sexism of anti gay marriage activism

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Re: sexism of anti gay marriage activism

Postby Azrael » Tue Nov 20, 2012 6:34 pm UTC

HungryHobo wrote:
Azrael wrote:If it were scientific theory, the one Priest who isn't an abuser would prove the theory wrong and it would be discarded.


* 2 priests

the standard deviation on a single event is 1.

that also assumes that the stereotype is that all priests are abusers rather than that lots of priests are abusers.

At which point it would be the actual statistics demonstrating that Priests abuse at a lower rate than the general population that would prove the "lots" stereotype false -- or at least spurious, as "lots" more men abuse than Priests.

Regardless, the difference between stereotype and theory is that you can identify valid exceptions to the stereotype. If you provide valid exceptions to a hypothesis, it never makes it to theory; if you disprove the theory it is discarded.

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Re: sexism of anti gay marriage activism

Postby The Great Hippo » Tue Nov 20, 2012 6:41 pm UTC

HungryHobo wrote:Your definition of true seems to be a very odd and meaningless one: false but knowing it's false.
A better wording would be 'Truth must acknowledge its incompleteness to be true'. In other words, not 'false', but 'incomplete'.

Stereotypes do not acknowledge their incompleteness; if they did, they probably wouldn't be stereotypes. They certainly would stop being useful.

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Re: sexism of anti gay marriage activism

Postby HungryHobo » Tue Nov 20, 2012 6:59 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote: A better wording would be 'Truth must acknowledge its incompleteness to be true'.

Ah I see.
I'm using boolean "true".
You're using philosopher "true".
I prefer "truth" for the latter.

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Re: sexism of anti gay marriage activism

Postby The Great Hippo » Tue Nov 20, 2012 7:18 pm UTC

Right, and the thing you start to notice about those statements: They're pretty much worthless. 'Homophobic people are idiots--except, of course, for those who are not." What useful information does that convey beyond that some unknown quantity of Group A has property B? Particularly when the statement implicitly allows for that unknown quantity to be zero? It's worse than a non-statement--because at least non-statements don't run the risk of creating completely false knowledge!

And that's inherently what stereotypes are: Statements that, upon being made 'true' (see: Complete), become worthless.

And I don't put a lot of value into worthless things.

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Re: sexism of anti gay marriage activism

Postby Enuja » Tue Nov 20, 2012 9:17 pm UTC

A stereotype is just a common belief or expectation about the characteristics of members of a group. Many (but not all) stereotypes are formed around a kernel of truth. But all stereotypes are proxy variables, and if you have access to the actual data you're interested in that's always better to use that than to use proxy variable. One stereotype is that recent immigrants are hard workers. But if you're looking for hard workers, it makes more sense to making hiring and retention decisions on actual data about how hard a worker a given person is, instead of simply hiring and retaining only recent immigrants, because there are many lazy recent immigrants and hard working native born folks. In this case, the variable of interest is how hard you work, and the proxy variable is recent immigration.

In the case of gender and parenting, stereotypes suck. We want kids to have good parents, and preventing people from being parents just because of gender stereotypes is stupid. If we think that children do well with very different parents (although I've only heard this hypothesis about gender, not about any other characteristic of parents), then we might consider trying to make very different people raise children together. While, in our society, on average, men and women behave differently, any pair of people, no matter their gender, can be very simliar or very different. Same or different gender is very poor proxy variable for personality difference. If we think that children do well with role models they identify with, we should try to find them role models they identify with. On the individual level, gender is a very poor proxy variable for how much you will identify with someone else.

Yes, in our society, gender is very important. But so are a bunch of other things, and in an individual parenting situation, it's the individuals variables that matter, not the group variables.

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Re: sexism of anti gay marriage activism

Postby Ormurinn » Wed Nov 21, 2012 8:04 am UTC

Enuja wrote: On the individual level, gender is a very poor proxy variable for how much you will identify with someone else.


