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 20th June 2012, 12:06 PM #41 Paul2 Graduate Poster     Join Date: Nov 2004 Posts: 1,502 Originally Posted by sphenisc If Tina's turn-away-percentage (TAP) is sometimes 10% and sometimes 25% but can never be 14.65473% (for example) then the power of privilege is a discrete variable. Are you saying that the turn-away percentage can't require a decimal? If Tina tries 7 times and is turned away 3 times, her percentage is 0.42857142857143. What if she tries 3,466 times and is turned away 1,077 times and etc.? __________________ It's nice to be nice to the nice.
 20th June 2012, 01:44 PM #42 sphenisc Illuminator     Join Date: Jul 2004 Posts: 3,751 Originally Posted by RandFan So, given that Tina's TAP isn't constant and assuming for sake of argument that all non=privilege variables are static, would that not indicate that Tina's privilege lies on a gradient? A gradient describes a relationship between two or more variables. As you increase the value of one variable the other should increase/decrease proportionately. Privilege is one variable which has a range of values, you can't describe it as being on a gradient without saying what the other variable it's supposed to increase/decrease with. If we say that privilege is proportional to TAP then that's either a definitional statement, "Heh, let's just set privilege equal to 0.64 times average TAP", or we need some independent measure of privilege which we can use to show that it varies along with TAP. My impression, for what it's worth, is that no-one is going to agree on a sufficiently "scientific" definition of privilege such that it's measurable in this way. People are generally happy with pointing out who has more and who has less without worrying a whole lot about how that's assessed.
 20th June 2012, 02:03 PM #43 sphenisc Illuminator     Join Date: Jul 2004 Posts: 3,751 Originally Posted by Paul2 Are you saying that the turn-away percentage can't require a decimal? No, I'm saying there are some numbers requiring decimals which TAP can't be. Quote: If Tina tries 7 times and is turned away 3 times, her percentage is 0.42857142857143. Yes. Quote: What if she tries 3,466 times and is turned away 1,077 times and etc.? I'm assuming a scenario where there are a maximum of 31 days in a month and entry is only attempted once a day. [ However even with a very enthusiastic and long-lived Tina, TAP values are still restricted to the rational numbers and the rational numbers are everywhere discontinuous, i.e. not continuous. ] Last edited by sphenisc; 20th June 2012 at 02:04 PM.
 20th June 2012, 02:48 PM #44 RandFan Mormon Atheist     Join Date: Dec 2001 Location: Southern California Posts: 53,970 Originally Posted by sphenisc A gradient describes a relationship between two or more variables. As you increase the value of one variable the other should increase/decrease proportionately. Privilege is one variable which has a range of values, you can't describe it as being on a gradient without saying what the other variable it's supposed to increase/decrease with. I think you are being a bit pedantic here. A range of values is a continuum no? Would it be okay to say the range of values lies on a continuum Quote: If we say that privilege is proportional to TAP then that's either a definitional statement, "Heh, let's just set privilege equal to 0.64 times average TAP", or we need some independent measure of privilege which we can use to show that it varies along with TAP. All I care is that we can get a range of values. Sorry for all the rest. I'm simply trying justify a continuum and that focusing on a single data point doesn't tell us anything as to whether or not privilege lies on a continuum. When it comes to my "privilege" it is made up of many variables that fall within a range of values. Quote: My impression, for what it's worth, is that no-one is going to agree on a sufficiently "scientific" definition of privilege such that it's measurable in this way. People are generally happy with pointing out who has more and who has less without worrying a whole lot about how that's assessed. It was never my intention to posit anything but an abstract measurement to justify the use of the word "continuum". __________________ Ego, ain't it a bitch? It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion. --Adam Smith Last edited by RandFan; 20th June 2012 at 02:49 PM.
 20th June 2012, 04:04 PM #45 Paul2 Graduate Poster     Join Date: Nov 2004 Posts: 1,502 Originally Posted by sphenisc [ However even with a very enthusiastic and long-lived Tina, TAP values are still restricted to the rational numbers and the rational numbers are everywhere discontinuous, i.e. not continuous. ] I agree with RandFan, you are being too pedantic if you are saying that a scale that consisted of the rational numbers would not be a continuum for the purpose of considering whether privilege is on a continuum. __________________ It's nice to be nice to the nice.
