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Culture War Roundup for the week of December 19, 2022

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So Musk polled his followers. Asking whether he should as CEO of Twitter. They said no and he said he'd abide by their vote.

My sense is that Elon didn't really want to buy Twitter after thinking it through, this was likely his real reason behind the "Twitter are hiding the amount of fake accounts/bots" argument. When that didn't come through, he ended up with the platform anyway. But being the CEO of Twitter is little more than a highly paid janitor function. You don't have any real power and your primary function is to act as a piñata for vested and powerful interests. It's no fun.

The main challenge for him now is to not lose any money, but it appears to be a long-shot from where I stand. What are the lessons? Tech CEOs don't have much political power despite having loads of money. Even tech owners are surprisingly weak. It may be fun belittling government bureaucrats as do-nothing wordcels but the Twitter saga has conclusively proven they hold the whip hand when the chips are down.

While it may make more sense for most people to go for a STEM career over a humanities, this episode should serve as a warning sign to conservatives who have spent decades dismissing humanities are irrelevant (long before the "woke" era). The SJW campus liberals may be annoying, and perhaps even ridiculous, but ultimately they have more power than you in society. And that power can be leveraged even in STEM areas.

While it may make more sense for most people to go for a STEM career over a humanities, this episode should serve as a warning sign to conservatives who have spent decades dismissing humanities are irrelevant (long before the "woke" era). The SJW campus liberals may be annoying, and perhaps even ridiculous, but ultimately they have more power than you in society. And that power can be leveraged even in STEM areas.

Yup. @DaseindustriesLtd / Ilforte had a good post on that back on reddit. Dilbertesque enginners vs. management, or wordcells vs. shape rotators might be a fun meme, but until shape rotators start unleashing armed autonomous drones, it's not even going to be contest.

That said, I'm not sold on humanities degrees being the best way to train management. Something like the Boy Scouts is probably more effective, which is probably the reason they nuked it from orbit.

I'm not sold on the idea that management in its current form is even needed to run society.

I'm so not sold on it in fact that I'm actively supporting any effort to automate them away.

All we need is an AI that can create convincing org charts.

It's not that they're needed, it's that if you don't have some of them on your side, the ones from the other side are going to come over, beat you up, take your stuff, and shut you in your locker.

There's a giant asymmetry in that the STEM types have actual work to do. They see the wordcels engaging in wordcelery on the job and think to themselves, "that's absurd, but all I can really do is focus on my work."

The wordcels can fudge the definition of their jobs and end up getting paid to be commissars.

Is accruing political power and shaping the narrative / course of society not 'actual work' to you? It may not be as straightforward, but I can guarantee you it is not easy.

Shit cleaning vs. shit shifting.

Can you explain a bit more what you mean here?

Vocations can be broadly. divided into ones that are positive sum for society (janitor, engineer) and ones that are zero-sum (advertiser, politician). Depending on whether you value pro-sociality or job prestige, you might declare one or the other to be "actual jobs".

I would argue jobs on either end can be positive or negative sum. For instance, people who are in 'real jobs' in food science companies that purposefully make their unhealthy food addictive. They're doing 'real work' not just accruing social power, but actively making society worse.

On the other hand we need to organize people to have a functional, large society. Even though many people in advertising and politics are zero or negative sum, I think that the overall ecosystem is vastly important. We need good politicians who know what they're doing and care, otherwise we end up with a mess of government.

but until shape rotators start unleashing armed autonomous drones, it's not even going to be contest.

The battle cry of the Shape Rotator Uprising: "get rotated, idiot"

Granted, I guess that uprising is slowly trundling along as AI gets better (and it probably doesn't help that John Carmack recently left FB/Meta to focus on AI at Keen Technologies).

Asking whether he should as CEO of Twitter.

Resign? Continue? You missed the most important word in the post there...

("I accidentally the CEO position"?)

Did he even want to run twitter? Musk doesn't really seem to be the type who wants to run the mundane daily operations of a company that is established. He bought it, he made his changes and now someone else can manage employees and emails all day long while he builds rockets.

I actually don't see the woke side winning here at all. Contrary to what some people think CNN journalists having a public group chat on twitter is a small part of twitter. Football (Soccer) is huge on twitter and the La liga and Premier premier league fans seem to care less about the twitter drama. Looking at what is trending right now in Sweden, hockey and football are 4/5 things trending right now. Twitter is huge in the middle east and Japan. Music is big on twitter, porn is big on twitter, day traders use it, it is one of the best ways to follow the war in Ukraine. Even reality TV seems to do at least as well as politics on twitter.

The journalist-class thinks twitter dies without them since their filter-bubble dies without them. Thats like saying facebook is dead without your facebook group since that is most of what you see on Facebook. However, most others don't see or care about your facebook group. Youtube stopped its annual rewind because people were angry that none of the big youtubers were on it. In reality the big youtubers you follow have 0.1% of users following them and there are huge phenomena on youtube that you have never heard of.

Elon hasn̈́'t impacted the user experience of F1 fans, people who want to follow concert tours, get live updates on the oilmarket, watch stuff explode in Ukraine, find out what is happening on a Friday night in Dubai, or view their favorite tiktoker's new video. If anything transactivists are more dependent on twitter than twitter is dependent on transactivists. The woke are powerful because of their voice and their voice is mainly social media. I highly doubt the userbase will follow them to alt-twitter that is twitter from 2021.

Did he even want to run twitter?

If he didn't, why didn't he appoint someone from the start?

He wanted insight into the company and make the changes he wanted. Now that he has put twitter on the course he desires he can move on.

He is used to being the hatchet man, so conceivably he comes in, makes the unpopular but necessary moves, absorbs all the incoming fire, then hands off operations to someone who gets to start with a clean slate.