Then why are there such concepts as woman-only safespaces, girls nights' out, mannerbunde etc?
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Re: sexism of anti gay marriage activism

Postby The Great Hippo » Wed Nov 21, 2012 8:06 am UTC

Ormurinn wrote:Then why are there such concepts as woman-only safespaces, girls nights' out, mannerbunde etc?
Because a funny thing happens when you treat people based on stereotypes: They respond to those stereotypes.

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Re: sexism of anti gay marriage activism

Postby Ormurinn » Wed Nov 21, 2012 9:02 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
Ormurinn wrote:Then why are there such concepts as woman-only safespaces, girls nights' out, mannerbunde etc?
Because a funny thing happens when you treat people based on stereotypes: They respond to those stereotypes.


Thats a chicken-or-egg argument - "what came first, differences in gender or a society that acknowledges difference based on gender."
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Re: sexism of anti gay marriage activism

Postby Enuja » Wed Nov 21, 2012 2:44 pm UTC

I have never denied or minimized how important gender is in our society. When I treat people like individuals, that includes respecting what they value, so, for example, talking about hair and clothes with women who like hair and clothes. But it also means that I can talk about hair and clothes with men who like hair and clothes. When you treat everyone like an individual, and there are these socially salient differences based on their gender experience, you will end up treating men and women, on average, differently. But you'll start out doing the right thing towards all individuals, including the ones who do not have a gender, are in the middle of switching gender, you initially mis-gender, or have characteristics not common for their gender. And this is important to me.

Gender stereotypes are particularly important for children, who are deciding who and what they want to be, figuring out what they are good at and what they are bad at, what they want to spend a lot of energy developing skills in, and what isn't worth it. When, every morning in school, the teacher says "Good Morning, Boys and Girls" the teacher is emphasizing the importance of gender. I want teachers to stop doing that shit. Delusions of Gender by Cordelia fine includes a lot of research about stereotype threat: when you remind people of the group they belong to (compared to when you don't remind them), they perform more poorly when they are expected, by stereotype, to preform poorly. This sucks.

It doesn't matter how important you think gender is, you should always think that individuals more important. And, in this thread at least, everyone gives lip service to supporting the people who don't conform to stereotypes. But when you try to make gender more important, by trying to make men strong and women more empathetic, you are fucking with all of those people who don't fit your stereotype. And with people who fit the stereotypes, too. You are making women weaker (because most don't think they should lift weights, so they don't, and strength is highly dependent upon exercise training), and many other things like this. This sucks.

For practical life decisions, it doesn't matter which came first, the gender stereotype or the difference. We should treat people like individuals, and see what makes them happy. This is the only approach that does not suck.

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Re: sexism of anti gay marriage activism

Postby The Great Hippo » Wed Nov 21, 2012 3:58 pm UTC

Ormurinn wrote:Thats a chicken-or-egg argument - "what came first, differences in gender or a society that acknowledges difference based on gender."
The 'chicken-or-egg argument' does not invalidate the existence of chickens and eggs. It also does not change the fact that some individual eggs came before some individual chickens.

(The 'chicken-or-egg argument' isn't even a fallacy; it's just one of those questions people assume are hard to answer--but it's only hard to answer when you're vague and ambiguous. Science knows the answer: The egg came first)

EDIT: Also, just seconding everything above. I really don't care why people conform to stereotypes; it seems likely to me that they do so because the stereotypes exist in the first place. But whatever reason they have, it seems far more mature and responsible to strive and treat them as individuals rather than stereotypes.

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Re: sexism of anti gay marriage activism

Postby CorruptUser » Wed Nov 21, 2012 5:11 pm UTC

Spoiler:
The chicken's ancestor laid a chicken embryo in an egg. If the mother produces the egg, not the embryo, then the chicken came first. Otherwise, they came at the same time.

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Re: sexism of anti gay marriage activism

Postby The Great Hippo » Wed Nov 21, 2012 5:20 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:
Spoiler:
The chicken's ancestor laid a chicken embryo in an egg. If the mother produces the egg, not the embryo, then the chicken came first. Otherwise, they came at the same time.
Eggs predate chickens by a very wide margin. Like, a couple million years I'm pretty sure.

