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Typical Mind and Disbelief In Straight People

Lots of no doubt very wise people avoid comment threads here, but the comments on Universal Human Experiences are really worth it. The post was about how people mistake their own unique and individual ways of experiencing the world for human universals and assume anyone who says otherwise is speaking metaphorically. And boy did people have a lot of good examples of this.

I want to turn lots of them into extended discussions eventually, but for now I’ll settle for the one that reminded me how I still fail at Principle of Charity.

Principle of Charity, remember, says you should always assume your ideological opponents’ beliefs must make sense from their perspective. If you can’t even conceive of a position you oppose being tempting to someone, you don’t understand it and are probably missing something. You might be missing a strong argument that the position is correct. Or you might just be missing something totally out of left field.

People always accuse me of going too far with this, and every time I’m tempted to believe them I always get reminded I don’t go nearly far enough.

I’m pretty good at feeling tempted by most positions I oppose, which satisfies me that I understand them enought to feel justified in continuing to reject them. The biggest exception is that opposition to homosexuality has never made sense to me. I can sort of understand where it fits into a natural law theology, but a lot of anti-gay activists are, no offense, not exactly Thomas Aquinas.

Chris Hallquist commented:

I remember hearing once on Dan Savage’s podcast that he gets letters from gay men who grew up in very conservative parts of the country, who didn’t know that being straight was a thing. They assumed all men were attracted to men, but just hid it.

Martin responded:

Dr. Paul Cameron, founder of the anti-gay Family Research Institute, is quoted as saying: “If all you want is the most satisfying orgasm you can get – and that is what homosexuality seems to be – then homosexuality seems too powerful to resist… It’s pure sexuality. It’s almost like pure heroin. It’s such a rush. They are committed in almost a religious way. And they’ll take enormous risks, do anything.” He says that for married men and women, gay sex would be irresistible. “Martial sex tends toward the boring end,” he points out. “Generally, it doesn’t deliver the kind of sheer sexual pleasure that homosexual sex does” So, Cameron believes, within a few generations homosexuality would be come the dominant form of sexual behavior. Apparently, some people build their entire lives around not knowing that being straight is a thing.

So imagine that you’re one of those people Dan Savage was talking about – a closeted gay guy who doesn’t realize he’s a closeted gay guy. He just thinks – reasonably, given his own experience! -that the natural state of the human male is to be attracted to other men, but that men grudgingly have sex with and marry women anyway because society tells them they have to.

(I don’t know if this generalizes to women)

In that case, exactly the anti-gay position conservatives push makes perfect sense for exactly the reasons they say it makes sense.

Allowing gay marriage would destroy straight marriage? Yes! If everyone’s secretly gay, then as soon as gay marriage is allowed, they will breath a sigh of relief and stop marrying opposite-sex partners whom they were never very attracted to anyway.

Gay people are depraved and licentious? Yes! Everyone else is virtuously resisting all of these unbearable homosexual impulses, and gay people are the ones who give in, who can’t resist grabbing the marshmallow as soon as it is presented to them.

(I’m referring to this experiment, not some sort of creepy sexual euphemism. Get your heads out of the gutter.)

Teaching children about homosexuality will turn them gay? Yes! The only thing preventing them all from being gay already is the social stigma against it. Teaching them in school that homosexuality is okay and shouldn’t be stigmatized cuts the last thin thread connecting them to straightness.

This can’t be a universal explanation for anti-gay attitudes. Something like half the US population is against gay marriage (previously much more) and probably five percent or less is gay. Closeted gay people don’t explain more than a small fraction of the anti-gay movement.

But it’s probably bigger than the fraction who read Thomas Aquinas. Maybe all these idiosyncratic arguments that only a few people can really appreciate turn into soundbites and justifications that get used by other people who feel vague discomfort but don’t have a good grounding for why. That means they’d have an impact larger than the size of the groups that produce them.

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462 Responses to Typical Mind and Disbelief In Straight People

  1. Andrew says:

    who can’t resist grabbing the marshmallow

    I knew immediately what this was really referring to, but that didn’t matter – my inner 10 year-old took over and found (continues to find) this amazingly hilarious, even before I got to the part telling me to get my head out of the gutter. Too late. Way too late.

    Marshmallow grabbing aside, I found this really interesting. It’s crazy how the different experiences of different people lead to totally alien thought processes.

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  2. pwyll says:

    One question is whether there are evolutionary justifications for homophobia – particularly as, apparently, homophobia is more highly heritable than homosexuality itself is. (See here.)

    One clue may come from this observation: “Contrary to the HIV-exposure hypothesis, which should have produced little to no differences in attitudes toward the different gay doctors, it was the opportunity for intimate contact with children that correlated with discomfort. The participants were significantly less comfortable about the idea of interacting with gay pediatricians and general physicians than they were for the other types of gay doctors. In fact, gay brain surgeons, associated readily with infectious material, elicited the least aversion.”

    Greg Cochran’s (unproven, though plausible) “Gay Germ” hypothesis, which would be consistent with the above, is summarized by JayMan here: https://jaymans.wordpress.com/2014/02/26/greg-cochrans-gay-germ-hypothesis-an-exercise-in-the-power-of-germs/

    Homophobes are often mocked along the lines of “What, are you worried you’ll catch teh ghey?” Before declaring victory, it’d be good make sure that there’s not, actually, any chance of that actually being a risk. Pessimism about the chances of research in that direction in the current political climate would seem warranted, however…

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    • Watercressed says:

      I’ve heard that the justification is sexually antagonistic selection–the genes cause reduced reproduction due to homosexuality in males but heightened reproduction in females.

      see, for example http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0002282

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    • endoself says:

      Being heritable is actually evidence against homophobia being adaptive. If a trait is both heritable and adaptive, we would expect it to reach fixation, and then no longer be heritable.

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      • Misha says:

        It takes a long long time for traits to reach fixation, and a lot of traits only have selective advantage in certain context. Consider sickle cell anemia: it certainly hasn’t reached fixation for humans in general but we still think it’s adaptive in certain regions.

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        • endoself says:

          Yes, there are exceptions to these things. The gene for sickle-cell anemia hasn’t reached fixation in sub-Saharan African because people who are homozygous for it get sickle-cell anemia. It’s possible that some gene causes homophobia in heterozygotes but is disadvantageous in homozygotes, but it is not especially likely. Hence, this observation is evidence against the theory.

          A similar thing applies to the discussion of lactase persistence below. Lactase persistence is very recent, which explains why it has not reached fixation. This does not apply to most genes (though http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2994553/ argues that fewer genes are fixed than we would expect).

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        • pwyll says:

          @endoself, yes lactase persistence is relatively recent… what if the hypothesized “mystery gay pathogen” is also relatively recent? (and/or unequally prevalent in different parts of the world?)

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        • endoself says:

          If you could show that homophobia is higher in people whose ancestors lived in places where the “mystery gay pathogen” is more common, that would work. The study you link doesn’t do this (it was conducted in Australia, which is pretty ethnically homogeneous), but it probably wouldn’t be hard to check if we knew where those places are.

          Apart from that, I can’t think of an effect by which homophobia being heritable would be evidence for or against it being adaptive (so I still disagree with the implications of your initial statement “One question is whether there are evolutionary justifications for homophobia – particularly as, apparently, homophobia is more highly heritable than homosexuality itself is.”).

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      • pwyll says:

        @endoself, I don’t think that’s correct. For example, lactase persistence is highly heritable and highly adaptive, but has only reached fixation in certain racial subpopulations. Furthermore, once a trait becomes fixed, it’s not that it’s no longer heritable – rather, everyone inherits it.

        As for homophobia, while it may not have reached total fixation, it certainly seems quite widespread.

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        • Oligopsony says:

          Furthermore, once a trait becomes fixed, it’s not that it’s no longer heritable – rather, everyone inherits it.

          A trait that has reached fixation is inherited by all, but its heritability has dropped to epsilon. The term has a tendency to confuse people because it was developed to mean something like “responsivity to selection” but everyone wants to use it to mean “extent to which something is biologically determined.”

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        • pwyll says:

          @Oligopsony thanks, that’s a very useful clarification.

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      • pwyll says:

        @Watercressed, Cochran is quite critical of the sexually antagonistic selection hypothesis, see here: http://westhunt.wordpress.com/2013/04/18/not-final/

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      • What about the history of homophobia, though? I don’t know specifics, but homosexuality seems to have historically been more accepted outside of Europe. The hard-and-fast distinction between homosexuality and heterosexuality dates back only to the 19th-century beginning of high modernity. It seems that for a long time, some degree of (male) homosexual relations were accepted, or at least forgiven, as long as one eventually grew out of them (if homosexuality were so tempting, then this could also be included: bright young things can be allowed to run free, but they must eventually marry and serve society.)

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        • Also, both in and out of Europe, the intensity of homophobia varies a lot. Maybe it’s the propensity to homophobia which is inheritable rather than homophobia itself?

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        • hf says:

          I understand that in the Roman Empire and especially Rome itself, men penetrating male slaves was almost expected. Whereas being penetrated was low-status because it made you look like a woman. (Then Paul suggested being on top was also bad. Paul came from a small nation that once thought it needed lots of soldiers. Some argue he also disliked rape.)

          Looks to me like sexism and historical accidents explain homophobia. Reduced sexism, plus knowledge or visibility of gays, appears to be killing homophobia. I don’t know if I quite buy the claim of hereditary negative attitudes – but as Alexander Stanislaw points out, the study could have found a gene(tic component) for strength of disgust in general.

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    • gattsuru says:

      I don’t find these works terribly persuasive. Twin concordance for homosexuality isn’t that far from a good wide variety of other conditions where there’s supposed to be a good deal of inheritance, for one, and pathogen is the least logical alternative explanation (esp given that there’s a difference in MZ and DZ concordance). I can quickly think of an example where the ‘gay uncle’ theory would fit within Hamilton’s Rule: a heterosexual pair of adults having multiple children, the adults having excess children over sustainability or dying, and children being raised by a gay uncle. The part of this behavior we don’t often see in society today is the number of children bit (average 2.01 USA 2012 is far too low, compare 6-10) and the rate of early mortality post-pubescence, but gay adoption is kinda a political deal /even as there has been several centuries of social pressure against it/.

      Beyond that, even if we’re to assume some susceptibility to the ‘germ’ is somewhat heritable, there still should be a stronger correlation in the degree of shared environment than from MZ to DZ twin, if less than five percent of the population is ‘infected’. I’m finding the opposite, in quick searches.

      And for a more likely hypothesis for why people distrusted gay pediatricians more than gay neurosurgeons, well… I’ve not suffered from any stereotypes about gay men rubbing their genitals directly on anyone’s brains.

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      • Erik says:

        I can quickly think of an example where the ‘gay uncle’ theory would fit within Hamilton’s Rule: a heterosexual pair of adults having multiple children, the adults having excess children over sustainability or dying, and children being raised by a gay uncle.

        I find this very implausible. I’m curious where we diverge.

        To a first approximation, relatedness between uncle* and nephew is 1/4th, the additional reproductive benefit of an unsustainable excess child being adopted is 1, and the reproductive fitness cost of being gay is -1. This means a ‘gay uncle’ needs to ensure the marginal survival of at least four nephews to satisfy Hamilton’s Rule.

        (*substitute or add /aunt,niece,mother etc. where desired.)

        Possibly I’ve made a basic math mistake already. But supposing I haven’t, the marginal adjective is where I think this breaks down. That a gay uncle might be provider for four nephews is fine; that a gay uncle is expected to consistently provide for four more nephews than a straight uncle strikes me as implausible. Is this where we disagree?

        Alternatively, suppose that the personal reproductive fitness cost of being gay isn’t -1, it’s some smaller value like -0.5 and the straight father has N kids while the gay uncle has N/2 kids and the number of kids whose survival one man can ensure is somewhere between these. Then the high fertility, high child mortality problem strikes – example numbers pulled from my ass: if the straight father is having 10 kids and can only ensure the survival of 6 of them, while the gay uncle is having 5 kids and can ensure the survival of 6, the gay uncle can only ensure the marginal survival of one nephew. Still doesn’t work. For what numbers does it work?

        EDIT: Forgot to mention another reason I was thinking why the plain marginal value doesn’t work – it assumes there are no grandfathers with adult sons, unlucky straight uncles with dead children, etc. available to adopt (or if there are such available to adopt, they’re all full already).

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        • gattsuru says:

          I think we’re making vastly different assumptions about the ancestral environment. With larger families, shorter lifespans, and (especially pre-agriculture) high competitiveness and fracturing, the expectations should look dramatically different from what you’re talking about.

          ((Straight non-elder family members don’t really do much, since if we’re using an ironman version of Hamilton’s Rule, they’re .))

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        • Erik says:

          gattsuru: I feel you’re dodging the question. We’re certainly making different assumptions at some point – what are yours?

          A gay uncle* has to ensure the survival of a marginal number of nephews* equal to twice the number of sons that a straight uncle would have had in his place. I’m saying this doesn’t work, because example. You’re saying it does work, because handwave about dramatically different expectations.

          *(without loss of generality for aunts, nieces, etc.)

          Here’s a more general formulation of my objection, without a specific estimate of the fertility hit. Suppose that as specific points to reason from: there exists a limit that only X children are sustainable for a man to raise and provide for, straight men spawn children beyond this limit, gay men don’t. (Violating the first supposition is absurd, violating the second means there are no excess kids for the gay uncle to adopt, violating the third means the gay uncle doesn’t have any adoption capacity. So these seem to follow from the nature of the hypothesis we’re discussing. Have I made a mistake?)

          Then a straight dad raises X of his own many sons to survive, and a gay uncle only raises X-Y of his own sons where Y is some number in the half-open interval (0,X]. To work out under Hamilton’s rule, the gay uncle has to also raise 2Y of his brother’s sons. But then the gay uncle is raising X-Y sons plus 2Y nephews = X+Y boys, which is larger than X. Thus the “gay uncle” hypothesis requires the gay uncle to raise more children than a man can sustainably raise, and therefore doesn’t work.

          I don’t see how invoking “Larger families” or another of your points would change this, because it holds even for larger values of X.

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        • Ialdabaoth says:

          Alternatively, suppose that the personal reproductive fitness cost of being gay isn’t -1, it’s some smaller value like -0.5 and the straight father has N kids while the gay uncle has N/2 kids and the number of kids whose survival one man can ensure is somewhere between these. Then the high fertility, high child mortality problem strikes – example numbers pulled from my ass: if the straight father is having 10 kids and can only ensure the survival of 6 of them, while the gay uncle is having 5 kids and can ensure the survival of 6, the gay uncle can only ensure the marginal survival of one nephew. Still doesn’t work. For what numbers does it work?

          Additional factors: Suppose that being gay involves hormonal changes that make it less likely to engage in risky behavior (or that even provide a more direct survival benefit), thus ensuring that gayer members of the population tend to survive longer. Combine that with the kind of intragenerational scheming that our runaway frontal lobes seem designed for, and you have a plausible situation in which the ancestral gay man might out-compete the ancestral straight man in great-grand-nephews from beyond the grave.

          A second possibility is that the genes are not on the Y chromosome, and they aid female reproductive success more than they inhibit male reproductive success in certain scenarios. If an ancestral gay man’s sisters all have way more health, surviving children than the ancestral straight man, that might overcome the children he himself isn’t having.

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      • Erik says:

        Separately: I think your argument proves too much. Substitute any fertility-reducing trait for homosexuality, and you get a general argument that being an infertile uncle might fall under Hamilton’s Rule. I am very dubious of an argument which argues from reproductive success to promoting lowered reproduction.

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        • gattsuru says:

          … you may want to look into kin selection and other forms of reproductive skew theory. They pretty reliably predict that, in social animals where reproductive costs are nontrivial, evolutionary pressures will result in at least some animals not maximizing personal reproductive success. If that /weren’t/ the case, we’d see , and male attempts to monopolize females would be a norm, rather than an exception. It’s also how you get eusocial vertebrates if the selection pressures are extreme enough.

          ((Same-sex sexual attraction has the additional benefit of a quick and easy way to handle non-reproductive pair bonding — the pathway’s been artificially hijacked for such purposes a couple times in history — but you’re certainly correct in that its not unique.))

          In diploid-only organisms, it takes either extreme external stimuli or strict in-grounds controls to have very high degrees of reproductive skew, but you generally find at least some, even in animals that stereotypically favored general reproduction.

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      • pwyll says:

        @gattsuru: Cochran has been extremely and repeatedly critical of the “gay uncle” hypothesis, for many of the same reasons Erik laid out:
        http://westhunt.wordpress.com/2013/01/10/group-selection-and-homosexuality/
        http://westhunt.wordpress.com/2013/04/09/math-is-hard/
        http://westhunt.wordpress.com/2013/04/16/hamilton-rules-ok/
        It appears to be impossible to get the math to work.

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      • ozymandias says:

        It seems like there’s a simpler explanation: through most of recorded history, LGB people got married and had kids.

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        • pwyll says:

          @ozymandias LGBs getting married and having kids doesn’t work as an explanation unless they did so at a rate virtually identical to the rate that straights did. Even a very small fitness cost (say, LGB’s having only 10% fewer kids than straights did) would have eliminated homosexuality within a very short time scale evolutionarily. And historically, the fitness cost to homosexuality, even during times when gays were expected to marry, was considerably higher than 10%.

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        • Anonymous says:

          Recorded history is a tiny fraction of our evolutionary history. Is there enough homophobia in hunter-gatherer tribes to get gay people to marry and reproduce?

          It seems more likely that either new mutations or environmental influences cause homosexuality or that it is a malfunction of neural development and the evolutionary cost of regulating development tightly enough to prevent it is higher than a few percent chance of becoming gay.

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        • ozymandias says:

          pwyll: LGBs getting married and having kids does significantly decrease the fitness cost of homosexuality, however, which puts relatively small gains from homosexuality genes back into play. In addition, more children is not necessarily better, if you produce more children than is sustainable.

          Anonymous: True! Unfortunately I’m unfamiliar with the research about hunter-gatherer tribes; however, I would be mildly surprised if they didn’t have an expectation that people would marry and have kids.

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      • Douglas Knight says:

        What are these other supposedly heritable conditions with low twin concordance?

        What is your source for differing MZ and DZ concordance?

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    • Alexander Stanislaw says:

      homophobia is more highly heritable than homosexuality itself is

      Competing hypothesis: the ability to feel disgust and the intensity of disgust felt is highly heritable.

      Example: Individual A has a strong disgust module in his brain. Individual B does not. If individuals A and B are brought up in a society that stigmatizes homosexuality, then A will be more homophobic than B. If they are brought up in a society that does not stigmatize homosexuality then neither will be homophobic.

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    • Martin-2 says:

      Talking about genetic differences between ethnicities and genders is hard enough. I don’t think we’re ready to consider genetic differences between ideological opponents. The link is much less obvious and the potential for abuse is even greater, since we’re less conditioned against putting our ideological opponents down with convenient excuses (in fact we’re encouraged to do this). I don’t know a single person who could tell me “Your unreasonable opinion is probably due to this genetic factor” and hope to continue a civilized conversation (except maybe my parents).

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    • cc says:

      pwyll, to make sure I’m understanding you: Are you suggesting that homophobia is an adaptive response to a “gay germ”?

      It’s reasonable to suppose that all behavior has some relationship to genetic background. Only direct cause-effect with a small number of genes involved can be evaluated reliably with models of natural selection (such as sickle cells and lactase production), otherwise there are too many confounding factors.

      In light of this, Cochran’s “absence of evidence” does not give support to pathogenic origin, and it provides no valuable insight. I don’t see any evidence presented by Cochran for a pathogenic origin, just references to the fact that pathogens influence previously-determined genetic traits and criticism that no simple answer has been found for the cause of homosexuality (I did just skim the articles however).

      The hypothesis is interesting. Microorganisms do have a lot more influence on human affairs than we give them credit for, so I don’t see any reason not to explore it. It’d be very hard to prove; even harder to prove that homophobia comes into play. This is like saying the red scare was due to genetic factors that arose from a communism germ; as the reasons people adopt communism are unknown so it could be that supporters are actually infected with a germ that causes susceptibility to charismatic leaders and community-oriented behavior (perhaps to pass along the organism more efficiently). Likely? Not really. But there is toxoplasmosis!

      I find the biggest reason genetic causes are invoked in these cases is to defer personal and cultural responsibility through a short-sighted deterministic worldview; it’s a political move more than an attempt at true understanding and inquiry. If there was a pathogen involved, that would be very difficult to reconcile socially; and I’d be sad if such a discovery led to further prejudice and mistreatment of non-heterosexual identities.

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      • Andy says:

        Fraternal birth order has been pegged as one of many factors:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fraternal_birth_order_and_male_sexual_orientation
        Essentially, the hypothesis is that an immune response in women who have already borne male children results in male fetuses producing extra estrogen as protective camouflage from the mother’s immune system, which picks up on the difference. Though tihs is estimated to only account for 15% of gay men. Then again, sexuality is so complicated, there may well be multiple possible causal combinations behind adult sexual expression.
        A caveat: it appears these studies weren’t performed very well, so this is a bit of a tenuous hypothesis.

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      • Douglas Knight says:

        Only direct cause-effect with a small number of genes involved can be evaluated reliably with models of natural selection (such as sickle cells and lactase production), otherwise there are too many confounding factors.

        Why are there more confounding factors in multi-gene traits than in single gene traits? There are perfectly good theories of selection on multi-gene traits, validated in artificial selection.

        The blog is just Cochran ranting about the idiocy of others’ theories. If you want an actual argument, try here.

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        • cc says:

          I didn’t say there was no possibility for robust analysis of multi-gene traits (that why I said “small number of genes”). It should be obvious that polygenic traits have more confounding factors to them. They don’t follow Mendelian rules, don’t necessarily show discrete phenotypes (just like LOVE :P) and associations with the environment are harder to account for. This makes selection a lot less cut and dry, and harder to analyze — especially the more genes involved and with phenotypes that are difficult to quantify (there are many shades of gay). If you’re trying to explain complex behavior in terms of selection for or against one aspect of that behavior, you’d be hard pressed to find any direct relationships.

          Cochran implies that there must be a direct relationship because other theories fail to account for one, which seems like an appeal to ignorance and possibly begging the question.

          The article you linked doesn’t address a pathogen that causes homosexuality, from skimming it. Thanks for the link though, I’ll read the whole thing when I get a chance. :) Maybe I’ll find it in there.

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        • Douglas Knight says:

          Below I have some specific responses, but I think that’s missing the point. As I said in my previous question, there are theories of genetics and selection. You sound simply ignorant of them. If you are trying to build genetics from scratch, why should I care that it sounds hard to you? If you know existing theories, then you can criticize them or their application.

          It should be obvious that polygenic traits have more confounding factors to them…associations with the environment are harder to account for

          Is the second statement supposed to be a restatement of the first? I’m not sure what the first means, but I see no reason that the number of genes is relevant to the environmental contribution.

