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    Great victory and hopefully the first of many.

    1. 3

      visualcapitalist.com

      no

      1. 7

        Care to explain what the issue is?

        1. 9

          I had the same reaction. All isms are lossy and are usually a suboptimal place to frame any discussion around. It’s hard to have conversations based on them due to their lack of specificity. But capitalism is a particularly loaded term today. To me it connotes bad-faith justifications for increasing wealth gaps. It’s like eugenics - there are things that people still study which are of value to medicine etc… but the term is associated with the results of those who justified their actions through it. I probably would be turned off by a url like visualeugenics.com. Of course they are different and they mean different things to different people.

          I got turned off of ideas associated with capitalism when I was an economics student in university and we learned about externalities where it becomes obvious that markets do not capture cost. To me, people who call themselves capitalists are people who are ignorant of this fundamental concept in economics. (Adam Smith, whose book Wealth of Nations is often name-dropped constantly by self-described capitalists, actually had his other book Theory of Moral Sentiments put on his gravestone as the accomplishment he was proud of most. Theory of Moral Sentiments is basically all about how markets don’t work if left to run on their own) But because capitalism is an ism, it will mean different things to different people, and it’s unlikely to result in a productive conversation in many cases.

          1. 1

            So you believe you can escape ideology by not employing words that end in “-ism”? That’s very ideological of you. That said, visualcapitalist is propaganda from the rich. You assume they are there to have a ’productive conversation”, when they actually get paid to push a narrative onto people.

            1. 1

              It’s not clear to me how that follows. I think it’s a mistake to ignore ideology. I am in favor of specific language where possible, as I believe we can have better conversations when we are able to be precise. Maybe if I were more precise in my above comment, you would have been less likely to have interpreted it as wanting to escape ideology. More precision -> better conversations.

            2. 1

              Thank you for elaborating.

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          No (less) politics and virtue signaling.

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            Both sites have in common an unwillingness on the part of many commenters to think seriously about the impact on our fellow humans of the things we build. Which some people tend to dismiss as “politics” (or, at least, dismiss when the people being impacted aren’t them or their friends/family).

            Which is sad, because considering those things is incredibly important. Even mundane everyday things can have unforeseen impacts; when I give talks about Unicode, for example, I make sure to mention that poor normalization, storage, and comparison of string data can have severe impacts on people. In some places it can even get someone’s right to vote revoked, or result in them being incarcerated!

            Yet many people outright refuse to engage with that, and it’s generally only accepted on sites like this if it’s presented obliquely in ways that don’t really explain the importance or confront people with the effects (say, in one of those contextless “falsehoods programmers believe” articles that tells you something is wrong, but not why it’s wrong, what impact it will have, or how to get it right).

            1. 3

              Politics is important and nobody disputes that, but it also is the best known way to cause acrimony. In an ideal world we could discuss politics here but it’s just too likely to ruin lobsters imo

              1. 2

                I’ve flagged your response here as unkind because it assumes the worst of your fellow posters.

                The degree to which your fellow users are thinking about the impact of the things they build and the degree to which they are willing to discuss those thoughts in public are orthogonal.

                On this site we have lost some serious thinkers who have decided the conversations they engaged in weren’t worth it, and we’ve had a good number of people who will happily chime in on anything without giving a sign of thorough forethought. Please do not conflate these two things, and certainly please do not pretend to know the minds of your colleagues beyond what they’ve expressed.

                1. 3

                  The degree to which your fellow users are thinking about the impact of the things they build and the degree to which they are willing to discuss those thoughts in public are orthogonal.

                  And yet it is usually quite easy to see whether or how someone thinks about such issues. For example, if their response to someone mentioning that kind of impact is to roll their eyes (or textual equivalent) while lamenting that someone felt the need to bring politics into the discussion. Or if they stake out ground by pre-emptively insulting anyone who might care about such issues – say, by hinting that it must all or mostly be “virtue signaling” (a term which by definition implies that the person so labelled is dishonest).

                  Meanwhile, if some person failed to consider the impact of their choices on, say, performance or maintainability or testability, I doubt many users here would feel much sympathy if that person complained that others kept asking pointed questions about those issues. And if such a person were to leave the site because they had decided it was not “worth it” to stick around when they know those issues will be brought up as a routine matter, I of course do not know of my own knowledge, but I certainly do wonder, whether you would be willing to describe such a person as a “serious thinker” the site had “lost”.

                  So I shall say it plainly: I would like to live in a world where we consider, at every stage, the impact of our work on our fellow humans, and treat it as just as much an essential part of quality programming as we currently consider thinking about performance, maintainability, and so on. I would like to see pointed questions asked about, say, how a project will ensure accessibility, protect its users’ privacy, prevent or at least mitigate common patterns of abuse. Yet those are all frowned on, for some reason, as not being part of the process of building technology; instead, they are subspecies of that mysterious animal called “politics”, which apparently can be an afterthought, if indeed thought about at all.

                  I also would like to live in a world where it is not automatically considered “unkind” to suggest that these issues should be considered and that programmers should have good working knowledge of them, and where it is discouraged to assume immediately and without evidence that a person advocating such a position gives no “sign of thorough forethought”. In light of which, I have to inform you that I have flagged your comment, and I respectfully request that you not repeat this behavior.

                  1. 1

                    but I certainly do wonder, whether you would be willing to describe such a person as a “serious thinker” the site had “lost”.

                    They exist. They’re usually in the category of people who care about people, politics, etc but need a break. They want a space to relax delving deeply into interesting problems in tech or whatever. Then, they fight battles else where.

                    That was my category when I voted tech only for this site whose front page was almost entirely tech only at the time, including from pro-politics people. For a while, the consistent exception was @adsouza with interesting articles focused on people.

                    1. 1

                      I didn’t flag you for suggesting that the issues be considered. I flagged you for saying that nobody does consider them, in effect defaming them.

                      1. 1

                        You should also flag the original poster for labeling many people as virtue signalers. The label also implies that many people don’t consider the issues, that they merely feign consideration for social power. I agree the idea that not talking about politics doesn’t mean you don’t care is completely true. Equally though talking about politics does not mean you’re some robot hoping to exploit others emotions for power. Ultimately in real life, it’s hard to know when someone is or is not merely feigning interest in a topic. It is nonetheless still important for us to extend generosity to at least our fellow lobsters until proven otherwise. While I agree that not EVERY post should be a political discussion, I also think it’s also reasonable that some posts warrant a discussion. If some discussion appears like flamebait, such as claiming your peers are sociopaths hoping to exploit others for social power, perhaps we could start by moderating that instead of the downstream responses.

                  2. 1

                    Most threads wanting Lobsters to be political just talk about it in general terms. +1 for your two links since I can actually use them to do good.

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                    Proclaiming one’s detachment and disinterest in politics is a virtue signal.

                    1. 3

                      For me that’s a problem. I mean, hackernews is a right-wing shithole and I prefer no politics to that kind of “well, if you’re poor, it’s your fault. Start a start-up like I did” but still, Lobste.rs feel extremely restrictive in that sense, like we all have to pretend that what we talk about has no strong political implications and ideological roots. Especially when people discuss open-source projects management pretending it’s some kind of special bubble with unique dynamics and it’s tooootally not like politics.

                      1. 11

                        That is interesting, because for me and some of my friends HN is pretty far to the left.

                        Anyway, I’m one of those people who avoid politics at all costs and have zero interest in having a political discussion. From this point of view I don’t understand why you want to mege politics with technical problems. I mean, what are the political implications of using SHA1 in Git commits?

                        1. 6

                          I don’t know whether ‘left’ is the right term for the accepted political climate at Hacker News but I do see what you mean. The herd mentality and, dare I use a Swedish term, “åsiktskorridor” (range of acceptable opinions, those who dare to venture outside get ostracised) was actually one of the factors which drove me from there to here. Another factor is the glorification of the startup culture, the place feels a bit like a fraternity at a cross between a business school and a technical institute where members vie to “make their first MVP before 20” instead of their first $million. Sometimes it feels like the domain should be hacquerrenews instead of the current for the boutique mega-karma ‘hackers’ which roam the place. Other times the subjects and surrounding discussion is intelligent, open and interesting so I do have HN in my feed just like I have Lobsters - I never use the front page of either site.

                          1. 7

                            I don’t know whether ‘left’ is the right term for the accepted political climate at Hacker News but I do see what you mean.

                            I think HN has a very libertarian, laissez-faire bent as regards politics and the economy. In the US, those characteristics tend to be identified with the political right.

                            a Swedish term, “åsiktskorridor” (range of acceptable opinions, those who dare to venture outside get ostracised)

                            A similar concept exists in English (at least, American English), and it wouldn’t surprise me if you had already heard the term: the Overton window, although I think it tends to be applied more frequently to political discourse specifically.

                            1. 0

                              I don’t know whether ‘left’ is the right term for the accepted political climate at Hacker News

                              IDW would be a better term. It is predominantly left, and some are right.

                              1. 7

                                It is predominantly left,

                                From the linked Wikipedia page:

                                According to Weiss, individuals associated with the intellectual dark web, in addition to Eric and Bret Weinstein, include Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Sam Harris, Heather Heying, Claire Lehmann, Douglas Murray, Maajid Nawaz, Jordan Peterson, Joe Rogan, Dave Rubin, Ben Shapiro, Lindsay Shepherd, Michael Shermer, Debra W. Soh, and Christina Hoff Sommers.[1]

                                Most of these names a predominantly conservative.

                                1. 1

                                  The IDW is reportedly composed of a majority of liberals and some fairly mainstream conservatives.

                                  It is composed principally of Sam Harris (liberal, Democrat), Eric Weinstein (liberal, Democrat), Bret Weinstein (liberal, Democrat), Maajid Nawaz (liberal, former Liberal Democrat candidate), Jordan Peterson (arguably conservative), Ben Shapiro (textbook mainstream conservative Republican), Joe Rogan (liberal), and Dave Rubin (former left-winger, now libertarian or arguably mildly conservative).

                                  1. 1

                                    You’ve left out half the list from the Wikipedia entry.

                                    Here are those people, along with quotes from their Wikipedia pages

                                    Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a Fellow with the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, a Fellow with the Future of Diplomacy Project at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at The Harvard Kennedy School, a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

                                    [Bret] Weinstein describes himself as a political progressive and left-libertarian.

                                    Christina Marie Hoff Sommers (born September 28, 1950) is an American author and philosopher. Specializing in ethics, she is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. Sommers is known for her critique of contemporary feminism.

                                    Claire Lehmann (née Jensen, born 18 July 1985) is an Australian journalist and the founding editor of Quillette.

                                    Debra W. Soh has written articles for Quillette, The Globe and Mail, New York Magazine, Playboy, Los Angeles Times, and The Wall Street Journal.[4] She began hosting Quillette’s Wrongspeak podcast with Jonathan Kay in May 2018.[2] Soh describes herself as a former feminist who later became disillusioned with the term.

                                    Douglas Kear Murray (born 16 July 1979)[1] is a British conservative author, journalist and political commentator. […] He is the author of Neoconservatism: Why We Need It (2005), Bloody Sunday: Truths, Lies and the Saville Inquiry (2011) about the Bloody Sunday Inquiry, The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam (2017), and The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity.

                                    Heather Heying is married to Bret Weinstein

                                    Politically, Michael Shermer has described himself as a lifelong libertarian.

                                    1. 1

                                      I’m only saying that IDW (Quillette included) is not “predominantly conservative”. And being libertarian is not the same as being conservative either. Your sample does not really contradict that.

                                      You’ll find that most members of IDW are left-leaning (liberal or left-libertarian), with some leaning the other way (conservative or right-libertarian).

                                      1. 1

                                        You’re apparently prepared to fight for this very weird hill. I will leave you to it.

                                        1. 2

                                          I think the solution is to call them Left and see if they get mad at you. Having personally interfaced with plenty of HN people, they for the most part do not enjoy the characterization as left, liberal, or socialist. Some of them do, sure, but they are in my experience the minority, not the majority. This is not a criticism or condemnation of HN, or people on HN, it’s merely a matter of fact observation.

                                2. 3

                                  This might be relatively accurate when it comes to putting people in those silly “left” and “right” boxes but elsewhere the comparison fails. While parts of the HN and IDW domains overlap I do notice some significant discrepancies, often related to things which violate “political correctness”. The IDW domain by and large shuns this by a far larger margin than the HN domain.

