Open threads at the Open Thread tab every Sunday and Wednesday

The Trend Evaluation Of All Values

In case you forgot: yesterday, 170 people sent in their predictions on what percent of Americans agreed with vaguely political statements like “I am very patriotic”. Then they predicted how answers to these questions have changed in the past 22 years.

Without further ado, here are the answers (click to expand).

People were terrible at predicting what percent of Americans agreed with something, with an average error on each issue of 15%. Especially egregious errors include “We need stricter laws to protect the environment” – you expected 49% of Americans to agree, but in fact 83% did. You expected 50% of Americans to agree that “Prayer is an important part of my daily life”, but in fact 78% did.

In general, you expected modern Americans to be a bit more leftist than they actually are – five percentage points more leftist, to be exact.

You did a little better predicting how opinions had shifted over the past generation, with an average error of 5% per issue. By far your worst question was “Pay less attention to problems overseas and more at home”. You thought 6% more people would agree; in fact, 10% fewer do. Your other big mistake was expecting 8% more people to think businesses were too profitable; actually, 3% fewer people believe this.

Overall, you overestimated the degree society has shifted to the left, but only by a tiny tiny bit – one percentage point per issue. Depending on whether I classify “We should pay less attention to overseas” as a leftist or rightist position, I can either make that overestimation vanish, or double it to a still-measly two percentage points.

(if I wanted to be sensationalist, I could say you overestimated society’s leftward shift by 50% – which is true, but only because the real shift was two percentage points)

I ran these numbers again counting only the Reactionary answers, and then again counting only the Progressive answers. Contrary to my hypothesis, this made practically no difference; I think Reactionaries were one percent worse than Progressives on one of the two measures and one percent better on the other. It was all well below any conceivable margin of error.

Alejandro was most accurate in his estimates of what positions Americans actually hold. Athrelon was most accurate in his estimates of how positions have changed over time. He very slightly edged out second-place winner JRM, even though the latter had already read the answers. On IRC Athrelon attributed his success to being a medical student and therefore getting to see a broad cross-section of society whom he might otherwise avoid. As a doctor myself, I can endorse that sentiment. In any case, congratulations to both winners.

I didn’t have time to do much with people’s ages or anything like that, but you’re welcome to crunch the numbers yourself. You can download the raw data (minus names) from this link. Someone double check to see if I totally messed up my numbers.

Polling data for this exercise was taken from Static America: Myths About Political Change In The US

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

92 Responses to The Trend Evaluation Of All Values

  1. Sniffnoy says:

    Someone has their email address listed instead of their age… or did they just fill out the form wrong?

    • Noah says:

      Yep, that was me. I don’t know how I messed that up, but I did!

      Just commenting to let peeps know it’s all good.

  2. > (if I wanted to be sensationalist, I could say you overestimated society’s leftward shift by 50% – which is true, but only because the real shift was two percentage points)

    That is only because very few of these questions are useful for measuring movement left.

    With questions that are useful in measuring movement left, for example firing gay schoolteachers, I am sure that movement left was quite massive.

    • What does the data say?

      • If the data says that Americans have moved only a miniscule amount leftwards, notwithstanding state sponsored gay terrorism and a massive rise in marginal tax rates on the well off, there is something mighty funny with the data.

        • You mean, reality has a well-known left wing bias?

          LOL at gay terrorism.

        • jimrandomh says:

          > notwithstanding … a massive rise in marginal tax rates on the well off

          The actual top marginal tax rates over time do not show any massive rise.

          • The actual top marginal tax rates over time do not show any massive rise.

            Your data conveniently ends in 2010. The Obamacare taxes come into effect over 2010-2014

            Kind of like those graphs showing diminishing sea ice that cover not global sea ice but only arctic sea ice, and end in 2007.

        • Damien says:

          ” if one lie, all lies”

          You spout a lie about marginal tax rates. So all you believe is lies, right?

        • No I mean when you look at the data Scott referenced, does it in fact show a “massive” leftward shift on gay schoolteachers?

          Other people (leonard) seem to be saying that there is such a shift. So let’s take it as given that the left is winning on some questions. What do you think that implies, though?

          Leftists see it as a relentless march of victory against an evil overdog establishment, and their main complaint seems to be that it’s not happening fast enough.

          Reactionaries see it as uncontrolled value drift, and politics overriding sanity. Their main complaint is that naive progress-worship gets us shit like the great leap forward and the holocaust and the situation in the Congo.

          Who is right? That’s an additional question that the existence of “social progress” cannot answer, because they agree on it’s existence. What evidence would disambiguate?

          • Reactionaries see it as uncontrolled value drift, and politics overriding sanity. Their main complaint is that naive progress-worship gets us shit like the great leap forward and the holocaust and the situation in the Congo.

            Who is right? That’s an additional question that the existence of “social progress” cannot answer, because they agree on it’s existence. What evidence would disambiguate?

            A lot of people are denying the movement left – thus I point out that Daniel Boone has been written out of history, thus writing the white experience and white point of view out of the Indian Wars, replacing it with ignorant hate filled demonization, and the response is to ask who is this guy Daniel Boone and why does he matter, which would seem to prove my point.

            The tea party of 2012 was far to the left of the Obama of 2008. Given that the official line is always changing, and changing rather rapidly, the official line cannot be true. It follows that the official line is mandatory madness and evil.