I will say I used to use Twitter for sports news and following foreign wars, then a little after Elon bought it I kept getting porn popping up and deleted it.

hasn̈́'t

Check your keyboard; I think your fnords are showing.

And while you’re right about the normal use cases of Twitter, there are also push factors if you let all the witches hang around. It’s a site built around harvesting outrage via retweets.

Imagine if every time one scrolled down to the NYT comments, 10% or so were randomly replaced with Fox News comments, and vice versa. I think that’d make a lot of the casual audience either furious or jaded. The hypothesized risk to Twitter is that every topic gets polluted by [insert outgroup opinion] and people leave for cleaner bubbles.

I accept that the insulation of hentai-Twitter is evidence against this. I’m not confident that it generalizes for topics which don’t have a clear equivalent to the nsfw tag.

The hypothesized risk to Twitter is that every topic gets polluted by [insert outgroup opinion] and people leave for cleaner bubbles.

This feels like year zero thinking, like history started when the left assumed the zeitgeist and nothing existed before that. Hypothesised risk? Never mind hentai twitter, the whole site didn't start this censorship shit in earnest until around 2016, and before that there were no mass exits for cleaner bubbles. I don't have to imagine if every time one scrolled down to the NYT comments, 10% or so were randomly replaced with Fox News comments, and vice versa - because I lived it, and people did what they do now - bitched about it constantly but continued using twitter anyway. Hell, that's what the NYT and fox news comments sections were like before they were nixed - and both those comments sections were furious when they were shut down "to combat hate speech" (they couldn't use your hypothesis as the reason to shut them down because everyone could see with their own eyes that nobody was leaving for cleaner bubbles.)

Tech CEOs don't have much political power despite having loads of money. Even tech owners are surprisingly weak. It may be fun belittling government bureaucrats as do-nothing wordcels but the Twitter saga has conclusively proven they hold the whip hand when the chips are down.

That he has made a series of bizarre (drug fueled?) blunders says little to nothing of the actual power someone in his position holds.

series of bizarre (drug fueled?) blunders

Musk is a very impulse guy. Wired did a big exposé of his leadership during the crucial rollout of Model 3. Have a read:

https://www.wired.com/story/elon-musk-tesla-life-inside-gigafactory/

So his behaviour is pretty consistent. It's just being in the open instead of behind closed doors.

says little to nothing of the actual power someone in his position holds.

I disagree. Musk being the owner of Twitter means little since the EU can regulate away any changes and the US Deep State can pressure advertisers to institute an economic boycott unless he behaves. The message is crystal clear: do what we want, or your platform dies. Musk got the message and is now looking for an exit.

This is all 4d chess move by Musk.

Remember the text between Jack and Musk?

...

Ok, if this is what he's going for, I'll have to eat my hat, after tipping it to Musk.

I think it's possible to have some idea that a thing is a good idea, and be broadly correct, without planning it out in advance in the way implied by saying "4d chess"

Jack presided over much of the Twitter Files crap. Bringing Jack back (as indeed seems likely) means bringing the status quo ante back.

Jack didn't own twitter and needed to do what the owners told him. Just because he was running twitter doesn't mean that he agreed with everything twitter did.

Not being aware of it at all is not a mitigating circumstance for a CEO. Nipping it in the bud would be best. Stopping it once it happens and firing those involved would be OK. Being blithely ignorant is utter failure for one in a supervisory capacity.

Funny how everyone here was very much aware that Twitter was ran by leftist activists, but the CEO was not.

Being aware of what happens in your company is the single most important job of a CEO.

It might be the quokka in me coming out, but I think Jack deserves a second chance. It doesn't seem like he's happy about where Twitter ended up under his leadership. Hopefully he learned something from the experience.

I'm not a massive fan of Jack Dorsey but he's a friend of a friend. I think he's probably more libertarian-ish than you'd expect and would welcome the ability to step back into the place after someone else cleaned house.

It's not his sentiment that's the problem, it's his effectiveness. He let the left run Twitter last time he was in charge, why should anything change?

He has the owner on his side instead of a board of directors undermining him? I think that could make a huge difference.

The board doesn't manage day to day operations. If Jack wanted to and was able to, he could have stopped the shenanigans. That he did not suggests either he didn't want to or was incompetent.

He's not though. That is just his public persona. He has presided and oversaw the bannings of many accounts, such as Roger Stone and Alex Jones. He could have vetoed those bans but chose not to.

This is all 4d chess move by Musk.

It's never 4d chess.

It's his company now. If he wanted to fire everyone and bring back Dorsey as CEO he could just do that. There's no need for the Mad King routine.

Good cop, bad cop. Dorsey will have an easier job now.

It could be a good cop/bad cop routine. Musk acts ridiculously and does lots of unpopular things that lay the groundwork for future growth and then is forced to let Dorsey come and fix things in a nimbler way that doesn't have to navigate the pre-existing bureaucracy or the toxic subset of users and employees who Elon has driven off. Jack gets to play savior.

Dumb plan from an investment perspective, if so, but that'll be the story we hear.

Yeah, the "it's 4d chess" explain seems to be pure copium to me. Like, yeah it's possible. But it's far more likely that Musk is just plain screwing up. I think that the "Elon is an idiot" crowd goes too far, as he has successfully run businesses so he clearly has some skill. But that doesn't mean he's incapable of making mistakes, either.

The undeserved heydays of humanities are coming to an end, and it will go back to being a worthless thing it always was.

Maybe , but I think STEM fatigue is just as much of a possibly, too.

Jack had been CEO for most of twitter's life, and was an 'absent ceo' who didn't even make simple decisions, let alone lead the company. Jack's also the CEO of square, plausibly why he had no time for twitter.

It is important to keep in mind that Musk's goal here at large is to end the "woke mind virus" for the future of humanity depends on it

a few tweets doesn't make a coherent and large-scale plan. Why would suing to get out of the twitter deal fight the mind-virus?

