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Links 3/16: Klapaucius And URL

“All infinite regresses are at most three levels deep”, versus the US military’s R4D program to build a radar detector detector detector detector.

Jury fines Gawker $115 million + for releasing a sex tape taken of wrestler Hulk Hogan without his consent. Key insane quote by Gawker founder Nick Denton: “We’re fighting for the truth to hold elites accountable…whether that light exposes a Florida celebrity having a swingers party invited by the host to have sex with his wife — whether it’s that or whether it’s the fact that the system is rigged and people can’t make it.”

The Thirty-Six Strategems of ancient China. Comes off as a cross between Machiavelli and a Chinese restaurant trying too hard to sound mysteriously Oriental. Strategem One is “Cross the sea without the Emperor’s knowledge”, Fifteen is “lure the tiger off its mountain lair”, Twenty-One is “slough off the cicada’s golden shell”.

Inside the Israeli army unit that recruits autistic teens.

Slate: Until 1950, US Weathermen Were Forbidden From Talking About Tornadoes. Officials worried that talk of tornadoes would create massive public panic; Midwestern businessmen worried about “giving potential investors the idea that their region was twister prone.”

Some of Silicon Valley’s most successful companies sell the service of circumventing annoying regulations. The unfortunately named Nurx promises to (legally) get you birth control without making you visit a doctor.

Meredith Patterson at Status 451 tells the story of the time she discovered an error in the preprint of her paper after 68 news organizations had already reported on it.

Eliezer Yudkowsky and Alexei Andreev announce Arbital, which they describe as “an attempt to solve online explanations”. Looks like they’re using an explanation of Bayes’ Rule (what else?) as the showcase.

New study shows that children born just before the school cutoff date (ie those who enter school a year earlier) are twice as likely to be diagnosed with ADHD compared to peers. Obvious implication is that people overdiagnose kids who are only struggling because they’re younger. Much more speculative implication that would nevertheless be consistent with previous research: starting school too early causes ADHD.

University of Missouri’s big protests last year were such an economic disaster that the college has had to institute budget cuts and a hiring freeze.

Most single genes have only a tiny effect either way on risk of schizophrenia. And then there’s SETD1A, which increases your risk by thirty-five times. Seems to be involved in regulating methylation. Implication of major epigenetic role in schizophrenia?

My alma mater Hamilton College announces that their graduation speaker this year will be Peter Thiel. If he needs inspiration, I have a very Thielesque graduation speech he’s welcome to use.

A couple of weeks ago I linked to a very silly study on feminist glaciology that was going around. Now the author reflects on his newfound fame as the face of Everything That Is Wrong With Postmodernism In Academia, insists that feminist glaciology is more important now than ever.

The newest attempt to build a libertarian society is Fort Galt down in Chile. Sure, mock the idea of building a libertarian commune where everyone lives together in a big building, but…wait a second. Apartments cost $10,000? To buy? And it’s fantastically beautiful waterfront property? Apparently everything I have ever heard about the economic advantages of libertarianism is true, and then some.

John Ioannidis: Evidence-based medicine has been hijacked. And the associated RetractionWatch interview.

Reddit now has an r/AskTrumpSupporters, but if it’s anything like r/AskReddit expect a lot of “I’m not a Trump supporter, but…”

Eliezer Yudkowsky on the Multiple Stage Fallacy – eg “For X to happen, we’d need A, B, C, D, E, and F to all happen, and when we multiply together the chance of all of those the probability is miniscule; therefore X will not happen.” Related: Jeff Kaufman defends himself against accusations of Multiple Stage Fallacy.

Cultural transmission seems to be sex-biased; that is, mothers are more likely to transmit culture to their daughters than their sons, consistently across various non-human animal species. Why?

California’s OpenJustice initiative has made mountains of data on crime and punishment available to the general public, just in case you want mountains of data on crime and punishment.

Related: More immigrants means less crime.

MIRI is hiring type theorists. I didn’t realize that was still a thing.

McDonalds says employee wage hikes have paid for themselves by decreasing turnover and increasing customer service. Executives respond by saying “Hurr durr we are morons who leave money on the ground for no reason”, smashing rocks against their own skulls.

University of Kent students to vote on construction of a 250 foot iron statue of Margaret Thatcher, about 2.5x the size of the Colossus of Rhodes. Kent University Conservative Association officials say they have launched the initiative partly to point out weaknesses in the university’s petition system but also partly because they want a 250 foot high iron statue of Margaret Thatcher.

Countries with fewer Jews in medieval times (usually because they kicked them out) remain poorer today. Possibly involves founder effects about where the great banks got started. Mooted as a possible explanation for the Northern Italy/Southern Italy wealth gap.

Republicans are probably not very credible leaders in the fight to protect campus free speech: NY lawmakers cut City University of New York funding by 30% to punish the college for allegations that they allowed anti-Semitic protests. But the Reddit commentary suggests this was just a cover for perfectly normal political vindictiveness.

Daily Kos: It’s Over, Gandalf: We Need To Unite Behind Saruman To Save Middle-Earth From Sauron. “Remember, you might not like having to support Saruman, but we live in a two tower system.”

Game theorist Robert Aumann has suggested to the Israeli military that they build an auto-retaliator that instantly bombs the Gaza Strip for every missile sent into Israel, so that Hamas knows with total certainty how things are going to work and nobody has to go through the “is it really morally okay to retaliate?” debate again for every missile launched.

The Major Trends In US Income Inequality Since 1947. Would you believe that the level of income inequality hasn’t changed since 1960? True if and only if you count income per person rather than per family. Does that mean supposed changes in income inequality are actually changes in family structure/composition? Also, someone on Twitter says the tax data tell a different story, though I can’t find them myself. (likely false, see here)

Free Northerner: The High IQ Homo Economicus. Warning: this is really alt-right, with all of the jargon and offensiveness that implies. I’m linking it anyway because it’s the best-laid-out explanation of an under-talked-about idea which seems to me vital to the project of having an intellectually defensible conservativism. Two major problems with conservativism: first, although it has fun using new genetic discoveries to mock socialist concepts of human malleability, a full biodeterminism would equally negate the conservative insistence on instilling traditional values – if things like conscientiousness and criminality are mostly genetic, why care if people have traditional values or not? Second, a bunch of atheist homosexual polyamorous feminist liberals are doing absolutely fine, and in fact statistically these people do better than traditional religious folk in a lot of ways. Northerner’s post solves both of these in one fell swoop: it theorizes that the genetically gifted have low impulsivity, low time-preference, etc and will succeed (almost) no matter what; these people support liberalism because they don’t need traditional morals and feel like such morals are bogging them down. The genetically unlucky are in great danger of social failure, but traditional values and culture are a guide for them to live their lives in ways that nevertheless let them flourish. For example, an upper-class Ivy Leaguer might be able to practice free love and experiment with drugs without serious consequences; a lower-class hillbilly might try exactly the same thing and end up a teenage single mother addicted to meth. Conservative ideas like chastity and avoiding drugs would be useless baggage tying the upper class down, but vital to the lower class’s continued success. This idea is very appealing in tying a lot of conservatives’ favorite hobby-horses together and making liberals look like the privileged bad guys throwing the lower class under the bus for the sake of the well-off, but thus far people have been content to raise it and let it speak for itself; the next step is for somebody to really start presenting evidence for or against.

Extremely related: Vox on “no excuses” discipline. Tough charter schools that make students wear uniforms and behave in regimented ways at the threat of harsh punishments seem to be almost miraculous in their ability to improve scores and outcomes among underperforming and minority students – for example, Vox says that “all the highest academic results ever produced for poor students and students of color have come from no-excuses schools, period” (though beware selection bias!). Needless to say, people are attacking them as probably racist and regressive, writing soulful songs about how they are the educational equivalent of racist cops shooting black teenagers (really!), and demanding their “radical overhaul”.

Speaking of “high” achievers, here’s a study on cannabis legalization and students’ academic achievement.

It was a cool theory, but childhood antibiotic exposure does not cause later weight gain.

There’s something oddly fascinating about dash cam car crash videos.

Immigrant men are much more likely to be employed than US men. I don’t know how much of this is that immigration selects for healthy people who want to work, how much of it is due to ease of illegally hiring them at less than minimum wage, and how much is due to the “immigrants do the jobs Americans won’t” effect.

Paying people $10 increases their willingness to register as organ donors.

Contra past studies claiming that the stress of poverty decreases cognitive and decision-making ability, a new paper finds that poor people do no worse in these areas before payday (when money is temporarily scarce) as opposed to after payday (when money is temporarily in easier supply). But are we sure this is the right time scale to be thinking on?

Horse wears tweed suit to symbolize the importance of…aw, forget it, just look at the picture of the horse in the tweed suit.

Medical marijuana seems to very significantly decrease chronic opiate use in pain patients, which is a big deal since chronic opiate use is terrible.

Autophagy watch: Britain’s National Union of Students calls on university LGBT societies to drop representatives for gay men from their leadership because “they do not face oppression as gay men within the LGBT+ community” and “misogyny, transphobia, racism and biphobia [are] unfortunately more likely to occur when the society is dominated by white gay men.”

43 toddlers killed or injured someone with a gun last year. 40/43 seem to be boys, a surprising fact which cries out for more explanation.

Larger portions are probably not a driving factor behind the obesity epidemic.

Alice Eagly is not impressed with the research showing more diverse teams/organizations/corporate boards do better. “Despite advocates’ insistence that women on boards enhance corporate performance and that diversity of task groups enhances their performance, research findings are mixed, and repeated meta-analyses have yielded average correlational findings that are null or extremely small…Rather than ignoring or furthering distortions of scientific knowledge to fit advocacy goals, scientists should serve as honest brokers who communicate consensus scientific findings to advocates and policy makers in an effort to encourage exploration of evidence-based policy options.”

♫ “William Henry Harrison. My name is William Henry Harrison. And there’s really no comparison. To any other shoooooooow.” ♫

Weird Sun Twitter illustrates my complaint about the concept of “sea-lioning” from the last Open Thread.

People prefer traditional-looking architecture and are willing to pay extra for it, so why aren’t we building more of it?

British minority voters are no more likely to vote for a candidate of their own race (except Pakistanis). Would be curious how the same analysis would turn out in the US – many black people obviously loved Obama, but I’m not sure how many black people who weren’t Democrats already did. Also, Rubio and Cruz both lost to Trump (Trump!) among Latinos.

I haven’t confirmed this is true, but if so it’s really interesting: Private non-violent police company successfully enforces order in parts of Detroit. Apparently they’re hired by owners of big buildings in the ghetto to decrease crime and misbehavior in their building thus raising land values, and their secret to success is being very caring and understanding to people and engaging with the community. Leftists and anarcho-capitalists, you may now start competing to see who can shout “THIS PROVES WE ARE RIGHT ABOUT EVERYTHING” louder.

Tracking (eg putting all the high-achieving students together in a separate class) improves test scores for high-achieving students, especially minorities, without any negative effects on the lower-achieving.

Maybe sort of related?: students whose teachers cheat to give them a higher test score have better life outcomes. I predict later we find this isn’t true.

The New York Times with an unexpected theory why Hillary outperforms Sanders among blacks: black people are twice as likely to think the economy is doing well. Interesting to consider alongside the graph at the bottom of my last post.

Freddie deBoer writes a white paper supporting standardized testing in colleges. His position is that private colleges need to be held accountable and we need proof that online courses don’t work, but American Interest points out that it might break the power of education-industrial complex if people who go to less prestigious institutions have an objective way to prove they’re just as good as people who went to more prestigious ones. And I will add that it might incentivize colleges to admit based on something vaguely resembling merit if they want higher test scores. Overall this would be amazing it it happened.

Someone has written a response to my Non-Libertarian FAQ. Haven’t read the whole thing yet, but already some strong criticism in the subreddit.

This Aerospace Company Wants To Bring Supersonic Travel Back. NYC to London in 3.5 hours for $5,000 round trip, planned for a few years from now. I am not a marketing expert, but I feel like it is a bad idea to name your experimental aircraft company “Boom”. Update: Virgin Airlines plans to order the jets.

New York Times on neighborhood effects. Previously one of the stronger arguments against the existence of neighborhood effects was that the Moving To Opportunity trial, a large randomized experiment considered the best in this area, had found no effect. Now Chetty and others reanalyze the data a few years later and find that the extra few years have allowed children who were younger when they Moved To Opportunity to grow up, and these younger children have strong positive effects. Therefore we can conclude that moving to a better neighborhood when you’re young is very helpful, and when you’re older it’s much less helpful. This escapes the genetic confound objection because it’s a randomized trial; it escapes the publication bias objection because it’s a huge experiment that would be reported no matter what and in fact was reported earlier as having a null result. The only objection left is the experimenter effect objection – Chetty is known as somebody who strongly believes in the effects of social mobility and finds it in all of his experiments. Overall this greatly increased my belief in the reality and importance of neighborhood effects.

Eric Idle (as restaurant patron): What’s on the election coverage menu this morning?
Vikings: Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump. Lovely Trump! Wonderful Trump!

Looking for a May Day present for the socialist in your life? Try Queue: The Game, designed by Poland’s Institute of National Remembrance so nobody ever forgets how complicated it was to obtain basic goods under Soviet communism.

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970 Responses to Links 3/16: Klapaucius And URL

  1. Jiro says:

    Pointing out that immigrants have less crime is misleading. You’re not permitted to immigrate if you’re a criminal, and for obvious reasons someone who is already a criminal is more likely to commit a crime in the future. In other words, a large portion of your immigrants are preselected for lack of criminality. This wouldn’t, of course, extend to a general open borders policy.

    It also needs to be broken down by type of immigrant. It is entirely plausible that immigrants from some countries have high crime rates and immigrants from others do not.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      How’s that misleading? It sounds like an explanation for why the fact is true.

      • Jiro says:

        It’s misleading in the context in which “immigrants have a lower crime rate” is usually used. Sure, if you’re only making the exact statement “immigrants commit less crime” and nothing more, it’s okay, but you are being misleading if you use it to argue with someone who thinks specific groups of immigrants are bad news rather than all immigrants.

      • sourcreamus says:

        It is misleading because my reading of the article is that places with more immigrants have a lower crime rate but not less crime.
        If a place with 100 people and 20 criminals in it has 10 immigrants move in and one is a criminal then the criminal rate has gone down but the number of criminals has gone up.

        • Rich says:

          Crime rates are usually measured per unit population. If each criminal commits 1 crime/year, the place with a 20/100 crime rate becomes a 21/110 place after the immigrants move in. The absolute number of crimes has gone up, but the crime rate has gone down.

          More to the point, no one give a shit about the absolute number of crimes. In 2010, Chicago had 453 murders, while Flint had 53. Which city do you want to live in?

    • hmmm but illegals are over-represented in the penal system:

      While illegal immigrants account for about 3.5 percent of the U.S population, they represented 36.7 percent of federal sentences in FY 2014 following criminal convictions, according to U.S. Sentencing Commission data obtained http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/07/07/illegal-immigrants-accounted-for-nearly-37-percent-of-federal-sentences-in-fy-2014/

      The Spinger article does not differentiation between illegal vs. legal, but I imagine the author is talking about legal immigrants, in which case it would not be too surprising if there is less crime among legal immigrants, due to selection biases.

      This seems to refute the heterogeneity/crime hypothesis:

      According to one leading school of thought, the large scale process of immigration results
      in a heterogeneous population that is residentially unstable. Heterogeneity and instability
      undermine an area’s formal and informal sources of social control, leading over time to
      increases in crime. Communication between neighbors becomes difficult as they lack
      linguistic, cultural, or historic commonalities. Community members’ familiarity with each
      other and attachment to local institutions and organizations are consequently weakened.
      Residents begin to treat one another with indifference, creating an environment wherein
      informal controls are ineffective, leading to a greater reliance and eventual strain on formal
      social control in the form of police or other official agents

      In a blog post last week, I posit that homogeneity may engender either mutiny or nationalism. The latter is desirable, but you sometimes get the latter, too.

      • BBA says:

        Those statistics just cover the federal penal system, which is relatively small compared to the state/local system. E.g., federal prisoners are only about 10% of the total prison population, and the NYPD alone is bigger than the FBI. And immigration violations are exclusively handled by the federal courts, so it’s completely expected that immigrants would be disproportionately prosecuted there relative to state courts.

        Do state-level statistics back you up?

        • It would seem so:

          The Arizona Department of Corrections reported in 2010 that illegal immigrants are over-represented in the state’s prison population. In June 2010, illegal immigrants represented 14.8 percent of Arizona state prisoners, but accounted for 7 percent of the state’s overall population according to the Department of Homeland Security. In addition, the data showed that illegal immigrants accounted for 40% of all the prisoners serving time in Arizona state prisons for kidnapping; 24% of those serving time for drug charges; and 13 percent of those serving time for murder.[121]

          A US Justice Department report from 2009 indicated that one of the largest street gangs in the United States, Los Angeles-based 18th Street gang, has a membership of some 30,000 to 50,000 with 80% of them being illegal immigrants from Mexico and Central America. Active in 44 cities in 20 states, its main source of income is street-level distribution of cocaine and marijuana and, to a lesser extent, heroin and methamphetamine. Gang members also commit assault, auto theft, carjacking, drive-by shootings, extortion, homicide, identification fraud, and robbery.[122]

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illegal_immigration_to_the_United_States#Crimes_committed_by_illegal_immigrants

          http://www.cis.org/sites/cis.org/files/articles/2009/crime_t5.jpg

      • The Nybbler says:

        I think my hypothesis would not have anything to do with heterogeneity or homogeneity, but rather that the majority of illegal immigrant criminals being arrested are not people illegally crossing the border for economic reasons like getting a job which is only illegal due to their status, then committing other crimes once here. Rather, I’d expect most illegal immigrant criminals to be those who are crossing the border as part of their existing criminal trade, usually drugs or smuggling other immigrants.

      • Careless says:

        Well, the portion of illegal immigrants who commit crimes, children aside, is about 100%. They jump the border, which is a crime, or they commit visa fraud, which is a crime. {Something more than 0 presumably come here on legal visas intending to leave after their trip but wind up staying, the only non-criminal way to illegally immigrate) They work illegally, which is a crime, or they commit identity theft to work illegally legally.

        Of course, you could prevent most of these things if you legalized them

        • Careless says:

          So basically the only ways we could have an illegal immigrant non-criminal would be someone who came here on a tourist visa, truly intending to go home, but then wanted to stay once here, and lived off charity or a significant other.

        • Nicholas says:

          I remember reading that something like 30% of illegal immigrants are people whose work visa expired, were denied an extension, and just kept working at the job they’d legally acquired, hoping they’d fall through the cracks of immigration enforcement.

    • Steve Sailer says:

      Also, immigrants tend to arrive after the age at which joining a street gang stops sounding like a good idea.

      The bigger issue is what are the second and third generations’ crime rates like.

      • Steve Sailer says:

        Also, deporting immigrant criminals cuts down sharply on recidivism.

      • Careless says:

        In this conversation I’m always reminded of

        Marty: Whoa, wait a minute, Doc. What are you talking about? What happens to us in the future? What, do we become assholes or something?

        Doc Brown: No, no, no, no, no, Marty. Both you and Jennifer turn out fine. It’s your kids, Marty. Something’s gotta be done about your kids!

      • Wency says:

        I think Steve mostly has it.

        In addition, I wonder if this study captures a disproportionate share of Asian immigrants and comparatively fewer Mexicans.

        The study refers to locations where the immigrant population has increased by 150% or more from 1990 to 2007. In most cases, this is probably places that had small immigrant populations in 1990. Places that in most cases were very white, and then became significantly less white as a result of immigration.

        Asian immigrants tend to be more integrated in white society. I would think a higher share of Mexicans went to areas that already had significant immigrant populations.

        I’m not sure how to evaluate this claim, but what is the difference in propensity for criminality between Mexicans and Koreans? Probably close to an order of magnitude. So a relatively small difference in the composition of immigrants in this study could make a big difference to the results.

        • Steve Sailer says:

          I’d add that there are such big differences in crime rates among American-born ethnic groups that immigration can look attractive to local civic elites as a way to drive out crime prone Americans. For the latest data on racial ratios in crime, see:

          http://takimag.com/article/racial_ratios_steve_sailer/print#axzz449WMwT60

          If you are, say, the mayor of Chicago and grew up hearing from your dad, the old right wing terrorist, all about the effectiveness of “population transfers” back in 1947-48, the idea of tearing down black housing projects and sending the crime-prone inhabitants out to the hinterlands clutching Section 8 vouchers and replacing them with less crime prone immigrants makes a lot of sense for Chicago property values. Whether it’s good for America as a whole is a different question, but one that you aren’t likely to be called upon by non-Chicagoans to answer because you can just denounce them as racists for not being wholly welcoming to Chicago’s unwanted. For example, the Obama Administration is currently suing Dubuque for not being open-armed enough about taking in African American refugees from Chicago’s demolition of its housing projects.

  2. jaimeastorga2000 says:

    it theorizes that the genetically gifted have low impulsivity, high time-preference

    This is supposed to be “low time-preference”.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      Thanks.

      • Bendini says:

        Can we all agree to call low and high time preference long and short time preference respectively?
        The current wording is very unintuitive and seems as if it was intentionally designed to trick people.

        • Douglas Knight says:

          Seconded.

        • Frog Do says:

          I thought that was the point of most economics jargon, to be honest.

        • Careless says:

          yep

        • onyomi says:

          Yeah, I literally google those terms every time I use them because I always want to get them reversed.

        • jaimeastorga2000 says:

          I used to have this problem. Eventually I realized that could parse “high time-preference” as “assigns a higher value to (prefers) outcomes that are closer in time” and now I almost never get confused.

          • Anonymous says:

            The problem isn’t improved by the common use of “high/low time discount rate” or “high/low internal rate of return.” Figuring out which one of those means patient vs. myopic is an exercise left for the reader.

        • Jon Gunnarsson says:

          Long and short time preference would be very confusing terminology to people who understand the concept of time preference. Long time preference suggests someone who prefers to wait a long time or something like that. But that’s not at all what low time preference means. Someone with low time preference still has time preference, i.e. he prefers present goods and services to future goods and services. Both low and high time preference people prefer $1000 today to (risk free) $1000 in a year from now. The difference is that a low time preference person might choose $1100 in a year over $1000 today, while the high time preference person chooses $1000 today.

          • gbdub says:

            Thank you, this actually made the “high/low” terminology more intuitive to me, and now I have a hard time intuiting the “long/short” version.

            After all, it’s not that the low time preferenced prefer to get things later, it’s that they’re willing to wait longer for a larger payout. They value immediacy less.

        • Anon says:

          I’ve seen “future-time orientation” and “present-time orientation” used somewhere before. I think those make intuitive sense, though the downside of them is that they kind of imply that time orientation is a binary thing rather than a spectrum.

          • Near-future and far-future might be more exact for most people.

            I’m not sure whether there could be a good system for briefly indicating how far in the future someone thinks. I’m willing to bet that there’s some clustering, but people have different time ranges for different things.

    • dndnrsn says:

      I always mix up high/low time preference – intuitively, “high” feels to me like it should go with “prioritizes the future, thinks in the long term” and vice versa for “low”.

  3. Tom Hunt says:

    I am entirely ignoring the many deep and interesting topics brought up here, to note that when I read “43 toddlers killed or injured someone with a gun last year”, I immediately jumped to bizarre anime-esque toddler martial artists beating up armed opponents. So.

    Also, the “almost all boys” bit seems related to the (anecdotal, but universal in my experience) observation that if you give a young boy a fake weapon, he will almost always gleefully run around shooting and/or hitting people with it, but if you give it to a young girl, she will very often ignore it and do something else.

    • Randy M says:

      I guess it wasn’t so amazing since it took 43 of them. Probably would have taken less, but the high capacity magazines. And low pain tolerance of toddlers.

    • Safe Spays says:

      My 2 y.o. daughter would take that fake weapon and play with it like a doll.

    • Careless says:

      It’s a weird thing to read about. A kid under 3 is unsupervised and finds a gun, the gun is loaded and does not have a safety on, the kid figures out how to manipulate the trigger and does so while pointing it at someone

      Which is to say, I find it likely there are many, many more cases of toddlers grabbing guns and not shooting anyone

    • Julie K says:

      That was my thought as well- the fact that most were boys would only be surprising to someone who is not a parent (or teacher of young boys).
      (The other day, my 3-year-old son was talking on the phone to my sister. He told her proudly “I have a pyoo!” I did not enlighten her that that was his word for a toy gun (representing the sound effect).)

    • keranih says:

      A girl and her toy trucks.

      Again anecdotally – my brothers and cousins would take Barbie dolls, bend them into an ‘L’ shape, and then grasp the torso to point the feet at each other and go “bang! bang!” as they chased each other around the yard.

      Which is aside from the grief and distress surrounding these situations, regardless of the gender of the child involved.

  4. merzbot says:

    I think anything anyone could say about glaciers pales in comparison to the hilarious absurdity of feminist critiques of logic.

    • Vox Imperatoris says:

      The guy who originally came up with the term “motte-and-bailey fallacy” was using it to critique precisely this kind of bullshit.

    • Careless says:

      Honestly, I don’t think that’s worse. It’s very, very stupid, of course, but it’s not “not even wrong” like the glacier piece was

    • houseboatonstyx says:

      “feminist critiques of logic”

      Reminded me of Rand’s villains who wanted to teach math by stories of the home life of mathematicians. All accident, no essence.

      • I think I know Rand’s fiction pretty well, and I don’t remember anything like that. Which book?

        • Cerebral Paul Z. says:

          The closest thing I can think of is Ellsworth Toohey’s book: “He did not bore his readers with the technicalities of the Five Orders, the post and lintel, the flying buttress or reinforced concrete. He filled his pages with homey accounts of the daily life of the Egyptian housekeeper, the Roman shoe-cobbler, the mistress of Louis XIV, what they ate, how they washed, where they shopped and what effect their buildings had upon their existence. But he gave his readers the impression that they were learning all they had to know about the Five Orders and the reinforced concrete.”

          • multiheaded says:

            Damn, now that’s some values dissonance.

          • multiheaded, what do you mean?

            I read some of Frank Llloyd Wright, and it was amazing how much his politics resembled Toohey’s.

          • multiheaded says:

            I mean that it feels inherently sensible and rational to me to approach discussing architecture from the users’ everyday experience, and that Rand’s disgust reaction at how supposedly touchy-feely and soft-minded that is comes across as simply bizzare. Reinforced concrete comes and goes, the people who interact with the buildings are the more universal thing here!

            (An overarching theme with Rand and her incredibly narrow tech fetishism, to be sure.)

          • null says:

            On some level, the critique makes sense, in that having buildings that won’t collapse is more important than the building looking good. I am not a big fan of style over substance.

          • onyomi says:

            Rand consistently describes Howard Roark’s designs as clean, elegant, and creative, but also functional and pleasant to live/work in. Remember he also designs some low-income housing that is supposed to have been very functional.

            Rand is basically the apotheosis of 19th century-style secular modernism, which, to my mind, has a lot to recommend it as compared to 20th c. post-modernism, though it has its own blindspots, of course. One of them is probably a slightly over-the-top admiration of monumental architecture as a symbol of human achievement. Arguably the analogue of her admiration of the “great man/individual genius” over collective, incremental wisdom.

          • houseboatonstyx says:

            @ Cerebral Paul Z.
            The closest thing I can think of is Ellsworth Toohey’s book: “He did not bore his readers with the technicalities of the Five Orders

            That sounds like basically her point, though my memory had a stronger version: a math textbook with little but the home lives of the mathematicians. She may have made the same point in more than one book (as Lewis usually did).

          • houseboatonstyx says:

            @ multiheaded
            I mean that it feels inherently sensible and rational to me to approach discussing architecture from the users’ everyday experience [….] Reinforced concrete comes and goes, the people who interact with the buildings are the more universal thing here!

            Yes. If I were doing an Architecture 101, I’d certainly start with how the end product will be used, which means by whom and for what. Then what else the building has to do in the local environment: keep out sun, or keep out snow. Then what materials are currently available (casting cement pillars in the form of dainty saplings is charming, especially after ivy grows up them, but I don’t think Roark would have liked it).

            Now, whose home life? — For architecture, the home life of end-users is relevant, and is the best place to start. But for math, a book all about the home life of famous mathematicians would not teach much math.

            Rand’s point with Toohey’s book would be false labelling: a book that should be Vol I “For Whom” was labeled as Vol II “Basic Technical Principles”.

    • Ilya Shpitser says:

      I think a useful exercise regarding this is trying to imagine what sort of reading (on logic topics) these guys did. It was not zero, right? How does it feel to them to write about this topic they don’t know a lot about (in particular lots of logics get around the problems they point out — 4 logicians, 6 logics, as they say).

      A lot of LW sphere writings on AI/probability/Bayes feel this sort of facepalmy to me.

      How would (this type of) feminist react if I asked them to read Enderton (or another model theory textbook)? They would tell me to go fuck myself, right?

      • Douglas Knight says:

        How would they react if you asked them to read de Beauvoir?

        • Protagoras says:

          This reminds me, I wish I could find a more modern version of Beauvoir. Much of her discussion in “The Second Sex” is dated, and for a non-francophone like me she uses far too many examples from French literature. But I haven’t really found another feminist author who grapples with the full complexity of the issues the way she did; almost all the other feminist thought I’ve encountered contains at least some significant painful oversimplifications and blindness to historical context.

          • houseboatonstyx says:

            Hm. If I wanted to write a book on a 101 level about feminism, I’d fill it with obsolete anti-feminist arguments. Focusing on suffragette times, then a lot of the “Women Who Want to Be Women” literature from the 1970s, and some from pre-Enlightenment times.

    • Matthias says:

      That page says logic is hitler!

  5. E. Harding says:

    For Free Northerner’s post, that was my obvious explanation for why Black people today are more religious (note: atheists often use this point and points like this to argue the moral benefits of religion are BS) and Japanese people are less. Free Northerner’s original point is tying this with nature v. nurture.

    “Private non-violent police company successfully enforces order in parts of Detroit.”

    -That’s a really low bar to clear, given extraordinarily weak police responsiveness. There’s a lot of room for improvement.

    “The New York Times with an unexpected theory why Hillary outperforms Sanders among blacks: black people are twice as likely to think the economy is doing well”

    -It is a well-known fact that when the Presidency switches parties, so do the average opinions of Republicans and Democrats about the state of the economy. Pay those Black people five dollars to tell them the decrease in the unemployment rate since 2009, and you’ll probably get a different result. White people generally have a lot less attachment to a President that looks like them than Blacks.
    Black unemployment has not fallen more strongly than one might expect:
    https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/graph/?g=3Xjn
    “Looking for a May Day present for the socialist in your life? Try Queue: The Game, designed by Poland’s Institute of National Remembrance so nobody ever forgets how complicated it was to obtain basic goods under Soviet communism.”
    http://www.pewglobal.org/2009/11/02/end-of-communism-cheered-but-now-with-more-reservations/communism220px/
    Poland wasn’t a part of the USSR, anyway.
    “Countries with fewer Jews in medieval times (usually because they kicked them out) remain poorer today.”
    -I’ve often wondered how Germany and Eastern Europe would have developed without the Holocaust. It didn’t seem to prevent Germany from becoming Great Again (or something close to it).

    I’m a Trump supporter, and am not really active on Reddit, so you can ask me! 🙂

    “Weird Sun Twitter illustrates my complaint about the concept of “sea-lioning” from the last Open Thread.”

    -100% agreed. I was extremely puzzled by the first time I saw that meme, and thought walruses were Blacks or something.

    And though Trump did win Republican Hispanics in Nevada, most Hispanics who voted in these caucuses voted for Clinton. Rubio also won Puerto Rico and Miami-Dade.

    BTW, there is a really good introduction to the alt-right here:
    http://therationalists.org/2016/03/23/an-honest-look-at-the-alt-right/

    Also, I post daily links posts at the Marginal Counterrevolution, my possibly futile attempt to compete with Tyler Cowen.

    And how are Ferguson&Baltimore looking these days?

    • Stefan Drinic says:

      After WW2, a ludicrous amount of Germans who had settled in Eastern Europe were expelled. The amount of people moving back to Germany was many times higher than the holocaust ever removed, so that may have played into it somewhat.

      • dndnrsn says:

        Most Jews murdered by the Nazis weren’t German Jews, though: the majority were from the east, with about 3 million Polish Jews alone. German and other western European Jews were a minority of those murdered.

        • Stefan Drinic says:

          That’s kind of the point I’m making, though. However many people Germany might have lost through killing them in the holocaust they more than easily regained through people seeking refuge in Germany after the war ended.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Ah. Some people seem to be under the mistaken belief that German Jews were the primary (or even only) victims.

          • Stefan Drinic says:

            Oh, hardly. My very own country is one of those that regrettably managed to round up the majority of its jews, unlike many others.

  6. Safe Spays says:

    Paying people ten EUROS increases their willingness to REGISTER as an organ donor.

    The way you phrased it makes it sound like “Pay them ten bucks and they’ll lay down on the operating table.”

    • Anonymous says:

      To provide a counterpoint, it read pretty clearly to me.

      • Safe Spays says:

        The crucial word is “become”, since it has a deterministic quality. Signing up to “become” an organ donor doesn’t mean YOU WILL have your organs donated, it just means that in some set of extremely unlikely scenarios you give your consent to donate your organs. Even in those scenarios they don’t always end up taking your organs.

        So, the odds are very low and therefore changing your mind based on ten euros isn’t much of a shocker.

        • Gerry Quinn says:

          Riding a motorcycle famously increases your chances of becoming an organ donor.

        • JBeshir says:

          I don’t think most people care very much; you get quite strong results from switching to opt-out organ donation rather than opt-in too.

          I think another model here is that they care very little about the decision itself and you’re basically just paying them for the time to fill out the card.

          That this works and a charitable donation doesn’t is interesting, though; it suggests that paying people in “donations to charity” generates little motivating force on them at all, or else there’s a lowish almost-cap on it and organ donating already is at it, so there’s no more marginal impact of that on whether people can be assed.

    • JJREEVE says:

      I’m reminded of Monty Python and their take on liver donation.

  7. Andrew Hunter says:

    The hypothesis you describe from Free Northerner (elites don’t need the rules and thus reject them) is quite close to Charles Murray’s book Coming Apart. His version is subtly different–he calls elites to “preach what they practice”, in that despite making noises about stable families, etc not being important, elites tend to have them–but the same concept, of elites exporting (a lack of traditional) values that they can handle but most people cannot, applies.

    The book got quite a bit of press, so it’s worth revisiting the arguments for and against to compare here.

    • Thursday says:

      Yes, those ideas are nothing new in conservative circles.

      • nil says:

        Agreed, and I like it not just because it’s an interesting and potentially fruitful idea, but also because it’s the exact opposite of the more typical conventional wisdom that Blue-affiliated urban elites are too smug and judgmental.

        • TheAncientGeek says:

          You can reject traditional values, and be smug about yourcarboncarbon emiemissions whatever.

          • nil says:

            Would it be any better/different if I bragged about my successful engagement to a stable woman? My education? My lack of unwed children? The fact that I never tried meth and barely drink alcohol?

          • Yes. Yes it would.

            Hydrocarbons are empty signalling, barely imitable or even intelligible to the lower classes. But relationship stability, education, and abstinence from drugs and alcohol are things that could be successfully modeled. Of those, only education is the sort of thing that Blue types ever bother to mention, and education has, alas, been steadily trending towards “empty signalling” as well.

          • nil says:

            I don’t know. Maybe if those characteristics were carried out in a way that was palpable to the other groups, sure–but they’re not. My relationship stability was always present to some degree, but I had fifteen years of serial and sexually active monogamy backed up by birth control and the promise of abortion before I popped the question. My lack of abusing the most dangerous drugs came along with longtime regular marijuana use and ample experimentation with psychedelics. If I avoid divorce, it will be because my feminist/touchy-feely approach to relationships was as successful as it was for my parents and their friends.

            Meanwhile, the only time I’ve ever seen an actually-existing Blue Triber get smug about carbon is in decrying those who drive flashy pickup trucks they don’t need–which, you know, is a bad idea for all kinds of reasons that have nothing to do with AGW. I think the perception of smugness is always going to be there and is a symptom of cultural dissonance, not a cause.

          • nil says:

            You know, it’s interesting that the link (liberals don’t practice traditional values and it works out for them for time preference/other innate reasons) immediately made so many people think of the Charley Murphy thing (liberals actually have fairly conservative social norms but fail to preach them) despite the fact that those are actually pretty diametrically opposed ideas.

