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Daekyras
09-29-2014, 07:26 AM
Hey Guys, had a lovely long post full of details written but the internet deleted it. :(

Anyway,

A scholarship at college was given to the five most suitable candidates.

These were all boys.

A girl challenged this on the grounds of sexism. It was revealed that she would have been 16th in line.

the top girl was 7th.

At the committee hearing several members wanted to change the results to include at least one female.

My question is- if the five candidates were picked on merit using very strict and impartial criteria, is it sexist for five boys to be given the award?

Is it not sexist now to insist that at least one girl receive the honour?

GonzoTheGreat
09-29-2014, 08:35 AM
Hey Guys, had a lovely long post full of details written but the internet deleted it.Perhaps the Internet is sexist. Then again, if that were the case, then I'm sure there would be some other signs of that too.

Anyways, the first question to be asked in a situation such as this would be: is it what would be expected if everything were fair?

At first sight, the answer would be no, in which case there should be measures taken to rectify the situation. That could include having some kind of quota for women.

On the other hand, it is also quite possible that it is to be expected that most or even all of the top 5 would be male. That's the case with, for instance, chess players, which is not a sport where physical prowess plays a major role.
In that case, this specific testing procedure should be kept as it is, and the result would only a reason to look hard at the preparation (earlier schooling and such) of the candidates.

So the most correct answer seems to be: this requires further study.

yks 6nnetu hing
09-29-2014, 08:58 AM
yes and no.

For an opposite comparison, I went to an elite high school - well, technically you had to take tests to get in at age 7 already, and again at 15/16. Because of the differing learning curve of boys and girls at those ages, the boys got a lowered minimum score to get in. There were still only 7 boys to 30 girls.

So in essence, that's somewhat similar to your example of tilting the quota in favour of one gender. However, once it's tilted for the initial admittance, it should be up to the individual to do their best and get the merits they deserve. In case of an award, if a boy is best, then the boy is best, end of story.

Nazbaque
09-29-2014, 09:20 AM
I'd say it is now doubly sexist as there is now at least one who gets rewarded simply because both sexes have to have at least one in the line up and because apparently you can't expect any better from the pretty little head of a woman who with the natural handicap of her sex should possibly be considered the top of the whole thing.

Equal treatment is supposed to be blind to sex. If in any given mixed contest the rewards happen to go to contestants that happen to be the same sex or class or race or whatever, it just happened. It just means that among those contestants the best happened to have a lot in common outside the contest's ruling factors.

Of course if the judges of the contest awarded points unfairly it is a whole different barrel of snakes. If the girl pointing at sexism meant to imply that sex directly affected the "merit" with which they were being ranked, then she would have a point should this be the case. If she accused them solely because there were no girls among the top five, I'd say we have a case of sore loser trying to tell herself she's a victim of unfair society norms instead of facing the fact that some of her fellow students are better than she is by the standards in question.

Wouldn't be the first time I came across a woman saying that all men are sexist (incert negative description of choice) and giving herself away as a sexist woman. The irony is amusing in a bitter sort of way. I generally detest this sort of thinking and the people who adopt it, but even more so when it is applied in reverse and other women want to call someone else's hard work a victory for womanhood as a whole.

Isabel
09-29-2014, 12:04 PM
Hey Guys, had a lovely long post full of details written but the internet deleted it. :(

Anyway,

A scholarship at college was given to the five most suitable candidates.

These were all boys.

A girl challenged this on the grounds of sexism. It was revealed that she would have been 16th in line.

the top girl was 7th.

At the committee hearing several members wanted to change the results to include at least one female.

My question is- if the five candidates were picked on merit using very strict and impartial criteria, is it sexist for five boys to be given the award?

Is it not sexist now to insist that at least one girl receive the honour?

I have mixed feelings about this. I do think it's important that there is a mixture of gender and etnicity.
When positive discrimination is needed is hard to decide.

Ivhon
09-29-2014, 12:17 PM
What is "positive discrimination?"

How are we sure that the criteria are impartial? That is an extremely difficult claim to make.

GonzoTheGreat
09-29-2014, 12:22 PM
What is "positive discrimination?"
In American English it's called Affirmative Action, which is more of a euphemism, and that may be why this is preferred there. However, if you use abbreviations, then the link between PD and PC is a lot more obvious than that between PC and AA.

Daekyras
09-29-2014, 01:19 PM
How are we sure that the criteria are impartial? That is an extremely difficult claim to make.

The marking was as follows:

500 highest possible score.

Academic- maximum of 300. Based on average mark in first year exams. So if you got an average of 30% 90 points. 80 would net 240.

Social- maximum of 100. For being an active member of clubs and committees like students union etc.

Extra curricular- sports, musicals.

The girl had made a case that as she had been the lead in a musical she should have received a high mark here. She assumed the boys had gotten some for sport. In actuality she had 67 marks here and highest value for any of the top five was 48.

If it makes a difference the last 9 years when 45 awards have been given out 27 recipient were female. This was just an unusual year.

And yes, i do think it was completely impartial.

Nazbaque
09-29-2014, 01:59 PM
Extra curricular- sports, musicals.

The girl had made a case that as she had been the lead in a musical she should have received a high mark here. She assumed the boys had gotten some for sport. In actuality she had 67 marks here and highest value for any of the top five was 48.

My sore loser theory seems all the more likely. Obviously the lead role has fed her sense of self importance.

For the rest it really seems like any discrimination in favor of males would have to be all the way in the test scores. But 27 out of 45 (would that be 27 out of 50 now or 27 out 40 before this year?) would be proof of the opposite if it is to be taken as anything else than proof of fairness as it is well within a reasonable margin.

I'd say yes an unusual year and a complaint from a sore loser who insults her own sex by dragging it into the matter.