My sense is that Elon didn't really want to buy Twitter after thinking it through

He tried to get out of it, presumably because he woke up one morning and realized he'd agreed to buy a white elephant at a price that was well above its arguably inflated share price.

What are the lessons? Tech CEOs don't have much political power despite having loads of money. Even tech owners are surprisingly weak. It may be fun belittling government bureaucrats as do-nothing wordcels but the Twitter saga has conclusively proven they hold the whip hand when the chips are down.

The main lesson here is don't start believing your own bullshit. Musk came in and made a bunch of unforced errors, seemingly under the impression that he'd be able to 'fix' Twitter through sheer personal brilliance and force of will. The reality is that he seemingly has no idea what he is doing and has been governing twitter in an impulsive, personalistic, and reactive manner.

Or, for that matter, maybe it will pan out and Musk will come out looking like an unstable genius. So far Twitter doesn't seem to have had any critical technical failures despite sacking 2/3rds of its staffing. Now, there seems to be a shoe waiting to drop on legal/financial issues, but it is entirely possible that Musk will manage to radically slash prices, weather the storm of financial and legal troubles, and come out the other side with a functioning social media platform. Of course, scuttlebutt says he's trying to flog it off on Middle Eastern oil barons, so maybe not.

this episode should serve as a warning sign to conservatives who have spent decades dismissing humanities are irrelevant (long before the "woke" era). The SJW campus liberals may be annoying, and perhaps even ridiculous, but ultimately they have more power than you in society. And that power can be leveraged even in STEM areas.

I'm not sure why this is the takeaway. It's probably a good lesson for conservatives, but not for anything to do with this particular episode. In this particular parable hubris it is the market playing the role of Zeus, not SJWs.

Now, there seems to be a shoe waiting to drop on legal/financial issues, but it is entirely possible that Musk will manage to radically slash prices, weather the storm of financial and legal troubles

Twitter , unlike many money-losing tech companies (like We Work) has kept its capital burn under control. It has plenty of cash from IPO. Twitter had already gone public a decade before Musk bought it, and the share price was at $45, about the same as its IPO, which one would not expect for a company at risk of going out of business. Elon's cost-cutting measures should further help.

What errors has Musk made?

Loudly broadcasting a strong commitment to free speech, then turning around and censoring not only legal-but-sketchy posts (like the one guy broadcasting his plane location), but even not-sketchy posts (like people talking about competing social media platforms). No matter how you slice it, this was an error. Either it is an error to censor after making such a strong public commitment to free speech, or it was an error to make that commitment in the first place without fully considering the ramifications.

Loudly broadcasting freespeach and then not breaking that means allowing lots of illegal content, among other things, otherwise it's just quibbling over where the line is and thus subjective ( subjective aka objective but only if you have certain priors haha). The error was to make a strong commitment to free speach in the first place I woukd agree.

Yeah, I'm not necessarily criticizing him for not running Twitter in a free speech absolutist way. But it was pretty dumb to say he would do so, and then go "well actually not really" after the fact. Dude should've given more thought to whether he could deliver what he was promising.

What errors has Musk made?

By taking a capricious approach to addressing content moderation. While I like that he has been transparent about the process, it does seem like he has never really thought deeply about this complex problem, and did not come into the position with a clear set of principles on the matter. He probably should not be as hands-on as he is, as he is a shit-stirrer, which is not reflecting well on the prospects of Twitter becoming a more open and fairly adjudicated service.

Depends if you want an open and fairly adjudicsted service, or even believe such a thing is possible.

My rules enforced unfairly in my favour > your rules enforced unfairly in your favour.

With my rules and your rules fairly both discarded as Impossible fantasies ;) for illustration.

What Musk is doing in this view is then only an error inasmuch as it provides a point of cooperative hate, a target, for the opposition to organise against (without the need for communication as Musk provides the target signal flares himself by being clearly non on side).

a) bought Twitter at an inflated price with borrowed money (remember that Twitter is not a profitable company) b) annoyed advertisers with erratic behavior like the poorly thought out "verification" system c) annoys users (especially content creators) with capricious moderation policies that are walked back a short while later.

Ok thanks. Seems mostly like annoying people, but I am not sure that many of them wouldn't have been annoyed no matter what he did.

The inflated price is an error, depending on what the assesment of the value is (I don't think markets fundamentally price things well here, as the power of twitter to shape discourse, or even the info dumpe din the "twitter files" are completely unacocunted for when purchasing individual shares in a way that purchasng them all doesn't.

So far Twitter doesn't seem to have had any critical technical failures despite sacking 2/3rds of its staffing

Regarding this specifically, I think it's incredibly funny how many of the fired employees claimed this. I understand when it's a journalist thinking websites are like some kind of mechanical clock and if there is no one there to crank it every moring it will stop. It's incredible that engineers would say "yep, the system we built is such a massive pile of shit that the moment we turn away it will fall over, shatter in a billion small pieces and no one will be able to even restart it".

A truly amazing endorsement of your own work. Much like walking around with a t-shirt that says "I have a small penis", even if it's true it should be divulged on a strict need-to-know basis.

Eh, as a dev eventually if no one was at the wheel some bad data condition or external change would eventually break something that only someone familiar with the code can fix in a timely manner. Especially when you're doing new development constantly things break all the time. I wasn't really willing to weigh in on either side of whether things would break. If the firings included everyone who knows how a particular system works and that system goes down for some reason, maybe some certificate goes out of date and no one can access the functional account that has sole management rights over that certificate you could see some big pain. It's possible the core platform really is so robust that you could leave it running without touching it for years but it'd be the first such application I've heard of.

t's incredible that engineers would say "yep, the system we built is such a massive pile of shit that the moment we turn away it will fall over, shatter in a billion small pieces and no one will be able to even restart it".

