"Talks a good game about freedom when out of power, but once he’s in – bam! Everyone's enslaved in the human-flourishing mines."

Open Thread 54.75

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

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742 Responses to Open Thread 54.75

  1. onyomi says:

    Had been waiting for a links thread to post this, and not sure if anyone already has, but I thought this article on how the economy gets “rigged” was really great.

    My only complaint was that, at the end, the author shies away from any radical solutions. Yes, all these little regulations need to be weeded out, but how does he propose we do that? A cultural shift against viewing them as legitimate is important, of course, but I personally think there probably needs to be a Constitutional Amendment or something.

    The problem is, right now, economic regulations of all kinds are considered prima facie legitimate, when I think they should be prima facie illegitimate. One could, of course, leave a door open to regulate things deemed unusually sensitive, like surgery, but the bar needs to be set much higher, as it is with abrogations of, e. g. freedom of speech (can’t yell “fire” in a crowded theater, etc.).

  2. onyomi says:

    I can’t post any new threads in open threads.

    • onyomi says:

      *Or, at least, I couldn’t?

      Had been waiting for a links thread to post this, and not sure if anyone already has, but I thought this article on how the economy gets “rigged” was really great.

      My only complaint was that, at the end, the author shies away from any radical solutions. Yes, all these little regulations need to be weeded out, but how does he propose we do that? A cultural shift against viewing them as legitimate is important, of course, but I personally think there probably needs to be a Constitutional Amendment or something.

      The problem is, right now, economic regulations of all kinds are considered prima facie legitimate, when I think they should be prima facie illegitimate. One could, of course, leave a door open to regulate things deemed unusually sensitive, like surgery, but the bar needs to be set much higher, as it is with abrogations of, e. g. freedom of speech (can’t yell “fire” in a crowded theater, etc.).

      • lupis42 says:

        I feel like we had an amendment about that, but apparently it wasn’t specific enough. (The 9th)

        • onyomi says:

          Though the Commerce Clause is one of the most heavily abused in the Constitution, I could see a plausible legal argument that if the Commerce Clause explicitly gives the federal government the power to regulate international and interstate trade, the 10th Amendment implicitly gives the states and municipalities the power to regulate state and local trade. I wouldn’t say that is necessarily the correct argument, but it’s sufficiently vague to be plausibly interpreted that way, and the problem here really is as much to do with state and local regulations as federal.

          To the extent rules on a piece of paper can ever constrain politicians, it seems like something more explicitly enshrining the presumptive right of economic freedom might be helpful.

          • lupis42 says:

            To the extent rules on a piece of paper can ever constrain politicians, it seems like something more explicitly enshrining the presumptive right of economic freedom might be helpful.

            I’d certainly support it, but I expect that, without actually persuading the average person to believe it, it wouldn’t do much good. As long as people are more worried about frauds, quacks, etc. than they are about their own ability to go into a given line of work, they’ll tend to fall for the idea that it’s all about protecting the consumer.

          • Alex Zavoluk says:

            SCOTUS has ruled that federal government power over the economy is essentially unlimited. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wickard_v._Filburn, which interprets growing what on your own land to feed your family and animals as “interstate commerce” because if everyone did it, it would affect prices across state lines. If that’s how broadly that clause can be interpreted, then it is essentially devoid of restrictions. (How on Earth multiple allegedly intelligent people reached that conclusion is beyond me. )

            Because people can move across states relatively easily, having strongly regulated states is less of downside than a strongly regulated country, but it’s still far from ideal.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Alex Zavoluk

            How on Earth multiple allegedly intelligent people reached that conclusion is beyond me

            There’s a pretty obvious answer: they wanted to reach this conclusion and didn’t care what they had to jump over on the way.

          • brad says:

            Wikard isn’t the least defensible decision of that era. The award for that goes to Blaisdell with the Gold Clause cases as runners up.

          • BBA says:

            Wickard was fundamentally about the “necessary and proper” clause, i.e., to what extent Congress can regulate non-interstate non-commerce if it may be necessary and proper for the regulation of interstate commerce. This means the proper target of your ire is over a century earlier in McCulloch v. Maryland which started that whole line of thought.

      • Corey says:

        For land use/zoning, it might help to make the regulations *less* local, to counter the universal effect of NIMBYs. I know there’s at least one State that has a law saying halfway houses can’t be zoned away by local governments, because they have to go somewhere, and nobody wants them nearby.

        • notes says:

          The most elegant improvement to the zoning problem I’ve seen is in Japan. Zoning there is in terms of the maximum permitted use — to put it crudely, if an area is zoned as heavy industrial, you can still build light industrial, commercial, residential. If it’s zoned commercial, you can still build residential as well as commercial.

          That one change makes it significantly less important that zoning be done in precisely the proportions that the city turns out to need.

          Granted, Japan also has a national zoning law, in the sense that zoning categories are defined nationally (but localities still define areas within themselves as zoned for X or Y usage). Mostly, that keeps the number of categories comprehensible and prevents zoning category definitions that are functionally specific exclusions.

      • Corey says:

        economic regulations of all kinds are considered prima facie legitimate

        I dunno, the political party that controls most State legislatures and governorships has a tendency to disagree. To be fair they haven’t gone around repealing too many regulations, and they tend to love regulating for social conservatism (e.g. TRAP).

        • Anonanon says:

          There have been a lot of deregulation laws passed in recent years, thanks to all the bad press about hair-braiders needing 2-year college degrees and monks not being allowed to make coffins. Only in red states though, AFAIK.
          [Citation Needed], but I’ll post some later.

          • Loquat says:

            For example, Iowa just got rid of its requirement that hair braiders have 2100 hours of cosmetology training, and the governor vetoed an attempt to retain annual training requirements, though the state legislature could theoretically overrule him on that if enough of them feel strongly about it.

        • Alex Zavoluk says:

          The GOP pays lip service to small government but isn’t actually very good at it.

          • Lumifer says:

            Which is part of the reason for the populist insurrection against the GOP establishment.

          • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

            But Trump is offering bigger, not smaller, government.

          • onyomi says:

            The populist insurrection isn’t actually very good at consistency.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            Consistency in a prisoner’s dilemma is a secondary consideration. Strategy has to fit the existing situation.

          • Tekhno says:

            To what extent do right wing Americans want “small government” in an absolute philosophical sense, and to what extent do they in fact want merely to disempower a federal government they feel consistently applies progressive policy across all states?

            To some, opposition to “big government” is about upholding universal classical liberal principles. When these right wingers say they want to be left alone, they mean that they want everyone to be left alone.

            To others, opposition to “big government” is a conditional compromise position in a world in which “big government” means “progressive government”. If they get that one chance to change that, then they may no longer need to compromise. When these right wingers say they want to be left alone, they mean that they want their group to be left alone.

          • onyomi says:

            Actually wanting to limit government is pretty inimical to the mythos of both parties since the early 20th c.; arguably since the Civil War.

            Part of the problem is “follow me!!… and I will rigidly adhere to the strictly defined limits of my position as described in the Constitution” is not a very sexy slogan. Doesn’t help that historians routinely rate presidents of both parties who test the limits of their power as the “greatest,” whereas “do nothing” presidents like van Buren and Coolidge are routinely rated lowest.

          • Corey says:

            @Tekhno: Yeah, people often conflate “libertarian” and “neoconfederate” though they’re very different things unless you’re only looking at the Federal government.
            I would facepalm often reading about either of the Drs. Paul in US politics, where this was common.

      • brad says:

        I don’t think our judicial system has the institutional capacity to do an even decent job of the task you would assign it. It’s not something you want late career super-generalists deciding based on adversarial presentations. Look at anti-trust doctrine, which is mostly judicially created, for what a hash they might make of it.

      • Chalid says:

        So obvious question – in the US, the zoning and occupational licensing regulations discussed in the article are driven primarily by state and local governments. In countries with more centralized governments, are these such a problem?

        In general, what kind of regulation will be favored by nations with a single powerful centralized government, versus in a nation with lots of power given to the regional and local levels of government?

        It seems like one obvious thing is that state/local regulations can attempt to help the region’s population at the expense of the rest of the nation, so you’d expect fewer zoning laws, small-town speed traps, etc. if the relevant authority was at the national level. (Which is my excuse to link to Jon Chait’s essay on why Delaware is horrible.)

        Conversely, I suppose things which are perceived as collective-action problems are the sort of thing that a powerful centralized government would attempt to regulate but local governments would not. e.g. no one would try regulating sulphur dioxide emissions at the local level.

      • Wrong Species says:

        You have to read the article from a Straussian perspective. Libertarians don’t overlap very well with progressives. The author is a libertarian so he’s trying to appeal to progressives without tipping them off too strongly to his actual beliefs. It doesn’t takes a great detective to figure it out considering the link at the bottom goes to his libertarian organization. But it is sufficiently covered up in the appropriate language that this is not immediately obvious. The article links to other Vox articles that say similar things. So he wants to suggest a problem from the libertarian perspective that coincides with the readers belief. Anything more than that might push them away.

        • onyomi says:

          It was clear to me from the beginning that that was what he was doing, though I’m uncertain whether that’s because I’m a libertarian or because it would be obvious to anyone. I’m not necessarily against thinking strategically about the audience, but not to the point of “suggest solutions which probably won’t work, since your readership probably wouldn’t except the solutions which would.”

          More generally, it’s worth asking whether this is ever a good strategy in today’s partisan world–as consumers have become jaded about advertising, so now consumers of editorial have become trained to spy the partisan sympathies in everything. This may mean it is better in many cases to just wear them on your sleeve… but that probably means people who don’t already agree with you won’t even start reading the article in the first place, so, it’s kind of a catch-22.

          • Wrong Species says:

            When Hivemind came out, some people thought his argument in favor of immigration was so bad that he was secretly arguing against it. I’m not saying that is happening here, but I would say that planting the seed of an idea is more important than following it to it’s logical conclusion.

            And as far as the effectiveness, I’m not aware of any secret libertarian campaigns to infiltrate progressive institutions but pro-market ideas are gaining exposure. Many progressives are in favor of free trade and against certain economic regulations. So I don’t see what he’s doing as futile.

          • Anonanon says:

            I’m not aware of any secret libertarian campaigns to infiltrate progressive institutions

            The only “libertarian entryism” I’ve seen was the takeover of the Revolutionary Communist Party’s “Living Marxism” magazine, which is now “Spiked”.
            But maybe they’re doing it elsewhere too?

          • Corey says:

            I’m not aware of any secret libertarian campaigns to infiltrate progressive institutions

            Not really secret, but Kochs have recently been endowing econ chairs to get some more libertarian-minded econ profs (econ’s starting to lean interventionist as its practitioners are starting to realize that Communism died and nobody needs to fight against it anymore). I believe trying to make some more Mercatus Center-type places. (Not that I find that fishy; I read them as True Believers).

            There’s been some talk of trying to establish hiring quotas and safe spaces for conservative academics also (but that’s not necessarily libertarian, outside of econ).

      • Julie K says:

        Somewhat related:
        Apparently it is common when selling alcohol for the cashier to ask for ID not only from the actual buyer, but anyone accompanying her, because maybe she plans to share it with her friends.
        The comments on that post mostly focused on the question of whether this rule is unfair to the customer (consensus: nope), while my reaction was that it’s unfair to the *cashier* to require him to be a policeman.

        • The Nybbler says:

          Appears to be wrong on several accounts. The chain store is free to have such a policy, but the clerk’s wording “all parties of the alcohol sale” is wrong; someone merely accompanying a purchaser is not a party to the sale. I don’t see anything in Ohio law which requires the customer to provide ID if asked; checking ID (of the purchaser, not accompanying persons) instead insulates the store from penalties if the purchaser turns out to be underage after all.

          http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/4301

          Of course there may be regulations which modify or purport to modify this. And the store policy doesn’t appear to itself be illegal.

        • Corey says:

          My sister was a grocery cashier for a while (in Ohio no less) and after a couple of stings in their store, she would card *everyone* (and occasionally had to call security to drag away irate gray-haired men because of it) (I don’t know about other parties to the sales, though). Rational from the cashier’s perspective, they individually are the ones who get in legal trouble. Company was on her side AFAIK (though it was Big Bear, which no longer exists).

        • bluto says:

          When I was an alcohol buyer in college, I always made the purchase alone (just in case a store sprung that policy on us), with the recipients meeting me again after the sale.

      • Luke the CIA stooge says:

        I’ve thought about this for awhile and the only effective solution I could come up with is to systematically breaking up every large nation to the point that every government in existence is so weak that they would destroy their own authority and economy if they tried to impinge on economic liberty.

        A world with a thousand Luxembourg, where people vote with their feet. Oherwise there will ALWAYS be massive amounts of wealth and power to be gained by politicians if only they would start violating liberty and screwing the economy. He’ll even socialist leaning politics like Sweden tend to favor streamlined regulations, once they’re forced to make compromises

    • brad says:

      I’ve noticed the automated spam filter on here is quite capricious.

      • onyomi says:

        But the bar is set much lower for replies than initial comments. On this thread and the last, I found I could post the same thing as a reply (even to myself) which I couldn’t post as an initial thread.

  3. stargirlprincess says:

    The S & P Price Earnings Ratio is now about 25. http://www.multpl.com/ (25.02 as of posting). Historically the average is about 15. High PE ratios have historically been a bad sign for long term investors. This trend makes sound fundamental sense and many credible people think PE ratios are worth looking at for very long term investors. The affect of the PE ratio is not easy to arbitrage out of the market since the effects are very long term.

    I happen to be a very long term investor. I am saving for retirement. I only invest in index funds of various sorts. Should I be worried? Should I invest funds in things like emerging markets instead of the domestic market?

    • Corey says:

      Depends on how far away retirement is. If it’s more than, say, 15 years away, don’t sweat it, stay the course.

    • Salem says:

      There has been a long term secular decline in interest rates. This has happened over the last 35 years and is one of the most important macro developments of modern times. Naturally this leads to higher P/E ratios for equities. So saying that the P/E ratio is above its historic norm is uninformative as to whether it is overpriced – if the market were at the historic norm, it would be an obvious time to buy.

    • Lumifer says:

      Historically the average is about 15.

      That implies that the history of the late XIX and early XX century is relevant to you (never mind that there wasn’t an S&P 500 index back then).

    • Wrong Species says:

      It’s worth pointing out that the last 25 years have been different from the years before it. Recessions are fewer and recoveries taking longer. So past precedent probably has less relevance to the present. According to your graph, the last 25 years have had a higher average ratio then before. Instead of an imminent recession, it probably just means we have a new normal.

      • Chalid says:

        Of course, if you think past precedent has less relevance to the present due to macroeconomic changes, that weakens the case for owning stocks at all. So the recommended course of action is the same – buy fewer equities now.

        • Lumifer says:

          that weakens the case for owning stocks at all

          Not necessarily true because you need to keep your assets somewhere and it’s quite possible to believe that the case for, say, cash and bonds weakened more than for equities. For example, bonds look to be a very poor long-term investment at the moment.

          • Chalid says:

            Well, “we can’t trust historical track records to predict long-term returns going forward” essentially tells us to diversify. And judging from her post, the OP seems to own primarily US equities. (As I think most rationalists do as well, if they’re saving for the long term.)

            Edit: “weakens the case for owning stocks at all” in my previous post was definitely a stronger statement than I intended to make. The possibility of some kind of recent regime change weakens the case for owning mainly or exclusively equities.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Chalid

            essentially tells us to diversify

            Why is that so? If you have greater uncertainty in your forecasts your expected error is greater and the expected variance is wider, but I don’t see an obvious reason to increase diversification. How much you need diversification is mostly a function of the correlation matrix.

            Also, the OP just said “index funds of various sorts” and I don’t see this necessarily mean primarily US equities.

          • Chalid says:

            @Lumifer

            It is commonly held that stocks will have the highest expected long-term returns, so they should make up the bulk of a young person’s portfolio. The main reason to believe that stocks will outperform other asset classes in the long term is historical. If we don’t believe in history as a guide, then our confidence in stocks outperforming other assets should fall and a young person’s allocation to stocks should go down.

            OP was talking about the S&P and diversifying away from the “domestic market” which says US stocks to me. It’s not important anyway though.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Chalid

            The main reason to believe that stocks will outperform other asset classes in the long term is historical.

            Actually, no, the main reason is fundamental. Stocks are a share in economically productive capital. That ties their performance to general economic growth which is expected to be positive over the long term (if not, you have bigger problems than investment allocation). This gives stocks the advantage over asset classes like cash or gold which do not participate in the economic growth.

            The other popular type of a security that provides productive capital is bonds. However the major difference between bonds and stocks is risk: if things go south, bondholders get their share before equity owners get anything. Thus stocks are more risky and demand higher (than bonds) returns.

            See, no appeal to historical data needed.

          • brad says:

            I don’t know why no one ever considers leverage when dealing with expected value. Sure there’s some drag and there are leverage limits, but we aren’t working from a portfolio of products whose return characteristics are totally immutable.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ brad

            You have a set of financial products that you can more or less buy in the markets. Then you combine them through all sorts of financial engineering to construct a portfolio that you want. It certainly can include leverage, shorting, asymmetric payoffs, etc. The only problem is that it requires competence and the fancier your portfolio is, the more vulnerable you are to the errors in your models and general market drift and dislocations.

          • Chalid says:

            @Lumifer The idea that more risk means more expected return has not held up well empirically. Indeed, betting *against* risky stocks is such a well-known strategy that even has its own Wikipedia page. It’s not some fundamental law of finance.

            Even if one did accept higher risk = higher return, it’s not obvious how to convincingly argue that corporate bonds ought to be seen as less risky than stock without appealing to historical data.

            If one accepted the “economic growth” part of your argument (I don’t want to get into it), you can get exposure to that from bonds and real estate, both of which are bigger than equities.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Chalid

            The idea that more risk means more expected return has not held up well empirically

            It’s not a simple relationship but the crucial thing is to compare expected risks ex ante and expected returns ex ante as well. They are usually not the same as ex post.

            In general, if I offer you two assets which are similar but one of them is risker (= has higher expected volatility), why would you choose the riskier one?

            Bonds are less risky then stocks for the simple reason that repaying the bond is a legal obligation and paying anything to the stockholders is not. If things get to the bankruptcy level, stockholders are the last in line with all the bondholders before them. In a typical bankruptcy the bondholders will get some of their money back and the stockholders will get nothing.

          • brad says:

            @Lumifer

            The only problem is that it requires competence and the fancier your portfolio is, the more vulnerable you are to the errors in your models and general market drift and dislocations.

            I’m not sure that’s correct (also not sure it’s incorrect).

            Let’s compare two portfolios, each of which target 2050 retirement data. One is made up of a diversified equity part and a diversified debt part, with the ratios changing towards debt as the target date approaches. The other keeps the ratios fixed, based on their weight its in the overall asset market, but varies the leverage of each piece to reflect higher desired risk at the beginning and lower at the end, holding cash if necessary to reach target risk.

            Is the second really more vulnerable to model risk?

          • Lumifer says:

            @ brad

            Just leverage by itself and nothing else is really about capital efficiency. You get to invest more capital than you have, but you pay for this in a couple ways (directly via the haircut, and indirectly via the lesser risk tolerance since it’s now your lender who determines how large a fall in prices will lead to your positions being liquidated).

            The model uncertainty is a feature of any asset allocation process, though, and the lesser risk tolerance you have when you are leveraged can play a very big role — the classic example would the the LTCM collapse.

          • Chalid says:

            It’s not a simple relationship but the crucial thing is the compare expected risks ex ante and expected returns ex ante as well. They are usually not the same as ex post.

            In general, if I offer you two assets which are generally similar but one of them is risker (= has higher expected volatility), why would you choose the riskier one?

            Why does any market imperfection exist? Why do investors systematically overreact to some types of news and systematically underreact to others? If I knew the answer to that I’d probably have a lot more money than I have now.

            But the lack of convincing explanations doesn’t mean the phenomenon is not real. The low-volatility anomaly has worked for many decades in many asset classes.

            Bonds are less risky then stocks for the simple reason that repaying the bond is a legal obligation and paying anything to the stockholders is not. If things get to the bankruptcy level, stockholders are the last in line with all the bondholders before them. In a typical bankruptcy the bondholders will get some of their money back and the stockholders will get nothing.

            I don’t have time to think about this carefully, but I doubt that this argument works at the portfolio level without bringing in things you’d infer from historical data, like correlations.

            And of course there’s the risk of inflation which can in principle completely wipe out the real value of a bond portfolio while leaving the real value of an equity portfolio untouched.

          • I think the deadly thing is that people don’t take the “expected” in “expected risk equals expected return” nearly seriously enough. How much do the people who are doing the expecting actually know?

            Is there a name for the fallacy of not getting it that knowledge is a process rather than just happening?

    • Yehoshua K says:

      You might want to consider decreasing your exposure to equities and putting the resulting funds in cash or equivalent. Then, when the market sags (as it always eventually does), put the cash back into equities at the lower price.

      A rebalancing strategy–where you decide in advance that you’re going to have x% of your funds in one asset, y% in another, and so forth, and periodically sell the excess of one asset to invest more in the asset that’s lagging–might be something to think about.

      • Anonymous says:

        You cannot time the market. You cannot time the market. You cannot time the market.

        At the time of the post-Brexit market drop, there was a lot of commentary of, “I wish I had held onto some cash so that I could put it in now.” The best response I saw was on r/PersonalFinance. They took the lowest price in the post-Brexit drop and compared it to prices for the rest of this year. The observation was that prices were lower for the entirety of like January/February/March, and then some ridiculous amount of the remaining months (I don’t remember the specifics). If you had cash at the beginning of the year, it makes more sense to invest it immediately than try to wait for a dip.

        A rebalancing strategy is better. Decide what level of risk you want, and try to hit those targets, allocating your money immediately.

        You cannot time the market. You cannot time the market. You cannot time the market.

        • Corey says:

          Thanks! +1

        • Lumifer says:

          You cannot time the market.

          That depends. In particular, for multi-decade time horizons it’s not particularly hard because you don’t have to be precise. A heuristic like “buy any time the S&P 500 drops more than 25% below its high and then sit tight until it recovers” works well.

          Though, of course, your financial System 1 is screaming at you to sell at this particular moment : -/

          • Anonymous says:

            You cannot time the market. You cannot time the market. You cannot time the market.

            I just tested your strategy. I got all of the S&P 500 price data since 1950.

            Assumption 1: We only care about daily closing price.

            Assumption 2: You receive $1000 to invest/hold every month.

            Strategy 1: Invest your $1000 immediately every time you get it.

            Strategy 2: Hold onto your cash until the S&P 500 dips below 25% off of its all-time high, at which point, invest all your accumulated cash.

            The result was that if you persisted with these strategies from January 3, 1950 until yesterday, Strategy 1 would have 5504.305 shares, valued at $11.944M. Strategy 2 would have 4290.812 shares and $40k cash, totaling $9.351M. Congrats! By timing the market, you left 21.8% of your possible total value on the table.

            A large portion of this is due to market gains pre-1962. June 14, 1962 is the first date in my data where the price dipped below 25% of the high. Let’s assume that a miracle occurs and you happened to start making money exactly on that date. Thereafter, you persist with your chosen strategy.

            Strategy 1 has a total value of $5.245M, while Strategy 2 has a total value of $5.197M. Congrats! By magically beginning to make money perfectly on this one day in the 60s and then timing the market, you only left about 1% of your total possible value on the table. …you did happen to magically enter the market on June 14, 1962, right? (I’m actually quite surprised by the result! I thought you were going to get beat even worse. But regardless, magic occurred and you still lost.)

            You cannot time the market. You cannot time the market. You cannot time the market.

          • Lumifer says:

            That’s not really a fair comparison. You’re comparing being fully invested in the equity market (which certainly has a prominent positive drift) with spending a lot of time sitting on a pile of cash which does nothing for you. Besides, your metric is pure return, you’re ignoring risk.

          • Anonymous says:

            Addendum: I realized that I could pull one greater magic – have the earning start on the day it hits the same value at which Strategy 2 is going to eventually buy in at. On June 14, 1962, the price was $54.33. On November 3, 1960, the price was $54.43. By picking this date, everything that Strategy 1 buys in the first year and a half will be “overpriced”. Using this start date, Strategy 2 actually wins by 0.6%!

            I’m a little curious to go get a histogram of the comparison for each potential starting date… because it would be lovely to see just how lucky you’d have to be to get any advantage with Strategy 2… but I’m not curious enough to break out a real programming language (I did all of this in Excel so far).

          • brad says:

            These conversations always end up with people talking past each other. “You can’t time the market” is very good advice for the vast majority of savers. It is isn’t as good advice for someone to try to run a fund (well except maybe vanguard).

          • Anonymous says:

            There’s literally no way you can make a “fair comparison”. I made a simplified comparison of a simplified strategy. If you would like to now change your strategy in order to include a decision for when to start investing that pile of cash rather than sitting on it or include some metric for risk, I’d love to hear it.

            Edit: Also what brad said. The vast majority of investors are looking for simple strategies like, “A heuristic like “buy any time the S&P 500 drops more than 25% below its high and then sit tight until it recovers” works well.” They’re going to do this, and they’re going to fail. Now, you can start kludging onto it more complicated rules and considerations, but then we’re moving toward the category of sophisticated/professional investment. They can sometimes succeed. Literally anyone reading SSC? You cannot time the market.

          • Chalid says:

            @Anonymous did you let the cash accumulate interest? If so, where did the rates come from?

          • LHN says:

            Also: most fund managers underpeform the market.

            I don’t necessarily believe in the strongest form of the efficient market hypothesis– I’m pretty sure there are some professional investors who have a genuine talent/skill combination, and do better than an index fund for reasons other than chance. (Though obviously even if performance above or below the index were largely random, some fraction would be beating the market at any given time just by being on the right tail of the distribution.)