Of course such discrimination exists and while I wish it could be at least minimized it should never be done by pretending that reality is anything than it is. And the reality is that men and women are different. Sometimes these differences matter, sometimes they don't and sometimes they even matter in the opposite way if people would really think about it.

In the whole question of sexism I'd really prefer it if people stopped attributing the qualities of an individual to his or her half of the worlds population. It's damned disrespectful to both men and women. It is especially so in a case like this where individuals are being rewarded for their effort. Suggesting that this has anything to do with their half of the whole world is an insult to them as individuals.

Isabel
09-29-2014, 02:15 PM
My sore loser theory seems all the more likely. Obviously the lead role has fed her sense of self importance.

For the rest it really seems like any discrimination in favor of males would have to be all the way in the test scores. But 27 out of 45 (would that be 27 out of 50 now or 27 out 40 before this year?) would be proof of the opposite if it is to be taken as anything else than proof of fairness as it is well within a reasonable margin.

I'd say yes an unusual year and a complaint from a sore loser who insults her own sex by dragging it into the matter.

Of course such discrimination exists and while I wish it could be at least minimized it should never be done by pretending that reality is anything than it is. And the reality is that men and women are different. Sometimes these differences matter, sometimes they don't and sometimes they even matter in the opposite way if people would really think about it.

In the whole question of sexism I'd really prefer it if people stopped attributing the qualities of an individual to his or her half of the worlds population. It's damned disrespectful to both men and women. It is especially so in a case like this where individuals are being rewarded for their effort. Suggesting that this has anything to do with their half of the whole world is an insult to them as individuals.

If it's an usual year and normally the girl / boy ratio is good than there shouldn't be any changes in the test.

And yes positive discrimination is apparantly a dutch term :D :D :D

Nazbaque
09-29-2014, 02:39 PM
If it's an usual year and normally the girl / boy ratio is good than there shouldn't be any changes in the test.

And yes positive discrimination is apparantly a dutch term :D :D :D

Isa my point is that the rewards should always go to those who deserve them which ever sex they happen to be or indeed race or religion or etc. etc.

If the system somehow makes sure to add some sort of token representatives it is an insult to every one involved and the whole business is just another PR stunt.

The whole thing is about recognising the efforts of individuals. If the ruling system somehow adjusts to their sex it is unjust. If every single recipient had been male, it would still be fair if among those individuals they simply happened to be the best ones. Same thing if they had happened to be women, or black, or jewish, catholics. So long as the system judged them as individuals everything else is just a meaningless detail.

Isabel
09-29-2014, 02:54 PM
Isa my point is that the rewards should always go to those who deserve them which ever sex they happen to be or indeed race or religion or etc. etc.

If the system somehow makes sure to add some sort of token representatives it is an insult to every one involved and the whole business is just another PR stunt.

The whole thing is about recognising the efforts of individuals. If the ruling system somehow adjusts to their sex it is unjust. If every single recipient had been male, it would still be fair if among those individuals they simply happened to be the best ones. Same thing if they had happened to be women, or black, or jewish, catholics. So long as the system judged them as individuals everything else is just a meaningless detail.

That depends. Systems can favour certain gender or etnicity.If there really are places with little male or females and it is deemed good for it to be more representative, than that is more important than the individual.

Tomp
09-29-2014, 03:23 PM
Hey Guys, had a lovely long post full of details written but the internet deleted it. :(

Anyway,

A scholarship at college was given to the five most suitable candidates.

These were all boys.

A girl challenged this on the grounds of sexism. It was revealed that she would have been 16th in line.

the top girl was 7th.

At the committee hearing several members wanted to change the results to include at least one female.

My question is- if the five candidates were picked on merit using very strict and impartial criteria, is it sexist for five boys to be given the award?

Is it not sexist now to insist that at least one girl receive the honour?

It would be interesting to see how it's been previous years.

If there's been both men and women receiving it previously then there's no reason to call it sexism.

If it on the other hand almost always have gone to the male students in previous years then there may very well be cause for challenging it.

Nazbaque
09-29-2014, 03:31 PM
That depends. Systems can favour certain gender or etnicity.If there really are places with little male or females and it is deemed good for it to be more representative, than that is more important than the individual.

No it isn't because it is undeserved. It is reverse discrimination. "Let's reward these members of 'minorities' for their participation. After all they need a bit of a handicap." It promotes the idea that they are not equal to the others.

This 'positive discrimination' might be better than bigotry, but it's damn insulting to individuals. Judging anyone as simply a member of a group is an insult to them even if it isn't for the group.

As a side note the grammar goes "if something, then something" with an 'e'. It's a reverse then/than mistake when a lot more common mistake is to use the word then instead of than in a "something is more than something else" type of sentence. Not really important I just hate those mistakes.

The Unreasoner
09-29-2014, 04:47 PM
Life has never been fair. If gender/racial/economic diversity is considered valuable, it makes sense to have some sort of affirmative action policies. Sure, some high merit people in well represented demographics will be screwed over, but so what? People from low income backgrounds (or other underrepresented groups) have been screwed over most of their lives.

I say, get rid of all merit-based financial aid, move to a need-based system. Admissions can make the merit deciscions.

To paraphrase Dave Chappelle: I'd rather have people call me an affirmative action hire than call me unemployed.

Nazbaque
09-29-2014, 05:35 PM
I agree, but I maintain that this is the wrong way to go about it. If it is better to give to those in need rather than reward merit then let it be in the name of giving to those who need. Lying about merit is a much greater harm in the long run.

I'm sorry for being so vehement about this but it is a matter close to my heart. The balance between individual and the society is a very delegate one indeed and it is often hard to say when a society is being too demanding or an individual too selfish, but I see this approach as something that harms both individuals and society as a whole.