But if you update the question to avoid that very simple, very reasonable answer: "Which came first, chickens or eggs that exclusively come from chickens?"--you start to realize what the problem actually is:

The problem is that the question is dumb.

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Re: sexism of anti gay marriage activism

Postby CorruptUser » Wed Nov 21, 2012 5:28 pm UTC

I think everyone understands that the question refers to chicken eggs, not any eggs in general. As for your new version, obviously the chicken, since the egg the chicken was hatched from could be laid by not a chicken. Of course, the point at which one species becomes another is meaningless. But it's a stupid question, like the sound of one hand clapping or falling trees.

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Re: sexism of anti gay marriage activism

Postby omgryebread » Thu Nov 22, 2012 3:47 am UTC

You know, if these gender roles are so ingrained and people are going to follow them even if we don't promote them... why do we need to promote them?
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Re: sexism of anti gay marriage activism

Postby Trasvi » Thu Nov 22, 2012 8:51 am UTC

omgryebread wrote:You know, if these gender roles are so ingrained and people are going to follow them even if we don't promote them... why do we need to promote them?


If these gender roles are so ingrained and people are going to follow them even if we don't promote them, what's the harm in promoting them? ...

Enuja wrote: When, every morning in school, the teacher says "Good Morning, Boys and Girls" the teacher is emphasizing the importance of gender. I want teachers to stop doing that shit.

Are you opposed to having separate girls and boys toilets at schools?
Should I call my teacher Mr Smith instead of Mrs Smith, because attaching the Mrs to her name emphasises the importance of her being a woman?

Enuja wrote:A stereotype is just a common belief or expectation about the characteristics of members of a group. Many (but not all) stereotypes are formed around a kernel of truth. But all stereotypes are proxy variables, and if you have access to the actual data you're interested in that's always better to use that than to use proxy variable. One stereotype is that recent immigrants are hard workers. But if you're looking for hard workers, it makes more sense to making hiring and retention decisions on actual data about how hard a worker a given person is, instead of simply hiring and retaining only recent immigrants, because there are many lazy recent immigrants and hard working native born folks. In this case, the variable of interest is how hard you work, and the proxy variable is recent immigration.

I like this paragraph a lot. Thankyou.

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Re: sexism of anti gay marriage activism

Postby The Great Hippo » Thu Nov 22, 2012 9:11 am UTC

Trasvi wrote:If these gender roles are so ingrained and people are going to follow them even if we don't promote them, what's the harm in promoting them?
People are abused for failing to abide by them.
Trasvi wrote:...Should I call my teacher Mr Smith instead of Mrs Smith, because attaching the Mrs to her name emphasises the importance of her being a woman?
Instead of making this decision for them, why don't you just try asking Smith? Or perhaps when they introduce themselves as 'Mrs. Smith', you might take that as a clue concerning their preferred form of nomenclature.

That's really all this is: Allowing people to decide for themselves who they are.

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Re: sexism of anti gay marriage activism

Postby piwakawaka42 » Fri Nov 23, 2012 10:09 pm UTC

Going back to the marketplace of ideas, I think that a lot of the posters here were forgetting that an idea by itself doesn't have to be true/helpful, it can also support one which is true/helpful. For instance, gender roles: women are biologically better suited to bring up children (breastfeeding, oxytocin) than men (and are 100% better suited to actually having children in the first place). While women may be as good as men at traditional manly activities, if women do them, then they aren't doing the womanly things important for society (see how a lot of retirement schemes are in trouble due to the aging population-this is a failure of women to do womanly things).I actually wonder if the 'women can't do manly things' idea came about to exclude women, forcing them to do the things that women had to do, or if men came up with it to make themselves feel better about the fact that they were stuck with the dangerous jobs?
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Re: sexism of anti gay marriage activism

