Jan 18·edited Jan 18

Reading this piece, I think of the Kavanaugh hearings where Blasey-Ford accused a powerful man of a crime with no evidence, faulty recollection, and no corroboration other than her emotional telling of an event that may or may not have happened decades ago. Ugly as it was to watch, it was likely a good event in that the weaponized accusation failed, as it should have, and that the 'believe all women' mantra was seen as a tool for partisan gain and no longer a pure cry for justice.

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"So even if false accusations are 1-in-100,000 events, we should expect five false accusations against every innocent person known by 500,000 people."

Empirically, do we see this? I am not sure how to measure "known by 500,000 people." Does this mean that those 500,000 people just know your name? Follow news about you? Have met you in person?

Off the top of my head, I would guess that most moderately-famous people don't have five accusations against them, although it could be that there are accusations I don't know about. Weaker accusations may well not have gotten far in the news in the pre-MeToo era.

If we don't see the five false accusations against such people, it could be that false accusations are rarer than hypothesized. Or it could be that false accusations are proportional to other metrics more than "fame" and "success" broadly defined.

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Most of these apply to accusations of racism+pretty much all discrimination. Especially the hypersensitive one. That’s why “standpoint epistemology” is baked into the woke ideology, if you’re part of one of the oppressed classes, you have a unique knowledge of racism and thus should not be questioned on your experience. It by default gives the most power to the most insane people, both the extremely neurotic and extremely narcissistic. Then even if the transgression wasn’t intentional, it was the result of your unconscious bias and deep seeded racism. Denying that you’re subconsciously racist is then even further proof that you are in fact extremely racist.

It’s the most obvious power grab ever, and relies 100% on intimidation to get people on board with it.

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This is really shoddy reasoning. There are obvious counter-balances to these points.

First, fame doesn't equal interactions. Lots of people might want to claim that they were abused by famous people, but to do so in a way anyone would report they at least have to have had interactions with that person of the sort that would make the accusation worth hearing. Famous people don't have 100,000 times more private interactions with people who might accuse them of something.

Second, power causes intimidation. Accusing anyone of anything publicly risks retaliation from the accused. The more powerful someone is, the more likely they are to be able to use that power to effectively harm you. Similarly, people who are famous typically have a fan base, and have a reputation to support that gives them a large incentive to use that power to discourage accusations.

Third, power gets abused. People who have power use it to do bad things. That's kind of like the whole basis for the libertarian complaint against government. Being powerful makes people both feel like they're entitled to do bad things and like they can get away with doing bad things. So, people with power are more likely to engage in abusive behaviors.

Fourth, people constantly downplay their own guilt. They will regularly tell themselves the best possible version of any story where they might feel any guilt. They diminish their responsibility and their immorality in their own minds, and certainly seek to do so in the minds of others. The tendency to refuse to think you've done anything wrong is at least as prolific as the tendency to read bad intentions into the actions of others. The tendency to adopt forgiving interpretations of people who we either like or who might have the power to harm us also makes less likely to accept accusations against them. It might have just been a joke, but it's more likely that the person was being a jerk and said it was a joke to avoid the social costs of bad behavior.

Fifth, while people may have more sympathy for harms done to women this appears to lead to a tendency to downplay those harms. If you feel morally obligated to do something about certain types of harms, it is in your self-interest to ignore or downplay actual harms of that type, since you might otherwise have to actually do something about them. A general refusal to pay attention to suffering is the standard human reaction to most intolerable suffering. That's why people get mad at commercials reminding them of starving kids and hurt animals. They don't want to acknowledge it. Now, once they have, they are likely to be unwilling to give up their mantle of Good Person by going back on it if they were wrong, but the fact that basically every woman had a Me, Too story suggests that prior to Me, Too, the refusal to acknowledge harms was the norm, and the far larger problem in society.

I guess I've only got five obvious observations, but since they came to mind immediately, I could probably come up with more if the numbers really matter. I will point out, though, that this last point might help explain the uncharacteristically poor reasoning on display here. You've taken on a public mantle of defending a group of benighted, ignored victims. It gets lots of comments from people who like you for it. Going back on it would be psychologically unpleasant. It would take the nice feeling away. It would also mean your words were probably helping a lot of bad people feel better about themselves, and safer in their further efforts to do bad things.