                              2. 6

                                Intentionally using SHA1 today, now that it’s been fully broken, would make individual developers less secure, but specifically in a way that only a very well-resourced attacker could take advantage of. So, effectively, a minor power transfer from the people to governments and corporations. Git itself was specifically written, by Linus Torvalds, in part for the purpose of transferring power just a little bit in the other direction. I know this concern may seem exaggerated, and I don’t raise it because I think it should be a major consideration in anyone’s mind, but it is a real consideration that we shouldn’t let ourselves forget.

                                Technology is inherently political because the purpose of technology is to empower the people who use it. Everything we do as technologists is political.

                                The choice to avoid topics that are perceived as political is, itself, a political choice. It may be the right choice for a given community, but it is not a neutral one.

                                The above is purely my personal opinion, not my opinion as a moderator. Since this is my first comment on this thread, and it may be my only one, I want to say that I’m incredibly proud of how carefully everyone has been discussing this topic. I haven’t seen the need to intervene in it, and that makes me really happy.

                                (Edit: I accidentally wrote “Linux Torvalds”. :))

                                1. 3

                                  I mean, what are the political implications of using SHA1 in Git commits?

                                  This is a bit of a strawman. The fact that there are topics that have no evident political consequences doesn’t mean it’s the norm.

                                  HN is pretty far to the left

                                  They are liberal (in the American sense) in the best case and far to the right in the worst. This, in most of the world, is right wing. Yeah, the Americans have a very skewed political spectrum and here I’m not using their system of reference but a more global one. Asserting any kind of opinion that would be mildly progressive in Europe or Southern America earns you unconditioned downvotes. “What do you mean that programmers should unionize? Everybody knowns that unions are bad. Am I right bros? Let’s go to play nerfs that today we have to ship this disruptive software and we won’t go home before 11 pm”

                                  1. 2

                                    This is not my experience at all, I have seen plenty of comments which propose something along those lines get high upvotes and many positive comments. You won’t get those when you start off the discussion by quoting Marx and Engels but that is no more than logical at a place like HN - or, for that matter, Lobsters.

                                    1. 1

                                      A small group of people who hold very left opinions affect the median, but not the mean. In my experience I am a left leaning individual and I have found no such haven on HN, save for a very small very vocal minority. While I don’t view the audience at Lobsters particularly left leaning (which is fine, I don’t need an echo chamber), I also don’t find them to be as belligerent about right wing talking points.The fact that HN is not a left wing site really makes sense because the culture on HN is somewhat centered around well, start ups. Start ups are not typically bastions of left thought. We’ll see liberal start ups hoping to make money solving some social inequality or ecological problem, but I’ve yet to see actual left wing articles hold much if any traction.

                                2. 7

                                  I think you’re blurring lines a bit. While it is true that almost all human activity is permeated with politics and power relations, there are definitely completely apolitical topics and discussions to be had. This might sound contradictory, but nuance is required. “Mathematics” as a whole is a human activity, there is a community in which power relations exist, and mathematicians can gather to discuss those. But they can also choose to suspend discussions relating to people and focus on concepts, like, say, two students discussing commutative rings or whatever.

                                  Once we’ve established this fundamental difference (that not everything relates to social matters), which I hope you won’t deny, it’s now an open question of what kinds of discussions we should be having. Barring value judgements for now, there simply exists a logical possibility for a community to be overwhelmingly dedicated to one kind of discussion: for example, a forum where programmers primarily discuss politics pertaining to the programming community and the IT sector. Another possibility is a site where we primarily discuss the non-social, purely-technical aspects of our work. There can also be a mixture of both (HN, for better or worse, is an example of that, even if the politics are extremely one-sided as you note).

                                  Now comes the time for the normative stuff: what kind of community should lobste.rs be? Ironically, this meta discussion is political in itself. You say it should be moved more in the direction of a mixture.

                                  Personally, I disagree, it should remain focused on the tech side of things. I’m selfish in this regard and I won’t really attempt to give a universal justification: I just want a place where we don’t talk about politics. I feel like that’s the majority opinion here.

                                  1. 3

                                    dang temporarily suspended me on HN during their no-politics “detox” week, because I flagged a few dozen front-page posts and provided explanations of how they were political or had political implications.

                                    (I have since voluntarily stopped participating on, or even reading, HN, though I do read and usually enjoy the weekly n-gate summaries)

                                    But that was a way of pointing out there are no “apolitical” topics. There are only, at most, discussions in which participants have agreed to deliberately ignore any political implications.

                                    1. 2

                                      I’ve had this discussion many times here and I’ve seen your point in the past. While I agree that a safe space where programmers can discuss purely technical topics is not a problem in itself, the boundary you talk about is not always so well defined.

                                      You speak about discussing concepts, as if the creation and discussion of concepts isn’t itself dictated by social, economical and political elements. I’m fine with suspending the judgement on this reality until suspending the judgement prevents me to make a point that is technical in nature. In the IT, on topics of design and practices, we hold as true a lot of beliefs that go unquestioned and were created by a specific social structure, with specific economic interests and power dynamics. These can rarely be challenged if you restrict yourself to the box of beliefs that is “IT rehashed common-sense” and would require prohibitively extensive collection of empirical evidence to be disproven. These same beliefs could be more easily challenged by pointing to the interests of the managers that have pushed some kind of bullshit as “objective truth” or how an environment of a few thousand 30-something anti-social white male in the 60s and 70s produced the ideology in which these discussions take place. This includes the boundary you talk about.

                                    2. 1

                                      hackernews is a right-wing shithole

                                      That’s not true. Many dead comments or slowbans were conservatives getting downvotes by PC liberals that dominated the thread. Myself included. There’s definitely a huge pile of liberals and capitalist types. I’m not sure how exactly given the moderation is opaque. They might just be going with the flow on votes on top of their own preferences.

                                      There’s also lots of centrists/independents like me whose content doesn’t have a strong, voting correlation. I don’t think they’re a vocal or voting majority. Probably less cohesion among people who go issue by issue with less crowd voting. Sometimes I wish I could see the raw data behind the scenes to see what patterns are really there.

                                  1. 2

                                    I’ve just finished the translation of Tech Workers Coalition “Workers’ Inquiry” in Italian and I’m promoting it around.

                                    I’ve also just finished my second PR to a Rust project called “bandwhich” to learn the basics of the language. I want to pick up another one but I don’t want to take on too many things.

                                    I also want to write an article about the failure of the technological liberation envisioned by hacker culture and its relationship with time and explotation.

                                    1. 1

                                      Translating a Workers’ Inquiry from Tech Workers Coalition in Italian. Possibly starting an article about the conflict between “hacker culture” and capitalist theft of time.

                                      1. 2
                                        • I’m currently studying Rust but it might be just a holiday thing, not sure.

                                        • I’m planning to learn a lot about supply-chain optimization for a personal project I want to start and that’s the only real thing I’ve in plan.

                                        • Then, in my job I will probably have to deal with more instrumentation and monitoring/logging of services so I would like to learn more about modern practices in that field because I never got really involved in those things before.

                                        • Language-wise I hope to keep going with my Cantonese basics, resume my Mandarin (stopped at HSK 1 5 years ago, so it’s basically 0) and achieve a solid B2 or possibly C1 in German by the end of the year.

                                        1. 3

                                          Make sure to visit the local Tech Worker Coalition stand. We are always eager to connect

                                          1. 1

                                            updated yesterday without noticing. Be careful with updating your poetry locks because they might break stuff.

                                            1. 3

                                              Playing around with emscripten without no real clue about what I’m doing.

                                              Keep reading about supply-chain modeling and optimization.

                                              Writing an article about hackaton as labour exploitation.

                                              1. 1

                                                Just finished the first part of an article on/against hacker culture. I’m working on dockerizing a scala/sbt app written by developers that disappeared long ago. At work I’m doing mad tricks with pytest.

                                                1. 2

                                                  Against hacker culture? That sounds like an article I’d love to read. Where’s it published?

                                                  1. 3

                                                    This is a semi-complete draft of the first part: https://write.as/simone-robutti/work-notebooks-against-hackerism-pt

                                                    The requisite reading should be expanded but the content should be fine. If you’re completely lost at some point, let me know because it can help me with the list.

                                                    1. 1

                                                      I find the introduction a little bit confusing, it doesn’t really seem support the main argument on hacker culture (but maybe my current state of tiredness is affecting my clarity of thinking).

                                                      It seems to me that the hackerist perspective finds the use of things like Mastodon by nazis an unfortunate but necessary side-effect; you can’t selectively “liberate” groups of people from Big Tech’s control (which includes censoring) while banning others from using or setting up new systems for their own uses. This is exactly the type of argument that politicians like to use when discussing a ban on encryption (“think of the bad guys using this technology”), and which hackers explicitly reject.

                                                      There’s a certain naivety in this attitude, but it’s inseparable from the ideology, IMO. Funny, it just now occurs to me that this is exactly the type of reasoning that right wing gun activists in the USA use in their “right to bear arms”: freedom at all costs.

                                                      EDIT: Anyway, thank you for posting. This was definitely thought-provoking!

                                                      1. 1

                                                        That’s the point: you cannot selectively empower people with technology released into the commons. Empowerment and change in general should be operated a systemic level, removing the structural problems that generate the fertile ground of poverty, exclusion and spiritual emptiness in which the right wing thrives.

                                                1. 52

                                                  Piling up reasons to leave Facebook won’t make people leave Facebook. Most people cannot leave Facebook for the simple reason they need it and they have not enough time/energy/stability to invest time in exploring a new social network and rebuild their connections there.

                                                  Facebook is social infrastructure now and asking people to renounce using infrastructure is not just about the act itself, it comes with a big cost. You cannot ask people living in the countryside to renounce cars and ride bikes if the next town is 20kms away and the public transporation is basically absent. Yes, you can live in the countryside without a car and take the bus that comes twice a day but the rearragement required in your life is deep and complex. The same is true for Facebook. On top of this, expecting everybody to be able to rearrange their life like this is deeply classist and the like many “hackerist” issues, the condition of working people is not considered, limiting this action to a bourgie privilege equal to eating organic local food to fight global warming. This give the few activists a sense of moral entitlement and the others a sense of guilt (or directly a feeling of hatred for the cause and the activists, because they feel unable to join them), but contributes nothing to the ultimate cause.

                                                  The solution must be systemic: lobby to limit or ban facebook in your country, promote local, indipendent, politically-aware projects of social infrastructure re-development to replace Facebook, grow existing global solutions and do it on Facebook, because you want to reach the people on Facebook, not the others. And please, stop asking people to leave Facebook.

                                                  1. 28

                                                    I was mostly with you until you claimed it’s ‘classist’ to tell people to stop using Facebook. What ‘bourgie privilege’ is involved in not using a toxic, harmful social media website? Step back and take a look at the big picture, seriously. There’s no need to be so dramatic. Using Facebook is not some ingrained human notion, it’s been popular for less than 10 years. Nobody has to ‘rearrange their life’ to stop using Facebook. There are alternatives for nearly every way in which people use it that require the same amount of effort or less to use.

                                                    Most peoples’ use of Facebook is in a few categories. They use it to show off, for messenger, for marketplace, for local groups, for family groups, or as a news website.

                                                    A lot of people use Facebook to show off. They post pictures of their kids, places they’ve been, pictures of themselves having fun. There’s a better version of Facebook for this called Instagram. Use that instead. Probably a lot of the same privacy issues, yeah, but at least it’s not literal Facebook.

                                                    Messenger isn’t even a good messaging platform, and there are lots of other ways of keeping in contact with people. A lot of people tell me they stay on Facebook for messenger, then when I ask them who they talk to on messenger that they can’t message otherwise they can’t answer. People want to ‘stay in contact’ with old school friends, but people managed to do that before Facebook fine, and personally I used that excuse until I realised that I hadn’t done so for years and I wasn’t going to. Let’s be realistic: people don’t keep in contact with old school friends because they don’t have anything in common other than having gone to the same school. They have no reason to keep in contact with or without Facebook. If there’s someone that really matters to you, you’ll find a way to contact them outside of Facebook (“hey can I have your email/phone number/whatever? I’m getting rid of my Facebook account”). And the rest that you never talk to anyway? You won’t actually miss anything by not being able to contact people you were never going to contact anyway.

                                                    Facebook marketplace is useful to people, but eBay and its many equivalents in different countries still exist and work, the classified section of the local paper still works. There are lots of other ways to buy and sell stuff other than Facebook. In my experience, selling stuff on Facebook means you get the most entitled people in history asking you questions and demanding things of you. The number of times I’ve sold something specifically with a fixed price and ‘pick up only’, the person has said they’ll buy it, and then they’ve turned around and gone ‘hey can you mail it to me I live in [other city]’. It says pick up only what is wrong with you. Or the dozen people that will ask you numerous in-depth questions trying to judge the quality of stuff you’re selling for $5. They can’t seem to tell that the effort I want to put into selling something when all I’m getting is $5 is going to be much less than when I’m selling something for $500.

