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Open Thread 53.75

This is the twice-weekly hidden open thread. Post about anything you want, ask random questions, whatever.

Also, a quick plug.

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946 Responses to Open Thread 53.75

  1. Sandy says:

    A question for Brits.

    In America all the talk is about how the Republican Party is doomed to decline and obscurity because millenials/Hispanic tidal wave/white birth rates/blah blah, but it seems like so many of the blogs and headlines I read about British politics are the opposite picture, claiming that the Labour Party is declining/in chaos/in disarray. Is there any truth to it? I’ve seen people say it shows that New Labour was a lot more palatable to the British electorate than Milliband’s Labour, but I’ve also seen people say it’s just anti-Corbyn hysteria. I understand Corbyn is wildly popular among young Labour voters but pretty much no other Labour voters, which seems like a terrible situation to be in if you want to win elections.

    • DavidS says:

      The two aren’t comparable. The arguments about Republicans are about underlying demographics etc. The ones about Labour are much more contingent, based on the tension between on the one hand most of the MPs and on the other the leader, trade unions and some activist groups (arguably ‘the membership’, but that’s a little unclear as it seems there were lots of people who joined on the cheap last time to vote for Corbyn and it’s not clear how many are active Labour members as opposed to people who wanted to vote for the next Labour leader for whatever reason. Plus his support there last time was big but not overwhelming).

      The longer-term question is about whether this will end up splitting the party, and if it does what the knock-on effects are. This also depends on other factors like UKIP. In theory, if Brexit is done in a popular way with pro-Brexit rightists you could see a united right facing three leftwing parties (Corbyn Labour, non-Corbyn Labour, Lib Dems). Given first past the post that would create a major domination of politics by one party. But I suspect these things are self-correcting to some degree.

      • Nornagest says:

        The arguments about Republicans are about underlying demographics etc.

        But remember that as recently as 2006, the conventional wisdom among a certain flavor of pundit was that differential birth rates would float the GOP to permanent majorities.

        It’s wise to take claims like this with several grains of salt.

        • DavidS says:

          Oh I don’t take the arguments on Republicans that seriously. They tend to assume that all else stays the same and specifically that parties make no attempt to broaden their base. Just saying they’re different kinds of reasons for thinking a party is at risk

      • Scott Alexander says:

        I thought Britain didn’t have first-past-the-post.

        • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

          They do, which is why the tories got a majority with thirtysomething percent of the vote, and UKIP just one MP with like 13%.

        • Anonymous says:

          FPTP in single member districts. Just no elected chief executive. (Also strange primaries.)

        • Nornagest says:

          They do, they just have a weird-by-American-standards districting system. Parliamentary systems are a bit friendlier to third parties than presidential systems because they don’t have that one big election that we do; plus the UK has a bunch of regional parties, which we haven’t had since 1948 (and then only for one cycle).

          • HeelBearCub says:

            I assume you mean 1968?

            As to the UK, how often does the ruling party need 3rd party votes to elect their PM? I need to research that. I think The SNP has been needed recently?

          • Nornagest says:

            Yes, you’re right — well, sorta. I’d remembered Wallace running as an independent, but now that I’ve fact-checked that it turns out he was running on the American Independent Party ticket, which persisted, technically to the present day, as a single-issue party for states’ rights in the most euphemistic sense of the term. Never again got a nontrivial percentage of the vote, but you could argue that it’s effectively a regional party.

            1948 was the Dixiecrats.

          • DavidS says:

            @HeelBearCub: PM isn’t formally ‘elected’ so to speak. But only time I think since 2nd World War that no party has had an outright majority was 2010-2015. SNP has not been needed recently (there was some discussion after 2010 election of a Labour/LibDem/SNP/Green alliance to get enough MPs for a Govt without the Conservatives who had the most MPs. But in the end it was Con/LibDem instead.

          • Zorgon says:

            As to the UK, how often does the ruling party need 3rd party votes to elect their PM? I need to research that.

            Most recently, the Conservatives needed the Liberal Democrats in coalition to hold power during the 2010-2015 session.

            (This was widely seen as a betrayal of the Lib Dem membership, many of whom had joined the Lib Dems specifically to prevent a Conservative government coming in to power, and led to their disaster in the 2015 election where they were reduced to less than 10 MPs.)

          • TheAncientGeek says:

            @DavidS

            Also the 1977 lib/lab pact

        • Winter Shaker says:

          I thought Britain didn’t have first-past-the-post.

          You haven’t been eating your CGP Grey, have you?

    • Orphan Wilde says:

      Eight years ago, it was generally believed the Republican party would take decades to recover. It took… four years.

      Both parties are on the same train – they have a core of dedicated supporters, and a whole lot of people who flip between parties, essentially, based on whoever they think has screwed up the least most recently. Those among the dedicated supporters are terrible at figuring out what the public thinks, and the dedicated supporters are slowly eroding out into the middle, year by year.

      • JayT says:

        Yeah, that’s the thing about a de facto two party system. If a politician screws up, chances are really good that the other party will take their place, and since “screwing up” tends to be the politician’s natural state, it’s unlikely for a party to actually disappear.

    • sweeneyrod says:

      The Labour party is currently in chaos due to internal forces, not declining due to external forces like (allegedly) the Republican party. I don’t think Labour’s current state indicates much about the popularity of left-wing views — if Corbyn was charismatic and a bit better at playing politics they could be doing very well, given internal divisions in the Conservatives. The main problem with Corbyn (and the more aspects of left-wing Labour in general) is that they don’t appeal to the more centrist swing voters who Blair managed to capture. Their appeal to the traditional solid Labour base is fine. The other big problem with Labour is that the SNP have managed to destroy them in Scotland.

      It is very unlikely they will win an election if they keep Corbyn. But even if they change policies, they still need to find a charismatic leader (and conversely they could keep left-wing policies if they found a good replacement for Corbyn).

    • sohois says:

      The decline of labour has quite a few factors, far more so than the changing fortunes of Republicans in the US.

      One major reason is somewhat demographic, Scotland. Labour had a domination of Scotland’s MPs in recent history, going back to the 80s. This was a solid block of around 50 MPs who would reliably vote for Labour, with a handful going to the Lib Dems and the SNP. However, with the Scottish Independence vote of 2014, a major change occurred. Though the SNP was defeated in the end, they essentially created a block of single issue voters, the 45% of people who voted yes, whilst the no votes all spread back to their respective parties, giving the SNP a huge advantage in FPTP. So come 2015 Labour was obliterated in Scotland as the SNP took everything. Without Scottish MPs it becomes very difficult for Labour to hold a majority again.

      Another factor has been the loss of the white working class vote. As in much of the Western world, globalization and growing inequality has hit working class voters hard. And just as in the US, much of the blame for this has been on immigration. However, the labour party has done terribly in communicating any kind of coherent message regarding immigration. They tiptoed around criticisms due to worries about racism and xenophobia, but also completely failed to outline a positive view and fight for a pro immigration stance. Thus you are left with a large group of voters angry about immigration, with no party seeming to represent them except for UKIP, the hard right party. It’s difficult to say how things will shake out now that UKIP has succeeded in their main aim of leaving the EU, but it was a factor in their 2015 defeat.

      Then there is Corbyn. Whilst he seems fairly unpopular and unlikely to be elected, perhaps the biggest damage to the party at the moment is the mass of political infighting, always unpopular with voters. UK Labour are essentially following the same path as the Australian Labour party, destroying their chances with pointless bloodletting and political shenanigans. Given that he lacks any support from his party, Corbyn really ought to stand down since he can’t do anything without parliamentary support, but he clings on. Now the labour party is in danger of a schism, with anti Corbynites leaving. If they were sensible, they would just merge with the UK’s third party, the Lib Dems, but it seems likely they will be stupid and form a ‘New Labour’, leaving the left vote in the UK split between 4 parties, the SNP, Corbyn Labour, New Labour and the Lib Dems.

      • TheAncientGeek says:

        Labour is already new Labour. It would have to be New New Labour, or Old Labour , or something.

      • The original Mr. X says:

        UKIP isn’t far-right by international standards. I reckon they’d fit quite comfortably within the populist wing of the Republican Party, whilst compared to some of the genuinely far-right parties currently gaining support in Europe, UKIP seem very tame indeed.

        • Outis says:

          Any party which is not enthusiastic about immigration is considered far-right in Europe.

          • sweeneyrod says:

            Are you European? Elements of the Conservative party in the UK are opposed to immigration (hence their election pledge to reduce it below 100,000). No serious source claims that they are far-right. Ukip are further right than the Conservatives, and left-wingers often refer to them as far-right in casual conversation. But they aren’t classified as far-right by any mainstream source. Hope Not Hate is the most prominent (left-wing) watchdog of far-right groups, but it doesn’t refer to Ukip as far-right (see the reference to the English Democrats as Britain’s largest far-right party).

            A real far-right European party is Golden Dawn, which ran under the slogan “So we can rid this land of filth”, and has a flag that looks like this.

          • Outis says:

            sweeneyrod: If I search for “ukip far right” I see plenty of people claiming they are, although the BBC did get rebuked for doing so. I would predict that references to ukip as far right are even more common in other European languages.

            I agree that UKIP is quite different from Golden Dawn.

          • sweeneyrod says:

            The only group calling Ukip far-right without qualification that I could find on the front page of Google was the Morning Star. I think you can probably guess their political leaning from their full title “The People’s Daily Morning Star” (and the hammer and sickle logo on the side bar).

          • Outis says:

            My front page has this, this, this. I think “without qualification” is too strict of a criterion, you know that qualifications don’t stick in newspaper readers’ minds. The people who read those articles are going to say “yes, UKIP is far right”.

            I will admit that I overstated the case for UKIP being generally considered “far right”, but you’re understating it now. And, again, the qualifications are going to fall even faster in other European countries, where readers and watchers are not exposed to UKIP’s messaging directly. E.g. this just lumps it in with the far right.

    • Zorgon says:

      As others have mentioned above, the problem in the Labour Party is not demographic, but contingent. However, arguments about “electability”, “charisma”, and “leadership” are all standard political bullshit-speak. (Electability, in particular, is one of those things which is completely impossible to define.)

      The contingent problem in the Labour Party is fairly straightforward, and it is that there are essentially two Labour Parties right now. The Party establishment as it currently stands is the product of the highly successful New Labour movement of the 1990s, led by Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Peter Mandelson and Alastair Campbell. While it has shed its “New Labour” naming, it is still at its core the same party, with its central bureaucracy, leadership and most of its MPs being in place as a result of the machinery of that movement. While it has faltered in recent years, it remains arguably the most successful center-left political movement in the UK in history.

      Corbyn’s support on the other hand, are not aligned with that movement at all. The oft-maligned “Momentum” is in fact a leftover of his leadership election campaign combined with cross-over activists from the Socialist Worker’s Party (who have seen their chance, unsurprisingly) but to a large degree his base amongst the party is mostly based on a very large groundswell of grassroots support. The evidence for this is pretty straightforward – hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of new members, making the UK Labour Party the largest single political party in Europe by some margin.

      Now, there have been a lot of claims slung around about who these people are, and most of them are just boogeyman invocations. In particular claims that Corbyn’s support is from “old Militant members”, who must number a few hundred at most, indicate the problem at hand; the New Labour machinery does not know how to respond or even think about this subject. Corbyn’s support skews young, skews poor, and skews angry. It is, in short, raw activist material. If Corbyn was a loyal New Labour man, none of this would be a problem at all – his new support would be channelled into grassroots activism, and the Labour Party would be a serious contender at the next election. But he is not, and the fact that he is not is a major element in his appeal. Corbyn is unreconstructed Old Left, a man with a lengthy and spotty past of attending IRA funerals and associating with Hamas members and generally acting in a Communist Internationale kind of way, not to mention voting against New Labour on countless occasions.

      If the Labour Party had an enshrined constitution and a permanent set of rules, even this would probably not lead to such bilious rancour as is currently happening. But it doesn’t. It has a rulebook which can be changed at any one of its conferences. And this is the key.

      Corbyn has a long-standing animus with the New Labour project and a massive support base amongst the membership. He is extremely likely to be able to leverage a huge vote at the upcoming September conference. And if he does – if he is able to lead at that conference – he can change the way the Party works on any level and to any degree he wants. Most notably, he can change the leadership election rules, making it harder for the New Labour machine to keep control at Whitehall. Change local constituency party rules, making it practically impossible for the New Labour machine to keep control on a local level. And worst of all, he can introduce rules which make the reselection or even deselection of MPs far easier.

      It is this which terrifies the New Labour movement and it is only such an existential threat that can motivate 172 MPs to vote against their own leader. Jeremy Corbyn has the ability to completely wipe the New Labour movement from the face of British politics.

      In the light of this, it is probably sensible to consider everything you see or hear about the current situation in the UK Labour Party through that lens. It explains the degree of animosity, it explains the repeated lies intended to portray Corbyn’s support base as violent harassers (heard that before anywhere?), and it explains the willingness of the Parliamentary Labour Party to throw away the gift of the Tories’ disarray in recent months. This is a fight for survival.

      • sweeneyrod says:

        I don’t think charisma is a bullshit concept. Compare this with this. If Corbyn was more like Hitler, Labour would be successful.

        • Zorgon says:

          I would note that “bullshit politics-speak” is not the same concept as “bullshit concept”.

          Charisma is an immensely subjective thing, so you can accuse anyone of “lacking charisma”.

      • Outis says:

        Excellent analysis, thanks. Does Corbyn’s support skew native as well? The impression I get is that most young, poor, angry people in GB are young Britons from depressed areas.

  2. nona says:

    Can people help me understand this? I’m from Minneapolis, and this happened last Friday. A two-year-old boy died in a probably gang-related shooting and his sister was shot in the leg. Their father was the target.

    You all know what happened here last Wednesday.

    I feel like the kid dying is a bigger tragedy than Castile. Yet it didn’t trigger protests that shut down the freeway.

    My guess is that you didn’t hear about this on the news. Why isn’t it a bigger story? Is police violence inherently worse than gang violence (maybe because it implies institutional problems that affect many others)? Is police violence easier to change? Easier to protest? Does the oppressor/oppressed story resonate more? Genuinely curious to know what people think about this.

    • Lumifer says:

      Is police violence inherently worse than gang violence

      Yes, very much so, because police has the full power of the state behind it. For example, resisting a gang member is self-defense, while resisting a cop is a felony.

      • vV_Vv says:

        Any individual incident of police violence is generally worse than an individual incident of gang violence, but incidents of police violence are much rarer than incidents of gang violence, hence it seems difficult to argue that police violence, as a whole, is a worse social problem than gang violence.

        • Douglas Knight says:

          I don’t know about violence, but for killings the ratio is only 2-3x. “Gang-related” killings are estimated at 2500-3000, while about 1200 killings by police received press coverage in 2015.

          • vV_Vv says:

            I assume that most of these killing by the police are lawful and justified.

          • sweeneyrod says:

            Do you have any basis for the assumption that they are justified? (You could provide some evidence for the assumption that they are lawful by giving the frequency that the policemen involved are successfully prosecuted.)

          • Presumably some of the gang killings are justified as well, even if not legal.

          • Mary says:

            The basis is that when people are in situations where someone needs to be killed, they generally call the police. Or an appreciable number of people do.

          • Tibor says:

            @Mary: If you are a gang member and a member of a rival gang starts shooting at you and you shoot them in self-defence, then that shooting is justified while still likely to be considered gang violence (I doubt they would call the police afterwards to explain that it was all self-defence and I think that might not even be a reasonable thing for them to do, especially if there were no eye-witnesses). At the same time there would not be enough time for you to call the police.

          • Mary says:

            Yes, when seconds count, the police are only minutes away.

            however, it’s probably as likely that you are killed as kill in that sort of situation. Or more so, as the aggressor probably looked for a situation where he had the upper hand.

            And that’s when you are a fellow gang member. If you don’t belong to a gang and are attacked, unless you are one of a small set of people, the person to put the money on is the criminal — and your odds are never wonderful

          • Tibor says:

            @Mary: David’s claim was that some of the killings by gang members are justified, not that there is a high probability that a particular gang-related killing is justified.

            Also, since gangsters probably get shot at more often than other people, they are more likely to find themselves in a situation where they have to defend themselves and there is no time to call the police (setting aside the fact that they probably would not want to call the police anyway).

    • Jon S says:

      Police violence does feel like a relatively tractable problem… one whose solutions could plausibly have widespread support. What do you do about gang violence? Restrict guns (good luck)? Reduce poverty (how)? Improve the culture where gangs thrive (how)? Addressing gang violence seems a lot more complex, and potential solutions seem controversial.

      Personally, I also think that police violence is indeed inherently worse. Police misconduct erodes trust in our institutions and I would expect it to have really bad repercussions in general.

      • Anonymous says:

        What do you do about gang violence?

        More cops.

      • JayT says:

        To me, reducing gang violence seems like the easier to solve issue. You can brute force your way towards solving it just by policing the areas where it happens.

        Having the government police government employees that are protected by the government seems to be the much harder issue to solve.

      • Mary says:

        Tractable? You hire people to be violent at need, put them in situations where you will be unable to judge whether their violence is actually necessary, and think the problem of their using unnecessary force is tractable?

    • Alex Zavoluk says:

      In addition to what Lumifer mentioned, the police will generally actively investigate civilian murders, whereas cops who kill unarmed civilians will likely get off entirely. So you don’t need to change nearly as much in the former case as you do in the latter.

      Reducing gang violence is a different issue–in my opinion the best thing to do would be to end the war on drugs, but other people have other ideas.

      • keranih says:

        the police will generally actively investigate civilian murders, whereas cops who kill unarmed civilians will likely get off entirely.

        You might consider reading Ghettoside and Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets. Your assertion is not well supported by facts.

        • Ivy says:

          I’ve read Homicide; could you clarify what in it contradicts the quoted statement? From my reading it seemed that what Simon calls “red ball” cases (crimes with very young or photogenic victims, like the one OP mentions) were far more thoroughly investigated and severely punished than cops killing unarmed civilians.

          • keranih says:

            To my read of Homicide and related works, “officer-involved shootings” are subject to much the same treatment as redballs – even when the victim would have received far less attention if they had been killed by a gangbanger.

            There are two parts to this – one is the relative “unnessariant” nature of most of the civilians (regardless of race) who have fatal encounters with cops, and the other side is the practical matter of typical self-defense/defense of others principles at play.

            The only thing that makes most of these issues of concern to the public is that a cop was involved – in most cases, had the same person acted in a like manner towards a citizen, the case would not have received nearly as much attention.

            When cops *do* act like driveby shooters – which happens in a non-zero number of cases – those instances get a lot of attention.

        • Alex Zavoluk says:

          > Your assertion is not well supported by facts.

          Could you clarify or expand that statement a bit, so that it’s actually useful?

          • keranih says:

            Okay.

            Firstly – an object level disagreement on the statement regarding “unarmed civilians” – most people killed by cops are not “unarmed” and “unarmed” does not mean “not dangerous.”

            Secondly, the assertion was that cops would not thoroughly investigate instances where another cop killed “an unarmed civilian”. However, these sorts of killings have been subject to intensive scrutiny, even before this year. The problem is that the cases were rarely black and white error, and even less often pure malice. A finding that the cop acted reasonably in a high-tension dynamic instance is not the same as failing to investigate.

            One could say that the cops *do* investigate, they just ignore (or falsify) findings so that a cop who did actually commit a crime was “let off entirely.” But that is something that would have to be supported by facts – the results of independent reviews, perhaps. Such facts are not in evidence.

          • Alex Zavoluk says:

            I didn’t say there wouldn’t be an investigation, I said the cop would not be punished.

            It is possible that you are right that almost all police killings of civilians (or even of unarmed civilians) are entirely justified, but I think there’s growing evidence this is not the case.

            For one, prosecutors need to maintain a good relationship with police, and have little incentive to indict them. So you certainly might expect police to not be indicted or prosecuted with the same level of vigor as a regular person.

            Cops also have a tendency to protect their own; see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_wall_of_silence

            Secondly, the rise of video recording ability on phones and police body cameras has exposed a number of cases where police abuse of power (even if it doesn’t result in a death) is clear, or highly suspect (police turning off body cameras, or having them “malfunction” at a key moment).

            2 examples: the Eric Garner case (almost should at least have been indicted, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Eric_Garner) and the Laquan MacDonald one (video footage suppressed for over a year, officer eventually charged, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shooting_of_Laquan_McDonald).

    • Anonymous says:

      The state of the zeitgeist doesn’t imply an ordinal ranking. Sometimes things just bubble to the top whether it’s shark attacks or zika or police killings. Anything and everything get be whatabout’ed.

    • keranih says:

      In agreement with the other statements, but I’ll go a bit further.

      In an elevated outside principle sort of way, yes, misconduct by the state is worse than that of fellow citizens. The state is “us”, and incredibly powerful, and should be held to a higher standard in order to make society function well.

      (Here I should probably say for the record that I am not an anarchist nor a new-oh-re-action-airy type, being a sort of quasi-libertarian social conservative when I’m not a classic liberal.)

      However, I think one should not assume that a majority of the people protesting are drawing their outrage from the malfunctioning of state power – I really like to think there would be more rationality and pause-for-evidence if that were so.

      I think the root of the outrage is “those outsiders are hurting us!” – where “the outsiders” are, by degrees, cops, non-lower-class African Americans, and Caucasians. Another way of putting this is “me against my brother, me and my brother against my cousin, me and my cousin against the world.”

      Complicating this is the normalization of gang violence – it’s not strangers engaging in thuggery – *everyone* knows someone who is living that life, and there are many part-timers. Cops, on the other hand, are generally not known (*) and are doing “police” full time.

      A second factor is that cop-on-civilian violence is “safe” to protest. No, really. Cops are much safer to call names, threaten, file lawsuits or criminal charges against and verbally abuse than gangbangers. So long as you don’t actually shoot one, the rate of people getting killed for dissing a cop (vs a gangbanger) is much lower. Plus, police are much more readily visible and identifiable to strangers than a random thug.

      A third factor is pictures and motivated promotion of art – the article you linked to didn’t have any good art or video.

      Finally – no one is going to make any money suing an unknown random gangbanger for killing a kid, the way they can make millions by filing a wrongful death suit against the police. Plus – community activists pretty much live off government and NGO grants, and the hot thing this year is police misconduct. Gangbangers were, oh, 1990’s, I think. We’ve gone through AIDS, environmental racism, and terrorists since then.

      (*) People are calling for cops to live in the neighborhoods where they work. I am dubious about this for a number of reasons, and not the least is because I don’t trust humans to stay impartial and fail to show favoritism to their group members. There are pros and cons to the idea, though, and I’m not sure which is the most important principle.

      • Lumifer says:

        cop-on-civilian violence is “safe” to protest.

        A good point. It has been pointed out that PETA protests are mostly aimed at fur-wearing rich old ladies and not so much at leather-clad bikers : -/

        • Earthly Knight says:

          Note that leather is principally produced in conjunction with raising cattle for meat and dairy, while mink and ermine are slaughtered solely for their skins. While we’re at it, it takes around 40 dead mustelids to make a fur coat, compared to ~1 steer to make a leather jacket (the steer also produces around 500 lbs of meat). So there’s a pretty big difference.

          • Lumifer says:

            From a reasonable point of view, maybe. From a PETA point of view, not much.

          • gbdub says:

            I was under the impression that PETA is also opposed to most meat eating?

          • Earthly Knight says:

            Sure, but if we’re being ruthless utilitarians, stigmatizing fur is probably going to save more animal lives per unit of effort than just about any other animal-welfare campaign. Fur is both more wasteful with lives and less deeply entrenched than beef consumption.

          • gbdub says:

            Fair enough. Not sure we should model PETA as “ruthless utilitarians” though – and there probably is at least a little bit of “safe target focus” going on (if nothing else, trashing a rich white person’s mink coat is going to be viewed with more sympathy than vandalizing a poor black kid’s Nikes).

          • HeelBearCub says:

            My view of PETA is that they are one of the few (current) left-wing “grift” organizations.

            They exists to produce in outrage porn as a means to be get donations.

            They don’t DO anything other than make money for themselves.

          • Zombielicious says:

            It has been pointed out that PETA protests are mostly aimed at fur-wearing rich old ladies and not so much at leather-clad bikers

            They exists to produce in outrage porn as a means to be get donations. They don’t DO anything other than make money for themselves.

            Citation needed? As far as I’m aware (living with and dating a PETA campus rep of several years) their #1 issue, at least currently, is meat consumption and vegan activism. Because it kills by far the largest number of animals each year, under some of the most cruel conditions. As well as having the largest negative environmental impact. Everything else is rounding error by comparison.

            Not that I’m an expert or keep close tabs on them, but everything I’ve seen involved reducing meat consumption by encouraging more people to go vegan/vegetarian (e.g. free food giveaways), and pressuring organizations to offer more vegan/”cruelty-free” options (e.g. meeting with org representatives, not just protesting). It didn’t seem like their only goal was to “make money for themselves.”

            Maybe the attention-grabbing activities are just more memorable than the day-to-day ones? Or get more media coverage? Which might be why they continue doing them in spite of the obvious negative blowback?

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            Zombielicious –

            Eh. For a relatively short entertainment-heavy primer, watch Penn and Teller’s Bullshit episode on PETA, which I believe is included on Amazon prime if you have it.

            Short answer? They’re a hell of a lot more extremist than they let on (they oppose pet ownership – considering most of their donations come from and are sought from pet lovers, kind of messed up), and they appear to be paperclip optimizers.

            The most egregious thing I’ve heard about them – I’ve never verified whether it’s true, mind, because it fits the rest of what they do so well that it doesn’t actually change my opinion of them enough to matter – is that they paid mink skinners to skin minks alive for documentary “look how evil this practice is” purposes. (The individual making this claim linked the video. I don’t recommend you go looking for it. It’s pretty bad.) (Other people might rank their funding terrorists, which happened and is a matter of public record, as more egregious.)

          • Zombielicious says:

            I can’t find the video debunking it anymore, but as I remember the P&T episode relied pretty heavily on misinformation from Rick Berman’s Center for Consumer Freedom and their various anti-animal welfare attacks paid for by various factory farming companies (the guys who produce for KFC, among others), e.g. the “PETA kills animals” stuff – see their own response to that. The bigger irony though is Penn himself having since gone vegan for health reasons and having lost 100+ pounds. Though apparently he still has some cultural distaste of being called that.

            they oppose pet ownership – considering most of their donations come from and are sought from pet lovers, kind of messed up

            Their website claims otherwise. Specifically: “Please be assured that PETA does not oppose kind people who share their lives and homes with animal companions whom they love, treat well, and care for properly. However, we very much oppose the puppy mills and private breeders that supply many companion animals; PETA is absolutely opposed to all breeding.”

            I’ve never verified whether it’s true, mind, because it fits the rest of what they do so well that it doesn’t actually change my opinion of them enough to matter – is that they paid mink skinners to skin minks alive for documentary “look how evil this practice is” purposes.

            This is almost certainly not true, so I’m not sure why the standards for argument have suddenly dropped so low that it’s fine to justify beliefs with blatant misinformation just because it helps to further confirm them.

            “MIRI and AI-risk people are crazy! Just look at Ted Kacyznski!”
            “But he’s not even related!”
            “I don’t care – it’s just an example of the kind of stuff they believe.”

            Not that I really want to get into a big argument defending an organization I’m not even a part of, and especially not the actions and beliefs of every individual who may be associated, but the level of anti-PETA stuff has gotten kind of ridiculous (if even SSC is making these kinds of statements) and it hurts the legitimate Peter Singer-style animal welfare movement when people go around spreading misinformation about the orgs working for it.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Zombielicious

            PETA is absolutely opposed to all breeding.

            So if PETA gets its way, how many pets will be there?

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            Zombielicious –

            The fact that Penn went vegan should tell you he takes principles seriously, NOT that PETA is a good organization.

          • Zombielicious says:

            @Lumifer:

            A hell of a lot fewer obviously, but PETA isn’t particularly close to eliminating all pet breeding, nor does it seem likely the exact nature of that demand wouldn’t change if they were. This is like the “but if we quit eating meat cows and pigs will go extinct!” argument.

            The main reason would seem to be that they consider breeding animals unhealthy when there are adoptable animals being put to death in shelters all the time. Aside from many other reasons like poor conditions and treatment of animals in breeding facilities, uses of them after they’re bred, general moral considerations on the use of animals, or just considering it more effective to oppose all breeding than expect people to hold themselves to some ridiculously high ideal of “ethical breeding practices.” Opposing breeding doesn’t necessarily mean opposing pet ownership.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            “Absolutely opposed to all breeding” is really different than “You should strongly prefer to adopt”.

          • Zombielicious says:

            Again, there are other issues for them (explained multiple places on their website) besides wanting to promote adoption.

            We’ve moved on pretty far from the claims originally being made though – that they’re only in it to make money, ignore major sources of animal cruelty in favor of easy targets, or actively hurt animals themselves just to gin up support for their cause. Disagreeing with their opinions or goals is one thing. Heck, tons of people don’t even think animals are capable of suffering or have any moral value whatsoever. Whether they’re right/wrong about whether all pet breeding should be categorically opposed, or just certain forms of cruel pet breeding, is a way more reasonable discussion than the kind of hyperbolic attacks that are regularly being made against them.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Zombielicious

            Concerning PETA being the target of hyperbolic attacks, it looks to me like a very clear case of reaping what you sowed.

            Live by the sword, die by the sword.

          • With a quick Google, the only rebuttal I could find was a lengthy attack on the Center for Consumer Freedom with no response at all to whatever charges Penn and Teller made against PETA and no evidence of any connection between Penn and Teller and the CCF.

          • Zombielicious says:

            The problem is people keep saying I should watch a P&T episode that explains how bad PETA is while having only provided misinformation and poor reasoning to show why the episode will be convincing. Not that I’m specifically avoiding it, but it doesn’t exactly make it seem like it’ll be a good use of my time, and I’m hesitant to get drawn into watching every documentary that everyone tells me to when I’m already fairly sure they’re wrong.

            “[PETA] doesn’t DO anything except make money for themselves.” – Not accurate and no evidence provided.

            “they oppose pet ownership” – See above.

            “they paid mink skinners to skin minks alive for documentary ‘look how evil this practice is’ purposes” – Almost certainly not true and no evidence provided, but apparently we should believe it anyway “because it fits the rest of what they do so well,” despite no accurate claims having thus far been provided as examples.

            People disagree with their activism and goals. Fine, but now we’ve seriously moved the goal posts since this isn’t the same as the initial claims being made. PETA is horrible because not everyone agrees with them?

            There’s a question of who the burden of proof is really on at this point. It seems like being required to watch Zeitgeist, or a bunch of Alex Jones episodes, just so I can explain to people how vaccines and chemtrails aren’t a government conspiracy to bring about the New World Order. That may not be a fair comparison since P&T are more reliable than that (I usually like their stuff), but as I said, the episode gets brought up a lot and the usual response is that it’s one of their poorer episodes, mostly relies on making fun of vegans and comparing PETA to Hitler, and borrows a lot from the Berman campaigns (iirc there used to be a better video making that argument, but I was unable to find it or I would have already linked to it).

            I’ll watch it eventually, but judging from the statements provided so far, you can see where I might be only further convinced that will end up having been an accurate assessment, rather than finally going, “Gosh, PETA really is horrible!”

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Zombielicious

            “they oppose pet ownership” – See above [not accurate and no evidence provided]

            Um. Quoting PETA:

            we believe that it would have been in the animals’ best interests if the institution of “pet keeping”—i.e., breeding animals to be kept and regarded as “pets”—never existed. … This selfish desire to possess animals and receive love from them causes immeasurable suffering

            Yes, PETA doesn’t want to confiscate pets. PETA just wants them to quietly die out. Go extinct.

            I understand that PETA has a problem with alienating pet owners. But it’s not my problem and I can put two and two together.

            More relevant quotes here.

          • Zombielicious says:

            This is extrapolating from cherry picked quotes, and conflating the opinions of individual members (such as Ingrid Newkirk, the founder) with the position of the organization. You can always find some animal rights person who has some ridiculously extreme position, and people who mostly agree but not on particular things, as you can in any such activist group. At the end of the linked page it states:

            What we want is for the population of dogs and cats to be reduced through spaying and neutering and for people to adopt animals (preferably two so that they can keep each other company when their human companions aren’t home) from pounds or animal shelters—never from pet shops or breeders—thereby reducing suffering in the world.

            Which is presumably the official PETA position. Their view seems to be, “Keeping pets is immoral, so ideally animals wouldn’t be kept as pets and would live in nature. But since many are dependent on us and can’t live that way, we should at least stop breeding them, and people who want pets should adopt the ones who already exist.” People may not agree, but it doesn’t make them sound quite so bad when restricted to the factual statements.

            Extinction if people quit using animals is another issue. I remember overhearing a conversation with one of the full-time PETA employees (as I stated my gf was involved with them as a paid campus rep), specifically a Q&A about responding to anti-PETA, anti-vegan, etc criticisms, where the “if we stop using animals they’ll go extinct” thing was brought up. They literally couldn’t believe anyone would make this argument and thought it was the stupidest thing in the world.

            My guess is they realize that we’re so far away from that point, bringing it up as an argument to support current practices is kind of ridiculous. Similar to the claims that if we cured various diseases then there wouldn’t be enough suffering and life would lose all meaning. The situation with horses is probably much closer to the expected outcome: massive population decrease from their peak use for labor, but still kept around in both wild populations and by some people who (hopefully) provide ethical conditions for them to live in. You can debate the details, but ending most all economic uses of horses didn’t mean they went extinct, and as a species they’re probably better off for it overall (depending on what you think the equine utility function might be).

            I kind of doubt people really are overly worried about protecting animals from extinction if PETA gets too much influence, though.

            On the other hand they’re probably the best known organization actually pushing for animal welfare causes, if not the most effective (I think this blog discussed Mercy For Animals as having the best bang for your buck, though iirc PETA was never evaluated by Animal Charity Evaluators(?) for whatever reason, either), and definitely doing actual work to reduce animal suffering that doesn’t just include attention-grabbing to get donations, so when people start making mostly baseless accusations about What They Really Want, it hurts the entire cause of animal welfare and is worth taking a little time to debunk.

          • Mary says:

            Yes, PETA doesn’t want to confiscate pets.

            As a claim this would be more impressive without several incidents in which PETA has stolen and killed pets.

          • John Schilling says:

            PETA, or a person who is a member of PETA?

          • Zombielicious says:

            Snopes references two incidents, one of which (“Maya”) seems to have involved accidentally removing and euthanizing a pet along with several strays the owner had asked them to set traps for and remove.

            Approximately three weeks before Mr. Cerate’s dog [Maya] was taken by the women associated with PETA, Mr. Cerate asked if they would put traps under his trailer to catch some of the wild cats that were in the trailer park, and traps were provided to him as requested. Additionally, parties associated with PETA provided Mr. Cerate with a dog house for two other dogs that were tethered outside of Mr. Cerate’s home.

            On or about October 18 a van that was operated by the ladies associated with PETA arrived the at the trailer park. The van was clearly marked PETA and in broad daylight arrived gathering up what abandoned stray dogs and cats could be gathered. Among the animals gathered was the Chihuahua of Mr. Cerate. Unfortunately the Chihuahua wore no collar, no license, no rabies tag, nothing whatsoever to indicate the dog was other than a stray or abandoned dog. It was not tethered nor was it contained. Other animals were also gathered. Individuals living in the trailer park were present and the entire episode was without confrontation. Mr. Cerate was not at home and the dog was loose, sometimes entering the shed/porch or other times outside in the trailer park before he was put in the van and carried from the park. The dogs owned by Mr. Cerate that were tethered were not taken.

            The other is more debatable in that an employee apparently took a dog off the side of a highway because they claimed it was in danger from passing cars (not unreasonable imo), but removed its collar and left it (the collar) by the side of the road (presumably they didn’t want to return it to what was likely viewed as a negligent owner). The dog wasn’t euthanized and was returned to the owner.

            Those are the only two cases listed, one of which seems to have been an unfortunate accident, with the other being a single PETA employee acting on their own, and the animal was returned to its owner rather than being euthanized.

      • DavidS says:

        Interesting analysis: but it depends who the protestors are. Lots of people are outraged by this who aren’t lower class African Americans. E.g. I think most of us here in the UK thinks it’s awful, and the UK has very few African Americans of any class. I don’t think protesting against abuse of state power is necessarily rational and cool-headed either. Throughout history people stand up in a passionate way against perceived injustice and tyranny.

        On your second factor, I can see this, but as above historically people do protest misuse of state power even when it’s dangerous to do so and the state is more trigger-happy.

        On third I suspect better art follows more people caring as well as causing it. Though some demographics (young?) are presumably better at creating/disseminating online

        Final point: I (genuinely) don’t know how much protest is in the context of a lawsuit or a grant.

        • gbdub says:

          I would wager that the UK has almost no African Americans. The number of African-British / “black people” would be somewhat higher.

          • sweeneyrod says:

            For whatever reason, we don’t really have a term equivalent to African-American. “British-Pakistani” and “British-Chinese” see a fair bit of use, but black people are generally either “Afro-Caribbean” or first generation immigrants (most frequently from Africa and the US in my experience).

          • gbdub says:

            I figured the UK did have a better term. I just always find it funny when people, in an attempt not to offend, inadvertently use a facially absurd euphemism (wasn’t there some US politician that referred to his audience as “African Americans” while in South Africa?)

          • Randy M says:

            I heard that was an Olypmics announcer.

          • DavidS says:

            For what it’s worth, wasn’t trying to be politically correct, was trying to be funny… master of understatement and all that. Apparently didn’t work out!

          • Winter Shaker says:

            I’ve heard the term ‘Afro-Saxons’ proposed. Pretty sure it was not intended seriously though.

        • gbdub says:

          Must be that legendary dry British wit.

          (meant as a reply to David S 3:28)

      • Jiro says:

        However, I think one should not assume that a majority of the people protesting are drawing their outrage from the malfunctioning of state power

        They’re not explicitly outraged at state power, because they generally tend to be leftists who like the state, but the things they protest still would not have happened without state power. For instance, they may think that the police are unaccountable, but they’re unaccountable as a result of being an arm of the state with special powers that gang members don’t have.

        • Adam says:

          Many of these protesters are very far from being fans of the state. There are plenty of leftist anarchists in the world.

          • Mary says:

            There are people who call themselves anarchists who get furious at the notion of the state giving out fewer goodies.

