site banner

Culture War Roundup for the week of April 24, 2023

This weekly roundup thread is intended for all culture war posts. 'Culture war' is vaguely defined, but it basically means controversial issues that fall along set tribal lines. Arguments over culture war issues generate a lot of heat and little light, and few deeply entrenched people ever change their minds. This thread is for voicing opinions and analyzing the state of the discussion while trying to optimize for light over heat.

Optimistically, we think that engaging with people you disagree with is worth your time, and so is being nice! Pessimistically, there are many dynamics that can lead discussions on Culture War topics to become unproductive. There's a human tendency to divide along tribal lines, praising your ingroup and vilifying your outgroup - and if you think you find it easy to criticize your ingroup, then it may be that your outgroup is not who you think it is. Extremists with opposing positions can feed off each other, highlighting each other's worst points to justify their own angry rhetoric, which becomes in turn a new example of bad behavior for the other side to highlight.

We would like to avoid these negative dynamics. Accordingly, we ask that you do not use this thread for waging the Culture War. Examples of waging the Culture War:

  • Shaming.

  • Attempting to 'build consensus' or enforce ideological conformity.

  • Making sweeping generalizations to vilify a group you dislike.

  • Recruiting for a cause.

  • Posting links that could be summarized as 'Boo outgroup!' Basically, if your content is 'Can you believe what Those People did this week?' then you should either refrain from posting, or do some very patient work to contextualize and/or steel-man the relevant viewpoint.

In general, you should argue to understand, not to win. This thread is not territory to be claimed by one group or another; indeed, the aim is to have many different viewpoints represented here. Thus, we also ask that you follow some guidelines:

  • Speak plainly. Avoid sarcasm and mockery. When disagreeing with someone, state your objections explicitly.

  • Be as precise and charitable as you can. Don't paraphrase unflatteringly.

  • Don't imply that someone said something they did not say, even if you think it follows from what they said.

  • Write like everyone is reading and you want them to be included in the discussion.

On an ad hoc basis, the mods will try to compile a list of the best posts/comments from the previous week, posted in Quality Contribution threads and archived at /r/TheThread. You may nominate a comment for this list by clicking on 'report' at the bottom of the post and typing 'Actually a quality contribution' as the report reason.

Jump in the discussion.

No email address required.

A heads-up: Yudkowsky will be talking AI with YouTube long-timer Ross Scott on the 3rd. This comes after Ross's last videochat with fans [warning: long, use the timestamps in one of the comments to skip around], where AI and Big Yud came up.

I expect that Ross will be able to wring some sort of explanation about AI risk out of Yudkowsky that will be palatable to the everyman. Ross has talked about things like Peak Oil before (here's an old, old video on the subject), so I think it will be interesting to see. I'll have to see if I can find out Ross's position on AI risk so far.

Yud should stop trying to convince the everyman. I’m not saying that no one should do that, just that Yud specifically should not bother with it. It’s not good for his mental health or morale to be dealing with people this dumb. It clearly disturbs him on an emotional level.

Maybe it's just because I'm not in on the game enough, or that I'm getting bored, or that I'm a little too honest about being stupid, but I'm starting to get the same kind of vibes from these interviews as I get from listening to one too many interviews with 'science popularizers' and physicists talking about black holes and solar systems or whatever. At some point the endless stream of analogies, abstractions and hypothetical arguments just starts sounding like a 2 hour poem about math that I don't understand.

You can assure me it makes sense. You can explain to me how this new and exciting theory of the universe, that hinges entirely on mathematical assumptions, is like dumping a gallon of milk into a box of cereal before pouring it into the bowl, and I can maybe relate to that analogy because I know milk and cereal. But, again, at the end of the day I will never be able to relate that analogy to what is actually being talked about because all that's really there is theoretical math I don't understand.

These conversations seem to follow a similar but slightly different path of, there's no actual math, just assumptions being made about the future. The AI man says we are doomed if we continue. Here's a powerful analogy. Here's technobabble about code... Like, dude, you got me, OK? This appeals to my vanity for coffee table philosophical arguments and you are a credentialed person who sounds confident in your convictions. I guess we are doomed. Now, who is the next guest on Joe Rogan? Oh, science man is going to tell me about a super massive black hole that can eat the sun. Bro, did you know that a volcanic eruption in Yellowstone park could decimate the entire planet? This doctor was talking about anti-biotics and...

I don't want to come across as too belligerent, but all this stuff just seems to occupy the same slot of 'it feels important/novel to care'. I'm not going to pretend to understand or care any more than I would care about Yellowstone. I'll accept all the passionate believers telling me that they told me so when the inevitable mega-earthquakes happen.

But until then I'll just continue enjoying the memes that predate our inevitable apocalypse with the same urgency that the people worrying over AI show when enjoying yet another 4 hour interview, followed by days of more rigorous debate, over the ever encroaching extinction level threat that is AI.


You can explain to me how this new and exciting theory of the universe, that hinges entirely on mathematical assumptions, is like dumping a gallon of milk into a box of cereal before pouring it into the bowl, and I can maybe relate to that analogy because I know milk and cereal. But, again, at the end of the day I will never be able to relate that analogy to what is actually being talked about because all that's really there is theoretical math I don't understand.

Your broad impression is correct with one massive caveat: there's no there, there. It is about milk and cereal, and the pretense that the analogy simplifies some profound idea is a pose, it serves to belittle and bully you into meek acceptance of the conclusion which is not founded on some solid model applying to the bowl and the universe alike. Yud's opinions do not follow from math, he arrived at them before stumbling on convenient math, most other doomers don't even understand involved math, and none of this math says much of anything about AI we are likely to build.

It's important to realize, I think, that Yud's education is 75% Science Fiction from his dad's library and 25% Jewish lore in cheder he flunked out of. That's all he learned systematically in his life, I'm afraid; other than that he just skimmed Kahnemahn, Cialdini and so on, assorted pop-sci, and some math and physics and comp sci because he is, after all, pretty smart and inclined to play around with cute abstractions. But that's it. He never had to meet deadlines, he never worked empirically, he never applied any of the math he learned in a way that was regularized against some real-world benchmark, KPI or a mean professor. Bluntly, he's a fraud, a simulacrum, an impostor.

More charitably, he's a 43-year-old professional wunderkind whose self-perception hinges on continuing to play the part. He's similar to Yevgeny «Genius» «Maestro» Ponasenkov, a weird fat guy who LARPs as a pre-Revolutionary noble and a maverick historian (based). Colloquially these people are known as freaks and crackpots, and their best defense for the last two millenia is that Socrates was probably the same but he became Great; except he did not LARP as anyone else.

I know this dirty observation is not polite to make among Rationalists. I've talked to really smart and accomplished people who roll their eyes when I say this about Yud, who object «come on now, you're clowning yourself, the guy's some savant – hell, I've got a Ph.D in particle physics and won at the All-Russian Math Olympiad, and he's nobody but talks jargon like he understands it better than my peers» and I want to scream «you dumb defenseless quokka, do you realize that while you were grinding for that Olympiad he was grinding to give off signals of an epic awesome Sci-Fi character?! That for every bit of knowledge, he gets a hundredfold more credit than you, because he arranges it into a mask while you add to the pearl of your inner understanding? That the way Yud comes across is not a glimpse of his formidability but the whole of it? Can you not learn that we wordcels are born with dark magic at the tips of our tongues, magic you do not possess, magic that cannot remake nature but enslaves minds?»


Let's talk about one such analogy, actually the core analogy he uses: it's about human evolution and inclusive genetic fitness. AGI Ruin: A List of Lethalities, 5th Jun '22:

Section B:

So why not train a giant stack of transformer layers on a dataset of agents doing nice things and not bad things, throw in the word 'corrigibility' somewhere, crank up that computing power, and get out an aligned AGI?

Section B.2:  Central difficulties of outer and inner alignment.