 20th June 2012, 04:23 PM #46 The Man Scourge, of the supernatural     Join Date: Jun 2007 Location: Poughkeepsie, NY Posts: 7,579 Originally Posted by RandFan Okay, so my last post to you contains a significant error. I'm not sure how to correct the error to get the discussion on track. My use of of discrete and continuous variables is wrong. You may feel that the error is fatal to my argument and if so that's fine. If I can correct the argument I will. Sorry and thanks. No problem and thanks I'll see if I can catch up to the current discussion. __________________ "Not a seat but a springboard” (1942 Winston Churchill) "As he who, seeking asses, found a kingdom" (1671 Milton "Paradise Regained") "for it seem'd A void was made in nature, all her bonds Crack'd; and I saw the flaring atom-streams And torrents of her myriad universe, Ruining along the illimitable inane, Fly on to clash together again, and make Another and another frame of things For ever." (1868 Tennyson "Lucretius")
 20th June 2012, 05:35 PM #47 The Man Scourge, of the supernatural     Join Date: Jun 2007 Location: Poughkeepsie, NY Posts: 7,579 Originally Posted by Paul2 I agree with RandFan, you are being too pedantic if you are saying that a scale that consisted of the rational numbers would not be a continuum for the purpose of considering whether privilege is on a continuum. OK let's see if I can resolve the issue. The set of rational numbers are not a continuum there are gaps, being the irrational numbers. In fact most real numbers are irrational. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rational_number The set of real numbers is a continuum, by definition. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Real_number Quote: In mathematics, a real number is a value that represents a quantity along a continuous line. Between any two real numbers there is an infinite set of other real numbers. Between 1 and 2 we have say 1.51 and 1.49. We can round those latter two numbers into a discrete mapping of the data by using a threshold. Say 1.5 and lower are rounded to 1 and over 1.5 to 2. We have now turned a continuous space into a discrete space. We are not considering any values between 1 and 2. This is easy to do and the threshold (like 1.5 and below) can seem rather intuitive. The problem comes when one tries to reverse that taking a discrete space and filling in the gaps so to speak to try to make it a continuous space again. Digital music does this all the time by taking the (theoretically) continuous audio single and digitizing it (makes it discrete). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digitizing The problem is the digitized (discrete) signal can only be an approximation of the analog (continuous) signal. Not much of a problem if one considers the limitation of even just analog audio reproduction equipment (inherent noise in the system and frequency limits) as well as the limits of information any signal can contain. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shannon_limit Originally Posted by sphenisc My impression, for what it's worth, is that no-one is going to agree on a sufficiently "scientific" definition of privilege such that it's measurable in this way. People are generally happy with pointing out who has more and who has less without worrying a whole lot about how that's assessed. Which is the real problem as I see it. While something like rounding, that happens everyday is science and life in general, may seem to have an intuitive threshold. You could actually pick any threshold. Say 1.4 and below gets rounded down. You're still losing data but as long as it's within your margins of errors it's not really considered a problem (and all measuring equipment has some level of error or noise). The real problem comes when you try to take something inherently discrete and just fill in the gaps. As that information (the gaps) is expressly not part of the data set you would have to use something other then that data set to fill in data you want into the set and I don't think anyone is going to agree on that or what that "something other" should be. Now certainly we can say that the gaps in Tina's TAP aren't significant for some level of error we want to consider but that is accepting that the TAP is discrete and just within our considered level of error. __________________ "Not a seat but a springboard” (1942 Winston Churchill) "As he who, seeking asses, found a kingdom" (1671 Milton "Paradise Regained") "for it seem'd A void was made in nature, all her bonds Crack'd; and I saw the flaring atom-streams And torrents of her myriad universe, Ruining along the illimitable inane, Fly on to clash together again, and make Another and another frame of things For ever." (1868 Tennyson "Lucretius") Last edited by The Man; 20th June 2012 at 06:11 PM. Reason: typos
 20th June 2012, 06:02 PM #48 The Man Scourge, of the supernatural     Join Date: Jun 2007 Location: Poughkeepsie, NY Posts: 7,579 Originally Posted by Paul2 I agree with RandFan, you are being too pedantic if you are saying that a scale that consisted of the rational numbers would not be a continuum for the purpose of considering whether privilege is on a continuum. As you noted before you don't have a problem with a discrete scale (either say just whole or rational numbers). As I think we agreed before it is actually setting even a discrete scale for privilege that becomes a problem as people aren't going to value different privileges the same way. Sure Tina's lifetime TAP at the club X is 75% while Bill's is 80%. However at club Y Bill has 75% and Tina 80%. So who is more privileged? Throw into that mix that Tina really likes club Y and doesn't think club X is that big of a deal (it's not exclusive enough for her). While the reverse may be true for Bill. As Groucho Marx once said. Quote: I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member. Some people may tend to value privileges they don't have more than ones they do or visa versa. __________________ "Not a seat but a springboard” (1942 Winston Churchill) "As he who, seeking asses, found a kingdom" (1671 Milton "Paradise Regained") "for it seem'd A void was made in nature, all her bonds Crack'd; and I saw the flaring atom-streams And torrents of her myriad universe, Ruining along the illimitable inane, Fly on to clash together again, and make Another and another frame of things For ever." (1868 Tennyson "Lucretius") Last edited by The Man; 20th June 2012 at 06:15 PM. Reason: typo
 20th June 2012, 08:46 PM #49 Paul2 Graduate Poster     Join Date: Nov 2004 Posts: 1,502 Originally Posted by Paul2 you are being too pedantic Originally Posted by The Man OK let's see if I can resolve the issue. The set of rational numbers are not a continuum there are gaps, being the irrational numbers. In fact most real numbers are irrational. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rational_number The set of real numbers is a continuum, by definition. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Real_number Between any two real numbers there is an infinite set of other real numbers. Between 1 and 2 we have say 1.51 and 1.49. We can round those latter two numbers into a discrete mapping of the data by using a threshold. Say 1.5 and lower are rounded to 1 and over 1.5 to 2. We have now turned a continuous space into a discrete space. We are not considering any values between 1 and 2. This is easy to do and the threshold (like 1.5 and below) can seem rather intuitive. The problem comes when one tries to reverse that taking a discrete space and filling in the gaps so to speak to try to make it a continuous space again. Digital music does this all the time by taking the (theoretically) continuous audio single and digitizing it (makes it discrete). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digitizing The problem is the digitized (discrete) signal can only be an approximation of the analog (continuous) signal. Not much of a problem if one considers the limitation of even just analog audio reproduction equipment (inherent noise in the system and frequency limits) as well as the limits of information any signal can contain. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shannon_limit Which is the real problem as I see it. While something like rounding, that happens everyday is science and life in general, may seem to have an intuitive threshold. You could actually pick any threshold. Say 1.4 and below gets rounded down. You're still losing data but as long as it's within your margins of errors it's not really considered a problem (and all measuring equipment has some level of error or noise). The real problem comes when you try to take something inherently discrete and just fill in the gaps. As that information (the gaps) is expressly not part of the data set you would have to use something other then that data set to fill in data you want into the set and I don't think anyone is going to agree on that or what that "something other" should be. Now certainly we can say that the gaps in Tina's TAP aren't significant for some level of error we want to consider but that is accepting that the TAP is discrete and just within our considered level of error. I rest my case. __________________ It's nice to be nice to the nice.
