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  #51  
Old 05-06-2012, 11:18 PM
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Originally Posted by nycindie View Post
I'd rather live my life in the real world, connecting with my heart, mind, and gut with other people, rather than get all wrapped up in theoretical bullshit designed to exclude rather than include. Fuck that!
Oddly enough, at least on my part, when I started kicking around the idea of a graph, I wasn't looking to exclude.

I've become fascinated by the million different ways people in the poly community describe themselves (or don't). I mainly wanted to see how people's self-descriptions plotted out--who was going to find hirself where? Who was similar and in what respects? Maybe we could find common ground that way, or at least learn to embrace more of our fellow non-monogamists. I would love to see less "feeeeelthy swinger!!!11!" happening and more "Hey, we're not that different."

And that's why I'm intrigued. If I can borrow from linguistics for a minute, I'm heavily descriptivist: I believe in looking at the state of things, documenting them, and learning from them. I don't want to force labels on people who don't want them. I really and truly would write this thesis, if I could somehow make it fit into an MSW (probably not), because I'm curious about the poly map--and please, please don't tell me "Oh, Franklin Veaux did that already." He made a few graphics based on God-knows-what research. I want to map us out, adapting the tools that people who study sexuality and human relationships have already used. Then I want to see where we fall. Not the other way around.

So you can keep on saying "fuck that!" to this discussion, but I wanted you to fully understand just what it is you're, um, fucking.
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  #52  
Old 05-06-2012, 11:41 PM
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Being able to quantify something for academic purposes, such as research, doesn't mean those definitions automatically get transferred to every day use. I can tell you in medical terms what I did to my knee, but unless the person I'm talking to is similarly educated about anatomy it's just going to make the explanation longer, not shorter. Why use it, then? So I don't think anyone's talking about "doing" relationships this way, nycindie. But having the academic definitions for research purposes could be very helpful for, say, when we need statistics on people practicing ethical non-monogamy for use in a court case or other legal battle. (I like the idea of plotting # of partners vs commitment on a graph- It would help show my mom and sister, I think, that I'm not REALLY that different in my relationship choices than they are!!)

The Kinsey scale is only useful for describing those people who feel they fall on it. Any sort of poly scale, Lorax or otherwise, would similarly only be useful if someone felt it described them. And if nycindie wanted to tell someone who used that as a descriptive to "fuck off!", then I just see that as her own method of exclusion. *shrug* I see it as a way to start a discussion, not end one.

(And I've very much enjoyed reading this thread, even if I haven't participated til now. Most of it was lack of time and being unable to write my thoughts out coherently. )
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  #53  
Old 05-06-2012, 11:42 PM
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LFG, I wasn't saying "fuck that" to this discussion. I'm fine with academic research and statistics. But I asked kdt26417 how this Lorax scale, and the notion of quantifying "how poly" a person is, would actually be "handy" to anyone, as he put it. I'm more interested in relating in my relationships, not quantifying them. So, I wanted to know how this can be used in real life, not in an academic paper or research study -- and, by the way, I love reading academic journals on a variety of topics -- so, what I'm saying "fuck that" to are the reasons he stated for this thing being handy. I responded to each one specifically in my post. I thought that was clear.

What I am saying "fuck that" to, is the idea that someone would gauge whether or not a person is compatible with them based on a scale, rather than their feelings. If the Lorax scale become popular, what are people going to do at poly gatherings - walk away from someone because they're not the "right" number? I think anyone who would say "you are more poly or less poly than so-and-so" is being exclusionary. As River said, it is insulting, is it not? And yes, I feel this Lorax scale can only pertain to people who identify as poly, like an orientation. That in itself excludes many others who live polyamorously without IDing as poly. It is not exclusionary to say "Fuck that" to a flawed purpose.

I might be behind this thing if it was shown to actually be useful to the entire poly community at large (if it can be said that there is such a thing). And that is why I asked for examples of why it would be useful. kdt26417 said, "It's too bad there's not a quick/easy way to "quantify" one's poly-ness. It would be handy." So I would like to know why and how it would be handy and I have not yet seen any reasons that corroborate that statement.
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  #54  
Old 05-07-2012, 01:15 AM
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I resonate with the spirit of nycindie's concerns. And my main concern with the so-called "Lorax Scale" is precisely that it attempts to "quantify" rather than distinguish differences which are not aply quantified.

As one who has thought a lot -- philosophically -- about matters concerning economics, I find it easy to dismiss easy (and simple) quantifications of value. Who says (for example) that the value of a healthy forest is quantifiable in either board feet or dollars? How much is clean air or a stable climate system worth in dollars, yen, or [enter your unit of value here]?