Frankly it's a case of hiding from a problem and pretending it isn't there. The problem being that we are not equal no matter how nice it would be. Even though there are many forms of merit and they certainly should be recognised, the sum totals are never going to fully even out. But society is so keen on the idea of everyone being equal, that it is metaphorically shooting itself in the leg by trying to force everyone on the same level regardless of their merit.

Even quite recent history is full of examples of horrifying treatment of other people simply because it was possible to do so, but this is a wrong in the opposite direction. Rather than treating others as inferior because of race or sex it is forcing the lie of equality on people. It's forcing us to be equal by cutting off everything that makes some of us better than average in some respect. The result may be equality but it is brought about by oppression on a global scale.

Kimon
09-29-2014, 05:39 PM
Life has never been fair. If gender/racial/economic diversity is considered valuable, it makes sense to have some sort of affirmative action policies. Sure, some high merit people in well represented demographics will be screwed over, but so what? People from low income backgrounds (or other underrepresented groups) have been screwed over most of their lives.

I say, get rid of all merit-based financial aid, move to a need-based system. Admissions can make the merit deciscions.

To paraphrase Dave Chappelle: I'd rather have people call me an affirmative action hire than call me unemployed.

Affirmative Action policies seemed to have shifted dramatically at least at most public universities in America. Take for example the premier public universities - Michigan (my alma mater), Berkeley, and UCLA. All used to use affirmative action in an attempt to maintain diversity in their enrollment. Legal challenges forced them to stop doing so, and now all three are overwhelmingly white and Asian. I'm not sure how much leeway public schools are allowed however in terms of gender parity, but they clearly attempt to maintain proportions similar to the population, and are much more successful here than in maintaining the proportion of minority enrollment to the overall public numbers (non-Asian anyway, as here there is over-representation compared to percentage of population). Michigan's enrollment proportion is 51% male to 49% female, Berkeley is 48% male to 52% female, and UCLA is 45% male to 55% female. The UCLA figures here are somewhat interesting in the other direction.

As for Daekyras' scholarship issue specifically, I don't see how or why it would necessarily be sexist if this year in isolation produced 5 men and no women, especially considering the small one-year sample size, and the similar distribution over time. Nonetheless, neither would I consider it unreasonable for the school to desire in the future to attempt to maintain more gender parity. If they retroactively did so however this year, I'd imagine that unless that meant adding a sixth scholarship this year, that the guy that had his rescinded would have reasonable grounds for being pissed.

Ivhon
09-29-2014, 10:42 PM
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-T7MIgRS7nYY/Tjnca5stONI/AAAAAAAAAZU/n-kqP8dtLSE/s1600/standardizedanimals.jpg

Daekyras
09-30-2014, 04:07 AM
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-T7MIgRS7nYY/Tjnca5stONI/AAAAAAAAAZU/n-kqP8dtLSE/s1600/standardizedanimals.jpg

Wow Ihvon, I know this girl made a mistake in trying to force her way into the awards but to imply she is grossly overweight is just plain mean....:)

Nazbaque
09-30-2014, 06:50 AM
Wow Ihvon, I know this girl made a mistake in trying to force her way into the awards but to imply she is grossly overweight is just plain mean....:)

Who says she is supposed to be the elephant? She could be the fish instead. Indeed she probably is the fish when you consider the brave attempts the others are able to make.

Here is how I would rank them:

1. The monkey. Obviously the only one who can indisputably climb the tree.

2. The small bird. Flying would disqualify this one, but I suspect it might be able to get a good hold with its claws and walk up the tree.

3. The dog might be able to get enough momentum by making a running jump and then scrambling the rest of the way. If executed properly this may be perceived as climbing.

4. The elephant. While a clear failure it may at least grab a branch with its trunk and attempt to pull itself up.

5. and 6. The penguin and the seal. Hard to say which attempt is braver but at least they can make it to the tree.

7. The fish. Poor thing can't even get out of the bowl.

GonzoTheGreat
09-30-2014, 08:10 AM
Actually, penguins can climb, and they frequently have to do so, according to the documentaries I've seen portraying their journeys to and from their hatching grounds. They generally don't encounter trees there, true, but icy rocks probably aren't that much easier.

And I've seen evidence that a dog can climb a tree, at least to two feet high or thereabouts. Getting a 40 kg German shepherd out of the tree again was a lot more trouble. We've had a dog that had 'adopted' a couple of kittens, and when they started tree climbing, the dog decided to follow them. Fortunately, she only tried that once.

Uno
09-30-2014, 10:28 AM
However, if the climbing exam is for a position that requires climbing, it is quite reasonable, even if all the candidates aren't up to the task.

GonzoTheGreat
09-30-2014, 11:54 AM
However, if the climbing exam is for a position that requires climbing, it is quite reasonable, even if all the candidates aren't up to the task.
Bureaucracies being what they are, the climbing exam may very well be for a proof reading position, which according to some may require somewhat different skills.
I don't know what kind of position the OP situation is about, but having starred in Mama Mia does not necessarily translate into being qualified to finish a PhD in Particle Physics.

Daekyras
09-30-2014, 06:37 PM
Bureaucracies being what they are, the climbing exam may very well be for a proof reading position, which according to some may require somewhat different skills.
I don't know what kind of position the OP situation is about, but having starred in Mama Mia does not necessarily translate into being qualified to finish a PhD in Particle Physics.

Was Mama Mia a guess? Cause you nailed it!

The girl in question is an arts and humanities student. I'm not certain what her primary focus is.(we don't have the major/minor) system the states have.

It wasn't for a position. Just a grant for students deemed worthy. And the theoretical physics students rarely get a look in for this award as they tend to be an unsociable lot and lose out on the majority of the 200 marks for that. Also, their lecturers tend to be the kind of pricks that actually grade papers on merit instead of pretending and pulling a mark out of their ass.(sorry, but i know a guy who got away with that for years. Bloody legal lecturers!)