          • Mary says:

            ROFLOL.

            Notice the rapid leap to the claim that they don’t actually exist, on exactly no evidence.

          • sweeneyrod says:

            Well, some examples might be nice (preferably not just excited 16-year-olds whose knowledge of anarchism doesn’t extend beyond the Sex Pistols).

      • Outis says:

        This is the best explanation so far, but we can go deeper. To recap:

        – “Abuse of power by the state is more intolerable”: true, but this doesn’t seem to be what drives the outrage. It’s too intellectual for most people, like you said; but also, there are *many* other abuses of state power that are newsworthy and yet don’t get as much attention. So I would say that this is not it.

        – “Attacks from outside the tribe are more outrageous”: valid for blacks, but the participation of non-blacks seems important too. And the animosity between black people and the police is nothing new, so why now?

        – To a large extent, it seems to be just “it’s what we care about now”. But that’s a bit of a cop out. Yes, the media cycle can be arbitrary, but it’s not like this came up during a lull in interesting news – we’re in an election cycle. So what drove it? Here are two candidates:

        – Mobile video creates lots of compelling imagery to draw viewers. Or “now white people can see what black people have always been saying”. But, IIRC, there was no video for the early high-profile incidents, like Michael Brown or Trayvon Martin.

        – Political reasons. We are, in fact, in the run-up to a presidential election. The Democratic party relies on minority mobilization for victory. Hillary Clinton, being a Clinton, has the black vote in the bag – if she can get blacks to go out and vote. On top of that, we have to stop the horror of a Trump presidency. Is it even possible to imagine a better motive for the media to push this issue now?

        I think this neatly explains why this particular issue, why now, why it has so much support from the media and from liberal whites, etc. And note that it has completely overwhelmed the other protest cause that was relevant in this election, income inequality, which was wind in the sails of Sanders. Another grassroots movement, relevant to many more young people and potential activists, yet it was easily pushed aside.

        tl;dr: overwhelming Clinton power.

        • Nicholas says:

          Remember that Trayvon Martin’s murderer was a civilian, and that Michael Brown’s death was video recorded.

          • dndnrsn says:

            I think you’re thinking of Eric Garner – his death was on video. Pretty sure Brown’s wasn’t.

          • Anonymous says:

            There is an audio recording of the shots that killed Brown.

          • SJ says:

            Point of detail: the death of Trayvon Martin was a homicide, but I’m not certain it was a murder.

            The evidence given at trial was that Martin was straddling Zimmerman on the sidewalk, and delivering a lot of blows. During that time, Martin noticed Zimmerman’s gun and reached for it. Zimmerman was able to retain control of the gun, and then use it to end Martin’s life.

            However, the advocates of the Black Lives Matter movement—and news reporters hungry for a contentious story–did their best to depict the death of Martin as a murder.

          • Anonymous says:

            When you go out and assault someone for no apparent reason you forfeit your right to subsequently claim you were in fear for your life when you start losing. Morally if not under Florida’s fucked up legal system.

          • The claim for Martin is that it was plausible for him to be afraid of Zimmerman.

          • Evan Þ says:

            @Anonymous, the evidence given at trial was that Martin attacked first. We can debate how justified it was for Zimmerman to follow Martin, or for Martin to be afraid of Zimmerman, but there’s no basis to assume that Zimmerman was the first to attack.

            And “When you [follow someone] for no apparent reason you forfeit your right to subsequently claim you were in fear for your life” doesn’t sound reasonable at all.

          • Anonymous says:

            @Evan Thorn
            Which witness gave the evidence you are referring to?

          • John Schilling says:

            The claim for Martin is that it was plausible for him to be afraid of Zimmerman.

            And the claim for Zimmerman is that it was plausible for him to be afraid of Martin. Whichever of them killed the other and wound up on trial for murder, would have been acquitted under anything resembling a fair justice system with even a weak presumption of innocence.

            Well, acquitted if they knew the law, stayed calm, and didn’t say anything stupid. The general case at work here is that if two strangers walk into a dark alley, it will pretty much always be possible for either of them to murder the other and get away with it, if they are calm and knowledgeable and not-stupid. And all of the outcomes that lead to a dead body and a smoking gun but aren’t murder, are externally indistinguishable from a clever murderer getting away with it.

    • Sandy says:

      Many Russian socialists used to subscribe to the belief that they had “no enemies to the left”. This effectively meant condoning the Bolsheviks and giving them the space to thrive because they were nominally of the same tribe, and the real enemy was the other tribe of reactionaries and monarchists.

      Gangs are nominally of the same tribe. Cops are a different tribe. There are no enemies within the community. There are only enemies without.

      On some abstract level, police violence is inherently worse than gang violence because the long arm of the law has the broad shoulders of the state at the other end. You pay taxes for the state to exercise power in some conscientious manner. Gangs aren’t accountable to you in the same way.

      On a practical level, the odds of any random black person getting shot by the police under any circumstance is minuscule, while gang violence sucks the life, money, tax base, schools and middle class out of communities that can’t afford it.

    • I’ll add another factor– novelty. People have been trying to solve and/or living with the problem of gang violence with maybe some progress, but there’s no way to believe it can be completely eliminated. Police are relatively centralized. Maybe there’s a solution.

      Also, a big public project of doing something about excessive police violence is something new, and it’s easier to get attention for something new.

    • Earthly Knight says:

      By the same token, why are you so focused on gang violence? There are 14,000 or so homicides each year, less than 15% of them gang-related. If we’re playing the murder-victim olympics, shouldn’t we be concerned only about arguments which get out of hand, the largest category of homicides? What can be done to stop our nation’s escalating-disagreements problem?

      2001 had the usual quota of homicides. But for some reason, an event which killed less than 3,500 people dominated the news. Why didn’t we hear calls for parity of coverage back then?

      The best answer is probably this: young men have been killing other young men for silly reasons since the dawn of mankind. It’s a problem that’s proved immune to our normal policy levers, that we don’t really know how to solve, that may be insoluble. And, except in unusual circumstances, it will always dwarf all other types of homicide. So all we accomplish by insisting that it receive attention in proportion to the number of lives lost (or the brutality of the new reports!) is to ensure that we never address any other pressing social problems. Invoking it in other contexts is a way of distracting people and deflecting blame, and little more.

      • Lumifer says:

        that may be insoluble

        Even if look at countries like Iceland or Japan?

        • sweeneyrod says:

          It seems like it would be difficult to turn the US into a small island.

          • Lumifer says:

            So, um, the propensity of young men to kill each other is conditional on them being (or not) on a small island? UK is smaller than Japan, how is that theory working out there? Iceland and Ireland are pretty similar in that respect, too.

          • sweeneyrod says:

            I was mostly joking, but it’s going pretty well in the UK — according to Wikipedia our murder rate is 3.3 times that of Iceland/Japan, but the US’s is 3.9 times ours.

          • Lumifer says:

            Sure, but we were talking about whether it’s even possible to do something about that.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            Iceland and Ireland are pretty similar in that respect, too.

            Not really, Ireland is an order of magnitude larger. Here are some explanations I’ve heard of Japan’s low homicide rate: (1) ethnic homogeneity, (2) a near-total vacuum of guns, (5) the Yakuza’s intolerance for small-time competition, (4) police cooking the murder statistics (they claim to have a 96% clearance rate!), (5) an extremely skewed age distribution. I have no idea which, if any, of these factor into the correct explanation, but it seems like none of them points us towards any actionable policy solutions.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Earthly Knight

            We were talking about small islands, so the relevant metric is size in square miles (or kilometers). Iceland is bigger than Ireland.

            And the question of what policies can the US utilize to drive down its homicide rate is a different question from whether young men have always killed other young men and it will be so forever and ever.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            The murder clearance rate in Japan is ~50%. source

            On page 9 it says that in 1994, the Japanese arrested 1800 people for 1300 murders and prosecuted 43%, for 0.6 convictions per murder. (Which is not exactly the clearance rate, if there are often multiple victims or offenders. On page 3 it seems to say that there only 589 murder trials. Also, this could be confused by year of murder vs year of trial.)

          • Douglas Knight says:

            I concede that the Japanese police claim such a clearance rate. Maybe I’m using the wrong definition of clearance (take it up with my source), while, the paper you cite claims in note 2 that an official clearance (in both American and Japan) is defined as a suspect referred to prosecution, even if the prosecutor declines.

            So probably the Japanese police are referring too many people for prosecution. But the hypothesis you mentioned as (4) was about the police suppressing homicides, while my prior source demonstrates that they are not suppressing homicides for which they cannot get a conviction. The formal clearance rate is only relevant as evidence of police corruption, which is extremely weak evidence of the specific accusation. However, I am concerned that my new source claims that the number of arrests is almost exactly the same as the number of murders, while my old source gives it as much higher. Probably the new source excludes suspects not referred for prosecution.

          • vV_Vv says:

            @Earthly Knight

            Not really, Ireland is an order of magnitude larger.

            But China and India are one order of magnitude larger than the US in terms of population and are comparable in terms of area, and yet they have lower homicide rates, especially China.

            (1) ethnic homogeneity,

            Honduras, El Salvador and Venezuela are mostly ethnic homogeneous and have very high homicide rates, Switzerland has multiple ethnicities, languages and religions and has a very low homicide rate.

            (2) a near-total vacuum of guns,

            Doesn’t explain the low homicide rates of Switzerland, Canada and the Scandinavian countries, or even Serbia, and the high homicide rate of Rwanda.

            the Yakuza’s intolerance for small-time competition,

            Maybe. But why is Japan so civilized that even the gangsters behave orderly there?

            And are there Canadian or Swiss equivalents of the Yakuza that enforce a rule of law for the outlaws?

            police cooking the murder statistics

            Murder statistics are difficult to manipulate by much.

            an extremely skewed age distribution.

            Median age in Honduras is similar to Jordan, which has a low homicide rate. Median age in the US is similar to China, New Zealand and Australia. Countries with Japan-like median age, however, all have low homicide rates.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            When someone offers a multi-factorial explanation for F, it’s no good to go through the list of factors one-by-one and find counter-examples to each, cases where the factor is present and F isn’t or the factor is absent while F is present. This is because the factors may be severally insufficient but collectively sufficient for F, or because there may be some unlisted factor which independently makes F probable (in the case of central American countries and high homicide rates, this will obviously be the drug trade.)

            Murder statistics are difficult to manipulate by much.

            What makes you think that? All police need to do is label suspicious deaths whose culprit is unknown (or where intent can’t be proven) as accidental homicides.

          • John Schilling says:

            All police need to do is label suspicious deaths whose culprit is unknown (or where intent can’t be proven) as accidental homicides.

            Most homicides involve multiple gunshots, multiple stab wounds, or many many blunt impacts, and most even-vaguely-violent deaths in developed nations at least involve autopsies.

            It seems to me unlikely that any developed nation has a police force that is systematically misreporting a large number of its violent deaths as “accidentally fell backwards onto three knives”, or fudging the autopsies of the multiple-stabbing-victims as “heart attack”, and getting away with it. That would require the sort of conspiracy that sometimes makes for a good story but can’t really be kept secret in the real world.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            http://articles.latimes.com/2007/nov/09/world/fg-autopsy9

            “Photos of the teenager’s corpse show a deep cut on his right arm, horrific bruising on his neck and chest. His face is swollen and covered with cuts. A silhouette of violence runs from the corner of his left eye over the cheekbone to his jaw, and his legs are pocked with small burns the size of a lighted cigarette.

            But police in Japan’s Aichi prefecture saw something else when they looked at the body of Takashi Saito, a 17-year-old sumo wrestler who arrived at a hospital in June. The cause of death was “heart disease,” police declared.

            As is common in Japan, Aichi police reached their verdict on how Saito died without an autopsy. No need for a coroner, they said. No crime involved. Only 6.3% of the unnatural deaths in Aichi are investigated by a medical examiner, a minuscule rate even by nationwide standards in Japan, where an autopsy is performed in 11.2% of cases.”

            Remember also that Japan has one of the world’s highest suicide rates, along with a national tradition of suicide-by-clumsily-stabbing-yourself-to-death. (Hanging and jumping are somewhat more common, but also potentially ambiguous).

          • Guy says:

            Stabbing yourself and then being beheaded by a friend, even.

          • Nornagest says:

            I am under the (reasonably informed, but I’m not Japanese) impression that seppuku in the modern day takes place mostly as a political statement, sort of like self-immolation is for Buddhist monks and similar characters. It would therefore probably not make much contribution to Japan’s high suicide rates, and I’d expect even the face-savingest of Japanese investigators not to assume suicide when faced with a death by stabbing. Particularly if it doesn’t follow the forms of seppuku, which are very detailed (surprising no one who knows anything about Japanese culture).

            (Beheading your friend after he commits seppuku, incidentally, is a lot harder than it sounds. When Yukio Mishima gave it the old college try, his second Masakatsu Morita failed after three tries.)

          • Agronomous says:

            So, in the “the world is weirder than I could ever imagine” category:

            Mishima was a gay ultra-nationalist poet/novelist/playwright. He was once a suitor of the commoner who later became the current Empress of Japan.

            He wrote the movie adaptation of Black Lizard, a movie I got dragged to see in college by a girl from China (because she grew up on Japanese TV), and also had a bit part in it. The soundtrack, as I recall, had a lot of Bach.

      • gbdub says:

        In your source for 14% gang related, how is “gang related” being calculated? That seems suspiciously low, but maybe not if we’re being strict and limiting ourselves to “organized attack by member(s) of one gang on member(s) of another”. What if you swap “gang related” for “drug related”, which is probably more what people are thinking of when they say “gang related”. Certainly, it seems like an awful lot of murders involve both parties involved in other illegal activity, but maybe my intuition is skewed.

        • Earthly Knight says:

          https://www.nationalgangcenter.gov/survey-analysis/measuring-the-extent-of-gang-problems

          One way of sanity-checking the data is to look at violent crime in urban versus non-urban areas. Cities have it worse, but not by a lot.

          • gbdub says:

            Thanks for the link. Digging around in there a bit, including their FAQ, I found a few potentially interesting things:
            1) It seems that they do draw a distinction between “gangs” and “organized crime” – it wasn’t perfectly clear to me, but it seems to be at least possible that there’s room for “organized crime” that would not be called gang related. Then again they also allow that they might be overcounting by including any crime involving a gang member whether or not it was strictly done for the gang.
            2) 15% of all murders is still a vastly disproportionate number, given that gang membership is estimated at <1 million
            3) The site noted that gang violence is very urban, but varies from city to city, such that in LA and Chicago, 50%(!) of murders are gang related
            4) While overall violent crime has been decreasing, gang violent crime has been steady to somewhat increasing.

            Not sure if any of those really impact our points, but they were interesting to me.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            2) 15% of all murders is still a vastly disproportionate number, given that gang membership is estimated at <1 million

            This makes no sense– you’re implicitly comparing gang members, who are men at prime murdering age, to grandmothers and infants. There are 30 million men ages 15-30 in the country, we can estimate they murder around 10,000 people each year. This makes gangsters about 8-10 times more likely to commit homicide than other members of their age- and gender-matched cohort. To get any picture of the actual effects of gangs, it’s probably necessary to control for race and class as well. And there’s still going to be residual questions about the direction of causation, e.g. young men who choose to join gangs may have been antecedently more likely to kill.

          • Outis says:

            “Not by a lot” = 4 times in reporting to police, and 1.5 times in reporting to surveys? That sounds like a lot to me.

            Also, the discussion was about homicides. What is more likely:

            – When someone gets killed in rural areas, people just shrug their shoulders and carry on, until the NCVS comes by to ask and they go “oh yes, I guess they did kill Billy Bob last year”.

            – The police in cities want to drum up the crime numbers to get more funding, so they plant dead bodies from the morgue in people’s dashboards.

            – There are lots of minor violent crimes (e.g. a minor scuffle) that people in rural areas wouldn’t bother reporting to the police (whereas in cities the police is more likely to see them – consider bar brawls, schoolyard fights etc. – victim age is 12 and up, remember), but they do report to NCVS when asked explicitly about them, and pretty much the entirety of the discrepancy between police and NCVS data comes from such crimes, and not homicide.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            The “not a lot” link gives the homicide rate of 4.9 in cities, 3.8 in small incorporated towns, and 3.3 in unincorporated areas. That’s 1.5x, not much worrying about reporting.

            I would call 4x a lot and 1.5x not a lot.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            @ Outis

            I can’t find data on homicides in urban versus non-urban areas. But here are the five most urbanized states in America, along with their homicide rates in 2014:

            California: 4.6
            New Jersey: 4.4
            Nevada: 6.3
            Massachusetts: 1.6
            Hawaii: 2.2

            And the least urbanized states:

            Maine: 2.0
            Vermont: 0
            West Virginia: 5.9
            Mississippi: 11.1
            Montana: 2.9

            Like I said, there’s almost certainly a correlation, but it’s not going to be huge. As you can see from the map in the second link, you’d do better predicting a state’s homicide rate on the basis of its raw distance from the equator.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Earthly Knight

            Do we really have to pretend that hard that a state’s homicide rate is not highly correlated to the percentage of its population that is black and/or black+Hispanic?

          • Nornagest says:

            It doesn’t seem to clearly reduce to race or to urbanization, although there are correlations to both. Here’s 2012 data for California violent crime rates by county.

            Alpine County is tiny and probably a fluke. The next three counties are highly urbanized. But Shasta County? That’s 87% white, 8% Hispanic, and its only city is Redding, which isn’t all that big. Merced County is largely rural, though it’s half Hispanic. After that comes the next major urban area, Sacramento County, but following that we have Tehama, Plumas, and Mendocino counties, all rural too, with no significant black population and Hispanic populations somewhere in between Shasta’s and Merced’s.

            Except for Merced, interestingly, the high-crime rural counties form a belt across California at about latitude 40. There’s no obvious geographical commonalities besides that — some of them are in the Central Valley, some in the Coast Range or the northern Sierras. I wonder if we’re looking at the distribution network for a major drug supplier, or something like that.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Nornagest

            Your link doesn’t show homicide rates, it shows “violent crime” rates and those are utterly dominated by robbery and aggravated assault.

            For homicide rates this might be helpful, but it does not drill down further than state level.

          • Nornagest says:

            Yes, that’s what I said. For a number of reasons, usually homicide is used as a proxy for violent crime, not the other way around, but these numbers were easier to find. That said, there are homicide rates by county here, and covering a larger temporal range to boot. (You will need to page down a bit.) Data is missing for many counties, but the highest of those that reported in 2012 are San Joaquin County (12.7/100,000, rural), Monterey County (10.9, rural), Alameda County (9.9, urban), Merced (8.8, rural), and San Francisco (8.4, urban).

            Shasta County’s is middling at 3.9. Tehama, Plumas, and Mendocino did not report. The high-homicide rural counties here are all agricultural regions, mostly in the southern Central Valley, all with high Hispanic populations but many with low black.

      • Randy M says:

        But for some reason, an event which killed less than 3,500 people dominated the news.

        It’s somehow incomprehensible how a one-day spike of 100x in the murder rate would be noticed as a major event?

        • Earthly Knight says:

          From what nona said, it sounded like s/he thought we should care about each killing equally, which implies that we must allocate our attention to the causes of homicide in proportion to the number of homicides which they cause. This doesn’t leave any room for worrying about derivatives. Even if we do work in a clause allowing us to attend to abrupt spikes in the homicide rate, it’s going to have to have an expiration date. It would have taken less than a year for argument-related homicides to surpass the death toll of the 9/11 attacks, for instance, but I never saw a comparable surge in news articles about how the number of people killed over trivial quarrels was too damn high.

      • suntzuanime says:

        I’m excited by the potential of the internet to allow people to argue safely.

    • alaska3636 says:

      It doesn’t fit the media narrative that bad white people are killing innocent black people.

      Sailer writes about this and the disparity in crime statistics a lot. Here is his recent one:
      http://takimag.com/article/the_presidents_prejudices_steve_sailer#axzz4EJQmzs71

    • Tyrant Overlord Killidia says:

      Which is worse:

      1) A terrorist kills an unarmed Muslim in Syria
      2) A NATO soldier kills an unarmed Muslim in Syria

      • Nicholas says:

        Can’t we understand the central example of a terrorist in Syria to be a soldier with a questionable uniform and a Laissez-faire chain or command?

      • Nornagest says:

        They’re both equally bad, and the former’s a lot more common, but we’re currently bombing the shit out of the people responsible. Demanding action strikes me as less justified when the action we’re already taking can be measured in sorties and tons of ordnance.

      • hlynkacg says:

        *Joker quote* (you know the one) goes here.

    • gbdub says:

      Isn’t this pretty standard Toxoplasma of Rage? Innocent bystander kid taking a bullet is “boring” because, well, what’s there to argue about? Kid getting shot is bad. Black guy gets shot by white (err, non-black) police is exciting because it creates an obvious Pro Black People vs. Pro Cop divide. ToR theory predicts controversial thing to generate more heat than everyone-agrees-that’s-outrageous thing.

      Actually I’m surprised the Castile one didn’t fizzle, since that’s one that seemingly everyone thinks is bad (E.g. Tamir Rice and Eric Garner got less coverage than Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin). The proximity to Alton Sterling probably “helped” – ToR theory would expect the Sterling shooting to generate much more controversy, since the guy had a criminal record and could more plausibly be described as “resisting arrest”.

      • Nornagest says:

        The CCW thing makes it juicier. Both sides agree it’s bad, but one side thinks of it as “shot for peacefully exercising constitutional right”, and the other side thinks of it as “shot for being black”.

        • gbdub says:

          Actually that is an interesting application of ToR, given that the NRA (notionally on the same side for this one) got attacked for being racist for not immediately condemning the cop. Rather than “join us for this common cause!” it was “hate these racists too!”. That is, create rage rather than build alliance.

          (Interestingly the NRA did respond, and then got a fair amount of pushback from their membership for the response being insufficiently forceful).

      • Outis says:

        It’s really hard for me to take a side, because they are both in the wrong. If you look at the numbers, it’s clear that both black people and police people kill way more people than they should. And the extra-killingness of police is not disproportionately directed at black people, they just seem to kill everyone more.
        But is there a way to present that position in a publicly acceptable way?

    • SUT says:

      Everyone has a similar gripe to this parody: CEO requests a quick few changes to the website. While 90% of day to day antagonism is developer against developer, developer against designer. A convenient common enemy – especially in times when the company is going down – is the feckless executive. If only there were real leadership that respected the technical people, this company wouldn’t have so many problems executing, ya know?

      Compare to Mama Sterling’s lament. Her son has been in and out of jail for over a dozen separate assaults. He’s carrying a gun as a convicted felon, apparently because he has got mugged too many times. Given all this, is it really that surprising that fate caught up to him?

      But wait an alternative narrative is now available: her son is martyr, killed by an enemy of all people, for no reason other than selling CD’s.

      • Earthly Knight says:

        surprising

        The following words, when used to describe acts of violence, reek of apologia: “predictable”, “unsurprising”, “understandable.”* Watch out for them. They are rhetorically successful because, for whatever reason, we’re naively prone to think the intelligibility or predictability of a wrongful act serves to excuse it. But it does not. The most predictable acts in the world– communist regimes liquidating intellectuals, politicians lying to their constituents– do not become one jot less blameworthy just because we expect them to happen. So, no, it is not that surprising that Alton Sterling came to a violent end. What of it? If indeed he posed no serious threat to the police officers arresting him, they are murderers all the same.

        *This is a good example.

        • SUT says:

          Agree 100% with your point about rhetoric.

          I’m thinking of ‘surprising’ here in the actuarial sense of risk*exposure. When the red sox won the world series and the students partied in the streets and a girl ended up dead with a bean bag through the eye it was surprising because her individual lifetime exposure was low. But not surprising in the aggregate sense that someone out of the tens of thousands playing anarchy give the chance for multiple freak accidents to accumulate in a fatality. It’s not justified in the sense of justice, it’s more Schrodinger’s box, the consequence of natural law and probability.

          And that’s the problem with reducing these literally < 1 second interactions to the concept of murder. That in the heat of the moment (and let's be honest what job is more heat of the moment than cop?) deadly mistakes are going to occur at a low albeit tragic rate. Fortunately they're far rarer than fatal medical errors with negligence. You wouldn't call a doctor who made a split second mistake a murderer would you?

          • Earthly Knight says:

            It’s a nice try, but doctors who make fatal mistakes are (generally) not guilty of any crime because they lack mens rea. Alton Sterling’s death, in contrast, was no accident.

            Many murders (manslaughters, more realistically) occur as the result of split section decisions. Surely this is no excuse.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Depending on the jurisdiction, I think the distinction might be made between 1st and 2nd degree murder in a case like this where it might be hard to prove the police officer intended to kill Sterling, but IANAL…

          • gbdub says:

            I thought the difference between 1st and 2nd degree murder was usually premeditation (as opposed to intent)? So in this case it would be 2nd degree murder (at most) because the officer didn’t initiate the encounter with a plan to kill Sterling, even though at the time he actually killed him, he clearly intended to employ deadly force.

            It is not surprising that a person who makes a habit of getting arrested and dealing with criminals would come to a “bad end”. It’s fair to say that to minimize risk one should avoid doing those things.

            But that has (or should have) no particular bearing on whether the use of deadly force in the actual encounter that killed him was justified. Maybe the character of the victim makes things more or less “tragic” in your worldview, but I don’t want that included in our lawmaking.

            If the officer made a “mistake” it was in choosing to use deadly force in the scenario he was presented (it is possible investigation will determine this was not a mistake). Deploying his weapon, pointing it at Sterling, and pulling the trigger were all intentional acts. I’d say that’s a “mistake” worthy of punishment, just as a sufficiently egregious medical mistake is a crime or tort.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @gbdub:
            Premeditation might only need to occur mere seconds before pulling the trigger, depending on the state.

          • brad says:

            There’s no uniformity in the distinctions between first and second degree murder across U.S. jurisdictions. Some states don’t even have that distinction or at least not in those words.

            I believe second degree murder arose in the period after all murders were considered capital crimes. First degree murder then were capital eligible crimes and second degree murders were not. Some states which have abolished the death penalty nonetheless retain the distinction.

            Premeditation is one possible aggravator, though by no means universal, others include killing a police officer, killing for hire, or killing multiple victims.

      • Outis says:

        I think it’s surprising that American police resort to lethal violence so readily. Their training is shit, their rules of engagement are ridiculous, and their lack of accountability is maddening.

        • Tyrant Overlord Killidia says:

          America has a culture of lethal force. It’s not just the cops. If cops know that Americans love their guns, they’re going to be very quick to see any “insubordination” among the civilian populace as an escalation towards lethal force.

        • John Schilling says:

          Their training is shit

          Could you elaborate, with an emphasis for the basis of your knowledge of American police training procedures?

          • Outis says:

            https://theconversation.com/why-do-american-cops-kill-so-many-compared-to-european-cops-49696

            See the part where it mentions that “US police academies provided an average of 19 weeks of classroom instruction.” But it would be better to read the entire article.

          • John Schilling says:

            I believe the ~19 weeks of classroom training at a police academy, usually comes after two years in the classroom getting a BA in Criminal Justice or the equivalent. Plus the field training, and OJT as a rookie.

            So, yeah, European cops all go to national three-year academies. American cops by definition go through one of several hundred different programs, but your source very nearly lies by omission and does a poor job of convincing me that American cops are in general inadequately trained.

          • Sandy says:

            The NYPD’s website says applicants must have:

            60 college credits with a 2.0 G.P.A. from an accredited college or university
            OR
            2 years of full-time active military service in the United States Armed Forces with an honorable discharge and have a high school diploma or its equivalent

            So that BA in Criminal Justice isn’t a requirement. It could very well be a BA in French Pottery.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Wait, is the point of contention overall training, or training for situations where gunfire can happen?

          • John Schilling says:

            It could very well be a BA in French Pottery

            No, it really couldn’t. And you don’t really believe that; you’re just arguing for the sake of arguing.

          • Outis says:

            John Schilling: as Sandy showed, it can be (part of) a completely irrelevant BA (with a barely passing GPA), OR two years of service in the armed forces. Which, if anything, is likely to make things worse, in my opinion. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the police sometimes behaves like an occupation force.

          • Adam says:

            No, it isn’t worse. I’ve never been a police officer and don’t know what their training is like, but I was a Soldier and ROE/EOF was a huge thing drilled into us over and over, and consequently war crimes are fairly rare for U.S. warfighters, and when they happen, we’re actually prosecuted, and often by our own command. There is no blue wall of silence. Any cop with military experience is going to be used to being in a dangerous environment surrounded by hostile people carrying weapons that they are nonetheless not allowed to engage unless they shoot first. That seems to me to make them way less likely to panic and pull the trigger without just cause than a civilian police officer.

          • John Schilling says:

            …as Sandy showed, it can be (part of) a completely irrelevant BA (with a barely passing GPA), OR two years of service in the armed forces.

            Sandy showed no such thing. He showed that in one police department, one requirement is that a person have a BA in an unspecified major. Other departments have different requirements. All departments have the additional requirement that the recruiting officer stop laughing and pick himself up off the floor long enough to sign the paperwork, which is the likely result of a French-pottery BA applying to a police academy, if such a thing were to happen, which basically doesn’t happen.

            You have something approaching a good point with the military-service path, though see Adam’s response there. The idea that the recent controversial police shootings in the US have anything at all to do with applying police academy training to fine-arts/humanities BA holders is quite silly, and weakens your argument. You cited a source that screwed up by counting only the training that takes place at actual police academies, and you might want to walk away from that.

            Or do we have to actually look up the backgrounds of the various cops involved in recent controversial shootings to put this to rest?

          • hlynkacg says:

            Or do we have to actually look up the backgrounds of the various cops involved in recent controversial shootings to put this to rest?

            I’m staying out of this argument, but would be interested in seeing those results.

          • John Schilling says:

            Per hlynkacg’s request:

            CNN counts twelve notably controversial police shootings in the US since 2014 (inclusive), with sixteen officers having fired shots in those incidents. A bit of quick googling and,

            TL,DR: 8 officers with college degrees in some “pre-cop” major, 2 officers with probably non-relevant college education, 2 Coast Guard veterans, 1 Marine combat veteran, 1 with just police academy training, and 2 for whom I can’t find educational information. Specifics below.

            James Boyd incident: Officer Keith Sandy, unspecified two-year college degree but circumstances strongly suggest “pre-cop” of some sort, and Officer Dominique Perez, Marine combat veteran

            Michael Brown incident: Officer Darren Wilson, worked odd jobs before police academy

            Tamir Rice incident: Officer Tim Lochmann, degree in criminology

            Laquan Macdonald incident: Officer Jason Van Dyke, degree in criminal justice

            Anthony Hill incident: Officer Robert Olsen, on second career after working as a nutritionist

            Tony Robinson incident: Officer Matt Kenny, Coast Guard veteran

            Walter Scott incident: Officer Michael Slager, Coast Guard veteran

            Samuel Dubose incident: Officer Roy Tensing, degree in Criminal Justice

            Jeremy Mardis incident: Marshals Norris Greenhouse and Derrick Stafford, no data readily available

            Jamar Clark incident: Officer Mark Riggenberg, degree in Law Enforcement, and Officer Dusting Schwarze, degree in Criminal Justice

            Philando Castille incident: Officer Jeronimo Yanez, degree in Law Enforcement

            Alton Sterling incident: Officer Blane Salamoni, degree in Criminal Justice, and officer Howie Lake, unspecified college degree (possibly dropout).

          • Outis says:

            Adam: I understand that you are proud of having been a soldier (lowercase, please, we’re not speaking German), and you should be. But:
            – War crimes and other abuses do happen, e.g. Abu Grahib.
            – Soldiers may respect their rules of engagement more than police do (although I see no reason why we should assume that), but they are *different* rules of engagement. The RoEs (and the attitude, and the instincts) that are appropriate in a hostile country are not the same that are appropriate in your own cities.
            – It’s possible that the experience of being in the military is a plus, but the experience of being part of an occupation force (which is what most US soldiers get from a tour of duty in Iraq or Afghanistan) still seems like a negative, if you do retain anything from it.
            – There is a lot of troop-worship in America. If you’re used to expecting Thanks for your Service in the green, you’re more likely to expect the same in the blue. That probably corroborates the whole Contempt of Cop problem.

            John Schilling: we were looking at the NYPD, too, which we can expect to be one of the most professional PDs in the country, for obvious reasons. But each little town in America has their own PD. How much training do you think *they* get?

            Also, the police is known to use IQ tests to exclude candidates with an IQ that is *too high*.

            Also, it’s not just the length of the training, but also the contents. Perhaps the American training spends more time on how many feet away a knife attacker needs to be before you can shoot him faster than he can stab you (it’s something like 25 feet, right?), and European police training focuses more on how to get a suspect to comply without using weapons. I don’t have data on that, but just by looking at how the different police forces actually behave, it seems more likely than not.

            Basically, if blacks have a “culture of violence” which is part of the reason for their increased criminality, why can’t the same be true of American police?

          • John Schilling says:

            John Schilling: we were looking at the NYPD, too, which we can expect to be one of the most professional PDs in the country, for obvious reasons. But each little town in America has their own PD. How much training do you think *they* get?

            About the same, actually. If the town isn’t big enough to have its own police academy, it almost certainly arranges to use the state’s or maybe the nearest major city’s academy. And anyone planning a career in law enforcement is going to start with either a college degree in criminal justice or a stint in some relevant part of the military, not wandering around hoping to find a vacancy in a small town that will hire people fresh out of high school and train them on the job.

            And again, the actual shootings are being carried out by professional police officers who mostly have years of specialized training in How To Be A Police Officer. If they are happening in small towns, and I’m not sure why you care, then clearly the small-town PDs are getting people who have years of dedicated training.

            Maybe the problem isn’t with lack of training after all, or is that simply unthinkable?

          • Nornagest says:

            Perhaps the American training spends more time on how many feet away a knife attacker needs to be before you can shoot him faster than he can stab you (it’s something like 25 feet, right?)

            The usual figure is 21 feet, but I’d expect a lot of individual variation.

          • Who wouldn't want to be anonymous says:

            > (lowercase, please, we’re not speaking German)

            Do you have a problem with capitalizing President, or Congress, or Ambassador, or Judge, or Head of State? Or State (and Commonwealth) for that matter. How about American English, African-American or Her Majesty the Queen?

            In other words, do you reserve this particular antipathy for the military or are you just militantly opposed to literacy?

    • JayT says:

      Lots of good answers, but I think the most likely is that a gang-related killing is a “dog bites man” story. Everyone expects it, everyone knows it happens, and everyone thinks the attacker is in the wrong. There’s no story there.

      The police shootings have many more angles to look at and have more opportunity for discussion.

    • BBA says:

      The difference is class. The commentariat, including its African American members, is middle to upper middle class. Gang violence, for the most part, is limited to the poor; police violence can affect people of any class.

      • JayT says:

        I don’t know if I agree with that. What was the last time you heard about police brutality against a middle to upper class person? It may happen, but if it does, it doesn’t make the news.

        • Lumifer says:

          Try this.

          • JayT says:

            Two things, (1) that’s a three year old story and I’d never heard it before and I doubt the vast majority have either, so I would say that it doesn’t meet the requirement of “making the news”, and (2) while completely despicable, I don’t think that kind of police brutality is really the same issue as what the BLM protestors are railing against, so I don’t think upper class white people think of these kinds of stories when an inner city black kid gets shot by the police.

        • BBA says:

          Maybe it doesn’t cross the threshold of brutality, but the 2009 arrest of Henry Louis Gates was in the back of my mind when I wrote that.

        • The Nybbler says:

          The cops beat up middle class teens fairly regularly. Middle class white parents blame the teens. I’ve personally, as an upper middle class adult, had one encounter where I was pepper sprayed while being restrained and not resisting, and another where I was arrested over a minor traffic violation. All you need to do is fail to show cops the fawning deference Americans (white and black, despite the narrative) are taught to show. This is known as “contempt of cop” or more colorfully, “failure to kneel at the zipper.”

          • CatCube says:

            I’d like to hear those stories. In my own experience, I’ve had only positive contacts with an officer (even when being pulled over) and I’ve only shown what I would consider basic politeness to strangers, of the variety I would display to a cashier, etc.

            What does “failing to show…fawning deference” entail? Like, I said, I’ve never been anything other than merely polite, and never had any issues.

            Edit: Tone. After hitting reply, I realized it came off as hostile, when I am merely curious.

          • “What does “failing to show…fawning deference” entail? ”

            I’m not the poster you are asking, but I’ve had one experience that fits the pattern.

            I had attended a conference in New Orleans, was in the airport waiting for a flight, accompanied by some of the students who had been at the conference. It was late at night, the airport was empty. We sat down on the floor to talk. A policeman told us to move. His view was that we were blocking the doors, which would have been a problem if the airport had been at all busy. We moved, sat down again after looking at the policeman to see if he was objecting to where we now were. After a while a policeman, I think the same one (this must have been over forty years ago, and I’m going by memory) again told us to move. One of the students asked him for his badge number–at which point he arrested us, handcuffed me, marched us through the airport. We were driven to a police station, spent the night (I think) in jail, were released after one of the students got in touch with his father, who presumably had some influence.

            The official charge was that we had refused to move, which was not true, and I think disturbing the peace. But it was clear from conversation with the officer who drove us to the station that that wasn’t the story the arresting officer told other officers and that our real offense was giving the arresting officer lip–most obviously asking for his badge number with the implication that the result would be a complaint.

          • The Nybbler says:

            The first one I swore at for running a speed trap. “Step out of the car.” I do. He then puts his hand on his baton and tells me to turn around. Figuring I ought to see any blows he’s going to deliver, I don’t. Long story short, after he shoves me a bit and twists my arm some, his backup arrives, the largest of them tackles me, several of them pick me up and drop me on the ground, then hold me while the original cop pepper sprays me. Then I’m arrested on felony assault and intimidation.

            The second was simpler. The cop stepped in front of me to stop me. Rather than stop (against the laws of physics) or hit him, I took a hard left. He took this as “running”. I should have actually run, considering the result.

          • Skivverus says:

            This sounds like a case of extreme local variation – that is, in some locales/districts, the police are actually nice, while in other districts you have different police, who happen to be racist (possibly due to being picked from an equally-racist local population), and in still other districts the police are just assholes to everyone.
            Since, in general, no one reports their own physical location on the internet (for good reason, granted), reports on police behavior [on the internet] sound like “all US police are (nice|assholes|racist)”, which tends to simplify down to “all US police are (nice|assholes|racist)” due to racism being a plausible (and at least sometimes actual) mechanism for police being nice to some people but assholes to others.