          They don’t follow Mendelian rules, don’t necessarily show discrete phenotypes

          So? There are theories of selection on such traits. They are cut and dried and they do work. Say, bovine milk production. And people know how to breed dogs for behavior.

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        • cc says:

          I’m not sure what you don’t understand about the first sentence. There are methods of deciphering the effects of polygenic traits separate from monogenic -because- there are confounding factors when multiple genes are involved. It’s not like this is an opinion.

          The more genes involved the more opportunities for the environment to act on them and produce a wider variety of effects. Therefore environmental effects are harder to account for. I wasn’t rejecting multi-gene analysis that is “harder”, I am rejecting purely genetic and selection-based explanations to account for expression of human sexuality, which likely involves more than few genes.

          However, I revise the statement about complexity: monogenic traits aren’t simpler to analyze, they are easier to simplistically analyze. So in that sense there -wouldn’t- be more factors to consider in polygenic vs. monogenic traits; less factors are explicitly chosen for a reductive analysis. Is this the perspective you are coming from?

          I don’t find the idea that one primary cause for a trait (say a pathogen) is more legitimate than many contributing influences (epigenetics, heritable traits, upbringing, environmental exposure), some of which may still be unknown. There is always more to the story and relying on cut and dry explanations leaves little room for progress in my view.

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        • Douglas Knight says:

          What do you mean by “confound”?

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        • cc says:

          I mean confound in the sense of interfering variables. I’m not assuming interference causes wrong conclusions of cause and effect specifically, but also “noisy” conclusions. I guess that wasn’t fair. :P A linked gene caused “noise” in Mendelian inheritance which forced a rethinking of his laws. That’s probably more accurate.

          In complex phenotypes with multiple genes involved (such as heterogeneous conditions) confounding factors (in the traditional sense) can require a lot of statistical gymnastics and such studies are plagued with poor controls for those factors. I don’t see these problems in studies looking at single-gene inheritance traits.

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  3. Sam Rosen says:

    Most people think homosexuality is wrong because they find it disgusting and the parts of their brain that process moral repugnance are the same that process regular repugnance and they conflate them. It’s the same reason most people find consensual, condom-using brother and sister sex immoral.

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    • Xzibit says:

      That may be so, but that is not how their opposition to homosexuality feels to them from the inside. If you ask, they offer up all sorts of reasons.

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      • Blaine says:

        It seems to me more of a matter of not being their true rejection.

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      • BenSix says:

        I’m not sure they would. Perhaps most people who debate ethics on the Internet would but they are a select minority of Westerners, never mind humans. If you asked yer average opponent of homosexual behaviour why they disliked it I suspect they would produce little more than “it’s gross” and, perhaps, “God said so”.

        I’m not picking on them, either. I tend to assume that people I debate have substantive reasoning behind their views because I assume that they have a certain of intelligence, curiosity and knowledge that would lead them to produce such ideas and defend them. Most people, however, I would bet, whatever sides of different debates they lean towards, have little more than received wisdom and instinct.

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        • Desertopa says:

          I think that most people would probably offer *some* reason. In a book I recently read on the development of moral impulses in humans from infancy, the author cited the responses of people from a hunter-gatherer tribe who were asked about the morality of sibling incest, the people espoused disgust, and said that such behavior would be absurd… because you would be passing up the opportunity to acquire (socially valuable) in-laws.

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    • vaniver says:

      Most people think homosexuality is wrong because they find it disgusting

      Sure. But that’s not all people who think homosexuality is wrong, and someone motivated by disgust will not use temptation arguments.

      For example, compare to bestiality. If you just want something to lick your genitals, it’s way easier to get a dog and some peanut butter than a boyfriend or girlfriend. But, as far as I can tell, the opposition to bestiality is mostly “what sort of loser would do that, aren’t they high status enough to have better options?” (which I would associate with disgust) rather than “the only thing standing between us and total social collapse is our prohibition on fooling around with non-human animals” (which I would associate with desire / temptation).

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    • coffeespoons says:

      People are often disgusted by the idea of people they don’t find attractive having sex (elderly people having sex often triggers a disgust reaction). I’m trying to decide whether people normally think that sex they find disgusting is morally wrong. I don’t think many people actually think sex between old people is morally wrong. Maybe they’re not quite disgusted enough to trigger a moral reaction.

      There are counter examples within the PUA movement though. Lots of commenters on Heartiste seem to think that fat women having sex is both disgusting and morally wrong. It does seem that the disgust reaction comes first (though the fact that it’s seen as high status to pick on fat women on these blogs complicates this).

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  4. pwyll says:

    The scenario you lay out about homophobia being designed to ensure that homosexual men marry and reproduce sounds extremely far-fetched to me. What fraction of homosexual men fit the pattern you describe of simply not realizing that most men are attracted to women? I can’t imagine how anyone could come away with this idea after going through a normal high school. Are there any other sources for stories like this besides (the highly-agenda-driven) Dan Savage?

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    • Kaj Sotala says:

      > I can’t imagine how anyone could come away with this idea after going through a normal high school.

      You (a hypothetical gay guy) go through high school and see that everyone else acts like they were attracted to the opposite sex. You don’t want to appear any different, so you act the same, even though you aren’t very attracted to the opposite sex yourself. These observations are consistent with your hypothesis that most people are actually most attracted to the same sex: after all, you are acting exactly the same as others, and you’re not very attracted to women.

      Also, if you’re a person with gay impulses growing up in a strongly homophobic culture, then your choices are to either

      1) Accept that you are different from others in a way that, according to your culture, makes you intrinsically bad.
      2) Assume that everyone’s basically like you and that instead of being intrinsically bad, you are actually being virtuous for suppressing your gay impulses.

      People are going to have a lot of motivation to rather believe in #2.

      Also, this doesn’t need to explain all homophobia: it suffices that it explains why some loud/prominent people make these kinds of arguments. The people who are homophobic due to a pure emotional disgust reaction will then pick up the arguments and repeat them without thinking about them too much. They only care about getting a convenient soldier for their war, regardless of whether it makes much sense.

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      • peterdjones says:

        It mmight be worth noting that opposition to gay marriage could be motivated by opposition to innovations in general, not homophobia specifically.

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      • pwyll says:

        @Kaj Sotala: The “soldier for their war” link is quite a good one – it’s easy to see how, in a democracy, where group opinions are dangerous to minorities, a *huge* number of disagreements get degraded by this phenomenon.

        As for the scenario you sketch: I can see it happening, but I can’t see it being widespread. I have no evidence one way or the other, however.

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        • Andy says:

          Which is why the gay-rights arguments in American society started off as (At least partially) undemocratic: some things, like being able to advocate for more rights, or being treated equally under the law, are just not up for a vote. This is one reason most of the movement’s biggest victories, such as striking down laws against sodomy and several gay-marriage victories, were won in the courts rather than the legislature or the ballot box.
          However, on a local level, victories were often won by a rather undervalued form of democratic process – meeting people face to face and having frank, respectful discussions about things. In my semihometown of Long Beach, California, many local politicians went slowly from quietly meeting with gay activists on the down-low where no one would see them meeting with queers, to openly saying “Hey, gay people want to live in nice places too, let’s get along.” I am, of course, compressing a bit, and can’t seem to find Internet-available sources of the kind I saw in a local exhibit on the history of gay rights in the area.

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        • pwyll says:

          @Andy this gets into the whole neo-reactionary narrative that America is a “sham” democracy where if the results of an election match the will of the elite, it’s accepted, but otherwise non-democratically rejected. Over time, the elite view spreads as the masses realize that conforming to elite views is good for your career and status prospects. Of course this rule isn’t hard and fast, but merely a strong tendency. Note that while neoreactionaries tend to disagree that the advance of gay rights has been a good thing, (for society, or even for gays themselves) they *do* think that a “sham” democracy is a more stable and pleasant alternative to a “true” democracy, in which “soldier arguments” are much more dangerous.

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        • Randy M says:

          I’m not sure reactionaries do tend to favor the current scheme much; the artifice of it all seems to set them off.’Cathedral’ isn’t a term of endearment.

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        • pwyll says:

          Right – it’s not so much that they’re fans of “sham” democracy – it’s just that they prefer it to “true” democracy.

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        • nydwracu says:

          The current sham-democracy has one set of problems. True democracy would have another set of problems, before abolishing itself as repeaters developed/strengthened themselves to cope with the changes in environment.

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    • ozymandias says:

      Also note that many of the people described here are *not* going to a normal high school. They’re going to a private Christian school or being homeschooled. (There’s at least one ex-homeschool blogger who didn’t realize she was a lesbian, she just thought that she was doing a really good job of not lusting after guys.)

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    • johnwbh says:

      > designed to ensure that homosexual men marry and reproduce sounds extremely far-fetched to me.

      Even if it doesn’t work for people at teh far end of the Kinsey scale, it plausibly works for people in the middle who might choose either but can be ‘encouraged’ to move to act heterosexual.

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    • vaniver says:

      The scenario you lay out about homophobia being designed to ensure that homosexual men marry and reproduce sounds extremely far-fetched to me.

      As a homosexual man raised in a religious (but understanding, thankfully) home, this sounds extremely plausible to me. If the internet hadn’t existed and made it much easier to discover what my sexuality was, I would probably be married to one of the women I was friends with in high school or college now.

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      • pwyll says:

        I find it easier to believe that it has this effect on some people – but I find it extremely difficult to believe that it’s intentional.

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        • vaniver says:

          I find it extremely difficult to believe that it’s intentional.

          Intentional in what sense? I would agree with you that this probably grew up organically, rather than one person saying “Aha! I will have more grandchildren if I tell my children that same-sex relations are wrong!”

          But it seems possibly intentional in the sense that parents ask themselves whether or not it makes sense to be homophobic, and they get back the answer “yes, this will get me more grandchildren.”

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        • Hainish says:

          You’re right – it makes more sense when understood as simply a consequence, rather than an intended effect.

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    • rrb says:

      Whether or not Scott’s hypothesis explains homophobia, it does seem to explain the existence of certain rationalizations used to defend homophobia.

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  5. houseboatonstyx says:

    Allowing gay marriage would destroy straight marriage? Yes! If everyone’s secretly gay, then as soon as gay marriage is allowed, they will breath a sigh of relief and stop marrying opposite-sex partners whom they were never very attracted to anyway.

    Here you’re using ‘marriage’ as referring to real people getting married and really living together and mostly having children. Real physical actions in the real physical world.

    But when some people say gay marriage would ‘destroy marriage’, what they mean is that use of the term ‘gay marriage’ would somehow harm or destroy some mystical or emotional meaning they attach to the word ‘marriage’. Some of these people have taken strong action for the rights of gay people to practice gay sex and to have open official ‘domestic partnerships’ etc. It is only the word ‘marriage’ that bothers them.

    State referendums against ‘gay marriage’ often include prohibitions against any form of ‘domestic partnerships’ etc; so their proponents might fit in with Cameron. But gay-rights supporters like the Clintons and Obama, who all at one time balked at the term ‘gay marriage’, must have had some other reason/s for balking at it.

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    • I think it’s a bit more than that, esp. as I have heard some of the most radical and deconstructionist gay and queer rights activists saying things to the effect that they do not actually want gay marriage, but consider it a way to destroy marriage in general. (it won’t work. If the Right advocated gay marriage, they could outflank these people.) Also, these people, (as well as many, many, much more moderate people) seem to treat marriage as a fairly unromantic and un-tradition-bound basket of legal privileges useful for families, at least when it comes to public law and public morality.

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      • houseboatonstyx says:

        Would you unpack the antecedents of ‘it’ and the second (or both?) ‘these people’?

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      • pwyll says:

        @von Kalifornen Yes, there do seem to be significant numbers of gay activists who are hostile to marriage, e.g. http://isteve.blogspot.com/2014/03/americas-shallow-state-wages-world-war-g.html

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      • Martin-2 says:

        “I have heard some of the most radical and deconstructionist gay and queer rights activists saying things to the effect that they do not actually want gay marriage, but consider it a way to destroy marriage in general”

        They say that too? That’s a common libertarian position. Though I wouldn’t call it “destroying marriage”. Even if most people don’t treat this as a debate about an “unromantic and un-tradition-bound basket of legal privileges”, that’s arguably all that’s at stake.

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        • Levi Aul says:

          I would suggest that both the rights-activists and the libertarians would be happier with something like “destroying the union-of-church-and-state that is marriage.” I could imagine some of the offended religious even adopting the phrase, not realizing the irony.

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        • blacktrance says:

          Libertarians and anti-marriage radicals want different things. Libertarians want the government out of marriage, i.e. to treat it as as a simple contract without any privileges or penalties. Anti-marriage radicals want the social practice of marriage to disappear altogether, or at least be significantly less common.

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  6. gattsuru says:

    Orson Scott Card is well-known for this position (“Men, after all, know what men like far better than women do; women know how women think and feel far better than men do.”), and, combined with some of his other writing, it’s one of the few cases where I actually expect the “homophobe-as-gay or bisexual” prediction to be somewhat true.

    Interestingly, weaker versions of this hypothesis aren’t limited to actual gay guys, or even to people who lack understanding of heterosexuality. Eliezer Yudkowsky is on record as understanding that he’s not oriented toward same-sex attraction and seems to understand what that means. Yet a side note in Interpersonal Entanglement states :

    But men are not optimized to make women happy, and women are not optimized to make men happy. The vast majority of men are not what the vast majority of women would most prefer, or vice versa. I don’t know if anyone has ever actually done this study, but I bet that both gay and lesbian couples are happier on average with their relationship than heterosexual couples. (Googles… yep, looks like it.)

    You can even see this sort of thinking in published psych literature with nudge-and-wink connections drawn between sexual orientation and risk-taking behavior, especially where the author doesn’t talk much into on which direction the casual relationship runs.

    ((As someone who can go both ways, I’m somewhat skeptical this analysis is true even for bisexual individuals.))

    It is, as you note, not the only cause, or likely even a terribly common cause. Gay and gay-preferring bisexual men probably make up less than 5% of the general populace, while in living memory there have been active hypermajority groups enforcing fairly strict rules about same-sex sexual activity. I can come up with a decent number of antigay commentors and thought processes that hold expression of same-sex attraction to be linked with emotional trauma, which really isn’t a necessary plank for the “same-sex attraction as basic human experience” but does seem to be a fundamental part of these folks beliefs.

    And then there’s the really out-there options, like Ayn Rand’s gender-restrictive SM kink being really confused by two doms.

    That said, it’s also a field where it’s hard for me to even listen to the opposing side without constantly flinching sometimes, nevermind apply the Principle of Charity honestly.

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    • pwyll says:

      If Cochran’s “Gay Germ” hypothesis (see my posts above for detail) holds up, I’m guessing it would be consistent with a dynamic where men more susceptible to the “germ” might evolve stronger homophobia as a compensating protective mechanism.

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    • pwyll says:

      The article cited by Eliezer on satisfaction within homosexual relationships doesn’t seem to jibe with for example this: “For gay men, [the fraction who had been with a violent partner] was 40 percent, and 21 percent for straight men.”

      (Of course, you’d expect men who have male partners to have more violent ones just because men are more violent than women – but the numbers for lesbians are similar to the ones for straight women. I guess the question is to what degree having a violent partner is consistent with having a happy relationship.)

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      • That may be heavily affected by the under-reporting of female-on-male domestic violence?

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      • gattsuru says:

        I think TheAtlantic misread the NISVS report (pdf warning) : the numbers don’t quite match, and there are some pretty nontrivial limitations to the metrics. Without 12-month prevalence records, it’s also very hard to read much about the abusive experiences. Most (89% of gay men, 73% of straight men, 78% of lesbian women, 71% of straight women) victims of domestic violence report only one perpetrator of violence, and many of these people are no longer in a relationship with that perpetrator (either since the perp doesn’t match their self-identified sexual orientation, they left the relationship, someone got shot that deserved it, etc).

        I’m pretty sure you can find conflicting studies, and there are likely alternative explanations. It’s an offhand comment for Yudkowsky, rather a research paper. I bring it up more that he’d say it, not because it terribly matters whether he’s right or wrong.

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    • naath says:

      Supposing it is the case that people in same-sex relationships are on average happier I have a different explanation:

      people in straight relationships have a big burden of Tradition – you will date, get engaged, marry, buy a house, have children… he will bring home the big money, she will care for the children (and maybe make a bit of money)… he will be physically capable while she will be emotionally/socially capable…

      All this stuff is true of some couples, but not all couples. And I could see how trying to obey these Traditions; or fighting with relatives/friends over why you aren’t… that could make people unhappy.

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      • vaniver says:

        people in straight relationships have a big burden of Tradition

        The function of tradition, in most relationships, is to reduce friction and increase happiness. One of the big plausible reasons why female happiness has declined significantly in the last several decades is because women have gone from having clearly defined, satisfiable roles to poorly defined, unsatisfiable roles.

        So I would expect this to go in the opposite direction. Two men in a relationship might fight over which one is the top sexually, which one has to work longer hours to make more money, which one cares for the children, which one manages the household, who will change their last name to what, and so on. A man and a woman have default answers to all of those questions, and so while they can decide to discuss any individual issue they don’t have to discuss every issue.

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    • “And then there’s the really out-there options, like Ayn Rand’s gender-restrictive SM kink being really confused by two doms.”

      I’m not sure what you mean by this. Rand’s theories don’t allow for two doms to be attracted to each other?

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      • ozymandias says:

        I think it means that Rand thought men were doms and women were subs and having two doms sleep together would just be silly.

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        • Levi Aul says:

          The idea does have a certain elegance–not in that it seems a suitable description for the-world-as-it-is, but rather in that, if we were going to create sexual dynamics over from scratch (e.g. for transhumans), a system where the two sexes/genders are precisely identified as “top” and “bottom” would function pretty smoothly.

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      • gattsuru says:

        I’m not an Objectivist scholar, but from my limited understanding of her works, Ayn Rand’s theory of sexuality revolves around male ‘domination’ of the worthy and female ‘surrender’ to those worthy of rule. She held these roles not just as personal preferences, but as if they were tied to the rest of her philosophical system and arise as one piece : she honestly seemed to think that anyone with an intact psychology would want things this way. So to her gay individuals don’t make sense, not because she thought homosexuality is uniquely fulfilling, but because she thought homosexuality wasn’t.

        She could imagine two doms being attracted to each other — indeed, that’s the only model of male same-sex attraction — but she’d consider such flawed, since she thought it’d involve someone suppressing a desire to dominate or choosing dominating someone that was suppressing their desires.

        I don’t think even most Objectivists take this viewpoint very seriously now.

        ((Her theory of sexuality’s also kinda heavy with dubious consent, but that’s a common product of her time, and not as bad as it sounds in today’s terms.))

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        • vaniver says:

          I don’t think even most Objectivists take this viewpoint very seriously now.

          I don’t think they do. Also, roughly 20% of Objectivists are gay, and they have a much easier time finding philosophically compatible partners than straight Objectivists, which I find amusing.

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        • Nornagest says:

          @Vaniver — Having a hard time making those numbers work out. Is that because Objectivists are (shooting in the dark here, but it sounds plausible) overwhelmingly male, or because of something I haven’t thought of yet?

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        • vaniver says:

          @Nornagest- yeah, it’s very, very male, and with male-female dating dynamics you have competition of a different sort than with male-male dating dynamics.

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        • peterdjones says:

          And once you realise that the pattern of Rand slapping the label “objective” on her subjective opinions and preferences iseendlessly repeated, you have to stop being an Objectivist.

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    • Randy M says:

      This makes me wonder if any queer type people have read OSC’s Treason (aka “A Planet Called Treason”) which features among other things a young man who spontaneously grew breasts and had to pass for a woman who was at one point attempted to be seduced/raped by a man masquerading vis illusions as a woman.

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  7. This is an astonishingly stupid, hostile, angry, and hateful account of opposition to homosexuality.

    People feel, at gut level, that homosexuals are just dirty, and the reason for this feeling is that by and large, homosexuals are dirty, which is to say, apt to be diseased and to spread disease.

    Homosexuals are dirty, dangerous, badly behaved, and have an extraordinarily high death rate and short life expectancy even if one excludes AIDs deaths from consideration, due to a wide variety of self destructive behaviors.

    If we give smokers a hard time, we should by the same rationale give gays a thousand times as much a hard time. Individuals should be free to minimize contact with gays, and society should encourage people to be straight. Homosexuality should be discouraged for the same reason that rolling around in human poop, and then getting on the train should be discouraged.

    The problem with “gay marriage” is that it puts “marriage” on the euphemism treadmill, which turns all words into curse words.

    When we were all forced to call homosexuals gay, “gay” instantly became a startlingly potent curse word, and so the second verse of “deck the halls with boughs of holly” instantly disappeared from the Christmas Carol rotation, as did the Flintstones theme song. Clearly, it was not the intention of the social engineers who forced us to use the word “gay” that the second verse of “Deck the Halls” would vanish, yet somehow it did.

    Forcing people to call gays married will predictably have a similar effect on the word “marriage” – people will titter when they hear the word. “Marriage” too will become a curse word and an insult, just as “Gay” instantly did.

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    • Amanda L. says:

      Could you cite your sources for gay people being “apt to spread disease” to straight people? What is the effect size for this aptitude?

      When you use the “rolling in poop and getting on the train” analogy, do you mean to say that the effect sizes of disease risk with exposure to fecal contamination and gay people are comparable, or is that just a colorful exaggeration? If the latter, by how many orders of magnitude do you think the effect sizes differ?

      Citations for “extraordinarily short life expectancy” and “dangerous and badly behaved” as well, please. I’m also curious what you mean by bad behavior in this context.

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      • Definitely not using my name says:

        > For all men, the leading causes of death are heart disease and cancer. However, among men who have sex with men (MSM), there are higher rates of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), tobacco and drug use, and depression compared to other men.

        > the rate of new HIV diagnoses among MSM is more than 44 times that of other men, while the rate of primary and secondary syphilis among MSM is more than 46 times that of other men.

        http://www.cdc.gov/msmhealth/for-your-health.htm

        > Gay, bisexual and other MSM are at greater risk for hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and the human papillomavirus (HPV).

        http://www.cdc.gov/std/life-stages-populations/STDFact-MSM.htm

        > Overall, homosexual men were significantly (p < 0.001) more likely than heterosexual men to have gonorrhea (30.31% vs. 19.83 %), early syphilis (1.08% vs. 0.34%) and anal warts (2.90% vs. 0.26%) but less likely to have nongonococcal urethritis (NGU) (14.63% vs. 36.40%, p < 0.001), herpes genitalis (0.93% vs. 3.65%, p < 0.001), pediculosis pubis (4.30% vs. 5.35%, p < 0.005), scabies (0.42% vs. 0.76%, p < 0.02), and genital warts (1.68% vs. 6.69%, p < 0.001). In most cases the differences in rates remained significant (p < 0.05) when corrected for age and race. It is speculated that higher rates of gonorrhea and syphilis result from a larger mean number of sexual contacts, more potential sites of infection, and more hidden and asymptomatic disease, while the lower rates of the other STD result from a lesser susceptibility of anal mucosa to the causative agent(s) of NGU, herpes genitalis, and venereal warts or from a lack of pubic apposition (pediculosis pubis).