                                                    Local area groups are probably the only subject where Facebook is still useful. If you’re a member of the local Facebook group for your suburb or whatever, then go ahead, stick with Facebook. I personally don’t know how people can stand them, they’re full of the kind of people I think Americans refer to as ‘soccer moms’: entitled, bougie, opinionated middle aged women (and it mostly is women) that think vaccines and fluoride are killing their kids and who can’t handle someone going on holiday for six weeks and not mowing their lawn from 10000km away. But some people find value in these groups and I can’t think of any particularly good alternative at the moment.

                                                    Family groups/group chats/whatever have loads of alternatives. And Facebook is an awful news website. Getting people just to stop using it as a news website, even if they still use it for everything else? That would be a blessing.

                                                    1. 14

                                                      There’s a better version of Facebook for this called Instagram. Use that instead.

                                                      Instagram is owned by Facebook; don’t the same objections to Facebook apply to Instagram, as well? (genuine question, not a challenge)

                                                      Personally, I find Instagram to be kind of toxic in a way because now everyone is focused on creating the “Instagram picture”. I’m not sure if we can really blame the Instagram platform for that, but I don’t like it. It’s also toxic in the same way as Facebook: you only see the good parts of people’s lives, which is often just a façade.

                                                      1. 4

                                                        Instagram is bad for many of the same reasons that Facebook is bad, but it’s not got the same kind of nightmarish qualities that push Facebook from bad to should-be-illegal IMO. I’ve never seen ‘Fake News’ on Instagram, just incredibly facile crap mostly.

                                                        1. 3

                                                          Fake news does seem to be a think on Instagram too: https://duckduckgo.com/?q=fake+news+instagram

                                                          1. 2

                                                            That facile crap subsidizes facebook.

                                                            1. 1

                                                              And yet if the choice is between Instagram or Facebook I’d rather they were not on Facebook.

                                                      2. 19

                                                        People don’t need Facebook. People need water, amino-acids, vitamins and air. “But I have my entire social life in Facebook?”. I thought so too, then I quit Facebook and Instagram and found that I have exactly the same social life now.

                                                        In fact. Leaving those platform didn’t change my life one bit. Everything stayed exactly the same. That’s quite telling of the content on there.

                                                        1. 26

                                                          In fact. Leaving those platform didn’t change my life one bit. Everything stayed exactly the same. That’s quite telling of the content on there.

                                                          I’m happy for you! Unfortunately that’s not the case for everybody. Maybe you should not assume that it is?

                                                          1. 2

                                                            How do you know that is not the case for everybody? I am actually curious. Have there been any studies made? I actually believe it is like that for most people. I also believe that they wouldn’t know unless they actually quit.

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                                                              I stopped using it instead of deleting it. The problem is that most people I know, friends and family, put their concerns, plans, important developments, etc on there. I missed all that past what people texted me. They generally won’t go through the trouble to do extra stuff for people just not on the platform. Missing out on stuff created both distance and sometimes resentment by those on the platform.

                                                              So, I”ll probably rejoin Facebook plus get on one or more of the others in the future just to prevent that. I’m delaying it because it’s going to be a big change with a pile of incoming posts and messages. I got too much going on to respond to them right now.

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                                                                To combat this, I use FB in a “read-only” way. Although I don’t find a big issue with catching up with people when you actually see them in person. In fact, not paying as much attention to FB almost guarantees that they will have something surprising and interesting to tell me.

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                                                                I’ve never used Facebook and have no intentions to start, but it is not rare that I find I have missed events because they were posted only there. I am also at a point in my career where I don’t have to care that most local jobs are promoted on Facebook and sometimes only there.

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                                                                  Well, I can help you with proving that. When I left Facebook a few years ago, I left about a dozen friends behind, whom I now miss.

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                                                                    It is definitely not the case for me. Or anyone from Lithuania really. Here Facebook has become so dominant, that other platforms are made basically irrelevant. Twitter? Maybe a thousand users. Mastodon? Three that I know of. Other chat programs? I’ve only seen Discord used which is even worse than Facebook in my opinion. Facebook has over 50% market penetration here, with most of it being in 13-45 range(which by my quick calculations, has ~80% market penetration). This has effects with how people use Facebook. It is the dominant platform of political discourse here. It is basically impossible to leave Facebook without social changes.

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                                                                      Have there been any studies made?

                                                                      A thing is knowable without needing a study.

                                                                      1. 2

                                                                        That’d be an interesting study or survey - surprised it hasn’t happened yet. Personally I do most of my chatting on Instagram - friends, acquaintances, group chats, new people I meet. People of my age and socioeconomic group are more likely to exchange IG than phone numbers upon meeting. That’s what’s difficult about these arguments - everyone’s life is different.

                                                                        Also like @vegai, I once deleted Facebook (~2013) and my social life was greatly hindered. Of course, I am still alive, but looking back I did miss out on a lot of events and people. At least back then Facebook was mostly for events and to easily be able to chat with people you may not be close with yet.

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                                                                      Leaving those platform didn’t change my life one bit. Everything stayed exactly the same. That’s quite telling of the content on there.

                                                                      Because you’re unaware of other ways of use facebook.

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                                                                      I understand a little bit where you’re coming from… just making a website telling people to leave Facebook doesn’t necessarily make a huge dent in the “stop Facebook” campaign. However, I respectfully disagree with your comment, and I think following the advice in your comment would be dangerous. Having sites like this are better than not having them.

                                                                      Specific to this site, I really appreciate that they clearly stated the intent of the site, gave direct reasons backing up their “thesis”, and also provided source links to further back those claims. I hear a lot about the “stop Facebook” campaign, but I think having a site that provides a myriad of reasons why someone should stop using Facebook is helpful. There may be a reason on that site that helps push someone over the edge.

                                                                      The site at the bottom also provides “how” links so that people can attempt to keep the functionality they would lose by leaving Facebook. Sure, nothing at this point has the exact same scale and features that Facebook does, but this gives people direct reasons why they should leave Facebook and gives them something to go to.

                                                                      Also… your points contradict each other. Two examples:

                                                                      • How is someone supposed to “And please, stop asking people to leave Facebook.” while doing “lobby to limit or ban facebook in your country” at the same time?
                                                                      • “Facebook is social infrastructure now and asking people to renounce using infrastructure is not just about the act itself, it comes with a big cost.” many people are aware of this cost. I know at least one person who has significantly changed their life, their work… and more so that they can help people get off of these dangerous platforms because they see the risk of keeping them as worse. They are prepared to give up temporary satisfaction so that those in the future can have something greater. Calling people “deeply classist” is not respectful to the people who have given a lot to leave Facebook or similar sites; you assume everyone making a stance against Facebook already has some form of privilege.

                                                                      I don’t share this to be “rude” or argue. I share this because I think what this site is doing is important.

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                                                                        Having sites like this are better than not having them.

                                                                        I agree, but is it the best way to spend your effort? I mean, any tech person is already aware of why Facebook is bad for you, including people working in Facebook. Same is true for people in tech critique. Yes, there are still areas of the intellectual world that haven’t been conquered by these ideas, but it’s not a list of facts that will change that.

                                                                        How is someone supposed to “And please, stop asking people to leave Facebook.” while doing “lobby to limit or ban facebook in your country” at the same time?

                                                                        This is not contradictory: I’m on Facebook, I want Facebook to die. In the same way I’m a programmer with a high salary and I believe the system is broken for paying programmers so much. Or that I live in a society that I think it’s broken: it’s literally a meme.

                                                                        The difference between individual action and systemic action is the key: here the solution must be systemic, not individual. Your stance on a political, systemic action doesn’t have to be somehow in accord with your individual consumption, because changing your consumption would be irrelevant. After the change you will lose Facebook and need to adapt your life? Yes, but so will everybody else and the transition will be easier because you will just follow the flow instead of going against it now.

                                                                        They are prepared to give up temporary satisfaction so that those in the future can have something greater. Calling people “deeply classist” is not respectful to the people who have given a lot to leave Facebook or similar sites; you assume everyone making a stance against Facebook already has some form of privilege.

                                                                        If you have time to care about political issues you’re already privileged. I say it as a person that spends half of his time on this and I feel deeply privileged, because I know that if I had to work 12 hours a day on stressful jobs, I wouldn’t be able to do all this stuff. I see the impact of a particularly stressful week at work on my projects and activities: if that was the norm as it is for the general population, I know I wouldn’t be able to achieve anything.

                                                                      2. 4

                                                                        lobby to limit or ban facebook in your country, promote local, independent […]

                                                                        My thinking lately circles around a legislation requiring social services to federate using an open protocol, so that people could freely choose between apps and services without losing their connections. This would recognize the fact that Facebook didn’t create your social graph — you did. And you should own it.

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                                                                          I’d be more in favour of just banning Facebook. People don’t need Facebook or websites like it. Everyone I know that uses it does so under a feeling of duress: everyone else uses it, so I have to use it.

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                                                                            What would a law banning it look like? Just outlaw social networks entirely?

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                                                                              It’s enough to say that they cannot be privately owned, centralized or for-profit. Implementing it in law is much much harder but we don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater

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                                                                            Such protocol would have to allow for end-to-end encryption, otherwise not much would change. The real problem isn’t who owns the data, but who can access them. Is strong encryption something society would consider desirable? Hint: Law enforcement.

                                                                            Using a single protocol also means that there’s little to no space for inovation. Facebook did come up with things such as reactions to messages, which are not easily translatable to more oldschool IM protocols. As far as I know, it’s been also the first platform that came up with a confirmation that message have been read. I may not like these inovations, but that’s not the point.

                                                                            The point is that you either force everyone to use a single protocol and make it difficult to push for any change, or allow for multiple protocols, which is basically what we have right now. Yes, it’s not open, but having documentation doesn’t necessarily mean it’d be possible to keep up; especially when it’s against Facebook’s interest. They would undergo some extra effort to abide the law while making sure no one can actually threaten them by developing a good FOSS client.

                                                                            “These scandals just bother everyone. I’d ban all those computers and internets.” – Věra Pohlová, 72 years, pensioner. Newspaper “Metro”, 09/17/1999. Source.

                                                                          3. 3

                                                                            Most people cannot leave Facebook for the simple reason they need it and they have not enough time/energy/stability to invest time in exploring a new social network

                                                                            Most people can’t leave. But many people can.

                                                                            The people that stay might think twice before making their next event facebook-exclusive once they realize why other people have left.

                                                                            Yes, we need laws to protect us, but until those laws arrive we should do what we can to limit the harm.

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                                                                              The people that stay might think twice before making their next event facebook-exclusive once they realize why other people have left.

                                                                              Until they realize how attached to Facebook they are and come to the conclusion that “oh well, it’s their loss for leaving it.”.

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                                                                              Piling up reasons to leave Facebook won’t make people leave Facebook.

                                                                              The only way to make people leave Facebook is to make them believe that it is unsafe to continue using it. That’s why people flocked to Facebook when MySpace was still around: MySpace let anyone message anyone, but with Facebook you could only talk to someone if you knew them and were their friend. This gave people the perception that Facebook was safer to communicate on, and thus the big migration occurred.

                                                                              However, Facebook is well aware of this, and Mark Zuckerberg isn’t quite as short-sighted as Rupert Murdoch. This is why they pour so much money and time into “security” and “privacy” initiatives, so the average Facebook user feels safe on their platform.

                                                                              lobby to limit or ban facebook in your country

                                                                              Yeah because banning things works… What a joke.

                                                                              Facebook isn’t going anywhere unless it does something really spectacularly dumb.

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                                                                              These type of articles keep on popping up. The weird part is that I’ve never seen a rigorous study if Facebook actually influenced any political outcome in a meaningful way. Does anyone know of good papers that study this?

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                                                                                Does genocide count as a political outcome?

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                                                                                  Measuring a causality effect like that is basically impossible. it’s the same reason why you cannot really prove that ads do anything at all.

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                                                                                    Interesting. My tech career was partially in online advertising where interestingly ad spend would be split between targeted stuff (goal driven, quantifiable) and ‘brand’. The point of brand was simply to get ads in front of faces with the brand name, logo, tag-line etc. The result was not necessarily quantifiable but still there was a generally accepted rule the you put something like 25%-30% of your ad spend in ‘brand’. I’m not sure there’s no one who could quantify this though, e.g. masters of brand advertising such as coke or perhaps some org with capability to both exert massive influence and measure outcomes in a controlled environment (e.g. demographic you know has minimal exposure to channels you don’t control). I bet this exists somewhere.

