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The kierke guy things homosexuals are less eusocial/prosocial then straights a d that gays spend more energy on hedonism

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Oh i agree with you, and think emil is way to pessemistic and binary. (Also, even in accepting societys being shunned by your family for being gay is common, and thus would lead to less eusociality

I just wanted to represent emil. Im personally gay , and a furry , so im very unusual and weird

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Sep 8, 2023·edited Sep 8, 2023

I mean, the kin selection math works out much easier for say, worker bees who are highly genetically related to the Queen (incorrect, see Igon value's response) than gay uncles, who need to produce like 4 more nieces or nephews per generation just to maintain parity. Saying that another kin selection puzzle is solved and implying that the answer to this puzzle is obvious when your answer is almost certainly wrong is "rude as fuck" as the imaginary Dawkins in my head says.

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deletedSep 8, 2023·edited Sep 8, 2023
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Except that if you read the original post https://www.emilkirkegaard.com/p/homosexuality-is-a-mental-illness Kirkegaard actually addresses the bevy of possible alternate explanations and found them wanting. So who is ignorant of what?

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"the kin selection math works out much easier for say, worker bees who are highly genetically related to the Queen, than gay uncles, who need to produce like 4 more nieces or nephews per generation just to maintain parity"

Not a disagreement with the argument at all, just a small correction: the worker bees are highly genetically related to *each other*, not specially highly to the queen. They share 50% with the queen but 75% with each other (the male has only one set of chromosomes). That's the reason for eusociality, they benefit more from taking care of each other and having the queen make more of them, than they would having offspring of their own (with only 50% in common).

(Yes, theory and language are simplified, this isn't an academic paper.)

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Ah yeah, I misremembered and this is an important and relevant correction. I'll edit that in.

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Depends on your definition of "error"? There can be multiple levels, like with sickle-cell anemia: on one level a clear error, on another level a byproduct of an adaptation that increases overall population fitness. Similarly, it wouldn't shock me if there were some underlying part of human biological development that increased overall population fitness, but had as a side-effect that a certain small percentage of the population will have an attraction-target error.

Or alternatively, it could be like the blind spot in our eyes. There are ways to evolve an eye that don't have blind spots, like with cephalopods. But the specific way our eyes evolved produced blind spots, and there wasn't any clear path down from the local maximum through the valley of darkness to a higher hill. Is it a pathology that certain parts of our lenses send light to a place that can't detect it? Had they individual consciousness, other cells might judge the cells of the lens of the blind spot to be useless, spending their light rays on barren ground. But the larger organism adapted to the blind spot with special processing in the visual cortex, and the overall performance is pretty good in most cases, but probably not as good as if we'd had octopus eyes.

So yes, homosexuality doesn't seem to favor fitness, but we **don't know what the alternative is**.

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The missing piece might be that much (most?) of the human experience is downstream of / higher in the stack than biological drivers to procreate.

The way a lot of evopsy gets used to explain behaviors is reductive to the point of becoming inadequately explanatory.

Even stuff ostensibly related to procreation like a drive to nurture that extends to non blood related children. That impulse might stem from a foundational biological imperative, but still be executed without reference to it because higher up in the stack we’re capable of wanting to be nurturing as an good in its self.

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Male monogamy might increase fertility for the group-- less conflict and betrayal. I'm not sure if group fertility is part of the theory.

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Unclear if non-monogamy leading to conflict is near-universal or something that can be eliminated through cultural norms. If the latter, and maybe even with the former, non-monogamy would be better for group fertility. You get rid of most of the risk of fertile women being unable to have children due to being partnered with infertile men, or not being partnered to anyone, or to reduced fertility due to things like both partners being carriers for recessive diseases.

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I would read Engel's Origin of the Family and other historical materialist works to understand the process. Basically we went from alpha male ape gets all women->only marriage within generations>only marriage with cousins>so on. we only developed man-wife monogamy after the development of private property/slavery and maybe some other shit I can't remember.

https://shura.shu.ac.uk/14159/3/Beaken%20-%20Engels%2C%20Neanderthals%20and%20the%20Human%20Family%20%28AM%29.pdf is a good modern examination of historical materialist conception of family progression.

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founding

Almost nobody's definition of mental illness encompasses deliberate decisions alone. Deciding to take precautions against the CIA spying on you is not a mental illness, but a compulsion or strong predisposition to do so is paranoia. And a compulsion or strong predisposition to chastity might constitute a mental illness, while e.g. deciding that sex isn't worth the risk of STDs would not.

Homosexuality, I am repeatedly told, is not a thing that people can or do choose.

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Emil's argument is almost the opposite of the movie that every faux-intellectual overquotes. Idiocracy. Great job framing the contradictions in Kirkegaard's theory.

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Yes, the irony (as Scott implied with his last point) is that Kirkegaard's ideal of human behavior, if followed to its logical conclusion, would leave no place for contrarian intellectuals like him.

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A contrarian take on, say, where the best hunting ground is offers a higher potential reward in prestige status (if you end up being right) than a standard take can offer, and therefore contrarian personality will have been supported by evolution to some degree as a reproductive strategy.

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This obviously depends on the difficulty finding a mate. If you go looking for unique hunting grounds, there is a chance you starve to death. This greatly reduces your chance of having children. There is also a chance that you find a new hunting ground. So this is only favored by evolution in the case where the odds of not starving are greater than the chance of your having at least 1 child at some point in the future.

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> this is only favored by evolution in the case where the odds of not starving are greater than the chance of your having at least 1 child at some point in the future

That's not a rare circumstance - in many species, the median male has less than two offspring so males must be outliers in order for their genes to increase in frequency in the gene pool. The genetic tendency for increased risk-taking observed in human males indicates that this was probably the case in our ancestral environment.

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I meant the potential reward specifically in prestige status for the contrarian intellectual. Not food or material gain. Imagine most people in the group provide arguments that ground A should be tried first. You, by contrast, argue for ground B. If the group’s hunting efforts fail in ground A, but later succeed in ground B, then you should have gained a bigger amount of prestige status than was ever obtainable by arguing for ground A, even if ground A had been the better choice.

(For this example to work as I intend it, assume it will always become known which ground was or would have been better. Also, my point is only valid for socially acceptable contrarianism, not for violating taboos.)

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Again, and this mirrors some of what has been said previously, this is only valid if the odds of mating success by maintaining the status quo (non-contrarian) is low. Contrarianism is, by definition a high risk strategy (or else everyone else is maladapted).

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It‘s a high-risk-high-reward strategy and therefore, as I put it initially, „will have been supported by evolution to some degree as a reproductive strategy“.

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A higher potential reward, sure, but not a higher expected reward (unless the whole tribe is worse than chance at picking hunting spots).

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This depends on the numbers (strictly speaking). How much better than chance is the tribe? But in any case and more importantly, when I say „contrarian personality“ I don‘t mean *always* going against the rest of the tribe. I mean eagerly looking for occasions when the mainstream might be getting it wrong for some reason.

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I think I interpreted Scott's use of the term as 'enjoying disagreeing with the mainstream' rather than 'looking for mistakes the mainstream is making'.

The dissociation between the two being 'what do you do when the mainstream is right' or 'do you disagree with the mainstream regardless of your expertise on a given topic' or etc.

Admittedly these two will have a lot of behavioral overlap, but I feel like 'is looking for errors people are making and is smarter than other people enough to find them' is better described as being intelligent or being a critical thinker or being curious or etc. Though at this point we're just arguing definitions so no real empirical disagreement here.

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Just to be clear, I was not criticising Scott’s point 7, which was about violating taboos, a bad idea in the environment of evolutionary adaptedness. I was only replying to LadyJane’s „Kirkegaard’s [own ideal] would leave no place for contrarian intellectuals like him“, where taboo violation was no longer explicitly mentioned.

Some contrarians seem to enjoy their disagreement with the mainstream (though does Scott say that?), and clearly some are stupid, but I would guess that generally enough group decisions will be obvious enough so even those have to pick their spots rather than simply *always* disagreeing.

And then, regarding intelligent contrarians (cf. Steve Sailer just below, „Great Awokening“), it would appear that some “elite mainstream“ has recently become so stupid that anyone who thinks clearly and is not very conformist will end up opposed. The point that I was noting about evolutionary roots of contrarianism admittedly does not apply here.

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Actually, in theory, a tribe could be quite bad at picking hunting spots if there is a charismatic-influential but incompetent person and most of the people are very conformist. This relates to your point in your top-level comment below about multipolar equilibriums.

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Sep 7, 2023·edited Sep 7, 2023

The fewer contrarians there are, the greater the reward. Because of more and lower hanging fruit.

So there should be some equlibrium ratio of contrarians to non-contrarians.

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This whole subthread is why evopsych gets called "just-so stories".

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I think there are two quite different contrarian personalities: those who take unpopular stances that are difficult to make a plausible case for (e.g., Apollo 11 was faked on Stanley Kubrick's soundstage) and they enjoy the challenge versus those who take unpopular stances that are easy to make a plausible case for (e.g., much of the new conventional wisdom that came to dominate American thought during the Great Awokening is wrong) because they can accomplish more that way. The latter type hardly seems like having much to do with the former.