            But I’m fairly confident that identifying such a fund manager, prospectively, isn’t much more doable for a lay investor than successfully beating the market themselves. For every Warren Buffet or Peter Lynch, there are plenty of managers with past performance that proves not to track future returns. I’m dubious of any reliable method of distinguishing between them other than “watch and wait”.

          • Chalid says:

            Also: most fund managers underpeform the market.

            while true this actually doesn’t relate much to the very long term predictability of the market. Fund managers’ horizons are a couple years at most, and typically much shorter, because investors will yank their money after taking losses. (This is the seminal paper on the topic.)

            University endowments are relatively free of this constraint and they routinely beat the market.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ brad

            “You can’t time the market” is very good advice for the vast majority of savers

            That is true, but that’s not what anon has said. Consider that “you can’t fly an airplane” is very good advice for the vast majority of people. That doesn’t mean no one can.

          • Lumifer says:

            There’s literally no way you can make a “fair comparison”.

            It depends on your definition of “fair”, but I can certaintly make it “more fair” : -)

            Generally speaking, timing the market involves changing your asset allocation because you predict that the future returns of a particular asset class will be higher or lower than “usual”. There is a wide variety of ways to implement this, but as long as you are shifting assets around in response to returns forecasts, you are market timing.

            To give an example, momentum investing is a form of market timing. Here is a well-written and well-referenced paper which says that it consistently works.

          • Corey says:

            @Lumifer: True, but anyone qualified to time the market would not be asking for investment advice on SSC 🙂

          • brad says:

            That is true, but that’s not what anon has said. Consider that “you can’t fly an airplane” is very good advice for the vast majority of people. That doesn’t mean no one can.

            My take on it is that it isn’t true, but it’s useful. I know that’s kind-of anathema to rationalists, but so it goes.

            If lots of people out there are spouting efficient market fundamentalism, it can be annoying. But it’s a damn sight better than everyone getting ripped off by stock brokers peddling great opportunities, which is pretty much how everything worked as recently as 25 years ago.

            It’s kind of like when someone says just use bcrypt as PBKDF. Sure there are other secure ways to do it, some arguably better. But when the people that know about scrypt and Argon2 jump into to argue with the “just use bcrypt” types it ends up detracting from a message that lot’s of people out there still need to hear. I think there’s some obligation when you jump in and start criticizing bycrpt because it isn’t memory hard to first make it abundantly clear that it is far far better than trying to roll your own multiple-rounds-of-md5 scheme or heaven forfend store passwords in plaintext.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Corey

            Notably, I did not tell the OP to time the market : -)

          • Lumifer says:

            @ brad

            I’m not a rationalist and I’m quite fond of merely “useful” things. But I am also fond of technically correct explanations and don’t like sloppy “just assume this is so and don’t worry your pretty little head about this” wave-aways.

            You are right that on your standard personal-finance board you’d just say that timing the market is really really hard even for professionals, so don’t bother. But SSC is an interesting place, with quite a bit of intellectual horsepower under the hood.

          • Anonymous says:

            “you can’t fly an airplane” is very good advice for the vast majority of people.

            Ok, now we’re getting to close to my area of expertise. Anyway, most people can fly airplanes. For decades, we’ve mostly built planes that are extremely stable (either naturally or using computer control). Landing without dying and flying on a regular basis are things people often struggle with. But most importantly…

            SSC is an interesting place, with quite a bit of intellectual horsepower under the hood.

            They still shouldn’t be given advice like:

            A heuristic like “buy any time the S&P 500 drops more than 25% below its high and then sit tight until it recovers” works well.

            You’re taking that intellectual horsepower to the end of the driveway and back, then saying, “Yea, that’s basically the same as running the Le Mans.” Worse than even yours was what I originally responded to:

            You might want to consider decreasing your exposure to equities and putting the resulting funds in cash or equivalent. Then, when the market sags (as it always eventually does), put the cash back into equities at the lower price.

            If we had people saying, “You might want to cut power to the engine in order to come back toward the ground. Then, when you’re close to the ground (as gravity will always bring you there), put a little power back in so you can land,” I would say, “You cannot fly an airplane. You cannot fly an airplane. You cannot fly an airplane.” However, the situation is as such that I’m going to repeat myself.

            You cannot time the market. You cannot time the market. You cannot time the market.

          • Lumifer says:

            You’re taking that intellectual horsepower to the end of the driveway and back, then saying, “Yea, that’s basically the same as running the Le Mans.”

            You interpret my posts as giving advice to people as to how they should invest. In fact, I did not give any such advice. My point about intellectual horsepower is that if you convince smart people that there is absolutely nothing to be done here, they’ll shrug and wander off to find something interesting to hack. But that is not the case with financial markets. There are a lot of interesting things there to hack (granted, not at the one weird trick level) and saying some equivalent of “anything other than non-timed investment in index funds is a scam” isn’t particularly useful.

    • Loyle says:

      I’m curious, how does one prove that, in 100% of all cases, rape is motivated by only power? As far as I know, we can only go by the words of the perpetrators plus some preferences they imply.

      Unless we secretly had the technology all along to hook up a person’s nervous system to a computer capable of parsing their physical and emotional state and translating it into some sort of language of the universal human condition , no one should be allowed to make that claim.

      • Anonanon says:

        how does one prove that, in 100% of all cases, rape is motivated by only power?

        If you say it’s not, you fail your Dynamics of Power & Privilege graduation requirement sociology course. So it must be true.
        Checkmate, atheists.

      • sweeneyrod says:

        I don’t know that anyone is claiming that all rapists are only motivated by power — someone making that claim would have to believe that situations where someone is raped because they are too drunk to consent do not occur. The more common claim is that some high proportion of stereotypical violent rapes are mainly about violence. That is an empirical claim that can be decided by e.g. finding how sexually attractive rape victims tend to be.

        • dndnrsn says:

          There are, however, people who would say that it is always and only about power, and who would condemn testing that empirical claim, especially in the method you suggest. This doesn’t require them to believe that situations such as that don’t occur – they explain rape-by-intoxication as being about power too. By this explanation, the stereotypical “has a knife, lurks in the bushes” rapist and the less-stereotypical-but-more-common “targets people in social situations, hides behind social confusion regarding sex and consent” rapist are both doing it for the power trip.

        • Corey says:

          I don’t see how – lots of drunken-lack-of-consent situations come from someone being plied with drink, which isn’t philosophically or morally very different from slipping them a roofie. Likewise you could make a case for power-trip about a guy who hangs around parties waiting for women to get over-sloshed.

          As for calling mutually-drunken hookups rape, IMO that’s an attempt to get men to stop rationalizing the above situations as OK.

    • John Schilling says:

      If sex is about rape, then it’s a sort of robbery. Using force or threat of force to take something you value highly from someone who has it to give. And robbery is in some cases considered sympathetic or even morally good, e.g. a poor man stealing a loaf of bread. If rape and its perpetrators are to be Pure Evil, to be Crushed Without Mercy, then rape can’t be about sex and it has to be about something wholly unsympathetic.

      To suggest otherwise is heresy, and heretics get burned at the stake. That said, duh, sometimes rape is about sex. Particularly now that we are calling drunken hookups “rape”, but even the old-fashioned kind is sometimes just about sex.

      • dndnrsn says:

        It doesn’t follow from considering rape to be like robbery, rather than something done for its own sake, that it can be considered sympathetically.

        A poor man might starve if he doesn’t steal a loaf of bread. There’s no analogous situation with regard to sex.

        • Earthly Knight says:

          Robbery may be justified even where no one’s life is at stake. A man suffering from a debilitating but non-fatal disease who has no other way of curing himself than to rob a pharmacy, for instance.

        • John Schilling says:

          A poor man might starve if he doesn’t steal a loaf of bread. There’s no analogous situation with regard to sex

          I’ve seen plenty of people arguing that, e.g., looting luxury consumer goods during a riot can be a sympathetic act on account of society advertising these things as Necessary for a Good Life and then denying them to the Downtrodden and Oppressed.

          And let’s not get into how frequently and how stridently I am assured that sexual gratification is the highest component of personal identity and a human necessity or close enough as makes no difference. Suggest that gay people, while remaining gay, should not have gay sex, and you might as well be marching them off to Sobibor. Suggest that women should pay for their own birth control pills, and you’re planning to reduce half the human race to abject slavery.

          So there’s certainly room for some substantial overlap between what is “necessary” enough to make robbery sympathetic, and the extent to which sex is “necessary”. And I believe it is mostly the same people holding these uncomfortably overlapping opinions.

          ed: What Nancy just said. If we’re all going to be Sex-Positive and Rape-Negative, rape can’t be sex.

        • Anonanon says:

          “In Defense of Looting”
          And no, it’s not “bread to feed their starving families”. It’s a justified expression of rage.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Related: the 70s era radical-chic lionizing of rape (by certain people, against certain other people) as a radical, revolutionary act.

          • wintercaerig says:

            dndnrsn, do you mind pointing to an example or two? It seems like such an indefensible position that it is difficult for me to guess who could be saying this and how.

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            wintercaerig –

            I cannot recall the name of the comic, but it is still used in gender studies classes; it features a female protagonist going around committing frequent violence, including rape by objects, against men.

            There are also quotes about it, but again, I cannot recall names. I long ago deleted my folder of such information I used in the War Against Feminism in the name of recovering some sanity, because diving headfirst into that shit was kind of bad for my mental health.

            So this is less evidence, and more confirmation that dndnrsn isn’t just making stuff up. I don’t advocate you spend much time on it either way; just accept that yes, crazy shit was said, that crazy people still exist, and focus on people you actually want to interact with.

        • Wrong Species says:

          It’s not exactly analgous but sex is clearly more than just a simple want. It’s more akin to a drug addiction. It’s not a need in the sense that you die without it but it’s about as close as you can get before that point. Even besides the sexual act, the desire for intimacy is also strong itself.

      • Kevin says:

        I think robbery could be considered even worse than powerplaying, depending on situation. Your comparison does not hold up.

      • John, I think I have the same argument, but picked up by the other end.

        I’ve guessed that people who want to believe that rape is only about power don’t want to say anything bad about sex and/or sexual desire.

      • Corey says:

        Seems like rape is “about” both sex and power practically by definition.

        Though some of the controversy is probably about the packed meaning of “about sex”. If it means “the perp receives sexual gratification” – they usually do, there are cases where they don’t (e.g. broomstick-sodomizing someone). If it means “the perp is doing it because they’re horny and sex-starved, and believe force is the only way to get some”, that’s usually false.

    • Aapje says:

      Many rapes seem to be drug-fueled (primarily alcohol), which lowers inhibitions, ability to communicate, etc.

      It seems hard to then point at power as a specific cause, rather than a confluence of factors, of which power _may_ be one.

      I’m especially skeptical because some feminists (like Dworkin) have argued that all sex is about male power. So there is a history of just projecting ‘male power’ on sex in a way that I find absurd.

      • Zorgon says:

        Given that the “rape as solely about power” concept emerged from the same 70s mainstream-radfem era as Dworkin et al, I would not be at all surprised. Catharine Mackinnon leaps to mind:

        Perhaps the wrong of rape has proven so difficult to articulate because the unquestionable starting point has been that rape is definable as distinct from intercourse, when for women it is difficult to distinguish them under conditions of male dominance.

        To clarify, this is not some obscure radfem blogger, but probably the most influential feminist thinker of the early 80s.

        • Aapje says:

          Warren Farrell argued that many women have been taught a romantic model where the woman expects the man to be aggressive and not wait for permission, but proceed unless there is disapproval.

          I would argue that people who assume bad faith on the part of men and assume that women have no agency, could interpret this reality as Mackinnon and Dworkin did. It’s, like most feminist theory, extremely biased though and thus useless at effecting actual change.

          • Corey says:

            I think that’s what “affirmative consent” is trying to change in *both* sides, it would certainly be a better equilibrium for nobody to proceed without a “fuck yes!” instead of proceeding unless there’s explict-no/pushing-away/mace depending on which guy you ask.
            Change is hard tho.

          • Aapje says:

            The problem with the “affirmative consent” narrative is that it basically argues: you should be aroused by doing X instead of Y. As sexual arousal is mostly a subconscious thing, I consider this a poor strategy. It’s like a conservative Christian trying to convince someone that wanting gay sex is bad. Even when they ideologically agree, the desire will usually win out, in an airport bathroom.

            Furthermore, people are only going to sacrifice a limited amount for their ideology. Given the sexual dynamics, where many more men seem sexually frustrated and ‘undersexed’ relative to their desire, it seems cruel (and beyond reasonable) towards men to expect them to employ a strategy which may substantially reduce the sex they will have. Especially when I fail to see the major benefit (as the drunk people who tend to do the sexual assaulting also would likely abandon “affirmative consent”).

            I strongly feel that a lot of feminist criticism of male behavior comes from a place of female privilege, where they assume that men can easily change due to a complete and utter lack of understanding of the male experience and thus the consequences to men. They seem to engage in theories like these: if I imagine a scenario where I lead during sex, my imaginary sex partner would react so and so, which would result in outcome this and that.

            These hypothetical scenario’s tend to be highly idealistic in how they expect people to behave and therefor based on unwarranted assumptions about human behavior.

          • Loyle says:

            The problem with the “affirmative consent” narrative is that it basically argues: you should be aroused by doing X instead of Y.

            If it has any problem, (I’m not convinced it does), it’s that two people who are aroused and ready to have sex have the mind to stop and affirm “this is okay”

            Affirmative Consent doesn’t ask people to not be aroused unless in certain situations, but to be able to control themselves when aroused long enough ensure sex is happening within a desired situation.

          • Zorgon says:

            The real real problem with affirmative consent is that in a large number of cases where it would be remotely relevant, it’d also be of no use whatsoever.

            Most notably – people being pressured into unwanted sex, who are extremely likely to affirm consent despite not freely “consenting” by the standards of the people expressing this concept.

            Affirmative consent is a highly-sexed Twitter feminist’s idea of what a healthy sexuality looks like. It does not necessarily connect particularly well to all human realities.

          • Aapje says:

            @Loyle

            My point is that for quite a few people, non-explicit consent sex is arousing in itself. In quite a few cases the arousal will be killed by asking for consent. So the feminist fantasy is that the only choice is between slightly more pleasant sex and slightly less pleasant sex. In actuality, it will regularly be a choice between having sex or not having sex.

            So feminists don’t understand what sacrifice they are asking these people to make and thus why these people object so strongly

            @Zorgon

            That was also my point. In cases where it could actually help, the same mechanisms that cause transgressions (mainly alcohol) will also lead to not asking for consent. So the burden will just be on the people who are having consensual sex anyway with good communication.

          • Loyle says:

            Honestly, that seems like something which should be discussed beforehand, with some sort of safe word like mechanic attached to it.

            For the most part a lot of communication is non-explicit, and a lot of that is also non-shared. I can easily how someone’s non-verbal cues will completely go over someone else’s head leading to very unfortunate situations of no fault to either party.

            And I notice that people tend to construct narratives inside their own head as to how their actions are defensible. And they also try to not be awful. And while it may be worthless to a court of law, it’s worth lies in the court of one’s own head.

          • Aapje says:

            @Loyle

            Well, we do have a safeword: Stop. However, in feminist circles I’ve seen a lot of examples that they claim are rape, but where there was no clear resistance on the part of the woman (or even actual cooperation). In some cases, this seemed to be due to a (from my point of view) strange fear of being murdered or heavily beaten, despite that statistically being very unlikely in the cases they describe.

            My theory is that women already have an irrational fear of being hurt by men (due to traditional gender roles and its portrayal of women as hypoagents who are at the mercy of hyperagent and hypersexual men) and that feminism actually doubled down on these negative and way overhyped stereotypes. This is also visible in how social justice ‘call out’ culture often involves running to an authority and/or posting stories/pictures on the internet, rather than addressing the offender directly. The many ‘manspreading’ stories where apparently it’s impossible to simply ask the guy to move his legs a bit are a good example.

            Because of this fear of the consequences of communicating clearly, the expectation becomes that the man makes a judgment call whether the woman is happy or not. I consider this to be a hopelessly optimistic, as many women are very sexually passive. So it’s very hard for a man to distinguish between a woman who is enjoying herself, but being very passive, and a woman who is hoping that the man realizes that she is signalling unhappiness by being quiet and passive.

            This expectation puts a very unpleasant burden on men, where they run a severe risk of being seen as rapists, merely by not making the right judgment call, while also very much increasing the number of women who consider themselves to be raped, which would have been prevented by clear communication.

          • Aapje, I’ve seen Clarisse Thorn argue that the feminist model of sexual consent privileges people who are comfortable with words over people who are comfortable with body language.

            Also, I think she said that some 10% of people (both male and female) prefer sex which looks like rape– a claim I haven’t seen elsewhere. I have seen men complain about occasionally running into women who are unhappy because the man turned them down for not giving explicit consent.

          • Aapje says:

            @Nancy

            Some people seem to be into choking, slapping and such. I guess that is what she is referring to. In my opinion, such preferences require extra care on the part of the participants, similar to what is the standard in BDSM.

            In general, I think that there is an issue with different preferences combined with the common human desire for romance, experimentation, spontaneity, etc, etc; which clash with a nailed down agreement on boundaries. Some people are fine with the latter, but many are not.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Looked at one way, the whole affirmative consent thing looks like a fetish itself.

          • Loquat says:

            @Aapje

            It’s not just violent sex, there are women who actually want to put up token, non-serious, resistance, often including verbal refusal, and have men override that. To them, a man who requires explicit verbal consent to proceed is intolerably wussy – a “real man” would pick up their signals that they’re not genuinely refusing. Just off the top of my head, Louis CK had an anecdote about failing to get laid with a woman like that, and an Atlantic article about affirmative consent on campus featured a similar anecdote from a male student (and yes, both men were explicitly informed after the disappointing evening that the woman in question had wanted her refusal overridden).

            How it’s possible to make affirmative consent the cultural default while there’s any significant proportion of women like that around, I don’t know.

          • Anonymous says:

            Hey, I think I know this one.

            No one will sleep with them, they’ll be selected against, the future belongs to those that show up, problem solved.

          • Loyle says:

            As someone who is very passive-aggressive and would love if people could just give me what I want without verbally expressing it, I believe if you require someone to behave a certain way, and you are unwilling to communicate it to that person in a meaningful way, it’s not necessarily a bad thing if you don’t get what you want.

            I mean, I feel you, but if it’s that necessary to your satisfaction, you should be able to have an honest conversation about it.

            On the other hand, if your attitude is “This sucks, my partner doesn’t disrespect me” I’ve read enough stories from both men and women to be certain you’ll be able to find the right person for you. So keep looking and good luck, I guess.

          • Jaskologist says:

            In practice, the women who balk at affirmative consent do get slept with. It’s the men who try it that don’t get laid.

          • Anonymous says:

            It is known.

          • John Schilling says:

            No one will sleep with them, they’ll be selected against, the future belongs to those that show up, problem solved.

            People who don’t obey the rules will sleep with them, resulting in an evolutionary advantage for rule-breakers.

          • Anita Restrepo-Sanchez says:

            No one will sleep with them, they’ll be selected against, the future belongs to those that show up, problem solved.

            People who don’t obey the rules will sleep with them, resulting in an evolutionary advantage for rule-breakers.

            Only if you believe in the discredited pseudoscience of eugenics. Human behavior is cultural, and has nothing to do with genes, and so this sort of evolution doesn’t apply to human beings.

          • Nornagest says:

            Only if you believe in the discredited pseudoscience of eugenics.

            You’re laying it on a bit too thick for effective trolling.

            Congratulations on your persistence, though. After your last performance, most people would have gone away or at least changed usernames.

          • Anonymous says:

            However, in feminist circles I’ve seen a lot of examples that they claim are rape, but where there was no clear resistance on the part of the woman (or even actual cooperation). In some cases, this seemed to be due to a (from my point of view) strange fear of being murdered or heavily beaten, despite that statistically being very unlikely in the cases they describe.

            The really weird thing to me is that the same people who tell these stories are also the ones who claim that rape is obviously much worse than just getting heavily beaten and how dare you compare the two!, which doesn’t seem to fit with women routinely opting for rape as the lesser evil at all.

          • Anita Restrepo-Sanchez says:

            @Zorgon

            The real real problem with affirmative consent is that in a large number of cases where it would be remotely relevant, it’d also be of no use whatsoever.

            Most notably – people being pressured into unwanted sex, who are extremely likely to affirm consent despite not freely “consenting” by the standards of the people expressing this concept.

            And so “affirmative consent” does not nearly go far enough in the fight rape and norms of patriarchy.

            @Loyle

            For the most part a lot of communication is non-explicit, and a lot of that is also non-shared. I can easily how someone’s non-verbal cues will completely go over someone else’s head leading to very unfortunate situations of no fault to either party.

            No, it is not “easy” for non-verbal cues to “completely go over someone else’s head”. This is just an excuse men use to ignore the clear non-verbal communication of women when it gets in the way of what the men want. And one party is at fault, the party ignoring the obvious non-verbal cues of the other.

            @Aapje

            My theory is that women already have an irrational fear of being hurt by men

            And here we see the male classic tactic of dismissing and denigrating women by labelling their points of view “irrational”.

            the expectation becomes that the man makes a judgment call whether the woman is happy or not.

            No, the expectation is that men stop ignoring clear non-verbal communication. Because it’s simply not the case that men cannot see these signals, since other women can clearly see them, and men and women are equal, they differ only where culture has shaped them so.

            This expectation puts a very unpleasant burden on men

            The “burden” is “unpleasant” only because men have for so long gotten away with foisting it onto women.

          • Loyle says:

            @Anita
            Sorry, I meant “easily see how…”
            also
            You’re assuming it’s impossible for any two people to not share the same language, with unspoken language is still being a language. And that it is impossible for some interference being the message being sent and the person to receive the message, which would cause the message to be dropped or distorted.

            Yes many persons will claim to not have understood things they actually have. Those people are assholes. Humans, however, are not universally standardized. There is an amount of variance between what signals people pick up where and when. Saying all men understand all non-verbal cues all the time, is making the claim that Humans are 100% capable of communicating their intentions at all times, with no interference in the signals being sent, and are also probably psychic.

            That said, you shouldn’t leave anything up to chance. In any cooperative venture, a person will have privileged information regarding their condition their partners can’t act upon, or stop acting upon, if left unaware. You should be vigilant regarding trying to understand your partner’s condition, but you can’t know everything.

          • Anonanon says:

            Loyle…
            Sir, you are being trolled.

          • Loyle says:

            @Anonanon

            I realize and accept this, but enough people believe memes are an adequate substitute for socialization that I’d rather play it safe.

          • Anonymous says:

            No, the expectation is that men stop ignoring clear non-verbal communication. Because it’s simply not the case that men cannot see these signals, since other women can clearly see them, and men and women are equal, they differ only where culture has shaped them so.

            You need to up your game, troll. This is not the kind of argument that an actual radfem would use. If you removed everything including and after the penultimate comma, it would be much better. You need to *implicitly* assert that men and women are equal, as if you really believe it with all your mind, your heart and your soul. Explicitly doing so means you have at least *considered* that they’re not equal, and – were you a real radfem – would paint you a giant “HERETIC” sign on your forehead.

        • Cord Shirt says:

          Since I’m the Dworkin fan here I feel like it’s my duty to get involved in these arguments, But I gotta say, I’m *really* not interested. So I’ll just state my POV and then move on:

          The cultural context has changed so much since the time Dworkin and Mackinnon were writing that trying to just pick up their work and read it as if it had been written yesterday will steer you way wrong. There are *hugely many* cultural background assumptions which they were reacting to and/or speaking within which many people today don’t know or remember ever existed.

          I’ll mention the one most salient to this case:

          A commenter on Ozy’s blog described his sexuality and how it was intertwined with his gender identity. The sexuality he described, which the moderns reading Ozy’s blog took as a very personal, individual thing, was back then taken as the standard, the only, male sexuality. (Not literally the only, but close: The widely-held view then was that any male sexuality that differed from that one had been *caused* to differ due to childhood trauma / bad upbringing. The sexuality that people still *remember* getting that treatment was of course homosexuality…but so did fetishes and so did being “straight but not domineering.”)

          Anyway, that’s why he calls himself “the straw bogeyman than anti-PIV radfems wrongly think all men are.” But I would say instead that radfems like Dworkin and Mackinnon were reacting against a belief that was widespread in the culture in which they lived.

          Within a culture that assumes that dominating someone sexually is *the* natural, and the *only* natural, male sexuality, and that this sexuality is bound up in male identity–and that, in addition, has no (mainstream) concept of a safeword or anything–then yeah, it *is* difficult to tell “sex” apart from “rape.” That…is what Mackinnon thought needed to change.

          And to a great extent it did change! Hooray!

          The view Mackinnon was focused on advancing, which people like us no longer even notice in her writings because it’s won so thoroughly, was that no. That’s *not* the only natural male sexuality.

          (As part of her argument, she was also saying that it was harmful to women–which it was–and that it was culturally constructed. Within the culture of that time and place, “It’s harmful” was even taken as *evidence* that it was culturally constructed. And vice versa–“it’s culturally constructed” was back then easily taken to mean “it’s harmful.” Because of the “natural = good” assumption that some still hold but that was more widespread back then.)

          Mackinnon was of course not arguing for the “rape is only about power” view. Observe what she wrote right before the part you quoted:

          Rape is not less sexual for being violent; to the extent that coercion has become integral to male sexuality, rape may be sexual to the degree that, and because, it is violent.

          The point of defining rape as “violence not sex” or “violence against women” has been to separate sexuality from gender in order to affirm sex (heterosexuality) while rejecting violence (rape). The problem remains what it has always been: telling the difference. The convergence of sexuality with violence, long used at law to deny the reality of women’s violation [she means the “maybe it was just rough sex” defense], is recognized by rape survivors…. [What if we said, t]o tell what is wrong with rape, explain what is right about sex[?] If this, in turn, is difficult, the difficulty is as instructive as the difficulty men have in telling the difference when women see one. Perhaps the wrong of rape has proven so difficult to articulate because…

          Etc. Maybe that makes the context clearer.