                                                                                1. 3

                                                                                  At work I’m doing some advanced pytest ninja tricks to implement a test suite that can support test cases for different implementations of basically the same logic (in embedded, code API level, REST API level, and in a data-scientist oriented tool) with some cool knick-knacks like a debug mode that dumps intermediate steps in a standardized format for manual debugging.

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                                                                                    Collapse hypothesizing induces much anxiety to me. Not only do I depend on chronic disease medication produced by numbered high tech factories around the globe, but I also find it difficult to be motivated and functional in my privileged state in this society. What hope is there in such a scenario?

                                                                                    1. 2

                                                                                      Depends on your attachment to life. If you want to live as long as possible at all costs, well, this scenario is negative. If you measure life by other means, there’s lot of hope to be found in such a scenario. While the lack of material goods will for sure produce endless suffering, the survivors will end up with freedoms that don’t exist now, especially the freedom to build a world with a future, a luxury that now we don’t have. And I’m saying this as a person with mild but chronic conditions that would make me very unfit to a scenario with an unreliable supply chain.

                                                                                      In general I don’t think you should reason about possible scenarios according to how they make you feel. Or better, you shouldn’t run away from negative emotions. Learning to deal with these emotions and imagining alternative worlds might bring you unexpected emotional well being and achieve a more healthy relationship with the certainty of your death.

                                                                                    1. 4

                                                                                      Preparing next Tech Worker Coalition Berlin learning group session (about Worker’s inquiry), maybe reviewing The New Human Rights Movement and maybe deploying a bot for mastodon.

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                                                                                        Great article, quite rigorous. One thing I would like to add is that not all data science is about humans: these problems arise almost only when you try to measure humans. Data science and machine learning are applied to many other fields so new people in the industry don’t necessarily end up damaging somebody.

                                                                                        Another point is that data science is the wrong enemy to fight: the author correctly states that Data Science is not a problem in itself but it’s a problem because of the society that generated it. It seems to suggest though that the symptom should be cured, not the disease. I’m quite sure the author doesn’t really believe it, but it stresses the incidental intrinsic features of current data science as if they were somehow responsible. The responsibility is clearly elsewhere.

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                                                                                          Yknow for most diseases, we do actually cure the symptoms before curing the disease. This is because the symptoms often cause a lot of damage, and are easier to address. What you’re proposing is a classic false dichotomy. Working against symptoms is not necessarily failing to work against the disease. I do though think that asking workers who are unorganized to take action is likely to have little results.

                                                                                          In order to make action we either must be organized as laborers or through organized political action to make new laws. Unless you are in some way irreplaceable, if you try to stand up as an individual, you’ll probably simply be fired and replaced by someone who will do the awful deed. They might do it poorly, or do it for a higher cost, but they’ll do it. By contrast if we’re organized as laborers, it probably won’t be cost effective for many businesses to fire everyone for a feature that is of dubious profitability in the first place.

                                                                                          food for thought.

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                                                                                            You’re talking to a tech workers coalition organizer. Lol. Anyway you are right on everything

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                                                                                            It seems to suggest though that the symptom should be cured, not the disease

                                                                                            That implies that fixing society as a whole is easier, or a better first step, than asking data scientists to be responsible and have a modicum of ethics.

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                                                                                              I think that “fixing society to be more reasonable” and “asking data scientists to step up their ethical standards” are not unrelated things.

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                                                                                                I never said they are unrelated, I only debated their ease of implementation and ordering.

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                                                                                                It’s not easier but it’s necessary to have a radical impact. In the article they say correctly that data science cannot necessarily be reformed in its current form and a new one should be born. You can not fix a systemic problem with a localized change

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                                                                                                  You can not fix a systemic problem with a localized change

                                                                                                  Actually that’s, really all that you can do. Replacing systems entirely doesn’t work. We see this in programming constantly where rewrites end up not getting written, and you can see this in social systems (mostly implementations of communism come to mind) where the transitional periods become permanent. What happens when you try and replace a system is that, very easily people fall back into their old modes of behaviour and old habits. It’s much, much more effective to create small changes that over time have a very big impact and come together to change the field, like for example, training data scientists in ethics, forming a data scientists union, etc. Of course, there is always the danger that the status quo will fight back, and gradually corrupt these changes, as we see in the UK with the NHS.

                                                                                                  Actually, it’s worth saying that this is exactly how Republicans and the Tory party inflict so much damage to the countries that they are resident in. Not because of vast sweeping system-replacing reforms, but small changes here and there that utterly destroy the ability of the system to function properly. THEN they go in and use the failures of the old system to create a new system that is presented as “basically the same” as the older one, but with ‘features’ to ensure that it does not work for the intended purpose (See: Universal Credit, and whatever monstrosity they come up with to replace the NHS in the next 5 - 10 years).

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                                                                                                    Replacing systems entirely doesn’t work

                                                                                                    Nobody is talking about that. Systemic change doesn’t just happen with top down design of new systems. The alternative is to emulate how the current neoliberal or previous systems came to be: a concerted effort from intellectuals (and people in power helping them) that shaped the opinions of the future ruling and middle class, to the point where the new system was inevitable and led to change. In this, technology should follow and support, redefining what technology is for, what it is about and for whom it’s done. Today it’s normal that powerful wielders of technological knowledge need to sweat on a keyboard 9to5 to make somebody else rich. This shouldn’t be normal tomorrow and we achieve that envisioning a world where this won’t be normal and convincing everybody that there’s no alternative (well, except collapse or extinction).

                                                                                                    Actually, it’s worth saying that this is exactly how Republicans and the Tory party inflict so much damage to the countries that they are resident in. Not because of vast sweeping system-replacing reforms, but small changes here and there

                                                                                                    That’s what you perceive, not what happened. Neoliberalism was a revolution, was a soft coup d’etat on the old order. The target was the ruling class itself. Now we are living in a similar transition: the new technological overlords are fighting the old ruling class for supremacy. And yes, for people at the bottom it’s the same old shit, but the system at the top keeps changing with mechanisms that are opaque and not used by who should bring systemic change upon the world. This was said by Gramsci already a century ago, we should read him more.

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                                                                                              Making Ma La with my partner.

                                                                                              Possibly starting a paper against hacker culture.

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                                                                                                Wait did your last sentence come out as intended?? :)

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                                                                                                  yes? Hacker Culture has many problems and over the last few decades it showed too many limits to still be the main perspective of technological appropriation and repurposing. We need a new option, because the old one is too slow and ineffective to react, with the result of being entrenched in a form of resistance that just makes the collapse slower, without offering an alternative or a future of technological egemony.

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                                                                                                    The cliques and elitist shit are the worst parts. On top of damage to people, these bad habits make hackers irrationally refuse to improve what they’re doing, esp in tech and organizing.

                                                                                                    Ridding hacker culture of it will lead to both a larger number of hackers and an even faster rate of innovation. Alternatively, we might see some non-innovation where more push boring, proven tech. And then innovate where it’s actually useful.

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                                                                                                Can’t we just remove the “data” and say science in general? Any systematic approach to knowledge about our world that is built around categorization or definition is doomed to marginalize those that defy categorization or definition.

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                                                                                                  Most science done has ethical boundaries they attempt to follow. Some of these boundaries may be more or less compromised. Most scientific studies for example won’t include you without your explicit consent. Data science is more slippery than typical scientific practice because it revolves around data already gathered. Bypassing your consent is MUCH easier. The problem then gets further compromised when we start talking about businesses who may have a profit motive in ignoring scientific norms. Without any of the normal rules, regulations, and protections provided in a normal study they can really go off the rails. Without protection and oversight most businesses will be too tempted by the prospect of profits, and they will always choose what they perceive shareholders will value. Of course, mined data is a toxic asset, especially without consent. It can be illegal, or worse reputation destroying, and I suspect that will only get more so over time. Businesses that “mine data” as their primary way of doing business might lead to a bubble like crash that would be pretty bad for us devs. When that day comes it’s possible we won’t have to worry about this conversation so much, but until then it’s important to talk about specifically where the problems arise.

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                                                                                                    Nice strawman argument. But, there’s a large jump between science and Seeing Like a State. See: the vast majority of human history.

                                                                                                    To wit, we are not resources for a state to manage in order to maximise GDP growth.

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                                                                                                      I’m not sure what about my argument is strawman. In the article the argument is that data science can be used to subjugate or violate the rights of queer people. To quote the article:

                                                                                                      There’s no test that you give someone to determine they’re “actually” trans, unless you’re a doctor, or a neuroscience researcher, or a bigot (but I repeat myself).

                                                                                                      If we’re going to argue that data science threatens transexuality because it attempts to understand it or at the very least to categorize it, then we can just throw most natural science efforts out the window too. I don’t think the leap from the scientific method to panopticism is as great as you seem to think it is. The problem is that scientific reasoning can be used for many things, but what it’s best at is systemizing knowledge and define things against other things. That happens to be very useful at building knowledge, and those with knowledge have power, and eventually GDP. I’d love a counter example of a ludite culture that has a thriving GDP and loose definitions around their beliefs.

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                                                                                                        Whether a person is trans or not, isn’t a scientific question. Cool that you’re going to bring that strawman to your grave tho.

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                                                                                                          Whether a person is trans or not, isn’t a scientific question.

                                                                                                          As someone totally not in the loop, why isn’t it a scientific question? Somewhat related to that, why wouldn’t everything also be a scientific question?

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                                                                                                            It’s currently what many scientists are studying and debating. There’s knowledge, theory, and practices around the subject. It’s definitely a scientific question. Further, it’s a settled question for some while a debated one for others. All depends on one’s views.

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                                                                                                              Whether a single person or not is trans is - for now - a question of their subjective experience.

                                                                                                              There’s definitely science to be done about whether there are commonalities, biological markers, etc.

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                                                                                                                That’s all I’m saying. Especially the subjective experience. That biological gender is objective with objective data, but trans identity is subjective, is exactly why there’s such a strong debate about whether to accept or reject it. Science has been making the situation just a little more objective. That might help in some ways down the road.

                                                                                                                Or make it worse. Never know how scientific results will be [ab]used… Just gotta take the chance since the subject is too important to not investigate.

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                                                                                                                  It seems a subtle nitpick to the uninitiated, but receiving the suggestion that a scientist could ‘set them straight’ about their subjective, personal experience is a common enough occurrence that you’ll enrage people if they think you’re doing it, which makes reasonable discussion hard.

                                                                                                                  Rereading “Whether a person is trans or not, isn’t a scientific question” with that context might make more sense of the reaction.

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                                                                                                                    This is the real MVP comment of the conversation. The same way science can’t tell you if you’re “objectively” sad or “objectively” a baseball fan, it makes no sense to ask if someone is “objectively” trans, but that doesn’t mean we get upset at people for crying when their grandparents die or spending hours watching people run around on a field.

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                                                                                                                      This response has been absolutely boggling my mind since I’ve first read it. Are you actually comparing gender with an interest for a sport? Then are you trivialising the implications of self-id (which is a thing). I mean, the entire discussion has been one of the catalysts of the alt-right, something I hardly think something like “baseball” could have had brought into life. I guess what they share in common, is that there is big money pushing both (after all, there’s a lot of profits one can make off people who depend on permanent medical supervision).

                                                                                                                      It’s not a surprise that Gender cannot be scientifically determined (as compared to sex), since it’s social, and has become meaningless in a society that’s relying less and less on gendered division of labour. But how that means that gender becomes individual (an apparent paradox) is foreign to me. People often say self-id is the best solution, because nothing else works. But that doesn’t mean it is good in itself. Nothing works! Because gender is dead!

                                                                                                                      To clarify this: None of this is meant as an insult against you or anyone else. None of this can be used an excuse of violence or smears. None of what I say is an attack on gender non-conformance. I don’t know you, and don’t wish to comment on your opinions. Ignore me if that’s what you want, I demand no response or attention. I just had to write this, even if it it were all wrong. This thread has already become so off topic, that there’s little more to care about. This topic has severely dealt damage to my mental well-being over the last few months, and suppressing it hasn’t done me well. I’ve been trying to get over it, but at no avail.

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                                                                                                                        I agree with you here; I was just using that as an example to help other people see why the specific idea I was referring to was a bit silly. It’s reductio ad not-quite-absurdum to illustrate a point.