 21st June 2012, 09:43 AM #50 The Man Scourge, of the supernatural     Join Date: Jun 2007 Location: Poughkeepsie, NY Posts: 7,579 Ordinal and cardinal numbers Please indulge me for a moment or two Some sets are ordered one element comes before another and then the next after that. The alphabet is such a set. A comes before B which comes before C and G comes after all of them. So ordering inherently has the dichotomy of ‘before and after’. Z has all other letters before it and none after while A has the reverse. We can ascribe these positioning in the set a number A is the first in ordering (1), B the second (2) and Z the last (26). While these numbers (ordinal numbers) ascribe or demote an ordering (before and after) they don’t ascribe a value (more or less). Although A comes before K it doesn’t inherently have less of a value than K simply because of that ordering. The alphabet is also a finite set, it has a finite number of elements (26). Once we start doing that, counting things like the elements of a set. Now were talking about cardinal (counting) numbers. Cardinal numbers ascribe a count or amount (value) of things. The subsets, of the alphabet, (A,B,C) and (J,K,L) both have the same cardinality (number of elements) while the subset (Q,R,S,T,U) has more elements. So now the dichotomy of ‘more or less’ becomes a necessity. We can combine the two, ordering and counting, and do so in the natural numbers, they are both cardinal and ordinal numbers. The point of all this (that I’ve tried to express before) is that Paul2’s initial premise “Privilege is a continuum, not a dichotomy” is flawed. That dichotomy being the ‘more or less’ dichotomy which is inherently a fundamental aspect of a well ordered set of values whether discrete or continuous. So a continuum or even just discrete scale of values can not be an argument against a ‘more or less’ dichotomy as they require such a dichotomy as part of the fundamental nature of valuing. The argument against a ‘more or less’ dichotomy with respect to values of privilege is that the values ascribed to privilege are simply subjective, particularly when it comes to aspects of quality that the sociological sciences try to address. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ordinal_numbers http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cardinal_number http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_number http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Well-order __________________ "Not a seat but a springboard” (1942 Winston Churchill) "As he who, seeking asses, found a kingdom" (1671 Milton "Paradise Regained") "for it seem'd A void was made in nature, all her bonds Crack'd; and I saw the flaring atom-streams And torrents of her myriad universe, Ruining along the illimitable inane, Fly on to clash together again, and make Another and another frame of things For ever." (1868 Tennyson "Lucretius")
 21st June 2012, 09:51 AM #51 The Man Scourge, of the supernatural     Join Date: Jun 2007 Location: Poughkeepsie, NY Posts: 7,579 Originally Posted by Paul2 Originally Posted by Paul2 you are being too pedantic ….snip… I rest my case. Sorry about that but if the fundamental flaw in your initial premise “Privilege is a continuum, not a dichotomy” were obvious to you, you wouldn’t be making it. This of course makes it difficult to point out without getting into a whole lot of fundamental facts. __________________ "Not a seat but a springboard” (1942 Winston Churchill) "As he who, seeking asses, found a kingdom" (1671 Milton "Paradise Regained") "for it seem'd A void was made in nature, all her bonds Crack'd; and I saw the flaring atom-streams And torrents of her myriad universe, Ruining along the illimitable inane, Fly on to clash together again, and make Another and another frame of things For ever." (1868 Tennyson "Lucretius")
 21st June 2012, 10:08 AM #52 Paul2 Graduate Poster     Join Date: Nov 2004 Posts: 1,502 You're making the issue too technical. Would it help you if I said, "Privilege is not something that one either has or doesn't have when considered over multiple instances of the same opportunities (like whether one gains access to a night club on multiple evenings) as well as over different realms (like night club access, being hired, whether the police pull you over, etc,), and regarding different aspects of a person that may tend to grant or deny privilege (race, gender, appearance, age, etc.). Because that's the larger issue. __________________ It's nice to be nice to the nice.
 21st June 2012, 11:48 AM #53 The Man Scourge, of the supernatural     Join Date: Jun 2007 Location: Poughkeepsie, NY Posts: 7,579 Originally Posted by Paul2 You're making the issue too technical. Ignoring the technicalities of an argument doesn’t help that argument particularly if it is technically flawed. Counterarguments will be framed to exploit the deficiencies of an argument including the technical ones. Originally Posted by Paul2 Would it help you if I said, "Privilege is not something that one either has or doesn't have when considered over multiple instances of the same opportunities (like whether one gains access to a night club on multiple evenings) as well as over different realms (like night club access, being hired, whether the police pull you over, etc,), and regarding different aspects of a person that may tend to grant or deny privilege (race, gender, appearance, age, etc.). As I said from the beginning I understand the point you’re trying to get at but the way you are trying to argue it just doesn’t work. I understand and agree with the intent of your argument but it is how you are trying to frame the argument that just doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. If I can never get into that club then someone who can (regardless of how few times they do get in per number of attempts) has a privilege I don’t (they can at times get into that club). Similarly being a member of my colleges alumni association is a privilege I have while being the member of some local Generally Antagonistic Neanderthal Group (GANG) is a privilege someone else might have. Are they both equal privileges or could one be valued more than the other in different circumstances? Privilege is specifically something one either has or doesn’t have, is granted or denied. Now adding up and evaluating all those haves and have nots, granting or denials of privilege and/or applying that evaluation to some particular set of circumstances is primarily subjective and that’s what should be focused on (the subjectivity of the evaluation). Originally Posted by Paul2 Because that's the larger issue. Once you do start valuing, tabulating and totaling them then some ultimate ascription of ‘privileged or not’ can be determined. The key is just to point out that such evaluation has no objective basis (as sphenisc noted before) and thus the ultimate ascription of ‘privileged or not’ can only be a subjective determination. Which is what I think you have been basically trying to say from the start. __________________ "Not a seat but a springboard” (1942 Winston Churchill) "As he who, seeking asses, found a kingdom" (1671 Milton "Paradise Regained") "for it seem'd A void was made in nature, all her bonds Crack'd; and I saw the flaring atom-streams And torrents of her myriad universe, Ruining along the illimitable inane, Fly on to clash together again, and make Another and another frame of things For ever." (1868 Tennyson "Lucretius")
 21st June 2012, 12:17 PM #54 RandFan Mormon Atheist     Join Date: Dec 2001 Location: Southern California Posts: 53,970 Originally Posted by The Man If I can never get into that club then someone who can (regardless of how few times they do get in per number of attempts) has a privilege I don’t (they can at times get into that club). A.) The example is a single privilege. B.) Not all privileges are absolute. Privilege often simply gives one an edge. Privilege is often not a guarantee and is often balanced by some degree of disprivilege. We could find a group of single white males such that we could line them up in degree of privilege. An unattractive single white homeless male will have less privilege than a gainfully employed and moderately attractive single white male. And of course we could turn privilege on it's head. Rebecca Walker, a black female has privilege I will never know. Born into an affluent home and to a mother who is a very successful writer she was advantaged in ways that I, born to a poor family and to a father who is manic depressive and abusive was not. If you strip away all of the other variables (all else being equal) and focus on single data points then I think you have an argument. In the abstract the argument could be made. However, it's the fact that these variables so exist and that there is effective privilege that undercuts your argument, IMO. That's why I think it is reasonable to state that it is a continuum. __________________ Ego, ain't it a bitch? It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion. --Adam Smith Last edited by RandFan; 21st June 2012 at 12:23 PM.