            If the official line is goodness and truth, then it cannot possibly change, hence adherents of official truth will not acknowledge change except for minor increases in the perfection of what is already almost perfect, and the ever more thorough eradication of witchcraft and heresy.

        • It seemed incredible to me that the Tea Party of 2012 could have been far to the left of Obama of 2008, but it’s true. I checked and the Tea Party now advocates state funded universal health care, unilateral nuclear disarmament and nationalisation of the banking system. James A. Donald may seem to be a maniac who gets all his information from Fox News, but once you break out of the Cathedral’s iron grip, you’ll see that he is actually a genius.

          • It seemed incredible to me that the Tea Party of 2012 could have been far to the left of Obama of 2008

            Obama of 2008 opposed gay marriage, massive bailouts, and large increases in big government spending.

            The tea party of 2012 does not oppose gay marriage, and does not propose to roll back spending and taxes to anything like the same proportion of GDP as it was in 2008. They propose that government spending shall increase at a slightly lower rate than it has been increasing.

        • Khoth says:

          The real question is, has the Tea party sponsored more gay terrorism in 2012 than Obama did in 2008?

        • Ben says:

          The Tea Party won’t admit it openly, but it secretly conspires to ship arms to the Gay Contras.

        • Konkvistador says:

          “gets all his information from Fox News”

          I haven’t seen this Brahmin gang sign in some time. It gets a chuckle out of me every time. I’m probably to the left of Jim and even I think Fox isn’t really right wing in any real sense.

          I mean dear lord those people think democracy is a good thing, that Americans are currently living in one and that MLK was a conservative saint.

  3. Doug S. says:

    Some debates in the U.S. actually haven’t changed much: there have been both lots of immigration and people who didn’t like it for a long, long time. Most of what’s changed is where the immigrants that people didn’t like were coming from.

    • Douglas Knight says:

      There has been a huge change in immigration over the last century. It was a cycle, so we’ve been here before, but very few people remember the previous peak.

      • Douglas Knight says:

        I meant to put a direct link to the graph

        • jsalvatier says:

          Whoa! We’re back at 12% from 4% ?! I had no idea. I thought it had just become increasingly difficult to get into the united states. Do you know what kind of immigrant visas people use to get in these days?

        • Douglas Knight says:

          I don’t think it became harder since 9/11 to get a work visa, just harder to get a visitor visa. Or maybe the paperwork and delays went up for both, but a work visa is worth the effort. Most immigration is through “family reunification” and I believe that has been true for decades. A lot of immigration is subject to quotas, so a change in difficulty might change who immigrates without changing the numbers.

  4. Oligopsony says:

    Looks like a modest libertarianward shift to me (which in retrospect I ought have guessed.)

  5. Alexander Stanislaw says:

    I’m completely baffled as to how to open the raw data file. I tried 3 unzippers for mac and it spits out nonsense. I don’t suppose you would mind uploading a friendlier format? (Say pdf)

  6. Ben Lash says:

    I should have separately written my answers down to see how I personally did!

  7. Obamacare is a progressive tax, in that the higher your income, the more you are required to pay for obamacare. This brings us to the highest marginal tax rates, the most drastic soak the rich system, of any major western country.

    And if any large organization criticizes homosexuals, for example the Mormon church, this results in in state sponsored terror against the evil right wing organization.

    And, supposedly, we have only moved left by a minute degree. Or, supposedly, perhaps we have become slightly more libertarian.

    • g says:

      Obamacare is not a tax at all. There are subsidies that taper with income, but they reach zero well before a level anyone in the US would think of as rich. (You might think it would be better to avoid poverty-trap effects at lower incomes by replacing most government benefits and subsidies with a fixed guaranteed income. I might agree. But that’s a separate argument.) Tax rates in the US are not in fact particularly high, whether you look at the marginal figure or the overall rate.

      “State sponsored terror” usually means, you know, bombs and drone strikes and assassinations and stuff. So far as I know, US military action against the COJCOLDS to date has been comparatively mild.

      I have three questions for you. (1) Would you agree that it is possible for people to be badly wrong on politically charged questions even when they think they are well informed? (2) Would you agree that it is possible in principle that this has happened to you? If yes, then (3a) What evidence do you think ought to convince you? If no, then (3b) Why do you think you are more entitled to such confidence than those with other opinions who are as sure they’re well informed as you are?

      I assume you answer yes to #1, since clearly you think that’s the situation we who disagree with you are in.

      • Obamacare is not a tax at all. There are subsidies that taper with income, but they reach zero well before a level anyone in the US would think of as rich

        The supreme court thinks it is a tax, and I think they are right. The bottom line is that the government orders you to pay out money, quite a bit of money, and the more you earn, the more it orders you to pay out, substantially reducing the incentive to earn more money.

        Further, major elements of Obamacare are called “taxes”, for example “The individual mandate excise tax”, “The employer mandate tax”. Even Obama calls it a tax.

        And “The Surtax on investment income”. (Note that economic theory and harsh experience tells us that taxes on investment income always blow up painfully in the face of those trying to collect the tax)

        “Excise Tax on Comprehensive Health Insurance Plans”

        “Medical Payroll tax”

        Abolition of the HSA, HRA, and FSA tax breaks.

        The “subsidy” is a actually a tax break on the increased taxes that people will be paying.

        What it boils down to is that those affluent enough to get zero subsidy have substantially higher taxes, which amounts to a substantial increase in progressivism.