                                                                                                                        This topic has severely dealt damage to my mental well-being over the last few months, and suppressing it hasn’t done me well.

                                                                                                                        I’m very happy to talk about this privately, if you want.

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                                                                                                                          Very kind, but there’s no point to burden anyone with my issues. The usage of the term “severely” was wrong, and I would edit it out if I could.

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                                                                                                                    If we’re going to talk in scientific terms it is important that we get the terms correct. So please don’t take this as me being pedantic because most people don’t know the precise definitions of these words. Heck even I didn’t before I had a close friend transition. I think it will help disambiguate and dissolve conflict. Gender specifically refers to the cultural construct, and therefore is subjective. You can have a gender even if you were a cybernetic brain in a box, no body required. Sex is the sexual dimorphism we observe, genitalia, hip size, bone structure, muscle mass, hair presentation, etc. As sexual dimorphism is not a binary, so even though yes your chromosomes may be XX or XY you can be XX with several male features. For example if you found out Hugh Jackman had XX chromosomes you wouldn’t more more likely to marry him, so the sexual dimorphism actually matters a great deal. Traits we generally think of as “male” or “female” often end up on people of either sex. In more extreme cases those traits are “fixed” surgically to fit the “birth sex” (what is perceived to be their sex by the parent, or the preferred sex by the parent). So sex as we talk about it in everyday language is not the chromosomes but rather the sexual dimorphism we observe.It’s quite a bit more common than people would like to think when we start to consider the full gamut of possible traits that can be considered sexually dimorphic. A woman at birth can have a “male” jawline, or a mustache, or a beard, or “male” muscles etc.

                                                                                                                    Identity itself is a construct, so the only measure we can have is how real it feels to them, the one who is perceiving it. So, the very question of “Is this person’s perceptions about their own identity real” is a vacuous question to answer. It’s akin to debating the tautology ⊤ = ⊤, because you’re debating the reality of a fundamentally immaterial thing. More importantly when a person perceives something about their body, concretely, that doesn’t agree with how their body presents they will go to the ends of the earth resolve that cognitive dissonance. It will cause them great anguish until they fix that. It’s akin to if you woke up one morning with tiny hands coming out of your stomach. Body horror is an entire genre for a reason. There can be an element of body horror for someone like us when we observe someone transitioning, because we are projecting our identity on that person, and imagining how horrible it would be to change our bodies. However this body horror is precisely what many trans people live with when they do not transition. Therefore we should not put our own discomfort above theirs, as what they live with is an order of magnitude more intense than what we experience as an observer.

                                                                                                                    The debate that arises around this subject is almost exclusively among lay people like you and me, and not researchers. The debates almost exclusively arise from the kinds of loose wiggly terms and the misconceptions around those terms that lay people use. The scientifically incorrect perception of sexual dimorphism as a binary, the conflation of sexual dimorphism and gender, and the conflation of sexual dimorphism and chromosomes are common contributors to why lay people debate on this until their lungs give out. The scientific consensus isn’t particularly divided on this subject. Some people don’t like the results, maybe some find them a bit disturbing, but that’s not the same thing as having a sound basis to doubt the conclusions. As we start unraveling the strings that hold together our consciousness, I suspect we will soon find things that are a great deal more upsetting than this.

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                                                                                                                      Very interesting read, thank you.

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                                                                                                              Why is GDP even relevant? Lol, life is not a competition to get rich dude, chill down. Also if you believe that ludites or neoludites are against science and tech, you should maybe spend your fraction of the GDP on some book about the subject.

                                                                                                              Science is a tool and as such should be treated. You elevate it to a source of truth, which is not. To each problem its tools. Understanding subjective experiences and the formation of identities is not a problem for natural sciences.

                                                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                                                I certainly didn’t say anyting about GDP being the alpha and the omega. I was meerly making the point–a point which often lost on many counter-culturalists—that the scientific method has proved itself over the last few hundred years to be VERY effective at stockpiling resources: knowledge, material and spiritual. I am actually pretty left-leaning in my own right and have very pessimistic views about the current trajectory of the application of the scientific method to our world. But this isn’t the right forum for those arguments.

                                                                                                                I was just trying to make an intellectual argument based on the claims of the original story that if you’re going to attack data science as hostile to the subjective quality of being human, you can go ahead and throw out biology, physics and chemistry which all attempt to categorize and objectify our gender with just as many horrible effects as data science.

                                                                                                                1. 1

                                                                                                                  I don’t think any of those disciplines ever concerned itself with gender. Sex yes, gender no. Gender, if any, is studied by sociologists, anthropologist and so on. Biology has nothing to say about gender. Also it’s not clear what the scientific method told us about spirituality

                                                                                                                  1. 1

                                                                                                                    Those disciplines should not concern themselves with gender, but they certainly do. The scientific method has certainly been used to attempt to explain our process of belief from a biologically necessary perspective.

                                                                                                                    1. 2

                                                                                                                      If you’re talking about stuff like evolutionary psychology, it’s still hotly debated if, epistemically, they fall into modern science. Otherwise it’s not clear what you’re talking about. I mean, clearly at some point some scientist that never concerned themselves with humanities for sure tried to apply science where it was inappropriate, but Science as a discipline is something else.

                                                                                                          2. 6

                                                                                                            Science is essentially the process by which humans seek verifiable knowledge. It is the only tool we have to try to understand the universe we live in without simply taking someone else’s word for it. What would you replace it with?

                                                                                                            1. 1

                                                                                                              I’m not arguing for replacing science. But in the context of the article, the nature of science is to categorize and define, and to do so with a decent amount of ruthlessness with regards to personal privacy and subjective feelings. It is not data science alone that is threatening to queer people. All of science is positioned against the more fluid and unexplainable aspects of being alive.

                                                                                                          1. 16

                                                                                                            Am I misunderstanding, or is this quote:

                                                                                                            unless you’re a doctor, or a neuroscience researcher, or a bigot (but I repeat myself).

                                                                                                            saying doctors and neuroscience researchers are bigots? Not commenting on the topic, but just double checking my reading comprehension.

                                                                                                            1. 7

                                                                                                              Trans people want to be able to determine their gender themselves, which contradicts the medical view that it is biologically given. Of course trans people hate doctors, and doctors are confused with how to deal with trans people.

                                                                                                              I consider the medical knowledge quite accurate in describing the things as they are, and i consider the view of transgender people as accurate in describing how they feel.

                                                                                                              1. 13

                                                                                                                I think this is a little bit too simplistic. The problem is really that trans people (in my experience) tend to be afraid that doctors will deny necessary medical treatment (hormone therapy, mostly) and the letters that many governments require to “prove” that someone is “really trans”, and that doctors tend to be dismissive of women and trans people regarding totally unrelated medical problems - especially pain. (Off the to of my head: The Atlantic reported on this.)

                                                                                                                I consider the medical knowledge quite accurate in describing the things as they are, and i consider the view of transgender people as accurate in describing how they feel.

                                                                                                                Whoof. I’d appreciate a clarification on this because I really want to engage with this in a useful way, but it sure does read as “Trans people think they’re X but doctors (and I) know they’re really Y.”

                                                                                                                1. 6

                                                                                                                  [Update: I agree that dealing with the medical system is a PITA]

                                                                                                                  What else is body dysphoria if not the discrepancy of what you observe yourself to be and what you feel you are?

                                                                                                                  I intentionally mirrored the phrasing of both parts to show that they are equally valid, even if they are incompatible to some extent. Science is the tool, our well-being the means.

                                                                                                                  1. 1

                                                                                                                    Ah, that makes sense, I see. A deft prosaic move I entirely missed. Clearly I need some coffee :)

                                                                                                                  2. 2

                                                                                                                    Alternatively, why is it suddenly wrong for health care professionals to really evaluate people carefully before prescribing drugs? I really feel like we overprescribe things like anti-depressants and ADHD medication and that should really concern people.

                                                                                                                    What is so wrong with simply offering the option of therapy to help someone be okay with their biological gender? They can also offer the option to transition, but both should be equal options. I realize some may equivocate that with “pray the gay away” type therapy for those not wishing to be homosexuals, but what if it’s not?

                                                                                                                    Gender dysphoria is treated in radically different ways to other types of dysphoria. We don’t suggest people with Body Integrity Disorder amputate their arms and limbs as the first means of treatment. We don’t accept people with anorexia as being healthy in their view of the world/themselves. Both of these types of dysphoria deals with the metaphysical dissonance from one’s self reflective empirical view of the world to an outside classification based view of the world. Yet for gender dysphoria, why is it okay to offer treatment that helps an individual conform to the outwards portrayal of a given empirical classification?

                                                                                                                    1. 11

                                                                                                                      Actually, people suffering from ADHD are notoriously under prescribed due to this myth. I went 25 years without medication due to the ADHD medication panic. Do you know how many opportunities passed me by in those 25 years? These “careful evaluations” are mass hysteria nanny state garbage. Doctors and patients do not need an arbitrary set of hurdles set by an uninformed public for with diagnosing and treating individuals. Imagine if you needed to go through physical therapy before getting a cast for your broken arm. The doctor says, all modern research shows that it would actually be better for you to get the cast before physical therapy but some lawmaker decided that was illegal, so you’ll have to go to therapy. Good luck getting someone with ADHD to follow treatment instructions without medication.

                                                                                                                      1. 4

                                                                                                                        Anorexia and “gender dysphoria” are nothing alike.

                                                                                                                        Try living close to two people who have or have had these conditions and you’d appreciate that.

                                                                                                                        Both people have received treatment according to modern medical and scientific consensus, and luckily not from the op-ed pages of Quillette.

                                                                                                                        1. 3

                                                                                                                          I mean, that’s anecdotal. I have actually had close friends in both of those camps and I think there are similarities, but my experience is also anecdotal (and by definition empirical).

                                                                                                                          Here’s an opinion from a woman who thinks there’s similarities who has anorexia:

                                                                                                                          https://thefederalist.com/2016/06/27/why-is-transgender-an-identity-but-anorexia-a-disorder/

                                                                                                                          I think her views are worth reading, but that’s not hard data. What this post is about is data science. To get hard data, you have to make classifications, and look at what you pull back, and see if there is a close enough R value to have a correlation, and even then you might not have causation. That’s a whole different level of introspection.

                                                                                                                          The trouble is it’s getting increasingly difficult to even do the research. If we can only identify someone by their self-identifcation of gender and not their biological sex because that’s bigoted, we don’t even get accurate data to show, “For thing x, there is no difference between a trans woman and a cis woman” or “For thing y, there is a huge difference between a trans woman and a cis woman.”

                                                                                                                          When people get so angry and just keep throwing up anecdotes and restrictions instead of larger data sets and controls, and research, we’re not going to be able to get real meaningful data. And as scientists and engineers, we should value that hard data, no matter what uncomfortable truths it might reveal.

                                                                                                                          1. 5

                                                                                                                            You’re comparing the current body of suggested treatment against anecdotal evidence, don’t you wonder if that’s not at least a little indicative of the frailty of your argument? For the record, anorexia kills when they embody their desired presentation, being trans does not. Anorexia inherently is incapable of being resolved through allowing them to present themselves the way they desire, because doing so kills them. You can’t meaningfully compare that to someone who can live a happy life after treatment. Furthermore, therapy isn’t going to do diddly for a lot of these issues in the same way that you probably would have a great deal of trouble convincing yourself tomorrow that you’re the opposite gender you are. If it’s surprisingly easy for you, congratulations you may be genderfluid, and that’s cool, but most people aren’t. Most people go through progressive rounds of trying things, seeing if that level of treatment works for them. They try HRT, which works for many. Then they try non-surgical cosmetic modifications. etc, etc.

                                                                                                                            1. 5

                                                                                                                              The Federalist has its own agenda when it comes to transgender issues: https://thefederalist.com/?s=transgender

                                                                                                                              The mystical doctrines of transgenderism exemplify modern self-worship, in which the human replaces the divine dictates of revealed religion as the source of meaning. source

                                                                                                                              It’s not a publication that’s a friend of science.

                                                                                                                              The trouble is it’s getting increasingly difficult to even do the research.

                                                                                                                              Citation most definitely needed. How can a (relatively) broader acceptance in Western society of LGBTQ+ people and issues cause less research to be performed?

                                                                                                                    2. 4

                                                                                                                      I stumbled over the same sentence, and had to re-read it a few times. I thought it was unnecessary and detracted from the piece, tbh

                                                                                                                      1. 8

                                                                                                                        A lot of trans people experience a lot of ignorance and discrimination from medical personnel, especially doctors. In my experience this tends to stem from doctors thinking that they know more about people’s own gender and self-image than those people, and using their position as gatekeepers of things like legal gender changes and hormones to force trans people to conform to their often narrow definitions of transgender.