          Right, I’ve spent enough time on this. Again, I’d caution any young person (or not-so-young person) against reading old stuff without first familiarizing yourself with (or reminding yourself of) the cultural context.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            Thank you for posting this.

          • Corey says:

            Excellent, thanks for the info, now I actually have some knowledge about what all this refers to.

          • Anonymous says:

            As much as I respect your efforts to provide context, and don’t want to be seen as criticizing them:

            And to a great extent it did change! Hooray!

            The view Mackinnon was focused on advancing, which people like us no longer even notice in her writings because it’s won so thoroughly, was that no. That’s *not* the only natural male sexuality.

            Where the hell do you live?! Is this a red tribe-blue tribe thing? Or a nerd-type thing? Are there really that many I-genuinely-had-to-stop-myself-from-writing-fruity men there?

            Anyway, where I live what you describe still very much a thing, and I would go so far as to suggest that it genuinely is the natural male sexuality—without commenting on whether that can or should be changed or not. As what are perhaps illustrative examples, I’ve always understood BDSM as being in large part an overcompensation from people (both men and women) who try to repress this side of their natural sexuality (another part is of course people whose natural sexuality is simply exaggerated), and “red pill guys” as being to a great extent men who are belatedly realizing that they were fed a load of horseshit about sex, men, mand women that everybody around them knew to take as an empty virtue signal, and not relate to their real behavior.

            It’s starting to dawn on me that most of the people here might see redpillers as sad sacks for an entirely different reason than I do.

          • Comment Reader But Not Usaully a Poster says:

            @ Anonymous
            “…many I-genuinely-had-to-stop-myself-from-writing-fruity men there?
            .. where I live what you describe still very much a thing, and I would go so far as to suggest that it genuinely is the natural male sexuality”

            I come from a place that is very red tribe and my social circle is not nerds. I suspect the reason you think this, is that no one around you is going to express anything different because they would be called fruity. Why bring that hassle on themselves.

            “..That’s *not* the only natural male sexuality.”

            I also think it is worth pointing out that is this variety is not just person to person, but also in person. It would be what someone is in the mood for. So your buddies can have lots of true stories that pattern match what you consider natural and still be telling you the truth. Just not the whole truth.

          • Anonymous says:

            I come from a place that is very red tribe and my social circle is not nerds. I suspect the reason you think this, is that no one around you is going to express anything different because they would be called fruity. Why bring that hassle on themselves.

            Don’t you think it’s a little bit more reductive than entirely called for to assume that I have no grasp of my own culture, and only believe what I do because you’ve deduced that I, personally, am mean in real life, a totally different context than here?

            I suppose if you don’t a pithier answer would be “Nobody who isn’t a fruit would consider something that trivial a hassle; a regular guy would if anything be incensed and want to have words and/or a fistfight”. I guess it’s easy to forget, but “words are painful” and “best to keep my head down” very definitely aren’t universal norms.

            So your buddies can have lots of true stories that pattern match what you consider natural and still be telling you the truth. Just not the whole truth.

            Here again you seem to assume I exist entirely in a tight friend clique and/or dank basement and have no grasp of any wider culture. I’ll content myself with pointing out that this looks a lot like bad faith.

  4. Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

    Wasn’t this one supposed to be politics-free or is that not going to be a regular thing?

  5. sweeneyrod says:

    Scott: thanks for mentioning EuroSPARC a few OT’s ago. You recruited >= 2 people directly and >= 1 through second order effects, and we all had a great time (I think). Also I now know how difficult it is to link my handle here with my real name, which is useful. In return, we give you a couple of new Unsong readers.

  6. dndnrsn says:

    The “How The West Was Won” comments section seems to have a whole lot of WWII talk. So, maybe people want another place to argue about WWII, specifically, the issues around US entry into the war and support of other Allied powers.

    • Salem says:

      Why did Germany struggle so much to get allies, particularly non European ones, in either world war? Japan doesn’t really count because they declared war for their own reasons. You might have thought that Italy in WW1, Spain in WW2, and most of Latin America in both wars, would have been natural allies, but Zimmerman notwithstanding, it never happened. In WW2 in particular, almost their only non-coerced ally was the short lived Rashid Ali al-Gailani government.

      What gives? Did people assume, even at the height of German military dominance, that they would lose? Was there the worry that Germany would be unable to project power beyond continental Europe? (But then why were Spain and Finland reluctant?) Was Germany seen as an untrustworthy ally? Was Nazi ideology off putting? Or something else?

      • dndnrsn says:

        Non-European allies in both wars: Germany never really had a proper colonial empire. They had some stuff here and there before they lost it after WWI. Probably smarter, wherever you were in the world, to stay on the good side of the Americans or British or whoever, than to side with Imperial or Nazi Germany.

        WWI: My understanding is that most significant countries were basically decided before the war broke out. The most significant undecideds were the US (which was unofficially on Britain’s side from the start), and Italy (which did not perform well militarily).

        WWII: Probably the “untrustworthy” thing – allies tended to end up as vassals. This could be tested by seeing what it was like for the USSR – if the USSR also had a difficult time with non-coerced allies, then the takeaway is “nobody wants to be too close to totalitarians”.

        • Mercer says:

          The more powerful have an easier time recruiting friends than the less powerful. I think objectively you’d have to rank Germany as the underdog in both WW1 and WW2.

          WW1, they’re taking on Britain, who was the most powerful country in the world at the end of the “balance of powers” era.

          WW2, not only do people perceive them as having lost the last war, not only are they again taking on Britain and (eventually, though its known early on who they’ll side with) the USA, but since it was known that Germany and Russia both wanted to be the “continental power” you’ve got a situation where youre basically taking on the 3 most powerful countries not including yourself, all at once. Who is going to ally with you in that situation?

          I don’t think measuring trustworthyness is super useful as a tool here. People are going to ally with you if its in their interests, whatever distaste they might have for your ideology.

          • dndnrsn says:

            “We don’t like them because their ideology is skeevy” is different from “we don’t like them because they can’t be trusted”.

            If Nazi Germany and the USSR both had a hard time getting non-coerced allies (the USSR certainly did during WWII) that might have been because of their tendency to coerce: you don’t want to get into a situation where you can’t leave.

            A state that was all about sunshine and light and adorable bunny rabbits, but still had a habit of invading its allies when they tried to leave, would have the same issues.

          • Pku says:

            the USSR certainly did during WWII

            Did they though? As someone pointed out in the last thread, America supplied them with a lot of weapons and supplies. And I don’t really see where else they had the option of getting/not getting allies in the first place.

          • Mercer says:

            Yes, of course, I don’t know why I collapsed trusting and ideology together. I am still a bit unsold on the notion that Germany and the USSR were perceived as untrustworthy and the USA and Britain weren’t.

            The USSR’s history in particular I’m a bit muddled on. I know they annexed a bunch of places, was the situation that they said, “Hey guys, team with us”, then Lithuania said “No thanks we’re good”, followed by a “No really we insist” from Russia?

            And does it count for nothing that they were a member of the Allies? Regardless of whether or not we saw them as trustworthy, when push came to shove we all had a common enemy.

          • dndnrsn says:

            They were only Allies after they were attacked – before that they had divvied up Poland with the Nazis.

            And, yes, they did annexations.

          • Lumifer says:

            A state that was all about sunshine and light and adorable bunny rabbits, but still had a habit of invading its allies when they tried to leave

            Oh, those bunnies…

            Well, that’s no ordinary rabbit. That’s the most foul, cruel, and bad-tempered rodent you ever set eyes on. … Look, that rabbit’s got a vicious streak a mile wide, it’s a killer!

          • Lumifer says:

            The USSR’s history in particular I’m a bit muddled on.

            It was pretty simple. Basically, Stalin and Hitler were dividing up Eastern Europe and grabbing whatever they could.

            USSR got:
            * Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia by simply invading
            * A chunk of Finland by invading, but failing to be successful (that’s why only a chunk)
            * A chunk of Poland (according to a treaty with Hitler)
            * A chunk of Romania (ditto)

            Was there anything else in that land grab?

            And, of course, being victorious in WW2 it kept all those territories.

          • John Schilling says:

            was the situation that they said, “Hey guys, team with us”, then Lithuania said “No thanks we’re good”, followed by a “No really we insist” from Russia?

            They said “hey guys, team with us” to Finland, and when Finland declined they said “No really we insist” to the tune of about a hundred thousand Finnish casualties (and many more Russians). The Baltic States didn’t have a hundred thousand men to spare, so when the Russians said “we insist“, they surrendered.

          • Lumifer says:

            The Baltic States didn’t have a hundred thousand men to spare, so when the Russians said “we insist“, they surrendered.

            Notably, that didn’t help them much.

          • John Schilling says:

            Saved probably ten thousand lives and some associated hard feelings while otherwise leading to the same outcome.

          • Mercer says:

            Technically the USA isn’t an Ally until it gets attacked by Japan, but nobody would actually propose that was the only reason they were on that side. Material assistance is happening well before everyone is “officially” on the same team.

            The annexations, meanwhile, are not proof alone that nations acted in particular ways because they perceived the USSR as untrustworthy. I’m still very unclear on how trust was a factor that affected the USSR or Germany (or the USA or Britain for that matter)

            I think Finland is an interesting case. What was Finland’s reasoning for telling the USSR to shove it? If they were reticent for “you won’t leave, we know you won’t leave” reasons thatd be sufficient to demonstrate trust as a big factor

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Mercer

            I think Finland is an interesting case. What was Finland’s reasoning for telling the USSR to shove it?

            I feel you’re misunderstanding the whole situation in the 1930s. Both Germany and the USSR weren’t looking for allies amongst their neighours, they were just grabbing territory. Stalin didn’t want Finland as an ally, Stalin wanted Finland to become a Finnish Soviet Socialist Republic and a part of the USSR (note that Finland used to be a province of the Russian Empire).

            Basically the Finns told Russia to shove it because they were asked to surrender their independence.

          • Mercer says:

            If they weren’t looking for allies, then how do we know they were bad at finding allies? If you’ve already precommitted to invading what does it matter whether anyone trusts you or not?

            I know it might seem like it but im really not trying to be willfully obtuse about this! My apologies

      • John Schilling says:

        Germany got Italy, Finland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, and Iraq on its side in WWII. Sweden and Switzerland were neutral in a way that put their relevant industries in support of the German war economy, probably more important than any direct military contribution they could have made. Who else would have been plausible allies?

        Spain under Franco, quite plausibly. I think it is generally accepted that a big part of the reason this didn’t happen is that the task of arranging that alliance was largely delegated to Hitler’s spymaster, Wilhelm Canaris. Who was by that point working with MI6 against Hitler. Classic noob move, appointing a highly-skilled spymaster with negative loyalty.

        Yugoslavia, maybe, but given the mess that has always been Balkan politics, you can’t plausibly get all of them in the same alliance and Romania in particular was more important to the Germans

        Norway, possibly, or at least neutral-leaning-Axis like Sweden. After the Altmark incident it was pretty clear that one side was going to take military action to deny Norway to the other, and not at all obvious which. Hitler blinked, claiming the first-mover advantage in securing Norwegian territory at the cost of ceding Norwegian allegiance to the allies.

        Turkey, maybe, but the legacy of Ataturk and the memory of WWI were still too fresh for the Turks to be eager to join in any European wars if they didn’t have to.

        Nobody on the wrong side of an ocean is a plausible German ally while Britain or the US are still in the fight; they would be fighting without German assistance, and if they weren’t willing to do that on their own initiative, what can a German emissary offer to change their mind?

        I’m not seeing any credible opportunities that the Germans missed, except for the fumble with Spain.

        • Vaniver says:

          Spain under Franco, quite plausibly. I think it is generally accepted that a big part of the reason this didn’t happen is that the task of arranging that alliance was largely delegated to Hitler’s spymaster, Wilhelm Canaris. Who was by that point working with MI6 against Hitler. Classic noob move, appointing a highly-skilled spymaster with negative loyalty.

          My impression also is that Spain was still recovering from its civil war, in a way that made them somewhat reluctant to join yet another war.

        • dndnrsn says:

          Their European allies other than Finland were coerced, if not into joining, then once they had joined they were subjected to coercion – especially if they tried to leave. Usually effectively – for instance, Italy’s attempt to leave the war didn’t go very well for them, and Hungary’s attempt didn’t help Hungary but did make things far worse for Hungarian Jews.

        • Lumifer says:

          Wikipedia provides some details about Spain’s negotiations with Hitler.

      • Vaniver says:

        Germany supported a bunch of colonial resistance efforts against their adversaries; they supported Indian independence, for example.

        I don’t know enough about how well this worked / why it didn’t work more.

      • bean says:

        Was there the worry that Germany would be unable to project power beyond continental Europe?
        This is absolutely sufficient to explain why they weren’t able to get allies outside of continental Europe, although I wouldn’t overlook the importance of trade in keeping potentially pro-German countries neutral. Argentina couldn’t sell things to Germany if it wanted to because the British wouldn’t let them, and declaring for the Axis would cut them off from most of the trading world at the time. This doesn’t explain why Spain and Finland stayed out (or tried to), but they don’t work as counterexamples. Ability to project force is a necessary condition, not a sufficient one.

        almost their only non-coerced ally was the short lived Rashid Ali al-Gailani government.
        Italy definitely falls into the non-coerced category. They didn’t even join the war until the fall of France, when it looked like the Germans were the clear winners. Spain was still a real mess after their Civil War, and it probably just wasn’t worth it to bring them in. (Also, John’s point about Canaris.) The only thing they could have added after June of 1940 was a route to Gibraltar. And Hitler might have thought that wasn’t worth shutting down one of his few conduits to world trade. In both World Wars (and most other wars) countries generally tend to stay out unless it seems very clearly in their best interest to go in. In a lot of cases, that threshold just wasn’t cleared. Italy is the best example of this process at work, in both wars. (Neither of which worked out very well for them, but that’s life.)

        • John Schilling says:

          Spain was still a real mess after their Civil War, and it probably just wasn’t worth it to bring them in.

          The value of bringing Spain in is that it makes taking Gibraltar a slam-dunk; fortifications vs. heavy artillery had long since been decided in favor of the guns. Gibraltar in Axis hands makes the Med an Axis lake, which is decisive for Italy and a major nuisance for Britain. Would have been a substantial coup for the Germans if they could have pulled it off.

          Spain’s direct military contribution would probably have been a wash, sufficient to defend its own shores but not much more than that.

          • bean says:

            The value of bringing Spain in is that it makes taking Gibraltar a slam-dunk; fortifications vs. heavy artillery had long since been decided in favor of the guns. Gibraltar in Axis hands makes the Med an Axis lake, which is decisive for Italy and a major nuisance for Britain. Would have been a substantial coup for the Germans if they could have pulled it off.

            I’m not sure it would have been that easy. Heavy guns beat forts, but you need to get the heavy guns into position, and that’s not easy to do when half of the RN is firing their own heavy guns at you while you do. For that matter, what sort of shape was the Spanish transportation network in? The stuff has to go overland, because the British own the seas, including all the supplies for your air cover. It would have been nontrivial, particularly as you have to give Spain enough goodies to make it worth their while.

          • Anonanon says:

            I might be very wrong about this, but in 1939 wouldn’t German high command have been getting all kinds of assurances from Italy?
            “We totally have the Mediterranean and North Africa covered, guys, nothing to worry about.”

          • John Schilling says:

            @Bean: It took fudging the numbers by Canaris to sell the idea that Spain’s transportation network wouldn’t have supported a contested invasion of Spain. Supporting a limited operation against Gibraltar alone, with Spain’s cooperation, yes, that’s a slam-dunk. The worst plausible railroad would have sufficed to deliver an order of magnitude more avgas than can be held in the bunkers of every carrier in the British fleet, and the Gibraltar airstrip can be shut down by light artillery; the Germans get air supremacy. All other factors being even remotely in the ballpark of equal, land-based aviation always beats naval aviation.

            With air supremacy, it doesn’t matter how many guns the British can float; if the Germans emplace their own out of LOS of the sea, the Brits don’t know where to shoot. Gibraltar, on the other hand, is mapped and immobile. And the British fleet can be harassed until it gives up and goes away. Land-based gunnery, dug in and anchored to bedrock, simply outclasses the kind on floating platforms.

            Gibraltar’s rocky material invulnerability went away with the development of high explosives. It’s a territorial enclave of a maritime power on the shores of a continental one, and if the continental power wants it gone, it’s as done as Dunkirk.

          • bean says:

            Anonanon:

            I might be very wrong about this, but in 1939 wouldn’t German high command have been getting all kinds of assurances from Italy?
            “We totally have the Mediterranean and North Africa covered, guys, nothing to worry about.”

            Not really. Italy didn’t enter the war until mid-1940, and I think they probably wouldn’t have come in if, say, the Germans had bogged down in France.

            John Schilling:

            It took fudging the numbers by Canaris to sell the idea that Spain’s transportation network wouldn’t have supported a contested invasion of Spain. Supporting a limited operation against Gibraltar alone, with Spain’s cooperation, yes, that’s a slam-dunk. The worst plausible railroad would have sufficed to deliver an order of magnitude more avgas than can be held in the bunkers of every carrier in the British fleet, and the Gibraltar airstrip can be shut down by light artillery; the Germans get air supremacy. All other factors being even remotely in the ballpark of equal, land-based aviation always beats naval aviation.

            Fair point, although that light artillery is still going to have a problem with the heavy artillery of Gibralter and the British fleet.

            With air supremacy, it doesn’t matter how many guns the British can float; if the Germans emplace their own out of LOS of the sea, the Brits don’t know where to shoot. Gibraltar, on the other hand, is mapped and immobile. And the British fleet can be harassed until it gives up and goes away. Land-based gunnery, dug in and anchored to bedrock, simply outclasses the kind on floating platforms.

            Not true. The advances in naval gunnery during the interwar period made it possible for naval guns to fight land guns on something approaching even terms. And the terms here wouldn’t have been even. You need heavy guns to fight battleships, and those guns need to be mounted and controlled appropriately. Railway siege guns are not adequate for coastal defense work. And the lighter guns that could plausibly have been moved into position are horribly outgunned. I’m not saying that Gibraltar could have held indefinitely against all that Germany could throw at it, but it would have been a tough nut to crack.

          • John Schilling says:

            Not true. The advances in naval gunnery during the interwar period made it possible for naval guns to fight land guns on something approaching even terms.

            Alas, I cannot find the term paper I wrote on this very subject, far too many years ago. But from memory and some makeup googling: Not so.

            Note in particular that Gibraltar itself, fortified for the specific purpose of blocking the strait to fleets of battleships, had a grand total of eight, 9.2″ guns. That’s less than half the weight of metal of the smallest Italian battleship, yet it was accepted by both sides that the Italian fleet would not be forcing its way past.

            More generally, coastal fortifications of the late pre-WWII era were constructed on the assumption that 2-3 vaguely battleship-class guns on land were worth an entire battleship at sea. By the early postwar era, even with battleships still in the game, doctrine shifted completely to mobile guns in the 13-17cm range on the ground that those can at least mission-kill anything afloat and complete immobility was the greatest weakness of the otherwise-formidable heavy fortress guns. The few ship-vs-shore gunnery duels of WWII bore out those assumptions.

            And the few victories for the ships in those duels, required the attacker have air superiority, because…

            [German] light artillery is still going to have a problem with the heavy artillery of Gibralter and the British fleet.

            …where is that artillery going to be firing, exactly? Gibraltar is mapped; a coastwatcher behind a bush can report the locations of British ships and call the fall of shot. Without spotter planes, how can British gunners find and hit batteries several miles inland and behind a reverse slope? This was before counterbattery radar, remember.

            I’m not saying that Gibraltar could have held indefinitely against all that Germany could throw at it, but it would have been a tough nut to crack.

            Wikipedia says that the British expected Gibraltar to hold for about three days in the event of a German attack through Spain, citing an academic text by a former military governor of Gibraltar.

          • bean says:

            Alas, I cannot find the term paper I wrote on this very subject, far too many years ago. But from memory and some makeup googling: Not so.

            I’d be interested in seeing that. My comment was specifically in regards to the fire-control situation that prevailed up until just before WWI, where ship-mounted guns were massively less effective. I’d agree that the extra armor of shore-mounted guns was a significant force-multiplier, but not to the level you seem to be describing.

            Note in particular that Gibraltar itself, fortified for the specific purpose of blocking the strait to fleets of battleships, had a grand total of eight, 9.2″ guns. That’s less than half the weight of metal of the smallest Italian battleship, yet it was accepted by both sides that the Italian fleet would not be forcing its way past.

            I’m very doubtful that 8 obsolescent 9.2″ guns could stop the Italian battlefleet from steaming through the straits if it wanted to. It could do some damage to the topsides, certainly, but the real killer is that there aren’t many port facilities on the other side to fix the damage at. And that it will be much more effective against softer ships.

            More generally, coastal fortifications of the late pre-WWII era were constructed on the assumption that 2-3 vaguely battleship-class guns on land were worth an entire battleship at sea. By the early postwar era, even with battleships still in the game, doctrine shifted completely to mobile guns in the 13-17cm range on the ground that those can at least mission-kill anything afloat and complete immobility was the greatest weakness of the otherwise-formidable heavy fortress guns. The few ship-vs-shore gunnery duels of WWII bore out those assumptions.

            I’ll have to go over the reports of some of those again. I would point out, though, that there is a big difference between the guns the Germans could bring to see the RN off, and proper coast-defense guns.

            …where is that artillery going to be firing, exactly? Gibraltar is mapped; a coastwatcher behind a bush can report the locations of British ships and call the fall of shot. Without spotter planes, how can British gunners find and hit batteries several miles inland and behind a reverse slope? This was before counterbattery radar, remember.

            Coastwatchers and conventional artillery batteries are not going to cut it for shooting at ships. You’re going to need a fire-control system quite similar to that of a warship (or a proper coastal gun) to make sure that the batteries are pointed in the right direction at a moving target. And guns that can train quickly enough across an appropriate arc.

            Wikipedia says that the British expected Gibraltar to hold for about three days in the event of a German attack through Spain, citing an academic text by a former military governor of Gibraltar.

            You’re probably right on this one, particularly as I realized that one of my assumptions (the Germans wouldn’t be able to start the bombardment of the airfield without running into British air spot) was wrong.
            I still think you overestimate coastal defense guns. There were lots of cases where the Japanese had unpleasant experiences with the USN, and very little damage was done to the attacking ships.

    • dndnrsn says:

      Something I’ve been curious about, so I’m quoting myself in the other thread:

      As for the Waffen-SS, is there actually a good and unbiased military perspective? The understanding I have is that they had about half a dozen or so high-quality divisions that were actually divisions, and the rest of the few dozen divisions they claimed were either low-quality crap devoted largely to hunting partisans and murdering Jews, not actually divisions, or both. They probably were an albatross regardless in terms of the confusion and inefficiency involved in the party having a separate military arm that had to be supplied with gear and men alongside the regular army.

      • John Schilling says:

        The United States Marine Corps has about two and a half really good divisions plus some small (but not low-quality) stuff devoted to guarding embassies and so forth. This separate military arm has to be supplied with gear and men alongside the regular United States Army, but does not seem to have caused the Pentagon any great difficulty.

        Esprit de corps matters, as does specialization. And on the specialization front, note that the USMC’s specialty is not amhibious assault but light-infantry expeditionary warfare. The Waffen-SS may have had problems being stuck with two or three incompatible specialties.

        • bean says:

          That’s a very interesting analogy. I’m not sure that lack of a single specialization was the problem the SS had, so much as not having its own specialization to set it apart from the Heer. The Marines can make a case for why they should be separate without resorting to ideology.
          The other big difference is politics, as exemplified by gear distribution. The SS usually got the best gear, while the USMC is famous for having trouble at the budget table (and making up for it by taking everything not nailed down). If your ‘second Army’ has a clear political advantage over the first one, it’s likely to cause problems when the two disagree. When the second army can’t make too much trouble, things work better.
          (Just to be clear, this is not an attack on the USMC. I think they perform the vital function of keeping the Army honest, and their secondary position keeps them even more honest.)

          A much closer analogy to the SS would be Saddam’s Republican Guard.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Didn’t the Waffen-SS only get the best gear after 1940 or 41? I know that to some extent they had to be equipped from Czech supplies, for a while.

          • bean says:

            Didn’t the Waffen-SS only get the best gear after 1940 or 41? I know that to some extent they had to be equipped from Czech supplies, for a while.
            I’m not sure. My thing is naval/air, and what I know of land is mostly US-focused.
            That said, the SS seems to have started as a palace guard for Hitler, which he then insisted be turned into a real combat unit. As he gained power at the expense of OKW in 1940-1941, the SS went from the bastard stepchild to the top of the heap.

          • dndnrsn says:

            Off the top of my head (so not necessarily reliable): The 1st Waffen-SS division (eventually; I think it was originally a regiment) was raised from Hitler’s personal guards. The rest of the early Waffen-SS units were, I think, regiments in another division raised from SS personnel originally that later became their own divisions – eg, one was a regiment drawn from camp guards that was expanded into a division.

            Himmler as chief of the SS had some huge ambitions: the SS had its own secret police (and pretty much took over the state police forces), its own intelligence service, etc. He used his command of slave labour to make the SS a real player in the war economy (and contrary to what Speer wrote later, he and Himmler appear have been pretty tight). I think that by the end of the war the SS was running all German intelligence. And Himmler had grandiose plans about how the SS would be the authority in the East after the Soviets were defeated.

        • dndnrsn says:

          It’s an interesting comparison, and one where the Marines come out looking a whole lot better, for a whole variety of reasons, ranging from the moral to the practical. A few thoughts (I’ll think about this more though):

          -Himmler had, as I understand it, the goal of building an army that would rival the Heer. The Marines don’t have and never seem to have had that sort of ambition.

          -The Marines aren’t a politically based body, whereas the Waffen-SS were.