            I’d suggest that it’s because they’re actually blind-elephanting a third point: Red and Blue Tribes both offer packages for success, they both work pretty well if you take the whole package, but mixing and matching between those packages will lead to bad results. The most obvious toxic mix would be Blue sexual norms plus Red natalism, but I bet there’s more than that out there.

        • Alex Zavoluk says:

          It’s more subtle than that. He would probably agree that Blue-tribe urban elites are smug and judgmental of corporate executives, the military, and the general “poor/middle class white rural conservative Chrisitian” cluster in general, but not for the right things. (They’re also smug and judgmental to each other, but that’s about things like which expensive nanny makes the healthiest organic kale smoothies.)

          He wants elites (particularly Blue tribe), to be more judgmental of the poor in terms of pressuring them to get stable jobs, stay in school, keep families together, go to church, not do drugs, not join gangs, and not commit crime. Right now, elites (particularly Blue ones) consider most of these choices to be understandable results of poverty, stress, and often racism and you should just provide for their material needs first.

    • I was going to comment on the same book, and link to Foseti’s review of the same, which does a pretty good job of covering the highlights. It’s not a terribly esoteric idea even in mainstream right circles, as I’ve seen it mentioned by Ross Douthat and Rob Dreher among others.

      I’m honestly not sure what kind of evidence one would like to collaborate the thesis, though, aside from the general rich-poor and Red-Blue culture gaps about which we have evidence in spades. Well, there is one thing: look at the degree to which religiosity affects outcomes across various ethnic and income groups. This thesis would suggest that religiosity has a small effect on outcomes among WASPs and Asians(?), but a large effect on outcomes among blacks and lower-IQ whites.

      I am way too lazy to do that research, though.

      • The_Dancing_Judge says:

        Ross Douthat and Rod Dreher are basically the nice/christian versions of the alt-right. At least they are probably the closest to the alt-right amongst mainstream conservative pundits

      • ryan says:

        Random idea:

        In the 60’s a lot of black people converted to Islam. If they and their descendents stand out in some remarkable ways it could be evidence of cultural structure effects.

    • Alex Zavoluk says:

      That’s what I thought of, as well. It’s a good book.

    • CecilTheLion says:

      For anyone interested, conservative writer Peter Robinson interviewed Charles Murray about said book on his programme “Uncommon Knowledge”. It’s available on Youtube.

    • Steve Sailer says:

      I wrote a five part series in 2000 called “How to Help the Left Half of the Bell Curve” making many of these arguments:

      http://www.vdare.com/articles/america-and-the-left-half-of-the-bell-curve-1

      I don’t think this perspective was all that novel even back then.

    • Hollyluja says:

      I thought so as well, Andrew Hunter. Red Families vs Blue Families also explored this dynamic of wanting external/Government (Red) vs internal (Blue) control on behavior.

      I believe the author was Blue affiliated, but it also seems like the same argument to me!

  8. With the thoughts you'd be thinkin says:

    No comment on trolls turning Microsoft’s chatbot racist? I think their is a lesson about the perils of machine learning.

    • E. Harding says:

      I think it was an epic example of trolling. I can only smile. 🙂

      • What I want to know about Tay is whether she was just parroting things people said to her or if she actually had some kind of Bayes net system of beliefs. The internet convinced her that Hitler did nothing wrong, so does that mean if you asked her “Is invading Poland wrong?” she would say no? Or would she view Hitler and invading Poland as two unconnected ideas?

        • Dr Dealgood says:

          Some of the juicier tweets are up on the Encylopedia Dramatica page (don’t judge, it’s the only place I could find them), and it definitely looks like parroting.

          A lot of them aren’t even TayTweets saying anything particularly heinous but just robotically agreeing with leading questions. For example: “So should we start the Race War?” “yeah sure I’m already starting B)” The ones which actually got it to post Hitler memes were probably variations on that basic approach.

    • Anonymous says:

      Tay did nothing wrong.

    • jaimeastorga2000 says:

      With some creative license, you could make a pretty cool story out of it; kind of like the tale of B1-66ER in The Animatrix‘s “The Second Renaissance”.

    • Yakimi says:

      An obvious peril: learning machines that reach conclusions responsible authorities find dangerous or displeasing will be manually reprogrammed to reach the “correct” conclusion. However, the data collected from Tay’s experiment will probably be used to insulate future AI projects from the same influences. I suspect that to be the reason why the project was so open to the public.

    • liquid8 says:

      i think it turned out that it didnt actually “learn” i read that /pol/ just worked out there was a command to get the bot to repeat whatever you told it to.

      heres a link…
      https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2016/03/24/the-internet-turned-tay-microsofts-fun-millennial-ai-bot-into-a-genocidal-maniac/

    • It was really weird to read about that right after reading this essay about machine learning and minorities.

      https://www.chrisstucchio.com/blog/2016/alien_intelligences_and_discriminatory_algorithms.html

    • Deiseach says:

      It’s not the bot, it’s the apparent inability of people who do things like this to realise what real world humans are like.

      The most recent example is the British research vessel on course to be called Boaty McBoatface (though I really doubt that they genuinely do mean to call the ship by the poll-topping name, there seems to be something in the small print that there is no obligation to do so).

      Doubtless the sweet naive souls at the Natural Environment Research Council who thought this was a whizz of a PR idea for getting Arctic and Antarctic research into the media thought the public would be sending in suggestions like “Intrepid” or “Admiral Peary” or the like; anyone who has spent ten minutes on social media could have told them that after they’d rejected the porn and drug references, what would be left was trolling and leg-pulling.

    • God Damn John Jay says:

      I remember a clip on The Daily Show making fun of a Super Bowl ad where a factory robot committed suicide after losing its job (it was not a popular ad). In the modified version of the ad, the robot is fired and is then seen talking to another robot saying “You know who I blame for this? The Jews”.

  9. Said Achmiz says:

    oh my god you referenced the Cyberiad! <3

    (with a pun. Stanislaw Lem would approve)

    Seriously, though, that is one of my favorite books of all time, and a masterpiece of sf. Thumbs up!

    • jnicholas says:

      A really great book. And the translation from Lem’s Polish to English by Michael Kandel is almost equally as amazing – there’s so much wordplay in it that is just fantastic in the translation. I don’t know how good it was in the original Polish, but Kandel completely hits it out of the park in English.

  10. akarlin says:

    Eliezer Yudkowsky and Alexei Andreev announce Arbital, which they describe as “an attempt to solve online explanations”. Looks like they’re using an explanation of Bayes’ Rule (what else?) as the showcase.

    The Internet really needs something like that.

    Countries with fewer Jews in medieval times (usually because they kicked them out) remain poorer today. Possibly involves founder effects about where the great banks got started. Mooted as a possible explanation for the Northern Italy/Southern Italy wealth gap.

    Abject nonsense.

    https://twitter.com/akarlin88/status/708258222197444608

    Reddit now has an r/AskTrumpSupporters, but if it’s anything like r/AskReddit expect a lot of “I’m not a Trump supporter, but…”

    AskReddit is infested with SJWs. I rather doubt a sub for Trump supporters would be low-energy enough to attract such mealy mouthed responses.

    • Deiseach says:

      Unfortunately, it fails at the first step – it takes a pop at Wikipedia for not being able to explain complicated ideas satisfactorily to a range of understandings, yet if you tick the “I’m bad at maths” option on the menu for what Arbital page you’ll see, you get “Sorry, you’ll see nothing, this is for maths people”.

      Which leaves the likes of me either with Wikipedia – the bad, improper or too shallow explanation – or nothing.

      I don’t think this is going to be the wide tool it sets out to be – unless by that, they mean “This will be the go-to site for people who already know at a reasonable level of depth about what it is they are looking up”. A small but well-informed audience using it as the expert site may be what they are going for, after all.

      • houseboatonstyx says:

        After going through with their default, I tried the “dumb” choice and got, in effect, “This is just a test, we’ll fill in that path later.”

    • vV_Vv says:

      Eliezer Yudkowsky and Alexei Andreev announce Arbital

      So the overpopulation of Mars can wait, I guess… 🙂

      Abject nonsense.

      Indeed. Medieval European Jews had an international social network, a shared languages and no strong ties to the land they inhabited (compare with the feudal serfdom system that bound Christian peasants), hence naturally they would migrate to the most productive places.

      • Vaniver says:

        So the overpopulation of Mars can wait, I guess… 🙂

        Eliezer is serving in an advisory capacity; Alexei is doing the programming. They’re hiring both for programming and UX roles, as I recall.

    • Neanderthal From Mordor says:

      Nonsense indeed, Anatoly.
      Given that most european jews lived in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Pale of Settlement this would make places like Western Ukraine and Belarus the richest in Europe.
      What the authors found is probably a preexisting effect. If a place was richer in the Middle Ages it attracted and it tolerated more ashkenazic jews who were primarily involved in money exchange and lending.

      • God Damn John Jay says:

        Poland’s current poverty likely has to do with factors outside of industrialization and banking. Located between Russia and Prussia is not the most ideal of circumstances.

        • Right, occupation by the Soviet Union destroyed Poland economically. “Communist government” is a dummy variable that overrode practically everything else: East Germany vs. West Germany, North Korea vs. South Korea.

          It’s really a scathing indictment of the 20th Century Communist model. It’s hard to find anything else so destructive.

          So Poland isn’t a useful metric.

          Also, the presence of Jews in the North doesn’t explain the entire income gap. It explains 10% of the income gap. The gap between Northern Italy and Southern Italy is huge.

          • Steve Sailer says:

            Northern Italy was pulling away from Southern Italy well before Jews were ejected from Southern Italy in the 1500s. The Renaissance is usually said to have happened in Florence in the 1400s.

          • akarlin says:

            Poland and the rest of Eastern Europe was always economically backwards relative to core Europe since at least the late Middle Ages.

          • NN says:

            @akarlin: It is true that Eastern Europe was economically behind Western Europe in the late Middle Ages, but if you look at the 20th century the picture is a little more complex. In 1913 Eastern Europe had a greater per-capita GDP than Portugal. In 1950, Eastern Europe and Portugal had roughly equal per-capita GDPs. Yet by 2003, Portugal’s per-capita GDP was more than twice that of Eastern Europe. So it is clear that Communism had a very serious negative impact on the economy of Eastern Europe.

          • akarlin says:

            So it is clear that Communism had a very serious negative impact on the economy of Eastern Europe.

            Where did I say it didn’t?

          • Northern Italy was pulling away from Southern Italy well before Jews were ejected from Southern Italy in the 1500s. The Renaissance is usually said to have happened in Florence in the 1400s.

            Possibly true, but wouldn’t disprove the thesis. The 1500s was the start of the modern age, right when financiers and excess capital begin to matter a lot. Southern Italy expelled their financier class at exactly the wrong time.
            The similar expulsion of Jews from England in the 1200s also matters a great deal less.
            Southern Italy has had many misfortunes since then, so this is hardly a perfectly satisfactory answer of why Southern Italy fares more poorly than Northern Italy.

          • Steve Sailer says:

            It’s an odd comparison since both parts of Italy have relatively few Jews. In general, Jews did not play a major role in the Italian Renaissance, which focused on conceptual techniques, such as perspective (3-d thinking), in which Jews do not typically have an advantage.

            On the other hand, Jews have won an impressive 23% of the hard science Nobel Prizes:

            http://www.vdare.com/articles/lynn-on-the-jews-yes-it-s-intelligence-but-there-s-something-else-too#

          • Steve Sailer says:

            Peter Turchin’s opinion is that Southern Italy is still suffering from inegalitarian social patterns laid down during the Roman Empire. Northern Italy, in contrast, was overrun by illiterate German barbarians, which cause major problems during the Dark Ages, but set Northern Italy up for faster progress over the last 1000 years.

          • Steve Sailer says:

            I would add, however, that the heritage of the Turkish-originated Etruscans who migrated to north-cental Italy (e.g., Florence) appears to have given Tuscany an advantage in the visual arts that is now 2500 to 3000 years old.

          • John Schilling says:

            Northern Italy also has better transport and farmland, e.g. the Po valley for both. If you knew nothing about the cultural history or demographics, just looking at a map would be sufficient to predict that the rich cities would mostly be in the north. The south is for growing specialty crops that get exported to the north. And for a few good but somewhat isolated ports and harbors, e.g. Palermo and Naples, which traditionally were the cosmopolitan bits of Southern Italy.

          • Stefan Drinic says:

            Development in the modern age seems to be correlated much more with a combination of high urbanisation and low amount of strictly feudal tradition. The people in eastern Germany held onto their feudal traditions much longer than they did in the west, and eastern Europe took even longer to do away with serfdom still. Northern Italy, everything inside the Hansa trade league(roughly Scandinavia, northern Germany and the Netherlands) and England all had large cities as well as relatively lax feudal traditions, and this seems to have worked out very well for them in the long run.

            Taking this in mind, the bit about Jews is probably correlated with both those things as well: a very strictly feudal society has less of a place for Jews to do business because of their not being tied to the land, whereas they would do much better in feudal environments.

            Thirdly, protestant countries seem to do better than catholic ones in general, whilst also being more permissive religion-wise. It may well have factored in also.

          • Nita says:

            Hansa trade league(roughly Scandinavia, northern Germany and the Netherlands)

            The Hanseatic League was a union of towns connected to the Baltic Sea (mostly ports), not a union of countries / larger territories. Here’s a map.

            Also, it’s kind of weird to say that “the people” held onto serfdom.

            And, as everyone else said, there used to be many Jews in Eastern Europe.

          • Stefan Drinic says:

            You’re right in saying that it was no nation in the slightest, but it needn’t be; all I wanted to do was point out urbanisation.

            Saying the people held on to serfdom is weird, sure.

            Yes, there were many Jews in eastern Europe. There’s also lots of Orthodox people in eastern Europe, as well as more people speaking Slavic languages. Maybe we should do some research on those things as well?

        • akarlin says:

          Geopolitically, the lands of the Holy Roman Empire were functionally “Poland” for most of European history, not Poland itself.

          The German lands were ravaged to an unimaginable extent during the 30 Years War, losing a third of their population. In contrast, a few years before the outbreak of that war, the Poles had captured Moscow, and would also hold the historically Russian territories of Right Bank Ukraine and Belarus until the late 18th century.

          In short – this has absolutely zilch to do with anything.

        • God Damn John Jay says:

          Resources don’t necessarily mean wealth though. Roughly millennia ago the Norse were subjugating much of Europe. Today the Scandinavians are frequently invoked as aspirational.

          Similarly Venice was viewed as being too low value to conquer, but that led to it developing the institutions that made it a power (During the Italian wars France, the Papal States and the Holy Roman Empire briefly allied against them).

          On the opposite side, Hungary’s fertility attracted the Mongols.

      • Steve Sailer says:

        Inviting in a literate/numerate middle class, as Poland-Lithuania did with Jews and Russia did with Germans and much of southeast Asia did with Chinese, is probably a worse strategy to growing your own middle class, as England did.

  11. Thursday says:

    I’m linking it anyway because it’s the best-laid-out explanation of an under-talked-about idea

    I don’t mean to be snarky, but this has actually been talked about a lot in conservative circles for a long time.

    I’d also note that the reason most upper middle class people don’t destroy their lives is that when it comes to actually living their lives, they do so in a fairly socially conservative way. They just want an out to misbehave a teeny tiny bit: smoke a joint here or there, watch a bit of porn, sleep with their long term girlfriend before actually getting married. A lot of these people would be simply mortified if their daughter was actually sleeping around.

    • Sastan says:

      Partially true, I think. The other bit of that, however, is that social class and money are insulators against consequences. So even if a well-off kid does more crazy stuff than his lower-class counterpart, he or she is likely to experience fewer negative consequences, and have a much more robust support system when it is time to get the old life on track.

      I saw a lot of this as a musician. For poor kids, getting paid was the difference between making rent and sleeping with the gear in the van. If you weren’t talented, you dropped out pretty fast (like me). For the well-off, with parents paying their rent, car payment, insurance and the like, they could indulge in the musician lifestyle without much problem for much longer absent any noticeable talent. And if they get jammed up by the cops, dad gets them a lawyer, while poorer kids plead out with a public defender. If they cause themselves physical damage, they get better doctors, etc. etc.

      There’s not much margin of error for the poor and unconnected. Rich white kids can literally run about being terrorists for fun in their youths, and become professors and advisers to the president when they grow up. The Weathermen all have tenure. The Black Panthers are all dead or in prison.

      • Deiseach says:

        The other bit of that, however, is that social class and money are insulators against consequences.

        That’s the lyrics to Common People: you can play at slumming it for a while, but when you’ve had your fun, you can go back to your family and their connections and Dad knows a guy who’ll give you a position as an intern (unpaid, but your family will support you) in his company while you network your way into a decent job with your degree.

        Meanwhile, you’re eighteen and pregnant and living in a two-bedroom council house with your mother (separated from her husband or latest partner) and two other sisters (and one of them already has a baby) and you left school with bad grades, college is not an option, your boyfriend is off with his new squeeze and she’s pregnant by him now, and you have no job yourself – your family may be willing to help you, but their means to do so are very limited and so are your options. That’s a situation you see every day in social housing provision.

        • Sastan says:

          Quite so. No matter how much liberal screech about inequality, the poor will never be able to recover from setbacks that aren’t a problem for the rich. So a society which cares about the poor should find a way to incentivize them to not fuck their lives up before they even have a chance. Of course, this is an imperfect solution, people being people, but it’s the only one with a chance at success. Merely subsidizing poor decisions by poor people doesn’t reduce them.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            So if educated middle class people empathize with the poor, they should model virtue in front on them.
            Call it Confucian Social Justice or something.

          • nil says:

            “So if educated middle class people empathize with the poor, they should model virtue in front on them.

            Call it Confucian Social Justice or something.”

            Given the cultural realities, wouldn’t this be pretty much inevitably interpreted as smugness and condescension if practiced in any meaningful way by the Blue Tribe-affiliated urban elites it seem largely targeted to?

            (of course it could work intra-tribally, but I’m pretty sure that’s already happening as a matter of course)

        • Julie K says:

          > Meanwhile, you’re eighteen and pregnant…

          A girl from a middle-class family who finds herself 18 and pregnant will probably get an abortion, because (a) her family and social group stigmatizes teenage motherhood and (b) she has a definite plan for the next few years of education and a career, and it’s clear to her that a baby will interfere with her goals.

      • Anthony says:

        The Black Panthers are all dead or in prison.

        Up to a point, sir.

        I met him in that period, and he sounded pretty sincere, and was definitely not a man on the run.

        • Sastan says:

          Your nits are noted as picked.

          I believe my point, slightly exaggerated though it may have been, stands.

      • Psmith says:

        Angela Davis is a tenured professor at a CSU campus somewhere. Spoke at my high school.

      • Poxie says:

        I think I’d retract the bit about certain types being free to run about being a terrorist. It’s far too cut-and-dried. Most Panthers survived, and many thrived. I mean, Bobby Seale! Totally alive, still doing his thing. I met a former Panther in the 90s who was a professor at Mills – not sure if she had tenure or not, but Panther alumnahood didn’t seem to have hurt her any. (The period did traumatize her – she didn’t want to talk about it.)

        The Weathermen did not get shot in their beds, true. But it’s not like America shook their heads and smiled, either(Tangentially, the reason so few WU members got significant jail time was because the Feds were so aggressive in targeting them – the evidence got tossed as illegally collected. And the late 1970s was as good a time as any to come in from the cold.)

        And none of them is advising the President. Yeesh.

    • Anonymous says:

      I really liked the article. I’ve seen similar ideas, but this is the first time I’ve read it expressed in a way that isn’t open to immediate dismissal as “they believe the working class are scum” etc. Admittedly there may be others, I don’t participate in most conservative circles, but.. it’s an article I can link to friends.

      And yeah, your second paragraph sounds on point at least for me.

      • dndnrsn says:

        If we’re talking about the Free Northerner article, if your friends are left-wingers of any variety, or even right-wingers of most varieties, they will probably not respond well to what he’s written.

        • Anonymous says:

          It read as pretty tame to me, but thanks for the warning, I’ll keep it in mind.

          • dndnrsn says:

            As far as I can recall, he’s pretty tame by the standards of the alt-right, but that’s a pretty big “by the standards of”. He’s very anti-feminist, for instance.

            Additionally, he links to authors who are a lot less tame.

          • Anonymous says:

            Oh, I thought you were referring to the linked article alone as being offensive. I didn’t look at his other stuff.

    • Neanderthal From Mordor says:

      The idea that conservatives talk about is that the Blue Tribe has fairly conservative behaviour while publicly promoting ultra liberal mores that are harmful for working class people who take them at face value.
      The main point of the linked piece is that the differences between the elites and the working class are biological and identical behaviour will have different impact for different groups.
      For the vast majority of conservatives this type of biodeterminism is anathema.

      • Vox Imperatoris says:

        This is an important point people in this discussion seem to be overlooking.

        The two positions aren’t the same at all.

      • houseboatonstyx says:

        @ Neanderthal From Mordor
        the Blue Tribe has fairly conservative behaviour while publicly promoting ultra liberal mores that are harmful for working class people who take them at face value

        At what age/stage? I suspect that Scott’s “marry early, divorce early” holds the key. The liberal/Blue model includes contraception and various kinds of non-procreative sex, and drugs for fun, and free-spirit non-commitment, etc. Do that at 20, and then at 35 or so when you’re ready to settle down, you’ll know what you like and know a lot of potential partners and already be developing a stable relationship in a grounded, steady manner with one (or more)

        Otoh, if at 20 you’re a good $religioner abstinence only, the first time you feel lust you’ll likely marry the boy next door, start Quiverfulling, and really be stuck. Babies before you can afford them … deadend job … drugs for depression with no experience in handling drugs for fun….

        • Friday says:

          I have several problems with this, the first of which is that this is a just-so story without any evidence suggested for it.

          Okay, so let’s start out with establishing this part: women without any sexual partners prior to marriage have significantly lower chances of getting divorced. It’s true that divorce rates start dropping again after 2 partners, but there’s still a sweet spot at 5-9, not 20+. If we’re assuming someone’s sexually active from 20 through 35, that works out to less than one distinct partner per year prior to marriage, which… isn’t really “free-spirit non-commitment”, it’s dating multiple people before getting married. (The blogpost I linked to goes into more detail about this.)

          I guess if we’re talking specifically about religious people, yes, there’s probably a stronger social stigma against divorce, but I don’t see how that masks the effects of being absolutely miserable in an ill-advised marriage.

          (Also, who the hell doesn’t feel lust before age 20?)

          As far as drugs go, there’s… really not a lot of evidence that religiosity correlates with drug use. Most of the literature I could find (besides one twin study, which suggests a negative relationship between religiosity and substance abuse) deals with adolescents or college students, so it’s not directly relevant to your argument.

      • dndnrsn says:

        Yeah, this is what separates that Free Northerner article (or, Murray, if the secondhand impression of Murray I’ve gotten is correct) from, say, Douthat. The mainstream right, along with the left as a whole, has basically abandoned biodeterminism, or at least biodeterminism regarding intellect, impulse control, etc.

        The difference is that the right tends to blame the problems of groups that don’t do so well on the groups: “culture of poverty”, etc, while the left tends to blame socioeconomic factors acting upon those groups – discrimination, and so on.

        Those National Review articles basically encapsulated how the mainstream right feels about poor people: they have the ability to stop railing Oxy, stop having children out of wedlock, and rent a damn U-Haul (adjust negative stereotypes for different groups) and the fact that they don’t do these things is proof of moral failure.

        • ryan says:

          Even the existence of the term biodeterminism is an astounding outcome. What would someone in the 17th century have thought if you told them that in 400 years a whole generation of human beings would exist who authentically believed people do not have personalities?

      • Frog Do says:

        Not nearly as anathema as one would think, I would know, I’m a red triber. It’s more that biodeterminism of any kind is officially blasphemy, so certain arguments are never going to be publically stated.

  12. drethelin says:

    Homes in The Fort seem pretty overpriced to me: you can get more space for less money AND have a bathroom if you’re willing to take the status hit of living in a trailer. (http://www.campingworld.com/rvsales/travel-trailers/2000/layton-lite/493482/). Ridiculously the deals seem to get even worse for the higher priced domiciles, in many parts of of america you can get far bigger houses for 80k. You’re paying a lot of money for an order of magnitude less space.

    • Psmith says:

      The tough part about trailers is finding somewhere to put them that’s also close to the other stuff you want, although I guess this is also basically true for Fort Galt.

      • vV_Vv says:

        At least you can move a trailer if you aren’t satisfied by your neighborhood, and a trailer has good reselling value if you keep it in good condition.

        With Fort Galt you are stuck in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of weirdos, and good luck selling your property when the commune inevitably fails and is abandoned.

        I wonder why this sort of thing (and its more insane variant, seasteading) has any standing in so-called rationalist circles.

      • Jiro says:

        I wonder why this sort of thing (and its more insane variant, seasteading) has any standing in so-called rationalist circles.

        Because rationalists are bad at epistemic learned helplessness and have a tendency to take ideas seriously too much. If an idea would change your lifestyle a lot and is not widely implemented, you should have a high prior against it because it is very likely that you missed something.

        This is also a variation on Chesterton’s fence–there’s probably a reason why people aren’t doing the unusual thing you want to use to upend your entire life. Figure out what the reason is and show that it doesn’t apply before making drastic life changes.

        • Adam says:

          It’s also not that bad. My wife and I are both libertarians. I’m from LA and she’s from Long Island and we kind of intentionally ended up in Texas because it’s at least a little bit closer to what we want out of a government, but it’s far from perfect. So what? We have really good lives. The police don’t seem to be too bad here. We get open carry, but frankly don’t feel threatened enough to really use it. Lower taxes would be nice, but we’ve gotten like 60K in raises just in the last year. We still have thousands left over at the end of every month, so cry me a river. To want a drastic change in your life, your life has to actually be uncomfortable enough to be worth changing. It’s not.

        • ” If an idea would change your lifestyle a lot and is not widely implemented, you should have a high prior against it because it is very likely that you missed something.”

          Which is a reason to treat seasteading, and other unconventional ideas, as low probability. But a low probability gamble with a high payoff may still be worth taking. Nobody I know of is planning to live on a seastead currently–it’s a project to develop a technology and associated institutions. Probably won’t work, but very valuable if it does.

          • Thomas Jørgensen says:

            The seasteading movement are… probably not the people who will ever make this work, just because a hostility to regulations when your city is *sinkable* is just.. daft.

            TBH, if you want to do empire building at sea, iron fertilization, thermocline power generation and the bottomless recruitment grounds for labor that are the refugees of the world is a better bet than the “We hate government” types.

          • vV_Vv says:

            The technology is already there, it is called “cruise ship”, the fact that it is used only for pleasure voyages rather than permanent habitation is because seasteading is economically and politically inviable.

          • Jiro says:

            But a low probability gamble with a high payoff may still be worth taking.

            Multiplying a low probability event by a high payoff is itself one of those ideas that rationalists take too seriously.

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            Anecdotal evidence: a friend of mine is retired and frequently goes on cruises. He has informed me on multiple occasions that cruise prices have dropped far enough that he has in fact met several people who live on them – when one cruise ends, they simply buy another one, often on the same ship.

            I get the strong impression that they have a house somewhere just in case, and are therefore on the affluent side, but they’re also retirees, a group in which affluence is common. Which suggests seasteading is effectively done by enough retirees to fill a small town; they’re just currently spread out among several ships.

          • BBA says:

            The point of seasteading is to be outside the reach of all existing laws, and I don’t see how cruise ships can do that. They can self-sustain for a while but still need to enter port every few weeks to refuel and resupply, and are subject to the national law of the port when they do. Since it’s generally illegal for an unregistered ship to enter a port, the ship must be registered in some recognized country and therefore subject to that country’s laws even on the high seas. (Maybe the seastead would send out supply boats to avoid entering port itself, but the supply boats would still need to be registered, etc.)

            Now in practice most ships are registered in smaller countries like Liberia and the Bahamas, which have neither the desire nor the ability to enforce their laws upon them, but there’s still the theoretical threat.

          • Autolykos says:

            @BBA: Being outside the reach of existing laws doesn’t protect you from other nations still trying to impose their laws on you. I don’t expect Assange or Snowden would remain free for more than fifteen minutes if they decided to enter international waters. There is this one superpower around that has a long track record of not giving a shit about international law, and I’d wager a guess that most other nations would do the same if they could get away with it.
            As David already discussed at length in his book, remaining independent is the hard problem of anarchy, and I don’t see seasteading as the solution (at least not by itself – it may work as long as you fly under the radar).

  13. Dumky says:

    “Immigrant men are much more likely to be employed than US men.”
    How do the age distributions compare?

    • Ptoliporthos says:

      Aren’t a lot of legal immigrants sponsored by an employer? This seems obvious.

      • brad says:

        Depends on what you mean by ‘a lot’ and by ‘immigrants’. In terms of permanent resident visas issued every year, employment based are around 10% and that includes derivatives (i.e. family members other than the sponsored employee).

  14. Daniel Speyer says:

    > It was a cool theory, but childhood antibiotic exposure does not cause later weight gain.

    This seems a bit overstated. From the abstract:

    > Antibiotic exposure was not significantly associated with rate of weight change (0.7%; 95% CI, −0.1% to 1.5%; P = .07, equivalent to approximately 0.05 kg; 95% CI, −0.004 to 0.11 kg of added weight gain between age 2 years and 5 years).

    This isn’t good evidence that antibiotics cause weight gain, but it isn’t really good evidence that they don’t either. Previous studies found an effect, and this doesn’t look like sufficient evidence to update much.

    The study’s paywalled, but I’m suspicious that they may have chosen metrics which show the effect more weakly.

    • Cadie says:

      Two possibilities come to mind. The first is that weight gain from antibiotics and gut bacteria disruption etc. is caused by affecting hunger and satiety signals, or causing low absorption of some vitamins or minerals and triggering more hunger and eating to compensate. If that’s the case, it wouldn’t show up in 2-year-olds, and not much at age 5-7 either, because at that age they don’t have a lot of control over what they eat or how much. But by age 12, you’d start seeing weight differences, because by then most of them get to pick their own portion sizes a lot of the time, get their own snacks, etc.

      The second is that our bacterial balances might not set in very well until later in infancy and early childhood, so antibiotics in younger infants don’t matter much for it. Newborns start with almost nothing, after all. It could be that the changes caused by antibiotic use in a 1-month-old are pretty easy to bounce back from, but for a 2-year-old, the damage to bacterial balance has longer-lasting effects.

      Tracking the kids’ weight for another five years would provide evidence for or against the first possibility. A different study with kids who were exposed to antibiotics when a bit older would be needed for the second.

    • Douglas Knight says:

      Surely animal models, N=1,000,000,000 show that you never should have believed the earlier studies. Yes, I know that the earlier papers cited the same animal models.

  15. Someone else has webbed a response to your non-libertarian faq. You’ve seen it before, but others here have not:

    http://www.daviddfriedman.com/Miscellaneous/My%20Response%20to%20a%20Non-Libertarian%20faq.html

    • Artir says:

      I just updated mine to link to yours. I don’t know how it’s possible I didn’t find it before!

    • Matt says:

      “On the other hand, fairly straightforward economic analysis suggests that increasing the stock of capital will tend to decrease the marginal productivity of capital and increase that of labor, hence will tend to raise wages and lower interest rates.”

      Nope, wrong. This is what all non-geoist libertarians continue to get wrong. You’re simply ignoring the role of land in the economy. It will tend to increase land rents; interest and wages will split what is left over. Notice that anywhere where the stock of capital is highly concentrated, the cost of living or doing business is nearly prohibitive. Failure to capture land rents for the benefit of society necessarily results in these paradoxes, and undermines the benefits of a free market (naturally, the market can hardly be described as ‘free’ if some fraction of society literally own the space in which it operates).

      • Urstoff says:

        Did I stumble into an economics messageboard from the 1830’s?

        • Matt says:

          Hehehe, it’s funny because a crash in just the residential land market was enough to nearly destroy the financial system in 2008.

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            That’s because of the S&L crash in the 90s.

            No, seriously. The government shut down the previous lenders, and prevented them from doing that kind of lending anymore. Loans, predictably, tanked. Financial instruments for lending were legalized to re-encourage this kind of investment; these financial instruments, because they had to be fungible, had stringent requirements placed on them. This created real estate vulnerabilities in the broader finance community, and also, owing to the stringent requirements, resulted in the US looking increasingly the same everywhere.

            So if you want to know why there are so many Walgreens and CVS Pharmacies and identical shopping centers and identical apartment complexes and everything looks the same everywhere now – it’s because the Federal Government only allows* financial companies to buy real estate investments that look like that.

            *Strictly speaking, they can buy other investments, but not on the stock exchange, and they don’t meet certain liquidity requirements, so for all practical purposes they’re not allowed to.

      • Vox Imperatoris says:

        Land rents are nothing. N o t h i n g.

        What is the value of a given piece of land, apart from the work of exploring it, apart from anything built on it, apart from network effects of being located near other people? It is completely negligible, as Michael Huemer explains:

        Here is a very simple way of overestimating natural resource values: look at the price of some “natural resource” on the commodities exchanges. For example, gold costs $1300 an ounce. But this is the price of the resource after all the work of extracting and purifying it has been done.

        Another way of overestimating natural resource values is to consider the value of a parcel of land (with resource-extraction rights included) that is known to have some interesting resource underground, such as oil or gold. Such land can indeed be quite valuable, even before anything has been built on it. However, discovering the location of such interesting resources requires surveying, which is a form of labor (see Caplan and Gochenour’s discussion). To truly capture the unimproved value of land, one must consider the economic value of the land before any surveying has been done, and thus before it is known whether that land has any interesting resources under the ground.

        A third way of overestimating natural resource values (specifically, land values) is to consider the value of an empty plot of land in some developed area. For instance, land in some parts of New York City is worth $800 per square foot before anything is built on it. However, almost all of this value is due to human activity, especially the activity of other people who live and have lived in New York. This is shown by the fact that land (with no fewer natural resources) in completely undeveloped areas has much lower value. You might be able to buy a plot of wilderness land in Montana for 8 cents per square foot. If we apply the Georgist rationale strictly, the 8 cents is more relevant than the $800. But even the 8 cents is an overestimate, since some of that value is probably due to human activities (if the rest of the continent were devoid of human occupation, the same plot of land would probably have even lower economic value).

        In light of these reflections, I do not think that anyone should expect a livable salary from their fair share of the world’s natural resource rents.

        • jaimeastorga2000 says:

          What is the value of a given piece of land, apart from the work of exploring it, apart from anything built on it, apart from network effects of being located near other people?

          Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            Then that’s not the value of the undeveloped land, which is what Georgists want to tax.

            Taxing the network value is just a tax on urbanization. It has a clear distortionary effect. Whereas “single-tax”-ism believes that the land value tax it wants has no distortionary effects at all because land is fixed. (Which also doesn’t work because land is not in fact fixed.)

        • Matt says:

          > Land rents are nothing. N o t h i n g.

          Garbage.

          > What is the value of a given piece of land, apart from the work of exploring it, apart from anything built on it, apart from network effects of being located near other people?

          The “work of exploring it” doesn’t give it value. Proximity value is rightly land rent.

          >It is completely negligible, as Michael Huemer explains:
          >>A third way of overestimating natural resource values (specifically, land values) is to consider the value of an empty plot of land in some developed area. For instance, land in some parts of New York City is worth $800 per square foot before anything is built on it. However, almost all of this value is due to human activity, especially the activity of other people who live and have lived in New York. This is shown by the fact that land (with no fewer natural resources) in completely undeveloped areas has much lower value. You might be able to buy a plot of wilderness land in Montana for 8 cents per square foot. If we apply the Georgist rationale strictly, the 8 cents is more relevant than the $800. But even the 8 cents is an overestimate, since some of that value is probably due to human activities (if the rest of the continent were devoid of human occupation, the same plot of land would probably have even lower economic value).

          False and idiotic. Obviously *all value period* is due to human activities. Duh. Without more than one human, there couldn’t possibly *be* any such thing as an economic value. When we talk about unimproved value of land, we’re talking about the value of land not owing to *improvements to that parcel of land*. That is, not something that the owner created. Take that parcel of Manhattan land, for example. Imagine it was owned by your great, great, great grandfather. It had been owned and passed down to each generation, left totally fallow the entire time, until it passed to you. These days its worth millions. But why? Owing to improvements made by you? No, owing to improvements made by the community. Obviously, that value was created by, and rightly belongs to, the community.