Postby omgryebread » Fri Nov 23, 2012 11:04 pm UTC

piwakawaka42 wrote:Going back to the marketplace of ideas, I think that a lot of the posters here were forgetting that an idea by itself doesn't have to be true/helpful, it can also support one which is true/helpful. For instance, gender roles: women are biologically better suited to bring up children (breastfeeding, oxytocin) than men (and are 100% better suited to actually having children in the first place). While women may be as good as men at traditional manly activities, if women do them, then they aren't doing the womanly things important for society (see how a lot of retirement schemes are in trouble due to the aging population-this is a failure of women to do womanly things).I actually wonder if the 'women can't do manly things' idea came about to exclude women, forcing them to do the things that women had to do, or if men came up with it to make themselves feel better about the fact that they were stuck with the dangerous jobs?
And this has meaning in modern society how? I mean, sure you can't really be a pregnant soldier or even construction worker, but there's no reason you can't be a pregnant CEO. Except sexist fucks ask women how they intend to balance work and family without it occurring to them to ask men the same thing.

Also, seriously, men go through chemical changes during pregnancy and childbirth. And you know, formula exists.
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Re: sexism of anti gay marriage activism

Postby The Great Hippo » Fri Nov 23, 2012 11:32 pm UTC

piwakawaka42 wrote:Going back to the marketplace of ideas, I think that a lot of the posters here were forgetting that an idea by itself doesn't have to be true/helpful, it can also support one which is true/helpful.
The standard description we use for this notion is 'Lying to you for your own good'.

As a general rule, I do not support lying to people for their own good.
piwakawaka42 wrote:For instance, gender roles: women are biologically better suited to bring up children (breastfeeding, oxytocin) than men (and are 100% better suited to actually having children in the first place). While women may be as good as men at traditional manly activities, if women do them, then they aren't doing the womanly things important for society (see how a lot of retirement schemes are in trouble due to the aging population-this is a failure of women to do womanly things).I actually wonder if the 'women can't do manly things' idea came about to exclude women, forcing them to do the things that women had to do, or if men came up with it to make themselves feel better about the fact that they were stuck with the dangerous jobs?
I suspect this is an oversimplification--I would not describe the aging population boom as a failure of women to do womanly things, for example.

Gender stereotypes can sometimes represent a tricky knot, but the first step to untangling it is to always acknowledge what you do not know. We know that women and men are sexually dimorphic; we don't know how deeply this difference extends. The extent to which women have penetrated sectors previously reserved for men--and the extent to which men have penetrated sectors previously reserved for women--indicate that this difference is not as deep as we once presumed.

We may one day discover excellent reasons to pressure women into the role of caretaker and men into the role of breadwinner. But, so far, no such excellent reasons have surfaced. In fact, so far, we've found nothing but evidence that we should stop doing it.

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Re: sexism of anti gay marriage activism

Postby piwakawaka42 » Sat Nov 24, 2012 4:41 am UTC

We may one day discover excellent reasons to pressure women into the role of caretaker and men into the role of breadwinner
I'd call fertility falling below replacement levels an excellent reason to have more babies.
I suspect this is an oversimplification--I would not describe the aging population boom as a failure of women to do womanly things, for example.
Part of it is due to improving healthcare, you are right. But another part is because (not fully applicable to the US here) fertility rates have fallen below replacement. And that is totally due to women not doing enough womanly things.
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Re: sexism of anti gay marriage activism

Postby The Great Hippo » Sat Nov 24, 2012 4:58 am UTC

piwakawaka42 wrote:I'd call fertility falling below replacement levels an excellent reason to have more babies.
Why?
piwakawaka42 wrote:Part of it is due to improving healthcare, you are right. But another part is because (not fully applicable to the US here) fertility rates have fallen below replacement. And that is totally due to women not doing enough womanly things.
I don't think addressing the aging population boom by encouraging another population boom is a good solution. I suspect addressing this through improving health care (allowing older people to remain productive for longer stretches of time) is our best, most responsible route. I also have serious doubts that the falling fertility rates can be described as 'totally' due to women not doing enough womanly things; again, I think you are oversimplifying.

Either way, encouraging women to have more babies isn't necessarily relevant to encouraging women to subscribe to the role of caretaker. Possessing a functional uterus doesn't make you a good caretaker; lacking a functional uterus doesn't make you a bad one.