When I started writing a third of a century ago, I was attracted to topics on which the conventional wisdom was obviously wrong, with plenty of evidence at hand both from the social sciences and from observing daily life. Being a pro-social guy who believes in telling the truth, this struck me as where I could contribute the most. What's more valuable than being able to document: "Everybody says they believe X, but the great majority of a wide variety of evidence says Y"?

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The term "contrarian" seems less apt than John Derbyshire's appellation of "a member of the awkward squad." I would think of "contrarian" as being the kind of person who says "The social sciences are WRONG," while Emil is a voracious fan of the social sciences.

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Sep 7, 2023·edited Sep 7, 2023

At some level it seems like the fact that evolution designed us to enjoy non-procreative sex -- oral, manual, etc -- would count as "mental illness" in the Emil framework. After all, those members of the species with a strong preference for PIV would tend to have more conceptions.* So, enjoying blow jobs means you're mentally ill? Really? And that's not just us, it's also bonobos, and a range of other (at least) mammals and avians. This just seems like a very poor fit for any kind of common-sense interpretation of "mental illness".

* Except of course they must not have, or we'd all have that preference today. With both bonobos and humans, clearly most sexual encounters are _actually_ about maintaining happy feelings towards members of your social group and especially your pair-bonded mate, not about reproduction. It was evolutionarily adaptive for us _as a species_ to develop female appetite for sex outside of estrus, and relatively hidden estrus, and a general enjoyment of sex accompanied by bursts of oxytocin and other happy-chemicals that make us think positively about our fellow tribe members and work hard to resolve conflicts. What helps the group as a whole may not be what's best for the individual. (Which is basically the point of _The Selfish Gene_. Ants are also extraordinarily good at propagating their assorted species, even while the vast majority of individuals reproduce not at all.)

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Non-procreative sex acts can still be evolutionarily adaptive, so long as they don't entirely replace PIV sex. In both humans and bonobos, most sex acts seem to be more for purposes of social bonding (especially formation and reinforcement of pair bonds for mated couples) than for direct procreation, and felatio and cunnilingus can serve that function just as well as PIV sex. For that matter, PIV sex when the woman isn't within a window of a few days around ovulation is also non-procreative, but evolutionary adaptations in many other mammals to focus sexual behavior around female fertility seem to have been lost in both humans and bonobos.

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Yes, which I also covered in my post. Lots of researchers speculate on the adaptive functions of non-PIV sex. Apparently, also in spiders (!?) https://www.nature.com/articles/srep25128

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Yes, evolution moves in mysterious ways. As a further illustration, I recommend Denise Daniels classic 1983 paper "the evolution of concealed ovulation and self-deception". A taste of the argument:

"Humans are strikingly unusual among primates and most mammals because females do not reveal their critical period of ovulation. ... It would seem that stimulus signs are essential to reproductive success because activities would be drawn to maximizing the probability of copulation when the female is fertile. Human reproductive

success and survival, however, is dependent not only on lack of physical cues of ovulation, but also on lack of psychological awareness.... I hypothesize that concealed ovulation had its origin in strengthening intragroup bonds, during an evolutionary period when only reciprocal sharing and extensive cooperation allowed survival. ...First, individuals of a monogamous pair were menaced less because females with concealed ovulation

attracted other males less. Second, estrous periods lead to dominance ranking, which is incompatible with a shared mode of sociality. Third, females who exhibited sexual receptivity during estrus were disfavored because group harmony suffered from periodic sexual competition or disruption. Because revealing ovulation threatened monogamy, sharing, and cooperation, survival also was threatened. In this light, concealed ovulation became adaptive....A theory on self-deception is proposed. The roots of concealed ovulation indicate that self deception, a facet of the ability to selectively delete information outside of conscious awareness, serves as a balancing process to intelligence and awareness. Self-deception of ovulation became adaptive so that certain interests

could be excluded (selfish propagation of one’s genes by copulation during ovulation) while other more critical activities could be attended to successfully (monogamy, sharing, and cooperation)."

Related: what was the possible evolutionary benefit that made the penis-bone (baculum) disappear among humans? (Hint: apply signalling theory. Signalling male health during coitus is more difficult if you lack a penis bone, hence being able to do PIV even without such a bone is a more credible/honest signal of being healthy/worth mating with.)

...Relevance for the debate: If our ancestors in the very, very old days had used inclusive genetic fitness as a criterium for deciding what is healthy and what is not, they would have labelled women with no detectable sign of estrus (including lacking the psychological ability to know this themselves), and men without any trace of a penis bone, as less-than-healthy people. Moral: It is hideously difficult to second-guess which traits, physical and psychological, that from an evolutionary perspective will turn out to enhance genetic fitness. (Apart from the ethical point that assuming whatever enhances genetic fitness is desirable, is a version of the "what is natural is good" fallacy.)

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"So, enjoying blow jobs means you're mentally ill? Really?"

You'd be surprised how recently society and the law agreed with this idea. Personally I'll take my mental illness with a side of fries, but...

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He's so funny for thinking that "reproductive fitness" isn't a political problem. For some intuition, recall the old quote "everything is about sex, except for sex, which is about power". Or even more directly stated, power is sexy and politics is the discourse of power allocation. So, of course it's political.

As usual, I like Freud's definition best. He didn't have a concept of "mental illness", everything was instead about the symptom itself (i.e. what the patient presents with as a problem), and he classified various symptoms structurally by cause. The DSM's approach is like looking at someone with liver cancer and someone who's an alcoholic with a failing liver and saying "ah, both have liver disorder".

The problem is we're not allowed to talk about cause in psychiatry without it being neurological, because weird effects of subjectivity are inadmissible in falsifiable research that must be reproducible for any arbitrary observer, so we get this whole mess of Scott's Depression Inventory (SDI, ever heard of it?) that make it hard for people to get the right kind of help.

Anyway I'll get off my soapbox. A part of me is glad that Emil K is still hanging around, he's a fun dude to get drunk with.

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I don't get what point you're making about politicalness. I'm pretty sure the idea there is just that determining what counts as having an effect on reproductive fitness is much more objective and less subject to influence from people's political opinions than determining what counts as harmful to the person with the condition, those around them and society. A person's politics may influence their personal reproductive fitness, which is my best guess at what you're getting at, but that's quite separate from the ways someone's politics might influence how they define reproductive fitness, which I would expect to be minimal beyond cases like the sort of people who don't believe in evolution at all.

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Sep 7, 2023·edited Sep 7, 2023

I think the point is that the reproductive fitness of a trait is largely determined by the local politics it finds itself in. Making it a circular question.

Like, 'should ephobophilia be illegal and punished by castration, or legal and treated as an acceptable relationship model' is a political question that 100% determines the reproductive fitness of ephebophiles in your community.

And 'is ephebophilia a mental disorder' is inevitably going to be a big contributing factor to the political question itself, making it a circular question.

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Yep, exactly, great example.

The other key thing to clarify for 4Denthusiast is that when I say "politics" I don't mean "political belief", but how institutional or structural decision-making cashes out into the legitimation or delegitimation of various actions. The idea of "political belief" is, for better or for worse, not so relevant in terms of what you can or can't get away with doing.

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Sep 7, 2023·edited Sep 7, 2023

"cases like the sort of people who don't believe in evolution at all."

This is almost everybody, though. Liberals stereotypically portray themselves now as "the party of science" while strenuously denouncing every individual conclusion that can be drawn from the theory of evolution as it applies to human beings, and conservatives... well.

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Sep 7, 2023·edited Sep 7, 2023

Hmmm. Most people have at best a vague understanding of genetics and natural selection (and by your snarky remarks, I suspect you may also fall into that category). Of course, the GOP has tried to dilute even the most superficial teaching of evolution in public schools. No doubt that's because, as of 2008, 60% of the GOP believed in creationism. (Granted 38% of Democrats believed in Creationism, but the majority believe in evolution of some sort). The 2nd largest group in each party believed in God-guided evolution. More recent Pew research seems to indicate that the percentage of evolutionists in the GOP has waned since that poll, but grown in the Democratic party.

As for Liberals portraying themselves as the "party of science," we do—and I suspect that must be very annoying to you folks on the radical right. Yet science education in the US, at least at the high school and undergraduate level is so shitty that most liberals believe in evolution (and science in general) without understanding it. On the right, the remainder of the holdouts who still believe in evolution, tend to latch on to crackpot theories based on evolutionary pseudoscience to support their conservative social agendas.

https://news.gallup.com/poll/108226/republicans-democrats-differ-creationism.aspx

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I beg your pardon? Us folks on the radical right? I think you gravely misparsed "and conservatives... well".

When I said almost everybody, I meant almost everybody on both sides. I will thus content myself to point at your angry partisan quacking as a demonstration of what I'm talking about.