        According to http://news.investors.com/politics/113012-635276-obama-tax-rates-would-top-clinton-rates.htm the top marginal rate on work income will be 44.6%

        This moves the US from the lower end of western countries, to the the higher end of western countries http://www.businessinsider.com.au/worlds-highest-effective-personal-tax-rates-2013-1

        • g says:

          So in support of your claim that

          This brings us to the highest marginal tax rates, the most drastic soak the rich system, of any major western country.

          you cite an article showing the US in 55th place (1st being highest taxes) for someone earning $100k and in 53rd place for someone earning $300k?

          Perhaps they’re not including the extra figures you say they should be. Perhaps the 44.6% you quote is correct. Even if so (and even if the other countries in the Business Insider comparison don’t need any similar adjustments to make this a like-for-like comparison) it still doesn’t give the US “the highest marginal tax rates”. For instance, the BI chart shows France with an overall (not marginal) tax rate of 54% for someone earning $300k.

          Let’s assume the 44.6% figure is correct (it might be). Let’s assume the BI numbers for other countries don’t need any adjustments to match it (they might not). And let’s pretend we can compare US marginal tax rates with other countries’ overall tax rates (which is absolutely freaking insane). Even doing that, there are 15 other countries ahead of the US in the BI chart, including something over half of Western Europe.

          • you cite an article showing the US in 55th place (1st being highest taxes) for someone earning $100k and in 53rd place for someone earning $300k?

            In 2014, the Obamacare taxes will have moved us from 55th place, to 5th place.

            I would say that is movement left.

      • “State sponsored terror” usually means, you know, bombs and drone strikes and assassinations and stuff.

        No, that is state terror

        State sponsored terror is that the state encourages private individuals to engage in violent acts against opponents of the state and tolerates crimes committed against certain groups, for example against the Mormon church and the Greek Orthodox Church.

        What happened to the Branch Davidians was state terror. What happens to the mormons and the orthodox is state sponsored terror.

        • g says:

          Could you please give a few concrete examples of things that have been done to the Mormons, and tolerated by the state, that would be considered terrorism if they were done to someone else?

          • A lot of threats were made, as for example the white powder incident, which the government has piously and officially classified as terrorism, and then not investigated, though the only acts actually carried out were vandalism of church property. Threats against persons were made, while threats against property were carried out. This has a deterrent effect.

        • And don’t forget that Mormon kids are frequently bullied to suicide by the socially dominant gay clique – remember that tragic case where a Mormon’s room mate secretly videoed him baptising his ancestors – and gay people bomb crisis pregnancy centres and shoot preachers, and you often hear of Mormons being assaulted and even beaten to death just for being Mormons. And yet, does Obama do anything about any of this?

  8. Alexander Stanislaw says:

    Interesting. I did about average* which I suppose isn’t too disappointing. I did pretty well on most of the questions but a few of them destroyed me: prayer being an important part of your life; labor unions having too much power; I am very patriotic ; need stricter laws regarding the environment.

    My main error was reading the questions too literally instead of putting myself in the shoes of an average joe:
    Is prayer an important part of your daily life? translates to – Do you think that spirituality is important?
    Are you very patriotic? translates to – Is being proud of your country a good thing?
    etc.

    *Am I correct in thinking that if you found the errors of each participant and then averaged those errors (absolute) then that average error would be bigger than the one shown here? Because if you average the answers first and then calculate the error, some of the errors will cancel out (unless everyone overestimates or everyone underestimates).

  9. Leonard says:

    I did not look at the actual data yesterday, just made my guesses. But now looking at it, I think there is interesting evidence there about the nature of the leftward shift.

    Look at the questions, then divide them according to whether they are about the personal (including very local politics), or about the macro-scale political. For example, the gay teacher question will be interpreted by people as what should happen in their schools — so, personal. By contrast the “government should do X” is going to be interpreted as “the (distant, abstract, huge) Federal government should do X”.

    My proposed division reveals the nature of the leftward shift. On almost all personal things, the shift is left. Some are large — gay teachers; “I have old-fashioned values”. Some are small. Very few show any rightward trend. By contrast, in the domain of what the Federal government should do, there is perhaps a very small rightward trend (or maybe not).

    • My proposed division reveals the nature of the leftward shift. On almost all personal things, the shift is left. Some are large — gay teachers; “I have old-fashioned values”. Some are small. Very few show any rightward trend. By contrast, in the domain of what the Federal government should do, there is perhaps a very small rightward trend (or maybe not).

      Hello, Hello?

      Obamacare and soaring Obamacare taxes. Are these done by the federal government?

      Further, personal things have not shifted left. What has shifted left is that things that were formerly personal have now become issues for the federal government.

      I criticized the survey on the grounds that the questions were not relevant or meaningful, were not appropriate to measure the movement left.

      If the questions show that ” in the domain of what the Federal government should do, there is perhaps a very small rightward trend” then clearly there is something very wrong with this test.

      • Leonard says:

        Hello. Hello.

        I agree that the particular questions are not that great to measure the left shift. Furthermore, it is not clear to me that any questions can, because all polling must take place in the present. The exact same question in 1987 and 2013 will have different meaning because things have changed between then and now. So, for example, “I have old-fashioned values about family/marriage”, in 1987, may have meant that “I think women should stay home with children in families”. Today it may mean little more than “when I find my ideal man as part of my have-it-all successful life, I will marry him and have 1.2 children, instead of cohabiting and remaining ‘child-free'”.