          -The USMC is recruited almost entirely from Americans, while increasingly the Waffen-SS were multinational. Volunteers from NW Europe tended to perform better than units made up of non-Germans and Volksdeutsche.

        • Nornagest says:

          I think you could argue that having the Marines as a separate branch with its own procurement and administration has likely inflated total costs, at least by complicating the DoD’s logistical base. We’re rich, we can absorb it. But it’s there.

          The first example that comes to mind is the lift fan in the B variant of the F-35, although that’s a bit of a specialized case.

          • John Schilling says:

            The first example that comes to mind is the lift fan in the B variant of the F-35, although that’s a bit of a specialized case.

            I think the broad history of the Harrier indicates a clear need for a V/STOL strike fighter. That need goes well beyond the USMC, though they are the obvious anchor customer that will make it happen.

            Whether it is a good idea to make this a variant of the One Universal Multi-Service Combat Aircraft is another matter. Sometimes that works quite well, sometimes it doesn’t, and you can’t reliably predict the winners.

          • hlynkacg says:

            It seems to me that the “correct” way to do a “One Universal Multi-Service Combat Aircraft” is to start with a carrier launched fighter and work from there. The chief factors that make a good carrier fighter, namely a sturdy compact airframe with plenty of power and lift to spare are almost universally useful to the general class of combat aircraft.

            From there you rip out most of the weapons and add a second seat to the base variant (if it doesn’t have one already) to make your tactical trainer / glossy airshow presentation model.

            For the air superiority and long range strike/escort role you start with the base variant and remove the big carrier-based landing gear and heavy structural members because unlike your carrier based variant this one is not expected to survive something like 10,000 controlled crashes over the course of it’s service life. It doesn’t need to be compact either, so you can use all that weight you just freed up to stretch the airframe and make room for more weapons, fuel, etc…

            The problem the AF-111 ran into is that they started with a big “Air Force style” airframe and then tried to reduce it’s size while at the same time beefing up the structure to carrier specs, that turned out to be far more difficult than expected which is why the project was eventually canceled.

            In contrast most of successful multi-service aircraft have followed the general form I described above. The F4U Corsair, F-4 Phantom, and FA-18 Hornet (in foreign service) all started as carrier fighters that were later adapted to other uses. Across the pond, Supermarine removed the floats from one of their Schneider Trophy seaplanes and strapped some guns and rockets to it to make one of the most successful and iconic multi-service combat aircraft of all time. Even the Russian’s success with the Su-27 Flanker and it’s innumerable offshoots is illustrative.

          • bean says:

            It seems to me that the “correct” way to do a “One Universal Multi-Service Combat Aircraft” is to start with a carrier launched fighter and work from there. The chief factors that make a good carrier fighter, namely a sturdy compact airframe with power and lift to spare are almost universally useful to the general class of combat aircraft.
            I’d agree, although that doesn’t get you the VTOL version. I’d think that the better option is to develop common systems (avionics and engines), then allow each service to procure its aircraft separately.

            The problem the AF-111 ran into is that they started with a big “Air Force style” airframe and then tried to reduce it’s size while at the same time beefing up the structure to carrier specs, that turned out to be easier said than done and the project was eventually canceled.
            What’s an AF-111? You seem to be thinking of the F-111B. The problem there was that they were trying to take two very different missions, and shoehorn them onto the same airframe. The overweight problems affected both models, not just the B.

            Across the pond, Supermarine removed the floats from one of their Schneider Trophy seaplanes and strapped a bunch of guns and rockets to it to make one of the most successful and iconic multi-service combat aircraft of all time.
            It was a lot more complicated than that. The Spitfire has a resemblance to those planes, but it’s the product of the same company, not a direct adaptation. And the Seafire was not a particular success, either. It was essentially a stop-gap, to cover for the FAA’s bizarre mismanagement of their aircraft development program prewar. It survived postwar because Britain was broke, and the better airplanes they’d been using (Hellcats and Corsairs) would have had to be paid for under Lend-Lease.

        • Point of order: the USMC’s existence is plausibly the sole reason the F-35 is a dumpster fire. Argument goes like so:

          – The F-35 is awful because of the need for V/STOL support (you’re more of an aerospace expert than I, but it seems defensible given the effect this has on fuselage shape, support for two-engine operations, and the like.)
          – We need V/STOL support to launch off of Marine heli-carriers.
          – We need to launch off those ships solely because the Marines are unwilling to accept the idea of relying on, you know, the Air Force, or even Navy aviators. The Army, by comparison, is very happy to rely on air support from the experts.
          – Conclusion: if all ground troops were with the Army, we’d have a much stronger (and cheaper) fighter aircraft.

          Mind you, the Marines have, as I understand it, strong institutional memory leading to this policy (getting screwed on various Pacific Islands by Navy officers refusing to authorize sorties? Something like that?) And it’s not really relevant to your (apt) comparison to the Waffen-SS. But it is interesting how the organization has had an effect, isn’t it?

          (I phrase this as “because of the navy’s army’s air force.”)

          • bean says:

            The F-35 is awful because of the need for V/STOL support (you’re more of an aerospace expert than I, but it seems defensible given the effect this has on fuselage shape, support for two-engine operations, and the like.)
            The F-35 is single-engine. While VTOL is part of the picture, the lion’s share of the problems have been in the avionics, which are not really related to the B model.

            We need to launch off those ships solely because the Marines are unwilling to accept the idea of relying on, you know, the Air Force, or even Navy aviators. The Army, by comparison, is very happy to rely on air support from the experts.
            Have you ever heard of the AH-64? Or the Key West Agreement? Or the recent squabbles over the fate of the A-10? I’ve heard several people suggest that they be given to the Army, because the Army doesn’t trust the Air Force, except (mostly) the part that is dedicated to CAS. (All of this is stupid, and the A-10 should be scrapped ASAP, but that’s another story.)

            getting screwed on various Pacific Islands by Navy officers refusing to authorize sorties? Something like that?
            The usual example is Fletcher pulling out of Guadalcanal, forcing the transports to withdraw before they were fully unloaded and leaving them short on supplies.

          • Anonanon says:

            Bean, do you happen to know how they got the Navy on board with a single-engine carrier aircraft?
            I’d look it up, but it sounds like one of those internal political you can spend all day trying to figure out.
            I always thought they were really opposed to that, and that it had ended a few joint-service programs in the past. Naval versions of the F-16 and such.

          • John Schilling says:

            What bean says. Also, it’s not just the amphibious assult ships, but also the ability to operate out of the sort of bases you can be sure will be available in-theatre the day after your expeditionary force arrives. And it’s not just close air support, but air superiority or at least air defense.

            So it doesn’t much matter whether the USMC is a separate organization. If you are going to do expeditionary warfare right, you need a modern multirole combat aircraft that doesn’t need two kilometers of paved runway, which means you need something very different from what the USAF will order on its own account.

            Mind you, if the USMC did not exist, it is possible that the USAF would bully the USA into doing expeditionary warfare wrong, and in more ways than just F-35. But that would be a false economy.

          • Lumifer says:

            If you are going to do expeditionary warfare right

            I thought the US idea of expeditionary warfare mostly involved parking a carrier (or two) somewhere offshore.

            When was the last time USMC was engaged in serious combat immediately after landing? Vietnam?

          • bean says:

            Anonanon:
            Bean, do you happen to know how they got the Navy on board with a single-engine carrier aircraft?
            I’d look it up, but it sounds like one of those internal political you can spend all day trying to figure out.
            I always thought they were really opposed to that, and that it had ended a few joint-service programs in the past. Naval versions of the F-16 and such.

            1. I’m not sure how opposed the Navy actually was to single-engine planes. Modern jets are very reliable, and there’s not enough separation on any plane but the A-10 to make twin engines a survivability feature. The A-4, A-7, and F-8 were all single engine, and we’ve seen a big jump in reliability since then.
            2. The F-16/VFAX thing is the only case I’m aware of of the Navy making a fuss over having two engines. I’d guess that they decided on the F/A-18 for other reasons, and twin engines was a reason that sounded good to Congress. (The reason might well be that they were able to get McDonnell Douglas to build them a new fighter that looked like the YF-17, while an F-16 adaptation would have been an actual F-16 variant.)

            Lumifer:
            I thought the US idea of expeditionary warfare mostly involved parking a carrier (or two) somewhere offshore.

            When was the last time USMC was engaged in serious combat immediately after landing? Vietnam?
            ‘Expeditionary’ is not the same thing as ‘amphibious’. There aren’t airbases everywhere you might want, and there are a limited number of carriers.

            John Schilling:
            If you are going to do expeditionary warfare right, you need a modern multirole combat aircraft that doesn’t need two kilometers of paved runway, which means you need something very different from what the USAF will order on its own account.
            That doesn’t necessarily mean VTOL, though. Short-runway/rough field capability is cheaper from a design standpoint. For that matter, aerial refueling can at least partially cover the gap. I don’t remember the Harriers being particularly important during the early stages of the Afghanistan campaign, even though the 15th MEU(SOC) had them, and most of the rest of the MEU was involved in the initial invasion. A google of sources from the first few months turns up no mention of them even being involved.

          • Nornagest says:

            When was the last time USMC was engaged in serious combat immediately after landing? Vietnam?

            The Battle of Inchon, I believe, during the Korean War. There were amphibious landings during the Gulf War but I don’t think they happened under fire or led immediately into battle.

            As Bean says, though, that’s not necessarily a strike against the Marines’ expeditionary force model.

          • Anonanon says:

            Oh, duh, I hadn’t even considered those planes. Definitely an old politics thing I over-interpreted, then.

            All of this is stupid, and the A-10 should be scrapped ASAP

            Them’s fightin’ words, partner.

          • bean says:

            Anonanon:
            Oh, duh, I hadn’t even considered those planes. Definitely an old politics thing I over-interpreted, then.
            Not unreasonably. I had heard the same thing, and didn’t think about it much until you asked.

            Them’s fightin’ words, partner.
            I figured I’d get that response. The problem is that low-level work is much too hazardous in a hostile environment, and the A-10 will do CAS much like anyone else, with SDBs from medium altitude. And it has no real advantage at that relative to any other combat plane. And fleet costs are a thing, so retiring all the A-10s saves a lot more money than retiring an equivalent number of F-16s. If there’s no threat, a Super Tucano is just as good, and cheaper to operate. Also, the A-10 mafia has gotten on my nerves of late.

          • Nornagest says:

            I don’t remember the Harriers being particularly important during the early stages of the Afghanistan campaign, even though the 15th MEU(SOC) had them, and most of the rest of the MEU was involved in the initial invasion.

            The Harrier has a combat radius of only about 350 miles, and Afghanistan is a landlocked country whose borders — by Google’s Maps’ “measure distance” tool — are about 275 miles from the Indian Ocean. That’s already marginal, and most of the early action of the Afghanistan War took place in the center of the country.

          • bean says:

            The Harrier has a combat radius of only about 350 miles, and Afghanistan is a landlocked country whose borders — by Google’s Maps’ “measure distance” tool — are about 275 miles from the Indian Ocean. That’s already marginal, and most of the early action of the Afghanistan War took place in the center of the country.

            That’s pretty much my point. If the area in question is any significant distance inland, it’s more efficient to provide air cover from distant bases than it is to haul the stuff to set up a forward base for your expeditionary fighters. They could theoretically have moved the Harriers to Camp Rhino, but deploying all of the supporting infrastructure would have been more difficult than staging off of carriers or available land bases and tanking.

          • John Schilling says:

            @Lumifer: When was the last time USMC was engaged in serious combat immediately after landing? Vietnam?

            Afghanistan. Again, the USMC is for expeditionary warfare, not just amphibious warfare. And yes, they brought their Harriers, precisely because a Harrier flying out of Bagram was more responsive than an F-18 on a carrier in the Indian Ocean.

            @bean: That doesn’t necessarily mean VTOL, though. Short-runway/rough field capability is cheaper from a design standpoint.

            It does mean a plane that isn’t the USAF’s standard model, unless you force the USAF to buy someone else’s model (and good luck with that). If you’re buying a dedicated short-field model, and you’ve already got a maximum-performance model, you might as well really optimize the short-field model for the “short” part.

          • bean says:

            Afghanistan. Again, the USMC is for expeditionary warfare, not just amphibious warfare. And yes, they brought their Harriers, precisely because a Harrier flying out of Bagram was more responsive than an F-18 on a carrier in the Indian Ocean.

            I did a bit of work with google, and VMA-311 didn’t go ashore during the initial invasion. Their missions were flown from Peleliu (even after all the helicopters went ashore), and they had to tank a lot. They were originally left out of the air campaign altogether, probably because of the fact that the Harrier isn’t that good of a fighter.

            It does mean a plane that isn’t the USAF’s standard model, unless you force the USAF to buy someone else’s model (and good luck with that). If you’re buying a dedicated short-field model, and you’ve already got a maximum-performance model, you might as well really optimize the short-field model for the “short” part.

            I’m not so sure of that. The performance compromises are quite severe.

          • Who wouldn't want to be anonymous says:

            If there’s no threat, a Super Tucano is just as good, and cheaper to operate.

            The problem with that is not even the SF community could talk anyone into actually flying them despite, afaik, significant campaigning.

          • bean says:

            The problem with that is not even the SF community could talk anyone into actually flying them despite, afaik, significant campaigning.

            Care to elaborate? Everything I’ve heard suggests the Super Tucano is a decent airplane.

          • Who wouldn't want to be anonymous says:

            My impression is that the SF community has done some tests and really, really love it. Despite their glowing reviews they have been unsuccessful at getting anything more than token experiments.

            Like, just having a bunch of them… around seems like a great idea, even if they spend a lot of time mothballed in the desert. SF loves them. They are great for cheaply and quickly improving host nation capacity during nation building. And they are way cheaper if you find yourself in an uncontested airspace doing CAS; which we seem to end up doing a lot. But (by my uncharitable assessment) they are not babe magnets for the fliers, cash cows for congressional districts, or status symbols for host nations.

            If SF can’t get them fielded with their disproportionate influence and generally wide latitude with acquisitions, what hope for the regular forces?

          • bean says:

            If SF can’t get them fielded with their disproportionate influence and generally wide latitude with acquisitions, what hope for the regular forces?

            “The A-10 is going away. It’s the Super Tucano or nothing for you.”
            There may well be political problems, but Congress/SecDef forcing things on the services is nothing new.

          • Anonymous says:

            I’m going to add that Harriers were also used in Iraq 2003. There were 70 deployed (much less than the number of F/A-18s, about half the number of F-16s, and comparable to the number of F-15s or A-10s). Naturally, their early missions were based from ships, but they tried to push to forward bases as they could.

    • Le Maistre Chat says:

      What are the best books to cite when arguing about WW2? I bought and read Weinberg’s A World at Arms because I’d heard it’s the most respected academic history. I also have Churchill’s Second World War sitting unread on a bookshelf.

      • dndnrsn says:

        Well, to talk about WWII, you’ve got to talk about a lot of stuff starting before 1939, and a lot of non-military stuff.

        Kershaw is generally respected. His two-volume Hitler biography doubles as a history of Nazi Germany. Be aware, though, that it’s two doorstops (he’s done a condensed one-volume edition). “Hitler’s Beneficiaries” by Aly and “Wages of Destruction” by Tooze are both good if you want to read about the German war economy. Throw in “Albert Speer: His Battle With Truth” by Sereny if you need to have it drummed in some more that Speer was a massive liar (some historians to this day still believe Speer’s line – that he was an apolitical architect who sort of stumbled into running a war economy, that he didn’t know about the Holocaust and other crimes against humanity, and that he singlehandedly kept the war economy going).

        For a good general history of the war, Max Hasting’s “All Hell Let Loose” is a good one-volume but assumes some prior knowledge. There’s another one I’ve got a copy of that’s good but I can’t for the life of me remember the title or author – will try to find it. There’s a lot of “pulpy” military histories that tend towards the “grognard” let’s-get-really-enthusiastic-about-tanks style. They vary widely in quality, but some are pretty good. They’re also great for getting younger readers interested in military history.

        Most WWII histories will touch on the Holocaust and on the other crimes committed by Nazi Germany. A big topic to get into, but it’s worth at least getting a look at the historiography of the topic. Kershaw’s “Hitler, the Germans, and the Final Solution” gives some insight into the major historical controversies and questions – eg, was the Holocaust something planned since early on or something that developed in bits and pieces, did Hitler ever give a single order for what happened, how much did ordinary Germans know what was going on, etc. Kershaw definitely takes sides, but is generally even-handed.

        Memoirs and such connected with the war are always dicey. As mentioned before, anything written after the war by a German general has to be taken with more than one grain of salt. If they were in the Waffen-SS, tip the shaker into your mouth. The same holds true for memoirs by civilians like Speer – while his “Inside the Third Reich” is an important historical source, it’s also full of lies by a man who should have swung at Nuremberg. Allied memoirs tend to be better, but still tend to be self-aggrandizing. In a similar vein, but far more trustworthy, is “Soldaten”, a short book consisting of conversations secretly recorded or reported by informants in Allied POW camps, that shows how German soldiers talked about combat, about the conditions of war, about the murder of Jews and other civilians and POWs, etc.

      • bean says:

        Another good 1-volume history is Keegan’s The Second World War.

  7. Vaniver says:

    Mentioned in the last open thread, but all-Texas party to welcome Scott Aaronson on August 13th, details here.

    • John Schilling says:

      If y’all can get all of Texas to welcome a single Scott A., what happens if all three show up in Austin at the same time?

      • Vaniver says:

        Sadly, our host Scott A is not able to attend. (If he was, then I would have tried to go for the hat trick, even though that’d maybe make it less welcoming to the Scott A that the party is for.)

        • dndnrsn says:

          Just get the third Scott A. to convince him. I hear he is a trained hypnotist, with insights into the ways of Master Persuaders.

    • While you’re here, can you sell me on moving to Austin? Is the sprawl and traffic as bad as people say?

      My goal is to find a city with reasonable cost of living, where I can make it through normal life (getting to work, shops, bars, etc) without daily car usage, and friendly strangers. Ideally personally favorable demographics, and enough population density to have a social life with aforementioned friendly strangers.

      The heat in Austin is the biggest strike against it for me (I’m a cold weather person) but I’m going to have to compromise somewhere. My other main concern right now is that I’ve been told it’s not handling rapid growth well, leading to traffic and sprawl (which I don’t like.) The recent Uber ban doesn’t make me feel great either.

  8. J Quenff says:

    Apologies if this is a faux pas, but I’d like to continue a discussion from a couple of threads ago, that began here — http://slatestarcodex.com/2016/07/20/open-thread-54-25/#comment-387101

    Some people pointed out that metaphysics argues from obvious statements that no one really disputes, such as “things sometimes change”, “I exist”, and I thought it might be helpful to continue the maths comparison to argue why that doesn’t mean it’s a good way of ‘proving’ things in any meaningful sense of the word.

    For a long time it was considered obvious that you can say things like ‘the set of all X’, where X might be ‘even numbers’ or ‘finite groups’ or whatever you’d like to talk about. But it turns out that if you’re not careful about what you stick in for X, you run into problems like https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russell%27s_paradox . With the upshot that if you’re not careful about what you allow yourself to refer to, you’ll end up with inconsistencies in your logical system.

    Metaphysics seems to contains a lot of statements about ‘The Universe’ or ‘Everything’, without seeming to worry that it’ll run into any problems the mathematicians did. That’s mainly what concerns me, not that it begins with (necessarily) unjustified premises, but that I don’t understand how to confidently parse any of the statements that follow.

    And, as a somewhat unrelated ‘bonus’ point, here’s Ed Feser discussing whether ‘Existence exists’, which should surely raise alarm bells… http://edwardfeser.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/does-existence-exist.html

    • Corey says:

      Sorry, clicked Reply to the wrong thing.

    • Philosophisticat says:

      It’s hard to say anything general about “Metaphysics”, which is not a doctrine but a field of study which is pretty diverse both in its subject matter and its methodology. I think it’s not true that metaphysicians are unconcerned with whether the assumptions they make lead to paradox. In fact, many metaphysical views are widely rejected precisely on those grounds. It’s also not true that metaphysicians as a rule argue from obvious statements that nobody disputes. An argument is stronger, in metaphysics as everywhere, when the premises are antecedently plausible, and so metaphysicians, like all philosophers, prefer to start with claims that seem true. Of course, some things that seem true are not true, and we can find that out later, like we did with Russell’s paradox. Philosophers are strongly incentivized to anticipate and discover those problems. It’s how you get paradoxes named after you.

    • Anonymous says:

      Re: paradoxes possibly coming from premises

      In addition to what Philosophisticat said, I think you’re missing just how contentious those statements could be. One example you gave is, “I exist”. This was actually really contentious! Descartes went to great lengths to argue for this rather than take it as a premise. Kant spilled much ink over the identification of the “I” in the statement (and though that part isn’t in the work, I’m going to again recommend his Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics; it’s not that long!). A driving factor is to form arguments that reduce premises that are even remotely questionable into premises that are far more difficult to question.

      That’s why, for example, (as I mentioned in the last thread) that Acquinas actually used the premise, “It is certain, and evident to our senses, that in the world some things are in motion.” One could try to marshal Evil Demon type arguments against this, but it’s really difficult to (also: that would attack other things that are hidden premises (pointing these out is classic philosophical fodder) and kill much of the rest of our epistemology/metaphysics that things like empiricism rest on). It may be possible that there is a yet-to-be-found paradox, but I think you must be utterly naive to any professional works in philosophy if you think philosophers are less concerned about this possibility than mathematicians. Hell, now that I think about it, Zeno’s paradoxes (while wrong) were devised directly for the purpose of challenging the idea that motion was possible… much less whether it actually occurred.

      In fact, the example of Russel’s Paradox is a good one. He was not just poking around with pure math when he discovered it. He was doing philosophy, responding to Frege’s project of Logicism! About the only reason I can come up with to explain why people distrust philosophers of metaphysics to have similar processes in thought to philosophers of mathematics is that they’ve never read any of it and the word “metaphysics” sounds “spooky”. I mean, philosophy of math is just one of the many areas that form deep links between the two most fundamental philosophical projects – epistemology and metaphysics.

      I’ll note that when a clear, strong paradox is apparent, it’s taken incredibly serious by professionals. That’s why you see basically no scientismist professional philosophers (but a bunch of amateur ones). It’s self-refuting, and no respectable professional can have that.

      Finally, what particular alarm bells do you have going off when you read that Feser post?

      • J Quenff says:

        “It is certain, and evident to our senses, that in the world some things are in motion”

        I feel like even at this point is seems fair to say ‘Hold on a minute, what does any of this mean?’.

        I promise to go away and read that Kant piece and see if it helps. Maybe you can help with this though — what’s the difference between a metaphysical proof and a mathematical proof? Or even what’s the difference between metaphysics and mathematics? And should metaphysicians worry that you can prove something in, say, ZFC, that clearly isn’t true in ‘the real world’ (e.g. “you can change the volume of something by rotating it”)

        Finally, what particular alarm bells do you have going off when you read that Feser post?

        It seems worrying that a group of people who think they’ve found a ‘correct’ set of axioms don’t even seem to agree with how to actually interpret these axioms.

        But, again, I’ll go read the Kant piece before I make any more disparaging remarks about something that I clearly don’t know very much about.

        • Anonymous says:

          “It is certain, and evident to our senses, that in the world some things are in motion”

          I feel like even at this point is seems fair to say ‘Hold on a minute, what does any of this mean?’.

          Is that how you would respond to the statement if the room you walked into had “Physics 101” written above the door rather than “Metaphysics 101”? (But seriously, this is a fine and respectable philosophical question.)

          what’s the difference between a metaphysical proof and a mathematical proof?

          I think this depends very deeply on what components you have mentally rolled into the word “proof”. If you mean “an argument where the conclusion follows from the premises”, then there is no difference. If we roll in the methods by which we proceed or the types of things which we are engaging with, then the answer will depend the epistemology and philosophy of mathematics that you have accepted (for methods… or “what is accepted as proof“… see TheAncientGeek’s comment; for the types of things we are engaging with, well, shit, that’s just metaphysics again… but it’s also in philosophy of math, because remember, there are a bunch of mathematical Platonists).

          what’s the difference between metaphysics and mathematics?

          Exactly. Now you’re doing it. (…philosophy, that is.) I think you’ll find the Prolegomena has some interesting things to say about what metaphysics/mathematics are. 🙂

          should metaphysicians worry that you can prove something in, say, ZFC, that clearly isn’t true in ‘the real world’ (e.g. “you can change the volume of something by rotating it”)

          Of course. The subset of philosophers of mathematics are probably more consumed by this question, but it clearly has implications for larger systems of logic or thought. Another curiosity that seems to many at first glace to be restricted to mathematics are Godel’s theorems, but it’s not that hard to realize that they could have implications for larger systems of logic or thought.

          It seems worrying that a group of people who think they’ve found a ‘correct’ set of axioms don’t even seem to agree with how to actually interpret these axioms.

          Ahh. I see the problem. Your premise is false. I don’t think almost anyone is willing to forthrightly declare that they have found a ‘correct’ set of axioms. We certainly think that some axioms are harder to challenge than others, but that’s a definite parallel to mathematics. After all, it seemed kind of benign to accept the axiom of choice until people came along and said, “Duuuude… do you know what that also implies?” Suddenly, it seemed a lot weaker and at least somewhat problematic.

          Conversely, a new development could come up that seems to shore up the axiom. We think, “Hmm, maybe that wasn’t actually that problematic.” An example I’ve already talked about would be going from Acquinas to Descartes. Responding to Acquinas, you could make serious attempts to undermine his first premise. You could make arguments against the existence of an external world, whether a sense impression giving you a representation of it has any correspondence to it, or the existence of an “I” receiving that representation. Many of these objections are still out there in various forms (though, again, to accept them, we may have to give up other things), but I wanted to point out that Descartes responded to a couple of them and shored up some belief that the premise may still be reasonable to some people.