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Re: sexism of anti gay marriage activism

Postby Tyndmyr » Sun Nov 25, 2012 4:25 pm UTC

Enuja wrote:I have never denied or minimized how important gender is in our society. When I treat people like individuals, that includes respecting what they value, so, for example, talking about hair and clothes with women who like hair and clothes. But it also means that I can talk about hair and clothes with men who like hair and clothes. When you treat everyone like an individual, and there are these socially salient differences based on their gender experience, you will end up treating men and women, on average, differently. But you'll start out doing the right thing towards all individuals, including the ones who do not have a gender, are in the middle of switching gender, you initially mis-gender, or have characteristics not common for their gender. And this is important to me.


Here's the thing. It's literally impossible to treat everyone like an individual. We've got what, seven million people on this rock? I can't possibly even know every person individually, let alone tailor my reactions to each of them. It's impossible. Stereotypes and generalizations exist to allow our teeny brains to deal with the vast number of people in society. You can empathize with a single person. You can't really empathize with a million people unless your brain abstracts them into their commonalities.

Yes, it's certainly true that many people take generalized reactions too far, and substitute it for bothering to get to know the people actually in their life, and in this way, racism, sexism, etc can be considered a form of intellectual laziness, but the idea that groupings, labels, categorization, etc, etc can be dispensed with simply ignores biological fact. Everyone makes generalizations all the time...it's a necessary shortcut. The problem is when people just rely on the shortcut all the time, even when it's uncalled for. There's nothing terribly wrong with assuming the guy who just moved here from mexico is probably comfortable with mexican cuisine. However, if the guy says he hates burritos, it'd be kind of ridiculous to just keep saying he must like them because he's mexican. Specific information overrides general.

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Re: sexism of anti gay marriage activism

Postby The Great Hippo » Sun Nov 25, 2012 4:59 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Here's the thing. It's literally impossible to treat everyone like an individual. We've got what, seven million people on this rock? I can't possibly even know every person individually, let alone tailor my reactions to each of them. It's impossible. Stereotypes and generalizations exist to allow our teeny brains to deal with the vast number of people in society. You can empathize with a single person. You can't really empathize with a million people unless your brain abstracts them into their commonalities.

Yes, it's certainly true that many people take generalized reactions too far, and substitute it for bothering to get to know the people actually in their life, and in this way, racism, sexism, etc can be considered a form of intellectual laziness, but the idea that groupings, labels, categorization, etc, etc can be dispensed with simply ignores biological fact. Everyone makes generalizations all the time...it's a necessary shortcut. The problem is when people just rely on the shortcut all the time, even when it's uncalled for. There's nothing terribly wrong with assuming the guy who just moved here from mexico is probably comfortable with mexican cuisine. However, if the guy says he hates burritos, it'd be kind of ridiculous to just keep saying he must like them because he's mexican. Specific information overrides general.
All stereotypes are inherently false--they are anecdotal, non-rigorous presumptions of the specific from the general. A stereotype that is true isn't a stereotype--it's either a description of a property ("All African-Americans have ancestors from Africa") or a non-statement ("Women are terrible drivers--except those who are not").

So here's the issue: When something is 'False, But Helpful', we have a tendency to treat it as if it is not false. Which leads us to treating it as if it were true. Which leads us to forgetting that it's 'False, But Helpful', and instead thinking it as 'True, And Helpful'. And when this happens, we have created a monster.

Because, eventually, you're going to encounter a situation where that stereotype causes harm. At which point, you're going to have to justify that stereotype. And now that you've switched the 'False' bit with the 'True' bit, here's what's going to happen: You're going to describe that harm as a feature. Because 'True, And Helpful' is nearly indistinguishable from 'True, Even If Harmful'.

The problem emerges when we convince ourselves that stereotypes are in any way a rigorous observation of reality. They're just messy piles of anecdotal evidence that we've arranged into neat rows for the purpose of making sloppy, fast assumptions. They're useful, but false. The instant they stop being useful, the only remaining property of note is their falseness.