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Hey, if you shitpost about the Left "denouncing every individual conclusion that can be drawn from the theory of evolution as it applies to human beings"—which is just rightwing bullshittery—it's incumbent upon me to push back on your quacks. What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the quacking gander. BTW, I love how the Right lumps all Lefties (centrist Dems, soi-disant progressives, and Marxist, etc.) together as believing the same things.

All quacking aside, I'd not only agree with you that the majority of the US population doesn't understand natural selection (i.e. what you call evolution) but they're also woefully ignorant about the rest of the sciences. And, as a general rule of thumb, I found that the use of the term evolution instead of natural selection is a good indicator that the person pontificating on "evolution" doesn't know what they're talking about because that impreciseness of terminology reflects and impreciseness of understanding. ;-)

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Sep 8, 2023·edited Sep 8, 2023

I feel like, if I reply to this in good faith you'll just continue on this avenue of "muh right wing" and shitposting accusations, so I'll bow out here, I don't see any fruitful or meaningful way to engage with this type of blinkered partisanship. Let it be known that I think you suck precisely as much as your right-wing counterpart, neither one iota more nor one less.

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Yes, excellent, this is exactly the thing. Thank you!

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Right off the top of my head, I can think of a couple of stark examples that reproductive fitness is a political *motivator*. Boko Haram and The Lord's Resistance didn't raid those girls' schools to take hostages (despite how the headlines read). The raiyding them to take "wives" for their young, mostly teenage soldiers. When cornered by government forces, the Lord's Resistance ended up using some of the girls from the Aboke abduction as negotiation tokens, but would only give back those who hadn't been given as rewards to their officers and soldiers. And of the women who were eventually returned from the Boko Haram raid (and not all were returned), many had children and/or were pregnant. So, ideology may motivate those groups but the promise of access to young women was no doubt an incentive.

And of course when it comes to political sex scandals in the US—since 2000, the number of sex scandals for Republican politicians have occurred at 3.4x the rate of Democratic political figures. Obviously, there's a strain of thinking among Conservative officeholders that their office entitles them to sex with their subordinates. Seems like election to public office can improve one's reproductive fitness—and it's often been claimed that political office is an aphrodisiac.

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The null hypothesis would be that politicians aren't more likely to sleep with their subordinates based on their political party. I'm not familiar with the data on rates of sex scandals, but you're suggesting these happen at a rate of 3.4x for Republicans over Democrats. There are four possible interpretations of this report I can think of:

1. Republicans are more likely to sleep with their subordinates. (Why would this be?)

2. The report is about sex 'scandals'. So maybe news reporting of scandals is biased against Republicans and/or in favor of Democrats. Since the overwhelming majority of reporters lean Left, it's plausible to suspect they would have a bias toward over-reporting bad news for their opposition and under-reporting bad news for their side.

3. Republican voters like to see a 'nuclear family' on the ballot, so Republican politicians are pressured to present themselves as such to get elected. A gay Republican who sets up a facade with a wife and kids will be more likely to get elected in a Republican district, but would also be more likely to seek out the kind of same-sex extramarital activities that sex scandals are made of.

4. Republicans are more interested in reading about sex scandals about their side. Maybe, since Clinton and Kennedy, Democrats are non-plussed by such reports, considering this aspect of character unimportant in establishing job qualifications, while Republicans are SHOCKED that one of their own could stoop to this kind of behavior and so are much more likely to click. (Democrats may also be more likely to click, if only because it's a subversion Republican narratives about family values.)

I'm partial to the null hypothesis - that party affiliation doesn't impact bedroom behavior - and I think 2, 3, and 4 are likely better explanations for this phenomenon.

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Sep 8, 2023·edited Sep 8, 2023

Normally I'd agree with you that the null hypothesis seems to be a more reasonable choice, but if we look at Wikipedia's list of historical sex scandals by elected or appointed politicians—at the national level from 2000 to the present—sex scandals have dogged the GOP more—for whatever reason. This may correlate with the fact that exploitive sex seems to be endemic to conservative/authoritarian religious sects such as the Catholic Church and fundamentalist Protestant sects, and these groups have enormous influence on the GOP (and so the same mindset may prevail between the those attracted to GOP authoritarianism and religious authoritarianism).

I tabulated this ratio from this list on Wikipedia of sex scandals from 2000 to the present. Of course, the editors of this page may have been biased in what they included on that list. But since much of the media is rightward-leaning, you'd think there would be a bias against Democrats. Also, I didn't include party official sex scandals — only publicly elected or appointed officials. Feel free to check my numbers. Naturally, the Pizzagate pedo ring didn't make the cut—so any QAnon followers should take this list with a grain of salt.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_federal_political_sex_scandals_in_the_United_States

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I remain unconvinced that the explanation is a real-world difference between the parties in sex scandals. Your examples seem like more just-so stories without evidence to rule out more plausible explanations for the data.

(Yes, "without evidence". Citing the same GOP bias toward sex scandal reporting doesn't tell us anything about the fundamental question of WHY we see more sex scandals for Republicans. Have you noticed there are more sex/corruption scandals among political dissidents in Russia and China? Of course, we can see the same thing historically in the US, Great Britain, France, Germany, and dozens of countries in South America, Europe, Africa, etc. Is that evidence that political dissidents are more likely to be corrupt? Perhaps the US is different from every other example where political dissidents are targeted in this EXACT way, but that would be an affirmative hypothesis that should be supported with evidence over the null hypothesis that 'this time isn't different from literally every other time in history'.)

Authoritarian tendencies: You seem convinced the Right is more authoritarian than the Left, but in my experience Right and Left always justify THEIR side's authoritarianism as necessary and proper, while the OTHER side's authoritarianism is blatant power mongering. If that were true, the Patriot Act would not have survived the Obama administration, and Republicans would sincerely be willing to leave abortion policy up to the states. To a non-authoritarian without a party home, it looks a lot like authoritarians vie for control in both major US political parties - with much success.

Right-wing news dominance: I'm not sure why you think news media is rightward-leaning, or even why we should think that's the case? Perhaps your threshold for "Right" is not well-calibrated? The overwhelming majority of news reporters has been heavily Left-leaning for decades - and trending more heavily Left-leaning - as measured by donations in time and money to political candidates over the years. More strikingly, editors lean more heavily Left than reporters do. This can also be seen in measures of reporting bias, as well as in whether reporters are willing to say negative things about a political candidate. It would be strange if a profession that's solid-Left from the professors on down the line somehow produced consistently Right-leaning content almost none of them believe in.

My personal observation has been that on-the-ground reporters are a bit more of a mix of libertarian/populist/progressive Left than editors, and that editors skew heavily establishment Left. This might lead a progressive, populist, or libertarian Left observer to be frustrated at seeing news that steers away from - and at points actively demonizes - their preferred narratives. They might feel the news attacks their viewpoint (as it often does) and conclude from this that therefore the news is more Right-leaning than the evidence demonstrates - especially as low-level reporters voice concerns that their non-establishment views are being silenced (which they often are).

But I don't think there's a strong case that media actually leans Right in any meaningful way. Indeed, it's difficult to square such an assertion with the push in 2016 to change reporting standards to include editorializing opinions in explicitly news articles and headlines, and to reject the long-held standard of acquiring the opposing viewpoint on a story. Were these moves taken so reporters could stop interviewing Left-wing sources about climate change and misinformation, and exclude those viewpoints from their articles? This is opposite of what I've observed.

Religious ... sexploitation? as a widespread cultural norm on the Right: I'll also take issue with inflammatory claims such as "exploitive sex seems to be endemic to conservative/authoritarian religious sects". Unless you can show me in their charters or proselytizing materials where they explicitly endorse such things for believers, this is less of a claim and more of a smear. I'm not Catholic, and I recognize they've struggled with clergy sex scandals for years - with policies and cover-ups that are abhorrent - but it's one thing to claim that they badly bungled their stated ethical standards throughout the scandals, and another to affirmatively claim that they ENDORSE exploitive sex or that exploiting people for sex is just part of what it means to be a rank-and-file Catholic. (Same for Protestants.)

The null hypothesis should be "Catholics are not holier than non-Catholics", including in the all-too-human desire of their leaders to hide embarrassing/abhorrent behavior. It's certainly a stretch to affirmatively claim sex scandals with Priests MUST mean something nefarious about the rank-and-file, entirely without evidence. The whole point of a 'scandal' is that it's something they tried to hide. Your claim implies it's endemic and widespread, not hidden among a privileged few. We would need evidence for that claim.

Indeed, it's difficult to understand what, if anything, can be gleaned from painting with such a broad brush other than strict partisan fist-bumping. However, if you want to do some digging, you could look at actual differences within the Republican party to try and test this hypothesis. For example, it's well-established that there's a Southern wing of the party (the descendants of the Dixiecrats) that was wooed over to the Republican party by focusing on social issues (especially abortion) in the 60's through the 80's. There are issues that are more overtly religious, and held to stronger by Southern Republicans, in such a way that we can easily distinguish different types of Republican politicians. We might hypothesize, then, that if being staunchly religious makes you more susceptible to sex scandals we would see a statistically meaningful increase in Southern socially-conservative Republican sex scandals over, say, New England fiscally-conservative Republicans, etc. Perhaps there's a cultural difference there, but we'd need to test that hypothesis before we make a claim.