                                                                                                                        Obviously not all doctors are bigots, but they do have a… reputation.

                                                                                                                        1. 10

                                                                                                                          not all doctors are bigots, but they do have a… reputation.

                                                                                                                          Of all people, I would think that trans women would be the least likely to engage in this kind of callous generalization. Why do you do that?

                                                                                                                          1. 9

                                                                                                                            Safety. The less I interact with new doctors, the less likely I am to have bad things happen to me regarding my prescriptions, etc. Same thing with therapists, and not just for trans people; lots of people, though mostly women, have the experience of having to search for a doctor or therapist who will take them seriously. It’s actually a pretty well documented phenomenon, and there have been several studies showing that marginalized people (women, trans people, people of color, and of course people at the intersections of those identities) are taken less seriously by medicine.

                                                                                                                            1. -1

                                                                                                                              Oh no, it makes sense. The biological model of gender is supported by massive amount of physical evidence which the doctors were educated in and see in their patients everyday. The new ideas of gender identity originated in far-left colleges with basically no hard evidence backing them: just psychological studies (“soft science”) of what trans people believe about themselves and tell them. There’s some neurological studies showing mixed results. Even they suggest their brain works differently while the rest of them is the biological gender.

                                                                                                                              So, it makes sense that most doctors trained on and seeing confirmation of the biological model of gender would reject trans identity claims in favor of biological model. That’s the scientific thing to do until there’s more evidence of the new claims than the old claims. Unlike at some universities, the P.C. folks can’t just shout down and eject the doctors. Not yet anyway.

                                                                                                                              1. 24

                                                                                                                                The new ideas of gender identity originated in far-left colleges

                                                                                                                                New compared to what? I mean, this stuff was considered radical and new in the 1920s (it’s literally what the Nazis used for their book-burnings).

                                                                                                                                As to mechanism - it is definitely not solved and I’m not even aware of any good evidence-based theories.

                                                                                                                                It is, however very well-established:

                                                                                                                                • That gender dysphoria (the distressing belief that your body is Wrong) is real
                                                                                                                                • Strongly correlated with suicide (41% of sufferers attempt it vs 1.6% of general pop - yeah, the study is from a gender studies school, but who else is going to look into it?)

                                                                                                                                It’s less strongly established (but there’s good evidence for):

                                                                                                                                • Suicide risk is markedly reduced among those who can ‘pass’
                                                                                                                                • Surgery makes it much, much easier to pass
                                                                                                                                • Obtaining surgery (or any other treatment) requires you to fit a set of diagnostic criteria. Evaluating these criteria takes 3+ years in many jurisdictions, with no guarantee of success.

                                                                                                                                Many - many - people with a plausible belief that treatment would help them get denied because they don’t meet the precise diagnostic criteria. Getting that news after 3 years of fighting for it is a pretty serious blow.

                                                                                                                                As a result, they are pretty angry, on the whole, at doctors who do not bend over backwards to fit them into the diagnostic criteria, because they believe (correctly, IMO) that the criteria are both too narrow and require excessive investigation (one year being seen as more reasonable than three).

                                                                                                                                1. 8

                                                                                                                                  I want to add that queer activism is probably compensating/self-dealing behavior for people with gender dysphoria, and is probably not representative of transgender people in general.

                                                                                                                                  Anecdotal: Asperger/Autism, depersonalisation and self-harm also seem quite common for trans people.

                                                                                                                                  1. 9

                                                                                                                                    Can I ask what you mean by “queer activism?” I mean… yeah, people who have gender dysphoria often want to alleviate that dysphoria, and in our current society that requires being an activist, at least in the small (advocating for yourself with your doctor, not going to stores/working at companies with transmisic policies, etc.)

                                                                                                                                    1. 5

                                                                                                                                      Some people are really obsessed with queer and identity politics, so much that their entire existence revolves around being trans, non-binary or ally. I call them activists.

                                                                                                                                      And then there are people that just used to have a different gender at birth and are now living a life as the gender they wished for.

                                                                                                                                      There is a clear line - the second category does not like to be called ‘trans’, they are ‘girls’ or ‘boys’. The non-activist queer person is the one who is just neither a ‘girl’ girl nor a ‘boy’ boy. They defeat the gender binary without defining themselves as queer.

                                                                                                                                      1. 8

                                                                                                                                        I see what you mean, but I think it’s a little more complicated than that, for a lot of people.

                                                                                                                                        I’m a woman, definitively so, and I actually pass as cis most of the time, but I do like people to know that I’m trans sometimes, especially people like nickpsecurity, because it upends their idea of what a trans person is. I also have experiences that some women, mostly cis women but also trans women who were able to block their first puberty and start hormones at the socially appropriate time, don’t have, and identifying as “trans” is a nice way to get into groups with people who share and can understand my experiences.

                                                                                                                                        In any case, I’m realizing that this whole thread is pretty far off topic. Thanks for humouring me and clarifying your posts!

                                                                                                                                        1. 5

                                                                                                                                          I’ve been reading everything in what little time I had. I’m mostly holding off on replying to this thread until I have some sleep or not at all until I contemplate the highly-insightful replies I got. I should mention…

                                                                                                                                          “but I do like people to know that I’m trans sometimes, especially people like nickpsecurity, because it upends their idea of what a trans person is”

                                                                                                                                          …that I figured you were a trans woman after a few comments. @cadey, too. There’s a difference between how you all speak and write versus most of the thousands of biological women I’ve known. I’m not saying it’s in any way highly accurate. My intuition has almost exclusively been exposed to trans women who are tech geeks on Lobsters: the only place I run into trans people on the regular (that I know of). There’s definitely a difference that some part of my mind saw which captivated me further to read each of your posts. That’s on top of the fact that you were smart, thoughtful people whose comments demanded my attention regardless of source.

                                                                                                                                          That said, the quote is still correct in that I’m learning about you all. How I learn takes exposure and real conversations with people to get through all the biases and cultural BS. The South, maybe the world in general, is too hateful on trans people for me to do that. They react with instant withdrawing or combat likely assuming I’m like the worse folks they encounter. I do appreciate the replies from trans folks on Lobsters who have very much broadened my understanding of things. Also, quite a few have set a hell of an example for how to do this vs others I’ve met. @Irene especially comes to mind as she was one half of what set that in motion in my head.

                                                                                                                                          All I’ll say for now. Too sleepy from work to do much more than this off top of my sleepy head comment. Hope yall have a good night. :)

                                                                                                                                          1. 5

                                                                                                                                            How I learn takes exposure and real conversations with people to get through all the biases and cultural BS. The South, maybe the world in general, is too hateful on trans people for me to do that. They react with instant withdrawing or combat likely assuming I’m like the worse folks they encounter. I do appreciate the replies from trans folks on Lobsters who have very much broadened my understanding of things. Also, quite a few have set a hell of an example for how to do this vs others I’ve met. @Irene especially comes to mind as she was one half of what set that in motion in my head.

                                                                                                                                            Thank you for at least trying to learn and be open minded. As a fellow Southerner (I’m a Tarheel!), I definitely agree that there are some real cultural differences. Being trans pushed me towards overcoming a lot of those, but all we can ever do is be willing to learn.

                                                                                                                                            I’m sorry I judged you too quickly, and I hope we can learn more from each other in the future. I’m also always happy to talk privately about this stuff; especially keeping in mind your comments about cancel culture, it can be easier to learn without an audience.

                                                                                                                                    2. 6

                                                                                                                                      I see parallels between modern queer activism and Zionism - in that I can understand what motivates it (their lives are plausibly threatened), and I can’t blame its participants for the conclusions they’ve come to (I’ve not had to find out how far I’d go to protect myself), but I’m still deeply upset by what they are doing.

                                                                                                                                      1. 16

                                                                                                                                        I’m still deeply upset by what they are doing.

                                                                                                                                        Like @NoraCodes said: What is the issue here? My queer activism is centered in things like:

                                                                                                                                        • I should be able to see my partner in the hospital
                                                                                                                                        • Everyone should have access to HIV prevention
                                                                                                                                        • People should be called by the names and pronouns they like
                                                                                                                                        • You should be able to get hormones, hair treatment, and surgery if it helps you live a fulfilling life
                                                                                                                                        • I’d like folks to stop yelling “faggot” at me on the street, and I want to buy groceries without people threatening to kill me for being gay.
                                                                                                                                        • It’d be cool if kids didn’t grow up feeling like they were fundamentally unlovable and worthless because they were queer
                                                                                                                                        • Let’s… not murder people for their sexuality or gender, ok?
                                                                                                                                        • You should be able to use the restroom without being assaulted because you didn’t seem masc or femme enough to be there

                                                                                                                                        I hope these aren’t too upsetting for you.

                                                                                                                                        1. 2

                                                                                                                                          Sorry, that was hastily written and needlessly inflammatory.

                                                                                                                                          I’m referring specifically to cancel culture, especially the outrage-porn-driven variety, and especially especially where it results in online vigilantism.

                                                                                                                                          One poorly-thought-out tweet gets screenshotted and cross-posted to a bunch of other networks. Within a week, the author is either publicly begging for forgiveness, or unemployed. They can’t use notifications on their phone anymore due to the volume of spam.

                                                                                                                                          Even in the case where this person genuinely held an offensive view, I don’t think that’s a good outcome.

                                                                                                                                          The people who are doing this hold a justified belief that lives are at risk, and hold that any amount of collateral damage is acceptable defending themselves.

                                                                                                                                          1. 3

                                                                                                                                            A particularly egregious example of this is getting speakers no-platformed from university campuses.

                                                                                                                                            Universities are perhaps the only place where I really couldn’t support any form of no-platforming.

                                                                                                                                            They are - literally - a place set aside for sorting bad ideas from good ones.

                                                                                                                                            1. 2

                                                                                                                                              Understood; “cancel culture” is a totally different topic and truly completely irrelevant here. Nobody is being cancelled and nobody has threatened to do that. It is not unique to nor synonymous with queer people, activism, or even progressives.

                                                                                                                                              1. 2

                                                                                                                                                I’d argue it’s a subtype of ‘activism’ (though agree it’s not limited to progressives or queer peeps).

                                                                                                                                                Fair point that it’s a method largely orthogonal to the cause. However, it’s harder to argue that it’s not a popular method in queer activism (popular in part, IMO, because the stakes are high enough that the collateral damage is judged acceptable).

                                                                                                                                                1. 2

                                                                                                                                                  Understood; “cancel culture” is a totally different topic and truly completely irrelevant here.

                                                                                                                                                  I’ll note there was an entire meta dedicated to me after one of my run-ins with P.C. culture here. One person, with some upvotes, wanted my entire user tree banned. Seeing mob-like behavior, I stopped inviting folks to avoid reputational or other collateral damage for them. The metas always have people voting in large numbers in that direction or similar paths. We mostly downvote or filter, though, since our moderation strategy does it better than what much of that crowd wants.

                                                                                                                                                  So, de-platforming is not irrelevant when there’s people actively trying to make it happen. It’s always worth remembering they’re here like they are in many places, esp colleges. I don’t worry about it since I know our admin and mods. I just keep an eye on it while representing the dissenting side who are not present or too worried to speak in as civil way as I can.

                                                                                                                                            2. 11

                                                                                                                                              Why? Like, truly, what about me taking estradiol and changing my name is such a huge problem for you?

                                                                                                                                              1. 2

                                                                                                                                                At least by my book, that’s living, not activism (see also my response to /u/aphyr).

                                                                                                                                                1. 4

                                                                                                                                                  I say this gently, but this is the most cis+heterosexual thing I have read all day.

                                                                                                                                                  1. 1

                                                                                                                                                    Fair point to the ‘living is activism’ crowd.

                                                                                                                                              2. 4

                                                                                                                                                What do you mean by the term “Zionism”? The original quasi-nationalist ideals of Theodor Herzl, or the modern semi-articulated ideology of the modern Israeli right?

                                                                                                                                                1. 3

                                                                                                                                                  Specifically, I mean the combination of two ideas popular around the founding time of Israel (and key to the US fundraising which enabled their defense immediately post-foundation):

                                                                                                                                                  • That a homeland was the only way to safeguard their lives, and
                                                                                                                                                  • That any action is morally defensible when protecting your own life.
                                                                                                                                                  1. 1

                                                                                                                                                    Are there trans activists advocating (implied) violence in this way?