Ishara
10-09-2014, 08:21 AM
It speaks to privilege.

For the same reasons why in Mario Kart you don't get blue shells or lightening bolts when you're already in first place. (shamelessley taken from something I saw elsewhere on the internets - it is by far the best way to explain privilege I've seen to date)

I'm not saying what happened was wrong or right, or whether they need quotas or better determination models - BUT, it speaks to our own lenses when looking at privilege, and entitlement and considerations of fair versus equal.

And, I love Ivhon's comic.

Frenzy
10-09-2014, 03:02 PM
If the goal is to create an unbiased system, then the system should be designed to control or eliminate bias. Calling the arts less worthy than the sciences is bias. Interaction between applicants & evaluators invites bias.

Actually, if you want things done right, let me clone some Firseal computers & take over the world.

Daekyras
10-09-2014, 06:03 PM
. Calling the arts less worthy than the sciences is bias.

I hope i didn't come across as doing that. I didn't mean that when i said i didn't know what the lady did but it was something with the arts- i genuinely didn't know what her course was.

And in fact it doesn't matter.
In Ireland we call something you are interested in your "head".

So for example i am a science head or a football head. I have never had any interest in the arts(not an arts head) other than to enjoy the hell out of watching talented performers or reading their writings.

But i would never lessen the work or intelligence of a student who is endeavouring to master their chosen field. I might not understand it but i truly respect it.

P.s it is ok to laugh and describe yourselves as head heads.

P.p.s tee hee hee

Frenzy
10-09-2014, 10:54 PM
I hope i didn't come across as doing that. I didn't mean that when i said i didn't know what the lady did but it was something with the arts- i genuinely didn't know what her course was.
Nope, you didn't. :) But saying one is better than the other is bias. Even if it's true :p

And in fact it doesn't matter.
Exactly.

In Ireland we call something you are interested in your "head".

So for example i am a science head or a football head. I have never had any interest in the arts(not an arts head) other than to enjoy the hell out of watching talented performers or reading their writings.

But i would never lessen the work or intelligence of a student who is endeavouring to master their chosen field. I might not understand it but i truly respect it.
Not sure if this is true or just a stereotype, but I've always heard that Ireland is pretty cool about supporting the arts and artists.

P.s it is ok to laugh and describe yourselves as head heads.

P.p.s tee hee hee
head heads getting ahead... :D

GonzoTheGreat
10-10-2014, 05:05 AM
Nope, you didn't. :) But saying one is better than the other is bias. Even if it's true :p
Is it really?

I am willing to say that Bach is better at composing music than Britney is, but I don't think that means that I am biased in favor of Bach.

Daekyras
10-10-2014, 05:50 AM
Is it really?

I am willing to say that Bach is better at composing music than Britney is, but I don't think that means that I am biased in favor of Bach.

I think it does.

Nazbaque
10-10-2014, 07:19 AM
Is it really?

I am willing to say that Bach is better at composing music than Britney is, but I don't think that means that I am biased in favor of Bach.

No it doesn't. It might mean that you are biased against britney, but then again it might not.

Frenzy isn't quite right in her claim but she gets close to it. When you are either so unimpressed or impressed with something you are willing to declare it worse or better than something you haven't sampled you are biased against it or in it's favor. Even if you happened to be correct your evaluation was not based in facts but boils down to a guess.

In this light we can say that Frenzy's claim was biased in favor of equality between arts and science.

GonzoTheGreat
10-10-2014, 07:30 AM
I think that "bias" in this sense means "favoring one side more than the actual evidence warrants".

If I say "1 plus 1 equals 2 and not 3", then I am not doing so out of bias in favor of 2. It is because I have actually gone through the logic which proves that assertion and found it sound.

In the case of Bach and Britney, I actually prefer the latter's music, so if I have any bias there (and I think I do) then it is towards Britney, not Bach.

Now, I'll admit that when it comes to "better" it is generally somewhat less obvious than when you are dealing with pure mathematics, but even then there are a lot of cases where it is indeed possible to reach a conclusion that is not based on some kind of bias.

yks 6nnetu hing
10-10-2014, 08:54 AM
ooh, a fun one!

what if it's a subconscious bias or a bias due to ignorance?

Say, if someone who has never heard Britney's music says that Bach is the best composer of all time - and that may even be true *as far as they know*. But what they don't know, is that which they don't know - namely, Britney.

Of course, the difficulty with bias due to ignorance is that obviously it's impossible to take into account that which we're not aware of. In which case, is it really bias?


(fyi: I think it is still bias. there's no such thing as a completely 100% unbiased opinion because human beings are not omniscient. However, it is still possible to attempt to be as unbiased as possible in the conditions as presented. Meaning, if you know both Bach and Britney, you should consider both. Actually, I don't think it's even possible to not consider both, if you know both.)

GonzoTheGreat
10-10-2014, 10:52 AM
I think that would be a matter of ignorance, not of bias. Of course, it is a matter of semantics, but I would say that bias is some form of prejudice. It lets you give one side more weight than it deserves.
The ignorance you're talking about is different, in that in that case you can be weighing all available evidence fairly (ie. without bias) but still arrive at a dodgy conclusion as a result of missing information.

Nazbaque
10-10-2014, 01:48 PM
I think that would be a matter of ignorance, not of bias. Of course, it is a matter of semantics, but I would say that bias is some form of prejudice. It lets you give one side more weight than it deserves.
The ignorance you're talking about is different, in that in that case you can be weighing all available evidence fairly (ie. without bias) but still arrive at a dodgy conclusion as a result of missing information.

I'd say that would be an illogical conclusion in that case. If there is a lack of information, then the only logical stance is to be uncertain.

