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1. What discourse norms do you tend to follow? Why? Do you think everyone else should follow them, and why?

A lot of the talk about discourse norms doesn’t sufficiently challenge the assumption that SJ doesn’t care about truthseeking. In fact, SJ concerns are vitally important to truthseeking, because people’s perspectives are shaped by their experiences, and SJ pushes for greater inclusion of those that would’ve otherwise been overlooked. While being told that one has privilege is interpreted as hostile by many on the anti-SJ side, it only means that one’s claim of epistemic authority is unwarranted given their level of knowledge, and also that their lack of knowledge is an unknown unknown to them. Of course, some people take it poorly when their lack of knowledge is revealed, but I think that given anti-SJ’s claim of the mantle of STEM, they can make an effort to be more welcome to accepting information, once they understand that this is what’s happening. Given the inferential distances, it’s understandable that this gap has been hard to bridge.

It’s also important to keep in mind the demographic effects imposed by rationalists’ favored discourse norms. Imagine that being athletic were a prerequisite for participating in conversations about whether wheelchair ramps should be built. While there are many athletic physically disabled people, this requirement would still select against people with disabilities in general and reduce their ability to advocate for their interests. Something similar applies to these discourse norms – growing up poor, being kicked out of the house because you’re gay and/or trans, and countless other life circumstances make it more difficult for less privileged groups to have learned these norms, and as a result, the conversations are tilted in favor of middle-class (or above) cisgender straight white men. That’s why we should take into account the voices of those who, for various reasons, can’t or don’t participate in these norms. So while some people in the rationalist community (and elsewhere) are made uncomfortable by what they consider to be emotional displays, they come from a certain perspective that we may lack, and shouldn’t be ignored when we build our models of the world.

Finally, and more particularly to rationalists, there’s a tendency to overestimate the good faith of many on the anti-SJ side. While I know some anti-SJ people who take us seriously and engage with us honestly, there are many more who mimic them, whose facade falls apart when challenged. The pattern is familiar – the conversation starts out promisingly, but then they turn to belittling their interlocutor, dismissing their words or insulting them outright. Then they go to their co-ideologists and talk about how they’re truthseekers beset by dishonest and/or emotional “SJWs”. While we’d prefer to have honest conversations, when that isn’t possible, we have to turn to other means of protecting ourselves. If we can’t open minds, we can at least show that we won’t take it sitting down when we’re wronged. If we’re not respected for our humanity, we can at least make ourselves respected for what we can do to some of those who do us harm. I emphasize that this is not our first choice, but sometimes it can be necessary.

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?

Anti-SJ people often say that racism/sexism are no longer major concerns because relatively few people seriously say that whites are superior to blacks or that women belong in the kitchen, and that everyone supports a universal right to vote, own property, and so on. Unfortunately, while it’s true that it’s uncommon to express those kinds of beliefs so explicitly, that kind of hardcore bigotry still exists. But even that aside, more pervasive problems are caused by people not generally considered bigoted. Many of us have seen or heard of a guy getting mad at his girlfriend because she did something he considers unfeminine or held her to a double standard about her sexual past. Many people claim that they believe that blacks are equal to whites, but still treat blacks as somewhat suspect. And so on – police, the media, social expectations… While some individual cases are relatively low-impact on their own, together even they add up to a system of oppression because there’s no reliable escape. It’s also hard to persuade people that this system is a problem, because describing any particular instance of it doesn’t get the point across – and many of them can be dismissed relatively easily by motivated reasoners.

There are also more blatant and severe manifestations of bigotry, such as against LGBT people, especially the T, or against minorities by the police.

I think most people, whatever they believe, would find it difficult to imagine what would change their minds, and I’m no exception. I guess that if there were some vast body of evidence that groups I consider oppressed are basically treated fairly, and that I’ve been unlucky to only see the exceptions, I’d change my mind, but this kind of evidence would be extremely unlikely. More absurdly, if I were persuaded that oppression isn’t bad, I’d stop advocating SJ, but this is as likely as me being convinced that up is down.

3. Explain Gamergate.

Sexism has long been prevalent in gaming communities. Go to any message board and you’ll see them treating women like an alien species, strategizing about how to trick women into sleeping with them, complaining about how they’ve been treated “unfairly”, or just making sexist jokes. So it’s no surprise that many of them are upset at the gaming market and norms within communities shifting to be more welcoming to women. It’s further aggravated by criticism of existing gaming media – people generally don’t like being told that things they like contain morally problematic themes, because they feel that it’s next door to being accused of holding those attitudes themselves. Some of them rose in opposition to SJ in gaming, and started harassing and doxing its advocates.