Meta: Small nitpick, but I would prefer if we reduce framings like
This is going to sound controversial here (people are probably going to dislike this but I’m genuinely raising this as a concern)
See Scott Alexander on Against Bravery Debates.
Thanks for pointing that out. Will refrain from doing so in the future. What I was trying to make clear was that I didn’t want my comment to be seen as a personal attack on an individual. I was uneasy about making the comment on a public platform when I don’t know all the details nor know much about the subject matter.
FWIW, I think that the qualification was very appropriate and I didn’t see the author as intending to start a “bravery debate”. Instead, the purpose appears to have been to emphasize that the concerns were raised in good faith and with limited information. Clarifications of this sort seem very relevant and useful, and quite unlike the phenomenon described in Scott’s post.
I want to add that Scott isn’t describing a disingenuous argumentative tactic, he’s saying that the topic causes dialogue to get derailed very quickly. Analogous to the rule that bringing in a comparison to Nazis always derails internet discussion, making claims about whether the position one is advocating is the underdog or the mainstream also derails internet discussion.
Thanks, you are right. I have amended the last sentence of my comment.
Following up, and sorry for continuing to critique after you already politely made an edit, but doesn’t that change your opinion of the object level thing, which is indeed the phenomenon Scott’s talking about? It’s great to send signals of cooperativeness and genuineness, and I appreciate So-Low Growth’s effort to do so, but adding in talk of how the concern is controversial is the standard example of opening a bravery debate.
The application of Scott’s post here would be to separate clarification of intent and bravery talk – in this situation, separating “I don’t intend any personal attack on this individual” from “My position is unpopular”. Again, the intention is not in question, it’s the topic, and that’s the phenomenon Scott’s discussing in his post.
I agree that the sentence Linch quoted sounds like a “bravery debate” opening, but that’s not how I perceive it in the broader context. I don’t think the author is presenting himself/herself as an underdog, intentionally or otherwise. Rather, they are making that remark as part of their overall attempt to indicate that they are aware that they are raising a sensitive issue and that they are doing so in a collaborative spirit and with admittedly limited information. This strikes me as importantly different from the prototypical bravery debate, where the primary effect is not to foster an atmosphere of open dialogue but to gain sympathy for a position.
I am tentatively in agreement with you that “clarification of intent” can be done without “bravery talk”, by which I understand any mention that the view one is advancing is unpopular. But I also think that such talk doesn’t always communicate that one is the underdog, and is therefore not inherently problematic. So, yes, the OP could have avoided that kind of language altogether, but given the broader context, I don’t think the use of that language did any harm.
(I’m maybe 80% confident in what I say above, so if you disagree, feel free to push me.)
I read the top comment again after reading this comment by you, and I think I understand the original intent better now. I was mostly confused on initial reading, and while I thought SLG’s comment was otherwise good and I had a high prior on the intent being very cooperative, I couldn’t figure out what the first line meant other than “I expect I’m the underdog here”. I now read it as saying “I really don’t want to cause conflict needlessly, but I do care about discussing this topic,” which seems pretty positive to me. I am pretty pro SLG writing more comments like this in future when it seems to them like an important mistake is likely being made :)
This makes a lot of sense to me Pablo. You highlighted what I was trying to explain when I was making the comment, that: 1) I was uncertain 2) I didn’t want to attack someone. I must admit, my choice of words was rather poor and could come across as “bravery talk”, although that was not what I intended.
To be clear, I think your overall comment added to the discussion more than it detracts, and I really appreciate you making it. I definitely did not interpret your claims as an attack, nor did I think it’s a particularly egregious example of a bravery framing. One reason I chose to comment here is because I interpreted (correctly, it appears!) you as someone who’d be receptive to such feedback, whereas if somebody started a bravery debate with a clearer “me against the immoral idiots in EA” framing I’d probably be much more inclined to just ignore and move on.
It’s possible my bar for criticism is too low. In particular, I don’t think I’ve fully modeled meta-level considerations like:
1) That by only choosing to criticize mild rather than egregious cases, I’m creating bad incentives.
2) You appear to be a new commenter, and by criticizing newcomers to the EA Forum I risk making the EA Forum less appealing.
3) That my comment may spawn a long discussion.
Nonetheless I think I mostly stand by my original comment.
Yeah that makes a lot of sense. I think the rest of your comment is fine without that initial disclaimer, especially with your caveat in the last sentence! :)