        I couldn't find a study that removed the effect of AIDS deaths, but here is some bare life-expectancy data from the height of the HIV epidemic in Canada:

        > Age-specific mortality was significantly higher for gay and bisexual men than all men aged 30-44. Life expectancy at age 20 for gay and bisexual men ranged from 34.0 years to 46.3 years for the 3% and 9% scenarios respectively. These were all lower than the 54.3 year life expectancy at age 20 for all men. The probability of living from age 20 to 65 years for gay and bisexual men ranged from 32% for the 3% scenario, to 59% for the 9% scenario. These figures were considerably lower than for all men where the probability of living from 20 to 65 was 78%. CONCLUSION: In a major Canadian centre, life expectancy at age 20 years for gay and bisexual men is 8 to 20 years less than for all men. … Under even the most liberal assumptions, gay and bisexual men in this urban centre are now experiencing a life expectancy similar to that experienced by all men in Canada in the year 1871

        http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/content/26/3/657.abstract

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        • falenas108 says:

          First, I want to point out that the study seems extremely biased. They put the main cause of the lower rates as those diseases are less likely to transfer with certain types of sex, without bothering to apply that as a reason why rates would be higher?

          They also didn’t control for class, which considering the homelessness rate for the queer community, should definitely be controlled for.

          From this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexually_transmitted_disease

          Of course MSM have a much higher rate for AIDS than the general population. For PIV, the rate of transmission is .1% for the receiving partner, and .05% for the penetrating partner. For anal sex, it’s .62% for the receiving and 1.7% for the penetrating. That doesn’t explain all the variation by itself. But because diseases spread within a community, once a higher population than normal has HIV/AIDS within a community you would expect it to spread faster.

          Furthermore, HIV/AIDS weakens the immune system and makes it more likely to get other STI’s, which is probably a factor for the others.

          You next mentioned syphilis, which has a 14% transference rate for the penetrating partner. They don’t give data for comparing to PIV, but for other categories the rate for syphilis is 1%.

          Hep A, B, and HPV they don’t give rates for. Did a bit more searching, couldn’t find much. Can’t say too much either way there.

          As for gonorrhea, the rate for oral sex on a penis is 25-30%, while PIV was only 22% for the penetrative partner. They don’t give rates for anal.

          As for mortality rates…they looked at the population from 1987 to 1992, when HIV/AIDS medication wasn’t as good as it is now. They didn’t control for HIV/AIDS. Of course life expectancy is shorter!
          In fact, the same group did a press release in 2001, and although they didn’t give numbers, they did say there has been a threefold decrease in mortality rates http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/content/30/6/1499.full.

          It may be true that there are probably higher rates of sexual contact among MSM. And you might argue that even if there aren’t, the higher rates of STI transmission is reason to discourage people from having anal sex. But, it looks like life expectancy is approaching that of non-MSM.

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        • Definitely not using my name says:

          > First, I want to point out that the study seems extremely biased. They put the main cause of the lower rates as those diseases are less likely to transfer with certain types of sex, without bothering to apply that as a reason why rates would be higher?

          Presumably this is because the explanation doesn’t work. The way that transmission rates for diseases depend on the type of sex is known. If the actual prevalence of the disease is opposite that of how the transmission rate dependence would lead you too expect, then it’s not an explanation.

          Will you retract your charge of bias until you look up the transmission rates?

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        • anonymous says:

          You haven’t shown that gay men are likely to transmit diseases to heterosexuals though.

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        • Randy M says:

          To be fair, James didn’t say spread disease to straight people.

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        • anonymous says:

          So what James is worried about is homosexuals transmitting diseases to each other? He doesn’t seem terribly concerned about homosexuals generally.

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        • Anonymous says:

          I don’t know that he’s concerned with it, as it makes him unsympathetic to their cause and viscerally repulsive.

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        • peppermint says:

          AIDS would likely not exist outside of Africa if not for gays. Straight men like Isaac Asimov have died of AIDS.

          It’s simply absurd to say that it’s not a public health problem to have a bunch of people running around spreading diseases among themselves.

          AIDS is a very expenive condition to manage. What if it came out of special taxes paid by gays?

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        • Andy says:

          AIDS would likely not exist outside of Africa if not for gays. Straight men like Isaac Asimov have died of AIDS.

          Right, because hetero-sex-having Africans don’t ever move to places outside of Africa. [/sarcasm]
          EDIT:And this doesn’t even touch on all the other methods of contracting HIV, such as blood transfusions (which got Asimov) or shared needles.

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      • ozymandias says:

        It seems possible that the depression and drug use are related to homophobia and not to some inherent feature of fucking dudes. Even if it is an inherent feature, it seems at least *possible* the depression and drug use are related to whatever causes homosexuality rather than to something you can get rid of by not having sex with dudes.

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        • pwyll says:

          @Ozymandias, I don’t see anything in the thread referring to depression and drug use, did I miss something?

          Anyway, on that topic, it does seem that the rates of depression and drug use are significantly higher among homosexuals: http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2013/01/22/comment-is-londons-gay-scene-self-harming-through-sex-and-drug-use/

          If this were driven by homophobia, you’d expect lower rates of depression/drug use in environments more tolerant of homosexuality. It’s not clear whether this is true, see arguments for and against:

          This study looked at correlates in different parts of the US, but all of them are urban areas, so I think the usefulness is limited in this context: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1448076/

          EDIT: This looks like evidence for your claim: (though I haven’t examined it in detail.) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/18/gay-life-expectancy-study_n_4810496.html

          And, agreed that even if homophobia isn’t causing the drug use/depression, it may be linked to what causes homosexual orientation rather than actual homosexual behavior. The argument against homosexual behavior would be the disease risk, especially when combined with drug use.

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        • pwyll says:

          Speaking of stigmatization, given the rising stigmatization of homophobia, I think there’s an increasing need for public service announcements to remind young men that their feelings of homophobia are entirely natural, and nothing to be ashamed of. /troll

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        • peppermint says:

          > depression and drug use related to whatever causes homosexuality

          How about the corruption that people used to believe sodomites suffered from, before they successfully convinced people that homosexuality is a disease?

          You really need to be careful with what arguments you make, because thanks to the Internet, the history of ideas is easily available.

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    • ckp says:

      http://blog.jim.com/culture/the-trouble-with-gay-marriage.html

      >Scott Alexander has just posted that anyone who objects to homosexuality must be a repressed homosexual, which is typical of what passes for rationality among the “Less Wrong” crowd.

      Meanwhile, in the real world …

      >This can’t be a universal explanation for anti-gay attitudes. Something like half the US population is against gay marriage (previously much more) and probably five percent or less is gay. Closeted gay people don’t explain more than a small fraction of the anti-gay movement.

      It’s almost as if you didn’t read the whole thing!

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      • Definitely not using my name says:

        Putting aside James McDonalds misrepresentation, what do you honestly think the largest effect will be on this blog’s audience?: (1) Increased attempts at understanding opponent views charitably because this one time Scott came up with s just-so story to explain the arguments of a tiny minority of some political group. (2) The general impression that you can understand a lot of gay-bashing as repressed homosexuality.

        In particular, I predict that this post will *decrease* this audience’s likelihood of approaching opponent views charitably, since the delicious general impression that social conservatives are a bunch of repressed gay hypocrites will easily overwhelm the platitudes about charity.

        Now, look at the comments in this blog post. How many are discussing the principle of charity?

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        • Douglas Knight says:

          I think a principal effect of this post will be to clarify what Scott means by “Principle of Charity.”

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        • Kaj Sotala says:

          For me, finding out that what I had previously considered a completely irrational and crazy set of arguments actually formed a logical and rational whole (given the information available to the people holding it), definitely made me feel more sympathetic towards people making such arguments.

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        • Jonathan Weissman says:

          since the delicious general impression that social conservatives are a bunch of repressed gay hypocrites

          Scott is not calling anyone a hypocrite. His theory is that the repressed gay social conservative thinks that everyone has gay impulses, gay people are the ones who act on those impulses, and straight people are the ones like themselves who repress those impulses. They are doing exactly what they advocate, they are not hypocrites. Their problem is epistemic, they don’t realize that most of the population has straight impulses and little or no gay impulses.

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        • When I explain the ignorance, stupidity, and illogic of debates on Less Wrong by the fact that most Less Wrongers are stupid gay pedophiles and coprophages, I am being charitable, according to Scott Alexander’s definition of Charity.

          I expect that any responses to this remark will demonstrate that the typical Scott Alexander commentator is mentally incapable of following an analogy.

          And also does not know what “coprophage” means.

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        • Definitely not using my name says:

          Kaj Sotala, sympathizing with an argument and sympathizing with the person making the argument are completely different. And the later is definitely not the principle of charity which Scott is discussing. With respect, I think you missed the point.

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        • Andy says:

          And also does not know what “coprophage” means.

          James, honey-bunny, pumpkin, darling… just stop with the insults? Please? We know damn well that a coprophage is a shit eater.
          And you might want to read the comments policy.

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        • Kaj Sotala says:

          @Definitely not using my name:

          From Scott’s post: “Principle of Charity, remember, says you should always assume your ideological opponents’ beliefs must make sense from their perspective.”

          That sounds very much like sympathizing with the person rather than the argument to me. I don’t need to agree that their argument is correct, I just need to agree that it makes sense from their perspective.

          Or to put it differently: I can agree that the other person is making an argument which is sound given their premises, but I don’t need to agree with their premises. But I can still respect them for making a coherent and logically valid argument.

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      • nydwracu says:

        Read the following:

        I’m pretty good at feeling tempted by most positions I oppose, which satisfies me that I understand them enought to feel justified in continuing to reject them. The biggest exception is that support for homosexuality has never made sense to me. I can sort of understand where it fits into classical liberalism, but a lot of pro-gay activists are, no offense, not exactly John Locke.

        But imagine that you’re one of those people like Allen Ginsberg — a closeted pedophile who doesn’t realize he’s a closeted pedophile. He just thinks — reasonably, given his own experience! — that the natural state of the adult male is to be attracted to children, and that the natural state of the child is to be attracted to adults, but that adults grudgingly have sex with and marry adults anyway because society tells them they have to, and children grudgingly don’t have sex with adults because society tells them they can’t.

        In that case, exactly the pro-gay position liberals push makes perfect sense for exactly the reasons they say it makes sense.

        Prohibiting gay sex would destroy society? Yes! If everyone’s secretly both gay and a pedophile, then widespread sexual repression of the natural urge of liberals to fuck children will lead, as Wilhelm Reich said, to fascism.

        Gays are virtuous? Yes! Everyone else is sublimating their homosexual urges and becoming repressed, armored fascists, and gay people are the ones who accept their sexuality and become liberated. Especially the ones who admit to their pedophilia.

        Prohibiting children from fucking old men will lead to fascism? Yes! The only thing preventing them all from being fucking old men already is the unjust stigma against pedophilia. Teaching them in school that fucking old men is okay and shouldn’t be stigmatized cuts through the armor of repression and allows them to freely express themselves and escape from fascism.

        This can’t be a universal explanation for pro-gay attitudes. Something like half the US population is for gay marriage (previously much more) and probably five percent or less are child molesters. Pedophiles don’t explain more than a small fraction of the pro-gay movement.

        Now, how did you react? Do you think Jim’s reaction is totally incomprehensible?

        It probably helped that I fenced it off in a blockquote, but I really don’t want anyone to read that the wrong way. (To make it even clearer: if I had a time machine and a six-shooter, I’d save a bullet for Wilhelm Reich. Except probably not; taking out Freud would prevent both Reich and the others who took Freudianism in a similar direction.)

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        • Raz says:

          Incomprehensible, no, no certainly not that. Perhaps unpleasantly worded, almost certainly poorly made if the intent was to engender thought and engagement with most other readers of the blog (see waaaaaay below for my point about triggering the “bigot” alarm bell that most of our upbringings and/or social environments have inculcated into us in order to shut down critical evaluation and engagement with ideas that could permanently get us banned from our own little section of civil society).

          I would just like to point out that while the use of pedophilia manages to capture the degree of disgust and general negative affect that you’re trying to get across, there are more than a few potential lines of attack on using that sort of thing as a comparison (you know ability to consent, reinforcing the whole gay-pedophile complex, etc.). I think you might have done better with something along the lines of I dunno, bigotry, or bestiality, or something else that liberals still probably have some strong taboo against, but that doesn’t trigger an entire set of reactions that let them basically just say “oh well he was clearly being extremely hyperbolic and therefore i can safely ignore him”.

          Cheers,
          Raz

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        • Leo says:

          This isn’t particularly upsetting, just absurd. Gay rights activists do not advocate that pedophiles act on attraction to children, therefore your model shouldn’t explain why they do.

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        • ozymandias says:

          Well, they don’t *anymore*. In the seventies and eighties they certainly did.

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        • Multiheaded says:

          Um, didn’t some Freudian explicitly equate pedophilia with fascism? Might not have been Reich, I don’t remember.

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        • Roxolan says:

          I am ok with an argument claiming that some people hold a belief that I also hold because of an [evil/disgusting/stupid] trait of theirs. In some cases I know this to be true. See “Why I defend scoundrels” for more words about this by Scott. (http://squid314.livejournal.com/333353.html)

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    • ozymandias says:

      I highly doubt your “marriage will become a curse word and an insult” hypothesis, sir. IVF and adoption are both fairly closely linked with gays who, in most circumstances, cannot have biological children, but I highly doubt that there is any significant increase in the tittering about adoption in states where it is legal for gays to do it.

      In addition, gay men might be more likely to have STDs but lesbians are much less likely to have STDs than heterosexuals. Therefore your repulsion theory should only apply to gay men, and everyone should be aggressively pro-lesbian. (Admittedly, lesbian porn. On the other hand, women appear to be as into gay romance novels as men are into lesbian porn, so.)

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      • Randy M says:

        “IVF and adoption are both fairly closely linked with gays”

        I don’t find that so. I mean, in my own head. Sure, gays who want children will need alternate means such as those, but I don’t find most of either discussions of adoption/ivf to be about gays, or of gays to be about adoption.

        There would not necessarily be a need to be aggressively pro-lesbian because a positive case can be made for striaght relationships as well as the negative against gay ones; however, there does seem to be more natural revulsion to gay men than lesbians.

        I doubt marriage will be a curse word, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see some people on the marigins thinking “What I want is not the same category of thing that includes gay relationships” and more reluctance to marry. I don’t think this is the destruction of marriage any more than any other straw on the camels back.

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        • ozymandias says:

          Okay, they’re more closely linked to gays than marriage is, which is to say that I expect in a state where gay adoption and gay marriage are legal the percentage of people who adopt who are gay will be higher than the percentage of people who marry who are gay.

          …I don’t think there’s more natural revulsion to gay men than lesbians at all. I expect it’s gendered: women IME tend to be more squicked by lesbians than gay dudes.

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        • Randy M says:

          Ozy: So, I was trying to find out if that was so; I googled “gay marriage” “marriage” “gay adoption” and “adoption” and was going to compare the ratios between the two. 37 million out of 46 million hits for gay adoption vs adoption made me think I was wrong. But “gay marriage” got 435 million hits out of … 135 million hits for just marriage.

          So, google hits as methodology doesn’t work.

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      • pwyll says:

        @Ozymandias, I’d clarify that IVF and adoption are fairly closely linked with lesbians – to a first approximation the debate over gay adoption is a debate over lesbian adoption as gay men don’t adopt in large numbers.

        As for STDs, yes lesbians will have far lower rates simply because they are far less promiscuous than gay men.

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      • IVF and adoption are both fairly closely linked with gays who, in most circumstances, cannot have biological children,

        The usual reason for gay adoption is sexual molestation. If their motives were commonly normal, you would have found some less embarrassing poster boys.

        Just as Marie Curie demonstrates that women cannot do great science, at least not in the more heavily mathematical areas, and Emmet Till proves that no black man was ever lynched for whistling at a white woman, Mark Newton demonstrates that the usual motivation for gay adoption is pedophilia.

        If women could do science, you would have a more impressive poster girl than Marie Curie, if blacks were lynched for whistling at a white woman, you would have a poster boy that was (a) lynched, and (b) offended by whistling at a white woman, and if gays did not normally interact with children as pedophiles, you would have a better poster boy for gay adoption and gay IVF than Mark Newton

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        • Randy M says:

          Jim, I think you would make stronger cases if you forbear use of the word proof based on single pieces of evidence.

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        • nydwracu says:

          Hahahaha you think the machines are actually competent.

          Take a more recent example: Trayvon Martin. Surely he wasn’t the only black guy in the country who got shot in perceived self-defense, so why him? Because his family hired Benjamin Crump, and Benjamin Crump has connections. There’s no other reason.

          Why Emmett Till? Because it was 1955 — how many lynchings were available for the media to use? — and he was 14. Why Marie Curie? Because activists got her name onto a Nobel Prize in something that people have heard of.

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        • Army1987 says:

          If women could do science, you would have a more impressive poster girl than Marie Curie,

          http://xkcd.com/896/

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        • Ialdabaoth says:

          Where is that rant…

          aha!

          “Removing sex offenders from society will only leave a gap which will need to be filled by another undesirable group that people can blame their problems on. Then again, how is that a problem? Gays are next; besides, everyone knows that all gays are pedophiles anyway (and that all pedophiles are gay – that’s why they like ‘em without boobs).

          Then we’ve got the drug dealers and the drug users, who are really the same people – we all know that everyone who uses drugs also deals drugs in order to support their habit, and anyway drugs lead to sexual deviance, which leads right back to the gay pedophiles.

          Once that’s done, we’ve got the wetbacks and the niggers and the chinks, who are all after our white women, offering them drugs to confuse their chastity and mate with them, thus polluting our race. Really, the whole reason white folk have been committing crime at all in the past few decades has been because of interracial marriages and their devil-spawn descendents polluting our pure God-ordained Aryan heritage.

          Then we’ve got the Satanist “secular humanist” atheists, who have been organizing the whole thing for the past 4,000 years under the aegis of the Illuminati to breed a mongrel army for the Antichrist. Lord of the Rings was a metaphor, folks! We’re talking about the Revelation, here, and the mud-people are going to take us over if we don’t start weeding them out of our garden.

          It’s too bad we can’t make a direct strike against the demonic reptoid masters who are controlling the show from behind the curtain of their own pocket dimension, but Our Lord Jesus, the Christ will have to take care of that Himself after His triumphant return, after he burns away all the blasphemers and the infidels and the Catholics, and returns His Church to the English language that His Book was written in!”

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        • Army1987 says:

          I mean, by that logic the fact that Antonino Zichichi is a poster boy where I am (I hope it’s not the same elsewhere) must mean that people in some reference class he’s in can’t do physics, but I don’t think it’s Italians because Fermi, I don’t think it’s living people because [redacted], and I don’t even think it’s Catholics because Lemaître.

          Or maybe popularity just doesn’t correlate all that much with competence at the high end, “at least not in the more heavily mathematical areas” (with a very few exceptions such as Einstein), and there are certain people who didn’t become famous just because, you know, they weren’t married to Pierre Curie.

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        • ozymandias says:

          Who the fuck is Mark Newton?

          (Googles) Oh, some guy who made child porn with his adopted kid.

          I’m pretty sure our poster children for gay adoption is not actually that guy and is actually like Neil Patrick Harris and his adorable boyfriend?

          In other news, I know someone whose heterosexual family made porn of them as a child, therefore heterosexuality is evil and everyone should be gay and if you don’t agree with this you like child porn.

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        • peppermint says:

          Oh look, XKCD has found 2 (two) additional significant women in science, bringing the total to 3 (three). Currently, there are more women graduating college, and in certain technical majors like mathematics.

          So real soon now, there will be as many significant women in mathematics as men. Any day now. We just need to wait for the current crop of students to do their thing.

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    • Anonymous says:

      There seems to be a typo in this comment; there ought to be a colon at the end of the first sentence.

      Report comment

    • Ialdabaoth says:

      This is an astonishingly stupid, hostile, angry, and hateful account of opposition to homosexuality.

      Can you describe the manner in which it is hostile, angry, and hateful?

      People feel, at gut level, that homosexuals are just dirty, and the reason for this feeling is that by and large, homosexuals are dirty, which is to say, apt to be diseased and to spread disease.

      Which people? All people? All non-homosexual people? A subset of non-homosexual people? If I grab a particular person at random, how likely are they to feel that homosexuals are just dirty? What other traits does that likelihood tend to correlate with?

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    • anodognosic says:

      “This is an astonishingly stupid, hostile, angry, and hateful account of opposition to homosexuality.

      People feel, at gut level, that homosexuals are just dirty, and the reason for this feeling is that by and large, homosexuals are dirty, which is to say, apt to be diseased and to spread disease.”

      You display a shocking lack of self-awareness in your post.

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    • Alexander Stanislaw says:

      Your comment is neither true, necessary nor kind.

      Report comment

      • Douglas Knight says:

        The comment is necessary, true, and kind.

        The whole point of this post is to speculate about Jim’s opinions. How could his expression of his opinions be off-topic? As to whether it should be classified as kind, I cannot discuss that topic while being kind to you.

        I think comments like yours set an extremely bad precedent.

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        • Multiheaded says:

          I dare say that the average homophobic person cuts a much, much more sympathetic figure than Jim.

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        • Ialdabaoth says:

          I dare say that the average homophobic person cuts a much, much more sympathetic figure than Jim.

          Okay. I am now strongly motivated to give you a new tool/weapon to use in your social justice arsenal, but you have to really want to listen to what I have to say, and you have to be willing to accept that it’s a useful tool even if it runs counter to your feelings. Let me know if this is acceptable to you.

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        • Multiheaded says:
        • Ialdabaoth says:

          It’s a function of judging your audience.

          Pay attention to what kinds of behaviors are respected and what kinds of behaviors aren’t.

          If you’re on tumblr, blast away.

          If you’re in the Rationalist Zone, you may find that engaging with civility vs. people who do not reciprocate earns YOU respect and diminishes theirs.

          If your reaction to this is “if they expect me to respect THAT, then I don’t WANT their respect!”, then you are shooting yourself in the foot. The goal is not to decide what you respect or disrespect. The goal is to learn what actions you can take to increase or decrease your enemy’s respect within the subcultures you care about, and then take those actions.

          Moreso: the more actually-rational a subculture is, the more “actions that increase or decrease your enemy’s respect” should look like “actions that cause your enemies to expose their strategically-concealed biases and bad-faith intentions”. Because a properly rationalist subculture should be grown-up enough to come to the correct conclusions, when provided with accurate evidence.

          I.e., save “I think he’s a poopy-head and we should hate him forever” for the playground; speak to Persons differently than you speak to Animals. But around Persons you must be careful to comport yourself as a Person, lest they start speaking to you as an Animal.

