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Michael Powell
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Michael Powell

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Very much this... I've felt the frustration of these abuses of "not all X" from both sides, but never quite found the words, or impetus, to write about it.

Plus, I learned of the "Tin Man fallacy", which has been an active pet peeve of mine for a long time, which I had no good term for.
 
I've got a problem with the "Not All X" snowclone. Both when used earnestly and when used to dismiss someone by pattern-matching them to those who use it earnestly.

Let's start with the earnest use first. Taken literally, "not all X" is a pretty damn weak defense. It calls to mind the old joke about how 90% of lawyers (or politicians, or whatever) give the rest a bad name. If a complaint validly applies to the overwhelming majority of a category, then a certain amount of generalization is forgivable, and the proper response by someone who's a member of the category who feels slighted by a generalized statement would probably be to acknowledge the problem while emphasizing their own status as an exception (and hopefully as an ally against it).

What's usually meant instead by earnest claims of "not all X" is that the targets of the complaint are not representative of Xes as a whole. That the complaint represents an instance of the herring/fish formal fallacy (all herring are fish, but most fish are not herring) or the Tin Man informal fallacy (similar to better-known Straw Man fallacy, with the distinction that a true Straw Man is a figment of the fallacator's imagination, while the Tin Man exists but is an unrepresentative example of the class). And if that's what you mean, say so explicitly. It may be a valid point, depending on the circumstances, and a courteous, well-presented, intellectually-honest case for that point can improve the discussion and help both sides understand each others positions better. Don't annoy people and shoot your own side in the foot by tossing off a sloppy slogan which implicitly concedes that Xes to whom the complaint doesn't apply are rare exceptions.

But be careful when raising the argument that you're actually responding to a problematic misleading generalization and not to an imprecisely-phrased complaint about how some X do a bad thing or have a bad characteristic. Suppose, for example, that 5% of locksmiths were burglars. That would be a very real problem, and responding to "Locksmiths keep picking my deadbolt and stealing my TV" with "Most locksmiths aren't burglars" would be missing the point completely and dismissing a valid complaint about a real problem.

So why do I also object to "not all X" when it's used sarcastically to dismiss people who appear to be raising a "not all X" argument in earnest? Because it gets stretched to apply to people who aren't actually using "not all X", just something with a vague superficial resemblance to it. And because there are some contexts when "not all X", stated thus and stated in earnest, is actually a valid point.

The herring/fish fallacy gets used quite a bit, and the Tin Man fallacy seems to be a mainstay of modern political discourse across the political spectrum. There needs to be a way to complain about these without being automatically dismissed, or there's no point trying to talk to people who disagree with you at all.

Moreover, generalizations about categories of people can be deeply corrosive to respect and basic human decency. If you're complaining about a subset of a category that exhibits a certain bad behavior, being precise about what you're complaining about helps your complaint reach more people (especially members of the broader category who could be effective allies against the bad behavior if you don't turn them against you by implicitly accusing them of that same bad behavior), and it opts you out of contributing to the promulgation of toxic prejudices.

There's also a corner case when "not all X" is itself a valid point. Going back to my locksmith example, a proposal to put all locksmiths under 24/7 police surveillance, or to deport noncitizen locksmiths, or otherwise to subject broad swaths of locksmiths to treatment as likely criminals would be fundamentally unjust. If someone is proposing acting on an unsound generalization in a way that would inflict serious unjust harm on innocent members of the generalized class, it seems appropriate to remind people of the existence of the aforementioned innocent members of the class.

Side note: "Tin Man" is not the standard name for the informal fallacy, but I'm trying to promote it in preference to the more common term "Weak Man", which has misleading connotations. I also made up the word "fallacator" because I needed a word that meant "one who commits a fallacy" but there didn't seem to be one.
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Ember Leo's profile photoEric Rall's profile photoMichael Powell's profile photo
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Honestly, I think very few bad faith arguments in any context are done deliberately, or at least consciously. People are capable of doing some pretty insidious misdirections just by virtue of an unconscious avoidance of arguments they don't know how to address. I know, because I've caught myself doing it before.