16.  Even if you train really hard on an exact loss function, that doesn't thereby create an explicit internal representation of the loss function inside an AI that then continues to pursue that exact loss function in distribution-shifted environments.  Humans don't explicitly pursue inclusive genetic fitness; outer optimization even on a very exact, very simple loss function doesn't produce inner optimization in that direction.  This happens in practice in real life, it is what happened in the only case we know about, and it seems to me that there are deep theoretical reasons to expect it to happen again: the first semi-outer-aligned solutions found, in the search ordering of a real-world bounded optimization process, are not inner-aligned solutions.  This is sufficient on its own, even ignoring many other items on this list, to trash entire categories of naive alignment proposals which assume that if you optimize a bunch on a loss function calculated using some simple concept, you get perfect inner alignment on that concept.

Point 16, Misalignment In The Only Precedent We Know About, is a big deal. There are 46 points in total, but it's a bit of a sham: many about AGI being smart, politics of «preventing other people from building an unaligned AGI», handwringing in 39-43, «multiple unaligned AGIs still bad», other padding. Pretty much every moving part depends on the core argument for AI being very likely to «learn wrong» i.e. acquire traits that unfold as hazardous out of (training) distribution, and the 16th corroborates all of such distributional reasoning in B.1 (10-15). 17-19, arguably more, expound on 16.

Accordingly, Yudkowsky cites it a lot and in slightly varied forms, e.g. on Bankless, 20th Feb 23:

we do not know how to get goals into a system. We can cause them to do a thing inside a distribution they were optimized over using gradient descent. But if you shift them outside of that distribution, I expect other weird things start happening. … GPT-7, there's probably a bunch of stuff in there too that desires to accurately model things like humans under a wide range of circumstances, but it's not exactly humans because ice cream didn't exist in the natural environment, the ancestral environment, the environment of evolutionary adaptedness. There was nothing with that much sugar, salt, fat combined together as ice cream. We are not built to want ice cream. We were built to want strawberries, honey, a gazelle that you killed and cooked … but then ice cream comes along and it fits those taste buds better than anything that existed in the environment that we were optimized over.

On Fridman, 20th March '23:

You can nonetheless imagine that there is this hill climbing process, not like gradient descent, because gradient descent uses calculus, this is just using like, where are you? But still, hill climbing in both cases makes things something better and better over time, in steps, and natural selection was optimizing exclusively for this very simple, pure criterion of inclusive genetic fitness in a very complicated environment. We're doing a very wide range of things and solving a wide range of problems led to having more kids, and this got you humans which had no internal notion of inclusive genetic fitness until thousands of years later, when they were actually figuring out what had even happened, and no desire to, no explicit desire to increase inclusive genetic fitness. So from this important case study, we may infer the important fact that if you do a whole bunch of hill climbing on a very simple loss function, at the point where the system's capabilities start to generalize very widely, when it is in an intuitive sense becoming very capable and generalizing far outside the training distribution, we know that there is no general law saying that the system even internally represents, let alone tries to optimize the very simple loss function you are training it on.

(Distinguishing SGD from an evolutionary algorithm with the mention of «calculus» is a bit odd).

And on Twitter, April 24th 2023 :

…for example, hominid evolution falsifies any purported general law along the lines of "hill-climbing optimization for a loss function, to the point where that produces general intelligence, produces robust generalization of the intuitive 'meaning' of the loss function even as the system optimized becomes more intelligent". Humans were optimized purely for inclusive genetic fitness, and we ended up with no built-in internal psychological concept of what that is. When we got smarter, smart enough that condoms were a new option that didn't exist in the ancestral environment / training distribution, we started using condoms. Gradient descent isn't natural selection, but…

It's not just Yudkowsky these days but e.g. Evan Hubinger, AI safety research scientist at Anthropic, the premier alignment-concerned lab, in 2020.

And Yud's Youtube evangelist Rob Miles, Apr 21, 2023:

@ESYudkowsky I propose this as a clearer example to support "Humans are not trying to maximise inclusive genetic fitness even a little bit"

It definitely is the ultimate cause of our motivations, emotions, and values, my point is just that this fact is not sufficient for us to explicitly try to get it


Note that this evo-talk is nothing new. In 2007, Eliezer wrote Adaptation-Executers, not Fitness-Maximizers:

No human being with the deliberate goal of maximizing their alleles' inclusive genetic fitness, would ever eat a cookie unless they were starving. But individual organisms are best thought of as adaptation-executers, not fitness-maximizers.

…This consequence is directly opposite the key regularity in the long chain of ancestral successes which caused the taste bud's shape. But, since overeating has only recently become a problem, no significant evolution (compressed regularity of ancestry) has further influenced the taste bud's shape.

…Smushing several of the concepts together, you could sort-of-say, "Modern humans do today what would have propagated our genes in a hunter-gatherer society, whether or not it helps our genes in a modern society."

The framing (and snack choice) has subtly changed: back then it was trivial that the «blind idiot god» (New Atheism was still fresh, too) does not optimize for anything and successfully aligns nothing. Back then, Eliezer pooh-poohed gradient descent as well. Now that it's at the heart of AI-as-practiced, evolution is a fellow hill-climbing algorithm that tries very hard to optimize on a loss function yet fails to induce generalized alignment.

I could go on but hopefully we can see that this is a major intuition pump.

It's a bad pump and Evolution is a bad analogy for AGI: inner alignment. Enter Quintin Pope, 13th Aug 2022.

One way people motivate extreme levels of concern about inner misalignment is to reference the fact that evolution failed to align humans to the objective of maximizing inclusive genetic fitness. … Evolution didn't directly optimize over our values. It optimized over our learning process and reward circuitry.

The relationship we want to make inferences about is: - "a particular AI's learning process + reward function + training environment -> the AI's learned values"

I think that "AI learning -> AI values" is much more similar to "human learning -> human values" than it is to "evolution -> human values". Steve Byrnes makes this case in much more detail in his post on the matter [23rd Mar 2021].

Evolution is a bi-level optimization process, with evolution optimizing over genes, and the genes specifying the human learning process, which then optimizes over human cognition. … SGD directly optimizes over an AI’s cognition, just as human within-lifetime learning directly optimizes over human cognition.

Or putting this in the «sharp left turn» frame:

within-lifetime learning happens much, much faster than evolution. Even if we conservatively say that brains do two updates per second, and that a generation is just 20 years long, that means a single person’s brain will perform ~1.2 billion updates per generation. … We don't train AIs via an outer optimizer over possible inner learning processes, where each inner learning process is initialized from scratch, then takes billions of inner learning steps before the outer optimization process takes one step, and then is deleted after the outer optimizer's single step. Such a bi-level training process would necessarily experience a sharp left turn once each inner learner became capable of building off the progress made by the previous inner learner. … However, this sharp left turn does not occur because the inner learning processes suddenly become much better / more foomy / more general in a handful of outer optimization steps.… In my frame, we've already figured out and applied the sharp left turn to our AI systems, in that we don't waste our compute on massive amounts of incredibly inefficient neural architecture search, hyperparameter tuning, or meta optimization.

Put another way: it is crucial that SGD optimizes policies themselves, and with smooth, high-density feedback from their performance on the objective function, while evolution random-walks over architectures and inductive biases of policies. An individual model is vastly more analogous to an individual human than to an evolving species, no matter on how many podcasts Yud says «hill climbing». Evolution in principle cannot be trusted to create policies that work robustly out of distribution: it can only search for local basins of optimality that are conditional on the distribution, outside of which adaptive behavior predicated on stupid evolved inductive biases does not get learned. This consideration makes the analogy based on both algorithms being «hill-climbing» deceptive, and regularized SGD inherently a stronger paradigm for OOD alignment.

But Yud keeps making it. When Quintin wrote a damning list of objections to Yud's position (using Bankless episode as a starting point), a month ago, he brought it up in more detail:

This is an argument [Yud] makes quite often, here and elsewhere, and I think it's completely wrong. I think that analogies to evolution tell us roughly nothing about the difficulty of alignment in machine learning.

… Moreover, robust alignment to IGF requires that you even have a concept of IGF in the first place. Ancestral humans never developed such a concept, so it was never useful for evolution to select for reward circuitry that would cause humans to form values around the IGF concept.

[Gradient descent] is different in that it directly optimizes over values / cognition, and that AIs will presumably have a conception of human values during training.

[Ice cream example] also illustrates the importance of thinking mechanistically, and not allegorically.

the reason humans like ice cream is because evolution created a learning process with hard-coded circuitry that assigns high rewards for eating foods like ice cream.