          Part of my motivation for explaining this to you is that your current behavior is tickling my urge to start speaking to you as an Animal.

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        • Alexander Stanislaw says:

          @Douglas

          As to whether it should be classified as kind, I cannot discuss that topic while being kind to you.

          I think comments like yours set an extremely bad precedent.

          I value your opinion, if you can explain why then I’ll retract my original comment and refrain from making such comments in the future.

          I’ll concede that

          People feel, at gut level, that homosexuals are just dirty

          If amended to “people like me” passes the true and necessary gates. But

          Individuals should be free to minimize contact with gays, and society should encourage people to be straight. Homosexuality should be discouraged for the same reason that rolling around in human poop, and then getting on the train should be discouraged

          I don’t see how this could possibly pass the kind gate. It barely passes the necessary gate I suppose. I also don’t see how it could pass the truth gate.

          And I know its his style but

          so the second verse of “deck the halls with boughs of holly” instantly disappeared from the Christmas Carol rotation

          Also fails the truth gate.

          Also I dispute:

          The whole point of this post is to speculate about Jim’s opinions

          No, the point of the post was to speculate on a subset of anti-gay people’s opinions who may or may not be quite vocal (hence the line about this not accounting for more than a small fraction of anti-gay feelings – this should probably be moved to the top of the post).

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        • Douglas Knight says:

          I should have been specific that when I said that when I said “comments like yours,” I didn’t meant just comments about moderation that I disagreed with, but all comments advocating specific interpretations of moderation. Just click report and let Scott sort it out. I think that discussion of moderation is more likely to lead to groupthink than forcing Scott to do it single-handedly.

          Also, fuck disclaimers.

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        • Multiheaded says:

          Ialdabaoth:

          I find it hard to model “rationalist subcultures”, although I do like some individual people from them. E.g. I can’t immediately process what gives LW an instinctive liking for Robin Hanson but an instinctive fear of Marxism, beyond the laziest and most uncharitable explaination. And the individuals whom I do like just feel too formadible to be easily swayed in a positive way (Scott has, like, a hundred times my life experience and cultural capital?), so I feel hopeless and let myself piss them off while the (worthy) opposition seems to speak their language effortlessly.

          How the fuck would I convince Scott that some literate, sharp-tongued white supremacist or misogynist really is full of the worst, darkest motivated cognition when they start out sharing a language, and I don’t? That this is very likely to hide this? (Yeah, some literally Nazi talk when there’s no need to feign noble sadness.) Feels Herculean in my best moments, Sisyphean otherwise.

          Seriously, I’m just so fucking unmotivated even to be an effective troll and so I self-handicap; I’m disgusted with myself.

          I have a desire to shame you for self-handicapping yourself as well, but that’s so mean.

          P.S. http://i.imgur.com/gYAU2p5.jpg

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        • pwyll says:

          I would agree that the comment passes the “at least two of three of true, necessary, kind” hurdle. “Kind” would be the hardest to argue for, but the post does seem kind to anyone who has been browbeaten into forced approval of something they find repugnant.

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        • coffeespoons says:

          (Multiheaded)I dare say that the average homophobic person cuts a much, much more sympathetic figure than Jim.

          I used to be a Catholic and IME that is absolutely true.

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        • coffeespoons says:

          @Multiheaded As an ex-sort-of Marxist who still sort-of-sympathises I appreciate many of your comments here, but I do dislike your more trollish behaviour.

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        • Alexander Stanislaw says:

          @Douglas

          Okay that makes sense, retracted.

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      • Andy says:

        This is what that nice little “Report” button is for.

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    • Multiheaded says:

      Oh, some of your fellow fascists are gay, you’re too cruel to your own kind. Your behavior is in general potentially rather harmful to your own cause.

      Report comment

    • Scott Alexander says:

      “This is an astonishingly stupid, hostile, angry, and hateful account of opposition to homosexuality.”

      I think it might be those things if I said that this was the only reason anyone opposed homosexuality, but I’m specifically saying the opposite – that it’s one of many causes.

      Your point about disgust reaction doesn’t disagree with my point – it confirms it. Yes, lots of heterosexuals (including me) have a natural disgust reaction to the idea of homosexuality. But that’s contradictory with making the argument “If we don’t carefully ban it, everyone will do it”. I think people have a natural disgust reaction to the idea of eating cockroaches, but I’m not arguing we need to ban it or else everyone will start doing it. I assume the disgust reaction will be sufficient disincentive.

      So what we’re discussing is not whether some people have the disgust reaction, but whether there’s a large anti-gay contigent who in fact feel the opposite way – that homosexuality is not just not-disgusting but strictly superior to heterosexuality, and if so why. From the Cameron quote posted above, it looks like there is. And I offer the “latent homosexuality” theory forward as an explanation.

      Someone emailed me earlier today to point out that Dr. Cameron did, in fact, later come out as homosexual. So it looks like I’m right about him and probably about other people who think like he does. We can agree it’s not the universal reason, but at least give me credit for correctly predicting this particular case and probably the class of cases like it.

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      • St. Rev says:

        Someone emailed me earlier today to point out that Dr. Cameron did, in fact, later come out as homosexual.

        Citation for that? I find it plausible but the strongest statement I can find is this on Wikipedia: “He also claims to have been starting feeling sexual attraction to men at three years of age (but that he became heterosexual at 8–9 years of age).”

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      • Definitely not using my name says:

        > Someone emailed me earlier today to point out that Dr. Cameron did, in fact, later come out as homosexual. So it looks like I’m right about him and probably about other people who think like he does. We can agree it’s not the universal reason, but at least give me credit for correctly predicting this particular case and probably the class of cases like it.

        Are you claiming that this is good evidence for the theory described in this post? As someone else in this thread pointed out (can’t find it since the thread is so long), the theory that anti-gay activists are repressed homosexuals has been around for years and years. The part you added, as I understand it, is that this is because *they didn’t even know that their homosexual feelings were not shared by heterosexuals*. And I don’t think Dr. Cameron’s outing confirms that part of the theory.

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  8. Kaj Sotala says:

    Seeing that quote from Paul Cameron had to be the biggest WHOA movement that I’ve had this year. Like you say, suddenly it all makes perfect sense.

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    • Shmi Nux says:

      Notwithstanding the “whoa moment” (your use of the word “movement” was probably a typo), note that the sole source of the quote is Rolling Stone interviewer’s notes, edited for printing. And journalists are known to make stuff up and embellish at least half of the time.

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      • Kaj Sotala says:

        Yeah, the “movement” was a typo.

        But the power of “whoa” comes not so much from the specific quote, but from the way that all the pieces start fitting together once you make the assumption that some of the people who originally came up with those claims actually had homosexual impulses. Moral conservatives have been known claims like:

        – Homosexuality is a choice
        – Current culture is driving people to become homosexuals
        – If we allow gay marriage, then everyone will marry someone of their own sex and stop having any children

        Claims which ought to sound completely ludicrous to anyone who’s actually straight. The reason this was a “whoa” movement was that previously, those sounded like completely irrational and crazy claims to make… but suddenly, once you make the assumption of “someone is repressing their own homosexuality and assuming that everyone else is, too”, then those claims actually form a perfectly consistent and logical whole, and the overall position becomes a completely rational one, given the information that the people believing in it have.

        Even if it turned out that the Cameron quote was completely made up, that doesn’t change that fact that there’s a large body of arguments that some moral conservatives have made that looks exactly like the arguments that we’d expect to see if there really were prominent moral conservatives who were repressing their own homosexuality and assuming that everyone else was also doing it. The Cameron quote is definitely interesting supporting evidence, but it was only what revealed the possibility of this causal chain – the hypothesis wouldn’t be very much weakened even if it turned out to be false.

        (Especially since, by now, several gay and bisexual people in these comments have said that they’ve once had beliefs that were somewhat similar to the ones attributed to Cameron.)

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        • pwyll says:

          The causal hypothesis that makes the most sense to me is Cochran’s “Gay Germ”, but historically for at least some people homosexuality does appear to have been a “choice”, e.g. John Maynard Keynes: “Keynes (1883-1946) betrayed today’s conventional wisdom by doing the supposedly impossible: he converted, permanently, from a homosexual lifestyle to a heterosexual lifestyle when—to the shock and dismay of his former Bloomsbury boyfriends—he married the popular ballerina Lydia Lopokova in 1925. He wasn’t under any particular social or career pressure at the time. He just switched his affections. Moreover, we can see that Keynes was concerned about the welfare of future generations of the British from his lifelong advocacy of….(wait for it) eugenics!”

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        • Randy M says:

          “- If we allow gay marriage, then everyone will marry someone of their own sex and stop having any children”

          Source?

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        • nydwracu says:

          Right, and cross-cultural comparison demonstrates that, whether or not innate biological sexual orientation exists/is mutable, the actual practice very much is. There are societies where homosexuality is completely unknown, and then there are the upper-class English. (And possibly the Spartans and some of the Arabs, but I don’t trust the sources I heard that from.)

          Hence the perceived utility of the “sexual orientation is [the only thing that is] innate” memetic weapon — if it’s immutably set in stone, then it becomes simultaneously an issue of recognizing something that will never go away and not at all a far-reaching change in the culture since anyone who isn’t gay is immutably 100% heterosexual and so their behavior patterns won’t be changed at all, except there are homosexuals in straight marriages, and gay marriage is used as a weapon against religious groups that oppose it, so neither of those things are actually true — not that it matters, since the underlying premise is false.

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        • Ken Arromdee says:

          there’s a large body of arguments that some moral conservatives have made that looks exactly like the arguments that we’d expect to see if there really were prominent moral conservatives who were repressing their own homosexuality and assuming that everyone else was also doing it.

          I can tell you’re not familiar with Bayesian reasoning. The extent to which A is evidence of B depends on your prior. A classic example is the disease test which is 99% accurate, but where the disease itself has a frequency much less than 1 in 100. It would be incorrect to say “these test results look exactly like what I’d see if they had the disease”–the low prior means that even though the test is 99% accurate, the fact that someone has suspicious test results probably doesn’t mean they have the disease.

          In order to conclude that that argument is probably made by repressed gays, it is insufficient to point out that you would expect to see that argument from a gay person and would expect not to see it from a straight person. You need to weigh your expectations by the percentages of gays and straights–and there are a lot more straight people than gays, which works against you.

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        • Desertopa says:

          >I can tell you’re not familiar with Bayesian reasoning.

          Incorrect.

          http://kajsotala.fi/2014/01/bayesian-academy-game-a-core-mechanic/

          It’s also not really correct that the extent to which A is evidence for B depends on your prior. The extent to which A is evidence for B depends on the likelihood ratio for A given B compared to A given not-B. Your prior doesn’t determine the strength of the evidence, but it determines what your posterior should be given after exposure to evidence of a given strength.

          Obviously, the fact that there are more heterosexuals than homosexuals affects the prior likelihood that the arguments in question would originate with closeted homosexuals. But if the arguments make very little sense under the condition that they originated with heterosexual people, and perfect sense under the condition that they originated with closeted homosexuals who overgeneralized their own mentality, then that’s a piece of evidence with a pretty hefty likelihood ratio.

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        • Kaj Sotala says:

          @Randy M:

          Hmm, now that you bring it up, I realize that I haven’t actually heard any moral conservative make that argument, I’ve only heard it attributed to them by liberals. So this is possibly a strawman position. Adjusting my confidence in the hypothesis downwards accordingly.

          @Ken Arromdee:

          I spent my last Christmas implementing a Bayesian network and a belief-propagation algorithm for it (though it only works on polytrees so far, haven’t yet done the work for making it work on general graphs), so I think I know at least the rudiments of Bayes…

          Certainly the amount of gays in the world is relevant for the strength of the prior, but it’s not like we’d need lots of gays in order for a small number of them to start propagating this argument. Also, what Desertopa said.

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        • peterdjones says:

          @nydwracu
          100% fixity is a much better approximation to the facts than the 100% plasticity required for Cameron’s theory.

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        • Ken Arromdee says:

          kaj/Desertopa: You seem to be basically agreeing with me even as you say I’m wrong. It’s *not* sufficient to say “I expect to see that from closeted gays but not from straight people, so it’s probably coming from a closeted gay”. You *do* have to weigh it by the percentages of straights and gays, and that *does* work against you.

          It’s true that if the difference in expectation is big enough, even that might not affect your conclusion. But think about what that really means. Nobody’s exactly sure about how many people are gay, but let’s say the ratio is 20 to 1.

          Can you seriously say that you would expect a gay person to be *so* much more likely to make that argument that even a 20 to 1 ratio is like nothing compared to the difference in expectation? You think there isn’t even a 5% chance that a straight person would say such a thing because he’s come to some conclusion by observing a gay person through a biased lens? Not even a 5% chance that a straight person would reason by analogy to masturbation, porn-viewing, or some other genuinely tempting activity? Not even a 5% chance that a straight person would mishear or misunderstand some statement about gay people and come to believe that as a result of his misunderstanding? And even a 5% chance would only get you a 50/50 chance that it actually comes from a closeted homosexual.

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        • Desertopa says:

          Ken- I wouldn’t say that the points made in this article give me a *high confidence* that the cited arguments against homosexuality originated with closeted homosexuals, but I’m honestly surprised that you seem to think that a prior of .05 is low enough that this evidence doesn’t boost it to the point of plausibility.

          Frankly, I’d assign a lower prior than that, since remember, we’re not just looking at the percentage of the population which is homosexual, but the percentage of religious homophobes who’re gay without realizing it (although of course we should expect that people who’re raised as religious homophobes should be less likely to realize they’re gay, so this doesn’t take quite as big a bite out of our prior as it could.) But I’d also assign a rather steeper than 20:1 odds ratio for a person who *originates* this argument, rather than simply repeating it, to have homosexual inclinations.

          There are reasons that a straight person might conceivably originate such an argument, but they’re significantly less probable. Reasoning from analogy with porn or masturbation doesn’t lead to the conclusion, because those are things that are actually tempting to people who don’t have homosexual tendencies, whereas gay sex isn’t.

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        • Ken Arromdee says:

          Reasoning from analogy with porn or masturbation doesn’t lead to the conclusion, because those are things that are actually tempting to people who don’t have homosexual tendencies, whereas gay sex isn’t.

          Reasoning about porn or masturbation, or adultery (which may be a better comparison) would lead to that conclusion if the person puts them in the same category with homosexuality. I think there’s certainly a lot more than a 1 in 20 chance that a straight person will classify all of those closely enough together that he would generalize from one to the other. Things don’t have to share every single trait in order to be classified together, so he might classify tempting activities and non-tempting activities in the same category, especially if he has an external reason to do so (such as a Bible interpretation that condemns both activities in close-by sentences).

          Remember, you only need a 5% chance or less for this.

          Also, you still haven’t accounted for other possibilities. I find it hard to imagine that there’s less than a 5% chance that a straight person could figure out that homosexuality seems to tempt other people, and make the argument on that basis, without being tempted himself.

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  9. Pingback: The trouble with gay marriage « Jim’s Blog

  10. J says:

    I was raised Mormon. Here’s the view from that perspective (NOT what I personally believe now). It’s actually relatively self consistent once you get past some huge whoppers up front.

    Life is a big test to see if our rational selves can overcome the natural man, meaning the desires of the flesh and our selfish urges, and uncontrolled sexual urges are right up there with violence in their book.

    Masturbation, premarital sex (including anything beyond kissing), adultery, pornography and homosexuality are all off limits. Further, they believe that sex is basically addictive, so all of the bad kinds will pull you ever further into sicker stuff and ruin your life, while the good kind draws you to your spouse.

    To top it off, Satan is real and has an organized campaign to destroy society. A famous story in the church is a leader on a plane who runs into a rock star and asks what the purpose of his music is. The man replies: to drive the kids to sex.

    So Jocelyn Elders, Ozzy Osbourne, Hugh Hefner and George Takei, in their view, are all wittingly or unwittingly aiding the enemy in trying to bring down society. The unwitting ones are just misguided, and shouldn’t be hated, any more than they’d hate an ignorant antivaxxer. And the nonmembers are even more or less welcome to sexually sin on their own time, just as drinking coffee isn’t something Mormons would typically give their outsider colleagues a hard time about.

    But the normalization of homosexuality or gay marriage or pornography or masturbation as something societally acceptable or praiseworthy is to them like adding heroin to the food pyramid; it’s kind of sad that people get hooked on that stuff, but holy crap you can’t start serving it up in school.

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    • Andy says:

      I found this a really great comment, that generally tracks with much I’ve seen in a lot of Christian public moralists. Thank you.

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    • pwyll says:

      @J the set of beliefs you describe, which probably seems bizarre to many of the readers here, is the same belief system associated with these results: “… Utah has the lowest child poverty rate, the lowest teen pregnancy rate, the third-lowest abortion rate, the third-highest high school graduate rate at 94 percent, the highest scores on Advanced Placement exams, fewest births to unwed mothers (also the highest overall birthrate), lowest cancer rate, lowest smoking rate, lowest per capita rate of alcohol use, and, arguably, the most comprehensive and universal state health insurance system in the U.S. Furthermore, Mormons as a group have the lowest rates of violence and depression among religious groups, are seven times less likely to commit suicide (if active church members), and have the lowest divorce rates of any social-religious group. … Crime has decreased in the state of Utah by anywhere from 15-18 percent over the past 10 years. Mormon women are more likely to be employed in professional occupations … and more likely to graduate from college [than every other group but Jews] … One survey indicated Mormon women experience more orgasms and are more satisfied with their married lives than non-Mormons.”

      Based on the outcome, it seems to me like an extremely good belief set for a society/culture to have, regardless of how “rational” it is.
      NB: I am not a Mormon.

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      • Scott Alexander says:

        I had heard a lot of this before, and although I haven’t done any research myself when I brought it up to an ex-Mormon recently he laughed and said it was all propaganda and that their real stats were horrible.

        Doing a very quick search, I do find a lot of people noting that Utah has the highest rate of antidepressant use in the nation, which doesn’t seem too consistent with Mormons having the lowest rate of depression of any religious group (unless something weird is going on statistically)

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        • Andrew G. says:

          Of the categories I’ve searched so far, I didn’t find any support for the claims regarding child poverty, school graduation or teen pregnancy. The highest overall fertility seems confirmed, as is the lowest rate of births to unmarried mothers, but the CDC source for the latter figure attributes this to racial composition (which seems plausible).

          Whatever the suicide rate for active church members is, the rate for Utah as a whole is high, apparently in the top 10 US states. A decreased crime rate is meaningless without comparison with other states. All the divorce stats I found show Mormons at around the average level (higher than atheists or Catholics, about the same as mainline Protestants, lower than conservative Protestants).

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      • pwyll says:

        Hmm, yeah that definitely sounds like a discrepancy to me. I see the article I linked to doesn’t cite sources, which is an annoying increase in the workload if anyone wants to dig further to resolve the discrepancy.

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    • Scott Alexander says:

      I agree this is the argument being presented, but it doesn’t really make sense unless homosexuality, like heroin, is a temptation.

      My experience as a straight person (I don’t know how universal it is) is not that I’m repressing homosexual urges, but that the idea of homosexual sex seems actively offputting to me and even in a society where there was no stigma, you couldn’t pay me enough to try to it.

      If that is a universal straight experience, then the fact that Mormonism assumes it’s “like adding heroin to the food pyramid” suggests that whoever came up with that analogy is not entirely heterosexual or at least doesn’t expect the general population to be.

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      • J says:

        Good point about appeal being necessary for temptation. I imagined people would be drawn that way if they had a sex addiction, as part of their never ending quest for more extreme expression. And also figured that some people might tend naturally that way, like having a predisposition to substance abuse or other vices.

        Modern society actually tends a bit more rigid than kinsey in its quest to comfort people coming to terms with being gay. Mormons, ironically, have been more open to the idea that orientation has some leeway and that people can be anywhere on the spectrum. So I had friends whose sons leaned gay, and encouraged them to make out with girls to see if they could make that work. (I think the church only very recently stopped encouraging gay guys to get married to women).

        Remember, homosexuality was listed as a mental illness in dsm-2. That’s not very long ago as religions reckon time.

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      • suntzuanime says:

        If you listen to DARE, at least, hard drugs are pretty horrible and unpleasant, too. You get into them through temptations of gateway drugs like marijuana. There may just be a huge Dark Side Epistemological structure at work here confusing people about addiction in general.

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      • Ken Arromdee says:

        By this reasoning, anyone who claims that actual heroin is addictive is a heroin addict. Or better yet, gambling. Is everyone who claims that gambling is addictive, addicted to gambling?

        The fallacy is that you can you can observe how other people behave. Someone might not be gay themselves, but might observe that for some other person homosexuality is hard to resist. That’s no different from observing that other people cannot resist the urge to gamble–even if you are perfectly capable of resisting it yourself. He may then conclude that homosexuality is addictive in the same way that gambling, alcohol, World of Warcraft, etc. are.

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        • Desertopa says:

          That doesn’t follow at all. The addictiveness of heroin and gambling are reliable between subjects. You can induce heroin addiction in lab rats, infallibly, by giving them doses of heroin. You can reliably get lab rats addicted to the random reinforcement of a lever which produces food when pressed with only a certain probability. But what process would lead someone to become addicted to gay sex, who didn’t already have those inclinations?

          Heroin and gambling both take advantage of existing reward circuits in the brain; you don’t have to alter anything about a person to make them enjoyable. For gay sex to follow the same pattern, it would have to be a natural attractor, but for individuals without attraction to the same sex, it isn’t one.

          I could no more easily fall into addiction to gay sex than I could fall into addiction with piles of mulch. It would just be an unpleasant and frustrating method to attempt to achieve orgasm. And I speak as someone who has *actually attempted* to bi-hack, and cultivate in myself an attraction to the same sex. Didn’t work. Gave up.

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      • Desertopa says:

        I don’t think one necessarily has to personally be tempted by gay sex to believe that one could be tempted if one slid far enough down some slippery slope of iniquity.

        To perhaps steelman the position a bit, I have read that most consumers of child porn are not, in fact, pedophiles, or at least, people who showed prior signs of pedophile inclination, but rather are porn addicts, who seek more and more extreme and taboo porn in order to pique their increasingly jaded tastes. So it looks like we may have an actual situation in which people who did not start out with a particular sexual attraction to children may reach a point where they seek stimulation from erotic images of children due to progression down a slippery slope.

        I think it’s very plausible that one could believe that all the various sexual practices or inclinations that one finds repulsive lie on a slope of iniquitous practices, where one will eventually lead to another, even if they don’t all seem tempting to someone standing at the top of the slope.

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      • Daniel Speyer says:

        Or possibly the thinking just puts all unsanctified sexual behaviour into one category and regards an increase in societal license for one as an increase in license for all.

