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I Can Tolerate Anything Except The Outgroup

[Content warning: Politics, religion, social justice, spoilers for “The Secret of Father Brown”. This isn’t especially original to me and I don’t claim anything more than to be explaining and rewording things I have heard from a bunch of other people. Unapologetically America-centric because I’m not informed enough to make it otherwise. Try to keep this off Reddit and other similar sorts of things.]

I.

In Chesterton’s The Secret of Father Brown, a beloved nobleman who murdered his good-for-nothing brother in a duel thirty years ago returns to his hometown wracked by guilt. All the townspeople want to forgive him immediately, and they mock the titular priest for only being willing to give a measured forgiveness conditional on penance and self-reflection. They lecture the priest on the virtues of charity and compassion.

Later, it comes out that the beloved nobleman did not in fact kill his good-for-nothing brother. The good-for-nothing brother killed the beloved nobleman (and stole his identity). Now the townspeople want to see him lynched or burned alive, and it is only the priest who – consistently – offers a measured forgiveness conditional on penance and self-reflection.

The priest tells them:

It seems to me that you only pardon the sins that you don’t really think sinful. You only forgive criminals when they commit what you don’t regard as crimes, but rather as conventions. You forgive a conventional duel just as you forgive a conventional divorce. You forgive because there isn’t anything to be forgiven.

He further notes that this is why the townspeople can self-righteously consider themselves more compassionate and forgiving than he is. Actual forgiveness, the kind the priest needs to cultivate to forgive evildoers, is really really hard. The fake forgiveness the townspeople use to forgive the people they like is really easy, so they get to boast not only of their forgiving nature, but of how much nicer they are than those mean old priests who find forgiveness difficult and want penance along with it.

After some thought I agree with Chesterton’s point. There are a lot of people who say “I forgive you” when they mean “No harm done”, and a lot of people who say “That was unforgiveable” when they mean “That was genuinely really bad”. Whether or not forgiveness is right is a complicated topic I do not want to get in here. But since forgiveness is generally considered a virtue, and one that many want credit for having, I think it’s fair to say you only earn the right to call yourself ‘forgiving’ if you forgive things that genuinely hurt you.

To borrow Chesterton’s example, if you think divorce is a-ok, then you don’t get to “forgive” people their divorces, you merely ignore them. Someone who thinks divorce is abhorrent can “forgive” divorce. You can forgive theft, or murder, or tax evasion, or something you find abhorrent.

I mean, from a utilitarian point of view, you are still doing the correct action of not giving people grief because they’re a divorcee. You can have all the Utility Points you want. All I’m saying is that if you “forgive” something you don’t care about, you don’t earn any Virtue Points.

(by way of illustration: a billionaire who gives $100 to charity gets as many Utility Points as an impoverished pensioner who donates the same amount, but the latter gets a lot more Virtue Points)

Tolerance is also considered a virtue, but it suffers the same sort of dimished expectations forgiveness does.

The Emperor summons before him Bodhidharma and asks: “Master, I have been tolerant of innumerable gays, lesbians, bisexuals, asexuals, blacks, Hispanics, Asians, transgender people, and Jews. How many Virtue Points have I earned for my meritorious deeds?”

Bodhidharma answers: “None at all”.

The Emperor, somewhat put out, demands to know why.

Bodhidharma asks: “Well, what do you think of gay people?”

The Emperor answers: “What do you think I am, some kind of homophobic bigot? Of course I have nothing against gay people!”

And Bodhidharma answers: “Thus do you gain no merit by tolerating them!”

II.

If I had to define “tolerance” it would be something like “respect and kindness toward members of an outgroup”.

And today we have an almost unprecedented situation.

We have a lot of people – like the Emperor – boasting of being able to tolerate everyone from every outgroup they can imagine, loving the outgroup, writing long paeans to how great the outgroup is, staying up at night fretting that somebody else might not like the outgroup enough.

This is really surprising. It’s a total reversal of everything we know about human psychology up to this point. No one did any genetic engineering. No one passed out weird glowing pills in the public schools. And yet suddenly we get an entire group of people who conspicuously promote and defend their outgroups, the outer the better.

What is going on here?

Let’s start by asking what exactly an outgroup is.

There’s a very boring sense in which, assuming the Emperor’s straight, gays are part of his “outgroup” ie a group that he is not a member of. But if the Emperor has curly hair, are straight-haired people part of his outgroup? If the Emperor’s name starts with the letter ‘A’, are people whose names start with the letter ‘B’ part of his outgroup?

Nah. I would differentiate between multiple different meanings of outgroup, where one is “a group you are not a part of” and the other is…something stronger.

I want to avoid a very easy trap, which is saying that outgroups are about how different you are, or how hostile you are. I don’t think that’s quite right.

Compare the Nazis to the German Jews and to the Japanese. The Nazis were very similar to the German Jews: they looked the same, spoke the same language, came from a similar culture. The Nazis were totally different from the Japanese: different race, different language, vast cultural gap. But the Nazis and Japanese mostly got along pretty well. Heck, the Nazis were actually moderately positively disposed to the Chinese, even when they were technically at war. Meanwhile, the conflict between the Nazis and the German Jews – some of whom didn’t even realize they were anything other than German until they checked their grandparents’ birth certificate – is the stuff of history and nightmares. Any theory of outgroupishness that naively assumes the Nazis’ natural outgroup is Japanese or Chinese people will be totally inadequate.

And this isn’t a weird exception. Freud spoke of the narcissism of small differences, saying that “it is precisely communities with adjoining territories, and related to each other in other ways as well, who are engaged in constant feuds and ridiculing each other”. Nazis and German Jews. Northern Irish Protestants and Northern Irish Catholics. Hutus and Tutsis. South African whites and South African blacks. Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs. Anyone in the former Yugoslavia and anyone else in the former Yugoslavia.

So what makes an outgroup? Proximity plus small differences. If you want to know who someone in former Yugoslavia hates, don’t look at the Indonesians or the Zulus or the Tibetans or anyone else distant and exotic. Find the Yugoslavian ethnicity that lives closely intermingled with them and is most conspicuously similar to them, and chances are you’ll find the one who they have eight hundred years of seething hatred toward.

What makes an unexpected in-group? The answer with Germans and Japanese is obvious – a strategic alliance. In fact, the World Wars forged a lot of unexpected temporary pseudo-friendships. A recent article from War Nerd points out that the British, after spending centuries subjugating and despising the Irish and Sikhs, suddenly needed Irish and Sikh soldiers for World Wars I and II respectively. “Crush them beneath our boots” quickly changed to fawning songs about how “there never was a coward where the shamrock grows” and endless paeans to Sikh military prowess.

Sure, scratch the paeans even a little bit and you find condescension as strong as ever. But eight hundred years of the British committing genocide against the Irish and considering them literally subhuman turned into smiles and songs about shamrocks once the Irish started looking like useful cannon fodder for a larger fight. And the Sikhs, dark-skinned people with turbans and beards who pretty much exemplify the European stereotype of “scary foreigner”, were lauded by everyone from the news media all the way up to Winston Churchill.

In other words, outgroups may be the people who look exactly like you, and scary foreigner types can become the in-group on a moment’s notice when it seems convenient.

III.

There are certain theories of dark matter where it barely interacts with the regular world at all, such that we could have a dark matter planet exactly co-incident with Earth and never know. Maybe dark matter people are walking all around us and through us, maybe my house is in the Times Square of a great dark matter city, maybe a few meters away from me a dark matter blogger is writing on his dark matter computer about how weird it would be if there was a light matter person he couldn’t see right next to him.

This is sort of how I feel about conservatives.

I don’t mean the sort of light-matter conservatives who go around complaining about Big Government and occasionally voting for Romney. I see those guys all the time. What I mean is – well, take creationists. According to Gallup polls, about 46% of Americans are creationists. Not just in the sense of believing God helped guide evolution. I mean they think evolution is a vile atheist lie and God created humans exactly as they exist right now. That’s half the country.

And I don’t have a single one of those people in my social circle. It’s not because I’m deliberately avoiding them; I’m pretty live-and-let-live politically, I wouldn’t ostracize someone just for some weird beliefs. And yet, even though I probably know about a hundred fifty people, I am pretty confident that not one of them is creationist. Odds of this happening by chance? 1/2^150 = 1/10^45 = approximately the chance of picking a particular atom if you are randomly selecting among all the atoms on Earth.

About forty percent of Americans want to ban gay marriage. I think if I really stretch it, maybe ten of my top hundred fifty friends might fall into this group. This is less astronomically unlikely; the odds are a mere one to one hundred quintillion against.

People like to talk about social bubbles, but that doesn’t even begin to cover one hundred quintillion. The only metaphor that seems really appropriate is the bizarre dark matter world.

I live in a Republican congressional district in a state with a Republican governor. The conservatives are definitely out there. They drive on the same roads as I do, live in the same neighborhoods. But they might as well be made of dark matter. I never meet them.

To be fair, I spend a lot of my time inside on my computer. I’m browsing sites like Reddit.

Recently, there was a thread on Reddit asking – Redditors Against Gay Marriage, What Is Your Best Supporting Argument? A Reddit user who didn’t understand how anybody could be against gay marriage honestly wanted to know how other people who were against it justified their position. He figured he might as well ask one of the largest sites on the Internet, with an estimated user base in the tens of millions.

It soon became clear that nobody there was actually against gay marriage.

There were a bunch of posts saying “I of course support gay marriage but here are some reasons some other people might be against it,” a bunch of others saying “my argument against gay marriage is the government shouldn’t be involved in the marriage business at all”, and several more saying “why would you even ask this question, there’s no possible good argument and you’re wasting your time”. About halfway through the thread someone started saying homosexuality was unnatural and I thought they were going to be the first one to actually answer the question, but at the end they added “But it’s not my place to decide what is or isn’t natural, I’m still pro-gay marriage.”

In a thread with 10,401 comments, a thread specifically asking for people against gay marriage, I was eventually able to find two people who came out and opposed it, way near the bottom. Their posts started with “I know I’m going to be downvoted to hell for this…”

But I’m not only on Reddit. I also hang out on LW.

On last year’s survey, I found that of American LWers who identify with one of the two major political parties, 80% are Democrat and 20% Republican, which actually sounds pretty balanced compared to some of these other examples.

But it doesn’t last. Pretty much all of those “Republicans” are libertarians who consider the GOP the lesser of two evils. When allowed to choose “libertarian” as an alternative, only 4% of visitors continued to identify as conservative. But that’s still…some. Right?

When I broke the numbers down further, 3 percentage points of those are neoreactionaries, a bizarre sect that wants to be ruled by a king. Only one percent of LWers were normal everyday God-‘n-guns-but-not-George-III conservatives of the type that seem to make up about half of the United States.

It gets worse. My formative years were spent at a university which, if it was similar to other elite universities, had a faculty and a student body that skewed about 90-10 liberal to conservative – and we can bet that, like LW, even those few token conservatives are Mitt Romney types rather than God-n’-guns types. I get my news from vox.com, an Official Liberal Approved Site. Even when I go out to eat, it turns out my favorite restaurant, California Pizza Kitchen, is the most liberal restaurant in the United States.

I inhabit the same geographical area as scores and scores of conservatives. But without meaning to, I have created an outrageously strong bubble, a 10^45 bubble. Conservatives are all around me, yet I am about as likely to have a serious encounter with one as I am a Tibetan lama.

(Less likely, actually. One time a Tibetan lama came to my college and gave a really nice presentation, but if a conservative tried that, people would protest and it would be canceled.)

IV.

One day I realized that entirely by accident I was fulfilling all the Jewish stereotypes.

I’m nerdy, over-educated, good with words, good with money, weird sense of humor, don’t get outside much, I like deli sandwiches. And I’m a psychiatrist, which is about the most stereotypically Jewish profession short of maybe stand-up comedian or rabbi.

I’m not very religious. And I don’t go to synagogue. But that’s stereotypically Jewish too!

I bring this up because it would be a mistake to think “Well, a Jewish person is by definition someone who is born of a Jewish mother. Or I guess it sort of also means someone who follows the Mosaic Law and goes to synagogue. But I don’t care about Scott’s mother, and I know he doesn’t go to synagogue, so I can’t gain any useful information from knowing Scott is Jewish.”

The defining factors of Judaism – Torah-reading, synagogue-following, mother-having – are the tip of a giant iceberg. Jews sometimes identify as a “tribe”, and even if you don’t attend synagogue, you’re still a member of that tribe and people can still (in a statistical way) infer things about you by knowing your Jewish identity – like how likely they are to be psychiatrists.

The last section raised a question – if people rarely select their friends and associates and customers explicitly for politics, how do we end up with such intense political segregation?

Well, in the same way “going to synagogue” is merely the iceberg-tip of a Jewish tribe with many distinguishing characteristics, so “voting Republican” or “identifying as conservative” or “believing in creationism” is the iceberg-tip of a conservative tribe with many distinguishing characteristics.

A disproportionate number of my friends are Jewish, because I meet them at psychiatry conferences or something – we self-segregate not based on explicit religion but on implicit tribal characteristics. So in the same way, political tribes self-segregate to an impressive extent – a 1/10^45 extent, I will never tire of hammering in – based on their implicit tribal characteristics.

The people who are actually into this sort of thing sketch out a bunch of speculative tribes and subtribes, but to make it easier, let me stick with two and a half.

The Red Tribe is most classically typified by conservative political beliefs, strong evangelical religious beliefs, creationism, opposing gay marriage, owning guns, eating steak, drinking Coca-Cola, driving SUVs, watching lots of TV, enjoying American football, getting conspicuously upset about terrorists and commies, marrying early, divorcing early, shouting “USA IS NUMBER ONE!!!”, and listening to country music.

The Blue Tribe is most classically typified by liberal political beliefs, vague agnosticism, supporting gay rights, thinking guns are barbaric, eating arugula, drinking fancy bottled water, driving Priuses, reading lots of books, being highly educated, mocking American football, feeling vaguely like they should like soccer but never really being able to get into it, getting conspicuously upset about sexists and bigots, marrying later, constantly pointing out how much more civilized European countries are than America, and listening to “everything except country”.

(There is a partly-formed attempt to spin off a Grey Tribe typified by libertarian political beliefs, Dawkins-style atheism, vague annoyance that the question of gay rights even comes up, eating paleo, drinking Soylent, calling in rides on Uber, reading lots of blogs, calling American football “sportsball”, getting conspicuously upset about the War on Drugs and the NSA, and listening to filk – but for our current purposes this is a distraction and they can safely be considered part of the Blue Tribe most of the time)

I think these “tribes” will turn out to be even stronger categories than politics. Harvard might skew 80-20 in terms of Democrats vs. Republicans, 90-10 in terms of liberals vs. conservatives, but maybe 99-1 in terms of Blues vs. Reds.

It’s the many, many differences between these tribes that explain the strength of the filter bubble – which have I mentioned segregates people at a strength of 1/10^45? Even in something as seemingly politically uncharged as going to California Pizza Kitchen or Sushi House for dinner, I’m restricting myself to the set of people who like cute artisanal pizzas or sophsticated foreign foods, which are classically Blue Tribe characteristics.

Are these tribes based on geography? Are they based on race, ethnic origin, religion, IQ, what TV channels you watched as a kid? I don’t know.

Some of it is certainly genetic – estimates of the genetic contribution to political association range from 0.4 to 0.6. Heritability of one’s attitudes toward gay rights range from 0.3 to 0.5, which hilariously is a little more heritable than homosexuality itself.

(for an interesting attempt to break these down into more rigorous concepts like “traditionalism”, “authoritarianism”, and “in-group favoritism” and find the genetic loading for each see here. For an attempt to trace the specific genes involved, which mostly turn out to be NMDA receptors, see here)

But I don’t think it’s just genetics. There’s something else going on too. The word “class” seems like the closest analogue, but only if you use it in the sophisticated Paul Fussell Guide Through the American Status System way instead of the boring “another word for how much money you make” way.

For now we can just accept them as a brute fact – as multiple coexisting societies that might as well be made of dark matter for all of the interaction they have with one another – and move on.

V.

The worst reaction I’ve ever gotten to a blog post was when I wrote about the death of Osama bin Laden. I’ve written all sorts of stuff about race and gender and politics and whatever, but that was the worst.

I didn’t come out and say I was happy he was dead. But some people interpreted it that way, and there followed a bunch of comments and emails and Facebook messages about how could I possibly be happy about the death of another human being, even if he was a bad person? Everyone, even Osama, is a human being, and we should never rejoice in the death of a fellow man. One commenter came out and said:

I’m surprised at your reaction. As far as people I casually stalk on the internet (ie, LJ and Facebook), you are the first out of the “intelligent, reasoned and thoughtful” group to be uncomplicatedly happy about this development and not to be, say, disgusted at the reactions of the other 90% or so.

This commenter was right. Of the “intelligent, reasoned, and thoughtful” people I knew, the overwhelming emotion was conspicuous disgust that other people could be happy about his death. I hastily backtracked and said I wasn’t happy per se, just surprised and relieved that all of this was finally behind us.

And I genuinely believed that day that I had found some unexpected good in people – that everyone I knew was so humane and compassionate that they were unable to rejoice even in the death of someone who hated them and everything they stood for.

Then a few years later, Margaret Thatcher died. And on my Facebook wall – made of these same “intelligent, reasoned, and thoughtful” people – the most common response was to quote some portion of the song “Ding Dong, The Witch Is Dead”. Another popular response was to link the videos of British people spontaneously throwing parties in the street, with comments like “I wish I was there so I could join in”. From this exact same group of people, not a single expression of disgust or a “c’mon, guys, we’re all human beings here.”

I gently pointed this out at the time, and mostly got a bunch of “yeah, so what?”, combined with links to an article claiming that “the demand for respectful silence in the wake of a public figure’s death is not just misguided but dangerous”.

And that was when something clicked for me.

You can talk all you want about Islamophobia, but my friend’s “intelligent, reasoned, and thoughtful people” – her name for the Blue Tribe – can’t get together enough energy to really hate Osama, let alone Muslims in general. We understand that what he did was bad, but it didn’t anger us personally. When he died, we were able to very rationally apply our better nature and our Far Mode beliefs about how it’s never right to be happy about anyone else’s death.

On the other hand, that same group absolutely loathed Thatcher. Most of us (though not all) can agree, if the question is posed explicitly, that Osama was a worse person than Thatcher. But in terms of actual gut feeling? Osama provokes a snap judgment of “flawed human being”, Thatcher a snap judgment of “scum”.

I started this essay by pointing out that, despite what geographical and cultural distance would suggest, the Nazis’ outgroup was not the vastly different Japanese, but the almost-identical German Jews.

And my hypothesis, stated plainly, is that if you’re part of the Blue Tribe, then your outgroup isn’t al-Qaeda, or Muslims, or blacks, or gays, or transpeople, or Jews, or atheists – it’s the Red Tribe.

VI.

“But racism and sexism and cissexism and anti-Semitism are these giant all-encompassing social factors that verge upon being human universals! Surely you’re not arguing that mere political differences could ever come close to them!”

One of the ways we know that racism is a giant all-encompassing social factor is the Implicit Association Test. Psychologists ask subjects to quickly identify whether words or photos are members of certain gerrymandered categories, like “either a white person’s face or a positive emotion” or “either a black person’s face and a negative emotion”. Then they compare to a different set of gerrymandered categories, like “either a black person’s face or a positive emotion” or “either a white person’s face or a negative emotion.” If subjects have more trouble (as measured in latency time) connecting white people to negative things than they do white people to positive things, then they probably have subconscious positive associations with white people. You can try it yourself here.

Of course, what the test famously found was that even white people who claimed to have no racist attitudes at all usually had positive associations with white people and negative associations with black people on the test. There are very many claims and counterclaims about the precise meaning of this, but it ended up being a big part of the evidence in favor of the current consensus that all white people are at least a little racist.

Anyway, three months ago, someone finally had the bright idea of doing an Implicit Association Test with political parties, and they found that people’s unconscious partisan biases were half again as strong as their unconscious racial biases (h/t Bloomberg. For example, if you are a white Democrat, your unconscious bias against blacks (as measured by something called a d-score) is 0.16, but your unconscious bias against Republicans will be 0.23. The Cohen’s d for racial bias was 0.61, by the book a “moderate” effect size; for party it was 0.95, a “large” effect size.

Okay, fine, but we know race has real world consequences. Like, there have been several studies where people sent out a bunch of identical resumes except sometimes with a black person’s photo and other times with a white person’s photo, and it was noticed that employers were much more likely to invite the fictional white candidates for interviews. So just some stupid Implicit Association Test results can’t compare to that, right?

Iyengar and Westwood also decided to do the resume test for parties. They asked subjects to decide which of several candidates should get a scholarship (subjects were told this was a genuine decision for the university the researchers were affiliated with). Some resumes had photos of black people, others of white people. And some students listed their experience in Young Democrats of America, others in Young Republicans of America.

Once again, discrimination on the basis of party was much stronger than discrimination on the basis of race. The size of the race effect for white people was only 56-44 (and in the reverse of the expected direction); the size of the party effect was about 80-20 for Democrats and 69-31 for Republicans.

If you want to see their third experiment, which applied yet another classic methodology used to detect racism and once again found partyism to be much stronger, you can read the paper.

I & W did an unusually thorough job, but this sort of thing isn’t new or ground-breaking. People have been studying “belief congruence theory” – the idea that differences in beliefs are more important than demographic factors in forming in-groups and outgroups – for decades. As early as 1967, Smith et al were doing surveys all over the country and finding that people were more likely to accept friendships across racial lines than across beliefs; in the forty years since then, the observation has been replicated scores of times. Insko, Moe, and Nacoste’s 2006 review Belief Congruence And Racial Discrimination concludes that:

. The literature was judged supportive of a weak version of belief congruence theory which states that in those contexts in which social pressure is nonexistent or ineffective, belief is more important than race as a determinant of racial or ethnic discrimination. Evidence for a strong version of belief congruence theory (which states that in those contexts in which social pressure is nonexistent, or ineffective, belief is the only determinant of racial or ethnic discrimination) and was judged much more problematic.

One of the best-known examples of racism is the “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner” scenario where parents are scandalized about their child marrying someone of a different race. Pew has done some good work on this and found that only 23% of conservatives and 1% (!) of liberals admit they would be upset in this situation. But Pew also asked how parents would feel about their child marrying someone of a different political party. Now 30% of conservatives and 23% of liberals would get upset. Average them out, and you go from 12% upsetness rate for race to 27% upsetness rate for party – more than double. Yeah, people do lie to pollsters, but a picture is starting to come together here.

(Harvard, by the way, is a tossup. There are more black students – 11.5% – than conservative students – 10% – but there are more conservative faculty than black faculty.)

Since people will delight in misinterpreting me here, let me overemphasize what I am not saying. I’m not saying people of either party have it “worse” than black people, or that partyism is more of a problem than racism, or any of a number of stupid things along those lines which I am sure I will nevertheless be accused of believing. Racism is worse than partyism because the two parties are at least kind of balanced in numbers and in resources, whereas the brunt of an entire country’s racism falls on a few underprivileged people. I am saying that the underlying attitudes that produce partyism are stronger than the underlying attitudes that produce racism, with no necessary implications on their social effects.

But if we want to look at people’s psychology and motivations, partyism and the particular variant of tribalism that it represents are going to be fertile ground.

VII.

Every election cycle like clockwork, conservatives accuse liberals of not being sufficiently pro-America. And every election cycle like clockwork, liberals give extremely unconvincing denials of this.

“It’s not that we’re, like, against America per se. It’s just that…well, did you know Europe has much better health care than we do? And much lower crime rates? I mean, come on, how did they get so awesome? And we’re just sitting here, can’t even get the gay marriage thing sorted out, seriously, what’s wrong with a country that can’t…sorry, what were we talking about? Oh yeah, America. They’re okay. Cesar Chavez was really neat. So were some other people outside the mainstream who became famous precisely by criticizing majority society. That’s sort of like America being great, in that I think the parts of it that point out how bad the rest of it are often make excellent points. Vote for me!”

(sorry, I make fun of you because I love you)

There was a big brouhaha a couple of years ago when, as it first became apparent Obama had a good shot at the Presidency, Michelle Obama said that “for the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country.”

Republicans pounced on the comment, asking why she hadn’t felt proud before, and she backtracked saying of course she was proud all the time and she loves America with the burning fury of a million suns and she was just saying that the Obama campaign was particularly inspiring.

As unconvincing denials go, this one was pretty far up there. But no one really held it against her. Probably most Obama voters felt vaguely the same way. I was an Obama voter, and I have proud memories of spending my Fourth of Julys as a kid debunking people’s heartfelt emotions of patriotism. Aaron Sorkin:

[What makes America the greatest country in the world?] It’s not the greatest country in the world! We’re seventh in literacy, 27th in math, 22nd in science, 49th in life expectancy, 178th in infant mortality, third in median household income, No. 4 in labor force, and No. 4 in exports. So when you ask what makes us the greatest country in the world, I don’t know what the f*** you’re talking about.

(Another good retort is “We’re number one? Sure – number one in incarceration rates, drone strikes, and making new parents go back to work!”)

All of this is true, of course. But it’s weird that it’s such a classic interest of members of the Blue Tribe, and members of the Red Tribe never seem to bring it up.

(“We’re number one? Sure – number one in levels of sexual degeneracy! Well, I guess probably number two, after the Netherlands, but they’re really small and shouldn’t count.”)

My hunch – both the Red Tribe and the Blue Tribe, for whatever reason, identify “America” with the Red Tribe. Ask people for typically “American” things, and you end up with a very Red list of characteristics – guns, religion, barbecues, American football, NASCAR, cowboys, SUVs, unrestrained capitalism.

That means the Red Tribe feels intensely patriotic about “their” country, and the Blue Tribe feels like they’re living in fortified enclaves deep in hostile territory.

Here is a popular piece published on a major media site called America: A Big, Fat, Stupid Nation. Another: America: A Bunch Of Spoiled, Whiny Brats. Americans are ignorant, scientifically illiterate religious fanatics whose “patriotism” is actually just narcissism. You Will Be Shocked At How Ignorant Americans Are, and we should Blame The Childish, Ignorant American People.

Needless to say, every single one of these articles was written by an American and read almost entirely by Americans. Those Americans very likely enjoyed the articles very much and did not feel the least bit insulted.

And look at the sources. HuffPo, Salon, Slate. Might those have anything in common?

On both sides, “American” can be either a normal demonym, or a code word for a member of the Red Tribe.

VIII.

The other day, I logged into OKCupid and found someone who looked cool. I was reading over her profile and found the following sentence:

Don’t message me if you’re a sexist white guy

And my first thought was “Wait, so a sexist black person would be okay? Why?”

(The girl in question was white as snow)

Around the time the Ferguson riots were first starting, there were a host of articles with titles like Why White People Don’t Seem To Understand Ferguson, Why It’s So Hard For Whites To Understand Ferguson, and White Folks Listen Up And Let Me Tell You What Ferguson Is All About, this last of which says:

Social media is full of people on both sides making presumptions, and believing what they want to believe. But it’s the white folks that don’t understand what this is all about. Let me put it as simply as I can for you […]

No matter how wrong you think Trayvon Martin or Michael Brown were, I think we can all agree they didn’t deserve to die over it. I want you white folks to understand that this is where the anger is coming from. You focused on the looting….”

And on a hunch I checked the author photos, and every single one of these articles was written by a white person.

White People Are Ruining America? White. White People Are Still A Disgrace? White. White Guys: We Suck And We’re Sorry? White. Bye Bye, Whiny White Dudes? White. Dear Entitled Straight White Dudes, I’m Evicting You From My Life? White. White Dudes Need To Stop Whitesplaining? White. Reasons Why Americans Suck #1: White People? White.

We’ve all seen articles and comments and articles like this. Some unsavory people try to use them to prove that white people are the real victims or the media is biased against white people or something. Other people who are very nice and optimistic use them to show that some white people have developed some self-awareness and are willing to engage in self-criticism.

But I think the situation with “white” is much the same as the situation with “American” – it can either mean what it says, or be a code word for the Red Tribe.

(except on the blog Stuff White People Like, where it obviously serves as a code word for the Blue tribe. I don’t know, guys. I didn’t do it.)

I realize that’s making a strong claim, but it would hardly be without precedent. When people say things like “gamers are misogynist”, do they mean the 52% of gamers who are women? Do they mean every one of the 59% of Americans from every walk of life who are known to play video or computer games occasionally? No. “Gamer” is a coded reference to the Gray Tribe, the half-branched-off collection of libertarianish tech-savvy nerds, and everyone knows it. As well expect that when people talk about “fedoras”, they mean Indiana Jones. Or when they talk about “urban youth”, they mean freshmen at NYU. Everyone knows exactly who we mean when we say “urban youth”, and them being young people who live in a city has only the most tenuous of relations to the actual concept.

And I’m saying words like “American” and “white” work the same way. Bill Clinton was the “first black President”, but if Herman Cain had won in 2012 he’d have been the 43rd white president. And when an angry white person talks at great length about how much he hates “white dudes”, he is not being humble and self-critical.

IX.

Imagine hearing that a liberal talk show host and comedian was so enraged by the actions of ISIS that he’d recorded and posted a video in which he shouts at them for ten minutes, cursing the “fanatical terrorists” and calling them “utter savages” with “savage values”.

If I heard that, I’d be kind of surprised. It doesn’t fit my model of what liberal talk show hosts do.

But the story I’m actually referring to is liberal talk show host / comedian Russell Brand making that same rant against Fox News for supporting war against the Islamic State, adding at the end that “Fox is worse than ISIS”.

That fits my model perfectly. You wouldn’t celebrate Osama’s death, only Thatcher’s. And you wouldn’t call ISIS savages, only Fox News. Fox is the outgroup, ISIS is just some random people off in a desert. You hate the outgroup, you don’t hate random desert people.

I would go further. Not only does Brand not feel much like hating ISIS, he has a strong incentive not to. That incentive is: the Red Tribe is known to hate ISIS loudly and conspicuously. Hating ISIS would signal Red Tribe membership, would be the equivalent of going into Crips territory with a big Bloods gang sign tattooed on your shoulder.

But this might be unfair. What would Russell Brand answer, if we asked him to justify his decision to be much angrier at Fox than ISIS?

He might say something like “Obviously Fox News is not literally worse than ISIS. But here I am, talking to my audience, who are mostly white British people and Americans. These people already know that ISIS is bad; they don’t need to be told that any further. In fact, at this point being angry about how bad ISIS is, is less likely to genuinely change someone’s mind about ISIS, and more likely to promote Islamophobia. The sort of people in my audience are at zero risk of becoming ISIS supporters, but at a very real risk of Islamophobia. So ranting against ISIS would be counterproductive and dangerous.

On the other hand, my audience of white British people and Americans is very likely to contain many Fox News viewers and supporters. And Fox, while not quite as evil as ISIS, is still pretty bad. So here’s somewhere I have a genuine chance to reach people at risk and change minds. Therefore, I think my decision to rant against Fox News, and maybe hyperbolically say they were ‘worse than ISIS’ is justified under the circumstances.”

I have a lot of sympathy to hypothetical-Brand, especially to the part about Islamophobia. It does seem really possible to denounce ISIS’ atrocities to a population that already hates them in order to weak-man a couple of already-marginalized Muslims. We need to fight terrorism and atrocities – therefore it’s okay to shout at a poor girl ten thousand miles from home for wearing a headscarf in public. Christians are being executed for their faith in Sudan, therefore let’s picket the people trying to build a mosque next door.

But my sympathy with Brand ends when he acts like his audience is likely to be fans of Fox News.

In a world where a negligible number of Redditors oppose gay marriage and 1% of Less Wrongers identify conservative and I know 0/150 creationists, how many of the people who visit the YouTube channel of a well-known liberal activist with a Che-inspired banner, a channel whose episode names are things like “War: What Is It Good For?” and “Sarah Silverman Talks Feminism” – how many of them do you think are big Fox News fans?

In a way, Russell Brand would have been braver taking a stand against ISIS than against Fox. If he attacked ISIS, his viewers would just be a little confused and uncomfortable. Whereas every moment he’s attacking Fox his viewers are like “HA HA! YEAH! GET ‘EM! SHOW THOSE IGNORANT BIGOTS IN THE outgroup WHO’S BOSS!”

Brand acts as if there are just these countries called “Britain” and “America” who are receiving his material. Wrong. There are two parallel universes, and he’s only broadcasting to one of them.

The result is exactly what we predicted would happen in the case of Islam. Bombard people with images of a far-off land they already hate and tell them to hate it more, and the result is ramping up the intolerance on the couple of dazed and marginalized representatives of that culture who have ended up stuck on your half of the divide. Sure enough, if industry or culture or community gets Blue enough, Red Tribe members start getting harassed, fired from their jobs (Brendan Eich being the obvious example) or otherwise shown the door.

Think of Brendan Eich as a member of a tiny religious minority surrounded by people who hate that minority. Suddenly firing him doesn’t seem very noble.

If you mix together Podunk, Texas and Mosul, Iraq, you can prove that Muslims are scary and very powerful people who are executing Christians all the time – and so we have a great excuse for kicking the one remaining Muslim family, random people who never hurt anyone, out of town.

And if you mix together the open-source tech industry and the parallel universe where you can’t wear a FreeBSD t-shirt without risking someone trying to exorcise you, you can prove that Christians are scary and very powerful people who are persecuting everyone else all the time, and you have a great excuse for kicking one of the few people willing to affiliate with the Red Tribe, a guy who never hurt anyone, out of town.

When a friend of mine heard Eich got fired, she didn’t see anything wrong with it. “I can tolerate anything except intolerance,” she said.

“Intolerance” is starting to look like another one of those words like “white” and “American”.

“I can tolerate anything except the outgroup.” Doesn’t sound quite so noble now, does it?

X.

We started by asking: millions of people are conspicuously praising every outgroup they can think of, while conspicuously condemning their own in-group. This seems contrary to what we know about social psychology. What’s up?

We noted that outgroups are rarely literally “the group most different from you”, and in fact far more likely to be groups very similar to you sharing almost all your characteristics and living in the same area.

We then noted that although liberals and conservatives live in the same area, they might as well be two totally different countries or universe as far as level of interaction were concerned.

Contra the usual idea of them being marked only by voting behavior, we described them as very different tribes with totally different cultures. You can speak of “American culture” only in the same way you can speak of “Asian culture” – that is, with a lot of interior boundaries being pushed under the rug.

The outgroup of the Red Tribe is occasionally blacks and gays and Muslims, more often the Blue Tribe.

The Blue Tribe has performed some kind of very impressive act of alchemy, and transmuted all of its outgroup hatred to the Red Tribe.