        That said, my posting was not meant to say what I think about social left-shifting nor the dubious merits of Scott’s survey. Rather, I was pointing out what one can see in Scott’s survey if we take it as a valid representative of American values. It shows large movement left on social issues. It shows little or no movement left on “the government should do X” issues.

        And yes, I do think that “personal things” have shifted left. Gay accceptance is the most salient.

        • And yes, I do think that “personal things” have shifted left. Gay accceptance is the most salient.

          Use of “gay” as potent curse word is arguably increasing, is not decreasing. Looks to me more like federal intimidation rather than gay acceptance. Gays are still perceived as having cooties and spreading disease to about the same extent as ever they were. It is just that it has abruptly become a lot more dangerous to say so, and indeed dangerous to say that it is dangerous, for to say that it is dangerous might imply that gays are dangerous.

        • No. I think you might be looking at only one part of the country. Among some vast subcultures (including the one I have the most experience with), homosexuality is now percieved as incredibly orthodox, to the point that radicals can credibly talk about oppression of stranger sexualities by the combined gay-and-straight bloc.

          Meanwhile a lot of people seem to be mocked, but nothing worse, for saying things like “I accept homosexuality, but I don’t think I should be forced to believe in it.”

          • > radicals can credibly talk about oppression of stranger sexualities by the combined gay-and-straight bloc.

            And conservatives can credibly talk about oppression of straights by homosexuals in certain environments. Observe that in those environments, just as we see white people claiming to black or American Indian, we see straight men claiming to be homosexuals, indeed “gold star” homosexuals, no less, because they only have sex with women claiming to be men.

        • Nick T says:

          we see straight men claiming to be homosexuals, indeed “gold star” homosexuals, no less, because they only have sex with women claiming to be men.

          Can you provide evidence that this is at all common?

          • Can you provide evidence that this is at all common?

            You implicitly admitted that it happens, and if one male can do it, there is a critical mass of women doing it, and if one woman can do it, there is a critical mass of men doing it.

        • ozymandias says:

          Do the women pretending to be men look like this by any chance?

    • Konkvistador says:

      “By contrast, in the domain of what the Federal government should do, there is perhaps a very small rightward trend (or maybe not).”

      I’ve paused to consider if the small libertarianward shift some mentioned they see, could be explained greater ethnic diversity reducing trust (see research by Robert D. Putnam).

  10. Ian Pollock says:

    “What’s good and evil is true in all situations.”

    Questions like this are so frustrating. Taken literally, it’s stupid, so I would have to disagree with it (cutting a baby with a scalpel is good in some situations, bad in others).

    But it’s sort of gesturing (negatively) towards moral relativism, and so on that basis I’d have to agree with it.

    • Deiseach says:

      But the reason for cutting a baby with a scapel being good in some instances and bad in another remains the same, surely (one instance being causing a small harm to alleviate a larger one, the other being because you wish to injure or hurt the baby for reasons from killing it for pay – the Huntsman in Snow White – or personal malice)?

      I don’t think a literal reading would require you to say “Cutting a baby with a scapel is always bad”; it does ask you “If it’s permissible to cut a baby with a scapel because you’re operating on the child in 2013, is it equally permissible in 1813 or 2313?”

      Given that in 1813 there were not the same antibiotics and other modern medical aids available, you could say “Operating on a baby was wrong then because the risk of infection or death from shock was greater”, but the people of 2313 will be able to say the same about the primitive conditions of 2013, and if the choice is “Operate and risk death or don’t operate and certainty of death”, then I imagine “What’s good and evil is true in all situations” does apply here.

  11. michael vassar says:

    I think that we would correct pretty much all of our biases WRT what people think by assuming that people think that there is no wealth creation or destruction, that ‘we’ are a pack, and that the pack should have meritocratic internal rank, should exclude ‘others’ (racial, corporate, foreign, etc), should adhere to tradition but keep up with new theories about who is ‘in’ the pack (gays), and that everyone ‘in’ should be treated nicely and given everything reasonable.

    • Benquo says:

      How did you do on the quiz?

    • Athrelon says:

      One interesting question is what determines the new theories about who is “in” the pack. Until very recently gays were considered out of the pack, and not long before, blacks were out as well. Yet there are superficially similar minority groups who failed to make the coalition. (Won’t name names ’cause mindkilling, but see old historical examples here: http://www.moreright.net/against-social-justice-warrioring/)

      Why the pack grows and shrinks in certain directions and in a certain order is quite interesting, and I don’t think either progressives or reactionaries have a great explanation or predictive model of how it might evolve in the future. Strawmannishly, progressives consider the current coalition to be natural and intuitive, and likely to be complete once the current vanguard group gets full inclusion; reactionaries blame leftwards drift and identity politicking for the overall pattern but don’t have a model of why certain groups get priority, or which identity group after the currently-controversial one is likely to be next in line.

      • >Yet there are superficially similar minority groups who failed to make the coalition. (Won’t name names ’cause mindkilling, but see old historical examples here: http://www.moreright.net/against-social-justice-warrioring/)

        Name some names. This forum is remarkably level headed (people are even seriously engaging James Macdonald). Don’t let reaction become some thing that is true because of secrets you can’t talk about.

        You mention racism against chinese, and anti-gay laws being in effect while the warrioring for women was going on, but what about now?