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        • Andy says:

          This is how I’ve interpreted many objections to many gay issues, including Scalia’s dissent in Lawrence v. Texas, which could be summed up as “If we allow homosexuality, we’d have to allow bestiality and incest and pedophilia.”
          My interpretation of the gay rights struggle is that it’s changing the principle behind the codification rather than a general loosening – switching “What the Bible says!” for “be safe and consensual, mkay!” Though many conservatives don’t seem to grasp that the latter doesn’t include pedophilia (children can’t really consent to an adult) or bestiality (a lot of animals can’t really understand/consent either, or consent would be hard to obtain.)

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        • Army1987 says:

          bestiality (a lot of animals can’t really understand/consent either, or consent would be hard to obtain.)

          That can’t be the whole story — fleshlights cannot consent either.

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        • Andy says:

          That can’t be the whole story — fleshlights cannot consent either.

          A fleshlight isn’t alive, has no nervous system, and cannot suffer the way an animal can.

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        • Prussian Prince of Automata says:

          Almost nobody actually cares about animal suffering (beyond a “what a shame… anyway can you believe what my boss was wearing?” sense anyway) and to be perfectly honest it seems like not that many people care about child suffering either as long as it isn’t within earshot.

          The reason bestiality, male homosexuality (and other anus/feces related paraphilias), pederasty, incest, cannibalism/vore, hardcore sadomasochism and necrophilia cause disgust, and why those who perform them are shunned, is because they are quite obviously the products of some serious defect. Even if no specific reason jumps out as to why specifically that act is wrong, people still experience it as a violation of fundamental principles. It’s the same as how peoples who had never developed a germ theory still found reasons to cast out lepers and why civilizations without a sophisticated understanding of heredity nonetheless tended to encourage parents to expose sickly babies; humans excel at pattern recognition and prefer an ordered habitable world to a disordered dangerous one.

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        • Andy says:

          The reason bestiality, male homosexuality (and other anus/feces related paraphilias), pederasty, incest, cannibalism/vore, hardcore sadomasochism and necrophilia cause disgust, and why those who perform them are shunned, is because they are quite obviously the products of some serious defect.

          Circular reasoning much? “People shun them because there’s something wrong with them! How do we prove there’s something wrong with them? People shun them!”
          I invite you to places such as West Hollywood or Long Beach, California, or any other gay capital (though these two are the only two I have persnoal experience with) and go to breakfast or lunch at one of the many clean, orderly cafes or diners. What you’ll observe clean, well-dressed couples, straight and gay, eating together in relative peace.
          What I really appreciated [/sarcasm] was your argument grouping anal sex between consenting adults with necrophilia, vore, and pederasty. I can actually find better reasons for why some of these things would be revolting, even to people who practice anal sex – vore and necrophilia involve things many (but not all) people find instinctually icky – feces and dead people, respectively.

          it seems like not that many people care about child suffering either as long as it isn’t within earshot.

          Citation? My anecdotal experience of backlash against the Catholic Church out here, and the Penn State backlash suggest otherwise, away from the morality-altering vacuum of “protect the organization!”

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        • Zathille says:

          But if disgust over the act is not sufficiently strong a reason, why would disgust over the object of the attraction be? What are the reasons people find such things instinctively icky?

          I think answering the latter will go a long way with bringing this discussion forward, but I’m no Evo Psych/

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        • ozymandias says:

          IDK I think that a lot of objections to bestiality are just “it’s gross” too. I mean, people observably *don’t* object to human-assisted bull ejaculation for agricultural purposes. They only object to it when the human is getting some sexual pleasure out of the act, a contradiction which really cannot be justified on a utilitarian framework IMO.

          I find the equation of male homosexuality and anal sex to be deeply puzzling. Presumably if society’s objection was to anal sex they would be okay with homosexual men who only engaged in handjobs, blowjobs, and frot. (I’m not sure how you’d know unless people overshared about their sex life, but the same is true for vore and sadomasochism.) But observably people seem to not be okay with gay men or lesbians and this seems to be uncorrelated with how much assfucking the gay men or lesbians in question actually do.

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        • Prussian Prince of Automata says:

          @Andy,

          You admit that feces/cannibalism/corpses are universally* disgusting to human beings, and you implicitly acknowledge the underlying reasonableness of that disgust reaction with the evolutionary narrative evoked by the word “instinctive.” Presumably you’d agree that the same reasoning applies to feelings of revulsion towards the diseased, the deformed, the bloody and injured, towards rotten food, etc. You probably have seen the disgust people have towards visibly antisocial psychologies from the murderer or rapist** to the merely awkward.

          Doesn’t it seem odd that among all of these other things which humans universally and instinctively hold in disdain, the hard-won fruits of evolution to bring it to a modernist level, the only ones which you see as unreasonable are those which are useful as shibboleths against cultural enemies? Continuing to ignore the psychological epidemiological and social harm of employing an ideologically useful bludgeon is not rationality; it is spite, and like all spite it is ultimately self-destructive.

          (Incidentally, I’m not as unfamiliar with homosexuals as you seem to imagine I am. Not that I’m claiming that living in Manhattan most of my life or having gay “uncles” about growing up makes me an expert on gay culture, but it’s not the case that my perspective is based on dark rumors about distant outsiders either. Gay individuals can be pleasant enough, or not as the case may be, but either way it doesn’t change that in a healthy society they would not hold the prominence or privileges they currently do.)

          *Barring the rare disorder. After all, the existence of people with trisomy don’t mean we can’t say humans have 23 matched pairs of chromosomes; rules are not defined by their exceptions.
          **This is why I don’t buy the hatred for abusers / pedophiles being about protecting children; if people were being motivated by concern for the kids they would focus on trying to heal them first and foremost, but that just doesn’t come up. People despise those who hurt children, but it doesn’t seem like the harm itself is more than a minor curiosity.

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        • Daniel Speyer says:

          Presumably if society’s objection was to anal sex they would be okay with homosexual men who only engaged in handjobs, blowjobs, and frot.

          I’m not sure it’s relevant, but this perspective is taken seriously in Conservative Judaism. The prohibition on gay anal sex is from the Torah, whereas the others are rabbinic fencing. The latter can be set aside for the sake of human dignity.

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  11. spandrell says:

    Perhaps a self confessed asexual should abstain from commenting about things he doesn’t understand.

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    • David Hart says:

      Well, we should all try to avoid commenting too much about things that we actually don’t understand. But do you have any case to present that the author of the post in fact doesn’t understand what he’s talking about here?

      He’s not discussing what it subjectively feels like to be sexually attracted to persons of the same sex; he’s talking about whether people who oppose same sex marriage on the grounds of it being likely to turn people gay might in fact have what seems to them to be good reasons for believing that.

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    • anodognosic says:

      “Perhaps a self confessed cisgendered heterosexual male should abstain from commenting about things he doesn’t understand.”

      “Perhaps a self confessed heterosexual should abstain from commenting about things he doesn’t understand.”

      “Perhaps a self confessed Catholic should abstain from commenting about things he doesn’t understand.”

      “Perhaps a self confessed atheist should abstain from commenting about things he doesn’t understand.”

      “Perhaps a self confessed rationalist should abstain from commenting about things he doesn’t understand.”

      “Perhaps a self confessed Chinese-American should abstain from commenting about things he doesn’t understand.”

      “Perhaps a self confessed female should abstain from commenting about things he doesn’t understand.”

      et c et c et c ad absurdum

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    • Scott Alexander says:

      I hate the word “asexual” and just use it to get enough Social Justice Points not to be hounded off the Internet.

      I have normal romantic urges and relationships but just don’t find sex enjoyable. This means I can pretty easily, for example, identify as straight and notice I don’t have homosexual urges. It’s possible my experience is completely unlike that of other straight people, but from what I hear from friends it seems unlikely.

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      • St. Rev says:

        “The expense is damnable, the position is ridiculous, and the pleasure fleeting.”

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      • Army1987 says:

        I think the SJ-point-awarding word for that is “heteroromantic”.

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      • spandrell says:

        Well shame on you for appeasing Social Justice.

        If you just don’t find sex enjoyable and your “romantic urges” are all about companionship or whatever it is you do, well your experience is completely unlike that of most people. As it should. You know, Darwin and all that.

        Either you choose your friends too carefully, or they aren’t good at communicating their own feelings, or they just don’t want to tell you how much you’re losing out.

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        • Scott Alexander says:

          Romantic urges aren’t about companionship. It’s definitely *sexual*, and I’m more attracted to for example beautiful women than ugly women, but not about sex per se. Hard to explain.

          I don’t understand your last paragraph.

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      • ozymandias says:

        I do not see the argument that being repulsed by sex is necessarily non-adaptive, if you happen to want children, know that sex leads to babies, and be willing to put up with the nonsense to get to the baby part. In fact I could totally come up with an evopsych explanation for asexuals– strong signalling that one will not have babies with anyone but one’s partner, thus encouraging one’s partner to invest many resources in the relationship?

        Anyway I think the burden of proof is on you, sir, that “I have an ordinary romantic relationship, except I’m repulsed by sex” is any different from “I have an ordinary romantic relationship, except we never exchange ‘I love yous'” or similar. Perhaps an odd preference, but it doesn’t necessarily change the rest of the relationship.

        Or, more to the point, the author’s ability to generalize about homosexuality. Like, seriously, what is your argument? If Scott were into sex he would… see how impossible repressing one’s sexuality is? …see that homosexuality is actually addictive? …see that all people who are straight and into sex are necessarily repulsed by dudes fucking? What?

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      • Desertopa says:

        What do you dislike so much about the word “asexual?”

        If I recall correctly, a majority of asexual people have romantic inclinations; if not, then at least a very sizable subset.

        A former girlfriend of mine, with whom I’m still quite close, is asexual, and she was happy when I told her that you’d mentioned on your blog that you were asexual, because she (and some other asexual people I’ve known) often find it frustrating how little visibility and acknowledgement asexuality has in a the public consciousness as a thing that even exists. If more people were open about their experience with asexuality, then it might allow a lot of people to avoid situations where they misunderstand their own sexuality like you did, which might prevent a lot of strife in the long run.

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      • Valhar2000 says:

        The claim that homosexuality is universally tempting is every bit as ridiculous as the claim that all men want to have sex with their mothers, and for the same reason.

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    • I couldn’t disagree more. I greatly appreciate the insight & viewpoint of someone with a differing sex-drive — and, thus, perspective — than my own! :)

      Full disclosure: I am significantly kinkier, baseline-hornier and all-around significantly more sexually “keyed-up” than most of the people I’ve ever met; slowly figuring out (as a kid and into my teens) that other people WEREN’T wired like me was somewhat startling. I self-identify as “hetero-flexible” rather than as “bi” or “pan”, for example, only because I’m not particularly attracted to very many men … but I feel no disgust at the idea of male genitalia, and do not find most men unattractive. I don’t find the idea of another cisgendered male being naked and in intimate contact with me in any way repulsive, although I’ll admit that it doesn’t really turn me on.

      Aversion to sexuality of any kind makes almost no intuitive sense to me, and I’ve had to constantly adjust for “Typical Mind Fallacy” since well before puberty; most humans I’ve ever met seem needlessly prudish, squeamish, uptight, Puritanical and frigid. My first instinct, when someone seems weird or upset, is always to assume that they’re repressing some socially-unacceptable sexual desire … since, after all, that’s what I’M usually doing.

      Upon initially learning about the Westboro Baptist Church, my initial guess was that Fred Phelps was a closeted, self-loathing homosexual or bisexual like Ted Haggard:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ted_Haggard

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      • nydwracu says:

        The thing about the WBC — and I really need to finish the damn Theden article — is that 1) Fred Phelps was probably the most hardcore hyper-Calvinist ever to have lived, 2) Fred Phelps wanted very much to be the most hated person around (which makes it a lot less confusing to see why he’d be a civil rights lawyer when and where he was), 3) Fred Phelps was a lawyer who raised a family of lawyers and wants very much to make money (he organized his children to sell candy in some sales scheme for a while, until, IIRC, the people higher up in the scheme sued him for not paying them), and 4) they started their anti-gay protests after Shirley Phelps-Roper claimed to have seen a gay guy in Gage Park try to lure her very young son into some bushes.

        It’s a money-making scheme, but what the people who say that miss is that he and his family really did believe everything they said. And, once you take into account all of the above and the fact that he was a vile fucking sadist, it all makes sense.

        He was profiled in Time for street preaching when he was 21 — look that up and it makes even more sense. I still hate Wilhelm Reich, but if that bastard weren’t rotting in the ground, he’d be running all across the country using Fred Phelps as an example of what happens to people who don’t follow his advice.

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        • Good info, and thank you for the background! :)

          I should maybe clarify that I don’t still believe that Phelps was a closeted homo- or bi-sexual; it was simply my very first assumption, and upon research the facts don’t seem to bear out my initial hypothesis. Typical Mind Fallacy, and all.

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      • Doug S. says:

        Aversion to sexuality of any kind makes almost no intuitive sense to me, and I’ve had to constantly adjust for “Typical Mind Fallacy” since well before puberty

        ::threadjack::

        I sort of have this confusion, too. To put it crudely, rubbing my genitals feels very, very good, and I’ve been informed it feels the same way to other people when their genitals are rubbed, and it can feel even better when their genitals are rubbed in the right way by another person of a desirable gender instead of by themselves. Why would anyone want to turn down the opportunity to have this good feeling?

        (Yes, I know, pregnancy, STDs, awkward circumstances, having something else important to do, etc., are all perfectly good reasons. But it still seems to me that lots of sexual taboos are fundamentally arbitrary – what, exactly, would Go Horribly Wrong in a world in which it wasn’t any more unusual for people to masturbate or have partnered sex in public than it is for people to eat in public?)

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  12. Zach Eaton says:

    “Martial sex tends toward the boring end,” – I’m quite keen to get some of this martial sex into my life – Hai-Yah!

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  13. Jai says:

    I wonder if this contributes to the (anecdotal) correlation I’ve seen between kinkiness and social-justiciness. If you think that everyone experiences that link between violence and arousal, you’re going to be much more worried about people doing evil things and/or getting hurt.

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    • Multiheaded says:

      (inb4 Ialdabaoth)

      Yes, sounds likely; I’m both myself. I think that it needn’t even have a sexual element, though.

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    • Ian Osmond says:

      It’s also possible that one response that people have to feeling like they are outsiders in some form is to have sympathy to other people perceived as outsiders, and therefore are drawn to protecting the rights of minorities.

      Or, it could be a sampling error: perhaps it’s that there are particular groups of kinksters who also find social justice issues to be important.

      It’s also possible that all three are true in some degree or another…

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    • anodognosic says:

      Speculatively, it seems much, much more likely that kinky people are aware that most people would be uncomfortable with their kinks, and thus can better understand the position of being a despised minority.

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      • von Kalifornen says:

        I think that when people feel like they are lost to the conventional culture, and they already have a liberal sense of morality, they tend to unmoor (under duress or in loneliness) and drift into the outer reaches.

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  14. Alexandra says:

    I always used to believe the argument that “being gay is a choice” because I was attracted to both men and women and I was making an effort to hold back on my attractions to women, so I experienced being straight as a choice. It just made sense to me that everyone was actually bisexual and some chose to only have same-sex relationships and some “good christians” stayed “strong” and only had opposite-sex relationships.

    Even now I think more people are bisexual than realize it, but I realize I may be wrong. I’m not in anyone else’s head but my own.

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    • Andy says:

      Even now I think more people are bisexual than realize it, but I realize I may be wrong. I’m not in anyone else’s head but my own.

      A great addendum, but your comment body tracks well with my own experience. This is complicated by the lack of consensus around the precise meaning of the term “bisexual.” I’ve been told I’m not actually bisexual because while I have sexual urges toward both men and women, I’m far more strongly attracted to women. This phenomenon happens to women as well, as Erika Moen: Link possibly NSFW The “Queer” label has been a much better label that “bi.”
      I’m beginning to wonder whether people’s sexualities or gender identities even change over time – think about the (rather harmful, IMO) stereotype of college women as “Lesbians Until Graduation” – screwing other women until they enter the Real World and find a man to settle down with.

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    • Konkvistador says:

      Dear lord do I really have to say this? Women pretty much mostly are bisexual men are not.

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      • Andy says:

        Cite your sources, sir. That’s conventional wisdom in some circles, but data would be nice.

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      • Said Achmiz says:

        What do you mean by “men are not”? Men are not mostly bisexual (i.e. not as significant a percentage of men are bisexual as of women), or men are mostly not bisexual (i.e. most men are not bisexual)?

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    • Matthew says:

      I’m exactly the opposite case, and maybe evidence for the correctness of your hypothesis.

      Long before encountering Scott’s argument, I had assumed that a lot of homophobes must reside somewhere on the spectrum other than pure heterosexual, precisely because they could make the “homosexuality is a choice” argument with a straight face. I’m pure-heterosexual, so I took it as obvious nonsense.

      (I say “maybe” evidence for your hypothesis because I’m also evidence that 100% hetero people exist.)

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  15. spandrell says:

    in practice it seems somewhat difficult to turn straight men bisexual by pegging them.

    What do you know about that? I’ve heard anecdotes of late blooming sodomites that might fit that model. Not a massive double blind study but still, given their disease prevalence it does make sense to try to avoid it even with draconian measures.

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    • ozymandias says:

      …I’ve pegged straight dudes and they’ve not turned bi after? I don’t really know what answer you were expecting here.

      Anyway, if you’re bi you do not have to sleep with dudes if you are concerned about disease prevalence, you can continue to sleep with ladies and just enjoy more cute people to look at. This seems strictly superior to the alternative.

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      • spandrell says:

        They can’t have been very straight if they slept with you.

        If sodomy is addictive no amount of rational fear of disease is going to stop you from taking it in the ass.

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      • Benquo says:

        This made me notice that I seem to have genuinely circular preferences about temptation. Let’s take food as an example. (Content advisory: I talk about avoiding foods rich in both calories and hedons.)

        There are some foods like croissants that I very much like (when they’re made well) but are basically never worth the short term pleasure to me because of long term health consequences.

        So I prefer a life in which I want to eat croissants but don’t, to a life in which I want to eat croissants, and sometimes do.

        I also dislike having the opportunity to eat a croissant, feeling tempted, and resisting out of willpower, because refusing to have what I would enjoy is unpleasant. So in each separate case, I prefer not wanting to eat a croissant, to wanting to eat one.

        But if I could press a button that would permanently remove my desire for croissants while leaving the rest of me unaffected, I would probably not press it, because I don’t want to lose the faculty of croissant enjoyment. Even though in practice this means that I will sometimes eat croissants and regret it. So I prefer a life where I want to eat croissants and sometimes do, to a life in which I do not even want to eat croissants.

        AAAGH WHY IS MY BRAIN BROKEN

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        • Ialdabaoth says:

          It isn’t, because what you REALLY want is a button you can push that lets you eat croissants without the health risk.

          And, to snap the metaphor, science keeps getting better and better at treating STD’s. It’s interesting that our culture started its acceptance of homosexuality right about the time that the chance of upper-class first-worlders dying of STDs started dropping off and the idea that we might fully conquer the STD problem took hold.

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        • Benquo says:

          I didn’t mean this as a metaphor, just an example. Reading Ozy’s commment got me thinking about my attitude toward temptation in general.

          I think that preferences can be circular even if there exists some conceivable solution that would achieve all my preferences.

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        • Steve Johnson says:

          Ialdabaoth says:

          And, to snap the metaphor, science keeps getting better and better at treating STD’s. It’s interesting that our culture started its acceptance of homosexuality right about the time that the chance of upper-class first-worlders dying of STDs started dropping off and the idea that we might fully conquer the STD problem took hold.

          It’s not a one time deal. The old “cured” STDs didn’t disappear:

          http://www.cdc.gov/Std/Gonorrhea/arg/default.htm

          and of course new ones emerged:

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gay-related_immune_deficiency

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        • Ialdabaoth says:

          They don’t have to disappear; they just have to drop in lethality below the point where their influence on moral customs ceases to overcome our natural tendencies to do wacky new things.

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      • Matthew says:

        Azathoth forgive me for saying this after learning in the previous thread that some people actually do experience puns and wordplay as physical discomfort…

        Reactionaries make excellent straight men.

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  16. Randy M says:

    Sometimes you really hit the nail on the head and out of the park, and sometimes I’m just wondering why you bothered taking the hammer to the playground.

    Here’s a theory based on about as much evidence as reasoning to explain the outbreak of homophilia among liberals in the last few decades. Given the decreases in conformity to gender roles, especially among progressive types and their children, young people feel less certain of whether they will be atractive to the opposite sex, so they push for increasing legal and social acceptance of homosexuality so that they can have a back-up plan.
    Surely not all or most liberals are explained by this, but perhaps there are enough potential bisexuals, especially in liberal dominated fields, to push public opinion or at least the impression of it into the acceptance category.
    Needless to say, I don’t find either argument either persuasive or charitable.

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    • ozymandias says:

      IDK that sounds vaguely plausible to me. Destigmatizing homosexuality means there are more people with at least some same-sex attraction, which means there are more people invested in the project of destigmatizing homosexuality.

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    • Nornagest says:

      young people feel less certain of whether they will be atractive to the opposite sex, so they push for increasing legal and social acceptance of homosexuality so that they can have a back-up plan.

      Doesn’t this assume that attractiveness to men and to women are more or less uncorrelated?

      Which seems questionable, to me. There are probably some differences on the margins — there are definitely differences in fashion, and certain preferences seem better represented on one side of the fence or another — but a lot should generalize. Health, facial symmetry. I’ve definitely gotten hit on by both.

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      • Randy M says:

        Well, if everyone is more androgynous, the difference between attractiveness to males vs attractiveness to females will be less than if there are significant sexual dimorphism. I think. Relatively, at least.

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        • Nornagest says:

          That actually makes things worse, though! The more heterosexual and homosexual attractiveness are correlated, the less it makes sense to have a back-up plan to cover for uncertainty about your attractiveness — because it implies that the features that caused Plan A to fail will apply just as well to Plan B.

          It’ll increase the number of people in your dating pool, but that’s irrelevant if you’re repulsive to all of them.

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        • Anonymous says:

          True, bad explanation that prior comment. The atractiveness cues are there, but the norms that push people into meeting them have been abolished, so, not having as much clue what attracts women, androgynous men will hope to have the stigma of appealing to men removed so that option remains.

          -Randy M, not signed in

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    • moridinamael says:

      I actually find your argument to be quite plausible and in fact always assumed this was basically the underlying reasoning behind a lot of people’s arriving at liberalism via the sexual-gender-etc. route, if that helps calibrate you.

      I would add the caveat that I would replace the sentence “feel less certain whether they will be attractive to the opposite sex” with “feel very uncertain and threatened in general regarding matters of sexuality.” That would make your argument reflect my understanding of reality much better.

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    • Adam Strandberg says:

      That would only be an argument equivalent to his if you also procured a quote from a prominent gay rights activist stating that greater acceptance of gay rights would make it easier for young people to find mates given shifting gender roles.
      The point of the argument is to take explicitly stated beliefs seriously, not to just generate arbitrary reasons one might be doing something.