This is not surprising. Ethnic differences have proven quite tractable in the face of shared strategic aims. Even the Nazis, not known for their ethnic tolerance, were able to get all buddy-buddy with the Japanese when they had a common cause.

Research suggests Blue Tribe / Red Tribe prejudice to be much stronger than better-known types of prejudice like racism. Once the Blue Tribe was able to enlist the blacks and gays and Muslims in their ranks, they became allies of convenience who deserve to be rehabilitated with mildly condescending paeans to their virtue. “There never was a coward where the shamrock grows.”

Spending your entire life insulting the other tribe and talking about how terrible they are makes you look, well, tribalistic. It is definitely not high class. So when members of the Blue Tribe decide to dedicate their entire life to yelling about how terrible the Red Tribe is, they make sure that instead of saying “the Red Tribe”, they say “America”, or “white people”, or “straight white men”. That way it’s humble self-criticism. They are so interested in justice that they are willing to critique their own beloved side, much as it pains them to do so. We know they are not exaggerating, because one might exaggerate the flaws of an enemy, but that anyone would exaggerate their own flaws fails the criterion of embarrassment.

The Blue Tribe always has an excuse at hand to persecute and crush any Red Tribers unfortunate enough to fall into its light-matter-universe by defining them as all-powerful domineering oppressors. They appeal to the fact that this is definitely the way it works in the Red Tribe’s dark-matter-universe, and that’s in the same country so it has to be the same community for all intents and purposes. As a result, every Blue Tribe institution is permanently licensed to take whatever emergency measures are necessary against the Red Tribe, however disturbing they might otherwise seem.

And so how virtuous, how noble the Blue Tribe! Perfectly tolerant of all of the different groups that just so happen to be allied with them, never intolerant unless it happen to be against intolerance itself. Never stooping to engage in petty tribal conflict like that awful Red Tribe, but always nobly criticizing their own culture and striving to make it better!

Sorry. But I hope this is at least a little convincing. The weird dynamic of outgroup-philia and ingroup-phobia isn’t anything of the sort. It’s just good old-fashioned in-group-favoritism and outgroup bashing, a little more sophisticated and a little more sneaky.

XI.

This essay is bad and I should feel bad.

I should feel bad because I made exactly the mistake I am trying to warn everyone else about, and it wasn’t until I was almost done that I noticed.

How virtuous, how noble I must be! Never stooping to engage in petty tribal conflict like that silly Red Tribe, but always nobly criticizing my own tribe and striving to make it better.

Yeah. Once I’ve written a ten thousand word essay savagely attacking the Blue Tribe, either I’m a very special person or they’re my outgroup. And I’m not that special.

Just as you can pull a fast one and look humbly self-critical if you make your audience assume there’s just one American culture, so maybe you can trick people by assuming there’s only one Blue Tribe.

I’m pretty sure I’m not Red, but I did talk about the Grey Tribe above, and I show all the risk factors for being one of them. That means that, although my critique of the Blue Tribe may be right or wrong, in terms of motivation it comes from the same place as a Red Tribe member talking about how much they hate al-Qaeda or a Blue Tribe member talking about how much they hate ignorant bigots. And when I boast of being able to tolerate Christians and Southerners whom the Blue Tribe is mean to, I’m not being tolerant at all, just noticing people so far away from me they wouldn’t make a good outgroup anyway.

My arguments might be correct feces, but they’re still feces.

I had fun writing this article. People do not have fun writing articles savagely criticizing their in-group. People can criticize their in-group, it’s not humanly impossible, but it takes nerves of steel, it makes your blood boil, you should sweat blood. It shouldn’t be fun.

You can bet some white guy on Gawker who week after week churns out “Why White People Are So Terrible” and “Here’s What Dumb White People Don’t Understand” is having fun and not sweating any blood at all. He’s not criticizing his in-group, he’s never even considered criticizing his in-group. I can’t blame him. Criticizing the in-group is a really difficult project I’ve barely begun to build the mental skills necessary to even consider.

I can think of criticisms of my own tribe. Important criticisms, true ones. But the thought of writing them makes my blood boil.

I imagine might I feel like some liberal US Muslim leader, when he goes on the O’Reilly Show, and O’Reilly ambushes him and demands to know why he and other American Muslims haven’t condemned beheadings by ISIS more, demands that he criticize them right there on live TV. And you can see the wheels in the Muslim leader’s head turning, thinking something like “Okay, obviously beheadings are terrible and I hate them as much as anyone. But you don’t care even the slightest bit about the victims of beheadings. You’re just looking for a way to score points against me so you can embarass all Muslims. And I would rather personally behead every single person in the world than give a smug bigot like you a single microgram more stupid self-satisfaction than you’ve already got.”

That is how I feel when asked to criticize my own tribe, even for correct reasons. If you think you’re criticizing your own tribe, and your blood is not at that temperature, consider the possibility that you aren’t.

But if I want Self-Criticism Virtue Points, criticizing the Grey Tribe is the only honest way to get them. And if I want Tolerance Points, my own personal cross to bear right now is tolerating the Blue Tribe. I need to remind myself that when they are bad people, they are merely Osama-level bad people instead of Thatcher-level bad people. And when they are good people, they are powerful and necessary crusaders against the evils of the world.

The worst thing that could happen to this post is to have it be used as convenient feces to fling at the Blue Tribe whenever feces are necessary. Which, given what has happened to my last couple of posts along these lines and the obvious biases of my own subconscious, I already expect it will be.

But the best thing that could happen to this post is that it makes a lot of people, especially myself, figure out how to be more tolerant. Not in the “of course I’m tolerant, why shouldn’t I be?” sense of the Emperor in Part I. But in the sense of “being tolerant makes me see red, makes me sweat blood, but darn it I am going to be tolerant anyway.”

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1,169 Responses to I Can Tolerate Anything Except The Outgroup

  1. social justice warlock says:

    Tolerance is, indeed, a pretty stupid thing to value. Tolerate what is tolerable and intolerate what is intolerable.

    The Red Tribe is most classically typified by conservative political beliefs, strong evangelical religious beliefs, creationism, opposing gay marriage, owning guns, eating steak, drinking Coca-Cola, driving SUVs, watching lots of TV, enjoying American football, getting conspicuously upset about terrorists and commies, marrying early, divorcing early, shouting “USA IS NUMBER ONE!!!”, and listening to country music.

    The Blue Tribe is most classically typified by liberal political beliefs, vague agnosticism, supporting gay rights, thinking guns are barbaric, eating arugula, drinking fancy bottled water, driving Priuses, reading lots of books, being highly educated, mocking American football, feeling vaguely like they should like soccer but never really being able to get into it, getting conspicuously upset about sexists and bigots, marrying later, constantly pointing out how much more civilized European countries are than America, and listening to “everything except country”.

    The class markers in this conception (however popular it is) are the complete opposite of reality. It might describe urban vs. rural whites, which I guess is what you’re trying to get at.

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    • Princess_Stargirl says:

      Of course you shouldn’t tolerate the “intolerable” What I would advocate is trying to expand one’s definition of tolerable. Spending one’s effort in a fight, either political or a literal war, is not usually a good way to increase utility. There is always an extremely high chance you are on the wrong side of the conflict and are accidentally making things worse. At equilibrium half the resources are being spent on the evil team.

      A much better strategy is to try to make things marginally better. This requires tolerating alot of horrible situations. For example I think everyone for jail on drug charges is a victim of prolonged kidnapping and depending on conditions torture. What good option do I have but to tolerate this horror and the many people I know who support it. Yelling at the vast majority of people that they are supporting a horrific tragedy doesn’t help anyone.

      There is also the historical angle. In many cases things that seemed intolerable (heresy, witchcraft, etc) were in fact very tolerable. I am not suggesting non resistance to evil. But I am suggesting being very open minded.

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      • ii says:

        Is tolerance merely an observational quality? A synonym for forbearance. Do you tolerate things on the assumption that inaction may resolve the problem or reveal a solution? It seems to me that people only genuinely tolerate things that could be potentially dangerous but then switch to attack mode when their suspicions are confirmed/ feel validated for their prudence when they aren’t.

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        • Princess_Stargirl says:

          As I am understanding things the opposite of tolerating something is trying to change it. This is dangerous and difficult. Trying to change other people’s behavior always has high costs (summed over you, the people you are trying to change and any bystanders who get involved). Your efforts will frequently fail or cause unindented conseuqences that make things worse. On top of this the prior probability that you are the wrong one is close to 50%.

          In many cases I might change things if I had an effective method. And I was suffiently confident my changes were good despite my brain running on defective hardware (as elizier puts it). But I usually I do not. What I usually can do to help people is make them more comfortable, even if I should not try to fix serious problems.

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    • Emile says:

      To which “class markers” are you referring? (I don’t understand your comment)

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      • Eric says:

        I was confused as well. My guess is that they were suggesting that conservatives are actually rich and progressives are poor, despite what the lines about arugula and bottled water would tell you about their incomes. But that doesn’t sound quite right.

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        • Susebron says:

          Well, a lot of poor people are progressive, and quite a few rich people are conservative. The problem is that liberal/conservative isn’t a single sliding scale, and “the poor” and “the rich” aren’t unified groups.

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          • It’s worth noting that the “red/blue” divide is significantly geographical in basis. First, it’s strongly an urban (and suburban) / rural divide. Here’s a test: if you walk out your door to the street and look around, do you see any farms? If you can, you’re probably red, if you can’t, you’re probably blue.
            In America, this IS a class divide: rural is a different social class than urban.
            (Secondly, of course, it has a strong north-south component.)

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      • Lambert says:

        I, (not being American), was rather surprised that it was the Republicans as opposed to the Democrats who were instrumental in the emancipation of the slaves.

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        • theLaplaceDemon says:

          There was a pretty massive shift in the 1950s and 1960s when northern Democrats starting supporting the civil rights movement (among other things). This alienated the conservative Southern Democrats, who defected to the Republican party (making it more conservative in the process).

          Edit to say: I think this is a very good illustration of Blue/Democrat/Liberal and Red/Republican/Conservative not perfectly mapping, tribe-wise.

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          • Will Best says:

            No there wasn’t. Carter won the South in 1976, and Reagan did worse in the South in 1980 than his national average.

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          • Robert Slaven says:

            @Will Best: The transition of white Southern voters from “always vote D” to “always vote R” didn’t happen overnight. 1976 and 1980 were, essentially, “transition elections”. 1984’s hard to say ’cause Reagan won so big, but Reagan got higher percentages than his nation-wide percentage in all “Southern” states except TN and WV. Bush improved on that in 1988, getting higher-than-nationwide in all Southern states but WV. By the time Clinton won in 1992 (winning only 4 Southern states), the transition was pretty much complete.

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    • Drew Hardies says:

      Tolerance is, indeed, a pretty stupid thing to value. Tolerate what is tolerable and intolerate what is intolerable.

      I’ve seen a lot of people claim that they won’t ‘tolerate intolerance’ or something to that effect. It’s a good slogan. But what, specifically, does this entail?

      Blue team can’t really impose any sort of strong social penalty, for exactly the reasons Scott lays out in his post. The worlds are just too separate for that to sting.

      Blue team people could block Red Team on Twitter or something. But that’s perfectly tolerant. So is engaging in a debate.

      So, what options left to express this intolerance and differentiate it from grudgingly (or even angrily) tolerating the existence of the other side?

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      • Anonymous says:

        “I’ve seen a lot of people claim that they won’t ‘tolerate intolerance’ or something to that effect. It’s a good slogan. But what, specifically, does this entail?”

        Being “intolerant of intolerance” is a cached defence people use to defend against charges of hypocrisy when they both try to claim moral superiority for being tolerant (of their allies) and try to viciously destroy their enemies, often using the exact same tactics that they would denounce as intolerant if used against their allies.

        “Blue team can’t really impose any sort of strong social penalty, for exactly the reasons Scott lays out in his post. The worlds are just too separate for that to sting.”
        They really can. Just look at all the periodic controversies when the SJW’s unite to try to get some person fired for some random tweet or something.

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        • Viliam Búr says:

          Sometimes “intolerance” is just a code word for “my enemies”. (Well, they don’t like the same things as I do, right?) So being “intolerant of intolerance” is pretty much what everyone does by default.

          Only when you look at details, different people differ in their selection of which kinds of intolerance they realy hate (outgroups intolerant to ingroups), and which kinds of intolerance are okay or even useful for some greater good (ingroups intolerant to outgroups).

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      • social justice warlock says:

        It’s a terrible slogan, is my point, I think, which is why it only gets employed sotto voice, by conservatives. Any Blueteamer who uses it unironically deserves the mockery she gets; it’s a blatant contradiction.

        Actually specifying what sort of tolerance you’re talking about makes this problem go away. Making a principle of killing people who kill people leads to problems in a way that a principle of killing people who kill children does not, &c. “You’re not tolerant of my beliefs” is exactly as dumb as response as “how can you be pro-life and pro-death???”

        (In practice I would recommend being tolerant of most things, getting cut off in traffic, etc., at least as an individual-level strategy for hedons. This leads to collective action problems which virtue-signaling helps to solve.)

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        • Mary says:

          Nonsense. I have myself seen people who post the most vile stereotypes of right-wingers, starting with rednecks, and then loftily return that it’s not intolerance to point out that these groups really are horrible.

          Indeed, I knew one who maintained, repeatedly, that he had meet Southerners and therefore could call them all hate-mongering racist monsters because it’s based on experience.

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        • gattsuru says:

          It’s /very/ widely used, to the point where I’ve seen a fairly large site where that chain of logic went generally unquestioned by the moderation team. ((Not singling out the site or its moderators, who, my personal dislike aside, at least try to do a somewhat decent job. Just a large, generally-liberal example that I’d followed.))

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          • Viliam Búr says:

            Wow, that’s a horrible use of logic on that site. It’s okay to fire anyone who demands equal rights for men, because we support equal rights for women and won’t tolerate any incompatible ideas.

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          • Zorgon says:

            Welcome to the tech industry in 2014.

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          • dublin says:

            Yes, equal rights for women are incompatible with equal rights for men. Nobody has any illusions about what we mean when we say “equal rights”. “Equal” is another way of saying “fair” which is another way of saying “just” which is another way of saying “give me stuff”.

            When Martin Luther King Jr. said he wanted his children judged by the “content of their character” he meant he wanted them judged by the color of their skin, but positively. I think everyone would agree that black skin contains a lot more character than white skin.

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          • Scott Alexander says:

            Poster “dublin” is annoying and is banned. They have the same IP as a much less annoying poster. I will give the other poster the benefit of the doubt for now, but if there is another annoying person with the same IP I will stop giving them the benefit of the doubt and IP ban as well.

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        • Lambert says:

          And, of course, there are the libertarians/Greys who fear and loathe the Left (although often point out that the Right are often bigoted too).
          The only thing left to work out is which ideology is used to justify intolerance of the Grey/libertarians.

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      • MugaSofer says:

        >Blue team people could block Red Team on Twitter or something. But that’s perfectly tolerant.

        Eh? How so?

        Red Team blocking gays and Muslims from Twitter doesn’t strike me as “perfectly tolerant”. Everyone blocking, (say) pedophiles isn’t “tolerating pedophilia” – quite the opposite.

        It seems to me that blocking Red Team on Twitter is indeed a form of refusing to tolerate them. As would Red Team blocking Blue Team on Twitter.

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      • richard40 says:

        One way blue people could really express tolerance for red people would be in cases where red people try to enter blue turf, the biggest example being academia, which as this author said is almost 90% blue. How about trying to find conservative students and scholars, and sponsoring them for academic positions. How about encouraging conservative speakers to appear on campus, or looking for conservative schoolteachers or text books. That would definitely be expressing viewpoint tolerance.

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    • rrb says:

      it would be silly to trust this part of the post very much.

      Scott: “I never interact with Reds.”
      Scott: *lists the qualities of reds*

      I very rarely interact with reds, outside of my family. But that’s a small sample so I don’t really know what reds are like either.

      But even aside from not describing my family at all, I just have no reason to trust a description of Reds given by Scott. Where could his knowledge of them come from?

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  2. Matthew says:

    You can talk all you want about Islamophobia, but my friend’s “intelligent, reasoned, and thoughtful people” – her name for the Blue Tribe – can’t get together enough energy to really hate Osama, let alone Muslims in general.

    Forget the “Muslims in general” part, but as for Usama — I really think you’d get a different impression if you sampled more of the (overwhelmingly Blue Tribe) New York City and Washington D.C. and less of California.

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    • J. Quinton says:

      Yeah. I’m a native New Yorker. The towers were apart of my life experience growing up in NYC until I left to join the military; I took field trips in elementary school to the WTC. Some members of my family work(ed) within 3 or 4 blocks of the WTC on 9/11.

      I was pretty glad when bin Laden was killed. I actually don’t think I would feel that way for any Red Tribe people, like how many Blue Tribe people were happy about Thatcher’s passing. Even though I check off every marker of Blue Tribe description (well, except for eating arugula and drinking fancy bottled water… though I probably make up for that by listening to some of the whitest music possible) according to Scott’s definition.

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    • Jai says:

      I literally worked for the blue team (the DNC), and I felt good about that death (though I feel guilty about that feeling). Also felt slightly sad about Thatcher.

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    • Liskantope says:

      Yes. For example, Jon Stewart’s unabashed glee on the first Daily Show episode after Osama’s execution.

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      • Arceris says:

        I agree with the sentiment here vis-a-vis “Blue Tribe” in NYC vs CA. However, I don’t think it detracts from his main point. You could consider the NYC Blue Tribe vs CA Blue Tribe divide as essentially sub-tribes. They are in general members of the same main tribe, but have subtle differences.

        Members of one subgroup may feel that the other subgroup are somewhat less-pure, but, hey, they’re not Red. The Bed/Blue divide being as wide as it is, serves to allow some deviation from purity in the main groups, because the divide is so much larger than internecine differences.

        Incidentally, you can see a similar internecine divide on the Blue side between Labor and Tech. On the Red side you can see differences between, say Mormons and Southern Baptists. They don’t really like each other, but recognize that they’re both Red – so if a Blue shows up, they’ll be on the same side.

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        • Tom Hunt says:

          This is a real phenomenon which I’ve observed as well.

          Which leads me to the question: what conditions cause this dynamic to happen, rather than what Scott devotes the post to, in which the people who are just a bit unlike you are the hated outgroup and the people who are very unlike you are the “meh” people? That is clearly also a real phenomenon.

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          • Fazathra says:

            I think a lot of it is to do with the degree of danger that groups perceive themselves to be in from outer-outgroups. i.e. if a rogue paperclipper attacked the US, I think democrats and republicans would stop arguing about abortion and obamacare and start kicking paperclip ass, while if all republicans disappeared overnight, the grand democratic coalition would probably fracture within a couple of days.

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          • I think it’s frustration. Especially if you aren’t in danger from the outgroup, they’re people whose premises and intuitions are so different from yours that there’s no point in talking to them, while the people who are more or less similar to you are *infuriating*. If they’d just agree with you completely, they’d be just great allies, but they persist in being wrong for no good reason.

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        • InfinitePerplexity says:

          Some things I noticed about my friends, regarding Osama and Margaret Thatcher:

          – Some members of the Blue Tribe cheered when Margaret Thatcher died. All of these people were (1) male and (2) not originally from the Bay Area.

          – Some members of the Blue Tribe tribe were upset that people cheered when Osama Bin Laden died. All of these people were (1) female and (2) born and raised in the Bay Area.

          And, by definition, there was no overlap between the two groups.

          I can imagine various reasons for that patterns (1) and (2) held, but they would be baseless speculation, so instead I’ll just point out that there may less hypocrisy here than there superficially appears to be, and more differences among tribal subgroups.

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        • richard40 says:

          Another big red divide at the moment is between tea party and non tea party, or between libertarian conservatives and religious conservatives. All would consider themselves conservatives, and all would intensly dislike leftists and liberals, but they also have some pretty big arguments with each other.

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        • Lambert says:

          It is notable that, in the famous Robber’s Cave experiment (Where boys on summer camp were randomly divided into 2 groups and everything went quite Lord of The Flies (the text’s acuracy or lack thereof notwithstanding) spontaneously.), The groups readily put aside their differences to fix a water tank, IIRC supposedly vandalised (introducing an external threat).

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  3. Matthew says:

    My hunch – both the Red Tribe and the Blue Tribe, for whatever reason, identify “America” with the Red Tribe. Ask people for typically “American” things, and you end up with a very Red list of characteristics – guns, religion, barbecues, American football, NASCAR, cowboys, SUVs, unrestrained capitalism.

    Ok, that’s the second time I’m catching a West Coast-centric phenomenon. Ask a bunch of New England liberals some time how they feel about the media associating “real America” with the conservative parts of the Midwest and the South.

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    • Protagoras says:

      Well, it wouldn’t be West Coast, would it, for Scott? But I do think you’re right that he is probably over-generalizing a bit from some kind of local characteristics of the blue team people he’s personally associated with. On the other hand, I found the data on how people are more biased on the basis of party than race to be fascinating, and very much worth further thought.

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    • houseboatonstyx says:

      As a blue with feet of Texas red who calls herself a “citizen of the world” (and voted for one for president), I’m kind of pleased when reds who feel “intensely patriotic” about America* say I’m not a “real American”.

      Perhaps the key is ‘patriotism’, which I think of as othering: contrasting one’s native country with all other countries every day in every way, to their discredit. Iirc New England c. 1776 othered themselves from old England, with excellent results: our own (brilliant) Constitution etc. But now that England is who we have a special relationship with, I haven’t seen many N.E. blues othering other current countries in the same way that the people who call themselves “real Americans” do.

      When blues judge the US Constitution and similar things as the best in the world by blue standards, they don’t call it patriotism, sfiak. It’s not good simply because it’s American, it’s good by world standards, for objective reasons.

      * ‘America’ as in the United States of. Other nations in this hemisphere need not apply it to themselves.

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  4. Matthew says:

    And my first thought was “Wait, so a sexist black person would be okay? Why?”

    In case you aren’t aware, “Can people of color be racist?” is an actual (presumably SJW user-generated) question on OKCupid’s Q+A section.

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    • Nornagest says:

      Well, at least the minefield is clearly marked.

      Report comment

      • Matthew says:

        Remind me to tell you sometime about the time I tried to hit on the (astonishingly beautiful) woman whose favorite books list was… more than a bit heavy on Austrian economics. Had an extended discussion in which all I was arguing for was “niceness, community, and civilization” rather than liberalism per se, and I still got branded a liar for accurately limning the differences in perspective that underlie conservative-liberal political fights.

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    • Benquo says:

      I don’t think even the intersectionalists claim that racism is quite the same thing as sexism.

      Report comment

    • fubarobfusco says:

      It seems like “yes” answers to that question would fall into two clusters:

      “Yes, POC can be racist. They can be racist against white people!”

      “Yes, POC can be racist. Just as gay people can have internalized homophobia and oppressed proletarians can nonetheless defend capitalism, POC can perpetuate racism.”

      Report comment

      • a person says:

        Also POC can be and often are racist against other types of POC. There’s a stereotype, for example, that blacks and Asians don’t get along.

        Report comment

        • RCF says:

          Not exactly a stereotype. 45% of property damage during the Rodney King riots was in Koreatown.

          Report comment

          • Berna says:

            Stereotypes exist for a reason.

            Report comment

          • Randy M says:

            Yes indeed, but stereotypes are *called* “stereotypes” to deny that very reason.

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          • Matthew says:

            I mentioned the last time stereotypes came up on SSC that it’s not that hard to come up with previously ubiquitous stereotypes that have been proven false. Rather than rehash those examples, I’ll give one current one:

            “The LW/SSC community is a bunch of autistic people.”

            Are any of you wiling to dispute either that a)this stereotype exists or b)a member of the community chosen at random will not be autistic with p > 0.5 ?

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          • Anonymous says:

            here’s what matthew said last time, for anyone who thinks he’s capable of producing interesting examples.

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          • I found those examples to be interesting enough.

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          • millericksamuel says:

            Are any of you wiling to dispute either that a)this stereotype exists or b)a member of the community chosen at random will not be autistic with p > 0.5 ?

            True, but the percentage of Autistic people in this community is undoubtedly far greater than average. (I’m probably mildly Autistic myself). So the stereotype undoubtedly has a degree of truth to it.

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          • richard40 says:

            Except that property damage stopped quickly when the Korean shopkeepers started defending their stores with guns. and look what happened to two supposed red groups, blacks and Hispanics, in Treyvon Martin, when the Hispanic Zimmerman got turned into a white Hispanic, so he was safe to hate. And Jews are mostly blue, but blacks and Jews don’t get along that well.

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          • Anonymous says:

            >Stereotypes exist for a reason.

            What a trivial statement. Of course things exist for reasons.

            Could you be a bit more precise?

            Report comment

          • RCF says:

            @Matthew

            “a member of the community chosen at random will not be autistic with p > 0.5 ?”

            What does this mean? Less than 5% of LWers are autistic?

            Report comment

          • Berna says:

            @anonymous:
            >>Stereotypes exist for a reason.
            >What a trivial statement. Of course things exist for reasons.
            >Could you be a bit more precise?

            When “a person” said there was a stereotype that blacks and Asians don’t get along, RFC said “Not exactly a stereotype. 45% of property damage during the Rodney King riots was in Koreatown.”

            In other words, it’s not a stereotype… because there is some truth to it? I found that strange. There usually is (or was) some truth to a stereotype, that’s why it becomes a stereotype in the first place.

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        • Matthew says:

          @RCF

          P > 0.5, not P >0.05. In other words, a majority are not autistic.

          Report comment

      • Anonymous says:

        “Yes, POC can be racist. Just as gay people can have internalized homophobia and oppressed proletarians can nonetheless defend capitalism, POC can perpetuate racism.”

        This justification confuses me. Do they think that white people somehow created racial prejudice?

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        • Nornagest says:

          This justification confuses me. Do they think that white people somehow created racial prejudice?

          Short answer: yes. There’s an idea floating around in SJW circles that racism (in the sense of institutionalized systems of oppression linked to phenotype blah blah blah words) is basically a product of rationalizations surrounding European colonialism of the 17th to 19th centuries.

          As far as I can tell it’s not totally wrong, though it’s pretty US-centric — the idea of there being three (later four) Races of Man each with its own traits is of course much older (see: sons of Noah), but the caste associations we now see in the US can be traced to 18th and 19th-century America, with an inflection point during the cultural realignments following the Civil War. That being said, the simpler and IMO much more central sense of “racism” as “ethnic prejudice, full stop” shows up in all times and places, and among all peoples I know anything about.

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        • Jason says:

          The justification is that racism is the institutionalized system of prejudice against a minority race. Since white men are the ones in power, females cant be sexists and poc cant be racist.

          I dont agree with it, but that is where sjw s are coming from.

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        • Shenpen says:

          Yes, and it is even defensible: race is a grouping of ethnies. Which group of people traveled so much around the world to feel the need to group European ethnies into a white category, African ones into a black one etc. ? My bet would be the British.

          The whole idea is hardly even known in Eastern Europe for example, when a Serb looks at a Croat the last thing he would ever think is “hello, fellow white person”. Here this grouping was unnecessary, because they just did not travel much, so they could just work on the ethnic level.

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  5. Tom Hunt says:

    I tried to think of examples of groups which it would make my blood boil to criticize. Tried the obvious targets, including neoreactionaries, conservatives, libertarians, white people, Christians. Realized that I don’t really have that reaction to any of them. I have yet been unable to find a group which I would be unwilling to criticize due to that sort of feeling. (Some, e.g. “white people”, I would be unwilling to criticize because the categories are not sufficiently closely bound that any criticism is likely to be useful over the entire set. But then, I feel the same about any so all-encompassing category, including “black people”, “Asian people”, “men”, “women”, &c. Not really sure if this counts.)

    I don’t know if this makes me really really rational or just vaguely autistic. Presumably the latter. But it was interesting to find out.

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    • James says:

      I think some people just don’t naturally gravitate towards in group membership. Maybe we should form our own non-in-group in-group.

      Report comment

    • noahluck says:

      It might depend on the group who would hear the criticism. For example, you might criticize your romantic partner or your child to a trusted friend and feel fine about it, but sweat bullets if you did it in public.

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      • Q says:

        “It might depend on the group who would hear the criticism.” Very true ! Especially if you are facing a majority of people you know they will disagree. I for instance identify myself with proponents of “natural birth”. Well, I identify with them to a reasonable extent to perceive them as allies. However, I was sweating blood last time on facebook, while trying to tell the group, that chemical induction of birth (while unpleasant and not to be abused) does not increase the rate of cesarean sections. I was trying to say, that randomised trials show this, and randomised trials are higher evidence than observational studies. I sayed that, otherwise, I am a loyal member of the group and doctors need oversight, because they ignore randomised trials in other questions. It was just a minor disagreement, not a real criticism, but my blood pressure went up. I probably would not dare to post on their forum a lengthy article about what I dislike about that movent. But here at SSC I can complain about them, knowing this audience will praise me for scientific thinking.

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    • Viliam Búr says:

      How about criticizing the “niceness and civilization” itself?

      I am just not sure how to do that properly. The first idea was something like “people trying to be nice predictably leads to some horrible results”, but that would be arguing against object-level niceness from the point of view of some meta-niceness.

      As an analogy, imagine someone criticizing racists by saying that their overly racist behavior will actually backfire against their own race, so to win against other races in long term, it is strategically better to become sincerely tolerant to other races. That doesn’t feel sufficiently anti-racist to me. Analogically, saying that less niceness may bring more niceness in long term, doesn’t feel sufficiently anti-nice. I’d have to find something like “niceness is completely stupid and evil” because of… uhm… something not nice.

      And I don’t feel able to do that.

      Even if I try something along “niceness could make people stupid, and I value non-stupidity more than niceness”, I am still aware that stupidity causes human suffering, so being against stupidity still feels like being against suffering, which is a nice value.

      Perhaps in some imaginary inconvenient world, where a Friendly AI governs the whole universe and no harm could ever be done to anyone… and the humanity decides to split into “nice but less intelligent” and “more intelligent but nasty” groups (note that the latter group will still never be able to actually harm anyone), and for some reasons it is not possible to have both… I could write an argument for the less nice group. Though I am not sure, in this specific situation, which group I would choose, so maybe I am again merely criticizing an outgroup.

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      • Brian says:

        I think the in-group we’re looking for here is “people who make reasoned arguments about things, enjoy constructing verbal-conceptual models, etc.” Scientists, philosophers, etc.

        Try criticizing the “cogitators” – try criticizing thinking about things – and see how that makes you feel.

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        • aguycalledjohn says:

          To borrow Kahneman’s terminology, system 1 (‘intuitive’ non-conscious thought) is faster and often more accurate than system 2. Cogitators prioritise system 2 to an insane degree and that has lots of harmful consequences. Hows that as a criticism?

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      • Eli says:

        Perhaps in some imaginary inconvenient world, where a Friendly AI governs the whole universe and no harm could ever be done to anyone… and the humanity decides to split into “nice but less intelligent” and “more intelligent but nasty” groups (note that the latter group will still never be able to actually harm anyone), and for some reasons it is not possible to have both… I could write an argument for the less nice group. Though I am not sure, in this specific situation, which group I would choose, so maybe I am again merely criticizing an outgroup.

        Such a universe would not contain humanity as we know it. For real people, being both nice and smart is 100% possible. Disdain for the less-educated is just a class-signaling move for some tribes.

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      • MugaSofer says:

        The traditional thing-outside-niceness to criticise “niceness & civilization” with is “self-interest”.

        I think I could simulate that position well enough to argue for it.

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    • AlexC says:

      As a Christian, I find it somewhat painful to criticise other Christians. Unfortunately in this world it’s frequently necessary. Over here in the UK we evangelical Christians do a lot of distancing ourselves from American Republican evangelicals, a lot of apologising for what the Bible belt do and say. They’re still part of the worldwide family of Christians, but they’re like the embarrassing uncles and aunts who turn up at the family gathering making raucous racist comments.

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      • CThomas says:

        Notwithstanding your first sentence, your message doesn’t exactly exude a charitable attitude toward your American Republican siblings in Christ. You paint with a broad brush, using exactly the stereotypical formulations we’re all familiar with. It’s probable that your information about American Republican evangelicals is filtered through sources that only spotlight weak or embarrassing things. Any large community will produce a fair number of embarrassing statements and actions and this provides fodder for anyone who wants to cherry-pick these instances and make the group in question look like the embarrassing uncles and aunts. But hey, you obviously have made your judgments and I fully recognize that those are not often changed by comments on a web page.

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        • AlexC says:

          No, you make a good point, and you’re right.
          My statement used some stereotypes, because I was trying to condense down a larger nuanced view into a smallish comment, because personally I find huge long comments hard/unpleasant to read.

          I find myself in the tricky situation of being an evangelical Christian (in the UK sense) while also having left-wing politics. Most of what I read on the internet is more influenced by left-wing politics than evangelical Christianity. This means that a lot of what I pick up about what happens in the USA is filtered by left-wing news sources, and so USA Bible-belt evangelicalism comes across very badly.

          And though I do find the pronouncements of some US evangelicals painful and embarrassing, they’re still family. I care about them not just because I care how Jesus is being presented to the watching world – though that’s a significant aspects – but also because these are brothers and sisters, dealing with similar issues to those I deal with over here, but in a somewhat different culture which makes some traps easier to fall into. (And others harder: I’m sure my politics are influenced by my culture and coloured by anti-Christian thoughts in a variety of ways I haven’t realised yet.)

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          • CThomas says:

            Thank you. I’m sure I’m more defensive about this sort of thing than I otherwise would be precisely because it’s so frequently expressed. It’s no secret to us how we’re caricatured around most of the world, and particularly in Britain, so I may have expressed myself more forcefully than I would have in the case of a one-off.

            Best regards,

            CT

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          • This sub-thread warms my heart.

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          • Lesser Bull says:

            Very mature comment. Kudos.

            For me, it was an interesting experience to go from a western congregation of my faith (hella rightwing) to spend some time in a European congregation where the leading elder was secretary of that city’s communist party branch.

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        • RCF says:

          It is not a “stereotype” to say that the majority of Bible belt, evangelical Republican Christians are horribly bigoted and either actively engaged in oppressing others, or at the very least have an attitude of depraved indifference towards oppression. If you find examples of Bible belt, evangelical Republican Christians who are not an embarrassment, then you are the one engaging in cherry-picking.

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          • Randy M says:

            Right, it’s not a stereotype. Stereotypes are true.