            Personally, I’ve only had “nice” interactions with police so far (and I do look white), and very few of them at that (much like CatCube’s, I suppose), so my empirical evidence is limited.

      • Sandy says:

        I don’t know if it’s overwhelmingly so, but the majority of police violence is directed against the poor. In theory, geography may restrict gang violence to the poor and allow police violence against all sections of society. In practice, that’s not the case and low-income men are disproportionately the targets of police violence.

    • John Schilling says:

      If you can’t even imagine doing anything about it, knowing about it is just going to make you feel bad. Newspapers, etc, don’t stay in business by making their customers feel bad.

      Cop kills black man, we can do something about that. Cops are mostly decent people who are ashamed to be thought of as murderers, so enough visible protests and they really might stop doing what we are calling murder this week. Or their bosses might order them to stop, and we’re pretty sure the cops won’t march into city hall and say “yeah right” while ordering the treasurer to keep signing their paychecks at literal gunpoint. At a minimum, we’re pretty sure the cops won’t go out and kill the protesters.

      Street gangs will kill people who criticize them, already finance themselves at gunpoint, and don’t care what anyone outside of a fairly narrow circle thinks of them. Short of actually waging war against them, there’s nothing to be done that isn’t already being done, and that’s not enough. The average newspaper reader, twitter activist, or even street protester isn’t up for waging war against anyone, so that’s out. If there were a credible political movement for “let’s militarize the police even more and send them out against the conspicuously nonwhite street gangs”, you’d probably see some photogenic dead kids in the media outlets catering to that demographic, but this isn’t the year and probably isn’t the decade for that. So since there’s nothing we are going to do about it, the easiest and most comfortable thing is to not care about it.

      See, e.g., people caring about the IDF killing Palestinian civilians, or a generation back the Apartheid regime in South Africa killing blacks and coloreds, but not so much violence in the other direction even when clearly unjustified. It’s easiest not to care about that sort of thing, except when it is being done by people who care about what we think.

      • “See, e.g., people caring about the IDF killing Palestinian civilians, or a generation back the Apartheid regime in South Africa killing blacks and coloreds, but not so much violence in the other direction even when clearly unjustified. It’s easiest not to care about that sort of thing, except when it is being done by people who care about what we think.”

        South Africa is a particularly striking case. Killing by the Apartheid regime was on the scale of tens or hundreds. Black on black killing in several different black African countries was on the scale of hundreds of thousands.

        But I think the difference was less “people who care about what we think”–the black African governments got foreign aid money and surely wanted to keep getting it–than the fact that the white on black killing fitted a narrative we were familiar with and had strong views on, the black on black didn’t.

      • I agree that feeling there’s some chance of doing something about a problem greatly increases the chance that some bad thing will be seen as a possible project. This is presumably why it’s hard to get people work on preventing aging.

        David Friedman, it can be hard to change laws, but that’s a much better defined problem and probably an easier problem than changing attitudes.

    • Adam says:

      Someone else said it, but novelty is newsworthy, especially at the national level. When I was a kid, it seemed to me like every single day the nightly local news would report a girl getting shot in gang crossfire while standing in line at an ice cream truck. That’s probably my memory exaggerating, but certainly gang-related violence was a huge issue in early-90s Los Angeles. I’m sure you never heard of a single isolated incident wherever you lived at the time. But you probably heard about Rampart. News is when something that doesn’t happen every single day happens.

      As for protests, well, nobody protested gang violence then, either, when it was a much bigger problem. Why not? Well, the police, social workers, city government in general, even the national government, all expended tremendous resources into trying to stop gang violence. They largely succeeded. Gangs might today kill more people than police officers do, but they kill less people than they did 30 years ago. You don’t protest what the government is already paying attention to and addressing.

  3. Jon S says:

    I’m looking for a new primary care doctor (in the US), and I live right by a college of osteopathic medicine. I don’t know much about osteopathy. I have vague, probably unfounded, suspicions of it being a little quacky. For example, I associate it with homeopathy (I don’t remember why).

    Could somebody with knowledge of the field explain how a DO is likely to vary from a typical MD? Are there reasons I should be inclined to seek out or stay away from DO’s for primary care?

    • Lumifer says:

      Osteopaths (“osteo” = bone, “path” = not right) are not general practitioners and wouldn’t make a good primary care doctor. They are specialists.

      • Aaron Brown says:

        Lumifer, in the United States DOs (people with the “Doctor of Osteopathy” degree) can be GPs or specialize in various things. Before I moved my GP was a DO, as was the psychiatrist who referred me. In practice they are like MDs who can crack backs (though mine never did any musculoskeletal manipulation with me).

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osteopathic_medicine_in_the_United_States

        In answer to Jon S’s question, I think DOs are fine. As far as I can tell any quackiness is merely historical.

        • Jon S says:

          Thanks for the replies, Aaron and everybody else who weighed in!

        • Lumifer says:

          Interesting, I didn’t realize osteopaths merged so much into mainstream medicine. So other than history and the letters after your name, are there meaningful differences between DOs and MDs now?

    • keranih says:

      You may be thinking of orthopedic doctors – “bone poppers”- who specialize in joint and musculo-skeletal pain. For what they do – which is somewhat like physical therapists, but more advanced – they are very useful.

      Some branches of orthopedic study claim that spinal “adjustment” can manage depression, blood issues, gall bladder issues, forgetfulness, etc, etc. The most charitable interpretation I have on this is that there are links between orthopedic medicine and acupuncture, and apparently acupuncture is sometimes good at those things.

      There seems to be a higher-than-standard amount of frauds and woo dust dispensers among orthopedics, but this doesn’t mean they are all frauds.

      • fubarobfusco says:

        Some branches of orthopedic study claim that spinal “adjustment” can manage depression, blood issues, gall bladder issues, forgetfulness, etc, etc.

        This sounds more like a description of chiropractors, specifically “straight chiropractic”.

    • Anonymous says:

      In the old days in meant something. Today it mostly represents a historical accident about how a particular medical school was founded. A DO has the same requirements and is eligible for the same residencies as an MD.

      The one real difference is that the median DO granting school is a little easier to get into than the median MD granting school. But both are more difficult to get into than say a Caribbean medical school

    • dndnrsn says:

      According to Wikipedia DOs in the US are part of the AMA and are trained to ordinary medical standards, but it’s different elsewhere.

  4. onyomi says:

    Which do people think is a better approach to success: the scatter-shot approach described by Scott Adams (he basically attributes his success to having tried a great many things, most of which failed, but a few of which succeeded enough to more than offset the failures, the most obvious being a comic about the workplace which happened to hit at the right time) or the specialize and focus approach?

    My personal focus tends to be too scattered, I think. Many, many different things interest and excite me, but I have trouble staying focused on any one long enough to make a real contribution. I look at most really successful people and see people who have figured out what they really want to do, usually early on, and focused rather obsessively on that.

    On the other hand, looking at people like musicians and sports stars may give a skewed picture of success. Most wealthy people are not musicians and sports stars, but business people, who, in many cases, tried many different things before one thing worked out.

    I realize that these two aren’t entirely mutually exclusive (one could be obsessively focused on being a successful musician yet still have to go through much trial and error to find a style that works for you), but there does seem to be at least some contradiction. Thoughts?

    • I’m pretty sure finding a low-risk, high-demand, low-sexiness career like accountant or plumber you can get hired into is the optimal way to make money for most people, but it may not be optimal for life experiences and such.

      • Mary says:

        Whenever people ask for what they should major in to be a writer, I say one in which they can have a productive career that will not eat up all their time and writing energy.

        Tax accountant would be ideal, since many of them work seasonally.

    • Lumifer says:

      I don’t think discussing such issues at this level of generality is useful at all. The only possible answer is “it depends”. People are quite different in their abilities, preferences, etc. and something aimed at an “average” often fits no one in particular.

      • onyomi says:

        Well, for those who think “it depends,” what does it depend on? How to know which approach is best suited to you, assuming “career success” broadly defined is a major goal (as opposed to say, maximum leisure time).

        • Lumifer says:

          It depends on.. lessee…

          * Your risk tolerance
          * Your IQ
          * Your desire for novelty (and tolerance of boredom)
          * The opportunities open to you
          * Your criteria of success
          * The degree to which you know yourself
          * The degree to which your preferences are stable in time

          …etc.

          • Ruri says:

            Can you elaborate, please, how exactly choice between trying loads of things/concentrating on one thing depends on your IQ?

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Ruri

            IQ strongly affects how quickly you learn things and how well can you orient yourself in new situations. People with low IQ would have trouble hopping from one thing to the next — it will be a slow and painful process for them.

    • SolipsisticUtilitarian says:

      The contradiction can be resolved if we assume that the criteria for success is different in the respective fields. A musician knows how to get into Carnegie Hall: Practice. You have to accumulate a lot of skill to become a top performer, and if you spend your time dabbling around with other instruments, you are going to be outclassed by more focused musicians.

      With entrepeneurs and business people and maybe also artists, it’s not the amount of skill they have, but having the right idea. In contrast to sports, nobody has yet figured out a training scheme for rising to the top of your field, so pretty much everyone is shooting in the dark. It thus makes sense that people who are trying a few different things may end up finding the one thing that actually works, which is often just due to chance.

      But in these latter cases, we should not fall prey to the apex fallacy. Just because those people who achieved massive success followed a certain strategy does not mean it’s wise to follow this strategy if you just want modeate amounts of success.

    • Adam says:

      You’re an academic, so are you talking about academic success? Clearly, super sharp focus on a single area of expertise seems to be the best path to success there.

  5. Teal says:

    For people that think in general that misgendering is a major wrong (i.e. if you think the whole trans thing is nonsense, just move along) do you draw a distinction between using non-preferred gendered pronouns and not using preferred pronouns on the other?

    In other words just how important is it that ze be used over singular they or vice-versa? Is whatever distinction there is between them (which is what exactly?) really a matter deep fundamental identity to anyone?

    • DavidS says:

      Not sure the i.e. follows (I think it’s possible to neither see misgendering as a major wrong, nor think trans is nonsense).

      On the question: surely the ‘matter of deep fundamental identity’ is a question for trans people. I have no idea if people feel super-strongly about ‘ze’ rather than ‘they’. But if someone said they did, I would use the term they preferred.

    • Lysenko says:

      I try to be as conscientious as possible in using the preferred binary gender pronoun for someone who is MtF or FtM and has transitioned socially, though I will often default to physical sex matching pronouns for discussing their past life. That said, I’ll misgender obviously not transgender people from time to time in my day to day interactions at work, so I would hope that a certain amount of leeway is granted there.

      Ze/Zir pricks my innner pedant. They/their is a grammatically correct in the singular and has long established usage.

      • Long established usage, but a striking clash with the logic of the language. If there were a well established new gender neutral pronoun I would be happy to use it instead.

        • Izaak Weiss says:

          We did the same thing with “you” three hundred years ago. (it went from plural to singular and plural)

          • The original Mr. X says:

            I dunno, using the plural for an important singular seems to make more intuitive sense somehow than using the plural for an indeterminate singular.

      • houseboatonstyxb says:

        @ Lysenko
        Ze/Zir pricks my inner pedant.

        It pleases my inner language-improver. ‘They’ is fine where it’s clear. But “They told me that they would be arriving after their kids” would be more clear as “Zie told me that they would arrive after zis kids”. (Hm, then would we need ‘cis-they’ for third person plural?)

        • Randy M says:

          On twitter, perhaps. In the real world, you’re going to get “Who’s ‘Zis’?” in response plenty often.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Language changes.

            First the change is something private or very context dependent. Then it is an in-group marker. Then it starts leaking out to the broad public. Then, perhaps, the language changes. Or the change does not gain acceptance and the language doesn’t change.

            But the in-group language leaking out the wider world will always have the potential to be confusing.

          • Randy M says:

            And confusion is the opposite of clarity, what houseboat said he was going for. Of course, he probably meant “more clear once universally adopted” or such, but that’s kind of begging the question.

    • AlphaGamma says:

      My view is that nobody has much of a right to be uncomfortable with singular they, as there are circumstances in which it can be used to refer to anyone (unspecified person, unknown gender, etc.). In addition, if everyone chooses a different genderless pronoun (ze, xe, ey, co…) and you’re required to remember each person’s pronoun, we might as well not use pronouns at all and just use names.

      I will use whichever people prefer of he, she or singular they. If someone dislikes all of these, I would probably just not use pronouns and use that person’s name.

      • Teal says:

        That’s pretty much where I am, but I’d be willing to reconsider if anyone wanted to make the argument that, no it really is a big deal.

      • “My view is that nobody has much of a right to be uncomfortable with singular they”

        I think everyone has a right to be uncomfortable with it, for reasons that have nothing to do with misgendering. I hear it as a plural subject taking a singular verb–”they is.” Or a singular subject taking a plural pronoun and verb, “Kerry says that they are hungry.”

        We need a gender neutral singular. The one case I can think of where a similar problem was spontaneously solved is the rise of “Ms” for a marital indefinite.

        • CAE_Jones says:

          I am reminded of how ‘thou’ fell out of use.
          Please correct me if I’m wrong, but ‘thou’ died off partly because English absorbed the T-V distinction (when ‘thou’ was originally only singular), which meant it offended the upper class, and then the trend made its way throughout society. (I have to wonder why ‘thou’, of all the words that the English aristocracy found offensive, actually died out, while ancient profanity remains in common use all over the Anglosphere today.)
          Of course, people still want to distinguish plural and singular, so we have words like y’all and yous. Much like thou, y’all is seen as a hick thing, but even though the elites and the media avoid it, I’m not aware of a push to squash it. (Y’all and yous don’t have the T-V baggage, after all.)
          So now we have singular ‘they’ trying to become more like ‘you’, rather than being reserved for nonspecific situations. It’s being pushed in a similar way to how ‘thou’ was wiped out. The cultural elites don’t have quite the level of influence that the Elizabethan ruling class had, so I don’t see it turning out quite so successful, but the similarities are striking enough to make me doubt it will fail entirely.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Reminds me of the prosecution’s line from the trial of Sir Walter Raleigh: “Thou — and yes, I thou thee, thou traitor!”

      • Lumifer says:

        My view is that nobody has much of a right to be uncomfortable with singular they

        I’m sorry, on which basis are you deciding who has which rights?

        • Njordsier says:

          Is the statement less objectionable if you swap “reason” for “right”? I’m guessing AlphaGamma meant that anyway.

          • AlphaGamma says:

            I did. Apologies for any misunderstanding.

          • Lumifer says:

            Less, but not out of the woods yet : -)

            The problem is deciding for other people what they have a reason to be uncomfortable with and what they don’t.

      • Orphan Wilde says:

        Anybody is allowed to be uncomfortable with anything at all they want to be uncomfortable with.

        I’m allowed to say things that make other people uncomfortable.

        They’re allowed to not listen.

      • The original Mr. X says:

        My view is that nobody has much of a right to be uncomfortable with singular they, as there are circumstances in which it can be used to refer to anyone (unspecified person, unknown gender, etc.).

        Eh, kinda…

        It can indeed be used to refer to unspecified people or people of unknown gender (“If anybody comes looking for me, tell them I’ve gone to lunch”), but I don’t think it would be correct usage to use it for some known person (“My mother came to visit yesterday, and they said that…”).

  6. Dr Dealgood says:

    SSC Science & Scholarship Commentary Thread
    ~SSCience~

    What is this?
    > A lot of us come from academic backgrounds, or just occasionally stumble across interesting research, and think “what will people at SSC make of this?” Well now there’s a place to find that without reading 84 quadrillion comments first. Just Ctrl+F and search for ~ S S C i e n c e ~ without spaces.

    How does it work?
    > On the fractional Open Threads commenters are welcome to post links to and suggest for consideration any articles, and I will put an updated list of those suggestions in the top-level post for each.
    > During the integer Open Thread, I will select one article from the list for general discussion.

    Who can participate?
    > Everyone! Just read the article you plan to comment on or suggest, at least past the Abstract, and then feel free to post away.

    How do we keep it from descending into murderous anarchy?
    > This thread is strictly apolitical: even if you think an article has “policy implications,” this is not the appropriate place to discuss them. Violators will be drawn and quartered.

    Suggested Articles:
    1. Alliteration suggested the preprint study Genetic evidence for natural selection in humans in the contemporary United States, in the 53.25 Open Thread.
    2. Ilyusha suggested the extremely bizarre study Does comedy kill? A retrospective, longitudinal cohort, nested case–control study of humour and longevity in 53 British comedians, in Links 7/16.
    3. I suggested Enhanced Longevity by Ibuprofen, Conserved in Multiple Species, Occurs in Yeast through Inhibition of Tryptophan Import in the 53.5 Open Thread
    4. keranih suggested Executive Decision-Making in the Domestic Sheep in the 53.5 Open Thread

    Article chosen for discussion in OT 54 will be Executive Decision-Making in the Domestic Sheep, suggested by keranih.

  7. onyomi says:

    Suggestion: we need a lot more physical education in America, and by “physical education” I don’t mean “playing soccer while the history teacher looks on,” I mean like, actually teaching kids how to sit, stand, run, move, lift heavy things, etc. with good form. Why on earth don’t we teach this as a fundamental life skill?

    A few theories: most obvious is knowledge is lacking and hiring a professional movement coach is a lot more expensive than your average gym teacher. Physically disciplining how children move and hold themselves (sit up straight!) smacks of an old-fashioned style of education negatively associated in peoples’ minds with the nun who hits you with a ruler, etc. This kind of knowledge tends to be concentrated in the dance profession, which is gendered female (and so boys would balk at being required to learn to “dance,” though really there’s no reason one has to dance to gain body awareness: learning good weightlifting form is something men, if not everyone should be taught, for example).

    I think if we brought back focus on posture, movement, etc. we could not only reduce problems like obesity, back pain, and nearsightedness, but it might even improve concentration: children with good posture probably concentrate better than those slumped over.

    Some Chinese schools have experimented with working on children’s posture and creating desks to prevent nearsightedness, which is nearly universal in China.

    • Dr Dealgood says:

      I might be wrong, but weren’t turn-of-the-century schools really big on proper posture and calisthenic exercise? And, in terms of normal posture and movement, the nun-with-a-ruler approach doesn’t seem like it would be obviously worse than a certified movement coach.

      It might be one of the more interesting consequences of reduced school discipline if slouching has health ramifications.

      • onyomi says:

        Yes, people definitely had better posture back in the day, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this correlated to lower incidence of back problems. I also think it’s hard to fully reckon with the psychological and other effects of something like bad posture. I’ve heard of studies showing improvements in biomarkers for stress, heart rate, maybe even hormones, etc., for example, just by putting people in “powerful” positions. If you stand there in a proud victorious pose long enough, your body starts matching the biochemistry. Conversely, sitting in a hunched over, slouched, closed off position as we’d expect of a sad or injured animal, might have a negative effect on mood, long-term.

        • Bone Man with Shiny Hat says:

          I’ve heard of studies showing improvements in biomarkers for stress, heart rate, maybe even hormones, etc., for example, just by putting people in “powerful” positions.

          I think those were some of the victims of the replication crisis. I can’ t believe all that time I spent with my hands on my hips like Ozymandias (the statue, not the blogger) was a complete waste.

          (New heuristic: was there a TED Talk about something? Then disbelieve it.)

    • Lumifer says:

      This kind of knowledge tends to be concentrated in the dance profession, which is gendered female

      The male equivalent is martial arts.

      As to proper posture, I would suggest that not requiring pupils to sit immobile for long periods of time is a better approach then trying to discipline them into better sitting postures.

      • onyomi says:

        Yeah, I was thinking it’s not a coincidence that they are more open to this in China, where schools frequently make people go through certain movement routines, many of them inspired by traditional martial arts.

        Yoga is also gendered more male in India than in the US. Problem is US has a bias toward viewing anything “dance-like” as gendered feminine (and Chinese martial arts are dance-like, too). Not saying we couldn’t design a generalized movement curriculum to appeal to boys and girls, just that this may be something of an obstacle in the US.

        • Lumifer says:

          I don’t know about the Chinese martial arts being dance-like. The hard styles like Shaolin are sufficiently like other hard styles (karate, taekwondo), so it’s the goose-gander equivalence. As to the soft or internal styles, well, the only thing which is somewhat like a dance is Pakua/Bagua where you move in a circle. But I expect that martial-arts-like exercises in China would be mostly based on Tai Chi.

          • onyomi says:

            No, Tai Chi is considered to be too slow for children. As in the US, it is viewed as being more for old people. To the extent school children’s exercises resemble martial arts, it is more the crisp, linear movements of a Shaolin-type style than the soft, slow, circular movements of Tai Chi.

          • Lumifer says:

            Hm. Tai Chi has been neutered into being exercise for old people, but it is actually a viable martial art and can be taught as such. In the US it’s difficult (but not impossible) to find sifus who treat it as a fighting style, but are you saying the situation is similar in China as well?

          • onyomi says:

            It is similar in China. There is a minority who treat it as a serious martial art and probably a greater awareness than in the US that it is a martial art, but it’s still most frequently practiced as a health exercise for old people.

            And even among the more serious martial artists, most think that an ideal course of study would be to learn Shaolin as a kid, when you’re hyperactive and flexible and can fall on your face, and learn Taiji, Bagua, etc. when you’re an adult and have some patience.

          • Lumifer says:

            In the sense of the usual wisdom that after three years a hard-style student will beat the inner-style student, but after ten years the situation will be reversed?

          • onyomi says:

            It’s not so much that (though the internal practitioners certainly like to claim that their arts have a higher “ceiling” so to speak), as the idea that there is a time in one’s life when learning Shaolin is appropriate and a time when learning Taiji is appropriate. Which is not to say you can’t do Shaolin into old age. Some do, but if you’re sixty and have never previously done martial arts, Shaolin is probably not the place to start, as you’ll probably pull a muscle or something. Conversely, children have the flexibility, resilience, and energy to start with Shaolin, but generally lack the patience for something like Taiji.

      • dndnrsn says:

        Would it be feasible to make everybody, say, do judo? Grappling martial arts are more fun than striking because you can spar earlier, harder, and more.

        Given that this is the US, wrestling is more common than judo, but I don’t know how easy it would be to integrate a bunch of kids who are just doing it as phys ed into the competitive wrestling teams. BJJ is probably safer than judo because more groundwork, but people who can teach it competently are rarer than people who can teach judo competently.

        • Lysenko says:

          I think it would be a tough sell on a couple levels.

          A) “I spend all this time and effort trying to teach my kids that fighting is wrong, and you want to teach them fighting?!”

          B) bullying opportunities. And yes, I am fully aware that in theory a good grounding in something like judo, jujitsu, or aikido should make the picked-upon kids less of a target, but in the real world differential physical capability, differential mental commitment, and limited teacher attention means that at the very least it increases the risk for kids.

          That said, one of my pet hobby-horses is that physical education is really important and I wish that it was taught in a way that imparted A) more practical skills like martial arts, and B) in a way that didn’t make the pencil-necked geeks among us (like I was) miserable and inclined to run even HARDER from anything that smacked of the locker room.

        • onyomi says:

          I did Judo for several years as a kid and was even pretty good at it, but I wouldn’t describe my body and movement awareness as having been very good until much later when I started to focus on it specifically (though who knows, it might have been even worse in the counterfactual world where I didn’t do Judo).

          I guess I’m saying that Judo might be a good sport for kids to get in shape and learn some self defense, but I’m not sure it’s ideal for teaching things like posture and body awareness.

          To overgeneralize, I think grappling sports focus more on teaching you how to manipulate the opponent’s body as compared to striking sports, which require a greater emphasis on your own body mechanics (though both require some degree of both). Gymnastics probably requires more body awareness than either, but as currently taught I think it is a bit harsh on the body, with lots of impact and not necessarily a lot of emphasis on awareness.

          In some ways, what I’m thinking of is both more thoroughgoing yet also much simpler than teaching children any particular sport: more just teaching them very basic things like how to sit, how to stand, how to run, how to pick up something heavy, etc. and correcting them gradually but persistently.

          • Nornagest says:

            Aikido, which broadly speaking is a grappling art, probably has more emphasis on proper posture and form than any other empty-hand art I’ve been exposed to. Partly this is because it’s stand-up grappling (jujitsu goes to the ground often, and form goes to hell immediately after), but another big factor is just that it’s got a much smaller curriculum than most arts: if you’re only teaching twenty or so basic techniques, you have the luxury of being very picky about how they’re done. If you have a hundred techniques to get through, you have your hands full ensuring they’re all basically correct.

            It also has a lot of explicit stance work, but plenty of striking arts have that too, especially Chinese ones.

          • If you want non-specific body awareness, I’d go with Feldenkrais or Sonnon’s joint mobility exercises, or Eric Franklin’s work with anatomy and visualization.

            I believe it’s very important to build from awareness, and correction is something to use very cautiously if at all.

          • I did Judo from about ten to eighteen. I think it was good for me in several ways.

            To begin with, most other sports were things the other kids did lots of for fun, hence were much better at than I was. At judo we were more nearly all starting even. So it reduced my tendency to assume that I was bad at physical activities.

            The first sport I was actually good at was SCA combat, mostly sword and shield, starting in my early twenties. I think the judo helped quite a lot with that, because it taught me how to move while staying on balance.

    • dndnrsn says:

      I doubt it would do much to address obesity – I think it’s generally agreed that for fat loss exercise is much less important than diet.

      Those desks look like they would help with posture. Extensive Wikipedia research tells me that people aren’t even fully sure what causes myopia, though.

      • onyomi says:

        My view of myopia (and sorry, I’m not backing this up with any studies or anything; just my opinion) is that it is primarily the accumulated result of a great deal of eye strain, especially during developmental years.

        In order to focus on something near (like a book) the ciliary muscles of the eye have to pull on the eyeball in such a way as to temporarily lengthen it. In susceptible individuals, these muscles probably become overused and shortened, resulting in excessive pull on the eyeball, gradually lengthening it, especially during the maturation process to a longer-than-natural size. Wearing corrective lenses, unfortunately, exacerbates this, as it denecessitates the countervailing pull for seeing things at a distance.

        Obviously this doesn’t happen to everyone who reads a lot, but it’s also true that people who read very little or not at all almost never develop severe myopia, as tribal people who never hear really loud noise almost never develop hearing loss. Some people can eat really fattening food, listen to loud music, and read all day without developing obesity, hearing loss, or myopia, but almost no one develops these problems without these environmental factors.

        Which is not to say that myopia could be entirely avoided, given genetic predispositions and the high prevalence of close work in our culture, but a little awareness could probably greatly reduce the prevalence and severity.

      • onyomi says:

        My view of myopia (and sorry, I’m not backing this up with any studies or anything; just my opinion) is that it is primarily the accumulated result of a great deal of eye strain. In order to focus on something near (like a book) the ciliary muscles of the eye have to pull on the eyeball in such a way as to temporarily lengthen it. In susceptible individuals, these muscles probably become overused and shortened, resulting in excessive pull on the eyeball, gradually lengthening it, especially during the maturation process to a longer-than-natural size. Wearing corrective lenses, unfortunately, exacerbates this, as it denecessitates the countervailing pull for seeing things at a distance.

        Obviously this doesn’t happen to everyone who reads a lot, but it’s also true that people who read very little or not at all almost never develop severe myopia, as tribal people who never hear really loud noise almost never develop hearing loss. Some people can eat really fattening food, listen to loud music, and read all day without developing obesity, hearing loss, or myopia, but almost no one develops these problems without these environmental factors.

        Which is not to say that myopia could be entirely avoided, given genetic predispositions and the high prevalence of close work in our culture, but a little awareness could probably greatly reduce the prevalence and severity.

      • fasdfasdfa says:

        What’s better for not getting fat in the first place?

    • Discussion of posture

      Here’s my bit:

      Do not try to consciously correct your posture. You don’t know enough. Some evidence– I tried it, and just gave myself backaches. I know other people who tried to correct their posture, and the results didn’t seem to be a long run improvement.

      Edited to add: I didn’t mean that you personally don’t know enough to correct your posture consciously, I meant that no one does. Bodies’ ability to organize themselves well for movement is an ancient ability which involves fast, subtle changes to a complex system. It’s not the kind of thing that your conscious mind is good at– it’s an ability that your body (including your brain) shares with small children and a lot of not-particularly-bright animals.

      From A Tai Chi Imagery Workbook by Mellish:

      Conscious muscular effort to straighten the spine, or alter its shape in some obvious way, generally recruits the long muscles on either side of the spine (the erector spinalis group). These muscles are strong, but because they run almost the whole length of the spine, they exercise only a very coarse control over its carriage.

      He goes on to explain that the muscles which are appropriate for supporting and moving the spine are the multifidi, small muscles which only span one to three vertebrae, and aren’t very available for direct conscious control.

      A lot of back problems are the result of weak (too much support from larger muscles) or ignored (too little movement) multifidi.

      He recommends working with various images, but says that the technique is to keep images in mind without actively trying to straighten your spine.

      ****

      People who answered talked about their posture improving from doing activities (like singing or climbing) which reward good posture.

      • onyomi says:

        Actually, Nancy, I think it was your mentioning of a posture awareness exercise which I believe you said helped you lose weight that got me thinking about this. Since you seem to have a lot of experience with this, do you have any other tips on how to improve the posture or awareness, or of how children might be taught more of this early on?

        Esther Gokhale claims that people in traditional cultures are taught more healthy, adaptive styles of movement from an early age, but we’ve kind of forgotten this aspect of child rearing, for whatever reason. Not sure about it, but her photos and videos of third world (and pre-20th century Western) people walking, standing, sitting, etc. make a pretty powerful case.

        • Lumifer says:

          people in traditional cultures are taught more healthy, adaptive styles of movement from an early age

          I don’t think they’re taught. It’s just that they move a lot through natural environment. I would probably say that in the first world kids are un-taught the natural movement (Sit! Sit and don’t fidget! Sit there on the couch and don’t run around! No, don’t walk, I’ll drive you there! No running! No climbing! Don’t do that, it’s dangerous!) with predictable consequences.

          • onyomi says:

            I definitely think a big part of it is just the environment molding people’s habits, with probably the biggest culprit today being too much sitting. That said, if we agree that these people legitimately have different posture than modern people and are not just wearing tight dresses (and I do, not only based on this picture, but many, many others, including statues and pictures of people today in the 3rd world), then what is the cause?

            I mean, their lives were probably less sedentary, but they had chairs in 19th c. America? They weren’t squatting in mud huts? What explains such a dramatic change in a relatively short time? I’d blame computers, but the change seems to have taken place earlier than that.

          • Nornagest says:

            Well, there’s probably enough boning under those dresses to haul a semi-trailer with, for one thing.

          • onyomi says:

            These women look about the same in men’s clothes.

            As do these guys. It helps everyone is mega-thin, of course.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ onyomi

            You’re looking at formal portraits. They were a big deal so of course you straightened up, pushed your chest out, and generally tried to look the best you could.

            For a proper comparison look at e.g. contemporary bridal formals, not at selfie snaps.

          • onyomi says:

            Formal portraits nowadays don’t look like this. I don’t think most modern people could assume these postures if they tried. The difference in my mind is less pronounced lumbar lordosis and thoracic kyphosis.

            How about the 1911 idea of a healthy spine compared to today’s?

          • Lumifer says:

            @ onyomi

            I don’t see why most modern Westerners wouldn’t be able to assume these poses. They wouldn’t find them comfortable, true, but if someone guided them what to pull in and what to push out for the picture, I’m sure most would be able to do it for a few seconds.

        • It wasn’t a posture awareness exercise, it was an exploring the connection between your breastbone and your ribs exercise.

          I have no idea what proportion of people would lose a little weight from that particular thing, but I keep meaning to check out more of the material.

          I really recommend Eric Franklin.

          Here’s a good little intro from Kathleen Porter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-vJ-aV6Xvo

          Her book is Ageless Spine, Lasting Health and I recommend it highly for an internal feedback-driven approach.

          Part of her point is that we don’t just collapse and hunch, our idea of good posture is also inaccurate– chest too much forward, lack of stable support from legs.

          If you look at the old pictures, the way people stood was simple and neutral, it wasn’t a matter of displaying one’s athleticism and impressiveness.

          I’m not sure what would be best for children, though being allowed to move and being around adults who move well seem like good bets.

          I’ve talked with someone who was in a school that included Alexander Technique for the children. (Yet another system, and this one is sometimes taught with a gentle guiding touch– it can be quite useful.) They didn’t get the kids’ consent, and at least the person I was talking with hated it.

          • onyomi says:

            On the one hand, I wouldn’t necessarily take the fact that children hate it as prima facie evidence it’s not a good idea, since if the children were used to lying on bean bag chairs all day and you made them switch to sitting up straight on hard, wooden benches, for example, they would hate that too, even if it were much better for them. That said, all things equal, something they like to do is obviously better.

            This seems another point in favor of visualization: not only are children more likely to understand and internalize “move like a puppet,” “spread your arms like a bird,” than “rotate your pelvis anteriorly,” the former also sounds a lot more fun.

            Tangentially related, I once took a lesson in a fascinating Japanese dance tradition (a relatively new one with some traditional roots) called Butoh, in which they largely eschew specific directions like, “step here” and “raise your right leg” in favor of ambiguous, often imagistic directions like “move like a towering pillar of ash” or “imagine a tiny, pyramid-shaped object is bouncing between each of your joints.”

          • Onyomi, in Franklin and Mellish (Mellish was influenced by Franklin), visualization covers a range from visualizing the literal anatomy to metaphors based on the literal anatomy to the sort of imaginative and non-literal imagery you mentioned.

            I just noticed that _Dynamic Alignment through Imagery_ has several chapters on types of imagery and how to use imagery before it gets into specific imagery.

      • Virbie says:

        > Do not try to consciously correct your posture. You don’t know enough. Some evidence– I tried it, and just gave myself backaches. I know other people who tried to correct their posture, and the results didn’t seem to be a long run improvement.

        TL;DR: FWIW as a counterexample, my experience is precisely the opposite. An obscene amount of googling + “conscious correction of posture” fixed some pretty severe issues I had which mostly boiled down to bad posture

        A couple of years ago I was a biomechanical mess: I was right around the age where one’s body stops being invincible and sports injuries start being a real problem, and I would get them constantly whenever I would push myself just slightly too far. Aside from that, I had chronic aches and pains all over my body, of the sort that people usually don’t get until 20 years later; my original issue was causing muscles to compensate oddly all up and down my body, making me achier and even more injury-prone. At a certain point, walking for more than 20 minutes started being really painful, which is an absurd issue for someone in his mid-20s to have.

        Since it didn’t occur to me at first that all of these issues were an interrelated biomechanical issue (or that some of the aches were issues at all instead of “I’m getting older”), I didn’t think to visit a specialist in this kind of stuff. Luckily, my bad habit for obsessive research paid off in spades: To overly shorten a long story, I was able to narrow it down to (mostly) rounded shoulders, tight calves, and an anterior pelvic tilt. A constant and conscious effort to fix those caused some immediate relief and major relief after a couple of months. It’s been almost a year since I decided what to start fixing and all but the most minor symptoms are a distant memory.

        • Thanks for the information. Would you be willing to go into some more detail about what you specifically did to change your posture?

          My impression (and this certainly includes me) is that most people who try to improve their posture don’t start with research, they assume they know what to do.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            I wouldn’t try this without a Phys Therapist or yoga* teacher or martial arts (or perhaps dance) teacher. Or at least a good book and a lot of big mirrors with squares on them.

            Or a several-week series of treatments from http://www.rolfguild.org (‘Rolfing’ or ‘Structural Integration’) or perhaps Alexander Method.

            * Old-fashioned baggy pants at the YWCA yoga, that is. Just the old basic set of asanas, if done regularly and gently, will improve posture considerably.

          • Virbie says:

            > Thanks for the information. Would you be willing to go into some more detail about what you specifically did to change your posture?

            TL;DR: Pulling my shoulders down and back, keeping my head up and back, using my abs more for staying upright, and taking smaller strides (I was overstriding and over-using my quads relative to my calves and glutes). I started stretching my calves much more recently but this wasn’t one of the main issues.

            The main cause was, like many people, having a job that requires hunching over a desk all day and not paying attention to ergonomics (essentially spending most of my life in an almost-fetal position). This tightened up the muscles pulling me forward (chest, hips, quads) and weakened/stretched the ones in the back (upper back, glutes). This was exacerbated by a weightlifting routine I had back in college that was unintentionally unbalanced, which means my chest was even stronger (and tighter) relative to my back (and ditto for my quads vs glutes).

            > My impression (and this certainly includes me) is that most people who try to improve their posture don’t start with research, they assume they know what to do.

            I shouldn’t overstate how easy it is to do this research: there’s a lot of superstitions and contradictions out there around fitness and kinesiology. My research for stuff like this (incl. nutrition) usually ends up taking lots and lots of data and subconsciously weighting by how credible each source seems. Luckily, this problem is extremely common among desk-workers and there was a hell of a lot of agreement about its solutions from tons of different sources.

          • Winter Shaker says:

            Virbie:

            This was exacerbated by a weightlifting routine I had back in college that was unintentionally unbalanced

            I too have a hunch-over-a-desk job, and am vaguely trying to keep fit with weights; any specific advice on how to avoid this problem?

          • dndnrsn says:

            @Winter Shaker:

            While I’m not Virbie, a good idea is to balance upper-body pushing with upper-body pulling – eg bench press with rows and overhead press with pullups/chinups/lat pulldowns. Additionally, doing a bit of extra work for the rear deltoids, rhomboids, etc is good.

            People often focus on squat+deadlift+bench press, or those plus overhead press, but the upper-body pulling movements are really important.

          • Anonanon says:

            Pullups and upright/bent-over rows are an easy addition to the big three. Gotta give the triceps some work.

          • Outis says:

            I want to try improving my posture too. I have been having a recurring pain in my neck, which I think is related. Also, my neck points forward too much. I think I have a bit of a hunchback, although doctors keep saying no.

            I am doing a push/pull/legs weightlifting routine, with the push and pull parts fairly balanced, but the pull (deadlift etc.) actually seems to trigger my neck pain. :/

          • Virbie says:

            @Winter Shaker

            I don’t know how generalizable my program imbalance was, but my main problem was that my form was bad on the stuff that would’ve worked my back out. On paper, my workout was good and balanced. My main takeaway was learning which muscles should be worked and making sure you feel those ones being engaged. It’s too easy to let stronger muscles (the wrong ones) take over instead of just dropping weight to keep the correct form and use the right muscles.