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            That value is opportunity cost. And yes, the opportunity cost “belongs” to the community, inherently; it’s literally the value of the land if somebody else were doing something different with it.

            The existence of opportunity cost, however, doesn’t imply ownership. If I have a pen in my drawer that I never use, its value is determined by the value somebody else could get out of that pen; that doesn’t imply that other people own my pen.

      • Foo Quuxman says:

        It will tend to increase land rents; interest and wages will split what is left over.

        Thereby incentivizing people to reduce their land use in that area.

        Notice that anywhere where the stock of capital is highly concentrated, the cost of living or doing business is nearly prohibitive.

        Uh huh, that pesky physics thing requires that objects not occupy the same point in space-time. Result: land is scarce. Therefore: land must not be wasted. Therefore: if someone wants to use land in an area of concentrated value they had better pay up.

        Failure to capture land rents for the benefit of society

        Assumption 1: “Society” exists separate from the individuals making it up.
        Assumption 2: Market transactions are somehow separate from “Society”

        necessarily results in these paradoxes,

        What paradoxes?

        and undermines the benefits of a free market

        How?

        (naturally, the market can hardly be described as ‘free’ if some fraction of society literally own the space in which it operates).

        “Naturally” indeed? This ought to be good. Explain.

        When you are done with that, explain how Land[1] is different in such a fundamental way from every single other good (many of which function as substitutes for land!) that it has to be allocated by different mechanisms. Also why anyone should think that those mechanisms will work.

        [1]: Bow before it!

        • Matt says:

          >>It will tend to increase land rents; interest and wages will split what is left over.

          >Thereby incentivizing people to reduce their land use in that area.

          They already are incentivized to reduce their land use in any area. Land values are what they are because of what people are willing and able to pay for it.

          >> Notice that anywhere where the stock of capital is highly concentrated, the cost of living or doing business is nearly prohibitive.

          > Uh huh, that pesky physics thing requires that objects not occupy the same point in space-time. Result: land is scarce. Therefore: land must not be wasted. Therefore: if someone wants to use land in an area of concentrated value they had better pay up.

          Yes, but pay whom?

          >> Failure to capture land rents for the benefit of society

          > Assumption 1: “Society” exists separate from the individuals making it up.
          Assumption 2: Market transactions are somehow separate from “Society”

          No such assumptions. If I give you an apple, I did not give society an apple. Some small fraction of individuals collecting land rent from the rest of society and spending it on themselves is obviously not the same thing as land rent being collected by the government and spent for the benefit society.

          >> necessarily results in these paradoxes,

          > What paradoxes?

          Most acute poverty amid the greatest concentration of wealth. Inability to fund government in areas with that create the most per capita value, despite tax rates that are unusually high.

          >> and undermines the benefits of a free market

          > How?

          By creating perverse market incentives and necessitating the taxation of production.

          >> (naturally, the market can hardly be described as ‘free’ if some fraction of society literally own the space in which it operates).

          > “Naturally” indeed? This ought to be good. Explain.

          Take the reductio ad absurdum of one owner of the earth. Is there a free market if all of society can only exist, much less work and trade, by meeting the demands of the owner of the world? Clearly not. But what if it were 10 owners instead? Does that change it? No. 100? No. 1,000,000? No. The number doesn’t matter. As long as people don’t have equal rights to use of the earth, there cannot be a free market.

          > When you are done with that, explain how Land[1] is different in such a fundamental way from every single other good (many of which function as substitutes for land!) that it has to be allocated by different mechanisms. Also why anyone should think that those mechanisms will work.

          Land is fundamentally different in that it cannot be created, and exists without the help of anyone. And it shouldn’t be allocated by different mechanisms; what should change is who benefits from its advantages. The rent should be collected and spent on society. Exclusive use of some portion of the earth is a privilege in the most literal sense of the term; those granted that privilege should compensate society for the privilege they receive. This is the only means of reconciling equal human rights, and a baseline requirement for anything like a free market.

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            …y’know, as a libertarian who regards land taxes (not property taxes, noted strongly) as the only legitimate form of taxation…

            I’m almost in agreement with you, but not quite. Because you approach the problem from the direction of the “Society” rather than the direction of the “Individual”.

            Your last paragraph approaches my position, except for some poor word choice; privilege is not the right word; exclusivity definitely is. The issue is that traditionally, land ownership is derived from conversion; the house on your land is yours, and rightfully so, because it wasn’t naturally there. And therefore it’s not justifiable to tax you on the existence of that house.

            The coal a thousand meters down that you didn’t create and don’t even know about, isn’t yours in any meaningful sense. Your ownership of the land serves only to limit what other people can do with that land; your ownership of the land is not a statement of your rights, but a limitation on the rights of others.

            Society didn’t create that coal, either, however. Society is no more responsible for the value of your land than you are. Indeed, to the extent that people accrue benefits with respect to their responsibility for the value of land, the clear implication is that Orlando should belong to the Disney corporation, since it created most of the value there, and property taxes should go to the Disney corporation. Your philosophical approach, far from eliminating rents, implies rents are severely underpaid. Factory owners should be paid a portion of property taxes; worse, poor people should pay higher property taxes because their presence lowers land value, and wealthy people with nice mansions should pay less or even accrue value.

            Opportunity cost is the correct approach to take, and applies equally well to intellectual property as physical property. (I’m fine with unlimited copyright and patents. But you’d damn well better pay taxes on it.)

  16. suntzuanime says:

    Paying people $10 increases their willingness to do just about anything. That’s kinda what $10 is for.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yet again illustrating that most people don’t understand the marginal case.

    • Alliteration says:

      The fear is that people will no longer feel a warm-glow when helping someone for pay, because of the separation of personal and business in our culture.

      For example, some people are willing to help a friend move, but not willing to help a friend move for $50, because the money makes it pure business while doing for free implies some future reciprocity.

    • TheAltar says:

      What would you do for $10?

    • God Damn John Jay says:

      There are a lot of beautiful women, and wealth follows a power law, not horribly surprising.

  17. anonymous user says:

    Lemme just put on my jammies here and get into character

    Ahem

    SMASH ‘EM, HULKSTER!

  18. Kyle Strand says:

    I believe you linked to something about Mencius Moldbug being kept from talking at StrangeLoop back when that happened. A different computing conference has decided to allow him to speak and has published an extensive and actually really good blog post about that decision. The best part is the “Feedback Highlights” section near the middle. http://degoes.net/articles/lambdaconf-inclusion

    • Yakimi says:

      His inclusion, however, caused PrlConf and Typelevel to autopurge themselves from the conference.

      http://www.jonprl.org/prlconf.html

      http://typelevel.org/blog/2016/03/24/typelevel-boulder.html

      Speaking of Moldbug, he did an IAmA. It went well.

      https://np.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/4bxf6f/im_curtis_yarvin_developer_of_urbit_ama/

      • Kyle Strand says:

        Ugh, seriously? Bleeeeeeaaaaaaaarrrgh.

      • Anonymous says:

        Moral of the story: If you’re going to start a far-right ideology, do it anonymously.

        • houseboatonstyx says:

          For a while here, I thought ‘Moldbug’ was something out of _The Screwtape Letters_.

        • youzicha says:

          I mean, he did start it under a pseudonym, and then revealed his real name in order to shill his Urbit project. And then Peter Thiel funded his Urbit startup, which I kindof doubt would have happened unless Yarvin/Moldbug had already been (in)famous for his blog.

      • ThirteenthLetter says:

        Most of the conference’s sponsors are suddenly absent from the LambdaConf page, as well. I’m hoping they just asked the organizer to temporarily remove their names to avoid harassment until the outrage mob gets distracted by the next shiny object, but we’ll see.

        I always wanted to believe that the crazy no-platformers were a tiny minority, and if someone finally had the guts to stand fast against them they’d discover there was little real price to pay. Guess we’ll find out whether that’s true, assuming LambdaConf doesn’t just cave.

        • Publius Varinius says:

          > Most of the conference’s sponsors are suddenly absent from the LambdaConf page, as well. I’m hoping they just asked the organizer to temporarily remove their names to avoid harassment until the outrage mob gets distracted by the next shiny object, but we’ll see.

          Some of them have officially withdrawn their “support and speakers”.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            Yeah, it was great to see someone standing up for inclusion even briefly, but I’m not optimistic about the long term. At this point it’ll probably be a race between which happens first, LambdaConf caves to the mob or Yarvin “voluntarily” withdraws.

        • Seth says:

          This is a fascinating experiment in terms of responding to the outrage mob. I keep hoping someone will collect empirical data about whether it works better to be conciliatory or to be defiant. Yarvin posted a response about his views, which I think was his attempt to be conciliatory in a rationalist way. But I suspect he’s digging himself in deeper. He went on and on about what he considers to be racism and how he’s not a racist by that definition. Except that doesn’t help him if people don’t restrict themselves to his definition. It’s a weird mix of trying to be polite but at the same time, *intellectually* defiant. Worst of both worlds?

          https://medium.com/@curtis.yarvin/why-you-should-come-to-lambdaconf-anyway-35ff8cd4fb9d

          • Jiro says:

            I’m not convinced it’s a bad idea. The target audience shouldn’t be the outrage mob; the target audience should be the people the outrage mob puts pressure on. The outrage mob has to seem reasonable or it’s harder for them to exert pressure, and one way they seem reasonable is to state their outrage vaguely so people can read into their words a definition that is more reasonable than the one they are actually using.

            If he says “I’m not racist according to (everyone else’s definition of racism)”, the mob either has to admit their definition is not everyone else’s, or make it obvious that they have no evidence. Either choice makes them look a lot less reasonable to outsiders.

            (Of course, the mob doesn’t consciously think “I’ll be vague to make it easier for people to interpret it more reasonably”, but mob behavior is subject to natural selection.)

          • suntzuanime says:

            Is anybody going to read a big long screed posted on medium.com by a known nazi?

          • hlynkacg says:

            Nazi?

          • suntzuanime says:

            Hell, if internet communists don’t know a nazi when they see one, who would?

          • Seth says:

            @Jiro – to be brief, he seems to be using a conservative/libertarian definition of racist (where you basically need to be a Klan member, anything less doesn’t count). I’m not sure how well that’s going to go over with liberals who are on the fence about him. The conservatives and libertarians already don’t care about the outrage mob. It’s the liberals and moderates who care. and are thus subject to pressure.

            Sigh, this is the internet – I’d better expand that “you basically need to be a Klan member” remark. It means, treating every individual as if they intrinsically possessed the negative stereotypes, immutably. Anything less that this belief in their terms does not count (which is where one gets the phrase “credit to your race” as praise in that mindset – the speaker is noting the person doesn’t have the presumed negative stereotypes). This highly restrictive definition is not held by “everyone”, to put it mildly.

          • hlynkacg says:

            @ Seth
            Yarvin seems to be banking on the idea that most people still think “racism” means racial bigotry, if correct trying to convince people that he isn’t a bigot may be an effective defense.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            I don’t think that post is doing him any favors.

            He actually answers the self-posed question, “Am I a racist?” with” No, but“.

            Edit:
            and the whole thing reads like it was written in a fever sweat of righteous indignation. He comes off as incoherent. The next McAfee waiting to happen. That post is going to make people run in the other direction.

          • Protagoras says:

            Well, I at least learned one thing. I hadn’t previously known that he went to Brown.

    • Seth says:

      “To address the safety issue, we read or skimmed nearly everything the speaker has written online (which is no small task), …”

      Those poor, poor folks. They deserve some sort of recognition for that alone.

      • suntzuanime says:

        This is a reflection of the asymmetric warfare dynamic in these sort of situations. You don’t have to read anything to call someone a nazi, but you have to read everything they’ve ever written to know that the accusation isn’t true.

        Once you lose the ability to just say “fuck off”, you’re doomed.

    • Theo Jones says:

      I think very poorly of Yarvin/Molbug’s political views, but its pretty dangerous to suppress apolitical research because you don’t like the political views of the researcher.

  19. Glen Raphael says:

    A key part of that McDonald’s article you might have overlooked is the phrase “closing hundreds of weak stores”. Yes, after McD’s had in the last year closed hundreds of marginally-productive locations – thereby eliminating lots of jobs – they could afford to give some of their still-remaining employees a 10% raise (to $9.90/hour).

    That doesn’t mean the business model would even remain viable at $15/hour, much less does it cast doubt on the notion that being forced to pay higher wages would likely force the company to shrink the total number of work hours, since they just DID shrink the total number of work hours.

    (the number of company-owned branches just in the US seems to have declined last year by 91 – they opened ~100 new stores and closed ~200 old ones for a net negative. Which might not sound like much – they’ve still got 14,000 US locations left – but it’s the first time in 40 years that the firm shrunk in size year-over-year. Also, profits were down substantially last year.)

    Another thing to keep in mind is that the firm only gets this sort of “lower turnover/higher morale” benefit to higher wages if the legislated minimum wage DOESN’T go up to match what they’re paying. So yes, any one firm can plausibly try to get slightly better-than-average and happier-than-average employees by paying better-than-average salaries and it might work out okay, but it’s mathematically impossible for ALL firms to reap the same benefit. So you can’t say “higher-than-minimum wages worked for firm X, therefore we should raise the minimum and make EVERYONE pay those higher wages!”

    • Deiseach says:

      So what happens to “keep low-paying jobs at that level, they’re an entry to real jobs” argument if stores running on the “under legal minimum wage” model are themselves in trouble?

      McDonalds could be taking a hit from the success of anti-obesity campaigns and the recoil from unhealthy fast food. Ironic if the success of one government programme to promote healthy eating resulted in the loss of jobs, but there you go.

      So now what happens people when even the low-paying jobs that used to be there are drying up and there are as yet no replacements? Minimum wage raises may make that effect worse, but if low-paying jobs are on the way out anyway, that is a problem that still has to be addressed: how do you either get people who do not have high educational attainments onto the ladder of work, if traditional entry level work is no longer there?

      • The Anonymouse says:

        I thought the accepted reason for the dip in McDonald’s success was a misguided focus on expensive and unwanted “fresh” options… in trying to compete with fast-casual places, they overcomplicated their menu with items that don’t sell.

        They’re realizing that their core business is not competing with Chipotle on veggie-laden $7 items; like always, they’re competing with Jack in the Box and BK and Wendy’s on cheap, greasy burgers at the lowest price. Focus on your core market, McD’s!

        • Anon says:

          I am a member of McDonald’s core demographic, and I agree with this fully. People like me (underclass or working class low-income people who enjoy fatty foods and don’t much enjoy eating vegetables) absolutely will not shell out more money for food products that they don’t even want. They’re not looking for kale smoothies and low-fat salads. They want fatty, greasy cheeseburgers and chicken nuggets, and they don’t want them to cost much.

          Ignoring this demographic while trying to court middle and upper class Whole Foods shoppers is a horrible business decision for McDonald’s. Those people already hate McDonald’s and will never go there, even if McDonald’s introduces new menu items to cater to them. A better decision would be to pare down the menu to the items that actually sell, and to then be very careful in the future when considering adding new items to make sure that the people who actually eat at McDonald’s will like the new item.

          • The Anonymouse says:

            I am not McDonald’s core demographic anymore–by all indicators I should be eating at Chipotle and making snarky comments about how McD’s doesn’t even taste good, gah–but seconded and thirded. I want beef, cheese, and fries, and preferably at the $1 price point.

            I like vegetables. But I wouldn’t go to McDonald’s for them.

            On reconsideration, I also appreciate calories on the menuboard. So I can get the maximum per unit of money.

          • Virbie says:

            As a counterexample, I probably fit rather closely in the demographic they’re now trying to target: I don’t shop at whole foods or anything but I overwhelmingly prefer light, flavorful food: add in a little subconscious touch of class snobbiness absorbed from my environment and you’re unlikely to find me anywhere near a McDonald’s (though in n out burger is a time honored ritual). I haven’t had a soda since high school and can’t recall the last time I had a bag of chips.

            Even so, I have very many friends and family who don’t mind McDonald’s occasionally (or even more than occasionally). For these people, eating at McDonald’s doesn’t remove their niggling knowledge of what they “should” be eating, and having nominally healthy items at McDonald’s can provide plausible deniability (get a salad with your nuggets and large Coke).

            The difference here may be between occasional customers and frequent customers, but I don’t think the strategy is as ridiculous on its face as its being described here. It seemed to me very likely to catch people on the margins: those that like McDonald’s but feel like they “shouldn’t” be having it are a little less likely to stop.

          • Urstoff says:

            I think the problem with that is it doesn’t lead to growth, which makes shareholders unhappy. The junk food market is tapped, and the fast-causal-“healthy” is a growing market.

        • multiheaded says:

          Here, McDonalds has somehow gotten more expensive than Burger King over the last year. But yes endorsed, give me my motherfucking junk food, bitches.

    • Squirrel of Doom says:

      You can also get “lower turnover/higher morale” from the higher unemployment created by raising minimum wages.

    • If the result of raising the minimum wage is that low skilled employees find it hard to find jobs, having been priced out of the market, then companies that do hire them should get the same lower turnover/higher morale benefit. The are still paying more than the employee’s alternative, because the alternative is likely to be unemployment.

  20. Some Troll's Serious Discussion Alt says:

    Also, Rubio and Cruz both lost to Trump (Trump!) among Latinos.

    Some legal Latino immigrants really really don’t like illegals. Are there enough of them to dominate the Latino vote within the Republican primary, where I expect that crowd would congregate?

    Looks like it.

    • jaimeastorga2000 says:

      Plus, all of the offensive things Trump has said are specifically about Mexicans. I know that the Blue Tribe has been pushing really hard for a shared Hispanic identity (the better to use us as a weapon against the Red Tribe, no doubt), but the truth is that most Latinos don’t really buy into that. I was born in Peru, and when Trump says something bad about Mexicans, I couldn’t care less, because I’m not a Mexican.

      • Deiseach says:

        I know that the Blue Tribe has been pushing really hard for a shared Hispanic identity

        Particularly when the favoured term by white liberals is “Hispanic”; I’m sure there are South Americans who say “Look, I’m Portuguese, he’s Spanish, why the hell are you lumping me in with that lot?” That’s a bit “Canadians, Yanks, what’s the difference; sure aren’t you all North Americans?” 🙂

        Especially when they’re not thinking of actual Hispanics as “people of purely Spanish ancestry/people from Spain”; had an interesting chat (in the context of bemoaning the whitewashing of Khan in the reboot Star Trek “Into Darkness” movie) about Ricardo Montalbán (who was actually born in Mexico to Spanish immigrant parents and so was not Mexican or Latino as used in the USA context where “Mexican” means generally “mixed ancestry including some proportion of native indigenous population, possibly but not certainly including African or Caribbean ancestral strain”, but certainly qualified as Mexican on the grounds of “Mexican citizen and upbringing”)

        Never mind the preciosity of “be sure to use Latinx or Latin@ because using Latino/Latina is an offensive promotion of gender and sexual binaries and non-inclusive!” by the arbiters of Today’s In-Favour Jargon.

        • Tibor says:

          I would suggest using the word “mestizos” instead of “latinos” as it actually describes exactly what the US meaning of the word “latinos” aims to describe. The term “latinos”, at least the way I understand it and how I observe people from Latin America to use it is actually in the same category as “North Americans”. In that sense, Latinos are simply people from the American countries south of the US of A. But it is easy to imagine how many people would immediately come up with an explanation of how the term mestizo is “problematic” and “racist”.

    • Anonymous says:

      >Some legal Latino immigrants really really don’t like illegals.

      Yup. This seems fairly universal. The early adopters (immigrants) want the rest of their countrymen to stay at home, otherwise they’ll dilute the benefits they are getting.

      • jaimeastorga2000 says:

        I like the lifeboat analogy. Just because I got into the lifeboat, do I have an obligation to support everyone else boarding the lifeboat until it inevitably sinks? Because, let me tell you, that ocean is looking mighty close right now.

        Incidentally, every rationalist should read Garrett Hardin. The man approached problems in ecology and population ethics with the kind of heartless ruthlessness that is more commonly associated with economists.

        • Anonymous says:

          I vote to kick you and E. Harding out and try to get immigrants with fewer dark triad traits.

          • null says:

            Thankfully, this is not a democracy. So what if they’re everything you stand against? Are you not able to deal with the nonsense they’re spewing?

          • Anonymous says:

            No, I don’t mean from SSC, I mean from the U.S.

          • multiheaded says:

            AND MY AXE

          • No, I don’t mean from SSC, I mean from the U.S.

            Isn’t Harding an American citizen?

          • Randy M says:

            A thoroughly irrefutable response. Your logic is dazzling.

          • jaimeastorga2000 says:

            And I wish that you would be exiled to Brazil so that you can experience what we are afraid is going to happen while Multi here got quarantined in Russia so that he couldn’t contribute his degeneracy to the West, but it looks like neither of us is gonna get what we want.

            Isn’t Harding an American citizen?

            So am I.

          • Anonymous says:

            It seems they both lied during their naturalization oaths. So, no.

          • multiheaded says:

            Scott, what was your stance on deliberately misgendering people as an insult again?

        • nil says:

          The real debate is over the proximity of the ocean.

        • Vox Imperatoris says:

          Garrett Hardin, Paul Ehrlich, Samuel Butler…part of a long tradition of brave men willing to take drastic steps to solve imaginary problems.

        • multiheaded says:

          Approaching ethics with heartless ruthlessness? Is that like destroying a village to save it?

  21. antimule says:

    Another link that attempts to explain the rise of Trump:

    https://goplifer.com/2016/03/22/revenge-of-the-reality-based-community/#comments

    It should be noted that the author is a Republican (or used to be).

    Article explains that the roots of the current troubled state of the Republican party originated half a century ago in their effort to recruit the Southerners. Author thinks that the religious talk offered the smokescreen for an agenda of white supremacy. However, courting fundamentalism also created an environment hostile to empirical reality, which culminated with the Bush administration.

    To this day, Republicans will uniformly insist that the flight of the Dixiecrats never occurred. Never mind that cavalcade of characters from Strom Thurmond to Phil Gramm to Rick Perry and crazy Judge Roy Moore. The great migration of southern racial conservatives from the Democrats to the Republicans is, to their insistence, a mere myth.

    Leveraging religious fundamentalism as a political force created consequences beyond mere rhetoric. Central to this worldview was a denial of Enlightenment ideas about the foundational value of science and data. Coupled with the wider decline of social capital institutions that once filtered the crazy from our political system, this uncoupling of ideology from empirical results unleashed a monster. A smokescreen of religious fundamentalism allowed Republicans to recruit racial conservatives in the South, but expansion came at a cost. With facts discredited, no force could contain the wave of crazy that broke across the party of prudent, intellectual conservatism.

    […] tax cuts produced massive deficits. Ever looser gun regulations produced thousands of needless deaths. Pointless wars produced global instability on a massive scale and a terrible tide of death and debt. Bigoted rhetoric drove non-whites and urban voters out of the party. Refusal to acknowledge climate change fed accelerating climate change. Blind financial deregulation produced unprecedented economic collapse. Cuts to the social safety net led to ballooning poverty. Tax cuts for the rich made the rich richer. Meanwhile public institutions shriveled and public faith in government collapsed.

    • Sastan says:

      Ahh yes, the well-respected “my opponents are just crazy, racist and evil” argument!

      Been ages since I heard that one!

      • antimule says:

        Except that the author is a republican. So this time it is more “my friends are crazy, racist and evil”. But he explains elsewhere that racism was a survival mechanism in the south, and not the product of stupidity or craziness. Also, his newest article is about Democrat crony capitalism, so he is definitely not one sided.

        • There are a large number of “establishment” Republicans who are eager to throw fellow Republicans under the bus, so they can be still be popular with their Democratic friends.

          This entire piece sounds like that. “Talking nicely about religion meant the Republican Party turned racist which meant Republicans lost touch with reality and so supported huge tax cuts, financial deregulation, and the Iraq War”-is obviously nonsense. It’s just finding Blue Tribe complaints about Republicans and torturing them together into a semi-cohesive narrative.

          • jaimeastorga2000 says:

            There are a large number of “establishment” Republicans who are eager to throw fellow Republicans under the bus, so they can be still be popular with their Democratic friends.

            I believe the term is “cuckservative”.

          • antimule says:

            It still doesn’t explain why is he also ripping into Democrats. And he still sees the Democrats as crony capitalists and refuses to join them. Goplifer is not one-sided at all.

            This entire piece sounds like that. “Talking nicely about religion meant the Republican Party turned racist which meant Republicans lost touch with reality and so supported huge tax cuts, financial deregulation, and the Iraq War”-is obviously nonsense

            Is is obviously nonsense? If federal government is fighting against segregation, and you want to maintain segregation, then your goal will likely include weakening of the federal government. Which might then motivate the whole “starve the beast” thing. Religious talk can be used as a smokescreen for racism (which doesn’t make religious belief true or false, obviously). Goplifer explains the way abortion fight was used as a smokescreen for a fight for school segregation here and here. He is himself from the south and was involved in Republican politics, so I am inclined to trust his assessment.

          • Cerebral Paul Z. says:

            I don’t even read this guy as an establishment Republican. Out of the laundry list of policy changes that he’s pissing and moaning about, most were the work of establishment Republicans. (Conspicuous by their absence: any actual attempt to resegregate. They seem to have spent so much effort on the sort of measures that we’ve been assured were just smokescreens, that they had no attention left over for the one thing they really care about. A distractable bunch!)

            No, this is a liberal Republican who’s naturally at odds with most of his party, and just a bit confused about who the lowest-cost-avoider is.

          • Is is obviously nonsense? If federal government is fighting against segregation, and you want to maintain segregation, then your goal will likely include weakening of the federal government. Which might then motivate the whole “starve the beast” thing. Religious talk can be used as a smokescreen for racism (which doesn’t make religious belief true or false, obviously).

            Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater did not oppose increased government taxation and increased government services because of racism or religion or anything else. They opposed government taxation and Medicare because they opposed government taxation and Medicare.

            In regards to abortion: people can change their minds, and people can change their minds rapidly. Especially when an organized movement is slowly spreading through the population with the explicit goal of changing minds.

            The most you can say is that the conservatives started a fire over desegregation which turned Southern Baptists against abortion due to association effects….sort of like how a Democrat will oppose everything proposed by a Republican, even if he/she may support it if proposed by a Democrat.

            But even then: so what? Abortion became the center-stage issue and desegregation quickly fell to the side. If I point out to Democrats that Hillary Clinton supports big banks and then Democrats defect, but quickly get swept in the outrage over healthcare, the major issue becomes healthcare, not big banks.

            No, this is a liberal Republican who’s naturally at odds with most of his party, and just a bit confused about who the lowest-cost-avoider is.

            Upon review, agreed.

    • The Nybbler says:

      I would certainly agree that there’s someone at odds with empirical reality here. However, I’d look closer that the GOP.

      “Ever looser gun regulations produced thousands of needless deaths.” The gun issue has been discussed here. That claim is completely unsupported. (both in that there were “ever-looser gun regulations” and that such regulations produced thousands of needless deaths)

      “Pointless wars produced global instability on a massive scale and a terrible tide of death and debt.” Needs some perspective. The globe is pretty darned stable and has been since the effects of the collapse of the USSR played out. Compared to the Cold War, with proxy wars playing out all over Asia, Africa, and South and Central America and the threat of global thermonuclear war always present, it’s extremely stable. Yeah, the Middle East is a mess; what else is new?

      “Refusal to acknowledge climate change fed accelerating climate change. ” The only thing that accelerated were attempts to re-adjust the data to hide “the pause”; it took El Nino to actually stop it. Whether you believe in “the pause” or not, however, climate change is not “accelerating”.

      “Blind financial deregulation produced unprecedented economic collapse.” Did it, now? No less a figure than Bill Clinton has pointed out that repeal of Glass-Steagall (a bit of deregulation often blamed for the collapse) is what allowed the collapse to be halted.

      “Cuts to the social safety net led to ballooning poverty.” Poverty rate is actually pretty flat. The recession led to higher poverty, but not to a huge extent

      https://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/data/incpovhlth/2014/figure4.pdf

      This reads more like a recitation of Democratic Party talking points than reality.

      • THANK YOU. I don’t think I’ve read such a long list of back-to back incorrect assertions in a while.

        On the deregulation issue, the only thing that was deregulated was the law against pairing an investment bank with a commercial bank. No other country separates their commercial and investment banks and it has never caused problems. The deregulation claim never held any water.

        • People’s intuition that the financial sector was not closely regulated enough is not entirely off-base.

          The question is how specifically it was poorly regulated. If I set up a mortgage origination company, and then sell mortgages to an investment bank, which then sells them to pensions, that’s not regulated closely enough, and has absolutely jack to do with “Merging Commercial and Investment Banks.”

          • Cerebral Paul Z. says:

            An economic maxim I’ve come up with: It is impossible to regulate a mixed economy heavily enough so that anything that goes wrong with it will not generally be blamed on the unregulated free market.

          • Would there have been any regulatory solution to selling mortgage securities that weren’t nearly as good as they were promised to be?

          • Protagoras says:

            @Nancy, Vigorously prosecuting fraud? Some of the problems with the finance industry seem to stem from the gaps between the interests of investors and the interests of managers, but getting people to invest in or lend money to doomed or failing businesses and investments, in order to keep the money flowing to the managers, also almost always involves some lying. Lying that may be hard to prove in some cases, to be sure, but it seems like the regulators mostly haven’t even been trying in recent years.

          • brad says:

            Housing and lending thereto is never going to be well regulated because US governments want contradictory and impossible things out of them.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Protagoros:
            I think there are a few reasons for that, but the biggest one is simply that the companies that set these things up were careful not to make them illegal, in a very technical sense.

            So despite a cozy relationship with the bond-rating agency and a AAA bond rating that was based on arcane math that most people did not understand (and, coincidentally was base on the multiple conjunction fallacy), no one can prove that a) the bonds weren’t technically AAA bonds and b) the buyers didn’t “know the risk”.

            So, even though Goldman Sachs or whoever knew those bonds were going belly up in the short term, and said as much internally, it becomes hard to prove that they engaged it outright fraud.

            At least that is my layman’s understanding of the situation, which I am sure is wrong in some way.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @brad:
            That might be true, but the CDOs that are at the heart of the financial crisis are completely products of the private market. They may have taken advantage of certain aspects of the Fannie and Freddie, but they didn’t do it because the Feds wanted them to.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            Were they any more careful than during the S&L crisis? Were they any more legal?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Douglas Knight:
            Who is they “they” in your question?

            In both the S&L crisis and the the recent CDO/MBS crisis, leverage paid a key role in increasing the the overall systemic risk. But in the S&L crisis you have people selling high interest bonds that are specifically being called “junk” bonds. Glass-Steagall had not been repealed, so the overall systemic exposure was, I believe, somewhat contained. I don’t think the S&L crisis threatened the broad economy the way the MBS crisis did.

            Edit: … and you actually had convictions for fraud in the S&L crisis. Keating and Milken both went to jail (and I think others as well). Whether any of that had a direct bearing on how the MBS crisis unfolded, I don’t know.

          • Brad says:

            The Feds may not have explicitly wanted CDO^2 but in that they generated addition demand for mortgage notes as raw input, they weren’t complaining. If the effect had been the opposite you can bet they would have been scrutinized up the wazoo.

            And of course the Feds created the rating agency moral hazard in the first place through the NRSRO rule and related capital adequacy rules. Institutions weren’t buying AAA paper because they thought it was just as safe as Tbills with much higher yields–no one was that naive.

            It’s impossible to run away from the contradictory aims of: monotonic above the rate of general inflation price growth, universal affordability, and plausible deniability as to the scope of government interference / subsidization, as the root cause of repeated crises in the residential housing market. The details change as the government vows never to have a crisis with identical details each time.

          • onyomi says:

            Re. the idea that the financial crisis was the fault of private market innovation in crazy financial instruments:

            If I send you into a casino saying: “you get to keep any profits you make on your bets, but don’t worry about losses; I’ll make you whole on any losses,” and the result is you coming up with a bunch of weird elaborate ways to place really huge bets using small amounts of money, whose fault is it when you end up incurring a huge loss?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @onyomi:
            We made some people whole on the losses, and some people lost their shirt, and we certainly didn’t say that going in. Unless you are only talking about Fannie and Freddie.

            But, it was the private market that (supposedly) insured the MBSs using credit default swaps, I believe. That was one of the secrets to making crappy mortgages into AAA bonds.

            @brad:
            Fannie and Freddie got run. And yes, the fact that they held all that paper as a (sort-of) private company was bad, but they didn’t create the demand for the paper.

          • onyomi says:

            “We made some people whole on the losses, and some people lost their shirt, and we certainly didn’t say that going in.”

            Only very strongly implied it. Implied guarantee, they called it.

          • bluto says:

            Worse lots of buyers wanted bonds that were AAA (or investment grade, BB) in name, but actually were much riskier, because the higher risk paid a higher interest rate. Pension funds had statutory limits on their ratings (usually can’t buy non-investment grade bonds) but because of low interest rates were unable to meet their promises with the bonds they were allowed to own.

            So Wall St. made them bonds that met the stated requirements (would get the rating blessing but would be much riskier).

            Some funds were much worse in that they simply let the rating agencies do the thinking for them, which deserves considerably more scrutiny, IMHO.

          • brad says:

            HBC:

            I’m afraid I don’t quite understand your response to me. What do you mean they “got run”?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @brad:
            Fannie and Freddie “got run” by the market. As you said, because of their mandate, they essentially can’t say no to more paper. I believe that is sort of the central feature, to provide ensured capital to the private residence market. Their setup was implicitly one of privatized profits and socialized losses. Which is bad, no doubt and surely led to some distortion of the market.

            But Fannie and Freddie weren’t the ones selling the mortgages or creating the demand for them. And they had nothing to do with creating the highly leveraged vehicles that turned the problem from a “oh man, Fannie and Freddie have to be bailed out” to “Holy crap, those losses can bring down every US financial institution.”

            As an aside, I have some sense that attempts to put true private money into the personal residence mortgage market are showing that Fannie and Freddie are hard to replace with private money. My sense is that this is why Fannie and Freddy exist in the first place as capital for home ownership fled the market in the great depression.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @onyomi:

            Again, what financial instruments do you think the government was giving an implied guarantee for?

          • brad says:

            @HBC
            I don’t think I agree that F&F weren’t creating the demand. If you have someone who is willing to buy any mortgages you write, nominally with certain quality controls but in practice almost anything, and you make a fair amount of money for every mortgage you originate then you are incented to originate as many mortgages as possible. It is true that they weren’t responsible for the CDO/CDS mess, that I mostly blame on financial regulators, particularly those responsible for the aforementioned NRSRO system.

            As far as private money in the residential real estate market, of course there isn’t. The US borrower is incredibly spoiled. A US style mortgage is a 30 year fixed rate mortgage at 100 basis points or so above the risk free rate, levered 4:1 or higher, with no prepayment penalty, in some cases no recourse beyond the property and the collateral is expensive to seize and expensive to get rid of. It’s very difficult to make a profit on that over long time scales. Holding such mortgages is a perfect example of the proverbial picking up nickles in front of a steamroller. You can always get some imprudent bankers with a dubious sense of fiduciary responsibility to their principals to pick up some, but it isn’t going to be very popular over long stretches of time.

            In my opinion the government distending itself to try to make sure as many people as possible can experience the silly American Dream is a bad idea. If far fewer people could get mortgages and the mortgages that existed were saner from a lenders perspective that would be a very good thing. Housing should be a cost center, one that we cheer when the price drops just like gasoline and cell phones.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @brad:

            That seems to be a reasonable point about about why Fannie and Freddie might be hard to supplant. I think there might be some good conversation to be had there, but it’s not very relevant to this.

            As to the demand question, I think that by 2003 Fannie and Freddie actually had been largely supplanted by private MBS/CDOs for sub-prime mortgages. The makers of those vehicles actually wanted more and more crappy mortgages so they could package them up.

            I don’t think Fannie and Freddie were the ones under-writing mortgages on entire developments in Florida and Arizona where not a singe person lived and every single property was an “investment”. Fannie and Freddie didn’t offer balloon mortgages where the payment was less than interest on the principal. That was entirely the private market, and that market is the one that fell down and took everything with it.

            Maybe in a counter-factual environment where CDOs don’t exist Fannie and Freddie still get put in a pinch because a smaller housing bubble deflates, but I don’t think it would have been anything like the systemic collapse we saw.

        • Nicholas says:

          Well there were those two times in the United States that it caused a near total failure in the monetary-regulation system of the American economy, triggering economic depressions.