        Today’s SJ-target populations are probably transfolk and other sexual minorities, and non-Eurasians. The outgroups I can think of are basically white people who get “culturally enriched” by criminal underclasses, some religions and political philosophies, and pedophiles. Who did you have in mind?

        • Konkvistador says:

          I in the past when discussing this with Athrelon proposed that in the 1970s it was not at all obvious Transsexuals would make the ingroup and that Pedophiles wouldn’t.

          The ongoing anti-pedophile hysteria, which has now reached the point where adult men talking with children are considered suspect and pedophiles lie why they got into prison lest they be murdered or raped, clouds our view of the past. It can be hard to alieve that traditional society saw this as one sexual perversion among many and that for a short window in the 1970s many respectable people considered a legitimate orientation.

          The “between consenting adults all is allowed in sex” coalition cementing deontological law hadn’t yet solidified at the start of the sexual revolution. The now mostly sidelined “free love” one was the key point for coordination.

          It was only 1994 that NAMBLA was expelled from “the International Lesbian and Gay Association, having been the first US based organization to be a member.”

          Dawkin’s recent gaffe ( http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/magazine/article3858647.ece ) on the subject is a window into how this recent but alien social reality. I call it a gaffe, because those are in the eye of the beholder (the media), if you don’t think it caused on net bad PR for him do a search or two online and then come back.

          Of course today, here where we are calm and in Far Mode and have certain LWian norms, we can safely sketch out the basic harm-based explanation. While both Pedophiles and Transsexuals probably don’t chose their feelings and yes we clearly should treat pedophilia, the idea that we would accept children “consenting” to sex with adult men on an alternative earth instead of contributing money so some men are allowed to cut off their penis and have a vagina fashioned is clearly absurd.

          I think the question isn’t absurd at all, once you notice just how post-hoc this reasoning is. After all the why would the people in the 1970s not understand the very simple harm based argument I’m sure conservatives made?

          Now maybe Pedophiles will make the coalition some day. Perhaps in 20 years. But this doesn’t change they where thrown off the Prog bus and lost the sexual revolution they helped launch. And in line with the linked article, I’m pretty sure their inclusion or exclusion isn’t going to be decided based on any kind of “harm accounting” that is claimed by many intellectuals to guide modern moral change.

          • To the extent that I am aware of sexual acts between adults and pre pubescents, sexual acts between men and pre-pubescent boys consist of middle class gay males predatorily going after fatherless underclass boys, hence it is plausible that they are using improper inducements and improper pressures, hence harm based arguments are plausible.

            But with sexual acts between men and pre-pubescent girls, it is middle class girls predatorily going after middle class men, often married middle class men, so harm based arguments are implausible.

            Progressivism, having dumped religion after going holier than Jesus, always claims to use harm based justifications, but with environmentalism and the ever rising age of consent, their real motives are clearly not harm based. Consider the common case of the large high school football player having sex with the rather small twenty five year old teacher. Applying harm based criteria to that case is really silly – and it is almost as silly when a nine year old girl seduces a few of her father’s friends.

        • Konkvistador says:

          To be explicit the basic harm based argument I refer to can be simplified as: “Children are greatly harmed by sex with adults in nearly all circumstances. Thus this should be taboo for their good.”

          • Konkvistador commented on The Trend Evaluation Of All Values.

            > To be explicit the basic harm based argument I refer to can be simplified as: “Children are greatly harmed by sex with adults in nearly all circumstances. Thus this should be taboo for their good.”

            I really do not see that you can plausibly get a general prohibition against prepubescent sex on harm based morality, and am pretty sure that progressives are inventing this harm to justify a position held for other reasons, better reasons, but reasons that, being progressives, they cannot admit.

            And I am absolutely certain that you cannot get a prohibition against the high school football star banging the hot teacher on the basis of harm based morality.

        • Leo says:

          Konkvistador, you wrote contributing money so some men are allowed to. Unless I’ve severely misinterpreting, you are describing what is happening, not some alternate history viewpoint. You know that referring to trans women as men is declaring yourself an enemy and throwing polite discourse out of a window. Why are you doing it?

        • Konkvistador says:

          Do you say PBUH after Mohammed? I don’t think so.

          I understand that you prefer to adjust your word usage to make your ingroup feel better, but when you make up new usage, you don’t really have grounds for claiming that the people with common previous usage are ‘declaring themselves enemies and throwing polite discourse out of a window’ by not going along with you.

          How could I hope to convey what I was saying if I did? A few might believe it but none would alieve it. Indeed it would mean I don’t believe or alieve it.

        • suntzuanime says:

          If you can’t have polite discourse with someone who refers to transwomen as men, Leo, that’s on you. It’s intellectually dishonest to require people to accept your framing of issues as a precondition for arguing about your framing of issues. This holds even if your framing of issues is in actual fact good and just and proper and all of those things.

        • g says:

          Konkvistador, you could simply have said “people” instead of “men” there, which (1) wouldn’t have required you to use terminology that begs any questions in ways you dislike, (2) wouldn’t have blunted the rhetorical point you were making, and (3) wouldn’t have been gratuitously offensive to those who are offended by such things.

          suntzuanime, Leo didn’t say he “can’t have polite discourse” with Konkvistador (except in so far as he was claiming that calling transwomen men is itself impolite, which I think it clearly is) nor did he “require people to accept [his] framing of issues as a precondition for arguing”. I think you’re knocking down a straw man.

