This is a really interesting point! I think I’m also sometimes guilty of using the norms of signalling epistemic uncertainty in order to mask what is actually anxious social signalling on my part, which I hadn’t thought about so explicitly until now.One thing that occurred to me while reading this—I’d be curious as to whether you have any thoughts on how this might interact with gender diversity in EA, if at all?
Thanks for the reply!
Honestly, I’m confused by the relation to gender. I’m bracketing out genders that are both not-purely-female and not-purely-male because I don’t know enough about the patterns of qualifiers there.
In general, I think anxious qualifying is more common for women. EA isn’t known for having very many women, so I’m a bit confused why there’s seemingly so much of it in EA.
(As a side: This reminds me of a topic I didn’t bring into the original post: How much is just a selection effect and how much is EA increasing anxious qualifying. Intuitively, I at least think it’s not purely a selection effect, but I haven’t thought closely about this.)
Given the above, I would expect that women are also more likely to take the EA culture, and transform it into excessive use of anxious qualifiers, but that’s just speculation. Maybe the percentage change of anxious qualifier use is also higher for men, just because their baseline is lower
I’m not sure how this affects gender diversity in EA as a whole. I can imagine that it might actually be good because underconfident people might be less scared off if the online communication doesn’t seem too confident, and they feel like they can safely use their preferred lots-of-anxious-signalling communication strategy.
That being said, I guess that what would do the above job (at least) equally good is what I call “3” in my reply to Misha. Or, at least I’m hopeful that there are some other communication strategies that would have that benefit without encouraging anxious signalling.
edit: I noticed that the last bullet point doesn’t make much sense because I claim elsewhere that 3 can encourage 4 because they look so similar, and I stand by that.
Interestingly, maybe not instructively, I was kind of hesitant to bring gender into my original post. Partly for good reasons, but partly also because I worried about backlash or at least that some people would take it less seriously as a result. I honestly don’t know if that says much about EA/society, or solely about me. (I felt the need to include “honestly” to make it distinguishable from a random qualifier and mark it as a genuine expression of cluelessness!)