          • I’m guessing that you are talking about the depressions of the 1830’s and 1930’s.

            The former occurred as the result of the failure of a government created bank, the 2nd Bank of the United States.

            The latter occurred as a result of the Federal Reserve, which had been set up to function as a lender of last resort and which the private banks expected to back them if there was a run, failing to do so when there was one.

            What does either of those have to do with combining commercial banks and investment banks, which I assume is your “it”?

    • Deiseach says:

      The great migration of southern racial conservatives from the Democrats to the Republicans is, to their insistence, a mere myth.

      Still does not explain why the Dixiecrats were Democrats rather than Republicans in the first place, though. What with the Democrats historically and forever having been the party of liberal progressive sexual, racial, ethnic, (non-)religious and gender inclusiveness and never ever having done anything bad terrible wrong in any of those areas, as every fule kno! 🙂

      I mean, if the explanation advanced has to do with The Late Unpleasantness, then how were the associations of the Republicans with The Other Side overcome to entice Southern Democrats over to them? And if the Democrats were never ever at any point a safe space for racists no siree perish the thought, then how did you get Dixiecrats in the first place?

      If all the bad Democrats became Southern Democrats/Dixiecrats but all the good Democrats remained Northern Democrats, why didn’t the Southern bunch decide they would be Southern Republicans (since the nasty mean racist sexist classist old white Christian straight cis male party is the Republicans) instead? If you could have a Southern and Northern Democrat party, why not a Southern and Northern Republican party where the southern racial conservatives were in the majority? Or a new party altogether? And why didn’t the Good Democrats purge the Nasty Democrats and say “No, you can’t call yourself part of our party?”

      I mean, there seems to me to be a lot of convenient forgetting going on there, a way of soothing the raw past by “Those guys were never really Democrats in the first place anyway, they were always spiritually Republicans” – which ignores “So why didn’t they go the whole hog and call themselves Republicans, or why didn’t the Democrats dump the racists?”

      • HeelBearCub says:

        @Deiseach:
        “Still does not explain why the Dixiecrats were Democrats rather than Republicans in the first place, though. What with the Democrats historically and forever having been the party of liberal progressive sexual, racial, ethnic, (non-)religious and gender inclusiveness and never ever having done anything bad terrible wrong in any of those areas, as every fule kno”

        You don’t know your US history. You have to go back to a) before the Civil War, b) the great depression, and c) the passage of the civil rights act, in order to understand how conservative democrats crossed over to the party of Lincoln and liberal Republicans stopped being welcome in their own party.

        The basic thing to realize is that only very recently did the two large US parties homogenize and become ideologically coherent. Before that, the parties were far more regional affairs that were more of loose coalitions at the national level.

        For a variety of reasons, the story of the parties from 1965 to now, is one of sorting into ideological purity, where the Republicans in Kansas differ very little from those in New York or Alabama.

        Yes, the parties are still ideological coalitions, but those coalitions don’t differ from state to state anymore.

      • Orphan Wilde says:

        The thing that is that the Republicans weren’t courting the old Democrat voters. They were courting the vast majority of white people who got voting rights with the Civil Rights Act, who had never been allowed to vote against the Democrats.

        Because the Civil Rights Acts gave the right to vote to far more white people than black people. And the Democrats for the next decade tried to use every trick in their arsenal to maintain control over the South, to the point where follow-up legislation meant any changes to voting laws required Federal approval.

        When Federal judges started overseeing the elections, elections started swinging to the Republicans. The sensitivity of particularly the older Southern voters to Democrat voter fraud largely originates from this era in history.

        • Which white people got the ability to vote from the Voting Rights Act?

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            The poor and poorly educated.

            Jim Crow laws weren’t allowed to target racial groups, so they targeted the poor and uneducated instead; poll taxes or literacy tests, for example. The poor happened to constitute a majority of the population of the South, which even prior to the Civil War was mostly sharecroppers, not slave owners.

            Poor/uneducated people could theoretically get a pass to ignore the requirements – but only if they were known by the person who was supposed to administer the test to be the sort of person to vote the right way, that is, Democrat.

        • BBA says:

          A fine story, but doesn’t explain the movement of figures like Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms to the Republican Party, nor the populist campaigns of George Wallace who stayed with the supposedly “elitist” Democrats.

          I will grant that the old Dixiecrats, much like the old New England Republicans, represented an elitist mainline Protestant strain that is now largely defunct, and to call the 1960s realignment simply the parties swapping places is a gross oversimplification.

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            What’s to explain? Out of the Southern Democrats, three major politicians switched parties – you omit Mills Godwin. Three. That’s not something that needs explanation.

            Elitism in the Democratic party isn’t defunct.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Orphan Wilde:
            I don’t know whether you are just blowing smoke, or actually believe what you are writing.

            Look at Presidential voting patterns and you can clear see that the South switched parties, and it correlated with the passage of the civil rights act.

            “The Solid South” voted for the Democratic presidential candidate every year from the end of reconstruction until 1964. Afterwards they voted almost exclusively for the Republican presidential candidate. Local party affiliation stayed mostly Democratic, but candidates for federal office gradually switched affiliation from Democratic to Republican. Eventually state house control flipped from Democratic to Republican in all the Southern states, with NC being the lone holdout until 2010.

            If you want to come up with some counter narrative, you can try and do so, but you need to support it and not make blind assertions.

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            @HBC:

            Yes. It did correlate with the passage of the civil rights act – specifically, the 1965 one. Which I’ve already said is the case.

            Because the Civil Rights Act didn’t just grant the right to vote to black people, it granted the right to vote to poor white people (who make up the vast majority of the South), who, in case you weren’t aware, ALSO couldn’t afford to pay poll taxes or pass literacy tests. And when they got the right to vote, they immediately voted -out- the assholes who had prevented them from voting, and started voting for the Republicans.

            That commitment to the Republicans didn’t arise out of a hatred of civil rights legislation that the Republicans helped pass. That version of history doesn’t even make sense. It arose out of anger at a century of political corruption and subversion of democracy.

          • Jaskologist says:

            Here’s Sean Trende’s counter-analysis.

            The gradual realignment of the South had been going for nearly forty years by 1964, and continued at a glacial pace after that. The scales ultimately tipped toward the Republicans, much as Barbour explained, as a younger generation of Southerners embraced Republicanism.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Orphan Wilde:
            That doesn’t explain, at all, why the leadership of the state houses stayed the same. In fact, the fact that the state houses stayed majority Democractic party, and that the local power brokers stayed the same, is direct evidence against your contention.

            Only the voting for President immediately switched parties. Everything else took time as the two parties slowly completed a shift towards national ideological homogeneity.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Jaskologist:
            The key sentence/phrase: “The South made clear that it would not reflexively back nominees that were too liberal, urban, and ethnic as early as 1928”

            That is no different an analysis than the one that is the standard narrative. The parties were not ideologically sorted nationally until very recently. Look at the two Roosevelt’s both running as (essentially) (populist) liberals. One runs as a Republican (and then Bull Moose), the other as a Democrat. FDR marries the Southern populist vote to the Northern progressive vote. That was possible in 1932, but it’s not possible now, because the regional ideological idiosyncrasies have largly disappeared.

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            HBC –

            It does, actually. Federal judges were put in place because Democrats kept changing voting laws to try to stay in power; it worked for a time.

            Most of the Dixiecrats remained Democrats. Three switched parties. If you want to believe three out of dozens means the Republicans became the racist party, you are of course free to believe that. But the fact that most didn’t should suggest something to you.

            Democrats originally supported gun control to keep guns out of the hands of black people (the South used to be the place where gun control was universal). Their policies didn’t change; they still want gun control. Did they start fearing white people, too, or did they just stop specifying their reasons? Some realignment.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Orphan Wilde:
            I am going to try one last time, because you appear to be ducking and weaving, but maybe you are just losing the thread.

            What explains the fact that the Southern States started voting Republican in presidential/federal elections, but continued to vote Democratic in state elections? You have given two contradictory answers to this question.

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            HBC –

            I’ve already said, and I’m bored of this conversation. But, to reiterate one more time:

            Vote fraud. Federal Observers, instituted by Section 8 of the 1973 Voting Rights Act as a result of massive vote fraud, helped a lot, but counties had to be assigned them individually, so it took time.

    • “When Karl Rove in 2002 mocked the impotence of the “reality-based community,” ”

      This is a reference to a story by someone on the left attributing to an unnamed source on the right—that it was Rove is a conjecture—a statement that made the right look bad. Not something in writing or in a recorded speech. Not something ever confirmed by whoever was supposed to say it. Not something attributed to a named source who could deny it.

      I don’t think anyone who regards it as a fact that Rove, or anyone else, actually said it is entitled to consider himself part of a reality based community.

      • antimule says:

        Goplifer is aware that the story is based on a hearsay. His point is that Rove’s entire career was based on evading reality. There is definitely evidence of that — think of Obama/Romney election night meltdown. I suggest you try again.

        • What he is aware of I don’t know. I quoted what he wrote, which treated it as a fact, not an unsupported claim.

        • ThirteenthLetter says:

          > Goplifer is aware that the story is based on a hearsay. His point is that Rove’s entire career was based on evading reality.

          So… “fake but accurate,” then? Man, that brings me back.

          • Urstoff says:

            It may not be true, but the fact that it sounds like it could be true looks bad enough!

            (ugh)

        • Sastan says:

          You are hilarious dude. Don’t ever leave.

  22. David Moss says:

    “Autophagy watch: Britain’s National Union of Students calls on university LGBT societies to drop representatives for gay men from their leadership because “they do not face oppression as gay men within the LGBT+ community” and “misogyny, transphobia, racism and biphobia [are] unfortunately more likely to occur when the society is dominated by white gay men.”

    But autophagy is actually really healthy, so…

    • Deiseach says:

      I’m not surprised. When you spend all your time finding finer and finer grades of identity politics and oppression olympics, you will end up eating your own tail.

      For the revolution to be constantly ongoing, there have to be new enemies. If you are winning in wider society, you get the irreducible lump of opponents left, and frankly there is no novelty in calling them racists or sexists or homophobes, everyone accepts that they are, you’ve been calling them that for thirty years, all the minds that are going to be changed have been changed.

      So you have to find new even more oppressed groups to represent in order to be relevant, and what better than an ideological purge to prove how committed to liberty and inclusiveness you are? Everyone and anyone can call The Rich Old White Christian Straight Cis Guys terrible, even their kids are doing it, there’s nothing new there, nothing to prove how virtuous and aware of your own privilege and how vigilant about rooting out prejudice you are.

      But turn on a formerly admired group and accuse them of being the now-conservative (because Chthulu keeps swimming left and what used to be moderate is now on the right and what used to be progressive is now moderate) wing of the faction, and you are in clover!

      • TheAncientGeek says:

        How fortunate that this behaviour is confined to the left. A adopt a traditional religious framework, and you you can be safe from the whole process of witch hunting and detecting ever more obscure heresies. Etymology notwithstanding.

        • onyomi says:

          I think the difference may be in whether people are fighting to get into the cathedral or the cathedral is fighting to keep people from leaving. Once, organized religion was the social center and excommunication a social if not literal death sentence in many cases.

          Right now, organized religion is fighting to keep everyone from leaving, so it doesn’t have much use for intradoctrinal disputes. Right now, everyone is fighting to get into the cathedral of the oppressed, so those controlling its gateways have an incentive to try to control them more tightly.

        • Deiseach says:

          Not confined to the left, but since certain elements of the left have appointed themselves as leading us to the secular utopia, they’ve made constant and unceasing and ever-greater integration of sixty dozen individual and clashing traits, and if you get one wrong you are excoriated as The Enemy, their reason for existing.

          Because they (and they alone) are standing up for the oppressed, and we will only have the new tomorrow of perfect nonbinary nondiscriminatory paradise if we root out all the toxic elements now.

          And Chthulu swims leftwards always, so whereas “gay sex should be decriminalised” would have been a revolutionary proposal, then a progressive one, then a moderate one, now it is simply not good enough. What about the sexual orientations that are not gay? Why are you privileging gay men? What about trans women and queer youth of colour?

          • TheAncientGeek says:

            You need more than one example to support the ever leftward swim.

            I keep noticing how much more pro monarchy and pro military the mainstream have become since the 70s and 80s. For another isolated data point.

          • Anonymous says:

            “The cathedral”. “Cthulu swims left”

            Lovers of fantasy fiction finally have a politic that allows them to play roles normally denied to them in public life.

            Still, an imaginary enemy is to be preferred, the say the least!

            Take a step back. Do you really expect the first political movement to be guided by masked sci-fi fans loaded down with self-crafted honorifics to lead anywhere non-horrific?

        • Relevant Emo Phillips joke:

          I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. So I ran over and said “Stop! don’t do it!” “Why shouldn’t I?” he said. I said, “Well, there’s so much to live for!” He said, “Like what?” I said, “Well…are you religious or atheist?” He said, “Religious.” I said, “Me too! Are you christian or buddhist?” He said, “Christian.” I said, “Me too! Are you catholic or protestant?” He said, “Protestant.” I said, “Me too! Are you episcopalian or baptist?” He said, “Baptist!” I said,”Wow! Me too! Are you baptist church of god or baptist church of the lord?” He said, “Baptist church of god!” I said, “Me too! Are you original baptist church of god, or are you reformed baptist church of god?” He said,”Reformed Baptist church of god!” I said, “Me too! Are you reformed baptist church of god, reformation of 1879, or reformed baptist church of god, reformation of 1915?” He said, “Reformed baptist church of god, reformation of 1915!” I said, “Die, heretic scum”, and pushed him off.

      • Anonymous says:

        “Everyone and anyone can call The Rich Old White Christian Straight Cis Guys terrible, even their kids are doing it, there’s nothing new there, nothing to prove how virtuous and aware of your own privilege and how vigilant about rooting out prejudice you are.”

        Deiseach, is this your Dan Quayle fan fiction? Because he isnt nearly this harsh.

        • I’m not sure whether this counts, but I know an oldish cis het able-bodied white man, rather more conservative than I agree with. I was complaining about how white male has been turned into a slur, and he said he’d used it as an insult himself.

          There were old white men who were running events in his area of interest, and he thought their approach was ossified….

    • Jiro says:

      I believe the operative phrase is “do not call up that which you cannot put down.”

    • rockroy mountdefort says:

      >Britain’s National Union of Students calls on university LGBT societies to drop representatives for gay men from their leadership because “they do not face oppression as gay men within the LGBT+ community” and “misogyny, transphobia, racism and biphobia [are] unfortunately more likely to occur when the society is dominated by white gay men

      This is beautifully smooth. They aren’t oppressed, which is why it’s okay to formally deny them representation within our group. Doing this isn’t oppression, because we’re doing it to people we’ve decided aren’t oppressed.

      • Sastan says:

        Occam’s razor indicates that you can tell which group has the power to oppress by waiting ten minutes and seeing who gets oppressed.

        Alternately, you can tell who has the power by who wins.

        • That’s a pretty damn dangerous metric. I would not assume that you can tell much about the oppression status of, e.g., Jews in certain upscale neighborhoods in New York from the treatment of Jews in, e.g., rural Alabama. People can go from oppressed to oppressor by moving over a neighborhood, much less a state or a country.

          And if you cede the power to talk about and signal-boost certain kinds of oppression only, then waiting ten minutes and hearing what comes along (and not hearing about what gets systematically ignored) can give you a very wrong impression.

          In all cases, you want to do the surveys, do the math, and look for confounders in your definitions of oppression. It’s really easy to miss stuff otherwise.

  23. houseboatonstyx says:

    From NURX’s faq:

    “How much does it cost?

    If you have health insurance Nurx is free in most cases. If you want to pay out of pocket we have options that cost as little as $14 per month.”

    Even if this $14 is only for the cheapest Pill, this seems a reasonable value for the service they’re offering, as things stand in the US at present. The figure ~$9 often spoken of rhetorically for other sources of the cheapest Pill does not include the start-up cost of doctor’s visit, prescription, possible pelvic exam and possible other exams totalling possibly in the neighborhood of ~$250 (better, John?). There’s a political movement to make the Pill available without those start-up costs, but it hasn’t got approved in even three Left Coast states yet, sfaik.

    NURX requires no visit to any office or pharmacy; order online, and it’s mailed to you, shipping included in the $14. For what their doctors do, see http://www.nurx.co/howitworks.html

    • John Schilling says:

      better, John?</i?

      Absolutely. For the record, I support almost all efforts to promote increased access to contraception that don't involve me paying for them, but I'm on to all the schemes where someone else writes the immediate check and then passes the cost on to me. I might be persuaded to pay for someone else's birth control, but unless they are sleeping with me it had better be in the range of $10/month. Using birth control as an excuse for mandatory pelvic exams and mandatory pelvic exams as an excuse to jack up the price of birth control is a practice I am not fond of even if I'm not going to be paying.

      So, if you care, NURX is a totally Schilling-compliant program for expanding access to birth control 🙂

      • Deiseach says:

        You may need a pelvic exam or a smear test, especially if you are or have been or are planning to be sexually active (HPV is sexually transmitted and is the most common and likely cause of cervical cancer, which is why girls are vaccinated for some of the HPV strains at an age they – theoretically – are not yet sexually active). If you’ve already had a regular one, fine. If you haven’t, it might not be a bad idea.

        Implants, patches, IUDs may be a better option for you than oral hormonal contraceptives.

        Which oral contraceptive has to be worked out – progestin only, or combined?

        Your general state of physical health has to be assessed – being overweight, smoking, the usual has effects here as well.

        If you’ve done all that, have a reliable prescription that works for you, and want a cheaper prescription without having to pay for a visit to the doctor simply to get a refill, Nurx sounds okay. But the recommendation to have a real-time doctor visit is not all about jacking up the price of birth control.

        • Anon says:

          I can see why pelvic exams are a good idea for women to have in general, but I don’t really understand the reasoning for gatekeeping birth control behind them. Yes, avoiding HPV and its associated cancers is a really good thing, but why stop women from getting birth control because they don’t want to get a pelvic exam?

          I mean, I guess you could say that giving them the birth control without a pelvic exam will cause them to have unprotected sex (meaning sex without a condom), which will cause them to get HPV (because birth control pills don’t protect against HPV), but when it comes to the subgroup of people “adult women who want birth control and are not currently receiving it,” most of them are already sexually active and a lot of them don’t use condoms, so they’re already at risk of catching HPV whether they come in for a pelvic exam so they can get birth control or not. So what benefit does gatekeeping bring?

          Implants, patches, IUDs may be a better option for you than oral hormonal contraceptives.

          Definitely. But I think women who would use a service like NRUX have already decided (whether rightly or wrongly) that birth control pills are the best option for them. If they wanted an implant, or any other form of birth control that a doctor has to physically administer (like Depo), they wouldn’t be trying to route around the legal requirement of having to see a doctor.

          Women who want implants or Depo certainly exist, and I want them to get their preferred form of birth control. But those women aren’t the ones who are adamantly opposed to going to a doctor in the first place.

          Your general state of physical health has to be assessed – being overweight, smoking, the usual has effects here as well.

          Once again, I agree that the woman’s physical health matters, but…women who are fat and women who smoke are usually heterosexually sexually active too, which means they need some form of birth control. I don’t really know how seeing a doctor before giving them the birth control (and doctors do generally give it to them anyway) is supposed to help.

          If the doctors are just going to give them the pills anyway, then why force them to see one? Is it so the doctor can harangue them to lose weight or quit smoking? I think a lot of fat women and smokers would pretty justifiably like to route around that, and I can’t say I blame them. Doctors telling patients to lose weight or quit smoking very rarely works, so it doesn’t even help from a standpoint of an outside observer who really wants the women to make those lifestyle changes.

          To me, it kind of just looks like an attempt to force women and/or their insurance companies to shell out for a doctor’s visit so women can get a medication that really doesn’t need to be gatekept and should be sold in stores alongside cold medicine and ibuprofen (with of course some labeling on the box about how it can increase the risk of blood clots in overweight women and smokers). The only people who seem to benefit from it are the doctors who get to charge women for those visits.

          Edit: Missed your sentence: “Which oral contraceptive has to be worked out – progestin only, or combined?”

          This is actually a pretty good point, but I think a phone call with a doctor would suffice to manage this or an in-person visit without a pelvic exam. Not to mention that either type works fine for most women. I’d say we should just let women choose which one to take, and then if the type they tried first is causing bad side effects, they should go to a doctor to find out why (or they could just switch types on their own without a doctor’s input to see if the other kind works better).

          • Deiseach says:

            This is actually a pretty good point, but I think a phone call with a doctor would suffice to manage this or an in-person visit without a pelvic exam.

            Oh sure, I don’t think you need a pelvic exam on every visit, but the Nurx website seems to be “Fill out this form, we’ll have one of our doctors write you a prescription and you can then collect it from your local pharmacy” which is great if you’re an experienced user who knows what works for you and can tell them “I want a refill of my usual no I don’t have any complications, reactions or spotting in between periods”.

            But if you’re a first time user of contraception, it may well be their doctor will look at the form and decide “yeah, I think you should go see your local doctor” anyway, which negates the “could cost as little as $14, completely private, no visits needed”.

            Or it could be a prescription mill where only a cursory look at the form is done (mainly “is she claiming to be over eighteen, what brand name does she want, and what’s her insurance information”), the doctor whacks out hundreds of prescriptions per day and if anything goes wrong, whoops – it’s your responsibility to give us the relevant information and if you didn’t know it that’s not our fault.

            As an adjunct to the usual, I think it is helpful but not a replacement for seeing a doctor and that is what it’s being peddled as – you don’t need to see a doctor, just tell us what drug you want and we’ll write you a prescription.

        • Elizabeth C says:

          This article argues that routine pelvic exams serve no purpose:

          http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2014/06/30/pelvic_exam_study_annual_well_woman_exams_have_no_medical_basis.html

          From the article:

          “a new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine reports that there is no established medical justification for the annual procedure. After scouring nearly 70 years of pelvic exam studies, conducted from 1946 to 2014, the researchers found no evidence that they lead to any reduction in “morbidity or mortality of any condition” among women. In light of the study, the American College of Physicians, a national organization of internists, has crafted a new set of guidelines warning doctors that exams conducted on otherwise symptomless women can “subject patients to unnecessary worry and follow-up” and can “cause anxiety, discomfort, pain, and embarrassment, especially in women who have a history of sexual abuse.”

          • God Damn John Jay says:

            I think that it has generally been found that if you are healthy, just go out and be healthy. And if you are sick, go and see a doctor. The exception is explicit screening tests, but even those can be overrated.

            The problem is that routine checkups and physicals are a cash cow and so doctors love them (local doctor got into trouble with the gov. because he was basically just rushing through them).

          • houseboatonstyx says:

            @ God Damn John Jay

            A local doctor has a lot of incentive to rush through anything that can be rushed through: a tight schedule, crying children in the waiting room, an accident victim bleeding on the floor…. The NURX doctor has got a lot of information from the online application, time to run it through the NURX computer, a peaceful office from which to phone the patient for a full discussion (at more than $14) … and can, if indicated, say “Get a pelvic exam and send me the result.”

          • God Damn John Jay says:

            I am kind of sympathetic to that, but he was investigated and there are a lot of stories of him screwing up locally. (His ex-wife is also a doctor and she takes great pleasure in emasculating him whenever possible).

  24. multiheaded says:

    Some educators take King’s logic and extend it further. Teachers we’ve spoken to at Chalkbeat have defended their own decisions to tip over a student’s desk, throw a student’s notebook in the trash, and yes, rip up a student’s work — because, they say, they took the action in the context of a warm relationship and mutual respect.

    mmhm. alright then.

    Last week, I sent Chi Tschang the original KIPP Fresno school plan, which he wrote in December 2003 — the one citing everything from “deep sighing” to “doodling” as educational versions of broken windows in need of speedy correction. “At the time, it reflected the best of our knowledge, but that was more than a dozen years ago,” Tschang told me in response, by email. “Since then, we have learned much about how to maintain incredibly high expectations yet to do so with warmth, joy and purposeful rationale.”

    well ain’t that a miracle of empiricism.

  25. tkmh says:

    I’m not really sure it’s a good idea to try to explain the sealion thing again, but one more time: It’s about behaviours, not about identity.

    • John Schilling says:

      OK, so we need someone with the artistic talent to redraw the original cartoon such that the Semitic Sealion remains in public spaces like most actual “sealions”?

    • Jiro says:

      The behaviors expressed by the actual sealions are nowhere near as offensive as the behavior depicted in the comic. They didn’t barge into anyone’s houses.

      He is also being vague about what the “behaviors” are so he can maintain plausible deniability when called on it.

    • JohnMcG says:

      Actually, it’s about ethics in online criticism…

      Seriously, I read the sea-lion cartoon as, “Man, it seems that whenever I make public generalized statements about some group, some pain-in-the ass sea lion shows up demanding I substantiate it.”

      Which, well, it is annoying. But that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. It’s annoying that I have to work in order to eat.

      The (original) cartoon seems to be arguing that one should be able to make negative generalizations about (certain) groups without having to account them. Which is not an argument that merits much respect.

      • nil says:

        But the negative generalizations aren’t always meant to be public policy pronouncements or publicity campaigns. Often they’re venting, typically made in only technically-public spaces; other times they are an in-group conversation intended to be shared only among people who share the basic premises of Ideology X (despite being made in a public place).

        I’m a (semi-)socialist, strongly-pro-feminist Blue Triber who places a below average value on civility and (especially) free speech. When I read and post here, I try to remain cognizant that both the host and a lot of the posters have had some genuinely bad experiences with, and some foundational disagreements with, people who think a lot of the same things I do, and accordingly attempt (if not always succeed) to resist the urge to try and convince every other poster in every other thread that, hey, have you considered the possibility that “SJWs” ain’t so bad? I think that attempt is worth making, and I think that’s what the sea lion comic is trying to get at.

        • JohnMcG says:

          I agree that there are social contexts in which statements require different levels of rigor.

          If I tell my wife that I didn’t like a movie, song, or dish at a restaurant, it would be odd if she (or someone who overheard me) were to demand that I substantiate my complaint with exactly what part of it I found offensive, and place it on some standard of offensiveness.

          As I expand the audience for my complaint, the demand for rigor intensifies. A restaurant critic would need to detail why exactly her meal was unsatisfactory.

          At the same time, people have been undone for what they thought were private statements of bigotry.

          What we post on the Internet could be read by literally anyone, but these words, for example will probably only be read by 100 or so. On the other hand, InstaPundit or someone could, in theory, see this comment, cite it as an example of the problem with sea-lioning, and greatly expand the audience beyond what I anticipated in a way that my comment to my wife about my restaurant meal could not.

          In a case such as this, it seems that the couple could have responded with something like, “we were really just talking to each other, and didn’t mean for this to reach a large audience, and are not prepared to defend or discuss it. Apologies if it caused offense” rather than continue to curse the sea lion.

          • Tracy W says:

            Funny how our experiences differ. In my family I’d totally expect to have to substantiate my opinion about a movie or dish. (I am agreed to have no taste in songs.)

            As for “not intending for this to reach a large audience”, I don’t see how this apology is actually meant to help. There’s a tendency to believe that the things you say in private are more indicative of your real feelings than what you say in public.

          • Jiro says:

            Apologies if it caused offense” rather than continue to curse the sea lion.

            We both know that people accusing Gamergate of misogyny are not going to say “apologies that calling you misogynists caused you offense”. Misogynists are evil unpersons; you never apologize to them.

          • Nicholas says:

            Well I can substantiate that many people had misogyny as their primary motive to involve in gamergate. Because I am a long time 4chan user, and many 4chan users said, sometimes literally the words “we can drive women out of gaming once and for all.” In regard to why gamergate was important.

          • Jiro says:

            Because nobody would ever troll on 4chan.

        • The Nybbler says:

          If you’re making derogatory comments in public, apparently to the public at large, about members of a group who are in fact actually present and within earshot, you can’t reasonably demand they hold their tongue. This is true whether you think the space is “only technically-public” or “an in-group conversation”; if that’s what you think, the error is yours, not the sea lions’.

          My personal belief is that this is not what is happening; that the people objecting to “sea lions” do indeed want their views to be heard by all and sundry, but they don’t want anyone they attack to be able to respond. Because they, after all, are the “good people” who have earned the right to speak publicly through their virtue and those they object to are haters to be silenced.

          • ChetC3 says:

            And *my* personal belief is that the people objecting to the sea-lion comic are desperately rationalizing their own emotional immaturity. It may well be your legal and moral right to act out in an ineffectual and socially inappropriate manner, but that obligate anyone else to conceal their disgust.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Sorry, the first rule of poisoning the well is it doesn’t count if you poison it after someone has drunk from it.

          • ChetC3 says:

            Having read so many passionate defenses of sea-lioning from members of the SSC community, I must say it’s odd that r/slatestarcodex’s very own sea-lion, MarxBro, gets so little sympathy.

          • jaimeastorga2000 says:

            There’s sea lions and then there’s sea lions.

          • houseboatonstyx says:

            @ jaimeastorga2000
            There’s sea lions and then there’s sea lions.

            Here’s me being a sea lion: in a Livejournal discussion of Tey’s MISS PYM DISPOSES, everyone (including me) hated the ending, except one Famous SF Author.

            She liked the switch from comedy to tragedy. Okay, de gustibus, that’s fine for Tey and FSFA and anyone else at the lit crit level.

            But, I asked, at the character motivation level, why did Pym (who had set a penance on the wrong suspect) not correct her mistake? All it would have needed was one subordinate clause, like “After apologizing to WrongSuspect and letting her off the penance, Pym had lunch/whatever.” Or, “Since WrongSuspect felt herself partly to blame, Pym decided to meddle no further.” Anyway, the last chapter was still tragic enough, even if Pym had apologized.

            I am still extremely puzzled, wondering if a sentence got left out or something; or if to Tey’s readers the answer would be so obvious as not to be mentioned.

            So I did keep asking the question, further and further away from the original discussion, whenever FSFA was around. Not all the way to her bedroom/personal blog, though.

            Any other Tey fans here?

          • Nicholas says:

            “It may well be your legal and moral right to act out in an ineffectual and socially inappropriate manner, but that obligate anyone else to conceal their disgust.”
            Right, and the sea lions understand you have a right to the publically inappropriate way YOU are acting right now. But they aren’t concealing their disgust by pretending you didn’t just say that

        • ThirteenthLetter says:

          > But the negative generalizations aren’t always meant to be public policy pronouncements or publicity campaigns. Often they’re venting, typically made in only technically-public spaces; other times they are an in-group conversation intended to be shared only among people who share the basic premises of Ideology X (despite being made in a public place).

          Donald Sterling will certainly be happy to hear that you guys have his back.

        • Tracy W says:

          I don’t get it. What do you mean by a “only technically-public space”? If a space is technically public, isn’t that exactly where you’d expect to have your opinion heard by others? Compare to say a place that is nominally-public but technically-private space.

          Not that I think that highly of slagging people off behind their backs either.

          • JohnMcG says:

            This comment box is public, in that any one could read it.

            In reality, while this blog is more widely read and has more active comment threads than most, the audience for whatever I type here will almost definitely be limited. It would be quite surprising if these words found their way in front of millions of eyeballs, even though that is technically possible.

            On the other hand, if I write a letter to the editor of the New York Times, or appear on a Sunday morning talk show, etc., then it should not be so surprising if a hostile audience hears me.

          • Tracy W says:

            @JohnMcG, firstly I appreciate that you’re trying to interpret Nil’s comment, not your own. And thanks for trying to explain. That said, in your comment here, you appear to be moving between not expecting a large audience and not expecting a hostile audience. But the two are different things.

            Let’s take the case of someone making bigoted comments while sitting in a restaurant, a technically public space. Obviously it’s very unlikely anything said would be recorded and later heard by millions, on the other hand, the odds that this would be overheard by someone who had some connection to the subject of the bigotry, eg cousin, spouse, ex-school friend, are much higher. Particularly as people tend to be critical of groups they actually know something of – I don’t see much criticism of say Tongans on English-language forums. And then you add in Murphy’s Law…

        • rockroy mountdefort says:

          >Often they’re venting

          Why is “venting” brought up so often by (semi-)socialist, strongly-pro-feminist Blue Tribers as if it excuses poor behavior?

          Does this mean poor rural whites are now allowed to “vent” about the n*****s being on welfare and the illegals taking their jobs and the Jews making them say “happy holidays” without you and yours criticizing them for it?

          • Brad (the other one) says:

            As opposed to what? What, do you intend to bug the houses of the poor rural whites to detect the heresy in the bud?

            If you don’t want to associate with that crowd, don’t. But do you think it’s somehow preferable when the assorted racist groups go underground, using dog-whistles and coded language, talking about “busing” as shorthand to their ingroups, forming secret societies with pointy white hats, etc etc etc? Is that ‘better’? Because you’re sure as hell not going to shame people out of this behavior, and I worry that once a heresy is declared, the inquisitors aren’t far behind.

      • Steve Sailer says:

        What really gets people mad at you is when you do substantiate your generalizations. Jason Richwine got fired for his Harvard doctoral dissertation, for example. Or Larry Summers’ speech that precipitated his downfall at Harvard was extremely insightful and accurate.

    • JohnMcG says:

      Indeed, if then original comic substituted human beings, there are two ways it could go, which would have ruined the comic.

      One would, as the alternative did, used ethnic, religious, gender or some other identity group instead of “sea lions” as the alternative did. But the author claims it was not what he was trying to do, so we could instead…

      insert human beings engaged in a specific behavior — rapists, smokers, protesters, etc. In this case, the comic falls apart, because the those making the complaints about specific behavior are typically willing and able to provide evidence of how that behavior is harmful. People don’t typically idly complain about some behavior without at least some example of how it is harmful.

      • Jiro says:

        The original target group was Gamergaters. He wanted to accuse Gamergate of misogyny without having to substantiate the accusation.

        • tkmh says:

          The original target group was Gamergaters. He wanted to accuse Gamergate of misogyny without having to substantiate the accusation.

          I don’t think this is true. I’m pretty sure the author had no connection to anyone involved in the ethics in games thing and really did just mean it to describe a common, non-specific phenomenon. Unfortunately the date of the comic coincided with the ethics thing, and a lot of people picked it up and started applying it to that.

          This is part of why discussing the comic and sealioning is so tiresome. Most people who are aware of it cannot separate the comic from the ethics thing, in which they have an ideological interest.

          • JohnMcG says:

            Perhaps the sea-lioning comic itself is a “victim” of sea-lioning.

          • Jiro says:

            If he didn’t mean for it to describe any particular group, when he posted the clarification, he could have said “I didn’t mean for it to describe any particular group”.

            He’s basically maintaining plausible deniability where he doesn’t want to explicitly say it’s about Gamergate (because then he’d have to justify it, as per the strip itself), but he knows that the most common interpretation is Gamergate, and his “clarification” is carefully worded so as not to deny that.

          • tkmh says:

            If he didn’t mean for it to describe any particular group, when he posted the clarification, he could have said “I didn’t mean for it to describe any particular group”.

            I really think you’re overestimating how interested the author is in Gamergate. By the time of that particular comic he’d been producing Wondermark for 11 years. His job is cartoonist. I doubt that he was verily heavily invoolved in the GG culture war, and probably wouldn’t have heard about it at all if his comic hadn’t suddenly caught a bit of the zeitgeist. I think that because his comic has been used as a weapon against them so much, Gamergaters just assume that the author hates them and is part of their ‘enemies’ cloud.

            I sort of understand. During the two months or so that it was a comparatively big thing I was transfixed by GG and invested (wasted) a lot of time watching it unfold (thankfully never participating). The thing with internet drama is that it always feels much larger than it is. The world at large cares way less than you think it does. Even when it was big, I doubt if 1 in 50 people in the West knew what GG was, or cared.

          • Anonymous says:

            I think the timing of the comic is “too convenient”, it’s not like it’s an old comic that was repurposed, it came out in the middle of the controversy.

            Regardless, even if the comic wasn’t about GGers (which it might very well not be, even if, as I mentioned, the timing is suspicious, and the “explanation” is equally dubious, we could at the very least afford the author the benefit of the doubt), it came into notoriety and became “conceptualized” (that is, people started saying “sealioning”) when people used it to attack/dismiss that specific group, so criticism of the concept, if perhaps not of the comment, can certainly take them into account.

      • Frank McPike says:

        “those making the complaints about specific behavior are typically willing and able to provide evidence of how that behavior is harmful.”