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      • Randy M says:

        I like taking explicitly stated beliefs seriously; this struck me as the opposite. If I heard the audio myself, I might be inclined to be less incredulous. And the other account was, what, fifth hand?

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    • Kaj Sotala says:

      Scott’s hypothesis makes a set of previously ridiculous claims made by moral conservatives come out rational and internally consistent. Is there some equivalent set of ridiculous claims made by liberals that your proposed explanation suddenly makes coherent?

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      • Randy M says:

        Kaj, I’m surprised you find this so revelatory, it’s basically the tired hollywood cliche of the gay opponent being in the closet. I’m sure TV tropes has a lengthy page.

        If I were to steelman Scott’s arguement (Ha!) into a simpler form of “heteronormative opponents believe sexuality is more socially influenced, at least for some significant number on the margin, and are motivated by this rather than simply enjoying repressing people as they are depicted” then yes, duh, but not his strong form of “they are motivated by a lack of understanding that some people don’t have relentless homosexual urges far stronger than any heterosexual attraction.”

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        • pwyll says:

          Whaddaya know, looks like tvtropes *does* have a lengthy page! http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ArmouredClosetGay

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        • vaniver says:

          Kaj, I’m surprised you find this so revelatory, it’s basically the tired hollywood cliche of the gay opponent being in the closet. I’m sure TV tropes has a lengthy page.

          I think the reason they find it revelatory is because it connects two previously ‘unrelated’ nodes, using the ‘typical mind fallacy’ as an edge.

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        • Kaj Sotala says:

          Vaniver got it right. If it was just the tired old claim of homophobes being closeted gays, then it would indeed be uninteresting – but it wasn’t just that, it was the “repressed gay” notion combined with the typical mind fallacy which was the real mind-blowing bit. The mere old claim wouldn’t explain things, this one would.

          Also, it’s not being proposed as an explanation for all homophobia (unlike the old cliche), only for a specific cluster of them.

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      • Is there some equivalent set of ridiculous claims made by liberals that your proposed explanation suddenly makes coherent?

        Warmism makes sense if we suppose that liberals want to murder seven billion people. Gay marriage makes sense if we suppose that liberals want humanity to quietly disappear.

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        • Andy says:

          Gay marriage makes sense if we suppose that liberals want humanity to quietly disappear.

          And YET many gay people support straight people getting married and having kids. We aren’t about to go extinct, James.

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    • Anonymous says:

      That was a very pleasing mixed metaphor

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  17. Has something happened to email notifications? My notifications for the universal experiences comments disappeared a couple of days ago or so, and I’m not seeing the checkboxes for email notifications anymore.

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  18. moridinamael says:

    You seem to have hit a nerve.

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  19. WTF scott. You fail at charity.

    You take as axiomatic that your ideological opponents could not possibly have reasonable positions, and even that they could not even have unreasonable ideological positions. From this you deduce an absurdity that even you recognize can’t be true.

    Check your premises.

    I have nothing in particular for or against gay marriage, but I can certainly see how someone could object to pieces of their social tradition being broken off, appropriated, and corrupted by a dominant culture that hates them. The explanation is simple; not everyone is a liberal.

    How can someone be averse to homosexuality in the first place? The same way liberals and feminists are averse to gender roles, patriarchy, and hierarchy. Culture is a powerful force.

    If you keep this up, your blog will fall under the heading of “formerly an exception to ‘don’t read the posts'”.

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    • Nornagest says:

      How can someone be averse to homosexuality in the first place? The same way liberals and feminists are averse to gender roles, patriarchy, and hierarchy. Culture is a powerful force.

      Nah, not buying it. Feminists aren’t averse to gender roles and patriarchy because feminist culture woke up one morning and decided to be. They believe, rightly or not, that gender roles and (what they see as) patriarchy are destructive to women’s lives and happiness in certain, not exactly rigorous but at least fairly well-defined, ways. The culture grew up around those beliefs, not vice versa, although ingroup biases might intensify them now that the culture’s established.

      The principle of charity tells us that people’s beliefs make sense from the inside, i.e. that if a culture believes some practice to be harmful then it has subjective reasons for doing so. Scott was presumably missing those reasons.

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    • Shmi Nux says:

      > WTF scott. You fail at charity.

      Why would offering one plausible, qualified and non-exclusive reason for non-bigoted homophobia be failing at charity… in a post explicitly about the OP still finding himself failing at charity?

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      • moridinamael says:

        I’m pretty sure the grandparent comment is some kind of ironic koan. I mean, he totally fails at charity himself, and quotes Ayn Rand and misapplies the concepts of “axioms” and “premises.”

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        • Shmi Nux says:

          > I’m pretty sure the grandparent comment is some kind of ironic koan.

          Ah, that would make sense. I suppose the following pretty reasonable statement made me assume that the opinion is authentic:

          > How can someone be averse to homosexuality in the first place? The same way liberals and feminists are averse to gender roles, patriarchy, and hierarchy. Culture is a powerful force.

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        • I’ll admit I’m not being particularly charitable, but you’ll have to explain how this:

          The biggest exception is that opposition to homosexuality has never made sense to me. I can sort of understand where it fits into a natural law theology, but a lot of anti-gay activists are, no offense, not exactly Thomas Aquinas.

          is not just lampshading away the possibility that they have philosophical reasons for their opinions. He then goes on to act exactly as if he is assuming they do not.

          I dispute your charge of misapplication of “premise”.

          As for the charge of quoting Ayn Rand, I think it’s exactly appropriate in this context. I am accusing Scott of being confused by bad premises. Rand’s “check your premises” injunction is exactly the idiom to deploy in that situation.

          Again on charity, maybe strictly speaking I should reread the OP a few times for the charitable subtext, but when a man in a room mostly full of progressives says something vaguely insulting about non-progressives and they all laugh together, please excuse me for forgetting that he said it with plausible deniability.

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        • Randy M says:

          Right, and one does not have to read Acquinas for oneself to have a poorly articulated intuition of natural law.

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    • Scott Alexander says:

      See my response to Jim above.

      After re-reading it, I still don’t feel bad about my “not exactly Thomas Aquinas” argument. Do you predict most anti-gays would be familiar with even the *phrase* (let’s not say the scholarly tradition behind) natural law?

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      • Honestly I don’t know anyone who is anti-gay, so I can’t say, but I can speculate. (I wouldn’t expect them to know of Aquinas).

        However, I would put more weight than you seem to on them having something like a badly-articulated tacit sort of objection to homosexuality and gay marriage that is nonetheless at least sensible. People are generally pretty smart and can often form very sensible objections to bad philosophy (in this case, liberal homophilia) even without being able to articulate them.

        I also put more weight than you on the importance of random cultural things in people’s preferences on these things. See my feminism vs patriarchy analogy.

        For example, when I was an anarchist, it certainly felt like I had good sensible prosocial reasons for hating authority, but looking back I recognize it as mostly an extremist overlearning of ambient culture. I suspect that conservative attitudes about gays, and probably our progressive attitudes are a similar phenomena.

        RE: your actual argument in OP, the same could be applied to anarchists in that their beliefs kindof do make sense if people are totally evil given any amount of power and good otherwise. You could then say mean things about how this implies that *they* are ambitious self-serving psychopaths falling for the typical mind fallacy, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call this a charitable interpretation. In fact I wouldn’t say it at all unless I was quite sure it would *not* cause social drama or arational outgrouping of some people.

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      • Prussian Prince of Automata says:

        If you assume natural law was an invention of one man in the eleventh century, or even just a Catholic concept, it might make sense that people could just miss it entirely. But the idea is at the very least nearly as old as civilization and never really stopped popping up since then (Indian Dharma, Egyptian Ma’at, the Stoic conception of Logos, the Confucian conception of the Tao, etc.).

        Even if you don’t think there is an actual natural law per se, the concept of it at least seems to be pretty close to a human universal. Even if a person can’t articulate the idea it seems far-fetched that they wouldn’t have some basic inkling in that direction.

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        • peppermint says:

          There is a true law, a right reason, conformable to nature, universal, unchangeable, eternal, whose commands urge us to duty, and whose prohibitions restrain us from evil.

          Neither the senate nor the people can give us any dispensation for not obeying this universal law of justice. It is not one thing at Rome and another at Athens; one thing today and another tomorrow; but in all times and nations this universal law must forever reign, eternal and imperishable.

          God himself is its author, its promulgator, its enforcer. He who obeys it not, flies from himself, and does violence to the very nature of man.

          When a man is inspired by virtue such as this, what bribes can you offer him, what treasures, what thrones, what empires? He considers these but mortal goods and esteems his own divine. And if the ingratitude of the people, and the envy of his competitors, or the violence of powerful enemies despoil his virtue of its earthly recompense, he still enjoys a thousand consolations in the approbation of conscience, and sustains himself by contemplating the beauty of moral rectitude.

          — Cicero

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        • peterdjones says:

          And maybe actual scientific law is a cashing out of that intuition.

          Report comment

    • Scott said his theory applies to *some* homophobia– and a fairly small proportion at that.

      Report comment

      • Matt S Trout says:

        It’s interesting that that part seems to have been both clear and clearly an important part of the post to everybody who agrees with it, and almost entirely invisible to those who disagree.

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        • Erik says:

          I think that’s in part because of the disclaimer to the disclaimer – once you spend most of the post on a highbrow version of “ur a fag”, the “not all of u r fags” part comes off a little half-hearted when the next bit is a highbrow version of “but still, more fags than not, and a lot of the others talk like fags”.

          To some people who disagree, I speculate that that section is not so much invisible as seemingly insincere, like a sorry-you-were-offended apology that’s supposed to fulfill a technical mandate for apology, rather than demonstrate genuine contrition. Insincere apologies get ignored even if you did hear them.

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        • Andy says:

          the next bit is a highbrow version of “but still, more fags than not, and a lot of the others talk like fags”.

          Post:

          This can’t be a universal explanation for anti-gay attitudes. Something like half the US population is against gay marriage (previously much more) and probably five percent or less is gay. Closeted gay people don’t explain more than a small fraction of the anti-gay movement.

          ~5% of US Population is gay * ~50% of US population against gay marriage= ~5-10% (being very uncharitable) of the anti-gay people being anti-gay due to homosexuality.
          I fail to see the resemblance between Scott’s last paragraph and the “non-apology apology” you compare it to.

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        • Erik says:

          Andy: “but still, more fags than not, and a lot of the others talk like fags”

          is supposed to be a crude analogy for this part: “But it’s probably bigger than the fraction who read Thomas Aquinas [...] soundbites and justifications that get used by other people who feel vague discomfort but don’t have a good grounding for why.”

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  20. Konkvistador says:

    Ah! I think I get it, your meta point is that applying the Principle of Charity does not always end up saying nice things about people who hold a position then?

    To summarize your example:
    1. Here is a common assumption about homophobes that is used to discredit their position
    2. Applying the principle of Charity ends up *confirming* it

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    • houseboatonstyx says:

      Imo it’s a reasonable first draft of a charitable view of one small low-hanging branch of a large complicated tree. Saying Cameron and Savage may really believe what they say about gay marriage, is more charitable than saying they are just using a same-sex issue for a convenient scapegoat to fuel the vote or the donations. (A lesser evil if you like.)

      Since it seems incredible that anyone could really believe the C and S view, providing a strong emotional possible motivation is reasonable.

      If Scott proceeds to a second draft, a larger disclaimer, up front, about the 5% might be helpful.

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    • Viliam Búr says:

      Well, assuming those people are lying is also not nice. Assuming they tell the truth (as they perceive it) is not charitable enough, because it undermines their political positions. So… what would you recommend in this situation?

      What is the charitable interpretation of why completely straight guys believe that gay sex is the most pleasant thing ever?

      Okay, one possible explanation would be that the man who said it is straight, but he has a lot of gay friends, who were originally all in denial about their sexuality, then they tried some gay sex and remained sexually active gays. So the given person personally does not see gay sex as attractive, and never tried it… but he uses his friends as an outside view (unaware of the difference in their sexual orientation; typical mind fallacy) to mistakenly predict that if he tried gay sex, he would probably start to like it, too.

      This assumes the speaker is straight and sincere. It still undermines his political position, though.

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      • Matt S Trout says:

        … and due to heterosexuality-as-norm every coming-out appears to be a defection, so you can then see it as those are the people who submitted to temptation, and regard your not being tempted as virtue rather than heterosexuality.

        Which I’m not sure is sufficient argument for generating the views in the first place – or at least, I feel like Scott’s version is more likely to be the thing that generates the views in the first place – but is a beautifully charitable argument for how those views propagate to other people.

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    • peterdjones says:

      The POC says that if you can think of N interpretations, you should pick the one that attributes the most charity out of the group. Ie, relatively the most. It isn’t a requirement to reach some absolute standard, or to be nice in the social sense.

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  21. Patrick says:

    I’m not sure how a principle of charity can simultaneously require attributing the best possible version of an argument to your opponent, AND trying to understand how their emotional subjectivity could make something seem plausible to them when it seems facially implausible to you.

    Those are opposites.

    And charity be damned, you should pick whatever makes you less wrong in whatever critique you’re attempting.

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  22. a person says:

    I wonder if there’s any way the typical mind fallacy might work in both directions. I know that in certain Ancient Greek societies it was expected for men to have sex with both men and women. So it seems as if given a different set of cultural values there might be many more bisexual people. But personally I’m pretty sure that I’m not a repressed bisexual because if I could be bi I would, yet I remain straight. Maybe there are a bunch of people like me whose sexualities are set in stone, who come to believe the standard liberal view of “everyone is either gay, bi, or straight, this is set at birth and cannot be changed, merely repressed”. And maybe there are also a bunch of people who have fluid sexualities that respond to reinforcement, who tend to either believe the conservative view or become a Radical Queer Nonbinary Panromantic, depending on their upbringing.

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  23. ADifferentAnonymous says:

    This is absolutely mind-blowing. That Dr. Paul Cameron quote seems pretty conclusive that this hypothesis is accurate for at least one person.

    Still, I have to stop short of saying this makes anti-gay policies make sense. If we lived in a world where everyone was gay, wouldn’t we still be better off marrying who we want to and continuing the species through artificial insemination?

    (Also, this isn’t how I understand the principle of charity. It’s more like Chesterton’s Fence. This distinction is either upsetting a lot of people or giving a lot of upset people an easy point to attack)

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  24. Eric Rall says:

    For sources of broader anti-gay sentiment, one possibility is simple aesthetic distaste. In my experience, most people are at least somewhat grossed out by the idea of sexual acts that they themselves aren’t interested in (unless they’ve been exposed to the idea often enough to become comfortable with it). If you don’t know any openly gay people personally, then that feeling of grossness is the main thing you have to go on when forming an opinion of homosexuality, and it’s not a big psychological jump from “gross” to “immoral”. If you then come across either a Natural Law Theology argument or an FRI-style argument, you’d be predisposed to by sympathetic to it because it’s consistent with your gut feel.

    Secondarily, consider a community where there’s a strong social norm against homosexuality. There are gay people in the community, but for the most part they either deny their preferences and live as if they were straight, or they carry on privately and discretely in order to avoid the disapproval of their neighbors. The very small percentage of gay people who also happen to be creeps or predators would then stand out as just about the only gay people most straight people in the community would notice as being gay, and thus it’d be pretty easy to mistakenly conclude that most are all gay people are creeps or predators.

    On the subject of gay marriage in particular, we’re in the middle of a fairly significant cultural shift. Not only in terms of public acceptance of gayness, but also in terms of a shift from thinking of marriage as mainly being about forming a family (usually with kids expected) to thinking of it as mainly being about formalizing and committing to the romantic relationship between the spouses. In the former framework, excluding same-sex relationships makes a bit of sense, while in the latter it makes none whatsoever. If you’re towards the tail end of the cultural shift, it’s understandable to consider those near the front end to be a bit weird and pushy, and to be concerned on Chesterton’s Fence grounds that the cultural shift may be a bad thing.

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    • houseboatonstyx says:

      The very small percentage of gay people who also happen to be creeps or predators would then stand out as just about the only gay people most straight people in the community would notice as being gay, and thus it’d be pretty easy to mistakenly conclude that most are all gay people are creeps or predators.

      in some times and places even into the 1960s, the only visibly-out young lesbians spent their time in dark bars having feuds with each other and getting arrested for drugs and/or for wearing men’s clothes, and generally looking and acting like distraught freaks. (This was around Beatnik culture, before the hippie Merry Pranksters and such came along.)

      When I wanted us to wear ordinary clothes and go out in the sunshine, these girls said that all their darkness and law-baiting was somehow part of being lesbian: that whatever tragic biological defect caused lesbianism, also caused the person to be a mental/emotional freak; it was all the same thing. There’s a similar attitude in the 1928 novel THE WELL OF LONELINESS.

      So this public behavior image is what most straight people were shocked or disgusted by, even while saying there wasn’t anything two girls could do anyway.

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  25. Alexander Stanislaw says:

    @Scott

    I think it might be a good idea to move the quote below to the top of the post. And also mention that bisexuals are greater in number than homosexuals which makes the scenario much more plausible.

    This can’t be a universal explanation for anti-gay attitudes. Something like half the US population is against gay marriage (previously much more) and probably five percent or less is gay. Closeted gay people don’t explain more than a small fraction of the anti-gay movement.

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  26. Anon says:

    My impression is that the notion that “homophobia is gay” almost has the status of conventional wisdom in left wing narratives. I’ve heard multiple people express the opinion, I’ve seen the trope used in media, and even academia has looked into it – this study was back in 1996.

    http://my.psychologytoday.com/files/u47/Henry_et_al.pdf

    For those who’d rather not click – they were seeing if homophobia in men is associated with increased penile erection in response to stimuli depicting male homosexual sex, and the results said yes.

    (This comment doesn’t constitute claim on the correctness / incorrectness / interpretation of these results or the meme in general. The purpose is to 1) make people aware that this question has been empirically studied 2) make people aware that this idea has a long history.)

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    • Scott Alexander says:

      It does, but the explanation given is usually “they are repressed and self-hating”, which seems kind of Mysterious and at least different from the one offered above.

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      • Anon says:

        Idk, I’ve heard precisely the above argument before multiple times from multiple sources, albeit without the label “typical mind fallacy” affixed to it. But I guess the origin of the idea isn’t particularly important.

        Also, Typical mind fallacy explains some of the intellectual arguments used against homosexuality (imagining that it is a sociologically malleable choice, imagining that everyone would do it, etc) but not the violent negative affect.

        “Repression” (and I don’t think there is anything “mysterious” about attempting to suppress feelings one does not wish to have) is intended to explain the fear/anger/hate response, not the intellectual argument.

        So the two explanations (repression, typical mind fallacy) are explaining phenomenon which should be considered somewhat separate.

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      • dhill says:

        This Q/A should make it to the main article.

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  27. Thomas Andrews says:

    It’s a good hypothesis, and probably fits a lot of homophobes, but I doubt it is all or even most.

    I still think the real threat to marriage is the same threat to marriage that social conservatives have been resisting forever. “Traditional marriage” is not a man and a woman, but two roles, husband and wife. The husband is dominant – traditionally, he was practically the owner of the wife. The wife did as she was told. Now, imagine trying to raise a daughter in that mold, when there are gay couples around. What do you tell her, when she asks “Who is making the decisions in that relationship?” The idea that marriage is a contract between equals is the threat they see in gay marriage, and it does threaten traditional marriage.
    When I imagine the appeal of homophobia – and I don’t have to try too hard, having grown up at a certain time or place – I see a lot of fear of losing the privileged male status of patriarchal order.
    Consider gay panic, for example – when a man treats a straight man as if he might be gay, there is a status panic. Being a man is a privileged position, and being ogled or objectified is a threat to that position. All the fear about showering with gay men, sleeping in the same barracks, etc, is fear of objectification and harassment, a fear of loss of power.

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    • peterdjones says:

      That’s. That’s the first version of “….will destroy straight marriage” that makes it seem non-arbitrary.

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    • Andy says:

      +1 insightful.
      I am reminded of many fantasy depictions of marriage in more or less patriarchal societies (Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar series especially) treated it as a partnership of not-quite-total equals, two different people coming together in a way to reinforce each other and accomplish the goal of raising children to be good members of the community.
      Reminds me a little of a working relationship (nonromantic, not sexual) with a bos I had at my last job. We were doing cartography for hire, and she’d handle the paperwork and billing and meeting with clients, and I handled the more technical aspects. Though she was competent with the technical aspects (and getting more so as I taught her) and I was reasonably presentable and polite to clients (getting better as she slapped some sense into my awkward head) we each handled what we were better at.
      Or Dan Savage’s depiction of raising his adopted son with his boyfriend: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/106/fathers-day-98?act=3
      A quote from the transcript:

      No, in my dad fantasies, I saw myself going to work, making money, coming home to Terry and the kid. I’d help with the homework, take the kid to ball games, McDonald’s, and camping. My dad fantasies are straight– straight out of the ’50s– with Terry staying at home and taking care of the kid. Just like a ’50s mom.

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    • Ialdabaoth says:

      All the fear about showering with gay men, sleeping in the same barracks, etc, is fear of objectification and harassment, a fear of loss of power.

      I’d replace “all” with “most”, but I think you are otherwise completely spot-on with this post.

      Report comment

  28. Cthomas says:

    You believe it is an application of the principle of charity to postulate that those who differ with you over the issue of homosexuality are themselves closeted homosexuals? To be clear, whether your argument is right or wrong (and whatever one makes of the bizarre quotation on which it is based) I respectfully think it’s a terrible example of the principle of charity since (right or wrong) it is plainly not a charitable reading of your adversary’s arguments in the sense of something they would ever endorse as a clarification of their own intent. With the real principle of charity, your adversaries can read your explication and say, “yes, that is a pretty fair and well-stated clarification of my views.” Granted, the guy who wrote to Dan Savage (whoever that is) might hold that view explicitly, but I think most would recognize that the vast majority of the people who differ from you on this issue do not,on any conscious level at least, hold they views you’re attributing.

    CThomas

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  29. Raz says:

    Applying the Principle of Charity to Scotts post (Meta! YAY!) I think should read (in a condensed and generalized form) as something like this

    “Given that I hold a position strongly, and that other people hold a position that is mutually exclusive (or at least significantly opposed), I should try harder to find reasons for their position that make sense from my (probably somewhat shaky) inference of their mental state or worldview. Doing this both suggests avenues of engagement (or attack), and is useful for grasping the actual structure of reality for it’s own sake. And perhaps if I’m particularly lucky it might make me a better person.”

    Whether or not this is the best parsing of the post in full… Well I think that the majority of the comments is a back and forth between people who think yes and no on that subject. Not to say that there aren’t people challenging what he said on strictly empirical grounds. Although, full disclosure, I haven’t really followed up on either side’s arguments (mostly out of indifference), so I really don’t have much of an opinion on who’s right.