            This is advice that everyone gets when they start looking at weightlifting but I was in college and didn’t know the first thing about how carefully you should be approaching lifting.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Would anybody be interested into a recurring workout thread?

            @Outis:

            Deadlifts make your neck hurt? What direction do you look in when you do them?

            Where in your neck – upper neck, or the part of your neck that’s also kinda part of the back?

        • More generally, I’ll be more careful about saying that improving posture takes knowledge and attention rather than saying that people shouldn’t try it. I think I’ve said that in the past, but I didn’t say it my comments here.

          • Anonymous says:

            You didn’t just not say it, you said the opposite. You said that no one has the necessary knowledge.

          • Virbie says:

            Right, it was mostly the implication that it’s beyond one’s reach to fix on your own, vs the suggestion that it’s really hard (which I pretty much agree with). For a random person, it may not be worth trying, but I don’t think I’m above the SSC commenter average when it comes to either intelligence or ability to research effectively, and incrementally changing things and paying attention to how it felt was very effective for me.

      • TheAltar says:

        I corrected my posture through weightlifting, likely especially from doing tons of squats. However, I wouldn’t recommend this method at all without a very good trainer present. The trainer I had was working about to graduate with some sort of kinesiology degree and then was going to start working on certifications or a masters in fixing spines and muscle problems. The corrections he forced me to do while squatting were often changes I didn’t notice myself doing incorrectly or would have lacked information on fixing even if I had been investigating and researching the techniques involved. (This is the reason I don’t suggest it as a method without a good trainer.)

        The weightlifting forced me to change my posture through the flexing of slightly unrelated muscles that force you into a good posture once you flex them. Squats also specifically force you to subconsciously learn how to use all of the different balancing muscles and mechanisms in your body so that you can repeatedly perform up and down movements with heavy weights without unbalancing yourself too much to one side. I can’t consciously activate any of those muscles, but I saw them develop and my balance improve over time as I continued to practice and learned better form.

    • TPC says:

      The people in charge of education pedagogy are overwhelmingly not people who value physical education of the sort you’re describing as remotely relevant to improving test scores or closing various performance gaps by various groups.

      Additionally, lifting heavy things is penalized by the upper tiers of our elite and sub-elite but upper classes. There was a NYT (I think) article noting this by a member of said classes who started lifting heavy things and found his social life became quite unpleasant.

      Lastly, the parents are overwhelmingly not interested in physical education for their children for many reasons ranging from having to work multiple jobs which leave them too tired to worry about it for themselves much less their kid(s) to their own concerns about sufficient test scores and various things in between those two.

      Just bringing back the free outdoor play for more than 15 minutes per day is proving to be an uphill battle. A posture/movement/lifting program as well would be like wishing for the moon.

      There is, I am editing to add, a specific, narrow trend among some parents to put their children into schools or raise them with movement-philosophies along the lines of what you’re describing. Katy Bowman is an example of this trend.

    • arbitrary_greay says:

      Most all marching bands have one particular chant along the lines of:
      Feet-Together!
      Stomach-in!
      Chest-out!
      Shoulders-back!
      Chin-up!
      Eyes-with pride
      Eyes-with pride
      EYES-WITH PRIDE

      (Somehow I remember mine was “Chin-in, Head-up”, and other variations include “Elbows-frozen!)

      So there’s at least one widespread extracurricular with a focus on posture.

  8. NIP says:

    Long-time SSC lurker and denizen of a certain unnamed Mongolian throat-singing board here, taking this opportunity to try to engage in a little cultural exchange with you nerds for shits and giggles. Just don’t tell anyone I told you about it or the other anons will bully me, desu.

    See, I see you folks complaining a lot about tribalism in the comments, and am astounded that you haven’t discovered the latest and greatest way to safely and harmlessly channel people’s tribalistic impulses (and have a lot of stupid fun at the same time.) I am of course referring to the gentleman’s e-sport: virtual divegrass.

    I dunno how to markup the comments around here so here’s some raw links to get you up to speed on what I’m talking about:

    http://implyingrigged.info/wiki/Main_Page
    http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/events/4chan-cup
    https://encyclopediadramatica.se/4chan_Cup

    The idea is, wherever you have a bunch of nerds discussing and arguing, you’re going to get factionalism, so why not have fun with it and divert the energy that would be put into shitflinging towards a big spectacular livestreamed virtual soccer event where everyone can hang out and safely meme and countersignal at each other in a safe and controlled environment? (Did I mention it’s also really fun?)

    The way it works is, you first poll your community to decide on the teams and players. On imageboards it’s easier to come up with teams since communities are clearly divided into boards, each of which has their own distinct culture and in-jokes, but I’m sure SSC is diverse enough to come up with a bunch of teams based around different topics that get discussed here – or any other delineation you can think of. As for players, in the 4cc each player is a specific meme, and I know for a fact that you guys have tons of them, even if you don’t normally think of them as such. (I can think of a bunch off the top of my head; “Rightly Guided Caliph” for /sscmeta/ captain when??) After that’s all settled, you get together a bunch of volunteers who are willing to do stuff like host streams, manage teams, create/compile art assets, do the actual modding of PES, etc. A lot of the fun is here, coming up with wacky kits, custom pitches, balls, anthems, goalhorns, player models, even ads; not to mention team strategies.

    Then, when everything is ready, you host the event and everyone spends a few comfy weekends cheering and jeering like idiots in the chat while watching virtual representations of their community’s culture compete in soccer. I’d like to know what Scott and the rest of you think of this idea, because I think you’d all have a blast. At the very least, it’d be interesting as an experiment, not only to see what you as a community can come up with to amuse yourselves, but also to see how it affects relations between commenters. Plus, it’s one more thing to discuss and sperg over.

    Anyway, just an idea from a bored anon.

    • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

      Do people actually play PES for the 4chan cup, or is it just simulated?

      • NIP says:

        The AI plays against itself using tactics sent in an export to whoever is streaming the game. However, the managers of both teams are allowed time-outs to change tactics and make substitutions, which are communicated to the streamer over skype or IRC. The level of tactical customization in PES is quite detailed, so this “live managing” style of play makes for very interesting games despite the fact that it’s effectively two AI teams just simulating a game.

        Part of the fun of virtual divegrass (as it’s called) is building and testing teams for months with community input and then watching that be augmented mid-game by the (hopefully) sound tactical sense of your manager mid-game. That, and watching a bunch of ones and zeroes recreate the feeling of IRL football fandom in a bunch of nerds.

    • Winter Shaker says:

      Long-time SSC lurker and denizen of a certain unnamed Mongolian throat-singing board here

      For real, or is this another local euphemism, like ‘ants’ or ‘death eaters’ that I’m unfamiliar with? I’m a big fan, only fairly recently getting back into practising kargyraa myself – thanks Beeminder – (and the spelling gives me away as having discovered Tuvan music first – I still rate Albert Kuvezin as my favourite singer, though I admit he is not the most polished, or indeed a remotely central example). What was your entry point?

        • Winter Shaker says:

          Ah, okay. Well, that’s a little disappointing 🙂

        • HeelBearCub says:

          I still don’t get why there is a reference to throat singing (mis-located or not)?

          • SolipsisticUtilitarian says:

            The actual activity is random.
            The strucutre of the meme is:
            [Some Country][Some acitivty] board

          • The pattern looked like it was, derived from “Chinese cartoons”, ” “, which just ended up with a euphemism fail due to the wide variety of interests represented among us.

            I, too, was confused when someone responded to the top-level comment with a reference to the 4chan cup, but that makes sense now.

          • Anon. says:

            The original joke was to conflate “anime” for “Chinese cartoons”. Additional humor is derived from increasingly absurd combinations of countries and activities (e.g. Kurdish underwater basket weaving), which ultimately still refers to Japanese animation.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            And this [some country][some activity] board is a reference to 4chan? or a reference to Anime? or 4chan because they like to discuss Anime?

            Edit:
            Thanks, Whatever Happened to Anonymous.

          • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

            “[some country][some activity] board” means “anime imageboard”, which refers to 4chan, since that was its original purpose and a big part of the sitewide culture. It’s often meant to be derisive, so as to contextualize stuff like taking onself too seriously, like “nobody cares about your made up acomplishments that you’re posting anonymously to some anime imageboard”.

      • SolipsisticUtilitarian says:

        Only on SSC.

        • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

          You’ve got to admit that the end result is pretty hilarous.

      • NIP says:

        >your entire reply and the ensuing discussion

        Farewell to my sides.

        And for the record, while it was just an imageboard-ism as the other commenters have pointed out, I do in fact enjoy listening to Tuvan throat-singing now and then, as do many of my anonymous compatriots.

    • SJMadeMeRight says:

      /pol/lack reporting in. The responses to >Mongolian throat-singing board, are killing me.

      I feel like a lot of the less insane posters on /pol/ could really benefit from/enjoy SSC but I would never post about it there because it would absolutely ruin this site.

      You shouldn’t admit that you visit a Bangladeshi hand-puppet board in polite society, hide your powerlevel!

      • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

        I feel like a lot of the less insane posters on /pol/ could really benefit from/enjoy SSC but I would never post about it there because it would absolutely ruin this site.

        I’ve seen it posted there pretty often (though I haven’t actually been there for several months), to generally good reception.

        I think the SSC alligned /pol/lacks are more active on the subreddit, though.

        You shouldn’t admit that you visit a Bangladeshi hand-puppet board in polite society, hide your powerlevel!

        He’s probably from /soc/. I swear to god, those attention whores…

      • NIP says:

        Sup famalam. I revealed my power level simply so that the fine commenters here would know that some anons are friendly, is all. I’m one of those kooks that think peace and diplomacy between sites is a worthwhile thing to strive for, and that every style of community and discussion has its worthwhile points. So, a faggot, I guess. Though posting this shit directly to reddit would have been a step too far even for me :^)

        >I feel like a lot of the less insane posters on /pol/ could really benefit from/enjoy SSC but I would never post about it there because it would absolutely ruin this site.

        If only the less insane anons from any board at all came over here, they would benefit a lot, and so would the SSC commentariat, imo. Though posting SSC links on /pol/ is just asking for trouble, and I’ve never done it, either.

        >He’s probably from /soc/. I swear to god, those attention whores…

        Say that shit to my face and not online, senpai, and see what happens! I’ll hook you right in the gabber, m8.

        …and I share citizenship with a bunch of different boards, actually. But that’s neither here nor there. I’m sad that no one is actually discussing memeball like I intended, and that instead we’ve diverged into the etymology of Malaysian cave-painting; but that’s what I get for posting on SSC, I guess. I’ll ask again: does anyone have any thoughts on starting a SSC Cup?

        • Lumifer says:

          does anyone have any thoughts on starting a SSC Cup?

          Gifts from Lesotho pearl-divers should be carefully examined before being accepted. Does this cup come with two girls?

          • NIP says:

            >Gifts from Lesotho pearl-divers should be carefully examined before being accepted

            You wound me. This meme is all yours friend, no strings attached. All you have to do is take it.

            If you don’t think it would be fun or worthwhile, here, watch this:

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RHBDJkYM6cg

            This is a recording of a game of this year’s Spring cup between two of the less-offensive boards, which also happens to be record-breaking in terms of goals and sheer excitement. It will give you a good handle on how fun competitive PES can be. Also, it’s a great example to show on SSC since it’s (mostly) SFW and the player roster of each team is more intelligible and less offensive to the average commenter here than usual.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ NIP

            Sadly, I have approximately zero interest in spectator sports. And while I’m surely a unique snowflake, I suspect that the SSC commentariat skews in the same direction.

            Even adjusting for that, in the absence of actual physical beer and actual physical yelling you might as well be watching Koreans play LoL.

          • NIP says:

            >Even adjusting for that, in the absence of actual physical beer and actual physical yelling you might as well be watching Koreans play LoL

            Are you implying that fans of the 4CC drink virtual beer and whisper encouragement at their screens during games? Also, comparing PES, which is just virtual football, and LoL is just apples to oranges. Everyone can appreciate football. Billions of fans worldwide can confirm it!

            At any if rate, if SSC did their own iteration of a virtual PES cup, it would no doubt have its own flavor and atmosphere that you’d find more compelling. Use your imagination! It’s much less of a “spectator sport” than you think, too. It takes a lot of cooperation from a lot of people to set up a cup properly, which is half the fun.

        • Anonymous says:

          I have less than no interest in joining your sub culture. From my perspective, the minor bleed over is bad enough as it is.

          • NIP says:

            Would you mind if I borrow your style of laconic shitposting, friend? Since this is a friendly cultural exchange, and all.

          • Anonymous says:

            “Shitposting” is an unlovely neologism. It is but one example of what I was talking about.

          • NIP says:

            It’s not a neologism, it’s what you’re doing right now.

            Where I come from, if an anon makes a post that contributes absolutely nothing to the topic at hand, he at least tries to be funny. You could learn a thing or two.

          • Lumifer says:

            “Shitposting” is an unlovely neologism

            You had a sheltered upbringing : -/

        • FacelessCraven says:

          @NIP – “does anyone have any thoughts on starting a SSC Cup?”

          if it’s anywhere near as amusing as that vid, I’d definately watch. Still, I think there are some intractable cultural barriers to overcome; Halfchan is fundamentally about goofing off and having fun, while the norm on SSC is polite discussion on usually serious topics.

          Posibly related, I’m reminded of this Death of Basketball article, where they filled the player pool with completely incompetent players, and then had the game simulate the next half-century or so of games. It’s a fascinating and hilarious read.

          • dndnrsn says:

            That article is incredibly funny. Games with built-in AI management and such are great for this reason.

          • NIP says:

            That article was pretty funny, though if anything, it seems to prove that it would take an unmitigated catastrophe in the human gene pool, repeated for many years in a row, to kill the NBA. It’s way different than the 4CC though. Even that spectacular game you witnessed was a huge outlier which literally made cup history, and was the result between two teams that were managed in a very serious fashion.

            As for cultural differences between SSC and 4chan, I guess I was just banking on the fact that a site full of STEM majors and unironic Rationalists couldn’t possibly be less autistic* than a bunch of chinese cartoon forum users who simulate soccer using memes as players. It’s no skin off my nose if you guys aren’t interested, though. I just wanted to share my love of ridiculous e-sport events.

            *(In the sense that imageboard users use the term, for “capable of taking enjoyment from really weird things”)

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @NIP – “As for cultural differences between SSC and 4chan, I guess I was just banking on the fact that a site full of STEM majors and unironic Rationalists couldn’t possibly be less autistic* than a bunch of chinese cartoon forum users who simulate soccer using memes as players”

            I’ve seen a lot of weird discussions here, but nothing on the order of rolling for anal circumference.

            Seriously though, a soccer game staring memes, on a pitch ringed by yaoi advertisements and a million green, faceless anons, has been the highlight of my day.

          • Nornagest says:

            An SSC Let’s Play of a FATAL session would be hilarious.

          • NIP says:

            Seriously though, a soccer game staring memes, on a pitch ringed by yaoi advertisements and a million green, faceless anons, has been the highlight of my day.

            If you liked that stuff, fampai, a ton of games have been recorded on youtube for your viewing pleasure; and the 4chan Summer Cup is coming up next month, starting on the weekend of the 5th of August and continuing through that month. It will be streamed on Twitch. I invite you and all of SSC to watch it if you’re interested. /mlp/ could always use more fans ^:)

            Here’s a comparitively low-scoring but hype match that shows off the best combination of pre-game production value, commentating, blender work, etc. that define a good virtual PES tournament:

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=auYXQH1hR_w

          • I don’t follow basketball at all, but that article was one of the funniest things I’ve read in ages.

          • Iceman says:

            That match between /mlp/ and /wg/ has totally peaked my interest in this new e-sport. I also enjoyed this match against /g/.

            (But then of course, I would, wouldn’t I? Giddy up, Giddy up…)

            Thanks for sharing this. I’ve got quite a laugh out of some of these matches.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            just the intro for that /mlp/ vs /wg/ match was amazing. I need an actual TV channel like this.

  9. dndnrsn says:

    I have read that there are parts of Europe – I think Ireland is the classic example – where economic gains and improvements in standard of living were correlated with, and probably causative for, increases in IQ.

    What would be good, legitimate, relatively unbiased sources on this? I’m in that position of not being able to do more on my own because it’s so far out of my area of expertise that I don’t know who the respected authorities are.

    • Anonymous says:

      There are no good, legitimate, relatively unbiased sources on anything to do with IQ. The literature is an absolute mess. For some reason it gets a pass from those that are otherwise running around like chickens with their heads cut off about the dire state of social science research. Can’t imagine why that would be.

  10. Tibor says:

    In the last Open Thread I asked whether you thought teaching economics at schools would lead to an on average more libertarian public opinion. Some people disagreed but pretty much everyone who replied seemed to think that teaching economics at schools would be a good thing.

    The question is then – why is it not done?

    The traditional school curriculum is obviously in many respects a relic of the 19th century and probably in all modern countries, most primary and secondary schools are either run by the state or adhere to the framework set up by the state which makes their curriculum more or less the same. But at the same time, economics is way older than computer science and you do get some very basic CS classes at schools (whether they are done well or not is not the issue now). Why is that the case?

    Is it possible that some (influential enough) people genuinely do not want economics to be taught either because they reject the standard economic theory or for some other reason?

    • Dr Dealgood says:

      The traditional school curriculum is obviously in many respects a relic of the 19th century and probably in all modern countries

      I strongly suspect this is a primarily European phenomenon. American education is very susceptible to fads with new programs introduced roughly every generation to little overall effect. The Common Core is an ongoing example, with New Math being an older one.

      Anyway, with economics specifically the problem as I see it is that people aren’t robots who can be programmed or reprogrammed with new worldviews in the space of a semester. If kids aren’t interested in economics, and almost none of them are, they won’t pick up any economics in their economics classes. And that non-knowledge of economics will not reshape their way of viewing the world the same way my non-knowledge of baseball doesn’t reshape my way of viewing the world. You’re hitting, at best, a tiny sliver of kids who would be interested in taking an economics class but aren’t willing or able to go out and learn the basics on their own.

      • Tibor says:

        I agree with your point. Still, it does not explain why it is not taught, only why you should not expect miracles from it.

        People have to learn chemistry, biology, etc. even though most of them end up with zero understanding of it.

    • onyomi says:

      Relating also to my thread about physical education, the simplest, albeit sort of circular answer is that because we haven’t taught economics in school, therefore we don’t teach economics in school. By which I mean, not just the force of institutional inertia, but that the number of adults with knowledge of economics is small, meaning the number of potential economics teachers in school is small.

      Right now, primary and secondary school teachers are not usually academic specialist. They are drawn primarily from the ranks of adults with a general BA-levelish education. Some have Masters and a few PhDs; some have specialized knowledge, but most do not. In other words, it’s hard to teach anything at the primary and secondary level which isn’t either easily learned or already widely distributed knowledge. But since we didn’t teach it in high school, economics (and body awareness) isn’t common knowledge.

    • brad says:

      What do you think the mathematics prerequisites are for a decent economics course, and in what grade do you think most students (say 80%) cover those math prerequisites?

      • Lumifer says:

        Knowledge of arithmetic? It’s quite possible to teach intro to economics without needing anything beyond addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. You need to convey concepts and ideas, not make a set of economics-flavored math problems.

        • brad says:

          Every micro course I’ve ever seen user graphs and talks about things like a curve or intersection shifting in a particular direction. I don’t think facility with such graphs (and the notion of functions which underlie them) is covered by arithmetic.

          Maybe it’s possible to come up with an economics course that isn’t so oversimplified as to be useless without them, but having seen mechanics without calculus courses I’m skeptical.

          • Lumifer says:

            I’m talking about a *good* introduction to economics, not the equivalent of your usual undergrad Econ 101 which I’m not a big fan of.

            But maybe it’s just me. I don’t think intro to statistics needs much in the way of math, either.

          • Tibor says:

            “Our own” David Friedman has a textbook about Price theory where the calculus is more or less optional. It is still there, but not crucial to the presentation. He’s also written an even more accessible book called Hidden Order. There is no calculus there and still it is interesting and nontrivial. I also remember Samuelson’s book (which seems to be the most widely used introductory textbook), from the econ course I took at the university and it did not contain much calculations either – again the calculus was there, but usually marked as “for the mathematically inclined” or something like that. That said, I find David’s books better than Samuelson’s, because it is more fun to read (the topics covered and the theory is obviously pretty much identical, these are introductory books).

            In any case, being a maths PhD student (hopefully not student anymore for more than a year or so :)), I am not scared of basic calculus, but at least this basic economics can be explained effectively without any calculus at all, all you need really is arithmetics. I actually like the calculus arguments but that is probably because I am used to thinking in these terms. For most people, the more geometric approach (comparing curves, their intersections and what lies beneath them…entirely graphically) is probably more intuitive.

            In any case, basic economics is actually mathematically very simple (but that does not mean it can only give you trivial and obvious results), even if you do it as rigorously as you can, you will end with basics of calculus.

            I think that the primary school is too early for economics for most kids but during the highschool it should be ok. The kids at that age are expected to understand the basics of physics, I don’t think that the basics of economics are more difficult to understand than that.

          • brad says:

            In the US, most students don’t take calculus in high school at all, and of those that do almost all of them take it during the last year of high school (12th grade). For this reason I wasn’t even thinking of calculus as a prerequisite, but rather what is often in the US called precalculus. That’s the course that generally introduces the concept of functions and tools for dealing with them, including the Cartesian coordinate system. This course is taken by some students in 11th grade, by some in 12th grade, and by some not at all.

          • gbdub says:

            I’m pretty sure for us (decent but not stellar public school in the Midwest USA) that the Cartesian coordinate system and basic functions were introduced in Algebra, which kids on the “calculus by 12th grade” track took no later than 8th grade. I definitely recall e.g. calculating compound interest and basic systems of equations well before I took calculus.

          • Tibor says:

            @brad: Really? What you describe as precalculus (basics of functions, Cartesian coordinates) usually started in the ~7th grade in Czech schools (cartesian coordinates are done earlier and functions a bit later). Calculus is taught at technical high schools and gymnasiums (i.e. grammar schools) in the last year, otherwise you usually end with arithmetic and geometric progressions and their series.

          • Nornagest says:

            It’s been a while, but I’m almost sure I was exposed to the Cartesian coordinate system and graphs of simple functions either in my freshman year of high school or my last year of junior high. Geometry, trigonometry and some very basic linear algebra were all covered later in high school, and you’re not going to get anywhere with any of those subjects unless you’re comfortable with graphs..

          • brad says:

            Maybe not after all. I’m looking at some textbooks and it looks like there is an introduction to these topics in algebra I (generally 8th or 9th grade).

          • Andrew says:

            The “precalculus” taught to 11th graders in US schools is really “trigonometry”, renamed for some silly reason.

          • SUT says:

            The point of the math in classroom economics is to provide an objective way to investigate and conversate on a high-stakes topic where there is a dearth of non-trivial and universally acknowledged truths.

            The ideal outcome is a student digests the formalism, turns it over in his mind, derives the logically proximate implications, and what the most important contradictions that arise to other POVs. Basically what our host does with many a topic from drugs to guns.

            The real problem with our educational model is setting the right “reward function” [to borrow a term from AI] onto learning and intellectual expression. I’d say top students in high school have mostly settled for the heuristic ‘get into a good college’, where the gold standard is resume building, and accentuating your victimhood narrative. For this reason, I doubt there can be a productive discussion of model based economics in the current public school.

          • Anonymous says:

            I’d say top students in high school have mostly settled for the heuristic ‘get into a good college’, where the gold standard is resume building, and accentuating your victimhood narrative.

            What’s the point of these over the top exaggerations in an otherwise good comment? Why blow all your credibility for some cheap tribal dig?

          • SUT says:

            Why blow all your credibility for some cheap tribal dig?

            Perverse incentives in medical research and social science research is the most frequent topic of conversation here (how’s that for hyperbole?). A pretty common and increasingly bipartisan consensus is that you get the research outcomes you reward – for profit or bias confirmation – at the expense of a healthy rationalism.

            Highschools aren’t research centers, but they are giant game playing cultures. It’s a common complaint that sports gets too much attention to the detriment of education, that religion gets too much deference to the determent of education. So I’m curious about what you think so inaccurate about my portrayal of the game of admissions to elite college? I’m no expert but I thought a common piece of advice was to be less “math-y”.

          • Anonymous says:

            To a first approximation what matters in admissions are: your GPA, your SAT score, and things you have no control over (race, gender, high school). “victimhood narrative” is way down in the lower order effects. Sure maybe it can help you beat out another Asian boy with an identical GPA and SAT from a similar upper middle class suburb, but the gold standard would be getting a better GPA and SAT and not being on the bubble in the first place.

          • Nornagest says:

            @green anon — Plus extracurriculars, or whatever they’re euphemistically calling them these days. I would place those below test scores and around the level of the things you have no control over — definitely higher than gender or high school, higher than race if you’re white or Hispanic.

          • Anonymous says:

            Unless you are a recruited athlete or your achievement in the extracurricular is extraordinary (top 100 chess player, $100k advance published author, Olympic ping pong player, etc) extracurriculars don’t mean much. Everyone is the president of the business or environmental club.

            You’d be far better off being the only competitive applicant from your high school to X college in the last 3 years (better yet district) than to have another school club.

          • Nornagest says:

            I don’t think I agree. They’re one of the main ways colleges filter for what in a job-interview context would be called “culture fit”, i.e. that you’ve been doing the kinds of things that educated college-bound professionals are supposed to have been doing. If your family knows how to play the game, and if you basically care, then yes, you’ll meet the expectations — but the point is, not all families, and not all students, do.

            This is diametrically opposed in some ways to the diversity thing, but does that really surprise anyone?

          • Anonymous says:

            They want both in different kids. If you are a white kid from some excellent upper middle high school in a suburb of a major east coast city, you damn well better have all the trimmings. But they don’t fill the entire class with those kids.

            So when someone applies from bumblefuck Montana or some ghetto high school with metal detectors yet has competitive SATs the admission’s counselors are going to be drooling. Contra SUT this isn’t based on your victimhood narrative but straight up based on your high school profile which all the top schools are very well aware of. You may well come from a very comfortable family in bumblefuck Montana, but you still check that box.

          • Given the extremes people are willing to go to for educational attainment now, I’m surprised we don’t see more people engaging in massive chicanery to take advantage of the variable selection effect.

            Given the crapshoot of getting into a top-tier school anyway, I wonder why we don’t see more families moving to the ghetto just long enough to promulgate the narrative of being the desired kind of minority applicant.

          • TPC says:

            What you see is much easier– kids starting charities to show leadership in social justice. Gonzalo Lira wrote a fascinating and horrifying post on the implications of Ivies going for kids who participated in charity endeavors strictly to check off a box for advancement into a higher class stratum or maintenance of their current level.

      • David Ricardo invented general equilibrium theory with no math beyond arithmetic. Of course, he was a mathematical genius, so I don’t expect the average high school student to be able to do it. But price theory, which is the core of economics, can be taught without using anything more than a little arithmetic. Calculus provides a language that fits some of the ideas better, but you don’t actually need it.

        My Hidden Order uses graphs and refers to equations, but I don’t think the reader has to actually know algebra or any geometry beyond how to read a graph to follow it. Good mathematical intuition would be more useful than having taken math courses.

        • bean says:

          Calculus provides a language that fits some of the ideas better, but you don’t actually need it.
          The flip side of this is that when you’re trying to teach it without using calculus to people who do understand calc, it can be really, really awkward. My AP Econ teacher was not really qualified, and there were a couple of cases where she/the book used long analogies to explain things like derivatives. I and several of my friends had done AP Calc the previous year, and we spent most of the time rolling our eyes.

          • An example of one disadvantage of classes over books as a way of learning things. With books, different students can use different ones or, if for some reason they all use the same, skip over parts that are obvious.

            A number of people have suggested, I think correctly, that an econ course would be useful to some but not all high school students. I think the point is true more generally. There are few things taught in K-12 schooling that are either useful or interesting to all who are required to take them, probably few that are useful or interesting to even a majority.

            That’s an argument for an approach such as unschooling that lets different students study different things.

            Incidentally, some here might be interested in a talk I gave to the teachers who grade the AP econ exam a year or so ago.

    • sweeneyrod says:

      Firstly, I should mention that economics is taught in some UK schools as an optional subject for students aged 16-18. It is relatively average in popularity, with about as many students taking it as Religious Education. I didn’t study it, so I don’t have much of an idea about the content — here is an example exam paper if anyone is interested. I do know that because of the way the UK school system works, it won’t cover any applications of calculus.

      I think the main reason it is not taught at lower levels is that it is quite a demanding subject that less intelligent students probably wouldn’t benefit from. History exams (for instance) can be dumbed down to be pretty much just tests of memory and reading comprehension, in a way which I don’t think economics exams could be. Another reason is that there are few people willing to teach economics.

      • sohois says:

        It is taught also in European curriculums – referring specifically to the International Baccalaureate.

        I have taught A-Level economics, as well as IB subjects though not IB economics. The subject generally isn’t available for those 16 and younger, it is always pre college level (and from what I know of US schools, economics is generally an AP subject only?). Now, there is some economic content in other subjects available at lower levels; Business can be taken from 14 in the UK and is also available in the Middle Years programme of the IB, whilst both Geography and History have some elements of econ in them, even at low levels. However none of the content would really qualify when posters talk about teaching economics, I presume.

        As for A-Level economics itself, I also feel most SSC posters would not be satisfied with the material offered. It is a very shallow curriculum, attempting to cover a wide variety of ideas in limited detail and deliberately seeking balance, not emphasising one economic theory over the other even if mainstream economics has moved on. That being said, I think most posters here are greatly overestimating the ability of children to learn this material. They are challenging curriculums for 16 -18 year olds, and only the most talented of younger children could cope with learning much of the content.

        It’s worth bearing in mind that everyone on here is most likely in the high reaches of intelligence, probably a lot of high performers in schools and far from the average. From my experience the vast majority of students could not handle this material before 16, and even after that it’s still going to be difficult for a lot of them. UK & European curriculums generally don’t have mandatory subjects after 16, so I’m not sure how one would propose making Economics compulsory when there are so many other worthy subjects that could receive similar treatment.

    • Randy M says:

      My High School in California twenty years ago had an Economics requirement senior year. What schools do you mean that don’t teach it?

      • blacktrance says:

        My high school in Oklahoma seven years ago didn’t offer it.

      • Chalid says:

        Mine required it too, and I was under the impression that it was state-mandated (in California)

        Edit: currently one semester of economics is required for graduation in California:

        http://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/gs/hs/hsgrmin.asp

        • Virbie says:

          My private high school in Cali (class of 2007) didn’t have any economics offered, as far as I recall. It certainly wasn’t required since no one I knew (in a pretty small class) ever took an econ course. This is also true of _everybody_ I knew growing up, across a bunch of different private schools (and a couple public).

          From the link you posted:

          Three courses in social studies, including United States history and geography; world history, culture, and geography; a one-semester course in American government and civics, and a one-semester course in economics.

          I would normally interpret this as you did, but given my experience, perhaps it’s interpreted as “three courses from the following options”? That would mean econ satisfies 1/3 social studies courses but is not mandated? I do agree that that’s a pretty unintuitive reading of the language though.

      • Adam says:

        Same here. I went to high school in California twenty years ago and we took an econ class. It was one semester micro, one semester macro. I received AP credit, but they had a normal class, too. As far as I can tell, it did not make Californians more libertarian.

    • SolipsisticUtilitarian says:

      I had some Economics education in 8th grade in a German high school. IIRC it was about some basic stuff: price and demand curves, homo oeconomicus etc.

      For what it’s worth, I doubt any of my class mates actually remember anything from this course.

    • JayT says:

      I would wager that two big reasons that economics isn’t widely taught is (1) it would be nearly impossible to agree what schools of thought to teach, and (2) people qualified to teach economics would be few and far between since most economists would have higher paying options in the open market.

      • I don’t think price theory varies much by school of thought.

        One of the members of the Joint Economic Committee was Senator Paul Douglas, a liberal Democrat, who had been a prominent academic economist. When my father testified, it tended to end up with him and Douglas against the rest of the committee.

        Your point is more true about macro, but I wouldn’t want that to be taught in high school anyway. My view is that a course in macro is a tour of either a cemetery or a construction site.

        • JayT says:

          That is true. I guess any time I hear the word “economics” I just assume there is going to be a fight.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          My view is that a course in macro is a tour of either a cemetery or a construction site.

          In the long run, we are all dead?

          • Lumifer says:

            That, too, but I think David Friedman’s point is that there is no consensus about macro. So you either take a tour of what people used to think about it in the past, or you take a tour of how people are trying (without much success) to think about it now.

          • @Lumifer:

            Correct.

        • Agronomous says:

          Your point is more true about macro, but I wouldn’t want that to be taught in high school anyway.

          You libertarians are always so biased against religious education.

    • jaimeastorga2000 says:

      I did learn economics in high school. Specifically, I took a half-schoolyear long AP Macroeonomics class and was also allowed to take the AP Microeonomics exam at school expense on the assumption that I would self-study the difference in material (I did, and I managed to pass). The course was covered by the same social studies teacher who also taught AP European History and the half-schoolyear AP American Government class that followed the AP Macro class.

      If I remember correctly, the normal kids took an “economics” class which consisted of things like writing bank deposit slips, writings checks, and balancing checkbooks. That seems just fine to me; you can’t get most kids to understand concepts like supply and demand curves or comparative advantage. At best you’ll get them to half-remember how to answer some questions by rote long enough to pass a test.

      Of course, this also applies to concepts like evolution and quadratic equations, and since biology and algebra don’t have a “real-life”/”practical” course alternative, the argument generalizes to saying that high school education is a colossal waste of time and money for most students. But, then, we knew that already.

      • onyomi says:

        “you can’t get most kids to understand concepts like supply and demand curves or comparative advantage.”

        Really? Maybe this has more to do with the way economics is usually taught? I’m pretty smart and I don’t remember anything from my intro macro course in college. Everything I’ve since learned about economics has been gleaned from much more user-friendly descriptions read elsewhere (part of why I lean Austrian may simply be that I strongly prefer verbal description to math and graphs, though).

        But can’t most people understand things like “when more people want to buy something but the quantity of that thing doesn’t go up, the price will go up” and “Bill Gates may be better at everything than some of the people who work at his company, but that doesn’t mean he should spend his time doing their job for them, because his time is better spent elsewhere”? If you explain it in common sense terms and not a bunch of graphs, I mean.

        (I think the SSC audience is very disproportionately made up of that minority of the population which finds equations and graphs clarifying and illuminating rather than intimidating and boring).

        • alaska3636 says:

          @Onyomi
          Economics suffers from a pretension bias. Much of it is academic nonsense written for other academics, so they can cite each other and look/feel important.

          Basic economic concepts fall under the category of commonsense ways to think about exchange and decision-making, which is why the Austrian school is such a breath of fresh air.

          Another issue with the comments about economics here is the inability to consider these basic economic concepts in the context of everyday life. The Broken Window fallacy comes to mind, basic supply and demand, scarcity and desert island scenarios. If you can’t explain these concepts to “normies” than you don’t understand them well enough. We are faced with basic economics every single day.

          The scarcity of time and resources is the basis for survival…How hard is that to relate to?

    • BBA says:

      I did some digging, and New York State (where I currently live) has had a required half-year course in economics since at least the 1990s.

      Maryland (where I was for most of high school) has no economics requirement, but looking up my old school district there are optional courses in econ offered at some high schools.

      Are New Yorkers particularly better informed than Marylanders about how the economy works? I haven’t seen it.

    • Paul Goodman says:

      My highschool (Massachusetts suburb, circa 2009) had AP Econ as an elective but no CS classes.

  11. keranih says:

    Regarding the EA Global conference – and to some extent SSC’s commentariant –

    – how much tolerance is there for people whose thinking is somewhat analytical – or, better than it was! – and whose definition of “altruistic” might not match that of some/most of the other participants?

    One of the things that got a lot of press/chatter regarding last year’s EAG was the menu. To me, a group’s rule dictating a full vegan menu (vs a vegan *option*, which is far less problematic) is very much a sign that there is not so much tolerance of experience diversity/not being as far along the path as others.

    In contrast, I think SSC does a good job of pushing for discussion at multiple levels of rationality – to the point where some feel that there is too much of an open door/too many objectionable people/viewpoints present.

    Did one go to EAG, would it be more like SSC, or not?

    • Julia says:

      Hi, Julia here, one of the EA Global organizers.

      This year’s conference is not all-vegan; there will be vegan and vegetarian options but not meat. As we said in the application when mentioning the food options, we don’t want this to constitute some kind of statement on how effective personal diet is as a means of ending animal suffering. In the end we made the choice largely out of respect for people who are viscerally horrified by the presence of animal bodies. In terms of diversity, the organizers constitute a wide range (from omnivores to reducetarians to vegans), and we expect that conference attendees also have a wide range of opinions on the subject.

      I definitely expect that there will be a mix of opinions present on what ends are good and how we should get there. Other than that, I’m not sure I fully understand your questions.

      • keranih says:

        Hey Julia, thank you for answering the question. However, I am only more confused.

        This is billed as an event for people to analytically consider the pros and cons of various ways to improve the world.

        During those sessions, food is available. You say, “In the end we made the choice [to not serve meat] largely out of respect for people who are viscerally horrified by the presence of animal bodies.

        Coming from a society that – like most of the world – where meat products are eaten daily and where most people of the most materially poor societies are actively trying to increase the animal protein in their lives, the sort of people who experience “visceral horror” at the “presence of animal bodies” are…highly non-typical.

        This kind of “visceral horror” also strikes me as exceptionally non-rational, non-logical, and not based on analysis, but on an emotional gut reaction.

        Given that there are multiple grey areas here –

        – are not eggs the bodies of unborn animals? Are not fish animals? –

        – and given the multiple options – (for instance, people who prefer vegan could eat/be served at a different table where the preferences of others would not disturb them; the meat options could be served already sliced or minced (sausage, meat loaf, hamburger, etc) so that actual “bodies” would not be there to cause unwanted harm, chicken (the only food generally served at all resembling the animal it came from) could be excluded entirely –

        – that the EA group made the choice to forbid “meat” because of the “visceral horror” of some members strikes me as very odd, and not really well related to the proposed theme.

