Holly Elmore (@HollyElmore@schelling.pt)

Holly Elmore (@HollyElmore@schelling.pt)



I'm a fan of high-decoupling norms and defaulting to discussing ideas abstractly and out-of-context. But I think "high-decoupling" is often used as a smokescreen for smuggling in unstated context that the speaker *is* supplying in their own head and communicating to others.

Like, I think race/IQ stuff is so hurtful bc we know good and well that many of the people "just talking about the facts" (themselves morally neutral) value their intelligence most about themselves or at least think that intelligence is determinative of moral worth...

... So when they talk about "the facts", it is only consistent to assume that in their model of the world some groups are morally inferior because of their distribution of IQs.

Telling someone who brings up the speaker's known attitudes that they are just a "low decoupler" (also itself morally neutral) is a further insult because often it is known that the speaker has contempt for low decoupling and prizes their identity as a high-decoupler as well.

So the dynamic becomes one person implying insults and the other person being forbidden from noticing it-- even having feelings about context shows what a bad decoupler you are, so you're getting more and punished with low esteem from the speaker for having been insulted.

When I hear of these situations, I often suspect the "high-decoupler" wasn't decoupling all that well-- representing unstated beliefs (such as "intelligence gives moral worth") in the conversation but thinking that because they weren't explicitly stated, they were off-limits.

It is also true that sometimes low-decouplers just don't know what it's like not have such a tight association between content and context. They can dogmatically insist that there is only one context for everyone or every topic.

As a fairly high decoupler, I'm baffled by the frequent suggestion that race/IQ discussions should be required to acknowledge slavery. It just seems to me there are many valid contexts for the discussion (the one that comes most naturally to me is my former field, genomics).

Being ostentatiously high-decoupling is a signal of safety to a kind of person (including me, to a large extent) common in the EA/rationality community. Highly analytical thinkers (perhaps leaning autistic) are often surprised by the context of certain topics for other people.

For people who are naturally high-decoupling or unskilled at noticing context, it can feel like they are walking on eggshells with low decouplers. They feel betrayed if they are suddenly in trouble for thinking and talking about something abstractly.

I was put off by the amount that rationalists heaped praise on "high openness" and "high decoupling" traits and aggressively advertised them until I realized that they are looking for people they will feel safe existing with.

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