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1. What discourse norms do you tend to follow? Why? Do you think everyone else should follow them, and why?
I believe that discourse can only be productive when the parties share a certain baseline knowledge and certain terminal values. If the parties disagree on basic points of fact or on basic points of right and wrong, further discussion is pointless until they get on the same page. Often, someone looking for a debate will treat a rant as an invitation to have one. This is a mistake, and in arguments that get heated, it’s the responsibility of the less emotionally-invested party to shrug and leave – they are sacrificing less by giving up the last word than the more emotionally-invested party would. It is unreasonable to start a debate with someone who doesn’t want to have one, and it is on the same tack unreasonable to start a debate with someone you have no reason to believe wants to have one. I think everyone would benefit from these discourse norms, but nobody is obligated to have them. Disagreements over discourse norms simply bring about suffering.
2. What is the true reason, deep down, that you believe what you believe? What piece of evidence, test, or line of reasoning would convince you that you’re wrong about your ideology?
I do not like to see the strong taking advantage of the weak. I do not like to be taken advantage of by those stronger than me. And frankly? I do like to take advantage of those weaker than me, at least in my id. But I don’t like to take advantage nearly as much as I hate being taken advantage of, and I don’t think anyone does. Oppression is, in my experience, a negative-sum enterprise. Everyone is strong in some ways and weak in others. Some people may effectively be more strong or more weak overall, but at least the vast majority of people fall somewhere in the middle. No one is physically safe from being hurt by others, and no one is morally safe from hurting others. I have been hurt many times, and have some idea of how awful it is, and I have hurt others, and deeply regret doing so and making the world a worse place. I’m fairly certain that everyone else has had the same experience as me, and if they come out of it without apparently sharing my basic moral framework, I can’t help but assume on some level that they’ve faced a moral choice analogous to the one I’ve made and made a worse choice. I only think I would change my object-level ideology if I became convinced that I was wrong about which side represented the strong and which side represented the weak. I only think I would change my meta-level ideology if I discovered a positive-sum oppression, where a strong group takes advantage of a weak group and gains more than the weak group loses – but I find that very unlikely, as surely the strong group could return some portion of the good they gain to the people they took advantage of to gain it; such a scenario would be moral perpetual motion.
3. Explain Gamergate.
I’m not particularly familiar with Gamergate, so take this with a grain of salt, but my impression is that it was a dying gasp of an antisocial demographic that was increasingly finding that they were not tolerated. Women were increasingly accepted in gaming circles, and male gamers who considered masculinity an important part of their identity took this as a threat to their local importance. They attempted to establish their continued relevance and power by opportunistically seizing on the manifesto of feminist indie dev Zoe Quinn’s jilted ex-boyfriend, which alleged that Zoe Quinn had had sex with multiple men (even if the allegations are true, the obsession with a woman’s sexual purity speaks volumes about the regressive ideology of those involved, and it is disgusting that Zoe Quinn’s ex-boyfriend would share things he was told in confidence). Zoe Quinn, it should be noted, is disabled (indeed, her most noted game, Depression Quest, is entirely inspired by her disability) in a way that made harassment even more awful for her than it would be for a neurotypical person; indeed, though the harassment aimed at feminist game analyst Anita Sarkeesian is certainly unacceptable, it is probably much harder for Zoe Quinn to bear her harassment. Very quickly, though, it was blatantly obvious to any reasonable onlookers that Zoe was the victim and that the Gamergate movement had nothing to offer but misogyny. Unfortunately, the media backlash against Gamergate was coordinated in such a way that the movement gained the opportunity to reframe it as being about corruption within the media. Anyone who examines the issue in the slightest, however, will see that this framing is false. Coordination between media figures is only an issue of professional honesty if they are colluding to hide something true or proclaim something false, and that’s inapplicable. The anti-Gamergate columnists and writers only stated the very true and obvious thing that Gamergate was fundamentally about punishing a woman for fabricated accounts of what she might have done in her private sex life, and that it was most likely motivated by a desire to keep women out of gaming communities in general. They didn’t “collude” to generate a false narrative to spread, and it would take an insane amount of conspiracy theory mentality to suppose that they did. They merely collaborated to ensure that they all were aware of the issue and understood how serious it was. Now, Gamergate is mostly forgotten by the public, and is mostly associated with particularly disgusting figures like Milo Yiannopoulos, the token gay alt-right troll who was finally kicked off of Twitter when he helped to spread leaked nude photographs of a moderately successful black actress who had become the latest victim of the reactionary online lynch mob. That’s because we basically won – and we won because we were right and it was clear that we were right.