        This is not my function, however, and I understand very well that in all such collective events a number of compromises are required. It just seems to me that this particular choice – made for the reasons you expressed – stands in striking contrast to the stated systemic process of the group.

        It causes me to wonder what other things generally agreed on as beneficial or unoffensive are banned, because of the “visceral horror” of some participants. And it causes me to suspect that any number of minority perspectives would find an equally emotional negative reaction.

        Again, thank you for your answer.

        • Tedd says:

          This discussion was had in great detail at the time, in other EA-related places and in the open threads here (as well as in other threads). Some people were of your opinion. Others disagreed.

          For context, many EAs consider animal advocacy to be the highest-priority cause area, and some of them are, as Julia says, viscerally horrified by meat. (But I don’t think having strong feelings is irrational.)

          I don’t think there were any other things which would have horrified more than one attendee in the same way.

          • keranih says:

            This discussion was had in great detail at the time, in other EA-related places and in the open threads here

            And yet here we are, a year further on, and still people are putting limits on what other people can eat. Because of emotional reactions.

            I don’t think having strong feelings is irrational.

            The question is not is it legit to have feelings, the question is do Sally’s strong feelings require a specific action on the part of Bob? And over and over, the rationalist community attempts to reject emotional responses and demand rational construction of analytical responses.

            many EAs consider animal advocacy to be the highest-priority cause area.

            Yes. I question their methods, their rationality, and their math. And I wonder how much of EA suffers from the same founder effect.

            I don’t think there were any other things which would have horrified more than one attendee in the same way.

            …not abortion, not warfare, not nuclear weapons, not polygamy, not nudity, not Marxism, not ethics in game journalism, not same-sex-marriage, not saying grace at the table? Nothing?

          • Tedd says:

            And yet here we are, a year further on, and still people are putting limits on what other people can eat.

            You seem to be implying that, if the discussion was had, everyone would agree with you. Is it really that surprising that this is not the case?

            The question is not is it legit to have feelings, the question is do Sally’s strong feelings require a specific action on the part of Bob? And over and over, the rationalist community attempts to reject emotional responses and demand rational construction of analytical responses.

            That’s a pretty bad misstatement of the situation. Some people would not have been comfortable attending a conference which served meat. It was judged more important that they attend than that the conference serve meat. What would you have had the vegans do, not have those feelings? But they disagree with you on an empirical question, and those feelings are a rational response to meat given their answer to said empirical question.

            Yes. I question their methods, their rationality, and their math. And I wonder how much of EA suffers from the same founder effect.

            They question yours, on solid grounds. What of it? The movement is not yet mature enough to be so confident we know which the right causes are that we can afford to disinvite the likes of Peter Singer.

            …not abortion, not warfare, not nuclear weapons, not polygamy, not nudity, not Marxism, not ethics in game journalism, not same-sex-marriage, not saying grace at the table? Nothing?

            Yes.

            Or rather, none of those things were in any danger of being at the conference. (Maybe polygamy, but no one seemed to be viscerally horrified by the polygamists there.)

            Of course there were disagreements on these matters, but no one there appeared to be viscerally horrified to be in the presence of people with whom they disagreed.

            It’s not that the vegans were unwilling to tolerate the presence of people who eat meat at other times. It’s that they did not want to be at a place where meat was served.

            You’re conflating these things.

          • Aapje says:

            You seem to be implying that, if the discussion was had, everyone would agree with you

            No, there is a big difference between agreement and tolerance. Tolerance is the acceptance of things that you disagree with. Keranih is asking for the latter.

            I am not a vegan, but I prefer that catered meals give a vegan option. That’s because I’m tolerant. You are not giving meat-eaters the choice to eat meat, so you are intolerant.

            Of course, plenty of intolerance is justified, like being intolerant of violence. But eating meat doesn’t objectively harm vegans, it merely hurts their feelings. In my opinion, once you cave to hurt feelings by taking freedom away from other people, you are lost, because people get hurt feelings over things that conflict. One person gets hurt feelings over seeing meat, another gets hurt feelings over being forced into non-meat options. Whose feelings do you give priority?

            It becomes a case of ‘who the rulers like more’ or ‘who has more power’. In other words, the people with power get their way and the powerless have to submit.

            It’s not that the vegans were unwilling to tolerate the presence of people who eat meat at other times. It’s that they did not want to be at a place where meat was served.

            “I’m OK with gays in our society, I just don’t want to allow gay sex”

            We’ve heard it before, these kinds of distinctions are just excuses to justify intolerance by claiming it is not personal.

          • Jeff Kaufman says:

            not abortion, not warfare, not nuclear weapons, not polygamy, not nudity, not Marxism, not ethics in game journalism, not same-sex-marriage, not saying grace at the table? Nothing?

            It’s not that the vegans were unwilling to tolerate the presence of people who eat meat at other times. It’s that they did not want to be at a place where meat was served.

            “I’m OK with gays in our society, I just don’t want to allow gay sex”

            Tedd’s point is that all of your examples of things that Americans typically have strong disagreements over aren’t the sort of thing that would come up in organizing a conference, and it only needs to make (and should only make) statements on things that are a part of the conference. We’re not talking about banning people, or discussion of ideas, we’re talking about the conference not supplying something that would typically be supplied, and using a substitute that some attendees (including me) will like substantially less.

          • Anonanon says:

            I just realized how interesting it would be to read the EA conference Code of Conduct to see what kind of language it uses. I’ll post it when I get home this evening, unless someone else does first.

            Many of the more “modern” ones make statements about all sorts of things that aren’t part of the conference.

          • Jeff Kaufman says:

            how interesting it would be to read the EA conference Code of Conduct to see what kind of language it uses

            Here it is: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1W-OzpnTdNo3QMJFzoE26PAgod3ENk9o5JNyebi-9Iw0/edit

            It looks pretty reasonable to me.

          • Anonanon says:

            Thank you for the link. The language is definitely encouraging, and I take back my snide insinuation about entryism.

        • Jeff Kaufman says:

          Imagine it’s the 1800s and we’re having an EA conference. The abolitionists are one component of EA, but maybe 75% of EAs either think there are more urgent priorities or that slavery is not a problem. At abolitionist conferences people would avoid any products created with slave labor, and organizers wouldn’t think of having slaves at the conference to serve attendees, but the question is what an EA conference should do. The EA organizers then probably shouldn’t adopt a “no slavery products” policy because there’s not general agreement among EAs that this is what people should do. But if they did decide, however, not to have slaves actively serving at the conference, out of respect for the abolitionists present, this seems pretty reasonable to me. It’s would be a gesture to indicate to the abolitionists that they are fully accepted within EA, but not going so far as to indicate that their position is a core movement position.

          the sort of people who experience “visceral horror” at the “presence of animal bodies” are…highly non-typical

          EAs are non-typical in a lot of ways, and I think that’s mostly for the best! Among serious animal advocates, I think discomfort being around people while they eat meat is pretty common.

          This kind of “visceral horror” also strikes me as exceptionally non-rational, non-logical, and not based on analysis, but on an emotional gut reaction.

          Several vegan EAs I know have intentionally cultivated a visceral disgust reaction to meat eating, as a way to have their body help support their ethics. A lot of human ethics in practice is about getting yourself to do what you determine to be the right thing.

          Even among people who didn’t cultivate this reaction but just have it, which I think is more common, I still think you’re being too dismissive. If you see someone hurting, start feeling sick because of the pain they’re going through, and start helping them, this seems to me to be exactly what the emotional reaction of empathy is for. The important thing in EA is to have this emotionally-motivated help be as valuable as possible, and not at all to suppress the motivation as unsupported.

          are not eggs the bodies of unborn animals?

          The eggs we eat are non-fertilized, which means they never could become animals. And, more relevantly for our purposes here, there’s not much of a grey area because the mainstream American idea of “vegetarian” allows eggs.

          are not fish animals?

          They are, and the mainstream American idea of “vegetarian” disallows them. The conference is including fish in the list of things it won’t serve.

          people who prefer vegan could eat/be served at a different table where the preferences of others would not disturb them

          This would discourage one of the main reasons of having the conference, which is to let EAs from differing cause areas to talk to and learn from each other.

          meat options could be served already sliced or minced

          This wouldn’t really work, since the kind of revulsion animal-focused EAs often feel isn’t really reduced by cutting them smaller. Something where you allowed, say, animal fats in baking might work, but by substituting a vegetarian fat you make a dish more people can eat with minimal downside. Additionally, there’s a lot of value in having a simple food policy, and “no meat” is a lot simpler than “meat only in forms and quantities where it is not recognizable”.

          what other things generally agreed on as beneficial or unoffensive are banned, because of the “visceral horror” of some participants

          That meat-eating is not generally agreed as beneficial or unoffensive among EAs is kind of key here.

          • Anonanon says:

            If your analogy is accurate, then non-vegan EAs should try to destroy the movement as fast as possible. Because if it survives more than a few decades, it will try to kill them.

          • Jeff Kaufman says:

            @Anonanon: could you elaborate? I think you’re referring to the US Civil War, but extending the analogy there wouldn’t make much sense.

          • Anonymous says:

            Several vegan EAs I know have intentionally cultivated a visceral disgust reaction to meat eating, as a way to have their body help support their ethics. A lot of human ethics in practice is about getting yourself to do what you determine to be the right thing.

            I can’t put it as eloquently as the comment I originally saw this from, but people are capable of feeling genuine emotion in strategic moments if you reward that. Treat the accusations of someone who’s very afraid as undeniable truth, and you’ll have a lot of people who are very afraid. Same with listening to people because they feel visceral disgust.

            And we’re not talking about people who intentionally cultivate those reactions, but a more innocent process. Unless you want to turn certain positions of your moment into an intellectual joke where the highest standard of discourse is an oppression/emotion olympics, “visceral disgust” is not a reason to do anything. And when people start intentionally self-modifying their emotions, even if it was not originally intended to be used to get their way with other people, well..

          • Lumifer says:

            People can self-modify (including their emotional response) as much as they want to. The issue is whether their self-modifications (and, more generally, preferences) impose obligations on anyone else.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            What is the point of the analogy with abolitionism? If it is supposed to move others, would learning its factual inaccuracy move you in the other direction?

          • Jeff Kaufman says:

            Unless you want to turn certain positions of your moment into an intellectual joke where the highest standard of discourse is an oppression/emotion olympics, “visceral disgust” is not a reason to do anything

            In this case the kind of disgust people are talking about having is one that we do want to encourage from an EA perspective. This is a disgust that aligns with their reasoned and grounded sense of how best to improve the world, and helps them maintain their motivation.

            I’m not saying that “visceral disgust” should be a trump card that ends the conversation. I think if someone had real disgust, say, about the wasteful presence of bottled water it wouldn’t make sense to change anything about the conference.

            I also think the argument against having meat at the conference stands even without the disgust argument, in that it’s a very good signal about animal-advocacy’s relationship to the rest of EA. Even though basically all advocates are vegan and think the conference should be vegan, it doesn’t go that far. But it also takes a step in that direction in order to be welcoming and confirm that animal-advocacy does belong within EA.

            What is the point of the analogy with abolitionism? If it is supposed to move others, would learning its factual inaccuracy move you in the other direction?

            It’s supposed to “move others” in the sense of trying to make it easier to think through how you would consider this question if you were on the anti-meat side. It’s not supposed to “move others” in the sense of convincing people to prioritize animal suffering; I’m not an animal-focused EA.

            I’m interested in factual inaccuracy, both for curiosity and for seeing how that changes the analogy’s argument.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            seeing how that changes the analogy’s argument

            I wrote something here, but then I decided it was better not to.

            ━━━━━━━━━

            The New York Manumission Society was full of slaveholders. I don’t know that slaves served at the meetings, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

            You imagine that Abolition meetings would enforce Free Produce, but this seems extremely unlikely to me. Free Produce was a marginal movement. The only significant part was boycotting sugar, and that only in narrow windows of time. Also, it isn’t clear how relevant Free Produce is to an Abolition meeting. Did such meetings in, say, 1820 serve tea? sugar? But by 1848, slavery was abolished in the Caribbean (though not Brazil), so no such rule would be relevant to Abolition meetings, so there is no point in asking if it spread to Seneca Falls. But women’s rights did invade Abolition, causing a rift.

          • Anonanon says:

            > The issue is whether their self-modifications (and, more generally, preferences) impose obligations on anyone else.

            >the kind of disgust people are talking about having is one that we do want to encourage from an EA perspective.

            Well, that answers that. If you want to participate, you’ll have to be modified. It’s a cult.

          • Tekhno says:

            All movements that prescribe moral positions are cults, by those standards.

            The only part where rationalists go wrong is the part where they think they can escape from being a cult like all the other ideologies that have ever existed. The problem is that the absolute foundations of morality are not in any way at all rationally derived. The point of EA shouldn’t be to determine what is morally right, but that given a moral precept, there are more or less rational ways to go about actualizing it.

            Unfortunately, this also implies that the correct way to do EA is to split into as many different subgroups as possible to represent different interpretations of utilitarianism, and different weights for things like animal suffering and so on.

            I don’t even feel like this can be stopped. Every new movement has a tendency to split along pre-existing spectrum based divisions.

          • Jeff Kaufman says:

            If you want to participate, you’ll have to be modified. It’s a cult.

            I feel like you’re actively trying to read the worst into what I write, and are ascribing positions to me that I don’t hold. I definitely don’t think you have to develop new disgust reactions to be an EA! That’s not part of how I’ve gone about it at all, and I don’t think most EAs take that approach.

            I do think that developing this sort of reaction, though, is something that can be a healthy part of strengthening your commitment to living a life that is in accordance with your values, and is not something we should be mocking people for.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Jeff Kaufman

            is something that can be a healthy part of strengthening your commitment to living a life that is in accordance with your values

            Are you basically trying to pre-commit to not changing?

          • Jeff Kaufman says:

            Are you basically trying to pre-commit to not changing?

            Sometimes. For example, I pledged with GWWC and made that public partly because I think having a commitment and social pressure to continue to give will help me keep from selfishly and lazily reverting to spending most of my money on myself.

            But other times it’s not about a long term commitment but a shorter one. Every day, on reflection, you think it would be better not to eat lots of brownies, but when they’re sitting right there in front of you it’s difficult not to just keep eating. So you decide not to keep brownies in the house, and if you want to eat one you’ll walk to the store, buy it, walk home, and eat it.

            It seems to me like the people I know who try to cultivate a disgust reaction around eating meat are trying to do some of each of these. It’s primarily about resisting the temptation to violate their current values, but since the reaction gets stronger over time it also has some effect in keeping their values from changing here.

      • ThirteenthLetter says:

        Julia, the way you phrased this (“we don’t want this to constitute some kind of statement on how effective personal diet is as a means of ending animal suffering,” “largely out of respect for people who are viscerally horrified by the presence of animal bodies”) is kind of a tell about what opinion the conference insists is true, no matter its claims to diversity.

        I mean, seriously? “Animal bodies”?

        • Edward Scizorhands says:

          If you want to set the policy, just get a group of people to be horrified by the opposite of it. I mean, you literally can’t stand it. Then there will be no choice but to accede to your demands.

          It’s the circular firing squad all over agian.

          • Outis says:

            Ideally society would restrict itself to the intersection of things that everyone finds acceptable. Fortunately, there is no chance that people would game the system by playing up their horror to enforce restrictions, so it should converge pretty quickly to something very reasonable.

          • Jeff Kaufman says:

            there will be no choice but to accede to your demands

            Conferences typically provide bottled water for speakers, because people talking often need water and bottling it makes the logistics much simpler. On the other hand, there are some very anti-bottled water people, and while there probably aren’t many among EAs, the intersection between those two groups is probably not empty. So some EAs who are fundamentally opposed to the provision of bottled water start demanding that EA conferences use pitchers and (non-disposable) cups, declaring that they find the waste of the bottles to be viscerally horrifying.

            What do you think happens? I think we have a discussion, and we come away from it still providing bottled water, because the claim that bottling water is a major cause of suffering or is otherwise a high priority just isn’t plausible.

            Can you give some examples of things you think people might declare themselves to be horrified of, that you think the community would acquiesce to? It seems to me like we’re not actually on a slippery slope, and that this conflict is just due to diet change being plausibly one of the most important ways of improving the world.

        • The Nybbler says:

          Indeed, that particular phrase signifies the presence and ascendance of one faction of the culture war. (Compare “black bodies”, not the idealized radiators.). Avoid.

          • hlynkacg says:

            I am reminded of that guy who inadvertently wrote the most ‘Metal’ description of eating a Chicken sandwich ever.

        • Jeff Kaufman says:

          “animal bodies” … what opinion the conference insists is true

          Several of the conference organizers, maybe more than half of them eat meat, including Julia? Knowing that, I read Julia’s use of “animal bodies” as trying to convey to keranih the revulsion that animal-focused EAs feel, not her own view or an official view.

      • Adam says:

        Sorry, I just got way too big of a chuckle out of the way you worded that. I mean, they’re in a crowded room that is full of animal bodies.

  12. Tibor says:

    Since Onyomi mentions in his thread about PE that dancing is considered “female”…Why do you think that is the case? Music is not considered female for example (if anything, most non-singer, non-classical music musicians are men) to pick something closely related to dancing which does not show that pattern.

    I can understand that some dances are considered feminine, I can get why men are not keen on ballet, but you also have pair dances where the man’s role is clearly more traditionally “masculine”, since it is the male partner who leads. The professional dancers’ costumes are kind of overly flashy, but most dancing is not like that.

    It also seems to be a very European (although maybe that is not even the case in Southern Europe) and North American thing to see dance as feminine.

    If you perceive dance (generally) as feminine yourself, what exactly makes you think so?

    for obvious reasons, I am quite happy with the interest in dancing being tilted towards women 🙂 But I would still like to know why so many men don’t like it.

    I should mention that I do not like individual dancing, the sort of you see in discos in Europe where everyone somehow jumps around more or less randomly. But in fact, this is the kind of dancing which men are more likely to take part in.

    • Lumifer says:

      In the US the dancing classes (for kids) are typically called “ballet” and focus on teaching rudimentary basics of the classic ballet. Kids are not usually taught pair dancing (at least before high school).

      • Tibor says:

        Yes, I was not talking about kids. I don’t think it is common for small kids to dance in pairs anywhere, except for those whose parents want them to do it as a sport.

        Do you have a tradition of semi-mandatory dance classes when you’re around 16? In the former Austria-Hungary (Well, at least in Austria, in the Czech republic and in Slovakia) and also in Germany kids of that age sort of have to take basic dancing lessons – a mix of “standard” ballroom dances.

        It actually seems to be a class thing. The kids do this at high school/grammar school but I think that those who only have lower education and learn a craft (like being a baker or a cosmetician) don’t tend to do it. But if your family is “middle class” (socially speaking, not necessarily in income) the chances are your parents will make you take the dancing lessons.

        Still, it does little to make dancing more attractive to men, possibly because o lot of them only do that course because their parents (mothers especially) wanted that.

        • LHN says:

          When I was in middle school[1] (so several decades ago now), we had weekly dance classes as part of gym. Nothing terribly fancy, and since I have terrible kinesthetic memory I probably picked up less than average. But they taught a basic box step and some then-popular dances.

          It wasn’t continued into high school where it probably would have been more useful. (Though possibly not, since paired dancing was at something of a low ebb in popular culture when I was in high school.)

          [1] Middle school is grades 6-8, ages ~11-13.

    • Orphan Wilde says:

      I’d guess it has something to do with AIDs, as looking at generational stereotypes, this doesn’t seem to have begun being true until the 80’s.

    • Tyrant Overlord Killidia says:

      It seems to me that dancing is seen as a body-advertising activity. Like exhibitionism. Men aren’t socialized to “advertise” their bodies like women are, so that’s probably why; men are more likely to be voyeurs. At least that’s what I’m putting forth.

      I asked a bellydancer friend of mine if there were male bellydancers and she said there are. However, their dancing style is more aggressive and “stompy” (as she put it) than the female version. I can’t see that playing well at some sort of hooka bar, where my friend dances at.

      • Tibor says:

        Bellydancing is in the same category as ballet – it is a dance danced by individuals separately. Dancing in pairs is more about interaction with the partner.

        • SolipsisticUtilitarian says:

          Stereotypes don’t have to be logical. If your first mental picture of dancing is bellydancing, and this picture is feminine, then the whole concept of dancing becomes feminine.

          However, my first association is actually pair dancing and dancing seems to be a feminine thing, so I doubt this explains your observation.

    • Randy M says:

      Dancing is kind of frivolous and emotional. Sometimes it comes across as requiring “letting yourself go” or “feeling the music.” In this it is more feminine versus a masculinity that is usually seen as more stoic and self-controlled.

      But then again, most forms of dancing are co-ed, and often part of a courting activity, and of course physical. So hearing that somebody goes dancing wouldn’t seem less masculine at all to me, though someone devoted to it or performing it as an art likely would.

      • JayT says:

        To go one step further, I think that most forms of art, even though they have been traditionally dominated by men, are seen as feminine because they require more emotion and less strength.

      • Tibor says:

        Then again, women, when they play musical instruments, much more often play classical music and play in a orchestra, which is a much more controlled environment than playing a lead guitar in a rock band where it is a lot about “letting yourself go” (and in “popular” -i.e. not classical – music you have much more male musicians than female, at least if you exclude singers).

        I think that your point with dancing casually and being devoted to it makes some sense. I am not exactly sure why, because again, hearing that someone is devoted to playing music does not bring about such associations. I feel like there is some kind of a qualitative difference between dancing and playing music but cannot quite make a full sense out of it. Somehow playing seems more introverted than dancing or something. Interestingly, I also have the impression that while women who play musical instruments are often much more shy than men on the stage or generally when playing for people, men are much more shy than women when they are supposed to dance in front of people. I have no explanation for this (if that observation is true).

        • Randy M says:

          Interesting point about the musicians. Maybe part of that is that rock musicians tend to overcompensate it other ways? Being loud, brash, impulsive, promiscuous, etc.

          • Tibor says:

            Perhaps. But few people would think that a jazz musician is somehow feminine because he plays music in a non-aggressive way. Or an opera singer – I haven’t seen anyone calling Pavarotti effeminate. In fact, save for pop musicians whose production is aimed at teenage girls, I have trouble coming up with any musicians which would be generally viewed as effeminate. Somehow playing music is not viewed as particularly feminine whereas dancing is.

    • SolipsisticUtilitarian says:

      I’d wager a guess that dancing is considered romantic. Traditional chivalry belongs firmly to the “feminine” camp, just like pretty much eveything found in a Jane Austen novel.

      Strereotypically (!!!) women are into expressing their love in a sort of beautiful and cultured way. Thus you have candle light dinners and love songs being a staple of romantic movies. Pair-dancing is like that: It’s the courtship ritual of a very high class in a time considered to be cultured, an activity that is about moving and expressing your body and ideally also love for the other person.

      And to signal that they are not gay, young male adults are not as interested in those things.

      • Tibor says:

        High class…I guess it depends on the dance. Tango or Walz may have a high class aura, salsa much less so and something like reggaeton is distinctively “vulgar”.

        On the other hand, this might explain the different attitudes in different countries. Salsa is much more popular in Latin America than elsewhere (and I’m told that the teenagers prefer reggaeton nowadays…which is a very sexualized dance and not exactly “refined”, so the youngsters don’t feel it’s “gay”) and in Europe and US/Canada, most pair dancing is ballroom dancing, which can perhaps be seen as too “high society”.

    • AlphaGamma says:

      I have heard that in Scotland, traditional Scottish folk dancing is taught in primary schools, possibly as part of PE. It’s certainly the case in my experience that many if not most Scots know the basic steps. I play fiddle for ceilidhs (Scottish/Irish dance events, usually with a caller explaining the dances, somewhat similar to an American contra but more energetic and with less spinning) and find that if it’s at a formal event like a wedding, the number of men in kilts is a good way to get an early estimate of how competent the dancers will be- of course, the fact that a man is wearing a kilt doesn’t necessarily mean he grew up in Scotland, but it makes it more likely.

      • Winter Shaker says:

        Scottish person brought up in Scotland – I can confirm that we had Scottish Country Dance in school, though I think it was a separate thing from gym class – I remember getting the basic ceilidh dances in about the fourth year of school, when I’d have been eight – just the simple ones like the Gay Gordons, Dashing White Sergeant, Hamilton House. I can also remember having weekly classes at the next school I was at, from age 10 to 14, and hating it, though I’m pretty sure that was more down to an unusually hostile teacher – I can’t remember any specific dances apart from Petronella, which is still fairly entry-level.

        No memory of any classes at all at the school I was at from age 14 to 18, though, which is odd, because that’s the sort of age when you might actually want to dance with prospective romantic partners. And it wasn’t until many years later, going back to university in my 30s, that I got the really fun, complex, mostly-designed-by-WW2-era-codebreakers dances like Mairi’s Wedding, Bees of Maggieknockater, Kelpie of Loch Coruisk, Gothenberg’s Welcome etc (seriously, look some of those up; I’d be very surprised if they don’t appeal to the maths-brain of the median SSC reaser).

        I think you could have got Highland Dancing as well, which is the other major form of Scottish folk dance, but I personally didn’t; unlike Scottish Country Dance which is always danced in sets, Highland is a solo show-off dance, and seems to be mostly marketed to girls these days, even if you can tell by the swords that it traditionally wasn’t…

  13. Jiro says:

    Okay, I’ve finished Higurashi (or rather, I did a month or so ago). First of all, if you play the original Mangagamer release, you should use the fan patch which replaces graphics with the PS2 graphics. The original art is ugly. The Steam version may have changed the graphics and could be okay.

    I will say flat out that it is not solvable.

    Svefg bs nyy, vs lbh’er gelvat gb svther guvatf bhg, unyyhpvangvbaf pna rkcynva nal bofreirq rirag. Gung zrnaf gung unyyhpvangvbaf ner vaureragyl n ynfg erfbeg rkcynangvba, juvpu n engvbany ernqre pna’g hfr hayrff gurer vf fcrpvsvp ernfba gb oryvrir gurl rkvfg. Gur tnzr bayl uvagf ng n qeht gb pnhfr unyyhpvangvbaf, abg n qvfrnfr, juvpu funecyl yvzvgf gur ahzore bs fvghngvbaf jurer unyyhpvangvbaf ner npghnyyl cynhfvoyr. Shegurezber, rira vs gurer jnf n jnl sbe gur ernqre gb qrqhpr gung gurer ner bgure unyyhpvangvbaf, gur fcrpvsvp fvghngvbaf gung ner unyyhpvangvbaf pbzr jvgubhg jneavat.

    (Abgr gung “guvf punenpgre npgf bhg bs punenpgre” vf *abg* n jneavat gung gur punenpgre vf unyyhpvangvat. “Punenpgre N tbrf penml naq nggnpxf punenpgre O” vf vaqvfgvathvfunoyr sebz “punenpgre O tbrf penml naq guvaxf ur vf orvat nggnpxrq ol punenpgre N”.)

    Gurer ner nyfb n pbhcyr bs pnfrf jurer vg vf uneq gb rkcynva gur ivbyrapr ol Uvanzvmnjn Flaqebzr. Sbe vafgnapr, gur bar jurer Zvba gbegherf Fuvba ol evccvat bss ure svatreanvyf. Gung’f qbar jvgu gur nccebiny bs gur ragver snzvyl naq vf pyrneyl pbafvqrerq abezny.

    Gur tnzr bzvgf pehpvny vasbezngvba. Sbe vafgnapr, lbh qba’g yrnea gung rirelbar va Uvanzvmnjn nyjnlf qvrf va rnpu ybbc naq ner svefg gbyq guvf va gur fgbel jurer Xrvvpuv pynvzf gung rirelbar ur phefrf qvrf, znxvat vg frrz yvxr uvf phefr pnhfrq gur qrngu fvapr nf sne nf lbh unir orra gbyq, gung arire unccrarq va nal bgure ybbc.

    Perngvat n fpv-sv zlfgrel vf gevpxl orpnhfr gur ernqref arrq gb or gbyq rabhtu nobhg gur jbeyq gung gurl pna znxr qrqhpgvbaf. Bgurejvfr fpv-sv ryrzragf hfrq gb rkcynva zlfgrevrf ner na nffchyy. Jr qba’g xabj gung n gvzr ybbc vf vaibyirq, engure guna whfg gur nhgube ergryyvat fbzrguvat jvgu punatrf, hagvy dhvgr n juvyr guebhtu. Naq gur qvfrnfr, juvyr abg nf fpv-sv nf na napvrag qrzba, vf fgvyy n fpv-sv ryrzrag sebz abjurer. Gur fgbel nyfb fhttrfgf n ahzore bs vzcbffvoyr guvatf nobhg gur qvfrnfr; gurl ghea bhg gb or snyfr, ohg punenpgref va gur xabj frrz gb guvax gurl ner ernfbanoyr cbffvovyvgvrf, fb gur ernqre jvyy guvax “gung pna’g unccra, ohg V unir gb npprcg vg orpnhfr vg’f cebonoyl abafrafr fpvrapr”. Fhecevfr.

    Nyfb, V nz rkcrpgrq gb oryvrir gung Evxn unf na vaivfvoyr, vagnatvoyr fpbhg naq pna’g svther bhg jub vf “xvyyvat” Zvlb naq Wveb?

    • Saint Fiasco says:

      I will say flat out that it is not solvable.

      Welp, there went 20 hours of my life, according to Steam.

      I was planning on playing through the rest of the episodes paying extra attention to the parts that are the same in all iterations. The unreliable narrator hopefully won’t make the exact same mistake in several timelines.

      In addition, I suspect the TIPS section can be misleading but never lies. The narrator of those sections is never revealed to have been lying about things they said in a tip, though I suppose my sampling size is too small (I only read two chapters so far). It feels a bit like parseltongue in HPMOR.

      I have to say, though, even if it turns out to be unsolvable and the answer to everything is actually ‘it was just a dream, lol’, the novels themselves are enjoyable. In the second chapter, when I realized near the beginning that the story was different but was going more or less the same places, the fun, games and petty drama of the characters acquired more significance.

      The characters don’t realize it but they are in a race against time, so you know the stupid drama with Mion’s “twin sister” would have to be resolved very soon, before the shit obligatorily hits the fan at the festival. It imbues the light comedy and stupid drama with a sense of urgency.

    • Anonymous says:

      Right, I had the impression that Higu is well-received, and consequently expected the mystery to be good. Egur svefg ebhgr cebivqrq ab hfnoyr vasbezngvba qhr gb haeryvnoyr aneengbe, naq gur ebhgrf nsgre gung jrer rkgerzryl qviretrag va riragf – ubj gb nanylmr gur fvghngvba jura rirelguvat punatrf sbe ab nccnerag ernfba? Vs vg jnf pyrne jul gur frpbaq ebhgr qviretrq sebz gur svefg, gur ernqre pbhyq ybbx ng gur ernfba guvatf jrag qvssreragyl naq jbaqre jul gur frpbaq gvzr nebhaq vg jnfa’g Xrvvpuv gung jrag znq ohg fbzrbar ryfr. Nf vf ubjrire, rnpu ebhgr jnf znffviryl qvssrerag naq gur guvatf lbh’er vairfgvtngvat – gur pnhfr sbe gur znqarff – pbhyq unir orra nssrpgrq ol fb znal guvatf orsber gur fgneg bs gur ebhgr gung vg’f cbvagyrff gb ybbx.

      By the fourth route it was clear that the VN isn’t a serious mystery you’re meant to solve but rather something you just watch, so I dropped the novel and watched the anime. Didn’t feel like reading 40 more hours of slice of life if there’s nothing to solve.

      Part of it is that the novel is too cute about curses for its own good. It’s frustrating to be trying to figure this stuff out and having the creators go “teehee, it could just be magic!”. The limitations of the setting have to be clear or it gets really frustrating. If you’re making strong innuendo toward magic or superscience or it was all a dream, chances are you will use those things later, and that makes trying to solve the mystery pointless since they make anything possible. So when I saw routes spend 10% of time on material evidence and 90% on setting up an atmosphere about creepy magics, well..

      • Jiro says:

        They actually do explain why events vary in one of the later episodes (I thinki it was the last or next to last). Crbcyr ner serr gb znxr pubvprf. Gurer ner fbzr pnfrf jurer crbcyr npghnyyl qb pubbfr qvssrerag guvatf va qvssrerag ybbcf, naq fbzr pnfrf jurer crbcyr’f pubvprf ner cerggl zhpu varivgnoyr naq gurl jvyy pubbfr gur fnzr guvat va rnpu ybbc. Qvssrerag crbcyr tb znq orpnhfr lbh unir gb qvfgehfg lbhe sevraqf naq jbex nybar va beqre gb tb znq, naq crbcyr znqr qvssrerag pubvprf nobhg gehfg va qvssrerag ybbcf.

        Of course you are told this too late to be able to deduce anything from it.

    • BBA says:

      I watched part of the anime a while ago, was considering playing the game…thing is, part of the appeal for me was watching a typical cute kids doing cute things anime premise descend into murder and violence, again and again. If the game just presents itself as a mystery to be solved, that’s a bit of a ripoff.

      The “sequel”, Umineko, starts out with a similar premise, but then reveals itself to be a meta-story about whether or not it’s a solvable mystery or a story about magic. I watched the anime, which necessarily left out many of the “clues” and was nearly incomprehensible; from reading discussion of the game, it’s needlessly convoluted and the ending was a huge disappointment.

  14. gbdub says:

    Why do people think generally disruptive protests are a good idea? Specifically I’m thinking of the Black Lives Matter protest that blocked a highway. On the one hand, it does make a good photo op and pretty much guarantees a confrontation with the police. On the other, if I can’t make it to work because I come upon a group of people blocking the damn road facing off against cops trying to get them to leave – it’s very hard not to be on the cops’ side (and specifically for Black Lives Matter, this seems to be the sort of protest most likely to devolve into hucking things at cops, which I would think sends exactly the wrong message for obvious reasons).

    This phenomenon is not limited to BLM – I’m thinking of anti-Uber taxi strikes for another recent example (people relying on taxis were pissed, probably downloaded Uber). Another was a grad student strike while I was in college (undergrads lost a day of class with a sticker price of a couple hundred bucks, grad students lost nothing). Really, just about anything that makes things tough on “civilians”.

    What these seem to have in common is that they are disruptive in a way that mostly inconveniences the sort of people you want to be sympathetic to your cause (as opposed to something like chaining yourself to a tree at a logging project, which mostly inconveniences the loggers). So why do people keep doing it? Because they just want to be disruptive and do what seems easiest? They want to get a “vanity arrest”? They are delusional and think it helps? I’m delusional and people not already sympathetic to these protesters really do look at these protests and say “wow, so brave, I am more likely to agree with your cause!”?

    • Lumifer says:

      Because they work.

      • gbdub says:

        Work to do what? That’s what I’m asking – do you think the highway protest moved the needle in BLM’s favor among people not already on their side? The anti-Uber taxi protest seemed obviously counterproductive (I seem to recall someone finding out that Uber downloads spiked that day).

        • Anon. says:

          The anti-Uber protest was blamed on Uber by the government who subsequently cracked down on them.

          These protests are a demonstration of power, not an attempt to gain more of it.

          “Civil disobedience” is no more than a way for the overdog to say to the underdog: I am so strong that you cannot enforce your “laws” upon me. I am strong and might makes right – I give you the law, not you me.

          • sweeneyrod says:

            That quote might make sense if protesters weren’t arrested. But they are, in their hundreds.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @sweeneyrod – And then are promptly released again.

            [EDIT] – if there are serious consequences to disruptive protests, I haven’t heard much about them. I remember anti-bush protesters getting rounded up for an afternoon in the holding pens and all their electronics getting smashed by the cops before their release, but not many actually go to jail or suffer serious consequences.

          • sweeneyrod says:

            According to the article I linked, they are being charged with obstructing the highway (at least the majority are, some are being charged with drug possession or assault). Some have been released on bail, that doesn’t mean they won’t be punished. The punishment for obstructing a highway in Louisiana isn’t too serious — at most 6 months imprisonment or a $200 fine. In my opinion that befits the crime, which is not overly serious. In any case, I would prefer a government that errs on the side of allowing protest with few repercussions (although I have no stake in what the American government does).

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            I will bet you a shiny nickel that all of the charges — including those for drug possession or assault — are eventually dropped.

          • Anonanon says:

            And they most certainly won’t lose their $160K/year jobs as “human capital” executives on public school boards.

            Getting arrested is just a photo-op.

          • Nornagest says:

            That’s a pretty specific job for so general a “they”.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @SweeneyRod – ” In any case, I would prefer a government that errs on the side of allowing protest with few repercussions (although I have no stake in what the American government does).”

            Concur. I wasn’t saying their release was a bad thing. I was actually pretty pissed at the smashing of electronics for the occupy/anti-bush protesters as well.

        • Lumifer says:

          Work to achieve their ends. They do this not by convincing unconvinced people, but by putting pressure on power structures (typically, the state) to tilt the game board in their favour.

          • Winfried says:

            I see that as short term appeasement or for clear goals. If it’s a continual process, I think it runs a large risk of backlash.

          • Zenophobe's Paradoxes says:

            @Lumifer:

            Winfred has a point. When you say “their ends” it confuses short-term ends like “get a high profile ruling or law passed in their favor” with long-term ends like “win hearts and minds to change society in the fundamental way they keep saying it ought to be changed.”

            If you could get a participant in a BLM protest to think rationally for a moment, do you think he could tell you with a straight face that this protest will actually accomplish the long-term victory?

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Zenophobe’s Paradoxes

            I think disruptive protests always focus on short-term ends. They want something and they want it now.

            Long-term winning of hearts and minds is the job of political parties which may or may not support disruptive processes for tactical reasons, but that’s a separate story.

          • Zenophobe's Paradoxes says:

            Are you a different Lumifer?

            Anyway, which political party got so many people to use standing desks? Which political party has gotten marijuana legalized in 25 states over the past decade or so? Which political party made “being connected” no longer the butt of a joke in a Woody Allen movie?

            These are all examples of fundamental changes in how large portions of society think about an activity, an issue, or a lifestyle.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Zenophobe’s Paradoxes

            Are you a different Lumifer?

            Um… it’s a hard question. Y’know how you can’t step into the same river twice..?