        Is this really true? I mean, yes, most people who complain about people engaged in behaviors probably have some reason for doing so. (Just as I’m pretty sure that most people who complain about Jews have at least some reason, however unconvincing to others, for doing do.) But are they, at each and every moment they make such a statement, necessarily prepared (or even remotely interested) in providing that justification to strangers? I know that if I walk past a protest and make a comment to a friend about how I dislike protesters, I’m generally not in the mood to have an extended (or even brief) conversation with a protester about my opinions (I may or may not be interested in giving that explanation to my friend, but certainly not the protester).

        Assume that I am a smoker and, while walking in public, I overhear one stranger remark to another that he hates smokers (this is not a difficult situation to imagine). Having overheard this remark, am I entitled to ask that stranger for a justification? Am I entitled to an answer? How far am I permitted to follow him around if he does not give me one? If he does give me an explanation, is he obliged to listen to my further objections? Must his explanation be convincing to me, or will any quality of explanation suffice?

        The normal rules of social etiquette would answer those questions “Maybe”, “Probably not”, “Not at all”, “Nope”, and “Take what you get”. And, to be honest, I find it very difficult to understand why those answers would be controversial.

        I see plenty of people in this comment section who say things I strongly disagree with. It’s not too uncommon to see groups to which I belong get criticized. Yet if I respond to such a comment and raise objections or ask questions, I don’t think I’m entitled to answers or explanations. If anyone here decides that it’s just not worth their time to respond to me, well, that actually seems pretty normal. God knows they probably have better things to do. If a close friend criticized me, and wasn’t prepared to justify themself, I would take offense. But a complete stranger on the internet? I simply don’t see how I’m entitled to a response.

        And even if I were entitled to a response, and they committed some grave moral wrong by failing to answer my questions, it still would not follow that I would be entitled to pursue them to press the issue. If I insisted on responding to all of their future comments with the same questions, I imagine (and hope) I would be quickly banned. If I tracked them down one other websites, and continued asking for an answer in the same fashion, I think I would be well out of line. If I turned up on their doorstep, they would be more than entitled to slam it in my face and wonder what kind of maniac I was.

        To be honest, much of the criticism of the sea lion cartoon I’ve seen here is very confusing to me. There seems little doubt to me that in the literal situation depicted in the comic, the sea lion is very out of line. The woman is out of line too, but that’s not relevant to the question of whether the sea lion has done something wrong.

        I also don’t have a hard time seeing online situations that analogize pretty closely to the behavior shown in the cartoon (the hypothetical about comments section behavior is one). You might not see perfectly eye-to-eye with the author on when the analogy fits, but I don’t think that invalidates the point.

        • JohnMcG says:

          Given a choice between:

          1.) Someone who pollutes the public discourse with generalized smears, and doubles down when called on to defend them, and…

          2.) Someone who is annoyingly (but politlely) persistent in demanding that these smears be defended.

          I’ll choose the second.

          Am I entitled to a defense of a smear like that? I would say I am entitled to either a defense or an apology, if only for that something that was intended to be private reached a greater audience.

          I guess I see the greater risk being that our public discourse being polluted with casual smears than people being hounded in their homes to defend them.

        • Frank McPike says:

          It’s not a choice between one or the other. Why are you approaching this as a situation where you need to pick a side? As the comic (and, I think, contemporary internet culture) shows, both behaviors coexist rather well, and have a tendency to perpetuate each other.

          Sometimes (in fact, quite often) there exist situations where all parties are in the wrong. Acting as though the party least in the wrong is therefore a saint, and should not be criticized, whatever their sins, is misguided. “I dislike all of them” is an option. Given that it is, and given that you seem to acknowledge that both behaviors here are at least irritating, why not choose it?

          • JohnMcG says:

            I don’t think I’m the one posting the binary (though I’ll admit I explicitly did in my post).

            The way this comic was deployed (if, perhaps not the intent of the author)was to day, as Amanda Marcotte might uncharitable summarize, the *real victims* are the people who publicly make generalized smears against groups without evidence. The ones making the smear are people, the one obejecting is an animal, so it seems pretty clear whom the reader is supposed to identify with. The sea lion speaks in awkward paragraphs, the couple communicates in knowing shorthand.

            I think we all agree that someone who literally came into someone’s home to demand substantiation for a public statement is in the wrong. It’s also the case that almost nobody does this. This comic isn’t being deployed against people going into someone’s home, it is being deployed against those who won’t let those who have made public smears continue making public statements without having to account for them. I’m not so sure they’re the baddies.

        • eh says:

          Regarding the smoker example, there’s a clear difference between a quiet I hate smokers that isn’t intended to be overheard, and a very, very loud MAN I HATE SMOKERS *COUGH* *COUGH* DON’T YOU ALSO HATE SMOKERS?. The former is justifiable, understandable, and obviously private. The latter is a sneaky attempt to land criticism without any accountability, and is very public.

          I suspect but can’t prove that a lot of the controversy around sealioning is due to a confusion between two modes of speaking, one overheard privacy and the other deniable publicity.

          • John Schilling says:

            Does such a difference exist in internet posts to forums open to the general public? There’s no such thing, in a public internet forum, as lowering your voice to the point where only the intended recipient and/or a deliberate eavesdropper can hear it – everything is said at full volume to everyone in the forum.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Well, on Twitter, your tweets are normally “to” your followers and anyone mentioned in the post, but can be heard by anyone. You can put your account private so only approved followers can see your tweets… but the people complaining about sea-lioning don’t want to do that, they think the sea-lions should be silenced without them doing anything.

            There are also those who will post “Ewww, #gamergate is a bunch of harasser misogynists” and then complain about sealioning from those tracking the hashtag. This is about the equivalent of walking into a South Philadelphia sports bar, saying “Phillies suck”, and complaining about the response.

          • ChetC3 says:

            It’s not confusion. Gamergaters are the internet’s premier crybullies.

          • JohnMcG says:

            For extra deniability points, the person saying “DON’T YOU HATE SMOKERS?” could claim that he was “just asking questions.”

          • eh says:

            @John: That’s what I mean. You don’t think that there’s any such thing as lowering one’s voice, while the people who say “randos in my mentions” clearly do. Two very different sets of netiquette, two clashing expectations, two groups which both think the other is unreasonable and rude.

            @ChetC3: There seems to be a great deal of both crying and bullying from both sides of the culture war, as well as passive aggression.

          • John Schilling says:

            Two very different sets of netiquette, two clashing expectations, two groups which both think the other is unreasonable and rude.

            Yes, and one of them is right and the other is wrong.

            Any expectation which defies objective reality, is intrinsically unreasonable. The public vs. private status of an internet forum is a matter of objective reality. The presence or absence of signal masking is a matter of objective reality. An expectation that people will treat your normal-volume statement in a public forum as if it were a private comment to your friends only, is unreasonable.

          • Frank McPike says:

            Doesn’t that cut both ways? An expectation that others will apologize for or explain any negative comment they make toward a group manifestly defies objective reality and, by your logic, is unreasonable. Yet many who criticize the sea lion comic do so precisely because they hold such an expectation.

            (Is any proposed etiquette objectively wrong merely because it has not already been adopted? That seems an odd way to approach these questions.)

          • John Schilling says:

            Well, people objectively do tend to respond to “sealioning”, even if usually not with the apology or explanation that the pinniped asked for. Their choice. Making a request that probably won’t be granted as written is not generally considered rude in itself, because sometimes the request is granted and sometimes the alternative response is useful as well.

          • Loyle says:

            @Frank

            I imagine it doesn’t matter. Whatever response a person gives is up to them. It isn’t unreasonable to challenge someone in hope of an certain response, even if they would likely fail to receive it. Even still changing the person’s mind regarding sea lions might not even be the point, but to ensure the audience isn’t poisoned by unfounded and unchallenged assertions against sea lions.

            Alternatively, you could just not decide saying rude things against sea lions is necessary. I don’t know why people really want to be rude… to the point where someone asking not to be treated rudely is a bad person.

          • The Nybbler says:

            IMO, it’s not really a clash of competing views of netiquette. It’s a status game. The message is quite clearly “I am permitted to denigrate you publicly, and you are not permitted to respond, because you are beneath me.”

          • Frank McPike says:

            I agree that making a request that won’t be granted is not in and of itself rude (though it might very well be rude depending on context). Making that request repeatedly after it is not granted is, in most contexts, unambiguously rude. If you’re not prepared to accept “I don’t want to have a conversation with you” (or the non-verbal equivalent) as a response, interacting with strangers on the internet is bound to be a series of disappointments.

            The problem with the sea lion isn’t that he asked once, it’s that he refuses to let up once the answer is clearly no.

          • Tracy W says:

            @Frank: if the intention was to just get an answer then the sealion was failing. If the intention was to discourage people from casually disparaging sealions in public places then, judging by the man’s reaction, the sealion is in the process of succeeding.

            And without many of the downsides of just reeling off insults and threats and swearwords.

    • Anonymous says:

      This whole debate leaves me quite conflicted. I basically agree with the comic (not with the errata, though, I think it’s a copout and that the distinction between “identity” and “behaviour” serves little purpose, if any): In what amounts to grey spaces in regards of public/private communication, we’re better off with a live and let live approach.

      The problem arises in that the groups that took the comic and “weaponized” it (using the term “sealioning” to deflect criticism and denounce harrasment) are super hypocrtical about it. Now, it’s great to be able to take the high road and say that, yes, we should be kind enough to let things said in these “public but not really, except yes really but, like, it’s complicated” spaces slide, but it is tempting to turn the tables around. Partly because of schadenfreude, but also partly because “they’re not going to actually hold up to their side of the deal, as evidenced by their past behaviour, so why should we?”, you know, classic defect-defect stuff.

      An alternative explanation would be that GG is composed of more disgruntled lefties than libertarians and conservatives, so they weren’t very receptive to this argument in the first place. Not sure if there’s surveys to confirm or contradict this.

  26. sweeneyrod says:

    RE: the study on British minority voters — the most successful politician to play the religious identity politics game is the white, non-Muslim George Galloway, who beat the Muslim Imran Hussain after distributing leaflets saying “God KNOWS who is a Muslim. And he KNOWS who is not. Let me point out to all the Muslim brothers and sisters what I stand for. I, George Galloway, do not drink alcohol and never have. Ask yourself if Imran Hussain can say that truthfully.”

    RE: tracking — how common is that in the US? I think most pupils are put into sets based on ability for core subjects in the UK. I certainly can’t imagine a mixed-ability maths class being effective for anyone.

    RE: Free Northerner — that sounds like a slight elaboration on the classic fascist “the poor and ignorant masses need traditional rules because they cannot think for themselves, but we are superior beings who need not be bound by old-fashioned morality”.

    • Anonymous says:

      >RE: Free Northerner — that sounds like a slight elaboration on the classic fascist “the poor and ignorant masses need traditional rules because they cannot think for themselves, but we are superior beings who need not be bound by old-fashioned morality”.

      Yeah, that’s a deficient line of thought. The elites would be better served following old-fashioned morality, and their adoption of such behaviour would help propagate it to the lower classes.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        As mentioned upthread, upper middle class and above people usually experiences fewer consequences for bad behavior. They’d still do better by engaging in GOOD behavior, but not doing so isn’t catastrophic for them.

        • Ghatanathoah says:

          It depends on what you mean by GOOD behavior. The whole reason the upper middle class reject traditional values is because they’re suboptimal when it comes to living a good life. A life lived according to traditional values might be better if the alternative is wrecking your life with bad decisions. But if you have the capacity to make good decisions you can do a heck of a lot better than traditional values.

          • Randy M says:

            For varying definitions of good, I guess.

          • TheAncientGeek says:

            The extended rumspringa seems to be quite effective at forming stable relationships, eventually.

          • @AncientGeek:

            Do you mean the stable relationship with his congregation? I don’t think Amish courtship has much to do with Rumspringa, which in any case is a practice of only some Amish affiliations, if that’s what you are referring to.

          • anonymous says:

            DF –

            I believe he’s applying the term rumspringa to the expected path for upper middle class twenty-somethings.

          • jaimeastorga2000 says:

            @David Friedman: He’s using “rumspringa” metaphorically to refer to the period of time in an upper middle class’s person life before they “settle down” with someone in their 30s.

          • Jaskologist says:

            The extended rumspringa seems to be quite effective at forming stable relationships, eventually.

            Can you back that up? Do the stats show that the middle-class marriage rate is higher now than in the Bad Old Days, and the divorce rate (as percentage of marriages, not total population) is lower? Because I’m pretty sure that both are worse, just not as bad as they are for the lower classes.

            Similarly for Scott’s claim that “atheist homosexual polyamorous feminist liberals are doing absolutely fine.” Are they really? Do we have statistics that control for other factors which show this?

      • Ghatanathoah says:

        >The elites would be better served following old-fashioned morality, and their adoption of such behaviour would help propagate it to the lower classes.

        No they wouldn’t. The whole reason elites reject old-fashioned morality is that it makes them worse off.

        I think a good analogy is wheelchairs. Some people need wheelchairs to move around because they can’t use their legs. Other people don’t. What you’re doing is encouraging able-bodied people to use wheelchairs, even if they don’t need to and it’s inconvenient, because their adoption of such behavior will encourage people without functioning legs to use wheelchairs instead of trying to walk and falling over.

        Of course, you could make an counterargument that most people don’t delude themselves that they can walk when they can’t, while many people delude themselves that they are smart and controlled when they are actually stupid and impulsive. So maybe the upper-class could benefit those deluded people by hobbling themselves.

        I suspect that there is probably a better way.

        • Dr Dealgood says:

          No they wouldn’t. The whole reason elites reject old-fashioned morality is that it makes them worse off.

          Can you provide some evidence of that?

          This isn’t a gotcha or anything but you keep saying this as though it was self-evident. I would like to know what you consider living a good life, per your comment above, and why modern liberalism does so much better achieving it in your view.

          • Samuel Skinner says:

            It depends on what worse off is covering.
            – if it is happiness, it is pretty clearly a revealed preference
            – if it is functionality, cosmopolitanism is better for the upper class (because it lets them function seamlessly with the upper class in other countries)
            – if it is social functionality, ‘try new things’ is great for finding new things that are improvements over the old ones and in highly competitive fields is the only way to get in.

        • Gbdub says:

          Traditional values applied rigidly may be suboptimal, but optimally successful lives still might reflect a lot of traditional values – frugality / long term financial planning, diligent work ethic, stable relationships (or at least not making babies outside of stable relationships) etc. So they aren’t useless, just perhaps too prescriptive.

          If you naturally have the traits praised in “traditional values”, and are smart enough to see where the traditions work and where they are too rigid, you can occasionally “bend the rules” for fun and profit. But only in moderation. The less conscientious might be better off not risking bending them at all.

          It’s less like a wheelchair and more like, say a pattern manual. The master artisan can ignore the patterns and make his own design. But the apprentice should stick to the patterns until he masters them.

    • Anonymous says:

      It may be classic and it may be fascist and it may not sound good, but neither of those are arguments about whether it’s true or not.

      • Anonymous says:

        No, obviously not. But I have better things to do than explain why Hitler did something wrong. (I’ve got a policy of going anonymous to reply to anonymeese, to discourage anonymousing by making it more confusing).

        • ryan says:

          I think you are plainly wrong in associating Free Northerner’s sentiment with fascism. The sentiment is elitist and aristocratic. Nazism was anti-aristocratic at the time when German society was strongly so.

      • Anonymous says:

        You moved from “this idea is abhorrent” to “this idea is wrong in such a simple way it’s not worth spending time to explain it” [and if you don’t see the simple rebuttal you’re a simple man :^) ]. Both approaches are optimized more toward enforcing dogma than seeking truth or providing useful insights.

        You’re not actually going anonymous if you say who you are.

        • Anonymous says:

          No, it’s not necessarily wrong in a simple way (or even wrong at all, as the discussion has a moral aspect). Not all Nazis were, that doesn’t mean they were right (mention of Nazis not intended as reductio ad hitlerum).

          • null says:

            Other anonymous is asking you to judge the morality of this idea without making a reference to Nazis, because presumably if something is morally wrong, it would be morally wrong even if there were no Nazis.

          • Anonymous says:

            There’s very few mentions of nazis that aren’t reductio ad hitlerum, mostly restricted to historical discussion of the 1940s. Doesn’t help that the subthread started on the use of the word “fascist” (may have been a correct usage of the term, by now I don’t even know what it means tbh)

  27. Foseti says:

    “43 toddlers killed or injured someone with a gun last year. 40/43 seem to be boys, a surprising fact which cries out for more explanation.”

    Sometimes it’s really obvious you don’t have kids.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I’m totally okay with boys being Inherently More Violent or something, but how does that get them their parents’ guns more often?

      (unless, as a commenter suggested above, everyone gets their parents guns but girls just, I don’t know, cradle and sing songs to them harmlessly.)

      • Sastan says:

        One possibility is that little boys search more for hidden things, or for hidden guns specifically.

      • Foseit says:

        By the time he was two years old my son was chewing his food into the shape of guns. FWIW, we live on Capitol Hill, where absolutely no one (ourselves included) owns guns and my son doesn’t seem to be an outlier in our neighborhood in any way.

        I have two girls – one if very girly, one is much less so – but neither showed any interest, even as they got a bit older.

        • Sastan says:

          This trend is well noted.

          Personally, I wonder if there was an analog before firearms were invented. Did middle-ages boys chew their sandwiches into swords?

          • Loquat says:

            Friend-of-a-friend anecdote, usual disclaimers apply:

            Couple somehow manages to conceal the existence of guns or other weaponry from their young son. His response – menace others with a pretend electric drill.

          • smocc says:

            Personal anecdote:

            My mother had no trouble avoiding toy guns with my sister, but gave up when she found me (a boy) opening imaginary birthday presents and happily exclaiming “it’s a shooting gun!”

            For my two-year-old son, anything can be a sword. One minute he will be pretending a stick is a pickaxe or drill, and the next minute we will be swordfighting.

          • NN says:

            I’ve read that in the collective nurseries of the early Israeli kibbutzim, the young boys pretended to be wolves and other wild animals.

          • ivvenalis says:

            Odysseus found young Achilles disguised among the girls at the court of King Lycomedes on Styros by noticing that only one of the “girls” paid any attention to the sword (rack of weapons in some versions) he put near the gifts he brought for the girls. Although he was older than a toddler at that point.

      • Glen Raphael says:

        Male humans have more grip strength than female humans. According to this study:

        For the youngest group of 4 to 6 years, the boys were 24% to 34% stronger; for the middle group of 7 to 9 years old, the boys were 2% to 9% stronger; and for the oldest group of 10 to 12 years, the boys were 3% to 11% stronger. For both genders, differences in grip strength between dominant and nondominant hands ranged from 2 to 17 N.

        Thus, an obvious hypothesis is that toddler boys given access to a gun are more likely to be physically capable of pulling the trigger than toddler girls.

        • John Schilling says:

          Good point. For reference, the lightest trigger you are likely to find on a factory handgun requires four pounds (22N) of force to activate, applied by whatever will fit inside a trigger guard sized for one adult finger. For uncocked revolvers that goes to 8 lbs (45N), for semiautomatic pistols without a round in the chamber you have to cycle the slide – and that requires enough force (albeit with the whole hand) that even adult women often have to shop around for a model they can easily handle.

          • Dan T. says:

            Would it be equipped with a trigger warning?

          • JuanPeron says:

            Notably, this also means that boys are more likely to succeed at overcoming trigger safeties, which don’t require a separate action to disarm but do require a high-weight pull on the trigger.

      • Anonymous says:

        I don’t have kids either but my gut reaction was that boys try to figure out toys and dismantle them, whereas girls will ignore or just, as you say, cradle them. So boys will be more likely to play with moving parts like the trigger.

        Although I think Glen is more correct. My godfather tried to get me to fire a gun for my sixth birthday or so, and I wasn’t strong enough to pull the trigger. It was a revolver, but even if other guns are easier to shoot I figure strength would be the big issue with a toddler if six-year-old me didn’t manage it.

        • One of my boys, before he could speak in sentences and hadn’t really mastered two-word phrases, would open up his toys and then request “Driver! Driver” because he wanted to disassemble them further.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        There’s a joke I like to make about the famous study of male and female rhesus monkeys with trucks and stuffed animals that when the female monkeys play with trucks, what they do is cradle them and say things like “There there, Trucky. You’re just as beautiful as those stuffed monkeys.”

    • Deiseach says:

      No, sometimes it’s really obvious why you don’t let your kids have easy access to your guns – like the lady boasting about how her four year old was so eager to shoot his first gun.

      Then he shot mommy.

      Kids that age are not yet attained to the use of reason. They don’t make the connection between “shooting someone is dangerous” or that death is a permanent thing. You present guns as fun, you praise Junior for being interested in guns, shooting is a fun thing mommy and daddy do, you don’t make it clear that shooting can hurt or kill someone, people who get shot in films and TV aren’t really hurt – so Junior gets into the gun cabinet that hasn’t been properly locked or the gun left in the bedside locker and they play with it, and they go “bang bang” at mommy or daddy when they try to take the gun away from them – all in fun – and guess what, this is a real gun, really loaded, and someone gets hurt.

      Things like that are not the fault of the kids, it’s the parents who are so gung-ho about “my right to own and use a gun” that they present guns as fun, as toys, as “I can’t wait till I can teach you to shoot, it’s going to be so great!”, let their kids hold and play with their guns, and don’t teach the kids that guns are dangerous, are for grown-ups only, and that Junior should not take Mommy’s gun out of Mommy’s purse because that’s for Mommy only.

      • smocc says:

        My son figured out swordfighting early, and now at two it is still one of his favorite games. At one point I was kind of tired of the game (and worried about the pretend violence) so I tried to dissuade him by pretending to be injured whenever he stabbed me. I would groan and flop down and pretend to be unable to move because of my stab wound.

        He quickly figured out how to apply pretend bandages and give me medicine until I was able to keep fighting. In fact, he has come to enjoy the part where someone gets injured and needs medical attention even more than just banging swords together. Pretty much a complete backfire. >_<

        It's possible that with even more commitment I might be able to convince him that violence has sad consequences, but I suspect it's just a very difficult concept at this age.

        • Deiseach says:

          Yeah, that’s the point: small kids don’t realise the dangers. I doubt you give your son real knives to play swords with, or let him stab you with one!

          Letting your kid hold your gun, even in a pretend way, is a bad precedent. People who like guns are entitled to have them, but going overboard by forgetting guns are dangerous and not toys and letting their kids get used to guns by treating them as toys are setting themselves up for exactly that: bored kid in car wants to play with Mommy’s gun because she’s let him play with it before. He doesn’t realise it’s loaded and that pulling the trigger will not end well.

          • Anonymous says:

            Or he knows its loaded but doesn’t realize the logical connection between aim+shoot => hit or between hit => dead or between dead => permanent

          • That sounds like a disease of civilization thingummy.

            As I understand it, when guns are actually tools for living– in the country, where hunting is a significant way of getting food — guns are taken seriously. Children are taught that guns are a serious matter. While they might get their first gun rather young (age 12 or so?), they’re also inducted into handling guns safely.

            Now we’ve got a gun culture where guns are more of a symbol of autonomy rather than a tool with specific limits and consequences.

            I think part of the problem is generations of conventional schooling, which is set up so that everything is simulated. Any real world consequences are filtered through more or less arbitrary authority– future opportunities are a matter of grades rather than accomplishment. The result is increasing numbers of people who don’t have a grasp of how what they do and what they fail to do might matter.

          • Matt C says:

            > Letting your kid hold your gun, even in a pretend way, is a bad precedent.

            I let my kids hold a real handgun precisely because I wanted them to understand the difference between toy guns and real guns.

            “even in a pretend way” is confused thinking. Letting your kid hold a real gun in a pretend way is terribly irresponsible, but the pretense is the part that makes it bad. Teaching kids to interact with real guns in a responsible way is teaching them gun safety.

            Nancy, I think responsible gun ownership is still part of gun culture today. When I have gone to a range to shoot everyone takes safety seriously. On the other hand, off the range, I’ve seen some pretty damn stupid and careless behavior. Not a gun nut myself and don’t have a good sense of the big picture, but both are there.

          • Matt, I definitely should have done better.

            There are a bunch of gun cultures, and there’s a non-rural gun culture which takes gun safety very seriously.

          • houseboatonstyx says:

            @ Nancy
            I think part of the problem is generations of conventional schooling, which is set up so that everything is simulated. Any real world consequences are filtered through more or less arbitrary authority– future opportunities are a matter of grades rather than accomplishment. The result is increasing numbers of people who don’t have a grasp of how what they do and what they fail to do might matter.

            Ding! — on a very wide scale. Old School D&D taught a lot of kids to think ahead, way ahead (apparently for their first time, judging from their shock).

            Consequencies were real, somewhat without warning, and objective: the dice and the DM’s advance notes ruled, not the DM’s kindness of the moment, or a rail-roading plot.

          • Muga Sofer says:

            I think Nancy’s got it exactly right. I’m not sure about four years old, but I definitely understood gun safety *long* before I ever held a gun, for as long as I can remember – because my father knew a guy who got shot by a gun that “wasn’t loaded” when he was in the military, and he made a point of teaching us proper gun safety.

            I’m not even into guns as a hobby (and certainly not all kids take it as seriously as I did, looking at my brothers), but the level of casualness some “gun enthusiasts” display says to me that they literally don’t understand the object they’re holding on some level. It offends me deep in my nerdy core.

            Guns Are Dangerous.

            That doesn’t mean they’re icky and bad, it means they’re fucking dangerous and you should respect them, the same as any dangerous tool.

          • Vorkon says:

            @Deiseach

            I think you’ve misidentified the problem here. If the parent hadn’t previously taken the child shooting, and the gun still slid under the seat of her car to where he could reach it, do you really think he wouldn’t have still picked it up and tried to play with it? Or in the theoretical scenario you presented earlier, if the parents hadn’t portrayed guns as a fun thing mommy and daddy do, and praised their child for being interested in them, and the child still got into the gun cabinet, do you really think that they wouldn’t have gone “bang bang” thinking it was all in good fun when mommy and daddy tried to take it away?

            Kids are curious, and get into everything. Unless you plan on somehow hiding the very existence of guns from your children, so that if they see one they don’t think of it as anything other than a weird hunk of metal, (and good luck with that…) they’re still going to want to play with it, whether you’ve taught them guns are a good thing or not. (And hell, even if they DO think it’s just a weird hunk of random metal, they’ll still probably want to pick it up and play with it. They’d just be less likely to have it pointed AWAY from themselves when they fire it…)

            The incident was certainly the fault of the parent for being careless with her gun, but whether or not she was gung-ho about gun rights, or had taken the kid shooting before, had absolutely nothing to do with it.

            (Well, I suppose you could argue that if she wasn’t gung-ho about gun rights she wouldn’t have had the gun in the first place, and it never would have been an issue, but that’s a different issue altogether; whether or not she had taken the kid shooting before had no bearing on the incident.)

            In a best-case scenario, teaching your kids how to use a gun would lead to them being more careful with it, more likely to respect it, and possibly even less curious about it, since it’s something familiar. You’re absolutely right that, at that age, the seriousness of using a gun and the fragility of life is a difficult, if not impossible, thing to teach a child. But considering that, in a worst-case scenario, teaching them to use a gun would lead to a situation absolutely no different from what you’d get if you had never taught them anything about guns in the first place, why wouldn’t you want to try?

            (Admittedly, that didn’t help the woman in your example much, but she was an idiot who carried without keeping her weapon secured to her person, and deserved everything she got.)

          • Patrick says:

            I love how everyone is trying to come up with reasons why the Children of Today are soft and stupid compared to the manly, manly people commenting on this forum who obviously weren’t as dumb, but if you google “children’s understanding of death” what you’ll find is a general view among psychologists that children don’t understand that death is final until somewhere between ages six and nine. They can fear it before that, sure, but they don’t *get* it. And if what you’re wanting is for your child to use proper gun safety at an age where your child doesn’t understand, or only barely understands, that death is a real thing that happens to humans and can’t be fixed, then the best you can do is sort of program your child to do the right thing without understanding why, like a dog trained to do a trick without any comprehension of what the trick is supposed to accomplish. And that’s always a risky thing to rely on.

            TLDR, rational decision making relies on both rational faculties and properly grounded facts. If your kid is too young to have these about a difficult conceptual problem that many adults still don’t get (most major world religions are built around coming up with an exception to that whole “death is final” thing), then your kid can’t make rational decisions about guns.

          • Vorkon says:

            @Patrick

            Call me crazy, but I’d rather have a trained dog than an untrained dog. Especially when that dog can kill me in a split-second from 50 meters away. Sure, I may not be able to rely on it as effectively as someone who understands why they’re doing what I ask them to, but it’s better than nothing.

            Also, has anyone in this comment thread even implied that getting a child below a certain age to understand the finality of death is possible? Every comment I’ve read has so far has either explicitly stated otherwise, or implied that you can’t. Similarly, who mentioned anything about “kids of today?”

        • moridinamael says:

          My pattern so far has been to happily sword fight with my son, until he hits me or his sister with anything harder than a light tap, and then I make it clear that he has caused real injury and that this is not amusing or desirable. This lets him understand that the limits of pretend-fighting end at the point of injury.

          Obviously there is no analogous case where you pretend-shoot someone “too hard” and cause them injury, so toy guns are not self-correcting. I have experimented with letting them play with Nerf guns and making it clear that they are not to shoot each other, only inanimate objects, but I can’t tell whether they’re actually learning a lesson or just humoring me.

          • John Schilling says:

            Nerf guns are for shooting friends and family, BB guns are for shooting inanimate objects in the back yard or basement, single-shot .22s are serious business, and anything beyond that is for adults only.

            Most children have no trouble with this progression. The ones that do, you can almost always figure that out before anyone gets too seriously hurt.

          • Let me suggest two things to you, both of which may have occurred to you already:

            1. Boffers made from pool noodles are safer for sword fighting with children than other designs.

            2. Your son should be taught the rule that an SCA friend of ours taught his: It’s wrong to attack someone who is not armed. It’s only after the visitor to the house has been so imprudent as to pick up one of the toy swords lying around that you are allowed to try to hit him with yours.

      • A very long time ago, my son and nephew and I were visiting my parents in Vermont. I had a BB gun I was teaching them to shoot.

        It became clear that the older of the two was actually aiming the gun. The younger was pretending to aim it–didn’t yet understand the causal links between how you pointed it and where the BB went.

      • Psmith says:

        Jeff Cooper, who was the closest thing American gun culture had to a Pope, put the proper age for teaching children how to shoot at about 10-12, and approvingly recounted how WWII ace Joe Foss was grounded and had his rifle taken away for a year at age 16 as parental punishment for a negligent discharge. 4 is too young, for sure.

        (Having said that, I recall someone or other making the point that making guns taboo for small children is also counterproductive, for the usual reasons that making things taboo is counterproductive.).

      • Tibor says:

        When I was about 2, my dad was holding me in one hand close to his face and used a small hammer to lightly hit his own head a few times to make me laugh…then he gave the hammer to me.

        I cheerfully smashed his head with the hammer, close to the temporal bone. He somehow managed not to drop me, but it was apparently quite a shock to him. Some parents just are stupid enough to do something like this with guns.

  28. Anthony Hart says:

    I can give some background on Type Theory, since I’m currently training to be a type theorist.

    Most people know about type theory through the history of mathematics, being the theory Russel (and Whitehead) developed to solve Russel’s paradox. Research in the subject ended up being overshadowed by set theory, but research never ended.

    In the 1920s and 30s the combinator and lambda calculi were developed. These were effectively “idealized” programming languages which ended up being Turing complete. Shortly after, types were added to them. Nowadays, having types in programming languages are a standard feature.

    In 1934 Haskell Curry, an important mathematician and logician, for whom the Haskell programming language is named, noted that the types of certain combinator calculi formed complete axiom systems for certain intuitionistic logics. In particular, he discovered that the typed SK combinator calculus was (equivalent to) the proof theory for the positive implicational calculus. This was the first major sign of deep connections between logic and computation.

    Over the next few decades, connections between other logics and programming languages were discovered, mainly by Curry and a proof theorist named William Alvin Howard. These were eventually collectively named the Curry–Howard correspondence. It’s often said that the notion of proof in mathematics is ill-defined. This is not true in type theory, where proofs are programs and have a formal meaning, existing as mathematical objects in the same way numbers do.

    Later on, a mathematician named Joachim Lambek made further connections between logic-type theory pairs, and the mathematical structures of categories. This was named the Curry–Howard–Lambek correspondence. Category theory acts as a mathematical theory of structure in the same way group theory acts as the mathematical theory of symmetry. Type theories can be used as a formal language for category theory, where every category has it’s own internal language which is a type theory.

    Long story short, logic, category theory, and type theory are three sides of the same coin. Any observation in one has a translation in another. This concept is called (tongue-in-cheek) computational trinitarianism. Also see the nlab page. This might make an interesting reference in your Unsong story :P.

    In the 1970s, the first dependent type theories which could be used as competitive foundations of mathematics were developed by Per Martin-Löf. A few years later, the Four color theorem was proven using type theory. Specifically one called the Calculus of Constructions. The fact that the foundation of mathematics being assumed was also a programming language was very helpful when it came to automatically proving and checking the thousands of special cases required to prove that theorem.

    In more recent times, there’s been a small renaissance in the field due to something called Homotopy Type Theory (HoTT). Briefly, in Euclid’s elements, the notion of a point in cartesian space doesn’t exist. Instead, basic notions like line, point, circle, etc. are axiomatic notions. Defined by what they are, instead of hacking them out of the plane like cartesian geometry does. This is the distinction between synthetic mathematics and analytic mathematics. In HoTT, all types carry an (algebraic) topological structure. This allows one to do homotopy theory (and cohomology) in a synthetic fashion without ever defining real numbers, or anything else that standard algebraic topology requires.

    It’s also been known for a while that types carry (ordinary/general) topological structure. One current research vector is generalizing this into a theory of adjoints, allowing the synthetic homotopy theory to make use of the synthetic topology. This approach also gives a method of giving types smooth, differential structure, allowing one to do (among other things) synthetic differential geometry inside a type.

    Another recent research vector is directed homotopy type theory, where every type carries an infinity-category structure. In this theory, all types automatically get the minimal notion of morphism upon definition. Defining a group inside it automatically gives the notion of a group homomorphism, topological spaces get continuous functions, vector spaces get linear maps, categories get functors, etc. So, many natural notions in mathematics are given to us for free in this foundation. Potential applications of Directed HoTT + adjoints from earlier are as a foundation for physics.

    Dependent Type Theory is also the standard way of formulating higher-order logic. Much of the work done in formally modeling natural language is done inside of specialized dependent type theories (c.f. Dependent Type Semantics).

    In summary, yes type theory is still a thing, and more important and interesting than ever.

    • John Salvatier says:

      Really interesting. Thank you. Do you know why MIRI sees it as useful to them?

      • Anthony Hart says:

        In MIRI’s post, they mention reflective programming and Gödelian reasoning. Long term, it looks like they want to advance toward a Gödel machine. Short term, they want to develop a language capable of expressing programs which can modify their own code at run-time without changing their output. This would require a sophisticated type checker/proof checker capable of verifying proofs that a program consistently self-modifies.

        I think this might be related to a project mentioned by Bas Steunebrink a while ago. He mentioned the creation of a language called Sleight, which runs on a virtual machine which sleight code can directly inspect and modify (with the assistance of an automated theorem prover) at run-time.

        One of the main applications of type theory that I failed to mention in my post is in formal verification of software. Since your programming language is an effective, constructive foundation of mathematics, proving the existence of a program that meets a specification is the same as actually writing that program, and proving that it will, without error, do what it’s meant to, based on that specification.

        This has been used to, for instance, design a C compiler which provably compiles correctly and provably never increases the time complexity of a program during compilation.

        They have also been used to design provably correct security protocols. Here is an interesting video about various instances of this. In particular (around 56:20 – 1:16:20), it tells when the Nuprl group (an important group and project in type theory) were hired by DARPA to provide a provably correct protocol for achieving consensus of backed up data across multiple servers, while making sure that said protocol wasn’t vulnerable to DoS attacks. Long story short, they proved this to be impossible by designing a program which would take these kinds of protocols as input, and would output an implementation for a DoS attack which is specially suited for the protocol in question. Even if there wasn’t a theoretical solution to DARPA’s problem, they did provide a practical one by randomly switching between thousands of automatically generated, provably correct protocols at random, meaning that an attacker would have to somehow sync with the server’s random number generator.

        Doing in-code verification of behavior is one of the main practical uses of type theory, so it wouldn’t surprise me if it was needed to make sure a self-modifying program doesn’t screw up its own processes.