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          • Tigger says:

            I’m sorry but this last post exactly epitomizes the broad brush the CThomas mentioned. If I pointed out that evangelical Christians in the US give to charity at a rate higher than any other group or subset, you’d most likely reply that their donations to X charity don’t diminish their bigotry and don’t excuse their awful positions. Thus justifying in your own mind the level of bigotry you express towards their group with vehemence. If i were to point out how many Christians (in disproportionate numbers to their % in the country at large) volunteer at soup kitchens and homeless shelters to help their fellow man (of every creed and race mind you), you would most likely reply that said help is only being meted out to salve their own consciences for holding other horrible beliefs. Again giving yourself wiggle room to say “I’m extremely tolerant! But THESE people are unworthy of my tolerance because they believe X and I don’t. And ALL right thinking people know that X is absolutely abhorrent.”

            Either you’re horribly myopic and incapable of self reflection or your simply trolling for responses. And MAN do i hope it’s the latter rather than the former.

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          • Matthew says:

            @Tigger

            If I pointed out that evangelical Christians in the US give to charity at a rate higher than any other group or subset, you’d most likely reply that their donations to X charity don’t diminish their bigotry and don’t excuse their awful positions.

            I actually agree with the rest of your post, but this is questionable on at least two levels:
            1 — Mormons (who are wealthier) definitely give more in absolute terms, and may give more as a percent of income, than Evangelicals.

            2 — Charitable giving statistics are really, really contentious, because the largest share of charitable giving in the United States is given to churches/synagogues/temples, and a substantial portion of that money is spent on things that non-religious observers would not agree is altruistic. When donations to specifically religious organizations are excluded, New England launches ahead of the Bible Belt in charitable giving.

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          • shimrod says:

            And you’re familiar enough with the majority of “Bible belt, evangelical Republican Christians” to be sure they’re all “horribly bigoted”?

            I work in the south. I work with evangelical Republican Christians. I don’t share their beliefs but the vast majority of those I personally know are kind, charitable, honest people.

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          • Lesser Bull says:

            Good grief.

            I notice that you are othering as hard and as fast as you can.

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          • Anonymous says:

            “When donations to specifically religious organizations are excluded,”

            because of course giving money to Catholic Relief Services to save children from dying of cholera is not really charitable, but giving money to a private school that your children are attending at the time so it can have a soccer field, that’s real charity.

            You are filtering by religion not because that’s a reliable filter for altruism but because it lets you assert the leftists are more charitable when in reality they are spending money on their own institutions that happen to be non-profits. Not just schools, too, all the cultural non-profits that rich people attend but poor don’t, too.

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          • Matthew says:

            @Anonymous

            I did not make any claim about who was more generous (except for the “Mormons give more than Evangelicals” claim, which I stand by). I also don’t think “donating to the opera” type giving should count; my point was that the statistics are weak evidence for anyone being more generous.

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    • Bugmaster says:

      If you thought of to criticizing people who cannot find anyone to criticize, how would that make you feel ? 🙂

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    • FeepingCreature says:

      Try climatologists.

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    • RCF says:

      “Tried the obvious targets, including neoreactionaries, conservatives, libertarians, white people, Christians.”

      Either you are a neoractionary conservative libertarian white Christian, or you didn’t try the rather obvious tact of criticizing a group that you are a member of.

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  6. Andy says:

    [What makes America the greatest country in the world?] It’s not the greatest country in the world! We’re seventh in literacy, 27th in math, 22nd in science, 49th in life expectancy, 178th in infant mortality, third in median household income, No. 4 in labor force, and No. 4 in exports. So when you ask what makes us the greatest country in the world, I don’t know what the f*** you’re talking about.

    A nitpick from someone who sitting 10 feet from box-set DVD copies of all 7 seasons of the West Wing, and binge-watches it on a regular basis:
    This ain’t the West Wing, it’s the Newsroom.
    I can see why you’d make the mistake; Aaron Sorkin does not have a lot of variability in the tone of his work.

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  7. a person says:

    I really hate the blue tribe and the gray tribe, both of which I have ties to, and I find the red tribe sort of humorous and adorable despite disagreeing with most of their positions and having no ties to them. I wonder what this makes me. Probably just an asshole.

    Also I really don’t think criticizing your in-group is as difficult as you make it out to be, as long as it’s a fairly non-central characteristic and not something like “almost everyone in this group are pieces of shit”. And if someone did have that criticism, then they probably would not choose that group to begin with. People on LW criticize LW all the time. I can think of criticisms of all of my own in-groups that I’m able identify. I feel like you, Scott, are especially unwilling to criticize your in-group because you are a prominent voice for a group that you feel is under attack. I imagine e.g. feminist activists feel the same way.

    EDIT: Just for fun I’m going to try to criticize all my ingroups even though probably no one cares

    Men – are too angry, have unhealthy desires for competition and domination, like sports too much

    White people – Aren’t as hardworking as Asians, have worse music than black people

    Rationalists – Don’t understand art, are unwilling to engage with ideas that can’t be precisely expressed in analytical terms, have weird off-putting community norms like the cuddling stuff that they tend to think are the One True Way

    People at the school I go to – Are boring, have bad taste in music

    Frat bros – Often misogynistic, perpetuate hookup culture which imho is bad, certain fraternities (though absolutely not mine) seem to actually have rape culture like the recent story about TKE at University of Wisconson-Milwaukee which is beyond appalling and reprehensible

    The people I hang out with – Don’t take anything seriously, don’t know how to have fun without drinking, take “friendly teasing” too far sometimes

    Art students – Often don’t have any plans for their future realistic or otherwise which they wrongly see as a virtue, often resort to a stance of “oh, well whatever you say is true to you” or something like that

    CS students – Are awkward, lack imagination

    Atheists – A lot of them are self-righteous and overly convinced of their own intelligence, a lot of them fail to see the good sides and certain truths of religion

    Buddhists or people who find Buddhism interesting – Often don’t take the effort to actually study the religion, often resort to a stance of “oh, well whatever you say is true to you” or something like that

    Fans of rap music – Won’t acknowledge the flaws of a genre that in reality is very fucked up in many ways

    Hispters (some people call me this) – Generally are egotistical assholes who try to be better than everyone, this isn’t really controversial even among hipsters

    People who spend to much time on the internet – Have no impulse control, aren’t living their lives to the fullest

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    • Noumenon72 says:

      Clearly your real ingroup is people who make lists of bad things about people! I notice you didn’t say anything bad about them.

      Report comment

      • a person says:

        Believe it or not I was about to make the last one that, but then I decided not to because imho meta-jokes are played out. I’ll write it here anyway:

        People who can say bad things about all their ingroups – assholes, contrarians, are unable to properly integrate into their surroundings

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    • primality says:

      Why do you think hookup culture is bad? The criticisms I can think of would not be valid if we lived in a world where everybody used condoms for all casual sex, and that world’s probably easier to approach, e.g. by making condoms VERY available on campus.

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      • Mary says:

        Nonsense. It’s perfectly valid right, when condoms ARE very available on campus.

        You assume risk compensation doesn’t exist.

        And that’s even joining in your assumption that the only problems are disease and babies.

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      • Tom Hunt says:

        Hookup culture is bad because it has deleterious psychological consequences for all involved. (Leaving aside deontological/sacredness arguments, which I also believe but which are unlikely to carry much weight here.) The ability to handle this is, of course, a quantity that varies on a distribution, and some people deal with it better than others. However, for the majority it’s really not a good thing; the consequences are bad individually, and worse societally when it’s widespread. (It also tends to hurt women worse than men, which makes me mystified and irritated when supporting it is touted as a ‘feminist’ position. But what else is new.)

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        • Nita says:

          It also tends to hurt women worse than men, which makes me mystified and irritated when supporting it is touted as a ‘feminist’ position.

          I can demystify it for you. In “purity” cultures, women tend to be held responsible for men’s thoughts and behaviour, harshly punished (sometimes for the rest of their life) when the rules are broken, and severely restricted by their own families (e.g., no education, no financial independence, no freedom of movement) in order to “protect” them from the possibility of such punishment.

          So, the anti-hookup way has been tried, the implementation turned out pretty bad for women, now we’re trying the alternative.

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          • Anonymous says:

            I note that a lot of the anti-hookup culture was enforced by women who exactly wanted to stigmatize acts that would make it harder for them to get and hang onto their husbands.

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          • Irenist says:

            Nita, that’s a strong point about purity cultures. However, I don’t think all of us anti-hookup trad types are advocating a return to patriarchal purity cultures. (At least, we don’t think we are.) IOW, I don’t think it’s a question of “the” anti-hookup culture, so much as a project of synthesizing an anti-hookup culture that incorporates at least some of the insights of feminist critique of purity culture.

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          • Anonymous says:

            “I can demystify it for you. In “purity” cultures, women tend to be held responsible for men’s thoughts and behaviour”

            As are those men… Note that adulterers are often stoned together.

            “in order to “protect” them from the possibility of such punishment.”

            It’s not to protect them from punishment. It’s to protect them from *men.* There’s a huge misandric streak running through those cultures, where it is assumed that men are foul and dangerous and so women must be covered and cloistered to avoid defilement.

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          • Lizardbreath says:

            (Think this got caught in the spam filter, removing all links…)

            “So, the anti-hookup way has been tried, the implementation turned out pretty bad for women, now we’re trying the alternative.”

            *An* anti-hookup way was tried.

            Then a pro-hookup way was tried, instigated by young baby boomer women.

            Its failure led to: Baby boomer feminism.

            A baby boomer feminist reminisces:

            It was all supposed to be essentially the same for boys and girls: two, three, or however many long-haired persons communing. It was especially the lessening of gender polarity that kept the girls entranced…. And the dream for the girls at base was a dream of a sexual and social empathy that negated the strictures of gender…. It was a desire for a sexual community more like childhood–before girls were crushed under and segregated…. It was–for the girls–a dream of being less female in a world less male; an eroticization of sibling equality, not the traditional male dominance….

            Wishing did not make it so. Acting as if it were so did not make it so. Proposing it in commune after commune, to man after man, did not make it so. Baking bread and demonstrating against the war together did not make it so. The girls of the sixties lived in what Marxists call, but in this instance do not recognize as, a “contradiction.” Precisely in trying to erode the boundaries of gender through an apparent single standard of sexual-liberation practice, they participated more and more in the most gender-reifying act….

            Empirically speaking, sexual liberation was practiced by women on a wide scale in the sixties and it did not work: that is, it did not free women. Its purpose–it turned out–was to free men to use women without bourgeois constraints, and in that it was successful.

            IMO she was right. I recall millennials showing up to feminism en masse around 2003 having apparently never heard of any of this; I disagree with these millennials’ apparently widespread belief that somehow “free love” will work better this time than when the boomers tried it.

            :is old:

            😉

            There’s another baby boomer feminist who made a similar argument under the title, “Date a geek today.” (link removed, but it’s the second non-ad result on duckduckgo)

            @Irenist:

            I know, *you’re* “trad”–but I just want to point out that there’s no requirement to *be* at all “trad” to be anti-hookup culture.

            AFAIC all feminists like me really wanted was fairness. It’s also getting pretty clear that hookup culture AKA “‘free love’ for all” has been tried and does not work.

            The obvious solution–preserving fairness while rejecting something that’s just been tried and found wanting–is “sexual self-control for all.” Which, after all, is all depression-and-WWII-baby feminists (like my mom) wanted anyway.

            We just need to blame men rather than women for any lack of self-control shown by men.

            I’m sure flaws in this approach will become clear after it’s been tried for a while. I’m also sure it’ll be an improvement over today. People often assume the goal is to create The Perfect Culture That Will Work For Everyone Always. It usually doesn’t turn out that way, though. We’re better off just trying to create a culture that works better than today’s.

            It’s perfectly possible to be a normal, decent atheist and/or secular humanist 😉 (can you tell I was raised atheist? :D) and still oppose hookup culture; no religion or other “trad” attitude is required.

            …just, uh, saying. 😉

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          • houseboatonstyx says:

            @Lizardbreath

            It was–for the girls–a dream of being less female in a world less male; an eroticization of sibling equality, not the traditional male dominance…

            Worked fine for me, and the guy I eventually settled down with. Never were in communes, though.

            : is still a baby boomer feminist :

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          • houseboatonstyx says:

            PS . Someone elsewhere described red trad customs as “Marry early, marry often.”

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        • RCF says:

          “Hookup culture is bad because it has deleterious psychological consequences for all involved. (Leaving aside deontological/sacredness arguments, which I also believe but which are unlikely to carry much weight here.)”

          I don’t think I’m along in strongly suspecting that the deontological/sacredness arguments are the motivating factors for you finding deleterious psychological consequences. When your System 1 is strongly opposed to something, you should be suspicious when your System 2 comes up with reasons to justify that.

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          • Randy M says:

            You are arguing with his motivation for presenting you with evidence. This does not, actually, dispute the evidence. That a starving man is motivated to eat does not actually disprove that the food is tasty or nourishing, even if it isn’t as strong evidence as it would be if a satiated man was eating it.

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          • Desertopa says:

            I can chime in as someone with strong anti-sacredness, anti-traditionalist leanings, who has a strong aversive reaction to hookup culture. I can’t trust any particular argument I have against hookup culture to be grounded in genuine consequentialism rather than that aversive instinct, but I’m pretty sure that my reaction is grounded in introversion and romanticism. I do not form close bonds with others easily, but I take very seriously those bonds that I do form, and this tends to be true of people I get along with. I don’t feel comfortable getting physically intimate with people I lack emotional bonds with, so hookup culture is very uncomfortable for me to operate in.

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      • a person says:

        – In hookup culture, sex comes first, then emotional attachment. In dating culture, it’s the other way around. This means that people in hookup culture are selecting their partners for sex-value (looks, status) instead of love-value (personality). This leads to a much poorer optimization algorithm in terms of finding a life partner, which is of course much more important to the individual and society than having lots of casual sex.

        – Additionally, if everyone is selecting partners for sex-value it leads to people having insecurity and anxiety about their attractiveness, which can lead to e.g. depression, eating disorders.

        – In theory it’s less complicated than dating, but in reality it is vastly more complicated and operates under a series of very subtle rules that no one will ever tell you about.

        – Generally involves drunk people having sex with people they barely know, which leads to rape (and weird gray area “she thinks she was raped but he thought they just hooked up” which is arguably even worse given that two lives are ruined instead of just one).

        – Is a lot harder for people with a degree of sexual dysfunction, e.g. find sex scary, erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation. The standard advice for these things is “talk it over with your partner, go slow, and have open communication”. But if you don’t have a partner then you can’t do this, and in hookup culture if you can’t have sex then it’ll be very hard to find a partner.

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        • Nita says:

          Wait, so apparently “hookup culture” means that no one is allowed to find partners in any other way now? Because that means I’ve been doing it wrong all my life o_O

          More seriously — as far as I know, people don’t use hookups to find a life partner (sure, it can happen occasionally, but it’s not the intention).

          Also, it sounds like you’re saying that looks don’t matter in dating, which is, um, not true.

          Good point about the drunk sex and rape, though. We need a lot more good education about consent and a healthier attitude to alcohol.

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          • Anonymous says:

            It means that everyone, man and woman, who participates is making it harder for everyone else to find a partner.

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          • a person says:

            Wait, so apparently “hookup culture” means that no one is allowed to find partners in any other way now?

            This is my experience, I don’t know anyone who asks people out on dates and it seems to me like doing so would be incredibly weird. (Then again it might not be, there’s obviously no official rulebook to these things and everyone including me is just kind of guessing.) I don’t know how old you are, I’m a college student and I think this is a very recent development.

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          • Nita says:

            I’ve never had casual sex and I’ve never officially “dated”, either — both seem very anxiety-inducing and error-prone compared to my friendship-first style.

            Anyway, in my experience, people are different, so it’s nice to see a variety of options, including “hookups”. I definitely don’t approve of any one style taking over the whole landscape.

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        • Nick T says:

          (and weird gray area “she thinks she was raped but he thought they just hooked up” which is arguably even worse given that two lives are ruined instead of just one)

          *twitch* Please don’t casually propagate the false and harmful idea that being raped necessarily ruins someone’s life. (Neither does being accused of rape, for that matter.)

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        • Irenist says:

          As a Catholic, I really WANT to agree with this critique of hookup culture, because I disapprove of that culture for other reasons.

          But I don’t think it works. It’s too easy to argue the converse: In a dating culture, people marry too young just so they can sleep with someone, whereas in a hookup culture, they sleep around all they want, and don’t settle down until they find deep emotional compatibility later in life. That’s pretty much the standard “Blue yuppie marriage is strong, Red high school sweetheart marriag is a disaster” argument that’s pretty well supported by the stats.

          So I think we trads have to do better.

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          • a person says:

            I don’t really see dating culture as “wait until marriage”, more like “wait until the third date or so, and don’t talk about it too much”.

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          • Nita says:

            It seems like Irenist’s “dating” is closer to what some people call “courtship”. Here’s an interesting comparison of these two styles, with a brief mention of hookups: http://www.thomasumstattd.com/2014/08/courtship-fundamentally-flawed/. It’s written by someone raised in a modern purity culture.

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          • haishan says:

            “That’s pretty much the standard ‘Blue yuppie marriage is strong, Red high school sweetheart marriag is a disaster’ argument that’s pretty well supported by the stats.”

            Don’t the stats also suggest that love marriages work out at a much lower rate than other kinds of marriage? Just because Red love marriages are worse than Blue love marriages doesn’t make those Blue love marriages The Right Way.

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          • Irenist says:

            I was indeed using dating = courtship, which was confusing. Sorry about that.

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          • RCF says:

            @haishan

            “Don’t the stats also suggest that love marriages work out at a much lower rate than other kinds of marriage?”

            How are you defining “work out”?

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        • Lizardbreath says:

          I completely agree with all of these. (BTW, I’m an atheist. And, as I’ve said elsewhere, a gen-X feminist.)

          And (IMX) if you argue #1, especially if you don’t make it very very clear you’re a woman, then (even if you are a woman) you’ll be labeled (by “social justice warrior” millennials)
          (a) a Nice Guy(tm);
          (b) evil.

          I received rape threats. Which was at least amusingly ironic. (Also death threats, but w/e.)

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          • Ben A/baa says:

            Lizardbreath — I can’t tell you what an unexpected pleasure it was to find you on this thread (I am a SSC lurker). And I think I agree 100% with everything you’ve written here

            (Also: really, death threats? What is wrong with people?)

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        • Matthew says:

          In theory it’s less complicated than dating, but in reality it is vastly more complicated and operates under a series of very subtle rules that no one will ever tell you about.

          I’m in my 30s and have never experienced hookup culture, but I really can’t see any way it could possibly be more complicated than dating culture, which I have considerably more experience with.

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        • Anonymous 2.1 says:

          The thing is, humans aren’t always looking for life partners.

          It’s well known that humans run both short-term and long-term mating strategies. But historically, short-term mating strategies were prohibited, especially for women. During the sexual revolution, women became free to pursue short-term mating strategies and they increasingly entered the workforce. It’s not surprising at all that a large segment of women is running short-term mating strategies while they are young.

          Thanks to hookup culture, young women have basically a buffet of short-term, medium-term, and long-term options. This is Hannah Rosin’s argument:

          The most patient and thorough research about the hookup culture shows that over the long run, women benefit greatly from living in a world where they can have sexual adventure without commitment or all that much shame, and where they can enter into temporary relation­ships that don’t get in the way of future success.

          ….

          Armstrong and Hamilton had come looking for sexual victims. Instead, at this university, and even more so at other, more prestigious universities they studied, they found the opposite: women who were managing their romantic lives like savvy headhunters. “The ambitious women calculate that having a relationship would be like a four-credit class, and they don’t always have time for it, so instead they opt for a lighter hookup,” Armstrong told me.
          The women described boyfriends as “too greedy” and relation­ships as “too involved.” One woman “with no shortage of admirers” explained, “I know this sounds really pathetic and you probably think I am lying, but there are so many other things going on right now that it’s really not something high up on my list … I know that’s such a lame-ass excuse, but it’s true.”

          Yes, there may be less long-term mates available, because young men are rationally switching to short-term mating strategies. But in exchange, people (at least, attractive middle/upper class young women) have a lot more choices about what relationship types and durations they have, making it easier to fit their hookups and relationships around their other responsibilities. Whether this development is a good thing or not is another question, but hookup culture is not bad in an unmitigated way.

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    • Froolow says:

      Are these criticisms *really* criticisms though? You criticise ‘self-righteous’ atheists or Bhuddists who haven’t taken the time to study the religion, but I don’t think you would agree you belong to either of those groups. Nobody introduces themselves as “A self-righteous atheist who is overly convinced of my own intelligence” or “I’m a Bhuddist, but I really don’t understand the religion and rely on mostly vague and empty epithets to form my world view”.

      I think you’re doing exactly what Scott says people do; criticising people who are just similar enough to you that they can form an out-group, but ignoring people who are actually your in-group. For example it is cheap and easy to criticise the internet-brand atheist for being loud and obnoxious, but much harder to criticise the brand of atheism I think you or I would identify with.

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      • Clockwork Marx says:

        This also seems fundamental to hipsters. A hipster is always a member of a similar out-group, but virtually never functions as an in-group identity. Like obnoxious internet atheists, hipsters are basically similar people who are seen as “doing it wrong”.

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        • a person says:

          Froolow:

          I did consider that when making that list, and I tried to avoid putting in criticisms that could be seen as a “few bad eggs”. The only exception is for frat bros simply because the bad eggs are too egregiously bad to be ignored.

          But when you restrict ingroup criticisms to “things that only apply to you”, then you basically restrict your ingroup to “people exactly like me” which I feel kind of destroys the definition of the word ingroup and would make the list just a list of self-criticisms, which would be a different beast entirely.

          I also tried to avoid criticisms that are things people can’t really help or are trying to change. For example I could have written that rationalists have poor social skills, but I didn’t because unlike most nerds rationalists tend to consider this a failure on their part and something that should be changed, so it hardly seems fair to criticize them for that. I tried to limit my criticisms to failures of understanding or wrong-headed attitudes.

          But all of my self-criticisms necessarily are things I can’t really help or am trying to change, otherwise I would have changed them already. The ones that are failures of understanding or wrong-headed attitudes are invisible to me.

          And as far as atheists go, it’s only the obnoxious ones who make atheism a huge part of their identity and are vocal about it, so it’s very difficult for me to even identify characteristics of “the good kind of atheist”, good or bad. That would be like identifying negative characteristics of people whose names start with the letter A.

          Clockwork Marx:

          Hipsters get a lot of flack for refusing to identify as such, but imho it’s kind of unfair to expect people to self-identify with a word that has near-universally become a pejorative. (Yeah, I know, nerds manage to do it, and gay people with “queers”, as well as a bunch of other examples. Still.) I think if you asked hipsters if they identified with “the group of twenty-somethings who tend to be nonconformist, like alternative music and art, closely follow cultural developments, and lean left politically” they would say that they did. Similarly, I think if you showed them pictures of hipster icons or other hipsters and asked them if they identified with them, they would say that they would.

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    • Scott Alexander says:

      ” I feel like you, Scott, are especially unwilling to criticize your in-group because you are a prominent voice for a group that you feel is under attack. I imagine e.g. feminist activists feel the same way.”

      Not sure whether that’s a valid criticism, or if that’s part of what it means to say “in-group” rather than just “a group you happen to belong to like curly-haired people or people whose names begin with A”.

      I realize I am at risk of No-True-Scotsmanning “it is difficult to criticize the in-group”

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  8. caryatis says:

    Why is tolerance a virtue? Chesterton’s Christian context explains why he values forgiveness, but outside that context…

    Also, Scott, I’m sorry to hear some intolerant person is impersonating you.

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    • caryatis says:

      I’m thinking of Bryan Caplan: “America’s a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.” http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2012/03/my_beautiful_bu.html

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    • Daniel Speyer says:

      That was my thought too. Judging fairly is an important virtue. Tolerance is a second line of defence to limit the damage if you botch your judging, and is sometimes tactically useful, but I don’t see much more.

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    • Drew Hardies says:

      Why is tolerance a virtue?

      The other options seem to be (1) organized violence, (2) applying a painful social sanction or (3) angry disagreement.

      Option 1 has obvious problems. Option 2 is infeasible. There’s just not enough social overlap for social sanctions to work.

      Option 3 often gets rounded up to ‘intolerance’, but I think this is conflating ‘tolerate’ and ‘accept’. Senator Sanders might vehemently disagree with Senator Cruz. But, short of a duel on the Senate floor, the two are tolerating one another.

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      • nydwracu says:

        Option 2 is perfectly feasible, at least if one thede controls some high-status institutions and can apply known social sanctions there and has the ability to throw someone up against the wall every once in a while so everyone in the elthede gets the message.

        “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” is already a set phrase; making it known what happens to people who don’t do as the Romans do drives the point home further. The purge of Brendan Eich wasn’t just about Brendan Eich, and it wasn’t just about gay marriage either: it was a clear signal that Mozilla (and by extension, anything the media decides to focus on; there were plenty of Mozilla employees who supported Eich, even if they opposed gay marriage, but that was downplayed — ignored completely, I think — by a lot of the media) is Blue territory, and Reds will have to hide themselves.

        Now, the same thing can happen in Red territory: I knew someone in college who had a rainbow flag bumper sticker, got glared at once when she parked at Walmart, and complained to me — I can pass for a Blue when necessary, of course — about “those fucking townies”. But that college had a history of Blue-initiated symbolic aggression against townies: long before I went there, there was a First Amendment case that concerned Maryland colleges with a formal religious affiliation. This place was Methodist, and had a chapel on the highest point in the town. Most of the other colleges fought it; they didn’t, and instead brought in a crane to rip the cross off the top of the chapel in the middle of the day.

        (This was told to me by a very anti-Red professor, who otherwise seemed to be under the impression that Reds hated Blues because they were backwards and racist.)

        It’s not as if the Blues have a monopoly on everyday social enforcement of thede-signaling norms; Blues have to hide in Red areas just as Reds have to hide in Blue areas. (Blue areas, however, include most colleges, and much more so the more prestigious and useful ones, so this is not at all symmetrical.) And both of them are acting reasonably, which is something that seems to have been missed downthread. One side can’t ask the other to unilaterally disarm.

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        • B says:

          Actually, I’ve heard rumors that Eich’s forced outing (PFI) had a lot to do with the “WebDRM” debacle: He was resisting, so had to be removed for Netflix etc’s sake.

          No idea whether that’s actually true (timing seems plausible, but no concrete evidence has been presented publicly, AFAIK).

          I don’t know what that would prove, in any case, besides a mildly ironic point that for all the anti-capitalism they profess, the Blues’ ideals can be made to serve the money god just as well as any moron in a megachurch.

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          • B says:

            @nydwracu: I see your link as fairly orthogonal to the claim and remain agnostic as to the original question.

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          • Anonymous says:

            Are any of these rumors available on the open web?

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          • eqdw says:

            Friend of mine was a mid level product manager on Firefox. What she told me is that Eich’s dismissal was entirely due to politics.

            Specifically, Mozilla is this interesting hybrid organization that relies on it’s global open source community in order to Get Stuff Done, and they couldn’t risk alienating all the volunteers and contributors who make Mozilla possible.

            In a sense, the problem wasn’t even Eich or his views. The problem was explicitly the negative publicity from the media harping on his views.

            My friend’s point of view is that Eich was extremely professional at work, she did not think his dismissal was fair, and was sad to see a smart, talented engineer go. But given Mozilla’s situation, it was unsalvageable

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          • B says:

            @ Anon: E.g., http://voxday.blogspot.co.at/2014/05/why-brendan-eich-had-to-go.html

            @ eqdw: That is also a very reasonable explanation from the org perspective, but it’s notable that e.g. Bob O’Callahan probably will not consider it a friendlier workplace because of the reaction, and O’Callahan has probably done more for Moz and web typography than any given set of SJWs. So, turns out all the mobbed are equal, but some are just more equal than others. http://robert.ocallahan.org/2014/04/fighting-media-narratives.html

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          • eqdw says:

            @B This was the thing that surprised, and then upset, me the most about this: my friend revealing that an overwhelming majority of the Firefox employees personally wanted him to stay. As far as I’m concerned, this is a direct example of online bullying and clickbait media directly ending someone’s career, and that sucks. Hard.

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          • suntzuanime says:

            Clickbait internet lynch mobs are a creation of Moloch; you shouldn’t expect decent human feeling out of them. “Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”

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      • Tracy W says:

        Senator Sanders might vehemently disagree with Senator Cruz. But, short of a duel on the Senate floor, the two are tolerating one another.

        If Senator Sanders’ and Senator Cruz’s votes are both needed to pass a budget then disagreements that fall short of open duelling can still be very bad for the country in question. I think tolerance is a scalar virtue, not a binary one.

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    • Princess_Stargirl says:

      A good part of the things that were considered “intolerable” historically are now viewed as totally fine. The prior on something that feels “wrong” actually being wrong is low. At least unless the sanction against this activity is almost absolute across cultures.

      People who are in a minority have no choice but to cultivate tolerance if they want to excel in mainstream society. I personally think jailing people for drug use is kidnapping and depending on the conditions extended torture. The vast majority of people support what I view as a hellish mistake. Unless I cultivate tolerance how can I function in society? The same goes for conservative muslims, many ethical vegans etc. To a greater or lesser extent.

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    • gattsuru says:

      Why is tolerance a virtue?

      At the first level : because we’ve been told that tolerating other people is Good, at least for values of “we” that are less than thirty.

      At a second level : because treating a small subgroup of society very badly has high costs, most obviously to that subgroup, but also to everyone else. The UK treating Indians terribly was obviously pretty bad for the Indians, and also came with a bonus chance to be shot in a turf war.

      At a first meta-level : because we might be the out-group. Actually, we almost /certainly/ will be the out-group for at least the largest circles like Blue Tribe versus Red Tribe versus Grey Tribe. But we might even be the more specialized sort of out-group that lacks its own Parallel Dimension to safely gawk at the Other from. If the Blue Tribe decides that outspoken atheism is gauche, that ends up being a big problem for those individuals.

      At the second meta-level : because we might be wrong when we act against an out-group. If you’re over thirty, the statistical you were against gay marriage, if you’re over fifty, the statistical you was against gay people. Worse, even the most politically-apt people of the time could not predict the speed or rate in which these matters changed. A lotta Red Tribe like to joke about what’ll become necessary to support next, but it’s honestly hard to believe all of your values and information /now/ is correct or that you’ll be the first to correct those values.

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    • Anonymous says:

      >Why is tolerance a virtue? Chesterton’s Christian context explains why he values forgiveness, but outside that context…

      Scott has a pretty in-depth answer to this:

      http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/02/23/in-favor-of-niceness-community-and-civilization/

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  9. Matthew says:

    (Apologies for so much nitpicking….)

    I’m a Jewish atheist (or Reconstructionist Jew) who has never voted for a Republican. This is a list of my close friends’ religious and political identities, in no particular order (except the first one, for shock value). These are all people I’ve met in meatspace, not Internet friends.

    1. Evangelical Baptist, almost certainly creationist, active in local Republican politics before moving abroad
    2. Atheist, very liberal
    3. Nondenominational Protestant, very liberal
    4. Devout Catholic, moderately liberal to centrist
    5. Devout Greek Orthodox (by conversion, I think), Ron Paul fan
    6. Pentecostal, (unsure of politics)
    7. *Atheist, very liberal
    8. Atheist (raised in extremely conservative Christian family), libertarian
    9 . (unsure of religion), centrist
    10. *Atheist, centrist/mixed

    *Grew up behind the Iron Curtain

    1 is definitely Red; 5 is arguably Red though it’s hard to tell when someone is that softspoken; 4 usually votes Democratic but is working class midwestern and Red culturally; 8 was raised Red but is unquestionably Blue now.

    I’m neither a programmer nor an academic. This probably goes a long way to explaining why my experience diverges so sharply from yours.

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  10. Matthew says:

    Slatestarcodex has ruined my ability to get really upset with conservatives. After so much exposure to reactionaries, my reaction to ordinary Republicans is something like, “Awww, you think you’re right-wing? That’s adoooooorable.”

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    • Andy says:

      Mine too. Also, the science fiction universe slowly fermenting in the back of my brain taking a militant monarchy/aristocracy with tinges of a corporate state and making it super duper progressive.

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    • Alexander Stanislaw says:

      If they were more of the authority figures in your life, I think you would find it quite easy to be upset with them.

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    • CThomas says:

      Matthew, how is that attitude any more sensible than a conservative observing that communists are are further to the left than the American “blue” community? Aw, you think you’re on the left? That’s really adorable. I know Stalinists.

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      • social justice warlock says:

        Both are, in fact, entirely sensible. 21st century American liberals and 21st century American conservatives have beliefs that are basically identical when you consider them in the context of pretty much anything else; it’s just that they dominate 21st century American politics and so their areas of disagreement (whether tax rates should be 35% or 37%, the appropriateness of the latte salute, &c.) are what maintains salience.

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    • Bugmaster says:

      Where are all of these reactionaries ? I am relatively new to SSC, and I’ve never seen them. I have read Scott’s FAQ on them, but that’s not the same thing. I’ve also tried reading Moldbug, but found him incoherent. He might have brilliant ideas for all I know, but I couldn’t figure out what they are just based on his writing.

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      • a person says:

        “Map of the Dark Enlightenment” – http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=5227

        Biggest voices other than Moldbug seem to be Mike Anissimov (More Right), James Donald, and Nick Land. Most of them are pretty incoherent by the way.

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      • jaimeastorga2000 says:

        Spandrell and James A. Donald used to comment here, but Scott banned them. Konkvistador, Nyan Sandwich, Michael Anissimov, Nydwracu, and Anti-Democracy Activist have all made at least one comment here and remained unbanned, so they may make more comments in the future.

        Those are just the major neoreactionaries, mind you; men with blogs and twitters and ask.fm accounts who are well known in the reactosphere. You can also find a lot of minor neoreactionaries around, like Piano and Steve Johnson.

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      • ADifferentAnonymous says:

        Before Scott wrote his faq attacking neoreaction, he wrote this piece outlining what he felt were its strongest arguments: http://slatestarcodex.com/2013/03/03/reactionary-philosophy-in-an-enormous-planet-sized-nutshell/

        If you want a good primary source entry point, I liked Moldbug’s Open Letter (linking to Moldbug triggers the spam filter and I’m too lazy to bitly, but it’s easily googled). I felt he did a good job making sense to a progressive reader and not being too gratuitously offensive. If, like me, your real motivation in reading these things is enjoyment of reading them, I certainly recommend it. Just be warned that it’s fourteen very long posts, and also full of broken links.