Or we could count up the number of Republican politicians of different religious backgrounds and get a per capita scandal prevalence, then look for a statistically meaningful difference among the several groups/denominations (accounting, of course, for multiple comparisons). That would be a scientific approach to testing the hypothesis that the religious Right somehow makes people more scandal-prone. Again, we'd want to test that hypothesis before making broad proclamations about it.

In my experience, life is often more complex than the just-so stories that come easily from looking at a disparity between two numbers in a quick-and-dirty statistic.

Digging around for statistics that can be read a dozen ways, then telling wild ex-post explanations for why it's 'scientific evidence' of the moral failings of millions of people whose political beliefs you disagree with, is not a scientific approach at attempting to better understand the world, so much as old-school partisan political point-scoring.

I will note that this is something I see a lot on the Right, too, so this argument is in good company. There are plenty on the Right who would also cherry-pick some statistic or issue where the Left totally flopped the science and point out (accurately) that the Left is totally NOT the Party of Science. I often see them go on to claim (inaccurately) that this means the Right must therefore be the Party of Science.

There is no Party of Science. Science is a method of discovery that has no pre-conceived ideology. If you subscribe to an ideology, you may have convinced yourself that you do so because of empiricism, but in my experience that's not the case. Indeed, ideology can ensure the same people will look at the same evidence through different lenses to come to whatever preconceived notion they began at. This isn't a baseless claim. The empirical evidence seems to bear this out:

https://doi.org/10.1093/jeea/jvy025

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You keep saying what the null hypothesis ought to be, but fundamentally misunderstand what makes the Democrats the "Party of Science": they decide what the null hypothesis is.

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Just off the top of my head, that list doesn't include the Tara Reade allegation against Joe Biden. Probably it relates to this criteria: "loss of or damage to reputation caused by actual, accused, or apparent violation of morality or propriety". No reputational damage, no scandal; if no one cares about you, what happened to you doesn't matter.

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It's hard to take Reade seriously. But now that she's "defected" to Russia, we'll never know.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Biden_sexual_assault_allegation

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I think evaluating everything on the level of procreative fitness /at the level of an individual human/ is not useful. It feels rather arbitrary or at least reduces the human experience to something very 2D.

I’m also sure that there are plenty of adaptions that support procreation / continuation of a group that would look prima facie maladaptive taken through EK’s individual organism lens.

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Sep 7, 2023·edited Sep 7, 2023

Yeah, Emil's position seems both unhelpful from the perspective of psychology, but also weirdly ill-informed from the perspective of evolutionary biology. I guess Richard Dawkins has been cancelled or something, but he wrote some very good books.

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Also we tend not to view other "non-mental" illnesses through an evolutionary fitness lens. We view it from a "will this kill you, cause pain, or otherwise disable you" point of view. Those can be correlated with evolutionary fitness, but are certainly not totally overlapping.

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Yeah, I mean the elephant in the room here is obviously the Naturalism Fallacy.

I assume Emil responds to this by saying 'I'm not making value judgements about whether mental disorders are good or bad, so the Naturalism Fallacy doesn't apply' but come on, once you call something a disorder you're making a value judgement. If you're not then use a different word.

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I came here to say this so thank you!

Cancer affects a lot of post-reproductive aged people and it's definitely still a disease/disorder/malfunction.

It's not clear to me what light is shed by looking through the reproductive fitness lens to understand what's a present day health problem, mental or otherwise.

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Absolutely, cancer is a good example. I think the right way to look at this is that reproductive fitness is one among many aspects of “health” (along with being functional in daily life, free of terrible pain, etc). Emil has it backwards in suggesting health js subsidiary to fitness, or at least that’s how I read him.

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Here's a simple test: What traits do you want your children to have?

Schizophrenia? No, that's a massive malfunction.

Sickle cell anemia? No, that's a massive malfunction, although they seem to be making progress on a genetic engineering treatment.

Pedophilia? No, that's pretty bad.

Homosexuality? They can grow up to lead happy, productive lives. But, still, homosexuality reduces your chances of grandchildren ... so ... yeah, that's another malfunction, not as bad the ones above, but still a malfunction you don't wish upon your children. Homosexuality is a malfunction of a _basic_ part of life, so what else could it be other than a malfunction?

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A child who becomes a monk or nun will also reduce your chances of grandchildren.

Would you call a monastic vocation a malfunction?

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Yeah, probably. Monastic vocations were respectable in eras of high birthrates, but rapidly faded as family sizes got smaller. As a Catholic baby boomer, I knew a lot of adults with religious vocations. And a lot of them bailed out in the 1970s for heterosexuality -- I respect them. In fact, many of them are among the best people I've known.

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The real problem with this framing of monastic vocations is that they're not a compulsion. As you observe, they are a choice -- one that people often give up on, and to persevere to the end requires great intentionality and endurance. This belongs in a very different category from involuntary compulsions, which require zero mental effort to maintain and can't easily, if at all, be overcome. I'll posit that mental illnesses should really only belong in that latter category.

A shortcoming with your original framing is that an ordinary vice like laziness is also something that you don't want your kids to have. But of course, everyone is lazy to some degree, so I think this problem is solved by clarifying that we're not merely talking about falling towards the low (or high) end of the normal human range for some characteristic, but possessing a problem that the large majority of people do not have to any real degree.

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Male homosexuality is unusual in that it doesn't all that much exist on a continuum like most human traits. Sexual orientation among men is closer to being a switch: straight or gay.

So, it makes sense to ask parents: Which way do you want the sexual orientation switch flipped in your son?

At present, we don't have a clue how to do this. But it wouldn't be astonishing if in, say the 22nd Century we did.

I suspect that progressive San Francisco Bay Area parents would be leading customers of having their son's switch flipped to straight.

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"Sexual orientation among men is closer to being a switch: straight or gay."

There's some truth to this statement, but I think it's exaggerated. It's very common for "gay men" to have partners of both sexes throughout their lives.

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I think this cuts back to "I’m also sure that there are plenty of adaptions that support procreation / continuation of a group that would look prima facie maladaptive taken through EK’s individual organism lens."

At some level, the odds of passing down one's genes depends on the success of the society the individual lives in, which will tie into things like 'how likely are people to starve to death / die to violence / etc.?' As such, social constructs that remove some of the reproductive individuals from society that also benefit society at large may be better for the reproductive success of the average member of society.

As an example, you may be more likely to have grandchildren if male child #2 is packed off to a religious life when the alternative is male children #1 & #2 fight over who succeeds the family line, and this is before considering the social benefit from having a small class of individuals that are outside the competition for mates (religious callings in Catholicism, eunuchs in China, etc.).

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Sep 7, 2023·edited Sep 7, 2023

> social constructs that remove some of the reproductive individuals from society that also benefit society at large may be better for the reproductive success of the average member of society

If a gene improves the reproductive fitness of the average member of a society, it doesn't increase in frequency in the gene pool. It will only be selected for if it improves the reproductive fitness of carriers more than non-carriers.

Your example of increasing the probability of grandchildren would increase gene frequency, but your example of maintaining social stability would not. (Imagine having a gene for causing the collapse of civilization which also enables its carriers to thrive in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Soon enough, civilization will have collapsed and all the survivors will have this gene.)

Social constructs evolve and spread independently from genes, but if social constructs decrease the reproductive fitness of their carriers, resistance to believing these social constructs will be selected for.

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I think the evidence that argues against this is the success of monogamy, such that similar behavior (mating for life) can be found in some animals. Spreading your genetic material around as much as possible would seem to be the idealization of reproductive fitness, and thus under your arguments should be highly selected for, yet this isn't the case.

Perhaps it's that 'resistance to believing social constructs' is a subset of anti-social behavior, and society by nature works to make sure that conformance to norms of social behavior is highly selected for. From a social evolution perspective, perhaps societies where the benefits from being a member of society outweigh the loss from individual competitive reproductive drive are the ones that truly prosper.

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Sep 7, 2023·edited Sep 7, 2023

> I think the evidence that argues against this is the success of monogamy

Not at all. Monogamy is a compromise between male and female reproductive strategies with some synergistic effects that make it beneficial for individuals and not simply society as a whole.

Dudes clearly DO wanna spread their genetic material around as much as possible, which is why it's so easier for women to get sex if they want it randomly; and for symmetric reasons they usually dont.

The norm of sexual fidelity - one of the strongest and most serious norms we have - is necessary to keep this arrangement functioning, and still people cheat, constantly.

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This criterion is subjective beyond usefulness. For many dads, a son who's disinterested in alcohol and cars would be a malfunction.

Besides, gay couples can have children, and their tendency towards childlessness is driven by social and legal factors much more than by their orientation.

And if a parent converts to antinatalism, then for them Emil's principle gets flipped, and their child's fertility becomes a malfunction.

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Being a traditional Catholic is a malfunction...