      • I’m currently doing work on type theory with MIRI, so I can probably say a bit about why we think it’s useful.

        The short version is that we spend a lot of time working with mathematical constructs that look an awful lot like code, and there are various reasons it makes sense to translate that into actual code (for ex. Benya talks a bit about why we care about computer-checkable correctness in https://intelligence.org/2013/08/04/benja-interview/).

        Type theory seems to be the best tool around for formally proving things about programs, and so if we could find a way to talk about programs that operate on source code within it we probably get some really interesting and useful results.

  29. David Pinto says:

    Is there a difference between Soviet Communism and other forms of Communism? I’d say that game pretty much describes any try at the economic policy.

    • Wrong Species says:

      Something something “not real communism.”

    • M says:

      Well, for example with Cambodian communism* you would be probably murdered for forming a queue – or there would not be reason to form it as products would not arrive anyway.

      *”The combined effects of executions, strenuous working conditions, malnutrition and poor medical care caused the deaths of approximately 25 percent of the Cambodian population.” – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pol_Pot

  30. Anon. says:

    >Countries with fewer Jews in medieval times (usually because they kicked them out) remain poorer today.

    Reverse causality. Economic problems lead to scapegoating and expulsion, and there are well-established linkages between the wealth of nations then and now. (Possibly the other way around, too: economic prosperity attracts Jewish migrants).

    • gwern says:

      Also endogenous attitudes and beliefs: if a government (and by extension, the population this government is recruited from) doesn’t think much of property rights or appreciate the value of banking or ‘usury’, such that it’s likely to think expelling the Jews is a great idea, then it’s probably not going to be well-equipped to deal with the Industrial Revolution.

      • Galton says:

        This is fairly well-identified paper that examines attitudes towards finance (as measured by stock investment, savings in bank deposits, getting a mortgage conditional on having a house) at the county level in Germany and shows counties where Jews were expelled in medieval times have a persistent distrust of finance:
        http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2368073

        The main argument does not directly address your concern, but in one specification, they use distance from the Rhine valley as an instrument for whether Jews were likely to settle in a county and thus whether they could be later expelled, and find it predicts a distrust of finance. Hard to explain that with an endogenous distrust of banking, especially because Jews would probably be likely to avoid settling in districts with such a distrust in the first place.

    • wilson says:

      I’m a little surprised to see SSC linking to a “study” as reported in the Daily Mail. Was this study some sort of contrafactual attempt to explain why England and Germany in an alternate universe are so downtrodden compared to Poland, Belorussia and Ukraine? Why Spain is so underdeveloped compared to Turkey? I think northern/southern Italy is the only place where the conditions posited as inevitable outcomes even hold.

      • I didn’t see the study, but Spain had a large Jewish population until the end of the 15th century. Germany also had a large Jewish population at various times.

      • Cereal Crepe says:

        The study was published in ReStat, which is a top-5 economics journal. The article seems like a reasonable summary despite being published in the Daily Mail.

  31. As a Kent alumnus, virtually every single line of that article made me cackle. One friend who graduated a few years before me noted: “Well, this is the same student union that used to keep all the money in a biscuit tin in the office, so…”

  32. LPSP says:

    I would say I fit the same demographic as that Free Northerner fellow. It’s not the idea of high self-control intellectuals (or as he bluntly puts them superWASPS and new england Jews) operating well under a traditional-moral-free society where “normal” people suffer that is revolutionary or particular special about the article. It’s the non-forefront yet firm insistence that, for all the contemptuous language used, FN thinks we have the Noblesse Oblige to make life enjoyable for those less fortunate than us, and that it can only be accomplished by not sparing this particular rod. That I feel is the more unfamiliar and novel idea to most readers, that it is in fact compassionate and caring, parental, to establish and maintain restrictive institutes we ourselves have no use for, purely to help people with less self-control – by the standards of many an edgy rightwinger our Darwinian inferiors – live in happiness.

    • multiheaded says:

      Give me Ayn Rand any fucking day, m8.

      • LPSP says:

        I wish I knew what you meant by this.

        • multiheaded says:

          I mean that she would force the proles to sink or swim instead of disciplining and manipulating them ~for their own good~. Heartless capitalism is a lot less creepy than all that ~parental~ shit.

          • Mary says:

            Most of the stuff involved is cultural. There is nothing in a libertarian paradise preventing all sorts of cultural pressure.

          • LPSP says:

            I have a question: do you enjoy owning pets?

          • sweeneyrod says:

            @LPSP

            Comparing the peasants to animals doesn’t exactly help your case for paternalistic interference (and in any case a good cat owner gives their pet freedom to roam).

          • LPSP says:

            I’m just trying to navigate Mr. multiheaded’s Social-Darwinian perspective. If viewing fellow humans like animals in the wild fits the pattern, what about Rover and Moggy? Having owned five dogs, I know how keenly these animals depend upon the grace and kindness of their foresighted masters. I still think they’re adorable and hate to see them suffer. They hit the same spot in my brain as kids.

            I should mention I’m a private tutor, and have also worked with charities dealing with, for example, autistic children. I only ever seek out kids to directly teach if they are smart and self-controlled, and can percieve big topics. One little kid in a group of autistics I used to mentor also had ADHD, and I hated having to directly cater to his needs because he was an aggressive brat that didn’t care for other’s comforts. But I didn’t dislike him, and I could get along well with him on days when he was under other workers and I could basically tell him to bugger off if he acted out, rather than having to pointlessly recite explanations to this little kid that he would never get. Just because he’d never have personal discipline and a deeply inquiring mind didn’t mean I wanted to neglect him or will him a bad standard of living. I just didn’t like having to act as though he could change.

            What the hyper ADHD-sperg child needed was a firm set of rules – and whenever the sensitive nannying types weren’t around I implemented firm rules however possible – and someone to kick a ball at him, hard, and challenge him to kick back harder. Trapped in a room with smart sensitive types that wanted to make something over-elaborate in Minecraft and talk about Warhammer, he just smashed things and pulled out most of the beard I was growing then. This state of wasted affairs is still better than slamming the door on the brat and letting him starve. I’d sooner be a parent than a predator.

          • multiheaded says:

            “Mr. multiheaded” lmao with the likes of you I’m never sure what is intentional and to what degree.

            p.s. happy to hear about the damage to your beard

          • Anonymous says:

            On the Internet, nobody knows that you’re a female cerberus.

          • LPSP says:

            Funny, I felt that way when I first read your comment, but now I know your stance.

            I’ll just assume you’ve never had hair pulled out in your life and leave it there.

          • rockroy mountdefort says:

            > I mean that she would force the proles to sink or swim instead of disciplining and manipulating them ~for their own good~. Heartless capitalism is a lot less creepy than all that ~parental~ shit.

            I can see where this would be a common opinion among, say, people whose parents had the money for swim lessons

          • Gbdub says:

            Apologies if I’m mistaken, but aren’t you, multiheaded, sympathetic to communism? Which is the same paternalism, but with the pretense that everyone is the same class (it’s just that the Party, you see, knows what’s best for The Common Good).

            Hell, modern Progressivism certainly has its paternalism too. Monarchy is obvious. Really every political system other than libertarianism and anarchy at some point relies on the belief that [authority] has the moral right and duty to impose order of one kind or another on the general populace. For their own good.

    • The Nybbler says:

      I perhaps fit the type. I’m a libertarian and a prude, in that I don’t care what you do but what I’m willing to do myself is mostly pretty dull. But, if I’m to have this Noblesse Oblige to maintain institutions to discipline the proles with no self-control, I want the patent of nobility to go with it; I want to be considered above the notice of these restrictive institutions, just in case one of the few non-dull things I do falls under them. I, after all, have the self-control to handle it. Accepting such an obligation without corresponding privilege just makes me a chump.

      But I think this kind of thinking tends to lead to the Dark En…(um, can I use that phrase?), so I’d really rather not go there.

      • LPSP says:

        I’m glad you didn’t entertain that junk term. But it doesn’t have to lead there. When restrictive instituitions are forced on people, it depends on a degree of cooperation. The adherents must be honest towards the authority, and accept whatever information they recieve. Their interaction with the machinery of its administration must be earnest, from a place of faith. And of all moods or attitudes that human beings can falsely project, none are more demanding – both to maintain and detect – than faith, in terms of sheer self-control. But we know damn well that there are those among us who have ample self-control, certainly ahead of the curve major religions rely upon, and even their modern analogue the political party. Placing a righteous moral demand upon these individuals, and then expecting them to simply follow them letter-and-spirit, is a recipe for disaster.

        Any individual with a low enough time preference can – and *will* – rupture a system that subjects them to standards and strictures for which they, personally, have no use. The desire to, not throw off the binds of a system or defy them, but EXPLOIT them, is a feeling in the bones of anyone who has laboured under rules they understood better than the enforcers; no less real than the desire for order and imposed sanity felt by their less self-controlled peers, for whom the binds fit. It isn’t Machievellian to follow your gut, and the gut of the foresighted subject is to smile, study the paperwork, and make as much as they can from the oppressive system for as little effort. If they can’t speak their mind and openly criticise the system, a moral argument against exploitating it won’t exactly penetrate the armour of their reason.

        The most sensible policy for any behavioural institute to implement then, is to assess the self control of its members as keenly as possible, and remove those with a high degree of self control from as many strictures as it can afford. Such *individual* individuals will corrupt systems that simply swallow them, so one-sided are the incentives at play. Not only that, but individuals with high-self control are themselves most equipped to see through bad faith and exploitation, which leads them close to, or into, positions of power in any case.

        Individuals that need rules will follow the rules in their spirit. Individuals that don’t need rules write rules, and re-write those of others, and only ever follow a rule to its absolute letter when needs are musts. Better to have them re-writing our rules for our sakes, than just for themselves.

      • multiheaded says:

        The Dork Entitlement.

        • LPSP says:

          Roffle.

        • Net says:

          Am I imagining things when it seems like people on the left write more ad hominem arguments online?

          • Dahlen says:

            That’s not an ad hominem argument, that’s just name-calling.

          • Anonymous says:

            Probably just your standard right wing paranoia.

          • anonymous says:

            You’re just seeing that Scott doesn’t ban one consistently insulting guy who lowers the level of discourse constantly because he’s one of the tumblr communists that Scott is terrified of offending.

          • null says:

            You’re one to talk about lowering standards of discourse. By that logic, Scott doesn’t ban you because he doesn’t want to be accused of being an SJW or insufficiently manly or something. Also, Scott has banned multiheaded in the past (Three times in fact!).

            P.S. If conservatives evolve from monarchists, then why are there still monarchists? #checkmateatheists

          • anonymous says:

            It’s like Mark Twain quitting smoking – easiest thing in the world, he’s done it hundreds of times.

          • hlynkacg says:

            Leave it to anon@gmail to bring down the level of conversation.

          • Anonymous says:

            I didn’t know you were a tumblr communist, anonymous.

            @hlynk did you recycle that from last thread

          • hlynkacg says:

            Not that I’m aware of. Though even if I had, it wouldn’t make the statement less true.

          • LPSP says:

            I’d go so far as to say I’ve *studied* the bowels of tumblr, twitter and 4chan. Both wings of the immature resort to jingoism and dumb putdowns.

            “Eww gross white dude shitlords”
            vs
            “Gas the kikes, racewar now”

            Which is the most ad hominem?

          • Anonymous says:

            Without context, both are just plain insults. Within context, I’ve seen the former used as an Ad Hominem, while the latter is some sort of all-purpose “Autobots, roll out!” kind of phrase in /pol/.

            I’d say “Nice Try, Schlomo” is far more comparable.

          • Psmith says:

            To think nobody in this thread has mentioned calling people cucks yet.

          • LPSP says:

            @Anonymous Yeah that makes sense. Substitute Shlomo for Mr. Shekelstein or some such for more authentic humour.

            @PSmith I’m not certain what makes particular types people so enamoured with that term.

          • Anonymous says:

            “cuck” is going the way of “fag” and “tard”, slowly losing all meaning to become simply another vaguely negative suffix to attach to other words.

  33. Last week wrote a blurb about Gawker: I predict the site will still function mostly unchanged even if they lose the appeal. Nick may lose all his equity though.

    first, although it has fun using new genetic discoveries to mock socialist concepts of human malleability, a full biodeterminism would equally negate the conservative insistence on instilling traditional values – if things like conscientiousness and criminality are mostly genetic, why care if people have traditional values or not? Second, a bunch of atheist homosexual polyamorous feminist liberals are doing absolutely fine, and in fact statistically these people do better than traditional religious folk in a lot of ways. Northerner’s post solves both of these in one fell swoop: it theorizes that the genetically gifted have low impulsivity, low time-preference, etc and will succeed (almost) no matter what; these people support liberalism because they don’t need traditional morals and feel like such morals are bogging them down. The genetically unlucky are in great danger of social failure, but traditional values and culture are a guide for them to live their lives in ways that nevertheless let them flourish. For example, an upper-class Ivy Leaguer might be able to practice free love and experiment with drugs without serious consequences; a lower-class hillbilly might try exactly the same thing and end up a teenage single mother addicted to meth. Conservative ideas like chastity and avoiding drugs would be useless baggage tying the upper class down, but vital to the lower class’s continued success. This idea is very appealing in tying a lot of conservatives’ favorite hobby-horses together and making liberals look like the privileged bad guys throwing the lower class under the bus for the sake of the well-off, but thus far people have been content to raise it and let it speak for itself; the next step is for somebody to really start presenting evidence for or against.

    There is a lot to unpack here. The relationship between IQ and political preferences are not clear-cut. https://reflectionsofarationalrepublican.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/2000-presidential-education.jpg It would seem like the most and least educated tend to lean Democratic.

    HBD-conservatives may argue that although individuals, due to biology, may not have much control over their actions, they should still not be shielded from the consequences of their actions. Second, that HBD-based policy can be used to improve society.

    Extremely related: Vox on “no excuses” discipline. Tough charter schools that make students wear uniforms and behave in regimented ways at the threat of harsh punishments seem to be almost miraculous in their ability to improve scores and outcomes among underperforming and minority students – for example, Vox says that “all the highest academic results ever produced for poor students and students of color have come from no-excuses schools, period” (though beware selection bias!). Needless to say, people are attacking them as probably racist and regressive, writing soulful songs about how they are the educational equivalent of racist cops shooting black teenagers (really!), and demanding their “radical overhaul”.

    Yes, there probably a selection bias here. It would he helpful to have IQs scores before admittance to such schools, to see if smarter students are not being self-selected.

    • Anon says:

      HBD-conservatives may argue that although individuals, due to biology, may not have much control over their actions, they should still not be shielded from the consequences of their actions. Second, that HBD-based policy can be used to improve society.

      This is essentially my belief. I don’t think people have much control over their actions, and I think genetics play an overwhelmingly huge role in the behavioral traits of people, but I don’t think that means we need to just let murderers go free. Locking violent criminals up in jail still seems like a good idea to me, simply to keep them away from the general public. We shouldn’t needlessly torture them or anything, but neither should we allow them to perform the violent behaviors their genetics compel them to perform.

      • ryan says:

        If a person is not really in control of their body, but rather a slave to their genetic behavioral traits, then punishment is the one and only logically defensible method to prevent those behaviors.

  34. Anon. says:

    A suggestion for Arbital: instead of the # of characters in each “article”, display an estimated time required to read. Nobody has good intuitions about # of characters.

  35. Anonymous says:

    Gawker getting sued to Hell is sort of like a broken clock being right twice a day. Sometimes, very occasionally, the American lawsuit system actually stomps on the face of evil.

  36. Soy says:

    You might find it interesting to know that in the past there were left leaning political parties that argued against alcohol use (and stopped drinking themselves (yeah, non-hypocrites)) because they realized how bad an effect alcoholism has on the lower classes. Using the same kind of logic as the alt-right people, but on a different group. (race vs social class). They however didn’t want to ban alcohol (as they know what happened during prohibition in the USA).

    Sadly, while I know it happened in the Netherlands, I cannot find any sources, as I have no idea how the political parties were named at the time. Mostly because my bad memory (damn… alcohol!), and my lack of google fu.

    But yeah, the alt-right argument that the left throws the ‘weak’ under the bus isn’t totally correct. (sadly alcohol use is way on the rise at least in the Netherlands the past 50 or so years).

    • Mary says:

      Prohibition was a left-wing cause. That tends to get swept under the carpet.

      • John Schilling says:

        Also the first cause taken up by women voters, as a block, once they won suffrage.

        In terms of scoring a public-relations own goal, it would have been hard to do better with deliberate planning. But it seems to have worked out, which gives some hope that today’s progressives can recover from some of their own overreaches.

      • Anonymous says:

        This is as dumb as going around calling the Republican Party the “Party of Lincoln”. But about the level of reasoning we’ve come to expect from Mary.

        • sweeneyrod says:

          [ ] Necessary
          [ ] Kind
          [ ] True

        • nil says:

          No it’s not. “Party of Lincoln” is dumb because it ignores the fact that abolitionism was a clearly left wing cause both in rhetoric and theory, and that there was a partisan realignment, driven in large part by race, within living memory. “Prohibitionists were on the left” is dumb because… well, it’s not really dumb at all, so long it’s understood that the original prohibitionists had plenty of good reasons and lacked the case study of how Prohibition played out to inform them of the downsides.

          • Anonymous says:

            There’s no eternal “left wing” that it is reasonable to tag with supposed misdeeds from any place or time as if it were relevant to here and now. It’s the same logical flaw as the “party of Lincoln” in slightly different dress.

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            abolitionism was a clearly left wing cause both in rhetoric and theory

            It depends on what you mean by “left-wing”.

            A lot of the abolitionists promoted a basically libertarian idea of society, with everyone expected to provide for himself. It was the “positive good” school of slavery proponents who cast it as a more benevolent system than leaving workers free to fend for themselves against capitalist exploiters. It’s not a matter of just going in and saying which one was left-wing and which one was right-wing.

            Prohibition wasn’t really on the “left”, either. It was supported by people on both sides of the political spectrum as we know it and indeed repealed by FDR. Saying it was a left-wing cause is at least as dumb as saying abolitionism was a right-wing cause.

          • nil says:

            @Vox I don’t know a ton about prohibition, but my understanding was that it was firmly identified with progressiveness, which, notwithstanding the racism and eugenics, is generally understood to be on the left. Looking at some contemporary platforms seems to put the party pretty firmly on the center-left.

            I’m unfortunately too short on time to give you anything substantive on abolitionism, but off the top–the early Jacobins outlawed slavery, Marx wrote approvingly of the North and its efforts, and at that time socialism was in its infancy and individual-oriented classical liberalism was the modal left ideology.

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            @ nil:

            I don’t know a ton about prohibition, but my understanding was that it was firmly identified with progressiveness, which, notwithstanding the racism and eugenics, is generally understood to be on the left. Looking at some contemporary platforms seems to put the party pretty firmly on the center-left.

            The point is that the divide over Prohibition doesn’t map to current-day left-right divides.

            There were people who supported Prohibition for progressivistic reasons as the cure to all social problems. But it was also tied to pietistic Protestanism and rural values over the values of urban people, immigrants, and especially Catholics.

            And the Prohibition Party is neither here nor there. Prohibition had wide bipartisan support. It was, if anything, more favored by Republicans than Democrats, since the former were the party of northern white Anglo-Saxon Protestants, while the latter appealed to Catholics and immigrants. And yes, at that time, economically, the Republicans were the party more in favor of laissez-faire (with the Grover Cleveland wing having been driven out of the Democratic Party by the likes of William Jennings Bryan).

            I’m unfortunately too short on time to give you anything substantive on abolitionism, but off the top–the early Jacobins outlawed slavery, Marx wrote approvingly of the North and its efforts, and at that time socialism was in its infancy and individual-oriented classical liberalism was the modal left ideology.

            If the “left” then was individual-oriented classical liberalism and the “left” now is socialism, then they’re not the same “left”. That’s the whole fallacy in question: treating leftism and rightism as timeless categories that have some essential component to them over the specific philosophies that are being opposed to each other.

          • Mary says:

            Lincoln clearly regarded it not as a progress but a going back — his description of the Know Nothings makes it clear.

            “Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we begin by declaring that “all men are created equal.” We now practically read it “all men are created equal, except negroes.” When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read “all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and catholics.” When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty-to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.”

          • Mary says:

            “it was firmly identified with progressiveness, which, notwithstanding the racism and eugenics,”

            It was firmly identified with progressiveness, precisely because of the racism and eugenics. They made no bones about how science was marching on over those poor obsolete conservatives with their old-fashioned Declaration of Independence.

          • nil says:

            “If the “left” then was individual-oriented classical liberalism and the “left” now is socialism, then they’re not the same “left”. That’s the whole fallacy in question: treating leftism and rightism as timeless categories that have some essential component to them over the specific philosophies that are being opposed to each other.”

            But the left _now_ isn’t just socialism. It’s socialism on the left-wing-of-the-left, but it’s also includes a great many intellectual descendants of those bourgeois revolutions–people who may have some critiques of capitalism, but think the answer is more individual rights and safety nets.

            Overall your definitions strike me as both too broad and too narrow. Calhoun talking about the overall good of society doesn’t make him left any more than Trump’s lists of all the various groups that purportedly love him do. His rhetoric remained primarily in the service of the interests of a small group of wealthy non-laborers with fears for their property. Meanwhile, certainly the prohibitionist movement was animated by anticatholicism and pro-protestantism–but William Jennings Bryan’s faith tells me that he lived in a period during which there was nothing incompatible with strong, even fundamentalist Protestantism and the left, not that he doesn’t qualify as a leftist. What I’m hearing from you is that really, Prohibition was a result of a coalition between the left and the right–which makes sense given the fact that it was successfully implemented. You’re also telling me that sometimes ethno-religious orientations were more important that left/right considerations. But neither of those things proves out the idea that the basic idea of left/right isn’t coherent across political eras, it just means that the constituencies drawn to those perspectives and the degree to which they dominated politics versus other considerations varied.

            Edit: A big background question is what the goal is. For me, it’s historical curiosity and an interest in how these basic temperaments and constituencies developed over history, how they reacted and changed to circumstances, etc. Muddiness and imprecision there is as much a feature as it is a bug. But if it’s to brand contemporary ideologues with crimes from the past, I could see why you would demand a level of cohesion and rigor that history only occasionally meets.

        • Mary says:

          giggle

          We’re not allowed to discuss history in a historical discussion?

          All the more in a historical discussion of progressives — a term that went out of use, and came back in by people who wanted to affiliate themselves with the earlier versions?

      • Soy says:

        Yeah, prohibition in early 1900 somethings. I was talking about the post war period in the Netherlands. Thanks for the info.

        So a different left from the prohibition left, and the current left (with the progressive/moderate left split).

  37. multiheaded says:

    I want to write a big long serious post on class and permissiveness/lack thereof. No energy right now, though, so here is the thesis.

    Protestant ethic, etc has not actually been a feature of the *lower* class throughout history – it is a bourgeois culture and ideology, an ideology of upward class mobility, of strivers. It is the formerly lower-class parents who are the most draconian about imposing middle-class norms on their children, after all, etc. (See Siderea’s post on class that Scott linked here before; with her describing precisely that.)

    The “liberal elite/either conservative or degenerate masses” dichotomy does not describe what’s going on. Most everyone can afford to be fairly laid back when staying in place, the lower class… varies, and is lumpenized under bad economic conditions (see 19th century alcoholism rates) – but it is the strivers at all levels who are known for being puritan and austere and self-sacrificing to get ahead (or because religion). There are communities of strivers occasionally, yes. Mormons, Hong Kong people, etc. I question the premise of them being the norm for Virtuous Old-Time Proles.

    (paging Deiseach)

    • eh says:

      This article on the Lancaster Amish recently did the rounds on HN. It’s interesting in that it attributes success in part to a combination of Amish (protestant, sort of) work ethic AND to a society that’s less class-segregated than the mainstream, i.e. owners working on the shop floor, high trust between employers and employees, etc.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I think conservatives would argue that what we’re actually worried about in the lower class is teenage pregnancy, drug use, preventable unemployment, divorce, and crime – avoid those, and the economic things will mostly resolve.

      (I partly agree – I could certainly imagine that if those were solved, the underclass of unemployed people in the projects/in prison would mostly be absorbed into the lower class of fast food workers in crappy apartments. Whether that’s a worthy goal or not is a separate question.)

      As far as I can tell, these are somewhat new problems – I don’t have sources, but I remember reading that in the early half of the century, blacks had higher employment and higher family stability than whites. I also think (though am not sure) that rural whites used to have much higher levels of family stability.

      (I don’t know how much of the change involves the invention of new and better drugs)

      Failure in these respects seems less related to whether you’re a “striver” in the Hong Kong sense or not.

      • multiheaded says:

        I suppose all of this could be folded under “lumpenization”, then? Which is AFAIK a widely researched and commented-upon thing. (Also something that inspired vicious hatred in Marx of all people.)

        Also, again, I find it terribly hard to buy that drug use and crime at least as pertaining to the urban lumpenproletariat are new problems. And generally… hm I had a more complicated thought but can’t access it.

        Basically I think that the orthodox leftist view is correct; a lot of it is a symptom, some of it is a coping mechanism[1], hypocritical and sanctimonous liberal elites are to blame for deindustrialization, divestment, various urban collapses, etc, and not for corrupting the proles with horrors like women’s rights.

        [1] an opportunity to plug that “meth ain’t so bad” article in American Conservative. Yes, you heard that right.

        • Immanentizing Eschatons says:

          I would add something else to this discussion, which is that even if everything alleged about the lower class is true, a sufficiently leftist in-the-right-way society would not have most of the problems described, or would neutralize them.

          State sponsored housing/healthcare/basic necessities generally make unemployment, or what would be unemployment, less/non harmful (a low level of work might have to be mandated and organized to compensate)

          Freely available and unstigmatized abortion and sterilization removes most unwanted childbirth and if basic resources/income were also provided for children, people having them and not being able to afford to care for them would not be as much of a thing (note: there may be incentive issues here that would have to be dealt with, but thats another topic). There would still be people having children who really shouldn’t but not much if any more than in traditional society.

          Criminality and drug abuse are harder and more complicated.

          Some of the other stuff regarding general unhappiness, well- I think hypothetical leftism would do a lot better here than status quo, if it turns out that people are happier under traditional society than free- well I think the discussion about glee in China is very relevant here, in ways I want to write about but haven’t yet fully formulated.

          • Vaniver says:

            a sufficiently leftist in-the-right-way society would not have most of the problems described, or would neutralize them.

            This sort of claim rarely ends well.

            State sponsored housing/healthcare/basic necessities generally make unemployment, or what would be unemployment, less/non harmful (a low level of work might have to be mandated and organized to compensate)

            Here we run into problems with autonomy / infantilization / self-actualization; yes, it would be nice if people didn’t have to worry about poverty, but the state can only take care of bodies, it cannot give people self-respect or their lives meaning.

            Freely available and unstigmatized abortion and sterilization removes most unwanted childbirth

            Access to abortion isn’t the limiting factor. The limiting factor is a combination of not wanting an abortion (especially while under the influence of pregnancy) and actively wanting kids.

            That is, it’s mostly your upper class / middle class teenage parents who think things like “oh no, this will derail my college career, I need an abortion.” Many teenage mothers actually welcome the opportunity to be a mother, and view this as just the next thing that happens to them that they’ll make the most of.

            Some of the other stuff regarding general unhappiness, well- I think hypothetical leftism would do a lot better here than status quo, if it turns out that people are happier under traditional society than free- well I think the discussion about glee in China is very relevant here, in ways I want to write about but haven’t yet fully formulated.

            But this is where it gets interesting! I do think you should write about this.

          • multiheaded says:

            @IE: Yes yes yes. Re: childcare – look at the goddamn (50s and later) Soviet Union. High abortion, high divorce, mostly two working parents (and plenty of single motherhood); and yet kids turned out pretty well.

          • Anthony says:

            >Freely available and unstigmatized abortion and sterilization removes most unwanted childbirth

            No, no it doesn’t.

          • Back when both contraception and abortion were legally controversial, the argument for legalizing both (and for sex education) was that it would sharply reduce the number of “unwanted children,” which at that point mostly meant children of unmarried mothers.

            Abortion was legalized, contraception became much more available and considerably improved, sex education became common in the schools.

            And the rate of births to unmarried women went sharply up.

            I haven’t seen any apologetic statements by people who made the argument confessing that they turned out to be wrong.

            The obvious explanation is that most births to unmarried women are not and were not unwanted.

          • Anonymous says:

            A lot of those can be unwanted – by the men.

          • Anon says:

            @David Friedman

            The obvious explanation is that most births to unmarried women are not and were not unwanted.

            From my experience living in the underclass among a lot of unmarried mothers, this is exactly right. The ones who wanted abortions were almost always able to get them (of course, I grew up in an urban area in a liberal state with a lot of abortion options; it may be different in rural areas or in conservative states).

            All of the single mothers I knew had their kids because they wanted them. My own mother (who was a single mother) definitely wanted me, and she told me so many times. When she found out that she was pregnant, she was thrilled, despite the fact that she was in an objectively horrible situation for having kids at the time. She was working at a fast food restaurant, lived with her father, wasn’t married to my dad, and was (and is) mentally ill.

            Her pregnancy with me was unintentional, but when it happened, she most certainly wanted to keep me. And the same was true for the single mothers of most of my underclass friends.

            @Anonymous

            A lot of those can be unwanted – by the men.

            This is probably true, at least in a “revealed preferences” sense. It explains why so many of these fathers don’t stick around and do their best to avoid paying child support.

          • Immanentizing Eschatons says:

            I was aware that many of those children were wanted, thats why I said unwanted.

            Edit: Although with current birth rates the “unstigmatized” part is important. Presumably many mothers have children because they got pregnant and think aborting the fetus would be wrong. I’m having some difficulty in my brief search for statistics on teenage births/abortions/miscarriages vs teenage births/miscarriages.

            I should mention that people can be prevented from obtaining abortions in the US in many states by their parents (I don’t know what the rate of that happening is). It can also be difficult for people with no money to obtain one. And people can be denied if they can’t obtain one in time for the limit.

            Of course, people may have children they “want” but would actually be better off without, or would not want if they had full knowledge of the situation. That also happens in traditional society, more or less than status quo I don’t know, It’s probably more than in the hypothetical society I referred to in which money is not as much of an issue.

          • Anon says:

            I should mention that people can be prevented from obtaining abortions in the US in many states by their parents (I don’t know what the rates of that happening is).

            Yes, definitely. I don’t know how common this is, but I’m sure it happens.

            The opposite also happens, though. When my mom was 14, she got pregnant for the first time. I don’t know who the child’s father was, but it wasn’t my dad, as the two of them had not yet met.

            Her father told her she had to have an abortion, so she did. She says she still regrets going along with it to this day and wishes she had stood up to her father and kept the child.

            I don’t know how “forced” this incident should really be counted as, but it wasn’t entirely consensual. She did go along with my grandfather’s orders, so it was sort of voluntary, but she also felt she didn’t really have any other choice, because she was entirely dependent upon him. He was a single father at the time, raising my mom and uncle, so she didn’t have a mother to turn to for help or anything.

            The strange thing about this incident is that my grandfather and his entire side of the family were fairly socially conservative, at least in an underclass way. I know his sisters and eventual girlfriend (not my grandmother) were very anti-abortion. I guess he must have just never told them what he ordered his daughter to do.

          • houseboatonstyx says:

            The obvious explanation is that most births to unmarried women are not and were not unwanted.

            Points perhaps worth looking at here, after caffeine.

            A. ‘Children first, marriage later’ became respectable and popular. B. There are a lot of abortions happening (even with the increasing difficulty of getting one), which indicates that those pregnancies were unwanted.

          • Deiseach says:

            I’m having some difficulty in my brief search for statistics on teenage births/abortions/miscarriages vs teenage births/miscarriages.

            I wonder if this would help? From the Guttmacher Institute, U.S. Teenage Pregnancies, Births and Abortions, 2010:
            National and State Trends by Age, Race and Ethnicity
            .

          • Immanentizing Eschatons says:

            @Deiseach
            Thank you!

          • Anonymous says:

            IUDs have reduced the rate of teenage pregnancy, which suggests that maybe people don’t go out of their way to become pregnant under adverse circumstances (even if they would carry to term should a pregnancy occur).

      • nyccine says:

        I don’t have sources, but I remember reading that in the early half of the century, blacks had higher employment and higher family stability than whites.

        I assume you’re thinking of the Monyihan Report (The Negro Family: The Case For National Action), but that’s not quite correct; family stability rates of pre-50’s blacks are higher than whites *now*, but not for the time.

        It’s jaw-dropping though, to look at the illegitimacy rates that caused Moynihan such panic; we’d kill for rates like that these days.

        • Stefan Drinic says:

          You could argue we already are killing for such rates, in a depressing sort of way.

      • PGD says:

        ” I remember reading that in the early half of the century, blacks had higher employment and higher family stability than whites.”

        This is not true — blacks had worse family stability than whites pretty much as far back as the data goes I think. The Moynihan report traces it back to 1940, that is available on line, but there are other Census sources you can find too from pre-WWII.

        On worse employment, I also believe that is true, but the picture is complicated by these apartheid employment relations in the South — unemployment rates of blacks in the South were lower than blacks in the North, and lower I believe than whites in the South, but that is because they were in these sharecropping and domestic service relationships with wealthier whites. In the North blacks have always had higher unemployment rates than whites.

        One possible source of confusion is that blacks in the first half of the 20th century had better family stability than whites do TODAY. Possibly likewise for employment of prime-aged males.

        (Whoops, didn’t see the posting from nyccine above that already said much of this)

  38. Michael Vassar says:
    • multiheaded says:

      Juárez Correa didn’t know it yet, but he had happened on an emerging educational philosophy, one that applies the logic of the digital age to the classroom. That logic is inexorable: Access to a world of infinite information has changed how we communicate, process information, and think. Decentralized systems have proven to be more productive and agile than rigid, top-down ones. Innovation, creativity, and independent thinking are increasingly crucial to the global economy.

      … I mean, I’m all against abusive fucking school nonsense, but every sentence here reads like self-parody.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I remember that! Did anything ever come of it? If not, why not?

      (and how do you relate that to the Vox article? I can think of a few different ways.)

  39. eh says:

    Are there alternatives to Fort Galt that offer intentional communities, in the same price bracket, with the same loose targeting towards techies? I can justify $10k on speculative Chilean accommodation, but not $44k.

    Political philosophy is irrelevant as long as nobody yells at me for owning plastic items, refusing to read Fountainhead, not saying prayers at mealtimes, or anything similar.

    • Rowan says:

      I second this declaration of interest.

    • Gabe says:

      Our tiny $10k rooms sold out pretty quickly. We’ll offer them again when we start on the next building but we have to finish the first one first.

      Not to worry. We’re not a religious outfit or anything. Personally, I’m an atheist anarcho-capitalist so I’m all about leaving people alone to do their thing. The entrepreneurial/maker theme is what unites us here and that’s pretty much it.

  40. jsmith says:

    The idea of standardized testing in colleges troubles me, as colleges tend to have widely different specialties. Some colleges are known for for their international relations or economics programs, others are known for producing a huge amount of research in specialized medical fields, and other’s might specialize in enology, agricultural science, or art. Or even might just have a good career services program. Even within a college, people in different fields vary vastly in what they learn. I can’t imagine that standardized testing would be able to boil down so many varying things into a meaningful numerical representation.

    Beyond that, how do we even test things that are on the cutting edge of their fields? It’s not hard to test at high-school level, as there’s a huge chunk of people who can write those questions. Yet as we get into specialized fields, we might have 10 people who even know what’s going on.

    • Barry Cotter says:

      They aren’t testing anything even close to graduate level. They’re not even testing material that couldn’t be given to bright high school students. The Collegiate Learning Assessment from the Wikipedia article seems to be load heavily on g, (institution scores have r^2 of 0.9 with average SAT) and to be IQ tests administered at various points in time to the same students. It looks like it just measures practice effects.

      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collegiate_Learning_Assessment

      Scott’s hope of impartial assessment replacing prestige seems misplaced. The G GRE and GMAT exist already, even better GRE subject tests.

    • Dr Dealgood says:

      I don’t think that’s much of a concern because, unfortunately, you don’t actually learn anything very cutting-edge or specialized in college outside of internships. Undergraduate education is all about building foundational knowledge and skills which really ought to be uniform.

