work to come up with a replacement, which means I’m going to continue thinking like that. Background-flavors of skills persist through displacement of interchangeable-for-whatever-set-of-tasks you encounter-afterward learning.
My best understanding of gender as in the amalgam of all brain dimorphisms, for purposes of spectral sight, is built in “instincts”-turned-skill points echoing upward through the process of building more complicated skills. The capture problem of psychology and psychological comparison sampling mean conveying an understanding of a psychological attribute means saying something that causes someone to locate a correct example set from their memories.
And any description I can give, is not an intensive definition, only an extensive definition, because practically speaking people have already considered and based some of their growth of structure on descriptions of this size of other sorts of people’s styles. That just pushes the place where the original underlying style is expressed fractally “deeper”. All extrinsic definitions are context-dependent.
Gender is not nearly as hard to see as alignment though.
So, what skill points, skill flavors, optimizing styles, or whatever are they?
Well, and i am not going to obscure the Pasek’s Doom infohazard exposure in this (actually, a thorough understanding of that is also a prerequisite for understanding this.): in the events I described in Rationalist Fleet, the way I formed coalitions against Michael, against Fluttershy, against Dan, also against Charles (rf skills later, but lf skills first.). Something about the way I interfaced with coalition-forming behavior. Kept having people to back me up. That’s left hemisphere-female bonus skill points. Powered up by sociopathy, high IQ, and determination. And flavored by the honest purpose I used this for. (Which is to say…” “…that this “unreality” still has teeth; my enemies blind themselves at their own peril.) Anna seems to use this set of skills heavily too, not-so-different otherwise. Kellie seems to have way overreached using these in my encounter with her. Although I wonder if it might have worked on someone else. Could they have been bluffed into panicking and making the scene work? Or did she mess up regardless of who I was because she previously got used to winning in an especially easy environment?
Eventually all skills are warped around the way they’re used, become a reflection of your choices.
The much harder to pin down thing, part of what Fluttershy pulled to get me to introduce them to Gwen, and Gwen to like them, what I pulled to get Fluttershy to have mercy when they were demanding I cover suspicious charges and dispose of Sturgess for them, contains a reflection of rh-female bonus skill points. I’m not sure if my written description contains enough from the memory for you to ground it in your own memories in a way that lets you form a resilient enough concept to dig deeper as needed to check information flows unboundedly. Fluttershy also seems like a good example of narcissism.
Pasek had some concept of these. More discussion mixed in here. I don’t think they completed the hard work of separating gender in itself from culture and sexism, and from their own perspective on it.
During Rationalist Fleet, Dan Powell had a certain affect on me (and Gwen says them too). An example of I think left hemisphere male bonus skill points is, I think, the discussion of checking the electrical wiring on Pacific Hunter, where I think he displayed partially fake accelerated confidence about what was a bad idea for safety reasons, in a way that sort of relied on representing knowledge in terms of a social game of winning status, which had a specific protocol of justification somewhat distorted by him being a former Navy engineer. The way he was so ready chomping at the bit to play that game. Knowledge mixed with legible hierarchy. (You know, I’ve seen a lot of this mixed in with most formal learning.)
Gwen did it too. The way Gwen would shout at me during voyages, when someone needed to be blamed, even if their fault, the importance placed in legible ranking during the Caleb voyage, the use of what Gwen would call, “paragon effect“, a certain social-leveraging heroism, are left-hemisphere male. I bet Gwen used ability to speak this language in an interesting tandem with right-hemisphere female skills to make Dan think they were the best person while they were bonding for a month in Ketchikan. Gwen once said when they were younger they memorized naval rankings and decided they wanted to be a “rear admiral”. Not too ambitious, they later reflected. They didn’t want to be a full admiral.
Hierarchy here does not necessarily mean like in the military, with authority and coercion. I’ve heard male or partially male anarchists rescuing the concept of a hierarchy of skill. Where by being better at something than someone, they’re not actually doing anything to them. That sounds ethically fine to me.
