Backlog Metablogging, April 2022

I feel like I've been pretty lazy for the last—ten months? A laziness born out of resignation and despair, a sense that I've outlived myself, that my story and my world is over, and I'm just enjoying a reasonably comfortable afterlife in—the time we have left. I may have picked up a slight gaming habit (to the tune of 275 hours of Slay the Spire and 660 games of Super Auto Pets).

But it's not, over. While the world is still here, I still have things to fight for besides my reasonable comfort—and still (somehow yet still) so much more yet unwritten! If my grandchildren won't read it (because I'm not even on a trajectory to have children, or because the world isn't on a trajectory to last that long), the next-next generation of language models will.

In December 2018, I put up a teaser list of post ideas I hadn't then gotten around to writing up yet. To remind myself—and you—that I'm still alive, maybe it's a good time to review how that went so far, and post a new list.

Ideas from the December 2018 list that got published/finished in some form—

Ideas remaining from the December 2018 list that I still care about—

  • "'But I'm Not Quite Sure What That Means': Costs of Nonbinary Gender as a Social Technology"
    • If (e.g.) the 5% most masculine/androgynous females identify as NB to escape the strictures of the "woman" gender role, that increases the gender-role pressure on females who don't identify as NB (who are now presumed to consent to it)
  • something of my own take on what's going on with the etiology of MtF (more than just punting to Brown or Lawrence as my standard reference for the background worldview that my content takes for granted)
    • I especially owe this to friend of the blog Tailcalled who has become disillustioned with orthodox "Blanchardianism", and having been trapped in a ten-month laziness spiral of resignation and despair that my story and my world are over isn't an excuse while the world is, in fact, still here
  • the epistemic-horror short stories!!

Ideas from the December 2018 list that I'm less excited about now and am less likely to finish

  • naïve Bayes models for sex categorization
  • Codes of Conduct as an ideological enforcement mechanism
  • "The Neglect of Probability Fallacy; Or, You Do Not Have an Intersex Condition"
  • FaceApp/Oculus Go product reviews

Book reviews I'm relatively unlikely to get around to finishing—

  • joint book review of Kathleen Stock's Material Girls: Why Reality Matters for Feminism and Kathryn Paige Harden's The Genetic Lottery: Why DNA Matters for Social Equality
    • the subtitle parallelism is charming, and the heroic willingness to face facts that are inconvenient to one's value-commitments while staying true to those values is on theme for this blog
  • Imogen Binnie's Nevada
    • something about the horror of a world without ambition or the life of the mind (or specifically, the philosopher–scientist's mind, rather than the activist's)? Binnie (who will always have more readers than me) writes characters don't have any concept of doing anything except drugs and complaining about Society's transphobia.
  • Abigail Shrier's Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters
    • Damage is sensationalist right-wing journalism, rather than the kind of careful, nuanced scholarship of the kind you would expect to be reviewed by such a refined blog as The Scintillating But Ultimately Untrue Thought—but damned if the situation on the ground doesn't call more sensationalist right-wing journalism
  • Shon Faye's The Transgender Issue
  • Multi-Book Review: Various Sex-Ed Books for Children

