The Living Thing / Notebooks :

Getting along

Tolerance, ghettoisation, xenophobic panic; Causes, pathologies and consequences of and suggestions for

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By Nora Samaran.

There is a variation on ‘Not All Men.’

It is called ‘I Feel Bad When You Say That.’

Noisy chaos of notes about the cultivation of tolerance and cooperation between people in the presence of cultural, ethnic, sexual (etc) difference. An inverse to neofeudalism, and a twin perhaps to cooperation.

The ease and rarity of empathy

Gábor Simonovits, Gábor Kézdi and Péter Kardos (SiKK17)

We report the results of an intervention that targeted anti-Roma sentiment in Hungary using an online perspective-taking game. We evaluated the impact of this intervention using a randomized experiment in which a sample of young adults played this perspective-taking game, or an unrelated online game. Participation in the perspective-taking game markedly reduced prejudice, with an effect-size equivalent to half the difference between voters of the far-right and the center-right party. The effects persisted for at least a month, and, as a byproduct, the intervention also reduced antipathy toward refugees, another stigmatized group in Hungary, and decreased vote intentions for Hungary’s overtly racist, far-right party by 10%. Our study offers a proof-of-concept for a general class of interventions that could be adapted to different settings and implemented at low costs.

I wonder how reproducing that one has gone?

Deep canvassing

Has a fascinating history, what with the famous LaCour study, which was fake, and the Broockman and Kalla study, which was real. There is a convenient Dave McRaney podcast on this theme.

For real this time: Talking to people about gay and transgender issues can change their prejudices.

Benefits of diversity

Need a cash payoff to explain why you should bother fostering tolerance despite the obvious difficulty? Sure, I can give you that, but quick question: Do you open with “what’s it worth to me?” in all your conversations? Are you, further, tiresome to be around? Just checkin’.

Scott Page calls this the diversity dividend.

There is some famous recent Google research here (not peer-reviewed, mind)

Google: Foster psychological safety

Of the five key dynamics of effective teams that the researchers identified, psychological safety was by far the most important. The Google researchers found that individuals on teams with higher psychological safety are less likely to leave Google, they’re more likely to harness the power of diverse ideas from their teammates, they bring in more revenue, and they’re rated as effective twice as often by executives.

McKinsey report, Vivian Hunt, Dennis Layton, and Sara Prince: Why diversity matters

While correlation does not equal causation (greater gender and ethnic diversity in corporate leadership doesn’t automatically translate into more profit), the correlation does indicate that when companies commit themselves to diverse leadership, they are more successful.

The fragile feelings of the relatively privileged

Previously a disquieting curiosity, now a keystone in the edifice of contemporary feudalism.

Keyphrase: The klansman calling the snowflake white.

I’m curious to see the demographics behind the Trump vote after this piece, which has some good lines, and a rather different and more interesting take on the dangers of video games than I am used to.

In particular, this one’s not about disgruntled white baby boomer males, but about disgruntled disenfranchised youngish white males, and their proactive, rather sophisticated and techo-savvy mobilisation as a factor in the Bannonisation of politics.

Gamergate: Anon Defends his Safe Space […]

gamergaters believed that online sleuthing would uncover a tangible conspiracy about how game creators colluded to further a “Social Justice Warrior” agenda. Among many others, they hacked the Skype account of the indie game developer I was working for at the time, presumably reading our conversations about the game we were making looking for the moment when we uttered “now to further the secret SJW agenda”. What they found instead was my boss patiently explaining to me the best ways to make a video game. […]

All that work cracking Skype accounts with wordlists did not yield the tangible reward of evidence of a cabal. The real world behaves differently than a video game. There were shades of grey. It disappointed. What you did and what you got for your efforts were muddled. It was more challenging than the safe spaces of a video game, carefully crafted to accommodate gamers and make them feel — well, the exact opposite of how they felt interacting in the real world — effective. In the fantasy world of the game, actions achieved ends.

It was almost as if all these disaffected young men were waiting for a figure to come along who, having achieved nothing in his life, pretended as though he had achieved everything, who by using the tools of fantasy, could transmute their loserdom (in 4chan parlance, their “fail”), into “win”.

This thing about who the geeks are is a touch-point.

For a cultural-studies take which regards geekdom as a problem by trying to acquire the rights of other minorities, see Postmodern geekdom as simulated ethnicity.

For Scott Alexander eloquently arguing that lumping all geeks in together is a problem, see Untitled:

There is a growing trend in Internet feminism that works exactly by conflating the ideas of nerd, misogynist, virgin, person who disagrees with feminist tactics or politics, and unlovable freak.

For a softer version, try Jon Ronson’s So you’ve been publicly shamed.

A major point of his is that the counterpoint to sensitive men arguing

notallmen, is that there is a strand of internet discourse that argues


There is also one about the danger of arguing that oppression and toxicity is a zero sum game. Some other well-turned thoughts also.

Anyway, moving on. An archetypical example, if not the most dire, of actual male toxicity, was the aforementioned “gamergate”, where some males were pissed that merely most, rather than all, video games, are for them. These ‘gaters ran around being shrill online and managed to legitimate a movement that habitually sheltered amongst them angry boys who like righteously making rape threats at a putative conspiracy of women influencing video game coverage using their naughty vaginas. (I’m going with “boys” here since it’s a clear failure to meet standards of adult behaviour to make rape threats, though i don’t know the actual demographics.)

A lot of this is about the spiraling unintended consequences of angry people attempting to have real discourse online.

More important, unarmed black people are killed by police or other security officers about twice a week according to official statistics, and probably much more often than that. You’re saying none of these shootings, hundreds each year, made as good a flagship case as Michael Brown? In all this gigantic pile of bodies, you couldn’t find one of them who hadn’t just robbed a convenience store? Not a single one who didn’t have ten eyewitnesses and the forensic evidence all saying he started it?

I propose that the Michael Brown case went viral – rather than the Eric Garner case or any of the hundreds of others – because of the PETA Principle. It was controversial. A bunch of people said it was an outrage. A bunch of other people said Brown totally started it, and the officer involved was a victim of a liberal media that was hungry to paint his desperate self-defence as racist, and so the people calling it an outrage were themselves an outrage. Everyone got a great opportunity to signal allegiance to their own political tribe and discuss how the opposing political tribe were vile racists / evil race-hustlers. There was a steady stream of potentially triggering articles to share on Facebook to provoke your friends and enemies to counter-share articles that would trigger you.

Underdogs, make no mistake, can be vicious and cruel and evil, all the more so because they have a grievance to justify their viciousness. But to be an underdog is to lack power. It means, by definition, that you’re weak, where the overdog is strong.

I didn’t think how “legitimate criticisms” — like the legitimate criticisms of the materialism in the “disco lifestyle,” like legitimate criticisms of the cliquishness of the tiny indie video game scene — get used as fuel by reactionary hate mobs. And to be an overdog who thinks he’s an underdog is, therefore, worst of all.

Separate but equal?

Research group finds creating boundaries key to reducing ethnic violence.

Calling out/calling in