 21st June 2012, 12:26 PM #55 Paul2 Graduate Poster     Join Date: Nov 2004 Posts: 1,502 Originally Posted by The Man Now adding up and evaluating all those haves and have nots, granting or denials of privilege and/or applying that evaluation to some particular set of circumstances is primarily subjective and that’s what should be focused on (the subjectivity of the evaluation). Once you do start valuing, tabulating and totaling them then some ultimate ascription of ‘privileged or not’ can be determined. The key is just to point out that such evaluation has no objective basis (as sphenisc noted before) and thus the ultimate ascription of ‘privileged or not’ can only be a subjective determination. Which is what I think you have been basically trying to say from the start. Would you say that the subjectivity is such that it is, in the end, merely arbitrary, or would you say that a significant group of people could probably come to a consensus about how to add things up? Or something else? __________________ It's nice to be nice to the nice.
 23rd June 2012, 08:10 AM #56 The Man Scourge, of the supernatural     Join Date: Jun 2007 Location: Poughkeepsie, NY Posts: 7,579 Originally Posted by RandFan A.) The example is a single privilege. B.) Not all privileges are absolute. Privilege often simply gives one an edge. Privilege is often not a guarantee and is often balanced by some degree of disprivilege. We could find a group of single white males such that we could line them up in degree of privilege. An unattractive single white homeless male will have less privilege than a gainfully employed and moderately attractive single white male. And of course we could turn privilege on it's head. Rebecca Walker, a black female has privilege I will never know. Born into an affluent home and to a mother who is a very successful writer she was advantaged in ways that I, born to a poor family and to a father who is manic depressive and abusive was not. If you strip away all of the other variables (all else being equal) and focus on single data points then I think you have an argument. In the abstract the argument could be made. However, it's the fact that these variables so exist and that there is effective privilege that undercuts your argument, IMO. That's why I think it is reasonable to state that it is a continuum. A continuum has a specific meaning, no gaps. We can have a range of values without a continuum (a discrete set of values). So the only reason to claim a continuum as opposed to just a rage of values is to assert that there are no gaps in the values that can be taken. Do you have such a reason and is it even necessary to assert a continuum if all one is just looking to claim is that privileges can take a range of values? __________________ "Not a seat but a springboard” (1942 Winston Churchill) "As he who, seeking asses, found a kingdom" (1671 Milton "Paradise Regained") "for it seem'd A void was made in nature, all her bonds Crack'd; and I saw the flaring atom-streams And torrents of her myriad universe, Ruining along the illimitable inane, Fly on to clash together again, and make Another and another frame of things For ever." (1868 Tennyson "Lucretius")
 23rd June 2012, 08:38 AM #57 RandFan Mormon Atheist     Join Date: Dec 2001 Location: Southern California Posts: 53,970 Originally Posted by The Man A continuum has a specific meaning, no gaps. We can have a range of values without a continuum (a discrete set of values). So the only reason to claim a continuum as opposed to just a rage of values is to assert that there are no gaps in the values that can be taken. Do you have such a reason and is it even necessary to assert a continuum if all one is just looking to claim is that privileges can take a range of values? At best this is pedantic but I don't agree that there is a single usage nor do I think your conclusion follows from the premise. But I'm not going to debate that. With rare exception, as when someone asserts that bachelors can be married, I don't like semantic arguments. The purpose of words is to convey ideas from one mind to another. Even if I grant you the premise, which I don't, it doesn't change anything. Paul's usage of the word "continuum" is that privilege is a range of values. A white male who is homeless has less privilege than a white male who is not homeless. Two white males who are homeless do not necessarily have the same privilege. One might be more intelligent or having been on the street for less time, look less homeless. Given that there are 300M people in America alone it would be expected that there would not be many gaps. That said, you are making an absolute claim and such claims are rather problematic in the real world. I could use a program like Adobe Photo shop to create and then print out a gradient of shades between black and white on a high resolution printer. The human eye could not detect any gaps in this printing. However, a sufficiently powerful microscope would revel that in fact there are lots of gaps. So, by your definition no continuums exist. __________________ Ego, ain't it a bitch? It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion. --Adam Smith Last edited by RandFan; 23rd June 2012 at 08:40 AM.