            But I don’t understand your point. What do standing desks and Woody Allen movies have to do with disruptive protests?

          • Zenophobe's Paradoxes says:

            @ Lumifer:

            The popularity of standing desks, widespread marijuana legalization, and the now commonly-held value of “being connected” all reflect long-term fundamental changes in hearts and minds of large swaths of the population (though of course each example pertains to a more trivial topic than policing and crime), and all of them were achieved by entities other than a political party:

            – The standing desk was popularized by a combination of articles in health, business, and lifestyle publications, and word of mouth.

            – Marijuana legalization has happened through grassroots organization and petitioning to get the issue put on ballots, and also by normalizing the use of marijuana in popular culture.

            – “Being connected” describes an attitude that was pushed by technology companies who harnessed the mixture of people’s social inclinations with our increasingly common geographic social isolation.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Zenophobe’s Paradoxes

            Disruptive protests are always political and I assumed we’re speaking within the political context. I still don’t see what fads like standing desks have to do with it.

            Of course, disruptive protests are not the only way of effecting political change. But they are *a* way, sometimes appropriate and effective, sometimes not.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ Lumifer
            I still don’t see what fads like standing desks have to do with it.

            If they put me in a standing desk classroom, a disruption will ensue. I wonder if the whole line topples like dominoes. (Pushed from the side, of course.)

          • Zenophobe's Paradoxes says:

            @Lumifer:

            You are thinking too narrowly. Yes, the protests you see on TV would probably be placed in the “politics” category, but the long-term goal of the protesters is for changes that are fundamental to society, and therefore would become apolitical. For example, it isn’t a political issue that we can legally buy and drink alcohol.

            I’ll grant that it is not impossible for protests to accomplish this kind of goal, but it seems highly unlikely.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Zenophobe’s Paradoxes

            the long-term goal of the protesters is for changes that are fundamental to society

            I’m not convinced of that.

            Sure, there are ideas of, say, fair and just and equitable society in the background, but they are no more than vague handwaving. The only protests without specific goals that come to mind is the Occupy movement and it notably failed without having achieved anything.

            Disruptive protests generally end. They end either when they were successfully broken up, or they end when they have achieved their goals. Specific goals, usually political.

            Again, let me point out the difference between disruptive protests (which we are talking about) and broad movements, political and otherwise. Broad movements achieve fundamental changes to societies, disruptive protests are merely one of the tools that such movements use.

            And, by the way, your ability to legally buy alcohol is obviously a political issue. How could it not be?

        • FacelessCraven says:

          The primary goal of the protest is to force confrontation, not convince people in and of itself. The Cause convinces people; the protest is there to make the cause impossible to ignore.

    • dndnrsn says:

      The grad student strike is just that, a strike, so it’s different. While in my experience striking grad students do attempt to get undergraduates on-side (they generally succeeded, because nobody likes university administration) it can’t really be compared to protests – a protest is “give us what we want and we’ll stop making a ruckus” while a strike is “we stop working, you stop paying, let’s see who breaks first”. Compare to undergraduate student “strikes”, which are really protests.

      First thing to consider is that most people don’t really follow the news and so forth. A bunch of people blocking the expressway might be the first time they hear about what the protest is protesting.

      Second, polarization is an effective tool in all sorts of things. Let’s say you’re an activist with a small core for, a small core against, and most people neutral, it could be a smart strategic decision to do something polarizing to get attention. If more neutrals get turned into friends than foes, it was a smart strategic decision. Either way, it’s a gamble, but a lot of decisions are gambles. Additionally, responding to the complaint of “you made me late for work” with “that’s nothing compared to what’s happening to us” seems effective. Most of the people who get pissed off at these protests probably weren’t sympathetic in the first place.

      Third, you’re ignoring the internal effects of the protests. People become activists to act and doing something like that keeps morale up, builds team spirit, etc. This is important for a movement that is predicting things will take a while.

      • gbdub says:

        “If more neutrals get turned into friends than foes, it was a smart strategic decision.”

        That’s exactly what I’m wondering about. Why hurt neutrals while you’re trying to get them on your side?

        “Additionally, responding to the complaint of “you made me late for work” with “that’s nothing compared to what’s happening to us” seems effective.”

        Does it? To me that’s rage inducing – the cops hurt you, so you’re going to hurt me until I side with you against the cops?

        “Most of the people who get pissed off at these protests probably weren’t sympathetic in the first place.”

        Now, I’m not super sympathetic to BLM (mostly because I think their projected attitude of “assume any shooting of black person by cops is racist, throw protest first and ask questions later never” is reductive and divisive) but I am very sympathetic to the main thrust of their cause (the police hurt too many people, and are not held sufficiently accountable when they do). The highway protest made me think less of them. The powerful but peaceful before one asshole ruined it Dallas protest made me think better of them.

        Honestly I think your last paragraph makes the most sense – these things might make you lose the sympathy of weak allies, but raises enthusiasm among true believers. Trick is it’s hard to win elections that way, when a weak nay counts as much as an emphatic yea.

        • dndnrsn says:

          That’s exactly what I’m wondering about. Why hurt neutrals while you’re trying to get them on your side?

          I suppose the thinking is that few people are actually neutral: most people are on one side or the other, but don’t know it yet, or haven’t declared.

          To put it another way – everybody hates being badgered by salespeople (the whole “how can I help you today” thing) – so why still do it? Because it lets them quickly identify the people who are definitely going to buy something, and speeds that up.

          Or, for a right-wing example of polarization: pretty much everything Trump has done.

          Does it? To me that’s rage inducing – the cops hurt you, so you’re going to hurt me until I side with you against the cops?

          It’s more another means of polarization, I suppose. The onlooker (not the guy stuck in traffic) is prompted to side with “people should always be reasonable and level-headed and not disruptive” or “what is happening to the protesters is worse than getting stuck in traffic”.

          Now, I’m not super sympathetic to BLM (mostly because I think their projected attitude of “assume any shooting of black person by cops is racist, throw protest first and ask questions later never” is reductive and divisive) but I am very sympathetic to the main thrust of their cause (the police hurt too many people, and are not held sufficiently accountable when they do). The highway protest made me think less of them. The powerful but peaceful before one asshole ruined it Dallas protest made me think better of them.

          But, again, I’m betting that anyone here is probably more informed and so forth than the average (which isn’t very hard). There’s probably a lot of people didn’t know about the whole thing until disruptive protests happened.

          Honestly I think your last paragraph makes the most sense – these things might make you lose the sympathy of weak allies, but raises enthusiasm among true believers. Trick is it’s hard to win elections that way, when a weak nay counts as much as an emphatic yea.

          As Lumifer points out, the pressure is put on those who have the power. It’s not an attempt to gain votes, it’s an attempt to influence public opinion, and to influence those already voted in.

          • Aapje says:

            dndnrsn,

            I suppose the thinking is that few people are actually neutral: most people are on one side or the other, but don’t know it yet, or haven’t declared.

            Or they have a more nuanced position that isn’t: all white cops are evil or (white) cops always act right. Or they disagree with the entire framing of the debate and see it more as a general issue of cops misbehaving against (poor) citizens, where black people ‘merely’ face proportionately more of that because (proportionately) more black people are poor and black people are stereotyped to be criminal.

            The danger of polarizing, especially if you force people to make a choice, is that they will choose to side against you, despite wanting improvements as well. For example, I disagree with the racism by BLM and their narratives that go against scientific evidence, but I could agree with them on certain measures, like body cams. But if they only want my support if I sign up for their entire platform, then they won’t get my support.

            When George W Bush said: ‘You are either with us or against us,’ it led many people with moderate standpoints to side against him. Such a coercive strategy depends on being able to achieve a majority, but makes compromise much harder. It is authoritarian in nature.

            Or, for a right-wing example of polarization: pretty much everything Trump has done.

            It’s not just Trump. Clinton/The ‘left’ also uses (partially) false narratives that are part of the culture war and thus appeal to their own echo chambers/John Oliver viewers, but push away people who don’t buy into these narratives and don’t want to be oppressed through these false narratives.

            For example, I’ve seen a few people declare that they’d vote for Trump despite of/because they are egalitarian white men who would really like to vote for a candidate that treats everyone fairly, but when only given a choice for a side in the culture war, they will choose for their ‘identity’ interests.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Or they have a more nuanced position that isn’t: all white cops are evil or (white) cops always act right. Or they disagree with the entire framing of the debate and see it more as a general issue of cops misbehaving against (poor) citizens, where black people ‘merely’ face proportionately more of that because (proportionately) more black people are poor and black people are stereotyped to be criminal.

            The danger of polarizing, especially if you force people to make a choice, is that they will choose to side against you, despite wanting improvements as well. For example, I disagree with the racism by BLM and their narratives that go against scientific evidence, but I could agree with them on certain measures, like body cams. But if they only want my support if I sign up for their entire platform, then they won’t get my support.

            When George W Bush said: ‘You are either with us or against us,’ it led many people with moderate standpoints to side against him. Such a coercive strategy depends on being able to achieve a majority, but makes compromise much harder. It is authoritarian in nature.

            I don’t know if it’s authoritarian in nature. It does make compromise harder. But again I think there’s typical mind fallacy going on: people are bad at nuance in general. People here might be better at it, but probably not as good as we think. That people who might otherwise side with you but be lukewarm will side against you is part of the risks of polarization: that’s why it’s a gamble.

            It’s not just Trump. Clinton/The ‘left’ also uses (partially) false narratives that are part of the culture war and thus appeal to their own echo chambers/John Oliver viewers, but push away people who don’t buy into these narratives and don’t want to be oppressed through these false narratives.

            For example, I’ve seen a few people declare that they’d vote for Trump despite of/because they are egalitarian white men who would really like to vote for a candidate that treats everyone fairly, but when only given a choice for a side in the culture war, they will choose for their ‘identity’ interests.

            In mentioning Trump, I probably should have expanded a bit. Early on, he made his comment about illegal immigrants. Most pundits thought it was a terrible gaffe, would bring him down, his nomination run would be a flash in the pan, etc. Instead, it appears it was either a successful gamble, or a gaffe that somehow turned out to have been a successful but unintentional gamble.

            And, yes, the culture war (which reminds me of some of those super-long olde-timey European wars, with periodic major battles upon a backdrop of constant despoiling of the peasantry) is heavily about polarization. Regardless of whether you think one side or both are doing the polarizing (partisans tend to think only the other side is doing it), polarization always makes some enemies.

          • Aapje says:

            In the case of Trump, a lot of his attractiveness is that he’s non-dogmatic, non-politically correct, non-beholden to interests, etc.

            One of the things that a lot of his critics don’t understand, is that when he flip-flops or changes positions, this actually proves to his supporters that he has these qualities. A beholden candidate could not change position, a dogmatic candidate couldn’t say shocking things to break open the debate, etc.

            A lot of his supporters believe that he will ‘become realistic’ and come around to their beliefs once he wins, which is a rather silly of course. After all, the supporters don’t all have the same beliefs, so he can’t make them all happy. So Trump is letting people project their beliefs on him.

            That said, any presidential candidate in the US does the same (and has to). They stay sufficiently vague so people hear what they want to hear and fill in the blanks with their own opinions.

          • Galle says:

            For example, I’ve seen a few people declare that they’d vote for Trump despite of/because they are egalitarian white men who would really like to vote for a candidate that treats everyone fairly, but when only given a choice for a side in the culture war, they will choose for their ‘identity’ interests.

            I can sort of sympathize with these guys, but for the most part, I think they’re imagining a message that isn’t actually there, probably because on some level they feel like they don’t deserve a place on the right side of the culture war.

          • Aapje says:

            Arguably there is no right place on the culture war for a rational person. Both sides have absurd myths that hurt people.

    • sweeneyrod says:

      As you say, they aren’t necessarily effective at getting public support, but they are good at getting media attention. So if your movement has reasonable goals, the extra number of people who hear about it and end up supporting some aspects of it are worth the number of people who are put off by your methods.

    • ThirteenthLetter says:

      Most people’s reaction to seeing a bunch of people blocking the freeway in front of them in the name of any cause (including one they believe in fundamentally) would be murderous rage. However, the news media will portray it as brave civil disobedience against a cruel society. The number of people who can’t get to work is X, the number of people who see fawning headlines in the news is Y, Y > X, protesters win.

      Of course, this only works if the news media, speaking for the existing power structures of society, are already on board with the protesters. Tea partiers or anti-abortion types probably should not try this.

      • gbdub says:

        “Of course, this only works if the news media, speaking for the existing power structures of society, are already on board with the protesters. Tea partiers or anti-abortion types probably should not try this.”

        But if the media is sympathetic to you, aren’t they going to cover your non-disruptive protest anyway? You’ll get the attention either way, but one of the ways pisses off the locals.

        • Lumifer says:

          But if the media is sympathetic to you, aren’t they going to cover your non-disruptive protest anyway?

          They might, but journalists need to eat and want their pound of flesh : -/ The media fees off drama, sensation, and outrage — and a violent disruptive protest is going to get MUCH more coverage than a quiet and peaceful assembly somewhere.

          • gbdub says:

            “and a violent disruptive protest is going to get MUCH more coverage than a quiet and peaceful assembly somewhere.”

            I unfortunately cannot disagree with you. But why not focus the violent disruption on a legitimate target, rather than whatever poor random schmuck happens to be nearby? The same people blocking the freeway plopping their asses in the doorway of the county courthouse could have, I would think, a similar impact with less harm to bystanders.

        • ThirteenthLetter says:

          a) You’ll get more coverage if you do something that causes a lot of trouble (like Lumifer beat me to saying.)

          b) For some participants, pissing off the locals is a feature, not a bug. Look at it this way: class enemies need to be harmed, right? And anyone who gets mad at you for raising awareness of your noble cause in any context has outed themselves as a class enemy. Therefore it was retroactively okay to harm them. In fact, not just okay, but necessary.

          I’m not sure I believe b), but I’m not sure I don’t, either.

    • SUT says:

      Disruption and confrontation legitimize the protest movement in the eyes of its base – “finally someone’s actually *doing* something about this, not just talking”. The more blindly disruptive, the more it must be doing.

      For example look at the organization that sent a volunteer to video the Sterling shooting – it’s an anti-violence organization which mostly concentrates on advising urban youth how to stay out of trouble, which focuses on gang violence but also is sympathetic toward the notion that police abuse their power [from what I’ve gathered, would like to hear different opinion]. They collect factual data (videos) and disseminate it as a special program to at-risk schools. Seems to be something everyone *could* get behind and support, but they in reality they don’t become energized enough to do so.

      Instead, it’s still just a handful of people, while BLM has hundreds of thousands [maybe] because the tactics seem bold, they attract media attention, and get force politicians to speak sympathetically about their cause.

      As a counter example, if the media is prepared to portray you uncharitably, or even just honestly, your disruption will never be forgiven, see Westboro Baptist Church’s protest of military funerals.

    • Douglas Knight says:

      Maybe they aren’t thinking. Maybe they’re just copying their role models. A prerequisite to being a role model is being famous. This selects for actions that get coverage.

    • Nicholas says:

      Here’s the first narrative I’m familiar with about disruptive protest: You have three groups:
      1. Your Ingroup.
      2. The Bad Guys, who are doing something to Your Ingroup that you don’t like. It’s important for this to work that the Bad Guys are strong enough that you can’t veto their actions (which makes less direct action impossible), but also weak enough that they can’t veto yours.
      3. The Comfortable Mass. In principle, the Comfortable Mass has enough power to stop the Bad Guys from doing the Bad Thing. But they aren’t personally affected by the Bad Thing, and are uncoordinated enough that they aren’t exercising power in any conscious way on the issue.
      So what your disruptive protest does, is it basically takes something the Comfortable Mass does care about, and holds it hostage. You tell the Comfortable Mass “Making the Bad Guys stop the Bad Thing is the simplest way to make us stop, requiring many fewer resources that intervening against us.” If anyone suggests that they should then oppose you on principle, you say “This act was merely to force you to confront the Terrible Badness of the Bad Guys doing the Bad Thing, you cannot on principle fail to side with us.”
      If you make these two arguments effective enough, and the disruption is uncomfortable enough, then the Comfortable Mass will strike down the Bad Guys, in the name of the glorious cause of Getting You People to Shut the Fuck Up Already, and the Bad Thing will trouble you no more.
      There is another narrative, it goes like this:
      In the Eld Times between the War of 1812 and the Vietnam War, the organizations that would lead protests were also the major organs of organizing votes. There was a direct through-line between the number of people who would show up to a protest, and the number of votes that could be mobilized on an issue. The protest itself served two roles, on the one hand being a primitive sort of media outlet for the issue, and on the other being an advertisement of the power the movement already had. In time, it came to be the case that ballot initiatives were often not even required, with the protest serving as a significant enough threat of unemployment to manipulate the government on its own.
      But as social orders depleted, power became more federal, cities became more suburban, and the cost to join a protest march decreased, the organizations in question became enamored of the protest’s power to threaten and cajole and convince, forgetting the power that had to back up that kind of a threat. Today the old organizations are mostly gone, or co-opted to other goals, or not using the method of protest. Without the organizational memory to understand why protest was once so effective, new organizers spam the old practice unthinkingly, not understanding why new protests don’t accomplish anything. So they just try to protest harder, to protest really really hard: and that increased effort looks like increasing disruption.

    • Zombielicious says:

      I participated in one of the protests that blocked an interstate (a few years ago), as well as one of the recent ones that didn’t. I didn’t know we would be blocking off the interstate until they (the organizers) literally started marching us up the freeway ramp. It started as a marching protest that escalated slowly, and while it wasn’t directly stated what would happen, there were multiple chances where they thanked people for coming and explicitly told them it was ok to leave if they didn’t want to continue.

      Afterwards I heard plenty of criticism along the lines of “that was stupid and why would you think it was ok to do something like that? What about all those people on the road you blocked?” I was unsure at the time and while I agreed with the protest, thought maybe blocking off the interstate was going too far. Having had several years to consider it though, I made the right decision and would/will do it again if given the chance, even if it means likely getting arrested or tear gassed.

      Disruptive protests seem necessary, if you consider the issue important enough to justify it, because no one really listens to the other ones. The goal is to put pressure on actual authorities to force systemic changes, whatever you might think those should be. It’s not to try and convince the people stuck in traffic to agree with you. They’re just collateral damage in a fight between protesters and the people who will get blamed when society isn’t able to function smoothly (the mayor, the president, whoever). It’s disrupting the normal operations of society to the point where people making decisions think it’s easier to give in to some demands rather than keep having major roads shut down every few months. If people feel like changes aren’t happening, or aren’t happening fast enough, the disruptiveness of protests tends to increase. Things move on from shouting and holding signs on the side of the street, to shutting down an interstate, to worse. If people feel the local or national leadership is actually working with them, that to some extent gets “rewarded” with less disruptive behaviors.

      People have been complaining about systemic racism and injustice since… well, I guess all of U.S. history. The fact that people started shutting down interstates in the past few years seems a reflection of a perceived stalling in the progress that was being made. The civil rights movement made big gains… ~50 years ago. But black males still have a 33% chance of going to prison, are killed unarmed by police and random white neighborhood watch guys at significantly higher rates than whites, which doesn’t exactly seem like 50 years worth of progress over Jim Crow to many people, so you see protests getting more serious. Then you have lots of non-black people joining the Black Lives Matter movement because of issues that strongly overlap for them, like police militarization, the drug war, anti-Muslim/LGBTQ+ bigotry, etc. Even if you’re mainly involved for one of those tangential reasons, you find yourself strongly supporting a movement that seems primarily about racial prejudice (more than police brutality, from what I’ve seen), because they seem to be taking more effective action against those issues than other groups are. That’s why I think it gets a lot of attention and support now – it’s at the nexus of several big, overlapping issues that interest multiple demographics (“tribes”).

      Protesting doesn’t necessarily have a great track record of effectiveness, but neither does any other form of activism that I can think of. In most cases the largest, most influential powers tend to steamroll over any objections fairly easily, and you’re lucky if any concessions get made at all. So it’s not like I’m naive enough to think some interstates get blocked off and massive change will ensue. But the basic argument of “this is ineffective and disruptive and just being done by delusional attention-seeking narcissists” is made every. single. time. and always by the people who are mostly ambivalent or opposed to whatever is being fought for. Unless someone’s really opposed to all forms of disruptive protest, under any circumstance and on any issue, even the ones they care most about, all they’re saying is, “This isn’t an issue that’s very important to me.”

      Having to wait in a traffic jam for an hour or so, towards night when most people are off the roads anyway, isn’t really the end of the world; it’s pretty mild in the grand scheme of things. (Worse if there’s an ambulance trying to get through or something, but afaik that hasn’t happened yet.) So it sets a pretty low standard for caring about the issue if you think that’s too disruptive to justify.

      The other side of cost/benefit is that it appears more favorable the worse your position is. Even if people don’t think they have large gains to make, if they don’t have much to lose either, they’re more willing to take part in disruptive protests. People are way less likely to risk violence or arrest when they have a career on the line, family to support, etc. But if you’re poor, already have an arrest record, and think you’ll probably end up in a confrontation with the cops anyway, better to do it when you at least have something to gain and some support around you. The change from just voting and complaining to riskier forms of protests seems to reflect changes in people’s real or perceived conditions regarding how much they have to gain or lose.

      There are definitely some criticisms I might make about the BLM movement overall, but being too disruptive by blocking traffic isn’t one of them. I spent months afterwards with periodic self-doubt wondering if everyone was right and I was just manipulated like a dumb herd animal into doing something I’d regret later (having only seconds to decide whether to leave or keep going, and not knowing what else they might have planned, probably contributed to this – I’ve only been to a few but the events are way more predictable now). No regrets. The people who oppose it and say it’s too disruptive are (mostly) the same ones who weren’t going to listen to your grievances anyway. You’re not trying to convert them. You’re trying to show them it’s easier to give in to some of your demands than to keep dealing with the trouble you’ll cause if they don’t.

      • Jiro says:

        Disruptive protests seem necessary, if you consider the issue important enough to justify it, because no one really listens to the other ones.

        If you create a norm of “protests can be disruptive”, then everyone will be protesting disruptively. Don’t think of it as “I get to cause disruption for good causes”, think of it as “everyone gets to cause disruption for any cause they believe is good”, and then consider what causes some people believe are good.

        • suntzuanime says:

          Well, some people would just get run over.

        • Zombielicious says:

          Disruptive protests (it used to be called “civil disobedience”) only work if lots of people participate in them. Otherwise you just get arrested. If I decide by myself to block an interstate because of police brutality, and no one else comes with me, I get removed from the interstate and go to jail (or the morgue, as suntzuanime points out). If lots of people think it’s worthwhile, it’s harder or impossible to remove us and people have to deal with it one way or another.

          The more people you have thinking an issue is important, particularly when they’re willing to risk something over it, the more likely it is that they’re at least not totally wrong. Of course the “wisdom of crowds” frequently fails and (groups of) people are systematically biased into supporting stupid policies all the time, but that’s a universal social problem that doesn’t depend on disruptive protests. With disruption the poor decisions have worse consequences, but the fact that it requires multitudes of people to agree to them helps to reduce the overall number and (hopefully) keep the net benefit to society positive – same idea as behind voting, boycotts, etc.

          It doesn’t automatically lead to every group with perceived grievances shutting things down. Disruptive protests depend on some larger segment of society that at least sort of vaguely agrees with you supporting it from their armchairs. Otherwise the police can just haul you off to jail again, since they know no one will complain and everyone will thank them as they do it. So no, it’s not as slippery a slope as this argument makes it out to be. There’s a big leap from BLM with lots of support from various demographics blocking an interstate, and the KKK (or whomever) doing the same thing.

          • Watercressed says:

            When you say that the purpose is to force systemic changes in society, and then later on say that it only works when a significant part of society already supports you, I feel like you’ve already lost.

          • Zombielicious says:

            Amount of support needed to discourage them from immediately arresting you != amount of support necessary to force systemic change.

            People are making a lot of hypothetical arguments about what the results may be, seemingly ignoring the long history of civil disobedience and protests. Between the labor strikes, civil rights movement, Vietnam, 60s feminist and hippie stuff, Iraq War, etc, my view is that protests:

            1) Sometimes work
            2) Frequently don’t
            3) Haven’t resulted in the breakdown of society as smaller and smaller groups become more and more disruptive over continually less justified issues.

            Opinions may vary.

          • Watercressed says:

            >Amount of support needed to discourage them from immediately arresting you != amount of support necessary to force systemic change.

            The amounts are different, but are the constraints meaningfully different? Proposals that have enough support to not get arrested but not enough to be actually implemented are a tiny sliver of possible systemic changes.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Zombielicious

            Haven’t resulted in the breakdown of society

            Yet.

            Note that large disruptive protests are called riots. Very large ones are called civil wars.

      • gbdub says:

        “They’re just collateral damage in a fight between protesters and the people who will get blamed when society isn’t able to function smoothly”

        A cavalier attitude towards causing this damage strikes me as profoundly immoral – you should have reservations about this and the fact that you did, I would say, speaks better of your character. A SEAL team assassination of a known terrorist is less morally disturbing than just dropping a 2000 lb bomb on a marketplace where the dude might happen to be, precisely because the former makes the effort to reduce collateral damage.

        Keep in mind, I’m not arguing against disruption per se. I’m arguing that disruption should, as much as possible, target the people “directly responsible” for whatever you are protesting, and minimize collateral damage. So a sit-in at a segregated lunch counter is great – you’re hurting people actively participating in the thing you’re protesting, and mostly only those people. For the current situation, why not blockade the executive parking garage at city hall, or fill up the lobby of police headquarters, or what have you. You’d get your confrontation, you’d get your cameras, heck you might even get tear gassed if that’s what you want. But the ambulances and the dude just trying to make his shift at McDonald’s would get through.

        Also, I’m fine with the term “civil disobedience” as long as it is indeed civil. Throwing rebar at cops is violent, and not cracking down on that immediately hurts the credibility of the movement.

        • Lumifer says:

          I’m arguing that disruption should, as much as possible, target the people “directly responsible” for whatever you are protesting, and minimize collateral damage.

          I don’t think you understand how this works.

          The basic goal of the disruption is to make status quo intolerable. That implies inflicting pain on as many people as possible so that those in authority are forced to negotiate.

          If you are a union of garbage collectors and want something from the mayor, you don’t refuse to collect just the mayor’s trash. You refuse to collect everyone’s trash so that everyone piles pressure on the mayor to agree to the demands. Not because they like you, but because “just pay them what they want so that they get out of my face”.

          • gbdub says:

            Hostage-taking terrorists might get their immediate demands met. They tend not to have a long and pleasant life afterwards however. You’re sacrificing long term viability for a short term gain, and you’re spending a lot of goodwill capital on it.

            In any case I don’t agree with your example. There’s a much clearer logical relationship in “I am not getting paid enough to collect garbage, therefore I will stop collecting garbage” than there is in “I feel mistreated by police, therefore I am going to prevent you from getting to your crappy job”. (Yes I know I’m contradicting myself a bit since I mentioned grad student strikes in my original post. Consider this a partial retraction of that example.)

          • John Schilling says:

            The basic goal of the disruption is to make status quo intolerable.

            Is that even a realistic possibility, though?

            I don’t know that I’ve ever heard of a strike or protest, short of actual armed insurrection, that caused more disruption than e.g. a major blizzard. We haven’t abandoned Buffalo or Minneapolis, so that’s clearly not an intolerable level of disruption. I don’t think this sort of protest can really expect to reach beyond the level of a tolerable annoyance.

            Annoying people can be an effective means of getting their attention, of course. That’s not the same thing.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ John Schilling

            It depends on the scale. At small scale, yes, it’s a realistic possibility, protesters can shut down a factory, a college, a neighbourhood.

          • Cord Shirt says:

            If you are a union of garbage collectors and want something from the mayor, you don’t refuse to collect just the mayor’s trash. You refuse to collect everyone’s trash so that everyone piles pressure on the mayor to agree to the demands. Not because they like you, but because “just pay them what they want so that they get out of my face”.

            But…some part of “everyone” always reacts instead with, “By getting in my face, they’ve violated the social contract. Now they’re in the wrong. Mayor, please shut them down with extreme prejudice.”

            It’s not even just that you risk backlash against your cause. You also risk inspiring increased authoritarianism in general.

            Which of these reactions is more common probably depends on people’s attitudes before the protest. I think people are more likely to go for “just give in to the demands” if they either think it’s a trivial issue or (as has already been mentioned) they actually already agree with the demands. So it’s more dangerous to mount this type of protest over an issue few people think is trivial…unless you’re really sure most people do already agree with you.

            I mean, what you described is broadly similar to the teacher’s strategy of punishing the whole class for the actions of one kid, with the goal of causing the class to pressure the one kid to behave in the future (or even just, of causing the class to give the one kid additional punishment). Sometimes it works…and sometimes the class just rebels against the teacher instead.

            Except that in the case of a protest, the protesters don’t have a pre-assigned “teacher”/”superior” role. They have a pre-assigned “peer” (fellow citizen) role. It’s a lot riskier for just a fellow class member to announce they’re “punishing the whole class because Johnny picked on me.” If you try this as just one of the kids, you’re much more likely to just cause the class to turn on you instead.

            Which brings me back to…”they’d better already agree with you” (or truly find the issue too trivial to be worth caring about).

            In general, though, I don’t really subscribe to this narrative of how protests work. I’m more inclined toward Nicholas’ second narrative:

            There is another narrative, it goes like this:

            In the Eld Times between the War of 1812 and the Vietnam War, the organizations that would lead protests were also the major organs of organizing votes. There was a direct through-line between the number of people who would show up to a protest, and the number of votes that could be mobilized on an issue. The protest itself served two roles, on the one hand being a primitive sort of media outlet for the issue, and on the other being an advertisement of the power the movement already had. In time, it came to be the case that ballot initiatives were often not even required, with the protest serving as a significant enough threat of unemployment to manipulate the government on its own.
            But as social orders depleted, power became more federal, cities became more suburban, and the cost to join a protest march decreased, the organizations in question became enamored of the protest’s power to threaten and cajole and convince, forgetting the power that had to back up that kind of a threat. Today the old organizations are mostly gone, or co-opted to other goals, or not using the method of protest. Without the organizational memory to understand why protest was once so effective, new organizers spam the old practice unthinkingly, not understanding *why* new protests don’t accomplish anything. So they just try to protest harder, to protest *really really hard*: and that increased effort looks like increasing disruption.

            I dunno where Nicholas has seen this narrative, but I first saw it in John Michael Greer.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Cord Shirt

            you risk backlash against your cause. You also risk inspiring increased authoritarianism in general.

            It is true that you risk backlash. That’s why getting into everybody’s face is not the default, let’s-start-by-doing-this tactic. Sometimes it’s effective and sometimes it is not, so you need to judge the balance and make your call.

            I don’t agree that you already need most people to support you, even if silently. You only need people to think that the payment will not come from their pocket and to be indifferent. If I’m not interested in local politics at all and there is a pile of stinky garbage in front of my house, I don’t care who’s in the right, I want it gone and the mayor is the one who’s officially responsible for making sure the town runs smoothly.

            As to authoritarianism, a LOT of protesters like authoritarianism as long as they get to set the rules and call the shots. From a certain point of view disruptive protests are bypassing democratic mechanisms and demand fiat actions from powers-that-be…

      • ThirteenthLetter says:

        “I spent months afterwards with periodic self-doubt wondering if everyone was right and I was just manipulated like a dumb herd animal into doing something I’d regret later…”

        Yes, you were. You’ve since then rationalized your actions, which is very human, but you are wrong to do so.

        You made many people’s lives worse in order to drag them into a political fight they wanted no part of. The exact same logic has been deployed in the name of every kind of collective punishment in history.

        • sweeneyrod says:

          You think all protests are wrong, regardless of what they’re about? That no injustice is worth fighting against if doing so will impact the lives of people who have nothing to do with it? That is the implication of your comment, because it doesn’t contain anything at all about the specific cause Zombielicious was protesting about.

          • CatCube says:

            I’m pretty close to that opinion. I mean, there are points where I can see a revolution being justified because things are bad enough (see the Middle East), but we’re a long ways off from that here.

            Fuck your cause if you drag me into it by blocking traffic.

          • sweeneyrod says:

            The point of peaceful protest is surely to stop things getting bad enough that revolution is necessary. Do you think the more disruptive civil rights protests of the 1960’s were unjustified? Would you have disapproved of the protests against Hitler before the 1932 election?

          • Nicholas says:

            In all conflicts where one side is currently winning, to be aware of the conflict and to “choose to be neutral” has as a practical consequence increasing the likelihood of the victory of the side that is currently winning. Thus from the perspective of a coalition builder George Bush’s adage is technically correct: Any effort to avoid being with “us” makes you against us, even if it does not per se make you one of “them”.

          • Nornagest says:

            Would you have disapproved of protests against Hitler before the 1932 election?

            You might be aware of this, but there were protests, not to mention marches, demonstrations, and rallies. Lots of them: the Nazi Party was especially known for them (successful fascist parties tend to be particularly good at spectacle), but their enemies did the same thing, even the centrists. Weimar Germany was politically tumultuous to a degree that until recently would have been unimaginable to a modern Westerner — we’re getting back into “imaginable” territory now, but we’re still a ways off from paramilitary groups clashing in the streets on a daily basis.

            (ETA: see below.)

          • sweeneyrod says:

            @Nornagest

            Yes, I accidentally out “the” after “disapproved of” which changed my meaning.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            You think all protests are wrong, regardless of what they’re about?

            No, I think protests that drag innocent people in against their will, and occasionally risk their lives, are wrong. Especially when the protesters’ cause is already the darling of the news and entertainment media, the Presidency, social media corporations, and every major city government.

            Now, it’s possible they may be effective. But not everything that is effective is right.

            (On a side note, I remember when it was the end of the world because one of Chris Christie’s political allies closed a bridge for a couple hours for specious reasons. But I guess some animals are more equal than others.)

    • Adam says:

      You guys are badly overthinking this. Read Zombielicious’ first-person account of how to get involved in something like this. It’s entirely possible 90% of the protesters didn’t even know what they’d be doing until they were already doing it. Group action is a lot of chance and path-dependency, especially this. Black Lives Matter is a hashtag, not an organization with a centralized agenda-setting committee. If several people can get enough several others to agree to converge at a time and place, there you go. They may just be channeling rage and impulse. These are not necessarily precision calculated events where someone with the power of veto is saying yes or no based on a reasoned analysis, complete with evidence, that doing this will win more people to their side than not. Sometimes you’re just mad and it feels good to break shit.

      • ThirteenthLetter says:

        Sure, people get caught up in mobs, people do dumb things. That’s normal, that’s human. But once tempers have cooled one is at least obligated to realize that the behavior was wrong and not attempt to retroactively justify it.

        • Zombielicious says:

          You’re treating your opinion that the protests are wrong and that those involved are just rationalizing their participation as objective fact. It is not.

          • Mary says:

            Just as mob action can lead you to morally wrong actions, it can also lead you to extremely counterproductive ones, which are dumb — and also wrong, in the sense of turning left when you should have turned right is also wrong.

          • Zombielicious says:

            @Mary:
            Yes, that’s why I tried to provide a detailed argument for why I didn’t think the protests were counterproductive or morally wrong, in this case. People can disagree, but I probably spent more time thinking about it than people just watching it on TV and forgetting about it a few hours or days later, and tried to adjust for potential bias in coming up with self-serving rationalizations (hence the “months of self-doubt”), so I don’t think my conclusions are substantially less valid than anyone else’s here.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            You’re treating your opinion that the protests are wrong and that those involved are just rationalizing their participation as objective fact. It is not.

            Nope, it’s not objective fact. It’s just my opinion as a member of the public.

            In related news, the purpose of a protest is to sway public opinion. So, you know, take what you want to from that.

          • Zombielicious says:

            In related news, the purpose of a protest is to sway public opinion. So, you know, take what you want to from that.

            As already discussed, this is not the only purpose of a protest, nor even necessarily a major one. There are always going to be people who will never agree with you under any reasonable circumstances (not to say that you’re necessarily one of these). No type of protest is likely to convince, for example, Stormfront members to care about BLM stuff. It would be pointless to let the entire strategy be dictated by needing to change the minds of people who are fundamentally opposed to your program and will never be swayed anyway. They essentially just want you out of the way where they can safely ignore your issue and not have to do anything about it. At that point, the protest becomes more about putting pressure on your opposition and demanding change, rather than continually marginalizing yourself to meet the arbitrary standards of your opponents.

            Some number of people who were on the fence may end up opposing you because of your tactics (e.g. possibly dbdub, based on his earlier comments), and if you end up agitating a large enough group of people then yeah, it may be a self-defeating strategy. But I’d guess that most of the people getting angry because an interstate was blocked off (minus the ones actually stuck in traffic at the time) were not particularly supportive of the issues being protested anyway, so alienating them probably isn’t a huge concern.

            Historically it seems like the more effective protest movements were ones aimed at pressuring the opposition (e.g. labor strikes, civil rights, Vietnam) rather than non-disruptive protests to sway opinion (e.g. Iraq War, OWS, most non-BLM protests of the past 20+ years). Not sure if that’s a causal relationship, but protesting to sway public opinion at least seems particularly ineffective.

      • Mary says:

        You’re morally obliged not to go along with the crowd like that, either, exactly because you can end up doing things you didn’t intend.

      • Zombielicious says:

        I definitely got the impression that almost all (at least 90+%) of the people at them just showed up and were following along, but they did also have real planning from some organized group that was getting better at it over time. The most recent one I was at (over the Alton Sterling and Philando Castile stuff) had a full “safety team” with orange vests that cooperated with police to block intersections and reduce conflicts between the protesters and random bystanders (e.g. people who would walk up to the crowd shouting “Blue Lives Matter!”), and brought bottled water to hand out to the crowd.

        In my city at least, there does seem to be some kind of Black Lives Matter organization that holds planning meetings, but I’m not overly familiar with it and how it works or what kind of organizational structure they have, other than that they apparently only allow “people of color,” including mixed race, at the meetings. Hence why I said it seems more like a movement about racial issues than police brutality/militarization at this point – that’s just the focal issue of the moment, apparently. As a side effect I think some of the other attributes that make people targets of police brutality get overlooked, in particular being young and male, though they do seem to invite representatives from other minority groups and organizations, LGBTQ and Muslims among others, as I mentioned.

        I’m not sure how much of this is the same in other cities.