          (Note: saying that calling transwomen men is rude is a separate matter from saying that it’s factually incorrect or that it shouldn’t be done; I have opinions on that point but they aren’t relevant right now.)

        • suntzuanime says:

          Calling a failure to accept the Progressive viewpoint “declaring yourself an enemy and throwing polite discourse out of a window” is an act of remarkable inhospitality in a conversation to which Reactionaries were explicitly invited.

          If we want to maintain the comments of this block as a welcoming space for ideological diversity, and I for one do, we need to practice a little tolerance.

        • I… find it really hard to believe that there is any agentic seduction by the child happening w/r/t pedophilia.

          • I… find it really hard to believe that there is any agentic seduction by the child happening w/r/t pedophilia.

            Doubtless you also find it difficult to believe when the child is a high school football star, and the adult is a hot teacher.

        • Alexander Stanislaw says:

          Well. This devolved into a bravery debate and semantics debate rather quickly.

          Regarding the semantics debate:
          If by men you mean “people who have an SRY gene” then trans-women are men. There may be a bit more to biological sex but I won’t go there, it doesn’t matter.

          If by men you mean “people who perceive themselves as being male” then trans-women are not men.

          Regarding the bravery debate:
          Why would calling a trans-woman a male be regarded as hostile?

          Well, trans-women are the targets of substantially large amounts of abuse, harassment and shaming as a result of their identification. Calling a trans-woman a man contributes to a culture that supports these sorts of behaviors. It also doesn’t help their self esteem, which is problematic given that trans-women are already prone to suicide and low self esteem.

          And why would requesting that trans-women be called female rather than male be regarded as hostile by reactionaries?

          Presumably because reactionaries feel that their viewpoint (that trans women are men) is being unfairly silenced. Since the question of whether “trans women are men” is ill-formed and has multiple meanings, I’d like to hear an argument for why the reactionary viewpoint is correct. Why should people call trans women men rather than women?

          • It also doesn’t help their self esteem, which is problematic given that trans-women are already prone to suicide and low self esteem.

            The suicide rate is intrinsic to the condition (trans being a particular case of dysmorphia) Why should we expect trans people to have a lower suicide rate than other dysmorphics?

            We don’t treat other kinds of dsymorphia by agreeing that the dysmorphic person is right, and if we did, I am pretty sure it would increase the rate of suicide and self destructive behavior, not decrease it.

            Except for complete androgen insensitivity, a trans person can only be a scary and revolting caricature of the sex he wants to be, so giving him a sex change operation is akin to cutting the healthy limbs off someone with limb dysmorphia.

            If we had sex change operations that actually worked, no one would have any problems with trans acceptance. No one has any problem treating XY people who have total androgen insensitivity as women.

            But we don’t have sex change operations that actually work, so trans acceptance is on par with treating people who think they are Napoleon as Napoleon.

          • Why should people call trans women men rather than women?

            Pretty much the same reason that they would have problem calling zombies people, even if it turned out that most zombies were capable of controlling their compulsion to eat the brains of the living.

            Males who have made into a crude imitation of a woman by surgery and hormones are scary, creepy, revolting, and frequently show symptoms of madness. They are right in the middle of uncanny valley.

            No one has a problem calling XY people with total androgen insensitivity “women” because they make fine women. They are not creepy, weird looking, and have no particular propensity to madness. There is no big problem with total androgen insensitivity acceptance, because they are out of the uncanny valley.

        • Doubtless you also find it difficult to believe when the child is a high school football star, and the adult is a hot teacher.

          Not even slightly odd.

        • people are even seriously engaging James Macdonald

          No they are not.

          I present arguments and evidence, the replies are at best pious restatements of the most holy faith, usually get nothing but screams of horror and childish insults.

        • Konkvistador says:

          “am pretty sure that progressives are inventing this harm to justify a position held for other reasons, better reasons, but reasons that, being progressives, they cannot admit.”

          @JamesADonald: I don’t think you careful read me. I explicitly say in the first comment that their reasoning on the harm based argument I made explicit in the second comment is post hoc. I’m not however very confident they hold if so much for good reasons as for current political fitness of their overall memeplex.

        • Konkvistador says:

          @Alexander Stanislaw
          I don’t see anything I wrote as initiating a bravery debate. People asked for a plausible example despite being controversial, I gave one.

          Now the debate is about pedophilia, sex with teenagers and transexuals. This would not be a problem if people directly used it either to attack or support the argument I advanced.

          Some seem to want to have simplified it and are engaging the comment as if I just said “Pedophilia is not bad, transsexuals are bad.” This isn’t what I was saying, nor was it something I wasn’t saying. It isn’t what the argument is about. Indeed I for now refuse to comment on this in the hopes this thread can be salvaged. Or does everyone simply agree with the point I was making as plausible and only debates on this nearby topic remain?

          This kind of “simplification” isn’t a unique problem to discussing reaction, it is something that often happens when you have a larger audience and try to discuss anything meta. But neoreaction relies heavily on its meta arguments for why you shouldn’t trust the Zeitgeist, or Moral Progress or Harvard or whatever you want to call our societies morality & information servers on certain topics.

          Sure the meta arguments often change our opinion on object level political positions… but engaging just the political positions themselves without addressing the arguments for the meta is not a productive conversation for me.

          • Some seem to want to have simplified it and are engaging the comment as if I just said “Pedophilia is not bad, transsexuals are bad.” This isn’t what I was saying, nor was it something I wasn’t saying.