A system that doesn't need you is a system that puts you of a job. The best (for you) is a system that doesn't need you but you tell everyone that it needs you badly.

Why are we deciding the government beauracrats and non stem majors have the power? I think Musks has show twitter has had some ability to tell the fbi to fuck off.

Musks issue is he does weird and unilateral stuff.

I’m not sure what the connection with STEM vs humanities is here?

While it may make more sense for most people to go for a STEM career over a humanities, this episode should serve as a warning sign to conservatives who have spent decades dismissing humanities are irrelevant. [...] The SJW campus liberals may be annoying, and perhaps even ridiculous, but ultimately they have more power than you in society.

I don't really think this follows, or at least not without a whole lot of caveats. Learning the humanities does not really appear to make these people more effective and their influence is definitely not uniformly distributed. If STEM grads decided to spend all their time advocating for policy instead of getting real things done I'd hazard that STEM grads per capita would be significantly more effective at advocating for policies. What Conservative STEM lovers need are more people willing to do activism for no or little pay, not a better appreciation for mid 1600s era poetry.

The lesson, if any, conservatives should take from campus SJWs is to be as active as possible and be absolutely unwilling to allow any nuance. I hope they don't take that lesson to heart.

What Conservative STEM lovers need are more people willing to do activism for no or little pay,

Note that the Progressives do "pay" their activists- with social prestige, kickbacks (DIE positions), and pardons. As other paths to social success close (or are closed- this is arguably the entire point of degrowth if not a major consequence), that pay gets higher and higher- that's generally why people do it.

The other way to success like that is generally kulakdom, but that requires ability and effort; parasitism is an evolutionary adaptation same as any other.

If STEM grads decided to spend all their time advocating for policy instead of getting real things done I'd hazard that STEM grads per capita would be significantly more effective at advocating for policies

I wholeheartedly agree, but sadly STEM grads seem very uninterested in engaging in the broader culture aside from business regulations. Musk is an outlier in this regard, which is why he enrages the established powers.

What Conservative STEM lovers need are more people willing to do activism for no or little pay, not a better appreciation for mid 1600s era poetry.

People who are into 1600s era poetry already display a low preference for monetary rewards, which is why they are good at slogging through thankless tasks like low-pay activism. I suspect these two are correlated.

The lesson, if any, conservatives should take from campus SJWs is to be as active as possible and be absolutely unwilling to allow any nuance. I hope they don't take that lesson to heart.

I don't think lack of nuance is the secret behind the success of the wordcels so much as them caring. Dogged determination always beats a shrug of the shoulder. It's a hard problem to solve because for most people, disengaging with culture cars and just focusing on doing your thing is the more rational life decision. It's certainly the advice I would give most people. Yet cumulatively, it also allows the loud and shrill minority to dominate the cultural space. People over time get influenced by the zeitgeist and thus the Overton window has shifted. Not an easy puzzle to solve.

But being the CEO of Twitter is little more than a highly paid janitor function. You don't have any real power and your primary function is to act as a piñata for vested and powerful interests. It's no fun.

not sure...he can algorithmically suppress certain content/accounts. This can make a difference on the margins for affecting elections. He can also just outright ban anyone, like he did with the elonjet account and then create some adhoc justification for doing so.

You don't have any real power and your primary function is to act as a piñata for vested and powerful interests. It's no fun.

Tech CEOs don't have much political power despite having loads of money. Even tech owners are surprisingly weak.

What does it mean to have real power anyway. In the US it would seem hardly anyone has true, unalloyed power. We saw this during Covid, in which the US health authorities and experts could only make easily-ignored recommendations, unlike in China, in which people were forced to comply. Same for Europe overall. Given that politicians, the executive branch, and Congress have arguably lost power over the past decade, it means that tech companies and tech CEOs may have more relative power. Regulators complain about tech companies violating privacy or are engaging uncompetitive practices, but there isn't much they can do about it. The last time any serious action was taken was in 1998.

The SJW campus liberals may be annoying, and perhaps even ridiculous, but ultimately they have more power than you in society.

Agree. When people talk about how 'useless degrees' don't pay well or jokes about basket weaving, maybe people have preferences that are not aligned with the accumulation of just money, but rather things like 'social influence', which is surprisingly hard to buy. Compare the candidacies of Bloomberg, who spent $500 million and got nowhere, compared to Obama. How are these pitiful basket weavers beating you then in government or DEI if their degrees are so worthless, huh?

We saw this during Covid, in which the US health authorities and experts could only make easily-ignored recommendations, unlike in China, in which people were forced to comply. Same for Europe overall.

I think the American experience with covid rules was quite different to Europe where many of the covid rules were not easily ignored. In Ireland I remember police checkpoints at the city limits enforcing the 5km rule.

In Ireland I remember police checkpoints at the city limits enforcing the 5km rule.

The Irish had to social distance at 5km?

In England it was 1m?!

When people talk about how 'useless degrees' don't pay well or jokes about basket weaving, maybe people have preferences that are not aligned with the accumulation of just money, but rather things like 'social influence', which is surprisingly hard to buy.

Bingo. You nailed what I tried to get at.

Compare the candidacies of Bloomberg, who spent $500 million and got nowhere, compared to Obama. How are these pitiful basket weavers beating you then in government or DEI if their degrees are so worthless, huh?

Regulatory favors are often crucial for business to operate, and a price for that is to get on the side of the bureaucrats' preferred politics.Savvy businessmen like Jeff Bezos understand that and is compliant. Musk is more of a maverick, but will learn with beatings the hard way.

he can algorithmically suppress certain content/accounts

Can he do so without enough backlash to make it counterproductive though? I think the main power behind being able to nudge opinion like that relies on doing so unnoticeably. Making it overt can make it actively counterproductive due to the Streisand effect, as the fact of what you're suppressing itself becomes news.