Gender stereotypes are full of artifacts that are false and useless. And yet we treat them as if they are something else.

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Re: sexism of anti gay marriage activism

Postby Diemo » Sun Nov 25, 2012 5:29 pm UTC

omgryebread wrote:Also, seriously, men go through chemical changes during pregnancy and childbirth.


Thanks for telling me this. Weird.
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Re: sexism of anti gay marriage activism

Postby Tyndmyr » Sun Nov 25, 2012 5:52 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Here's the thing. It's literally impossible to treat everyone like an individual. We've got what, seven million people on this rock? I can't possibly even know every person individually, let alone tailor my reactions to each of them. It's impossible. Stereotypes and generalizations exist to allow our teeny brains to deal with the vast number of people in society. You can empathize with a single person. You can't really empathize with a million people unless your brain abstracts them into their commonalities.

Yes, it's certainly true that many people take generalized reactions too far, and substitute it for bothering to get to know the people actually in their life, and in this way, racism, sexism, etc can be considered a form of intellectual laziness, but the idea that groupings, labels, categorization, etc, etc can be dispensed with simply ignores biological fact. Everyone makes generalizations all the time...it's a necessary shortcut. The problem is when people just rely on the shortcut all the time, even when it's uncalled for. There's nothing terribly wrong with assuming the guy who just moved here from mexico is probably comfortable with mexican cuisine. However, if the guy says he hates burritos, it'd be kind of ridiculous to just keep saying he must like them because he's mexican. Specific information overrides general.
All stereotypes are inherently false--they are anecdotal, non-rigorous presumptions of the specific from the general. A stereotype that is true isn't a stereotype--it's either a description of a property ("All African-Americans have ancestors from Africa") or a non-statement ("Women are terrible drivers--except those who are not").


The first is definitionally true, and of course, the second is nonsensical. However, truth and falsehood are not merely binary. Something like "most mexicans are comfortable with mexican food" is neither of those, yet is entirely reasonable. Jumping to the assumption that an individual does has a chance to be false, of course, but if you don't have any better information to work from...well, you use the most accurate information you have.

So here's the issue: When something is 'False, But Helpful', we have a tendency to treat it as if it is not false. Which leads us to treating it as if it were true. Which leads us to forgetting that it's 'False, But Helpful', and instead thinking it as 'True, And Helpful'. And when this happens, we have created a monster.


I don't pursue "false, but helpful" stuff. In fact, I don't even recognize the term as meaningfully real. I see getting increasingly more accurate data as an ongoing process, and one that, over the long term, is always helpful. I'll never have perfectly accurate information about everything...that's simply impossible, but better is still important, and reducing things to "true and false" obscures that progress.

Because, eventually, you're going to encounter a situation where that stereotype causes harm. At which point, you're going to have to justify that stereotype. And now that you've switched the 'False' bit with the 'True' bit, here's what's going to happen: You're going to describe that harm as a feature. Because 'True, And Helpful' is nearly indistinguishable from 'True, Even If Harmful'.

The problem emerges when we convince ourselves that stereotypes are in any way a rigorous observation of reality. They're just messy piles of anecdotal evidence that we've arranged into neat rows for the purpose of making sloppy, fast assumptions. They're useful, but false. The instant they stop being useful, the only remaining property of note is their falseness.

Gender stereotypes are full of artifacts that are false and useless. And yet we treat them as if they are something else.


Nah. The problem is when people assert general over specific. Sloppy, fast assumptions are useful. More precise data, when available, is more useful. Clinging to general assumptions when better data exists is obviously undesirable.

I don't need to justify this on any other basis than that which I already have...it's a basic, necessary part of conceptualizing a world with far more people than I can ever possibly know in detail. I don't need to justify general knowledge as true in every specific circumstances.

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Re: sexism of anti gay marriage activism

Postby The Great Hippo » Sun Nov 25, 2012 6:30 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Something like "most mexicans are comfortable with mexican food" is neither of those, yet is entirely reasonable.
I'm not sure if 'Most X are Y' is a stereotype; I always assumed a stereotype was a set of archetypical properties assumed to be possessed by all members of a set. I've never really considered the idea that a stereotype can describe vague tendencies ("Group X are more likely to exhibit property Y than not").
Tyndmyr wrote:I don't pursue "false, but helpful" stuff.
Sure you do. You just don't know it's false!