What does this mean for alignment? How do we prevent AIs from behaving badly as a result of a similar "misgeneralization"? What alignment insights does the fleshed-out mechanistic story of humans coming to like ice cream provide?

As far as I can tell, the answer is: don't reward your AIs for taking bad actions.

That's all it would take, because the mechanistic story above requires a specific step where the human eats ice cream and activates their reward circuits.

Compare, Yud'07: «Cognitive causes are ontologically distinct from evolutionary causes. They are made out of a different kind of stuff. Cognitive causes are made of neurons. Evolutionary causes are made of ancestors.» And «DNA constructs protein brains with reward signals that have a long-distance correlation to reproductive fitness, but a short-distance correlation to organism behavior… We, the handiwork of evolution, are as alien to evolution as our Maker is alien to us.»

So how did Yud'23 respond?

This is kinda long.  If I had time to engage with one part of this as a sample of whether it holds up to a counterresponse, what would be the strongest foot you could put forward?

Then he was pitched the evolution problem, and curtly answered the most trivial issue he could instead. «And that's it, I guess».

So the distinction of (what we in this DL era can understand as) learning policies and evolving inductive biases was recognized by Yud as early as in 2007; the concrete published-on-Lesswrong explanation why evolution is a bad analogy for AI training dates to 2021 at the latest; Quintin's analysis is 8+ months old; this hasn't had much effect on Yud's rhetoric about evolution being an important precedent supporting his pessimism, nor on the conviction of believers that his reasoning is sound.

It seems he's just anchored to the point, and strongly feels these issues are all nitpicks, and the argument should still work, one way or another, at least it proves that something-kinda-like-that is likely and therefore doom is still inevitable – even if evolution «does not use calculus», even if the category of «hill-climbing algorithms» is not informative. He barely glanced at what gradient descent does, and concluded that it's an optimization process, thus he's totally right.

People who try sniffing "nobody in alignment understands real AI engineering"... must have never worked in real AI engineering, to have no idea how few of the details matter to the macro arguments. … Or, of course, if they're real AI engineers themselves and do know all those technical details that are obviously not relevant - why, they must be lying, or self-deceiving so strongly that it amounts to other-deception, when they try that particular gambit for bullying and authority-assertion.

His arguments, on the level of pointing at something particular, are purely verbal, not even verbal math. When he uses specific technical terms, they don't necessarily correspond to the discussed issue, and often sound like buzzwords he vaguely associated with it. Sometimes he's demonstrably ignorant about their meaning. The Big Picture conclusion never changes.

Maybe it can't.

This is a sample from dunk on Yud that I drafted over 24 hours of pathological irritation recently. Overall it's pretty mean and unhinged and I'm planning to write something better soon.

Hope this helps.

Bad take, except that MAML also found no purchase, similar to other Levine's ideas.

He directly and accurately describes evolution and its difference from current approaches, but he's aware of a wide range or implementations of meta-learning. In the objections list he literally links to MAML::

I'm a lot more bullish on the current paradigm. People have tried lots and lots of approaches to getting good performance out of computers, including lots of "scary seeming" approaches such as:

1 Meta-learning over training processes. I.e., using gradient descent over learning curves, directly optimizing neural networks to learn more quickly.

2 Teaching neural networks to directly modify themselves by giving them edit access to their own weights.

3 Training learned optimizers - neural networks that learn to optimize other neural networks - and having those learned optimizers optimize themselves.

4 Using program search to find more efficient optimizers.

5 Using simulated evolution to find more efficient architectures.

6 Using efficient second-order corrections to gradient descent's approximate optimization process.

7 Tried applying biologically plausible optimization algorithms inspired by biological neurons to training neural networks.

8 Adding learned internal optimizers (different from the ones hypothesized in Risks from Learned Optimization) as neural network layers.

9 Having language models rewrite their own training data, and improve the quality of that training data, to make themselves better at a given task.

10 Having language models devise their own programming curriculum, and learn to program better with self-driven practice.

11 Mixing reinforcement learning with model-driven, recursive re-writing of future training data.

Mostly, these don't work very well. The current capabilities paradigm is state of the art because it gives the best results of anything we've tried so far, despite lots of effort to find better paradigms.

And the next paragraph on sharp left turn:

In my frame, we've already figured out and applied the sharp left turn to our AI systems, in that we don't waste our compute on massive amounts of incredibly inefficient neural architecture search, hyperparameter tuning, or meta optimization. For a given compute budget, the best (known) way to buy capabilities is to train a single big model in accordance with empirical scaling laws

Yuddites, on the other hand, mostly aren't aware of any of that. I am not sure they even read press releases.

I admit this is surprising. I would've predicted the Butlerian Jihad movement deprioritizing Yud as a crank who may blurt out some risky political take, but he establishes himself more and more as the Rightful Caliph. Have Yuddites discovered a stash of SBF's lunch money to buy a bunch of podcasters, including some crypto has-beens looking for a new grift? Or is this simply a snowball effect, where Yud is becoming more credible and attractive the more he goes to podcasts?

On the other hand, this is all show for the plebs anyway; Policy people never lack for experts to cite. And «rationalists» can straight up lie to their audiences even about words of those experts.

I should accelerate my work on a dunk on Yudkowsky's whole paradigm, even though it honestly feels hopeless and pointless. If anyone has better ideas, I'm all ears.

Yud is a useful idiot. Not in the sense that he's stupid or even that his arguments are wrong: their truth or well-reasoned-ness is entirely besides the point. AI is clearly important, and people (including people with political power) are worried about it and the threat it poses to them. Amplifying a weird, neurotic extremist yelling on the sidelines about paperclips provides useful cover for more "restrained" control over AI: on one side is Yud, on the other is careless AI libertarians hellbent on either destroying civilization or making revenge porn of their exes, and in the middle are helpful folks like the FTC, EEOC, and CFPB who offer careful, educated policies to expand their power to protect the people from unlawful bias and other harmful outcomes.

Yud is a useful idiot.

What makes useful idiots useful is that they are not dumb, just clueless or naive. So probably good description of the non grifter portion of AI concerned people.

I don't think Yud is either, he is just optimised for maintaining his grift. I'm not even sure if he is aware what is happening, people usually aren't. In fact the more intelligent people are the more susceptible they seem to be to their own arguments.

People subconsciously drink their own coolaid and move goalposts around and use arguments as soldiers so they don't have to change. Its hilarious how someone so into "rationalism" could be such an antithesis of his stated goal.

I admit this is surprising. I would've predicted the Butlerian Jihad movement deprioritizing Yud as a crank who may blurt out some risky political take, but he establishes himself more and more as the Rightful Caliph. Have Yuddites discovered a stash of SBF's lunch money to buy a bunch of podcasters, including some crypto has-beens looking for a new grift? Or is this simply a snowball effect, where Yud is becoming more credible and attractive the more he goes to podcasts?

Yud was right, Kulak was wrong. Way to get things done is from above, through influencing elites and aspiring elites, not through impressing normies with handsome looks and smart fashion, not through doomed direct action.

This is only the beginning. The Katechon pact is coming, hide your laptop.

Yud's message is aligned with the powers that be, so his voice will be magically amplified by the algorithm. The state is scrambling to ramp up their AI capabilities. They need the boot on any ambitious small companies in the form of a "six month pause". Yud thinks he's advocating for a less dangerous arms race, in reality he's just helping the most dangerous people catch up.

This makes sense if you consider that Yud takes Roko's Basilisk seriously. He's clearly realized this is his best contribution to its existence.

This makes sense if you consider that Yud takes Roko's Basilisk seriously. He's clearly realized this is his best contribution to its existence.

Well, how Big Yud reacted back then when Roko posted his idea on Less Wrong?

Called it wrong?

No, Yud went into full loud screaming mode.

I don't usually talk like this, but I'm going to make an exception for this case.

Listen to me very closely, you idiot.


and then put total ban on any further basilisk discussions on LW.

Not a reaction of someone who is not even slightly worried.

If big Y dissmissed this thing or just stayed silent, the whole idea would be forgotten in few days like other LW thought experiments. Streissand effect bites hard even if you are super genius.

Not a reaction of someone who is not even slightly worried.