    Also just to indulge my own bit of contrarianism, contrary to @Definitely not using my name, I’d like to submit myself as a data point for


    (1) Increased attempts at understanding opponent views charitably because this one time Scott came up with a just-so story to explain the arguments of a tiny minority of some political group.

    This is in fact precisely what I’ve taken away from this post. Although I would always be careful of making myself out to be applying any principle (especially the principle of charity) for reasons other than ones which serve my interests. I don’t think it’s necessarily impossible to both hold the principle of charity as a useful tool (and even to apply it evenhandedly), and to apply it in such a way as to serve your own interests.

    Just my two cents,
    Raz

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    • moridinamael says:

      I like to imagine that this whole blog post was a kind of Judo throw to get people to attack him for saying things he didn’t say and then realize how bad they were at charity.

      Report comment

  30. Douglas Knight says:

    Allowing gay marriage would destroy straight marriage? Yes! If everyone’s secretly gay, then as soon as gay marriage is allowed, they will breath a sigh of relief and stop marrying opposite-sex partners whom they were never very attracted to anyway.

    I don’t see anything here specific to gay marriage. Gay rights in general should encourage homosexuality, and that could in this way destroy straight marriage, but why would gay marriage be the straw that breaks the camel’s back? If the fear is of people succumbing to hedonism, what is the relevance of it being bundled with some form of marriage?

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  31. throwawayaccount says:

    [deleted]

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  32. Nisan says:

    Maybe all these idiosyncratic arguments that only a few people can really appreciate turn into soundbites and justifications that get used by other people

    This points to an interesting subcategory of non-universal mental experience: Phenomena that a minority of people experience, but which give rise to discourse with which we’re all familiar. Examples:

    * Some people actually feel vibrations (especially after meditation or taking psychoactive drugs). Hence “good vibes”, etc.
    * Some people feel crystals vibrating.
    * Would we even have a concept of “God” if some people didn’t literally hear a voice talking to them?
    * Auras: Probably a result of person-color or emotion-color synæsthesia.
    * Speculative: I always thought “That [idea or image] makes me want to puke!” was metaphorical, but maybe it’s not for some people.

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  33. ozymandias says:
    March 21, 2014 at 9:48 am

    I highly doubt your “marriage will become a curse word and an insult” hypothesis, sir. IVF and adoption are both fairly closely linked with gays who, in most circumstances, cannot have biological children,

    Google “two dads are better than one”. Gay adoption and gay IVF is already discrediting adoption and IVF. Similarly, google “marriage is gay”

    Report comment

    • ozymandias says:

      Oh no! I was totally pro-gay but then I discovered the horrors of cute songs about how much children love their dads, and now I have realized the true evils of the gay agenda! Jim, forgive me, it took me so long to understand, but now I see how you were a prophet crying against an unfeeling world that refused to recognize the horrors of loving families.

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  34. Anonymous says:

    It seems like part of the disconnect here seems to come down to two big factors; that the progressives are implicitly presupposing a materialist viewpoint and rejecting out of hand the idea that their opponents might have any spiritual motive, and that the ‘traditionalists’ themselves are following a set of received laws without being able to grasp or articulate their essential purpose.

    It is possible to build a strong argument that homosexual behavior should be prevented on materialistic grounds; i.e., that it harms the economy, or public health, or the body politic, or whatever and thus should be limited to the exact extent it is still profitable to limit it. And I don’t disagree with those arguments per se; it certainly seems like from a crudely pragmatic point of view it makes sense to keep some weak prohibitions in place just to maintain order. But it is also besides the point and I seriously doubt anyone could muster more than a vague ‘something ought to be done’ from that basis alone. The reason people oppose homosexuality is because it is unnatural/unlawful in the Adharma sense of the word; they experience it, even if they don’t know why, as a violation of the ruling order of the universe.

    If the ‘traditional’ side of the debate wasn’t completely cut off from the spiritual meaning of those laws they might be of some value framing convincing spiritual arguments to support them, but lacking that they tend to fall into superstitious threats or the kind of Freudian rationalizations which triggered this post in the first place. It doesn’t really matter if we’re talking about a rule saying not to engage in certain sex acts or not to live under high-power lines, if you don’t get the actual operating principles you’re going to sound ridiculous trying to explain why you should follow them.

    (None of this, by the way, is meant to imply I have the knowledge to hold forth on the esoteric side of things. On the contrary, I’m not sure the metaphysical side of it isn’t just sugar to make the hard-won insights into human nature go down better. But real or not it’s how people tend to frame the world and thus pretty important to address things on that level.)

    TL;DR: Assuming people are lying when they say they are motivated by spiritual concerns is a poor way to understand their motives, and that people who don’t understand why their rules exist should probably refrain from trying to explain them.

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    • blacktrance says:

      What is a spiritual motive?

      Report comment

      • Prussian Prince of Automata says:

        When your motivation is based on immediate metaphysical effects, rather than anything mediated by the ‘external’ world. Or in other terms, dealing with concepts which exist a priori (like mathematical principles or platonic ideals) rather than things whose existence are defined by those concepts.

        So, for example, if I were to say “I meditate because it gives have this or that psychological benefit and can replace two hours of sleep a night” that would be a material motivation whereas “I meditate so that I can transcend human limitations and become a superior being” would be a spiritual one. And this isn’t necessarily a conscious thought; “violate a sacred principle and bad stuff will happen” is a fairly universal human reaction, even in supposedly rational people.

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    • Prussian Prince of Automata says:

      Er, that was me BTW. Just cleared the cache and forgot to fill the name fields.

      Report comment

    • peterdjones says:

      But Cameron didn’t report spiritual concerns in the quoted passage. They are not much uset to those who are trying to influence policy, because they are preaching to the choir.

      Report comment

  35. When you use the “rolling in poop and getting on the train” analogy, do you mean to say that the effect sizes of disease risk with exposure to fecal contamination and gay people are comparable, or is that just a colorful exaggeration?

    Consider the latest risk, treatment resistant gonorrhea. The proportion of people with treatment resistant gonorrhea in any city, is proportional to the proportion of gays seeking treatment for gonorrhea in that city. The reservoir for aids, treatment resistant gonorrhea, genital warts, (an ailment that leads to cancer and infertility) and so on and so forth is gays.

    The proposal is to vaccinate virgin schoolgirls against HPV, but to get herd immunity, need to vaccinate gays, not schoolgirls. So, if we sent all the gays off to concentration camps, where they would be naked all day and have sex in a great big pile, my sex life would be a lot less risky, more fun, and more comfortable.

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    • Raz says:

      Sooooo…. I have absolutely no clue if you enjoy riling people up who you strongly diagree with, but if by chance you were going for changing minds, or having people take you seriously (in the sense of hearing your ideas and trying to think about what the world is like if those ideas are true), in this community (despite it’s profession of rationality and even-handedness), START WITH THIS. your initial posts probably set off the culturally inculcated “bigot” alarm bells (applause lights, conceptual superweapons, I don’t friggin know what to call it)

      Report comment

      • Raz says:

        Not to say that you are a bigot. But rather that you’re hitting alarm bells that will cause people to categorize you as “bigot” and then ignore everything you say, or respond to it without having seriously thought about it. Soooooo… yeah, just that pretty much.

        Report comment

        • My initial reaction to Jim was the same, but I’ve since learned to take even his more extreme-sounding outbursts seriously.

          He often lets his rhetoric get in the way of clarity, but has the enviable distinction of being entirely without intellectual compromise, and I wouldn’t ask that he change that.

          Report comment

  36. The reason people oppose homosexuality is because it is unnatural/unlawful in the Adharma sense of the word; they experience it, even if they don’t know why, as a violation of the ruling order of the universe.

    If the ‘traditional’ side of the debate wasn’t completely cut off from the spiritual meaning of those laws they might be of some value framing convincing spiritual arguments to support them, but lacking that they tend to fall into superstitious threats or the kind of Freudian rationalizations

    The bible accurately reports a high rate of disease and death among gays, and attributes this, in a sense correctly, to gay violation of natural law, though the problem of course is that poop really is dirty, not that God declares poop to be dirty. Gays circulate poop from one asshole to the next, with results that we now understand to be bad without need to invoke the wrath of God – the problem is indeed natural law rather than divine law.

    So, Christians are being rational and empirical (the bible reports gays to be dirty, Christians perceive gays as dirty, and gays really are dirty) and “Less Wrongians” are being irrational and superstitious.

    Report comment

    • Andy says:

      Where to start…
      1) Google “how to have anal sex,” and note the amount of washing and cleansing that is instructed. Note that this is true whether this is male-into-male or male-into-female.
      2) What passages of the Bible are you referring to? (also, this may be the first time in SSC history that someone is holding up a Bible story as true.)
      3) Gay men do not have to have anal sex to have sex. I know a few who loooooove getting it on with men, just not anally.

      Report comment

      • >Google “how to have anal sex,” and note the amount of washing and cleansing that is instructed. Note that this is true whether this is male-into-male or male-into-female.

        I must point out that a) people didn’t have access to such resources until very recently, and b) probably very few people actually use said resources.

        >Gay men do not have to have anal sex to have sex.

        Of course not, but what do you reckon the proportions are? Do you expect that the existence of non-sodomy gays has any bearing on the dirtyness of sodomy-gays?

        Report comment

      • peppermint says:

        Gee, if everyone followed the instructions about safe sex, or taking one’s full course of antibiotics, then neither gonorrhea nor antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea would exist.

        As to Bible stories being held up as true, I truly believe that Paul wrote that “Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts…” in a letter to a Roman community.

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    • Prussian Prince of Automata says:

      The superstition I mentioned isn’t that violating your place in the natural order will bring tons and tons of suffering down on your head, after all that’s sort of intrinsic to the idea of natural law to start with, it’s the idea of a personal God getting angry and hurling hurricanes at coastal cities as revenge.

      It’s similar to your image of climate alarmists as shamans; in their eyes there’s no new power which comes with the knowledge of good and evil, no du ut des to turn your sacrifice into a source of victory, just obey and hope you get eaten last. The mark of a decadent belief system is where the priests are terrified of the power of the gods, rather than the gods being terrified of the power of the priests.

      Compare Oppenheimer’s triumphant “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds” (doubly appropriate as identifying the self with Krishna is the fast-track to enlightenment according to the book that quote appears in) to Sagan’s self-effacing “Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark” and it gives the basic contours of the difference.

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    • ozymandias says:

      There is not normally shit in one’s rectum unless one has to take a shit, so even if you don’t clean yourself out the worst you will face is some santorum. Note, also, that the vast majority of diseases transmitted by anal sex are not fecal diseases, they’re sexually transmitted diseases (which can also be transmitted through vaginal intercourse). AFAIK the major feces-related risk of anal sex is urinary tract infections in the vulva when one’s partner fails to wash before switching to vaginal sex, which is obviously not a risk for gay men.

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      • Randy M says:

        “santorum”
        So, is this a thing? Are you really going along with the idea of dragging someones name through the “mud” for being a PC heretic? I’m not offended, per se, it just seems so petty and juvenile, and anyhow, a rather lame way to offset having to have first hand knowledge of facing “some santorum.”

        Report comment

        • Slow Learner says:

          Santorum is the recognised term for a certain byproduct of anal sex.

          You might think it’s in poor taste, but I think it is a highly appropriate response to a contemptible little man – and that pejorative terms and mocking names are often, while bad arguments, effective rhetoric.

          Report comment

        • peppermint says:

          Rick Santorum was a popular senator, came close to being a Presidential candidate, has a happy marriage and 7 children. Sic transit gloria mundi.

          And Dan Savage? and yourself, anonymous troll? Sic transit gloria mundi.

          Well, it’s not like you were ever going to write anything enduring anyway, so sticking to what counts for effective rhetoric in the Free World in the 2010s might be a good strategy for you.

          Oh, and the Free World? Sic transit gloria mundi.

          Report comment

        • Anonymous says:

          Please keep the bad arguments out of my nice clean comments section, especially if they’re effective rhetoric. A bad argument that is effective rhetoric is the greatest intellectual sin possible.

          Report comment

        • ozymandias says:

          For me Santorum-the-person and santorum-the-substance have become entirely disconnected from each other and I was totally not thinking of the person when I used the term. I understand the critiques; however, santorum-the-substance doesn’t actually have another name and it’s a useful word, so.

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        • Anonymous says:

          Is this a consistent position where you use words that might be offensive to people if they’re the shortest semantic encapsulation of a particular concept, or does it only apply if the offended people are your political opponents?

          Report comment

        • ozymandias says:

          Anonymous: I’m not aware of any conservative attempts to name body fluids after liberals, but I do use the word “bitch” despite many feminists’ objections to it. (Likewise ‘ableist slurs’ &c.)

          Report comment

        • Andy says:

          I suggest that, if you are offended by the use of the word “santorum” to denote that particular substance, that you put forward and attempt to promote a replacement term, since the original has run its course as a bit of shock-rhetoric.

          Report comment

      • Scott Alexander says:

        Request different word choices in the future.

        Report comment

  37. Thinking about this a little more, I think it’s an interesting idea that opposition to homosexual propaganda will correlate with sexual plasticity if not outright repressed homosexuality.

    I, for one, have a reasonably plastic sexuality and have bounced around between various weird attractions largely as a result of actual deviant propaganda. Thus I see large components of philosophical positions in sexuality, especially deviant sexuality. Surveying this from a current position of relatively traditional sexuality and civilization-valuing, I do in fact oppose overt deviant propaganda because it doesn’t just liberate people who are how they are, it influences how people are (at least it influences me).

    Think of monogamous heterosexuality as social technology – a sort of shared ritual that makes us more able to form a productive society – and it becomes an easy theorem that maybe you shouldn’t mess with it, especially if you think it has that prosocial value.

    I have nothing against gays and other deviants if that’s what they choose or are born to (as long as they maintain venereal hygene and don’t cause drama) but I do oppose deviant propaganda precisely because it works on me, and is probably antisocial to the extent that it works.

    However, even while acknowledging the interestingness of your model, the way you presented it and the environment in which you presented it was more likely to cause drama and bitterness than good discussion and enlightenment. Calling someone who opposes homosexuality a repressed homosexual is so cliche and offensive that it was bound to cause trouble.

    Report comment

    • peterdjones says:

      Much of that argument hinges on how typical your level of plasticity is.

      Report comment

      • Probably reasonably typical, or at least common.

        Consider the probabilities:

        P(Deviant propaganda works on me | it works on 1/10000) = around 1/10000

        P(Deviant propaganda works on me | it works on 1/5) = 1/5

        I’d be surprised if it worked on *everyone*, but a liklihood ratio of 2000 between these hypotheses is going to need a pretty strong prior or other evidence to overcome.

        You are welcome to present such evidence, but so far I have heard nothing but “being deviant must not ever be a choice, because then we’d have to ask which sexuality people *should* be choosing”, which is obviously more or less uncorrelated with reality.

        As for more evidence in favor of plastic sexuality, see widespread “4chan made me gay/deviant” stories. Anyone who disbelieves that 4chan can act on one’s sexuality has never spent significant amounts of time on 4chan.

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        • Viliam Búr says:

          Anyone who disbelieves that 4chan can act on one’s sexuality has never spent significant amounts of time on 4chan.

          Uhm, I don’t understand what you are saying. 4chan has different boards with different topics. I would expect people to visit the boards compatible with their orientation, and to ignore the other boards. Am I wrong here? Because if people don’t regularly visit the other boards, I don’t understand how precisely can they influence them.

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        • peterdjones says:

          If your probability calculation is correct, the typical mind fallacy isn’t a fallacy.

          You seem disposed to plasticity in general based on the number of different philosophies you have embraced.

          Report comment

      • Viliam Búr says:

        Well, that’s another one of those questions that people don’t openly ask each other, so no one really knows.

        What would be the best way to find out? We probably can’t trust self-reports, because that would depend on whether people already had experience with “deviant propaganda” or no (if no, they may have no idea what would happen if they had). Doing an experiment would probably not be ethical.

        Is there some kind of natural experiment that could be examined? For example, some relatively recent “deviation” where we could get numbers how many people were exposed to it, and how many of them were successfully influenced?

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    • peterdjones says:

      If Cameron doesn’t think gay sex is enticing because he is personally enticed by it, you need to supply another explanation.

      Report comment

  38. Raz says:

    So quick question. Can anyone provide me with a link (or reading recommendation) for a historical account of the emergence of homophobia (or the legal outlawing of homosexual practices or relationships), in any society? Preferably something with as little polemic as possible. I’ve never read a good history of the West (or any cultures) relationship with homosexuality, and I’m wondering if we aren’t all functioning under a lot of historical assumptions that haven’t undergone critical evaluation.

    Report comment

    • J says:

      For Judeo Christians it goes all the way back to Leviticus, where it was prohibited along with other pagan rituals like trimming the corners of the beard and boiling a baby goat in its mother’s milk. Not a lot of other records survive from that far back, I believe.

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  39. Ada says:

    The assertion that tolerance for homosexuality won’t lead to an increase in homosexuality has never made sense to me. Assuming that the population is composed of 9 purely straight men to every 1 purely gay man, sure, okay, but even if the population is only Kinsey-complicated, there are going to be a lot of people somewhere in the middle (like me and many of my friends). And ALL of those people are going to be FAR more likely to come down on the gay side if there’s no stigma against it. Sure, this (arguably) doesn’t increase the number of gays/bisexuals/etc in the population, just makes them more obvious — but I’m personally skeptical that sexuality is as much more nature than nurture as everyone seems to think.

    Not that I have a problem with any of this. It’s just that the basic assumptions seem incorrect.

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  40. James, honey-bunny, pumpkin, darling… just stop with the insults? Please? We know damn well that a coprophage is a shit eater.

    Congratulations.

    But you don’t seem capable of following an analogy.

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  41. March 21, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    If women could do science, you would have a more impressive poster girl than Marie Curie,

    Army1987 says:

    http://xkcd.com/896/

    As it happens, we have the mails between Lise Meitner and Otto, the man who actually discovered fission.

    According to PC, “Lise Meitner figured out that Nuclear fission was happening while her colleague Otto Hahn was staring blankly at the data in confusion”

    In fact, we have the letters between Otto and Lise, and Otto said he had discovered nuclear fission, and Lise Meitner at first, being a woman, naturally could not understand him, and then, when she eventually realized what he was saying, did not believe that fission was possible, and did not understand that the data was evidence of nuclear fission, demonstrating once again that women are unsuited for such fields.

    Checking the non political literature
    “The historical development of quantum theory”
    By Jagdish Mehra, Helmut Rechenberg, page 1001

    http://books.google.com/books?id=kn6mb0ltm0UC&pg=PA1002&lpg=PA1000&ots=v01csJ8n7I
    On Page 1001, we find direct quotes from the letters between Lise Meitner and Otto Hahn.

    Hahn writes to Meitner that his results are strange because “it should not break up”, implying that what he observes is uranium atoms breaking up when hit by a
    neutron.

    Meitner responds that Hahn’s results must be experimental error. “The assumption of far reaching smashing appears to me to be rather problematic.”

    Hahn disagrees, and tells Meitner he is going to publish that uranium atoms are breaking up.

    He sends a paper to Naturwissenshaften reporting atom smashing – what we now call nuclear fission.

    He sends a copy of that paper to Meitner. Only after receiving that paper does Meitner show comprehension.

    Typical of a woman affirmative actioned into a field out of her depth.

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  42. Randy M says:
    March 21, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    Jim, I think you would make stronger cases if you forbear use of the word proof based on single pieces of evidence.

    If I was choosing these single incidents, they would not be proof, or even particularly persuasive. But you guys are choosing these single incidents.

    You say that horrid evil X happens a lot, therefore all white heterosexual males must be endlessly punished. From all of history and all of the world, you produce an example of this horrid oppressive evil X – and it turns out to not be an example.

    Which proves that: X is not only less common than claimed, X is not only rare, but X is totally nonexistent in the entire world and all of history.

    Report comment

    • BenSix says:

      X is totally nonexistent in the entire world and all of history.

      But that was not your argument, Mr Donald. Your claims about Till and Curie, questionable as at least the latter was, were a mere introduction to your claim about adoption by homosexuals, which followed the logic that as one newspaper cited paedophiles as examples of fine homosexual parents, most homosexual parents must be paedophiles. This is no logic at all, as it does nothing to prove that most of the 32,000 children who have been adopted by homosexuals in America alone endure abuse behind closed doors.

      I am all for people making contentious claims – without, as nyan sandwich puts it, “intellectual compromise” – but it requires intellectual honesty. Otherwise it comes across as an attempt to be provocative.

      Report comment

      • spandrell says:

        That’s gays and lesbians. What are the figures for gays only?

        Report comment

      • the logic that as one newspaper cited paedophiles as examples of fine homosexual parents, most homosexual parents must be paedophiles.

        They did not cite a dozen examples of fine gay parents, and one turned out bad. Their poster boy turned out bad.

        Which indicates it is hard to find OK gay parents.

        One cannot generalize from cherry picked single cases, if the same person is doing the cherry picking as is doing the generalizing.

        One can generalize from cherry picked single cases, if one person is doing the cherry picking, and his opponent is doing the generalizing.

        Report comment

        • ozymandias says:

          I am pretty sure our poster child is Neil Patrick Harris? Seriously. I have never heard of that guy you’re talking about! You’d think if he were our poster child I would have heard of him!

          Report comment

        • BenSix says:

          One can generalize from cherry picked single cases, if one person is doing the cherry picking, and his opponent is doing the generalizing.

          One most certainly cannot.

          After Dawkins has criticised the watchmaker argument that is a favourite of uninformed religious apologists he should not declared theism refuted as he has not answered, among others, Aquinas. Criticising Lawrence Krauss and his overpraised attempt to answer the cosmological argument, meanwhile, and then insisting that atheists have no response to the idea would be as foolish at it would ignore, say, Quentin Smith. Should someone proclaim that in refuting James A. Donald’s “most gay parents are paedophiles” claim they have answered all doubts regarding the nature of gay adoption that would also be wrong.

          One is mistaken in assuming that one’s opponent must be presenting an argument at its best – especially when they are a hapless Australian reporter.

          Report comment

  43. bi guy says:

    The principle of charity says that a belief should make sense from the perspective of those who hold it. If you understand why their belief makes sense to them but you don’t hold it yourself, then it is consistent to think their perspective is warped or wrong somehow.

    That said, there are probably more charitable ways to interpret anti-gay beliefs. Viewing homosexual attraction as a “temptation” doesn’t necessarily require the viewer to feel that temptation themselves. Perhaps the feeling of disinterest or disgust could be subjectively interpreted as successfully resisting temptation.

    It does seem common for social conservatives to model being gay as a temptation that people become drawn into. This model, like the one in the main post, explains why they are against teaching children about gay people, against promoting tolerance, and against gay marriage, as well as why they believe that homosexuality is a choice, that gay people are hedonistic, and that ex-gay programs both work and are helping people.