GonzoTheGreat
10-11-2014, 04:54 AM
I'd say that would be an illogical conclusion in that case. If there is a lack of information, then the only logical stance is to be uncertain.
Obviously.

However, when it comes to reality, we never can have all information, thus there is always a lack of it. Thus, you can never be certain that (for instance) the police officer stopping you for a traffic violation is real instead of a figment of your imagination or a product of some magician hired by a television program or a mirage produced by weird atmospheric conditions on Jupiter. However, treating the cop as if you're uncertain about her existence is not a good idea.

Which means that, while in strictly philosophical terms you are right, practical considerations dictate that Absolute Uncertainty is not a smart approach to life, the universe and dolphins.

Nazbaque
10-11-2014, 07:52 AM
Obviously.

However, when it comes to reality, we never can have all information, thus there is always a lack of it. Thus, you can never be certain that (for instance) the police officer stopping you for a traffic violation is real instead of a figment of your imagination or a product of some magician hired by a television program or a mirage produced by weird atmospheric conditions on Jupiter. However, treating the cop as if you're uncertain about her existence is not a good idea.

Which means that, while in strictly philosophical terms you are right, practical considerations dictate that Absolute Uncertainty is not a smart approach to life, the universe and dolphins.

Gonzo you are mixing uncertainty of existance with certainty of non existance. To be uncertain is simpy to recognise that probability is only probability. Absolute uncertainty is possibly the wisest approach to everything.

GonzoTheGreat
10-11-2014, 08:39 AM
Absolute uncertainty means that you can't act, because you can never be certain that some kind of action (or inaction, for that matter) would achieve what you want.

You can't get out of bed in the morning, because of the small (but not absolutely zero) chance that you'd accidentally step on a "World Destruction Button" that Obama had dropped when he passed by. True, that is a very unlikely scenario, but it is not wholly impossible that the nuclear Red Button would end up where you're about to place your foot. Looking first isn't going to help either, as you may still be too sleepy and merely dream that it is safe.

So either you have no options at all because anything you do or do not do is unsafe because of that unavoidable uncertainty, or you have to accept that you can make generally reasonable decisions even with the uncertainty which comes with existence.

Descartes pointed out that we can't be certain of anything. (He erroneously thought that he could be sure of his own thinking, but that was only because he failed to consider doubting the existence of time.)

So while it is indeed not possible to be certain of anything, that is not a good enough reason to say that every decision is necessarily biased.
"Bias" does not mean "acting on incomplete information". Instead, it means something like "giving more weight to one side than another without reasonable grounds for doing so".

Nazbaque
10-11-2014, 09:45 AM
Absolute uncertainty means that you can't act, because you can never be certain that some kind of action (or inaction, for that matter) would achieve what you want.
Wrong on the first few words Gonzo. Action doesn't require guarantees of success. Uncertainty simply means that you treat everything as a gamble which is likely the most realistic approach to life. It's the certain ones who shackle their own adaptability.
You can't get out of bed in the morning, because of the small (but not absolutely zero) chance that you'd accidentally step on a "World Destruction Button" that Obama had dropped when he passed by. True, that is a very unlikely scenario, but it is not wholly impossible that the nuclear Red Button would end up where you're about to place your foot. Looking first isn't going to help either, as you may still be too sleepy and merely dream that it is safe.
Oh but once you've lain in the bed long enough you think: "Oh I need the bathroom, the world can go to hell"
So either you have no options at all because anything you do or do not do is unsafe because of that unavoidable uncertainty, or you have to accept that you can make generally reasonable decisions even with the uncertainty which comes with existence.
You assume inaction is a safe option. It isn't. Death by starvation looms ahead. The generally reasonable part I could live with if people didn't have a nasty habit of forgetting that it was only generally reasonable.
Descartes pointed out that we can't be certain of anything. (He erroneously thought that he could be sure of his own thinking, but that was only because he failed to consider doubting the existence of time.)
And Socrates did it before him.
So while it is indeed not possible to be certain of anything, that is not a good enough reason to say that every decision is necessarily biased.
"Bias" does not mean "acting on incomplete information". Instead, it means something like "giving more weight to one side than another without reasonable grounds for doing so".
Which is a sub category for the former if you allow an opinion or a decision to be an action. Close enough in my book, but semantics... The bias comes into it when you forget that a probability isn't a certainty. The rest is just a matter of how strong the bias is.

yks 6nnetu hing
10-13-2014, 03:11 AM
Wrong on the first few words Gonzo. Action doesn't require guarantees of success. quite. Although I wouldn't draw the gambling parallel, really - in that the likelihood game in daily life is much more certain than the likelihood game in gambling.

If the chance that something is true is somewhere between 1 and 0, 1 being absolutely true and 0 being absolutely untrue; there are certain things we can say are approaching 1, and certain other things which are approaching 0. For example, the likelihood that gravity exists is approaching 1 whereas the likelihood that I'll win a jackpot today is approaching 0 seeing as I haven't bought a ticket. Now, for all intents and purposes we can behave as if the things which are close enough to 1 or 0 are actually *at* 1 or 0.

You assume inaction is a safe option. It isn't. Death by starvation looms ahead. The generally reasonable part I could live with if people didn't have a nasty habit of forgetting that it was only generally reasonable. indeed. Inaction is also an action. Good old damned if you do, damned if you don't, except with a bursting bladder the don't becomes much less expedient.


The bias comes into it when you forget that a probability isn't a certainty. The rest is just a matter of how strong the bias is.

all that bias really is, is giving extra weight to a certain idea - in this case my position is that in the logical absence of full certainty, in order to function we *must* apply bias - treat the nearly 1 as 1 and the nearly 0 as 0. Of course, some people can be quite heavy-handed with their bias, treating a 0,6 as 1.