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In what way? One set of my grand-parents had 5 children, 6 grand-children, but only 4 great-grand-children, 3 of whom came from my sibling who married a Catholic and converted.

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Well, I mean, I don't want my kid to be one, so by Sailer's definition...

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Not sure why what parents want is a useful test for determining what's illness?

Parents want all kind of crazy things for their kids. They want their kids to be lawyers, to get straight As, to fulfill their unrealized dreams, to take over the family business, to stay close to home, to marry someone they like more, etc etc. Many of these things parents want are not what the kids want and do not move in the direction of the kid's happiness or well-being. Parents are narcissistic. Parents are contradictory.

The purpose of kids' lives is not to deliver grandchildren to their parents. It's to become the people they themselves want and need to become and to live their own lives fully.

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I'm having trouble grasping what water "failure in evolutionary terms" is carrying. It feels quite moralistic but I don't feel any duty to give evolution something. Evolution is a process that doesn't need us. Failure is usually measured relative to a goal. If the goal is humanity's survival, then not everyone needs to procreate. What's the specific goal in your mind that not having children is failing to meet?

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And another thing - why are the interests of the parents the sole criterion here?

I get that the interest of the subject themselves is sometimes insufficient because their judgement is compromised (though in cases like LGBTQ it isn't), but what about the interests of other family members and friends?

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Here's a simple test: What traits do you want your children to have?

Schizophrenia? No, that's a massive malfunction.

Sickle cell anemia? No, that's a massive malfunction, although they seem to be making progress on a genetic engineering treatment.

Pedophilia? No, that's pretty bad.

Homosexuality? They can grow up to lead happy, productive lives. But, still, homosexuality reduces your chances of grandchildren ... so ... yeah, that's another malfunction, not as bad the ones above, but still a malfunction you don't wish upon your children. Homosexuality is a malfunction of a _basic_ part of life, so what else could it be other than a malfunction?

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I wouldn't want my children to grow up having the beliefs of Steve Sailor - that would be deeply upsetting in a way them turning out to be gay would not be - but I wouldn't describe it as a mental illness. Intuitions about what sorts of things we want for and out of our children is one of the least useful ways I can imagine thinking about mental illness.

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I read the "benefitting your friends" dig not over your value judgement over pedophilia but over your value judgement about homosexuality. I think it's a fair assessment.

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I think Scott's point is that pedophilia tends to have bad consequences, whereas homosexuality does not.

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Not in the US, certainly, but by the "bad consequences" standard, homosexuality WOULD be a mental illness in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Nigeria, for example.

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By our definition of bad consequences, or theirs?

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The examples I picked had the death penalty for homosexuality, so probably both? ymmv.

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What behaviors we ascribe the term 'mental disorder' to being contingent on the legality of a behavior seems, once again, unintuitive and unparsimonious.

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I agree. I don't think "bad consequences" is a good criterion either.

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Agreed. I'm not thrilled with the stability of either criterion (if we take Kirkegaard's criterion as described by current reproductive success). ( Alternatively, if we take Kirkegard's criterion as being set by reproductive success in our environment of evolutionary adaptation, then it is stable, but excruciatingly hard to test. )

To add to the frustration: Even if we had a full causal explanation of some of these preferences, all the way from (for genetic ones) base pairs to proteins to neural firing probabilities to behaviors, it still wouldn't make the question of "Is this a mental illness?" more stable over either time or across societies, according to either social or fecundity criteria.

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I'd argue that homosexuality is at most an indirect cause of the suffering gay people experience in those countries. The proximate cause is bigotry against gay people.

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If you would say the same thing about the suffering pedophiles experience in the US, mutatis mutandis, sure. I condemn only hypocrisy.

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Obviously pedophiles cause direct harm. There's no hypocrisy with Scott's statements here.

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No more obvious than homosexuals causing direct harm. Or transsexuals. It's just you just find their proclivities disgusting, and the state wielding overwhelming force agrees with you.

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But then it seems like imposing the death penalty is the mental illness.

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If you would say the same thing about pedophiles, sure. I condemn only hypocrisy.

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I don't think it's hypocritical to say that acts that have a victim should be punished, while victimless acts should not be punished. As another example, in the spirit of consistency, do you think opponents of Communist regimes are comparable to practicing pedophiles, in that both persist in doing something against the law that has a high risk of imprisonment? It seems to me more reasonable to say that one group is performing an act (child abuse) that *any* healthy society would want to inhibit, while the other is performing an act (criticizing the government) that many healthy societies would *not* want to inhibit.

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Yes. Defying the state is a rather dangerous enterprise. I do not judge whether their expected reward is the worth the risk to THEM, but I don't think either would be to me. (Now, if said pedophiles criticized the opponents of the Communist regimes for their crimes, or vice versa, I WOULD condemn that as hypocrisy.)

I'm not keen on the whole "healthy society" framing. Such usually turn out to be "us vs. them" with a few layers of obfuscation, and self-delusion when proposed by intellectually honest interlocutors.

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What if homosexuality was harmful to one or both participants? That's a factual question at that point, even though there would probably be no consensus on what the facts actually are. If homosexuality was factually negative, would you switch your position to be against it, or is there another argument that's closer to your real position?

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>the other is performing an act (criticizing the government) that many healthy societies would *not* want to inhibit.

This, of course, gets to the core disagreement, determining what counts as healthy for the society. The value of being able to criticize the government is by now so established that even the worst dictatorships at least pay lip service to it. Sexual liberation and everything downstream of it, including de-stigmatization of homosexuality, has a much shorter track record, and the position that this in fact leads to unhealthy societies is not an entirely discredited point of view yet.

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Here's the epistemic monkey-wrench: at least a large part of the psychological trauma from child molestation comes from the fact that society expects trauma from child molestation and those who are not directly traumatised are then traumatised by the dissonance.

You can't meaningfully study whether X is traumatising in a society that already widely believes it is.

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I think there are two classes of bad consequences.

Some bad consequences are very society dependent. A society might punish people for wearing green hats or something.

Some consequences are less society dependent. A preference for drinking mercury will lead to bad outcomes no matter what society thinks about it.

Homosexuality is like wearing green hats, while pedophilia would also mess with kids in a society where it was considered good and proper.

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Do you think you could prove that homosexuality is closer to wearing green hats? You could look at things like STD rates among gay men and conclude otherwise - which has nothing to do with society and looks more like drinking mercury.

If it were factually true that homosexual behavior was a negative individually or for society, would you change your mind to be against it?

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Have you looked at alcoholism rates among lawyers, depression rates among dentists, suicide rates among teenagers? The fact a sub-group of people suffers disproportionately from a problem doesn't mean their sub-group is itself ill. It means their circumstances makes them more vulnerable to a certain kind of problem.

It's a public health and/or individual behavioral problem that can be addressed at those levels, without stigmatizing an entire group of people. If you're using the problem this sub-group is more vulnerable to as a means to justify stigmatizing them, then it seems like you might just prefer to do that for your own moral reasons, but not out of logic.

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Just as an observation, I feel like this is the contrapositive of Szasz's position. If it's all on a continuum, either everyone's mentally ill or nobody's mentally ill.

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That doesn't at all address the question. Could you show that homosexual behavior was closer to "green hats" than "drinking mercury"?

If it's subjective, then agreement or disagreement is a matter of perspective and goals. If it's objective, then we should be able to examine which things fall into which categories and demonstrate that one set of behaviors (lawyering, being gay) is something, and that another set of behaviors (alcoholism, drinking mercury) is different.

What we cannot do, is claim that being gay is "green hat" from an objective standpoint, but back that up with subjective criteria.

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In fact, green hats connote adultery in China, and are screened out of content aimed at Chinese markets.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_hat_%28chinese_idiom%29

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Sep 8, 2023·edited Sep 8, 2023

Green hats aren't about adultery. They're about cuckoldry. It says so right in your link!

(And while it's interesting to see that someone else is willing to link to wikipedia alias pages to make a point, here it looks more like you're trying to obscure the meaning of the idiom. That link is just a redirect to the page "Cuckold".)

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It's also worth checking how old the redirect is. In this case, it's twelve years old, so probably not one made specifically to support this point.

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That seems like it's splitting a fine hair: one implies the other, and is the kind of subtle distinction that usually doesn't survive translation.

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I think Emil's point is that homosexuality has bad consequences for homophobes. It makes them uncomfortable.

Scott does not believe this is a big deal because he does not care about the feelings of homophobes but he does care about the feelings of homosexuals. He is not "friends" with homophobes not in a personal sense, but in the sense that they are his outgroup.

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I would say his point is the one he expounds on at length - that homosexuality has bad consequences for homosexuals. The fact that they do not perceive themselves being injured doesn't mean they aren't being injured. (This is a pretty mainstream view as applied to, say, alcoholics.)

He doesn't mention it, but since it seems relevant to this thread I should point out that homosexuality also injures the homosexual's family, and they do perceive the injury.

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founding

Biological reproduction is literally what humans were designed for. It is vital to any society that wants to avoid demographic collapse. And it is the thing that brings most individual human beings more happiness and joy than anything else they will ever do. How is not being able to reproduce, or having substantial additional cost and uncertainty associated with reproduction, not a "bad consequence"?