        • ThirteenthLetter says:

          Gosh, that’s very well organized indeed. So did you guys win an election which allows you to block off streets whenever you want, or how does that work?

        • Anonanon says:

          It’s all expertly coordinated, and massively funded. There is nothing spontaneous about these “protests”, or the violence that just happens to happen at them.

          • sweeneyrod says:

            If you consider someone organising placards to be “expert coordination”, I probably shouldn’t tell you about companies that purchase protesters because they can’t find anyone who genuinely supports them. I’d also interested to know how it is possible to “massively fund” a decentralised movement.

  15. Pku says:

    Speaking of EA: Does anyone have a really good elevator pitch for it? I’m looking for something short, informative and idealistic (but preferably not confrontational, so not “most people just signal, here’s how you do it if you actually care.”, on the assumption that that could make people hostile to the idea), that covers the points Scott raised here.
    Erica’s spiel seems like roughly the right model.

    • Orphan Wilde says:

      “Right now much of the efforts of charity necessarily have to go towards fundraising, and they have to balance their ability to do good with their ability to sell the good they do to the public. This is a movement intended to try to make charity less about selling the idea of charity, and more about being charitable.”

      ETA: This isn’t the whole of EA, but EA is, in the end, essentially about getting the sales out of charity. It can equally be expressed in terms of “effectiveness”, but I think this pitch will work on a larger segment of the population than will buy into the idea of efficient-charity-for-efficient-charity’s-sake.

      • gbdub says:

        To be honest, that strikes me as a poor elevator speech. As someone who is only aware of EA through this blog (but therefore probably more informed than whoever you’re pitching to), it sounds like you’re saying EA is mostly about making marketing and fundraising cheaper. Which is boring.

        What’s wrong with something like, “Right now, a lot of money and effort being spent on charity fails to provide much benefit for the people it’s supposed to help. EA looks for ways to make sure the resources available for charity do the most good by streamlining spending and by identifying charitable causes that get the most bang for the buck”

        • Pku says:

          The other part of the message I’d like to convey is, “you vaguely want to do good, but you should set yourself a set supererogatory donation target, e.g. 10%, and stick to it in an effective way.”.

        • Zenophobe's Paradoxes says:

          I too only know about EA though this blog.

          I think you only need the last sentence: “EA looks for ways to make sure the resources available for charity do the most good by streamlining spending and by identifying charitable causes that get the most bang for the buck”

          And actually that last part could be cleaned up:

          “EA looks for ways to make sure the resources available for charity get the most bang for the buck”

        • Orphan Wilde says:

          The issue with that is that you’re implying that the problem is that the charities aren’t actually doing any good; you’re implying that people have wasted their do-gooding effort.

          It’s important to make it clear you respect the work charity does, and that you’re trying to solve a systemic issue whereby the charities are forced to compete over who can sell that they’re doing the most good as opposed to doing the most good in order to get any funding. You lose a significant chunk of your audience when you suggest that the old charities are ineffectual, because they really don’t want to hear that they’ve wasted their money for years. But if this is a problem charities are forced to deal with that we’re trying to remove, then they can think of this as technology which is improving charity, rather than a process of throwing out charlatans, which is how EA usually gets sold.

          • gbdub says:

            “The issue with that is that you’re implying that the problem is that the charities aren’t actually doing any good; you’re implying that people have wasted their do-gooding effort.”

            But isn’t that indeed a core belief of EA, that a lot of charitable effort IS wasted? That we spend a lot of money on causes that, even if executed efficiently, still aren’t as good as mosquito nets etc.? That we all ought to not only set donation goals and donate, but also donate to causes we carefully vet for effectiveness?

            Yeah, that might turn some people off – but so will people finding out that your “elevator pitch” was deceitful.

            Anyway, your pitch about fundraising costs seems to be not a consensus position on EA. From the Wikipedia page, which quotes sources including GiveWell:

            Traditional charity evaluation has often been based on prioritizing charities with minimal overhead costs and high proportional spending on projects. However, effective altruist organizations reject this standard as simplistic and flawed.[22][23] Dan Pallotta[24] argues that charities should be encouraged to spend more on fundraising if it ensures they increase the amount they can allocate to the charitable service overall. Additionally, a study by Dean Karlan “found that the most effective charities spent more of their budget on administrative cost than their less-effective competitors”,[25] presumably because spending on administration costs may include analyses of whether a particular activity is effective or not. Thus, the extra spending on admin could lead to resources being focused on the best activities.

            Again I basically know of EA only through this blog, but lets say I get your elevator pitch and say “That’s interesting, I’ll try to find out more”, go look at Wikipedia and GiveWell, and find info like what I quoted – this will not make me assess your elevator pitch favorably.

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            gbdub –

            If I’ve gotten you to look into it, and see the arguments for and against it, I’ve succeeded.

          • gbdub says:

            That doesn’t mean you’ve necessarily created an effective elevator pitch, and it certainly doesn’t make it the most effective one. Yeah, I’ve looked into it, but now I kind of resent it because the first proponent I’ve met misled me.

            Ad absurdum, you could tell me, EA is a great organization that’s running a free billion dollar lottery for whoever signs up on their website! This would make me very likely to visit the site, but very unlikely to be supportive afterwards.

            Anyway, would you really want me to join up with EA if I strongly object to the notion that our charitable efforts currently include a lot of waste? I’d be a member actively working against the interests of the existing group.

            I guess it depends on what sort of elevator pitch you’re giving me – are you just trying to get me to the “tell me more” phase or are you looking to provide an adequate 30 second highlight reel of the main points? Even if you’re just going for “tell me more”, getting me to that phase without at least screening me a little bit for compatibility is going to waste your time when I ask for follow-up.

    • jaimeastorga2000 says:

      What’s wrong with Scott’s “Efficient Charity: Do Unto Others…”?

    • Adam says:

      Is most charity really signaling? The only time I ever gave regularly to charity for CFC was when I was in the Army, and that was just because we were constantly pestered and I wanted to get the people off my back. I’m reasonably certain most charity overall is giving to churches, and surely at least some of that is giving with the expectation of future returns either here or in heaven, i.e. not altruism but not signaling either, more quid pro quo.

      I guess you’re talking about most giving from people that EAs would target as potential converts, though, right? Which isn’t the people currently handing over all their money to televangelists.

  16. Ruprect says:

    Is xenophobia wrong? Like either morally or factually?

    I just watched a BBC documentary “exodus” where dentists, and such like, from war torn countries film themselves in their desperate journey to reach Britain … twitter seems to be saying “case closed, these guys are sad, let them in” – humanity etc.

    Personally, I just made me feel so angry that people could film themselves breaking the law, fleeing dangerous countries such as Belgium, and then it’s just like – “oh never mind, you’re British now”. What? We’re just going to ignore the law now? It’s mad, Alan Kurdi policy making. Sure, it might be alright, and these particular people seemed lovely – but in general, allowing masses of people from lawless war zones, who have an entirely different culture, to come into your society seems to me to be an incredibly dangerous experiment. It might be fine. It might not be.
    When I look out my window, everything seems fine, but I can’t help but worry that we’ll end up in some terrible, civil war scenario.

    (In the show, one, very articulate guy talked of how he had been beaten with a metal pole by Syrian secret police. They were aiming to “disfigure” – to destroy his face – and he had his arms smashed as he tried to defend himself. Afterwards, he was taken to the police station which was “inhumane beyond belief”.

    I still don’t think it’s a good solution to let him in, at least not as an asylum seeker. I’m not convinced that our legal/political system is robust enough to allow people, anybody, to enter as a general policy, and I don’t think making things difficult, but not that difficult, by selectively ignoring the law is acceptable.
    One solution might be to make it easier for highly educated, law abiding people to enter – but then that wouldn’t have anything to do with the abuse they have suffered.

    Other solution – if the British legal/political system is that good – colonies?)

    • sweeneyrod says:

      What do you mean by “I’m not convinced that our legal/political system is robust enough to allow people, anybody, to enter as a general policy”? Robust in what sense?

      • Ruprect says:

        Policing by consent/democracy might not be feasible for all populations/cultures. To what extent is our political system just a great system that stands by itself, and makes people rich and happy, and to what extent is it a product of the underlying British culture.

        • sweeneyrod says:

          That’s arguable, but I don’t see that it applies here. The UK has currently taken in under 10,000 refugees. Even if 10 times that number arrived (which seems unlikely), there would still be fewer refugees than e.g. American, South African, or German immigrants. Those groups don’t appear to have significantly changed our culture, so I don’t see why a much smaller number of immigrants from a different culture would have a much greater effect.

          • Ruprect says:

            Hmmmm… looking at the specific examples – how would South African immigration change our culture? I’m not really familiar with any South Africans, but I would imagine that a South African of British descent is to a British person as an Australian is to a Briton – different, but not that different.
            Same with America? Germany?

            I mean, I would say that if immigration was limited to 100,000, total, it would be highly unlikely to cause any problems, especially if those people were well educated, law abiding, and not concentrated in one area (they integrate). But there were millions of people coming into Europe last year – and it seems like the argument is that Britain should be taking a similar share of the burden to Germany.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            Because there isn’t a massive political and cultural establishment telling the American, South African, and German immigrants that they should — in fact, must — keep their old ways instead of adapting to British ones, and telling any British people who object to those old ways that they are racists.

            The problem really isn’t with the immigrants/refugees/whatever you’d like to call them; it’s with a political overculture that opposes assimilation. If it wasn’t for that you could probably take in a hundred times as many refugees and not just be fine, but actually be better off.

          • sweeneyrod says:

            @ThirteenthLetter

            What is this “massive political and cultural establishment” you speak of? If it forbids Syrians assimilating, but not South Africans, then it must mention the important of preserving Syrian culture specifically (not just make general comments about diversity and multiculturalism). Do you have any examples of that happening?

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            Yes, it just makes general remarks about diversity and multiculturalism. But I would like you to tell me with a straight face that it is just as concerned with preserving a South African immigrant’s culture as it is with a Syrian immigrant’s culture.

          • sweeneyrod says:

            I can’t speak for the whole political and cultural establishment. But if you don’t have any evidence that any prominent members of it care more about Syrian culture than South African culture then you would seem to be ascribing it beliefs that you have no evidence it holds, which is a poor line of argument.

    • SolipsisticUtilitarian says:

      I guess this is one of those cases where a somewhat irrational belief works sort of ok in small doses, but when actually applied rigorously might be disastrous.

      Xenophobia is understandably bad for a culture which already has some foreigners. Even if it’s true, an assumption that these foreigners on average are more criminal, less intelligent, greedy, whatever, is probably harmful for harmony in society. Telling a minority that you are not going to employ him, because there is a higher risk of him being a thief might be correct from the employer’s perspective, but from the applicant’s perspective it’s a horrible experience.

      However, once a large enough part of the population has sufficiently internalized that saying anything negative about a population as a whole is racist and what bad people do, there is no argument for not letting more foreigners in. “But these people have a different culture?” “WTF!!? This is just racism, you have no reasons to believe this.” “No, seriously, here are the statistics showing that 90 percent of them support Sharia and similar numbers have a very traditional view of gender relations.” “You cannot judge individuals based on the colour of their skin.” “Ok, now they have sexually assaulted a thousand women on New Year’s Eve”. “It’s obviously masculinity that’s the problem.”.

      This is way more snark than necessary, but I’m still angry at the smugness and self complacency of the German media and large parts of the population. At least the mass psychosis seems to be over now.

      To balance this post just a tiny bit, I do not think that allowing refugees from war-torn countries in, as long as it’s a moderate number, will lead to a civil war. The refugees in Cologne were almost entirely from Morocco and Algeria, while Syrian refugees who comprise the majority of the total refugees were almost not involved at all. Those former refugees usually come to Germany, apply for asylum and get room and board for the 18 months it takes the government on average to reject those applications in 99% of cases. During this time, they usually form gangs and earn their living by illegal work and/or stealing. A sad consequence of the Culture War was that almost nobody made that distinction: For those on the left side, any criticism towards refugees whatsoever is forbidden, and towards those people with strong enough opinions about this situation to not be intimidated by the media every refugee is one too many. So basically, I’m saying that Syrian refugees actually just want a peaceful life and participation in society, so I doubt a civil war is going to break loose.

      • Zenophobe's Paradoxes says:

        “I guess this is one of those cases where a somewhat irrational belief works sort of ok in small doses, but when actually applied rigorously might be disastrous. ”

        Are you referring to support for open borders?

        • SolipsisticUtilitarian says:

          Not necessarily. From what I have read about dedicated supporters, they seem to have legitimate arguments and thought out scenarios, like not extending welfare benefits to immigrants.

          The vast majority of people in Europe supporting the acceptance of basically unlimited numbers of refugees did/do not have a political philosophy, however. Instead they held a mixture of feel-good positions in favor of immigration and a deluded assumption you could keep everything else the same. They do not demand that borders be abolished, but they react horribly if somebody suggests to enforce them. It’s ok to not grant everybody asylum, but actually deporting somebody after his application is rejected is inhumane and so on.

        • Aapje says:

          Zenophobe,

          I think that refugee laws work fine when there is a single person or small group who is prosecuted and seeks refuge, but can have disastrous effects when entire countries get considered unsafe and a large part of the population seeks (permanent) refuge. Especially since these refugees aren’t purely motivated by safety, but have economic reasons that are at least as important to them. As in: they are not willing to stay in safe, but poor countries and instead take big risks to get to rich countries. Basically, there is a very unfair and distorting effect when we give some people a golden ticket, while many other people are suffering greatly from poor (economic) conditions and we let them rot. Ironically, the current situation merely allows the well-off refugees to flee, so we are assisting the middle and upper class, while leave the poor behind.

          This is not even just about the effect to the target countries, although there are big negative effects that the proponents of open borders tend to deny, but also the effect to the source countries.

          A substantial part of Syria is ISIS country in no small part because so many fighting age men and women refuse to do so and flee. So you get the absurd situation that Westerners go fight in the middle east, while many people of those countries actually refuse to defend it. I find that absurd and believe that it perpetuates or increases the problems in those countries. We take in their middle/upper class, while those countries go down the drain.

          Western countries would not have been the liberal democracies that they are, if the people of those countries would always just have fled oppression, rather than fight it. Much of the left very much has a ‘white man’s burden’ mentality, which is very paternalistic and dehumanizing to the people that they advocate for. We have obligations, they have rights; in other words, how we treat children.

          I think that we should talk more about obligations of these people and treat them like adults. If the Kurds can defend their land from ISIS, others can too, if necessary with our backing. And if large numbers people do want to flee, we keep them safe for a while with a plan to go back and fight for their country. For example, many of the Syrians in Germany are Kurds, they could go to Kurdistan and enlist there, fighting ISIS to take back their homes.

          • DavidS says:

            On the historical point about how Western countries became liberal democracies: I’m not sure what countries are comparable in their development to current middle east (I’m not an expert, but something like: propped-up dictators falling or being significantly reduced in power, power vacuum filled by mix of ethic/tribal, political and international religious extremist groups)

            Also you seem to act as if people fleeing slaughter etc. is a sort of moral weakness. I’d assume it’s more to do with better international transport/communications.

          • Aapje says:

            European history is full of that stuff. The conflict between protestants and catholics was a lot like the conflict between sunni and shi’i. Interference with other countries was extremely common. The ‘Peace of Westphalia’ was a crucial development that established freedom of religion and respect for national sovereignty.

            It effectively was that set of treaties that started off the idea that it’s not just ‘might makes right,’ but that rights of minorities and the self-determination of other cultures/groups is important.

            The main problem in the Middle East is that this concept is missing. So we Westerners have our little narratives where we declare one group the oppressor and the other the oppressed, but when the other group gets to power, they just become oppressors themselves.

            This problem will not be fixed by taking in refugees, it just leads to a lack of resistance to oppression. If European history is a guide, a period of oppression and counter-oppression is needed before people figure out that they can’t just depend on always being in power and being the oppressors, so it’s better to limit their power when in charge, so they are treated more fairly when they are not in charge. But of course there is no guarantee that the good forces will win.

            Also you seem to act as if people fleeing slaughter etc. is a sort of moral weakness.

            You are conflating my opinion on the long-term negative effects that these people’s choices cause with an opinion on them as a group, supposedly as inferior to other people. But I never said that these people act differently than how other people would act, but rather, I claim that we allow them a choice that is good for them, but bad for others & for humanity as a whole.

            I suggest reading up on ‘tragedy of the commons’ to realize that people can make rational short term choices, that nevertheless can cause long term destruction.

          • “I suggest reading up on ‘tragedy of the commons’ to realize that people can make rational short term choices, that nevertheless can cause long term destruction.”

            The issue isn’t sort term vs long term, it’s individual interest vs group interest. You see the same pattern in cases where all the effects are short term.

            For details, see:

      • houseboatonstyxb says:

        “Ok, now they have sexually assaulted a thousand women on New Year’s Eve”. [….] I’m still angry at the smugness and self complacency of the German media and large parts of the population.

        The gravity of an event, may increase with the distance from which it is being reported.

        • gbdub says:

          It may. But perhaps you could elaborate on why you believe it has happened here?

        • SolipsisticUtilitarian says:

          I don’t quite follow. I’m German myself, and pretty much everybody admitted, sometimes through gritted teeth, that it was an unprecedented event.

          Even if the event itself is not very grave, the reason I listed it in the first place was to illustrate that even having an extremely good reason to assume some cultural differences will not prevent you from being shouted down.

      • Tibor says:

        If I remember correctly the statistics by die Welt I read about a half a year back, most of the asylum seekers were actually not Syrians. Syrians were the biggest minority but not an absolute majority. If I recall it correctly, if they only gave asylum to Syrians, Iraqis and Afghanis that would comprise slightly less than a half of the number of asylum seekers in Germany.

        What annoys me personally about this debate is that nobody seems to be differentiating between immigration and welfare immigration. It is true that the culture of Syrians is very different from that of the English for example. But there are huge differences between various strata of the English society as well. If you have open borders but not an open welfare system, people will come to your country who are capable of looking after themselves, who can do something with which they can make a living. Not only does that mean that those people are less likely to be a financial burden for the taxpayers, they will also on average be more educated and “compatible” with the European civilization. Now, I don’t mean that they will assimilate in the sense that they will have a Weißwurst with beer and a pretzel for breakfast (the Prussians have not managed to assimilate in this respect yet either! 😀 ), but I think this is not really what people care about. I don’t see anyone objecting to Indian or East Asian immigrants having a bit different lifestyle than the natives. There might be some people like that but they are a small minority, most likely associated with the neonazis. What people want is that the immigrants don’t “cause problems”, i.e. that they don’t have a higher crime rate and unemployment than the natives (in fact, there is some inherent xenophobia and the immigrants are probably at least at first be required to uphold a slightly higher standard than the natives, but not by so much). Since almost no East Asian and Indian immigrants are welfare immigrants, they don’t have these problems and so they are met with much less xenophobia.

        I this distinction between various parts of the foreign society is important and something that again nobody does. I am in Germany in a university town. I sometimes meet people from middle-eastern countries or Turks. All of them are students or academics and they all are generally likable people. Now, this is the kind of “immigrants” the “educated classes” come in contact with. If this is your mental picture of immigrants from outside Europe, it is hard to imagine any protest against such immigration as anything but bigotry and racism. On the other hand, if you are a working class person, you don’t meet those people at all. All the foreigners you meet are at best also working class foreigners or unemployed people. All you see is exactly the subgroup which is most likely to live off welfare and have a high crime rate. Then it is hard to imagine that anyone who is pro immigration does it for reasons other than being either a crazy socialist or a “neoliberal” who serves the interests of the big business (I have not quite understood how immigration of masses of hardly employable people helps the big business, but this really is the view of many anti-immigration people).

        Now again, open borders with restricted welfare solve this problem quite elegantly. You still get to keep these smart educated people from foreign cultures (who also happen to be more “western” in their thinking, basically to the point of being different in their cuisine and other “harmless” parts of culture only), you still give a chance to anyone who just wants a better life but who does not want any handouts and you keep out the people who would not be able to make it on their own. You might help those people through a charity such as the GiveDirectly (which also targets people who are more in need than someone who can afford paying thousands of dollars to smugglers to get to Europe) which is way more efficient than making them undertake a costly and dangerous journey to Europe and then giving them welfare payments.

        Unfortunately, the debate (at least in Europe) seems to be basically only “pro-immigration” vs “anti-immigration” and the most likely result seems to be restrictions to the freedom of movement with the welfare state intact.

        • hlynkacg says:

          There’s a variation of the triangle constraint that I hear passed around in (US) conservative circles that seems to be describing the same phenomena. It goes something like…

          Open borders, open ballots, open welfare, pick two.

          • Anonymous says:

            Open borders, open ballots, open welfare, pick two.

            Can you explain this one? I don’t see how open, versus secret, ballots have anything to do with this.

          • Lysenko says:

            @anon

            The more common formulation is: Open Borders, Liberal Democracy, Welfare State. Pick Two.

          • Anonymous says:

            I guess it’s a good thing then that open borders is a position only held by a tiny irrelevant fringe far more frequently brought up as a weakman than actually advocated.

        • Jiro says:

          I have not quite understood how immigration of masses of hardly employable people helps the big business, but this really is the view of many anti-immigration people

          If they are unemployable because there are not enough jobs, but would be able to work if the jobs had existed, then their presence can depress the salary rate of the jobs, which helps big businesses with low salary jobs.

        • TeD says:

          The welfare state should remain intact. We’re going to need it to be expanded to cover the majority of the population by the middle of the Century. Besides, seeing how much trouble tepid cuts by, for example, the UK Tories have caused, dismantling the welfare state is the stuff of revolutions.

          • The Nybbler says:

            What are you going to do when the minority paying taxes decides they don’t care to support one entire deadbeat along with everything else their taxes are paying for, and drop to welfare themselves?

          • Tekhno says:

            That has never ever happened. I can’t think of a single historical example of everyone going on welfare to crash the system. People have proposed it but it’s never been done, because most people couldn’t stomach living on welfare. They have that dignity thing.

            We should be trying to speed up with automation technologies, so costs can be lowered, and universal welfare can be afforded (and at the same time would be necessary due to the same process). A society without human labor wouldn’t really need very high taxes to afford a basic income, since the costs of industry would be reduced towards that of raw inputs and land. That’s the ultimate and final solution to this problem. Hopefully we can achieve it before the end of this century.

          • hlynkacg says:

            @Tekhno
            Are you seriously arguing that “free riding” is a purely rhetorical concept with no real-world analog?

          • Tekhno says:

            Of course it has a real world analogue. I didn’t say that it didn’t.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Who is this “we” speeding up automation technologies? As far as I can tell, the makers and maintainers of this technology reap no benefit; either they automate themselves out of a job and drop to welfare, or they continue to work on the automation supporting an ever-growing population of economically unproductive people. This makes them slaves, essentially.

          • hlynkacg says:

            Of course it has a real world analogue. I didn’t say that it didn’t.

            But you did say that it never ever happens. That’s a rather sweeping claim to make without any support.

            Why would governments be exempt from the free rider problem?

          • Anonymous says:

            It’s rare that you see such a clear motte and bailey.

            The motte is “free riding exists”. The bailey is “welfare states are impossible”.

            You are going to have to do a lot more than jump and up and down yelling free rider problem to show that something that already exists in large swaths of the world can’t possibly work.

            Don’t worry though you can still jerk off to Atlas Shrugged in the privacy of your own home.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Everything interesting happens at the margins. We already have cases where people do rationally prefer welfare to work. If we reach a point where every person moving from work to welfare so increases the burden on those remaining that it motivates one more such person to do so, something will give.

          • hlynkacg says:

            Anonymous says:

            The motte is “free riding exists”. The bailey is “welfare states are impossible”.

            Nobody said anything about welfare states as a general class being impossible.

            The issue is with Tekhno’s specific example of a welfare state where a significant majority of the population is “on the dole”. the question being how do you stop your remaining “contributors” from deciding to go on the dole as well? Tekno’s blanket assertion that it simply won’t ever happen sounds more like wishful thinking than a logical conclusion.

            As Nybbler says, something has to give.

          • Anonymous says:

            The wishful thinking is that the effect you’d love so very to see (Atlas shrugging) actually exists given that there’s zero empirical evidence of any such effect across the gradient of stronger and weaker existing welfare states.

            Nice job trying to shift the burden. A for effort (which as we know is A).

          • hlynkacg says:

            Your claim that there is zero evidence of any such effect is patently false.

            Historically the Soviet Union (and predominantly Marxist economies in general) have had serious problems with “вредители” and general “tragedy of the commons” type failure modes. Meanwhile in capitalist economies we see concepts like the “Laffer curve” and “capital flight”. All of these being well documented examples of the general “free rider” problem.

            If you think that Tekhno’s proposed welfare state will be uniquely immune to this class of problem the burden is on you to explain why.

          • “because most people couldn’t stomach living on welfare. They have that dignity thing.”

            Start with a society where welfare is very skimpy. Being unemployed and on welfare is evidence of incompetence, since it’s a result everyone wants to avoid, so someone on welfare feels ashamed, does his best to get off.

            Expand the welfare system to the point where it’s an open question whether an individual is better off working for a living or going on welfare–less money but a lot more leisure. For a while, people continue to try to avoid going on welfare from “that dignity thing.”

            But over time, more and more people conclude that the ones who are failures are the ones still working, giving up the opportunity to spend their time on a Spanish beach chasing girls (or guys, depending). So the dignity incentive becomes weaker and weaker, more and more people choose the welfare option.

            And, of course, those people are happy to believe authors or speakers who tell them that being on welfare is just exercising their human rights, that income isn’t being redistributed, just distributed, since there is no good reason why people who have had the good luck to be born with talents that make them money should be the ones who get the money, other things that make the listeners feel good about the option they have chosen.

          • Anonymous says:

            Here comes the gish gallop. Soviet Union — not a welfare state. Laffer curve, nothing to do with the subject at hand, and no empirical evidence either.

            You are the one making the claim that there’s some sort of catastrophe looming when there’s no evidence of any problem in any existing welfare states. The onus is on you to show that you claims are more than motivated reasoning.

            Trying to shift the burden to TD based on nothing more than “hay guys free rider problem” is about the level of reasoning we’ve unfortunately come to expect from these comment sections since the invasion by the alt right.

          • hlynkacg says:

            I don’t see how you can seriously argue that the examples provided are not supported by evidence or not relevant to the subject at hand. At the very least, they offer a strong counter to Tekhno’s claim about the “dignity” of work.

            You really ought to examine your own assumptions, and maybe address Nybbler’s Mr Friedman’s points above, before you accuse anyone else of motivated reasoning.

          • Lumifer says:

            The whole thing is a depressingly familiar search for a big free pot of gold from which everyone can be paid fair welfare/basic income/etc. and no one had to do all that unpleasant work any more.

          • Anonymous says:

            Anon, you’ve been hostile during the whole chain. Can you drop that?

            Anyway I kinda agree with anon, despite being a tech worker with plans to retire as soon as possible. I think a productive class will remain even with most people automated away and on welfare. Status has always been a strong motivator and you can’t really redistribute that.

            There’s a reasonable fear that the welfare class will proceed to stigmatize working and deny them status as DF explains, we can already see that in wageslave threads on /r9k/; I doubt it will go all the way, people will start waking up when the hospitals find themselves running short on people willing to do 10 years of education followed by 40-hour shifts. I think the complete resignation of the lower class isn’t just due to welfare and other environmental factors so I don’t see the middle class falling that far even given a couple generations, but I realize that that’s not convincing to others.

            Regardless, it’s inevitable that the west will expand welfare to cover for automation, so we’ll see if that causes us to become a backwater with nobody willing to do research or engineering beyond the basic maintenance to keep the robots going. Good thing we don’t have a world government so there will always be China to compare to; I’d be a lot more worried if there was the possibility of everyone falling into lethargy with nobody to wake us up.

          • Tekhno says:

            I was in bed. What’s going on here guys?

            @The Nyybler

            Who is this “we” speeding up automation technologies? As far as I can tell, the makers and maintainers of this technology reap no benefit; either they automate themselves out of a job and drop to welfare

            I don’t see how that’s so. Remember, we aren’t talking about a communist society in which there is no private property. The owners of the technology/means of production are going to benefit because they can still sell stuff to people, but now they no longer have to pay direct fixed costs for employees. There are no surplus costs beyond that required to maintain the machinery.

            In the highest stage of this theoretical automated society, not only labor costs, but manufacturing costs head towards zero, and what remains are only the costs of raw materials, energy, and land. The reason for this is because you are replacing workers who need to receive payment above that which allows them to reproduce their own labor, with “loyal” machines that replicate worker abilities without requiring wages (beyond that required to reproduce their labor consistently). Contra Marx (who only got as far as a Rube Goldberg conception of automation in the Fragment on Machines), we should expect the profits of the bourgeoisie to go up, not down, in such a society.

            You’ve also removed at a fell stroke all human resource issues and political inefficiencies and worker safety regulations. Productivity should soar sky high compared to today, in both the private and public sector, meaning that costs come down, and the amount of taxation needed to fund a basic income goes down (this dependent factor is precisely why I’m not in favor of having a basic income now at this time).

            The people who get automated out of a job would be everyone who doesn’t own any automated means of production, but with a basic income (no welfare traps), they’d be at the very least living as comfortably as I live, and at some point able to buy themselves back in.

            The “we” here would be the government by enacting policies favoring automating, providing R&D spending, and possibly even more radically and far off, setting up semi-autonomous low regulation cities for more experimentation.

            or they continue to work on the automation supporting an ever-growing population of economically unproductive people. This makes them slaves, essentially.

            This is absurd. By these standards, the existing capitalists in our time are slaves. Actually, extending the reasoning, everyone is a slave to the state, but then slavery becomes something that includes relatively benign things.

            @hlynkacg

            But you did say that it never ever happens. That’s a rather sweeping claim to make without any support.

            The support is history. The Cloward-Pivern strategy has had marginal results. The Nybbler is suggesting the tax base en masse could destroy the welfare system by this method, essentially.

            How many high income earners do you know who are going to sacrifice their income and livelihood just to spite the system? There’s also the political moral factor of them finding this hypocritical and distasteful. There’s a lot standing in the way of organizing accelerationist strategy.

            It’s like with Marxism. In theory, due to historical materialism, Marxists should act as extreme objectivists to accelerate capitalist exploitation. In practice, Marxists aren’t as cold and materialistic as they want to be, so these suggestions are usually met with abject horror and marginalized to a fringe within a fringe.

            You don’t see many large scale nationalist attempts at accelerating multiculturalism either. Across the spectrum, these strategies have remained historically marginal.

            That’s not to say the welfare state can’t collapse. Just that it’s far more likely to collapse through sincere left wing strategy, than ironic right wing strategy, and then still, more likely to collapse undergo cuts over a long period of time due to mass immigration, which would be an unconscious factor rather than a strategy designed to destroy the welfare state.

            In any case, my suggestions going forwards are:
            1: Ban visas from a whole swathe of Middle Eastern and African countries, while prioritizing degree based visas from countries like India, China, Korea, Singapore, Japan etc.
            2: Increase government spending in STEM fields (hopefully counter-cutting non-STEM fields).
            3: Don’t jump the gun on basic income, but keep it on the boiler until you can point to very obvious technological unemployment and say “see?”

          • Agronomous says:

            @Anonymous arguing with Anonymous:

            Just pick a fucking HANDLE ALREADY!

            It doesn’t even have to be good! (See just above.)

            This has been a public service announcement.

          • Anonymous says:

            That has never ever happened. I can’t think of a single historical example of everyone going on welfare to crash the system. People have proposed it but it’s never been done, because most people couldn’t stomach living on welfare. They have that dignity thing.

            Can you think of any historical example where one had a welfare system that:
            a) was in use for a prolonged period of time (not something that was in place for a few years at best),
            b) allotted one enough resources to live and raise a family comfortably, if one were simply somewhat frugal?

    • blacktrance says:

      We’re just going to ignore the law now?

      The merits or demerits of xenophobia aside, “it’s the law” is itself a contentious argument. For example, helping slaves escape was once illegal, but most of us agree that doing so was right. If the law is unjust, there’s a strong case for disobeying it.

      For example, if a bunch of thugs break into my house and I shoot them in self-defense, most people would consider that fine. Unless they happened to be wearing police badges and looking for drugs, in which case “it’s the law”. I think it makes much more sense to say that the latter is as wrong as the former, and that resisting it is justified.

      So if there’s a right to immigrate, ignoring immigration law is the right thing to do.

      • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

        I mean, that works great if your position is one of open borders (which I suspect is the case for you, as is for me), but we’ve been told that this is not a popular position outside some liberal circles and Scott Sumner’s blog. If we insist that we’re not for open borders, but constantly undermine the current inmigration laws without a clear position of where to put the limit, people are going to be rightfully suspicious.

        If a law is bad, then it’s imperative to take it down or change it, if you just ignore it and subvert it, that’s lawlessness, and lawlessness is frightening.

        • Aapje says:

          You also have to keep in mind that ignoring laws is not just something that people who agree with you can do. If you legitimize it as a common strategy (rather than just for exceptional cases), you also legitimize it when people undermine the laws that you like. Like states putting restrictions on abortion facilities and instituting onerous procedures, just to add so many hoops that abortion becomes practically impossible for many.

          An it destroys the ability for compromise, when you don’t stick to the compromise.

        • The Nybbler says:

          If a law is bad, then it’s imperative to take it down or change it

          This is just democracy’s dismissive response to complaints. Thoreau’s “Resistance to Civil Government” lays out most of the problems.

      • Ruprect says:

        More: There is no law against that.
        Will Roper: There is! God’s law!
        More: Then God can arrest him.
        Alice: While you talk, he’s gone!
        More: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law!
        Roper: So now you’d give the Devil benefit of law!
        More: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
        Roper: I’d cut down every law in England to do that!
        More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast– man’s laws, not God’s– and if you cut them down—and you’re just the man to do it—do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law for my own safety’s sake.

        I can understand someone ignoring a law as a matter of conscience – perhaps the key line here is: “you’re just the man to do it”. If you are truly in a position to undermine the law, then you have no business doing so – change it instead. In this case we’re taking about the government/enforcement agencies ignoring their own laws.

        • DavidS says:

          I love that quote. But not sure how applicable it is here.

          The More thing here is about law (as appropriate in time of Henry VIII) in the context of protecting people from arbitrary arrest etc. Overpowering tyranny etc. Turning a blind eye has always been a different matter.

          Also, not that sure if you can blame someone for breaking the English law before they’re English? Or even that it’s actually illegal to leave Belgium to come to England as opposed to ‘weakens your claim that you were just fleeing to the first safe place’

          • Ruprect says:

            Yes, fair point.
            The imposition of arbitrary penalties is more worrying than a failure to impose certain existing laws.

            It still makes me feel angry though. The guy in the documentary was using a fake passport, bought in Paris, to fly from Brussels to the UK. I would have assumed that was a serious crime – perhaps not? If not, why the hell do we have to go through passport control in the first place?

            I guess that’s the problem – if it seems as if laws solely exist to inconvenience those who are dull enough to respect them, it can’t help but undermine the criminal law system in entirety. I think that’s been the view of how Britain works for quite a while and this is just another case – this guy has got preferential treatment because he was willing to break the law.
            The top and bottom (of society) uniting against the respectable middle, I think.

  17. Suppose someone wanted to make memorable art…. is there any way of improving the odds?

    • Andrew says:

      You can use negative deduction- every fair and market is full of unmemorable art, so whatever you do, don’t mimic those things!

    • FacelessCraven says:

      what sort of art are we talking here? the popular kind or the “fine art” kind?

      Either way, the idea’s probably the same: lots of passion, lots of work. Ideas are mostly worthless, execution is what counts. On the fine-art end, political savvy is a major requirement, and may or may not trump other considerations.

    • Nicholas says:

      Find an art field that is almost exhausted, like opera in the age of Wagner or Jazz in the age of Monk, and find the last few edge cases where good work can be crammed into the field. These are the ages of highest risk/reward pieces, where you either get the ultimate magnum opus of the field, or unwatchable dreck. Then just be prolific in drafting, and judicious in publishing.

    • Zenophobe's Paradoxes says:

      When you say “memorable art” I’m assuming you mean “art whose popularity goes viral and is soon in high demand, rendering the artist quite rich.” Several of my family members are struggling artists so I’ve thought about this a lot.

      It seems like one way to maximize your odds of doing this is to pick two or three things that are “trending” and combine them in a unique way that photographs well and can be displayed in an art gallery.

      For example, wearables are a hot topic right now and so are concussions in football. You could make an installation where people wear a special helmet, then go sit in a booth with a TV in it showing a football game, and they feel a knock on the head every time there’s a collision. A microphone picks up everything the people say, a computer converts it to text, and then a Twitter account tweets out what is said.

      That one’s free.

      • No, actually what inspired the question was The Thing in the Cellar, a classic horror story by David H. Keller, an author whose other work has pretty much been forgotten.

        I’m not sure whether there are authors who specifically aim at memorability, and if so, if it’s possible to succeed, so I thought I’d ask.

    • Aapje says:

      @Nancy

      Use controversial images. Blackface & whiteface. A swastika & Star of David. A black person in chains. Make it ambiguous, so you can read both racism and condemnation of racism in the art. Then ‘tip’ an anti-racist group so they will protest your art. Then ‘tip’ the media that there is controversy. When they contact you, explain how you are a misunderstood artists, etc, etc. In these modern times, you can also use sockpuppet accounts to stoke the fire against you. You can be your own biggest protester and your own biggest fan (separate accounts though 😛 ).

      Basically, turn your art into click bait. So what Zenophobe said: pick a trend, make something controversial about that trend and then most importantly, make people talk about your art (and especially in art, there is no bad publicity).

    • Make art. Finish what you start.

      This of course doesn’t ensure that what you make will be memorable, but a lot of people who want to make art fail at the stage of actually making something, anything.

      Also, once you’ve made one thing, make more things. Keep making them. Quantity beats quality (no, really).

    • paul leary says:

      I highly rec. reading chapters 12-14 of Otto Rank’s Art and Artist:
      espcially chap. 12: “the Artist’s Fight With Art”.

      “The conflict between artist and art is quite as important for the understanding of the creative process as is the positive influence of the cultural art-ideology on the individual work. It has its social analog in the defensive reaction of the individual to collective influences of every sort … .

      https://openlibrary.org/works/OL98928W/Art_and_artist

    • Orphan Wilde says:

      Identify first how you want it to be memorable. The two most important criteria are relatedness – it has to tie into something somebody experiences regularly, so they can remember it when that experience arises – and it has to be unique, both as a take on that experience, and in that it is an experience that isn’t frequently attached-to.