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        • Bugmaster says:

          Thanks, I’ve actually read Scott’s “nutshell” post before, but seeing as it was written by someone who is vehemently opposed to NR, I figured that it wouldn’t be all that representative of the true beliefs of modern neoreactionaries. Granted, if anyone could properly steel-man his opponents’ position, Scott can, but still, he’s only human…

          And Moldbug’s Open Letter is one of the articles I had in mind when I called him “incoherent”. It starts out pretty well (though it only explains what NRs believe, not why they believe it), but it very quickly devolves into some sort of a historical morass that is of tangential relevance to the discussion at best.

          But I’ll keep an eye out for more NR-oriented comments, now that I sort of know whom I can expect to post them. I admit that I am kind of fascinated by NR. The notion that we should cede total control of ours society to (as Moldbug puts it) a zombie clone of King James II is… just not something you’d normally encounter in political discourse.

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          • nydwracu says:

            I can’t remember which historical morass he goes into in that particular series, but in general, they’re definitely relevant: history is the easiest place to drive home the point that received information (and, more importantly, received value-judgments) will be systematically politically biased in ways convenient to the ruling structure.

            Also, this is probably a better introduction.

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          • Bugmaster says:

            Thanks, I’m reading the Dark Enlightenment series now, and so far it’s definitely a better introduction… For a certain value of “better”. I could list some of the issues I have with it (in terms of methodology, not conclusions), but maybe this thread is not the place to do that ?

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          • nydwracu says:

            Would be best to start a blog.

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          • jaimeastorga2000 says:

            Would be best to start a blog.

            That’s a great idea! I love liveblogs and let’s plays; reading another person’s first impressions of a work you have already consumed is lots of fun.

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  11. Jaskologist says:

    Some years back, I noticed (and it was not an original observation, though I arrived at it independently) that liberals talk about conservatives like they’re evil, and conservatives talk about liberals like they’re stupid/malinformed.

    I’ve noticed that change in recent years, though; conservatives really seem to be coming around to the idea that liberals are evil. I have my theories on why (the IRS scandal is a big piece), but that is the sense I get.

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    • Matthew says:

      that liberals talk about conservatives like they’re evil, and conservatives talk about liberals like they’re stupid/malinformed.

      I have seen several (invariably from the right) people make this claim now, and I disagree. I think this is one of those things where everybody (at least in the post-Enlightenment context) thinks their own tribe believes the other side is ill-informed and thinks their enemies believe that they are evil.

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      • Jaskologist says:

        Your first and second sentences are somewhat at odds with each other. Don’t you find it odd that it is invariably the right that says this? (Especially when you consider that conservatives do way better at ideological Turing tests than liberals, so they’re more likely to actually know how the other side thinks of them.)

        I formed this view from a sustained campaign of consuming equal quantities blue and red news. But like I said, it’s changing: more and more Reds consider Blues evil.

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      • Nornagest says:

        Nah. American leftists don’t believe the other side is ill-informed. They believe most of the other side is ignorant, and mildly evil in a banality-of kind of way, but that the people calling its shots are seriously, deliberately, maliciously evil. (They do think that conservatives think they’re evil, though.)

        For that matter, the sort of conservative that believes in divine command theory doesn’t think so, either. If you buy that ethical theory, then your ideological opponents are by definition evil, because evil is defined purely in terms of ignorance/rejection of your worldview. Or akrasia relative to it, but that’s a lesser kind of evil and can be forgiven.

        I think it’s just the libertarian wing of American conservatism that’s as described. Not the Gray Tribe, though; that’s a little more complicated.

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    • lambdaphage says:

      Also probably not an original observation, but:

      The progressive tendency is confidence in the ability to correct a fallen world. (Often correct, IMO.) If you think a plan to improve the world won’t work, you look on its advocates as naive/misguided, but you might sympathize even as you oppose them. If it’s your plan to improve the world being blocked by the other team, though, what’s the only self-consistent theory of their motivations left open to you?

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      • Randy M says:

        This is a good insight.

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      • Cauê says:

        “They have a different diagnosis of the situation and/or a different assessment of the likelihood of our plans even working” IS self-consistent with any given plan.

        I do think what you point out is at least a big part of why it happens, but that’s a Theory of Mind failure.

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      • Fazathra says:

        But isn’t this true of everybody? Progressives think passing obamacare will improve the world; conservatives think repealing obamacare will improve the world; libertarians think repealing everything will improve the world; and neoreactionaries think getting a king and/or splitting the US up into a bunch of competing citystates will improve the world etc.

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        • Cauê says:

          It somehow takes quite a bit of sofistication to realize this is true of everybody.

          People around me (Brazil) tend to just assume their opponents *outright pretend to believe what they say they believe*, for reasons.

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          • Fazathra says:

            But then this doesn’t explain why conservatives often only view liberals as misguided while liberals view conservatives as evil, as I doubt that the average conservative is much more sophisticated than their liberal counterpart.

            I am in favour of a Haidtian explanation myself in that as liberals only have the harm, fairness, and liberty foundations while conservatives have all six this means that in policies where a tradeoff between all the moral foundations is required, liberals will naturally just maximise harm/fairness/liberty and completely ignore authority/sanctity/loyalty, which is understandable, if wrong. While the conservatives tradeoff among all the foundations so that they are willing to tradeoff some liberty or fairness to increase sanctity or whatever, which to a liberal who doesn’t recognise the existence or legitimacy of the sanctity foundation feels like the conservatives are just throwing away utility for no reason, and think the only reason why they would do that is because they are evil.

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          • Cauê says:

            The difference might be simply historical accident…

            Here’s Bryan Caplan’s challenge to Haidt’s original application of his moral foundations theory to red/blue politics:
            http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2010/03/do_liberals_use.html

            And Haidt’s response:
            http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2010/03/haidt_responds.html

            He seems to defend a considerably more nuanced position nowadays, compared to his original “liberals use A and B, conservatives use all of them”.

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          • Tom says:

            I thought just the opposite. I’ve heard people spout stereotypes of backwards, uneducated rednecks and intelligent, euphoric atheists.

            I’d be surprised to hear anyone call anyone else evil without some act (Pol Pot for instance) to justify it. It just seems like a strong word, the kind of word you’d apply to your neo-Nazi puppy-kicking neighbor and not the neighbor who votes Red.

            Now, “ignorant” and “brainwashed,” that gets tossed around ALL. THE. TIME.

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        • blacktrance says:

          For a general sense of “improve the world”, yes, but there’s also a meaningful sense in which progressives want to improve the world in which the others don’t, i.e. progressives want to pass laws and enact policies that directly improve the world, conservatives want policies that inoculate virtue and punish vice and otherwise leave the world to improve itself through “natural” processes to the extent that it can be improved (as they’re not as great believers in progress as progressives and libertarians are), libertarians want to let people associate freely so they can engage in mutually beneficial exchanges and improve the world according to their own preferences, and reactionaries think there need to be strong constraints on optimization processes to improve the world. Or, to put it more succinctly:
          Progressives want to improve the world by passing laws that improve it directly.
          Conservatives want to improve the world by encouraging traditional virtues.
          Libertarians want to improve the world by setting up a framework in which optimization processes improve the world.
          Reactionaries want to improve the world by setting up a framework in which optimization processes don’t run wild and destroy the world.

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          • Ghatanathoah says:

            Your stated goal for reactionaries seems like of subgoal of your stated goal for libertarians. Surely “not running wild” is a subset of “improve the word.”

            Also, it seems like a lot of progressive programs are designed to stop optimization processes from running wild. For instance, strengthening labor unions has the stated goal of stopping runaway competition between workers from creating a “race to the bottom.”

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          • blacktrance says:

            Your stated goal for reactionaries seems like of subgoal of your stated goal for libertarians. Surely “not running wild” is a subset of “improve the word.”

            Superficially, yes, but their approaches are very different. Libertarians think that if we can set up a few “rules of the game”, we can let optimization processes discover optimal tradeoffs and drive growth to create a better world. Ancaps even think that the “rules of the game” can themselves arise out of spontaneous order. In contrast, reactionaries think that the optimization process is dangerous, and that the most important thing is to prevent it from being able to do too much damage, and the libertarian approach lets it run wild. Some progressives take a similar approach to neo-reactionaries (though with obvious differences on object-level issues), but most don’t think about the optimization processes at all, they focus on the non-spontaneous mandates for improvement.

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          • Anonymous says:

            >”In contrast, reactionaries think that the optimization process is dangerous, and that the most important thing is to prevent it from being able to do too much damage,”

            I don’t know, Michael Anissimov seems pretty keen on letting optimisation processes run wild even (perhaps especially) if they result in the extinction of humanity.

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      • Mary says:

        ” If it’s your plan to improve the world being blocked by the other team, though, what’s the only self-consistent theory of their motivations left open to you?”

        There are two. They are evil, and they disagree with you. You have not blocked off the second, which requires that you believe that the goodness of both your aim and your plan are self-evident, and the effectiveness of the plan is, too.

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      • Multiheaded says:

        But in modern American politics, even boring moderate conservatives often attempt to cast themselves as reactionary revolutionaries with grand plans to Make America America again.

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    • Douglas Knight says:

      The quarter century old joke about Republicans being the Stupid Party and Democrats the Evil Party suggests the opposite view.

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      • The Anonymouse says:

        This has never been my experience. The running stereotype I’ve always encountered was that the Red tribe is hardhearted, the Blue tribe softheaded.

        Or the common variant, along the lines of “If you aren’t a [Blue tribemember] when you’re 20, you don’t have a heart; if you aren’t a [Red tribemember] when you’re 40, you don’t have a head.”

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      • Tom Hunt says:

        I believe the “Evil Party, Stupid Party” joke is most current among conservatives/libertarians/reactionaries who have noticed some form of the Inner Party/Outer Party dynamic, but not quite realized that the ineffectualness of the Outer Party is by design. It’s a characterization I’ve only seen among people who view themselves as being further right than the mainstream Republican Party.

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      • cassander says:

        that is a joke told for a quarter century by republicans, not democrats.

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        • Douglas Knight says:

          Yes, Republicans telling this joke are explicitly saying that they consider Democrats evil. It is not a reliable source for how Democrats view Republicans, so maybe I shouldn’t have said “opposite.”

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          • cassander says:

            eh, it’s a bit more complicated than that. I have a fairly republican family. now, they live in the san francisco area and are all highly educated, so republican does not mean what it might mean in utah or mississippi. Every one of them thinks that progressives are well motivated but wrong. most republicans I have met seem to feel the same. they don’t tell the stupid party joke.

            that joke, which in its original form runs “A republican staffer was talking to a visiting soviet delegation and he says ‘I hear in Russia that you only have one party. In the US, we have two, the stupid party and the evil party. I am proud to be a member of the stupid party. Periodically, the two parties get together and do something that is both stupid and evil. This is called bipartisanship.'” seems to be much more a creature of the beltway and people who take politics seriously. Before 1994, it was at least as much a quip on the near permanent minority status of the republicans (a majority in 4 of the previous 62 years) as anything else.

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      • Glen Raphael says:

        > The quarter century old joke about Republicans being the Stupid Party and Democrats the Evil Party suggests the opposite view.

        Most versions of that joke don’t specify which is which but as a 40ish libertarian I had always assumed (and used) the reverse intended mapping. To wit: Republicans have been the Evil Party because they tend to favor DELIBERATELY hurting people – things like sending the nation to war, giving police more power to torture suspects, denying asylum to immigrants. Democrats have been the Stupid Party because they tend to favor ACCIDENTALLY hurting people – passing higher minimum wage laws, rent control, various other programs that hurt the most the exact people they’re allegedly intended to help.

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      • aguycalledjohn says:

        Funny, the opposite stereotype is used for the two main parties in the UK, the Conservatives (right of centre) are evil but competent, Labour (and Liberal Democrats when people remember them) are well meaning but inept.

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        • Helmholtz says:

          I’ve seen the Tories described as both stupid AND evil.

          AFAIK, the first person to label Conservatives the “Stupid Party” was Lord Palmerston while he was still a Tory:

          As to the commonplace balance between opposition and government, the election will have little effect upon it. The government are as strong as any government can wish to be, as far as regards those who sit facing them; but in truth the real opposition of the present day sit behind the treasury bench; and it is by the stupid old Tory party, who bawl out the memory and praises of Pitt while they are opposing all the measures and principles which he held most important, it is by these that the progress of the government in every improvement which they are attempting is thwarted and impeded. On the Catholic question, on the principles of commerce, on the corn laws, on the settlement of the currency, on the laws regulating the trade in money, on colonial slavery, on the game laws … on all these questions, and everything like them, the government find support from the Whigs and resistance from their self-denominated friends. However, the young squires are more liberal than the old ones, and we must hope that heaven will protect us from our friends, as it has from our enemies.

          During Charles Darwin’s time, the general assumption among Whigs such as himself was that the Tories were cold-hearted as well, particularly with regard towards their stance on chattel slavery:

          Hurrah for the honest Whigs.— I trust they will soon attack that monstrous stain on our boasted liberty, Colonial Slavery.— I have seen enough of Slavery & the dispositions of the negros, to be thoroughly disgusted with the lies & nonsense one hears on the subject in England. Thank God the cold-hearted Tories, who as J Mackintosh used to say, have no enthusiasm except against enthusiasm, have for the present run their race.

          The Captain does every thing in his power to assist me, & we get on very well.—but I thank my better fortune he has not made me a renegade to Whig principles: I would not be a Tory, if it was merely on account of their cold hearts about that scandal to Christian Nations, Slavery.

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    • 27chaos says:

      Interestingly, my view is the other way around. Maybe it’s because I’m exposed to the religious right more than other conservatives, but maybe not.

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    • Walter says:

      My experience is that the Left views the Right as the Defective Left, while the Right views the Left as the Anti-Right.

      That is, my lefty buddies think the right wants the same things as them, and is just incredibly shitty as implementing it. The great mystery to them is why the right can’t see that the way to the left’s goals is by the left’s means. Call it the What’s The Matter With Kansas effect, or the Tigana effect, or what have you. John Oliver’s recent speech on the estate tax was as perfect an example of this as you’ll ever see.

      By contrast, my righty buddies simply round off the left as the anti-right. So if they are Pro Life and the left opposes them then the left must be Pro Death. If they oppose Big Government then the left must be Pro Big Government (not pro things Big Government can do, but explicitly Pro Big Government).

      Thus you get the following sort of talking past each other on, let’s take affirmative action.

      L: I cant understand why you don’t see that AA increases the number of minorities in schools. I’ve proven this over and over.
      R: Nice try, Anti-Merit man! You won’t trick me. I’m for everyone being judged on their merits, and you hate that.
      L: No preferences, less minorities, why would you think removing the AA policy will get us more minorities in colleges? Obviously if we add SAT points to how we rate them more minorities will get in.
      R: You won’t thwart fairness that way! I won’t ever let you increase the unfairness quota, your dark masters will be so disappointed when fairness increases instead!
      L: I’ll be charitable, maybe you doubt that we’ll get more minorities if we use AA. Look at these studies, where it was actually tried and actually resulted in more minorities attending!
      L: Reminders of your past triumphs will not daunt me! Everyone will be judged on their own merits if I have anything to say about it.

      And on and on. R is talking to his own dark reflection, L is proving something R doesn’t care about.

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      • cassander says:

        >My experience is that the Left views the Right as the Defective Left, while the Right views the Left as the Anti-Right.

        I like that a lot. I’m definitely going to steal it.

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      • aguycalledjohn says:

        Very interesting. This implies that the left veiw certain values as universal but think people disagree on matters of fact, and the right think people genuinely disagree on values.

        Wonder how this relates to the moral foundations studies (by Haidt and others) where it seems conservatives use more different values for assessing things than liberals (who mainly care about care/harm and fairness/reciprocity). http://projectimplicit.net/nosek/papers/GHN2009.pdf

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        • Cauê says:

          “Diversity” was a bad example, I think, or at least non-generalizable.

          If you use “raising the standards of living for the poor”, for instance, you get the reds thinking the blues are going the wrong way about it, but the blues think the reds simply don’t want it.

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    • Irenist says:

      Hmm. It’s more complicated.

      I think your typical Democrat, either at the elite pundit level or at the mass level, talks about social conservatives like they’re stupid bigots (e.g., Sarah Palin, Rick Santorum), and libertarian and neocon conservatives (e.g., the Kochs, Dick Cheney) like they’re evil conspirators. Sometimes it flips, though. “War on Women” makes socons sound evil, and a lot of liberal pundits think economic conservatives in the U.S. House are just stupid goldbugs who don’t understand Keynesian macro 101 and don’t realize that Austrian or supply side economics is “derp.”

      Plenty of libertarian conservatives and neocons think liberals and doves are just sincere but ignorant dopes. And a few chin-stroking Douthat types think social liberals are making analytical errors. In those rarified, Bill Buckleyish precincts, the self-flattering Republican “they think we’re the evil party; we think they’re the stupid party” joke probably has its origin. But I think outside of policy elites and pundits, most FOX News type conservatives just think socialists (as they see it) and social liberals are straight up evil, or at least immoral.

      So I think both groups, to varying degrees, think the other is BOTH stupid and evil. Which is more or less what Scott’s post would lead one to expect.

      EDIT: J.S. Mill’s remark about not all conservatives being stupid but all stupid people being conservatives seems pretty popular in dKos type precincts of the Democratic party. I think it’s the left version of the GOP’s “stupid party” joke. Most people think they KNOW they’re not evil, so it’s being called stupid that’s actually threatening.

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    • Luke Somers says:

      It depends on the issue, doesn’t it? Abortion and taxation seem to stick out me as cases where the reverse applies.

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  12. Sniffnoy says:

    There are a few broken links here due to use of smart quotes (“estimates of the genetic contribution”, “in order to weak-man”, FreeBSD link).

    Also, not saying anything new, just supplying relevant old links, but Robin Hanson on tolerance.

    Also I think the distinction between “not the ingroup” and “the outgroup” is part of why the NRxers say “elthede” instead.

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  13. lambdaphage says:

    In academia, even in the sciences, it’s pretty remarkable to hear what people are more than willing to say amongst themselves about conservatives. In my experience, conservatives are the only group about which it is possible to say something disparaging and earnestly mean it. I always feel awkward within earshot of it, despite my blue/gray cultural affiliation.

    Apparently this prejudice is not merely idle talk, either: disturbingly large minorities of academics admit willingness to take petty steps to sabotage their conservative colleagues’ careers (and consider the social desirability bias at stake in answering truthfullly).

    If you ask a liberal academic why there are hardly any conservatives in academia, you typically get a reply alluding to lack of interest or lack of brains. The question I always want to follow with is: “just how many other under-represented groups in academia do you suppose that applies to?”

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  14. J says:

    Such a great post. BTW the link to midas.wisc.edu (Haidt presumably?) gets me “connection refused”.

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  15. Princess_Stargirl says:

    I do think that “cishet males” who are active in SJ do actually pay a cost. And so in some sense should be admired. For an example there exist dorms on many campuses that are open to anyone but cishet men. Even the thought of such a dorm makes me a mixture of sick and angry. I don’t even know how I would feel if I wasn’t allowed in.

    Good liberal men are supposed to support the existence of groups they and their white/male/cis/etc friends are openly barred from entering. This either requires a mindset totally different from mine or alot of humility.

    Treating any person differently on the basis of sex/gender/etc makes me queasy. But I find it hard to think anyone doesn’t find legitimate discrimination against themselves and their family/friends upsetting. Even in the cases where I decide the discrimination is worth it (some affirmative action, maybe those no cishet-men dorms, etc) the whole thing makes me feel a little disgusted. Presumably the white people writing those articles need to suppress their disgust at least?

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    • Nick T says:

      Related semi-alternate hypothesis to this and alternate hypothesis to Scott: attacking or supporting things that disadvantage a group that nominally includes you is costly signaling (of the strength and security to do so, or of the virtue to do so, or of your loyalty to the ideology that says to do so).

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      • Viliam Búr says:

        Maybe costly signalling mixed with overconfidence.

        As in: “I can safely get points by increasing hate against white male cis het people, despite being one of them, because my being-on-the-correct-side cred is so strong that there is no way this could ever backfire on me personally.”

        Or maybe instead of overconfidence it’s more like: when you are riding a tiger, you have to continue, you can’t jump off. When there is too much hate against people like you, the safest bet may be to join the haters, hoping that this provides you at least some shield against the hate.

        For example, when some male feminists claim that there is no such thing as a false rape accusation, I wonder what they think about a possibility that someone could make a false accusation against them (if merely to prove them their hypothesis is wrong). Is it more like “no, that could never happen to me”, or is it more like “well, that could happen, but if I have a strong feminist cred, it is less likely to happen, and it is more likely that other feminists would defend me”. The difference is, if they would later change their mind and start believing that false rape accusations are actually rather frequent, in the former case it would be a reason to stop professing the old belief, while in the latter case it would be a reason to profess the belief even more strongly.

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        • Slow Learner says:

          I have never seen the claim that there are no false rape accusations.
          I have frequently seen the claim that false rape accusations are rare by comparison with real rapes.

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          • Viliam Búr says:

            I’ll start by analogy. My Catholic friends tell me that according to their faith, only the Pope is infallible, and even that only in specific situations (announcing a new dogma “ex cathedra”). Otherwise, everyone can be wrong. Even a pastor. Even the Pope. So, in theory, everyone can be wrong. But in practice, when we are debating a specific thing that some Pope said, I don’t get much argument power by pointing out that even the Pope can be wrong. Yes, he can be wrong, in abstract, in far mode; but he certainly isn’t wrong in this specific case, in near mode. The Pope can be “wrong”, but he cannot be “wrong about X” for any specific value of X, it seems. (Not all Catholics, etc.)

            Analogically, I suspect that feminists believe that rape accusations could be false, but you shouldn’t try using this in a debate about any specific accusation. It is a different thing to admit that false rape accusations exist, in general, and to suggest that accusation X could be false, for some specific value of X. (Not all feminists, etc.)

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          • Mary says:

            Should I take Viliam Búr’s comment seriously? After all, he could be wrong.

            Impossible to tell what your case with the Catholics are. You do not tell us what actually you were arguing about, or even if you offered any actual arguments — from the comment, you seem to be just saying that he could be, not giving any reason why.

            As for the feminists, yes, there are those who deny false rape accusations. After all, accusing a man of rape is so hellish that no woman would do it voluntarily. Eliding the question of whether women always consider in a cool and rational manner the accusation beforehand, when they don’t in other matters and the way they include in the hellishness things that would not be hard for a liar, such as “reliving the ordeal” — that didn’t happen.

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          • veronica d says:

            I am a feminist and I actually sat on a jury that decided that a rape claim was false.

            So I am a feminist who says

            1. False rape claims exist

            2. That a particular claim was false.

            That said, my position as a feminist is this: it is very hard for rape victims to come forward due to social stigma, and thus it is important that rape victims have advocates who will believe them.

            This does not mean the jury must believe them.

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          • MugaSofer says:

            Data point: Viliam’s comment has just now crystallized a pattern I’ve seen in many conversations with Catholics (and, interestingly, at least one ex-Catholic.)

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      • Multiheaded says:

        OH YES! This is my exact fucking problem with (#NotAll) male feminists!

        Thoughtless people with little understanding of, or love for, feminism complain about them being “misandrist” “gender traitors” who “hate everything masculine”. Nothing could be further from the truth! All too often they just signal machismo, bravado, toughness, stoicism, chivalry and willingness to protect, and one-upping other men, and judging any who are perceived to fail or decline the challenge.

        Not only is this a generally mean behaviour, this is the exact same toxic masculinity that feminists rightly extort men to resist, only painted an occasionally very convincing Blue.

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        • Viliam Búr says:

          I like your analysis, with one objection:

          The social acceptance of kicking the loser (as long as the loser is male) is a part of what is called “misandry”. Both by those who kick, and by those who cheer.

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          • Multiheaded says:

            I’d argue that it just reduces to misogyny, because the more hypermasculine and competitive the culture, the more the loser and loserdom as such tend to get branded as feminine. (Compare to what trans women report.) Men can, individually, be “oppressed” for being men, but “inferior/loser/victim/submissive” and “masculine” are coded as opposites; we invariably seek to deny masculinity to the men we try to take down.

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          • Ken Arromdee says:

            Multiheaded: By your reasoning, insulting a woman by claiming she’s too masculine would be misandrist. Yet somehow I doubt you believe that.

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          • Multiheaded says:

            Ken: this is called “oppositional sexism”. My theory on it is… are you aware of the distinction between Social Dominance Orientation and Right-Wing Authoritarianism? Well, I think that straight-up misogyny is the primary factor in all sexism, and it’s akin to SDO (exploiting and abusing the “weak”), while oppositional sexism is more RWA-like (control obsession, everything has to be in its right place).

            And we can clearly see that gender-non-conforming men get more shit for it than gender-non-conforming women, down to how gays vs. lesbians get treated. Or look how much less biting words like “butch” and “dyke” are compared to “bitch” (aimed at a man) or “faggot”.

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          • ADifferentAnonymous says:

            I suggest defining or tabooing mis*ist.

            So Multi, let me try to sketch your causal structure:
            1) SDO leads (some) people to mistreat those they consider ‘weak’
            2) RWA leads (some) people to oppose those who defy normal associations
            3) Societal beliefs associate weakness and femininity
            4) By 1 and 3, SDO people mistreat the feminine
            5) By 2 and 3, RWA people oppose women who try not to be feminine/weak
            6) Male losers are associated with femininity (by 3) and then get opposed by RWA people (by 5), making them extra screwed

            Is 3 what you mean by misogyny and 6 what you mean by ‘kicking male losers’ reducing to misogyny?

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          • Multiheaded says:

            Pretty much, yeah.

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        • Anonymous says:

          >extort

          exhort.

          >Not only is this a generally mean behaviour, this is the exact same toxic masculinity that feminists rightly extort men to resist

          Feminists only encourage men who *aren’t on their side* to eschew their quintessentially male willingness to sacrifice themselves. Men who are on their side are, of course, encouraged to sacrifice themselves for the greater good. This is characteristic of women in general, not just feminist women.

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          • Multiheaded says:

            This is characteristic of women in general, not just feminist women.

            Among the reasons for me to continue being an SJW: this kind of motherfucking woman-hating bullshit tolerated in Grey spaces.

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          • Nornagest says:

            It’s a fair criticism of male gender roles, but implies the wrong causal structure. Women’s expectations of male roles do affect men’s behavior insofar as women wield social and sexual power over men, but average men, like average women, are mainly socialized by interactions with people of their own sex. By implication, then, men are likely to be the primary carriers of these memes.

            It’s reasonable to call out feminism for not getting this, and for exploiting it, but I don’t think it’s reasonable to blame it for the existence of the pattern.

            (I feel a symmetrical analysis applies, incidentally, to many aspects of female gender roles.)

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        • Lizardbreath says:

          “Not only is this a generally mean behaviour, this is the exact same toxic masculinity that feminists rightly [exhort] men to resist, only painted an occasionally very convincing Blue.”

          and

          “I’d argue that it just reduces to misogyny, because the more hypermasculine and competitive the culture, the more the loser and loserdom as such tend to get branded as feminine.”

          Exactly.

          We (feminists) used to all know and frequently say this, before Those Dern Kids (millennials; get off my lawn!) came along. 😉

          So this (from Viliam Bur):

          “The social acceptance of kicking the loser (as long as the loser is male) is a part of what is called “misandry”. Both by those who kick, and by those who cheer.”

          Makes me sad. Because *I was there* back when “everybody knew” this was called “misogyny.”

          @ADifferentAnonymous:

          Exactly…and that used to be “feminism 101.”

          Guess I’m old. :shrug:

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        • Luke Somers says:

          Hmmmm. I’ve seen macho male feminists a little, but I’ve seen a lot more regular-old-guy male feminists. Even among the loud ones.

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    • MugaSofer says:

      >For an example there exist dorms on many campuses that are open to anyone but cishet men. Even the thought of such a dorm makes me a mixture of sick and angry

      Ironically, as a cishet man with no love for SJWs … I don’t really care, except in a very intellectual kinda-a-bad-precedent way. No sense of “sick and angry” around this issue at all – even though I’m the target, and there’s no way this could possibly benefit me even obliquely!

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      • Multiheaded says:

        Congratulations, you are looking at male privilege.

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        • ADifferentAnonymous says:

          Wouldn’t it only be privilege if he assumed other groups could tolerate similar discrimination with similar ease?

          (Though your usage makes more sense with the pre-SJ meaning of the word. sigh)

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          • veronica d says:

            I think it is “privilege” in the sense that MugaSofer is in a position to stand outside the conflict, which is to say the broad culture is a reasonably comfortable place for him. This is the same dynamic that lets a white person say, “I don’t care about race.” Perhaps they do not, but that is only because race seldom is in issue in their life.

            The ability to walk away from an issue is a privilege.

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          • ADifferentAnonymous says:

            We only disagree on what the word ‘privilege’ means (and you’re more likely to be correct). I was under the impression that the definition was not just having an advantage but also making an error in reasoning or understanding as a result. Maybe it’s ambiguous between those?

            The white person in your example is saying something true. We don’t know if the next sentence is “So I don’t see why you have to make such a big deal of it” or “But I understand why those with different experiences do”. Either way they have an advantage, but only in the former case have they actually made an error.

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          • veronica d says:

            Well, I don’t feel like typing a long theoretical post, so I’ll try for some highlights.

            Privilege is about being on the powerful side of some social divide. It has all kinds of characteristics. One notable characteristic is simply the ability to walk away. A black person cannot ignore racism. A white person (often) can. There is a reason for this: society as a whole centers white voices, white viewpoints, etc. Blacks are “marked” by their race in a way that whites are not. Blacks carry that mark with them most everywhere in our broad culture.

            Another characteristic of privilege is this: very often the more privileged are rather ignorant of the lives of the less privileged, and in a way unlike how the less privileged understand the privileged. For example, a transgender person likely has a very good idea what cis people think about, what they have to say, how they view the world. How could a trans person not? Virtually everything in our social space centers the voices of cis people.

            The reverse is not true. Cis people are famously ignorant of trans lives. This is perhaps not a law of nature. Presumably a sufficiently empathetic cis person could come to understand trans lives — at least some of them, in some context — but in practice this seems really hard to do. It requires a lot of reading, thinking, and listening. Plus humility.

            (I think there are good cognitive reasons for this, but perhaps another post for another time.)

            But there is more. Power relationships exacerbate this difference. For example, if a poor Mexican woman does not understand white people, she actually has very little power to hurt them, certainly not when averaged out over many poor Mexican women versus many whites. And if she spreads dumb ideas about whites among her friends, how does that work out for her and them? Who in the end gets hurt?

            There is a strong motive for such a woman to understand white people very well.

            The opposite is not true for many whites. Whites can often believe completely daft things about poor Mexican women, things completely unattached to reality, and face no penalty. Likewise they can spread these ideas, speak loudly, hold forth, and many other whites will hear them, believe them, and face little social costs. In fact, Fox News might offer such a person a job.

            Because of social power, their map can diverge from the territory quite a bit.

            But worse, these ideas have consequences. Bad things happen when people are wrong about the world. But a person from a privileged group will pay a lesser cost for their ignorance. When the differences in social power are very strong, they can pay almost no cost at all.

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          • Multiheaded says:

            Veronica: thank you.

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          • Matthew says:

            @Veronica

            Although I agree with most cases, I think it’s more a case of minorities being better able to model the majorities they’re surrounded by than the relatively oppressed being better able to model the relatively powerful.

            I mean, men are relatively more powerful than women, but I think we’ve seen ample evidence on this blog and elsewhere that men and women are both terrible at modelling how the other thinks.

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          • Lizardbreath says:

            I’m an old feminist, so I’m obviously familiar with this argument, and I still mostly agree with it. Thank you for posting it here.

            Recently, though, I’ve come to believe that people in the “less-privileged” group often think they/we understand the “privileged” group better than they/we do. Because the pressure they/we experience isn’t so much to *understand* the “privileged” group as to *predict their behavior*. And that can be done without real or full understanding. It can be done while still interpreting, and judging, their behavior through the lens of our norms.

            Which is also what I think PUAs do. PUA seems to often work to predict the behavior of (at least a subset of) women…but I think the theories are often inaccurate, and in exactly this way. In what educationrealist called a “lacking empathy” way–and if by that she meant they display a lack of understanding of *what the world looks like* from a “typical woman’s” POV, then I agree with her.

            PUAs complain about “female solipsism,” but they engage in a similar “male solipsism”…to put it in a more old-fashioned way, “centering the male POV.” They assume that their perceptions and opinions are reality and that if “women as a group” tend to disagree, then “women as a group” must be wrong and crazy. They never really “put themselves in the shoes of” women.

            Yet they can still (somewhat) predict (some) women’s behavior.

            I conclude that people can do this. People can develop entire theories of “why this group we feel has power over us does what they do,” theories that work for protecting themselves and advancing their interests and predicting the behavior of members of that group…all while not really “understanding” members of that group.

            Just something I’ve recently been thinking about.

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          • Lizardbreath says:

            (Since I can’t edit from here: that was a reply to veronica d.)

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          • veronica d says:

            @Matthew — Male privilege seems to work somewhat differently from other types of privilege, which perhaps arises from a couple factors. One is that women are not a minority. Another is people very often live quite close to the opposite sex. In fact, they often share intimate lives. And finally, I think that gender-stuff is baked into our brains in a way different from race-stuff. This probably shapes the whole sex/gender-thing in different ways than other forms of privilege.

            Perhaps. Obviously these are vague ideas.

            =====

            @Lizardbreath — That sounds totally right to me.

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          • ADifferentAnonymous says:

            LizardBreath: That makes so much sense! If it’s true, it may be a significant source of trouble in persuading well-meaning privileged folks of SJ ideas.

            I used to be kinda firmly in the SJ-skeptic camp, and I think that was reinforced whenever the arguments used premises about me that I knew were false.

            Like, I’d read an essay against offensive jokes that said they were a deliberate effort to harass, and think, “Well, I know I’m not trying to harass anyone, so that doesn’t apply to me.”

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    • Nornagest says:

      For an example there exist dorms on many campuses that are open to anyone but cishet men. Even the thought of such a dorm makes me a mixture of sick and angry. I don’t even know how I would feel if I wasn’t allowed in.

      Some guys I knew at university tried to get a men’s hall created in their dorm to counterbalance the existing women’s hall; ordinary halls were mixed-gender, though generally skewing female since the student body did. They sold the idea to the housing bureaucracy without much difficulty, but had trouble finding enough men to fill the hall. I’ll leave what this says about gender roles as an exercise for the reader.