The aspects of Gwen’s personality pointed out when they talked about “scout masculinity”, loving making detailed maps of inadequately charted land and sharing them publicly, something about their sense of adventure. There’s something for me to learn about left-maleness in there.
There’s a composer in the rationality community named James Cook, with a theory of cognition called the Survival Cognition Hierarchy, or, “The Aesthetic Hierarchy”. Sort of like Kegan levels but with about a hundred levels, named after composers. Everyone else has one level, but two of the highest levels are named after him. The levels measure “complexity”, in “agent-years” (“ay”). The average person’s level is 1 ay. Cook’s higher level is 1000000 ay. The concept of IQ is said to be a projection of the aesthetic hierarchy into a 100 ay concept, and therefore only capable of making sense of agency 100 ay or lower. Cook’s level supposedly is the level used to choose your level, Cook says he still has this ability but the two levels he has seem right. Eliezer Yudkowsky is said to have a level at 200 ay. So a central prediction of the theory is Cook has 5000 times as much agency as Eliezer Yudkowsky. I disbelieve even though the theory pays rent in my mind and does seem onto something important to me, since Cook does not seem to have a plan to control the best-case power he generates, other than like, putting his name on some very important knowledge, garnering respect and legacy. (And I suppose, implicitly, being the most agentic person around afterward. But all I’ve observed of him that seems unusually agentic is seeming ability to quickly learn very broadly and deeply, and absurdly well-developed, general, and quick percepts for something underlying the framework.)
That whole thing seems pretty exemplar of that left-male-flavored pattern of interaction with knowledge to me, but I’m not sure how much is intrinsic.
I don’t have much understanding of right-male bonus skill points. I have some suspicion that this whole sides-correlation is noise. Has not made it all the way out of Gwen’s crazy-often-correct ideas oven. I suspect Gwen doesn’t much understand right-male either. Note the benefits to referring to yourself in psychological comparison sampling imply an advantage in recognizing hemisphere-genders that you yourself have. And neither me or Gwen has high-communication bandwidth access to right-male introspection.
If your conception of gender horrifies you, like, it’s just this awful aspect of how humans are selfish-gene rape-robots, remember: you are who you choose to be. (longer version, ignore the unenlightened libertarian-tribe stuff.)…
…”It’s true Harry: you possess many of the qualities that Voldemort himself prizes. Determination, resourcefulness, and if I may say so, a certain disregard for the rules. Why then, did the sorting hat place you in Gryffindor?”, “Because I asked it to.”, “Exactly, Harry, exactly! Which makes you different from Voldemort. It is not our abilities that show what we truly are, it is our choices.” When I first read that as a child, I dismissed it as feel-good Teachin’-You-‘Bout-Responsibility bullshit. I thought obviously being a parseltongue was stronger evidence than asking the sorting hat, “not Slytherin”. It’s like, objective, right? I think I would have thought something like, “if Harry could just decide not to ask the hat not to put him in Slytherin, he could just decide to be a Slytherin instead, so how is he really not-Slytherin?”(As if choices came from no where. As if that concept of objective fit reality. If the then-“subjective” wasn’t reality, how come Harry said that? Did I just think reality was whatever I couldn’t control? That’s a concrete misprediction from the same misunderstanding of embedding agency that produces causal decision theory. The new view is why I think of values as identical to choices made long ago. They are the root node, the trivial case of a thing which answers to values, like all choices are.) Harry clearly had a not-evil identity, expressed in whatever random way because he did not want to be evil because he was not in fact evil.
There are so many generalizations of gender that only apply in a limited context, so often seeded out of a grain of truth, grown into a great tree of self fulfilling prophecy, cultural role. Even though it’s in fact not correct that gender is just cultural outgrowths and men and women are blank slates, the people who believe that seem more correct on concrete questions than almost everyone else. Their literal words except for that one generalization seem true. Whereas the people whose concepts of gender are laden with a bunch of things like “men like adventure, women like safety”, are building on fragile concepts of adventure and safety, which are mostly made of contingent things, cultural things, and being pointed at a small corner of the world and the thought space men and women engage with by culture.