          There is a lot of deep interplay between how we feel toward all those various challenges/positions that informs how convincing we think Acquinas’ premise is. However, it would be kind of ridiculous to try to reject all of metaphysics because you have a philosophical dispute with a premise that came much before (in terms of reasoning, not time) the domain in which a particular argument that you’re responding to was formed. It would be like encountering a mathematician who is making some complicated argument in abstract algebra that has some deep reliance on Choice in one of the premises and saying, “I’m actually a constructivist who rejects Choice, so mathematics is bullshit.” No. You’re probably still a mathematician who is probably still doing mathematics. You just disagree on some premises. It’s alright. It happens. It doesn’t invalidate an entire field.

      • Psmith says:

        About the only reason I can come up with to explain why people distrust philosophers of metaphysics to have similar processes in thought to philosophers of mathematics is that they’ve never read any of it and the word “metaphysics” sounds “spooky”.

        This is probably related to the phenomenon whereby there used to be a “metaphysics” section at Barnes and Noble containing mostly Deepak Chopra and The Secret.

      • What a mathematical proof “is” depends on your philosophy of mathematics….

    • FullMeta_Rationalist says:

      “Ceci n’est pas une pipe.” (“This is not a pipe”) (I.e. it’s an image of a pipe.)

      The inconsistency comes from self-reference. Notice that both Russel’s Paradox and the Halting Problem are manifestations of the Liar Paradox in that the statements negate their own truth-values.

      Logicians are aware of the inconsistency. One thing they did was invent Type Theory, which distinguishes the image of the object from the object per se. This prevents the inconsistency, but it doesn’t really address it. So logicians started experimenting with all sorts of crazy logical systems to explore ways to avoid this inconsistency.

      One example is Constructive Logic. Constructive Logic is like Classical Logic, except Indirect Proofs (aka Proof By Contradiction) is not allowed. They also invented Modal Logics which say truth-values lie on a spectrum (similar to probability). They also invented Multi-Valued Logics which keep track of inconsistent truth-values from different sources (like in a lawsuit, or a transactional-memory database).

      In order to directly addresses the original paradox, we need to recognize the inconsistency as an implicit truth-value. It has a few names, though I like to call it “Undefined“. Undefined means the logical system is saying “ERROR: this is undefined behavior and I don’t know how to handle this”. In arithmetic, Undefined is what we get when we divide by zero. In logic, it’s what we get when a statement self-negates. It’s like a zero in that it infects all other truth-values. (p v U) => (U), and (p ^ U) => (U). It can also be thought of as a placeholder for extending the system in a novel way, like the examples given above.

      By default, your metaphysical adventures should be interpreted through Type Theory. Which includes an axiom that says sets can’t be subsets of themselves. Which is kinda like saying (“snow” != snow). Which is kinda like saying (map != territory).

      Regarding your “existence exists” example. The existence of what? Are we claiming that the existence-of-puppies exists [0]? (Scans a paragraph or two.) Okay, so it looks like the article is discussing the existence of The-Category-Of-Things-That-Exist and then includes the category in itself. It’s the same Russell’s Paradox parlor-trick. zzz. Just ignore it.

      [0] You may be interested in this Feynman story. Feynman did this thing where he reified abstract properties into tangible objects. He would challenge math majors to ask him the truth-value of a well-known theorem (after telling him the necessary axioms) so he could show-off by rederiving the theorem.

      • Anonymous says:

        Modal Logics which say truth-values lie on a spectrum (similar to probability).

        That’s fuzzy logic. Modal logic is the one with “possible worlds”.

        In order to directly addresses the original paradox, we need to recognize the inconsistency as an implicit truth-value. It has a few names, though I like to call it “Undefined“. Undefined means the logical system is saying “ERROR: this is undefined behavior and I don’t know how to handle this”. In arithmetic, Undefined is what we get when we divide by zero. In logic, it’s what we get when a statement self-negates. It’s like a zero in that it infects all other truth-values.

        Please, no. No. Just no.

        Reinventing dialetheism (or NaN) may seem like an appealing concept at first, but it runs into trouble very quickly. In the latter case, you have to admit numerous exceptions and special cases to the field axioms, which makes reasoning more complicated and burdensome. In the former, you lose some very intuitive rules of inference, like the disjunctive syllogism.

        I think the best way to think about contradictions is to consider them as instances of relations between propositions and some kind of a reasoning agent instead of an actual state of affairs; i.e. speak of “[A believes P] ∧ [A believes ¬P]” instead of “P ∧ ¬P”.

        By default, your metaphysical adventures should be interpreted through Type Theory. Which includes an axiom that says sets can’t be subsets of themselves.

        Wut? “A ⊆ A” is a theorem.

        But I agree with regard to “existence exists”; it’s a meaningless proposition without a definition of “existence” as a noun.

        • FullMeta_Rationalist says:

          Wut? “A ⊆ A” is a theorem.

          I’m not denying a tautology. I’m saying ~(A ⊂ A) for anything ontologically grounded. I.e. any argument that does involve (A ⊂ A) is either: purely Platonic with no bearing on reality (and therefore of negligible value in understanding the extant universe); or actually saying (A ⊂ A’) in disguise (which I tried to convey via The Treachery Of Images).

          In the latter case, you have to admit numerous exceptions and special cases to the field axioms, which makes reasoning more complicated and burdensome.

          Simon Tatham, author of PuTTY, stated that Anderson’s system “doesn’t even think about the field axioms: addition is no longer invertible, multiplication isn’t invertible on nullity or infinity (or zero, but that’s expected!).

          Addition is defined as an operation over a field (of numbers). And lo, NaN is… Not a Number. It’s not an element of the field, it’s an illegal immigrant. So no axioms were violated. This is in fact more consistent than the extant Field Axioms can boast, which happily claim that “every element of the field has an inverse (oops! except zero)”.

          The only axiom that you have to “add” is that any operation over NaN returns NaN. I put “add” in parentheses since NaN is inherent in the structure of logic/mathematics whether mathematicians like it or not.

          In the former, you lose some very intuitive rules of inference, like the disjunctive syllogism.

          0) (p v q)
          1) (~p)
          ———–
          2) (q)

          In the above diagram, (p v q) and (~p) are taken as a given. Which means we implicitly assign a value of True to both propositions. Remember, NaN is a blight that corrupts everything downstream. Also, the only way that a value of NaN sneaks into (q) is if either: (p v q) is NaN; or (~p) is NaN. But this would contradict our assumptions that (p v q) and (~p) are both True. Therefore, disjunctive syllogism continues to behave exactly as we expect.

          The usecase for NaN arises when one of our premises is neither true nor false, because we loaded semantic garbage into one of the variables. For example, (~p) is usually a falsifiable statement where (~p := “It is not the case that ‘the moon is made of cheese’ “). But what if (~p := “It is not the case that ‘Colorless green ideas sleep furiously’ “)? It’s not even wrong.

          This is all just a formalism for “garbage in, garbage out”.

          * * *

          # pendantry

          That’s fuzzy logic. Modal logic is the one with “possible worlds”.

          As a Many-Worlder, they describe the same phenomenon as far as I’m concerned. But whatever I’ll give it to you.

          Reinventing dialetheism

          Dialetheism is saying “sometimes, (p) is both True and False”. But I’m saying “sometimes, (p) is neither True nor False”. Dialethism is closer to the multi-valued stuff.

          • Anonymous says:

            I’m not denying a tautology. I’m saying ~(A ⊂ A) for anything ontologically grounded. I.e. any argument that does involve (A ⊂ A) is either: purely Platonic with no bearing on reality (and therefore of negligible value in understanding the extant universe); or actually saying (A ⊂ A’) in disguise (which I tried to convey via The Treachery Of Images).

            I don’t understand. If I choose all the apples from a specific basket (and only those), don’t they all come from that basket? Or that is also “Platonic”, since it’s just a thought experiment? Do I have to physically bring a basket of apples for you to acknowledge that the set of all apples in the basket is a subset of itself?

            Maybe you can give a better example?

            This is in fact more consistent than the extant Field Axioms can boast, which happily claim that “every element of the field has an inverse (oops! except zero)”.

            Sure, zero doesn’t have a multiplicative inverse, but your “undefined” value has neither that nor even an additive inverse. There’s no value I can add to “undefined” to get a zero, or multiply it to get a one; any such expression is also “undefined”. If you want to meaningfully include your “undefined” concept in your reasoning, you’d have to pepper your theorems with assumptions like “x, y and z are not undefined”. This may be sufficiently annoying that you decide to leave this assumption implicit. At which point you may dispense with the “undefined” concept altogether; since it doesn’t add any clarity, it actively removes it. A similar thing could be said about adding “undefined” to logic.

            The usecase for NaN arises when one of our premises is neither true nor false, because we loaded semantic garbage into one of the variables. For example, (~p) is usually a falsifiable statement where (~p := “It is not the case that ‘the moon is made of cheese’ “). But what if (~p := “It is not the case that ‘Colorless green ideas sleep furiously’ “)? It’s not even wrong.

            This is all just a formalism for “garbage in, garbage out”.

            “Colorless green ideas sleep furiously” is a a vacuously true statement; it’s talking about “colorless green ideas” which don’t exist, since nothing can be simultaneously green and colorless. I may also interpret being “green” to mean “fresh”, and keep “colorless” in its literal meaning; in that case I can say that it’s a false statement since ideas don’t sleep because they are not living beings. And you may argue that it should be interpreted in a yet another way. However, this step of interpreting a statement is separate from assigning a truth value to it. Once assigned an interpretation, the sentence can be assigned a truth value in a non-contradictory way. Formal logic doesn’t have this problem because formulas allowed by the grammar are guaranteed to have an unambiguous interpretation. “Undefined” isn’t necessary.

            As a Many-Worlder, they describe the same phenomenon as far as I’m concerned. But whatever I’ll give it to you.

            I assume this means you subscribe to the many-world interpretation of quantum mechanics. What I meant here is that modal logic is a specific formalism with a different level of expressibility that what you’ve written here. And neither modal nor fuzzy logic seems to capture quantum phenomena anyway. In modal logic, truth is a relation between a given “possible world” and a proposition. It’s still bivalent: sentences may involve necessity or possibility, but they are still either true or false. Fuzzy logic is continuum-valued, but it’s based on classical, 1-norm probabilities. I am not aware of any project to create a quantum logic which could capture phenomena like interference.

            Dialetheism is saying “sometimes, (p) is both True and False”. But I’m saying “sometimes, (p) is neither True nor False”. Dialethism is closer to the multi-valued stuff.

            You wrote about inconsistency. I assume this means you want to deal with the situation where both p and ¬p can be derived from accepted principles. If you only want to deny excluded middle, you get intuitionistic logic, for which the principle of explosion still holds; so it’s useless when dealing with contradictions.

    • I think your second paragraph would be better phrased as “individual metaphysicians argue from axioms they find personal appealing”.

      Russels paradox is a problem if contradictions are a problem. Most mathematicians and logicians see contradictions a problem…it is an appealing intuition to them….which means they don’t see it as an intuition. But I shouldn’t be too hard on them…I think our intuitions about truth are more likely to be right than our intuitions about infinity.

  9. hlynkacg says:

    I have a question for our blue tribe and otherwise liberal/left-leaning commenters. I’ve seen several complaints over the last couple of months about liberal views being severely underrepresented in the SSC comment section, and claims that liberal views get a significantly more hostile reception on SSC than comparatively conservative views would get on a otherwise liberal forum. I would like to know what specific views you have in mind?

    My own sense is that in regards to things like economics, foreign policy, and gun control we have a broad spectrum of views represented with most debates being multi-sided and well fought. In regards to things like gay/trans rights, the sexual revolution, and drug legalization, I actually feel that the commentariat skews liberal with social-cons such as myself being a distinct if vocal minority (though I freely grant that this impression may be a product of my own bias). The only case where I think that they might have a legitimate complaint is the specific issue of Social Justice / Identity Politics where it seems to me that our conservative, rationalist, and libertarian leaning residents are all united in their opposition while our host, (and many of our prominent liberal voices) seem ambivalent about it at best, and willing to leave the territory largely undefended.

    Am I way off base here? If so I would genuinely like to know.

    Links and specific examples would be appreciated but are by no means required.

    • brad says:

      My own impression, not at all scientific, is that liberal ideas don’t get disproportionate hostility, though there are sometimes, perhaps unintentional, dogpiles.

      Rather the striking difference is the incessant strawmanning and name calling of various parts of the left which doesn’t occur as much for the right. Especially if you exclude Anonymous or one time names.

      Reading constant claims about what “progressives” believe or want to do from people that are obviously not being at all charitable gets tiring after a while. I’m sure the same is true for a lot of people on the right and explains some of the hostility towards the “mainstream media” from that side of the aisle. But two wrongs don’t make a right and all that.

      • Orphan Wilde says:

        I think a substantive part of the issue there is that a lot of the people who self-identify as X here have a substantively different idea of what constitutes an X, than the people who don’t self-identify as X.

        There are a number of political labels I could apply to myself, but choose not to – not because I don’t think they’re apt on a literal-meaning basis, but because they communicate a number of beliefs I don’t actually hold on a more subtextual level of communication. There’s no reason anti-vax should have become associated with the left-wing from a prior principles perspective, yet it did. Likewise, the modern paternalistic conceptualization of feminism as protection-of-women-from-the-more-predatory-sex belongs more to the right-wing than to the left, yet that’s not where it found itself.

        The subtext of “progressive” implies a lot more than the strict political belief systems require; the clustering includes a lot more than a belief in a welfare system and increased social rights, and in many respects the cluster includes things which contradict the core values.

        The problem here isn’t that people say bad things about progressives; the problem is that you feel personally attacked when it is suggested an ideology you feel affiliated with believes something you don’t believe in. Stop identifying with political labels: it’s very freeing to realize that there’s no reason you should feel morally responsible for other people’s beliefs.

        • brad says:

          That’s an answer but I don’t think it’s a fair one. I don’t see why a small hostile group should get to grab the meaning of the word instead of the many people that identify that way.

          Would your response to someone complaining that people were constantly saying “Christians believe” and filling in something that only dominionists actually espouse — “stop identifying as Christian”?

          What’s wrong with the response that the people implying all these subtexts are simply wrong as factual matter and they ought to stop doing that?

          • Mercer says:

            I don’t think the point is that enemies are constantly misrepresenting things whereas members aren’t.

            Different ideas that at face value don’t necessarily need to be clustered together for whatever reason have been. The nazis were concerned about the environment; so are modern progressives. Why is environmentalism left-wing and not right-wing? Because enough people who held other left-wing ideas also picked up the environmentalist idea, so over time thats how it gets perceived. You can very easily be a conservative and be concerned about the environment, but if you identify as a conservative nobody on either side is going to assume you are

          • Corey says:

            @Mercer: DIstinguishing between Republicans and conservatives as a whole here, that’s an interesting example. The GOP used to have a significant environmentalist faction (think hunters and the like). Nowadays as the GOP has solidified its ideology, the “drill baby drill” faction has taken over and as far as I can tell the conservative conservationists no longer have a political voice.

          • brad says:

            It’s fine when there’s a broad, cross ideological consensus about what a word means. The problem is when it goes beyond that. Very often here it does.

            The “progressives believe or want to do” statements are by and large wrong from my perspective in that they don’t represent “enough people.” Or at a very minimum it’s a highly contested matter whether or not they represent “enough people.” After all if it there was a broad consensus that progressive meant all these things there wouldn’t be much reason to make these statements in the first place. People don’t generally go around repeating common knowledge.

            Instead they come off as deliberate attempts to strawman and insult. Hence tiring after a while.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Current environmentalists don’t consider preserving land for human use (like hunting and grazing) to be environmentalism. It’s not so much that this Republican faction has gone away, it’s that they are no longer considered environmentalists.

          • Mercer says:

            I find myself agreeing with nr-x on many core points, but on a few I’m notably out of step, like traditional gender roles. If you said “nr-xers believe in traditional gender roles”, I could say there’s no necessary connection between the ideas “democracy sucks” and “traditional gender roles are awesome”, but I couldn’t say you were wrong to attribute it as a core point of nr-x. For that reason ive avoided the label.

            I guess what I want to know is, what do progressives here think of as core to progressivism, and not subtext? But that might warrant its own conversation

          • brad says:

            @The Nybbler
            That’s exactly the kind of thing I was talking about. Did someone appoint you spokesman for “current environmentalists”? Or maybe you have a poll of self identified environmentalists?

            You are just nakedly asserting that a group you hold in contempt has some particular views that you paint in a negative light. I see no value in that kind of post.

          • Mercer says:

            If I said “I’m in favor of preserving land for hunting and grazing, but I don’t believe in global warming”, would environmentalists accept me using the label environmentalist, or no? Hypothetical, I don’t have strong beliefs here one way or the other.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @brad

            I’m neither an environmentalist nor a Republican nor a rancher nor a hunter. I’m not claiming to be a “spokesman” for environmentalists nor did I do a formal poll. I’m simply going from my own observations of self-and-media described environmentalists. Current environmental mainstream seems to me to be about preserving places in their wild state (and sometimes returning them to it). I didn’t expect that statement to be particularly controversial; would you expect an “environmentalist” to be for restriction or expansion of grazing? Hunting?

            As for “progressives”, when you see “progressives believe ” here, “progressives” likely refers to the Social Justice group. This group exists. By direct observation, many of them at least profess to believe . They may be a weakman, but they’re not a strawman.

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            Problem #1: You’re expected fairness.

            When you mention you’re a progressive, nobody blinks. When I mention my political philosophy, there is eye-rolling and comments about how people with my political philosophy like to tell people what our political philosophy is.

            I mean, it’s kind of a hilarious stereotype. But the purpose is pretty clearly to shame people with my political beliefs from talking about them – not that it works, mind. It’s kind of a fair stereotype, even if it is utterly normal of the sort of person who talks about politics in the first place.

            Problem #2: You think it’s a small hostile group.

            It’s not. It’s literally everybody who isn’t a progressive, which ends up being most people. And most of them aren’t particularly hostile towards progressive ideas, they just don’t like being proselytized to about them.

            Problem #3: “But Christians don’t deal with this”

            The fuck they don’t. Every group deals with this. Literally every group gets defined by their loudest, most obnoxious members. That is precisely what you sign up for when you agree to identify with a group – and I find it, bluntly, laughable that anybody objects to this, since they’re characterizing every other group in the same cartoonish way themselves.

            I’m hyper-aware of this, as it is more-or-less my formative political experience (I was a liberal who spent most of my early days on the Internet defending the Bush administration in the interest of intellectual honesty, which everybody else had apparently decided no longer applied), and I’m still not exempt from it.

            Here’s where I get pissy: Everybody wants to take responsibility for the GOOD things their group does, and nobody wants to take responsibility for the BAD things their group does.

            Feminists want to claim responsibility for women’s suffrage, but want to deny responsibility for the opposition to father’s custodial rights that NOW is, as far as I know, still continuing. Feminism “is” the good things it does, and the bad things it does are just bad actors.

            Fuck that. If you want to claim some part of participatory responsibility for the good shit progressives do, as a member of the group, I’m also going to hold you culpable for the bad shit they do. You helped get a minimum wage law passed, or whatever it is you think progressivism is about? You also helped police unions keep police from being held responsible for the people they murder in their line of work, because union support has historically been central to the progressive platform.

            This “no true Scottsman” group bullshit is just people trying to feel good about themselves for shit they didn’t do but claim to support, while avoiding feeling bad about themselves for shit they also didn’t do but claim to oppose.

          • Mercer says:

            Orphan your posts never fail to impress me

          • brad says:

            @Orphan Wilde
            That’s some bullshit right there. You are in a tiny little biased bubble and you are extrapolating to 300 million people. More if you consider the entire English speaking world. This makes you wrong, and instead of reflecting on it and updating, you double down on nonsense.

            Problem #1: You’re expected fairness.

            hylnkacg asked, I answered. I don’t know what you’re doing exactly.

            Problem #2: You think it’s a small hostile group.

            It’s not. It’s literally everybody who isn’t a progressive, which ends up being most people. And most of them aren’t particularly hostile towards progressive ideas, they just don’t like being proselytized to about them.

            No it fucking isn’t. There’s hundreds of millions or billions of English speakers that don’t consider themselves progressive but also manage to go through their entire lives without making dumb, circle jerk statements, about how “progressives want white men to hate themselves for being white men”. If you can’t find any of them then you need to work harder to leave your bubble every once in a while — and in then meantime quit making totally ignorant statements about “literally everyone” that you clearly aren’t in a position to make.

            Problem #3: “But Christians don’t deal with this”.

            The toxic 4chan equilibrium of we are obnoxious to and about everything is awful. Scott tried to set up the opposite equilibrium. If you are part of the group trying to shift from one to the other you ought to be ashamed of yourself.

            This “no true Scottsman” group bullshit is just people trying to feel good about themselves for shit they didn’t do but claim to support, while avoiding feeling bad about themselves for shit they also didn’t do but claim to oppose.

            I’m not trying to take credit for anything. I want you to be accurate in describing groups. If you don’t have sufficient data, and no browsing twitter doesn’t count, than STFU is always an option.

          • brad says:

            @The Nybbler

            As for “progressives”, when you see “progressives believe ” here, “progressives” likely refers to the Social Justice group. This group exists. By direct observation, many of them at least profess to believe . They may be a weakman, but they’re not a strawman.

            Try, “my co-worker, a self identified progressive, believes” or as an absolute minimum “some progressives”.

          • @Mercer
            Agreed.
            If Orphan had a blog, I’d read it.

          • Randy M says:

            I propose that when a non-leftist here makes a statement about a left/progressive/liberal group, they must preface it with “I feel that…” so that it is clear the person is not speaking ex catherdra but making a generalization from their own experience.

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            I have one, but bluntly I’m embarrassed by how I remember some of what I’ve written there (it was written in a very… hostile period of my life), and haven’t contributed to it in a long time. I know my thought patterns, moreover – if I go back to try to edit what I’ve written, I’ll convince myself of what I previously wrote, because I’m damn convincing when I want to be. So I just mostly avoid reading that blog now.

            The issue is that the positive feedback I got was directly proportional to how much of an asshole I was, and I’m really, really good at being an asshole. Scott, I believe, has observed some of this, and is increasingly careful to not indulge in it; certainly, to be frank, the degree to which I enjoy his posts is directly proportional to how much of an asshole he is, as well.

            So my current strategy is to try to insert my ideas into whichever part of the rationalist diaspora I feel they are most relevant to, with a vague hope they spread from there if they merit spreading – specifically, if the idea can survive somebody else restating it.

          • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

            It’s seems like a lot of time would be saved if, instead of arguing about what progressives are not, whoever identifies as progressive just tried to define what they think is at the core of “progressive belief/ideology/identity” (I think this was already asked).

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Orphan Wilde

            The issue is that the positive feedback I got was directly proportional to how much of an asshole I was, and I’m really, really good at being an asshole.

            Heh. That’s a familiar problem : -)

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            brad –

            I do believe I struck a nerve.

            See, here’s the issue: If we followed the rules you wanted, nobody would be allowed to criticize political beliefs, ever. Because for any given nontrivial political belief X, there’s some subset of Xists who believe Y, and some subset of Xists who believe Z, where Y and Z are completely non-overlapping sets.

            I don’t care too much for those rules. Particularly when I perceive that the people proposing them only really want them applied to their in-groups. As I said, everybody engages in this behavior; if you claim to be immune to it, I’m going to laugh in your face.

          • brad says:

            If we followed the rules you wanted, nobody would be allowed to criticize political beliefs, ever.

            You could criticize political beliefs just fine. Mine for example as I discuss them here. Or Obama’s. Or John Scalzi’s. Or you neighbor across the hall.

            What you couldn’t do is make grand, sweeping, uncharitable pronouncements about vaguely defined, humongous groups that you’ve decided are your enemies.

            That’s a good thing. Those type comments are very low value at best.

            Because for any given nontrivial political belief X, there’s some subset of Xists who believe Y, and some subset of Xists who believe Z, where Y and Z are completely non-overlapping sets.

            No, you don’t need to show unanimity. You need to show at least a plurality and better a majority. Show is the key word. Not just naked assertions.

            Incidentally:

            I find it, bluntly, laughable that anybody objects to this

            I’m really, really good at being an asshole

            I do believe I struck a nerve.

            I’m going to laugh in your face.

            make me think you are a part of the problem.

            In six or twelve months if everyone starts complaining about how SSC is a boring circle jerk, hopefully you’ll remember that you helped destroy what made it attractive in the first place.

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            brad –

            If it’s a vaguely-defined, homunculus entity, in what sense are you a part of it? In what sense are you a progressive, if progressive isn’t a well-defined concept, and why would does it bother you when people criticize progressives?

            I think you’re trying to have it both ways here, and I think my original interpretation of you is entirely correct. You redefine your ideology to be those things you can be proud of your ideology for having done, while amputating the things your ideology has done you’d feel ashamed of. And you feel you’re intellectually consistent in doing so because you wouldn’t have done those things – only, you wouldn’t have done the good things either. Acting required Fucking Up, and as long as you can believe in an abstracted philosophy, and never actually act on it, you can treat mistakes as the results of Bad Actors, and successes as the results of your ideology which you support and therefore are in some sense responsible for.

          • brad says:

            Are you going to send me a bill for the psychoanalysis or this a freebie?

          • Mercer says:

            Brad given the way you’re behaving in this comment thread, claiming your opponent is the problem with SSC is a complete joke

            Youre accomplishing nothing by venting. Just walk away

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            You’re just a convenient vehicle for delivering a model encapsulating a hard-to-definitively-describe observation about a fully-generalized phenomenon.

            Which is to say: Everybody does it. It’s not an indictment of you. You just did it in a way that made it convenient to express a thought.

            If I’m to actually offer you advice, it would be to let go of the distress you feel at the fact that some people use a label to refer to a different loose cluster of ideas than the loose cluster of ideas you think the label refers to. Correct them when it happens if you feel the need to, but don’t give the fact that it happens free rent in your brain. The complaints that it happens just look silly to the rest of us, who are constantly putting up with the exact same thing.