      (I should probably mention that this predated a substantial MRA movement by several years; I suspect it came not out of ideological convictions but rather some sort of lizard-brain urge to look contrarian. Trans people were allowed in the women’s hall. Sexual orientation never came up as an issue while I was in school, though it may have since.)

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  16. Ken Arromdee says:

    I should feel bad because I made exactly the mistake I am trying to warn everyone else about, and it wasn’t until I was almost done that I noticed.

    Really bad thinkers hate people who aren’t part of their tribe.

    Better thinkers realize that they shouldn’t be hateful towards people not of their tribe and try being forgiving towards everyone.

    *Really* good thinkers take each group on a case-by-case basis and actually figure out which one should be hated.

    When Scott points out that what he said is also an example of hating other tribes, he’s confused by the fact that the first group and the third group sometimes sound pretty similar. But they’re not the same. If you hate X because you’ve actually figured out specific reasons to hate them and you apply those reasons in a relatively fair way, you’re in the third group, not in the first group, even though your statement that you hate X pattern-matches to something the first group would say, and even if you enjoy it.

    So hating people in group 1 doesn’t necessarily mean that you have put yourself in group 1.

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    • cassander says:

      >Really bad thinkers hate people who aren’t part of their tribe. Better thinkers realize that they shouldn’t be hateful towards people not of their tribe and try being forgiving towards everyone. *Really* good thinkers take each group on a case-by-case basis and actually figure out which one should be hated.

      This oversimplifies things. I’ve definitely known people who can be perfectly introspective and insightful on some topics, and utterly banal and tribalistic on others. Obviously, some people are more able to separate themselves from this sort of thinking than others, but at the very least, quantity of thought on the subject matters along with quality.

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    • DanielLC says:

      > *Really* good thinkers take each group on a case-by-case basis and actually figure out which one should be hated.

      I don’t see why that would be a good idea. Hating tribes is part of tribal politics. It signals your group loyalty. It doesn’t make the other tribe stop being evil. If you want to do that, you have to be accepted, or at least respected, by them, and hating them is inimical to that.

      You shouldn’t always be forgiving and tolerant. You should be respectful. You treat them as a PC as opposed to an NPC, and they will do the same for you.

      You shouldn’t be tolerant of them. If you have the power, go ahead and force them to stop doing things you’re intolerant of. Go ahead and draw the line for things you’re not willing to let them do. Just respect their line for things they won’t let you do.

      You definitely shouldn’t be forgiving. Forgiving someone doesn’t mean accepting them despite not liking what they do. It means accepting that they no longer do something that they once did. If you hate another group, and a member of that group leaves it and enters your group, being forgiving means recognizing that they have cut all ties with their old group and are no longer loyal to it. That is not something you should be hoping for.

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      • AlexC says:

        I don’t follow. I think hate (or at least anger) can be a useful driving motivation to force certain people to stop doing some actively detrimental things. For example, I’m very angry with some big oil corporations for taking actions that seem rather likely to result in runaway catastrophic climate change; I try to use that anger to motivate me to organise people to campaign against them.

        And I really can’t see why your description of forgiving is bad. If someone has been a member of a tribe that does silly things, or nasty things, and then leaves that tribe and enters my group, why wouldn’t I forgive them? Why wouldn’t I be glad that they’ve cut ties to their old nasty group and are no longer loyal to it?

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        • Anonymous says:

          “For example, I’m very angry with some big oil corporations for taking actions that seem rather likely to result in runaway catastrophic climate change…”

          Which is why, even to this day, corporations never pollute the environment.

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    • MugaSofer says:

      >*Really* good thinkers take each group on a case-by-case basis and actually figure out which one should be hated.

      Pretty sure that’s what the “really bad thinkers” are doing as well.

      Most tribes don’t hate their allies, no matter how far outside the tribe they are – see Scott’s examples of the Nazis/Japan and the English/Ireland+Sikhs.

      (For the record, hate is a bias. It can be rational to oppose a group, but never to hate it.)

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      • Anonymous says:

        It can be instrumentally rational to hate a group if it motivates you to oppose them more. But epistemically, no, it’s not rational to hate anything really.

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        • All cognitive biases are instrumentally rational in some contexts. Evolution wouldn’t have built them into our brains if they weren’t.

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          • Nick T says:

            This has the potential to be misleading. Evolution didn’t really “build in” in a positive sense biases that are the result of computational limitations (like the conjunction fallacy), or that are side effects of an architecture it adopted (like priming effects or framing effects might be; these aren’t necessarily instrumentally rational, either).

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  17. Trevor says:

    That opening paragraph from Chesterton is some of the finest persuasive writing I’ve ever seen.

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  18. Elizabeth says:

    The last paragraph was really heartwarming. Great post.

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  19. Anonymous says:

    I’ve pointed this out before, but I’ve got to say it again because you’ve set it up so nicely this time – your “bubble” isn’t normal, and actually explains a lot of things about you.

    My friend group is at least 30% God-n-gun’s conservatives. My high school was 70% conservatives. My parents didn’t like the gays until recently. My girlfriend is a Catholic. My cousins think the Muslims are vaguely bad and have always sort of been ruining India.

    I think your thesis is wrong. It’s not that everyone yells at the out-group – Conservatives really *do* prefer the in group and Liberals really *do* yell at the in-group – across cultures, actually (I have indian politics for reference). You’re actually standard liberal (except, you know, super-smart), it’s just that your in-group is so incredibly liberal that the people and viewpoints that inspire you to start yelling are all liberal.

    As my social circle gradually shifts left (as a result of increasing education levels) I find myself gradually becoming more like you – yelling at liberals more than yelling at conservatives. It’s not because my viewpoints have shifted, it’s because I, like all liberals, yell at the in-group. The reason you don’t yell at God n’ Gun’s conservatives is that they’re practically a fascinating Amazon tribe as far as you’re concerned. The minute you leave the bubble, you’ll see the “Gray tribe” as merely a slightly muted shade of blue – very similar to the subtle ethnic differences you described. Blue is easier for Gray to hate because Red is just so incredibly weird that it doesn’t make sense to waste breath hating them. (Analogously, it becomes obvious that Blue is just a slightly different shade of Red as soon as ISIS enters the picture…which causes Blue to criticize Red because Red is more in-group than ISIS. ISIS is just obviously bad and Blue doesn’t waste breath criticizing it. Red, for their part, tends to wish Blue would shut up with their clever arguments and start helping fight the common enemy… just like the hyper-Blues wish Gray would shut up and apply that intellectual firepower against Red.)

    “Hyper-blues” are people in liberal social groups who *still* manage to yell at conservatives, rather than at liberals. Personality wise, they are similar to people raised in Red culture who continue to stay Red – they are only Blue because they are raised that way, and they have the “stick with your in-group” personality. Tomorrow, when Cthulhu swims Left, they’ll probably be the conservatives. (contrary to the fears of neoreaction, I suspect “left” will look more like “gray” than it will “hyper-blue”)

    But in the big picture, outside the bubble, where the majority of people live… being Blue really does mean criticizing *your own* in-group most of the time (as in, your own highly respected family and friends, people who you would fight and die for.) For the 70% of people who are outside of the hyperbubble, it means criticizing values you were raised with and once cherished.
    Which means the “charity” you speak of is more more blue than red (charity is also more gray than blue I think, although grays are such a rare group for me to run into that it’s hard for me to say that confidently.)

    (Since explanations of why people who hold viewpoints are sometimes interpreted as criticisms (I think there is a logical fallacy about that written somewhere), I feel the need to say that this isn’t a criticism of you- I enjoy it when you yell at liberals and I agree with 90% of what you write. I’ve identified as Blue all my life because I exist in a Red-Blue context, but when it comes to the Blue-Gray context that I glimpse from behind a computer screen I’m pretty sure I’m Gray)

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    • Jaskologist says:

      Here’s the post I’d enjoy seeing: what steps does Scott plan to take to pop the hyperbubble he’s built around himself? Doing so is an intellectual imperative!

      (Plus, then he might know enough conservatives to have the opportunity to get mad at them for stuff.)

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      • 27chaos says:

        How do I pop my own bubble(s)? That’s what I’d want to see. Nice and practical for the reader.

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        • The Anonymouse says:

          Go to a monster truck rally. Pretty darn entertaining.

          Find someone to teach you how to shoot a gun.

          Ride a quad. Drink a Budweiser. Go to a church.

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          • Matthew says:

            Monster truck rally suggestion seems reasonable. The others less so.

            Quad — dangerous; not really worth risking physical harm just to widen your social circle.

            Generic beer, guns — Buying into a stereotype that I doubt the evidence supports; there are plenty of Blues who drink this and or shoot, and plenty of Reds who don’t.

            Church — Choosing a venue that is going to raise the salience of the things you really disagree about to the forefront is not a great way to make new friends.

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          • The Anonymouse says:

            Interesting, especially since the Budweiser was the only one I thought about backspacing. I’m a Coors guy. 🙂

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          • Matthew says:

            I’m (more or less) Blue, and the only thing I’ll drink is bourbon. I can’t stand wine or beer.

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          • Daniel Speyer says:

            The most easily found gun teachers are grey.

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          • The Anonymouse says:

            Perhaps for Scott, but the task presented was to get /out/ of one’s bubble.

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          • BenSix says:

            Drink a Budweiser.

            In Praise of Budweiser.

            I think immersing oneself in the lowest common denominator aspects of outgroups bears the risk of defining them according to stereotypes. Going to indie wrestling shows and evangelical rallies offers one a perspective of the red states, for example, but reading Wendell Berry, Walker Percy and Richard Weaver might be a good idea as well.

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      • Anonymous says:

        He still wouldn’t get mad at them, unless he really starts living with them and loving them and caring about them. It would be like getting mad as people who hate the Irish … simply having access to a world in which they are ridiculous makes them no longer upsetting. I’m sure he already gets casual exposure to broad swathes of life via being a doctor who sees patients.

        (Alternatively, he could out himself as asexual and poly in a Red community and then try to find local jobs, but that would be a genuine “I’m enraged by this out-group” sort of anger rather than “I’m hyper-critical of my in-group” anger, and by virtue of his tolerance and alignment with Cthulhu he wouldn’t really experience that sort of anger easily)

        Honestly, I’d rather know how *I* may broaden my circle to include Scott’s hyper-bubble. (I don’t want to actually be in a bubble, but I’d at least like to have the bubble within me, if that makes sense…).

        I find the more time on the internet I spend, the more everyone else’s views tend to take on the “your viewpoints are so simplistic and un-analyzed that I can’t even work up indignation to object over something so quaint” quality. Which I suppose helps my “tolerance”, even as it polarizes my perspective.

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        • Anonymous says:

          I mean, I’m sure he at least gets exposure via patients.

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        • Harald K says:

          “simply having access to a world in which they are ridiculous makes them no longer upsetting”

          This phrase is crucial. I find that for the people who really anger me, the question that determines it is exactly that: whether I can go somewhere where I can ignore them.

          I can go to a place where I can ignore Osama bin Laden. I live in a world where, I feel, he doesn’t matter. Despite living in a part of town dominated by non-western immigrants. Islam dot net, a radical muslim group (but by no means terrorist), have posters all over the place up here. But I’ve never been threatened by them. (I have been openly threatened by anti-muslim reactionaries. After ABB went on his murder spree, I was very, very angry at those people.)

          It’s not so easy to feel that I live in a world where Margaret Thatcher doesn’t matter. She wasn’t hounded from cave to cave in a distant country. She pushed some very bad policies and seemed to show a callous disregard for poor people in her country. My little cousins grow up somewhere she shaped with her policies. I can stay somewhere she doesn’t matter – in fact, I live in Norway. If there’s anyway Thatcher’s politics look ridiculous, it’s here. Yet, I have to leave a part of my family behind if I should just stay here and laugh at them.

          On the internet, I can’t ignore antitheists. Not unless I want to isolate myself from many of the groups I belong to. It’s not easy to tolerate someone who calls you dumb and weak for believing in what you do (sometimes consciously embraces the tactic of calling you dumb and weak, since “it works”). I’ve marched with the Pirate party for the right to privacy, but I eventually got fed up with Falkvinge’s antitheistic condescension on twitter and unfollowed him.

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          • Tracy W says:

            On the other hand, Thatcher managed to start the process of shutting down many of Britain’s coal mines, saving the lives of innumerable coal miners and future coal miners, and saving the UK money it could spend on something that actually benefited the public, like the NHS.

            The Thatcher/coal is the weirdest example of group-identification I know of. People who rail against oil companies and polluting businesses and are properly scared of climate change and are all in favour of paternalistic regulation suddenly switch around and criticise Thatcher for shutting down coal mining. Apparently some coal miners committed suicide when the mines shut down and that outweighs all those who died and would continue to die of industrial accidents or respiratory diseases.

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          • Harald K says:

            It wasn’t that she shut down the coal mines. It’s that she botched the transition away from that kind of economy, creating hopeless communities where everyone scraped by on humiliating handouts. And her party didn’t seem to care, since those people deserved punishment anyway for being politically organized against her politics.

            It didn’t have to be done that way. Other countries made similar transitions without similar levels of social immiseration. They couldn’t blame the economy either: the UK had a huge windfall from oil they could have used to fund a more responsible transition.

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          • Tracy W says:

            Which are those countries that you think managed such social transitions much better? Please name names.

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          • Anonymous says:

            My viewpoint is that on the internet nothing anyone ever says really matters unless they somehow manage to target your real-world social interactions. You can *always* look away.

            (Which is also why I have a little trouble taking it seriously when Scott says he’s “triggered” by social justice, since there are very few places you can find that particular brand of social justice other than the internet.)

            Of course, I know this isn’t true for other people, and that some people actually commit suicide over the net. I guess I feel that it is normatively correct for people who use the internet as a social platform beyond facebook to grow a thick skin?

            I totally sympathize if you encounter anti-theists in real life, of course. No one likes to be called stupid, and anyone who lives in a Western nation does not have access to a world where anti-theists are ridiculous. (That’s not to say that anti-theists are wrong or that theists are right, only that it makes sense for each to feel bad about the actions of the other)

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          • Nornagest says:

            My viewpoint is that on the internet nothing anyone ever says really matters unless they somehow manage to target your real-world social interactions. You can *always* look away.

            The problem with this is that, for an increasing number of people, social interaction is mediated primarily via the Internet. Even if you’re interacting with people you know in person, “looking away” long and determinedly enough can be equivalent to writing off the relationship — and that sounds like a bit much to ask.

            I don’t know Scott well enough to say for sure, but it seems plausible that he may be one of these people.

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          • Zorgon says:

            Scott’s stated that his triggering by SJ issues was primarily caused by IRL exposure (I don’t want to say “vicimization”, even though it’s probably the right word) while in academia, and academia does strike me as the most likely place to encounter real-world SJW behaviour.

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          • Nick T says:

            My viewpoint is that on the internet nothing anyone ever says really matters unless they somehow manage to target your real-world social interactions. You can *always* look away.

            In addition to what Nornagest said: My meatspace friends all read a lot of things on the Internet, and I can’t and wouldn’t want to make them look away, so it’s easy for even things on the Internet that aren’t specifically about me to work their way into my offline social interactions.

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          • cassander says:

            @Tracy W

            I’d say it’s a perfect example of tribal politics at its purest. tribe blue, to be extremely anachronistic, does not like coal, but it HATES thatcher because thatcher was not only attacking their interests and beliefs, but outright bragging about doing so and mocking them. Worse than that, though, her doing so was POPULAR! for the first time in nearly half a century someone was openly questioning socialism (and labor, at least in its early days, openly called what they were doing socialism). These were dire circumstances, allies were desperately needed, so so blue seized on a group they’d normally detest (though you’ll note they have typical blue reasons for doing so) and used them as an example of thatcher’s barbarism, enemy of my enemy is my friend style. Philosophical consistency never entered into it.

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          • Tracy W says:

            Personally I think it’s the result of wistful thinking. Harald K doesn’t actually know any countries that managed this transition better, but he’d like to imagine that there are some.

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          • Lizardbreath says:

            @Anonymous:

            “(Which is also why I have a little trouble taking it seriously when Scott says he’s “triggered” by social justice, since there are very few places you can find that particular brand of social justice other than the internet.)”

            My experience with “social justice” is, I was just going about my everyday life, discussing a book with other fans (online, to be clear)…and then one day out of the blue appeared this group of intensely hostile people issuing rape and death threats.

            Will Shetterly is correct that even online, mobbing has severe longterm psychological effects. I too am triggered by SJW behavior.

            I consider myself lucky (others may consider me unlucky ;)) that my feminism vastly predates this experience.

            Also, what Nornagest said.

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          • John P says:

            I used to hate Thatcher, but after I watched tenured leftists not care about the plight of adjuncts, I stopped hating her.

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      • a person says:

        Given that iirc Scott is on the record as saying

        * He is very introverted
        * He doesn’t make attempts to hang out with people who he works with
        * He hadn’t found a group of people he felt comfortable with until he found the Bay Area rationalists

        I doubt this will happen

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      • alexp says:

        Move to Texas?

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    • Elissa says:

      I also find Scott’s reported level of bubblyness surprising and wonder if it’s exaggerated– reading about how nobody like, actually knows any young-earth creationists, obvs, feels to me as false as when the nrx guys say how self-evidently no one wants to live near lots of black people, because scary. Maybe it’s just because I went to a large and trashy public university (Florida State), and have worked prole jobs like public school teacher and home health aide, and married into a working-class-on-a-good-day family, and huh, actually this is a lot of things.

      I think I might be common as dirt, y’all. Oh well: Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto.

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      • Sniffnoy says:

        His bubble sure sounds pretty familiar to me. I don’t see any reason to think he’s exaggerating. I don’t quite live in that anymore, but I easily could have.

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        • taelor says:

          Edit: this started out as a reply to the post was above, and then I walked away, came back, forgot it wasn’t a top level comment, and rewrote it.

          I am a grey, who grew in a blue family, in a suburb of San Fransisco, and now live in liberal a college town. Allow me to say from experience that reds are only foreign and exotic when they stay at their football games and NASCAR races; they’re creepy and threatening when your alone in a car with one on the highway and he starts into a detailed rant about wanting to murder Jane Fonda.

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        • Elissa says:

          Yeah, as I was writing the comment I gradually became aware that my intimacy with the various Those People is probably a contingent fact about me. I recommend it, though, at least up to a point. People are an education. (Giving serious side eye to the “reds are creepy and threatening when they’re not at their NASCAR races” below; that’s my in-laws you’re talking about.)

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      • Liskantope says:

        I also find the lack of tribal diversity in Scott’s bubble to be not particularly surprising. My own social bubble (which to a large extent coincides with my workplace bubble) is almost exclusively socially liberal, mostly fiscally liberal, and atheist or very weakly religious, with a large vegetarian/vegan constituency. In other words, I am pretty much immersed among the Blue Tribe. No, I have not consciously tried to exclude conservatives from my social life just for being conservative. But in math academic circles, and to a lesser extent other academic circles, conservatives and/or very religious people tend to be a small minority (it’s not hard to guess why math people would tend to be pretty atheistic). At any given time, there have been several religious conservatives in the department, and they are generally on warm terms with the rest, but they tend to socialize exclusively among themselves. Some of this may be due to an atmosphere of mild verbal oppression and hostility towards religious conservatism (which I have observed at times and gone out of my way to work against). But I think much more of it is simply due to the fact that our secular liberal social crowd tends to tolerate foul language, very raunchy humor, and heavy drinking at social events, and (in the absence of church involvement) has no problem with arranging things late including on Saturday nights. In other words, differences that arise intrinsically from the characteristics of the tribes themselves make it natural that the tribes seldom intersect socially.

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        • Lesser Bull says:

          *it’s not hard to guess why math people would tend to be pretty atheistic*

          And yet I am unable to. Please explain.

          Math has always seemed the most platonic field possible.

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          • veronica d says:

            Same here. It’s always been my sorta-naive understanding that mathy folks were far more likely to be theistic than sciency folks, and I think for the reason you state: a kind of gesture toward Platonism.

            Which is to say, it takes a certain sort of mind to ponder the Continuum Hypothesis.

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          • Tab Atkins says:

            There’s a huge difference between “platonic” and “traditionally religious”. The Platonic Reality thing might lend itself to deism, but no major religion is deistic. It’s definitely strongly opposed to the “friendly grandpa wizard in the sky who Has An Eternal Plan For Everything but can be swayed by people asking nicely” kind of religion.

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      • eqdw says:

        For what it’s worth, I live in Berkeley (same place Scott was for most of the last 5 years), and his bubble seemed spot on exactly my experience.

        Of the almost 200 people on my Facebook list, only two of them are openly creationist. Both are people I know from where I used to live, before moving here.

        In my day to day life, I don’t see, talk to, or interact with *anyone* who is stereotypically Christian and/or conservative. In fact, San Francisco is so Blue Tribe to me, that it’s always surprising when I find out that one of my coworkers is religious. It almost feels to me like they actively try to hide the fact that they’re religious, and I’m virtually certain that they’d get mocked for it if this was open knowledge.

        I don’t think this is typical. I definitely think that California is worse than the average for this type of bubble-ness. But it does exist, and I find it pretty distressing.

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  20. zaogao says:

    B̶o̶w̶d̶l̶e̶r̶i̶z̶e̶d̶ ̶M̶o̶l̶d̶b̶u̶g̶ What’s your take on the presentation of rigorous thought vs persuasive thought? And this has not been revealed vis a vis your cultivation of the charitable garden- there are many issues orthogonal to that and even within a framework of respectful debate there is what you think is the strongest/most true reason/argument and the reason/argument that can be more persuasive while still being true.
    (To give a concrete parallel (although not what I am asking) think about what you say when asked why you would be a good employee versus the reasons you believe.)

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  21. In the last thread I said that “All Debates Are Bravery Debates” was the most useful thing you had ever written. I think it may have just been dethroned. I hope you don’t mind too much if I link this from other places, because I think people really need to see it (and that you’ve managed to avoid coming across as too threatening to any particular ingroup, so there shouldn’t be too much danger in doing so).

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    • Anonymous says:

      Scott, where do these insights come from? I ask this in all seriousness because I envy you in the same way you envy Scott Aaronson.

      P.S. How do you think the Blue vs Red dynamic maps onto Hanson’s Forager vs Farmer dynamic?

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      • If your question is simply what corresponds to what, then foragers are blue and farmers are red.

        If your question is whether such a mapping makes sense at all…well, that’s a lot more complicated.

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        • Anonymous says:

          You’re right, I guess I should have been more specific. I was wondering whether such a mapping makes sense at all, given there’s no good place for the Grays. The best rationalization I can come up with is that libertarians are lone-wolves who go their own way because they’re dissatisfied with their old tribe.

          E.g. there’s no need for a God of the Old Testament to make society conform, since there’s not much to conform to in a tribe of one (atheism). They seek novelty (tech). They hate submitting to authority (minimal government). They don’t mind homosexuality and like the idea of paleo (because they’re nomadic at heart). But they avoid fighting for gay rights (et al) because they don’t want to get involved.

          This explanation feels forced. I imagine there’s a better one. On the other hand, maybe my optimism is my confirmation bias speaking. All I know is that the Grays confuse me because they don’t seem to fit the model.

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          • Grays don’t “map onto” anything because they’re a very new and culture-specific phenomenon, as opposed to forager vs. farmer values which are very old and (in theory) human universals. (The details of the blue and red tribes are also culture-specific, but analogous tribes have existed in many cultures.) Grays in general seem to embrace forager values more than farmer ones, which is consistent with grays mostly being blue if you look from the outside.

            Note that I harbor doubts as to whether Hanson’s forager vs. farmer values dynamic is even a real thing.

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  22. JP says:

    Though one of the functions of vociferously hating on outgroups is to reinforce ingroup identity, it seem to me that it also reinforces outgroup identity. If an identifiable group of people are hating on you, it might make you less likely to want to affiliate with them. Would it be fair to say that your “partly-formed attempt to spin off a Grey Tribe” is getting a boost from the aggressive SJ wing of the Blue Tribe?

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  23. 27chaos says:

    Scott, why are you making me question my values? It’s uncomfortable. Please stop.

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  24. Matthew says:

    I’m not sure who my tribe is.

    Possibly related — when Brendan Eich was fired, I found myself in the exceedingly lonely position of being ambivalent about it. A bunch of the people I follow on the Internet thought it was great; some thought it was horrible; everyone thought it was bloody obvious that one side or the other was correct. Except me. I could see strong and weak points on both sides. This is not a pleasant place to be. Humans expect you to take sides. “It’s complicated” is a position that just makes everybody assume you’re untrustworthy.

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    • Benquo says:

      I see some persuasive arguments for there being strong points on both sides, but on the other hand, there are also persuasive arguments that one side or the other is right.

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    • Liskantope says:

      Humans expect you to take sides. “It’s complicated” is a position that just makes everybody assume you’re untrustworthy.

      I couldn’t agree more. I find that I assume the “it’s complicated” stance far more frequently than those around me seem to, on personal issues as well as political ones. The result is that I usually wind up caught in the middle of interpersonal conflicts, and this is the primary source of my disagreements with the people in my life. They each choose one side while I adopt the “it’s complicated” stance, and each party thinks the other’s strategy is in some sense a cop-out.

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    • eqdw says:

      I was pretty with you on that. My basic opinion was that a) It was unfair and unreasonable, but also not at all surprising; and b) people like Eich are already wealthy enough that they have the economic capability to take this in stride, so it’s not really something worth getting that upset over.

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      • Randy M says:

        I doubt too many people were concerned with the particular. It was the precedent that people were reacting to. I’m sure Eich can retire in peace, or start a new company, etc.

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        • Brendan Eich says:

          (@Zooko referred me to Scott’s piece, which I enjoyed.)

          FWIW, I was at a non-profit for 11 years, my last startup was Netscape (joined April 1995), where I was late enough I didn’t get a lot of stock, so I’m not able to retire — so why do so many on the Web assume I’m “rich” or “filthy rich”? Try google search rich-guy-dar: see what “Brendan Eich n” autocompletes to. You won’t find numbers.

          (It turns out that I’m also blackballed at one valley bigco, according to a VP-level inside source. This is not surprising.)

          Not that I’m complaining — probably most of us reading and commenting here are fabulously wealthy by world and historical standards. But a few may be poor in meaningful ways; the chance of this makes me want to shut up right now. I know people who grew up dirt-poor, I’ve never faced that myself, so again: not complaining, but please don’t assume I’m “wealthy” or can retire. I’m not; I can’t. Current plan is to hope to create or get a job that supports my family, and work till they cart me out in a box ;-).

          Lots of people in the US who used to count on a stable job and pension or retirement fund are finding out they can’t count on either job or retirement. This is a social problem. We haven’t seen the last of the concealed fraud-fueled insolvencies that came to light in 2008, so I expect it will get worse for many.

          Which gives me a closing point: I’m a SJW in my own way, even though I’m not Blue or Red Tribe (more Purple). I care about social justice, but I don’t share the axioms or tactics of the loud/left/cultural-Marxist SJWs. I don’t like that acronym, even though it has “stuck”. More people care about social justice, and want to wage just war against social ills, than just that one noisy “side”.

          Scott, thanks for the post and chance to comment. My not being Red Tribe (except for eating steak and a couple of other items on your list) doesn’t affect your main point.

          /be

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    • Andrea S. says:

      You’re not quite alone there; I had about the same feeling about it. I was torn between the sense that, as a member of the group he was targeting, Eich’s position would have made me feel unsafe about, e.g. taking a job reporting to him (and I’m also in the open source hacker demographic that Mozilla hires from and know people who work there) and aversion to the proliferation of such situations in communities I participate in on the one hand, and on the other a sense of unfairness at targeting someone for opinions on the fear of how he might act on them, and a total lack of confidence that the SJ bazooka will only ever be pointed at ‘legitimate’ dangers even if one is comfortable with the preemptive nature of the target seletion.

      When it was all happening I spent a bit of time pondering how the scenario could have been tweaked to make me come down more unambiguously on it, and made one interesting observation: that Eich, AFAIK, never clearly stated *any* opinions, bigoted or otherwise, on the matter in public – the whole controversy started over a donation to the prop 8 campaign. The fact that he actually took action seeking to promote state coercion like that made me less sympathetic to him than I would have been if he’d merely expressed hateful opinions, and raised my estimate of the risk that he’d act in harmful ways given a managerial position.

      His specific position within the organization also seemed very relevant, in that the CEO has a high potential to influence wider policy shifts and is perceived as a public representative of the organization; I’m quite sure I would have been clearly against the fire-Eich campaign if he had been in any other role.

      Finally, I think there are ways to change the *target* of Eich’s anti-marriage campaign that leave the situation isomorphic and don’t change my analysis much (but do affect the emotional salience and shift my attitude in a more detached direction), but which I believe would drastically alter the level of public support for firing him:

      1.) Suppose he had been campaigning to overturn Loving v. Virginia and re-criminalize mixed-race marriages. I’m not sure how the number of affected couples would shift relative to the gay marriage case, but I do suspect the level of public support for firing would have been much higher.

      2.) Suppose he had been opposing consensual adult incest. The number of affected couples becomes very small, but thus they also become more vulnerable. It’s hard to exactly translate the *campaigning* aspect to this scenario, since there’s no visible, organized opposition to laws targeting this group. Indeed, the position is so default it’s hard to imagine he’d bother explicitly stating it – much less that anyone would try to get him fired him for doing so. Just look at the level of prohibitionism seen in the comments on the matter in even the rather SJW Salon.

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      • Matthew says:

        Not that it matters, but this, rather than eqdw and Randy’s replies, is more or less accurately describing my thoughts.

        (Also, I chewed people out on Facebook for making fun of Germany over the incest thing.)

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      • veronica d says:

        I feel similarly. I am an LGBT person. Had I been a Mozilla employee, and on knowing that my new CEO wan an anti-gay bigot, I would have begun quietly filling out my resume with plans to change jobs.

        Note I would not feel this way about “Joe in the server room” or even “The head of info-sec.” (At my last job our head of info-sec seemed rather reactionary. But that was fine. He was not above me in the org chart. And he was not CEO.)

        So it goes. CEO is a pretty notable position, and I don’t want to work for an employer who holds the feelings of LGBT employees in such low regard.

        Should Eich have been fired? I dunno. If I worked there I think I would have been glad.

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        • If you like the slatestarcodex article about outgroup intolerance (I do!) *and* you have opinions about Brendan Eich’s firing, then you definitely need to read this well-written personal blog post by a then-Mozillian: http://patrickfinch.com/2014/03/31/the-most-important-decisions-we-make/

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          • veronica d says:

            I didn’t really see anything in that article that changed my mind on much. To me it just reads as straight dude sees both sides, with the predictable gesture toward understanding by bringing up his sick wife. It is a template article that makes all the expected points.

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        • MugaSofer says:

          >I am an LGBT person. Had I been a Mozilla employee, and on knowing that my new CEO wan an anti-gay bigot, I would have begun quietly filling out my resume with plans to change jobs.

          I have to admit – as a cishet dude? – this seems pretty strange to me.

          Could you maybe elaborate a bit?

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          • veronica d says:

            I don’t want to work for someone who hates me, who hates people like me, who has worked to undermine our lives, our capacity to thrive.

            This is hard to understand?

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          • Nick T says:

            Veronica: I might do the same in an analogous position, but — things that disadvantage someone can have motives other than hating them. Automatically confidently inferring hate with no more reason than that is usually unjustified and bad for discourse.

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          • dublin says:

            This makes me wonder how much of the wage gap/employment gap/glass ceiling is self-imposed by minorities freaking out at perceived slights and leaving good jobs for worse ones every time some gossip blog decides to tarnish a CEO’s reputation.

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          • veronica d says:

            @dublin — I doubt that plays any significant role at all. Why would you think so?

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          • dublin: Probably not very much. If that were true then we’d expect the gap to be nonexistent among those new to the workforce and increase rapidly as experience goes up, which doesn’t seem to be the case. Plus, I expect almost everyone who quit over Brendan Eich or similar was in a position where they could easily get a good job somewhere else; that kind of politics (which is mostly perpetuated through upper-middle-class social norms) rarely trumps economic self-interest among the economically insecure.

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          • dublin says:

            If you’re sensitive enough quit your job because of a political donation your boss’s boss made several years ago that you only found out about because someone was muckraking, that can’t help you in the job market.

            LGBT handholding is a “culture perk”, like having ping-pong tables. The hope is that the employees will say “wow, this is a company that really gets it!” and not notice that they’re being paid less.

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          • veronica d says:

            “LGBT handholding”? Really?

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          • veronica: The person you’re arguing with (who must not be named lest my comment be swallowed up in the spam filter) isn’t going to be responding anymore, because Scott banned him.

            Of course, being explicitly super LGBT-friendly is something that employers advertise in order to make (certain groups of) people want to work for them. But I find the idea that LGBT-friendliness substitutes for monetary compensation to be ridiculous.

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          • veronica d says:

            @Taymon A. Beal — No doubt being LGBT-friendly is a big selling point, which in fact is central to my point. I was wondering, however, about calling it “hand holding.” What purpose does such a characterization serve?

            (To me the answer seems pretty obvious.)

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        • Lesser Bull says:

          “I dunno. If I worked there, I think I would have been glad.”

          Pretty funny how all the ‘ambivalent’ people pretty clearly support firing him without much nuance about it. But they’re still conflicted, they say.

          It’s almost like firing Eich and saying you are conflicted are both tribal values.

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      • Brendan Eich says:

        Hi Andrea, I hope you don’t mind me replying here. I admire your work and feel that I owe you a response.

        (Scott, I hope you’re ok with my comments too. I’m sorry to take so much space. I feel what’s below fits in the flow and context here. I’ll stop when you say to.)

        Independent of me in particular, but specific to Mozilla: anyone in my position there, whether founder, CTO, or CEO, does not have practical ability to oppress anyone as you fear — not for long anyway. There’s no prior restraint system to prevent the worst case from happening out of initial (over)sight, but it would be caught.

        The board, HR, other managers, and numerous employees (LGBT-identified and others) would notice, and the exec acting badly would be in big trouble. Both California and the U.S. Federal Government make statutory and case-law requirements of employers that require scrutiny of protected classes. Companies flout these requirements at their peril.

        This is true of anyone in C-level position trying to enact some biased benefits or management agenda, however subtle, that targets people as members of a class. Unconscious or conscious, whatever the motivation or origin, any pattern would stand out and be a red flag at Mozilla. It’s routine in American companies to have in-house HR and legal counsel raise such flags. While I was at Mozilla, I participated in decision-making meetings about what to do when flags went up.

