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

I try to keep myself in check with what I call the “three cs” “be Civil”, “be Charitable” and “be Curious”. Being Civil is about maintaining the spirit of good-faith discussion. Strong feelings can pull us away from Civility;his does not mean that emotion cannot or should not play a role should not play a role, in discussions of normative matters, one’s own emotions can be a good heuristic for the sentiments of other people, and ethical intuitions can guide the development of ethics, while in factual matters it’s important to recognize one’s own biases. However, it is important to make sure that emotion doesn’t shut down the discussion entirely, and if a matter is not possible to discuss without getting emotional to the point where it inhibits discussion, it is usually best to excuse oneself. Being Charitable is all about trying to develop an understanding of what other people, especially people you disagree with, believe, and why they believe it. This is important both in conveying one’s own ideas by bridging a gap between the position one’s audience might hold and one’s own, and in allowing one to change one’s mind if there are better ideas out there. Finally, being Curious is all about nursing a burning desire for truth. This means questioning one’s own ideas even in ways others do not and not being afraid to come to a conclusion not only different from what you believed, but different from any idea you’ve heard before, to be swayed by truth more than any group loyalty. Being Civil and Charitable might allow one to decide whether in some particular case to go right or left, but being curious allows one to move up, down, forwards and back as well. I think these norms ought to be promoted, because they allow the zeitgeist to more easily move in the direction of what is good and true.

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 think my core disagreement with the ideas of the Social Justice movement is not that there are disparities in the outcomes of different groups of people, there are, but even if these disparities are initially caused by prejudice, I’m not at all confident that teaching people to recognize and counteract their own prejudice and repair its effects is necessarily the most effective strategy to combat these disparities. A lot of the time, prejudice against groups SJ views as oppressed is carried out by members of those same groups, and the disparate life outcomes between members of different groups are a consequence of the fact that they tend to make different choices. But I have less disagreement with the ideas themselves than I do with the way they’re put into practice. Too often social justice uses accusations of perpetuating oppression and even being “violent” towards members of oppressed groups to shame people they disagree with, leading to things like doxxing and harassment, especially targeting vulnerable people who often belong to oppressed groups themselves. If it were shown statistically that targeting prejudice and spreading social justice norms and ideas were the most effective intervention against group disparities, I would gladly accept social justice as true and correct. and if the movement actually started embracing its ideals, not targeting vulnerable people and having compassion for those truly less powerful, if social justice people started consistently decrying abusers in their community, I would find it a lot less toxic.

Explain Gamergate.

What began as an abuse callout post from Eron Gjoni about Zoe Quinn exploded to the astonishment of everyone. Despite the post itself not challenging the integrity of the journalists Quinn slept with, this became a common accusation among readers of the post, and a catalyst for the airing of a lot of built of grievances about gaming journalism, and for what would ultimately be called Gamergate. One particularly common grievance was the intrusion of ideology into the process of games review, and certain dishonest behavior on the part of Anita Sarkeesian was called to attedntion. This led some people to harrass both Quinn and Sarkeesian. In defense of Quinn, Sarkeesian, and others, a lot of feminists spoke out against Gamergate, accusing Gamergaters of being misogynistic and bigoted. Minorities who sympathized with Gamergate formed #notyourshield, and by that point the whole conflict had devolved into meaningless tribalism. Whether you were pro- or anti- Gamergate became less about how you felt about the issues that led it to arise, and more about how you felt about the kinds of people who tended to become involved in Gamergate, which might be described as “entitled cis white straight men” on the anti side or “largely autistic nerds who want a community to themselves” on the pro side. This kind of tribal conflict was of course utterly meaningless, so naturally it turned into a huge issue and eventually even went to the UN.