Saturday, February 20, 2016

Clarifying The Demand For Banishment

Reply to thread: Clarifying The Demand For Green Lights


Coincidentally... I finished writing this post before I saw Blakk Metal's post.

If anything we should be clarifying the demand for Clarifying the Demand. I suspect everyone here who disagrees with Xero could quite comfortably outbid him. We could easily prevent him Clarifying Demand once we have clarified our demand to not Clarify the Demand. - Alvecia

A month or two ago I was permanently banned from the Science Forum.  I wasn't voted off the island... some unknown moderator kicked me off the island.  Would I have preferred being voted off the island?  Yes, of course.  Tyranny of the majority is certainly better than tyranny of the minority.  But of course my first choice would have been clarification.

How much would I have been willing to pay to stay?  How much, if anything, would all the members have been willing to pay for me to stay?  How much would all the members have been willing to pay for me to leave?

Now... for perhaps some of you this is all pretty frivolous.  After all... it's just a forum!  Yes, that's true.  Still though... from my perspective it's definitely worth serious consideration.

The reason that I was a member of that forum is the same reason that I'm a member of this forum.  I enjoy trading perspectives with different people.  It's fun, challenging, frustrating and informative/insightful.  It's rewarding to trade perspectives with different people.  But a few members of the Science Forum really didn't enjoy trading with me.  Which is perfectly fine!  And understandable.  But, at the same time, nobody really forced them to trade with me.  Nobody forced them to participate in my threads.  Nobody even forced them to read my threads.  Yet, they consistently did so and made it abundantly clear that they really didn't like my perspective.  Did I mind that they made their opinions known in my threads?  Of course not!  But I did mind it when my threads were locked.  It was much more preferable when they were moved into the Trash Can category.  Then those who were actually interested in trading with me could continue to do so.

So a few people strongly believed that the Science Forum was better off without me.  And evidently one or more moderators decided that this was indeed the case.

Here's the parallel that perhaps a few of you are anticipating.  Just like some members thought that their forum was better off without me... some Germans thought that their country was better off without Jews.  In the only election whose results we can reasonably trust... the majority did not vote for Hitler.  Still though... quite a few people did vote for a "moderator" who strongly agreed that Germany would be better off without the Jews.

Just like I would have preferred if clarification had been used to determine whether I was ejected from the forum... if I had been a Jew in Germany then I also would have preferred if clarification had been used to determine whether I was ejected from the country.

Right now we all more or less accept that moderators should have power to decide whether a forum member is banished.  Because... after all... it is just a forum.  Even if a moderator makes a mistake... it's not that big of a deal.  Yet, I'm pretty sure that most of us would be pretty bummed out if we tried to log in to this forum tomorrow only to learn that we've been permanently banned.  Am I right?  Just like you'd be bummed if your favorite trading partners were permanently banned.

Even though it's far more inconsequential to be banned from a forum than it is to be banned from a country... I'm pretty sure that the hater mentality is exactly the same.   Now I'm not necessarily saying that I was hated on because I am a pragmatarian.  It's entirely possible that I was hated on for being an asshole.  So rather than the haters saying, "our place is better off without pragmatarians"... they would have said, "our place is better off without assholes."  The latter is a lot more acceptable than the former.  Who wants to participate on a forum full of assholes?  Who wants to drive on a highway full of assholes?  Who wants to live in a country full of assholes?

Am I an asshole?  I try not to be... but maybe sometimes I don't try hard enough.  So perhaps for some of you the answer to this question is "YES!!!"  And voting would allow us to quickly determine just how many of you think that I'm an asshole.  Democracy would give you the opportunity to vote me off the island.  But, as I've tried to explain, I really don't trust voting.  It's entirely superficial.  It's super superficial.  From my perspective, voting is infinitely inferior to spending.  Spending requires that you sacrifice the alternative uses of your money.  So I trust clarification infinitely more than I trust democracy.  And it makes me nervous that I'm the exception rather than the rule.

Well... to be clear...I'm not the only exception.  People who've actually studied the topic also recognize the inherent problems with democracy.  For example... here are some relevant snippets from Democracy and Decision by  Loren Lomasky and Geoffrey Brennan...

As was noted in Chapter 3, expressions of malice and/or envy no less than expressions of altruism are cheaper in the voting booth than in the market. A German voter who in 1933 cast a ballot for Hitler was able to indulge his antisemitic sentiments at much less cost than she would have borne by organizing a pogrom.

There are, however, several other considerations that are sometimes mentioned in the context of revealed preference that do suggest a systematic and predictable bias in the divergence between actions and words (and by extrapolation between market and electoral preference), and these considerations are of more interest in the current setting.

The market choice has been the object of extensive study by economists and needs little analysis here.  It is to be emphasized, however, that in the market setting the chooser is decisive:  The opportunity cost of choosing a is b forgone.  It is this latter fact that enables the observer to conclude that the chooser prefers a or b and, equivalently, that allows the economist to speak of the individual's choice as "revealing" her preference.

While the market conduces to learning by concentrating the costs of mistakes on those who make them, politics diffuses costs and thereby encourages the perpetuation of ignorance.

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