'I don't pursue "false, but helpful" stuff' is a very false--but helpful--belief!
Tyndmyr wrote:Nah. The problem is when people assert general over specific. Sloppy, fast assumptions are useful. More precise data, when available, is more useful. Clinging to general assumptions when better data exists is obviously undesirable.
Why did you put 'Nah' in front of that statement? Nothing you've said there contradicts anything I said.

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Re: sexism of anti gay marriage activism

Postby Shivahn » Sun Nov 25, 2012 6:45 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Something like "most mexicans are comfortable with mexican food" is neither of those, yet is entirely reasonable.
I'm not sure if 'Most X are Y' is a stereotype; I always assumed a stereotype was a set of archetypical properties assumed to be possessed by all members of a set. I've never really considered the idea that a stereotype can describe vague tendencies ("Group X are more likely to exhibit property Y than not").

I think you should sit and think about what is really meant by "stereotype". I suspect it's sort of arbitrary - 'black people are better at sports' seems like a stereotype, 'black people are predisposed towards increased muscle mass and bone density' does not, though it's functionally pretty much the same. Changing from "are" to "have a higher probability of" makes things seem less stereotypey, but that is probably because we treat stereotypes as uneducated generalizations about all members of a group, and couching it in restrained terms, even if it's pretty much the same, messes with out inference (stereotype implies ignorance, broadness, etc.). I guess I'm trying to say that stereotype is a loaded word with lots of connotations, and I think it shows here, where arbitrary changes will make things seem like stereotypes or not.

In any case, I would certainly consider "Asian people are more likely to be poor drivers than white people" to be a stereotype, even though it's weakly stated. At the same time, I wouldnt' consider "Asian people are likely to have deficient alcohol dehydrogenase gene" to be a stereotype in the traditional sense.

I think that it might be best to say that a stereotype is a set of inferences that bring in connotations. "Asian people are more likely to have deficient alcohol dehydrogenase enzymes" is functionally identical to "Asian people often can't process alcohol like other people", but the former has no connotations because it's so removed from daily understanding and can only be really grasped by those educated in science, and the latter implies a whole bunch of untrue stuff.

This definition is fuzzy and breaks down at the edges but since we're using human language I think this is unavoidable. Judge everything on a case by case basis, even stereotypes.

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Re: sexism of anti gay marriage activism

Postby The Great Hippo » Sun Nov 25, 2012 7:00 pm UTC

Shivahn wrote:This definition is fuzzy and breaks down at the edges but since we're using human language I think this is unavoidable. Judge everything on a case by case basis, even stereotypes.
Yeah, in dwelling on the whole 'group X tends to exhibit property Y' example, I can see how I'm looking at stereotypes in a stereotypical way (failing to acknowledge the fuzziness that results). My general tendency is toward relentless clarity, but by insisting on rigid edges, I end up losing important nuance. I don't like fuzzy thinking, so I reject the majority of fuzzy thinking. But rejecting all fuzzy thinking is also an example of fuzzy thinking--and I can see how what does and does not qualify as a stereotype is legitimately fuzzy.

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Re: sexism of anti gay marriage activism

Postby Shivahn » Sun Nov 25, 2012 7:07 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
Shivahn wrote:This definition is fuzzy and breaks down at the edges but since we're using human language I think this is unavoidable. Judge everything on a case by case basis, even stereotypes.
Yeah, in dwelling on the whole 'group X tends to exhibit property Y' example, I can see how I'm looking at stereotypes in a stereotypical way (failing to acknowledge the fuzziness that results). My general tendency is toward relentless clarity, but by insisting on rigid edges, I end up losing important nuance. I don't like fuzzy thinking, so I reject the majority of fuzzy thinking. But rejecting all fuzzy thinking is also an example of fuzzy thinking--and I can see how what does and does not qualify as a stereotype is legitimately fuzzy.