            I’d say you wouldn’t believe some of the nonsense that’s attributed to my own political philosophy, except you probably believe most of the nonsense.

            It comes down to this: There are anti-anti-anti-fascist movements, and people are being killed in them, and you don’t actually need fascists at any point for that whole mess to arise. Anti-fascists go around beating the shit out of people who look like they might be fascists, then you get anti-anti-fascists, who aren’t fascists, but are pissed off at the behavior of the anti-Fascists, and so on and so forth, until people are dying in the streets because of beliefs nobody involved actually hold and everybody resents everybody else believing that they do.

            That’s, well, people. Let go.

          • brad says:

            The problem is that this whole “chill out man” stuff means that you aren’t actually responding the critique.

            Forget whether or why it might get under my skin, what exactly is the positive value of these grand, sweeping, uncharitable pronouncements about what vaguely defined, humongous groups of people believe?

            What is interesting, informative, insightful or enlightening about a statement like “Christians say that they care about the soul of the fetus, but really they just want to punish women for having sex”?

            Claim that everyone does it, claim that it is somehow human nature. Fine. Neither of those claims actually go ahead and say what’s good about it. If there’s nothing good about it, posters ought to try as much as possible to avoid it. Even if avoiding it altogether is impossible.

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            brad –

            What’s good or constructive about your complaints of same? I mean, apart from serving as a useful vehicle for my social commentary.

            You demand merit of a thing that has none; but your demand for merit, itself, has no merit.

            So I will be more explicit: Your complaint serves no purpose except to make your ideology out to be a victim. Your ideology is not a victim out of proportion to its popularity; indeed, it receives far less of this, in proportion to its popularity, than other ideologies do.

            If you wish to do something about the behavior, do not complain about the behavior, but rather correct the issue underlying the behavior. Correct the sickness, rather than the symptom. Unfortunately, you’re also sick.

            Physician, heal thyself! As soon as you realize the issue is one of communication – that the “progressives” your opponents complain about aren’t what you would call “progressives”, and thus the issue is that you disagree about what a word means – the entire complaint becomes silly and absurd. They’re not insulting you – they’d argue you’re not a true progressive!

            But you’re unwilling to engage head-on with the fact that communication is unreliable; you expect there’s some kind of objective truth to the way communication happens, you expect that what you write means something, objectively, rather than being translated in somebody else’s head into concepts that may be completely alien to what you understood yourself to have said.

            There is no objective meaning to the word “progressive.” Substituting in the percentage of people who share a common agreement about what the word means wouldn’t help; I doubt you’d get a single definition with more than 1% support. At best you could arrive at a consensus definition that a majority finds woefully incomplete, which is what a dictionary does.

            To get people off of silly arguments against broad and poorly defined ideologies like “progressive”, you have to first admit to yourself the word doesn’t mean anything; until you do so, you cannot explain to other people why what they’re saying doesn’t mean anything, or contribute in any meaningful way to the conversation.

            The problem, of course, is that once you grok that the symbol is just a symbol, and stands in for something different in everybody’s heads, your willingness to fight over the exact meaning of the symbol vanishes in a puff of “Holy shit we all live utterly alone because everybody wants to be understood but nobody ever bothers to try to understand other people”.

          • brad says:

            This is just arguing for the sake of winning. I know what it looks like because I’ve done it often enough myself. You don’t believe in this linguistic nihilism, as evidenced by all your other posts, you just know that it is incapable of being well refuted. “Prove you exist and aren’t just a figment of my imagination!”

            So congrats, you win. Don’t spend all the prize money in one place.

          • Mercer says:

            I have a bit to add, so I hope you don’t mind if Glaucon steps in for Thrasymachus here, OW

            If during the course of a conversation I declare “I am a progressive!”, my conversation partner immediately fills in whatever their particular notion of what a progressive believes is. If I then dispute point by point each impression of what a progressive is they express, it raises the question; why am I bothering to call myself a progressive? I must have meant to communicate some set of information by doing so.

            Any word describing an ideology is inherently ambiguous. Does the word progressivism refer to the things people who identify as progressive believe? Or does the word progressivism refer to the set of ideas called “progressivism” by some set of people who are recognized as authoritative on the matter of defining progressivism?

            If its the first, our problem is: the set of ideas will be unrealistically small, and its ridiculous to believe you could ever discover it. The word progressive becomes no better than the word Democrat. Democrats are whoever supports Democratic candidates consistently; Democratism is nothing but support for Democrats. This is a dictionary definition, but it does at least get that notion of “I support this group of people” across.

            If its the second, then: who decides who gets that definitional authority? The first person to use the term? Well surely liberalism no longer refers to what the first person to define liberalism believed it should. Surely enn-arr-ecks refers to more than just the stuff at UR.

            A label is just a label. I can claim Jesus Christ is my lord and saviour and also claim to not identify as a Christian, then someone goes, so, what, Messianic Judaism then? And I say no, not that either, and at the point I’m just trying to confuse people because its hilarious. Actually, nevermind, I’m a Christian but I don’t believe in Jesus, or God. At this point enn-arr-ecksers go, so youre a progressive, then? And I tell them get back in their caves, there’s still daylight out.

            I’m tempted to agree with you that we shouldn’t bother to identify with these words at all unless we’re prepared to deal with all the subtext. But if we are willing to deal with it, these labels can maybe still be useful. It requires a strong stomach, though.

            If I call myself a progressive, and someone says, so did Stalin, I have to be able to explain why when Stalin called himself a progressive everyone at the time believed him, but now we know better, they were all mistaken, or maybe they were right but here’s why you shouldn’t care, and the reason why I call myself a progressive has nothing to do with Stalin, here’s why, and if Stalin came back from the grave today and called himself a progressive, maybe nobody would believe him, and here’s why, or we’d believe him but the fact that he was a progressive has nothing to do with his crimes, his crimes had nothing to do with progressivism, if they go well if youre expressing support for the group of people called progressives I have to be able to convincingly exclude Stalin, or maybe I do support Stalin, who knows, and we could probably go back and forth for a long time before anyone was satisfied. If I instead just yelled “Progressives don’t have to answer for Stalin! Leave me alone!”, I’d expect it wouldn’t be long before someone went “Fascists don’t have to answer for Hitler! Leave me alone!”, and frankly I can’t stand that type of cowardice.

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            brad –

            I’ll reiterate something:

            There’s no reason you should feel morally responsible for other people’s beliefs.

            That’s the theme.

            Nothing has changed except the way I’m attempting to convey this to you.

            Remember this?

            “A substantive part of the issue there is that a lot of the people who self-identify as X here have a substantively different idea of what constitutes an X, than the people who don’t self-identify as X”

            Same thing.

            I’m not diving into “linguistic nihilism” (it’s actually an extreme form of linguistic descriptivism, if you’re interested in the philosophic roots of what I’m describing) – that theme has also been there all along.

            If you believe I’m changing tactics, you’re not attempting to understand what I’m telling you. You’re trying to understand me, in terms of you – but I’m not you.

            See, I don’t care about beating you. I already know I can; I’ve spent, over the course of the last fifteen years, well over 10,000 hours arguing on the Internet. It does, eventually, start to get kind of repetitive, and you do, eventually, start to see the same patterns repeated endlessly.

            One of those patterns is that most arguments have nothing to do with anything that matters at all, and everything to do with what words people use to refer to things.

        • Garrett says:

          I suspect part of the problem here is the failure to provide enough specificity to the school of thought being referred to. For example, if somebody talks about being a conservative, that provides a general framework within to work. But if they call themselves out as a Burkian conservative, you have a much more specific idea of the school of thought.

          Part of the problem with the term “progressive” is that it’s generally thought of as being a 30-year period in the US with a well-recognized set of actions. It generally held that through technocratic government it was possible to improve humanity as a whole. This lead to a number of particular policy ideas such as women’s suffrage and the ballot-measure process, but also prohibition and eugenics.

          So, when people talk about being a progressive it’s natural for people to think that they are in line with the types of actions and policies from the Progressive Era. This is why I tend to refer to the Left. Because most people who are talking about being progressives aren’t actually following any aspect of the Progressive Era or the underlying school of thought which was responsible for it.

      • Corey says:

        My impression is that stuff that codes as liberal (yes I know the phrase “codes as” codes as liberal) gets a worse reception here than if I post conservative-sympathetic things in liberal spaces (e.g. Kevin Drum, Lawyers Guns & Money). I hesitate to link because I use my real name most places.

        Sometimes people just snark at it or mumble “Christofascist” but often it’s well-received. Examples:

        – A theory that I’ve had for years and recently found that Our Host has expounded: an explanation of the “fire-breathing homophobe caught with rent-boys” trope. To wit: men raised in conservative social circles, who feel even a bit of homosexual attraction, may, via typical-mind fallacy, assume all men feel that way, and therefore social sanction against homosexuality is the only thing preventing civilization from collapsing in a big gay dogpile.

        – A theory of Obamacare Derangement syndrome: if one believes we have 47% moochers, since ACA definitely moves some more people into the “taker” category, therefore ACA might destroy the USA by putting us over 50% moochers, causing a tax-and-spend moochpocalypse.

        IIRC whenever I’ve posted those two theories in liberal spaces I’ve mostly gotten agreement; never gotten pushback implying conservatives are evil mutants.

        To be fair, my impression is very unscientific, and I’ve never tried explicitly right-wing spaces (that would just be pointless).

        • Randy M says:

          Are those supposed to be conservative theories? Those are theories about conservatives. I don’t see why you’d get pushback for armchair psychology of the out-group. It’s not like you are saying they are right.

          • Corey says:

            It’s pushback against the conventional liberal wisdom of “conservatives are evil hate-filled mutants, and hate gays and poor people for inexplicable reasons”.

            That is, they’re charitable towards conservatives compared to the status quo.

            Being charitable towards liberals here goes… less well. (E.g. someone cited Dworkin already this OT).

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Corey

            You said two things:

            My impression is that stuff that codes as liberal (yes I know the phrase “codes as” codes as liberal) gets a worse reception here than if I post conservative-sympathetic things in liberal spaces

            and

            the conventional liberal wisdom of “conservatives are evil hate-filled mutants, and hate gays and poor people for inexplicable reasons”.

            Those don’t seem to be very compatible.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            In fact, I’d argue that there are few things which “code as” liberal more than armchair psychology of the conservative outgroup.

          • Corey says:

            @Lumifer: the responses I get tend to be “good point” rather than “you idiot, they’re just evil”. Or silence – it could be that I’m misreading liberalism’s charitability.

          • CatCube says:

            @Corey:

            Going onto a left-wing forum and telling them, “People who oppose gay rights don’t have principled objections, they’re just cryptohomos,” isn’t telling them conservative truth, it’s telling them liberal flattery. Of course they’re going to say “good point.”

    • sweeneyrod says:

      I agree that it’s socially liberal (except on identity politics) due to the fact that most commenters are either liberalish or libertarianish. Occasionally Voldemort types or Alt-Right trolls appear but they are a minority. Economically, I think it is massively skewed libertarian. I can’t remember anyone ever putting forward the Keynesian on anything.

      • sweeneyrod says:

        *Keynesian perspective

      • Zorgon says:

        I occasionally wonder if that’s at least partly due to the significant bias amongst economists in that regard?

        I’m hard left economically, but I don’t bother arguing the toss about it on here because I know full well I’ll be outmaneuvered by people with a significantly better understanding of economics than I have.

        • sweeneyrod says:

          IANAE (and mostly avoid economics for the same reason) but although economists are certainly more libertarian than the average person I think they are less so than the average SSC commenter. Possibly part of the issue is that defending something akin to the status quo of general Western government economic policy (a bit of government intervention is good) is boring.

          • Corey says:

            Yeah, from what I read in the econ-blogosphere the profession’s taking an interventionist turn, since they no longer need to convince people Communism is bad.

      • Anon. says:

        As Milton Friedman said, “We are all Keynesians now”. I doubt you’ll find many libertarians who disagree with the stylized facts presented by New Keynesians (shock + sticky wages -> labor markets fail to clear -> inflation fixes it). The disagreements are about things like the importance of public choice in relation to fiscal policy, and what happens at the zero bound wrt fiscal policy.

        • Glen Raphael says:

          @Anon.:

          As Milton Friedman said, “We are all Keynesians now”.

          What Friedman said was “In one sense, we are all Keynesians now; in another, nobody is any longer a Keynesian.”

      • ChetC3 says:

        “Voldemort” types are to social liberalism what Satanists are to Christianity.

        • sweeneyrod says:

          I don’t know quite what you’re saying. I was using “Voldemort types” to refer to the more intelligent Alt-Right people (Moldbug etc.) and “Alt-Right trolls” to refer to immigrants from 4chan.

          Edit: oops, Zorgon is correct, I mean Death Eaters not Voldemort types.

          • Zorgon says:

            I think most people on here think of “Voldemort types” as SJWs, due to our noble host having referred to certain feminists as “literally Voldemort”.

            I’m guessing you’re making reference to Death Eaters?

          • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

            That Knee Oh Retraction Harrys are not original conservatives, but rather heretical progressives. It’s not a new point, but it’s a good one, many of them have very blue backgrounds and go really over the top in their rebellion. It’s even part of the imagery, they reject the influence of “The Cathedral” of the progressive religion.

          • Not Particularly Anonymous says:

            As a recent immigrant from 4chan I resent being characterized as an alt-right troll.

            Anonymous is an appellation of peace!

    • dndnrsn says:

      I think you’re basically right here: economics/foreign policy/some other domestic policy is fairly varied, socially fairly liberal (maybe not by the standards of a university-educated bubble, but that’s not actually as big a bubble as it seems), but generally quite hostile to capital-S capital-J Social Justice. Another way to put it, in the local jargon, is that a lot of people here are generally cool with a lot of the object level stuff there, but really do not like the meta level.

      A possible explanation for this is that a lot of the commenters here are in a “blue tribe”, university-educated, etc etc bubble of one sort or another, where the Social Justice types actually are strong, and currently are on the offensive.

      brad is right that the strawmanning and weakmanning gets a bit old.

    • Corey says:

      My experience, which got me to leave open threads for a while (all a few integer open threads back, I haven’t been around that long), recounted. I apologize in advance if bringing up these points causes flamewars to precipitate – I precommit to not arguing about any of them in this OT.

      – Economics is the big one. There’s a *lot* of what center/leftists would call “glibertarian” econ here. A representative subset: “One can’t construct a reasonable approximation of a free market in health care”, despite being uncontroversial in the wider world, got a lot of pushback. I think my future strategy here is to try to be charitable and just drop out of econ discussions that get too far in the libertarian weeds.

      – Complaining about straw liberals: I realize rightists need *somewhere* to vent, but I learned lots of interesting things about my tribe. E.g.: we are apparently forbidden from finding anyone unattractive, because any possible way of finding someone unattractive is a Problematic Bigotry. We are required to love Islam. (Hilarious citation there in support: David Cameron expressing sympathy for the Palestinian situation). We treat Dworkin as anything other than a crank. Now I just try to ignore this.

      – Republican tribalism: I mentioned the Republicans being further-detached from empirical reality than Democrats, which I’d *think* would concern rightist rationalists and have them looking for a solution. Instead I got an avalanche of stuff that was somehow both denial and tu-quoque. I provided a list including global warming denial and got defenses of *that*. I guess I can try to avoid it in the future (stick with religion and philosophy, avoid controversial stuff like weather). That can be tiring in the same way dealing with anyone from another reality in person is; inferential distances are magnified by the distance between the realities. (Think discussing the Nova episode about Homo Naledi’s discovery, then realizing your conversation partner is a young-Earth creationist; that’s happened to me at work).

      • Nornagest says:

        I am not and never have been a member of the Republican Party, but I tend to see the “reality has a liberal bias” meme as question-begging at best and preening at worst. Of course you got pushback; to SSC rightists, you’re essentially asking “why do you suck so much, and how can I help you suck less?”

        I’ll concede, though, that there’s a tendency around here to impute the motives and shibboleths of the Thousand-Headed Shrieking Tumblr Beast onto progressivism at large. The charitable way of looking at this would be as a revealed-preference argument — the mainstream left may not explicitly hold all the same views, but they’re sure happy to let them run wild — but that’s probably a little more charity than called for.

        • Anonanon says:

          I wasn’t a republican, but fact-checking “RHALB” claims turned me into one.

        • Corey says:

          I was trying (admittedly badly) for “how can anyone fix the party that will represent your values from disappearing into a perfectly epistemically closed bubble?” Didn’t expect so many people to actually be members of it.

          • Corey says:

            Actually, I take that back – now I remember my original mention was just an aside mention of the existence of the bubble (in the form of mentioning some false belief that is very prevalent therein) and, with the aforementioned terrible read of the room, figured SSCers would agree the bubble was an annoyance.

        • Randy M says:

          I am not and never have been a member of the Republican Party, but I tend to see the “reality has a liberal bias” meme as question-begging at best and preening at worst.

          This is a good point and an excellent example of the correct usage of the phrase ‘question begging.’

          • Anonymous says:

            The fallacy is poorly named; it’s mistranslation – it should be named “assuming the initial point”.

          • Julie K says:

            +1

          • Randy M says:

            The fallacy is poorly named; it’s mistranslation – it should be named “assuming the initial point”.

            True, but it functions as an effective shibboleth.

        • Corey says:

          impute the motives and shibboleths of the Thousand-Headed Shrieking Tumblr Beast onto progressivism at large

          That might drive some of our perceptions of strawmanning; I’m only vaguely familiar with the people who inspired “SJW” to be a pejorative, and most of my circle just rolls their eyes at most of that stuff. Probably what it feels like to be an Easter-and-Xmas Christian and see people bitching about Pat Buchanan, or a moderate conservative seeing people bitching about [I shouldn’t insert an example].

          So that would imply the strawmanning isn’t intentionally mean (modulo some venting), SSCers just think the worst and/or most-mockable liberal beliefs are mainstream because that’s what they see.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Corey – “So that would imply the strawmanning isn’t intentionally mean (modulo some venting), SSCers just think the worst and/or most-mockable liberal beliefs are mainstream because that’s what they see.”

            …I started coming here explicitly because the worst and most-mockable stuff had more or less overrun my life. Things have gotten a lot better in the last two years, though, the consensus here is now entirely hostile to SJ, and I observe that the dogpiles do bad things to the environment here, so I try to shut up about it as much as possible.

          • Zorgon says:

            Likewise. Sometimes with what I will admit is rather limited success.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            Would it be too much to ask that your circle stop just “rolling their eyes” at SJ and start standing up to it before it hurts any more people?

          • Luke the CIA stooge says:

            @thirteenthletter-

            The problem is the left doesn’t allow itself to weed out/sideline it’s worst elements lest they “marginalize” a minority group (indeed the only left wing elements they’ve ever gone after have been the old school white socialists (and even that was more a power play)).

            Imagine if the right forced itself (and viciously attacked defectors) to be nothing but respectful to the west Burrough baptist church, the KKK, and anti-abortion bombers, to the point where no one could tell to what extent their ideas were held by the broader movement.

            Like as soon as something gets victim group oriented it’s impossible to tell if left wingers are just nodding their heads to be polite or if they agree with the radical activists that kids should change their gender before age 10 (this is an actual thing (kids under ten getting hormone treatments)), or universities should be entirely restructured around black studies or police should be banned from Pride Parades (Toronto pride was blocked by black lives matter and only restarted once the organisers agreed the regional police departments (long time supporters) would not be in next year’s parade)) And Centre left critics remain silent.

            If the only critics are right wing it becomes really easy to assume the left is in agreement

          • Homo Iracundus says:

            And before someone jumps in to accuse him of hyperbole about including “anti-abortion bombers”, remember that you can run a left-wing bombing campaign before becoming a U Chicago professor who sits on non-profit boards with a future president.

            Or be a gun runner for a terrorist group that murders a judge, and get honorary degrees and benefit concerts for doing it… although she did get stuck teaching at Santa Cruz, so perhaps that counts as censure.

            Preeeety sure there’s absolutely no equivalent to that on the right. Do people never find out about these things because the media isn’t demanding that the left DISAVOW, or do they just not care?

          • Luke the CIA stooge says:

            Jesus Christ.

            I was thinking of the lefts continued love of Che Guevara and Malcolm X.
            I didn’t realise my comparison was that freaking apt.
            A BOMBING CAMPAIGN!!! And he gets a spot at U Chicago!

            Like even the FLQ guys had to flee to Cuba.

          • Anonymous says:

            Richard M Daley also has a spot at the University of Chicago despite overseeing a reign of police torture, among other crimes. Morality isn’t their strong suit.

          • Agronomous says:

            @Luke:

            Toronto pride was blocked by black lives matter and only restarted once the organisers agreed the regional police departments (long time supporters) would not be in next year’s parade

            I gotta ask:

            What about the Village People float? Will they have to replace the Policeman with the guy in the suit of armor?

      • Mercer says:

        I’ll try to speak to your experience on republican tribalism, as something of a rightist rationalist, though my merit as either a rightist or rationalist are questionable.

        The word “tribalism” is, I think, well-used.

        The Red Tribe is not the tribe of experts and intellectuals. So is there any reason to expect them to communicate on that level? Their audience demands a different form of propaganda, and they typically get their wish.

        The intellectual case for rightism is not going to be made at a Republican convention, probably ever, so as someone interested in that case I have no concern over what the Republicans are currently doing or saying to woo voters.

        The Blue Tribe, meanwhile, is a tribe of experts and intellectuals. You’d expect Democrats propaganda to look quite different just on that basis. I don’t find the Democrats to be much closer to “empirical reality” than Republicans; what I do find is that, unsurprisingly, they’re very willing to defer to their audiences appetites as well.

        There is a debate to be had and being had about climate change. No, the Republican Party is not a part of it. Neither is the Democratic party. These are both organizations representing tribal concerns and they’ve adopted the positions of their respective tribes, with close to zero nuance.

        You seem incredulous that there exists a legitimate case for the denialists? I could be misreading you, so I’ll refer to myself instead. I was utterly incredulous of climate change denialism, because my evaluation of it was based off what I heard from Republicans. It didn’t occur to me that if I judged climate change credulity on what I heard from Democrats, that the case would look equally abysmal.

        • Corey says:

          I think some of the perception of “farther from reality” comes from things not really applicable to SSC, like the Republican embrace of religiosity (which in the US means a lot of young-Earth creationists) and GOP’s generalized anti-intellectualism (AFAIK nobody *here* disagrees with experts *because they’re experts*).

          • Mercer says:

            I wouldn’t say I’m more skeptical of experts generally, but I think its very easy to use “I’m an expert” like a cudgel.

            When experts talk to people they perceive as non-experts, they tend to gloss over a lot of the nuance and uncertainty that exists in their fields.

            I’ve lost the implicit trust in them I once had, for sure, and I think many rightists feel the same.

          • Lumifer says:

            AFAIK nobody *here* disagrees with experts *because they’re experts*

            A lot of people here are sceptical of claims to be an expert, though.

          • Corey says:

            @Lumifer: I don’t mean commenters’ claims to be experts, I mean more like public intellectuals and academic/industry experts. E.g. Scott Brown debating Elizabeth Warren and clumsily attempting to use “Professor” as an epithet. (Didn’t go over well in urban MA, of course, though that sort of thing plays well rurally).

          • caethan says:

            I often think that expert credentials provide useful negative information about the reliability and credibility of the “expert”.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Corey

            I mean more like public intellectuals and academic/industry experts

            Yes, I mean them, too.

            Notice how Scott has a minor sideline is debunking published peer-reviewed papers by “academic/industry experts”.

          • ChetC3 says:

            > (AFAIK nobody *here* disagrees with experts *because they’re experts*)

            The LW-Rationalist community grew out of the blog of a high-school dropout* arguing that the experts were wrong, he was right, and the very survival of humanity depended on him proving just how much righter he was than them. Knee-jerk dismissal of expert opinion is pretty common around here. About the only experts who get treated as having any sort of authority are influential members of the extended Rationalist community, their mentors, and their idols.

            *yes I know that’s an unflattering characterization, but it isn’t wrong, and I’m using it for rhetorical effect

        • Garrett says:

          My initial inclination is that Jimmy Carter was a Red Tribe Democrat? Does that seem right? Because he was also a technical expert.

          My experience is more that the Blue Tribe views technical excellence as a measure of the value of a person, but I don’t know if my perceptions match those of others.

          • onyomi says:

            Arguably, so are LBJ and Bill Clinton, though not Hillary. And yes, the Bushes and Mitt Romney are blue tribe Republicans.

          • John Schilling says:

            My initial inclination is that Jimmy Carter was a Red Tribe Democrat? Does that seem right? Because he was also a technical expert.

            Pretty much. There’s a tendency to draw the divide between Red and Blue tribes at a college or university education, but going to college for specific technical skills is very much a Red-tribe thing to do. If on top of that you serve in the military, own and operate a farm in the rural South, go to church every week and mean it, and engage in hand-to-hand combat with wildlife, then you’ve gone past Red Tribe and are well on the way to Redneck.

            Bill Clinton may not be Red Tribe, quite, but he can at least fake it and did so for most of his political career.

          • brad says:

            I’d say Bill Clinton had a better claim to a Red Tribe background than GWB, but played it up less. I don’t remember him ever conspicuously going back to Arkansas for vacation to hunt or anything like that.

            He did go eat at McDonalds, but that plausibly is more of a class appeal than a tribe one.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Jim Carter played a Red-Tribe Democrat when he was in Georgia and in 1976, but how comfortable would he seem playing cornhole while drinking beer from a red solo cup in the infield of NASCAR race?

            Bleeding-heart-liberal-born-again-Christian doesn’t sit comfortably in the three-tribe system.

            Personally, I think red/blue/gray-tribe is a tad too reductive. It is one of the reasons why people tend to conflate the tribes and simply “left/right”.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Jim Carter played a Red-Tribe Democrat when he was in Georgia and in 1976, but how comfortable would he seem playing cornhole while drinking beer from a red solo cup in the infield of NASCAR race?