And yes, there are occasional trolls or bad actors who do it very deliberately. But it's really easy to assume that unfairly of people who are just not very self-conscious of their own arguments. Though the effect it has on discourse tends to be just as bad either way.
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Michael Powell

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Well this is a fascinating development. A more unified Africa is likely to become more stable and prosperous. I look forward to seeing how the African Union continues to develop over the next few decades. Hopefully it ends up stronger than the EU has proven to be.
The African Union is pursuing a path of closer integration through the launch of a common passport that will grant visa-free access to all 54 member states.
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Michael Powell

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You know what I think Overwatch needs? A campaign mode. The online multiplayer is excellent, but they also have this huge, extensive world with tons of story, and in normal gameplay you barely scrape the surface of it. They do a good job of making all the heroes seem awesome and powerful and heroic in the normal game, when you're fighting other heroes, but it would be particularly awesome to experience how they stack up against hordes of unnamed mooks.

I'd love to see a short campaign for each hero, releasing them one at a time, to explore their background and ties to the rest of the characters.

Or, a series of co-op missions. Pick your heroes, and play through a Left 4 Dead style scenario.

So much cool stuff they can do if they're willing to expand the game beyond it's basic online arena multiplayer roots.
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Kenton Varda's profile photoMichael Powell's profile photoAndy Friesen's profile photo
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I predict they expressly made Overwatch's world for the purpose of acting as a springboard for other products.

I'm totally expecting Blizzard to follow up with a slew of Overwatch-related games, toys, TV shows, and so forth.
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Michael Powell

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Theory: VR is the savior of 3D printing.

The biggest problem with 3D printing is that, no matter how high quality and cheap the printer gets, somebody still needs to do the work to build the 3D model. If you have to rely on models people have already built, you're not going to get that much utility out of it, because the real power comes from having objects very specifically customized to your circumstances.

I have the skill to do this. I suspect many of my friends on here do as well. But the general populace? Hell no. It's far too complex and technical a skill to expect everybody to learn.

Enter VR. The reason 3D modeling is hard and technical is because you're doing 3D things through a 2D UI. This requires a lot of annoying abstractions. But VR gives you a 3D UI. You'll now be able to do 3D modeling by just sticking your hand in the object, grabbing vertices, and dragging them around. You'll be able to sculpt 3D objects like clay. Skilled artists will be able to make much fancier things with this, but anybody will be able to create basic, crude, practical objects, just like anybody can use MS Paint to build some crude pixel art.

And thus 3D printers might actually become useful to the masses.
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As a 3d modeler myself, I completely agree. Although to do complex operations you'd still need tools, how intuitive they are would seem the deciding factor for how much the average person could accomplish with one.
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Michael Powell

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I'm looking for a specific kind of video game, which I think MUST exist, but I can't find examples of.

I want an open-ended procedural small unit tactics game based on an adventuring company.

There are a lot of classic RPGs that are sort of in this vein, but they tend to focus a lot more on weaving a pre-written narrative. I'm looking for something that's more open-ended. Something a bit more like Cube World, but a tactical experience instead of an action one.

Battle Brothers is kind of like this, but it focuses on building a small army with a high fatality rate. I'm looking for something more akin to a classic D&D adventuring company: 4 to 6 heroes that you pretty much stick with and continue to advance the entire time.

Any suggestions?
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J Berg's profile photoMichael Powell's profile photoEmber Cooke's profile photo
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Explore on your own terms is actually reasonably common in the "wide-open sandbox" genre. It's the develop part that's less so.

The most recent Dragon Age game, for example, has totally open spaces that you can keep exploring after the game is over, but the plot is nevertheless clearly ... well, not entirely linear, but heading in a specific general direction.
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Michael Powell

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You barely even have to dig to find a long history of how horrifically terrible a person Trump actually is.
Donald Trump casts himself as a protector of workers, but a USA TODAY Network investigation found hundreds – carpenters, dishwashers, painters, even his own lawyers – who say he didn’t pay them for their work.
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Michael Powell

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I know not all toddlers are extremist murderers, but those that aren't really ought to speak up and condemn the rest.
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Michael Powell

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On Brexit, and the Value of the EU

The EU over the past decade has been pretty fucked up. They've imposed problematic austerity measures on many member states, most notably Greece, that have completely failed to solve anything, and in fact generally made matters much worse. Many of their trade agreements are questionable, increasing income disparity and causing all sorts of problems.