When we reduce the value of forests, mountains or rivers to measures of curency value, we fail to see value in complex terms, which typically results in various kinds of blindness -- an inability to conceive, recognize or respond to excluded values. But even any single non-currency quantification will tend to obscure rather than reveal useful understanding. Single and comprehensive systems of commensurability cannot be neatly imposed in such a complex world as ours. Not everything can or should be quantified.
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  #55  
Old 05-07-2012, 03:04 AM
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Well I always thought of this thread more as an experiment than a prescription, and I'm not surprised if the examples I gave were flawed or undesirable. I didn't put as much thought into them as I probably should have, but I don't take this "quantification" stuff as seriously as I may seem to. I merely "used the forum" to try to sort/organize some of my own befuddled logic. So if I gave offense, I do apologize. For the record (and I think I've said this before), I truly don't think polyamory is any better than monogamy, but if I inadvertently reinforced any ideas about "poly superior-ness," I apologize about that also.

Relationships obviously have a lot more to do with intuition/emotion than they do math/logic, so I don't really think any of this stuff should be leaned on. I knew that it was out there, that it had been talked about to some extent, so it got the wheels of my mind spinning. But at the end of the day, I'd certainly want to return to a discussion that was "less quantifiable."

The point that quantification can cause these social problems is itself (I believe) a part of the discussion about the quantification, so I am still appreciative of all the input that folks have offered here. But I do particularly appreciate the supportive comments from lovefromgirl and ThatGirlInGray. Perhaps I shouldn't derive any comfort from having a few others "share my morbid curiousity about this topic," but I do a little. As I said, no harm was intended (even if some was carelessly caused). I've been engaged with various people in conversations about polyamory, its philosophy, and its semantics, for several years, and I guess somewhere in the course of all those conversations my mind "spun off on this tangent."

FWIW, my main poly squeeze and I scored really low (about 65%) in our compatibility ratings on OKCupid. It's lucky for us that we didn't meet through that site. So I agree one must be cautious about "what the numbers state" when it comes to dealing with people and relationships in real life.
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  #56  
Old 05-07-2012, 02:19 PM
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Originally Posted by kdt26417 View Post
Well I always thought of this thread more as an experiment than a prescription, and I'm not surprised if the examples I gave were flawed or undesirable.
"Experiments" of this sort can surely be useful. Through open dialogue in a group, we all learn about different possible frames for thinking about things. And when we are lucky we all learn together.
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  #57  
Old 05-07-2012, 08:00 PM
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I think that for some, studying a topic is a way to break it down, analyse it, and understand it. For me, I'd much rather get on with it, and I will tend to judge my compatibility with others based on interaction with them, rather than a numeric scale, whether Kinsey, Lorax or Beaufort.

I think that using it for poly/monogamy is missing something. There are other types of non-monogamy than polyamory - there is cheating, which some seem to do with remarkable ability, and swinging.

That having been said, the number of discussions that have been had to try to work out what types of poly are out there are numerous, and lack any sort of consistent terminology or frame of reference.. a classic example of this is that one person's cheating is another person's shrug.

I looked at what Franklin put out and, while I admire a lot of his writings, I found this less than useful - it was a mess of a collection - stuff just sort of dumped onto a board and moved around a bit.

Maybe something like this isn't going to be easy to analyse, because maybe there are far more than 2 orthogonal dimensions in the model. Sexuality, commitment over time, living arrangements, plus the different configurations that people desire are all things that could exist in multiple permutations. That stuff is going to take an age and a better mind than mine to sort through. Doing a few research papers (as I see others do), trying to come up with some sort of Rosetta Stone to explain poly to the masses isn't going to cut it. This has to be something akin to the Kinsey studies where many, many folks are interviewed in depth (not just on SurveyMonkey or an internet forum) to really understand all the nuances and things that need to be captured.

My gut feel is that what is being done here is over-simplifying the state of things.
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  #58  
Old 05-07-2012, 09:32 PM
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I can't disagree about the Lorax scale (and other 1-dimensional constructs) being an oversimplification. All attempts to sort/organize the huge array of relationship types/nuances out there is bound to either fall short or just be a big mess. So ultimately, I don't intend to introduce anything that should be "promoted" to widespread usage. It's all just a thought experiment (in my mind), and a way to look at some of these (monogamous and) non-monogamous words really closely (and in a technical fashion).

I think my original idea was just to find out what (if any) merit this whole quantification idea had. I know that a few people out there have seen it as useful, though not all have explained why (that I know of).