New list of more ideas I want to finish—

  • the Whole Dumb Story of my breakup with the so-called "rationalist" community (working title: "A Hill of Validity in Defense of Meaning")
    • This has been brewing for a couple years. ("I think I'm almost ready to stop grieving and move on with my life," I said in August 2020.) I have thousands of words of drafting and notes. ("Sexual Dimorphism" was actually Part One of this, published separately as a mere megapost when I found I didn't have the stamina to tell the Whole Dumb Story in a single mega-megapost.) It's just been hard, but—it's over, isn't it? Why can't I move on?
  • book review of the new new Charles Murray book that's actually about the thing that everyone assumes all of his previous books were about
    • with a coda about how the thing itself is much less important than how the political necessity of denying the thing ends up recursively destroying our Society's ability to reason ...
      • with potentially astronomical consequences, as a Society that managed to successfully do eugenic selection for intelligence before developing computing would have a much better shot at solving the artificial intelligence alignment problem ...
        • in contrast to how in our Society, people can't even talk about this stuff except under cover of a pseudonym! We are dead! We are so dead!!
  • speculative but deeply-researched post arguing that some young children who are identified as transgender in the current ideological environment, would likely not have had gender problems at all in a different environment (working title: "Trans Kids on the Margin, and Harms From Misleading Training Data")
  • I owe Tracing Woodgrains a linkpost-with-commentary to his nice essay about me
  • speculations about my "medianworld" (a worldbuilding exercise from the Glowfic community, where you try to portray a realistic, consilient world in which the average person is like you)
  • a reply to Scott Alexander's "Autogenderphilia Is Common and Not Especially Related to Transgender"
    • I have a few thousand words drafted, but I haven't been happy with it, because it's surprisingly hard to explain my point of view in a way that I think will land for people who don't already share my parsimony intuitions; here as with Moser 2009, I'm not doubting the survey data itself; rather, I think we have enough prior knowledge about what females and males are like, to strongly suspect that in this case a Yes answer to the same survey question doesn't mean the same thing for both populations
  • actually, I want to explore the point about regression to the mean and group differences in more mathematical detail, because there's more philosophical depth here: regression is an empirically observable phenomenon, but there's also a sense in which the choice of group is meaningfully subjective: do I regress the mean of my immediate family, or my extended family, or my race?
  • a post about how redefining gender categories is the right thing to do insofar as many people transitioning changes statistical structure of data in the world (following Stuart Armstrong's "Declustering, Reclustering, and Filling in Thingspace")
    • This is probably important to write up as a novel argument "supporting" the "pro-trans" coalition, in contrast to how more of my content tends to code as "anti-trans" when you orthogonally project into the one-dimensional space of the usual battle lines. The fact that I generate and publish such arguments spontaneously is how you know—and how I know—that I'm not a partisan hack.
  • a post about how sex concepts represent both categorical differences and the conjunction of statistical differences of various effect sizes, such that if you try to unpin the word from the categorical differences, you end up (as per the usual gender-critical complaint) defining gender in terms of stereotypes because there's nothing left for the word to attach to (working title: "Subspatial Distribution Overlap and Cancellable Stereotypes")
  • a post about how gender identity ideology is actually not very compatible with the traditional liberal impulse to make gender less of a big deal, because there's a huge difference between omitting category information that's not relevant, vs. letting people choose their category-membership (working title: "Elision vs. Choice")
  • a steelperson of the "assigned at birth" terminology (working title: "'Assigned at Birth' Is a Schelling Point (If You Live in an Insane Dystopia Where the Concept of Sex Is Somehow Controversial)")
  • I occasionally get people telling me that it doesn't matter whether AGP is causally relevant to late-onset gender dysphoria in males, because we Know that Transition Works and makes people happier. And just—I'm pretty skeptical that you could legitimately be that confident about what the best quality-of-life intervention for a condition is, without actually understanding the nature of the condition (working title: "Model-Free Happiness")
  • a post about the motivation for positing peseudobisexuality or meta-attraction as part of the two-type taxonomy of MtF: it may sound like a suspicious ad hoc patch to save the theory from falsification by bi trans women, but it's actually needed to explain the commonality of (a) AGP males expressing attraction to men only while in "girl mode" themselves, and (b) self-reports of sexual orientation changing post-transition in trans women who weren't androphilic before
    • (a) is suspicious is because "bi + AGP, independently" doesn't explain why the interest would be dependent on one's own presentation; (b) is suspicious is because everything else we know about sexual orientation in males (but not females) makes it look awfully stable. (Conversion therapy doesn't work; criminally convicted pedophiles still show genital response to child stimuli despite the huge incentives to conceal/repress it; correlation of homosexuality with childhood behavior makes it look like a prenatal organizational effect, rather than an activational effect that would respond to HRT as an adult.)
    • Maybe these two bullet points suffice and I don't need to pad it out into a whole post?
  • a critique of the implicit presentism in Holden Karnofsky's Cold Takes blog

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