 23rd June 2012, 09:55 AM #60 RandFan Mormon Atheist     Join Date: Dec 2001 Location: Southern California Posts: 53,970 Originally Posted by The Man Yes some people can certainly come to a consensus on how to add things up so we can certainly agree that you say have more privileges then me based on some scale we both agree with. The thing is where do we go from there (in reference to the privilege argument)? First, let's focus on the subject at hand, "are some people more or less privileged than others?". That's the proposition. The consequences or lack of them does not alter the truth value of the proposition. In any event, to answer the question, it helps gain perspective of what it is we are talking about. Privilege isn't some singular overriding advantage that any and everyone in any given group enjoy equally. Being born a white male to a poor family and abusive father didn't give me an advantage equal to all other white males. Quote: The problem comes when we don't agree either on the scaling or its implications. I don't think we need to agree on any scale. The point is to understand privilege and the implications of privilege. The more you have the greater chance of success. Black lesbians born into affluent homes with well adjusted parents are far more likely to succeed than straight white males born to poor dysfunctional families. And that's the point. We have an explanatory model that makes testable predictions. We actually can measure, within some degree of error, privilege, make predictions and compare reality to our predictions. __________________ Ego, ain't it a bitch? It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion. --Adam Smith Last edited by RandFan; 23rd June 2012 at 10:05 AM.
 23rd June 2012, 10:04 AM #61 RandFan Mormon Atheist     Join Date: Dec 2001 Location: Southern California Posts: 53,970 Originally Posted by The Man What purpose does it serve to focus on including some word like "continuum" if it detracts from the idea your trying to convey that just " privilege is a range of values"? I don't think it at all detracts by and large. I think that the word is far more likely to convey the correct meaning than the wrong one. I see no reason whatsoever to discontinue the use of the word anymore than I would stop using the word theory to mean speculation and also use the word theory to mean something that is not speculation. Words are not laws that govern the universe. Words are simply tools to convey ideas and if we are careful and willing to be clear we can overcome inherent conflict for words like "theory" and "continuum". Quote: At the risk of being additionally pedantic Paul2's original argument was apparently based (as it was worded) on the specific difference between a discrete and a continuous range of values. Just two values (a dichotomy) is a range of values and discrete, simply having more values other than just those two certainly makes it no longer a dichotomy but it doesn't make it a continuum or change what value(s) is/are "more or less" then another. What does that (change perhaps what was a "less" ascription to a "more" ascription) is a different system of evaluating those privileges. Again I understand what Paul2 was trying to say but the way the argument was framed just wasn't really saying it. I stand by the fact that there is a range. In the aggregate, privilege lies on a dynamic continuum/gradient. It fluctuates for each person moment to moment depending on many, many variables. __________________ Ego, ain't it a bitch? It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion. --Adam Smith
 23rd June 2012, 12:07 PM #62 Paul2 Graduate Poster     Join Date: Nov 2004 Posts: 1,502 Originally Posted by The Man Ignoring the technicalities of an argument doesn’t help that argument particularly if it is technically flawed. Counterarguments will be framed to exploit the deficiencies of an argument including the technical ones. As I said from the beginning I understand the point you’re trying to get at but the way you are trying to argue it just doesn’t work. I understand and agree with the intent of your argument but it is how you are trying to frame the argument that just doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. If I can never get into that club then someone who can (regardless of how few times they do get in per number of attempts) has a privilege I don’t (they can at times get into that club). Similarly being a member of my colleges alumni association is a privilege I have while being the member of some local Generally Antagonistic Neanderthal Group (GANG) is a privilege someone else might have. Are they both equal privileges or could one be valued more than the other in different circumstances? Privilege is specifically something one either has or doesn’t have, is granted or denied. Now adding up and evaluating all those haves and have nots, granting or denials of privilege and/or applying that evaluation to some particular set of circumstances is primarily subjective and that’s what should be focused on (the subjectivity of the evaluation). Once you do start valuing, tabulating and totaling them then some ultimate ascription of ‘privileged or not’ can be determined. The key is just to point out that such evaluation has no objective basis (as sphenisc noted before) and thus the ultimate ascription of ‘privileged or not’ can only be a subjective determination. Which is what I think you have been basically trying to say from the start. I've hitting diminishing returns in this conversation. TheMan, thanks for the discussion, see you again down the road. __________________ It's nice to be nice to the nice.
 23rd June 2012, 08:22 PM #63 Rairun Critical Thinker   Join Date: Sep 2008 Posts: 483 Originally Posted by Paul2 The question of privilege has come up with regard to DJ Groethe’s comments regarding sexual harrassment at TAM. Isn’t privilege a continuum, not a dichotomy? If one is white, one is more privileged, in general, than people of color in American society. If one is also a man, one is even more privileged. If one is also rich, one is even more privileged. If one also attended an elite school because their parents did, one is even more privileged. If one also entered an elite job immediately out of college because of connections made at an elite school, one is even more privileged. Etc. Everyone on the planet is more privileged than some others and less privileged than a different group of others (or privileged and non-privileged in different ways than others), so a person or some people is not privileged or non-privileged in an absolute sense, but only in a relative sense, compared to a specific person or group of people, and in specified ways. People who use the language of privilege don't assume privilege exists in an absolute sense. A white person, all other factors being equal, is more privileged than a black person. A straight person, all other factors being equal, is more privileged than a gay person. So when people say "check your privilege", they usually mean your privilege in a particular area is creating blind spots. It's a little tricky, though - when they are right, claiming you are privileged is perfectly acceptable. Some men really don't get certain things because they have little experience with how it feels to be a woman in our society. The same often happens if you are white, straight or cisgender. But when they are wrong about you, they don't know they are, so they end up silencing you into compliance. There's little you can say when someone tells you, "You don't get it because you are privileged". It can definitely be a discussion dampener. On a side note, I do wish the privilege language were more precise. More specifically, I think there's a difference between group X having life better than group Y, and group X being privileged in relation to group Y. For example, I think men have it better than women when it comes to being single. If you are a bachelor in your 40s, people might think you never got serious with life, but at least they think you are having fun. If you are a single woman in your 40s, then you are supposed to be a sad, old little woman. A spinster. That's a double standard and it sucks for women. But I think it only becomes a proper privilege when, say, a husband exploits his wife's fears of being single to manipulate her into doing things she doesn't want to do. He holds power over her because she can't exploit him as easily. The same goes for disabled people, for example. I have been told I have able-bodied privilege because I don't experience chronic pain. I don't think that's a particularly useful definition. I think not having chronic pain only becomes a privilege when there is some sort of social inequality attached to it. When chronic pain makes people more vulnerable to exploitation (from which able-bodied people can benefit), that's when we have a privilege.