            What you said was that incorporating transexuals in the left coalition and casting pedophiles out of the coalition was an accident of left politics.

            Trans are now high status super victims. Transsexuals higher status than homosexuals, homosexuals higher status than women, and women higher status than men, with the peculiar result that we see heterosexual males and heterosexual women having sex with each other but claiming to be homosexual men having sex with trans men, much as there seem to a remarkably large number of lily white blacks and lily white native Americans.

            Pedophiles, on the other hand, become ever more evil, and the minimum age for sex to be pedophilic grows every older.

            But, it could have equally well been the other way around. Not very long ago, pedophiles were not that evil, and the lefter you were, the less evil they were.

            What I think really drove the change was the puritan feeling that white heterosexual males should never have any fun, hence marital rape, date rape, etc. If all the pedophiles had been gay, they probably would be in the coalition today.

        • Alexander Stanislaw says:

          Konkvistador,

          The bravery debate part was directed at suntzu not you. The semantics debate part was directed at everyone on this thread.

          I didn’t address your comment because it seems plausible to me at first glance, and if your data checks out I might come to agree with you. If I may paraphrase/alter your position a bit:

          Deciding who is in the “pack” is complicated and tricky business governed more by politics, advocacy and convenience than by careful and consistent application of moral principles. The principles usually are usually post hoc justifications for the moral judgements one has already made up his/her mind about.

          That sounds fairly likely to me.

        • Konkvistador says:

          @James A. Donald: Yes, you understood the argument and did a good job restating. I’m not sure about the reasons you give for this, I don’t know enough about the time period to be sure, but they seem plausible.

          An example that seems to fit the pattern you propose has been the successful and by now several centuries long push to make marriages between older men and younger women less acceptable and practical.

          The Christian Progressive feminist anti-vice movement of 19th century America wanted to raise the age of consent as much as possible, not only to protect women but to make sure those poor angels weren’t tricked into consenting to sex with men of means. It seems to have been energized by attempts by practical minded doctors to regulate prostitution and institute check ups to stem the spread of venerel diseases. The movement was anti-prostitution, again fits the Puritan ancestor. The people and organizations where also behind other pushes like giving women the vote and banning liquor.

          It is interesting to note that the age of consent they wanted to institute was *21*, 18 being their more modest fallback goal. Another historical accident in the making of the rules most moderns seem to think very non-arbitrary it seems!

          If we could travel to alternative universes one of the funner things would be exposing alternative 21st century Americas to each other and see what arguments each elite would make for being the most holy.

          A modern source for the movement in question:
          http://www.cardozolawandgender.com/uploads/2/7/7/6/2776881/15-2_ehrlich.pdf

          The fascinating thing about it is that reading the quotes it seems like common evolutionary ancestor of both modern “fundamentalist” Christian (virginity in men is important! Shrieking against prostitution and pornography. etc.) and mainstream Progressive sexual morality.

        • Konkvistador says:

          @Alexander Stanislaw: Sorry, I misunderstood who you where speaking to then.

          “Deciding who is in the “pack” is complicated and tricky business governed more by politics, advocacy and convenience than by careful and consistent application of moral principles. The principles usually are usually post hoc justifications for the moral judgements one has already made up his/her mind about.”

          You also seem to have understood me and the above restatement of the general principle is excellent.

      • Alexander Stanislaw says:

        I second Nyan Sandwich’s request. Your article was very good, but some examples would be nice.

  12. JRM says:

    So I managed not to come in the top two on the things I should have known (I’ve read the survey results some time in the last 15 years; I am sure I went through them AND I remember listening to later pieces on NPR) and managed to come in second on the drift, which I didn’t really know (though again, NPR pieces likely helped there.)

    Still, I believe this self-defeats my claim that “actual numbers will defeat intuition every time.”

    • Douglas Knight says:

      Similarly, Athrelon’s experience with people today does not explain why he did well predicting drift.

  13. Damien says:

    The actual belief numbers are interesting to me. I’ve recently moved to thinking representative democracy as we know it is at best deeply flawed and at worst and oligarchic shell game, and that we should all be more like Switzerland but even more so. I’ve guessed the policy shift would mean going left economically, and maybe somewhat less friendly to minorities. And what do I see?
    “businesses make too much profit, gov’t should take care of people and guarantee food and shelter, oppose preferential treatment for blacks [but don’t fire gay teachers], big companies have too much power [but what does that mean in practice?], we should restrict immigration more”.
    Relatedly, IIRC polls have shown broad support for the idea of universal health care, for expanding Medicare to all, and for the components of Obamacare though not the word ‘Obamacare’ itself.
    I suspect the US would be less warmongery if such actions had to be approved by referendum.

  14. Athrelon says:

    Thanks, Scott, for running this challenge. Calibration tests are always useful, especially in areas like politics that tend to veer into Far mode.

    I do attribute a lot of my relative accuracy to being a medical student, and therefore having daily interaction with a broad swath of “normal people” as part of my job. This is pretty unusual among smart-people professions. If you’re an academic, you’re interacting with smart professors and students. If you’re a lawyer, you’re interacting with mostly-smart clients and other lawyers. If you’re a startup type, your peer group is wildly selected for intelligence. For most smart people, the dullest person you interact with regularly is probably 115IQ or so; few such people have a good sense of what “average” actually looks like.