Musk has been bringing up the degree to which that was going on behind the scenes at twitter prior to his takeover (eg. publicising the twitter files). However I don't think he's in a good position to do so himself - he can't just directly press a button and tweak the algorithm: he needs a technical team to make those knobs available, which could be a big issue. First, he's much more likely to get noticed / caught doing so: one twitter insider leaking those details is all it takes, and I think there are going to be more willing to do so than when those tweaks aligned with the politics of the average twitter employee. Second, the fact that he's spoken against this leaves him open to charges of hypocrisy when he does it, and again, the mismatch in politics is going to make the push-back more severe.

On Elon Musk

I am sure Elon Musk is a really smart guy. But it's evident to me in the realm of playing social/PR games, he is not as savvy. He went from being one of the most liked public figures to one of the most hated in a short span of time. And I think most of that is his fault; that is no small feat.

Twitter is a multi-billion dollar company. I think it's retarded to say the least, that its leader should be chosen based on a public poll. Musk's ideas of governance and political theory are sophomoric, as evidenced by his inconsistent actions on "freedom of speech" and his attempts to be democratic about everything, leaving big decisions to polls.

Or maybe he is just playing 4-d chess and a non-billionaire like me can't even see the multidimensional moves he is making.

On Humanities vs STEM

You are falling for a variation of the apex fallacy. Assuming (the right tail of) two different distributions are congruent.

The most influential/powerful people in society tend to have a humanities background. But that doesn't imply that the average humanities careers have more money/power/influence that the average stem practitioner.

And I think most of that is his fault; that is no small feat.

He publicly went against the moral spiral consensus in several different ways, which nowadays consists of standing still whilst Cthulhu swims left.

I remember being confused about the emphasis on “pull” in Ayn Rand’s novels; was public opinion really such a divisive and powerful force in the 30’s-60’s? But I had grown up in the 80’s and 90’s, when pull was on the wane, or rather when it was somewhat balanced; it came roaring back in the 10’s with vengeance, and now I see how nothing big can be done without the moral approval of pull. And I realized just how privileged the 90’s were compared to the rest of history.

it's evident to me in the realm of playing social/PR games, he is not as savvy

His companies have been built through his ability to obtain large amounts of investment funds on the basis of hype and hope, rather than solid deliverable product, and several have prospered primarily through his ability to worm his way into lucrative federal grants and contracts. None of these things can be done without a LOT of savvy in social/PR games.

Selling sizzle to investors and bureaucrats requires a slightly different set of skills than selling yourself to tastemakers and the general public.

True. But not entirely unrelated. I'm not contesting that Musk missteps, or that he has done so recently. But he's not incompetent.

The most influential/powerful people in society tend to have a humanities background. But that doesn't imply that the average humanities careers have more money/power/influence that the average stem practitioner.

I think I adressed this point in OP, namely that for most people a STEM career would be more lucrative. I was making a broader political point, which should be seen in a collective group ID sense.

I don’t think he is the most hated. That is just in your bubble. He went from being generally liked to be polarizing. There is a difference from being universally hated.

He didn't say he would appoint the next CEO via a poll. He only said that he would step down. There are still another 8 billion people for him to choose from.

I am trying to understand the standard policy on transphobia in online LGBT communities - that making a distinction between women and transwomen is transphobic and as a consequence results in a ban. At present, it is utterly bizarre to me, grotesque even, but I'll try to charitably present their position. Here is a paragraph explaining the rules of the lesbian subreddit, which is in line with most subreddits and forums I've been researching:

Things which are transphobic:

  • Not being interested in, or not dating, a specific woman because she is trans.

Trans women are women. They are often indistinguishable from cis women. They can't get pregnant, but neither can almost 10% of cis women, and fortunately in a lesbian couple there's usually a womb to spare. (With enough forethought you might not need a sperm donor!) Saying you're "not attracted to trans women" as a blanket statement cannot have a basis in empirical reality, but purely in prejudice. It's not like not being attracted to redheads or blondes or butches, it's like not being attracted to immigrants, children of blue-collar workers or survivors of cancer. "Trans" is, for the numerical majority of trans women, a history which says nothing about the person.

There's also an elaboration that since not all transwomen have a penis, and since not all transwomen can easily be detected as having male features, then saying that you are categorically opposed to dating transwomen (because of either a penis or male features) makes you a transphobe.

So their argument is that since (1) there are some transwomen who are physically indistinguishable from women, and (2) there are also women who cannot get pregnant but you would have no problem dating, then (3) your prejudice towards transwomen must be based on the principle that women and transwomen are ontologically different, and therefore this makes you a transphobe.

The main objection here is that there are in fact zero transwomen who are indistinguishable from women with a womb. The paragraph above was written by a transwoman and is, to me, wishful thinking. They link to an Instagram of a transwoman who is supposed to illustrate how women-like their appearance can be, but even with the best filters and makeup there is something off about them, and in person this would be easily spotted. Even if there are some who would realistically pass a first-impression test, their body (hips, jaw, Adam's apple, "vagina", body odor) would soon give them away, and possibly also their behavior would seem incongruent. And all of this is based on the premise that people's sexual preference are based on formal logic as opposed to general trends in a group's appearance - most transwomen are not even close to passing and that's why many men have a categorical aversion to transwomen.

I tried asking this question on a few different subreddits but my post doesn't even show up and I received one ban as well, so here I am. Can anyone try to justify the transphobia policy above?

I think the closest thing to a justification would be a bare-faced assertion of a veritable asteroid shower of Russel's Teapots of trans individuals. If you take it on faith that there are innumerable trans people who pass without fanfare in their day to day life, then you can get to the above position.