It's not the *worst* thing in the world. You can live a long and reasonably happy life while gay. But there's no shortage of things that are unambiguously considered illnesses that allow for a long and reasonably happy life.

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Straight or gay, not everyone wants to reproduce. Not everyone finds the same joy and satisfaction there. The human race doesn't need literally every single person to want to reproduce or to love doing it.

Half of humans live decades past the point that they can reproduce and their lives are not over -- nor are they completely fulfilled -- by having reproduced or not. These people do not spend those decades in a state of illness for not being able to reproduce.

I think the amount of human variation in desires we have and the amount of satisfaction gained outside of reproduction is still safe for the survival and flourishing of humanity. Humans were also designed to walk upright, to use our big brains to invent things like fire, and to make art and culture. All that is pretty cool as well.

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Humans were literally designed?

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In his prior piece, Scott wrote:

"We have to classify pedophilia as a mental illness, because we want insurance to pay for treatment. If someone shows up at a psychiatrist saying “Help, I feel an urge to molest children, is there anything you can do to get rid of that urge or prevent me from acting on it?”, I definitely want insurance to pay for this person’s treatment. Therefore, pedophilia “is” “a” “mental” “illness”, and no sophisticated categorization algorithm will ever convince me otherwise."

That's what Scott is thinking of. But he also wrote:

"If you call something a mental disorder, insurance has to cover treatment for it, which is good."

That was in reference to the transgender disorder or not question. Since a large proportion of rationalists are trans including many of Scott's friends, Scott wanting to get funding for this does mean that he is favoring a definition that would get his friends funding for treatment. I wasn't implying that Scott has pedophile friends, but trans and other mentally ill friends and clients that benefit from such definitions.

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Oh, this was the post with the weird gibberish interposed through the text! I was wondering why you had so many weird quotation marks.

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(For context, Scott was writing a lot of sentences that could be very easily quoted out of context, and because there was still an obligation to quote literally, Scott *wanted* them to look weird when quoted, so as to avoid people thinking that those sentences were his complete opinion.)

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Thanks, this makes a lot of sense, and turns what seemed like an extremely out of place jab into a pretty normal misunderstanding. I think Scott should reply to this.

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That was my take, too!

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> Since a large proportion of rationalists are trans

In the 2022 ACX survey, some 95% of people claimed to be cisgender.

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScHznuYU9nWqDyNvZ8fQySdWHk5rrj2IdEDMgarf3s34bSPrA/viewanalytics

Also, I think that accusing him to shape his beliefs so that they benefit the interests of his friends is uncharitable.

Would you also accuse a pro-choice activist to be primarily motivated in securing the right to abortion for themselves or their girlfriend, or accuse an animal rights activist of just trying to benefit their pet?

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Given the *sheer number* of pro-choice activists who use slogans referring to themselves, "my body my choice" and so on, without the slightest shame, it seems utterly undeniable that they're motivated by almost total selfishness.

I can't think of a single other movement that uses such brazenly self-centered language so frequently.

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What about conservatives and their guns. And christians and their delusions? \S

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Examples of such language please?

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“Over my dead body”, “from my dead cold hands” w.r.t. any regulative gun-related proposals.

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Sep 8, 2023·edited Sep 8, 2023

>In the 2022 ACX survey, some 95% of people claimed to be cisgender.

There are layers to the Rat onion. "Reads ACX" is a layer outside "considers self a LWer/Rat" (14% on the survey you link) is a layer outside "literally lives in a polyamorist cult compound in the Bay Area" (not entirely sure what percent this is, but I can't imagine it's over 10% of self-identified Rats).

Scott is part of that inner core. Stats on the whole onion are massively regressed toward the mean compared to that core (and as noted below, 5% is still well above average). Note the 2% Jewish percentage on that survey, despite the notorious abundance of Jews among the core Rats (I have literally seen a neo-Nazi claim we're a Jewish conspiracy).

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Sep 8, 2023·edited Sep 8, 2023

5% 𝗶𝘀 a "large proportion" if what you're measuring is the proportion of people claiming to be transgender. It's about ten times the background rate. (Estimate of people claiming to be transgender from https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/publications/trans-adults-united-states/ ; US population of 330M taken from wikipedia; share of population that is age 15+ also taken from wikipedia; share of population that is age 13 or 14 incorrectly assumed to be zero. But the calculated background rate doesn't shift much if you just divide "all people of age 13+ claiming to be trans" by the total population of the US. It's the difference between 0.481% and 0.485%)

That speaks of either very powerful selection effects or very powerful social contagion effects.

> Also, I think that accusing him to shape his beliefs so that they benefit the interests of his friends is uncharitable.

Scott specifically stated that he wanted "mental illness" to be defined based on who deserved subsidized treatment.

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I'm puzzled about why everyone seems to focus on the homosexuality bit, when Scott was making a much wider point about mental healthcare in general (I even read that bit not about homosexuality but about psychiatry and getting money as a medical doctor)

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Any time a culture war topic like this comes up in a post, it's safe to assume it will become the main thing everyone wants to talk about.

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An illness is a degradation of some natural function with an external etiology. Most of what political hacks want to classify as illness (transgenderism, homosexuality) is actually chimericism: people have a non standard but functional combination of different entirely natural traits. This isn't quite there in terms of definitions. Something like polydactalysm is also obviously not a disease but is not composed of normal human traits. But with homosexuality and transgenderism it is literally just a non standard assemblage of normal sex traits, including normal brain traits. The only weird thing is how high a dose of cross sex hormones trans people's innately gendered brains experience as a result of "natural" puberty.

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I don’t think this approach completely avoids value judgments over what’s “functional” a lot of things will fall into a grey area where it has both positive and negative effects, and judging whether it’s “just another way of being” or “a defect” is not necessarily obvious.

Take, for example, certain types of high-functioning autism, where various mental/sensory parameters are tuned to uncommon settings such that one has a mix of effects, e.g. increased mathematical ability and increased sensitivity to sound. Whether this “should” be considered an illness may be a question that two affected people — one a successful mathematician, the other forced to take care of an ill family member in a loud city — may have very different opinions on.

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It doesn't. But the term still wouldn't be illness. That's the wrong pejorative term for something endogenous.

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"Disorder" applies perfectly well; the problem you run into is that "mental illness" and "mental disorder" are the same thing.

I tend to prefer using "disease" as the indicator of exogeny. That's not better, measured against usage - people are just as happy to call cancer a disease as they are to call it an illness... and I'm pretty sure most people would _reject_ the idea that cancer is a "disorder".

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Honestly there are a lot of hard limits to how much you can change people's thinking by changing language so in retrospect I'm kind of embarrassed to have gotten into this discussion at all.

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I agree with you that the difference between a problem that is caused by spontaneous breakdown and a problem that is caused by malevolent forces is important, and that it's a bad thing that people try so hard to conflate them when they talk about disease. I made that very point on an earlier ACX post (probably the same one that Kirkegaard prompted this post by responding to), and most commenters rejected it then too.

My criticism of you is limited to your assertions that the distinction you'd like to make currently exists in the language. I'm with you on the idea that it _should_ exist.

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Does a genetic problem count as having an external etiology?

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No.

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Sep 7, 2023·edited Sep 7, 2023

Sickle cell anemia isn't a disease? Cystic fibrosis? Cancer?

Unless you're trying to say there's a difference between illness, disease, disorder, condition, and several other words people mostly use interchangeably, in which case see Scott's point about preferring technical terms for weird definitions and letting the common terms mean what common people (political people) want and need them to mean.

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I suggest the broader term "malfunction" to cover everything from sickle cell anemia to schizophrenia. Pedophilia and homosexuality may or may not be mental illnesses, but they are both clearly malfunctions from a Darwinian perspective.

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Seems fine but in that case we're all walking around with quite a few of those, for instance I'm 5'10" and I would do better both today and in the EEA mating-wise if I were a few inches taller (based on evidence that human height has been selected for in most cultures), my height is 90% genetic, so is that a genetic malfunction? Seems weird to call it that, as most people would say any hindrance to me is small and I'm within a standard deviation of normal adult male height. It seems like my genes functioned fine - they just code for something not quite optimal in the human environment for the last few hundred thousand years.

You could say "oh but they save you on calorie burn or maybe the height genes are also intelligence genes so you're smarter for giving up some inches" or any number of guesses, but you can make assumptions and just so stories for anything in the EEA and that just undermines the idea of the knowability of EEA selection pressures.

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Sexual orientation among men is interesting in not being all that much on a continuum like height is, which is distributed pretty much according to basic bell curve math. Instead, male sexual orientation seems to come in an unusual J-shaped curve with a few gays, even fewer bis, and many straights.

So, male sexual orientation is more like a switch: straight or gay. At present, we have absolutely no idea how to flip that switch, but someday we might and parents will have a choice. What will they tend to choose?

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I'm 6'4." Personally, I don't see all that many upsides to being tall. For example, I had cancer in 1996, and having a long torso like mine does increase the risk of cancer.