      Horror/fear is easy, for example. Take something mundane that people encounter semi-frequently (not too often, just infrequent enough that they’re not accustomed to it), then add something sinister and alien. I have a haiku running around the internet somewhere about how the thumps in walls are from creatures living in your attic breaking the necks of rats and dropping them down – everybody I’ve read the haiku to remembers it years later (and refuses to listen to it again). There’s death, and the fact that the creatures drop the corpses instead of eat them makes the death pointless and doesn’t tie into anything we can understand – while also darkly hinting at things that frighten us in other humans.

    • FullMeta_Rationalist says:

      [Ex Cathedra (from the armchair)]

      ——————————————-

      “Memorable” reduces to “strong theme”.

      Consider Beethoven’s 5th. It’s arguably one of the most memorable pieces of all time. Not everyone may remember the entire song. But everyone recognizes the 4-note opening. The reason is, the opening is a theme which is reinforced throughout the rest of the piece. The entire thing is just variations and embellishments on that single theme.

      Sometimes in modern music, the theme is also called the riff or hook. Since I’m thinking about Daft Punk from another thread, consider Super Heroes. The entire song is just one big hook. Consider Smoke On The Water. You may not know the entire song. But I’d bet the house that you’d recognize that one riff anywhere.

      Do you remember George Orwell’s 1984? Could you recite each page from memory? Of course not. But you probably remember it had something to do with Dystopianism. Dystopianism is the theme.

      Do you remember Twilight by heart? Probably not. But you probably remember it had something to do with young love and vampires.

      ———————————————–

      Theme is the subject matter of your thesis. Several themes and theses may coexist within a single piece. While the thesis has a subject and a predicate, the theme consists of just the subject alone.

      In humor, theme sets up an invariant while the predicate sets up an expectation. The expectation is then violated by extending the theme in a surprising yet sensible direction.

      “Why did the chicken cross the road?” “To get to the other side.”

      “Chicken” is the theme. “Why” and “road crossing” set up an expectation/assumption that the chicken has some hidden motive for crossing the road. Because when someone asks us why, they’re usually asking for a hidden motive. But it was never explicated that chickens must have a hidden motive, and this is where the theme is extended in Expectation Space.

      “knock knock…” “orange you glad I didn’t say banana?”

      “orange” is the theme. The expectation is the repetition of “orange”. When you say “orange you glad I didn’t say banana?”, that violates your expectations. But notice that orange was technically still repeated. Which means the punchline falls within expectation space.

      ——————————————————

      The goal is to have your work support your theme strongly enough that the theme becomes associated with your work. If you hear the Smoke on the Water theme, you map that to Smoke on the Water. When you overhear someone talking about sparkly horny vampires, you think of Twilight.

      In order to create a strong theme, you must make it stand out. In music and literature, this is accomplished through repetition. In humor, conspicuousness. E.g. the chicken is conspicuous enough to set the Expectation Space to “things related to chickens”. Comedians also often use callbacks.

      I don’t know anything about drawing/painting/crafts. So I’m not touching it. But it probably involves attacking a theme from several different elements simultaneously, in a cogent way. Like, notice how the Eiffel Tower is made entirely out of tiny triangles. Or how Dali’s Persistence of Memory contains several warped clocks.

      If you want more-specific suggestions, you need to tell us what type of project you’re working on.

  18. E says:

    I want to learn more about the therapy/counseling profession, and I think the best way to do that is by reading the relevant literature and watching videos of counseling sessions. I’m more interested in the latter, does anyone have any recommendations for where to find recorded actual or practice therapy sessions?

    • Adam says:

      Counseling sessions are typically confidential. I’m not sure why you would expect there to be videos for public consumption.

      • Cadie says:

        It wouldn’t surprise me if some were available, with the patient’s written consent, especially to college students studying psychology or related fields.

        Also practice sessions would be a different case; the patient is essentially a fictional character portrayed live by an actor, so AFAICT permission to copy and share the videos would depend on different laws than for a real therapy session. Easier to share with the public legally and ethically, too.

    • Jill says:

      Sometimes people are asked to, and do decide to, give their consent to have a session videotaped, although, yes, the sessions are normally confidential.

      https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=counseling+session+videos

  19. Aapje says:

    I’ve noticed that a strong debating strategy that people employ is to use their own weakness to attack other people with. An example is when war-dodger George W. Bush attacked (Bronze and Silver Star recipient) John Kerry for being a coward. Or (pro-female) sexists who attack people for being misogynist.

    My theory why this works is that as kids, we’ve been taught that “No, you are X” is a childish and silly way to respond after being called X and that it tends to be a reflexive response to deny being guilty, rather than a real objection. The people who employ the debating strategy take advantage of the subconscious dislike of this debating pattern that people have. Key to this strategy is to accuse the other person first, so she is put into a bind. Either the accused mirrors the accusation, which sounds weak and reactive, rather than well-considered; or she denies the accusation. Research has shown that denying accusations is very ineffective at convincing observers of the debate and can even cause the accusation to be believed more. Probably due to a subconscious link being established between the accusation and the person. When you have a long debate about John (not) being a coward, the neural pathways between the concepts ‘John’ and ‘coward’ become really strong as this pairing comes up again and again, while the individual arguments are briefly considered. So when people think back about the debate, they forget the actual arguments and just remember that ‘John’ is linked to ‘coward’.

    So my questions:

    Is there an existing term for this debating strategy or a good term that we can use for it?

    How do you defeat the strategy? I tend to dive into specifics, which simply takes the debate to another level (away from labels and to specific beliefs/arguments, which observers can then use to draw their own conclusions).

    • DavidS says:

      Not sure your reasoning means attacking people with your own weakness is good vs. just smearing.

      I don’t really know the facts on Bush and Kerry, but I guess Bush could do that because
      1. The general attack on him was ‘stupid cowboy’ and the cowardice charge doesn’t fit
      2. Democrats are less likely to attack people for cowardice anyway, and are less good at building up a head of steam on it.

      On the sexism point: “pro-female” feminists are at the least not intuitively central examples of sexism. And I think quite clearly they don’t see themselves as sexist and think ‘I have an attractive set of policy options but my sexism puts them off. I have to use a clever strategy to deflect that’. They presumably would argue you need explicitly pro-female policies to address institutional intergenerational sexism etc.

      • Aapje says:

        Perhaps it’s also the case that once a narrative has been created, where group A attacks group B for being X, this allows group A to be X, because it is atypical, so people don’t see it, as it doesn’t fit their prejudice. So as group A doesn’t get (strongly) attacked for having people who say/do X, they don’t have to police their own.

        For example, one of the founders of BLM reveres a black supremacy terrorist (the link is partisan, but it links through to actual statements by the founder herself). Imagine if a police commissioner or even just a cop would say anything positive about a white supremacy terrorist. He or she would be fired very quickly.

        PS. I agree that a major factor in Bush vs Kerry slandering was that Bush didn’t look like a coward, while Kerry did.

        • DavidS says:

          There’s definitely a thing that if you’re seen as tough on law and order you can get away with doing things that might seem too soft and vice versa. And similar with other issues.

          As for your example, I think founders of campaign groups are obviously different to police. I think police would/should be fired for revering a black supremacy terrorist too?

          • Aapje says:

            I’m not sure they would. There is such a thing as narratives, where people who don’t fit a pattern of ‘evil’ get away with doing things that are just as bad as what the people do who don’t get away with something, where the latter fit a recognizable pattern.

            For example, it seems pretty clear to me that cop violence is interpreted through a prism of white vs black and that a black cop who murders someone, is far likelier to get away with it than a white cop. Just look at the immediate outrage at various white cop-black citizen shootings, including those that later turned out to be justified, but very little outrage over black cop-black citizen shootings. The latter are actually more common, according to Scott (he had an blog post about this). The scientific evidence strongly suggests that white cop shootings are not significantly more often unjust than black cop shootings and shootings of white citizens are not unjust significantly more than shootings of black citizens.

            Ironically, the ‘white cop violence against blacks’ narrative causes racial profiling of cops, while that narrative complains about racial profiling of citizens.

            PS. While founders are obviously different from police leaders, I still question the lack of scrutiny by the media of the groups that they legitimize in the debate.

      • gbdub says:

        The thing with John Kerry was that the attacks accusing him of cowardice did not come directly from Bush, they came from the Swift Boat Veterans, who were pro-Bush but not an official part of the campaign. The thrust of their argument was that Kerry was inflating his war record to make up for his other deficiencies (he was running against Bush on the Iraq war, he was accused of being anti-veteran after he returned from Vietnam). “Stolen valor” is usually seen as worse than not having experience in the first place.

        As for attacking Bush as a war-dodger, this was attempted but Dan Rather blew it by overplaying the hand (i.e. running with a clearly fabricated document claiming Bush went AWOL while in the ANG). That delegitimized any other more truthful attacks along this line by association.

        Long story short, Kerry couldn’t do enough to avoid being seen as dovish deep-blue tribe, and nothing serious enough came out to derail Bush’s credentials as hawkish red tribe. In any case, I’m still not sure it’s an example of the strategy you laid out – I doubt the Swift Boaters would have acted any differently had it been Kerry v. McCain (who has a much less impeachable war record).

        • houseboatonstyxb says:

          @ gbdub

          I think that is one example of … maybe call it ‘pre-emptive slander’?

          Another example is, what bad thing you are planning to do, first accuse your opponent of doing it.

          • gbdub says:

            Well, whether it’s “slander” or not depends on the particular veracity of the claim, which I’d rather not argue here. And I’m not sure whether it was “pre-emptive” or not (it’s not like Kerry had never before mentioned his war record positively) or even if it matters if it was.

            But in any case, yes, it was an attack designed to turn an opponent’s potential strength (valorous war record) into a weakness (self-aggrandizement / exaggeration). I think those happen all the time – e.g. attacking Trump’s business acumen by bringing up his failed businesses, or attacking Clinton’s foreign policy credentials by bringing up Libya. Again not weighing the validity of these critiques, just saying they all seem to be of a family. I don’t think you can call that “using your own weakness to attack other people with” as the OP here called it, because I don’t think the effectiveness of the attack depends on your own weakness (though I suppose it’s more important to attack an opponent’s strength in the area where you are not strong).

            Can you elaborate on examples of the latter? I’m having a hard time bringing specific instances to mind.

        • Aapje says:

          @gbdub,

          The Swift Boat Veterans were clearly just an unofficial wing of the Bush campaign. I find the distinction irrelevant, for practical purposes.

          As for Bush being a war dodger, he got preferential treatment to get into a unit that was very unlikely to be deployed and then go to be absent from that unit for long periods, which strongly suggests more preferential treatment. The first is already sufficient to call him a war dodger, IMO. Dan Rather used falsified documents to try to prove preferential treatment, but if we disregard that, we still have the testimony by Ben Barnes that a Bush family friend asked him to give George W a pilot spot in the Texas Air National Guard. That seems like slam dunk evidence to me.

          That delegitimized any other more truthful attacks along this line by association.

          Yeah, that makes sense.

          • I may be missing something, but my assumption is that Bush never showed up– I’ve never seen anyone mention having seen him, and as an at least somewhat charismatic person from a famous family, he should have been memorable.

          • Anonymous says:

            I don’t think so a grandfather being a senator from another state and his father being a US representative make a famous family. Maybe they’d make memorable bragging, but easy enough to lay low.

          • keranih says:

            It is not clear to me that the Swift Boat vets where a wing of the Bush campaign. At the very least, to have successfully projected Kerry’s nomination and running against Bush far enough back to have hand-selected operatives to fill Kerry’s military unit with Bush loyalists strikes me as more of a positive than a negative.

            we still have the testimony by Ben Barnes that a Bush family friend asked him to give George W a pilot spot in the Texas Air National Guard. That seems like slam dunk evidence to me.

            Barnes’ motivation has been called into question regarding that statement and his appearance on the same 60 minutes show where Dan Rather used fradulent documents.

            As for who volunteered for what – at the time that Bush entered fighter jet training, that aircraft (including those of ANG units) were in heavy rotation to Vietnam. At the time that Kerry volunteered for Swiftboats, they were used in a Coast Guard manner, in “blue” water. The shift to more dangerous “brown water” missions came later.

          • Aapje says:

            Nancy,

            Bush had a 6 year commitment, 2 years active duty and 4 years part-time duty. He spent those first 2 years getting trained as a pilot and got a promotion and good review at the end of that. Then he did 2 more years of part-time duty where he did more hours than required for the entire 4 years. Then in the last 2 years, he missed many drills and failed to do an annual medical check, causing him to lose his flying authorization. Bush didn’t fulfill his obligations during these last two years.

            My interpretation is that he took his obligations very seriously for the first 4 years and then lost interest. It’s my ‘armchair psychiatrist’ opinion that Bush is the kind of person who is very extreme. People like that go all in or check out. Many people were surprised by how he performed in the election debates due to his lackadaisical presidential style. IMO, he was ‘misunderestimated’ because people confused a lack of effort with stupidity, while the reality is that he was a very smart person who usually didn’t put in the effort, but if he did, he performed very well.

            Anonymous,

            His family was famous enough for the commander to stage an additional swearing in ceremony (after Bush was already sworn in by the captain who normally did that), since he wanted a photo op with George W. Then when Bush got promoted, they did a special ceremony again, just to impress his dad the senator.

            When someone gets two special ceremonies, they are not laying low.

          • Aapje says:

            Keranih,

            It’s very subjective where you draw the line between affiliated or not, although I admit to being a bit hyperbolic by using the term ‘wing’. I suggest people decide for themselves:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swift_Vets_and_POWs_for_Truth#Connections_with_Republicans

            As for Barnes, I don’t understand how his statement could have bad motivations due to a link with Dan Rather, given the fact that Barnes made his statement in 1999 and the controversial Dan Rather broadcast was in 2004. Furthermore, Barnes was made to testify due to a lawsuit and thus didn’t volunteer the information (unless he himself sent the anonymous letter to a U.S. attorney that started all this, accusing himself of giving people preferential treatment, which seems unlikely).

            As for those planes being in heavy rotation in Vietnam, that is rather irrelevant to the question of whether the National Guard was a safe place to dodge active service. The administration decided against calling up National Guard units for service in Vietnam, but a decent number of Air Guardsmen were called up for active duty and deployed to Vietnam. However, I would argue that people who used their influence/status to get into spots like these would also be protected from involuntary deployments. George W. Bush’s case would suggest so, as he failed to fulfill his duties, which could result in being called up for active duty, but instead he was given a honorable discharge before his service contract expired.

            In any case, I would argue that Bush was far safer there than if he had not gotten that placement and would have been called up into the regular army.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            My memory of that time says that choosing a safer service than the regular Army/Navy/Marines in itself amounted to ‘war dodging’ in the opinion of servicemen in the regular services. So those specific incidents aren’t needed for the popular label. Getting into such services was popularly thought to involve some elite family status and pull for everyone who got in.

          • Anonymous says:

            It was absolutely the case that you went into the national guard to avoid going to Viet Nam. If you had asked anyone at the time they would have freely admitted it.

    • FullMeta_Rationalist says:

      Last week I decided to check out this PUA stuff for the first time. For science.

      Regarding rhetorical stratagems. I believe the correct response is to show that you don’t give a shit. And possibly make a joke out of it. Similar to what SJW’s call “Reclaiming”. E.g. “George W. Bush is correct, 100%. If I hadn’t been such a wuss, I could have gotten Gold.” This triggers in people’s minds “Well, I guess a Silver Star isn’t so cowardly either . . . Silver’s pretty good actually.”

      Incidentally. I believe “daft punk” was originally a critic’s insult. Also, (iirc) people made fun of Andrew Jackson by portraying him as a simpleminded donkey. Which Jackson pivoted into the Democratic Party’s mascot. There’s probably examples everywhere.

      • Aapje says:

        The first example of ‘reclaiming’ that I know of is actually from 1566:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geuzen

        However, the strategy requires a position of moral authority where common opinion already considers this slander to be wrong. If you have opinions that people associate with the slander, because your opinions are outside the Overton Window, it is a poor strategy.

        PS. Mainstream PUA beliefs are IMO that women have an innate hypergamy strategy for procreation (instilled into them by evolution). Basically, that they seek to find the best provider of goods and power (which the woman can profit from) and want men to lead (where the woman gets to steer those decisions through manipulation). PUAs believe that modern men have been conditioned to provide, but not to lead: beta men. While women want men to provide, their sexuality is linked to the leadership of men. Hence PUAs believe that in the absence of men who have it all, women will have long term relationships with beta men/providers and sex with alpha men/leaders. So PUA strategy is to either act like alpha men if they just want sex or become people who both provide and lead, so their partner/wife is fully satisfied and doesn’t cheat on them or divorce them.

        They believe that feminism doesn’t actually understand women and turns men into partners that women actually don’t sexually feel attracted to. So a common belief is that they are helping women by teaching men to be sexually attractive to women. Hence the motto: we provide sex for women.

        I’m not going to comment on the validity of this world view, but the interesting part is they see Sheryl Sandberg of ‘Lean In’ fame as proof that feminism teaches women to date betas and have sex with alphas, due to this part of her book:

        “When looking for a life partner, my advice to women is date all of them: the bad boys, the cool boys, the commitment-phobic boys, the crazy boys. But do not marry them. The things that make the bad boys sexy do not make them good husbands. When it comes time to settle down, find someone who wants an equal partner. Someone who thinks women should be smart, opinionated and ambitious. Someone who values fairness and expects or, even better, wants to do his share in the home. These men exist and, trust me, over time, nothing is sexier.”
        ― Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

        • Jill says:

          LOL, that seems like really twisting Sandberg’s words. What she said is to date everyone. And when it comes time to settle down, get a Beta– if that means somebody who will pull his own weight and won’t betray her.

          I’m not always sure what people mean by alphas. Confident emotionally mature men? Or confident obnoxious assholes who get a lot of dates from women with low self-esteem, who are impressed by their confidence and don’t notice their serious lacks in other important traits?

          Some people are aggressive but also flexible, fair, and willing to do their part in both friendships and romantic relationships. What are they? Albetas?

          • Anonymous says:

            By alphas they mean the guys who participate in the first part of Sandberg’s quote – dating and bedding young women. Betas are the guys who responsibly wait and marry the women looking to settle down after their intense bout of dating. Alphas who are willing marry are still alphas, the distinction is in their ability to bed young women without having to prove a lot of commitment first (dating for a long time with the intent to marry vs sex on second date), not in how responsible they are.

      • Tekhno says:

        I think my view is further to the “right” than the PUAs, because I’m not convinced a man can act more “Alpha” than he is, inherently. (Take the black pill, bro.)

        There’s this common view that men have it better, because the ability of an unfeminine woman to change herself is limited, whereas men can just change their behavior and become more attractive.

        I don’t think that this is true though. I don’t think that the behaviors women are attracted to are confined to macro scale things that you can learn like “be more assertive”. The way I see it, if a “Beta” (I hate this terminology) guy tries to change his behavior to “be more assertive”, he’ll just come across as a bossy jerk rather than a smooth and in command leader. All of the little micro-traits that set two different variants of being assertive apart from each other are very important. Even if a “Beta” guy says the exact same lines as an “Alpha” guy, with the exact same degree of confidence, my impression is that there would be obvious tells.

        There’s also the fact that it’s just not true to say something like “women aren’t visually stimulated”. It’s more like women require context + the stimulus in order to be sexually excited, but a tall guy with a smooth deep voice can be assertive by doing the exact same things as the permanent failure dudboy, only he can pull them off due to his good genome. Behavior based attraction seems to be just as dependent on genes as everything else does.

        At some point people always bring up the ugly guy who always gets laid because he’s funny, and you can learn to be funny, right?

        No, not really. You can learn the same jokes, and you can practice delivery even, but you are never going to get timing down unless you inherently have a quick wit, and the right sort of memory. In order to be a great joker, you need to be in the right moment for the joke, and pattern match what is going on to something in your memory that is a similar situation in a way that creates a contrast that is both absurd but also heavy with meaning, and do it all in a way that rides the line between socially inappropriate and appropriately edgy. Good luck, Aspergeroids! (I can say this.)

        My big problem with PUA is that nobody is truly testing any of this stuff. It seems to largely involve inherently attractive men who’ve come out of their shell and got laid, making up a load of theories as to what did it for them through ad hoc reasoning, when they were going to succeed all along as soon as they tried (assuming they aren’t the ones lying about getting laid loads which is even worse). They then sell this information to grayscale skinnyfat nerds and autists who inherently fail even armed with all these pro tips, because it was never about that to begin with. Eventually, these guys become disillusioned and start visiting sites like PUAhate, and some of them spiral into madness and go on killing sprees, but more often commit suicide.

        Don’t raise the hopes of subhumans. It’s cruel.

        The best thing for these guys is therapy that helps them accept, without bitterness, that nobody will ever love them. The best thing is therapy to help them understand that life is unfair before they learn it first hand in the most brutal way possible. Let us down gently please, but do let us down, because reality will if you don’t, and it’s going to drop us straight on our heads.

        • sweeneyrod says:

          Have you considered not referring to people as subhumans?

        • Tekhno says:

          1: I’m including myself.

          2: I’m not just trying to be edgy. I picked that term for a very good reason. It makes you uncomfortable, but humans without any social capital, or even negative social capital, might technically belong to the same species, but are excluded completely from the normal behavior groups of humans. They are a sub class apart, and if they could breed (of course they don’t because they share the same mate standards as normal humans) within that alternative grouping, they’d diverge genetically from the species.

          3: I’m also trying to be edgy. You need to be able to look at this without wincing. We could play euphemism treadmill and try and dress things up, but at the end of the day, the people who are at the bottom, who have failed all tests, are inferior by the general standards of society, and most of their additional suffering comes from people pretending that this is not the case.

          • Ruprect says:

            Would you like to have sex with a woman? Or a man?

          • Tekhno says:

            Women. Why?

            I personally don’t feel bitter, and don’t really want a long term relationship with anyone else. I visit a lot of places where inferior men (Like myself. Again; not “judging”) whine about the high standards women have, and hypergamy and all this red pill stuff, but I can’t join them even though I’m on the same social level as them, because I never held the delusion that society or the universe was fair to begin with. I think I know why these people exist, however.

          • Ruprect says:

            I don’t know – I really identify with the bitter guys. If I was hungry and nobody would give me any bread (abundant) , I’d be pissed off. Wouldn’t happily accepting the cruel social/cultural circumstances you found yourself in be (1) maladaptive (and therefore unlikely) (2) a bit of an unattractive slave ideology?

            I mean, I really don’t think you can just blithely say, “life isn’t fair … Brrrrrb!” and leave it at that. Not if you are taking about a social circumstance and are a vaguely (post?) modern human.

            Anyway, the reason why I asked is this – do you really want to have sex? Because, (sorry if this is a bit TMI) for me, I feel as if I have a psychological aversion to sexual intercourse – and I think that most people who can’t have sex are probably the same. It’s like if you were really hungry, and you hated eggs, but you were in a egg shop. And everyone is cooking eggs. And you don’t want to eat the eggs, but you’re still hungry, so you get confused.

            Because, I have honestly seen far more people who were psychologically confused about their own motivations regarding sex, than I have people who had perfect clarity of vision, but were frustrated in achieving their aims.

            Perhaps you are in the second camp, but since the first are more common, propagating the idea that, “nobody will feed you” when you’re actually in an egg restaurant, might not be the best idea. (Perhaps you legitimately can’t physically get into the restaurant. Thing is, anyone can accept a legitimate physical “shit happens” – I don’t think we’re (at least most of us) built to happily accept a cultural one)

            (I’ve voluntarily eaten some pretty ropey things (up to and including potential deadly poison). So women should have sex with you – and it is my guess that some of them would (if you wanted to – prostitution etc. etc.) lots of people will love you even if they won’t have sex with you, shit – I’d rather not, but if it was the last hope, I’d love you.)

            [Just like to add – don’t know about anyone else, but it’s *really* bad for me to read stuff like this – when I was a youngster I used to be one of those guys who thought the whole world was against me having sexual intercourse (I actually may have been the first) but then I chilled the fuck out, started liking people a bit more, let the guard down, and ended up having sex with people. But, I’m still a bit mental about it, so even though people have sex with me, I still read this stuff, and I’m like “no-one will have sex with me, I’m awful. The world is bad”. Is this just me?]

        • Dr Dealgood says:

          My big problem with PUA is that nobody is truly testing any of this stuff. It seems to largely involve inherently attractive men who’ve come out of their shell and got laid, making up a load of theories as to what did it for them through ad hoc reasoning, when they were going to succeed all along as soon as they tried (assuming they aren’t the ones lying about getting laid loads which is even worse).

          Yeah, here’s the part that shows you don’t know what you’re talking about.

          Have you ever seen pictures of some of the big names in PUA? These are not exactly good looking or charming men we’re talking about.

          And beyond that, pickup is absolutely obsessive about recording and publishing statistics so that different routines and approaches can be compared. Sometimes people fudge their numbers or spew bullshit, that’s going to happen, and there’s a lot of voodoo when it comes to explaining why something that works works. But as far as dating advice goes it’s as empirical as you’re going to get outside of those folks who use Big Data techniques on online dating site stats.

          You can’t train a Chihuahua to outrun a Greyhound, that should be obvious. But you can certainly train a faster Chihuahua. Oftentimes that’s enough.

        • dndnrsn says:

          I think you’re underestimating the extent to which male attractiveness is affected by how in-shape somebody is. Forget just not being especially fat – a leaner face is more attractive, and the body does matter.

          I also am not convinced there’s a sizeable population of men who are really good looking but somehow shy and bad socially.

        • Anonymous says:

          I haven’t tried PUA, but from reading their stuff it seems to me that their core insight are not the concrete protips. It’s the idea that you have to go out there and socialize even when people laugh at you, until you get desensitized to the negative feedback. The attitude where you read for months and then expect to get it on the second try is frowned upon, rather the hope is you’ll go out and fail for months and write about your experiences every time (field reports) and eventually start succeeding. The protips are nice pieces of insight that you can consciously try out but the main goal is to develop instincts (and attitude) with a lot of trial and error.

          Not saying that you can take a paraplegic burn victim and turn him into a playa with enough BOLDNESS, but I don’t think PUA is just about making betas memorize the lines of alphas.

        • Tekhno says:

          @Dr Dealgood

          Have you ever seen pictures of some of the big names in PUA? These are not exactly good looking or charming men we’re talking about.

          Are they hideous, and/or autistic? Or just normal looking guys? And if they weren’t charming they would always fail. You don’t need to be awesome to attract women, but if you are an ordinary guy then all you really need is confidence. If ordinary people didn’t get laid, none of us would be here, because that standard of ordinary or normal wouldn’t be maintained.

          The problem is the people who really need PUA because they are really low tier men aren’t going to benefit from it to begin with.

          These are the people who get bitter and angry, and fill up forums, and Youtube comments ranting about women.

          EDIT:

          You can’t train a Chihuahua to outrun a Greyhound, that should be obvious. But you can certainly train a faster Chihuahua. Oftentimes that’s enough.

          Yeah, but the scale over which this analogy holds is small.

          A fundamentally uncharismatic man can’t train himself into charisma because charisma requires IQ, not just copying. Charisma and wit aren’t sets of strictures that can be copied robotically, but more like abilities like being taller or smarter.

          Most of the problem of the lowest of the low tier men isn’t that they couldn’t get laid at all, but that no matter amount of training can get them the kind of women they find attractive. There are loads of hideous loser women and men, but they all have the same standards as normal people, whose abilities they can never replicate. You can train a Chihuahua, but you would never let it compete against Greyhounds.

          They are better served by an adjustment to their sense of reality.

          • Anonymous says:

            Mystery is a fraud? Is that because you found footage of him cringy, or is there more to it?

          • Ruprect says:

            I think the lowest of the lower tier men would be better served by a cadre of buxom sex-doctors.

            I mean, most people, invited to wipe up someone else’s shit are going to say “no thanks”.

            Yet, most of us end up doing it, in one capacity or another, in our lives.

          • Tekhno says:

            @Anonymous

            Everything I’ve seen him in he comes across as cringy and awkward, with the women he’s interacting with looking bored, but since that means I don’t want to watch anymore, I might not be being fair to him at all. There’s not much more to it than that, so I retract that cruel statement. It’s just the way he comes across. I find it really really hard to believe he’s the real deal, but I’m not approaching this rationally.

          • Jill says:

            “Most of the problem of the lowest of the low tier men isn’t that they couldn’t get laid at all, but that no matter amount of training can get them the kind of women they find attractive. There are loads of hideous loser women and men, but they all have the same standards as normal people, whose abilities they can never replicate. You can train a Chihuahua, but you would never let it compete against Greyhounds.”

            True. If you aren’t great looking, and don’t have great social skills, then you can’t expect to get a date who is beautiful and has great social skills.

            I wonder if there is much research, or even examples, of people who go to the trouble of learning social skills– as opposed to just getting a few PUA tips and expecting that to do the trick.

            Whether it’s getting dates, or any other goal in life, a whole lot of people are not willing to put more than minimal effort into it. But they still keep looking for those few quick tips that they expect will help them reach their goals quickly and easily, with minimal effort or understanding of the process. But they are living in a fantasy land there.

          • John Schilling says:

            True. If you aren’t great looking, and don’t have great social skills, then you can’t expect to get a date who is beautiful and has great social skills

            This implies that people chose their romantic partners solely on the basis of appearance and social skills. Is that truly the argument you wish to make?

          • Nornagest says:

            Observation suggests that many people successfully lower their standards, at least on the physical-beauty end of things.

    • Adam says:

      Don’t engage? Unless you’re actually running for political office, in what situations are you really forced to defend your honor from someone accusing you of being some sort of bad character that they are actually themselves? This has happened to me zero times in my life.

  20. Wunderwaffle says:

    Hope effective is CBT when applied to oneself using books and other materials available on the internet for treating non-general anxieties, phobias and general neural fucked-upness?

  21. onyomi says:

    Here is Michael Huemer arguing that a lawyer should not defend a client he strongly believes to be guilty.

    I would argue that, in general, if you are a criminal defense attorney, DA, police officer, soldier, juror, judge, or anyone else charged with enforcing or deciding matters of law, you should not enforce a law you think is immoral, you should not convict someone of a crime you do not think is immoral, should not fight in a war you believe to be unjust, etc. etc.

    The usual response is that the system needs people to defend the guilty to uphold the law whatever their personal feelings, etc. But does it really? If you can’t find a single lawyer who believes you’re not obviously guilty, maybe you should go to jail? If you can’t find any decent police officers to enforce the law, maybe it’s a bad law? If you can’t find a jury to convict in good conscience, maybe it shouldn’t be a crime? If you can’t find soldiers to fight in this war in good conscience, maybe it’s an unjust war? etc. etc.

    One possible objection is that this precludes people who have a conscience from being in law enforcement, the army, judges, etc. I think we already have this problem to some extent, but if it were no longer assumed that “he’s just doing his job,” or “it’s not my place to question it,” then there would be, I think, a countervailing incentive to cut back on laws of ambiguous justice, which would be a very good thing.

    • dndnrsn says:

      The obvious problem is that lawyers seeking to find reasons not to defend people where they know the case would not be worth taking could easily find reasons to think the person is guilty.

      • onyomi says:

        Wait, what? We don’t force lawyers to defend people they don’t want to defend? I guess you mean public defenders? Are they not allowed to refuse a case? They get paid regardless, don’t they? So they don’t have a financial incentive not to take the case.

        • dndnrsn says:

          My understanding is that win-loss ratio is something lawyers are concerned about, but I don’t know if this applies to defence.

          I don’t mean that they are being forced – but that a lawyer deciding whether or not to take a defence case might consciously or subconsciously deem hard cases to be guilty.

          • onyomi says:

            Isn’t this a problem regardless?

            Moreover, it seems like the incentives as relate to this are worse if lawyers don’t see anything wrong with defending a guilty defendant. Specifically, they might turn down a hard-to-win case of a defendant they think to be innocent, while accepting an easy-to-win case of a defendant they think to be guilty.

    • Randy M says:

      There’s more to defense than just guilty or not-guilty. I’d agree lawyers shouldn’t take cases in which they must try to defend a non-guilty plea they know to be false, or prosecute a law-suit they know to be fraudulent. They should still be on hand to attempt to inform the client of what the range in punishment is, help present mitigating evidence during sentencing, etc.

      • onyomi says:

        Well, simply providing legal advice is not necessarily problematic, though I’d say if the advice amounts to helping someone you strongly believe to be guilty get off, it is.

        Of course, the lawyer should also be internalizing the burden of proof in his own estimations: if you are 51% confident your client is guilty I think you can try to get him acquitted, because a jury with only 51% certainty of guilt of, say, murder, should also acquit, according to the ethically defensible standards of “beyond a reasonable doubt” and “it is better to let 10 guilty people go free than convict one innocent man.”

        That said, if you believe your client to be guilty of, say, marijuana possession, but also believe laws against marijuana possession to be unethical, then I think you should try to get him off.

        • Randy M says:

          Is the role of the lawyer/trial to do justice, or to discover the truth?
          If you know your client was guilty of possession but feel all available sentences are unjust for that, do you lie or try to make the jury doubt the police testimony or whatever, or look for technicalities, or just argue for leniency in sentencing?

          I’m not sure, I can see arguments either way.

          • Lumifer says:

            The role of a lawyer is neither. A lawyer provides legal services to his client. Discovering the truth or doing justice is not his task.

          • Randy M says:

            I guess you are right; I was thinking of the system, but the part can have a contradictory function than the whole; the lawyers are the fail-safe of the justice system.

        • Anonymous says:

          if you believe your client to be guilty of, say, marijuana possession, but also believe laws against marijuana possession to be unethical and I agree with you, then I think you should try to get him off.

          In general, we don’t want lawyers deciding which laws are good/bad. That’s why we have a legislature. Sure, everyone here is on board when you bring up marijuana, but imagining lawyers in the post-war South saying, “Well, this law is unethical, because it hurts God-fearing men (read:whites), but we won’t take cases that put those people in their place.”

          We already have two stages to manage in getting just law/law-enforcement: legislatures and police/prosecutors. Thankfully, those are both actually part of the gov’t. It’s much better to have defense lawyers just always provide competent defense and have to deal with trying to tweak those two knobs (that we can actually reach) than have to try tweaking all three knobs at the same time (with one of them lying solely outside the democratic process).

          • onyomi says:

            I think having another layer in the enforcement of laws would be a very good thing. Right now it’s: “people vote for it–>enforcement.” What if it were “people vote for it–>enforcers can, in good conscience, enforce it–>enforcement”?

            Has more harm throughout history been done by people defying the law to follow their conscience, or by people “just following orders”?

          • Nornagest says:

            Prosecutors already have quite a bit of discretion.

      • But there are plenty or circumstances where we (at least most Americans) believe that lawyers should defend clients they know to be wrong.

        For instance, if the police unlawfully and without probably cause search a property and discover evidence of a crime, then the prosecution presents that evidence in court, the defense attorney will (and should) get the evidence thrown out; even if the evidence convinces the defense attorney that his client is guilty.

        • onyomi says:

          Why should the lawyer get the improperly discovered evidence thrown out if he knows it will result in an unjust outcome, such as a killer walking free? Improperly discovering evidence is bad, but, then, so, too is a killer walking free. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

          • Who wouldn't want to be anonymous says:

            Because incentives.

            If the police can get away with illegal searches, they are going to illegally search everyone. Preventing the tyranny of the government is more important than convicting a single murderer (who probably isn’t going to do it again anyway).

          • The exclusionary rule is a pretty weak incentive not to engage in illegal searches. Better to make violators liable in tort.

            Huckle v. Money.

          • John Schilling says:

            Better to make violators liable in tort.

            Better, but probably not possible in practice. Jurors will nullify any such liability, and police unions will make sure any awards that juries do award will be paid by the taxpayers, not the actual policemen.

    • Lumifer says:

      But does it really?

      There is a balance. On the one hand you do want the conscience of people to stand in the way of bad laws/wars/etc. On the other hand, running a justice system on the basis of public opinion sounds like a terrible idea.

      • onyomi says:

        “running a justice system on the basis of public opinion sounds like a terrible idea.”

        Why? I’d rather a system in which laws much of the public feels ambivalent about doesn’t get enforced.

        • Lumifer says:

          Oh, dear. Do we really have to go into why the rule of law is a good thing?

        • Ivy says:

          I’d rather a system in which laws much of the public feels ambivalent about doesn’t get enforced.

          I would like that system, but I’m afraid that’s not what basing legal decisions on public opinion will lead to. It’s not that laws wouldn’t get enforced, but that they would get enforced selectively, undermining the rule of law. For example, you would expect a lot more vigilantism to go unpunished.

        • hlynkacg says:

          @ Lumifer:
          We have met the enemy and he is us.

    • John Schilling says:

      A formally-accused criminal without a lawyer will be convicted and sent to prison for however long the prosecution wants them there. One can imagine legal systems where this is not the case, but we don’t have one of those and it’s not likely we will in the foreseeable future.

      So, if lawyers are allowed to make a habit of declining cases from guilty defendants, guilty defendants will all obviously tell their lawyers, “I didn’t do it”. Which brings us to,

      1. Lawyers accept those claims at face value, bringing us exactly where we are now but with an extra layer of deliberate lying

      2. Lawyers try to figure out whether prospective clients are lying about their innocence, so as to reject the guilty ones. This replaces a justice system where an adversarial trial in open court determines who goes to prison, with one where the private decisions of lawyers based on little more than gut feel determines who goes to prison.

      3. Like #2, but if you offer your lawyer enough money he won’t care whether you’re guilty or not.

      I don’t see how any of these are at all desirable, and I would be strongly opposed to making this change.

      • onyomi says:

        “strongly opposed to making this change.”

        Note that I’m only proposing a normative change, not a legal one. I’m not saying, for example, that we should start trying lawyers for the crime of defending a defendant they know to be guilty.

        • John Schilling says:

          You are proposing at minimum a change in the rules of legal ethics; I’m not sure whether actual statutory changes are required.

          And it’s a bad idea even if it is entirely voluntary. If I found that our justice system allowed lawyers to behave in the manner you describe and that lawyers generally did behave in the manner you describe, I would no longer consider it worthy of being called a “justice system”.