Of course, you can only hold to that position not only by asserting the existence of the many perfectly stealth trans individuals, but by censoring both the first-hand reports of people who can clearly see that male and female are distinct clusters, and that there are several key distinctions (several of which you mention). But again, if you take it on faith that there are a horde of trans passing people, then people who say they can tell the difference can only be lying, as must be the various medical literature, and likewise any experiments anyone poses which show how poorly a sample of trans people pass in person must be poorly-constructed and malicious.

I think you can end up with similar justifications if you posit any kind of holy doctrine and any kind of powerful Satanic deceiver figure. If you have a revealed truth and a way to dismiss any claims that would challenge that truth, you can justify any excesses the revealed truth claims.

I suspect that the answer is simply that the people pushing these policies are wrong. ‘Trans women are often indistinguishable from cis women’ is a blatant lie, as you note, and so is ‘trans is… a history which says nothing about the person’. This is about forcing people to go along with a set of obvious falsehoods because of some reason or other, which I suspect boils down to the feelings of trans women. So in that sense, you can’t justify it without buying into their trivially false frame.

The rule is don't say something that someone might get offended by irregardless of the truth and if you're really good you can avoid anything that could even imply something offensive. Taken in the context of a place trans people have made their presence known and where it is known that trans people are offended at any implication that they are not the same as cis people of their chosen gender this means to be polite one must deny that there are differences. The truth value doesn't matter at all, this is 100% about feelings(I don't mean this as a sneer, I'm just describing how the social pattern works).

They don't say this outright because it would be required to explain that the truth isn't important which itself would break this rule by implying that trans people are only being humored. This doesn't just apply to trans people, it's the same basic pattern as healthy at every size or not telling libertarians at the conference that they'll never be elected if they can't fit public roads into their policy positions. If you've ever done the dance itself it all is pretty intuitive, especially in person.

It’s not just trans people, women in general and feminine men tend to value feelings over truth (on average). Since these spaces are dominated by lesbians and feminine men (gay men) they tend to focus on feelings and social harmony over truth value or free speech

valuing not visibly upsetting or insulting others isn't "valuing feelings", it's a specific dynamic. Women don't value "feelings" generally more than "facts" (how would that even work, feelings come from facts), they value social appearances and ideas more.

No, you’re wrong. Visibly upsetting someone or invisibly upsetting, it’s the same. In other words, it’s feelings.

I also never said facts, I said truth. When two truths collide, the emotional truth wins out in these spaces, that is incontrovertible

My point is that 'upsetting' != 'feelings'. 'Feelings' ... there are a lot of definitions/meanings for that term, none of which really make sense as a separate thing, but it almost always is seen broadly - the classic idea is that "happy", "sad", "mad", "tired", "bored" are relevant. "Upsetting people" is bad, yes. But that isn't because women value feelings, it's a specific dynamic involving upsetting or insulting or demeaning people. Same for emotional - 'avoiding upsetting people' is not "the emotional winning", that's proves way too much, racist or sexist or offensive 'strong emotions' do not win out against opposing less-strong emotions!

feelings come from facts

I've found this to be true for myself, and other straight men.

In my experience this is much less true, with straight women and a type of homosexual men. In many situations they'll experience an emotional response to a set of perceived facts, or their lived truth. Later they'll remember the feeling, in spite of their facts being a poor fit for reality.

Well, speaking for myself I can say that even if I did meet a man who I felt physically attracted to but who I later found out was a transman, I would probably decline to pursue them because I have a categorical aversion to dating natal females. And I do suspect that many people feel similarly, i.e. that many straight men wouldn't date a transwoman they felt attracted to specifically because they have a categorical aversion to dating natal males, ditto for straight women not wanting to date transmen, lesbians not wanting to date transwomen, et cetera. So I think there is something to the notion that a refusal to date trans people isn't always based purely on physical attraction or lack thereof, and has something to do with not wanting to date people of certain categories/identities.

I don't think attitudes like that are transphobic though, it's not like I don't want to date natal females because I have something against them. Nor is the fact that I group transmen with natal females some kind of value judgement. Nowadays simply not validating a trans person's gender identity is considered transphobic, but I don't agree with that. I think there's a world of difference between having contempt for trans people and simply not agreeing with them about which gender category they fall under, and we should draw clear distinctions between these attitudes and describe them using different words.

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It's pretty simple really. Mocking or ridiculing them for being trans, taking it as a sign they're a potential sexual predator, suggesting violence should be visited upon them for being trans, wishing them to be disowned by their family or socially ostracised generally, celebrating high rates of suicide among them would all constitute holding trans people in contempt: basically, considering them to be bad people, expressing hatred toward them or wishing harm upon them.

Whereas not validating their gender identity, i.e. refusing to agree that trans women are women or trans men or men, whether or not one chooses to use their preferred pronouns, is obviously not in line with modern pro-trans ideology but doesn't indicate a hatred of them. Nor does believing they should not be treated the same way as cis members of their preferred gender when it comes to sports or changing rooms or prisons and other gender-segregated spaces, or believing they should not be medically transitioning at a young age or without going through a thorough screening process to verify their gender dysphoria, or that in some cases transition is not necessary. Basically it just comes down to the fact that not affirming their beliefs or identity isn't the same thing as despising them the way people on places like /pol/ tend to.

Point deer make horse. Denial of reality as obvious as this makes for a strong signal of loyalty. Lesbianism is more political than biological anyway. You don't even have to sleep with a man dressed as a woman, you just have to agree it's a woman while other people are around.

[citation needed]

I can guarantee you that there are women out there who only fuck other natal, XX women.

Yes I agree, what did I say to the contrary?

Oh...what did you mean by “lesbianism is more political than biological?”

I think lesbians are more motivated by dislike of men [they can attract] than attraction to other women. There's even a whole wiki article on Political Lesbianism, in which the proponents themselves assert this is a political choice. The corresponding article does not exist for gay guys, whose commitment nobody doubts. It also fits with the whole "lesbian dead bedroom" phenomenon. These things can all be true while there are many women who only have romantic encounters with other women.