        For example, I was not happy with the 2012 blog-abuse/death-threat case involving @christi3k. HR and Mozilla’s CEO of that era failed to do the right thing, in my view, by not taking action based on (non-company-owned, but solid) computer forensics identifying the abuser who left hostile comments, who was not necessarily the same person who ultimately left the TOR-masked death threat.

        The failure to take action then was a black mark against Mozilla, and if I were CEO I would have done differently. At the time, I was CTO without reports and not yet even managing engineering. (I regret not getting into management sooner.)

        That incident makes clear that Mozilla’s leadership is fallible and needs to be held to account by everyone involved in it. But Mozilla was and is far from “unsafe” in a way that would enable a CEO to oppress anyone. My co-founder Mitchell Baker would not have put up with any such rogue CEO, and neither would I. Much lesser malfeasance would cause us to act against a bad CEO, at whatever cost to ourselves, by acting in concert with the board.

        I write this acknowledging that there are SJWs who assert that Mozilla was unsafe because of the blog incidents and lack of a code of conduct in 2012, but that’s a different degree and kind of unsafety from the CEO oppressing employees. It’s not all the same level, or of one piece.

        The @christi3k case also gets to the question of me in particular, vs. any executive or past CEO at Mozilla, so I’ll make a general statement that I hope you will believe:

        I don’t think it’s right to push my own beliefs about morality into benefits or other company policies, in any way that’s exclusive or based on my private judgments. Of course here I’m supposing that there is such a thing as private vs. public judgment. This may be controversial, but I can defend it if need be.

        As a colleague and manager, I have not and I would never oppress anyone based on their gender identity, sexual orientation, or a great many other characteristics. I didn’t and I won’t. That’s not who I am.

        Moral reasoning in corporate settings is challenging in general, since companies do have an obligation in my opinion to go beyond the minimum required by law, to uphold a more maximal but still consensus-based morality (e.g., regarding benefits or environmental policy, or against doing business with other companies that act badly but get away with it). Yet companies are often under competitive and fiduciary pressure to be lax and to do the minimum. Non-competitive companies die, so it’s both tempting and inevitable to compromise, but I think it’s critical that truly progressive companies resist compromise and try to find better ways.

        Mozilla while a non-profit is not immune to competitive and business pressure. It also has had generally very thoughtful employees, who up to exec level do aspire to go beyond the minimum the law requires. But such steps must be taken in concert with other execs and larger groups, and even with board approval depending on the policy. A CEO can’t make unilateral policy decisions. I’m fully in agreement with this set of conditions, for myself or any CEO. So again, there’s no way I could or would be the rogue CEO you fear.

        When I was under fire at Mozilla, you’re right that I didn’t defend myself or try to argue for my beliefs. I was trying to follow the code of conduct (Mozilla’s Community Participation Guidelines), and keep all exclusionary beliefs out of Mozilla. Also I was under heavy-handed “crisis communications” management, not always by choice (CEOs are not dictators, they answer to the board). So people who don’t know me may just assume the worst about me.

        It would be easy from a distance to stereotype me as a hater or secret WBC member, as some SJWs on twitter did, but I think that an accurate [*] public record and the testimony of colleagues over the decades demonstrate that’s not who I am. Like a lot of people (mostly Red Tribe, but not exclusively, and not necessarily for the same reasons), I simply do not agree with the Blue Tribe on important axioms or conclusions reached from them. In response to your closing paragraphs, I don’t agree that the “target changes” you list there preserve isomorphism.

        But I don’t mean to be disagreeable, and I’m out of Mozilla anyway. I just wanted to write a few things about myself and Mozilla that I hope shed light on the past, and on me. Thanks for reading this far, if you got here.

        /be

        [*] Killing the Messenger at Mozilla makes some good points about tech culture, but it ends with a clever yet false juxtaposition: “The person who told me during my internship that I would get the permanent job I wanted if he had anything to say about it is the same person who paid to air TV commercials saying I rape children.” Tim Chevalier was sloppy there in writing about me: I never paid for any such TV commercial. See the “Update, April 23, 2014” at the bottom of this Slate piece, where Mark Joseph Stern had to correct his original text. It looks like Tim read only the original copy, or heard an echo of it elsewhere, and did not fact-check.

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        • Gray Tribe Non-Straight Person says:

          I’m supposing that there is such a thing as private vs. public judgment.

          I agree. I am confused by your political beliefs, but they wouldn’t make me feel unsafe at all.

          (I really question queer people who said they would have feel “unsafe” working at Mozilla under you. It’s like they were whipping themselves up into fear in order to crush political opposition.)

          As a queer Gray Tribe member, being able to hold private beliefs and engage in private behavior outside work is mega important. The Blue attack on freedom of conscience and freedom of speech in the workplace is what makes me feel unsafe.

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        • I’m sure that the whole mess has been very hard for you. You have my sympathies, even if your views do not.

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        • Andrea S. says:

          Hi Andrea, I hope you don’t mind me replying here. I admire your work and feel that I owe you a response.

          No problem; sorry for the long delay replying. E-mail notifications don’t seem to be working here any longer.

          The board, HR, other managers, and numerous employees (LGBT-identified and others) would notice, and the exec acting badly would be in big trouble. Both California and the U.S. Federal Government make statutory and case-law requirements of employers that require scrutiny of protected classes. Companies flout these requirements at their peril.

          Fair enough – those are some pretty high transaction cost defenses, though, and my ethical comfort level with using the state as a means of defense is nonexistent. I strongly tilt toward not getting into risky situations in the first place, and it can be rather hard to assess such things from outside an organization.

          I don’t think it’s right to push my own beliefs about morality into benefits or other company policies, in any way that’s exclusive or based on my private judgments. Of course here I’m supposing that there is such a thing as private vs. public judgment. This may be controversial, but I can defend it if need be.

          As a colleague and manager, I have not and I would never oppress anyone based on their gender identity, sexual orientation, or a great many other characteristics. I didn’t and I won’t. That’s not who I am.

          That much is good to hear you say. I’m generally supportive of the private vs. public split you make, but I also probably draw it in different places.

          It would be easy from a distance to stereotype me as a hater or secret WBC member, as some SJWs on twitter did, but I think that an accurate [*] public record and the testimony of colleagues over the decades demonstrate that’s not who I am. Like a lot of people (mostly Red Tribe, but not exclusively, and not necessarily for the same reasons), I simply do not agree with the Blue Tribe on important axioms or conclusions reached from them. In response to your closing paragraphs, I don’t agree that the “target changes” you list there preserve isomorphism.

          But I don’t mean to be disagreeable, and I’m out of Mozilla anyway. I just wanted to write a few things about myself and Mozilla that I hope shed light on the past, and on me. Thanks for reading this far, if you got here.

          I’m not sure exactly what assumptions you’re making about me, but for the record, you’re wrong if you think I’m a member of Scott’s ‘Blue tribe’. I’m more like something way past the horizon in the direction of his ‘Gray tribe’, if I fit into his scheme at all. I’m pro-gay marriage, but as a meliorist position only. I’d rather abolish legal recognition of marriage altogether – I do not wish to cooperate with the state forcibly colonizing the space of socially constructed entities like that.

          I don’t think you’re a WBC-level hater, but I do, on the basis of your willingness to donate to a marriage-restriction campaign, believe (held quite weakly given the lack of other public statements) you’re probably taking something like a softer version of Orson Scott Card’s advocacy of keeping criminal laws against homosexuality on the books and just rarely enforcing them. Both involve upholding cultural symbolism by threat or fact of violence, and strike me as ethically objectionable to a degree considerably stronger than merely privately holding prejudiced opinions.

          In case it isn’t clear how I link the anti-gay marriage position to use of force, it is that legal marriage involves a number of exceptions carved out in legal restrictions imposed under threat of force by the state, notably in the areas of tax and immigration law. To oppose gay marriage, in the present context, is to support continuing this pattern of systematic aggression applied in a prejudicial way. There are considerable numbers of real people who have suffered significantly and engaged in multi-decade legal struggles over this.

          Anyway, thank you for the long and thoughtful response.

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          • Brendan Eich says:

            I’m not sure exactly what assumptions you’re making about me, but for the record, you’re wrong if you think I’m a member of Scott’s ‘Blue tribe’.

            I apologize for anything I wrote that seemed to assume things about you. I aspire never to do that. I don’t fit in one tribe of the blue/red/gray scheme myself, so try to keep in mind the possibility that others don’t fit either.

            you’re probably taking something like a softer version of Orson Scott Card’s advocacy of keeping criminal laws against homosexuality on the books and just rarely enforcing them.

            No, I’m not aligned with Card that way (or other ways, e.g., I’m not LDS; also not a fan of his writing). I don’t support rarely enforced laws of any kind either, and I’m pretty hard gray-tribe against unenforceable laws about sexual acts among consenting adults.

            In case it isn’t clear how I link the anti-gay marriage position to use of force, it is that legal marriage involves a number of exceptions carved out in legal restrictions imposed under threat of force by the state, notably in the areas of tax and immigration law.

            In California by 2008, up to the limit of state power, Domestic Partnership law matched Marriage law. The tax and immigration problems were federal rather than state level, precisely due to DOMA.

            For what it’s worth, DOMA in my view was unconstitutional on its face (on different grounds from the one used in Windsor — Tenth Amendment rather, as found in Massachussets v. US DHHS).

            Thanks for writing back, and again please accept my apology for assuming anything about your position.

            /be

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  25. Anonymous says:

    I think your ingroup is WAY more selected than normal. I’m Grey Tribe, but my friends have included two people who think The Gays are sinful and Evolution is a lie, one of whom was an Honest-to-God unreconstructed Young Earth Creationist and the other, more shocking still, thought the Phantom Menace was the best Star Wars movie and would dispute that racism still exists. My other best friend had a Tumblr, identified as genderqueer, and got really upset about Nice Guys, pronouns, and cultural appropriation.

    I guess these people are technically part of my ingroup, being that they all read fanfic and had opinions about Star Wars and Star Trek though.

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    • Lesser Bull says:

      *the other, more shocking still, thought the Phantom Menace was the best Star Wars movie and would dispute that racism still exists.*

      I feel like you could replace “and would dispute that racism still exists” with anything and the statement would still be true

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  26. Walter says:

    This is an excellent article. Thanks for writing it dude. Really clarified some stuff for me.

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  27. Anonymous says:

    I am terrified of this kind of intolerance.

    I think we’re on the verge of losing the internet itself.

    It’s something you don’t even see happening. It doesn’t trigger any alarms that Reddit is missing half the political population. Why is that not horrifying? The things that the “bastions of freedom” of the internet are quietly banning people for are shocking in their mundanity. You don’t even realize a population is driven away until it’s already gone.

    I see a grim future of an internet of bubbles. Sites like this are the least safe of all, because it’s present and looks enough like the enemy to both ends. Charity and outreach are getting torn apart. Tolerance itself is dying on the internet.

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    • Matthew says:

      I realize it doesn’t explain all of it, but I think the role of “opposition to gay marriage correlates strongly with age, even among self-described conservatives” is getting underplayed here. Reddit skews young.

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    • Princess_Stargirl says:

      Reddit has subreddits covering basically all views. It even has a (somewhat inactive) reactionary sub r/darkenlightenment. Maybe the central hub of the pua movement is r/redpill. And the two pillars of the MRM are r/mensrights and A voice for men. Reddit does not seem like it has been lost to SJ.

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      • Those subreddits are all outposts of the Gray Tribe, not the Blue Tribe. Reddit is generally considered to be a Gray Tribe thing, so the Red Tribe is barely aware of its existence and the Blue Tribe sees it as a threat.

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        • Multiheaded says:

          Come on. Greys are bad and dangerous, but they are intelligent and occasionally respectable. Those, ahem, communities are more in the ISIS corner.

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          • All tribes have nice people and nasty people. Those communities are very much culturally gray, whether we like it or not. They’re composed of people who have a lot in common with other grays and much less in common with reds or blues.

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      • Anonymous says:

        These days im less interested in what you see posted and more in what you dont. Reddit is at risk because of a hugely vulnerable “front page” community largely dictated by a few mods of those subs. Undesirable subs are indirectly kept in check by an easy control of the content 99% of users see. It curbs their power if you keep anyone who might sympathize off the site as a whole.

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  28. As a Brit living in America, I’m always curious when Americans spell “grey” the British way (as you did three times) instead of “gray” (which you did once). Is this indicative (for example, of Blue Europhile tendencies either in yourself or imputed to the Grey Tribe), or merely ordinary general orthographic influence?

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  29. suntzuanime says:

    I think we need to start speaking not in terms of “tolerance” but in terms of “pluralism”. Pluralism is a loftier goal than tolerance, because it says that rather than merely putting up with your existence, we recognize that you’re actually contributing something valuable to our rich cultural tapestry/marketplace of ideas. But it’s also a more down-to-earth goal, because you don’t need to stop hating the outgroup, or pretend to stop hating the outgroup. You can still view the Outgroup as pure evil, which let’s be honest you were going to do anyway, all you have to do is recognize that the goal of maintaining a tradition of pluralism is more important than crushing this particular pure evil.

    I think the protection of pluralism is one of the best things about the US Constitution, and that’s why it makes me said when private actors gleefully silence other private actors.

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    • David Schaengold says:

      This is an important point. “Tolerance” is supposed to be a general framework whereby A and B have different goals/values/habits but live alongside each other because they both agree to live and let live. “Pluralism” suggests that A and B should instead actively value the existence of the other, even if they continue to disagree.

      If tolerance is the official social ideal, politics ends up being about who is really failing to live and let live, but most issues of importance can’t be resolved in that way without assuming that either A or B has the correct view. Consider as an example the same-sex marriage dispute, in which both sides like to claim that the other is trying to “impose” its view on others. Both, in a sense, are correct. This is why Libertarianism is not just wrong but ultimately incoherent as a political philosophy, despite being correct about many substantive American political questions as a movement.

      If pluralism is the official social ideal, no pretense is made that society as a whole can be fully neutral between A and B. But it provides a reason for B to continue to exist even if A is right and B is wrong. Even if A wins, A should continue not just to tolerate but to welcome B, within limits. A should offer carve-outs and exceptions so that B can live out its Bness, though with the understanding that A’s values provide a limit to what B can do (so maybe arranged marriage is ok, for example, but no honor killings).

      A good example is how American society treats the Amish. That’s pluralism in action. “Tolerance,” by contrast, is what happened to Brendan Eich.

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    • Will Best says:

      Well considering the Blue Tribe defines tolerance as acceptance. And the EP and Commerce Clauses have combined to gut the Freedom of Association, you don’t need to worry too much about forcing people to live together since the framework is already there.

      However, I must warn that there is no time in history that has worked long term without metal clanging/flying. The observation that Conservatives are now saying Liberals aren’t just naive but evil is a step away from peaceful coexistence.

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      • nydwracu says:

        Relevant, though admittedly badly written. Marcuse’s line about how there can be no tolerance of intolerance is completely right — and that demonstrates that ‘tolerance’ doesn’t mean anything. You’re not tolerating anything if you assume that all things share your values, or at least will once they’re ‘liberated’, and that there can never be any substantive difference, and that culture is just about food and music — a mentality described well in Moldbug’s comment here.

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  30. Dan says:

    The Blue Tribe has performed some kind of very impressive act of alchemy, and transmuted all of its outgroup hatred to the Red Tribe.

    This sounds extremely impressive, and seems worthy of more attention.

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  31. cassander says:

    As someone of similar age and background to you (I even grew up in the bay area) I’m going to say that you actually do know some of those creationists and what not. You don’t notice them because they’re all smart enough to have learned that no good will come from admitting that they are outgroup.

    I remember this one incident back in one of my first college classes. this was 2003, right as the iraq invasion was starting, and sitting in the classroom before class started the people discussing the war next me said something about how how Saddam was none of our business. I mentioned offhand to these people that, well actually, we have sort of supported Saddam over the years, and that we’ve been involved with him continuously for 2 decades now, so while you can say a lot of things about the war, you can’t really say that it isn’t our business. By the time I had finished, every head in the room was staring at me. No one said anything, but the feeling of the room was clear, and I say this as someone very bad at taking social temperature. Most people, if that happens to them once or twice, they learn to shut up.

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    • The Anonymouse says:
    • Noumenon72 says:

      At my factory job in rural Wisconsin, despite all the deer hunting and snowmobiles, you’d occasionally find a true-blue Rachel-Maddow-watching liberal, you’d just never know unless you struck up casual conversation or took breaks together. I think Scott’s over-stereotyping his circle because he thinks they’re good people, so they must hold good views. People aren’t consistent, so there are probably people out there supporting gay marriage while also being young-earth creationists, but they never brought up the second.

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      • gattsuru says:

        I think Scott’s over-stereotyping his circle because he thinks they’re good people, so they must hold good views.

        That doesn’t really explain the Reddit thread, though, especially since there’s no shortage of people expressing (much much much more) terrible things on Reddit and even AskReddit.

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        • BrowncoatJeff says:

          Well, as a conservative on Reddit I will say that I never bother with threads like that as A) I am almost certain no one is actually coming into that thread willing to listen and B) Having lots of self righteous people insult me is not my idea of fun. With that going against the idea of posting anything it becomes really hard to get up the energy to do so.

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    • anon says:

      +1. I have a Red background and some Red cultural/ideological markers and beliefs. I work in software for a large tech employer in the Bay Area and pass for Blue with most acquaintances. I’ve even done a bit of sanitization of public info about me that reveals Red ideas. Your bubble may only *appear* to be pristine.

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  32. Daniel Speyer says:

    It seems that the role of libertarianism in grey tribe is not like liberalism in blue or conservatism in red. For one thing, reactionaries seem to be grey.

    And I doubt writing either the anti-libertarian or anti-reactionary faq “took nerves of steel, and made your blood boil, you sweat blood”.

    Perhaps grey politics are, to quote ESR, “to either (a) be aggressively apolitical or (b) entertain peculiar or idiosyncratic political ideas and actually try to live by them day-to-day”

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  33. Lemminkainen says:

    I’ll admit to being a fairly comfortable and sort-of-stereotypical member of the blue tribe. (I’m even an academic-in-training, and thus a member of their priesthood.) My experiences confirm what you say– that Blue Tribe members hate Red Tribers more than members of any other outgroup.

    But I also want to point out that we have some pretty strong reasons to hate members of the red tribe. Only a small fraction of us are straight Christian white men, since and those of us who are tend to have plenty of respected close friends who aren’t. People with red tribe politics usually favor policies which directly harm or limit the well-being of people who are gay, non-Christian, non-white, or non-male. I think it’s totally reasonable that I not tolerate people who would favor banning me from running for public office (I’m an atheist), would prevent me from marrying some significant chunk of my possible romantic partners (I’m bisexual), deny my girlfriend the ability to get the birth control that she needs to enjoy her sex life, or encourage police to subject my black friends to special harassment because of their race. So basically, I know that people with red-tribe political beliefs want to directly harm me and my friends. I see no virtue in tolerating them.

    (My reasoning here probably relates to the reason why my views on ISIS diverge a lot from those of my peers– because of my academic specialization, I spend a lot of my time reading and thinking about Middle Eastern people. I don’t actually know any Yazidis or Kurds or Assyrian Christians, but I think about and identify with them enough to consider committing genocide against them pretty heinous, and something that anybody who can stop has a moral duty to stop.)

    Of course, I should note, a lot of people in my tribe will tend to hate or discriminate people because they have non-directly-political red tribe traits. I definitely don’t think that it’s okay to hate people because they like NASCAR or drink Budweiser or listen to country music or speak in a Southern accent.

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    • Anonymous says:

      > Only a small fraction of us are straight Christian white men

      this statement is made true only by the inclusion of the term “Christian”

      Report comment

      • Matthew says:

        Depends on what he considers a small fraction. Straight white men are probably around 20-25% of team blue, despite being more like 36% or so of the general US population.

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        • Jake says:

          That’s only true if you’re using “Team Blue” to mean “Democratic Party.” Scott’s using the term to refer to liberal elites (by education and status, if not necessarily by wealth). Elites skew heavily white, and while Team Blue is perhaps 55-60% female, that still leaves it ~40% white male (of which ~90% are straight)

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      • Lemminkainen says:

        You’re wrong about this. Only half of the overall US population is male– and given the way that voting dynamics skew by gender, less than half of the Blue Tribe is male. Only about 65% or so of the US population is non-Hispanic white (which you have to be to be considered white by most other Americans). In practice, people support the Democratic party are disproportionately non-white. If the Blue Tribe had the same sex and race demographics as the US, white men would only be 32% of the group– a respectable minority fraction, but still way outnumbered by other groups. In practice, the number is smaller than that.

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        • Anonymous says:

          Voting democrat does not make you a member of the blue tribe, reread part V

          Do you sincerely believe that these people: http://stuffwhitepeoplelike.com/ are the same tribe as these people: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpAOwJvTOio (oops wrong link -edited)

          My best guess considering that I don’t have any real statistics on the fuzzy concept of tribe, is that the blue tribe is about 90+% white, 95+% straight and 50% male. That’s not a small fraction, its a minority but most likely a plurality.

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          • Jake says:

            Why do you think it’s half male? And straights are 95% of the entire population, so they’re almost certainly a lower percentage of this one.

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          • a person says:

            I wonder if maybe the most central examples of the “tribes” exclude people who are voting for obvious self-interest reasons, i.e. poor people voting blue and rich CEOs voting red. In this way, the tribal designations capture the ideological spirit of the tribe by looking at where it is most intense, in people who really care despite not having a reason to.

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    • Matthew says:

      I know that people with red-tribe political beliefs want to directly harm me and my friends. I see no virtue in tolerating them.

      I don’t think tolerating people implies condoning their views. “I think you are wrong about [x,y,z] and I’m going to reiterate that when it seems germane, but I still enjoy your company” is distinct from both “everybody’s entitled to their opinion” and “get thee from my sight, heretic!”

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      • Lemminkainen says:

        Oh, I totally get that. What I’m saying is that I consider it reasonable to treat people who want to actively harm me or my friends as enemies.

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        • Lesser Bull says:

          And likewise from the other side. Saying that you only hate the other tribe because they threaten you and they started it doesn’t make your tribalism different. It’s bog standard tribalism.

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        • Tracy W says:

          But even enemies can be treated differently. Consider the differences of treatments of POWs in WWII – the Germans and Western countries mostly kept to the Geneva convention between them while the Germans and Soviets both ignored it in treating their respective POWs.
          Or Nelson Mandela’s efforts to promote harmony with whites once he was Presideny of South Africa.

          There’s a difference between “you’re my enemy and I’m going to win then destroy you utterly” and “you’re my enemy now but I can see how we could work together once I’ve won.”

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    • cassander says:

      > People with red tribe politics usually favor policies which directly harm or limit the well-being of people who are gay, non-Christian, non-white, or non-male.

      You think that is what their policies will do. It is also what they think your policies will do. Very few people consciously want to harm others, but we disagree a lot on what will or won’t cause harm.

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      • Lemminkainen says:

        I don’t think that I should have to be kind to somebody who tells me that they want to deny me a number of rights and privileges which they comfortably afford to themselves just because they say they believe it’s for my own good.

        EDIT: Also, members of the Red Tribe generally tend to justify their measures harming all of those groups except for women in terms of their effects on what Red Tribe people consider their in-groups: They oppose gay marriage because they believe it will somehow destroy traditional marriage between heterosexuals, harrass atheists and Muslims in the name of defending the US as a Christian polity, and favor using racial profiling to impose a significant cost to minority groups in the name of small marginal benefits to the population as a whole (which is mostly white).

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        • Anonymous says:

          > favor using racial profiling to impose a significant cost to minority groups in the name of small marginal benefits to the population as a whole (which is mostly white).

          Most victims of black criminals are black. Blacks are thus the largest beneficiaries of policies that reduce black crime.

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        • cassander says:

          >harrass atheists and Muslims in the name of defending the US as a Christian polity,

          because they think that there is utilitarian virtue in a christian polity.

          >and favor using racial profiling to impose a significant cost to minority groups in the name of small marginal benefits to the population as a whole (which is mostly white).

          the people who would benefit most from more lower crime rates are black, who suffer from much higher crime victimization rates than whites.

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          • Nornagest says:

            because they think that there is utilitarian virtue in a christian polity.

            Certainly they think there are utilitarian benefits to having a Christian polity. But because? That seems like a bolder claim. With the halo effect going on I expect it’d be quite hard to untangle causes here, but utilitarianism — explicit or tacit — definitely wouldn’t be the first place I’d look.

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          • cassander says:

            @Nornagest

            For exactly the same reasons you think that there are utilitarian benefits to diversity.

            For most people, it is just recieved wisdom. For the small percentage of people who care enough to look into it or argue about it on the internet, they can provide a wealth of evidence, none of which you would find convincing. If you show them evidence to the contrary, they will respond to it the way you will respond to me bringing up Robert Putnam, with a lot of motivated reasoning and looking for more bias confirming evidence.

            Now, I want to be clear, I’m not trying to attack you personally or say that the right is free from these cognitive defects. And I don’t want to argue about whether or not there is virtue in christian society. I’m just trying to explain that what you feel about diversity (or equality or tolerance, whatever your personal ism is) they feel about christianity.

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          • Nornagest says:

            Who this “you”, kemosabe?

            Bizarre assumptions about my beliefs aside, I’m not seeing anything there that’s inconsistent with what I wrote.

            My point was that advocating your culture’s sacred values is not, fundamentally, a utilitarian motive; if you pin your average leftist down and ask them why they support, say, affirmative action, they might come up with some utilitarian-sounding claims, but those claims aren’t in any way central to their advocacy. The whole point of a sacred value is that it’s treated as good-in-itself, not as a means to utilitarian ends.

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        • Tracy W says:

          How would you like to be treated by them, if on some policy issue they won and you lost?

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          • Luke Somers says:

            I’m not entirely sure I understand this question – the policy question here was how he was to be treated, so the answer is clearly to reverse the outcome of the policy debate…

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        • a Newsreader says:

          One huge benefit to the non-white population of strict crime policies (including racial profiling) is that it helps convince the middle-class not to abandon the city for the suburbs.

          One might argue that a city might be better off with more residents even if a fraction of the city’s residents feel oppressed by the laws required to keep the rest of the taxable population from fleeing.

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          • Matthew says:

            I really think people examining this in the abstract should talk to some actual urban minorities about just how invasive and constant the police harrassment is.

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          • Ken Arromdee says:

            Matthew: You are changing the goalposts in the argument:

            “Hating the red tribe is different from hating the blue tribe because the red tribe justifies their policies by benefits to themselves, not to the people they affect.”

            “Here’s an example of how a red policy can be justified as benefiting the people it affects.”

            “Oh, that doesn’t count because you’re not talking to the people affected.”

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          • Matthew says:

            @Ken.

            I may have expressed this with insufficient clarity, so rephrasing:

            Only someone who does not have firsthand experience of the pervasiveness and extremity of the harassment could possibly think that the benefits outweigh the costs to blacks themselves.

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      • Matthew says:

        This might be relevant for choosing an approach if you want to persuade someone in the other tribe to change their mind, but if you are a consequentialist, it’s not really relevant to whether you should assume an adversarial posture.

        ETA: If you put aside “non-white” and “non-male,” your argument gets a lot less tenable anyway. Red policies on gays are not meant to benefit gays, except in the sense that some Reds hold the (absurd) view that already-gay people could choose to be otherwise, and the privileging of Christianity is clearly not meant to benefit atheists, Jews, Hindus, etc.

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    • Randy M says:

      Let me see if I can reflect this back…
      As a member of the Red tribe, I also want to point out that we have some pretty strong reasons to ‘hate’ members of the blue tribe. For one, few of them are white christian males, the demographic that established much of the civilization, and thus Blues are eager to upend traditions and values sacred to our people. They proclaim their glee at indoctrinating our children at state educational facilities, turning them against everything we hold dear. They encourage alternate lifestyles with increased risk of poverty and disease, devaluing the role of marriage which traditionally brought stability especially to the underclasses. They are against freedom of enterprise, association, and, increasingly even speech, even though these were instrumental in establishing the most advanced and prosperous society on earth. They favor policies that would undo due process against me (I’m a man), and encourage harassment of people who do what is necessary to protect themselves from violent offenders if the offenders happen to be an adopted part of the blue tribe. Culture is increasingly sexualized through a liberal dominated media and educational complex, and the barbarous act of dismembering nascent human life is hidden in the lying euphemism of giving women control of their health–even as they are ready willing and able to wrest an array of health decisions of much less moral weight away from men and women alike. They’ve even spoken–jokingly at first, but with repeated with more seriousness–punishment or reeducation for people insufficiently convinced by their solutions to global warming. So, basically I know that blue tribe people seek to directly harm myself and those I care about. Tolerating them is no virtue.

      Of course, some red tribe people dislike those merely with blue tribe superficial tendencies, like latte drinking or speaking French. That’s not okay, we need to find out if they really have badthink before we hate them.

      I leave pointing out why tolerance is a virtue in a deeply entwined society with irreconcilable differences as an exercise for the reader. If there was some trace of straw there, I do think it is recycled (and the assertions could be backed by links).

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      • Lemminkainen says:

        Good sir, your straw is not recycled. I pointed out specific policies which harmed members of the group I discussed in very immediate, specific ways. With the exception of the due process thing (which I, and plenty of other Blue Tribe members actually oppose– there’s not really consensus on this), your list is a bunch of vague, speculative allegations.

        EDIT: As to your final point, I’m not advocating say, killing, imprisoning, or even job-discriminating against conservatives who hold positions like the ones I described. I’m pretty sure that would be wrong by both the virtue-ethics and utilitarian standards that I try to live by. I’m just saying that a person holding those views makes me feel disinclined to want to be friendly to them, and I think that lack of friendliness is totally reasonable.

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        • lambdaphage says:

          I thought abortion was pretty specific.

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          • Lemminkainen says:

            Ah, okay, that’s fair.

            But I do have another issue with Randy’s line of discussion on abortion. “The unborn” isn’t a group that one can be a member of or be friends with– it’s categorically quite different.

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          • Randy M says:

            Right, and I’m saying, we even tolerate people with opinions like that.

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          • lambdaphage says:

            I’m trying to skirt the object-level debate here as well, but I gather that it was offered as an example of a liberal issue which conservatives find loathsome on account of the harms it renders, on their telling.

            Whether abortion constitutes a harm, and if so whether that harm is permissible, gets hashed out in the object-level debate.

            But if Team Blue is wrong and Team Red is right, then Team Blue has not only permitted but in some sense endorsed multiple holocausts’ worth of human death. Hence Team Red might feel as coldly toward Team Blue as vice versa.

            What that has to do with membership in a category or friendship isn’t quite clear to me. I will never be Yazidi and don’t know any, but I don’t see how that prevents me from rendering the correct moral judgment about the religious violence currently underway, for example.

            For that matter, I thought moral universalism resonated more with the left than the right, but I may be unwittingly braiding together too many different strands there.

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          • Lesser Bull says:

            *“The unborn” isn’t a group that one can be a member of or be friends with– it’s categorically quite different.*

            From a Blue perspective. Us Red tribers think the unborn are people, and frequently make the point that all of us were unborn at some point. In fact, pointing out that we all used to be unborn is a huge part of Red pro-life rhetoric; if you weren’t so intellectually blinkered, you would know this.

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          • Nick T says:

            Us Red tribers think the unborn are people

            I believe that you believe this, but why do I never hear anyone who believes it say that the 20%50% miscarriage rate is a public health catastrophe?

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          • Mary says:

            ‘ but why do I never hear anyone who believes it say that the 20%-50% miscarriage rate is a public health catastrophe?”

            For the same reason you never hear that the 100% death rate among the born is a public health catastrophe among people who think that that born are people.

            Leaving aside that there’s no telling how accurate your figure is. Witness that your own stated margin is larger than the smaller side of range and an appreciable fraction of the larger.

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          • Abolition says:

            “I believe that you believe this, but why do I never hear anyone who believes it say that the 20%-50% miscarriage rate is a public health catastrophe?”

            Maybe for the same reason nobody thinks death from old age is a public health catastrophe?

            EDIT: Beaten to it.

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          • Matthew says:

            @Mary and Abolition

            Is that the correct reference class? Embryos/fetuses are usually compared to children, not the elderly. A 30-50% infant mortality rate would probably have people up in arms.

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          • Mary says:

            Hey, we’re just explaining psychology.

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          • Hainish says:

            “Us Red tribers think the unborn are people, and frequently make the point that all of us were unborn at some point.”

            I know I was unborn at one point, and would prefer to leave the decision as to whether I’d be born to the woman gestating me. (I think you might be underestimating the extent to which blue tribers have considered this line of reasoning.)

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          • Randy M says:

            That’s an incredibly easy position to preen from after the fact.

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          • Hainish says:

            That’s different from saying that pro-choicers ignore the fact that we were all once unborn (though I’m not sure what positions can be taken that aren’t “after the fact”).

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          • Randy M says:

            If you said that you didn’t think someone on unemployment should be able to vote while you yourself were taking it, that would not be after the fact.

            Saying that as a former unborn person, you don’t think they matter is, because you are no longer a member of that group and never can be again, you can only benefit from this ruling (assuming you see the death of your kin as a benefit, of course).

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          • Hainish says:

            If you said that you didn’t think someone on unemployment should be able to vote while you yourself were taking it, that would not be after the fact.

            OK, so is there *any* way to talk about the unborn that is *not* after the fact? (That’s what I was trying to get at.)

            Saying that as a former unborn person, you don’t think they matter

            Nope, I’m not saying they don’t matter. I’m saying that I cannot ascribe to the unborn a preference that they be gestated and birthed by any means necessary.

            is, because you are no longer a member of that group and never can be again, you can only benefit from this ruling

            I can’t benefit. I’m already here. Being pro-choice or pro-life isn’t going to change that one way or the other. (Also, it’s weird to think of my existence as a benefit. The universe is under no obligation to forge me from its atoms.)

            (assuming you see the death of your kin as a benefit, of course).

            This statement is extremely silly. I’m not looking for a charitable interpretation here, just a minimally honest one.

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          • Lesser Bull says:

            @hainish,

            You’re switching debates. The fact that Red tribe people consider the unborn to be people and have a frequent trope where they rhetorically point out their prior unborn status is evidence that Lemminkainen is wrong when he says ““The unborn” isn’t a group that one can be a member of or be friends with”.

            Abortion is a mindkiller, so you need to read very carefully when abortion gets mentioned, included paying close attention to the argument that is being replied to.

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          • Nita says:

            Lemminkainen is wrong when he says ““The unborn” isn’t a group that one can be a member of or be friends with”.