The Brexit vote could have been about that, and there WERE a minority of people in Britain who tried to make it about that. But for most, that wasn't the point. The best thing about the EU is its open border policy, allowing all the peoples of all the many and varied European countries to travel freely, and THIS is what Brexit was really against, for most of it's supporters. It was about racist, nationalist, anti-immigrant sentiments. And it's doing immeasurable harm to Britain.

The problem is that I keep seeing people hold the two in direct opposition such that to hate one is to support the other. "The EU is terrible" is greeted with "Stop supporting Brexit!" And "Brexit is horrid" is greeted with "But the EU is terrible!" Just because the EU and the Brexit movement are opposed to each other doesn't mean that it's a battle of good vs. evil, where one is heroic and the other monstrous.

So the EU is rather problematic (though it has it's good points). And Brexit is just completely horrid.

These two opinions are not in opposition.
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Michael Powell

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This is interesting data. Particularly surprising when you account for the fact that Clinton has the support of something like 75% of black voters, who I assume virtually never expressed these anti-black viewpoints. That should have skewed this data heavily in Clinton's favor. Which suggests that non-black Sanders voters are less racist than non-black Clinton voters by a significantly wider margin than this poll suggests.

I wish they had this data broken down by the race of the respondent, so we could test that theory.

As a side note, these numbers are shockingly high for EVERY candidate.
Sanders supporters are the least racist
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Adam “Going insane” Bruh's profile photoRon Brown's profile photoMichael Powell's profile photo
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Wow. They're really coming out of the woodwork for this one. That last guy has a wall covered in videos about chemtrails.
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Michael Powell

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I feel rather behind the times, but I was just introduced to the term "kyriarchy", from a post by +Ember Cooke in another forum, and I think I'm a fan. I googled it, and this article popped up, which seems like a good introduction.

I've always been a little leery of the term Patriarchy. It describes a real problem, but it does so in a kind of simplistic and limited fashion. The objective of modern feminism is less about directly fighting the oppression of women, and more about freeing society from the shackles of gender roles and oppression and general. And in doing so, the oppression of women will fall to the wayside.

So kyriarchy, as I'm understanding the term, refers to a society in which privilege is, by default, used to oppress those without it. This applies to the common and obvious cases of men oppressing women and white people oppressing black people, and the other common bigotries. But it also applies to the often more insidious cases of men or women oppressing more effeminate men or more masculine women. It applies to the wealthy oppressing the poor. It applies to the popular or charismatic oppressing the awkward.

It provides a much more holistic view of oppression.

So fuck the kyriarchy!
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Michael Powell

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So a thought:

By the Middle Ages, Europe was kind of stagnating. There was a very large population of very poor people who resulted in ample cheap labor, leaving little motivation to automate. Then the Black Plague came around and depopulated the continent. Especially the peasantry. Suddenly labor was a lot less cheap, and tons of innovation came along, both in philosophy and technology. This was the Enlightenment. In many ways, Europe's global dominance in the following centuries can be credited to that plague.

The western world is debatably in a similar rut now. Our economy has been stagnating for a few decades now, and while technology is continuing to advance at a rapid pace, there is a lot of automation which we aren't bothering with because rampant unemployment means labor is cheap. Why invent a machine to flip burgers when it's so cheap to hire somebody to do it? I think we need to change our labor market to get out of this rut. Further, we're stuck with an outdated model of human dignity where selling yourself for money is considered the only noble and right thing to do.

While a great plague would do the job, it'd do it in the most horrific way possible. I'd rather take another route. The real key, though, is just making labor less cheap. A substantial increase in the minimum wage would do that, but that may just result in a lot more unemployment without doing anything to make that less disastrous.