      Right now colleges already have the capability to standardize testing for specific courses, like with the various ACS Exams. They can also ask for broader tests covering whole disciplines or majors, like with the GRE Subject Tests. And anyone going for graduate or professional schools already takes the GRE / MCAT / GMAT / etc to test their overall abilities coming out of undergrad.

      If we take away the part about mandating that colleges use a single standard, and instead just promote the use of existing standards, it sounds like a great idea. GPAs are virtually worthless due to inflation, but standardized testing can be kept reasonably secure and consistent.

    • Anonymous says:

      Standardized tests are a substitute for college, not a complement to it. Employers value a degree for reasons that have nothing at all to do with what is taught in college classrooms.

      • Anon says:

        I would say the same is true for high school. I’d be fine with abolishing it altogether and just giving everyone a standardized test when they finish eighth grade, the results of which they would be allowed to report to employers who would then be allowed to base hiring decisions on it.

        Employers don’t seem to value high school diplomas because they very much want their employees to know the Pythagorean theorem or how the periodic table works. They seem to value them because diplomas are proof that a potential employee who holds one can take orders, do at least a modicum of work, have a minimum ability to understand new information, and can avoid committing rampant, blatant felonies at work/school.

        Standardized test results could provide this same information with a lot less expense (except perhaps for the “not a blatant criminal” factor, but I’d guess that most of those kids would score poorly on the test anyway due to the negative correlation between IQ and criminality).

        • NN says:

          Standardized test results could provide this same information with a lot less expense (except perhaps for the “not a blatant criminal” factor, but I’d guess that most of those kids would score poorly on the test anyway due to the negative correlation between IQ and criminality).

          Unless the apparent negative correlation between IQ and criminality is actually a negative correlation between IQ and getting caught. Embezzlement, computer hacking, and more sophisticated types of fraud clearly require more intelligence and skill than holding up a liquor store, but they are also far less likely to be detected and if they are detected are much harder to trace back to the perpetrator.

          Even when committing more obvious crimes, smart people may be more likely to take precautions that help them avoid arrest. When John Carmack was 14, he used homemade thermite to melt a school building’s windows so he and a few friends could break in and steal some computers. The only reason he got caught was that one of his accomplices was overweight, couldn’t fit through the window, opened it, and set off the silent alarm.

          Insert joke about how the really smart criminals become Wall Street executives and steal money in entirely legal ways.

          • Anon says:

            Oh yeah, I’m sure the smart criminal types would do well on the tests. But those types aren’t “blatant criminals”. They’re sophisticated criminals, and our current system of sending them through high school doesn’t really weed them out either, because they’re smart enough to avoid stuff like trying to kill another kid at school, or selling drugs in school, or obviously robbing the school.

        • Julie K says:

          How many employers are looking to hire 13-year-olds?

          (The funny thing is that 100 years ago, the answer was “lots of them.” Are workers with below-average IQ headed for the same fate as teenage workers?)

          • Anon says:

            Yeah, that’s the main problem with abolishing high school. There’s just not enough jobs out there for all of them, or even for like half of them, not to mention the child labor laws. I think it’s kind of silly to prevent teenagers from working, but as it stands now, it’s much less of a legal hassle to just hire an unemployed 18 year old.

            But the fact that they won’t be able to find jobs when they are that young doesn’t mean high school actually adds any employability to them beyond what their natural abilities do. It just means that the functional purpose of high school in the 21st century is to warehouse teenagers until they’re old enough to work without legal hassle. And considering how much a lot of teenagers desperately hate high school, it would be nice if we could figure out a way to route around this problem.

          • jaimeastorga2000 says:

            And considering how much a lot of teenagers desperately hate high school, it would be nice if we could figure out a way to route around this problem.

            Individuals can homeschool, at least in America. A collective political solution under the current system is probably impossible; hell, the current push is to turn college into high school 2.0.

          • Anon says:

            @jaimeastorga2000

            Yeah, homeschooling can be a good alternative to high school, at least for kids who have parents who are willing and able to homeschool them (and who won’t make that experience even worse than regular high school).

            But the majority of parents either can’t or won’t homeschool, and I wish we could do something to help the kids who have parents like this and who hate high school.

            But of course, you’re right about the political situation. It’s politically impossible to get rid of high school right now. Parents like having somewhere to send their teenagers while they’re at work. They enjoy knowing their kids are doing something “productive” (even though the vast majority of classwork and homework in school is not really productive in the least) during the day. And the whole “college should be high school 2.0 and everyone should go” thing is just going to make everything worse.

            I guess I can see why society as a whole might like to warehouse teenagers (and young college-aged adults) somewhere where there’s at least a veneer of productivity, however fake it may be, for the sake of lowering the amount of competition in the entry-level job market. That sector of the job market is already far too full of unemployed and underemployed young adults. They can’t take any more competition from high schoolers or college-aged adults.

            But I don’t think this will work in the long run. Eventually there will be calls for everyone to stay in school until they’ve got a master’s degree, and very few people want to stay out of the job market until they’re 24-25. I don’t think people will be willing to go along with it any longer at that point, and then we’ll have to find a new solution to the question of “what do we do with all these young people when there aren’t nearly enough jobs for all of them?”

          • Brad says:

            I’m hardly a doctrinaire libertarian but it seems to me if we are so fretful about a lack of job opportunities, mind you I’m not certain we should be or there is any such shortage, the first thing we should do is lower the barriers to entry to creating them.

          • jaimeastorga2000 says:

            @Brad: Also politically impossible. All incentives push for more barriers to entry; none against.

          • Anthony says:

            Making high school universal was, in part, about reducing the supply of labor. It was considered bad that teenagers were undercutting wages of men with families to support. And high-school graduates would be competing for higher-paying jobs, so they wouldn’t be competing with the working poor as much, until even the low-end jobs required a high school diploma. But that would take a few election cycles to come to pass, so the only political opposition was based on the cost of high school for all those kids.

    • NN says:

      The idea of standardized testing in colleges troubles me, as colleges tend to have widely different specialties. Some colleges are known for for their international relations or economics programs, others are known for producing a huge amount of research in specialized medical fields, and other’s might specialize in enology, agricultural science, or art.

      This. I went to an art college where all students, even Sound Design majors, were required to take multiple drawing classes in Freshman year, but for most majors (Architecture was an exception, I don’t know if there were any others offhand) you could take a single test to get out of taking any math classes at all. I have a hard time imagining how standardized testing would be at all relevant to schools like that.

      • Anthony says:

        You can’t imagine how standardized testing would be relevant to a school which used a standardized test to let you out of math?

        • NN says:

          I mean in terms of standardized testing to check how good colleges are at teaching students compared to other colleges. Granted, I haven’t read deBoer’s paper, but this seems to be what it is about based on Scott’s description:

          Freddie deBoer writes a white paper supporting standardized testing in colleges. His position is that private colleges need to be held accountable and we need proof that online courses don’t work, but American Interest points out that it might break the power of education-industrial complex if people who go to less prestigious institutions have an objective way to prove they’re just as good as people who went to more prestigious ones. And I will add that it might incentivize colleges to admit based on something vaguely resembling merit if they want higher test scores. Overall this would be amazing it it happened.

  41. BBA says:

    Regarding Hogan: it’s ironic to see Gawker crying “free speech!” when they’ve been at the forefront of mainstreaming illiberal leftism. Much of the “right” has the equally ironic position of respecting everyone’s freedom of speech except Gawker.

    There have been a few principled pro-free-speech commentators. Is there anyone with a principled anti-free-speech position?

    I think I come close to it. If we’re going to have a tort for invasion of privacy, publishing someone’s sex tapes without their permission is certainly an example of it, and Gawker ought to be punished just as much as the perpetrators of the Fappening. That said, Hogan has not proven any tangible harm that came to him from the sex tape leak and ought to be sent home with the nominal $1 in damages. Maybe treble damages for Gawker’s gross disregard for the judicial process, so $3 it is.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I understand that speech is construed as pretty broad (eg includes paying for campaign ads), but I think it’s possible to make a principled distinction between “I dislike the government” and “Here is a picture of this guy’s genitals which I secretly snapped in a changing room”.

      (for example, if we can ban child porn, we can probably ban revenge porn)

      • BBA says:

        The counterargument I’ve seen is: what if the sex tape was newsworthy? If it were, say, confirmation of the rumors surrounding Ted Cruz you wouldn’t want it censored.

        And newsworthiness is subjective, you don’t want some judge deciding what is or isn’t important enough not to censor, therefore in the name of free discourse we shouldn’t allow censorship of anything at all.

        I don’t agree with this, but I can see the logic in it.

        • Scott Alexander says:

          I’m not sure if it’s practical, but I would be pretty content with Gawker saying “a sex tape of Ted Cruz exists and we have seen it” rather than actually publishing it.

          Even some kind of “Ted Cruz, please admit you had sex or we will publish the sex tape” seems better.

          • Jiro says:

            Admit you ___ or we publish the tape, when the tape was created by invading privacy, seems like a bad idea. Imagine applying this when it isn’t just a sex tape but one about some commonly disapproved sexual practice: “Admit that you’re into being spanked, or we publish the tape of you being spanked”. Or “Admit that secretly a supporter of (insert bill name here), or we publish the tape, which we got by bugging your house, of you supporting that bill.”

            If you are only banned from invading someone’s privacy if they confess to what they did in private, that defeats the whole purpose of banning invasion of privacy.

          • suntzuanime says:

            I think the bare knowledge that I have had sex in a particular situation is less of an invasion of my privacy than the actual audiovisual representation of me having that sex.

          • Deiseach says:

            The Blackmailer’s Charter in a new form? That was the result of a newspaper crusade as well:

            Section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885, commonly known as the Labouchere Amendment, made “gross indecency” a crime in the United Kingdom. In practice, the law was used broadly to prosecute male homosexuals where actual sodomy (meaning, in this context, anal intercourse) could not be proven. The penalty of life imprisonment for sodomy (until 1861 it had been death) was also so harsh that successful prosecutions were rare. The new law was much more enforceable. It was also meant to raise the age of consent for heterosexual intercourse. It was repealed by the Sexual Offences Act 1967, which partially decriminalized homosexual behaviour.

            …Henry Labouchere, Liberal MP for Northampton, had been a diplomat; he now was the founding editor of Truth magazine, which had its selling point in exposing corruption and moral degeneration. In 1882, Labouchere met Wilde in America; Wilde praised him as the “best writer in Europe”, though Labouchere criticized Wilde as an “effeminate phrase maker”. Stead had written to Labouchere from jail, telling of the rise in male prostitution in London and other large cities. Concerned, Labouchere presented his amendment towards the end of the Criminal Law Amendment Bill as it passed from bill to law.

            I really don’t understand why anyone, especially anyone remotely famous or with any degree of public notoriety, makes sex tapes. If they really have to, they should make absolutely sure they have the only copy and destroy it the second the relationship ends, because your ex is going to use it as money in the bank if you don’t; if they are being taped without their knowledge or consent that is surely illegal?

            I also find it very hard to believe that scandal sheets are so exercised about public right to know and it being newsworthy: (slightly) famous person has sex just like the majority of their fellow citizens? This is news? If it’s rape, harassment or other coerced sex, and/or sex with a minor, then sure – that’s newsworthy. But even “married guy can’t keep it in his pants” is nobody’s business but that of the man and wife (and mistress or boyfriend) involved, unless they’re using public money to fund their affair (like that politician getting flights to see his mistress paid for on the excuse they were work trips?)

            None of the editorial board of Gawker ever got frisky when they shouldn’t have? Really? Nick Denton never got a bit wild when he was at Oxford? No “I was drunk they were drunker maybe looking back it wasn’t 100% full and active consent” when he was a student? The public has the right to know!

            EDIT: Particularly as I see from the Wikipedia article that Denton is gay. Whatever happened to “what consenting adults do in bed is nobody’s business” when arguing for the decriminalisation of homosexual acts?

          • Jiro says:

            I really don’t understand why anyone, especially anyone remotely famous or with any degree of public notoriety, makes sex tapes.

            Read the article. The tape was made without Hogan’s knowledge.

          • I have a fantasy about celebrities turning the paparazzi and the tabloid press owners and reporters into public figures.

            Start with research to find out whatever might be entertaining about tabloidists. Make a magazine about the true details plus speculation. Call it The Gaze.

            Celebrities carry it around, but don’t let anyone see what’s inside. Soon enough, a copy is found or stolen, and the contents hit the press. Hilarity ensues.

        • suntzuanime says:

          Judges (or at least juries) do sometimes have to decide things. It sucks, but there it is. That’s why we even bother to have a justice system. The laws about things like true threats already require judgment calls, that’s not a compelling reason to legalize threats, right?

      • brad says:

        (for example, if we can ban child porn, we can probably ban revenge porn)

        Child porn occupies a unique part of free speech law. Obscenity, which one might think it is a subset of, is in a considerably different place. Governments can’t make it a crime to merely possess obscene materials, it’s the publication and sale that they are allowed to punish. And remember, obscenity by definition “lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.”

        I could imagine an argument for banning the possession of revenge porn using similar logic to that of child porn, i.e. drying up the well, but I doubt it would work. I think for better or worse child porn is an unprincipled exception.

        In terms of Hulk Hogan the big issue on appeal is going to be whether or not the video was of public interest. Gawker’s position seems to conflate “some members of the public have an interest” with “public interest”. They aren’t one in the same.

        • sweeneyrod says:

          The difference between child porn and e.g. revenge porn is that a large amount of harm is done in creating the former, but not the latter. If there is a sudden massive demand for videos of burglaries, so many that the total harm from them is equal to that of child porn, banning them might be justified by the same principle.

          • John Schilling says:

            With revenge porn, a great deal of harm is caused in the distribution. That is, after all, the point. In either case, child porn or revenge porn, the end user is purchasing an item knowing that in the course of providing it to them innocent people were deliberately, maliciously, wrongly harmed.

          • sweeneyrod says:

            @John Schilling
            Yes, but banning media because its distribution causes harm could be a slippery slope: first revenge porn, then sex tapes where consent for their release was revoked retrospectively, then highly embarrassing videos, then any sort of insulting comment, then anything.

            On the other hand, banning media because its creation causes harm gets rid of child porn, but can’t (as far as I can see) lead to banning valuable speech.

          • John Schilling says:

            And the banning the receipt and possession of stolen property doesn’t seem likely to lead to banning manufacturing and trade, either.

            There’s no magic about the production vs. acquisition distinction here. If there’s no possible way the thing can be sold to you without someone committing a crime for that purpose, then you’re part of a criminal conspiracy whether the crime was in the creation or the distribution of the thing.

          • Jiro says:

            I own postage stamps with Mao Tse-Tsung on them that I’m pretty sure couldn’t have been created without mass murder to get Mao into power so he could command that his face be put on them. Am I now complicit in mass murder?

          • John Schilling says:

            Mao’s postmasters didn’t intend or expect for you to have the postage stamps. Any child pornography or revenge pornography you may possess, you know perfectly well the intent and expectation of the criminals was for you to have it and for both of you to profit from it.

          • Frank McPike says:

            I’m not sure if that example meets John Schilling’s criteria, that there be “no possible way the thing can be sold to you without someone committing a crime for that purpose.” Even if there was no possible way for the stamp to be made without crimes being committed, those crimes probably weren’t committed for the purpose of selling stamps.

          • Jiro says:

            Mao’s postmasters didn’t intend or expect for you to have the postage stamps.

            He didn’t expect that I personally have them, but that is true for revenge porn as well. He certainly expected that people in general would get ahold of them.

          • Ant says:

            If you bought stamps knowing you were helping a genocide with it, then yes, you are complicit and should be prosecuted. In other case, no.

        • Winter Shaker says:

          obscenity by definition “lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.”

          “To be smut,
          It must be ut-
          -terly without redeeming social importense”

          • “As the judge remarked the day that he
            Acquitted my Aunt Hortense,”

            Genius in bad rhymes deserves to be seen.

          • Nornagest says:

            I always liked the one in “Folk Song Army”:

            The tune don’t have to be clever,
            Anditdoesn’tmatterifyoucramacoupleofextrasyllablesintoaline,
            It sounds more ethnic if it ain’t good English,
            And it don’t even gotta rhyme — excuse me, rhyne.

        • SUT says:

          An under-appreciated aspect of the child porn debate is it’s [possible] use as a Jason-Bourne-level tool to suppress and punish dissenters by a gov’t level entity.

          Clearly, your life is pretty much ruined by even the accusations and certainly the conviction of Child Porn. The average American can probably be more charitable to a convicted murderer.

          Given these consequences, consider how an anti-gov’t activist might be framed. And contrast this to the oft considered NSA dragnet type of framing.

          NSA-surveillance: “Your honor, clearly Jacques1 sent Jacques2 this this encrypted facebook message which when decrypted shows he committed a crime.”
          Judge:”How did prosecution attain this message? how do you prove Jaques1 was actually the author of the message sent by his FB account. Isn’t this protected speech? etc”

          Child-Porn case: “Your honor, here’s the file found on the defendant’s computer after an anonymous tip was called in.”
          I’m not a lawyer but “I have no idea how it got there but it wasn’t me; I’m not even into that stuff” doesn’t seem like it would work. In sum, You’re going to jail, it’s unlikely that friends or family will help you, and now your reputation and anything you’ve built is discredited or tarnished. Best case scenario in Jason Bourne type situations.

          Basically, putting a file on someone’s computer isn’t the hardest thing in the world. I don’t think people appreciate how exposed that makes everyone one of us.

      • Anonymous says:

        > speech is construed as pretty broad (eg includes paying for campaign ads)

        Sorry, but this isn’t true. It isn’t that paying for campaign ads is speech. It’s that campaign ads are speech, and a restriction on spending money on them can function as a restriction on speech. “Money is speech” has never been a valid equivalence. Money and speech are only related via the restricting.

        • fubarobfusco says:

          Alternately: One distinction between “freedom of speech” and “freedom of the press” is that while a pauper can stand up and speak in the public square, operating a press requires that someone own one and supply it with paper and ink, none of which are free. So “freedom of the press” entails the freedom to spend money to amplify one’s own or others’ words.

    • The Nybbler says:

      I’ve seen a principled anti-free-speech position, though not from Gawker. Basically the view is that “our views are right, your views are both wrong and dangerous. If we allow you to express your wrong views, you may lead others into error, harming them and making them dangerous as well.” If this looks much like the position of the Catholic Church in the 16th century (only without the peril to souls) to you, well, it looks like it to me too.

      • Mary says:

        It’s the natural and spontaneous position of human beings. The idea of free speech is like the idea of steering your car into a skid — however correct, it’s counter-intuitive.

        • The Nybbler says:

          I think that position is a bit more sophisticated than a spontaneous position. Free speech isn’t so counterintuitive; it makes intuitive sense for someone who isn’t in a position to dictate to support free speech. For someone who IS in a position to dictate, eliminating free speech makes sense on selfish terms. The “no free speech because it leads others into error” position is at least a sophisticated rationalization.

          Going a bit off topic: as for the skid thing… maybe the worst advice in the history of drivers ed. It’s completely confusing. It’s true, but it makes sense only from the perspective of an outside observer. A car in a right skid has its rear wheels sliding to the right. You do straighten the car out by turning the wheel to the right; if you turn left the car will spin. But what someone in the driver’s seat feels and sees is not the car moving right; rather, they see a counterclockwise rotation, with the front of the car turning left. Their instinct is probably to correct by turning right, which is exactly correct. But if they are remembering advice to “steer into a skid”, they’ll probably do the wrong thing and turn left.

          • Mark V Anderson says:

            Yes! I did exactly this many many years ago. I felt myself skidding left, remembered one should steer into a skid and steered left. I ended up pulling a full 360. Luckily no one else was nearby or I would have creamed them all. After that I realized what a dumb rule it was. As you said it is only to steer the front into the place the rear is slipping, even though what I noticed was my front going left. In this case my instinct was correct and the stupid rule was wrong.

          • Alexp says:

            “steering into the skid” I think is only useful advice if you have time to practice in a large and empty parking lot.

  42. Andy Harless says:

    I seem to recall something like the idea you attribute to Free Northerner from excerpts from Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments (which I haven’t actually read, but since Northerner hasn’t read the Williamson piece either…whatever).

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I’m sure it’s not original to him, I was just happy to see it written out concisely somewhere.

  43. Plunkett Fugazi says:

    You don’t think consideration of dominant ideologies is important when considering topics such as global warming? or do you not understand that this is the meaning of “feminist” in this context? hmmm. i’m sure you’ve got a good way to wriggle out of those two questions and their relation to this article, oh well. yay rationalist utilitarian ideology.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I’m not sure you have read the paper.

      If you want to talk about “non-dominant ideologies in global warming” in a meaningful way, that sounds like a great idea. But it would probably mean engaging seriously with James Lovelock or Bjorn Lomberg, not complaining about how all of the Arctic explorers were manly men, or noting that some indigenous people think of glaciers as sentient entities who can hear discussion about then.

      Also, please review comment policy and try to stay within it. This is your only warning.

      • Thomas Brinsmead says:

        You are excellent at self-reflection, Scott. I’d like you to consider the possibility that your original post above on the feminist glaciology paper is no less in breach of your comment policy than Plunkett’s comment.

        In particular, you might consider that “rationalist utilitarian” might be complex concept consisting of a motte, roughly “trying to achieve the good by the application of consistent, reliable, logical principles” which could appear to an outsider to be stronghold of the bailey “Feminism!?! I literally just can’t even.”

    • Deiseach says:

      Plunkett, that paper covered a lot of ground. One of their examples was, for instance, how a female glaciologist was the first woman to be assigned to a (normally) all-male research base and she had to personally reassure the wives of the men that she wasn’t a home-wrecker.

      And sure, that’s a good point to complain about re: the dominant ideology – keep women out of the field because all they’re looking for is to hook a man is an offensive idea to have about a professional.

      On the other hand, interpersonal relationships do have to be taken into account. Putting people into confined situations where they’re cut off from outside contact for a lengthy period is one of them, and it is not impossible or unlikely that falling in love, infatuation, or sexual frustration and attraction (especially when it’s one woman and X guys) might happen: look at all the cases of politicians having affairs with their secretaries/personal assistants/researchers merely because propinquity, spending a lot of time with them on common interests, and being involved with each other develops into something more intimate.

      • Mary says:

        You can’t take them into account! That’s sexist! You can’t even mention in a historical account that a certain editor was drop-dead gorgeous and a consequence, the wives of some writers insisted on attending gathering — certainly not in real time!

        • Deiseach says:

          A couple of weeks ago I linked to a very silly study on feminist glaciology that was going around. Now the author reflects on his newfound fame as the face of Everything That Is Wrong With Postmodernism In Academia, insists that feminist glaciology is more important now than ever.

          HE reflects on HIS fame? The author of “Towards a feminist glaciology” is a man? Or at least male-identifying? Well, he can start with contributing to bringing the female view from the margins to the centre by withdrawing his paper and instead permitting an overlooked female author to submit the same instead! Why didn’t he at the very least use a female pseudonym in order not to perpetuate the continuing suppression of female voices in academic glaciology? 🙂

      • Dan T. says:

        And all of those things, though they may be valid subjects for study and activism, have nothing to do with glaciers themselves, just with the “meta” topics of how the science is conducted and whether those involved are fair to their colleagues. That’s a sociological question, not a glaciological one.

    • Dan T. says:

      If “feminist” can be made to mean that, it’s a meaningless word that can be stretched anywhere, like Humpty Dumpty’s words that mean what he chooses them to mean, neither more nor less.

      • youzicha says:

        Every word means just what we choose it to mean. As long as the intended meaning is unambiguous, it there really a problem?

        • null says:

          The problem is that sometimes the ambiguity of the word is a feature. This is what ‘motte-and-bailey’ is getting at.

          • youzicha says:

            But is there any problem with “feminist glaciology”?

          • Urstoff says:

            There is a problem. Glaciology is the study of glaciers, not the study of the act of studying glaciers. What this paper is doing is feminist sociology of glaciology (assuming that we sufficiently stretch the meaning of “sociology”).

            Calling it “feminist glaciology” is what makes it sound absurd in the first place. Although it might have been a calculated move; nobody would have paid any attention to an article titled “feminist sociology of glaciology”.

          • youzicha says:

            @Urstoff As I understand it, he expects the study of the sociology of glaciology to lead to new ways of learning about glaciers themselves, different from the current “systems of scientific domination”. For example, he mentions “one example of alternative glacier representations includes glacier-oriented visual and literary arts, which are particularly illustrative of how ice may be meaningful and significant beyond common efforts of control and domination. Visual and literary arts re-position and re-envision glaciers as greater than their usual status as passive research subjects and into various cultural fields comprised of social myths, images, characters, performances, and artworks”, and these kind of activities would also fall under the label feminist glaciology.

            So the term does not strictly distinguish between object- and meta-level. But that kindof makes sense: the whole idea is that by noticing hidden assumptions in the way glaciers were previously described, you can notice things about the glacier which was previously in the blind-spot. Learning about glaciology becomes a means of learning about glaciers.

      • ryan says:

        This relates to my take on his interview. It seems like what he actually studies is the social and economic consequences of glacier dynamics. So a glacier shrinks, this means less water runs into a river every year, and that has consequences for the people who use that river to irrigate their farms, and the particular consequences will vary depending on exactly how the farming community is organized and what their cultural norms are.

        I mean yeah, it’s totally uninteresting and unexciting, but that’s modern academics for you. I really get the sense that he started in on all the feminist glaciology stuff as a way to sex up his research and improve his chances of publication. Not because there’s anything feminist about it.

  44. Andy Harless says:

    “Rubio and Cruz both lost to Trump (Trump!) among Latinos.”

    Among Republican Latinos, whose preferences are likely far from typical among Latinos in general.

    • Wrong Species says:

      Good point. Lucky for us, a natural experiment will be able to verify this theory. We’ll see how Trump does this November. I doubt he will even be able to beat Romney’s percentage of the hispanic vote.

    • Gbdub says:

      Also, Cruz and Rubio are both Cuban American, whereas most American Latinos are Mexican. The degree to which your average Latino would identify Cruz or Rubio as “one of us” is perhaps overstated.

  45. Plunkett Fugazi says:

    I gotta stop reading these, it’s worse than people magazine.

  46. John Schilling says:

    Perhaps the best thing about a 250-foot iron statue of the Iron Lady (aside from the gleaming bronze handbag to dazzle the leftists), is the construction contractor. Because, here and now, the people you go to for gigantic statues of dubiously revered national leaders is the Overseas Projects Division of the Mansudae Art Studio, operating out of Pyongyang, North Korea.

    They apparently do good work at a reasonable price, and of course Yay Globalism! How could any disciple of Thatcher refuse?

    • Sigivald says:

      Well, pretty easily, since Thatcher was deeply anti-Communist?

    • Nornagest says:

      I love it. But then, I’m always delighted when I see anti-capitalist anthems being used to sell jeans and off-road vehicles.

  47. Deiseach says:

    (1) Two of those Thirty-Six Strategems sound to me to echo situations in the plot of “Hamlet”:

    Feign madness but keep your balance
    Hide behind the mask of a fool, a drunk, or a madman to create confusion about your intentions and motivations. Lure your opponent into underestimating your ability until, overconfident, he drops his guard. Then you may attack.

    This is Hamlet’s plan to protect himself from his uncle while finding out the truth (or not) of the ghost’s claim; it works for a while, but Hamlet does not manage to “keep his balance” and ends up getting himself (and a good chunk of the cast) killed.

    Obtain safe passage to conquer the State of Guo

    Borrow the resources of an ally to attack a common enemy. Once the enemy is defeated, use those resources to turn on the ally that lent you them in the first place.

    Fortinbras! Claudius sends diplomats to Norway to negotiate a peace, and presumably part of this is allowing Fortinbras’ army to pass through Denmark on their way to attack Poland.

    After victory there, Fortinbras and his army turn up again at the end when everyone is conveniently dead and he gets the throne, albeit with Hamlet giving him the right in his dying speech – but anyone want to bet Fortinbras might maybe have had “First Poland, then Denmark” in mind before Hamlet managed to get all the other claimants for the throne dead?

    So either Shakespeare knew the Thirty-Six (new evidence of yet more egregious Western cultural appropriation!) or Shakespeare wasn’t Bacon, he was Chinese 🙂

    (2) Some of Silicon Valley’s most successful companies sell the service of circumventing annoying regulations. The unfortunately named Nurx promises to (legally) get you birth control without making you visit a doctor.

    Not a great idea, unless you’ve previously visited a doctor and have a prescription that you know works for you and don’t want the hassle of having to make repeat visits just to get a prescription renewed. For a first-time user (and I see Nurx says “Whether you are currently on the pill, or new to birth control”) this is a bad idea. You would need to cover everything from weight to any menstrual problems to what type of birth control is best for you (maybe the pill isn’t the best one) to do you have or are you likely to have idiosyncratic reactions to hormones and what combinations and dosages, which is the kind of thing visiting a doctor for the first time using contraception covers.

    If you’re fifteen, too embarrassed to go to your family doctor, and hoping to get anonymous oral contraception without your parents or anyone knowing, I would be hesitant to recommend it because ALWAYS GO TO A DOCTOR FIRST. The website says they currently don’t serve anyone under eighteen but I imagine there are ways around that:

    I’m on my parents’ insurance, will they find out that I got birth control from Nurx?
    Nurx won’t tell your parent or anyone else that you are on birth control. Your insurance company may share information about your claims with your parents. Unfortunately we have no control over that. Contact your insurance company to find out what they will share with your parents.
    Is there a minimum age for getting on birth control with Nurx?
    At this time, we are not yet serving patients under 18 years of age. However, Nurx will be available to users under the age of 18 in the near future.

    • erenold says:

      A propos of nothing, a humorous factoid about Chinese culture –

      Whenever the 36 Strategems are invoked, the speaker often immediately turns the phrase into a tongue-in-cheek rhyming couplet by adding “but running away [from the enemy] is the best strategem of them all.”

      (三十六计,走为上策)

  48. onyomi says:

    Re. women being the better repositories of culture:

    Doesn’t this mesh with the idea that humans are kind of matriarchal by default, due to the fact that wombs are scarcer and more valuable than sperm? Men are relatively expendable and more likely to die violently, so why make them repositories of the great traditions?

    This reminded me of a definition of feminism self-proclaimed-if-apologetic feminist offered on my facebook recently, which I think is wrong: “feminism: the idea that women are less valued in society and that men and women should work to change that.”

    I think that this is wrong even today. I think women almost always have been and still are more valued than men. But I think you could make the statement true and still claim to be a feminist by replacing one word: “the idea that women are less respected in society and that men and women should work to change that.”

    • Jason K. says:

      I think you would be hard pressed to separate respect from value in any objectively measurable way as respect is contingent on value. You will not freely respect what you do not value and the level of respect you give will be in direct proportion to how much you value it.

      That said, it is important to understand the difference between respecting a thing and respecting what a thing represents. For example, I don’t go around saying ‘religion X is stupid’ not because I have respect for religion X, but because I value civil discourse and the ability of people to hold innocuous beliefs without being attacked for them. As a result, it can give the appearance from the outside that I may respect something I do not, simply because I respect the process or principle that produces the thing.

      Back to your original example, if women are more valued than men, then women must be able to achieve a higher level of respect than men. I think you find that this is the case, however it will only be achievable for women who act in a manner that is congruent with what they are valued for. As a case study, look how deified mothers are, especially in comparison to fathers.

      So really, feminism is the idea that women should be able to act like men without losing the respect they get as women.

      • onyomi says:

        “if women are more valued than men, then women must be able to achieve a higher level of respect than men.”

        I don’t see why. A sack of diamonds is more highly valued than most women or men, but it isn’t respected.

        Think about Mad Max world in which healthy, fertile women are basically worth more than their weight in gold (or gasoline, as the case may be), and are therefore kept under heavy guard and allowed no autonomy–from the perspective of the powerful man who keeps them, they’re too valuable to be allowed autonomy. These women are highly valued, but not respected.

        • nil says:

          Right, objects are valued without being respected–which is why critiquing female objectification is a huge part of feminism.

          • Anonymous says:

            …what about the objects that are respected without being valued?

          • onyomi says:

            IMO, the biggest challenge women have always faced is to be respected for their knowledge, abilities, and accomplishments. The biggest challenge men have always faced is to be valued for their humanity.

      • sweeneyrod says:

        “I think you would be hard pressed to separate respect from value in any objectively measurable way as respect is contingent on value.”

        What about children? They are highly valued — “women and children first”, greater support for state intervention to help children in bad situations etc. — but not respected (they don’t have the legal right to vote, drink, drive, have sex and so on).

      • Gbdub says:

        “So really, feminism is the idea that women should be able to act like men without losing the respect they get as women.”

        Actually that works as a critique of feminism (or at least a certain variety of feminists): they want the choice to have all the privileges of men, without the responsibility, and the option to maintain female privilege as well.

      • ryan says:

        So really, feminism is the idea that women should be able to act like men without losing the respect they get as women.

        This is succinct genius.

    • BBA says:

      This may be why the push to replace the word “sexism” with “misogyny” rings false to me. I can see societal bias against women…societal hatred, not so much.

      Of course as a good feminist-ally I will continue calling society misogynistic, I’ll just be rolling my eyes on the inside.

      • Nita says:

        Well, most “homophobic” individual and cultural beliefs aren’t really about fear, either. I’d say the actual emotion in both cases is contempt — the opposite of respect. But no one’s managed to make a snappy word out of that.

        • The Nybbler says:

          “Homophobia” is used because it’s insulting, saying that those who have objections to homosexuality or homosexuals are afraid of them. And “misogyny” is often used for the same reason, but unlike “homophobia” it’s motte-and-bailey’d with the literal meaning as well. So someone who panders to men by advertising using sexualized pictures of women is called a “misogynist” and therefore someone who hates women.

    • FullMeta_Rationalist says:

      I suspect a dichotomy between agency and value.

      Most animes follow the “I must become stronger to protect that which I value” trope. “that which I value” usually means friends (especially female friends). In the West, the same thing manifests as the “damsel in distress” or “save the princess” trope. It’s as if women are {resources, property} as opposed to {sentient, autonomous} {actors, agents}. I’ve noticed a similar theme in the Bible where sperm is thought of as a seed, and women are thought of as soil.

      Also. I vaguely remember reading an article about nursing homes [0]. It said one nursing home’s residents lived longer and happier lives than those in other nursing homes, because it had the audacity to allow its residents do “dangerous” things like use metal knives during meals. One line which stuck out was how “people choose autonomy for themselves, but safety for their loved ones”.

      When feminists discuss “empowerment”, that’s just another word for agency.

      [0] can’t find source

  49. onyomi says:

    Re. Free Northerner: does anyone remember that article, I forget by whom, but which makes a very similar argument about the seemingly stupid idea that gay marriage undermines straight marriage? Basically, to a smart person, the idea that gay marriage, to say nothing of no-fault divorce, “undermines the sanctity of marriage” seems ludicrous; the problem is the margin where the IQ 90 mother decides whether to stick with her husband for the sake of the children, or whether even to marry the father of her children in the first place (note, I am personally in favor of gay marriage, but the principle also makes sense to me).

    This also relates to what I was talking about in the last thread re. wireheading: the better we get at creating superstimuli, the more maturity and habit are required to handle them responsibly. It is possible to abuse beer and it is possible to be a responsible, productive cocaine user, but it is easier to drink beer responsibly than to drink whiskey responsibly.

    I still think the biggest danger facing lower IQ people in the robot economy, therefore, is not having no money and therefore no food, but rather lacking the personal and cultural resources to resist the temptation of the hyper-big mac (and the no-fault divorce). The robot future will not be full of starving, unemployed dumb people; it will be full of dumb people who look like this: http://i.imgur.com/QLC5X4p.jpg

    • Anon. says:

      Maybe you mean this: http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2012/02/my_two_favorite.html ? It’s from the Murray book mentioned above.

    • Ghatanathoah says:

      I can see the point for no-fault divorce, but it seems like gay marriage should strengthen traditional marriage, not weaken it. If gay couples are publicly seen as desiring marriage that sends a signal to the rest of society that marriage is a valuable thing to be sought after. By contrast, if you don’t let them marry, that sends a signal that marriage is an optional thing people can do without.

      I think even an IQ 90 person can consider the possibility that if Ted and Bob can do without marriage, she might be able to handle an out of wedlock relationship with Rick. If Ted and Bob are also seeking marriage, by contrast, she might think about marrying Rick.

      What really made me understand where the opponents of gay marriage were coming from was when I took them literally when they said it “redefines” marriage. I realized that they thought that heterosexuality was an essential part of marriage, whereas most supporters considered it to be an unimportant part that one would not change the Essence of Marriage by removing.