            Jimmy Carter was pretty tight with NASCAR, even before his governorship. Maybe it’d be Billy Beer in the cup?

            http://www.foxsports.com/nascar/video?vid=406114883608

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @The Nybbler:
            I believe Jimmy Carter was a teetotaler during his time in the White House. He even went so far as to make the White House “dry”.

            Carter was and is a Southern politician, so it’s not at all surprising that he would use NASCAR as a platform. The question is whether he fits into that culture.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Teetotalers exist (and are in the minority) in both tribes, but apparently Carter is not one (I don’t know if he was during his presidency however). He had liquor removed from the White House, but “liquor” did not include wine. (He also signed a bill legalizing homebrewing in 1979)

            It’s hard to see how Carter could be anything BUT Red Tribe, considering his background.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @TheNybbler:
            I don’t think Carter fits comfortably into a red/blue/gray system, is all.

            Carter is a peace, love, turn the other cheek bleading-heart liberal who is very much not a macho guy. He is a cosmopolitan who cares deeply about the broad global community and has spent his life in service pretty much everywhere.

            And there are plenty more like him all across the South, although the coalition Reagan assembled managed to make evangelical Christianity much less attractive to liberals. But most college towns in the south have multiple congregations filled with people like him (not that this where Carter picked it up).

            I mean, sure, as the son of store owner in a small town in Georgia, he “is” Red Tribe, but he looks really different than the median Red Triber.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ HeelBearCub

            Carter is a peace, love, turn the other cheek bleading-heart liberal

            Didn’t you mean to write “Carter is a peace, love, turn the other cheek bleading-heart Christian“?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Lumifer:
            “Carter is a peace, love, turn the other cheek bleading-heart liberal evangelical Christian

            is what I meant to write.

      • Cerebral Paul Z. says:

        A representative subset: “One can’t construct a reasonable approximation of a free market in health care”, despite being uncontroversial in the wider world, got a lot of pushback.

        That you, Pauline Kael? They told me you were dead.

        On the other hand, the sweeping generalizations about the left are indeed tiresome, and I’d be more than happy to see them topic-banned.

        On the gripping hand, tu quoque is not a fallacy when offered in response to arguments about How You’re More Bad Thing Than We Are.

        • Julie K says:

          + 1 million.
          Can we ban all discussions about how $tribe is terrible because (some of them do) $bad_thing, instead focusing on how $bad_thing is bad?

      • Glen Raphael says:

        @Cory:

        There’s a *lot* of what center/leftists would call “glibertarian” econ here.

        The term “glibertarian” implies people making libertarianish claims they haven’t thought through and don’t have good arguments for. Is that what you perceive here? Can you point at an example of that happening?

        A representative subset: “One can’t construct a reasonable approximation of a free market in health care”, despite being uncontroversial in the wider world, got a lot of pushback.

        The fact that some claim seems uncontroversial among non-economists doesn’t mean it shouldn’t get pushback when there are economists around (eg, commenter David Friedman). The claim “health care is special such that you can’t apply normal economics to it” is a positive claim that kinda does need defending. It seems to me we shouldn’t make a claim like that if we don’t know why it’s true and can’t either (a) explain it ourselves or (b) point to somebody explaining it.

        (I mean, heck, minimum wage helps the poor is also largely “uncontroversial in the wider world”. As is rent control helps the poor or even protectionism lets countries defend themselves against unfair foreign competition)

        • As far as examples go, pretty well everything Friedman says involves spherical cows.

          • Glen Raphael says:

            pretty well everything Friedman says involves spherical cows.

            You mean like predicting Uber…in 1973?

            An awful lot of his insights just involve looking at how problems have been to some degree solved in various obscure times and places and saying, hey, maybe something like that could work here too!

          • sweeneyrod says:

            He didn’t really predict Uber (which would have been incredibly impressive as it would have required also predicting the internet), he suggested an Uber-like solution to a problem.

          • TheAncientGeek says:

            > The term “glibertarian” implies people making libertarianish claims they haven’t thought through and don’t have good arguments for. Is that what you perceive here? Can you point at an example of that happening

            Any debate on minimum wage. Minimum Wages Cause Unemployment is always put forward as the last word on the subject .. meaning that real-world data on what minimum wages cause when implemenented, isn’t.

        • Alex says:

          tl;dr: Dr. Fiedman can of course speak for himself, but my impression is that he is no fitting example for the point you are trying to make.

          What I liked most about Dr. Friedmans book (Machinery) is that he is obviously extremely aware of the strength and weaknesses of his own arguments. The tone of the book is very much “this convinces me, maybe it convinces you”. You rarely find that approach in more recent books.

          There is no objective standard to what consists a good argument. Dr. Friedman’s arguments are honest and obviously thought through, but are they “good” as in making me accept his views as true? I do not know.

          Also, judging from his academic career and personal impression on this blog, I think that David Friedman would agree that insofar as he does “pushback” on what he might call the “orthodoxy”, he does this on the basis of being a sound thinker, not based on his merits as an economist. Which is to say, I do not see why it should be relevant if there are “economists around”.

          • Glen Raphael says:

            I do not see why it should be relevant if there are “economists around”.

            There exists a distinct “economic way of thinking”. You don’t have to be an actual economist to think in that way, but professional economists are the central example of people who do think that way, so the fact that ddfr is a professional economist of the writes textbooks and gives lectures sort seems like at least some evidence for my assertion that folks around here have been infected by exposed to enough economic ideas to occasionally think that way.

            Those who think like an economist break out in rashes when they hear claims like “Field X is so different you can’t apply economics to it!” whereas normal people let such statements pass unchallenged.

            Remember, I’m not (here) trying to prove that you can have a normal price-based market in health care, I’m just trying to explain why it might be reasonable to expect someone to pipe up asking for supporting argument or details when a claim to the contrary has been floated.

            It’s not a red/blue thing, it’s an economist/non-economist thing.

          • Corey says:

            In the thread where I posted it I did indeed post the market failures involved, and am not eager to re-litigate it.

          • Luke the CIA stooge says:

            Also you can totally have a price based market in health care (see the international medical tourism business (price-based market in all things healthcare combined with regulatory arbitrage).
            The problem is that due to existing market interference regarding debt collection their is no way to privately coordinate having an agent with money paying the medical expenses of one without. Thus a free market in Healthcare without and state intervention is totally possible , it’s just that such a system combined with the current regulations surrounding indentured servitude and slavery would result in alot of dead poor people.
            Which is so inefficient use of human capital as to probably eliminate the efficiency gains to the health care industry.

            Yet another market solution blocked by people’s petty need to interfere in each other’s business. What business is it of yours if Paul wants to sell himself into slavery in exchange for Wayne’s kidney. They’re consenting adults!

            But seriously the return of slavery vs the end of Healthcare politics, I’m torn.

        • Corey says:

          The term “glibertarian” implies people making libertarianish claims they haven’t thought through and don’t have good arguments for. Is that what you perceive here? Can you point at an example of that happening?

          Admittedly it’s kind of uncharitable or even mean, but I also include people indistinguishable from the above, i.e. people who reflexively apply markets to every situation (a Bayesian prior of 1.0 that markets will help). Markets are great and all for many applications, but there are lots of situations where they don’t/can’t.

          In the wider (i.e. left) world whenever we see someone suggest privatizing police, fire departments, or the like they go in this bucket and get insta-ignored.

          As for health care, most people yelling “MOAR FREE MARKETZ!” actually haven’t thought it through, they usually mean to say “patients don’t have enough Skin In The Game(tm)” but that’s not the same thing at all. Usually a quick explanation of why health care contains every market failure in the book is sufficient to get them to go away.

          Glibertarians of course can’t go away from that, they’ll argue that sure the FDA could be replaced by manufacturer certifications of drug efficacy and quality, or that sure, health insurance would be useful in the absence of heavy regulation, because it’s a postulate of theirs, but such arguments contain no useful information other than “boo government! yay market!”

          I also once got pushback from an Austrian (econ, not geographic), who politely informed me that markets cannot fail, by definition. But since Austrian econ is epistemically closed by design and their own stated preference, I’d expect to see few of them here.

          In energy markets you get people complaining that solar subsidies are “distorting the electricity market”, but in the US the electricity market is Soviet. Literally. Prices are set by government boards according to five-year plans.

          • Glen Raphael says:

            @Corey:

            Markets are great and all for many applications, but there are lots of situations where they don’t/can’t.

            In the wider (i.e. left) world whenever we see someone suggest privatizing police, fire departments, or the like they go in this bucket and get insta-ignored.

            In the wider (i.e. left) world, people haven’t read The Enterprise of Law or similar books and studies and probably don’t realize that many private for-profit fire departments already exist in the US and elsewhere or that non-public providers tend to cost much less (for similar levels of service) and have been responsible for substantial advances in the technology of firefighting.

            In Denmark 2/3rds of all firefighting service is provided by a private firm; perhaps not-coincidentally Denmark spends much less on fire protection (as a %GDP) than most similar countries (see chart here)

            If private fire departments were a utopian theoretical idea that hadn’t been tried, that’d be one thing, but once you know it does work, claiming it can’t work is silly.

            Usually a quick explanation of why health care contains every market failure in the book is sufficient to get them to go away.

            I’m sensing a very large inferential gap here. The reasoning “market failures exist, therefore the government has to do it” is…unsound. I prefer Arnold Kling’s dictum: “Markets fail. Use Markets.”

          • Glen Raphael says:

            @Corey:
            As a side note, if you get bad results when trying to have meaningful conversations, you might want to reconsider phrasing along the lines of

            people yelling “MOAR FREE MARKETZ!”

            Or to put that another way, ought I refer to you (and people like you) as:

            people yelling “THEREZ MARKET FAILUREZ!”

            I mean, sure, it’s tempting. But try to resist.

          • Corey says:

            @Glen: Fair enough. I have a tendency to overestimate how much econ discussion has no informational content except “boo Communism!”, which, while a nice sentiment and all, isn’t news to anyone.

        • Corey says:

          The fact that some claim seems uncontroversial among non-economists doesn’t mean it shouldn’t get pushback when there are economists around

          I guess I should point out it’s universal among health economists; see theincidentaleconomist.com as my go-to source on health policy. Or check out Avik Roy – he’s as right-leaning as health economists get and AFAIK doesn’t even go so far as to endorse the typical Republican “block-grant Medicaid, state reform, tort lines” proposals.

      • anonoccuous says:

        Why are people so reluctant to look at the issue empirically?

        Who are the progressive moral entrepreneurs who correspond to Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, Mark Levin, Michelle Malkin, Neal Boortz, Jonah Goldberg, Mark Steyn, Dennis Prager, Hugh Hewitt, Victor Davis Hanson, Thomas Sowell, Charles Krauthammer, Walter E. Williams, John Stossel, George Will, Ross Douhat, Cal Thomas, Michael Barone, Megan McCardle, Erik Erickson, Glenn Reynolds,
        Laura Ingrahm, Dinish D’Souza?

    • Philosophisticat says:

      I find it’s the social justice stuff which has something most noticeably disproportionate going on. I don’t know if hostility is the way it mostly manifests – I think you see it more in just the general pattern of what gets discussed and defended, what people let slide without comment, etc. For example, there’s a long discussion in the comments of Scott’s last post over whether it’s laughable to call western gender norms egalitarian in virtue of how badly they treat men. In many other public discussion spaces, you’d expect someone to be making the opposite point, but that perspective seems pretty silent on this blog. In other places, you’d also expect substantial and immediate pushback against someone suggesting that it’s ‘at best, debatable’ whether most pre-industrial societies were misogynist, but again, not so much here. There’s something a bit odd about what all those instances add up to, and I think that more than any explicit hostility generates the relevant impression.

      There might be something similar going on with economic issues. I’d be less likely to notice it since I’m broadly part of the free market-ish consensus.

      • The Nybbler says:

        I think there’s a lot of people from the rest of the political spectrum who ended up here as a result of the anti-SJ posts (mostly filed under “Things I Will Regret Writing”, I think), which accounts both for the hostility to SJ stuff and the lack of SJ proponents.

        The fact that SJ is anti-rational might also have something to do with it, but I might be a wee bit biased there.

        • Philosophisticat says:

          Yes, people being attracted to the blog through Scott’s posts critical of the social justice movement is almost certainly a major part of the explanation.

          I think that many social justice concerns about the negative impact of norms on women and minorities are rational, and I think Scott and probably most of the SSC commentariat would agree if pressed. But it’s the sort of thing they’re willing to let slide or otherwise don’t bother discussing. So I don’t think it’s that we’re all rationalists here and even the relatively weaker claims of social justice activists are indefensible.

          Note that many feminists, if you talk with them long enough, will be happy to grant unfairness in the way a lot of norms affect men. But it’s not what they mostly write blog posts about, it’s not what they bother bringing up on facebook or in comments, it’s not what they’ll correct others who are otherwise on their side over, etc. I think what often happens in the comments here is in some way a mirror of that. And in the same way that this sort of behavior on the part of social justice advocates can alienate people who would otherwise be on board, I can see it alienating social justice-oriented people here.

          • Aapje says:

            I think that many social justice concerns about the negative impact of norms on women and minorities are rational

            In the abstract, their concerns are rational. The problem is that they have somewhat wrong theories about what the actual norms are and extremely wrong theories about how those norms impact people. They also tend to strongly correlate ‘identity’ with behavior and opinions, also known as discrimination.

            Ultimately, the key question is which changes result in improvements and which make the problem worse. IMO, mainstream feminism and mainstream social justice tend to ask for changes that make things worse.

            As the saying goes: “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” IMO, what sets a rationalist apart is a strong distinction between good intent and good choices. A person with good intent, who makes bad choices, can be extremely evil in their actual impact on the well-being of people, equality, etc. Arguing that ‘they mean well’ is ultimately just treating people as children.

          • “Patriarchy hurts men too” is a cliche, but I think it tends to be interpreted as that men’s needs will be automatically taken care of as the patriarchy is weakened.

          • The Nybbler says:

            When I say they’re ‘anti-rational’, I’m not speaking on the level of saying their claims are wrong or baseless. I’m speaking on the level that they do not accept reason as a way of expanding knowledge. Perhaps this is most obvious in their acceptance of the “ad hominem” argument; “you’re a white male” is sufficient to counter any argument made by a white male.

          • Aapje says:

            @Nancy,

            In my experience it is also used to place all blame on men. There is a very strong desire within feminism to argue that bad things that happen to men are primarily done by other men, rather than women. Facts that oppose this view don’t just tend to get debated, they are fought with the most extremely means.

            For example, it’s pretty easy to get most feminists to accept that men are raped. But very few will accept that a substantial number of men are raped by women.

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            Nancy –

            It’s worse than that. It’s far, far worse than that.

            I’m sure you’ve encountered the analogy about how white men are getting upset that other people are being allowed a turn at the ice cream machine, after they’ve gotten it all to themselves?

            Any feminist who repeats that is hinting at their true belief: Patriarchy doesn’t hurt men, it helps them. Patriarchy is a pro-male system, and destroying it is going to leave men worse off relative to everybody else, because their belief is that men have been made better off than everybody else.

            They believe in a zero-sum environment where anything which hurts women must help men by a proportionate amount. They do not genuinely believe the system we live in hurts everybody; privilege must be conserved, so if somebody is pushed down, somebody else must be getting pushed up.

            The belief that privilege is conserved is why they feel fine about pushing down on men; attacking men becomes an end in itself, because, if privilege is conserved, every bit of privilege taken from men must be getting reallocated somewhere else.

            It has produced a double-bind for men, in which we’re getting shit on both by a system that has historically treated us as disposable utility-machines, and by the people claiming to want to destroy the system but have shown no interest in the elements of the machine which are still making things bad for men.

          • Philosophisticat says:

            @TheNybbler

            This is uncharitable. I’m sure you can find people who think just about anything, but almost nobody in the mainstream social justice movement will endorse the claims you’re attributing to them (that reason is not a way of expanding human knowledge and that ad hominem is a good argument form (at least when someone is a white man)). Now, maybe you just want to say that members of the movement tend to accept bad arguments and frequently resort to ad hominem. Sure, that’s true. The truth is that most members of any particular political or moral movement are going to have major rational failings, because that’s how people are. This doesn’t make every movement “anti-rational”.

            Anyway, the thing I thought we were trying to explain was why social justice ideas find disproportionately little expression or defense in the comments here. If you’re not claiming anything about the rational merits of the ideas, as you suggest, then the fact that the social justice movement as a social phenomenon has some negative feature doesn’t explain why there’s an imbalance in defense of the ideas among rationalists. Unless you think that rationalists don’t defend views on the merits, in which case by your standards it seems rationalism itself is anti-rational.

            Of course, there are many things frequently defended strenuously in the comments here where the majority of proponents of those views outside the rationalist sphere are irrational racists, etc. So in general rationalists don’t shy away from defending things on the basis of the failings of real-world proponents of those views. And that’s a good thing.

          • Anon. says:

            Philosophisticat, the infamous feminist glaciology paper refers to “alternative ways of knowing”. What would you say this means?

            If you peruse @RealPeerReview for a while, you’re going to find a lot of anti-rationalism, anti-empiricism, etc. Those are the tools of the white man, after all.

            A quick search for “patriarchy rationality” on twitter gives me gems like these (from genuine people, not trolls):

            the TIME article is hilarious. luv 2 employ masculinized scientific rationality 2 justify & naturalize systemic cultural patriarchy

            “Rationality” is a tool of the patriarchy; cishet white men r considered rational by default, because they are “unbiased” (read: privileged)

          • Aapje says:

            @Philosophisticat

            A widely shared trait that makes Social justice people reluctant to engage in places like these is that Social Justice theory tends to be full of double standards. For example, benefits that derive from the male gender role (like higher pay) are called male privilege and are examples of how men benefit from patriarchy. Benefits that derive from the female gender role (like being far less likely to be killed, at or outside of work) are not called female privilege and are not considered examples of how women benefit from patriarchy.

            Another example is that ‘systemic,’ which supposedly separates system oppression from incidental discrimination, is applied based on what supports the hypothesis that certain groups are oppressed, rather than consistently. For example, non-organised forms of discrimination that clearly derive from individuals are considered systemic due to people being indoctrinated into gender roles, but very similar cases that target white people or men are not considered systemic. This is merely due to circular reasoning: there is no evidence of systemic oppression of whites/men, so examples of discrimination of whites/men are not evidence of systemic oppression of whites/men, while systemic oppression exists against women/PoC, so examples of discrimination of women/PoC are evidence of systemic oppression.

            Nor are actually organized forms of discrimination, like affirmative action, considered to be systemic, despite being objectively more systemic than things done by some individuals, but not others.

            Basically, Social Justice theory uses confirmation bias as a method of analysis, rather than falling for it by accident. This looks really bad when rational people get involved, because they start dismantling every claim with actual evidence, of which there is plenty.

            @Anon

            The true anti-science social justice people seem to be a minority, although with a lot of influence at universities.

          • Philosophisticat says:

            @Anon Yes, it is as I said. If you dig into the worst dregs of academic postmodernist writing, you’ll find people saying things like that. If you think that most feminists or supporters of social justice believe that science and reason is just a tool of the patriarchy and should be summarily rejected, you are simply wrong.

            Making fun of or demonizing any social or political movement by finding members saying something stupid is an easy, intellectually dishonest, and (to me, anyway) boring game to play.

          • Philosophisticat says:

            @ Aapje

            I agree that there is a common and objectionable tendency on the part of many people involved in the social justice movement to draw distinctions that minimize the moral importance of the negative effects of gender norms on men (though I’m skeptical that your characterization of the ‘circular reasoning’ involved is what explains it). But I don’t think it bears on anything I’ve said so far. If the only way social justice concerns were underrepresented here was that few people were willing to defend the kind of double standard you’re pointing to, then maybe the “we’re all very rational here, that’s all” explanation would look sufficient. I don’t think that’s the case.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Philosophisticat – “If you think that most feminists or supporters of social justice believe that science and reason is just a tool of the patriarchy and should be summarily rejected, you are simply wrong.”

            I think the influential core of Feminism and Social Justice alike are willing to use science and reason when it is convenient, and discard them when it is not. I base this on the arguments those movements make and the positions they take. Privilege theory as a whole, for example, seems intrinsically opposed to concepts like evidence and reason. The idea that racism/sexism is power + prejudice does not seem to be a fringe one, for instance.

          • Philosophisticat says:

            @FacelessCraven

            Every sufficiently broad social or political or intellectual movement can be accused of sometimes using science when it’s convenient and ignoring it when it is not. Democrats do it, republicans do it, defenders of gun control do it, opponents of gun control do it. People are bad at being objective and at dealing impartially with evidence.

            I don’t know what you think it takes for a set of ideas to be “intrinsically opposed to concepts like evidence and reason”. That’s a very strong claim to make. It has to be more than “on balance, not supported by the evidence”. As far as I can tell, the claim that racism/sexism = power + prejudice doesn’t say anything about evidence or reason at all. Indeed, people who complain about privilege typically believe that what they say is supported by evidence.

            Now, I don’t like the power + prejudice definition, but that’s not because I think there’s something about it that by nature rejects the very notion of believing on the basis of evidence – I just don’t think it carves moral reality at its joints.

            Anyway, I feel like I’m being pushed to defend things that I’m not interested in defending. Maybe this helps: Scott sometimes justifiably complains about people in the social justice movement pulling the motte and bailey trick. Now there wouldn’t be anything particularly surprising about a community of the rationality-obsessed not being willing to defend the bailey positions of radical feminist thought. But I find that people are pretty reticent here about defending the motte positions, even though they’re not infrequently challenged. I don’t think it’s that everyone here rejects those positions. But it does make the comments section look different than I’d expect just on the basis of knowing that it’s full of people who are smart and very concerned about rationality.

          • Aapje says:

            Every sufficiently broad social or political or intellectual movement can be accused of sometimes using science when it’s convenient and ignoring it when it is not.

            True, but social justice clearly has a different culture from groups like MRAs when it comes to basing their opinion on science vs basing their science on their opinion. If these groups debate, one side is way more likely to use actual studies to support their claims.

            There is a generic level of noise among all groups, but some groups (like anti-vaxxers) have a huge tendency to cherry pick or even steer the science above the general human tendency for confirmation bias.

            For example, you actually have a respectable scientist who wrote a paper on fairly systemic subversion of science by feminists. I’ve never seen something similar for a field like food science, despite being notoriously poor at…being scientific.

          • Philosophisticat says:

            @Aapje

            There are some differences between groups in how often members will cite studies, for all kinds of reasons. In general, groups promoting causes that are locally fringe will be more likely to cite studies than groups with a lot of background cultural or institutional support. Groups whose members or whose audience are more educated will be more likely to cite studies than groups whose members or audience are less educated. Groups whose motivating ideas are more amenable to scientific investigation will be more likely to cite studies. Groups whose ideas are counterintuitive and therefore unlikely to be accepted except on the basis of some science are more likely to cite studies. And so on. There are cultural differences, but I don’t think that the social justice movement has any particularly noticeable advantage or disadvantage in this respect – my experience is that social justice proponents appeal to social science studies all the time. Maybe you don’t think the studies they cite are very good, but that’s another matter – I don’t think most people of any political stripe look really carefully at the merits of studies that confirm their views. I don’t doubt that the median supporter of black lives matter would be less likely to throw multiple studies at you in conversation than the median supporter of, say, HBD. But I don’t think that tells you anything particularly interesting about the ideals of social justice or their relationship to rationality. In any case, I’m not interested in quibbling over marginal differences in how terrible different groups are with science.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Philosophisticat – “It has to be more than “on balance, not supported by the evidence”. ”

            A prominent description* of Listen and Believe:

            “We can and must take a stance of siding with victims. There needs to be a super clear message that whenever someone speaks up about abuse or harassment that they’ve experienced and encountered within a professional space (conference, work, whatever) that this person will be supported and believed.

            What this looks like:

            Don’t ask for ‘proof’.
            Don’t treat ‘both sides of the story’ as if they hold equal weight.
            Do not engage in any type of victim blaming behaviour.
            Listen to the victim. Do it. And don’t judge.”

            link is to popehat, the original appears to have finally been taken down, given subsequent developments. This was a very popular line of argument in feminist circles as recently as last year; it seems to have receded mainly because most of the headline cases it was built on turned out to have been frauds.

            Racism/Sexism = power + prejudice is a problem because neither power nor prejudice have any fixed definition, and in fact its users appear actively hostile to any attempt to nail such definitions down. There is no accepted unit of measurement for either power or prejudice; it’s just-so stories all the way down, and Social Justice’s emphasis on “lived experience” shows that this is intentional. It is explicitly a fully general counterargument, a way to close off any possibility of reason-based defense, rebuttal, or counter-argument, leaving only emotional appeal as an option to its targets. It should not be treated seriously by any decent group; the fact that Social Justice embraces it is a strong argument against their entire program.

            Obviously, not all of Social Justice is on board with those two; Ozy is still an obvious counterexample as far as I know. But the parts of Social Justice that reject these sorts of things seem to be a distinct minority, and the ones embracing them seem to be the ones actually pushing the movement. BLM is built around a statistical claim that appears to be false, for example, though I am broadly sympathetic to their campaign against unaccountable police.

            “But I find that people are pretty reticent here about defending the motte positions, even though they’re not infrequently challenged.”

            Definitely true. I don’t see many people here defending, say, Cruz or the republican establishment either, just lots of Trump. It’s a time of extremity, the center cannot hold. People on the reasonable end of the Social Justice scale get tired of having to answer for the crazies, drop out and leave. People on the crazy end aren’t that interested in debate in the first place. The Big Sort continues. I have no idea how this can be fixed. I think I’m part of the problem but other than never posting here again I have no idea how to fix that either. When I see nasty comments being made by right-wing people, I scowl in disapproval and scroll on. When I see them being made by left-wing people, I scowl and open the comment box. I think pretty much everyone here does this to some degree; I’ve explicitly tried to compensate, but posting requires being worked up, and in-group violations simply don’t work me up as much so it’s not sustainable. again, no idea how to fix this, or even how to not make it worse just by being here.