Sure it is. Yudkowsky is exactly the sort of person who would be outraged at the idea of someone sharing what that person claims is a basilisk, regardless of whether he thinks the specific argument makes any sense. He is also exactly the sort of person who would approach internet moderation with hyper-abstract ideas like "anything which claims to be a basilisk should be censored like one" rather than in terms of PR.

Speaking or writing in a way where it's difficult to use your statements to smear you even after combing through decades of remarks is hard. It's why politicians use every question as a jumping off point to launch into prepared talking-points. Part of Yudkowsky's appeal is that he's a very talented writer who doesn't tend to do that, instead you get the weirdness of his actual thought-processes. When presented with Roko's dumb argument his thoughts were about "correct procedure to handle things claiming to be basilisks", rather than "since the argument claims it should be censored, censoring it could be used to argue I believe it, so I should focus on presenting minimum attack-surface against someone trying to smear me that way".

Again, I deleted that post not because I had decided that this thing probably presented a real hazard, but because I was afraid some unknown variant of it might, and because it seemed to me like the obvious General Procedure For Handling Things That Might Be Infohazards said you shouldn't post them to the Internet. If you look at the original SF story where the term "basilisk" was coined, it's about a mind-erasing image and the.... trolls, I guess, though the story predates modern trolling, who go around spraypainting the Basilisk on walls, using computer guidance so they don't know themselves what the Basilisk looks like, in hopes the Basilisk will erase some innocent mind, for the lulz. These people are the villains of the story. The good guys, of course, try to erase the Basilisk from the walls. Painting Basilisks on walls is a crap thing to do. Since there was no upside to being exposed to Roko's Basilisk, its probability of being true was irrelevant. And Roko himself had thought this was a thing that might actually work. So I yelled at Roko for violating basic sanity about infohazards for stupid reasons, and then deleted the post. He, by his own lights, had violated the obvious code for the ethical handling of infohazards, conditional on such things existing, and I was indignant about this.

I recommend Ross' old Deus Ex review/retrospective where he discussed various conspiracy theories in detail.

Ross is well suited to these kinds of discussions. He's the best.

To be fair it is sort of cheating when you have a time machine.

Now this is a weird crossover I didn't expect. What's next, Angry Joe interviewing Nick Land?

...Holy shit, I kinda want that. I mean, I never cared for Angry Joe all that much, but still.

The state of Minnesota has passed a trans refuge bill.

Specifically, the bill would prohibit the enforcement of a court order for removal of a child or enforcement of another state’s law being applied in a pending child protection action in Minnesota when the law of another state allows the child to be removed from the parent or guardian for receiving medically necessary health care or mental health care that respects the gender-identity of the patient.

From my reading of this (not a lawyer, obvs): previously if a child ran away from home, and was found, the child would be returned to the child's parents. Now, however, if a child runs away from home, and claims a "transgender identity" the state will use its powers to keep the child from its parents.

This seems: absolutely pants-shittingly insane to me? Like I'm sortof reeling from disbelief at this and am still trying to figure out what I'm missing. This also seems to imply that if a child runs away to Minnesota, that the child will be kept in Minnesota away from his or her parents.

Can anybody help me understand this? This goes so far beyond anything that I had even considered in the realm of possibility that I'm sure I must be misunderstanding this.

As a related side note: I am reaching a point where reading things on this topic is becoming incredibly difficult. There seems to be so many seemingly double/triple/quadruple entendre words that its hard to follow.

Insane? If I'm correct in believing a fundamental necessity of American life in the 21st century -- as far as moneyed powers are concerned -- is to prune the surplus population in ways which provoke their naïve consent, then this proposed measure is very, very sane.

  • -10

But muh Demographic Transition...

Put more eloquently, this doesn't make sense. A number of people here will likely have the stats on hand showing that the US is already below the replacement threshold in terms of fertility. And, of course, I think this law is within that area of "I think the stated motivations of the people behind it are their literal and honest motivations, and there is no ulterior motive, only ignorance of repercussions."

Since the death rate is exceeding the birth rate the system should stop employing its eugenicist gears? This is a silly thought.

To your second point, your opinion is in that area of “No one knows anything that isn’t explicitly spelled out to them, even if the pattern should be obvious without the explanation.”

What if you are not correct?

Then the world is exactly as dumb as you think it is.

That's not what I mean.

Surely you have to take into account, as anybody with reason, that dooming people to terrible fates when you are not certain it is for the best is not good, because you might just be wrong and doing evil. And even then, all of the most terrible people of history share one unshaking belief in the righteousness of their cause, and they were all wrong.

The hard part of virtue is finding the strength to do things even in the face of our own fallibility, but we should first climb over the hurdle of the easy part: not treating matters of life and death with reckless banality.

Of course no evil is ever done in the name of evil. But that has nothing to do with what I’m saying, so I’ll level: I don’t think there’s anything good about this particular brand of sanity.

But if you believe there are “too many” people (I don’t)…

If you believe this surplus creates damage to the whole (I don’t)…

If you believe transgenderism is an innate and immutable condition (I don’t)…

Then these measures are defensible on any of those grounds, (albeit for very different reasons) and you’ll find yourself on the losing end of these arguments more often than not if you concede to any of those framing narratives.

Me? I believe most everything is imaginary and divisions are created or destroyed in order to meet the dictates of an unknown author. Whether it’s Von Neumann’s idea of unthinking geometrical processes to which humans are blindly governed, Steiner’s idea of competing archetypes (Lucifer and Ahriman), Jung’s idea of participacion mystique, or if some people are knowingly serving nonhuman/antihuman entities, I’m not sure and I doubt anyone who is.

Yeah, I see this being abused by people claiming that their child abuse cases are about the kid being trans.

How so?

This would just render the previous law meaningless if they're just going to take the kid's word for it when they claim to be trans. It's disheartening how we came about to completely dismantle the family, a basic foundations of society, through a literal culture war.

Came about? Wasn't that the primary goal of one side in the culture war?

Abolition [Aufhebung] of the family! Even the most radical flare up at this infamous proposal of the Communists.

On what foundation is the present family, the bourgeois family, based? On capital, on private gain. In its completely developed form, this family exists only among the bourgeoisie. But this state of things finds its complement in the practical absence of the family among the proletarians, and in public prostitution.

The bourgeois family will vanish as a matter of course when its complement vanishes, and both will vanish with the vanishing of capital.

Do you charge us with wanting to stop the exploitation of children by their parents? To this crime we plead guilty.

But, you say, we destroy the most hallowed of relations, when we replace home education by social.

It's chapter two of their manefesto.

There are a lot of people in this thread comparing their child transitioning to death.

It's one thing to think of it as a bad thing that is happening to your child. But it is hyperbolic to compare transition with death.

Um. Sir or Madam. Your child is not dead. Unless you're saying they're dead to you-

Its either a serious case of ideological blindness or serious levels of intellectual dishonesty to actually claim trans child == dead child.

All the posters saying the bloodline ends at sterility, do you prefer sterile but alive or dead? As if parents only want their kids to be alive for the bloodline.

To add onto the other comments here, I'm under the perception that a significantly-non-zero amount of trans teens and young adults tend to have strained relationships with their parents precisely because they no longer resemble the parent's idea/vision/memory of the child they once sired. No, this doesn't have anything to do with the fact that their ability to have children of their own has been compromised, but for some parents, yes, a trans child is so dissimilar that the "original" might as well be dead.

I don't think it is necessarily a serious level of intellectual dishonesty. There are a lot of statistics available on the survival rates of trans individuals, and in terms of long-lasting consequences or death you're probably better off hearing that your child was just shot in the chest than hearing that they've just transitioned.

Its either a serious case of ideological blindness or serious levels of intellectual dishonesty to actually claim trans child == dead child.

It's stealing a base, but it's as apt a metaphor for the parents as it is for the trans people who use it to describe themselves.