                                                                                                                                                    1. 1

                                                                                                                                                      I know several. Thankfully, none of them are any good at violence (presumably the main reason they stick to advocating it).

                                                                                                                                                      1. 1

                                                                                                                                                        Wow. That’s not part of the LGBTQ+ rhetoric here in Sweden at all.

                                                                                                                                            3. 1

                                                                                                                                              “New compared to what?”

                                                                                                                                              That is unclear looking back on it. I’m not talking about existence of trans people, gender dysphoria (well established), etc. Even Ben Shapiro of all people often cites gender dysphoria (“mental illness” in his words) and suicide risk in his arguments against accepting trans identity. They’re just facts that can be used to argue for or against many things.

                                                                                                                                              Let me try again. I’m talking about the new-ish rule that sex and gender are different. It appears that somewhere from half to a majority of the U.S. believe that your sex is your gender. This was prevalent belief for most of human history. Noting the biological differences was entire reason the gender words/pronouns were invented. These meanings got into lots of systems and institutions people later built.

                                                                                                                                              Then, the newer thing came along starting in universities that I can tell. Their studies and internal debates led them to redefine gender, male, female, etc to mean entirely different things. Those views started spreading to a lot of other places. Then those with those views wanted everyone, esp general public outside these universities and groups, to similarly redefine the existing words to match the newer meaning. Then, many are surprised and/or outraged that those people continued using the words for the popular beliefs they were actually designed for. They’ll have to convince those people the new meanings are true with evidence that outweighs all their experiences supporting that the biological definition is true. If that can happen, it requires different approach than whatever they did to preach to the choir.

                                                                                                                                              The other thing I noticed was an inconsistency. Certain words or symbols, esp that were associated with hate, are forever banned from being reused in new situations. The people that advocated that explained to me that the words had a lot of baggage, established meaning, widespread belief, history, etc that came with them. We can’t separate that from the word anymore. So, we have to come up with new words. Then, some of those same people were telling me that we’re redefining gender to mean something entirely different than what hundreds of millions of men and women think it means and how they’ve used it for over a thousand years. Seems inconsistent, even hopeless. So, I advocated new labels, pronouns, or just modifiers to indicate the difference to increase chance of adoption.

                                                                                                                                              “ because they don’t meet the precise diagnostic criteria”

                                                                                                                                              I haven’t researched much about the surgeries or their rules. I leave others to decide that stuff since I don’t have an informed opinion on it.

                                                                                                                                              1. 23

                                                                                                                                                Then, the newer thing came along starting in universities that I can tell. Their studies and internal debates led them to redefine gender, male, female, etc to mean entirely different things.

                                                                                                                                                This series of posts is a good example of why having classes on gender and sexuality can be helpful. Sex and gender have a complex history, and studying a bit of that history can give you an appreciation for your current cultural perspective. For instance, Navajo has at least four (perhaps five) genders, and pre-colonial gender systems throughout the Americas included cultural scripts & roles for people falling outside what you and I might describe as the male/female binary. Some associate healer or shamanic roles with third-gender persons. Some have specific ceremonies for gender transition. Pre-colonial Hawaiians revered gender-non-conforming people as sacred educators. India has a well-known role called “hijra”, for male or intersex people who dress in feminine clothing, as well as “sādhin”, who wear men’s clothing and short hair.

                                                                                                                                                Indeed, modern queer roles in the US (e.g. “a gay man”, “a transgender woman”, “a non-binary person”), just like normative roles (e.g. “a straight woman”) need to be understood not only as the product of innate identity, but also as a consequence of our culture, which inherited a rigid gender and sexual binary in part from Victorian England. Modern queer roles in the US are controlled by and also subvert that gender system. They’re a product of individual and collective experimentation, friendships, families, bars, media, and yes, liberal (and conservative!) universities, operating in the context of a mainly-heterosexual, mainly binary-gender culture. This is also nothing new: there’s thousands of years of precedent outside the gender and sexual system you’re thinking of as universal and eternal.

                                                                                                                                                There’s a lot of history I’m eliding here, and this comment is already too long–but hopefully this inspires you to read and learn a bit more!

                                                                                                                                                TL;DR: sexuality has never been simple.

                                                                                                                                                1. 2

                                                                                                                                                  Preach 🙏

                                                                                                                                                2. 11

                                                                                                                                                  Let me try again. I’m talking about the new-ish rule that sex and gender are different.

                                                                                                                                                  Again, this is “new-ish” in the sense that it’s a product of anthropologists around the 1920s finding that gender in some societies (that were either newly contacted at that time, or being newly re-studied) didn’t work exactly the same as it did in European society. They wanted to keep sex as an etic category (seen from the outside) while using gender as the emic category (as seen from inside the society). So it’s new if your sense of novelty has a 100 year lag; though I suppose the distinction didn’t make it out of anthropology departments and into the rest of the university until maybe the 60s?

                                                                                                                                                  1. 3

                                                                                                                                                    Imagine if non-programmers talked about 100 year old discoveries in computer science as “new-ish”.

                                                                                                                                                  2. 8

                                                                                                                                                    This was prevalent belief for most of human history

                                                                                                                                                    It appears that somewhere from half to a majority of the U.S. believe that your sex is your gender

                                                                                                                                                    Historically, it’s more-or-less always been true that there’s a minority ‘queer fringe’, who live with varying degrees of acceptance alongside a society which doesn’t really understand them. There’s ~always been a majority belief that your sex is also your social role.

                                                                                                                                                    The major conflict in the west (unfolding in public for at least 60+ years) is over access (by that minority) to mainstream society - in particular, access to jobs, housing and healthcare. EG Being openly gay used to get you fired and/or evicted, and the government deliberately suppressed info on AIDS treatment because it was a ‘gay person’ disease.

                                                                                                                                                    The mainstream has accepted some of the larger segments of the queer community. However, the smaller populations (inc trans people) weren’t able to really fight effectively and didn’t win many rights/recognition at that time.

                                                                                                                                                    Then, the newer thing came along starting in universities that I can tell

                                                                                                                                                    That’s where it started getting pushed out into public life. I think it’s pretty unlikely that nobody had come up with this idea before - it’s immediately obvious to (for instance) a gay man that they do not fit the gender role assigned to their sex, because chasing women is so closely tied to that role.

                                                                                                                                                    I think it’s more charitably viewed as ‘people on the sidelines got enough access to make themselves heard’.

                                                                                                                                                    The other thing I noticed was an inconsistency. Certain words or symbols, esp that were associated with hate, are forever banned from being reused in new situations

                                                                                                                                                    Agree it’s yuck and weird. That said, if you’re going to get hung up on ‘their side are inconsistent’, there hasn’t been a movement in history to meet your criteria.

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                                                                                                                                                      This is purely anecdotal, as it’s just my experience on the matter, but what ultimately convinced me to accept the redefinition of gender with respect to sex wasn’t evidence, it was decency. Fundamentally, there’s no particular reason I should take a position on how other people should identify - this goes beyond gender, but that’s a particularly prominent example of the general point. The most effect it has on me is in choosing pronouns, and in my experience most people will be fine with a genuine apology if you make a mistake - even if you make the mistake repeatedly over time, as long as you’re also clearly trying and being respectful.

                                                                                                                                                      Obviously, a person’s sex is of practical importance in a lot of situations; medical treatment, shopping habits (does this person need access to tampons/menstrual pads?), etc., but most of those situations don’t involve me and I can’t think of a single one that can’t sensibly accommodate a decoupling of gender and sex.

                                                                                                                                                      So ultimately, for me, it didn’t come down to an evidence-based, rational decision along the lines of “Well, I’ve been convinced this is how the world actually works”. Instead it came down to recognizing that “how the world actually works” is an absurd concept in a fundamentally subjective topic, so what I really ought to do is just accept that people work differently from one another. My only vehicle for understanding others has always been to trust their self-description, so what’s the harm in applying that here? I’ve got no special perspective that gives me authority over who is or is not appropriately described with certain words, so the decent thing to do is to back off and let people be who they are. And I’ve also got no reason to believe that such a perspective is even conceivably possible.

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                                                                                                                                                        Coming back to this later, I think I didn’t word it as well as I could’ve - it’s really easy to read this as saying that anyone who disagrees with me is not being decent (and I got a -1 troll vote that I hope was because of that instead of some other mistake I haven’t noticed).

                                                                                                                                                        I used the word “decency” because it’s the best reflection of how I think about my own ethics, and that’s tangential as hell so I’m not going to waste more words talking about it here. The point I wanted to make was that my take on the subject turns out to be orthogonal to evidence-based reasoning - not that I think you have to agree with me to be a good person. You can have a different ethical code that doesn’t lead you to the same conclusions, and that code could be entirely sane.

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                                                                                                                                                    I want three things from a doctor: the same exact medical care as anyone else, an estradiol scrip, and a letter to change my gender on my passport. All of these things are pretty reasonable.

                                                                                                                                                    We shouldn’t have gender on passports, because if it’s referring to biological sex it’s not useful for identifying people and if it’s not then it’s… still not really useful for identifying people. I mean, there’s a photo on there, right? Failing that, people shouldn’t demand to see other peoples’ identification before calling them what they ask to be called. I go by Nora in a lot of places, but my ID says “Leonora”. Nobody shits themselves over that, but for some reason when I had an ID that said “M” everybody was all in a tizzy.

                                                                                                                                                    In any case, it seems pretty reasonable to get such letters so long as they’re needed for people to be respectful.

                                                                                                                                                    Estradiol should be informed consent, and usually is these days. WPATH and other professional organizations recommend this, and doctors who don’t do it are not really doing a good job. It’s not even expensive; you take a blood test a couple times to make sure your kidney’s aren’t fucked up and then cheap pills that millions of cis women are on anyway. No real personal or social downsides to that one.

                                                                                                                                                    Regular medical care should be provided to me regardless of my transgender status, but isn’t always (see: trans broken arm syndrome), in much the same way it’s not always provided to women in general, or fat people.

                                                                                                                                                    The biological model of gender is supported by massive amount of physical evidence which the doctors were educated in and see in their patients everyday. The new ideas of gender identity originated in far-left colleges with basically no hard evidence backing them: just psychological studies (“soft science”) of what trans people believe about themselves and tell them.

                                                                                                                                                    I’m curious what you mean here. What is the “biological model of gender”? Do you mean the idea that gender and sex are the same thing? Sure, that’s fine, but we still need a word for “the internal understanding of one’s body and the way it relates to society’s gender roles”. Let’s call it foo. I’m transfoo. Foo isn’t the same as sex. Etc.

                                                                                                                                                    To put it another way: what evidence would convince you that gender is “really” different from sex? It’s an inherently mental, personal, subjective thing, because it (to a much greater degree than sex) is socially constructed. (Meaning, it’s basically just an agreement between a bunch of people about how people should act. You’re saying it should be based on your junk, I’m saying it shouldn’t, and that’s the only point on which we disagree on this topic.)

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                                                                                                                                                      You’re saying it should be based on your junk,

                                                                                                                                                      Yes a lot of these people are acting like if they as a man woke up one morning in a woman’s body that they would just magically be okay with it, and wouldn’t even be upset. IIRC not being bothered by what gender you present means you’re gender fluid, and congrats to you people for being gender fluid, most people aren’t.

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                                                                                                                                                        This is actually an extremely good point. I mean, come on, have these people never watched anime? :P

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                                                                                                                                                      Exactly. If data scientists want to add a ‘self identified as’ field, they can get a new interesting subset. But they still want the rational physical world for measurements. Could you include people on hormone replacement therapy as a sub-group and look for differences? Absolutely. But it depends on your study and research.

                                                                                                                                                      I wish it weren’t hateful to simply say, “Transgenderism is an ideology,” because it is. Some trans people are fine with being distinct: Like M2F who identifies as a man transitioning or transitioned to a women. But some want to be the other sex, anonymously without any biological distinction. They have to BE the other, in all ways legally and metaphysically. This is mostly fine and no one has a problem with it… except when it comes to unfairness where biological differences are present: like sports. It also applies to medication that might have different dosages based on male/female biological factors.

                                                                                                                                                      It can get heated because it is an ideology and challenge to that is a challenge to orthodoxy. I don’t know what the solution is, but transgenderism is very similar to Catholic transubstantiation; a believe about the metaphysical nature of reality. We’ve never been in this boat in terms of equality and it will be interesting to see where people push this in the coming years.

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                                                                                                                                                        transgenderism is very similar to Catholic transubstantiation; a believe about the metaphysical nature of reality.