    Want to obtain similar people-reading powers? One simple strategy is to hang around with a primary care physician for a day and see how they interact with different patients. It’s easier than you think; having students around is something that most doctors are positively disposed to, providing their schedule allows it. This is easiest if you’re a college student or have some interest in going into medicine; it’s also doable if you simply knock on a few more doors. The key phrase is “I’m interested in learning about what [family practice] is like, and was wondering if I could shadow Dr. X for a day?” An easier option is to volunteer at a homeless shelter, soup kitchen, or the like, but I consider this inferior in that you’ll be primed to see this population as “unusual and dysfunctional” rather than “part of the normal spectrum.”

    Particularly for folks who like to dabble in politics, it’s enlightening to see how the middle of the bell curve lives and thinks, and what they are and are not capable of. When people try this, I’d be curious to hear back about their experience and reactions.

  15. Athrelon says:

    Overall when I ran my “normal people emulator” in my head, it gave great weight to which tradeoffs were being made salient vs. hidden from view, which tribal buzzwords were being uttered, and how I would feel about myself if I gave various responses. This predicted that most of these responses were about group affiliation and signaling, which don’t change much over time.

    For example, most folks want to believe themselves to be pious and/or spiritual, and therefore would answer affirmatively to that prayer question, but this tells us very little about what they actually believe, how much their faith actually influences their actions, or even how often they actually pray in real life.

    We might get a more striking response by making the questions more object-level: instead of asking people whether they “have old-fashioned values” you could ask what actual divorce rates in different demographics are, or attitudes towards divorce in particular situations. But, given Scott’s interest in probing different ideologies, this result would only confirm “memetic drift,” but not the source and goodness of that drift, which is the main source of disagreement between reactionaries and progressives. (I do suspect that the test would flush out a few complacent folks who don’t have much of a sense of history, but I think both sides could agree even now that these folks aren’t worth taking seriously.)

    • Douglas Knight says:

      Hold on! You did not demonstrate relative accuracy. You did not win the contest for predicting poll results. You did the best at predicting shift, and your experience with ordinary people only today is irrelevant to shift; similarly, your description of your “normal people emulator” tells us nothing about how you predicted shift.

      • g says:

        Not quite right, I think. Key sentence:

        This predicted that most of these responses were about group affiliation and signaling, which don’t change much over time.

        Isn’t it perfectly plausible that (1) Athrelon understood some things about how people answer these questions (2) as a result of his experience of how “normal” people think, and (3) this understanding was a more powerful tool in predicting the shift than in predicting the actual numbers?

        If Athrelon were observing only normal people’s current opinions then it would be weird for him to say that explains his success on the shift-prediction given that he didn’t do so well on the absolute values. But that’s not the case; he says he’s observed normal people’s thinking patterns and that can easily give more information on shift than on absolute figures.

        (Do we actually know how he did on the absolute predictions, by the way, or is all we know that he didn’t win outright?)

        • Douglas Knight says:

          According to my scoring, the person who did best in shift was third place in absolutes. That person is the clear winner. If that’s Athrelon, I take it all back.

          Athrelon seems to say that his model of people made him predict that most questions wouldn’t move and maybe identify the ones that would. That didn’t impress me; in particular, an awful lot of the commentary on the previous post said that there would be little movement and largely correctly predicted the few moving answers. But now that I look at the scores, actually it was very difficult. Only 9 people did better than guessing zero change for every question.

          I’m not sure that is Athrelon because I don’t trust my scoring, let alone that my scoring matches Scott’s. One red flag is that he said Athrelon edged out JRH, but my scoring doesn’t clump them. But if Scott scored prayer differently, that could narrow it to 2 points. 26 year old reactionary for Athrelon and 47 year old conservative for JRH sounds right.

          Under my scoring, there were 120 points of change, so if you guessed zero change, you would get a score of 120. Two people got that score, one by that strategy. 7 people scored better in 100-119, averaging less than 1 point per question better than all zeros. Two people did even better: JRH at 93 and Athrelon at 84. Ten people did a little worse, in the range 121-130. Then there’s a jump to 142.

    • Douglas Knight says:

      Athrelon, you use “I have old fashioned values about family and marriage” as an example, implying that it’s cheap talk that didn’t move, but (a) it did move, 16 points left, second only to firing gay teachers, and (b) it looks to me that you predicted it moved 20 points left. If that’s you, why did you make that guess?

  16. Jem Orgun says:

    I wonder how much the results are really due to people mis-analyzing average political opinions, and how much it’s because they aren’t as familiar with the other side’s dog whistles (a lot of the questions have really different answers if taken literally than if taken as tribal passcodes, regardless of what political perspective you’re trying to answer from).

    If the second, then it’d make sense that reactionaries did similarly to progressives, since from what I can tell most reactionaries seem to come from progressive backgrounds/communities.

  17. Douglas Knight says:

    I see two labeling errors. Prayer moved right, while immigration moved left. I don’t know if that affects your scoring algorithms.

  18. As one of the test-takers, I was slightly confused by the fact you used ‘you’ to refer to the average test-taker rather than me specifically (not that that would’ve made sense).

    You say an average error of 15% is ‘terrible’. I disagree. I remember after the test thinking I would not be embarrassed if I had an error of less than 20%. Then again, I believe I did worse than average (I haven’t checked), so perhaps I should be embarrassed.

  19. Pingback: Links for October | More Right