GonzoTheGreat
10-13-2014, 04:32 AM
all that bias really is, is giving extra weight to a certain idea - in this case my position is that in the logical absence of full certainty, in order to function we *must* apply bias - treat the nearly 1 as 1 and the nearly 0 as 0. Of course, some people can be quite heavy-handed with their bias, treating a 0,6 as 1.
I mostly agree with this, though I do not think that "treating gravity as if it exists" is a matter of bias. If you really want to, you can once in your life consider the possibility that it doesn't exist, and if you do that, then you have already added bias against the idea, since the chance of gravity not being real is less than one second in a lifetime (which is a dimensionless quantity, you may notice).

The "treating a 0.6* as 1" may or may not be a case of bias. It may not be very accurate, but if you round 0.6 to the nearest whole number, you do end up at 1. However, there are plenty of people who treat 0.1 (or smaller) as 1, especially when they are dealing with prejudice. The "all ... are criminals" approach is a clear example of that kind of bias.

So rounding to 0 or 1 (depending on the case) when the likelihood is very close to those figures isn't a case of bias, just of keeping things simple. Rounding when the numbers are close to one half may be a case of bias, or it may be an acceptable simplification. Crossing that midpoint is suggestive of bias, though.

* Since we're writing in English, I use the convention of using a decimal point, instead of the Dutch convention of using a decimal comma as you did. Now I do wonder which convention was used in the Soviet Union and such.

Nazbaque
10-13-2014, 04:56 AM
Gonzo rounding up 0,6 to 1 means you are wrong in 40 % of cases. That is not only a bias, but a very strong one. If you look at how things are in Africa and compare populations, you can say that in general black people are worse off than white people. However saying that it applies to Samuel L. Jackson is simply not true. "Keeping things simple" is an outrageous human habit. It is the basis of lazy thinking. You may think that perfectionism is so much wasted effort for something that was good enough already, but treating 0,6 as 1 is very near the opposite extreme. It may not be as bad as the willful blindness of treating 0,1 as 1, but it definitely is a bias.

GonzoTheGreat
10-13-2014, 09:39 AM
If we're gambling on the flip of a coin, and I happen to know that it will come up heads 60% of the time, then it would not be a matter of bias if I gambled on heads each time. That would simply be smart (and dishonest, but I'm willing to overlook that in this hypothetical case).

If the reality is that of a certain minority, 1% is criminal, and yet the police detain members of that minority whenever they encounter them while they don't do that with the majority population (where criminals also make up 1% of the total, in this example) then that is an example of bias.

Bias is giving unwarranted extra weight to some idea. It is not at play when someone weighs all the available factors impartially and then reaches a conclusion, not even if that conclusion then points more in one direction than in another.

Mort
10-13-2014, 11:24 AM
Classic TL. Topic on Sexism, half thread discuss the definition of bias :P

I am a believer of who ever meets the criteria the best, gets the job/deal/whatever.

On the topic of, let's say, women board members or bosses in any given corporation or other organisation. My beliefs apply here as well, but I also know in group dynamics, having at least some diversity (doesn't have to be a 50/50 split) is a good thing. That goes for not only gender, but also other factors.

People who are big proponents of affirmative action wants to force the hand when dealing with discrimination. Build the structure of the society we want, not the society we have. A pretty thought but there are so many ifs and buts in there.

Private corporations should be able to do whatever they want though, to a degree. I do believe diversity is a good thing, so if a corporation doesn't have it, it will likely come back to bite them in the end.

Nazbaque
10-13-2014, 01:13 PM
If we're gambling on the flip of a coin, and I happen to know that it will come up heads 60% of the time, then it would not be a matter of bias if I gambled on heads each time. That would simply be smart (and dishonest, but I'm willing to overlook that in this hypothetical case).

If you assumed that it was heads 100% it would be biased. Like I said the bias comes into it when you forget that it's not certain. If you take your losses gracefully, keep a decent safety margin and patiently build up winnings, you are simply taking advantage of the coin's quirk. If you bet everything on heads until the 40% comes up and you lose everything, then you were biased and came back to bite you. It's not just about what you bet on but also how reckless or carefull you are about it that shows if you are biased.

Frenzy
10-15-2014, 02:00 AM
Stop trying to rerail their tangent, Mort!!!

~continues eating popcorn from the ESC couch~

yks 6nnetu hing
10-15-2014, 02:39 AM
Bias is giving unwarranted extra weight to some idea. It is not at play when someone weighs all the available factors impartially and then reaches a conclusion, not even if that conclusion then points more in one direction than in another.

but... but...

1) who decides whether the extra weight given an idea is warranted or not? Seeing as one ALWAYS has to put extra weight on every idea?

2) there's no such thing as impartiality. Even if you take all factors you know into consideration, you - the considerer - are also a factor, and you can't control your subconscious. Or, well, not completely anyways. As far as I know.

GonzoTheGreat
10-15-2014, 04:18 AM
1) who decides whether the extra weight given an idea is warranted or not? Seeing as one ALWAYS has to put extra weight on every idea?It may very well be the case that humans always put some extra weight on ideas (or take it off them, which could be represented as negative extra weight). I don't think it has to be done, but you are right that it may be unavoidable. However, in most cases people are capable of keeping this very limited, and it seems reasonable to say that those cases are then without bias, rather than applying that label to everything and thus making it trite and useless.

2) there's no such thing as impartiality. Even if you take all factors you know into consideration, you - the considerer - are also a factor, and you can't control your subconscious. Or, well, not completely anyways. As far as I know.Only if, as Descartes pointed out, you think. If you don't think, then you are not. Which, admittedly, is not a happy thought; the idea that the most stupid trolls are unbiased is not quite what I'd aimed at.