 24th June 2012, 08:36 AM #64 The Man Scourge, of the supernatural     Join Date: Jun 2007 Location: Poughkeepsie, NY Posts: 7,579 Originally Posted by RandFan First, let's focus on the subject at hand, "are some people more or less privileged than others?". That's the proposition. The consequences or lack of them does not alter the truth value of the proposition. In any event, to answer the question, it helps gain perspective of what it is we are talking about. Privilege isn't some singular overriding advantage that any and everyone in any given group enjoy equally. Being born a white male to a poor family and abusive father didn't give me an advantage equal to all other white males. Perhaps not even equal to all other white males born to poor families with abusive fathers (You could have more than some and less than others even within that subgroup). I don’t think anyone here is claiming everyone (even just in some particular group or sub grouping) are all equal in privilege. However should we find ourselves in agreement that person A has more privilege than person B the only thing left is what are the consequences, otherwise we just wasted our time coming to that agreement. I don’t think anyone here has claimed that the “consequences or lack of them” alter that relation of person A to person B in terms of privilege but that seems to be the pretence of the ‘privilege argument’ as I understand it. That the “consequences” or the social obligation of that disparity should be to try to minimize it in at least some way. Quite frankly I don’t know how society could function without some disparity in privilege and I’m certainly glad for some privileges that I don’t have (and don’t want) that some others do have. Originally Posted by RandFan I don't think we need to agree on any scale. The point is to understand privilege and the implications of privilege. The more you have the greater chance of success. Black lesbians born into affluent homes with well adjusted parents are far more likely to succeed than straight white males born to poor dysfunctional families. If we can’t agree on a scale then we may not agree on who has more privileges then whom. Similarly we (as well as some “Black lesbians born into affluent homes” and “straight white males born to poor dysfunctional families”) might not agree on what constitutes “success”. What happens if one measures "success" in terms of privilege? Originally Posted by RandFan And that's the point. We have an explanatory model that makes testable predictions. We actually can measure, within some degree of error, privilege, make predictions and compare reality to our predictions. Exactly what model is that and exactly what “testable predictions” does it make? __________________ "Not a seat but a springboard” (1942 Winston Churchill) "As he who, seeking asses, found a kingdom" (1671 Milton "Paradise Regained") "for it seem'd A void was made in nature, all her bonds Crack'd; and I saw the flaring atom-streams And torrents of her myriad universe, Ruining along the illimitable inane, Fly on to clash together again, and make Another and another frame of things For ever." (1868 Tennyson "Lucretius")
 24th June 2012, 09:09 AM #65 The Man Scourge, of the supernatural     Join Date: Jun 2007 Location: Poughkeepsie, NY Posts: 7,579 Originally Posted by RandFan I don't think it at all detracts by and large. I think that the word is far more likely to convey the correct meaning than the wrong one. I see no reason whatsoever to discontinue the use of the word anymore than I would stop using the word theory to mean speculation and also use the word theory to mean something that is not speculation. Words are not laws that govern the universe. Words are simply tools to convey ideas and if we are careful and willing to be clear we can overcome inherent conflict for words like "theory" and "continuum". It sure confused the crap out of me and it took me awhile to figure out what he was trying to say because what he was saying just didn’t gibe. Fortunately I hadn’t known Paul2 to just string words together into some nonsense argument or really make arguments based of the technical distinctions in mathematics. So I figured the point must be something other than what it was exactly saying but still similar enough as to be implied by what he was saying. You be sure and let me know when you find someone actually claiming ‘Words are laws that govern the universe.” Originally Posted by RandFan I stand by the fact that there is a range. In the aggregate, privilege lies on a dynamic continuum/gradient. It fluctuates for each person moment to moment depending on many, many variables. OK, so exactly what “range” is that? How do you calculate it, what “many, many variables” are involved and how does this “dynamic” actually work? Without that what exactly are you standing by? That not everyone has the same privileges? Also if the result of your “range” is simply to assert that someone either has more or less privileges than someone else then that is a dichotomy (the dichotomy of more or less). __________________ "Not a seat but a springboard” (1942 Winston Churchill) "As he who, seeking asses, found a kingdom" (1671 Milton "Paradise Regained") "for it seem'd A void was made in nature, all her bonds Crack'd; and I saw the flaring atom-streams And torrents of her myriad universe, Ruining along the illimitable inane, Fly on to clash together again, and make Another and another frame of things For ever." (1868 Tennyson "Lucretius")
 24th June 2012, 09:14 AM #66 The Man Scourge, of the supernatural     Join Date: Jun 2007 Location: Poughkeepsie, NY Posts: 7,579 Originally Posted by Paul2 I've hitting diminishing returns in this conversation. TheMan, thanks for the discussion, see you again down the road. Sorry about that, if only forum topic interest rates weren’t inexorably tied to EURO futures you might have gotten a better return. Thanks to you as well and I'll see ya around. __________________ "Not a seat but a springboard” (1942 Winston Churchill) "As he who, seeking asses, found a kingdom" (1671 Milton "Paradise Regained") "for it seem'd A void was made in nature, all her bonds Crack'd; and I saw the flaring atom-streams And torrents of her myriad universe, Ruining along the illimitable inane, Fly on to clash together again, and make Another and another frame of things For ever." (1868 Tennyson "Lucretius") Last edited by The Man; 24th June 2012 at 09:20 AM. Reason: typo