I have a nephew who has claimed to be a girl for the last few years. He recently told his parents that he was encouraged to do this by his therapist as a way to mitigate suicidal feelings. He's still suicidal and worse now that he went through this insanity and it didn't help. In a way, his transition was a kind of failed metaphorical suicide attempt. I have no idea how parents react to a child who tried and failed to kill themselves, except from movies like Ordinary People, but it's like a kind of death. There's grieving for sure. It turns death from a remote specter to an omnipresent reality in every future interaction with that child. Parents tend to irrationally fear the worst, anyway; although you compartmentalize such fears as irrational. After a suicide attempt, however, they have pictured their kid dead as reality and now will fear suicide every time the phone rings and probably for most minutes in between those phone calls. If it's not death it must be an excruciating and unrelenting tease of death.

It's not a huge leap for me to assume that the parental reaction to a serious suicide attempt would be similar to a reaction to a supposed gender transition.

There's also a kind of an "undead" quality to their presence after transition, like in a horror movie where a loved one has returned as a vampire or zombie. There's this uncanny valley between the person you used to think you knew and this disturbing thing that has replaced them that signifies something no one wants to address or think about. While is does not threaten harm, it casts a pall of unease over every interaction. If it's not the death of a person, it is like the death of normalcy. Maybe normalcy was a fantasy, but it was a mutually agreed fantasy that has been destroyed by this thing that lives between the lines of order and now stares everyone in the face in broad daylight, and you know that both you are shamed by how you react to its presence as it is shamed by the disruption of its unspeakable presence in its current form. It's a death that has half-happened and stands in the room as a reminder of its possibility and yet can't be spoken about. Is that worse than death? With death there is peace. Maybe there's not a word for it yet, and death is the closest we can come up with so far.

In practice, it's pretty close.

It's not just the superficial transformation, because it's usually accompanied by a kind of religious conversion, and the transition is like a "born again" experience, with the old identity becoming a "deadname". Moreover, if you question or resist this along the way, you will cast as a villain in the ideological grand narrative. There are so many ways this can either ruin your child or ruin your relationship with them, and in the end they are no less likely to commit suicide anyway.

Do you take the same issue with the term “dead naming”?

This is not as much of a gotcha as you think it is because I am not a big believer of the descriptions and prescriptions put forward by the trans activists.

But I am a big believer in not letting politics cloud my judgement.

Just checking!

The whole idea is that your old child died and a new one replaced it

I'd be more interested in knowing whether they'd equate a normal but childless-past-some-significant-age child (as many Millenials are) to a dead one. I know that some would, in traditional societies especially.

But here, obviously this bloodline thing is a rationalization for a moral intuition about badness of trans. I'd prefer if people argued directly for what they believe. Fear of reprisal warps human reasoning into really strange and inauthentic shapes, unfortunately.

There's no difference between sterilization and death in the fossil record


On a literal level, no -- the fossil record records things that have died in favorable circumstances, not things that have reproduced.

On the evolutionary level, 30_000_000_000_000_000 sterile social insects argue otherwise.

How is any of this relevant to the conversation?

Over the long term, if you care about your lineage, sterilization and death in you or your descendants have the same outcome - the bones no longer appear

>Child is permanently mutilated and sterilized.

Um. Sir or Madam. Your child is not dead.

I don't think that anyone is saying that transgender care for kids is not Serious Business. And I imagine that a lot of our posters would agree that it's really bad actually. But applying inaccurate labels to things just muddies the waters and drags the discussion down. Saying that your kid getting transgender care is like killing them is no better than when woke activists refer to speech they don't like as "violence". Words mean things, and it behooves people to use them correctly and not just fling them around for emotional impact.

I disagree entirely, if Mr. Normative Man's daughter was mutilated and sterilized (or raped, or paralyzed, or brain damaged, etc), I assert his normative response to "Um. Sir. Your child is not dead" would be righteous indignation directed at the speaker.

Only because it's callous and rude to say that to someone who is upset because their child was harmed. But Mr. Normative Man would be completely correct. That child would not be dead, and would in fact be a bad hyperbole to describe them as such.

Yeah, but we can recognise what is being referenced as being unhelpful hyperbole, right?

people in this thread comparing their child transitioning to death

While ‘trans child=dead child’ is definitely an exaggeration, I don’t think that exaggeration rises to the level of hyperbole- trans people are, as a rule, miserable and often sterilized and mutilated.

I would certainly agree that trans people are sterilized and mutilated. I think it's completely accurate to say that, and while I think consenting adults should be able to do what they want I think anyone who does that to a child should lose their license to practice medicine at a minimum. However, as bad as those things are they still aren't death, which was my point. Words mean things, and one shouldn't stretch words to cover things they don't mean just because they're upset.

It isn’t but it is almost as scary to a parent as death.

and to a significant portion of the population, it’s also brainwashed against you

As an anology consider this statement: " Let's sterilise all the jews, it's not a crime mate honest, after all they are still alive right now yes, therefore it's not anti semitic and doesn't form part of a final solution, definetly not something a nazi would do oh no sir its just being compassionate and empathising with them, after all in the future they might be happier if we sterilise them all now you see."

Now apply it back to the level of a family and you'll see that actually encouraging someone kid to be trans is actually not quite killing them, but is worse than almost anything else.

Pretending this isn't obviously the case is itsself obviously said or written in malicious bad faith. Sorry, but this is like arguing that actually murder is good levels of insane.

"Let's sterilize all the Jews" is extremely different from "we'll let ~1% of the Jews voluntarily sterilize themselves".

So sterilization of Uighur women is fine?

voluntarily sterilize themselves

I don't want to engage with most of this analogy, but I think your view is impoverished if it doesn't account for children's questionable ability to provide informed consent, and the seeming purpose of the law in attenuating their parents' ability to act as stewards for their children's interests. The question of what is truly voluntary is the heart of the matter.

My point is less that the decision should rest with the parents, and more that it shouldn't rest with the child.

Sometimes we leave the decision with the parents... whether to attend a parochial school, whether to allow the child access to Instagram, etc.

Sometimes we decide for the family; children aren't allowed to have sex with adults, for example, regardless of what the children or their parents think about it.

What we never do (other than with this trans issue -- at least, I cannot think of any other examples) is leave decisions of momentous lifelong consequences fully up to the child, and attempt to disintermediate the parents in favor of the child's own judgment.

So arguments premised on a child's voluntary and insuperable consent in high-stakes decisionmaking seem rather anomalous.

I’m personally sympathetic simply because this is a situation (and I think trans human will be like this as well) where once you start there’s pretty much literally no going back. As such, I think there is a need to pump every break possible and really think about it before doing anything. Especially given that the person driving the entire process is a child who isn’t fully developed, doesn’t really understand how serious of a decision he’s actually making, or just how long he/she will have to live with th3 results.

There’s just simply no way that a child of ten years old being asked to consider puberty blockers has any idea what they’ll want ten years from now, let alone 30 or 40. There’s no way that a child who is too young for a PG13 movie can think about whether he will want to have sex or children. He can’t possibly understand this because he’s 10, and ten years is doubling of his entire life experience. And to basically remove any potential for someone to come alongside the kid and say “you know, in a few years you might want to be male and date girls and marry and have a family. You might want to be a father. You might want to live as a man as you grow into your body. Likewise there’s no potential that someone sits down with a child like this and says “this decision you’re making is one you’ll be dealing with forever. You’ll likely live to be 70 years old, and a decision you’re making right now, at ten years old — you’re making it for life. You’ll be living with it when you’re going off to college. When you get a job, when you turn 50, when you retire. There are lots of things you simply have no context for that you’re permanently closing off here. You cannot have sex in the normal way. You will be sterile and thus will never have biological children. If you get a neo-vagina you’re going to have to dilate it for the rest of your life. If you get a neo-penis as a girl, the muscles they take from your area won’t grow back.

I think we’re coming from different places here, and I think a big part of it is that I’m older, old enough that my mother was pregnant with me when she saw Star Wars: A new Hope. And looking back on being a kid, on making decisions even up to age 25 or so and a lot of them were bad decisions made because I didn’t think long term about them. I didn’t really think that way until much later — well into high school. They’re a moment in high school somewhere around 15 where it hits you like a ton of bricks that life is about to get serious and the decisions you’re making will impact you forever. I’m fortunate that I didn’t really fuck up too badly. But this is why I’m leery of allowing kids under 16 to make permanent changes to their bodies. It’s easy for a young kid to think they want something right now that they won’t want later. Even as adults, something you think is a good thing ends up not working for you later.