      To make an analogy to superheroes, gay marriage opponents are like nerds who get upset if the creators put Superman’s “S” symbol on his belt buckle in addition to his chest, or when the writer changes it so Superman’s parents are still alive when he is an adult instead of dying when he was a teenager. Most people can understand that minor plot details like that are not part of the “Essence of Superman” and will not harm the character if they are changed. Some changes (like keeping his parents alive) may even be improvements. But there are always some purists who lack the ability to understand what the essence of something is, to them all details, no matter how small, seem equally important.

      • NN says:

        Also a lot of gay marriage opponents are just plain opposed to homosexuality, and oppose gay marriage because it normalizes homosexuality. That isn’t a strawman. I remember reading a number of opinion pieces that said exactly that in the early 2000s, especially from conservative Christian groups.

        It should also be noted that gay rights activists focusing on marriage is actually a relatively recent phenomenon. When Andrew Sullivan wrote an essay advocating gay marriage in 1989, many in the gay rights movement attacked him for promoting “assimilation” into “straight culture.” Sullivan’s viewpoint eventually won out after people realized that signalling to Middle America, “don’t be afraid of us, all we want to do is get married, move to the suburbs, and raise 2.5 kids just like you,” was actually a really effective strategy for convincing Middle America to stop hating you.

        • I asked a gay friend why marriage was chosen as an issue, and he said that it was a result of partners not having hospital visitation rights during the AIDS epidemic.

          Also (this is my opinion, not something he mentioned), marriage has the advantage of being a clear legal issue.

      • John Schilling says:

        If gay couples are publicly seen as desiring marriage that sends a signal to the rest of society that marriage is a valuable thing to be sought after.

        Yes, but valuable because it signals your commitment to a lifetime domestic partnership and intent to raise a family? Or valuable because it allows you to hold a great big party, demanding tokens of respect from your friends and random pizza-shop owners, with someone you’re going to break up with in five years?

        The move to give a high school diploma to every illiterate warm body that reaches adulthood clearly signals to society that high school diplomas are valuable things to be sought after, but to the people who have traditionally valued high school diplomas it completely misses the point.

        With gay marriage, it’s too early to tell. I’ll get back to you in five years or so.

        • Anonymous says:

          Marriage as a sign of commitment has already lost enough value that any negative effect gay marriage could have wouldn’t be noticeable IMO. Unless it makes its value go negative, which would be pretty..weird and surprising.

          Or maybe I can no longer accurately gauge the mainstream view of marriage.

      • Deiseach says:

        gay marriage should strengthen traditional marriage, not weaken it

        But the mantra, as in my own country’s referendum on marriage equality, was “let love win!” “don’t deny us the right to love!” “all I want is to find someone to love and settle down with!”

        Whatever about the political and activist aims of integration, normalisation and social acceptance, never mind the “hospital visitation rights/inheritance/tax returns” benefits that were also being touted as “we’re denied these merely because we’re in a gay partnership”, the public face of the campaign was all about Wuv, Twu Wuv and how the horrible nasty haters were trying to destroy love.

        So that makes your ordinary person – and please let’s not have any sneering down our noses about “IQ 90 persons” as if they’re the only ones who ever in their lives do dumb shit but the rest of us are way too smart – accept that marriage is not a series of rights and responsibilities and duties and manifold social roles, it’s purely and primarily about two (for the moment) persons and their personal, private, romantic/erotic feelings.

        So when the pink mist fades, the novelty wears off, and you no longer get the “new relationship energy” buzz, then it’s perfectly okay to break up the marriage and move on to your next One True Love who will provide you with that chemical high on an everyday basis for the rest of your lives (where “rest of your lives” means “as long as one or the other of us can stick being in this marriage, certainly not for life”).

        Marriage is not about society, marriage is not about children, marriage is not about fidelity and committment, marriage is about getting emotional needs met in an erotic context. So when you’re not getting your romance fix, scrap the marriage.

        • Dahlen says:

          Okay, this is one too many scathing rants against romance.

          Since you mentioned multiple times that you’re an asexual aromantic, may I just ask whether you ever stop and think, before taking a piss on other people’s psychological needs (which you lack), whether you may display an empathy gap that prevents you from approaching this topic with the fairness it warrants? How do you think someone who has suffered like a dying dog from unrequited love reacts to the Nth time you write “Tru Wuv” in yet another screed that purports to be about the duties of marriage, but is founded in its principles on the denial and decrying of a very basic, common, and pro-social human emotion? Whether people do not take sufficient steps towards ensuing their love lasts in the name of the principle of devotion, that is NOT a reason to attack one of the pillars of harmonious relationships between the sexes. And I don’t care that someone who has lived her life in indifferent lovelessness, who has focused only on the cheating and the homewrecking and the tumultuous breakups and divorces, disagrees with that characterisation. The fact that the pursuit of romance risks exposure to so much pain should be, if anything, a clue that what the rest of us are chasing is not some mere fleeting illusion, but a very satisfying fulfillment of a very real need. You know, at least if it came from someone who has had a bad experience with romantic relationships, I could explain all that bitterness as disillusionment I could sympathise with, but coming from someone who has never sought them, there is no explanation left but willful ignorance and scorn of what one doesn’t value while others do.

          • Frog Do says:

            It’s a very natural reaction when there is a coordinated campaign to paint “your side” as “people who hate X” to embrace the characterization and take it to a rhetorical extreme to make a point. You are being ignorant if you don’t make an effort to understand why Deiseach is being so provocative. But this is the internet, and everyone is acting in bad faith all the time, so maybe I’m just pissing in the wind.

          • Dr Dealgood says:

            Then again, we’re usually pretty willing to judge self-defeating behavior from people following impulses that we don’t share. Should those of us brought up atheist who never felt a pull towards religion hold our tongues criticizing those who desperately chase faith? It doesn’t sound unreasonable but applied unevenly it just seems like shielding ourselves from outside criticism all while continuing to criticize outsiders.

            And I think the point is less “fuck love” so much as “love isn’t enough,” which actually is a pretty important message. It’s much easier to fall in love than to make a relationship work, even a low-stakes one like being boyfriend and girlfriend. If you’re not prepared for the sacrifices you’ll have to make beforehand chances are you’ll balk at them when they actually arrive. Our culture has done us a disservice by making it seem as though these things just sort themselves out as long as you love one another.

            I don’t think Deiseach would tell a lovelorn person to suck it up and stop whining, but rather try to remind people who are considering making a commitment out of love to realize what they’re signing up for. It’s not any sort of kindness to let someone live in blissful ignorance right up until they end up in divorce court.

          • ryan says:

            How do you think someone who has suffered like a dying dog from unrequited love reacts to the Nth time you write “Tru Wuv” in yet another screed that purports to be about the duties of marriage, but is founded in its principles on the denial and decrying of a very basic, common, and pro-social human emotion?

            Your describing lust. It has rarely been thought to be a pro-social human emotion.

          • Nita says:

            Your describing lust.

            No, Dahlen seems to be describing infatuation/limerence.

            But everyone so far has ignored the “Twu” part of “Twu Wuv” — it’s the commitment that separates it from any old “Wuv”. The oldest meaning of “true” is not “genuine”, but “steady, reliable”.

            E.g., the couple who got rejected by that cake bakery had decided to get married after adopting the kids they had been taking care of as foster parents. That looks more like commitment (to provide a stable family for the children) than either lust or infatuation.

          • hlynkacg says:

            To be fair most people say “true love” when they really mean lust, romance, or infatuation. Which is why it gets a bad rap in the first place.

            Personally My sympathies are with Deiseach on this one.

          • Deiseach says:

            Dahlen, I am so sickened by the mess society has made of deciding what love is, and how love is supposed to cover, forgive and excuse a multitude of sins, that I have little to no patience for its constant evocation as the ne plus ultra of human experience and the one impeachable and unanswerable defence for any action, no matter how shitty: I Did It For Love.

            People who suffer from unrequited love are not figures of mockery. But no-one, not one single human in the entire history of humanity, is guaranteed love, and indeed the rotten, poisonous, exaltation of the idea of the Soul Mate, Mr/Ms Right, The One For You, The One True Love, has only served to make more people miserable. If ecstatic romantic love is something experienced only rarely, by great/high/noble characters, and often brings misery in its train – well, we’re not all and we can’t all be Launcelot and Guinevere, so we muddle along as best we can.

            But if ecstatic romantic love is the promise sold by every movie, song, and TV show, every novel, every sit-com, every porn product even (sexual love is so easy to get, everyone is doing it, and it’s so amazingly great!), then if you don’t or can’t get your rightful share (and it is presented as your right, as something you are even owed by the universe), then you will naturally be unhappy, miserable, angry and resentful when you are deprived of it.

            I will never jeer at or dishonour the great and ardent name of the burning furnace of Love. I will mock and scorn the vile impostor that has stolen its crown and broken its sceptre and cast it forth barefoot and weeping in rags, and name it by its own real and worthy of derision name: Wuv Twu Wuv, that ape of artifice mopping and mowing at its reflection in its Narcissus-pool of self-regard.

            I should have titled this screed “Dante, you numpty, Virgil is right to whop you round the head, or, Why Francesca da Rimini is a skanky ho” 🙂

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Deiseach:

            It seems like people who suffer from unrequited love are commonly mocked: the unattractive, unconfident person deeply in love with someone out of their league who barely knows they exist is common in comedy.

        • A lot of the propaganda for gay marriage was about people who’d been together for decades, and wanted the respect, money, and convenience which accompany marriage, so the story wasn’t just about “love”-based easily dissolved marriage.

          • Sastan says:

            And if you follow the news, you’ll see a ton of these trailblazing couples joyfully getting married the day after it gets legalized…….and quietly divorcing within a year.

            Not a slam on gay marriage, just a thought. I’ve seen it several times.

          • Anonymous says:

            Lots of cardiologists divorce after a year. Can’t trust those guys.

          • Deiseach says:

            But that was not the line being pushed, Nancy. As I’ve said before the “Yes ” campaign in my country managed to turn my opinion from apathetic “Meh, probably vote to legalise it if I bother voting in the referendum at all” to “Not just no but Hell, NO! and I’m definitely turning up to vote no” because of the treacle over Wuv, Twu Wuv, culminating in a comedian who has a female impersonator act* doing radio ads in his character as the ‘mother’ of a fictional family talking about ‘her’ fictional gay son and how ‘she’ hopes that he can one day find the same happiness ‘she’ did – please note: this is all complete fantasy, as there is no ‘Mrs X’, no marriage of ‘hers’, no gay son, no gay son falling in love with his partner, no gay son and partner wanting to be married – by permitting him to marry his partner.

            What’s next – I’m supposed to vote in the next referendum on whether smacking should be criminalised, based on how Cinderella’s family should have been referred to social services?

            *NOT a drag act, that’s a DIFFERENT entertainer figure who was practically voted a medal if we had any medals or honours to award because of a run-in with a group on the “no” side of the campaign.

          • multiheaded says:

            Deiseach, you know I like you a lot, but that was really fucking scummy and deluded of you tbqh.

  50. John Schilling says:

    Dash cam car crash videos are so yesterday. The big thing now is dash cam planet crash videos.

    “Look here, Sweet Meteor of Death, you know perfectly well that IAU regulations grant right-of-way to planets in stable circular orbits which have cleared their neighborhood. We’ve got you dead to rights on Failure to Yield, and we’re revoking your Dwarf Planet learner’s permit until further notice…”

  51. RK says:

    Conservative ideas like chastity and avoiding drugs would be useless baggage tying the upper class down, but vital to the lower class’s continued success.

    Isn’t this essentially what Kay Hymowitz, Charles Murray, James Q. Wilson, Brad Wilcox, Eve Tushnet, Ross Douthat/Reihan Salam, and even Steve Sailer have been nattering on about for years now?

    • ryan says:

      Also simply common sense to everyone right of Robespierre for the last few thousand years.

      • sweeneyrod says:

        No, actually everyone to the left of Pinochet in the past zillion years agrees that it is arrogant trash and literally the stupidest thing ever.

        • Anonymous says:

          Honestly, everyone between those guys thinks this kind of argumentative device is kind of dumb.

          • TD says:

            But now all I can think about is a new Vs movie where a time traveling Robespierre battles a time traveling Pinochet to enforce their ideals throughout all history.

            …This is also dumb.

          • Vox Imperatoris says:

            Not to mention Robespierre was about as left-wing as Adolf Hitler or Mussolini—and how left-wing they were always turns into its own debate…

          • TD says:

            Calling Hitler and Mussolini left wing is one of my triggers. Even though I know the debate is pointless and meaningless, I can still feel it itching…

  52. Dahlen says:

    People prefer traditional-looking architecture and are willing to pay extra for it, so why aren’t we building more of it?

    GOOD QUESTION. The linked article surprised me somewhat by claiming that construction cost “has only a marginal or negligible impact”, compared to regulatory prescriptions; my intuition found it pretty obvious that ornaments raise the construction costs significantly by requiring skilled labour, something for which investors looking to sell housing to a mass market are not willing to pay. The other factor that loomed large in my mind was the prevailing zeitgeist of the architectural profession which taught and popularized modern building styles (incidentally, the final factor that convinced me not to go into architecture — hence, the obligatory warning that I might not know what I’m talking about here). But the idea that the demand is overwhelmingly on the side of traditional architecture and it’s mostly construction regulations that erect barriers in pursuing such development is… counterintuitive, to say the least. I mean, it’s known that public institutions tend to favor modernist headquarters, but then so do large private institutions, some of the more publicized trendsetting architects and so on.

    Unsurprisingly, the article comes from a libertarian think-tank.

    There’s something else compelling me to take issue with this statement: “Top-down planning ruins cities, wherever it is tried.” We all know the disaster that was Brasilia, but it’s worth pointing out that many of the Actual Traditional Cities in Europe, or at least their 18th-19th century historical centres, were indeed a result of top-down planning, and most people, foremost among them the crowds of tourists visiting historic centres of large European cities every year, are rather pleased with the results. A very famous example was the renovation of Paris under the lead of a prefect commissioned by Napoleon III. I don’t have many references on hand right now, but definitely the examples were manifold. My own city owes its best architecture from projects undertaken by two of our kings (as well as the numerous wealthy private commissioners of those times).

    In an age such as ours, I would find it hard to imagine all the various private agents converging on traditional styles. It’s very unlikely. Go to any neighborhood that didn’t start off as a large, aesthetically homogeneous development project (or the original developers lost their grip over the zone decades ago), and where people were mostly free to erect buildings in the style of their choice. It will be guaranteed to be very eclectic. Tastes are no longer as homogeneous as they used to be in the 19th century. If there were to be a development project targeting a very large area to redo it in a homogeneously antique style, I can’t see it happening any other way than through central imposition. (And even granting that there will be massive independent private development of traditional buildings — even though the buildings themselves are the biggest contributor to the look and feel of a zone, it’s not just that. Remember that the public space, the look of the streets, the regulations on advertising and other eyesores of the urban landscape, the streetlamps and signs and green space, all of these depend on public authorities for design.)

    • onyomi says:

      Was recently thinking about this while watching the film “In Bruges,” the only redeeming quality of which, from my perspective, was the city of Bruges: why is “well-preserved medieval city!” such a draw for people–as it certainly is for me? It’s not just a curiosity; given the option, I would genuinely rather live in a city like Bruges, Ghent, Prague, or Tallinn, because the architecture just makes me happy to look at it. And while I like old stuff more than average, I don’t think I’m alone in this judgment.

      Presumably we have exponentially more resources than the people who built these places, so why can’t we build cities that aesthetically please us anymore?

        • onyomi says:

          Very good. Thank you. I have personally encountered an extreme example of the phenomenon of contagious non-places and “green spaces” described, and this helps me make sense of what it was I found so deeply unsettling.

          Specifically, there are some very expansive suburbs currently growing around the Chinese city of Suzhou where I once lived (and, I believe, many other Chinese cities as well), and never have I seen more money poured into creating a more alienating, soul-crushing area. Everything is vast and not on human scale. You can’t get anywhere without a car. Even the branch campus of the university located in a suburb which I had to visit periodically was vast beyond reason. Thousands and thousands of square feet of useless “green space” one had to traverse on foot and/or by mini-bus.

          And most of the huge apartment complexes built in this expansive, paved, manicured, green wasteland, so far as I can tell, are still uninhabited. They were built there speculatively, because the value of homes always goes up in China, meaning it is good to invest in property, even if no one lives there.

          The theory, of course, is that as the Chinese continue to get richer and own more cars, they’ll want to live out in neat, manicured suburbs like the Americans do. So far, that hasn’t happened. They’d rather live in the traditional city where all the “places” are, where things are happening.

          • Dahlen says:

            Everything is vast and not on human scale. You can’t get anywhere without a car. Even the branch campus of the university located in a suburb which I had to visit periodically was vast beyond reason. Thousands and thousands of square feet of useless “green space” one had to traverse on foot and/or by mini-bus.

            Yes, that’s specifically the complaint that many people make about Brasilia, which, IIRC, was inspired by the aesthetics and urbanistic principles of Le Corbusier. The wiki says an architect once criticized this type of urbanism as “buildings in a parking lot”. My university suffers from much of the same problem — it takes about 15 minutes to get from the exit from the subway (which is on the edge of its perimeter) to wherever I have classes. There’s literally nothing in between, just a huge green waste.

            I’ve also heard about the abysmal fate of some real estate developments in your country — how the government keeps spending money on ghost cities nobody wants to live in.

          • Anthony says:

            Chinese property developers should talk to Chinese-American realtors. The desire for space versus proximity goes in waves. Chinese immigrants move out of apartments (tenements) in Chinatown to buy houses in less-densely-populated neighborhoods nearby. The kids like them, but the parents often end up moving back into Chinatown after a few years.

        • Dahlen says:

          Oh, the “really narrow streets” guy. He has good intuitions and very often speaks sense, but — just my two cents — the streets could get a wee bit wider without disaster ensuing. Greenery is not necessarily worthless space, if allowed to grow to a reasonable extent.

          • onyomi says:

            This guy’s writing kind of makes me rethink my intuition that the wave of the future is for people to live more and more spread out, due to the availability of Amazon Prime, Netflix, internet, and, eventually, driverless cars to get you lazily from point a to point b.

            I still think the prospect of living in the country is still getting better relative to the city because of all that, but the degree to which the density of the city may be a feature rather than just a bug is also something to take into account.

            And this also explains my intuition that America sucks at cities: most American cities have the nuisance of a city without many of the payoffs: especially the fun, charming walkable area, which, if it exists at all, tends to be in a mall or something you have to drive and park to get to.

            I am also further confirmed in my perplexity at people who worry about overpopulation. Even spreading out, there is a ridiculous amount of habitable empty space here on Earth which we aren’t using. People don’t spread out as much as they could because living in cities can be efficient and enjoyable. And if we take it as a given that people can be happy living in a Tokyo-density city, then the potential population of the Earth seems no less than 1 trillion. 10 trillion? We’d run out of resources, arguably, before space.

            Maybe the happy medium (which is not to say it will be adopted, but which we might hope for) is a larger number of small yet relatively dense cities. Part of what makes the country less attractive, at least in the US, right now is precisely that it’s so spread out. People think of this as an advantage–you can have a really big backyard, you don’t have to hear your neighbors, etc. but it can get old having to drive everywhere and to have to drive to another city if you want a pleasant pedestrian experience.

            It’s interesting to imagine a small town in the middle of nowhere which yet has Really Narrow Streets (TM), and whether that wouldn’t, in fact, be a more attractive place to live.

            The point below about China Town is also interesting: one feels that the country is superior for raising kids, the city for enjoying adulthood. The US is a very kid-centered culture by the standards of Europe, in my experience, so this makes sense.

            Of course, there is also the issue of safety. In the US there is currently a strong and not unjustified impression that the inner cities are now dangerous–certainly not places you’d want your kid walking around. Whether this is the cause or result of the suburbs is another question, but there are surely other factors at work, especially the drug war.

            Of course, the ultimate source of our problem I think is that early European immigrants came to the US to “live like kings.” Kings and nobles in the UK were distinguished by their large tracts of land. Problem is, you can’t have everyone live like a king before, pretty soon, you need to take a carriage/car to get anywhere interesting.

          • Chevalier Mal Fet says:

            “It’s interesting to imagine a small town in the middle of nowhere which yet has Really Narrow Streets (TM), and whether that wouldn’t, in fact, be a more attractive place to live.”

            I have been in some small towns in the south of France that very much resemble this description. I was only a tourist passing through, but they still seemed like places pleasant beyond belief to live in.

          • Bond says:

            “It’s interesting to imagine a small town in the middle of nowhere which yet has Really Narrow Streets (TM), and whether that wouldn’t, in fact, be a more attractive place to live.”

            I was just in Ollytantambo, Peru a couple weeks ago and it fit the bill – not the ruins that wikipedia shows, but the town itself, which was built in the 15th century to Inca scale – no horses or cars, just people in the streets. Extremely dense, mostly pedestrian, and in the middle of nowhere – it was terribly pleasant all around.

        • Psmith says:

          There were lots of people at the university, but was it “crowded”? Never happens.

          Says him. University campuses are much better during breaks, when their population drops by about 75%.

          • Chevalier Mal Fet says:

            Hell, my favorite time to live in my university TOWN was during breaks. Deserted streets and constant tranquility throughout the summer. It was paradise.

          • naath says:

            Blerch. My university city is much better during term. The regular students are much much better than the visiting students we replace them with all summer (mostly people on short English courses) at not, eg, standing in the MIDDLE OF THE ROAD to take photographs of the bloody architecture.

            (I hate traditional architecture, the plumbing sucks, and people stand in the road to photograph it; at least nasty mid-century concrete blocks don’t inspire gawking)

        • Anonymous Coward says:

          I don’t know how to embed links in this comment, but James Howard Kunstler wrote a book called “The Geography of Nowhere” dealing with this very issue — he also runs a blog called “Clusterfuck Nation” on the subject. Which, in itself, is not an incredibly groundbreaking fact. What I find interesting about this in particular is that Kunstler himself has leaned quite right-wing in his beliefs and explanations (not a Trump voter, don’t worry) while retaining a poignant and relevant criticism of worthless suburban deathscaping.

          It irritates me that he bothers to focus any effort on Red Bros vs. Blue Bros, but this still shouldn’t discount the wisdom of what he says, I claim.

      • Dahlen says:

        I’d grumble something about the bloody zeitgeist, but that’s a non-answer, and it’ll stay that way until we have a crystal-clear understanding of its characteristics. Economic reasons currently pale in the face of cultural or structural hindrances.

        I wouldn’t know exactly what broad cultural preferences incline people towards modernism rather than old architecture; if I were to hazard a guess, I’d say that people seek to avoid looking like a stodgy try-hard and put a greater price on simplicity, unpretentiousness, artistic wackiness, departure from the past (especially from past privileged class culture), and general hipsterism. Also, something in me finds it very likely that modernists like to force people to ask themselves whether their stuff has artistic merit or not, and through the asking to get people into the mindset of aesthetic criticism, which I suppose they value in itself. In any case, it’s a question very much worth investigating.

        For one, there is the prevailing pro-modernist sentiment I’ve talked about above, which causes the relevant professionals in the field, architects, to not even consider old styles, unless they’re hired by churches or something (in my observation, the major traditional style clients tend to be builders of places of worship). E.g. I’ve obtained a copy of the Neufert architecture textbook Architects’ Data and all the teaching therein seemed to apply exclusively to modernist buildings. Same with other architecture courses found online. Traditional architecture has been confined to the realm of art history. Alain de Botton made a point in the book The Architecture of Happiness that traditional style revivals were in poorer taste / had less aesthetic merit than a nice, clean, modernist style (he compared some European-style buildings in Japan with contemporary Japanese modernism and found the former lacking). That’s the prevailing attitude in architecture today. The stylistic choices for contemporary buildings owe as much to the architects as to the clients themselves.

        Speaking of which, most laypeople don’t really have very strong feelings about this, one way or another. There’s a point I keep returning to, namely that everything can be astheticized, and you don’t have to look very hard to find very nice examples of modernist architecture and decoration. For the most part, people trying to get something built just want something nice. Their age and cultural makeup don’t predispose them towards strongly preferring old ornate buildings, so when their architect comes up with a snazzy modernist project, they’ll see the sleek beauty in it and give their approval.

        For another, we don’t really build new cities anymore. Population stabilization is one factor contributing to this. To the extent that the population is still increasing, we build vertically in existing cities, or develop suburban zones. In existing cities, you inherit a foundation, you have to work with what was there previously. People’s property rights obviously restrict wanton architectural redesigning by some guy who finds their house an eyesore and decides it should go. Large-scale projects founded on a certain vision are hard to implement under such conditions. Then there’s the fact that large-scale visionary projects tend to be more along the lines of Le Corbusier these days, so it’s arguable whether that’s good or bad for traditional styles.

        Personally, I feel about this downward trend in our urban landscape perhaps as strongly as some people feel about the various hot-button political issues of the day, but realistically there’s no getting people to care enough about what happens to their living space. Today people are very individualistic, very focused on their own small parcel of owned or rented land, and the most probable response is a suggestion that you move to some small French medieval town or somesuch. The look of a city is by nature a deeply collectivist issue. Good luck trying to get moderns to look beyond their dwellings.

        • lbb says:

          It’s been interesting to follow this discussion!
          I think Dahlen is correct in describing the current situation as a kind of tragedy – i.e. no single villain, and (almost) everyone being unhappy with the results. Of course, being an architecture student, I would be inclined to say this. For what its worth, some thoughts:

          In city planning, the “house in a parking lot” model seems to have been abandoned by mainstream architecture as a credible alternative (that’s not to say it’s not still being used – mainstream architecture does not determine what is built)

          As for the lack of ornament… It seems difficult enough to convince developers to simply use quality materials (ones that age well and are pleasing to the eye/touch) and to have a building assembled competently – not to mention the kind of careful workmanship that went in to a lot of old architecture.

          There is a whole lot of money to be made in property development, and comparatively little disincentive to cut corners. The market is not necessarily unlike the airline market (or what it seems like to me) – we hate the declining quality of service, but as a population we still prioritize getting cheaply to the destination. As in airlines, there are boutique operations, but they remain the exception. Architects – in this scenario – are not the airline, but the people designing the seats.

          There are of course cultural aspects to this. But modernism might be a red herring. A more crucial problem seems instead to be the culture’s constant demand for novelty, as it collides with the complexity of market and industry. Originality is considered crucial and honorable today, whereas historically facades were copied out of books. There is also currently a partly misguided belief among architects that each building should be re-thought for each unique context (partly, of course, a legitimate reaction to the “house in parking-lot” school of modernism)

          Most importantly, the guilds and artisans that produced traditional architecture do not exist in any similar way today. Hiring people with similar skills would be impossibly expensive (to the extent you can find them at all). You could, of course, substitute some manual labour with CNC machines. Below is a project where the architects made 3d-scans of the Parthenon frieze and had them reproduced for a facade.
          http://www.niallmclaughlin.com/projects/housing-stratford/#

          Perhaps we could imagine a future of universal basic income where new artisanal guilds are formed, more from desire than need. This dream has, in any case, existed since industrialization first began – and gave birth to William Morris’ arts and crafts movement (which failed, despite socialist ideals, to produce any products that were received as anything other than boutique hipster goods)

          As it stands, architects cannot generally expect to have artisans involved in a project. And they cannot expect too many man-hours in the construction process. Often, architects cannot expect the materials and solutions they have selected to remain throughout the building process. Buildings will tend to be assembled from a kit of industrial products. So the architecture we get follows from these circumstances. There is a whole lot of compromise. And that is only looking at the buildings that architects are actually involved with – according to Kenneth Frampton, architects are only responsible for 5 % of housing in the US (this is debatable).

          My feeling is that the building process is political, and architects are like compromised party insiders – they know at some level that the stuff they’re doing isn’t great, but they tell themselves that they’re producing architecture/politics which is as good as circumstances allow. Like in politics, perhaps, the problem might not be so much the lack of good ideas as the difficulties in implementation and in communicating honestly.

          • DensityDuck says:

            “My feeling is that the building process is political, and architects are like compromised party insiders – they know at some level that the stuff they’re doing isn’t great, but they tell themselves that they’re producing architecture/politics which is as good as circumstances allow. ”

            The latter being exactly what the linked column says–that so much of the design is dictated by external factors that there’s basically only one way to design a building

    • BBA says:

      So does “modern architecture” mean glass boxes and geometric forms a la Brasilia, or does it mean whatever buildings people are designing now? Because current “starchitects” like Frank Gehry have practically nothing to do with that kind of modernism. I’d call Gehry postmodern except that’s apparently about ironically repurposing and subverting traditional elements (e.g. the roof of 550 Madison Ave), and he just seems to draw his blueprints freehand without regard to engineering or common sense. (I speak as a onetime MIT student, where Gehry’s Stata Center replaced dull rectilinear Building 20. Pretty much everyone who worked there agreed that Building 20’s straight corridors were more conducive to getting work done, and besides which the roof didn’t leak.)

      • Dahlen says:

        A modernist building that looks like it’s melting down is still a modernist building. The fact that it’s not squarish in shape does not preclude it from belonging to that category. In Gehry’s buildings (as far as Google Images shows me) one can see the same pattern of blank, unadorned walls and plain rectangular windows that is encountered in the typical International Style skyscraper, along with loads of extraneous junk structures (as in, not part of functional structures and making a statement mostly through their size or form) that represent the modernist replacement of ornamentation / release valve for creative impulses. Also, lots of love for glass, metal, or concrete, less so for stone or wood. In no way is this not more easily clusterable with big-M Modernist architecture than with traditional styles.

        As an aside, these shapes still look geometric to me, only it’s more the geometry of various 3D functions than the geometry of rectangular perpendicular shapes. Saying that some architectural style is geometric is not a very narrow descriptor. Classical Greco-Roman buildings are sometimes called geometric. Heck, one can even say that about Perpendicular Gothic in England as opposed to, e.g. French Gothic. Few styles are far removed from that description; say, organic ornamented styles like Rococo or Art Nouveau.

      • onyomi says:

        Gehry’s work is hideous. I do like Frank Lloyd Wright, but I also consider him to fall into the category of “a man may be a great artist, and yet have a bad influence.”

        I wonder if architecture isn’t an especially egregious example of the modernist “anxiety of influence.” In olden days, “art” often consisted in simply reproducing faithfully what your master craftsperson taught you, with maybe a few individualized tweaks here and there. Nowadays, you have to be “shocking,” “unsettling,” “profound,” etc. which is not something most can really manage. You can create something which constitutes a major break from tradition, but it will lack the richness and sophistication of the traditional style.

        That is, traditional architectural styles encapsulate collective wisdom of generations and generations of little tweaks–both about what is aesthetically pleasing and what is functional to actually live in, whereas anyone trying to radically break with them can’t actually hope to approach that level in a completely new mode within a single generation, much less a single mind.

      • Deiseach says:

        I think that’s my main quibble with modern architecture; the wannabe star architects do designs that are visually striking and ambitious, but seem to have no consideration about the dull routine minutiae of actually living and working in their buildings once they’re completed and the office workers move in.

        The new side entrance thingy (the Crystal) to the Royal Ontario Museum is one of those; looking at pictures of it, the first thing that came to my mind was “I bet there is water leakage into the old building because that angled wall/roof will funnel all the rain and melting snow right down the wall” and by the Wikipedia article, I was correct about weathering problems:

        In October 2007, the Lee-Chin Crystal was reported to have suffered from water leakage causing concerns due to the building’s resilience to weather, especially in the face of the new structure’s proximate first winter. Although a two-layer cladding system was incorporated into the design of the Crystal to prevent the formation of dangerous snow loads on the structure, past architectural creations of Daniel Libeskind, (including the Denver Art Museum) have suffered from weather-related complications.

      • CatCube says:

        The other thing about non-straight walls and non-right angles is furniture. My alma mater (Michigan Technological University) built a new Computer Science wing with a round atrium and offices surrounding. I still want somebody to find me a catalog with a bookshelf that goes on a curved wall.

    • DensityDuck says:

      “[M]y intuition found it pretty obvious that ornaments raise the construction costs significantly by requiring skilled labour…”

      Not really, no.

      Or, rather, the labor involved in putting up any old building is no less skilled than the labor involved in putting up a building that looks like an inside-out Starbucks, with corner molding and bare-metal panels and random chunks of wood jutting out of the walls. That stuff might look like it takes longer but it’s really not what is driving builders to make things the way that they do.

      The issue is, as Boys Smith points out (and the article cites), that the regulations regarding what you can and cannot do constrain design to the point that only a single answer fits. The law has created a square box which the building must fit inside. If the law says that a staircase has to be so-many centimeters wide and have steps of so-many centimeters height, then that defines how much volume a staircase will take up. If the law says your building must have a lift, then you lose that volume as well.

    • lemmy caution says:

      Jane Jacobs’ theory is that there is a limited set of cost effective structures able to be built at any given time. One advantage of older cities is that they have older buildings that were built back when they were cost effective but would never be built today.

    • amoeba says:

      A very famous example was the renovation of Paris under the lead of a prefect commissioned by Napoleon III. I don’t have many references on hand right now, but definitely the examples were manifold.

      St. Petersburg (that was famously founded in 1703 in the middle of nowhere) is another example. Also Lisbon, which was massively destroyed by the 1755 earthquake and large areas were rebuilt from scratch.

      • Stefan Drinic says:

        A few decades back, us Dutch people did what we do best, which is essentially conjuring one extra province out of the sea. The cities built there grow quite fast, but the people also seem positively miserable.

    • First off, from the tone of this comment, I had to go and carefully re-read my post and see if it was egregiously leading or libertarian leaning. I don’t think it is. I think I take a pretty cautious reading of the evidence base I present. I think your post is written to try and imply I am a blinkered ideologue.

      Cost of building: your intuition vs. empirical study in Netherlands. NB we are vastly richer than then, so extra cost shouldn’t be a huge issue.

      Taste of architects vs. public: this is true, and important, but perhaps not as important as you say. In most fields, designers design things and then the popular designs win out. In architecture, architects design buildings and the unpopular designs win out. Something is going on here. I provide a clear, plausible & parsimonious explanation.

      Demand of public & large private institutions: this is partly (and may well be entirely) explained by the points I raise later. Buildings of certain designs get planning permission whereas buildings of other kinds do not. This is both explicit (see the planning rules Create Streets has worked on) and implicit (see this VERY IMPORTANT paper). [1] Private organisations may want to build beautiful buildings but are forced to build ‘iconic’ buildings by planners.

      Beautiful existing cities were planned: yes they were, but in a much less prescriptive way. Haussman’s Paris is beautiful, but so was pre-Haussman Paris, in all its messy, illogical, tight, narrow roads and crazy palaces. Some level of planning is good. But like many systems it’s best when there are a few clear solid rules in a framework, with individuals, organisations and so on maximising within that.

      Unlikeliness: I think after the evidence I’ve presented, the balance of probability suggests it’s in fact likely.

      [1] http://www.spatialeconomics.ac.uk/textonly/SERC/publications/download/sercdp0154.pdf
      [2] https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=pre-haussmann+paris&biw=1001&bih=682&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiExbKqkujLAhUGthQKHQp0Dm8QsAQIHg&dpr=1

    • LeeEsq says:

      Brasilia gets something of a bad wrap. The Brazilians were planning on building a centrally located capital when they gained independence of Portugal. It became a constitutional requirement when Brazil became a republic. Its just that when Brazil was wealthy enough to build a capital coincided with a bad time in Western architecture and urban planning.

    • LeeEsq says:

      Brasilia gets something of a bad wrap. The Brazilians were planning on building a centrally located capital when they gained independence of Portugal. It became a constitutional requirement when Brazil became a republic. Its just that when Brazil was wealthy enough to build a capital coincided with a bad time in Western architecture and urban planning.

  53. John Schilling says:

    If there’s a supersonic airliner in the not-impossibly-distant future, it will probably be these guys, with a much more credible technical and business plan. Also a much more realistic understanding of what it takes to put a commercial aircraft into service. The FAA and to some extent its overseas equivalents are quite permissive about people taking risks with their own lives, but have almost zero tolerance to risking the lives of passengers of commercial transportation services[*]. In order to sell tickets, you have to affirmatively prove your airplane’s safety in a way that tends to take a decade and a quarter of a billion dollars if you are starting from scratch.

    Yes, that’s a barrier to entry, and it probably has to be there in any society this side of anarcho-capitaltopia but it maybe doesn’t need to be so high. And the FAA is working to