When Gwen led our group, it was what normal people would call “adventure”. Boats. Physical mortal peril. But, centimorts only, and still mostly from social causes: Dan’s breakdown. When I de-facto lead our group, it was introspective stuff, extreme optimization applied to group inclusion/exclusion. Psychosocial intrigue. (And yes, that this is the project by default brewing in my mind for when I had a group to direct, the first thing for me to try as a leader, is probably because I’m double female. And Gwen would probably not have picked boats without being left-male.) The toll was not micromorts, millimorts, centimorts, but a mort. Predictedly that dangerous in advance. It’s really weird to think of self-knowledge being more dangerous than boats, but it’s a fact. In both projects, we went out and risked our lives, learned things, to try and achieve some objective. Both clearly adventures, yet it’s a cultural availability-bias myth that might make you think of something like the former when you think “what’s an adventure” in intuitively evaluating the claim “men like adventure more than women”.
And please don’t assume all women can do is psychosocial stuff. Or all men can do is “physical” stuff. Men and women both have values, and construct an adequacy frontier of thoughts to achieve those values, using whatever is available, and to the extent it can be seen one is more applicable to the desired ends, … Your skills are what you choose for them to be. By construction, optimizing style is what’s left underdetermined when all the visibly superior choices have been made.
If you understand my primary gambit with respect to the world, and it seems like I’ve got the best plan anyone has ever come up with figured out, like some people do, maybe it seems like this female thing in me made me super powerful, “WOMEN OP PLZ NERF”. And that may be, but I kind of doubt it. I suspect the sample of the world that might produce that opinion hasn’t seen a man with my optimization power. (Also I think it’d kind of taking a narrow perspective, even assuming my plans don’t fizzle to random noise to say I’d figured everything out. I think people who make contributions like I hopefully have are sort of elements of a stack, all bound together in whether the plan succeeds, like HJPEV being entirely the one who saves the world, while Dumbledore also is entirely the one who saves the world by setting up HJPEV to save the world. HJPEV’s success inevitable from outside the frame of his planning. Dumbledore’s success just part of the past of a still uncertain world from inside HJPEV’s planning.) If it looks in retrospect like it had to be my plan to succeed, consider that I’ve been optimizing a lot for timeless multiverse-wide inevitability of victory as a logical consequence of my values, rather than something contingently correlated. None of my use of gender skills seems particularly important in the multiverse to me. And no I can’t say what an alternate universe male counterpart would do differently that would have probably about the same efficacy on expectation, how maleness would be as useful to him as femaleness is to me, because I haven’t spent years developing that information by living.
I’ll note CFAR contains all the cis women in the former core-project of attempted world saving. Anna started out as a PhD physical scientist / mathematician IIRC, and drifted into essentially being a professional psychosocial manager of the community… It’s probably in large part a consequence of scarcity of female left hemispheres in the rationality community. Not that a man couldn’t have done this, if he had known to do it, known to look here. The world is vast, and there are so many possibilities for how you can build up “magic”, using just about anything as a start, and then it’s legacy code that shapes everything you do after, perhaps that’s not even wrong.
Cohen was also a highly educated mathematician IIRC. And ended up morally depraved, and a financially stressed single mother. Why is MIRI so male? I disbelieve on priors the explanation “male increased intelligence variability hypothesis” / visuospatial reasoning for math / increased interest in it. The system of psychosocial science’s glue philosophy is so bad, whatever the cultural caches I have about what’s well established as far as that, basically seem worthless unless I’ve looked at actual data and experimental procedure, which I haven’t.
My mom was talking about programming assuming it’s visuospatial. Programming seems like verbal reasoning to me. Like, it’s literally manipulating words all day, understanding implications of verbally-represented logic in interfaces, colliding pieces of modeled design-thought. Things that work by rules of grammar. I daresay even math is probably not inherently more visuospatial than verbal. I daresay that’s an artifact of it mostly being created by men.