                                                                                                                                                        Oh you are on SUCH a good track here. I’d like to take this point a little further. Gender itself is a metaphysical belief. So is sex.

                                                                                                                                                        Both sex and gender, as equivalence classes that allow you to categorize all people as one of, say, two types, are broken. They’re fuzzy categories at best, and once you start getting rigorous, you start seeing lots of exceptions. That’s not to say they’re not broadly useful concepts, and they do work for lots of people, but when we’re designing systems that work with sex and gender (for instance, in medicine, or sports!), we should think carefully about what those categories really mean, how they’ll be used, and how they’re going to work for people who don’t fit the boxes neatly.

                                                                                                                                                        For instance, say you’re trying to code people as male or female based on the “rational physical world” of measurements. Do you take chromosomes? Sure. 46XY is male, 46XX is female. I guess we could call 45X female and 45Y male too. What are 47XXX, 47XYY, and 47XXY? 49XXXXY? Y generally induces testicular development, so maybe any copy of Y codes as male. But if you’ve got androgen insensitivity syndrome, some “standard male” 46XY people will have breasts and labia. And some of those 46XX folks with CAH might look outwardly like men. Which soccer team to do you force these people to play on? Who gets prompted for testicular screenings and pap smears?

                                                                                                                                                        We haven’t even gotten into chimerism yet. You know some people have multiple genotypes, right?

                                                                                                                                                        Okay. Let’s back off to genitals. We can measure those, right? If you have testes, you’re male. Unless you’ve had a hysterectomy, or orchiectomy, but you’d know if that happened to you. Well, unless it happened at birth. Turns out that in some cases a doctor guesses, based on some complicated rules and their best judgement, what kind of genitals would be best for you, a newborn infant. Maybe you’re genetically XY, but your penis was small at birth, so they surgically constructed a vagina, removed the testes, slapped an F on the birth certificate, and told your parents you should be raised female. Maybe you never knew about that until getting a gene test in middle age, and then you realized, holy shit, I’ve been male/intersex/trans/etc this whole time. Maybe you’ve got ambiguous genitalia. Maybe you’ve got a vagina, but no uterus, and internal testes instead.

                                                                                                                                                        These things aren’t THAT rare. Roughly one in two hundred people don’t have a “standard” male/female body plan. Chances are you personally know someone like this! About one in a thousand people receive “normalizing” surgery. If you’re a primary care physician, you’ve likely got a couple patients who might need you to have a more nuanced understanding of what sex is. Maybe you need to ask your male patients if they’re considering pregnancy.

                                                                                                                                                        Fine. Let’s decide based on someone’s body’s secondary sex characteristics. Adam’s apples? Facial hair? Voice? Musculature? Height? Breasts? Pelvic geometry? These are all over the place. Slender, wispy people covered in hair. Barrel-chested, high-voiced musclebears with no Adam’s apples. People who fall smack dab in the middle of your female and male coordinates on whatever measurement system you choose. Some of these characteristics are reshapable with surgery, hormones, and practice. Some change with age. But these secondary characteristics are also how we usually code people as male or female. For example, when was the last time you checked to see if everyone walking into the men’s bathroom had a penis?

                                                                                                                                                        And this is just sex! Physical, biological stuff that’s measurable with rulers, blood tests, and CT scans. Gender’s even more spectacular.

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                                                                                                                                                          Possibly the best write-up of this particular flaw in the idea of “biological sex is binary” I’ve seen in a while. That’s going in my bookmarks for sure. Thanks :)

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                                                                                                                                                            For instance, say you’re trying to code people as male or female based on the “rational physical world” of measurements. Do you take chromosomes? Sure. 46XY is male, 46XX is female. I guess we could call 45X female and 45Y male too. What are 47XXX, 47XYY, and 47XXY? 49XXXXY?

                                                                                                                                                            99.9% of all humans have normal chromosome Karyotype. What you describe are outlies of less than 1% .. You make it sound like all these variations are common when they’re really not. And on top of all of that, almost all people with abnormal karyotypes are sterile. Very few of them can reproduce.

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                                                                                                                                                              It’s more like 99%, actually. There are almost a hundred million people out there with some kind of intersex condition - probably more intersex people in the world than desktop Linux and Mac OS X users combined :P

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                                                                                                                                                                99.9% of all humans have normal chromosome Karyotype. What you describe are outlies of less than 1%

                                                                                                                                                                Sure! XXY is ~1:1000 births. If we were doing research on something with broad interest, like a soda flavor, we might decide that the error we introduce by categorizing those people as male, or female, or removing them from the sample altogether, isn’t significant enough to affect our results, and go on with our lives. It’d be problematic if we needed everyone in a sample of tens of thousands of people to fit exactly one category. Unfortunately, that’s how a lot of our society is built.

                                                                                                                                                                XXY doesn’t shorten life expectancy much. That means in the US you’ve got ~327,000 people with XXY. A suburban high school with a population of 2000 students has a good chance of having at least one XXY person in their prospective student pool, and will need to decide whether those people are allowed admission (for an all-boys school), and what sports teams (if sex-segregated) they play on. A typical Wal-mart will see a handful a day, and expect them to choose the right bathroom. A suburb of 50,000 could (with sufficient motivation) field an all-XXY football team. A decent-sized airport like Miami International will see ~120 passengers every day whose sex indicated on their ID doesn’t match their karyotype. A major metro area could run a Kleinfelter Kickball league.

                                                                                                                                                                Let’s imagine you’re like me: a cis man who hasn’t been karyotyped. Maybe you took a 23andme test, and that came back XY, because they don’t report trisomies. There’s a nontrivial chance that you, who grew up believing you were male, who has always been treated like a man, might not be a “biological male”–at least by a strictly genotypic definition. Of course that’s ridiculous. You know you’re a man, and everyone else does too. You don’t get dirty looks for using the men’s room at work. You can hand over your ID at the bar or airport without fear. Nobody called the school board outraged that you were allowed to play on the men’s basketball team. You never had to worry about these things, and you still don’t. That’d be silly. Nobody’s going to find out unless you tell them, and even then, I’m sure they’d understand. Well, most people would. Except for people who believe that “male” means “XY”, and then, well. That’s a different story.

                                                                                                                                                                That story might involve your marriage being challenged in court–but a neighboring state used anatomy, rather than genetics, to determine sex, so you were able to remarry there and bypass the issue. You may have been asked to use the women’s room at work–only they don’t want you there either, so you wind up having to ask for a special bathroom. The only single-occupancy stall is on another floor, so you take the elevator every time you have to pee, and hope nobody’s using it. You might be stripped of your sports trophies, and banned from competition. You might wind up with a new ID that says F on it. You have to sigh and explain every time you show it, and hope that when you’re pulled over it doesn’t lead to arrest. You haven’t gotten the bank updated yet, and you’re dreading the bureaucratic nightmare that’s sure to follow. Every few weeks, you blunder into a conversation on the internet where someone insists that you aren’t a real man.

                                                                                                                                                                Think about how that might feel.

                                                                                                                                                                Now read your posts again.

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                                                                                                                                                                  Klinefelter syndrome. XXY is a chromosome disorder in males. People with XXY chromosomes are classified as male, they present and physically are male, and .. they cannot reproduce. There has never been a recorded case of someone with Klinefelter reproducing.

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                                                                                                                                                                    Okay. I recognize that it’s difficult to go from never having thought critically about sex or gender in your life to Oh Shit All These Things Are Happening??? If it helps, this is a journey we all have to go through. While you’re on it, consider:

                                                                                                                                                                    XXY is a chromosome disorder in males. People with XXY chromosomes are classified as male,

                                                                                                                                                                    You’ve recognized here that “male” and chromosomes are two different things, and that “male” is a category we, as humans, apply to people. It’s also true that people with XXY are usually classified as male, but that’s not always the case. Some people with XXY look completely masculine. Other people with XXY look physically female, with large breasts, soft skin, no beard, etc. Genotype is not always phenotype, which should be the first clue that “biologically male” is an ill-defined concept.

                                                                                                                                                                    they present and physically are male

                                                                                                                                                                    Presentation is a complex phenomenon involving body characteristics, movement, speech, dress, grooming, pronouns, location, cultural roles, etc. These things usually go together in patterns we think of as “male” or “female”, but they don’t have to. Most people with XXY present as men, but not all do! As it turns out, I have a friend with XX+XY (though she’s not sure if that’s via trisomy, a more exotic aneuploidy, mosaicism, etc) who presents in basically all respects as a woman. She’s hella cool. It’d be weird to declare her male.

                                                                                                                                                                    Being “physically male” is a fuzzy concept for all the reasons I outlined above.

                                                                                                                                                                    and .. they cannot reproduce. There has never been a recorded case of someone with Klinefelter reproducing.

                                                                                                                                                                    I don’t think this is relevant, and I’m not sure why you’re bringing it up, but, uh… you know this isn’t true, right? People with Klinefelter do reproduce, both unassisted and with the help of technology. Low fertility is a common consequence of XXY, but it doesn’t render every person sterile.

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                                                                                                                                                      That is not the full sentence, though. Since you mention reading comprehension, I would suggest interpretating any alarming sentence fragments not in isolation, but in the context of the full sentence (and the rest of the piece). The full sentence is this:

                                                                                                                                                      There’s no test that you give someone to determine they’re “actually” trans, unless you’re a doctor, or a neuroscience researcher, or a bigot (but I repeat myself).

                                                                                                                                                      Seeing the full sentence this reads like a syllogism: (people who administer) transness tests are bigoted, doctors & neuroscientists administer transness tests, therefore doctors and neuroscientists are bigots. Still an overgeneralisation, but a far cry from ‘doctors and neuroscientists are bigots’ on its own. So, ya, my guess is that probably you misunderstood the author’s intent?

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                                                                                                                                                        Ohhh, the irony… It would be funny if it wasn’t so pathetically pervasive.

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                                                                                                                                                          It probably refers to how the medical discipline is policing trans bodies and not even trying to renounce its role as gender gatekeepers.

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                                                                                                                                                          I’m missing a few points, otherwise a really good piece.

                                                                                                                                                          I do think we’re often using parts of real science[tm]. Our building blocks, mostly algorithms and data structures, O notation, networking. Much of this stuff is researched and backed up by science.

                                                                                                                                                          The problem to me seems to be that as an average software developer, to use some building metaphor, you are: the architect, the project leader, the mason, the electrician, the guy carrying 50kg sacks of cement, the cleaning crew, the plumber, … all in one person. (Well, except if you are an Enterprise Architect and hand in a PDF of how the common people shall henceforth create the software from your design…) Last I checked there’s also not much science on the stuff electricians and masons do in everyday work of laying brick and cables. You learn it, you get experience, you do it. Much of software development is like this.

                                                                                                                                                          It’s a weird profession, really.

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                                                                                                                                                            Last I checked there’s also not much science on the stuff electricians and masons do in everyday work of laying brick and cables. You learn it, you get experience, you do it.

                                                                                                                                                            Maybe ask a structural, mechanical, electrical, or civil engineer about that? Or have a look at the International Building Code? Or OSHA? Construction is a mature field, with many rigorous standards in place.

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                                                                                                                                                              I never said it’s the wild west and everyone does random things. I just think “following safety practices” which are probably based on some sort of science and studies a few layers down the line does not mean “I am actively applying science in my daily job”. Also let me stress that I said mason and electrician and not electrical or civil engineer. Also that quote was kinda out of context as I specifically said I feel like software engineers are doing the jobs of several people on several layers at the same time. And I certainly don’t think actively about what task I am performing right now. You are the sum of your knowledge and experience.

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                                                                                                                                                                That’s… sort of the point.

                                                                                                                                                                Construction involves very little “come up with a hypothesis and test it”, which is step 0 of doing science.

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                                                                                                                                                                  I think that some building inspectors might disagree. But if construction workers can just follow best practices (as dictated by building and safety codes) and not have to “do science” themselves, that’s only because those practices have already been established. Plenty of science was done along the way.

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                                                                                                                                                                    Yeah - I guess my point is that it’s useful to distinguish between ‘doing science’ and, say, reading papers and using what you learn to make something. Aside from anything else, the funding models (and appropriate times to say ‘this is not working, stop it’) are drastically different.

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                                                                                                                                                                I do think we’re often using parts of real science[tm]. Our building blocks, mostly algorithms and data structures, O notation, networking. Much of this stuff is researched and backed up by science.

                                                                                                                                                                That’s all math, a completely different form of knowledge. Also it’s debatable if Software Engineering is about that: we use those blocks to encase them in a very complex and different structure built in a completely different way.