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I can provide citations but most data supports the idea that the vast majority of lesbians have had sex with men. This is in sharp contrast to gay men who generally only sleep with men, ever, suggesting true lesbianism is exceedingly rare

A significant proportion of gay men (almost half) have had female sexual partners at some point. This dovetails with my ancedotal experience wrt to the gay men I know personally. The number is higher for lesbians, but not that much higher and it seems to be a difference of degree not of kind.

Alternatively, it's far easier to have sex with men than women. A lesbian woman can have sex with a man on a whim, while a gay man would need to exert some effort to have sex with a woman. The data you describe would arise naturally from that.

Maybe, but I doubt it’s about ease. Prostitution exists after all, if they were really wanting to try it.

I'm not actually sure prostitution is "easy" for people, even when they have the ability to pay and a legal environment favorable to prostitution.

Some combination of religious guilt, and social stigma would be more than enough to dissuade men looking for a good time from seeking out prostitutes.

A lot of incels who are terminally unhappy not only about their sexlessness but also about their virginity never go to prostitutes. Taking that kind of hit to your self-worth and become the kind of person who would solicit a prostitute (on top of other risks, such as legality and STDs) does not seem worth it for a lot of people.

Not that I disagree, but maybe group sizes? If women generally are more 'fluid' in what they claim, there could be a "actual lesbian" population and a "college lesbian" population that is larger, and the former could be woman-exclusive while the latter would have sex with men.

"College lesbians" definately exist. I guess the question would be whether the "actual lesbians" exist, though I'd expect this to be one of those fraught questions that people just sort of give up on asking.

Probably a lot of (maybe all? idk) 'real lesbians' are such because of complicated environmental and intentional factors as opposed to 'born that way', but they are much more committed to it than the more casual lesbians are.

For being a lesbian? Source/explanation?

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Do you also mean grooming?

There are situational homosexuals. Prison, military, boarding schools, etc.

Also I'm mostly convinced that much of the 'experimenting' and binge drinking in my peer group in the 90's was largely due to lack of female companionship.

Lesbianism is more political than biological anyway.

Your comment is a bit... curt, I guess I want to say, given the strength of its claims. To much heat, not enough light. Which is not to say there's no light there, but if you're going to assert that lesbianism is "more political than biological," that seems like the sort of thing you should say with evidence, at least a bit. You didn't even hyperlink the idiom--some amount of shibboleth-slinging is bound to crop up in any community, but still it would be better to speak a bit more plainly.

One minor point: lesbian subreddits have a disproportionate number of trans woman mods. You shouldn't take what they say as representative of the broader community. The very fact that we see it declared a bannable heresy is an indication that there are heretics. A majority of lesbian women prefer to date natal women.

The main point: as a thought experiment, suppose it were possible to transplant a consciousness into a body grown in a vat or something. That body is indistinguishable in every way from a natal body of the same sex. And then you start dating someone who has one of these bodies and you like them more than anyone you've ever dated, but a month later they tell you their natal body was the opposite gender of their current ones, and you react with revulsion and end things. Is it "transphobic"? I don't love that word because it carries with it an overly negative connotation, but it does seem like it would be a psychological issue that wouldn't serve your own interests well. (Although the harm here would be to yourself, not to the "trans community").

Of course, it's a very relevant point that in the reality we live in we're currently far from creating bodies that don't leave a trace of their original sex.

There can actually be something important to a potential partner about the psychology of someone who would step into that lab grown body and the framing is doing a lot of work. It's like in the same scenario but instead you find out they have made all of their life decisions by consulting an aggressive psychic who they refuse to stop consulting the psychic or agree that psychics are not purveyors of truth.

I suppose a variation of the framing would be to compare whether you'd judge a transwoman more harshly than a natal female who just took on a hotter synth female body.

You can still imagine there's just something off about someone who really didn't like their birth sex, in a way that's deeper or more problematic than someone who just wants to look hotter. But I'd want to see evidence of that (in that hypothetical world). Would gender swappers generally have worse outcomes or behavioral patterns than regular people?

It's a whole can of worms, it would also be very important how they framed it. I find most of the current thought justifying transgenderism to be pretty vacuous and would be much more receptive to someone just saying they did it because they reviewed their options, maybe tried both and pragmatically decided that they'd prefer to be the opposite sex rather than all this mysticism around some immeasurable innate gender. Which I think is where your hypothetical breaks down, people care quite a bit about what their prospective partners think/believe. Someone who is convinced on psychics would make a bad partner for me regardless of their body. I do think there is also some matter of a lot of path dependent psychological development happens on one side of the fence or the other that can't be undone, and if it can that machine starts seeming a whole lot more like something that kills someone and then creates a new person.

This discussion would probably at some point call for an examination of Blanchard's autogynephilia hypothesis, i.e. that some men are sexually aroused by the thought of themselves as a woman, and that this is the motivational mechanism behind some trans sexuality. Now I am not the person to have that discussion because I know way too little about it. Autogynephilia sounds like the kind of thing psychologists would make up, honestly, but I am not qualified to make that claim on any proper foundation.

Many people are sexually interested in excrement, imagining yourself as the object of your desire seems like the kind of philia you'd be surprised if it didn't exist.

I think there's two different claims that need to be distinguished here.

It is undoubtedly true that some men have a "forced feminization" or "sissyfication" fetish. One only need google those two phrases, and you'd be presented with a ton of examples of this.

And at least some of the trans women online are open about formerly being AMAB with such fetishes.

However, the question is one of causality. Do the transwomen with sissyfication fetishes have them because they are trans, or are they trans because they have sissyfication fetishes?