Anyways, I think this is where the legal fiction of the "reasonable man" comes in handy. If such a person with the same information would reach the same conclusion, then there is no bias, if he wouldn't, then there may be (or it may be a toss up, which possibility further complicates this discussion).

Mort
10-15-2014, 11:19 AM
Stop trying to rerail their tangent, Mort!!!

~continues eating popcorn from the ESC couch~

I really should know better than to try and make arguments on topic ;)

Davian93
10-15-2014, 11:32 AM
Good to see the ESC couch is holding up so well after all these years...

~drags cooler in~

~plops down~

Anyone want a Shiner?

GonzoTheGreat
10-15-2014, 12:30 PM
Dav, you're just biased towards the ESC.

Nazbaque
10-15-2014, 02:00 PM
No no he is sexist about it. We were supposed to get back on the original topic remember.

yks 6nnetu hing
10-16-2014, 02:21 AM
speaking of which, does the ESC have a gender and if so, what would it be?

GonzoTheGreat
10-16-2014, 04:38 AM
speaking of which, does the ESC have a gender and if so, what would it be?
I could hazard a guess, but I fear that it would be based more on bias than on knowledge.

Nazbaque
10-16-2014, 08:27 AM
Weeeeeell as it is a club i.e. something for a group of people and the group is not in majority male or female we must look at the relation of group and individual. A parent/child relationship is probably the most telling. So is the ESC motherly or fatherly? I'm going with motherly, but I will have to think on why it feels like that to me.

GonzoTheGreat
10-16-2014, 09:26 AM
I don't think the ESC is really a club. Of course, there is the possibility that the two "C" words are synonyms, but I rather doubt that. Which may be my bias towards using the actual meaning of words, I admit.

Nazbaque
10-16-2014, 10:37 AM
I don't think the ESC is really a club. Of course, there is the possibility that the two "C" words are synonyms, but I rather doubt that. Which may be my bias towards using the actual meaning of words, I admit.

It is definitely a club but it could of course be the kind used for hitting people in which case it would of course be male

GonzoTheGreat
10-16-2014, 11:03 AM
It is definitely a club but it could of course be the kind used for hitting people in which case it would of course be male
I think you're even more biased than I am.

Khoram
10-16-2014, 12:35 PM
Good to see the ESC couch is holding up so well after all these years...

~drags cooler in~

~plops down~

Anyone want a Shiner?

I'll try one.

Man, the ESC couch hasn't seen much use lately. It's a shame, really.

Davian93
10-16-2014, 12:40 PM
~passes Khoram a shiner~

Enjoy...its Texas beer!

Nazbaque
10-16-2014, 12:44 PM
I think you're even more biased than I am.

I may have some bias but I doubt it's more than you have. Be that as it may however this case is purely logical as the great big bone club was the world's first penis extension. I believe that is where the term "boner" comes from, though that might just be a coincidence.

Ivhon
10-16-2014, 01:18 PM
Y'know, I never really figured out who pulled the ESC out of Theoryland Cafe during my hiatus ages ago. Cafe's still boarded up - couch is out.

Frenzy
10-16-2014, 11:26 PM
From the deep dark reaches of early 2000's Theorylandia...

ESC = Entropy Sideline Club. It features an incredibly comfy couch of infinite size, plenty of the best beverages and tastiest snacks on hand, and lots of incendiary projectiles to throw at debating combatants, to either keep the show going or to shoo them away.

i may or may not be responsible for it, but i do like it. i'm a bit biased...

Khoram
10-17-2014, 12:00 AM
Well, if you were responsible for it, then you would be a bit biased. If you aren't, then you're off the hook. ;)

*plops back down on the couch, Shiner in hand*.

Nazbaque
10-17-2014, 06:53 AM
From the deep dark reaches of early 2000's Theorylandia...

ESC = Entropy Sideline Club. It features an incredibly comfy couch of infinite size, plenty of the best beverages and tastiest snacks on hand, and lots of incendiary projectiles to throw at debating combatants, to either keep the show going or to shoo them away.

i may or may not be responsible for it, but i do like it. i'm a bit biased...

So the ESC is Frenzy's child and thus my grandchild. No wonder I thought "motherly".

Hmmm... now that I'm a grandmother I should act like it: *In a rather bad old woman imitation* Oh my poor feet! Things today aren't like they used to be! Lawks!

Mort
10-17-2014, 08:41 AM
So the ESC is Frenzy's child and thus my grandchild. No wonder I thought "motherly".

Hmmm... now that I'm a grandmother I should act like it: *In a rather bad old woman imitation* Oh my poor feet! Things today aren't like they used to be! Lawks!

How come you chose to be Frenzy's mother rather than her father? :confused:

Daekyras
10-17-2014, 10:42 AM
How come you chose to be Frenzy's mother rather than her father? :confused:

Because he is not biased towards his pre-existing gender.

Whats a shiner? In ireland its a black eye.

Nazbaque
10-17-2014, 11:18 AM
How come you chose to be Frenzy's mother rather than her father? :confused:

Because I am madness made flesh. My daughters the furies were born from the madness. So I am the long lost mother who ran away before they were born.

Mort
10-17-2014, 03:03 PM
Because I am madness made flesh.

Can't disagree with you there.

Kimon
10-17-2014, 04:53 PM
Whats a shiner? In ireland its a black eye.

It's a black eye here too. Never heard shiner used as slang for beer - might be some weird New England thing.

Khoram
10-17-2014, 05:29 PM
It's an actual Texas beer. I didn't know what it was at first until I googled it. XD

Dragon Thief
10-18-2014, 01:13 AM
i may or may not be responsible for it, but i do like it. i'm a bit biased...