As for the superiority thing, the shoe can go on either foot: I know there's a lot of monogamists who consider monogamy to be more righteous/wholesome than polyamory (or any other kind of non-monogamy). So the slider scale gives "elitists" on either end of the scale opportunity to say, "Aha, I'm better than you, look, I'm on the better side of the scale." That's one way of looking at the differences between people: is assuming that one "type" of person is better than another "type." Another (all-the-way) approach is to avoid/eliminate any terminology, or spread of ideas, that might enable any sorting of people into "types," as such sorting only makes the superiority-finger-pointing easier/more possible.

What I usually lean toward is accepting that people are different, acknowledging it, and being glad about those differences. It's great that we have monogamy as well as polyamory (and swing, etc.). Those different lifestyles represent diverse perspectives, and everyone has a chance to benefit from that via getting together with "the other/different crowd" and learning stuff from them that we might not get from "our own crowd." I don't know why the "Lorax scale" was invented, but I try to view it as a slice of the rainbow -- many colors laid out on a line, all colors of which are good colors. I don't think the Kinsey scale was ever intended to suggest that "Person A is more homosexual than Person B, therefore Person A is more superior/evolved/enlightened than Person B," or anything of that sort. It seems to me that it was only ever meant to validate each and every shade of color along the Kinsey line. I always assumed the Lorax scale was proffered in that kind of spirit, but my assumption could be mistaken.

Like I said, it's all been done with the intention of learning more about various words through thought experiments, and certainly my intent hasn't been to denigrate (or even pigeonhole) any group in any way. If anything, a part of me thought to demonstrate that people can't be pigeonholed, that any attempts to do so turn out to be flawed (and academic).

Some people feel they aren't adequately described by the Kinsey scale, and I don't see that as a problem. I don't think anyone is "required" to align themselves to the Kinsey scale. The same (in my mind) has always applied to the Lorax scale as well (even though it's a "fringe oddity," not a well-established idea like the Kinsey scale is). But I understand better now that the atmosphere is rather charged between some of the folks in the mono and poly "camps," who view each other's lifestyle/lovestyle choices as being somehow inferior to one another. It's a shame that such a divisive atmosphere exists between polyamory and monogamy. I'd like to see us all get together more.

So I see people's (ultimately unquantifiable) differences as being a blessing, one that will hopefully eventually benefit all of the various groups, as we struggle to learn to get together and have a dialog about our diverse points of view.

These are my thoughts on the matter. I am still mulling it over, and may think of other things to share (that are hopefully on-point), but for now the size of my post is probably already quite sufficient.
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  #59  
Old 05-19-2012, 08:37 AM
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I have some more to add, for your consideration.

Re (from River, Post #54):
Quote:
"Who says (for example) that the value of a healthy forest is quantifiable in either board feet or dollars?"
I don't know who (if anyone) says that. But I don't think that's what we tried to do here. We didn't try to quantify the value of a forest. A better analogy would be, we tried to estimate the type of a forest. Is it deciduous, coniferous, or a mix of the two? The scale might look like this:
  • Type A: 100% deciduous, 0% coniferous.
  • Type B: 83% deciduous, 17% coniferous.
  • Type C: 67% deciduous, 33% coniferous.
  • Type D: 50% deciduous, 50% coniferous.
  • Type E: 33% deciduous, 67% coniferous.
  • Type F: 17% deciduous, 83% coniferous.
  • Type G: 0% deciduous, 100% coniferous.
None of the above types are of any greater value than any of the other above types. Hopefully we all understand that. We are just seeking specialized information about the trees.

To what end? Well, I don't know for certain. Perhaps because the information would be useful to some scientist. It might aid in broad estimates about what species of flora and fauna might live in the forest. It might aid in broad estimates about the climate and seasons. It might give other hints about the care and preservation of that particular forest. In my mind, it just helps us know/understand the forest a little better. I assume that's a good thing. I also find it interesting. But I don't find it degrading or offensive.

Maybe the forest can't be quantified. Maybe it shouldn't be quantified. But I saw something that looked like it might be quantifiable, and studied the prospect. I invited others to study it with me. Some did. Some merely made observations about the project as a whole. That was useful also.

I consider deciduous trees to be equally as valuable as coniferous trees. Or perhaps more precisely, I hold that their value can't be compared, because they're two different things. But I attempted to measure their proportions as a small part of trying to learn the nature of what a forest is.

Likewise, I consider monogamy to be equally as valid as polyamory. Or perhaps more precisely, I hold that their validity can't be compared, because they're two different things. But I attempted to measure their porportions as a small part of trying to learn the nature of what a relationship is.