I basically think of it like this:

Categorization is going to leave things that are fuzzy. We should strive to be clear whenever possible, but since we're inherently making up a system and imposing it on reality, we should expect that it's not going to be a perfect match. Rather than obsessing with using well defined terms, we should accept this fuzziness and be aware of what we're doing.

I realize that in debates this only works with someone who's also practicing this, otherwise things get ugly. Mostly, I just accept whatever categories are being used until the second they become prescriptive. They are a descriptive tool, not a prescriptive one.

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Re: sexism of anti gay marriage activism

Postby gmalivuk » Sun Nov 25, 2012 9:57 pm UTC

Shivahn wrote:I think that it might be best to say that a stereotype is a set of inferences that bring in connotations. "Asian people are more likely to have deficient alcohol dehydrogenase enzymes" is functionally identical to "Asian people often can't process alcohol like other people", but the former has no connotations because it's so removed from daily understanding and can only be really grasped by those educated in science, and the latter implies a whole bunch of untrue stuff.
I like this account of it. Stating stereotypical beliefs as probabilities (Asians are statistically less likely to be able to handle their liquor) doesn't stop them from being stereotypes, and stating probabilities as universal truths (All Asian people have deficient alcohol dehydrogenase enzymes) doesn't make them stereotypes. It's the other connotations of each phrasing that make something a stereotype, at least in the usual sense we ascribe to the word.

I remember this article on Less Wrong about sneaking connotations into labels despite their not really being in a strict dictionary definition of that label. I'd say it's even easier to do this when instead of a one-word label, you're using a complete proposition as a stereotype.
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Re: sexism of anti gay marriage activism

Postby HungryHobo » Mon Nov 26, 2012 9:53 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:I'm not sure if 'Most X are Y' is a stereotype; I always assumed a stereotype was a set of archetypical properties assumed to be possessed by all members of a set.


now everything you've said makes a lot more sense.

I thought you were using the word as it's actually used rather than a strawman version.

we should really start these discussions by briefly stating definitions for the terms we're arguing over in our own words.
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Re: sexism of anti gay marriage activism

Postby leady » Mon Nov 26, 2012 11:11 am UTC

and of course some stereotypes are demonstrably false, but sociologically sticky

and some are of such low statistical prevalence as to be useless for decision making

but stereotypes are useful so long as that don't break the above rules and are not taken against specific information for an individual

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Re: sexism of anti gay marriage activism

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Nov 27, 2012 3:40 am UTC

HungryHobo wrote:
The Great Hippo wrote:I'm not sure if 'Most X are Y' is a stereotype; I always assumed a stereotype was a set of archetypical properties assumed to be possessed by all members of a set.


now everything you've said makes a lot more sense.

I thought you were using the word as it's actually used rather than a strawman version.

we should really start these discussions by briefly stating definitions for the terms we're arguing over in our own words.


Ah, yeah. I just tend to skip the whole, obviously false EVERYONE is x thing, most of the time. It's from someone sloppily over-generalizing or something usually. For instance, if someone said that all gays(using word with male connotation) had a good sense of style, it's an obvious stereotype that shows up in popular culture. I'd generally just assume that the speaker means it as a "highly probable" scenario unless he clarifies that he really does think every gosh-darned one of them does. People overstate things a ton.

Now, can you use such a stereotype to assume that because a person has good style, he's gay? Nope. It doesn't follow. Oh, there might be some slight statistical bias there, but it's pretty weak at best, because you've inverted the relationship. Even if all A's were B, it doesn't imply that all B's are A. Such a use of a stereotype definitely happens, but it's an obviously sketchy one logically, and thus, it's problematic. However, observing that from the group of the population that self-identifies as gay, a higher proportion claim to care about fashion...that's decent data-gathering. If the statistics are significantly different, it'd absolutely be valid to use it for say, marketing campaigns or what not.

A lot of stereotypes is really about intent and proper use. It isn't that something is wrong...it's the way in which you use it that can be offensive.


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