As given to my by Frenzy on a certain website of old of the most masterful WoT fans...

http://i.imgur.com/y7bsp9O.gif
"The Universe has an incredibly sadistic sense of humor. And I,
for one, enjoy watching the poor fools who just don't get the joke."

We of the Entropy Sideline Club (ESC) believe that any fool who gets himself in a flame
war not only deserved it, but that it makes a damn good show to watch. So grab your
martini, find your comfy chair, and sit back and relax, and let the festivities begin.

Davian93
10-18-2014, 08:09 PM
http://www.bevmo.com/Media/Images/ProductImagesFull/28061.jpg

Daek, if you prefer something more Irish, I have Beamish, Murphys, Guinness and even some nice Bulmer's Irish Cider...

No Killians though...sorry, I have to draw the line somewhere.

Khoram
10-18-2014, 10:57 PM
Maybe this is sacrilegious to my Irish heritage, but give me a Scotch whisky over an Irish whiskey any day.

Maybe I just haven't been able to find any comparable whiskeys.

GonzoTheGreat
10-19-2014, 04:49 AM
Maybe this is sacrilegious to my Irish heritage, but give me a Scotch whisky over an Irish whiskey any day.
The "give me" instead of "I'll buy" does seem rather Scottish, yes.

Nazbaque
10-19-2014, 10:13 AM
Maybe this is sacrilegious to my Irish heritage, but give me a Scotch whisky over an Irish whiskey any day.

Maybe I just haven't been able to find any comparable whiskeys.

Well an extensive study on whiskey is bad for the brain thus hurting the results of said study and so a sensible approach is to limit it to a glass or two at a time possibly enjoyed while reading a good book in the study.

Khoram
10-19-2014, 11:06 AM
Well an extensive study on whiskey is bad for the brain thus hurting the results of said study and so a sensible approach is to limit it to a glass or two at a time possibly enjoyed while reading a good book in the study.

So drinking Scotch whisky doesn't have any adverse effects on my health? Cause there's a difference between whisky and whiskey. :p

Definitely enjoyed with a good book in front of a fireplace, in a good armchair.

Nazbaque
10-19-2014, 01:16 PM
So drinking Scotch whisky doesn't have any adverse effects on my health? Cause there's a difference between whisky and whiskey. :p

Definitely enjoyed with a good book in front of a fireplace, in a good armchair.

Alas their effect on health is something they have in common. However the armchair and the fireplace are good for combating these ill effects well on par with the book and the study, the combination of all four being capable of nearly eliminating three glasses worth in anyone with at least average tolerance for alcohol.

Daekyras
10-20-2014, 06:06 AM
http://www.bevmo.com/Media/Images/ProductImagesFull/28061.jpg

Daek, if you prefer something more Irish, I have Beamish, Murphys, Guinness and even some nice Bulmer's Irish Cider...

No Killians though...sorry, I have to draw the line somewhere.

The American versions? Because....ewww.

Really, for anyone who has actually visited Ireland as I know Dav has, there really is a taste difference.

I will settle for a shiner- Interested to try new beers and got some beautiful craft American beers here if anyone is ever over!

And Khoram, I too prefer scotch. Hmmmmmm, Glenfiddich. I also used to be a bourbon man but as I've matured my taste buds have mellowed.

yks 6nnetu hing
10-20-2014, 07:40 AM
And Khoram, I too prefer scotch. Hmmmmmm, Glenfiddich. I also used to be a bourbon man but as I've matured my taste buds have mellowed.

Glenfiddich is nice but a bit too smoky for me. I prefer either something salty from the islands (for example Arran) or something really mild - like Aberlour or Cardhu. I don't know much about the Irish stuff so I can't say I don't like it. I don't like cognac, much too sweet.

Khoram
10-20-2014, 08:50 AM
Glenfiddich was the first scotch I ever tried. I had been drinking whiskeys before that, but really wanted to get to the scotches.

And then I had a Macallan. If I remember correctly, I had the Estate Reserve. *drool* It was absolutely fantastic. Having something that good as one of your first experiences of scotch can be quite spoiling, though. XD

Another I'm very fond of is The Balvenie Doublewood. It may only be twelve years old, but it is quite smooth. I can only imagine what their older scotches are like.

Davian93
10-20-2014, 09:12 AM
The American versions? Because....ewww.

Really, for anyone who has actually visited Ireland as I know Dav has, there really is a taste difference.

I will settle for a shiner- Interested to try new beers and got some beautiful craft American beers here if anyone is ever over!

And Khoram, I too prefer scotch. Hmmmmmm, Glenfiddich. I also used to be a bourbon man but as I've matured my taste buds have mellowed.

There is a huge, huge difference...its not even close. I was offering the Irish versions FWIW.

Though, if one must drink Guinness, Beamish or Murphys in the States, it behooves them to get the large can versions as those tend to hold up far better than the bottles. Even Guinness on tap in the US (which you will find at a ton of bars) is a poor comparison to the real thing.

As far as Bulmer's go, we cant get that in the uS, we only have Magnars as they cant sell it as Bulmer's in the USA. Its from a different brewery too. Of course, VT has its only local cider that is just ridiculous (Citizens Cider (http://www.citizencider.com/))

Davian93
10-20-2014, 09:23 AM
Glenfiddich is nice but a bit too smoky for me. I prefer either something salty from the islands (for example Arran) or something really mild - like Aberlour or Cardhu. I don't know much about the Irish stuff so I can't say I don't like it. I don't like cognac, much too sweet.

Cognac is a great cooking liquor...drinking it by itself can be sickly (due to the sweetness)....at least IMHO.

Daekyras
10-22-2014, 05:50 AM
Cognac is a great cooking liquor...drinking it by itself can be sickly (due to the sweetness)....at least IMHO.

When it comes to drinking there are teo types of people:
Those that drink cognac straight and those that still have taste buds.