The main advantage is that women tend to like height in a man. Whether female prejudice against short men could be socially deconstructed by shaming women about their height bigotry is unknown, but the interesting fact about our society is that orders of magnitude less effort has been expended by the media in trying to change female bias against short men compared to efforts to change male bias against fat women. Our culture in the 2020s basically doesn't care about short men at all.

In the past, a tall man signified that he enjoyed good nurture growing up: presumably he had prosperous relatives who kept him better fed than the stunted masses. And prosperous relatives are a good feature in a potential husband. So it made sense in the past for women to be attracted to tall men.

But now, height is mostly a matter of genetic nature. Other than the appeal it holds for the female sex, the advantages and disadvantages of having the genes for height seem to be about equal.

It would definitely increase human happiness if we could socially construct women into being less bigoted against short men, the way men don't care all that much about female height. Without this prejudice, more women could find a man they find attractive.

But nobody cares about this potential social reform.

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I think there'd need to be a qualifier in front of "malfunction", to specify the layer. For instance, on the surface, sickle-cell anemia seems like a malfunction. But last I checked, it was a side-effect of a genetic adaptation that, even including the cost of occasional sickle-cell anemia, increased overall fitness in the ancestral environment.

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I don't like this, mostly because it enables arguments like "why perform surgery on a healthy body", when any treatment that had a chance of " repairing" a trans person into a cis person would be equivalent to brain surgery. A major and commonly appealing rhetorical argument against trans medical treatment hinges on the inappropriate ontological classification of transgenderism as disease instead of condition

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Are you pro or anti medical treatment for transness? I'm confused. Also are you pro or anti treatment for cancer? It seems to me that people prefer to treat both conditions when they have them, why not let them (provided they are voluntarily being treated, doing treatment, and funding treatment - questions of doing surgery on minors or using government subsidies arise in both cases as general questions of consent and cost benefit analysis that apply to all human behavior).

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Mandatory hormone treatment for all people with cross sex brain dimorphism, and state funded surgery. It can come out of the 2000+ year reparations budget we're owed, this is my alternative offer to a truth and reconciliation committee aimed at every bastard ever to participate in human civilization.

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Would a higher rate of suicide (or other mental illnesses, or the dysphoric feeling itself) in trans individuals not count as a mental defect or whatever term you would want to use? You can use the term "natural" to describe it, but then I feel like you're not differentiating between trans and, say, schizophrenics, which are also "natural" in the sense that schizophrenia happens based on normal human genetics and brain growth. Neither are unnatural in the sense of man-made or from an outside source like a car accident.

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You could call it a defect, just not an illness. I'm splitting hairs over the endogenous vs exogenous axis, not the value axis.

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"An illness is a degradation of some natural function with an external etiology."

That would include vasectomies. Perhaps modify the definition to restrict it to _unwanted_ changes?

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A necessary but not comprehensive element of an illness is that it is a degradation of some natural function with an external etiology. This is important because it rules out many things as illnesses, even without fully defining illness. For an example of why, see my second most recent reply in this thread.

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"A necessary but not comprehensive element"

I _think_ you are saying that additional qualifiers can be added which would further restrict what gets classified as an illness. Am I interpreting your words correctly?

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Yes. And I'm doing that specifically to avoid the trap of reintroducing subjective criteria into the part of the definition I care about.

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Many Thanks!

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I enjoy points 4 and 7. They remind me of the old joke that if evolutionary psychologists took their beliefs seriously, they'd stop reducing their biological fitness by ranting about evopsych all the time.

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That's literally just the naturalistic fallacy rehashed.

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Sep 7, 2023·edited Sep 7, 2023

If you're talking about Emil's proposal that all behaviors selected against by the EEA should be considered "disorders", then I agree. If you're talking about my comment, then I have no idea what you mean.

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Why do you (or the hypothetical person telling the "old joke" you refer to) think evolutionary psychologists would consider maximizing their biological fitness a moral imperative?

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Who said anything about a moral imperative?

The joke -- and I can't believe you're really making me explain it -- is that evolutionary psychologists tend to justify all human behaviors as strategies to maximize the chance of successful reproduction, but being really into evolutionary psychology is a human behavior that reduces the chance of successful reproduction by making people think you're a weirdo. Therefore evolutionary psychology fails to explain the existence of evolutionary psychologists.

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Yes, thank you, I got the joke the first time. Immensely droll. The premise is a misunderstanding of evolutionary psychology I was characterizing as essentially the naturalistic fallacy.

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Eh. I know two or three of ev psychology people who have several children; that's a lot better than population average. And ranting about your favorite subject can, if you have luck, raise your status, making it easier to reproduce.

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"Is an interest in philosophy (or science, or art, or any other worthy endeavor) that reaches the point where it consumes your life a mental illness?"

This reminds me a bit of of Hakuin's "Zen sickness".

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"With my teeth clenched tightly and eyes focused straight ahead, I began devoting myself single-mindedly to my practice, forsaking food and sleep altogether.

Before the month was out, my heart fire began to rise up­ward against the natural course, parching my lungs of their essen­tial fluids.[1] My feet and legs were always ice-cold: they felt as though they were immersed in tubs of snow. There was a constant buzzing in my ears, as if I were walking beside a raging mountain torrent. I became abnormally weak and timid, shrinking and fear­ful in whatever I did. I felt totally drained, physically and mentally exhausted. Strange visions appeared to me during waking and sleeping hours alike. My armpits were always wet with perspira­tion. My eyes watered constantly. I travelled far and wide, visiting wise Zen teachers, seeking out noted physicians. But none of the remedies they offered brought me any relief."

Love that. The man starved and sleep-deprived himself and was like "why do I feel unwell?"

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Great job avoiding an argument about definitions while arguing about definitions.

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Emil's concept of "mental illness" already has a name:

It's simply the christian (Catholic, dunno about others) concept of unnatural sexual sin but put in secular terms to appeal to a non-Christian audience.

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Celibacy is not considered sexual sin in traditional Christianity.

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What is “traditional Christianity”? Protestantism? Catholicism? Eastern Orthodoxy?

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I was thinking mainly of Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy.

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The sin is to waste your productive sexual force for an unproductive, hedonistic end. In the Judaism, this is quite literally called: "To extract one's semen in vain"

Celibacy (in the case of clergy) is supposed to be the suppresion (use?) of that sexual force for other productive ends that are more important (to the church) than reproduction.

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I didn't realize that the Jews were worried about Christian morality.

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Glad you mentioned sin. Its a word that has been excised from discourse in our time on both Left and Right so it's difficult now to remember that until about 50 years ago it was part of the mental landscape of most people in the West -- and not just the religious. Its excision is a measure of the viral success of modern narcissistic notions like self esteem.

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Sin requires agreed upon standards. Old ones decayed past usefulness, replacements haven't yet been established. Now is the time of monsters.

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I think that - in fundamentals - sins are mostly no more time-bound than humanity itself. Ours is an age in which the 'I-can't-be-to-blame-so-someone-or-something-else-must-be' has become the default mentality.

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Most of them aren't, but since the standards have traditionally come in tight packages, weakness of one part drags the whole thing down. If we're to stick with the human condition for a long time hence, new packages will necessarily closely resemble old ones in fundamentals.

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Interesting discussion (I think) but I'm not sure if we're agreeing or disagreeing here Xpym? https://grahamcunningham.substack.com/

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Seems like we mostly agree, except looking at your latest post you don't seem to think that this is inevitable? The old order no longer has a consistent self-justification which an educated adult can take seriously, redesigning it from scratch while keeping the essential parts in is entirely alien to the conservative ethos, so they entirely relinquished the intellectual space to progressives, who are going to have to rediscover those essentials the hard and painful way.

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plus Buddhists, plus Muslims, Jews and all of those "pagan tribes" who would consider some sex-stuff highly unnatural if the just could conceive of it (Greg Cochran). Plus those Hindu I met in India - and I could rattle on (Confucianism pro-gay??). The Simbari people and a few other Papuas seem different, sure. But sure, ignoring concepts held by most people ever can't go wrong. Down with the fence! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simbari_people#Traditional_practices_and_beliefs

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Nope. A huge part of sexual sins in Christianity covers sex which would increase reproductive fitness. Polygamy, causal sex, or even rape in wartime are all evolutionary beneficial, and the churches don't like any of them.

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The church (Aquinas, who came up with these categories od sins) considered those sins less bad than Homosexuality, Pedophillia, contraception\abortion etc.

This is because to the church these sins were only bad socially (for obvious reasons) but were still "natural" (in the Latin sense of the word natura) in that they were not sterile sexual acts and they could still result in the creation and continuation of life.

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Frankly, I don't see how acausal sex could be anything but a crime against Nature, regardless of the Church's feelings.

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Agreed, sex which violates causality tends to result in someone becoming their own grandfather, which is definitely a crime against Nature.

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With the Trinitarian view of God's son being the same as God's father, that might be considered "playing God."

