Thursday, July 18, 2019

Overusing terms until meaningless

The Slate Star Codex shrink writes:
A few months ago, a friend confessed that she had abused her boyfriend. I was shocked, because this friend is one of the kindest and gentlest people I know. I probed for details. She told me that sometimes she needed her boyfriend to do some favor for her, and he wouldn’t, so she would cry – not as an attempt to manipulate him, just because she was sad. She counted this as abuse, because her definition of “abuse” is “something that makes your partner feel bad about setting boundaries”. And when she cried, that made her boyfriend feel guilty about his boundary that he wasn’t going to do the favor. ...

The moral of the story is: don’t set thresholds for category membership so far outside a distribution that they stop conveying useful information.
He also explains how calling Pres. Trump a "liar" or "racist" requires such a loose definition of these terms that they lose all meaning.

Indeed, modern academics say that everyone is a racist. Even if you are a blind man and do not even know the race of anyone else, you are still a racist for failing to appreciate white privilege.

Likewise everyone is a liar. If you tell the truth too much, psychologists will diagnose you with Asperger syndrome or autistic spectrum disorder.

By some measures, Trumps is the most honest and least racist President we have had in decades. For example, Barack Obama's book shows that he has all sorts of racist views that no one has detected in Trump. Most of the argument for impeaching Trump is based on him being too honest in his explanations.

Most of Trump's enemies have given up calling him a liar or racist. They have moved on to call him a Nazi or a fascist or whatever worse epithets they can find. They appear to running out of meaningless slurs.

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