            I thought the intended meaning was this:

            Out of all the people who debate or think about this issue, no one is unborn, and no one is friends with an unborn person.

            And rhetoric can’t really change that.

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          • Hainish says:

            @Lesser Bull

            You’re switching debates.

            I realize, but I was also replying to Randy M, who went on a slightly different track with this.

            The fact that Red tribe people consider the unborn to be people and have a frequent trope where they rhetorically point out their prior unborn status

            Specifically, unborn people *who must be gestated and birthed* (that’s the point of disagreement, not whether they’re called people).

            is evidence that Lemminkainen is wrong when he says ““The unborn” isn’t a group that one can be a member of or be friends with”.

            What Nita said.

            Abortion is a mindkiller, so you need to read very carefully when abortion gets mentioned, included paying close attention to the argument that is being replied to.

            See above. Also, it might not be the worst idea to fork this thread.

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        • Randy M says:

          I’ll spell it out here, without getting into further object level debate.
          Liberal/Progressive/Blue generally support:
          No fault divorce
          No limit abortion
          Hate speech laws and/or policies
          More regulation, even in situations apart from tragedy of the commons scenarios.
          Compulsory education with central control of curriculum, standards, etc.
          De-norming male/female as a relationship status (removing “mother” and “father” in lieu of “parent 1” and “parent 2” being one banal example
          Destigmatizing single parenthood, including deliberately chosen single parenthood; making “Family” a broader definition (which results in more children being raised without a mother and a father, in as much as cultural battles are efficacious at all)
          Regulating behaviors such as what insurance plans can offer, how much unhealthy food one can easily obtain–futile, but illuminating of a paternalism that extends to every realm but the sexual

          Your list contains many elements I can’t recall ever being advocated by a conservative (though I haven’t read everything, it isn’t a consensus by any means), such as:
          – “banning me from running for public office (I’m an atheist)”
          -“deny my girlfriend the ability to get the birth control that she needs to enjoy her sex life”
          (Unless her sex life is predicated on morning after pills or by deny you mean simply not pay for)
          -“encourage police to subject my black friends to special harassment because of their race”
          (Wait, is New York Red now?)

          Again, though, I’m not going to get into further object level debate here and now. Just pointing out that you see harm to your ingroup as a result of opposing tribes policies being enacted; Red does likewise. You think yours are just; Red does likewise. You think Red is wrong and foolish for having the opinion of your ideas that you do of theirs. Obviously. Tolerance isn’t principally about getting to the truth, though; it is about, in my day to day interactions, what exactly is the pay-off for treating opponents as enemies?

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          • Lemminkainen says:

            Thanks for expanding. I disagree with you about the obviousness of the harmful effects of a lot of these things, but that’s probably just to be expected. I understand why a person who holds those position would be hostile to leftists.

            I do object to your characterization of my points, though. There are laws against an atheist like me running for office on the books in several states, including the one where I live, I do think that denying the morning after pill and refusing to pay for it count, and New York is far from the only place with racial profiling, and even though the policy has some blue supporters, support is negatively correlated with blueness (ie: Bill deBlasio, who is widely identified as more progressive than Michael Bloomberg, opposes it).

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          • Randy M says:

            “and refusing to pay for it count”
            I find this fascinating, but will leave it at that.

            After some quick research, I acknowledge you have a point about the running for office, and although most of those laws are on the books from the writing of the state constitution and superceded by the 14th, I can’t say it is inconceivable you’d have conservatives against changing it, though not universally.

            Your portrayal of racial profiling upthread as “impose a significant cost to minority groups in the name of small marginal benefits to the population as a whole”

            edit: Okay, I’ve found some people who argue that it saves police time and money, rather than having a better chance of preventing violent crime, so I’ll amend what I said before, although I guess a utilitarian may argue those are the same.

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          • Lemminkainen says:

            Decreasing the incidence of violent crime is, in fact, a small marginal benefit, since the rates of these crimes were never all that high in the US during the 20th century, and none of them except for murder, assaults that main people, and maybe rape are as harmful to people as forcibly imprisoning them for a long time. Of course, nobody would justify mass incarceration as being for “a relatively small small benefit,” because that’s not how most humans use language when justifying their political views. But that is, in fact, what it is, and I don’t think that I was strawmanning anybody by putting it in those terms.

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          • Randy M says:

            Even the juxtaposing the “significant cost” to minority groups with “small marginal benefits” to wider society?

            I’m not going to say that “if it saves one life, it is worth X” where X is anything and everything, but I wonder about what your costs are that they are more significant that deaths and assaults.

            Again, I don’t think conservatives will argue that any and every burden must be paid by a minority community if it has any broader benefit; I think that they disagree with you about the relative magnitudes. In a perfect hypothetical where the additional burden on the minority really is small compared to the gains, would you support some inequality? If so, your argument is on where to draw the line and what the evidence says about the real-world costs and benefits.

            (Personally I am agnostic because I don’t know what all the specific techniques included under that term are, and don’t want to be ensnare myself defending something I am ignorant of the particulars of.)

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          • Intrism says:

            @Lemminkainen: “(ie: Bill deBlasio, who is widely identified as more progressive than Michael Bloomberg, opposes it).”

            Michael Bloomberg is a Republican, later running as an Independent. Bill deBlasio is a Democrat. You’ve basically just said water’s wet.

            (Related, @Randy M: “how much unhealthy food one can easily obtain” appears to be another reference to Bloomberg, who is, again, a Republican. That would be your tribe.)

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          • Andy says:

            -“encourage police to subject my black friends to special harassment because of their race”
            (Wait, is New York Red now?)

            Remember that these tribes are not geographies. There is some geographic correlation, but my observation is that many police locally (I’m in Southern California, Bluest of the Blue) are some shade of Red Tribe by a combination of memetic pull factors to the job (guns, cars, authority, machismo, not needing a Master’s degree) and push factors that keep Blue tribers from joining (ACAB and the like).
            So I would expect that many street cops ,the people actually making decisions to pull over and harass black people, are in fact Red tribesmen in a mostly-Blue geography.

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          • Anonymous says:

            ” I do think that denying the morning after pill and refusing to pay for it count,”

            Says someone denying me my First Amendment rights! You’re not paying for my books and Internet access!

            That is not denying anyone’s rights. It’s saying that you have to pay for your own routine expenses, like an adult.

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          • Multiheaded says:

            Wow, I must say that this is not nearly as evil and dangerous as my personal stereotype of the Greys, but this is still pretty mean and stupid.

            Don’t worry, though, I’m all for stopping the harrassment of individual Reds; the Greys are the future, and we should focus all resources on dealing with them somehow.

            P.S.: through such policies as outlined above, Reds have historically sponsored both adultery (gasp!) and spousal abuse; back-alley abortions; war on the labour movement; deliberately shitty education; and finally de facto eliminationism towards people like me. This game of “Corruption! Unintended consequences!”, etc, etc can be played by either side.

            (I agree that speech laws invariably suck except for very special historically contingent circumstances.)

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          • Anonymous says:

            Intrism, it is not so simple as to say Bloomberg is a Republican. He was a lifelong member of the Democratic Party, until he ran in the Republican primary because it was convenient. Yes, that says something about him, but it also says something about the Republican Party of New York.

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          • Randy M says:

            “(Related, @Randy M: “how much unhealthy food one can easily obtain” appears to be another reference to Bloomberg, who is, again, a Republican. That would be your tribe.)”

            I could find countless red commentators mocking him for it, and many blues defending his right to enact it. I don’t buy that there is no more to categorizing a specimen than noting the letter it runs under.

            Yes, tribes are intermixed within a geographic area, but if a generally blue area generally supports a policy, it is likely more blue than red.

            Hello Multi. I’m not particularly chastised by your denouncing my bog-standard and off-the cuff conservative positions as mean and stupid; I would have put rather harsher words in your mouth to describe it initially, and now I must fear I am going soft. Anyhow…:
            “through such policies as outlined above, Reds have historically sponsored both adultery (gasp!) and spousal abuse; back-alley abortions; war on the labour movement; deliberately shitty education; and finally de facto eliminationism towards people like me. ”

            Which policies are you referring, simply the inverse of the ones that I said I opposed? There’s more angles in a circle than two, and I’m not claiming that reds are brilliant at achieving their goals, just that I doubt blues want the same goals.

            So I can’t argue all your points because they aren’t really spelled out, but accepting something as a trade-off isn’t the same as sponsoring it; for example, I will accept a small number of back alley abortions instead of a much greater number of clinic abortions; I will accept occasional adultery over much more frequent and more public divorce, etc.
            In each case I will prefer policies that eliminate them, if that needs saying.

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          • Lesser Bull says:

            Bloomberg is pretty obviously Blue Tribe. He’s a Republican only in the very special New York sense.

            Outside New York, Bloomberg is mainly known for being a gungrabber and a nannystate scold, neither of which are meant as Red Tribe praise.

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          • Tab Atkins says:

            – “banning me from running for public office (I’m an atheist)”

            This is in fact a super-common belief in my experience, among all the evangelical friends I had back in Texas. After all, depending on who you ask, atheists are either completely lacking in a moral compass and capable of doing whatever evil pops into their heads at any time (and thus not capable of justly leading), or liars and actually worship Satan, and are thus self-evidently not fit to lead.

            These kind of opinions are definitely not universal, but they’re definitely common, especially the first one. I had to deal with sort of thing a *lot* when I first came out as atheist.

            -“deny my girlfriend the ability to get the birth control that she needs to enjoy her sex life”
            (Unless her sex life is predicated on morning after pills or by deny you mean simply not pay for)

            You appear to be unfamiliar with how many conservatives consider all birth control immoral, sometimes including condoms but *often* including hormone pills.

            In my own experience, I wouldn’t peg this sort of thing near a majority, but it’s a significant minority. Look up discussions surrounding any time a pharmacist gets in trouble for trying to avoid handing out birth control; there’s always a lot of rhetoric supporting this and advocating the right to go further.

            -“encourage police to subject my black friends to special harassment because of their race”
            (Wait, is New York Red now?)

            Yeah, this isn’t a conservative position per se, but just racism, which is commonly attributed more to conservatives than to liberals, plus a strain of authoritarianism that is more conversative-associated than liberal-associated.

            And New York City isn’t red at all, but *police* are strongly red, and the stronger police-support contingent tend to be as well.

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        • Luke Somers says:

          Abolition – “Maybe for the same reason nobody thinks death from old age is a public health catastrophe?”

          It is, and you are on (or at least near) territory where this is widely recognized.

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      • Multiheaded says:

        devaluing the role of marriage which traditionally brought stability especially to the underclasses

        I really, really want to challenge/denounce this at some point, along the lines of “marriage” and “stability” being used with ahistorical definitions and loaded implications – but I don’t yet know enough about gender history to have formed more than a vague impression that something’s up with this argument.

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      • Multiheaded says:

        They encourage alternate lifestyles with increased risk of poverty and disease, devaluing the role of marriage which traditionally brought stability especially to the underclasses… …They favor policies that would undo due process against me (I’m a man), and encourage harassment of people who do what is necessary to protect themselves from violent offenders if the offenders happen to be an adopted part of the blue tribe. Culture is increasingly sexualized through a liberal dominated media and educational complex, and the barbarous act of dismembering nascent human life is hidden in the lying euphemism of giving women control of their health–even as they are ready willing and able to wrest an array of health decisions of much less moral weight away from men and women alike.

        Even the neoreactionaries would probably agree that the Silent Majority style of this rhetoric is old and busted; at least Catholics can bash feminism in style! These sentences read like they’ve been left in a dusty closet for 40 years. “Alternate lifestyles”? “Increasingly sexualized”?

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        • Zorgon says:

          Ew.

          I’m not sure why this particular kind of status-claim response is quite so nauseating, but… Ew.

          You might as well have pulled faces and made monkey noises at him.

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        • Randy M says:

          I don’t know if you think I am beyond the pale or insufficiently exorcised? I was aiming for somewhat detached. Would you prefer I dip into the well of such terms as “perversions” and “sluttery?” I really didn’t find it necessary at this venue.

          Anyhow, I was trying to make a somewhat broad, over-generalized and certainly over-hyped list of grievances similar to the parent comment.

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      • Bugmaster says:

        To be fair, if anyone can be said to “establish civilization”, it would probably be the ancient Sumerians/Babylonians. Among other things, they invented law, cities, and math. Christianity wasn’t even on the table back then, in ~5500 BC.

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        • Randy M says:

          I’m all for being fair to ‘ol Hammurabi, but I don’t recall saying Christians invented civilization, and I believe that long term human pair bonding for the purposes of child provision even predates him.

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      • Lambert says:

        And of course, Greys can and do also object to the blues trying to use government as an instrument of coersion, in order to force individuals and companies to conform to the Blue ‘dogma’.
        (See ESR, MZW etc.)

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    • Tracy W says:

      What do you mean when you say that you don’t tolerate someone? You obviously can’t stop them from favouring banning you running from public office, lobbying for laws you disagree with, etc.

      Do you think that they should be banned from favouring/lobbying/etc for those things, even though you don’t have the political power to ban them from doing so?

      Do you mean that you would kick guests out of your house if they started saying any of those things?

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    • James Miller says:

      I’m an academic red/grey economist and truly believe that the Blues inflict massive amounts of harm on poor blacks. You should at least be open to the possibility that what your tribe claims to support and the consequences of its actions are inconsistent.

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      • subforum says:

        Debates over economic policy are a good object-level example of a meta-level failure mode. “A claims to believe B on the grounds of principled or empirical arguments X, Y, and Z. If we’re charitable, we may even grant that they perceive their own conviction to be sincere. But we know that the real reason A believes B is malevolence or naked self-interest, so we don’t need to engage with X, Y and Z as if they were legitimate arguments.”

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        • James Miller says:

          I don’t mean that “the real reason A believes B is malevolence” rather “A thinks B is good but really B is bad” For example, blues think that minimum wage laws, rent control, and strong teachers unions help poor blacks whereas in fact they on average harm them.

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          • Matthew says:

            Strongly disagree on rent control. Remember that Blue != Democrat in Scott’s framework. Blues are well aware that rent control creates perverse incentives.

            Teacher’s unions is hard to say; education is probably the most divisive issue in the Democratic coalition right now, but are the reformers really Blues, or just Democratic-voting Grays? (It would be strange if the Democratic POTUS is not actually a Blue, though, and he’s clearly been on the reformers’ side.)

            Effects of minimum wage policies in the real world are contentious, a fact of which you as an academic economist are presumably well aware. I’d agree that Blues think what you say they do on this one, though not with your characterization that they are obviously incorrect.

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      • Multiheaded says:

        Judging by your twitter, I’d say you’re like if one of the reactionary-bashing internet leninists that Nydwracu complains about wanted to impersonate a Grey. Signaling loose association with LW ideas is just a part of their disturbingly accurate stereotype of you. Misandry! Coloreds! Political correctness gone mad! Just playing le devil’s advocate, kind sirs!

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      • Intrism says:

        Would you be willing to provide some good citations for any of this? Being a Blue myself, I would naturally be quite distressed if any of my preferred policies were not effectively achieving their intended results. I tend not to accept assertions like this at face value, though, because I’ve heard them before, and upon further research they invariably turn out to be poorly-supported fringe theories distributed by folks with past histories of wishing harm on black people.

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        • James Miller says:

          Here is a starting point:
          http://www.realclearpolitics.com/Commentary/com-11_15_05_TS.html

          http://www.politico.com/story/2014/06/california-teachers-tenure-vergara-ruling-unions-107656.html

          Also ask why San Francisco has so few black and Hispanic citizens compared to the rest of California. Rent control, minimum wage laws, and building restrictions are the only plausible reasons.

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          • Intrism says:

            Teachers’ unions and anti-gentrification policies are both divisive issues amongst Blues and therefore bad examples. (And I personally don’t support either.)

            The minimum wage argument is interesting but still suspicious. It uses relatively distant historical examples, and attempts to generalize to the US from France, where employment law is far stricter than American Blues support. When I get home from work, I’ll scatter plot minimum wage vs. racial unemployment gap in the 50 states, which I strongly suspect will show no or negative correlation and thereby reduce my belief in your argument below the point where I’m interested in following up on it.

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          • Intrism says:

            As promised: Charts! Data! Citations! Minimum wage on the Y axis and in the rightmost data column, percentage employment gap on the X axis and in the middle data column.

            It appears that most of the states with high minimum wage fall somewhere in the middle on racial employment gap. (The data point on the upper right is Washington, D.C., which is weird.) There’s extremely low correlation between minimum wage and racial employment gap. Therefore, I conclude that your argument is likely false.

            Some states were omitted because they didn’t have entries for black people on my list of racial unemployment stats. This is likely because those states have very low black populations. I doubt that makes a big difference, but if you want to find stats elsewhere for them you can go ahead.

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          • James Miller says:

            Intrism: thanks for looking at the data. Empirically testing the effects of the minimum wage is really hard, however, in part because a high minimum wage might be part of a strategy that a city like San Francisco uses to reduce the number of poor people living within its borders.

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    • Lesser Bull says:

      Pretty amazing! I’ve never heard a member of a tribe try to explain why their tribe’s prejudices are different because they’re justified before.

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    • Ed says:

      You know almost literally nothing about the people you hate. Really, you should try just interacting with some ordinary conservative folks. You will find they don’t match the stereotypes you’ve been fed.

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      • Mary says:

        Leftist problem. The further left you are, the worse you are at knowing your opponents’ thoughts. This is Science. It’s been proven in the lab.

        However, it’s unlikely to get fixed because the typical leftist response to that info is to cook up Just So Stories that mean they really do understand the right without no evidence behind them. Like — the conservatives are all lying! The liberals who answer differently are merely intuiting the truth of what the conservatives really think!

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  34. Anonymous says:

    Sometimes I think you’re a crypto-NRx with the mission of taking NRx insights and concepts and spreading them to the larger rationalist/atheist/skeptic community with your excellent writing skills and relatively high status in said community.

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    • Harald K says:

      The only NRx influence I recognize in SSC is some infatuation with simplistic biological explanations. I see a hell of a lot of Christian influence, though, and obviously I like it.

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    • Blogospheroid says:

      A Neo-reactionary prefers formalism in a lot of matters. He would actually have very little to object if Blue America formally adopted progress as a state religion and became an official theocracy. NRx would prefer that Blue America gave some time for the others to leave of course, nobody likes violence.

      If NRx stands for anything, it stands for exit over empire. Scott believes that a singleton has a non-negligible chance of taking over the world, hence clarification of values is extremely important(my interpretation). A singleton is the ultimate example of empire. Scott is not NRx. He’s attempting to articulate human values in a clear manner so that one day, if an AI were to scan the net seeking to understand human values, it would understand them better and try to fulfill them better. If you had to slot him, you might slot him in with the theocrats, but of a different god, Elua, not Yahweh.

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      • Quite a lot of this commentary seems rather speculative.

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        • Actually, I’ll go further and say that nearly every statement in this comment is either outright wrong or misleading.

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          • Blogospheroid says:

            I admit that a lot of that was speculative. But I don’t think I intended to mislead, in any way.

            NRx prefers formalism. NRx prefers exit. Scott believes in the possibility of a singleton, and hence it is more important for him to clarify values compared to a hardcore NRx who would’ve just said “you go your way and I go mine”. The problem when anyone believes in the possibility of an intelligence explosion and the “hostile takeover” of the universe, is that you simply cannot let anyone “go their own way”

            Is any of this outright wrong? If so, point out the flaws please..

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    • B says:

      I think the “Nerdalf the Grey” job’s been taken. Patri Friedman was going for a kinder, gentler NRx, wasn’t he?

      Friedman strikes me as the quintessential hyper-smart person with a mix of actually strong convictions, and trying to achieve his goals by fashionable opportunism[1], so he’s a much better salesman than OGH here anyway.

      But yeah, this post was mirror universe Moldbug to the extreme. I wonder who of them has the goatee. How else will we know who’s the evil Spock?

      [1] Grey tribe alert: Much like Rothbard.

      [2] Full disclosure: I’d classify myself as adherent of post-libertarian “dark enlightenment” ideas, but I don’t really have an ingroup, unless booze counts. Gentle, but pretty much total, despair is about as fun as it sounds BTW.

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  35. Emile says:

    I get the impression that back in the days of the wars of religion, this was “solved” by the idea of religious tolerance, because at that time “religion” was the best way to refer to this kind of group difference. Unfortunately the group boundaries shifted a bit, and while everybody agrees that religious tolerance and “separation of church and state” are good things, that doesn’t help them get along with the outgroup any better.

    Which is why I often find militant atheism a bit misguided – sure, some forms of group identification include incorrect beliefs among their banners, but focusing on those incorrect beliefs makes you miss the useful attributes of groups (in terms of getting organized to Get Shit Done), as well as the bad aspects of your own group.

    Sometimes atheism feels a bit like analysing 20th century European History by looking at which flag designs had harmonious colour combinations.

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    • Jaskologist says:

      Modern Americans have absorbed the language of religious tolerance and “separation of church and state” without the substance. The trouble is that Blues think their beliefs are not, in every way that matters, religious, while Reds’ are. Therefore, it’s ok to push Blue beliefs through the state, and Red beliefs must be a priori excluded. So we’re back where we started.

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      • Mary says:

        There is no surer way to produce incoherence from a lefty than to cite Martin Luther King Jr.’s criterion for choosing legislators.

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          • Anonymous says:

            “Let us march on ballot boxes until we send to our city councils, state legislatures, and the United States Congress, men who will not fear to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with thy God.”

            That’s a Biblical allusion, too, which, as we all know, means that the political cause to which it is affiliated is irrevocably tainted with religiosity.

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        • cassander says:

          I ask them why they think there are few conservatives at the top of academia, and when they say something like “oh, they prefer to go and murder poor people make money” I respond “oh, then I assume that’s why you think there aren’t many women/blacks/whatever there as well.” Yours is shorter, however, which makes it better. Today you will often hear king referred to as Dr. King, very rarely as Dr. Reverend or Reverend Dr. King. I don’t think I’ve ever heard him referred to Reverend King in the modern age (except by other religious figures), though it was quite common when he was alive.

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        • Luke Somers says:

          So, umm, he was religious, and thought that was important? I’m not sure what the problem was. Carter is Born-Again.

          Hmm. Maybe you’re objecting to people choosing to base their policies on religion? Reverend King’s quote seems to me rather more to be a judgement of character than a list of positions. In that, I would disagree with him.

          If you fail to find this incoherent, I guess I’m no true lefty.

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    • Multiheaded says:

      Good observation!

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  36. Null Hypothesis says:

    Bill Whittle Covered this fairly well in one of his videos. Calling it Oikophobia, and covering it in the context of the Red vs Blue culture war. Obviously, this comes from a Blue-turned-Red tribe member, and the othering you expect.

    But he covers the self-segregation, and one of the potential sources historical sources of this other-love, self-hatred is cultural marxism, which seeks to undermine the west by launching seemingly unconnected attacks at the root morality of the country via critical theory (culminating in SJW), waging a culture war since they lost the economic one. Though, also, while he claims it the source this time, he sees it as a basic flaw in humans, and regardless of whatever catalyzes it, it’s the same feeling that brings down every empire in history, driven mad with guilt by their opulence, and their need to other themselves from their own culture.
    Oikophobia: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqNVpACRLaI
    (only relavent watching until ~5:00 after which it becomes a “politics is downstream of culture” plug)
    Critical Theory & the Narrative: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q6c_dinY3fM

    Evan Sayet also covers a potential mental source, in a much longer video. The first 20min seem fairly insubstantial – he’s just rattling off ideas and generalizations, othering the heck out of the blue group (mentality of 5 year olds). But the second half comes around and the examples he provides are very general, and seem to hit spot on the nose.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eaE98w1KZ-c

    His theory is that many people take it as a moral imperative to be anti-discriminatory. Multiculturally-pure in thought. These people then, looking at huge discrepancies in wealth, success, and happiness between different cultures – having ruled out that any culture can be more valid or effective than the other – comes to the only conclusion left, which is that the successful cultures must’ve gotten lucky. Then they look and see that those cultures have been more successful for over a century, and conclude that it can’t be luck – it must be deliberate evil cheating. The larger the success, the more evil they must have been. So they tear down everything good, and elevate everything that’s evil. The greater the good and success, the worse it must be. Teenage abstinence, capitalism, Jews, etc. Anyway, another potential source of this oikophobia.

    And I say they describe ‘sources’, because I personally, (as a blue-behaving but politically red) I think it is interesting the way that the two groups other each-other. I largely notice my blue-group friends other the red group by calling them “evil, racist, bigoted” etc. They other the Reds by claiming that they are evil – that they know everything they do hurts others and they do it anyway. It’s an attack on their character and humanity.

    The Red group calls people “Socialist/communist/marxist, eco-weenies, scare-mongers, stupid, childish etc.”. They don’t seem to think the other group is evil. They think they’re misguided or stupid – or in the cases where they obviously DO consider them evil, they use labels that don’t claim the person is evil, but their plans for how to run a country are evil. Notwithstanding claims of whatever demo-gouge of the week being the “anti-Christ”, of course.

    But in short, I notice this self-othering a LOT more in the blue group than the red. The older red-group members are often converts from the Blue group, so that might have something to do with it. But it seems like the red group others institutions and politics and their leaders, while wanting to convert blue group members, and the blue group just others red-group members and consider them all lost-causes that just need to be suppressed. It seems to me at least, that the Blue group considers the Red Group others much more than the red group does. Or at least, considering the relative degree of self-censorship, the Blues have been much more effective at it. So it’s worth looking at potential things which have catalyzed this shift to attacking the other group so directly, as members, rather than their policies as a group.

    Feel free to provide counter-examples. Happy to hear them. Same goes for the videos, but there’s a bit too much content there for me to discuss details – I don’t agree with everything said, just that the messages are interesting and seem to contain some fraction of the truth.

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  37. Baby Beluga says:

    Scott, the last part of this essay was one of the most brilliant things you’ve ever written. And the rest of the essay was brilliant too, for having hid the “a-ha” moment from me (and, I suppose, from you) until the very end.

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  38. social justice warlock says:

    One neat thing that you see at the fringes – at least, this is true for neoreaction and Marxism – is that there are only a few people around, so they have to interact with each other, but they’re also divided into camps that despise each other. And this is excellent for intellectual development! (Also if you’re on the fringes you spend most of your time interacting with liberals of one sort or another, so there’s that.)

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  39. Douglas Knight says:

    Nitpicking…

    A recent article from War Nerd points out that the British, after spending centuries subjugating and despising the Irish and Sikhs, suddenly needed Irish and Sikh soldiers for World Wars I and II respectively.

    That’s awfully specific and doesn’t seem to match the cited article. The article is mainly about the Irish and I guess it says WWI. But the Sikhs were never despised and were recruited as soldiers immediately after being conquered, not with a century delay. That’s pretty typical – the Empire didn’t last long enough to have an about face on many peoples.

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    • Slow Learner says:

      Also the Irish – even pre-Famine, around 25% of the British Army’s personnel were Irish, and that is *outside* the Irish Regiments. Recruiting the Irish to the British Army was hardly a new thing, it has been going on for almost as long as there has been a British Army – (nor was the British Army the only one to recruit Irishmen, view the “Wild Geese” of the late C17th for an example).

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  40. JRM says:

    Great post.

    I’m one of the few Republicans around these parts. I’m not a Libertarian. I’m irreligious, and probably identify with Orin Kerr of the Volokh Conspiracy best of public Republicans.

    I am in a different situation: I am a member of several groups of friends in which I am the only Republican. (I was a newspaper reporter 25 years ago; I was the only non-Libertarian Republican there, too.) Some of my friends work for the government, and they still have only me to ask about What Republicans Think. (I am sure this would make the party regretful if I were the actual spokescritter.)

    I find the people I want to talk to are willing to talk about the flaws of both sides. If you’re just arguing your point, you’re not interesting.

    And you have to care about the actual truth. The people defending Neil Tyson on his made-a-bunch-of-quotes-up problem are not interesting to me. (And the Tyson thing makes me sad.) The people who defended Alberto Gonzales on my side made me sad, too.

    I get into discussions with Libertarians who do not care about the truth *at all* too often. But I also, long ago, had a friend who gave me Harry Browne’s position papers. It included obviously false statements about crime. I pointed these out to my friend. He asked the Browne campaign for comment. They gave some mealy-mouthed statement, and he publicly quit supporting Browne.

    I still have good feelings for that dude.

    Your post helped me recognize why it’s easy for me to grump at Republicans, because there is a group of Republicans that is not my in-group, as I am not religious. I’ll take care to recognize that. I think it’s important.

    Finally, a story from a San Francisco Jonathan Coulton concert. Paul and Storm were opening.

    At some point they asked:

    “Are there any Republican nerds?” or somesuch. The crown groaned. I cheered. My wife cringed. We were not hanged in the public square. (The lesbian couple nearby glared at us slightly.) So it went better than she thought it would.

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    • Nornagest says:

      Sure, there are Red nerds. Back when I spent more time administering MUDs than just writing them, I had to deal with one kid who divided his time more or less evenly between denouncing evolution on public chat and submitting player content plagiarized from Star Trek monsters-of-the-week — a tricky thing for me to to catch since I am not and have never been a Trekkie, though I think I ended up rejecting a lot of it on quality grounds. As to the evolution stuff, the best thing I can say about it is that it indirectly taught me a lot about stratigraphy.

      Probably aren’t as many of them as Blues or Grays, though, and I get a vague sense that this is truer now than it was twenty, thirty years ago. (I think most of the people that would have been Red then are now Gray.)

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      • Salem says:

        There are vast numbers of red nerds, but they’re nerdy in different ways.

        The quiet, devout, bookish kid who loves Sunday school, volunteers (reluctantly) in the Scouts and can quote any Bible passage to you is most definitely a nerd, even if he doesn’t go to a Jonathon Coulton concert in San Francisco.

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        • nydwracu says:

          Smart Reds are probably less likely to become nerds than smart Blues are.

          I suspect this is because Reds don’t pull the Jante-law horseshit Blues do — and in my experience, the belief that intelligent people are completely different with anyone else and the two groups can never interact is very specifically Blue. The one Blue in my family is convinced that literally all smart people are autistic.

          The fallacious belief that the world must be fair is trivially easy to see in Blues — how many think that the intelligence gap doesn’t exist? (No, I don’t mean “think there’s no genetic difference in intelligence between the races”; I mean “think that, as a matter of actually-existing empirical fact, there is no difference in the average intelligence of the races”.) And who’s the target market for Howard Gardner’s not-even-pseudoscience?

          That fair-world fallacy probably does great harm, Harrison Bergeron-style, to anyone genuinely good at anything, especially the innately intelligent: common beliefs create social expectations, and social expectations create roles. (I am very conscious of the fact that, whenever the one Blue in my family is around, I have to act in accordance with a certain role, there is nothing I can do about it, and there is no way I can escape it. Then again, this is true of most people; the difference is in whether the roles are useful or harmful. The only Blues I can stand are the ones who can see through the vast, steaming mounds of bullshit that are inseparable from orthodox Blueism.)

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          • Nornagest says:

            in my experience, the belief that intelligent people are completely different with anyone else and the two groups can never interact is very specifically Blue. The one Blue in my family is convinced that literally all smart people are autistic.

            I think you might be suffering from a little outgroup homogeneity here.

            Sure, I’ve run into that attitude; a Howard Gardner disciple in my family once tried to convince me that I was an Asperger case, for example, fortunately after I was old enough to identify it as bullshit. And it does seem to correlate with a particular strain of Blue: true believers in equality, the sort for whom there’s no such thing as a natural advantage, only various forms of fraud, malice, and unearned cultural favoritism.

            But there’s a lot more shades of Blue than that, and you’re describing a very deep one. I wouldn’t call that sort of thing a consensus at your average Blue university, let alone among the rank and file out in the real world.

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          • Lizardbreath says:

            I mostly agree, though your link doesn’t address the issue of high-V people born into red families. (My guess: They often do well in school and grow into “blues who don’t realize how hostile blues are to undeniably-intellectually-different children,” since when they were kids, their red families insulated them from this.)

            (Yes, even you to an extent. I’d written a reply on this to your comment about your educational history, but I sat on it and then Scott locked the old posts, and it’s really too long to repost here where it’s OT. BTW…I’d *much* rather put this under your original comment referencing your experiences at Can’t Tell You and asking other attendees to speak up, but since Scott did lock the old posts…I went too, and since your other posts suggest you’re a SET member too, so am I.)

            How familiar are you with the educationists (researchers, teachers, school psychologists and administrators) on this issue? There’s *a lot* of social pressure to “just give in and admit they’re just all autistic”–in defiance of the common sense articulated by, for example, Linda Silverman, that you’d *expect* someone who is (for example) mentally 9 not to fit in with 6-year-olds.

            (LessWrongers for some reason also often seem to resist this commonsense attitude. I think it may be IQ worship, in both cases. Both groups often seem to project the attitude that, “If you’re not autistic then a high IQ should make you *perfect*! A high IQ can never cause any problems or ever have any downside whatsoever!”)

            But the other reason for the pressure was just that an “Asperger’s” label *got help* (an IEP can easily include “advanced work” as well as “tolerance for apparent poor social skills”), while a “gifted” label…often doesn’t (in the US, for example, IDEA doesn’t apply) and on top of that is politically incorrect.

            Gayle Dallaston has been writing on this topic since the ’90s. For example, this post (and her blog in general).

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          • Nornagest says:

            LessWrongers for some reason also often seem to resist this commonsense attitude. I think it may be IQ worship…

            That’s exactly what it is. For all its (commendable) devotion to the growth mindset and focus on building practical thinking skills, LW is still a product of the American geek culture; and if I had to pick a single defining trait of that culture, it’d be a single-minded focus on intelligence (and signaling thereof) to the exclusion and even to the detriment of everything else.

            Which is not to say that IQ isn’t important; a look over the psychometry literature shows that it is, very much so. But its importance doesn’t come out in the ways you’d think it would if all you had to go by was, say, Methods of Rationality. Or, unfortunately, the way gifted pupils’ programs in the US are structured.

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          • veronica d says:

            @Nornagest — For me the realization happened maybe eight or ten years ago. I do not now remember just what the catalyst was — lots of stuff going on in my life at the time — but I recall thinking, you know, being smart is maybe overrated and there is other stuff that matters a lot.

            Such as being kind.