A relationship can be a Lorax 1 in the way it's all put together, but the individuals within the relationship may have internal orientations in the Lorax 3 or 4 areas. That doesn't tell us much (perhaps no more than an astrological reading), but it tells us a few potential things. It tells us that the literal set-up of the relationship may change someday. It tells us that the individuals may be somewhat flexible in their ability to live monogamously or polyamorously. It tells us that there may be some tension from time to time, stemming from the difference between the "orientation Lorax numbers" and the "situational Lorax number." All of these are maybes, so they are useless if one wants absolutes. But I'm willing to settle with maybes for now. It sheds a little light on the subject.

The truth is, it's not necessarily possible to come up with any example of how this stuff would be "handy" or useful in the real world. Maybe some examples would work in the "make-believe fairy-land of Kevin's-whimsical-fantasies." But in the real world, relationships are too complicated to make rules (or draw conclusions) about them based on a numeric scale. The scale is a flash of light on the subject, nothing more.

Granted, I took a few half-hearted stabs at theoretical examples in Post #46, but I didn't mean for those to be "real-world" examples. I don't think I was clear enough about that at the time, though I did try to throw in a few disclaimers: "Of course it doesn't work that way in real life; you have to describe your situation; you can't just sum it up in a numerical figure," and, "The only examples I could come up with would be imaginary examples; the real world doesn't work that way."

Perhaps it could be useful as a kind of shorthand for academic discussions. I don't know.

Re (from River, Post #49):
Quote:
"To say that a poly person who is interested in having a maximum of two simultaneous partners is somehow 'less poly' than one who is interested in having 3-4 partners is not only an unfounded premise but also a fairly insensitive way to talk about someone."
I agree. I wouldn't recommend measuring one's degree/percentage of poly nature/situation by one's number (or desired number) of partners. I see it more as a measure of branching out into the emotional and romantic realms of ethical non-monogamy. And I agree it would be insensitive to say, "You are less poly than this other person." That would be a terrible way to use the measurements, even in "Kevin's fantasy land."

It's generally a bad idea to question anyone's level of poly. People can identify (or describe their situation) as being whatever degree of poly they think they should be placed at. It's not up to me (or anyone else) to tell another person where they should place themselves on the scale. I can estimate where I think my own orientation and situation fall on the scale, but that's about the extent of my authority.

There's way too many loaded connotations about monogamy-superiority, as well as polyamory-superiority. Until those connotations are cooled down, talking about things like the Lorax scale will have to be done carefully. Loosely-thrown-around numbers should probably be confined to highly-codified academic talk (if they should be thrown around loosely at all).

In any case, I don't aim to disclude anybody. If there is a group that feels discluded, I'll try to think of a way to include them. (Sort of in the spirit of how the Kinsey scale has a Kinsey X for asexual.)

I don't require anyone to participate in an academic discussion about this stuff, but I welcome anyone who wants to. It's a hobby of sorts.

Re (from ThatGirlInGray, Post #52):
Quote:
"The Kinsey scale is only useful for describing those people who feel they fall on it. Any sort of poly scale, Lorax or otherwise, would similarly only be useful if someone felt it described them."
Very well said, TGIG.
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Old 05-25-2012, 04:47 AM
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Originally Posted by kdt26417 View Post
A better analogy would be, we tried to estimate the type of a forest. Is it deciduous, coniferous, or a mix of the two? The scale might look like this:
  • Type A: 100% deciduous, 0% coniferous.
  • Type B: 83% deciduous, 17% coniferous.
  • Type C: 67% deciduous, 33% coniferous.
  • Type D: 50% deciduous, 50% coniferous.
  • Type E: 33% deciduous, 67% coniferous.
  • Type F: 17% deciduous, 83% coniferous.
  • Type G: 0% deciduous, 100% coniferous.
None of the above types are of any greater value than any of the other above types. Hopefully we all understand that. We are just seeking specialized information about the trees.
I really like this analogy because I can see immediately how it could be used. This wouldn't be for everyday discussions at work or out with friends. I wouldn't say on a date, "Well, the area I grew up in was 33% deciduous, 67% coniferous." BUT if I was talking to someone who had similar background knowledge of the traits of each type of forest and this scale, saying I grew up in a Type E area would be a quick and easy way to give them TONS of information about the likely local flora and fauna. Much faster than, "Well, where I grew up we had mostly long-needle pine trees, some cedar, some oak and live oak, coyotes, rattlesnakes and a TON of possums, skunks, and quail."

It's also similar to teaching in the U.S.'s current education system. There are SO many abbreviations and labels and terms for everything. It's not useful when talking to parents or students. It's only useful when talking to other education professionals who have the same education and training. So is it useful for poly? That I don't know. There are as many ways to be poly as there are people being poly, after all, but the same could be said for kids in school, so maybe some rough groupings are possible.

Sure better to give it a try and find out, though, in my opinion, than to automatically say, "This is a waste of time and not useful," just because you don't personally see a use for it yet.
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