What we need, really, is to soften the blow of unemployment. Make it so people don't need to take whatever work they can get in a desperate struggle for survival. Then they can turn down jobs they don't want, which raises the price of labor. This could spur a lot of automation of low-end jobs, because it's now cheaper to make a robotic line chef or checkout robot then to hire an unskilled worked to fill that role.

It would also, more importantly, spur a philosophical update. In short:

Working because you love it is dignified. Working because it's necessary for survival is a denial of dignity.

All of this is honestly just another way of saying: We need a Universal Basic Income.
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Eric Rall's profile photoEmber Cooke's profile photoMichael Powell's profile photo
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+Ember Cooke​ Totally and wholeheartedly agreed. One of the other reasons to be employed is health insurance, and if that's not fixed than a UBI might not do that much to bid people out of the labor market. They'll still need to take whatever crappy job they can to get health care.
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Michael Powell

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Both this video and +Nate Gaylinn's commentary on it are really fascinating alternative takes on the concept of violence and how it can reframe discussions on bigotry. Leaves me with a lot to think about.
 
Idea Channel did a great video on "violence," and why it's useful to apply that term even to non-physical acts. I recommend it. The tl;dw is that any act that removes a person's ability to choose can be considered violent.

From this comes a very interesting concept: "symbolic violence." This is the idea that by inventing, reinforcing, or promoting stereotypes you are committing violence against a group of people. This concept was new to me, and this post is my way of exploring the idea. I think it’s fascinating. It's an explanation for why hate speech is bad, but it's also useful for understanding what political correctness attempts to do, and why it sometimes fails.

The way to think about this is that by manipulating a symbol that represents a group of people, you are creating a role for them to play, and denying them the chance to define that role for themselves. They don't have to play along, surely. But by saying this is what you expect of them and encouraging others to think likewise, you create a pressure, a force pushing them into whatever shaped box you imagine. Weak or strong, that force is a form of violence.

Here's a concrete example. Say you're transgender. You're a normal, everyday woman who likes to look and act in a very typical way, you just happen to have been born with male genitalia. That's your experience of “trans,” and you accept that label because it accurately describes your situation, at least by your definition. When a North Carolina politician uses that word to mean “sexual predator,” they do so without asking you, or having any familiarity with your experience. By promoting that definition they shape how others think, and make a hostile environment for you. They push you to change your behavior to be less obvious or threatening, even though the fear is of a symbol, not of you. By warping the definition of the symbol, they warp the definition of you.

Political correctness attempts to fix this, but often misses the point. It starts by saying “don't use that awful, tainted symbol!” which is good. There are a lot of harmful memes that we need to move past. But then it typically goes on to say “use this symbol instead.” The replacement is intended to be neutral or positive, but this, too, is symbolic violence. Rather than defeating stereotypes, it uses them to push public opinion in a “positive” direction. I'm reminded of Autism Speaks, an organization that claims to help people on the autistic spectrum, but without actually involving them or asking their opinion. Imagine two people vehemently arguing about what you'd like for lunch and all you want is a chance to say “um, actually…”

Creating a new symbol (“transgender” instead of “transexual”), or reclaiming a symbol (like “queer”) can be a powerful tool for social change, but any symbol can be tainted, and no one can speak for everyone who identifies with a particular label. What's important is to treat people as individuals, and to judge them by their behavior rather than your preconceptions. When you use a loaded label, you should ask yourself, “what baggage comes with this word?” and “does this reflect my personal experience with individuals who choose to identify this way?” If you don't have much hands on experience with a group, maybe you shouldn't say anything about them at all.

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Michael Powell's profile photoNate Gaylinn's profile photo
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The "sticks and stones" thing kind of infuriated me. Thank you for refuting that so soundly.

I think the counter-points are off topic, actually. They're mostly just using attacks on the words to dismiss the concept. That's cheap, and sounds more reasonable than it is.

+Christina Tom had a great suggestion to turn the discussion on its head by asking: "what is violence?" I really like where that line of reasoning went, but I guess we'll see how its received.
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