For that reason, I think I’d personally not want medical interventions before 16. Only a maturing brain can really understand the choice of “you will be sterile, you’ll have these medical conditions forever, and after you sign up, you will never again be able to go back to your old life.” Social stuff, fine. Changing hair and clothes are both easy. I think the blockers might be harder, or might permanently limit height or something. But beyond that, I think such permanent changes shouldn’t happen until the child is reall old enough to understand the decision and what it means.

More comments

I am fundamentally not comfortable with the government coming in and saying a parent who has taken their child to therapists and doctors and gone through extensive thought and counseling is engaged in child abuse and needs to have their kids taken away or be put in prison.

The horse left that barn 40 years ago with the criminalization of kids walking down the street or playing in their front yard (yes, they'll take your kids away for this too). Red states are slowly fixing this, but progress is slow, inconsistent, and not politically glamorous.

And sure, I trust that the parents, police, and social workers prosecuting these "crimes" are taking their roles seriously and not just being flippant either... but "taking one's role seriously" and "going through extensive thought and counseling" is not a guarantee that what they're doing isn't also extremely disruptive or that their conclusion is correct.

This standard of State intervention is the current room temperature; yes, strictly speaking it's worse for the people who legitimately do have this problem, but we're already comfortable enforcing worse outcomes in measures stretching far beyond the 0.01% of kids that would actually benefit from doing this because of crippling risk aversion... so why would we stop now?

More comments

The idea here is that there are some things that are outside even a parent’s right to choose (eg blood infusion and Jehovah witness cases). It might be true that transitioning (ie eliminating sexual function) are so fundamental to a person that their parent cannot consent for them to eliminate such things.

Then that needs to be the argument made.

That usually is the argument made- that medical transitioning is a form of mutilation that can’t be consented to, so it nullifies the parent’s rights to make medical decisions for their kids. Parents rights are more of an argument about social transitions.

More comments

It seems reasonable that transitioning is so extreme that at a minimum parents should need to be on board. It could be reasonable to say that even if parents consent the process is too extreme and therefore State A won’t permit it. That is, there are three potential states:

  1. Transition solely based on kids decision

  2. Kid and parent decision

  3. Not permitted for kids

These states go from most permissive to least permissive. While I favor 3, it also means I favor 2 to 1. Therefore I can object to the Minnesota law on parental rights ground not withstanding that I generally would support 3.

More comments

People who are against genocide aren't against it because they think murder or sterilization is wrong, they're against it because it targets a specific group or genetic line.

Consider two things.

First is a religious community like the Amish. If the English (ie everyone who isn’t Amish) target their kids by trying to show them the ‘wonders’ of modernity and do, there is a certain cultural genocide that occurs. In a real sense, if the kids convert the Amish have been genocided.

Consider the same except the English sterilize all of the Amish kids.

I think people would object a lot more to the latter instead of the former.

Nah I think it's the murder and sterilization actually.

People are much less squeamish about eugenics when nobody has to die and the given genetic line is that of some terrible heritable disease.

Hell they're also much less squeamish about discriminating against groups in general. But crossing the line into killing and sterilizing is enough to give pause to some of the most ardent nationalists.

There is moral substance to acts, most people aren't total consequentialists. Arguably nobody is.

The original poster compared a non-targeted harm (medical transitioning) to a targeted harm (sterilizing "the jews"), and I was pointing out a possible misanalogy. When I used the word "genocide" I was, by definition, referring to ethnically targeted cleansing.

People who believe in genocide necessarily think its worse than murder, or else they would just call it murder, and Hitler's crime would have just been murdering 6 million people. Instead, believers in genocide think the ethnically targeted component makes it worse than just murder. Because murdering members of protected classes is worse than just murder (See also: hate crimes).

Of course, for anyone who doesn't believe in genocide, they still probably think Hitler is a bad guy for the whole mass murder thing.

I do find it darkly hilarious that the supposed most positive outcome of transition is a total social death that leads to a phoenix like social rebirth, but with like, makeup and shit.

If your child was drafted to a war and came back with his genitals blown off and a condition requiring life long medical treatment that results in a drastically shortened lifespan it isn't fair to say he's dead, but he's certainly well on his way. Whatever life you shared before is over and new vista of terrifying possibilities has opened its stead.

How much is the actual lifespan reduction for a trans person? The 35 year stat that gets quotes a lot seems to be based on the mortality of black trans women who are disproportionately likely to be sex workers. What is the lifespan expectancy of a middle class white trans woman/man? A sterile kid with diabetes is going to get lifelong injections and have to adopt if they want kids but I wouldn't characterize that as a "vista of terrifying possibilities".

Is this really about outcomes or is it about regarding transition as fundamentally illegitimate? Would you prefer to have a cis straight sterile kid with the life expectancy of a trans person, or a trans kid in a T4T marriage and bio kids with the life expectancy of a cis person?

The whole question is pretty philosophically precarious. I don't know how I'd feel about trans people in a world where they were mentally healthy, lived normal life spans, and didn't tend to die young due to overmedicalization and the outcomes of their suicidality and other dangerous mental health issues. I live in the world where most "trans" people who make it to twenty without going on hormonal treatment just return "normalcy". My current biases say that the hypothetical you draw is statistically impossible, and I wouldn't trust the person offering the bargain.

A sterile kid with diabetes is going to get lifelong injections and have to adopt if they want kids but I wouldn't characterize that as a "vista of terrifying possibilities".

I actually think "terrifying" would be a pretty reasonable word if one were contemplating a scenario in which children were being persuaded at scale by niche online communities to become infertile diabetics for life and the government were employing the power of the state to prevent parents from protecting them.

Doesn't medically transitioning make your child infertile? From an evolutionary psychology perspective, isn't that similar to your child dying? It doesn't surprise me that some parents react as strongly to that as they would to their children dying.

From an evolutionary psychology perspective, sterile individuals can provide a hell of a lot more care to their siblings and extended family than dead ones.

Yes, but I don't think the parents think that's the most likely alternative. They are upset because they were hoping they would live and have children of their own and their transition means that won't happen.

I can't imagine wanting any trans cousin to babysit my kids, let alone them being put together and selfless enough to do so.

You can freeze sperm and eggs before the transition and then have a surrogate bear the child. Let's say some billionaire has a trans kid and creates a massive free sperm/egg preservation service and covers the cost of surrogacy/artificial wombs in 2040 for all trans people. Is the issue resolved, do conservative parents suddenly become okay with their kids transitioning knowing their genes will live on? Who is a conservative parent more likely to keep in their social life, an unmarried childless cis straight son or daughter, or a trans kid in a T4T marriage with a biological child?

Obviously not, because the issue isn't actually fertility (which is massively declining among cis people too). It's an aesthetic/social/moral revulsion at transness.

That's not how evolutionary psychology works. We didn't evolve to just care whether we have grandchildren. We evolved to care about the things that historically led to grandchildren in environments that didn't have assisted reproduction technology.

What’s wrong with revulsion at transness? From a natural law perspective or a utilitarian perspective and probably from a virtue ethics perspective, it’s certainly morally revolting. From an aesthetic perspective it’s certainly usually not an improvement. There certainly don’t seem to be any improvements except in keeping with a certain model of gender fluidity.

You can't argue about what causes someone to experience revulsion so it's not really a good basis for public reasoning in a democratic society. Especially if you're going to make the case that the state should do something to curtail someone's individual autonomy you generally need to ground it in the prevention of harm.

You can, in fact, argue about why revulsion is right or wrong, and I just gave you 4 arguments about why revulsion towards trans people is right(three about moral revulsion, one about aesthetic revulsion). They weren’t fleshed out arguments, but that’s because my post is short, not because they’re bad arguments.

I'm sorry but you can't argue that democracy only cares about logos when this entire issue is naught but pathos on every side.

People absolutely care what is inarguably disgusting or not. Politicians play to it all the time. And they should.

This idea that you should only appeal to the prevention of harm is only typical of precisely those people that can only use that particular moral foundation and are always dumbfounded that some care more about sanctity, loyalty or freedom.

You know, I consider myself to be a person with a very strong stomach. I very rarely feel disgust on a visceral level, even when dealing with excrement or wounds.

But I was listening to a podcast and at one point they were discussing uterus transplants in india for western trans tourists, trans women obviously.