    Aside: People like Dr Paul Cameron are probably exactly what ex-gay programs are trying to produce. I wonder if any of the people involved in these programs themselves feel attraction to the same sex; it would explain why they believe their goals are possible and desirable.

    But it does seem likely that there are some people in the anti-gay movement that are repressing their own homosexual feelings; the number of prominent homophobes who have been caught up in gay scandals is evidence in favour of that. Also:

    I have nothing against gays and other deviants if that’s what they choose or are born to [...] but I do oppose deviant propaganda precisely because it works on me, [...]

    Homophobes are often mocked along the lines of “What, are you worried you’ll catch teh ghey?” Before declaring victory, it’d be good make sure that there’s not, actually, any chance of that actually being a risk.

    [...] where they [gay people] would be naked all day and have sex in a great big pile, my sex life would be a lot less risky, more fun, and more comfortable.

    Report comment

    • pwyll says:

      Homophobes are often mocked along the lines of “What, are you worried you’ll catch teh ghey?” Before declaring victory, it’d be good make sure that there’s not, actually, any chance of that actually being a risk.

      To clarify, this quote of mine referred to “catching the gay” via a hypothesized pathogen, not societal transmission. (I believe more robust research is badly needed to properly characterize the likelihood of either scenario.)

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  44. anon says:

    My preferences are weird. I find all genitals except my own to be disgusting. I’d rather touch vagina than dick, however, even though vaginas seem objectively grosser because they’re slimy. My gut reaction to transsexuals is extremely negative, and my gut reaction to gay people is slightly negative. I’m strongly sexually attracted to female hips and boobs and legs, but I also get good feelings when looking at males with strong abs, though not exactly sexual feelings. It’s closer to “I wish I had abs like that”, but that’s not exactly it either. I don’t feel a desire to touch the abs (I actually feel a disgusted aversion to that idea) but I like to look at them and I appreciate them in more than an abstract aesthetic way.

    Does anyone else have similar preferences? Is there a name for people with a smorgasbord of preferences which are kind of sexual but also kind of not? This is definitely a case of me not understanding my own subjective experiences.

    Thinking about this makes it easier for me to understand Ozy’s experiences about food tastes – my preferences do seem to be at least partially mediated by culture, and I’m not sure what my authentic preferences are (assuming that “authenticity” is even a word that can apply here).

    None of the fancy labels of Tumblr are of any use here, big shock. What does SlateStarCodex think?

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  45. peppermint says:

    First there were sodomites, corrupted by their peverted sexual appetites.

    Then there were homosexuals, suffering from a disease, deserving of our pity.

    Then there were gays, who were a bit queer, but otherwise just like anyone else.

    Now that the very concept of a man and a woman forming an indissoluble bond with the intention of raising children has been lost through a culture of “remarriage”, it only makes sense to have gaymarriage.

    And to top it all off, we have this article, calling anyone who thinks that sodomites are corrupt, or homosexuals are diseased, or still believes in traditional marriage…

    …why, this article calls them gay.

    Is Scott Alexander a triple-agent for heterosexism?

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  46. Who the fuck is Mark Newton?

    (Googles) Oh, some guy who made child porn with his adopted kid.

    I’m pretty sure our poster children for gay adoption is not actually that guy

    Not any more he is not.

    But on the other hand, I notice Amelia Earhart is still the poster girl for female pilots, despite the fact that being anointed poster girl for female pilots usually gets the poster girl killed while flying beyond her competence. So maybe Mark Newton still is.

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  47. The principle of charity says that a belief should make sense from the perspective of those who hold it. If you understand why their belief makes sense to them but you don’t hold it yourself, then it is consistent to think their perspective is warped or wrong somehow.

    Scott Alexander grossly and insulting misrepresents his opponents arguments, which arguments usually turn not on the government treating gays as married, but the government forcing everyone to treat gays as married, much as it forced everyone to use the word “gay”.

    Nothing charitable about that. The tone of the essay contradicts the frame, the frame being charitable, and the tone being “teabagger, teabagger, teabagger, yahh teabagger, yaah, yaaah yaaah, teabagger, yaah, yaaah, yaaaah”

    Report comment

    • Scott Alexander says:

      …or possibly there are multiple different people making multiple different arguments, and my explanation applies to one group and yours applies to another group, and I specifically said this very clearly multiple times in the article?

      Report comment

      • …or possibly there are multiple different people making multiple different arguments, and my explanation applies to one group and yours applies to another group

        I don’t make the argument attributed to your hateful and stupid enemies, and I am pretty sure I have never heard the argument you attribute to ignorant stupid evil people

        And yet, nonetheless, I feel insulted, and I perceive a deliberate intent to insult, offend, and mock people like me, not to mock the hypothetical people who supposedly make the absurd arguments you attribute to them.

        If actually applying the principle of charity, you should engage the arguments your opponents regularly use, and regard as their strongest arguments, not arguments selected or invented to make your opponents look stupid and evil.

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        • Nobody Important says:

          If actually applying the principle of charity, you should engage the arguments your opponents regularly use, and regard as their strongest arguments, not arguments selected or invented to make your opponents look stupid and evil.

          This right here is why “steelmanning” is a terrible idea. When you make up your opponents’ arguments for them, it’s awfully tempting to make them terrible. Then you get to pat yourself on the back for making an even better argument for their side than they could manage, and then refuting it. How anyone could have thought that was a good or workable idea boggles my mind.

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  48. “Scott Alexander has just posted that anyone who objects to homosexuality must be a repressed homosexual, which is typical of what passes for rationality among the “Less Wrong” crowd.”

    This is the opposite of what I said

    You speak out of both sides of your mouth.

    Report comment

  49. Scott Alexander says:

    THIS IS A NOTIFICATION OF PEOPLE BEING TEMPORARILY BANNED FROM THIS BLOG

    After some thought and very many reports for both of them, I am banning Multiheaded and James Donald in accordance with the new comments policy.

    Multiheaded because of comments like this one.

    Not so bad on its own (I’m not sure why calling someone an IMAX is an insult, actually) but a long history of similar things with multiple previous warnings.

    I’m going to be more rigorous in detailing why I banned James because I want to avoid accusations of banning people for disagreeing with me. I tried to give him all possible benefit of the doubt since I did start this discussion by saying that some people on his side were closeted homosexuals, which I know he thinks of as an insult. And his first few comments I responded to as nicely as I could. However, many people have been reporting comments including the following:

    “The typical Scott Alexander commentator is mentally incapable of following an analogy.” (source).

    “The usual reason for gay adoption is sexual molestation… Mark Newton demonstrates that the usual motivation for gay adoption is pedophilia.” (source)

    A claim that, as far as I can tell, is meant to imply that literally no incident of racism or oppression has ever happened even once in all of human history. I realize accusations like this are usually straw men, but you can read it for yourself and decide for yourself whether that interpretation is correct. In either case the decision to ban James doesn’t hinge on this one comment (source)

    Very substantial misquoting of me and failure to change the attribution when the misquotation was pointed out (source)

    This is in addition to similar behavior on previous threads:

    “I…think you are mechanically spouting frothing-at-the-mouth crazy religion, and if your religion was a minority religion, rather than the official state religion, no one would bother engaging with you, rather you would be hauled off to the lunatic asylum and drugged till you stopped emitting such crazy talk.” (source)

    “I have marshalled a wide variety of evidence, which is met not by contervailing evidence or relevant argument, but by abuse. I therefore assume you are one of the people who respond to reason by threatening to sexually mutilate the children of a certain female blogger…Present rational argument and relevant evidence, and I will treat you as if you are a normal human being, rather than a vicious subhuman savage.” (source)

    There are dozens of neoreactionaries who comment on this blog all the time and whose input I value and who I have no intention of banning, but because of these and other comments I think Jim has crossed a line. I am specifically trying not to base this on his personal insults to me – some other people including Spandrell have insulted me and my friends much more – but on his general behavior. I don’t believe his comments are either uncontroversially true enough or necessary enough for the level of unkindness displayed to be appropriate.

    Therefore, both Jim and Multiheaded are banned from commenting on this blog – them, and their children, and their childrens’ children – for three days. Future violations to invite longer periods of banishment.

    Report comment

    • Andrew G. says:

      (I’m not sure why calling someone an IMAX is an insult, actually)

      my guess would be summed up in one word, “projection”

      Report comment

    • anon says:

      3 days is very reasonable. At first it seemed to me like you were initiating an eternal ban. Glad to see that wasn’t the case.

      Report comment

      • Alejandro says:

        Scott was quoting The Simpsons: “Now get out. You’re banned from this historical society. You and your children, and your children’s children… for three months.”

        Report comment

    • Andy says:

      Thank you for both the tempbanning, but also the explanation..

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    • Desertopa says:

      Frankly, I’m a bit astonished that Jim hasn’t been banned before now. I’ve long felt that it devalues any treatment of Neoreaction as a political philosophy to treat Jim as a credible representative of it.

      Report comment

      • Jim is a credible representative, but an asshole. NRs tolerate his unkindness because he is right and/or insightful disturbingly often.

        (His unkindness is extra-pronounced here, though)

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        • Desertopa says:

          If Jim is someone that Neoreactionaries would classify as a credible representative, I’ll have to lower my credence in Reactionism. While I often find people with political views I disagree with to be intelligent and insightful even when impolite, and I can appreciate the appeal of many Reactionary ideas, I have found Jim’s contributions to nearly every conversation to be frankly inane. Far from simply being “unkind,” he is consistently unable to recognize and engage with the points of his interlocutors, and makes arguments that hold up unsteadily even against the flimsy straw men he constructs.

          I can see people who already agree with the standard Reactionary credo seeing him as mostly right, if impolite, but to call him “insightful” strikes me as either an insult or condemnation of the intellectual pool available among Reactionaries.

          (Yes, I’m being rather impolite here myself, but I have a lot of pent up frustration from all the times I’ve had to restrain myself from attempting to discuss anything with him at all since I first found that he was effectively incapable of productive discourse with anyone who doesn’t share his views.)

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    • Randy M says:

      ““The typical Scott Alexander commentator is mentally incapable of following an analogy.” ”

      This reminds me, I was put off when you opened this post with a bit of an insult to your own commenters. Not sure how that improved anything.

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    • Leo says:

      While your motivations are certainly legitimate, I would like to petition for James Donald being made a special exception to the policy. (Maybe marking his comments as such or something?) His comments here make me extremely happy, in a way that nothing else has; Ozy probably understands why. I would be very sad if there weren’t any more. Could I, like, buy him out of exile in some way?

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      • Randy M says:

        Did you miss the “3 days” line?

        Report comment

        • Leo says:

          No, I just know full well he’s going to get banned again if he keeps posting comments like these.

          Ozy, I know about the blog, but it’s not nearly as joyful as the comments here.

          Ialdabaoth, that does sound bad! Is there any way you can avoid reading his comments if they exist?

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        • Ialdabaoth says:

          Is there any way you can avoid reading his comments if they exist?

          Maybe? The problem is that it isn’t just his comments, its the entire chain of his comments + everyone else’s responses.

          They remind me VERY strongly of the people I grew up with, which always sets me into a “act sociopathic and horrifically sadistic to fit in or they’ll tear you apart!” mindset.

          You do NOT want to see Reactionary!Ialdabaoth start posting here. :( I suspect I’d be banned rather quickly.

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      • ozymandias says:

        Leo, he has a blog! If Scott decides to ban him for longer than three days we can go visit.

        Report comment

      • Ialdabaoth says:

        Can our utility function please balance your extreme happiness against the physical pain that reading those arguments causes me?

        Report comment

    • Medivh says:

      If it takes this epic-level trolling to get banned, banning is not going to ensure a civil and productive discourse.

      I want to propose an additional comment policy:

      DON’T RESPOND TO IDIOTS.

      TOLERATE OTHERS BEEING WRONG ON THE INTERNET ( A rationality skill that has been saving me lots of time and frustration since I learned it a few months ago)

      More specific, we need a to use a set of filters before posting:
      ( 1 ) Do I think the other Person has decent epistemic/reasoning standarts?
      ( 2 ) Do I expect my post to result in a fruitful debate that will yield new insights?
      ( 3 ) Is there a chance that either me or the other guy will change his opinion in the course of the debate?

      Arguing with idiots has the game-theoretic structure of a . Whoever gets in the last argument wins. Add to this the asymmetry that someone with low epistemic standarts can make up some nonesense argument in five minutes, while it takes you an hour to prove that it is nonsense. At which point the other guy will make up some new nonsense.

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      • Medivh says:

        missing word in the first sentence of the last paragraph,
        the sentence should read:

        Arguing with idiots has the game-theoretic structure of a dollar-auction.

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      • ozymandias says:

        Your model seems to be missing the fact that arguing with wrong people on the Internet is fun for a lot of people. Like, “don’t respond to idiots on the Internet” is only a rationality skill for people who don’t enjoy responding to idiots on the Internet. :D

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    • lmm says:

      The big red “USER WAS BANNED FOR THIS POST” is supposed to go on the post someone was banned for, not some other post a long way downthread.

      Report comment

  50. Dan says:

    Social conditioning is a real part of sexuality. As a white guy with an Asian fetish, I can attest to this. Asian women were not in my ancestors’ environment across the millenia, but I developed it due to many contacts I had as a child.

    There is abundant evidence that men who were molested by men as boys are much more likely to identify as gay later on.

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    • G-Max says:

      There is no “Asian fetish”; Asian chicks really are just hotter than chicks of other races :)

      Report comment

    • Vaniver says:

      There is abundant evidence that men who were molested by men as boys are much more likely to identify as gay later on.

      One must wonder about the selection effect, though. Does gaydar work for children? (There are a handful of tests that have pretty good predictive ability that can be done on young infants, even.) Are male child molesters more likely to pick children that read as gay? (Seems reasonable.)

      Report comment

    • St. Rev says:

      Imprinting is a biological response to environment, I dunno if it’s fair to call it social though.

      Report comment

  51. Mary says:

    If you have any doubts about the feminine equivalent, check out “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence” by Adrienne Rich, in which it was held that everyone is naturally attracted to women — yes, there are no male homosexuals in this view — and society coerces women to act like they are attracted to men. Also check out how this was viewed among the rest of the feminist community at the time of release.

    For a more recent example, you can check out the blog Radical Wind, writing about “how emotional/sexual attachment to men (‘heterosexuality’) exists only within the context of OPPRESSION, GENOCIDE or globally organised violence against women by men as a class. Which means that this emotional bond to men can’t be anything else than an uncontrolled chemical response to that inescapable violence and oppression.”

    Full post here

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    • Mary says:

      You may find this post of Radical Wind’s explains a great deal about the last post: PIV is always rape, ok?

      Report comment

      • Andy says:

        For a more recent example, you can check out the blog Radical Wind, writing about “how emotional/sexual attachment to men (‘heterosexuality’) exists only within the context of OPPRESSION, GENOCIDE or globally organised violence against women by men as a class. Which means that this emotional bond to men can’t be anything else than an uncontrolled chemical response to that inescapable violence and oppression.”

        …nice to see the lunatic fringe of feminism is still alive and well. I wish this were only a strawman. Searching now for a response from a feminist position. There’s enough strawmen in RW’s post to stock a medium-sized farm – for example, her contention that PIV is always done with the man on top and in control. Then again, I’m a MSW, therefore I would be unwelcome commenting, and am unwilling to do it. Let’s see who else…
        After some Googling, it seems like the opposite position among feminists is “sex-positive” feminism:
        http://pervocracy.blogspot.com/2011/10/sex-pozzie.html?showComment=1319582685404#c4972024862494581984
        Quoth the comment: Telling women that they don’t really like what they say they like, that what they say about their own experience is either mistaken or outright lies, is pretty much the exact fucking opposite of feminism.

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      • Xycho says:

        Wow. I started out laughing… then about a third of the way through I realised she was serious.

        At what point did feminism transition from “We’d like equal privileges, voting ability, and economic status” to “basic biology is Serious Evil(tm)”?

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        • Mary says:

          It’s not even the weirdest thing on her blog. One of her posts went viral, resulting in 85000 hits and this reaction,

          85,000, that’s the maximum number of views I had in one day a couple of weeks ago when the liberals and MRAs circulated my PIV blogpost for punishment. Unlike a normal blogger, attracting 85,000 hits isn’t something I want to celebrate. It’s threatening: you know they’re after you, it only means you’ve hit men’s radar and you have no idea what they plan to do.

          and I read a bit. I limited myself to those posts still on the front page, and I still found a passage where she talked about how women can talk to plants.

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        • blacktrance says:

          There is no monolithic feminism. I don’t personally know any feminists like that. Lumping all feminists together is as misleading as lumping Scott and Joseph Stalin together as “Progressives”.

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        • Andy says:

          Lumping all feminists together is as misleading as lumping Scott and Joseph Stalin together as “Progressives”.

          Though that certainly doesn’t stop some conservatives from doing exactly that. *waves at entire conversation around “demotism” in Reactionary thought*

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        • Mary says:

          “There is no monolithic feminism. ”

          Then why on earth do we use the term? You might as well object that there are no monolithic mammals. Either the term is useless and should be junked, or feminists have enough in common that one can sometimes rightfully speak of them as a group.

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        • Zathille says:

          I think the biggest issue is not the term per se, but the fact different people often ascribe different meanings to the term based upon value-judgements. Quite typical of politicized concepts. Thus, people feel the need to not conflate such differing conceptions, or so I imagine

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        • Oligopsony says:

          Then why on earth do we use the term? You might as well object that there are no monolithic mammals. Either the term is useless and should be junked, or feminists have enough in common that one can sometimes rightfully speak of them as a group.

          We can rightfully speak of mammals as a group (albeit one with fuzzy or arbitrary boundaries,) but that doesn’t mean that the presence of tusks in some mammals makes tusks a generalizably mammalian trait.

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      • Army1987 says:

        Am I the only one to whom the punctuation/capital letters/tone in that post remind of Time Cube?

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    • Mary says:

      Of course, this opens up the whole can of worms where someone looks at this post here and says that it looks like someone who can’t get his head around the idea that people disagree with him about homosexuality, and so devises explanations why they act like they disagree, even though fundamentally, they don’t.

      Lots of potential for typical mind there. 0:)

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  52. G-Max says:

    A few hours after reading this article, I came down with what turned out to be a bad case of teh gay. I recommend that the article be taken down from the Internet in order to contain this outbreak.

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  53. Rabbit says:

    I never interpreted statements about the “temptation” of homosexuality as being about temptation faced by straight people. I assumed it meant a temptation for gay people to overcome so that they could become “normal.”

    Likewise with “men know what men like.” I assumed this was an attempt to empathize with people of different tastes. “This is their internal rationalization,” rather than “this is why it’s attractive.”

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  54. Shenpen says:

    I think you are overcomplicating the issue. It is much, much easier to oppose GM. It is not a why not, but a why. The standard position is not that it is not a good idea to always reinvent a wheel but the past should be respect and only necessary changes done, because conservatives don’t hate the past. Hating the past is the most universal attitude of progressives – a large chunk of progressivism is that our great-granddads were evil and stupid so we must change everything.

    From a conservative angle, why introduce any sort of a change for making a rather hedonistic and decadent minority marginally happier? That makes no conservative sense at all. The only conservative reason for social changes is that external circumstances have changed and now the health of social fabric is required adaptation.

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    • Ialdabaoth says:

      a large chunk of progressivism is that our great-granddads were evil and stupid so we must change everything.

      I don’t know if that’s true; I certainly know that’s not how I see it (although it would certainly explain why I have to constantly correct many of my progressive friends).

      I’d characterize my own attitude as “our great-granddads didn’t have our knowledge of physics and chemistry and biology and psychology and sociology, so their assumptions inevitably led to tragic consequences. I consider our world very fortunate that we made it to where we are, and am very hopeful that we can continue to progress further past our own ignorances and biases.”

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      • I don’t know if it’s possible to evaluate this kind of counterfactual, but let’s try. How would things change for you if someone convinced you that the political enlightenment (progressivism) and the scientific enlightenment were entirely orthogonal such that progressive thought could not borrow the credibility of scientific thought? What if you were convinced that they often contradict each other?

        I know if I were convinced that they were they same phenomena with enough overlap to warrant liberal sexual norms borrowing the clout of physics, I’d agree with your perspective. Alas, I am no longer convinced of this.

        >our great-granddads didn’t have our knowledge of physics and chemistry and biology and psychology and sociology

        Basically, 1.5 of those things are not like the others.

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        • Ialdabaoth says:

          How would things change for you if someone convinced you that the political enlightenment (progressivism) and the scientific enlightenment were entirely orthogonal such that progressive thought could not borrow the credibility of scientific thought? What if you were convinced that they often contradict each other?

          That’s pretty easy for me to answer. In many places where I recognize that they contradict each other, I tend to have somewhat different viewpoints than my more “social justice”-minded liberal friends. In other places, I hold onto my core values, but disagree with other Progressives on implementation.

          >our great-granddads didn’t have our knowledge of physics and chemistry and biology and psychology and sociology

          Basically, 1.5 of those things are not like the others.

          To what degree? They’re enough like them for some purposes, and not enough like them for others. The trick is knowing when to apply which level of abstraction.

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    • Valhar2000 says:

      This argument would have more force if conservatives’ and reactionaries’ conception of the past were closer to what the past actually was.

      Report comment

  55. Randy M says:

    I was reminded of this theory/post when reading recently of Leeland Yee.

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  56. Noumenon72 says:

    Lots of no doubt very wise people avoid comment threads here, but the comments on Universal Human Experiences are really worth it.

    I disagree. You need Reddit-style comments with upvotes and “hide child comments”. The good ones were just drowned.

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  57. Ialdabaoth says:

    I prefer to erect a rather tall Schelling fence around disrespecting people, even if I suspect that their statements are designed to elicit irrational emotional reactions or designed specifically to make me disrespect them.

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  58. Multiheaded says:

    Literally no offense intended… but some amount of disrespect seems like a healthier reaction for yourself than what you say you experience around anti-liberal types.

    I’m only saying this because I empathize with this type of visceral response and don’t want to dismiss it as many would have us do, yet suspect that it has steeply diminishing returns.

    So employ your ire on one fascist out of ten, and try to pick the smartest one (like a few reactionaries I’d rather not name), not the most smelly and disgusting one (like a few other reactionaries I’d rather not name). E.g. the ones going “Tsk, tsk, how regrettable that certain populations need slavery to behave themselves”, not the ones who are all “NIGGERS!”

    I know, I know, I’m only preaching this because I’m bad at practicing it.

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  59. von Kalifornen says:

    Heaven help us.

    Isn’t the pederastry problem more an issue of sexual and moral liberation, rather than homosexuality? With the fortunate coming off consent culture, the worst excesses of liberty neve been curtailed.

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  60. Valhar2000 says:

    I’m not sure this holds up to scrutiny. After all, pederasts in the Catholic Church did pretty well before there was “sexual and moral liberation”.

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