            It probably had to do with reading Impro. A sample:

            I tried to resist my schooling, but I accepted the idea that my intelligence was the most important part of me. I tried to be *clever* in everything I did. The damage was greatest in areas where my interests and the school’s seemed to coincide: in writing, for example (I wrote and rewrote, and lost all my fluency). I forgot that inspiration isn’t intellectual, that you don’t have to be perfect. In the end I was reluctant to attempt anything for fear of failure, and my first thoughts never seemed good enough. Everything had to be corrected and brought in line.

            The spell broke when I was in my early twenties. I saw a performance of Dovzhenko’s Earth, a film which is a closed book for many people, but which threw me into a state of exaltation and confusion. There is a sequence in which the hero, Vassily, walks alone in the twilight. We know he’s in danger, and we have just seen him comforting his wife, who rolled her eyes like a frightened animal. There are shots of mist moving eerily on water, and silent horses stretching their necks, and corn-stocks against the dusky sky. Then, amazingly, peasants lying side by side, the men with their hands inside the women’s blouses and motionless, with idiotic smiles on their faces as they stare at the twilight. Vassily, dressed in black, walks through the Chagall village, and the dust curls up in little clouds around his feet and he is dark against the moonlit road, and he is filled with the same ecstasy as the peasants. He walks and walks and the film cuts and cuts until he walks out of frame. Then the camera moves back, and we see him stop. The fact that he walks for so long, and that the image is so beautiful, linked up with my own experience of being alone in the twilight—the gap between the worlds. Then Vassily walks again, but after a short time he begins to dance, and the dance is skilled, and like an act of thanksgiving. The dust swirls around his feet, so that he’s like an Indian god, like Siva—and with the man dancing alone in the clouds of dust something unlocked in me. In one moment I knew that the valuing of men by their intelligence is crazy, and that peasants watching the night sky might feel more than I feel, and that the man who dances might be superior to myself—word-bound and unable to dance. From then on I noticed how warped people of great intelligence are, and I began to value people for their actions, rather than their thoughts.

            I still think intelligence is enormously valuable. I’m a math geek after all. But it can become a trap.

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          • Viliam Búr says:

            For all its (commendable) devotion to the growth mindset and focus on building practical thinking skills, LW is still a product of the American geek culture; and if I had to pick a single defining trait of that culture, it’d be a single-minded focus on intelligence (and signaling thereof) to the exclusion and even to the detriment of everything else.

            You made me think. I started writing a disagreeing comment, but then I realized I probably still see LW as… the Sequences… while the reality is probably more like what you describe. Gradually, LW is becoming just another Mensa.

            🙁

            I still hope such fate can be avoided, but I am not sure how. (I am sure there are at least two tribes who believe the solution is to give their tribe more power, and then everything will magically become great. I am specifically not interested in this kind of advice. Because if it worked, then the other places where your tribe has more power, would already be awesome.)

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          • nydwracu says:

            Lizardbreath: I’m not familiar with the research at all. I’m just basing it on my own experiences and what my parents have told me. This is probably relevant to the diagnosis thing. (If you want to email me, throw a comment on my blog — ‘asdf’ on the about page, whatever.)

            ——

            veronica d: Is there a publicly-traded company that sells heaters in hell? Because I (almost) completely agree.

            ——

            I am sure there are at least two tribes who believe the solution is to give their tribe more power, and then everything will magically become great. I am specifically not interested in this kind of advice. Because if it worked, then the other places where your tribe has more power, would already be awesome.

            Not necessarily. If your tribe perceives itself to be threatened everywhere, it’s going to respond to that in predictable ways, including all sorts of overreactions deemed necessary by the perceived state of emergency — and this uneasiness will likely persist for long after a truce, in the unlikely event that one ever comes.

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  41. Tarn Somervell says:

    //And if you mix together the open-source tech industry and the parallel universe where you can’t wear a FreeBSD t-shirt without risking someone trying to exorcise you, //

    This link is malformed – it goes to http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/09/30/i-can-tolerate-anything-except-the-outgroup/%E2%80%9Dhttp:/rmitz.org/freebsd.daemon.html%E2%80%9D , not http:/rmitz.org/freebsd.daemon.html%E2%80%9D

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  42. Coscott says:

    Before reading this I thought I would get especially upset with SJs because it bothered me more to see the in group (blue tribe) do stupid annoying stuff, because I expected better from them.

    After reading this, I think that maybe the red tribe are the people so far away from me to not even be considered out group, and that SJs in the blue tribe are my actual out group.

    I think it is accurate to consider the grey tribe as part of the blue tribe, and I think that what is happening here is that for some blue tribe people, the red tribe starts to feel so distant that they are no longer really the out group, and so the new out group becomes whichever side of the grey/non-grey split they do not fall on.

    I think that happens in both directions. There are also many non-grey blues who get more upset with the grey tribe than the red tribe. I also would not be surprised if there is a similar split in the red tribe, but I do not know nearly enough about them to know.

    I wonder if maybe there are some Blues who interact with Reds enough to consider them the out group, and the people who do not interact with Reds very much are the people who start to fight within the Blue tribe. Scott and I seem like two examples of people who feel like we have never met a Red, and we both seem to get especially upset other Blues. Any thoughts/anecdotal evidence on this theory?

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    • Scott classifies libertarians as greys and blues, but in the U.S. libertarian politicians are mostly Republicans. So you see greys attacking the blue coalition and trying to form a coalition of their own with the ‘traditionalist’ reds. LW libertarians and LW liberals may work differently, but I’m less confident saying very much about them, because they’re small, quickly-changing groups that haven’t been studied much.

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      • Coscott says:

        I think that it is important to remember that your tribe is not just your political beliefs.

        I think libertarian and Grey tribe are far from synonymous. For example I think that LW is primarily grey tribe (even though many of them avoid labels like that), in spite of the fact that LW is only about 1/3 libertarian. I think that I am closest to this grey tribe, and I am not a libertarian. I also think that there is a large difference between libertarian republican politicians and libertarian LW people.

        This is not to say that I think that Grey tribe only refers to LW. I think most but not all of the “skeptics” and angry atheists fall in the Grey tribe, as well as some groups that have nothing to do with rationality, like the men’s rights movement. I might even say that Reddit looks more like the Grey tribe than the non-grey Blue tribe. Basically, all those people who are obviously way closer to the liberals in the Blue tribe than the religious right int the red tribe, but still somehow manage to get into fights all the time with the SJs and other mainstream Blues.

        I might be identifying a different Grey cluster than the one Scott had in mind, but I do not think so.

        It might be that the split in the Red tribe that I do not know about is also between the libertarians and the non-libertarians, but I think that is coincidence, and the Red libertarians are very far from the Greys, even though they might vote the same way sometimes.

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      • Ken Arromdee says:

        Along those lines, it’s important to remember that parties *in general* are coalitions.

        When Scott points out that LW doesn’t have many conservatives who are non-libertarian types, he could equally point out that it doesn’t have many liberals who are X, where X is any of a number of groups that are part of the coalition, but distinct. (I don’t think there are many outright Marxists on LW). If you’re going to divide the reds into subgroups, you really ought to be dividing the groups into subgroups too; they’re coalitions just like the reds.

        Of course, if Scott divides up both the blues and the reds, he no longer gets to say that the reds are excluded but the blues aren’t. Rather, subgroups of both are excluded. It just seems like only reds are excluded because he’s splitting up the reds but not the blues.

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        • I think the size of the subgroup is what matters, Ken. There are a lot more creationists and (non-monarchist) social conservatives in the U.S. than Marxists. We’re not talking about tiny gerrymandered slivers of U.S. political coalitions.

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  43. noahluck says:

    I want to form a new tribe. Hm, how about having a Yellow tribe typified by libertarian-communist political beliefs, strong Alain de Botton-style atheist religious beliefs, pushing polyamory norms, owning kirpan-like non-lethal guns, eating nutritionally complete GMO veggies and vat-meat steaks, drinking tea made with flouridated and lithiated tap water, driving motorcycles, listening to lots of podcasts, enjoying a cross between rugby and the board game Go, getting conspicuously upset about coordination failures and uncalibrated predictions, marrying early and often, constantly pointing out how much more civilized fictional countries are than America, and listening to playlists of all the world’s recorded music filtered for emotional valence and otherwise randomized.

    I don’t currently fit into any of those categories, but if the tribe actually coalesced I’d happily gravitate into it.

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  44. Sacred Cow says:

    Human social psychology is torn between inter- and intra-group competition. Members of the Red Tribe are specialists at inter-group competition, with an emphasis on order, loyalty, and authority. Members of the Blue Tribe are specialists at intra-group competition, with an emphasis on anarchy, rebellion, and revolution. The Red Tribe builds social capital, but it has a tendency to fossilise norms and institutions. The Blue Tribe dismantles norms and institutions, but it has a tendency to destroy social capital. A healthy civilisation preserves a balance between inter- and intra-group competition, but this requires that members of the Red and Blue tribe actually tolerate and compromise with each other.

    Members of the Blue Tribe are mostly concerned with intra-group competition, so they celebrate Thatcher’s death. The Red Tribe is mostly concerned with inter-group competition, so they celebrate Bin Laden’s death. Indeed, the Blues used Bin Laden’s death to score virtue points against the Red Tribe, while the Red Tribe used Thatcher’s death to affirm loyalty and authority (note the emphasis on the Falklands War).

    The reason you are turning against the Blue Tribe is precisely because you’re so far removed from the Red Tribe. They are no longer the competition. You can no longer gain status by demeaning the Red Tribe, because they seem so marginal, uninfluential, and distant to you. To gain status, you have to pull down high status people, and the Blue Tribe has proven itself so good at intra-group competition that it now occupies most positions of influence, power, and status. Therefore, you have to attack your own Tribe.

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  45. Thecommexokid says:

    Since so many people in the comments seem to suggest that your bubble is atypical and you are generalizing from one example, I wanted to be a data-point of positive reinforcement. Your dark-matter conservatives analogy perfectly captures a feeling I have had many times without nearly so eloquent a way of expressing it. (To the point where I read only the first sentence of section IV before rejoicing that you were about to put it into words.) I hear about various poll numbers or election results and I think, who are these people and how can there possibly be 150 million of them in the country?

    So at least if this does turn out to be a bizarre and idiosyncratic viewpoint, you’re now generalizing from two examples.

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    • blacktrance says:

      I’d like to add a third similar data point. While I used to know conservatives back when I lived in the South (difficult not to know them then), at college and later I never encountered any except one Mitt Romney-type. No Young Earth Creationists, certainly. But I’ve seen where these other people live – they’re in their own enclaves, equally unaware of the other side. And indeed, there is a significant amount of similarity in being a Blue among Reds and a Grey among Blues.

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      • Ken Arromdee says:

        If you’re at a college, the number of young earth creationists will be reduced, because the argument “if they’re educated, they’re less likely to be X” is actually true for young earth creationism. As an example of a red belief, young earth creationism is an outlier in that it directly addresses a purely factual matter; it’s not a question of values or speculation about consequences, at least not the way it’s normally presented. (though of course those other considerations can affect one’s bias in evaluating the facts)

        Try picking almost any red belief other than creationism.

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    • Leonard says:

      Also: “I live in a rather special world. I only know one person who voted for Nixon. Where they are I don’t know. They’re outside my ken. But sometimes when I’m in a theater I can feel them.”

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    • MugaSofer says:

      I’d also like to add my personal data point to this.

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    • ADifferentAnonymous says:

      And my axe. My social circle includes people who bristle at the first sign of red, and they very rarely bristle.

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  46. lmm says:

    HTML error in the past about the FreeBSD daemon t-shirt.

    I thought the idea was that it was ok to discriminate on political views because they’re a choice, I mean, that’s right up there with discriminating on moral judgement or job ability. But I guess maybe when you’re part of a tribe your party affiliation isn’t actually such a free choice.

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  47. Pingback: Outside in - Involvements with reality » Blog Archive » Quote note (#114)

  48. nemryn says:

    Something odd happened to Section XI, somewhere around ‘criterion of embarrassment’.

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    • Paul Crowley says:

      Yes, a huge chunk of text is missing because of a broken smart quote. Here it is:

      And if you mix together the open-source tech industry and the parallel universe where you can’t wear a FreeBSD t-shirt without risking someone trying to exorcise you, you can prove that Christians are scary and very powerful people who are persecuting everyone else all the time, and you have a great excuse for kicking one of the few people willing to affiliate with the Red Tribe, a guy who never hurt anyone, out of town.
      When a friend of mine heard Eich got fired, she didn’t see anything wrong with it. “I can tolerate anything except intolerance,” she said.
      “Intolerance” is starting to look like another one of those words like “white” and “American”.
      “I can tolerate anything except the outgroup.” Doesn’t sound quite so noble now, does it?
      XI.
      We started by asking: millions of people are conspicuously praising every outgroup they can think of, while conspicuously condemning their own in-group. This seems contrary to what we know about social psychology. What’s up?
      We noted that outgroups are rarely literally “the group most different from you”, and in fact far more likely to be groups very similar to you sharing almost all your characteristics and living in the same area.
      We then noted that although liberals and conservatives live in the same area, they might as well be two totally different countries or universe as far as level of interaction were concerned.
      Contra the usual idea of them being marked only by voting behavior, we described them as very different tribes with totally different cultures. You can speak of “American culture” only in the same way you can speak of “Asian culture” – that is, with a lot of interior boundaries being pushed under the rug.
      The outgroup of the Red Tribe is occasionally blacks and gays and Muslims, more often the Blue Tribe.
      The Blue Tribe has performed some kind of very impressive act of alchemy, and transmuted all of its outgroup hatred to the Red Tribe.
      This is not surprising. Ethnic differences have proven quite tractable in the face of shared strategic aims. Even the Nazis, not known for their ethnic tolerance, were able to get all buddy-buddy with the Japanese when they had a common cause.
      Research suggests Blue Tribe / Red Tribe prejudice to be much stronger than better-known types of prejudice like racism. Once the Blue Tribe was able to enlist the blacks and gays and Muslims in their ranks, they became allies of convenience who deserve to be rehabilitated with mildly condescending paeans to their virtue. “There never was a coward where the shamrock grows.”
      Spending your entire life insulting the other tribe and talking about how terrible they are makes you look, well, tribalistic. It is definitely not high class. So when members of the Blue Tribe decide to dedicate their entire life to yelling about how terrible the Red Tribe is, they make sure that instead of saying “the Red Tribe”, they say “America”, or “white people”, or “straight white men”. That way it’s humble self-criticism. They are so interested in justice that they are willing to critique their own beloved side, much as it pains them to do so. We know they are not exaggerating, because one might exaggerate the flaws of an enemy, but that anyone would exaggerate their own flaws fails the criterion of embarrassment.

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  49. Thecommexokid says:

    The Red Tribe is most classically typified by conservative political beliefs, strong evangelical religious beliefs, creationism, opposing gay marriage, owning guns, eating steak, drinking Coca-Cola, driving SUVs, watching lots of TV, enjoying American football, getting conspicuously upset about terrorists and commies, marrying early, divorcing early, shouting “USA IS NUMBER ONE!!!”, and listening to country music.

    The Blue Tribe is most classically typified by liberal political beliefs, vague agnosticism, supporting gay rights, thinking guns are barbaric, eating arugula, drinking fancy bottled water, driving Priuses, reading lots of books, being highly educated, mocking American football, feeling vaguely like they should like soccer but never really being able to get into it, getting conspicuously upset about sexists and bigots, marrying later, constantly pointing out how much more civilized European countries are than America, and listening to “everything except country”.

    Premise granted.

    And so how virtuous, how noble the Blue Tribe! Perfectly tolerant of all of the different groups that just so happen to be allied with them, never intolerant unless it happen to be against intolerance itself. Never stooping to engage in petty tribal conflict like that awful Red Tribe, but always nobly criticizing their own culture and striving to make it better!

    But what’s to be done about the fact that this really often does describe the way it feels from the inside? I recognize that the situation shows all the trappings of intolerance due to typical in-group/out-group dynamics, but that doesn’t make me stop feeling, honestly and deeply, that gay marriage and gun control are clearly right and evangelism and terrorist fear-mongering clearly wrong; from the inside, intolerance feels like the correct response.

    So untainted by in/out-group dynamics, what are you suggesting is the correct attitude a Blue Tribe member ought to adopt toward the Red Tribe?

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    • blacktrance says:

      There are different kinds of intolerance. There’s intolerance of incorrect views – if someone is wrong, you engage them and try to change their mind. There’s intolerance of disagreement – if someone voices an incorrect view, they should be stopped to punish them and/or to prevent them from spreading it, even if it’s done in an underhanded manner. There’s intolerance about beliefs – even if someone doesn’t actively voice a view you disagree with, as long as you’re aware that they hold that view, you punish them for it. It’s important to distinguish between different points on this spectrum. The first kind of intolerance is completely fine, the latter two are injurious to truth-seeking discourse.

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      • Randy M says:

        It’s unclear how you differentiate “intolerance of views” and “intolerance of beliefs” which seem synonyms to me, but I gather they could be restated as “intolerance of views themselves” and “intolerance of a person’s holding a belief”?

        Although honestly even the first kind can be counter-productive and obnoxious if one is not judicious in exercising it.

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        • blacktrance says:

          Yes, that is more accurate terminology, thanks. It’s the difference between “X is a terrible and wrong belief and I’ll fight against it” and “You’re a bad person for believing X, and I’m going to punish you for it”.

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    • This advice may not generalize to less sophisticated Blues, but for a Slate Star Codex reader, the right approach might be to spend time meditating on the possibility that you’re wrong on those topics. Consider times you’ve been similarly convinced and turned out to be wrong; visualize a world where you’re wrong on these issues; and try to imagine (or better yet discover) people you respect arguing for the opposite of your position.

      This is relatively difficult to do for evangelism and gay marriage — it would require a rather lengthy excursion down some theological or reactionary rabbit-holes — but writers like Sam Harris could plausibly help you make headway on gun control (‘The Riddle of the Gun‘) and counterterrorism (‘The End of Liberalism‘). Or you can try to imagine Scott making arguments along those lines (cf. ‘Military Strikes are an Extremely Cheap Way to Help Foreigners‘).

      It may also help to meditate on the possibility that politics is the mind-killer on a much deeper level than you’ve considered, and that the effort spent diminishing the power of the Reds may cause more harm than good if it proportionally increases the prominence of Politics Itself.

      Shifting object-level and trying to expose yourself to specific data that goes against (or rather, tests) your assumptions tends to be more useful than trying to abstractly or indirectly trick yourself into becoming less partisan. If you get enough good object-level examples of topics where you were wrong or overconfident in favor of the Blues, or at least get a better sense of how an intelligent person could disagree with you, that should make it easier to spot errors like confirmation bias in your future reasoning.

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        • Multiheaded says:

          Reading the parts about marriage and support for single motherhood from Eastern Europe specifically has always annoyed me so much…

          Like, here we all got two of these unquestionable and rational improvements to society after the war. And those crazy foreign barbarians who look down on us all the time… would turn around and torment their own citizens after superstitiously ascribing something bad to things that we never even doubt being right about?

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      • Anonymous says:

        The concept of marriage being applied to gay marriage makes a traditionalist feel very similarly to how a person of an ethnic group might be made feel by so called cultural appropriation.

        If you think that marriage is sacred and has a meaning beyond being simply a contract to make things easier, then observing legalization of gay marriage might feel like they are doing it without understanding of cultural significance of marriage and without interest to try to understand it. Just like wearing a religious symbol without actually having a belief. Or like hipster trying to feel authenticity without actually being authentic.

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        • Nita says:

          Firstly, I would find that argument more persuasive if they applied the same logic to heterosexual non-traditionalists. As it is, even if we assume that traditionalists used to own “marriage” like a trademark, they have already lost it due to non-enforcement.

          And secondly, many gay people also consider marriage sacred and meaningful, some for very “traditional” reasons.

          So, the no-marriage-for-gays sentiment doesn’t seem to cut society along the proposed spiritual line.

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          • Randy M says:

            I don’t know which exact heterosexual non-traditionalists you mean, but a great many traditionalists would agree with you about the broader conservative movement shutting the door after most of the cows are gone.

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        • Andrew says:

          I assume you’re playing devil’s advocate here… I think your argument is extremely poor.

          The logic of “cultural appropriation” wouldn’t work if 10% of the children of parents within a given culture randomly (or at least, owing to unknown biological causes) turned out to be members of a different culture. Like if 10% of children of (culturally) Japanese parents were, because of some mysterious biological quirk, actually cultural Jews.

          It’s also a bit silly to suggest that a gay child does not grow up understanding the traditional significance of marriage in exactly the same way as a straight child. They understand it the same way, and still want it for themselves.

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    • Tracy W says:

      ” that gay marriage and gun control are clearly right and evangelism and terrorist fear-mongering clearly wrong; from the inside, intolerance feels like the correct response.”

      Read J.S. Mills’ Chapter 2 of On Liberty and convince yourself of the merits of engaging with ideas, even ideas that are wrong?

      To quote:

      However unwillingly a person who has a strong opinion may admit the possibility that his opinion may be false, he ought to be moved by the consideration that however true it may be, if it is not fully, frequently, and fearlessly discussed, it will be held as a dead dogma, not a living truth.

      ….
      The fact, however, is, that not only the grounds of the opinion are forgotten in the absence of discussion, but too often the meaning of the opinion itself. The words which convey it, cease to suggest ideas, or suggest only a small portion of those they were originally employed to communicate. Instead of a vivid conception and a living belief, there remain only a few phrases retained by rote; or, if any part, the shell and husk only of the meaning is retained, the finer essence being lost. The great chapter in human history which this fact occupies and fills, cannot be too earnestly studied and meditated on.

      II.27
      It is illustrated in the experience of almost all ethical doctrines and religious creeds. They are all full of meaning and vitality to those who originate them, and to the direct disciples of the originators. Their meaning continues to be felt in undiminished strength, and is perhaps brought out into even fuller consciousness, so long as the struggle lasts to give the doctrine or creed an ascendancy over other creeds. At last it either prevails, and becomes the general opinion, or its progress stops; it keeps possession of the ground it has gained, but ceases to spread further. When either of these results has become apparent, controversy on the subject flags, and gradually dies away.

      To what an extent doctrines intrinsically fitted to make the deepest impression upon the mind may remain in it as dead beliefs, without being ever realized in the imagination, the feelings, or the understanding, is exemplified by the manner in which the majority of believers hold the doctrines of Christianity. By Christianity I here mean what is accounted such by all churches and sects—the maxims and precepts contained in the New Testament. These are considered sacred, and accepted as laws, by all professing Christians. Yet it is scarcely too much to say that not one Christian in a thousand guides or tests his individual conduct by reference to those laws. The standard to which he does refer it, is the custom of his nation, his class, or his religious profession. He has thus, on the one hand, a collection of ethical maxims, which he believes to have been vouchsafed to him by infallible wisdom as rules for his government; and on the other, a set of every-day judgments and practices, which go a certain length with some of those maxims, not so great a length with others, stand in direct opposition to some, and are, on the whole, a compromise between the Christian creed and the interests and suggestions of worldly life. To the first of these standards he gives his homage; to the other his real allegiance. All Christians believe that the blessed are the poor and humble, and those who are ill-used by the world; that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven; that they should judge not, lest they be judged; that they should swear not at all; that they should love their neighbour as themselves; that if one take their cloak, they should give him their coat also; that they should take no thought for the morrow; that if they would be perfect, they should sell all that they have and give it to the poor. They are not insincere when they say that they believe these things. They do believe them, as people believe what they have always heard lauded and never discussed. But in the sense of that living belief which regulates conduct, they believe these doctrines just up to the point to which it is usual to act upon them. The doctrines in their integrity are serviceable to pelt adversaries with; and it is understood that they are to be put forward (when possible) as the reasons for whatever people do that they think laudable. But any one who reminded them that the maxims require an infinity of things which they never even think of doing, would gain nothing but to be classed among those very unpopular characters who affect to be better than other people. The doctrines have no hold on ordinary believers—are not a power in their minds. They have an habitual respect for the sound of them, but no feeling which spreads from the words to the things signified, and forces the mind to take them in, and make them conform to the formula.

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    • Scott Alexander says:

      If they’re wrong, the same attitude the people I described adopted toward Osama and ISIS – bad people who need to be stopped, but who you don’t feel some driving emotional desire to kick again and again and party at their deaths.

      This is my cached thought, but I’m not actually sure it’s right. The same emotional energy that drives real hatred might also drive being able to fight bad things. I’m not sure. But I’d like people to be more conscious of the question.

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  50. I’m realizing that I can form a 2×2 matrix for how I react when people say political things.

    * Ingroup says something that feels right: Yay! Cheer! Warm fuzzies!
    * Ingroup says something that feels wrong: Cringe, and think about maybe trying to object in a way that makes clear I’m still on their side, but more often than not just silently curse coalition politics. (I’m rather conflict-averse.)
    * Outgroup says something that feels right: Try to put it in terms that make it sound like an ingroup thing. This often works. If it doesn’t (i.e., because the thing directly opposes ingroup ideals), feel guilty.
    * Outgroup says something that feels wrong: Roll my eyes and ignore them. Don’t argue because all the ingroup members who aren’t as conflict-averse as I am are going to do that, so why bother?

    My political ingroups: Progressives. Social justice advocates. Grays whose relationship with traditional politics consists of evenhandedly analyzing all sides and saying objective-sounding smart things about them.

    My political outgroups: Conservatives. Radical leftists. Dogmatic libertarians. Grays whose relationship with traditional politics consists of denouncing the whole thing as a sham. (The latter two groups have heavy overlap.)

    If a group keeps saying things that sound right, then I’ll start to associate with them more and eventually start to consider them an ingroup. (This has happened over the past year with the kind of grayism Scott advocates on this blog.) But that’s not the only factor that can make something an ingroup. Social justice people routinely say things that sound wrong to me, but because of the background I come from and the makeup of my social circles, they’re still an ingroup.

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  51. Amanda L. says:

    I’m impressed with this post, because I didn’t realize that you noticed your recent-ish skew towards being (imo) disproportionately uncharitable to liberals in general, social justice liberals in particular. That’s cool.

    I’m trying to think of a group that it makes my blood boil to criticize, and it’s surprisingly situation specific. When hanging out with LW – style Gray Tribe members, that group is feminists. When hanging out with the typical classmate at my college (Harvard), that group is the Gray Tribe. Unless it’s my one friend here who’s reliably more conservative than me, who hates feminists and rather scorns LW – types, in which case it’s… classical liberals as a group, which to me is defined by a small-l libertarian aesthetic that includes flexibility of gender roles, but isn’t identified with any specific people I know except myself. So basically my ingroup is defined reactively in a way that maximizes my time spent sweating blood. But I actually sweat blood way less than when I hung out with only one tribe (feminists) and identified them as my ingroup, so this must actually have an inoculating effect.

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    • Scott’s been thinking about this for a while. He frequently notes that he has a hard time writing about social justice in an even-handed way — though it’s consistent to believe you’re better at thinking about social justice than other people are, while believing you’re worse at thinking about social justice than at thinking about other topics. He’s also written blog posts like ‘Right is the New Left‘ trying to figure out why he’s so viscerally squicked by bad Leftism.

      That said, I’m also surprised by the reflective conclusion. I’m usually surprised in the opposite direction, by the lack of LessWronger self-awareness — e.g., not noticing that the ‘motte-and-bailey’ concept is itself a motte-and-bailey (or a schema for such).

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      • coffeespoons says:

        I sort of feel as though SJ types are becoming the outgroup in the rationality community. I am relatively new to the community, and TBH I really want rationalists to approve of me. I find saying pro-SJ things or criticising anti-SJ stuff quite stressful, whereas I find it really easy to criticise SJ.

        [It’s not nearly as bad as in my pro-SJ friendship group, where I seem to get jumped on for even the mildest criticism of SJ].

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        • Scott Alexander says:

          I also feel this. I’m trying to figure out how to avoid outgrouping them, without having to resort to “never criticizing them at all”.

          My impression is that I am making reasonable criticisms and everyone else is like “Ha ha, you have never been more right, this times a million, take that you stupid out-group”.

          But impressions where I am in the right and everyone else is wrong are naturally suspect.

          This is an important thing to investigate and talk about, but investigating it and talking about it is sort of a form of participating in it.

          Right now I feel like I am successfully venting some anger in a way that will make each successive post on the issue less angry and more productive, but again, naturally suspect.

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          • Bugmaster says:

            FWIW, feminists and SJ types in general are definitely my out-group, and I agree with what you’re saying about them most of the time. Assuming that one of your goals is to avoid out-grouping them, this is probably not a good thing 🙁

            Perhaps the problem here is that you have a very clear yet evocative writing style; so when you point out some failure mode of the SJ movement, you end up skewering them. All you want to do is to shine some light on the subject, but you don’t have a flashlight — instead, what you’ve got is an X-ray laser.

            I’m not sure if there’s a good solution for this problem though… “Write more poorly” doesn’t seem like it fits.

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          • Meanwhile, feminists and SJ types are my in-group (even though we have our differences), and I have found most of Scott’s writing on those subjects (basically everything in “Things I Will Regret Writing” except for this post, which is awesome) to be substantially less charitable and more attacking-the-outgroup than his writing in general. There’s a marked stylistic difference in how he approaches it.

            And I think I understand why this is so, thanks to his writings on game-theoretic interpretations of niceness and charity. The way he sees it, to be nice and charitable is to cooperate in the Prisoner’s Dilemma, and the social justice movement has put up a giant sign out front saying “We will never cooperate with you because you are evil and it’s wrong to cooperate with evil”. The game-theoretically correct thing to do in that situation is to defect.

            Hopefully his future writing on these subjects will be more like this post. In my experience, social justice people are more willing to cooperate than it might initially seem.

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          • Bugmaster says:

            …and the social justice movement has put up a giant sign out front saying “We will never cooperate with you because you are evil and it’s wrong to cooperate with evil”.

            You know, this is actually one of my top problems with the SJ movement. The thing is, I’m not sure what else I can do in such a situation, other than to either defect or walk away; and walking away is not always an option (though, admittedly, it often is). Matthew (below) suggests asking the SJ people to be more charitable, but that can’t possibly work, because extending charity to evil is tantamount to condoning the evil itself. It would in fact be irrational for the SJ people to acquiesce to such a request.

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          • Lizardbreath says:

            I’m a gen X feminist who was targeted by millennial SJWs; you’re helping me. (So does the work of Will Shetterly, the baby boomer antiracist who…was targeted by millennial SJWs.)

            So thanks.

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          • MugaSofer says:

            >when you point out some failure mode of the SJ movement, you end up skewering them.

            >I’m not sure if there’s a good solution for this problem though… “Write more poorly” doesn’t seem like it fits.

            Skewer the “in-group” more often?

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          • Fazathra says:

            “>I’m not sure if there’s a good solution for this problem though… “Write more poorly” doesn’t seem like it fits.

            Skewer the “in-group” more often?”

            Or you could skewer another outgroup more who are also opposed by the SJW’s, like the neoreactionaries. The anti-reactionary FAQ could do with updating as as I think it misses some of neoreaction’s strongest points (even on the object level) and although your meditations on Moloch were a good start on critiquing their meta (in part), it was hardly a definitive takedown.

            Alternately, you could always just keep doing what you are doing as it seems to be working out pretty well for you and, although I’m sympathetic to the SJW’s aims, I increasingly think that their outgroup status here is well-deserved as they seem to be one of the few groups that interact with the lw-sphere which have institutionalised antirational norms.

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          • coffeespoons says:

            @Scott Alexander FWIW this post did seem less angry than previous posts on SJ.

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          • Tab Atkins says:

            It appears to me that you are indeed getting less angry and more productive as you go along.

            At least, I’m pretty sure my beliefs haven’t been significantly changing, but your posts have provoked less and less sputtering from me while reading. All your ones lately get maybe a sad head-shake at times, which is a great improvement.

            ——–

            There’s an old post of yours [[thanks for the link, Sniffnoy!]] about the Jew dealing with a bunch of negative characterizations in media/etc that were *technically correct* in the narrowest sense, but were indicative of a greater trend in the culture to discriminate against him, until he was outright out-grouped, describes precisely the reasons I comment here. Even when you’re precisely right, or at least are making well-reasoned and defendable points, many of the points made generalize into larger and more drastically wrong positions. The supporters you get on some of these kinds of posts often illustrate this problem, as they take your points further into the crazy side.

            As you’re getting less angry, and spending time banning the ruder of the commenters, this is getting much, much better, and drastically reducing my feeling of needing to comment defensively just to resist a trend. Thanks!

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          • Sniffnoy says:

            I believe this is the post you’re thinking of: http://squid314.livejournal.com/329171.html

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        • Drew Hardies says:

          I sort of feel as though SJ types are becoming the outgroup in the rationality community

          Is this unreasonable? The two activities seem fundamentally incompatible.

          Rationalist discussion tries to explore all sides of an idea. There’s a heavy focus on finding ‘good’ arguments for ‘bad’ ideas. A Blue-Triber who writes a clever defense of a Red position is doing rationalism really well.

          SJ discussion wants to promote a particular position. The focus is on advocacy. A Blue-Triber who writes a clever defense of a Red position is doing SJ very poorly.

          An individual could enjoy both sorts of discussion. But any sort of activity overlap seems to go really badly.

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          • Matthew says:

            I don’t think the issue is advocacy per se. Rationalists might be advocates for a lot of things. The issue is that the “safe space” mentality is terrible for epistemic hygiene. The SJWs destroyed their own epistemic hygiene in this way, and now they seem to be on a mission to destroy everyone else’s by making the entire world “safe space.”

            It’s not consciously malicious, but the effects are pernicious anyway. I’m not sure what to do about this. As per Taymon A. Beal’s 1:04am prisoner’s dilemma comment, I suppose the SJ could signal a desire to cooperate by retreating to a position of keeping their own “safe” spaces but not trying to conquer others. Unfortunately, there’s every reason to expect the process to repeat itself.

            (Unlike TAB,I think it’s SJ who need to make the gesture of good faith, not Scott et al.)

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          • Drew Hardies says:

            @Matthew: I agree that toxicity and sloppy thinking drive a lot of the current conflict.

            SJW attempts to get people fired for being wrong on the internet make discussions worse. I hope things improve.

            But even if we fixed the current problems, we’d still have one group trying to promote an idea, and the other trying to pick it apart.

            Even if everyone had the best intentions, SJ and Rationalism will mesh about as well as a drum line and a book club.

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      • Tom Hunt says:

        e.g., not noticing that the ‘motte-and-bailey’ concept is itself a motte-and-bailey (or a schema for such).

        I thought about this for several minutes and was unable to get at how it was supposed to work. How does a meta-analysis of object-level arguments itself fall into that category of object-level argument? I’d be quite sincerely interested in more elaboration.

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