Link blog: subjective, scott-aaronson, morality, programming

Feminism and The Search for Truth | The Merely Real
Chana Messinger’s response to the Scott Aaronson thing (on whether feminism hurts geek guys) is the best one. I learned the term “scrupulousity”.
(tags: scott-aaronson nerds feminism laurie-penny chana-messinger)
Hume and subjective/objective moral values
A Twitlonger page (which I guess is what we used to call a blog post) about Hume and the varied meanings of “subjective” and “objective” wrt morality.
(tags: hume david-hume subjective objective morality)
What Color is Your Function? –
Interesting stuff about asynchronous programming.
(tags: async programming)

2 Comments on "Link blog: subjective, scott-aaronson, morality, programming"

  1. I think Messinger is really kind of begging the question here. She seems to be starting from the assumption that anyone who disagrees with her is just dogmatically following their ideology, and anyone who agrees with her is by definition being rational and basing their conclusions on evidence. Which ironically will make her assessments a lot less likely to be rational!

    I mean, we don’t need research evidence to believe that Aaronsen was badly bullied in high school and that he was terrified of his own sexuality to the point of begging to be castrated. That’s what feminists call “lived experience”; there’s no particular reason to believe he’s lying about this stuff, whether to attract attention or to score rhetorical points against feminism. OTOH we already have plenty of good quality evidence to show that female nerds also get bullied in school yet find it harder than men to escape from that bullying into nerd culture, harder to find love and acceptance in that subculture and harder to turn their hobbies into lucrative and prestigious jobs. Laurie Penny literally wrote the book on this, she’s very well aware of research and is coming from an entirely rational place in saying that the fact Aaronsen had a bad childhood doesn’t change the fact he has male privilege.

    I think what does need some research is the reason why Aaronsen had such an awful experience. I don’t think he even really intended to blame feminism, though the blogosphere has reacted as if he did. But it really doesn’t seem likely that his problem was that Dworkin said mean things about men who coerce women into sex, let alone the more general idea that women have the right to sexual autonomy.

    My guess would be that he was suicidally terrified because the American high school system is unbelievably broken and tacitly encourages teenagers to torture eachother. And because of more general social attitudes that sex is shameful and disgusting, meaning he didn’t get the kind of education and guidance that might have helped him to deal with his developing sexuality. I’m inclined to believe the horror of experiencing strong sexual feelings in that context is probably worse for men on average, because testosterone-dominated sexual feelings tend to be more urgent and overwhelming. But I don’t know, I’m speculating; I would require a pretty high standard of evidence to believe that it’s caused by initiatives to promote women’s sexual autonomy, though! More than just a bunch of random nerd bloggers asserting that it must be so, because Aaronsen suffered and he’s a respected, intelligent guy.

    The most informative response to the debate I’ve seen is non-fungibility of romance. It is one thing to want sexual fulfillment and affection, and it’s undoubtedly painful to be deprived of them, but it’s not reasonable to expect society or women or feminists to provide them, because love is not a commodity that can be provided!


    1. I’m struggling to find where Messinger says or implies that anyone who disagrees with her is just dogmatic and irrational. That’s partly because she doesn’t state a position about whether feminism per se is to blame for Aaronson’s (note, I got his surname wrong, which I’ll fix in a moment) torments, rather, in the second section she goes through a bunch of possibilities and says “well, maybe it was partly that” rather than just saying “Boo, SJWs are Mean!”

      Aaronson has edited some stuff (in the bold text in his comment) and says that

      I do not mean to suggest here that anti-harassment workshops or reading feminist literature were the sole or even primary cause of my problems. They were certainly factors, but I mentioned them to illustrate a much broader issue, which was the clash between my inborn personality and the social norms of the modern world—norms that require males to make romantic and sexual advances, but then give them no way to do so without running the risk of being ‘bad people.’ Of course these norms will be the more paralyzing, the more one cares about not being a ‘bad person.’

      I don’t know whether Messinger had read that before writing her piece, but it puts a slightly different spin on things, and perhaps separates the two Scott A’s.

      I kind of like the scrupulousity/malfunctioning bullshit detector explanation, possibly because it matches my own experiences a bit. If you want to be good and people present you with a system, it’s pretty hard to avoid swallowing it whole, sometimes.

      I don’t see Aaronson’s complaint arising because he expected women to provide love as if it were a fungible commodity, rather, he was apparently too terrified to go out and find love because of the risk that someone would find him creepy.


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