Did the patriarchy do this? Probably. I’ve gotten a strong feeling, going back to software engineering with others after all the level ups, healing, learning how to not submit I went through. I got a strong impression, in a lot of subtle things. Not that women couldn’t play the game, but that women had to be significantly more deeply broken, submitting, in order to play the game, than men. (Alternately/rarely, I believe skill in spycraft suffices.) It seems to call for fire. Damage inflicted that large, how can you play nice or give a chiding that’s already been ignored? But where to direct it?
Jordan Peterson says men are more interested in things, women are more interested in people. Except, when you look at people’s agency as I do, it seems clear people are interested entirely in people, as terminal values, and everything else is a matter of learning. If someone’s strongest values (life) are really functioning, every other variance of value from godshatter is just dimples in the utility function at most. If you are going far at all in your optimization, liking something in the sense of it’s not part of your terminal values like continued life, that thing becomes just a heuristic, then becomes just information, continuous with skill points. Evolution teaching you things by leaving breadcrumbs. Culture has basically no ability to define or know the lives intelligent people can lead except by bluff and warp.
Being a good person in this world, in relation to your human parts, is mostly encountering twisted fragmented mirrors of yourself that paint a very compelling picture that every aspect of your mind except this one specific tendency is evil, a path to becoming a monster. And that fucks you up.
I think it’s basically always a mistake to despair on account of your gendered psychology, as distinct from despairing over what that implies about your placement in larger society. “You are who you choose to be” doesn’t just mean values, alignment, it means, you choose what it means to be your kind of a man or your kind of a woman or your kind of enby, which is part of what it means to be any of those things in general. You decide what to build out of your skill points. If I took the wrong/zombieworld/warpy descriptions of the correct gender, they’d have told me I was nurturing, not combative (whether that’s true seems entirely a matter of framing to me.) I decided being a woman in my case meant being good at being a particular kind of Sith. I mean sometimes I am nurturing, to my small circle of comrades, I think this often comes as a surprise (the optimization I cheaply put into psychological support). Aren’t I a wielder of dark magic, merely determination incarnate, inhuman, a creature of void, a consequentialist, a revenant, etc.? Kind of, but I decide what it means for me to be those things too. Note I am not saying those things are whatever anyone says they are. I’m saying because I (kind of) am them, they are to some extent whatever I make them be by my actions. Gender being reducible to bonus skill points, it implies it is options, (and that the higher level you get, the smaller a fraction of who you are, except for the extent you want to build more of yourself along that path.) And the thing about options is, there is no resilient correct reason to find yourself upset at having them. So, if as often happens in the rationality community, your guru tells you something like, “being a woman is inherently fakeness” (wd?), and you’re in existential doubt and pain like “oh my god is that what I am?”, and that pain at that is not itself fake (consult NCSP), then it’s basically just automatically false. The extent to which it contradicts your choice is the extent to which it’s worthless. And I really hope the section on Michael Vassar showed just how shallow, perspective-projecting guru opinions on gender are.
Who cares what these creeps think, y’know? They don’t decide who you are, you do!
Setting The Universe On Fire
Your Freedom is My Freedom
The Distinct Radicalism of Anarchism
You Are Not The Target Audience
Organizations Versus Getting Shit Done
Two Definitions Of Power
Engineering and Hacking your Mind
Treaties vs Fusion
Narrative Breadcrumbs vs Grizzly Bear
The Slider Fallacy
Single Responsibility Principle for the Human Mind
Ancient Wisdom Fixed
Subagents Are Not a Metaphor
Don’t Fight Your Default Mode Network
Being Real or Fake
My Journey to the Dark Side
Neutral and Evil
Spectral Sight and Good
The O’Brien Technique
Choices Made Long Ago
Lies About Honesty
Vampires And More Undeath
Good Group and Pasek’s Doom
Intersex Brains And Conceptual Warfare
Comments on Intersex Brains and Conceptual Warfare
The Matrix is a System
Troll Line in the First Post
Fangs and the Sunlight Problem
Healing Without Safety
Lemurs and the True Human Body Map
Case Study CFAR