The idea of grafting a uterus, taken from a “willing” 3rd world natal female, onto a natal man who is an autogynephile so they could feel like a “real woman” filled me with a level of disgust I have never encountered in my entire life. No lie, I had to turn the program off, pull over on the highway and just breathe for a minute.

How much of it is due to taking someone else’s perfectly functional uterus? I do wonder how it would be if we could “grow” a womb with the transwoman‘s DNA (replacing the Y with X somewhere somehow), would that be less ick.

Or just a full body transplant? Grow a body with the appropriate chromosomal configuration — again, replacing the appropriate sex chromosome from the original person — but somehow leave out the brain, then transplant the trans brain into the new body.

(I don’t think it would work out very well embryologically or in terms of surgery to reconnect all the nerves, but thought-experiment wise…)

More comments

Suppose an online fad were persuading children to have their left arms amputated, and the power of the state dedicated itself to facilitating the amputations and to retaliating against parents who tried to interfere. What argument against that public policy would you consider to be fair, if any?

The argument there would be that amputation is such an irrecoverable harm that a child can't possibly consent to it, not that I find amputees aesthetically or philosophically revolting.

Then the argument moves to, well isn't puberty blockers irrecoverable harm to the child because of sterilization just like cutting off an arm? I'd say no, the issue isn't the loss of tissue it's the loss of capabilities. Prosthetic arms are nowhere near the capability of a real arm but a child born from stored eggs and sperm is genetically your child. You don't lose the capacity for fertility even if you lose some genital tissue. I also grew up in a church with many loving adoptive families and and I'm not inclined to view having to adopt a kid rather than having a genetic one as a loss of capability as significant as losing an arm. Reducing children to a means of gene perpetuation flattens one of the deepest and most transformative human relationships possible.

It also seems significant that many adults choose never to have children, where there are no adults I know of who spend their entire lives without using one of their arm. If there is human capability that a large share of the population voluntarily never exercises then I'm inclined to think it's okay for a tiny sliver of the population to modify their bodies such that they lose that capacity.

I'm not unsympathetic to the concern. There's clearly some level of social contagion going on and gender care providers need to move from a model where if a kid has any cross gender identification that must mean they're trans because there's nowhere in mainstream culture where they could have picked that up to one where they're far more skeptical of it. But I also think Gender Dysphoria is not wholly sociogenic and so I would prefer families be allowed how to approach trans children on their own rather than having it dictated to them by the state.

Minnesota's law says it will not enforce Texas's law which makes gender affirming care legally child abuse, strips parents of custody and potentially imprisons them. The idea that Minnesota would emancipate trans runaways is a conclusion posters in this thread have reached by assuming that a state claiming jurisdiction to do a custody proceeding also means it claims jurisdiction to terminate parental rights which is not in the bills text.

The argument there would be that amputation is such an irrecoverable harm that a child can't possibly consent to it, not that I find amputees aesthetically or philosophically revolting.

Amputees are not revolting, the voluntary amputation of a healthy limb is.

Then the argument moves to, well isn't puberty blockers irrecoverable harm to the child because of sterilization just like cutting off an arm? I'd say no, the issue isn't the loss of tissue it's the loss of capabilities. Prosthetic arms are nowhere near the capability of a real arm but a child born from stored eggs and sperm is genetically your child. You don't lose the capacity for fertility even if you lose some genital tissue.

Stored sperm or eggs that you may decide to use later - assuming they aren't lost or tainted or destroyed, and at great expense - is a dramatic loss of capability compared to the old in out in out, which is so simple even animals can do it. You don't just lose a bit of tissue, you lose the capability to produce sperm or ovulate. Hell I struggle to think of a clearer portrayal of destroyed capability than castration - one of its synonyms, neutered, is simultaneously defined as 'make ineffective'.

Edit: either SwiftKey's auto correct is getting shittier or I am losing my mind, but I keep finding grammatically incorrect or just plain wrong words in my posts. Changed straight to simultaneously, which I meant to write.

Then the argument moves to, well isn't puberty blockers irrecoverable harm to the child because of sterilization just like cutting off an arm? I'd say no, the issue isn't the loss of tissue it's the loss of capabilities.

There is good reason to believe that puberty blockers permanently hinder brain development, which hormones during puberty play an important role in. Unfortunately there are zero randomized control trials examining this, and even less evidence regarding using them to prevent puberty entirely rather than to delay precocious puberty a few years, but they have that effect in animal trials:

A reduction in long-term spatial memory persists after discontinuation of peripubertal GnRH agonist treatment in sheep

The long-term spatial memory performance of GnRHa-Recovery rams remained reduced (P < 0.05, 1.5-fold slower) after discontinuation of GnRHa, compared to Controls. This result suggests that the time at which puberty normally occurs may represent a critical period of hippocampal plasticity. Perturbing normal hippocampal formation in this peripubertal period may also have long lasting effects on other brain areas and aspects of cognitive function.

That study also cites this study in humans which found a 3-year course of puberty blockers to treat precocious puberty was associated with a 7% reduction in IQ, but since it doesn't have a control group I wouldn't put much weight on it.

Similar concerns were mentioned by the NHS's independent review:

A further concern is that adolescent sex hormone surges may trigger the opening of a critical period for experience-dependent rewiring of neural circuits underlying executive function (i.e. maturation of the part of the brain concerned with planning, decision making and judgement). If this is the case, brain maturation may be temporarily or permanently disrupted by puberty blockers, which could have significant impact on the ability to make complex risk-laden decisions, as well as possible longer-term neuropsychological consequences. To date, there has been very limited research on the short-, medium- or longer-term impact of puberty blockers on neurocognitive development.

Then the argument moves to, well isn't puberty blockers irrecoverable harm

By moving the argument to puberty blockers, are you agreeing that all gender confirming care for minors that is more aggressive or less reversible than puberty blockers should be banned?

Otherwise, I assume you'd move the argument to those instead, right?

What if the children just wanted their ears removed? This wouldn't render them deaf, just leave them visibly mutilated by prevailing standards. Is that irrecoverable harm? Who is to decide what constitutes harm, and what constitutes the realization of one's inner truth however aberrant by wider standards?

More comments

You can freeze sperm and eggs before the transition a

Can't, with teenage transitions.

You aren't just denying them fertility, in many cases -if they were on puberty blockers, they can't orgasm.

if they were on puberty blockers, they can't orgasm.

That's a myth. The only basis for it is the word of one or two individuals, who, as far as I can tell, have never offered any evidence to support it. And there are multiple studies (not to mention countless anecdotes) contradicting it.

One of two individuals, one of whom was apparently from the board of WPATH and responsible for ~2k sex reassignment procedures.

Specifically, the individual said that in 'her' experience children who were put on puberty blockers before Tanner stage 2 can never orgasm.

multiple studies (not to mention countless anecdotes) contradicting it.

You're free to provide links to such.

It is worth noting that the two individuals in question are Marci Bowers, and Joanne Olson-Kennedy. Both are medical doctors specializing in transgender care, and members of WPATH (Bowers used to be it's president, and is now an elected board member).

And there are multiple studies (not to mention countless anecdotes) contradicting it.

Please name one study that contradicts the claim that you can't have an orgasm if your puberty is blocked before you have one. If you have any anecdotes contradicting that specific claim, I'll be happy to hear them as well - on my side there's Jazz Jennings who publicly said she never had an orgasm.

Obviously our programming can’t update for continued fertility so it would be weird. Same way every guy I’ve ever met doesn’t want to wear a condom during sex. It’s just feels fake even if the sensory perception is identical.

There is still a fakeness about being trans that is giving up a bit of your humanity. Your gender is a part of your identity and I don’t believe in fluidity as being natural. It has no evolutionary advantage. It appears to be purely a social construct as opposed to gender at birth being natural.

Personally for those who want your kids to be gender normal I think you need to boost their confidence and hope they are one of the cool kids. Trans seems like goth or emo to me in generation past where the non popular kids take up something to have their own internal social structure they can win at without competing with the traditional social hierarchy.

Ummm, I've had sex wearing and not wearing a condom and it's noticeably different. Sex with a condom on is still great and guys who pressure women by claiming it's awful are shitty but no, it's definitely not identical.