 24th June 2012, 12:19 PM #67 RandFan Mormon Atheist     Join Date: Dec 2001 Location: Southern California Posts: 53,970 Originally Posted by The Man Perhaps not even equal to all other white males born to poor families with abusive fathers (You could have more than some and less than others even within that subgroup). I don’t think anyone here is claiming everyone (even just in some particular group or sub grouping) are all equal in privilege.] AIU this is the point of the thread. It is the difference, both major and minor that I'm fairly certain is Paul's point. Quote: However should we find ourselves in agreement that person A has more privilege than person B the only thing left is what are the consequences, otherwise we just wasted our time coming to that agreement. I would think that the consequences would axiomatically follow from that agreement. I don't see a problem here but we will see. Quote: I don’t think anyone here has claimed that the “consequences or lack of them” alter that relation of person A to person B in terms of privilege but that seems to be the pretence of the ‘privilege argument’ as I understand it. That the “consequences” or the social obligation of that disparity should be to try to minimize it in at least some way. Quite frankly I don’t know how society could function without some disparity in privilege and I’m certainly glad for some privileges that I don’t have (and don’t want) that some others do have. The point of the thread, AIU, is to point out that privilege isn't concrete and fixed. That I'm a straight white male doesn't per se advantage me over Oprah Winfrey. Paul, IMO, is trying to disabuse people from a false meme. Quote: If we can’t agree on a scale then we may not agree on who has more privileges then whom. Similarly we (as well as some “Black lesbians born into affluent homes” and “straight white males born to poor dysfunctional families”) might not agree on what constitutes “success”. What happens if one measures "success" in terms of privilege? I didn't say "can't". I said I don't see a need. I will modify that, I think it useful to have a general scale. Straight white males born to an affluent family at the high end and poor black lesbian at the other (all else being equal). Due to chaos theory it is impossible to create a precise scale that could model reality given the large number of variables and sensitivity to initial conditions of such a complex dynamic system as modern societies. Quote: Exactly what model is that and exactly... Sorry if my words misled you but there is no exact model. See Prejudice:Contemporary theories and empirical findings. Quote: ...what “testable predictions” does it make? People will treat other people differently based on real and perceived differences. White landlords are more likely to discriminate against blacks in housing decisions. Mormons are more likely to discriminate against non-Mormons in hiring. __________________ Ego, ain't it a bitch? It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion. --Adam Smith Last edited by RandFan; 24th June 2012 at 12:45 PM.
 24th June 2012, 12:44 PM #68 RandFan Mormon Atheist     Join Date: Dec 2001 Location: Southern California Posts: 53,970 Originally Posted by The Man It sure confused the crap out of me and it took me awhile to figure out... Since it's used as Paul used it so frequently I've no basis to understand why it would confuse the crap out of you. Further, given that humans by and large understand our world and communicate ideas via metaphor my confusion is ever more profound. I just don't understand the problem. Sincerely. A continuum is a scale or range of values. Quote: OK, so exactly what “range” is that? I don't understand your questions given the discussion to date. There is no exact range. I've made that point over and over. If I state time and again words to the effect that "an exact range isn't possible" and you then ask me "what exact range is that" makes me wonder. A rough range from most privilege to least. Straight white male White Male Male Straight white female White female Quote: How do you calculate it, what “many, many variables” are involved and how does this “dynamic” actually work? Due to chaos theory we cant accurately calculate it beyond rough estimates. It's like predicting the weather. We can do it but only to some degree of precisions. Variables include social status, color of skin, color of eyes, height, weight, gender, hair color, social connections, psycho-social status, location where someone lives, what kind of car they drive, religion, ideology, attire, education, IQ, emotional IQ, etc., etc., etc... Quote: Without that what exactly are you standing by? That not everyone has the same privileges? That I could take 6 people and arrange them on a scale from most to least of likely privilege (see rough range above). Quote: Also if the result of your “range” is simply to assert that someone either has more or less privileges than someone else then that is a dichotomy (the dichotomy of more or less). No! I posit that there is no axiomatic dichotomy in any random group where half of the group will equally enjoy more privilege than the other. You could find a median and put one half on one side and the other half on the other but that is just an arbitrary sleight of hand. So, when Paul says there is a continuum he is talking about a range between those with the most privilege and those with the least. That's all. Just like shades of gray we all have different privilege relative to other people. I have more than some and less than others. Again, that's all. 49% gray is a little less dark than 50%. That fact does not mean that 49% doesn't lie on a continuum. __________________ Ego, ain't it a bitch? It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion. --Adam Smith Last edited by RandFan; 24th June 2012 at 02:12 PM.