I would suggest that your failure to think of these obvious counterpoints is good reason to think your judgments here aren't trustworthy, even for yourself. Since they also could help perpetrate widespread harms, I think it's irresponsible of you to continue to post on these topics. Please stop. You're looking bad here not because everyone's out to get you, but because for whatever reason, this topic is one you can't think about objectively.

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This all seems reasonable. What depresses me is that it seems like a brave thing to post. It should be commonplace to make these observations without worrying about severe consequences that are unrelated to whether or not the observations are reasonably likely to be true.

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Perhaps feminism, BLM, MAGA, etc. could be thought of as forms of "ideological rent seeking", which I discuss in greater detail (in the context of domestic violence laws) here: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=915929

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I think points 2, 4 and 9 are all very important insights (and I'm especially glad you included 4 because it's something people on all sides of the debate are prone to forgetting).

I'm afraid I don't think I'm with you on 10, though. One can easily think of counter-examples (19th century and later refusal to help women with labour pains; general underinvestment in research for female-specific medical conditions; FGM; pre-modern view of rape as a crime against a woman's father or husband; modern refusal to allow pregnant women almost any medication in case it does some unspecified harm to their baby). I agree most of these are historical or non-western, and I agree that your examples are also cases of the reverse, but I don't think humans in general prioritise addressing female suffering.

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When MeToo took off, I read dozens of intimidation stories from various sources. These were all stories where the culprit indeed was a nobody. Often literally - they typically did not name the man or men involved. There are reasons to believe most of those were true. Not only were they against nobodies, I also imagine it must be difficult to share a humiliating life event on a public forum. I don't think you have to be a Feminist to be concerned that several women in your life have experienced at least one scary situation with sexual aggression from males.

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Good post.

I think #METOO has burnt out. Men and women have to live together, it's hard to sustain antagonism.

I think the delay and breakdown and marriage probably has a lot to do with things like #METOO, SLUTWALKS, and the rest of it. Women are spending their 20s and even 30s single and/or in unsatisfying go nowhere relationships. They lash out. It's not defensible, but it's predictable.

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Feminism is the nihilist hatred of free will and of men.

"Gender Tribalism"-Peter Schwartz

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Big yawn. No actual empirical data or anything on this.

Are we supposed to look at *Bryan's* truisms and conclude "oh wow, Harvey Weinstein must have been falsely accused! he must be released from prison immediately".

Also, re "Success motivates false accusations", I have yet to see many famous people of being falsely accused of sexual misconduct. Maybe I don't follow celebrities that much but usually accusations cluster on a few individuals - doesn't mean the accusations are true.

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>So while some of the accused may ultimately turn out to be guilty of serious wrong-doing, we know that accusers who ignore my truisms are guilty of serious wrong-doing already.

Yes, of course. Ignoring Omnipotent Bryan is the same as what Cosby and Weinstein did.

It must be so hard to be perfect when the rest of us are so irrational as to want basic human rights.

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One thing I'd like to hear you discuss, is that men are bigger and stronger than women and abuse and kill women more that women abuse and kill men, how does this work into feminism.

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Matt Ball, perhaps you’d understand his point if you’d been falsely accused.

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I with you did not mention MBTI. Its criticisms of being reliant on Barnum effect could well be dismissed here (even if MBTI just tells you what you hint at in the questions, it could be telling if women themselves say they are "more feeling than thinking"), but AFAIK it also has low reliability, so with a properly hacked sample you could obtain MBTI statistics that show you whatever the hell you want.

> If an activist makes a habit of ignoring my ten truisms, they’re aren’t just error-prone. They’re accusing others negligently. So while some of the accused may ultimately turn out to be guilty of serious wrong-doing, we know that accusers who ignore my truisms are guilty of serious wrong-doing already.

IMO this is an unwarrantedly strong statement. I understand the people you're criticising have no qualms about completely disregarding epistemic humility, but this is no reason to do the same - otherwise, IMO, you're just participating in the culture war on the opposing side.

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