Yeah so we're in agreement, it's not actually about fertility it's about the belief that transness is fake.

Sex with a condom is kind of shit though. Not really worth it unless you're a horny teenager.

I agree that sex without a condom is better, but let's not go into absurd hyperbole territory here. Sex with a condom is still really good and well worth it.

I genuinely disagree. Sex with a condom isn't really worth outside of the first sexual encounters with someone (and even then it's highly frustrating) or when you're a teenager.

I feel like the expression of eating candy with the wrapper on is fairly accurate. There is some enjoyment to be had but unless I'm really starving I'm not going to bother.

More comments

It's one of those things where it depends on which way you look at it. From the perspective of a person who is not having sex, sex with a condom is fantastic and totally worth it. But from the perspective of someone who regularly has sex without a condom on, boy is it a disappointment.

On a related note, it's not just guys who prefer condomless sex, every woman I have dated has been eager to do away with them as quickly as possible too. I don't think it's purely about the physical sensation in either case, the feeling of connection and being one with another person is just so much stronger without a condom in the way.

More comments

I'm sure some do. I have very little sympathy for those people.

It says something about their ulterior motives and what they see children as.

It also doesn't hold up to scrutiny when you ask the same people how they feel about progress in artificial wombs.

The point of my invoking evolutionary psychology was to say that our minds probably evolved to have an instinctive reaction of this kind. I'm not saying parents are primarily upset because they consciously assess that this means they won't have grandchildren although that may be part of it.

It says nothing about ulterior motives and very little about how they see their children. It seems like many if not most parents find having children to be a source of fulfillment and happiness, so it would follow that this would be an experience said parents would want to share with their children (as they would for any number of positive choices made in life, a key component to generational success). Unless you mean to suggest your negative view of lineage or fecundity is/should be the baseline moral position for all humanity, and deviation from it is malicious/self serving?

I think it’s coming from Tucker Carlson recently making a similar comment.

Personally I think it’s a fair comparison. But this gets into all the old pro-life arguments. I think you either think like that or you don’t.

From non religious view I think I’ve come to a conclusion we all live forever by spreading our specific programming. Castration ends that process.

They’re chemically castrated and physically mutilated. Yeah that’s not death but “we’ve only castrated and mutilated your kids. C’mon they survived the surgery! Relax!” is not offering much in the way of comfort.

In terms of severity, it’s somewhere in the ballpark of simultaneously being lobotomized and becoming a jihadist.

It’s not just the potential sterilization & being unable to achieve an orgasm for life, it’s also being a lifelong patient, and thusly a financial supporter, for “big pharma”, an industrial complex that is very politically powerful and I find have proven themselves to be extremely dangerous.

They are also often a supporter for a memeplex that is fundamentally hateful towards what I and many others would consider to be healthy, normal behavior and social dynamics.

So not only is a transitioned person deeply alienated towards their own physical body, they are often radicalized against their friends and neighbors who knew them beforehand.

I had a close friend who transitioned during university, in the early 2000s before trans issues became more mainstream. We are both of an age & class where we were some of the earliest people to be “extremely online”. I spent a lot of time lurking in trans friendly spaces, and honestly the right-wing outrage machine might be even underselling how intensely hateful the rhetoric is in those places towards their “enemies”, real or perceived.

At the time I was a supporter but I felt myself being so turned off by the whole “trans communist” schtick that I unconsciously distanced myself from them and I’m likely to never speak to this person again. At the time I didn’t think much of it but with the benefit of hindsight a lot of things sort of fell into place for me.

I have children in public school in a mega blue area, so I have real skin in the game. I can confirm even in elementary school they are already being exposed to this stuff, if I wasn’t so poor I’d put them in private school.

I don't think it is quite as bad as being lobotomized. The upthread comparison - sterility plus type 1 diabetes - is more in the ballpark.

I spent a lot of time lurking in trans friendly spaces, and honestly the right-wing outrage machine might be even underselling how intensely hateful the rhetoric is in those places towards their “enemies”, real or perceived.

Yes that sort of thing, and real world interactions, pretty much convinced me that these people are really not well at all and are dangerous, jihadi extremist level dangerous, back in 2013 or so.

I'm not saying I don't see the concern. I'm saying that it's disingenuous to compare it to death.

Also only somewhere around 5-15% of trans women get bottom surgery. So you can cut that risk factor for another 10x for them. Chemical castration is known to be reversible in trans women.

As someone pointed out in another thread it is stunning how much we need to be concerned, change our entire society for, less than 1% of the population, yet within that population - the irreversible infertility of an entire group of people (males who don't go through natal puberty) is not even worth mentioning.

Also, what are stats on women who don't go through their puberty having their fertility return-seems like egg preservation is recommended for women as well as men on gender clinic sites- though that could just be because it's an additional revenue stream I suppose...

I wish I could show these statements to people even a few years ago. “Don’t worry, the chemical castration we will do to your children is probably reversible, and we only physical mutilate some of them!”

It’s just incomprehensible. How did we get here?

Don't worry the brainwashing into religion is probably reversible and we'll only intellectually and culturally ruin some of them. And mutilate a fair number (depending on religion).

It's just incomprehensible. How did we get here?

Its easy. If you believe in the fundamental axioms its not crazy and if you don't its a cult of God-flesh eating, God-blood drinking psychically mutilated Manchurian candidates who infest the planet.

Trans ideology is no crazier than pretty much every religion. So if religions can demand crazy things and religions are just ideologies with a supernatural skin, why is it surprising ideologies look crazy from the outside?

Magic cannibalism, magic underpants, magic apples, magic hammers, magic hats, magic babies. Magic loaves and fishes.

If you can convince people of that, to the extent some religions practiced literal human sacrifice, why are you surprised by getting here?

We got here the way we always did, someone came up with something to believe (palpable nonsense or otherwise), convinced other people to believe it and everything cascades from there.

This isn't some new development, this is how we (humanity as a whole)operate.

Might as well be taking communion when told this is the literal blood of Christ despite not changing in any detectable way and thinking "how did we get here, its incomprehensible".

Why? A religion is just an ideology with a supernatural skin. Can compare it to the terrible things people have done for Communism or nazism or some other not religious ideology if you prefer, it doesn't change the point.

More comments

As an atheist, I will say that, while there are a lot of aspects of traditional religions I do not like, I find many new-age ideologies (e.g. Scientology, Heaven's Gate, Rajneeshi Neo-Sannyasins, Synanon, NXIVM) to be even worse, even if only slightly, for reasons such as these:

  1. New age religions come off as extra "Fake and Gay" in comparison to Christianity or Buddhism, in no small part because of their lack of age and much smaller tradition to draw upon. Traditional religions are Lindy because they've managed to persist in spite of the erosion of the ages; their new age rivals, on the other hand, are plainly from a much less mystical and much more informationally-aware time, and as such their beliefs are built on much sandier foundations (e.g. the entire founding mythology of Scientology literally being a sci-fi story told by Hubbard).

  2. New age religions are at least slightly more likely to lead to cult-like behavior (likely due to the aforementioned weakness of the religion as a young and new belief system that tends to be created practically from whole-cloth), which often tends to have pretty negative outcomes for their members; such people may end up psychologically-broken, physically-disfigured, or even dead. Yes, I'm aware that some traditional religions can lead to similar harms (e.g. refusing medical treatments in favor of prayer), but I think cults have a much worse track record on net.

"I love ancient trees, they are so majestic!"

"I hate little seedlings, they are so ugly! Stomp out these dirty weeds!"

Just have patience, it does not need more than century for delusionary doomsday cult to transform into respected ancient religion with magnificent art and architecture.

I guess what I'm saying is that certain religions have a sort of grandfather clause. Meanwhile, I'm less charitable to any blood spilt to build Flag Buildings.

More comments

Do you believe your ideology is crazy?

No, thats the point i am making. Firmamento is i believe a devout Catholic, so i am asking him to take a step outside and realize that just as he thinks the beliefs in question being acted upon is incomprehensible, from an outside perspective many of his beliefs seem similarly or even more so incomprehensible when it comes to how millions of people end up believing and acting upon eating the body and blood of the son of a God and this is some entirely normal thing to do.