 24th June 2012, 02:33 PM #69 The Man Scourge, of the supernatural     Join Date: Jun 2007 Location: Poughkeepsie, NY Posts: 7,579 Originally Posted by RandFan AIU this is the point of the thread. It is the difference, both major and minor that I'm fairly certain is Paul's point. Yep, probably why no one was claiming everyone (even just in some particular group or sub grouping) are all equal in privilege. Originally Posted by RandFan I would think that the consequences would axiomatically follow from that agreement. I don't see a problem here but we will see. Not necessarily while we might agree on the disparity we may not agree on the consequences of it. Originally Posted by RandFan The point of the thread, AIU, is to point out that privilege isn't concrete and fixed. That I'm a straight white male doesn't per se advantage me over Oprah Winfrey. Paul, IMO, is trying to disabuse people from a false meme. Again probably why no one claimed privilege is concrete and fixed or that you have an advantage over Oprah Winfrey. Originally Posted by RandFan I didn't say "can't". I said I don't see a need. I will modify that, I think it useful to have a general scale. Straight white males born to an affluent family at the high end and poor black lesbian at the other (all else being equal). Due to chaos theory it is impossible to create a precise scale that could model reality given the large number of variables and sensitivity to initial conditions of such a complex dynamic system as modern societies. As I’ve said from the start you can scale it anyway you want. Originally Posted by RandFan Sorry if my words misled you but there is no exact model. See Prejudice:Contemporary theories and empirical findings. OK, no problem sorry for thinking that’s what you were implying. Originally Posted by RandFan People will treat other people differently based on real and perceived differences. White landlords are more likely discriminate against blacks in housing decisions. Mormons are more likely to discriminate against non-Mormons in hiring. Well, have you ever tried treating other people differently based on real and perceived equalities? It all just works out the same. __________________ "Not a seat but a springboard” (1942 Winston Churchill) "As he who, seeking asses, found a kingdom" (1671 Milton "Paradise Regained") "for it seem'd A void was made in nature, all her bonds Crack'd; and I saw the flaring atom-streams And torrents of her myriad universe, Ruining along the illimitable inane, Fly on to clash together again, and make Another and another frame of things For ever." (1868 Tennyson "Lucretius")
 24th June 2012, 04:50 PM #70 RandFan Mormon Atheist     Join Date: Dec 2001 Location: Southern California Posts: 53,970 Originally Posted by The Man Yep, probably why no one was claiming everyone (even just in some particular group or sub grouping) are all equal in privilege. Not necessarily while we might agree on the disparity we may not agree on the consequences of it. Again probably why no one claimed privilege is concrete and fixed or that you have an advantage over Oprah Winfrey. As I’ve said from the start you can scale it anyway you want. OK, no problem sorry for thinking that’s what you were implying. Well, have you ever tried treating other people differently based on real and perceived equalities? It all just works out the same. Since I'm just defending Paul's point I don't understand the claim of a straw man argument. But that's fine. __________________ Ego, ain't it a bitch? It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion. --Adam Smith
 25th June 2012, 07:12 AM #73 000063 Illuminator     Join Date: Apr 2011 Location: Not America. Posts: 4,739 I was in a recent discussion where a straight white male said that he had been explicitly discriminated against multiple times because he was a SWM. He was even told, to his face, that he couldn't get a job solely because he wasn't a minority. People seemed entirely unable to comprehend that he wasn't downplaying bias against minorities, merely pointing out that it also existed for SWMs, even when he explicitly said so. One guy even said it was impossible for white people to face racism, and ignored me linking him to Reginald Denny. He also said any minority would agree with him, and when I informed him that I didn't, tried to BS it away. A lot of social justice discussion is based on folks' ideas of how privilege and prejudice works, not the reality. Some of the most bigoted people I've seen proudly called themselves "feminist". Last edited by 000063; 25th June 2012 at 07:14 AM.
 26th June 2012, 08:00 AM #74 DrDave Illuminator   Join Date: Apr 2005 Location: Geneva Posts: 3,137 Originally Posted by The Man That people can agree on some scale doesn't make it any less arbitrary. Degrees of temperature like Fahrenheit or Celsius are scales set at arbitrary points. That we can agree on which scale to use doesn't make them any less arbitrary. Yes some people can certainly come to a consensus on how to add things up so we can certainly agree that you say have more privileges then me based on some scale we both agree with. The thing is where do we go from there (in reference to the privilege argument)? Does your having more privileges than me infer that you should grant me some additional privilege under your discretion (like letting me go in front of you at the check out counter)? In the end it is your decision and how you come to it is your choice. The problem comes when we don't agree either on the scaling or its implications. We could agree that you have more privileges than me and that because of it you should grant me some other privilege to even up the score a bit. However, the problem comes not when people agree on things but when they don't. Without some objective reference the determination (either way) is entirely subjective and some other type of scaling could just as easily rate me as having more privileges than you. Caution: Technical stuff follows. If I recall correctly the scale of Fahrenheit was set so that some arbitrarily chosen cold day was set at 0 degrees and some arbitrarily chosen hot day was set at 100. In the Celsius scale 0 degrees is set at the triple point of water (it can be a liquid, gas or solid at that temperature) and −273.15 degrees Celsius (absolute zero or 0 degrees Kelvin) is the point at which entropy in the material is minimum. While that latter point (absolute zero) is objective the scale we use to relate other points on a temperature scale to it isn't. One could just as easily use absolute zero as say -20 and the temperature that mercury vaporizes (at some standard of pressure) as say 100. Since the definition of the lower end of temperature (minimum entropy) is fixed, 0 degrees Celsius is always less than 100 degrees Celsius as 32 degrees Fahrenheit is always less than 212 degrees Fahrenheit. So in any temperature scale (as temperature represent average kinetic energy) the freezing temperature of water is always less than the boiling temperature of water (under the same pressure conditions). With no such objective references for the values of privilege or even a clear definition of what privilege represents (like temperature representing the average kinetic energy of some system of particles) those "more or less" relations can easily change. This is what I think you meant by "relative" in your initial post Paul2. Much like the sequence of events (one happening before the other) can change depending on your reference frame in special relativity. To one observer event A happens before event B while to another it might be B before A. Similarly under one particular scale of privilege you might have more than me yet in another I have more than you. There just isn't any objective basis for that overall "more or less" ascription of privilege so it can only be subjective even if most people do agree on some particular scale. Unless of course someone does actually come up with an objective measure for and definition of what privilege represents and I don't see that happening any time soon. As sphenisc notes... So I'm not sure if anyone is really trying. Since we're being pedantic - it's not just water, but Vienna Standard Mean Ocean Water. Triple point is the temperature and pressure when 3 phases are at thermodynamic equilibrium. And the gas-liquid-solid triple point is at 0.01 degrees (I forget the pressure), not 0. HTH
 26th June 2012, 03:06 PM #75 The Man Scourge, of the supernatural     Join Date: Jun 2007 Location: Poughkeepsie, NY Posts: 7,579 611.73 Pa and thanks for the correction. __________________ "Not a seat but a springboard” (1942 Winston Churchill) "As he who, seeking asses, found a kingdom" (1671 Milton "Paradise Regained") "for it seem'd A void was made in nature, all her bonds Crack'd; and I saw the flaring atom-streams And torrents of her myriad universe, Ruining along the illimitable inane, Fly on to clash together again, and make Another and another frame of things For ever." (1868 Tennyson "Lucretius")

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