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**applause**

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"(I wouldn’t describe this as “benefiting my friends” - I’m against children getting raped whether they’re my friends or not. I think this dig was unworthy of Emil, and ask that he correct it.)"

Are you also against adult men getting raped by other adult men? If so, why are you against pedophilia but not homosexuality?

"Evolutionary psychologists are pretty smart people and can probably coordinate on new terminology and move on, whereas normal people have brought the US to the brink of civil war over pronouns."

Sorry, but it was the "smart people" who invented the bizarre ritual of declaring your pronouns. It falls into the category of things so stupid that only an intellectual can believe them.

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I think Scott's point is that pedophilia tends to have bad consequences, whereas homosexuality does not. I'm sure he's also against men raping other men, but that's quite rare.

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author

"Are you also against adult men getting raped by other adult men? If so, why are you against pedophilia but not homosexuality?"

Because I think most-to-all pedophilic sex is rape (at least in the sense of statutory rape, where even if the child seems to consent they're probably under too much pressure to be comfortable with the situation) and I don't think that's true of homosexuality. Obviously I am against adult men raping each other.

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I agree with all of that, but the point stands that homosexuality causes significantly more men to be raped than would otherwise be the case. Of course, very few homosexuals rape men, just as (probably?) very few pedophiles actually rape children. If you're saying that pedophilia causes much more suffering relative to happiness and fulfillment than homosexuality, then I'd agree--in modern Western society. In a highly conservative society where homosexuality is punished with death and child marriage is normal, the suffering-to-happiness ratios might be inverted.

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Heterosexuality has caused billions of women to be raped. Is heterosexuality a mental disorder?

Obviously the distinction is that pedophilic sex is inherently rape, while gay sex (and straight sex) are not inherently rape.

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Heterosexuality is not a disorder no matter how much harm it causes, because nothing that's a near human universal can be a disorder. Jealously, greed, and arrogance are negative traits, but because they're nearly universal (though not as universal as heterosexuality), they're not mental disorders even though they hurt the person with those traits and often hurt society.

Pedophilic sex is not inherently rape. It's inherently statutory rape, which is in turn because, in many cases, it causes serious harm to children. Homosexuality has also caused enormous suffering. The AIDS epidemic, which first took off in Western gay communities, has killed 40 million people. We have very effective treatments for AIDS now, but that has not stopped gay relationships from being train wrecks, with 58% of gay men cheating on their partners: https://www.thepinknews.com/2018/02/14/most-gay-men-have-cheated-on-their-partner-new-survey-finds/

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Wrong answer caused by starting from your conclusion. Heterosexuality is not a mental disorder despite the incredible number of rapes it causes because heterosexuality is *not actually the cause of those rapes*. Gay rapists don't rape because they're gay; if they were heterosexual, they would just rape women instead of men, and vice versa for straight rapists. You're flinging together a bunch of spooky-sounding statistics about the lives of gay men and declaring that the underlying cause is homosexuality, but in fact you haven't showed causation at all. Being exclusively attracted to people of the same sex is not inherently harmful, and acting on this attraction is not inherently harmful. The same can't be said of pedophilia.

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Yes and Yes again (to the overconfidence in "smartness" part of your comment). "A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep" (Saul Bellow). So much of our 21st c. malaise can be traced to that. In fact could excessive "smartness" count as a mental disorder?

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I think it's astonishing unreasonable to conclude Scott would be accepting of male-male rape based on this article. Your use of this comparison seems to only be explained by an obsession with the culture war clouding your judgment. I'd suggest fixing that

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Except I didn't conclude that? It was a rhetorical question? Read my followup comment, posted well before yours, if you don't believe me.

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Could you clarify what you mean by "believe them"? Declaring your pronouns seems like an action, not a belief, and I would like to engage with you about the belief you object to rather than trying to guess what it is and respond to that.

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Sure, I mean these specific beliefs:

1. That gender is different from sex

2. That you can be of a different gender simply by saying so

3. That the desire to mutilate your genitals is healthy and should be encouraged

4. Even if I grant #1-3, that the gender of a person who looks obviously female and whose name is Samantha is not immediately obvious

5. Even if I grant #1-4, that the number of cases where the correct pronouns are not obvious is large enough to warrant wasting time and effort telling everyone your pronouns. I have never, in my life, been surprised by anyone's pronoun announcements.

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Thanks for answering! I have some responses, because yeah, as you've put them these are silly ideas, but they're also not what people are saying, doing, or believing.

1. is a definition squabble, so let's use different words. Many sources use "gender identity" as opposed to "assigned gender". DSM V describes gender dysphoria as "A marked incongruence between one’s experienced/expressed gender and assigned gender, of at least six months’ duration". Even if you don't agree that someone's gender can be different than their sex, it is axiomatic that their gender identity can be.

2. I agree that you can't have a different gender identity simply by saying so. You have to feel so. I don't know how to tell what someone feels besides by what they tell me. *

3. I don't think that having a different gender identity than assigned gender necessarily means you want to remove your sex characteristics, though in many cases it does. Gender affirming surgery, as the scientific literature puts it, does have strict screening requirements (I believe). As only adults receive it, and children who experience gender dysphoria get reversible hormonal treatments, I'm happy to let adults do what they want with their own bodies, especially since it doesn't hurt others.

4 - 5. There are many inefficiencies in speech. Small talk, for instance. Saying your pronouns takes barely any time and less effort. It's not intended to surprise. As I've had it explained to me, it's to prevent people from making bad assumptions in those few cases where it would surprise you, and to normalize sharing how you'd like to be referred to, so that those with non-congruent assigned gender and gender identity feel comfortable sharing as well. I'm happy to add my pronouns (he/him, since I'm cis) to my email signature and slack profile and then never think about them again, which is how I've handled this.

* "Evidence further suggests that brain anatomy and neuronal signaling pathways are more closely aligned with a person’s perceived gender identity. ... However, not enough evidence has associated these differences with GD." per https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7415463/

It would be really interesting to see if further evidence supports that, since that seems like a pretty objective way to tell.

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3. Letting adults do what they want with their own bodies is a defensible position, though not one I agree with. Normalizing self-harm, having medical professionals dedicated to helping people mutilate themselves, and ostracizing anyone who opposes self-mutilation, is quite different from passively letting adults do what they want. Analogously, it's one thing to legalize all drugs; it's quite another to have a whole industry set up to validate injecting fentanyl, subsidize the fentanyl, praise drug addiction as brave, and fire anyone who dares question whether teenagers should be getting fentanyl or whether they should at least wait until they're adults.

4-5. But I don't want to normalize sharing how I'd like to be referred to. We had a system for referring to people, one that does not normalize disorder or serve as a litmus test for an offensive ideology. I don't even see how sharing pronouns is supposed to make "those with non-congruent assigned gender and gender identity feel comfortable sharing". If someone who's obviously a man claims to be a woman, he's either comfortable with telling people he's a woman and asking them to use feminine pronouns, or not. If he's comfortable with it, why does everyone else have to do the ritual too? If he's not comfortable with it--possibly because he knows deep down how ridiculous his claim is--how does someone else saying the obvious change anything?

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3. At this point, I think we've moved beyond "these are ridiculous beliefs that only an academic could believe" and on to the idea of speech. Your hypothetical mavericks who "dare question" surgical treatment for gender dysphoria express their ideas. People who disagree with them criticize and inflict social consequences on them. Both seem like important parts of the marketplace of ideas. You seem to be applying the Preferred First Speaker doctrine.*

4-5. A few things. One, I think it's a general part of human interaction to tell people how you'd like to be treated, and for others to either treat you that way or not according to their disposition towards you. Two, you'd be surprised how often it's difficult to tell, especially with those who have undergone gender transitions. Three, nobody has to share their pronouns. It's just a voluntary nice thing to do. People are sometimes encouraged to. And surely you can see how people partaking in a voluntary nicety showing that they know you can't always assume how people would like to be treated could make someone about whom you might assume incorrectly more comfortable. This is much the same as any other social glue, like how a coworker saying "hello" to you when you first meet might make you more comfortable than them ignoring your existence.

* 'The doctrine of the Preferred First Speaker holds that when Person A speaks, listeners B, C, and D should refrain from their full range of constitutionally protected expression to preserve the ability of Person A to speak without fear of non-governmental consequences that Person A doesn't like. The doctrine of the Preferred First Speaker applies different levels of scrutiny and judgment to the first person who speaks and the second person who reacts to them; it asks "why was it necessary for you to say that" or "what was your motive in saying that" or "did you consider how that would impact someone" to the second person and not the first. It's ultimately incoherent as a theory of freedom of expression,' as Ken White of Popehat explains it.

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"Sorry, but it was the "smart people" who invented the bizarre ritual of declaring your pronouns. It falls into the category of things so stupid that only an intellectual can believe them."

Reminiscent of Chesterton's classic quote, "If there is one class of men whom history has proved especially and supremely capable of going quite wrong in all directions, it is the class of highly intellectual men."

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It doesn't seem to me that Emil thinks that you believe that mental illnesses are just preferences. He responded to you, but also Caplan(mostly Caplan really).

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