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Slate Star Codex Podcast


Jun 1, 2019

[Content warning: Discussion of social justice, discussion of violence, spoilers for Jacqueline Carey books.]

[Edit 10/25: This post was inspired by a debate with a friend of a friend on Facebook who has since become somewhat famous. I’ve renamed him here to “Andrew Cord” to protect his identity.]

I.

Andrew Cord criticizes me for my bold and controversial suggestion that maybe people should try to tell slightly fewer blatant hurtful lies:

I just find it kind of darkly amusing and sad that the “rationalist community” loves “rationality is winning” so much as a tagline and yet are clearly not winning. And then complain about losing rather than changing their tactics to match those of people who are winning.

Which is probably because if you *really* want to be the kind of person who wins you have to actually care about winning something, which means you have to have politics, which means you have to embrace “politics the mindkiller” and “politics is war and arguments are soldiers”, and Scott would clearly rather spend the rest of his life losing than do this.

That post [the one debunking false rape statistics] is exactly my problem with Scott. He seems to honestly think that it’s a worthwhile use of his time, energy and mental effort to download evil people’s evil worldviews into his mind and try to analytically debate them with statistics and cost-benefit analyses.

He gets *mad* at people whom he detachedly intellectually agrees with but who are willing to back up their beliefs with war and fire rather than pussyfooting around with debate-team nonsense.

It honestly makes me kind of sick. It is exactly the kind of thing that “social justice” activists like me *intend* to attack and “trigger” when we use “triggery” catchphrases about the mewling pusillanimity of privileged white allies.

In other words, if a fight is important to you, fight nasty. If that means lying, lie. If that means insults, insult. If that means silencing people, silence.

It always makes me happy when my ideological opponents come out and say eloquently and openly what I’ve always secretly suspected them of believing.

My natural instinct is to give some of the reasons why I think Andrew is wrong, starting with the history of the “noble lie” concept and moving on to some examples of why it didn’t work very well, and why it might not be expected not to work so well in the future.

But in a way, that would be assuming the conclusion. I wouldn’t be showing respect for Andrew’s arguments. I wouldn’t be going halfway to meet them on their own terms.

The respectful way to rebut Andrew’s argument would be to spread malicious lies about Andrew to a couple of media outlets, fan the flames, and wait for them to destroy his reputation. Then if the stress ends up bursting an aneurysm in his brain, I can dance on his grave, singing:

♪ ♬ I won this debate in a very effective manner. Now you can’t argue in favor of nasty debate tactics any more ♬ ♪

I’m not going to do that, but if I did it’s unclear to me how Andrew could object. I mean, he thinks that sexism is detrimental to society, so spreading lies and destroying people is justified in order to stop it. I think that discourse based on mud-slinging and falsehoods is detrimental to society. Therefore…