I could easily imagine a world where people who are trans happen to like sexual fantasies where they magically get turned into women. It wouldn't be that different from women with rape fetishes - their guilt is a turn off, so a scenario that takes the control out of their hands and bypasses their guilt is incredibly attractive.

Right, and my possibly slightly spicy take on this is that this is a much more understandable and reasonable justification for identifying as a woman than most I hear from trans advocates. I'm not surprised it's what many people assume is going on in most MTF cases when they called MTF Trans women perverts. I can't figure out the internal logic on transgenderism without a motivation like this. The only other reasonable alternative is that there is some internal sense of gender that I and people like me are blind to, and this is really hard for me to believe.

Right, and my possibly slightly spicy take on this is that this is a much more understandable and reasonable justification for identifying as a woman than most I hear from trans advocates.

Understandable to who?

Because the US political milieu and arguably legal system is biased towards claims about inherent characteristics (i.e. you can't discriminate against me cause I was born this way!). I don't think the "trapped in the wrong body" position is really carving reality at the joints (at least not in the normative sense people want - someone with a foreign limb could claim they feel "trapped" in their body - nobody thinks this validates their "identity", we just think they're delusional).

But that doesn't mean that it isn't useful, politically.

Edit: removed for potential consensus building, repetition.

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The only other reasonable alternative is that there is some internal sense of gender that I and people like me are blind to, and this is really hard for me to believe.

Even Blanchard's typology allowed for "homosexual transsexuals" ("gay men" who transitioned young in order to score straight men), so even in his theorizing there's more reason than sissyfication fetishes to explain being trans.

That said, I'm not sure I think one needs a bespoke "sense of gender" to explain trans people either. I doubt people evolved a specific biological mechanism to become true "weeaboos", and yet some subset of American youth immerse themselves in Japanese culture and entertainment all the same. I think this can easily be explained by more general mental mechanisms - autism-like special interests, being an outcast from mainstream culture, being extremely online, etc.

I suspect that sex is such an obvious social trait, that there would always be a non-zero number of people who get a trapped prior that their life would be better if they had been born the opposite sex (or could start living as the opposite sex), or who have general feelings of body dysphoria or feelings of social ostracism that get channeled through envy of the opposite sex in some way.

The question then becomes the best way to deal with this trapped prior. Unlike with a phobia, where the person is going to keep living in a world with, say, dogs, and it is probably best to use a reliable, evidence-based therapy to lessen or eliminate the person's trapped prior, I suspect that the existence of hormone treatments and surgeries make it more difficult to remove this trapped prior.

Supposedly, people's pain tolerance is lower if they know they can get a pill that will block their pain. This makes sense to me - if your only option is to endure pain, better that your baseline biology pony up with natural painkillers or distractions that make it easier to endure. But if you now know that there's a quick fix, your strategy naturally shifts to convincing the gatekeeper of pain pills that you deserve pills to block your pain. You'll subconsciously convince yourself that your pain is unbearable, because truly believing that your pain is unbearable is the best strategy to convince a gatekeeper of that fact.

Maybe the trapped prior of sex or sex role dysphoria is the same thing? You think the grass is greener some way (your soft male physique would be better received with boobs and make up, people would treat you more nicely, etc.), that your current life sucks (possibly true), and that your best option is to jump through all the hoops the local doctor sets up for you and get some hormones (or to just acquire some hormones from the black/grey market.)

In this model, the "social contagion" would just be the simple knowledge of the fact that semi-reliable treatments exist.

I don't know what the most responsible thing to do if the trapped prior model is correct. Do we have reliable ways to move trapped priors? Somehow, what gets called "conversion therapy" by opponents doesn't seem like a very likely way to work, but I don't know what the evidence actually looks like on that front.

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Seems like bog standard fetish drift to me. Didn't that come up some while ago in a discussion about conversion therapies? But yeah, fetishes tend to get more extreme over time, and you can absolutely meme yourself into having one. Combined with all the aggressive trans-propagandising going on where people say things like "if you're even asking the question of if you might be trans, then you probably are"...

I just want to point out that using irrational means to make difficult decisions isn’t necessarily wrong.

In traditional matchmaking, the irrationality of astrology was one of the best aspects of it. The matchmaker had knowledge of parental preferences and their broader social standing, so it wasn't fully random. But choosing one match over another was often considered a slight against the losing family and could result in a loss in standing. Astrology's opaqueness gave plausible deniability so everyone could walk away from the encounter while saving face.

Contemporary people sometimes use it now to soften the blow of rejection: blame it on the fact that the suitor is an Aquarius, and the suitor can just walk away mumbling to himself that the rejector is just crazy.

This idea that consciousness and body are somehow separable is sort of mainstream especially around here, but it deserves more scrutiny. You are your body and vice versa.

That is a wider debate around transhumanism which would be fun if we could make it happen.

Seems to me that transhumanism is for those who are ashamed of their bodies.

There's a flavour of reddit type person who is smart, so of course believes that people's status should be derived from that alone. They are often ugly and have poor social skills. This person loves transhumanism.

People I disagree with are ugly

Seems to me that transhumanism is for those who are ashamed of their bodies.

You don't need to be ashamed of your body to recognize that you can improve upon it.

Improve upon it by getting some sort of robotic implant, magic smart pill: you're trying to escape the normal hierarchy, denying its legitimacy

That's not the same as being ashamed of it though. My heart will at some point give out, wanting a mechanical replacement is entirely within the normal hierarchy because it will be made by humans, created by our brains and our hands. Might as well complain about antibiotics and surgery surely? Eating properly requires your mind actualizing change into the world. Same with surgery and prosthetic limbs and replacement heart valves and beyond. Almost by definition anything we do is part of the normal hierarchy of the world. It cannot be otherwise.

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What's your take on walking canes and reading glasses?

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We've spent much of our evolution path as a human society denying the legitimacy of the jungle hierarchy.