          • Philosophisticat says:

            @FacelessCraven

            A few things are confusing about your response. Your claim that I was responding to was that privilege theory as a whole was intrinsically opposed to reason and evidence, but the example you’re giving me now is a narrow claim about how we ought to respond to accusations of rape. I’m not sure if you think this particular prescription is a core commitment of privilege theory, but that seems wrong to me.

            But even if we change the subject and discuss the new example, I think it doesn’t make a very good case. Maybe some people hold the really strong version of the claim, that you should believe that anybody who is accused of being a rapist is a rapist, no matter the evidence. But very few. More people hold various weaker claims, which all can sound alike to people who like to paint with a broad brush. For example, some people think that we ought to change the way we behave towards (alleged) rape victims, not that we should ignore evidence – that we should show support even if the person cannot provide proof. Others hold that our default response to an accusation of rape should be believing the accuser because that’s what the evidence supports. Indeed, one of the most common ways people argue for claims in this vicinity is by citing evidence for the claim that the vast majority of rape accusations are true. Others have views about what the standards of proof should be in various institutional contexts. Many of the views here I find seriously morally troubling, but I don’t think in general they reflect some commitment to rejecting evidence or reason itself. These particular prescriptions also don’t seem to me to be part of the core of what it takes to be a feminist even if most feminists accept them, but I don’t want to get into an argument over what does or doesn’t count as a core feminist idea.

            I don’t think the main problem with the racism=prejudice + power stuff is what you suggest. Yes, it’s not a super sharp definition. But it’s not hard to get a rough approximation of what people mean, and individual theorists spend a lot of time trying to explain it. Many of them do a bad job, some of them are inconsistent, and some people take advantage of ambiguity to equivocate. But accepting it has no necessary relation to ones’ attitude towards reason or evidence. A lot of the rest of the stuff you’re bringing up are examples of feminists behaving badly intellectually. And they do, as do people of every political stripe. But it’s not intrinsic to the core ideas.

            Black Lives Matters being based around a claim that is false is not the same as it being intrinsically opposed to rationality or evidence.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Philosophisticat – “A few things are confusing about your response.”

            Crossed thread on my part; I mixed up this thread with this comment to Corey. My apologies, and thank you for graciously addressing the point anyway.

            “Others hold that our default response to an accusation of rape should be believing the accuser because that’s what the evidence supports. Indeed, one of the most common ways people argue for claims in this vicinity is by citing evidence for the claim that the vast majority of rape accusations are true.”

            True. I have concluded based on bitter personal experience, though, that the above evidence is not considered open to questioning, but is meant to be accepted at face value. Ditto for privilege theory: accusations of Privilege are treated as a conclusion, not a hypothesis. They are the end of a conversation rather than the start of one. Failure to accept this norm has in my experience been the start of an entirely new and much more energetic exchange.

            When I say they are intrinsically opposed to reason and evidence, I mean that they are to a decisive degree epistemically closed systems, that reason and evidence will not help you as an outsider when dealing with them. One cannot be reasoned out of a position that one did not reason oneself into.

            “But it’s not hard to get a rough approximation of what people mean, and individual theorists spend a lot of time trying to explain it. Many of them do a bad job, some of them are inconsistent, and some people take advantage of ambiguity to equivocate. ”

            If there has ever been a formal, decisive method for measuring or assessing privilege in an objective, impartial way, I am unaware of it. As far as I have ever been able to determine, “privileged” translates to “member of out-group” with no loss of information.

            “And they do, as do people of every political stripe. But it’s not intrinsic to the core ideas.”

            I do not think The Patriarchy, as described by Feminist theory, is a thing that actually exists in our culture, and am not entirely sure it *ever* existed. I think it is pretty hard to say that The Patriarchy is not a core part of Feminist thought. I do not think Feminists, generally speaking, are interested in discussing whether the Patriarchy exists or not. I do not expect them to examine evidence I present. I expect them to call me an MRA neckbeard edgelord pissbaby (on Tumblr) or a Patriarchal rape apologist (academia) and maybe try to get me fired (both).

            …Given that there are tens of millions of self-identified feminists, the above might be painting with too-wide a brush. I see it as being descriptive of those for whom feminism and social justice form a core part of their identity and daily life. The motivated core of the movement, as it were. Since most of the rest are following their lead with greater or lesser enthusiasm, I think ascribing the attitudes of the leaders to the movement as a whole is fair. They set the tone.

            This is not the way Generic Democrats or Republicans work, on the whole. Nor Socialists, nor libertarians, nor gun control advocates or opponents. The degree of epistemic closure seems like an outlier to me compared to any other mainstream political group, left or right.

            “Black Lives Matters being based around a claim that is false is not the same as it being intrinsically opposed to rationality or evidence.”

            Are its members and founders willing to look at contrary evidence, or will they call you a racist for daring to present it? …obviously that depends on the member, but if you had to bet on the result of a random sample of serious, committed members, which way would you wager?

          • Philosophisticat says:

            @FacelessCraven

            I think you’re running together a bunch of things that should be separated. One question is whether the core ideas of mainstream feminism (and other social justice movements) involve a commitment to rejecting rationality or evidence. This is a function of the content of those ideas. I think the answer to that question is “no”.

            A second question is whether those ideas are in fact true or well-supported by the evidence and arguments. I think the answer to that is “some of them”. More strongly, I think that God, who has only true beliefs, if he existed, would count as a feminist in the ordinary sense of the term, though he certainly would not accept every feature of contemporary feminist thought. I haven’t argued for this – that would take a lot. Perhaps we disagree on the answer, but in any case it’s completely independent of the vices of real-life feminists.

            A third kind of question is whether most, or some, or all real-life feminists engage in irrational or otherwise objectionable intellectual practices. I think the answer to that question is “most/all of them some of the time, many of them much of the time”. But I think that is the answer to this kind of question for just about any comparably large and diverse group. We could go back and forth about whether irrationality was more or less common in feminists than in their opponents, or in other groups – like Aapje, you seem to think it is substantially more common, and I don’t. But I don’t think that would be a very interesting or evidentially well-grounded discussion. And it does not bear on the question of whether feminist thought is intrinsically anti-rational, nor on whether feminist ideology is true or well-supported.

            It should be clear from the rest of what I’ve said that my answer to your final question is that I would have very low confidence that the average dedicated activist for any cause whatsoever would be receptive to evidence against their view.

          • Aapje says:

            @FacelessCraven

            I do not think The Patriarchy, as described by Feminist theory, is a thing that actually exists in our culture, and am not entirely sure it *ever* existed.

            In my experience, the term is defined as what the feminist(s) in question dislike, regardless of historical accuracy. For example, I regularly see the ‘tender years doctrine/women being granted custody’ being classified as patriarchal, despite it being a feminist victory over patriarchy.

            There is a simplistic narrative about history, that pretty much defines bad faith and cherry picks & exaggerates historic reality. For example, historic patriarchy is blamed for being a rape culture by pointing out that forced sex of husbands with their wives wasn’t legally considered rape. What they neglect to mention is that men could never legally be victim of rape at the time and women only in cases of stranger rape. So the historic fact is that, while it’s true that rape was taken less seriously than today (or at least: defined less broadly), there is no evidence that women were treated worse than men in this respect; rather the opposite.

            Note that it I don’t think I’ve ever corresponded with an individual feminists who examined historic patriarchy him/herself. They are clearly repeating memes, with no personal research to assess the validity. So it’s pretty easy to counter their claims by simply quoting Blackstone or sources like that.

            What’s interesting/frustrating is that these memes have existed for a very long time and keep getting repeated. There is very little intellectual progress in feminism. It’s pretty telling that just a few years ago: ‘black women aren’t in the same situation as white women’ aka intersectionality became lauded as a huge development in feminism. It’s an incredible obvious truth that somehow was a huge revelation to the feminist movement (and even then they managed to mess their theory up).

            I do not think Feminists, generally speaking, are interested in discussing whether the Patriarchy exists or not. I do not expect them to examine evidence I present. I expect them to call me an MRA neckbeard edgelord pissbaby (on Tumblr) or a Patriarchal rape apologist (academia) and maybe try to get me fired (both).

            It very much depends on the subgroup. There are subcultures in feminism that range from bombarding opponents with snark so no conversation is possible (wehuntedthemammoth), to just very hostile and prone to banning dissent to relatively open for rational discussion (Alas, a blog) to very open for rational discussion (Reddit’s FeMRADebates).

            Interestingly, my observation is that there is a very strong correlation between gender and openness. For example, ‘Alas’ is run by a male feminist and FeMRADebates by a male feminist moderator. On FeMRADebates, they did member surveys where it shows that a vast majority are men, which is also true for the self-identifying feminists.

            I have my theories of why this is, although they are very speculative.

          • Nornagest says:

            Interestingly, my observation is that there is a very strong correlation between gender and openness.

            I would have suspected the opposite correlation, although it’s not like I’ve gone out and done a survey or anything. Back when Ozy was doing “No, Seriously, What About The Men”, I was often struck by how closed and dogmatic Ozy’s male coauthors seemed by comparison.

          • Aapje says:

            @Philosophisticat

            One question is whether the core ideas of mainstream feminism (and other social justice movements) involve a commitment to rejecting rationality or evidence. This is a function of the content of those ideas. I think the answer to that question is “no”.

            I disagree that this is a key question. It is not primarily a function of content, but of methodology. Aristotle very strongly embraced rationality and evidence, but his methodology was deeply flawed as he merely chose to build a logical framework that explained known evidence. He failed to understand that different theories could explain the same evidence and that proper science is not about finding an explanation that fits the evidence, but rather identify which different explanations fit the evidence and then seek more evidence to select the best explanation (collapse the quantum state, as it were).

            I believe that mainstream feminism has a commitment to women’s rights advocacy and this results in the dominant methodology being ‘build a theoretical framework that can be used to change the position of women.’ This inherently causes bias as current and historical disadvantages for men and current and historical advantages for women are usually simply irrelevant to this goal. For example, the choice to examine the ‘wage gap’ is in itself biased, as there are many workplace differences between men and women, which correlate. Men work more overtime on average, which impacts their pay. You could just as easily study the ‘overtime gap,’ but feminism doesn’t, because that would paint a picture of male oppression, which goes against dogma.

            My objection to feminism isn’t even so much that it is biased, but rather the combination of that bias with a monopoly on the gender debate. I would be much more willing to a accept pro-female bias, if there were enough people with pro-male bias and neutral(ish) bias to balance this out. This is insufficiently the case in general society.

            More strongly, I think that God, who has only true beliefs, if he existed, would count as a feminist in the ordinary sense of the term, though he certainly would not accept every feature of contemporary feminist thought.

            I would expect metaphorical God to be an egalitarian, which I see as a very different position from feminism, despite many feminists claiming that they are the same.

            in any case it’s completely independent of the vices of real-life feminists

            I disagree, feminism is what feminists do, including the theories they subscribe to. You could steelman communism to be the the theoretical Utopia that Marx described, rather than the horrible Distopia’s that real communist experiments were/are. But at that point your definition of communism has no relationship with reality.

            My requirement for a movement that seeks to change the real world is that the theories match the facts and (thus) that the requirements to make it work are actually true. Communism that requires people to act purely altruistically can only work in a world where people are purely altruistic, which is not our world. So such a system has no value in shaping our world. The same goes for feminism.

            I would have very low confidence that the average dedicated activist for any cause whatsoever would be receptive to evidence against their view.

            I would argue that it depends on how much evidence there is left and how extreme the demands are. People don’t generally seek the absence of counter evidence, they seek a good case.

            I don’t regularly see progressive anti-feminists reject evidence that shows similar levels of bad/good behavior by men and women. They tend to get upset when men get (unjustly in their opinion) painted as worse or women as better. If they misrepresent evidence or otherwise appear unreceptive of evidence, it’s usually from a desire to paint men and women as more alike. My experience with feminists is that their behavior seems more indicative of a desire to paint men and women as dissimilar in behavior.

            The interesting part is that feminists tend to believe more often in pure nurture compared to progressive anti-feminists, so evidence of similar behavior between men and women actually matches the average feminist view on human nature better. However, feminists more strongly believe that people act unnaturally, which is essentially what ‘patriarchy’ alleges. The proof for people acting unnaturally tends to hinge on unequal outcomes, which reject the possibility of natural differences between the genders resulting in legitimate different outcomes. IMHO, assuming that certain outcomes are sufficient evidence by themselves, rather than finding the actual cause for the differences, is very unscientific. It’s like arguing that birds have environmental reasons for flying and sheep have environmental reasons for not flying; but with different incentives, sheep would fly.

            Of course in that case the flaw is clear, while for humans, the difference between men and women are less (but still physically obvious, as well as being found in choices of human babies and monkeys).

          • Aapje says:

            @Nornagest

            I meant it more as the willingness to engage with people who disagree with them. As in, men having a bigger Overton Window of what is acceptable to say in the debate.

            It can both be true that men are more dogmatic / black&white thinkers on average, but also have a greater willingness to debate with people with whom they greatly disagree.

            However, I suspect that it’s more the case that the male tendency for risk taking makes men more willing to state their views in more black/white ways. For example, there was a survey in my country whether people could contemplate voting for the local anti-immigration party. 31% of the women said yes, vs 29% of men. This indicates pretty much similar levels of extremist thought.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Philosophisticat – “I think you’re running together a bunch of things that should be separated.”

            Possibly so. Thank you for the thoughtful replies, they give me a fair bit to contemplate.

          • Anon. says:

            If you dig into the worst dregs of academic postmodernist writing, you’ll find people saying things like that

            Where do you think mainstream SJ beliefs come from, if not from the worst dregs of academic postmodernist writing? The Sokal affair was 20 years ago, Fashionable Nonsense came out 19 years ago. All the “philosophers” discussed in that book are still hugely influential in SJ/feminism.

            And really, “worst dregs” here refers to entire fields of study, not a few lone individuals.

          • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

            I would have suspected the opposite correlation, although it’s not like I’ve gone out and done a survey or anything. Back when Ozy was doing “No, Seriously, What About The Men”, I was often struck by how closed and dogmatic Ozy’s male coauthors seemed by comparison.

            For whatever it’s worth, doesn’t Ozy identify as more male than female, or something like that?

            I still had the same impression, the most prominent contributors for WHTM are men, from what I recall, and then you have charming young men like Arthur Chu. My pet theory without any basis in anything solid is that the Variability Hypothesis applies, the worst dregs and the most open to discussion among SJ are both male.

          • Philosophisticat says:

            @Aapje

            I have no idea how to adjudicate what counds as a “key” question or not, and I make no claims to that effect. ‘Feminism’ is ambiguous between a collection of ideas, fuzzy at the margins, holding enough of which makes one a feminist, and a social phenomenon. You’re interested in criticizing the social phenomenon and the rationality of the people that are part of it, so you’re addressing the third kind of question. That’s fine, I suppose, though I think you’re wrong about the extent to which its flaws differ from those of any other political movement. I like to know the mind of God on morality and spend my time contemplating the Forms, so I’m more interested in the second question.

          • Aapje says:

            @Philosophisticat

            I think that any advocacy movement suffers from various echo chamber effects and biases, but I think that there are considerable differences. In fact, feminism itself has changed over it’s life and it not what it was.

            Ultimately, movements are limited by the environment. In general you see counter-movements when a movement starts to overreach. There are various reasons why this works less effectively in the gender sphere, including the issue that men are taught a combination of individualism, stoicism, risk-taking, that women are superior and deserve benevolent sexism, which means that men tend to:
            – See pro-female inequality as just (scientific research shows this)
            – Be very hesitant to seek help (this can be seen in the much reduced tendency of men to seek medical help)
            – Be more hesitant to work together with other men and support men as men (Research shows that men have smaller ingroup-bias than women)
            – Be more optimistic (as scientific research shows), so they tend to ignore risks until they suffer from it, while women are more eager to work to reduce risks for their gender.
            – etc, etc.

            In short, I think that it’s very hard for people to see feminist overreach as unjust and very hard to see male gender issues at all. This leads to a situation where there is much less backlash than for movements that overreach similarly.

          • Philosophisticat says:

            @Aapje

            I agree that the ways men suffer under oppressive gender norms is underappreciated, and some, but not all of the things you point to could help explain why (I don’t think it’s a plausible explanation that men grow up being taught that women deserve benevolent sexism because they are superior).

            I don’t think it’s true that there’s very little backlash against the overreaches of feminism, except in some pretty specific circles, but I’m happy to grant that differences in contingent contextual environmental facts surrounding various movements lead to differences in how universal human irrationality expresses itself in those movements and the effects of that expression. But I don’t think that bears on any of the questions I’ve been trying to address so far.

          • Philosophisticat says:

            @Aapje

            I agree that the negative effects of oppressive gender norms on men are underappreciated, and some (but not all) of the things you point to might help explain why (I don’t think it’s a very plausible explanation, for example, that men grow up being taught that women deserve benevolent sexism because they’re superior). And I’m happy to grant that this leads some people to miss instances of feminist overreach. I don’t see what this has to do with any of the questions I’ve been addressing throughout this thread, though.

          • Aapje says:

            @Philosophisticat

            In hindsight that was a poor choice of word, ‘innocent’ is probably the better word. In IAT tests, men get associated with action and women with passivity. So both men and women see men as conforming to their gender role when they are actively doing something, usually to benefit others. Women can conform to their gender role merely by being, while men have to act.

            The result is that men are also expected to act for themselves and are gender-deviant when asking for help. Women who ask for help are gender-conforming.

          • Philosophisticat says:

            @Aapje

            Plausibler.

      • Corey says:

        I think there might be some evaporative cooling also – there are lots of places I can discuss econ without getting into interminable discussions about whether the FDA should be replaced by private certification organizations.

        Spaces that have radical freedom-of-expression policies are probably always going to get mostly populated with out-of-mainstream views (people with mainstream views can just go discuss them other places).

        • arbitrary_greay says:

          Definitely evaporative cooling is in play. There are plenty of pro-SJ rationalists at meatspace meetups that talk about how SSC isn’t worth commenting at anymore. Given, part of that is that more pro-SJ rationalist diaspora spaces have formed, like Tumblr. Consider, too, that most of the “you made me change my mind to be less negative towards SJ” testimonials are about Ozy, and most of those relative “converts” no longer comment here.

          Some of the appearance of dogpiling is that I might see a giant thread griping about SJ, with, say, only HBC defending. And it’s on an issue that I’ve resolved for myself a long time ago, and there would have to be so much definition-warring and context-construction and cite-digging to provide the nuance being glossed over at every turn. I make the personal tradeoff calculation that I can spend my time and energy on something less stressful than engaging in this thread. Kind of like the exhausted feelings of the atheists vs. creationists that no longer debate. (And, unfortunately, other non-rationalist factions of SJ have seized on this feeling to uncharitably propagate the very abused “someone trying to mansplain to me!” and “I’m not going to google 101 for you” memes.)

      • Anon. says:

        I think the anti-SJ attitude was imported from LW (see e.g.: http://lesswrong.com/r/discussion/lw/kmk/open_thread_july_28_august_3_2014/b5vj [especially pianoforte611’s comment])

    • Zombielicious says:

      All tribalist factions will tend to see their own side as the more reasonable, charitable, rational one, and the outgroup as the opposite of that. Some ideas are definitely overrepresented, but I don’t think that’s necessarily a problem (HBD and climate change skepticism may be overrepresented, but creationism and homeopathy are probably underrepresented as well). I’m more put off by the large number of comments that fall into one of several categories:

      1) Openly hostile to the outgroup and with no purpose other than to provoke.

      2) Vapid, unnecessary, or irrelevant replies that contribute nothing, other than to pat another member of their ingroup on the back for positing something negative about the outgroup.

      3) Blatantly off-topic misinformation intended only to troll.

      4) Comments which might, at least superficially, have some kind of point, if they could refrain from needless provocation.

      That was the best I could do off the top of my head, and apologies to any particular posters used. Skews heavily towards the most recent threads and exchanges I was involved in, but any more effort and I might as well start random sampling for statistics. Some of those are worse than others, but all pretty much fall under either: pointless, hostile, or a misrepresentation of the outgroup.

      These seem like really bad habits and contrary to the founding principles of the blog. Once a few people start being uncharitable towards their outgroup, and bypassing actual debate to have a memetic war with each other, it incentivizes everyone else to either take the moral high-ground and have their voice slowly drown out, or contribute to the downward spiral by fighting fire with fire. This is why once communities hit this point, they usually don’t come back from it.

      One other thing: this type of question might have a unique sort of failure mode. The majority of people, all but the most die-hard culture warriors and partisans, probably have a fairly nebulous concept of what their ingroup is. All my liberal friends think I’m a conservative, while all my conservative and libertarian friends think I’m a liberal. When you ask people whether they think -ingroup- is being unfair to -outgroup-, there’s a chance for people who still spend a lot of time in -ingroup- to do a temporary shift to -neutral group- and speak as an “impartial” observer. So if you’re going to ask, “does -outgroup- feel attacked or treated unfairly by -ingroup-?” it’s probably good to note the general tendencies of the people who reply, because many who describe themselves as neutral may say they think everything is great, even though they’re, for the purposes of the question, mostly in -ingroup- anyway.

      I don’t mean that last paragraph to invalidate any particular response(s), it’s just something that occurred to me. It applies regardless of who -ingroup- and -outgroup- are. (edit: ingroup/outgroup brackets foiled by the input sanitization. Shoulda seen that comin’.)

      • Alejandro says:

        I nominate this for Comment of the Week.

      • Jaskologist says:

        I feel like only half of your examples were actually apropos. I mean, you described HeelBearCub as being hostile to the outgroup because he said something negative about a specific organization on the left, for crying out loud. Friedman’s reply was relevant in illustrating that X was done by people on both sides of the aisle. Some of the others fit your description, but a lot don’t.

        • FacelessCraven says:

          those were the only two that stood out as inaccurate to me, personally, and the Friedman one seems borderline.

        • Zombielicious says:

          I don’t really want to put individual people on trial for offhand comments they made – my point was just that there’s clearly a lot of tribalism and hostility going on here. Plus it was already enough work digging through the past ~6 open threads for various examples I sort-of-vaguely remembered, so I may have mixed up exactly which link was supposed to go with which words (or I just threw it in there somewhere).

          Feel free to disagree with some/all of the examples, and apologies again to anyone who feels like I singled them out, or did so unfairly, but I guarantee you can find many more and better ones if you take the time to look.

          • Daniel says:

            I think it’s good that there are links to individual comments in the first place and I’d like to see the norm shift towards that direction when people are talking about what the comments are like on this blog.

          • hlynkacg says:

            @Zombielicious
            Thank you for putting the effort in, and Thank you for giving examples of what to look out for in the future

            For what it’s worth I find it heartening that a good chunk of the comments linked were anons rather than long established members. As Onyomi says below, I’ll grant that SSC has some low-quality, hostile, ill-informed comments but IMO the overall level of discourse is well above what I’ve come to expect from other venues.

            As an aside, although I disagree with much you’ve said, I’ve enjoyed reading your defense of EA, animal rights, and veganism. Keep fighting the good fight.

            @Daniel
            Agreed.

        • Fahundo says:

          The examples that stood out to me were HBC, which I didn’t see as an attack on the outgroup, and autonomous rex, because I’m pretty sure none of that guy’s posts are sincere.

          • hlynkacg says:

            I’ve had a couple of run ins with rex and I’m pretty sure they’re a troll as well.

      • dndnrsn says:

        Good post. There is definitely a lot of tribalism and so forth here, a lot of charity to the outgroup(s), etc.

        I’m a left-winger, but a highly atypical one. “Mainstream” politics here, left or right, are fairly rare – we have fairly few Democrats or Republicans of the “just give me a large coffee, none of this fancy stuff” variety. There’s definitely a shift to the right in some regards, mostly social stuff on the meta level (by which I mean that people here are pretty liberal socially, but are allergic to SJ-style stuff). People who don’t fit the Overton Window here either never show up or get chased away.

        The tribalism and lack of charity here are tragic, in the original sense of the term: we want to be rational, but we are using the same primate brains as everyone else, and we can’t really escape that.

        Is there anything we can do to avoid this? Have a “dogpile-free” open thread? Some sort of bizarre affirmative action policy for particular opinions?

        • FacelessCraven says:

          I’d like to recommend something I tried below: if you’re on the side that frequently does the dogpiling, and you really want to have the sort of discussion that results in dogpiling, ask people on your side to not participate in the thread.

          It didn’t work, but I think a fair number of people just missed the request. broader awareness of the tactic might make it a usable strategy.

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            I saw the request, I just didn’t see it as applicable. Not to be a dick, mind, but because I don’t trust anybody else to represent my views.

            Which is to say, I do not treat you as being on my side, and I interpret your request identically to an intellectual opponent asking for me not to participate.

            If it’s Scott himself, I’ll try to honor such requests, because it’s his site. Otherwise, not so much.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Orphan Wilde – would you consider moving comments to a separate thread, at least? genuinely curious whether or not this idea is practical.

      • anonymous says:

        Much needed. Thanks.

    • Zorgon says:

      Here’s the thing. It might be the case that rationalism has a particular attraction to the right wing. There’s not nearly enough evidence either way.

      However, what definitely is the case is that a subset of those identified as Leftists have been making a concerted attempt over the last year or two to identify rationalism as a right-wing phenomenon; part of their loosely-defined “alt-right”. And some of that subset are what might be thought of as “thought leaders” – bloggers, journalists, writers. “Rationalist” as a synonym for “young technocratic right-winger” is already gaining traction as a meme.

      Therefore I would suggest that the demographics, attitudes and commenting styles on here and in other LW-diaspora locations are probably irrelevant in the larger scheme of things. People with more social currency than us are making the decision for us.

      • Corey says:

        Kinda like how we white people decide who is white (we let the Irish and Jews into our group for example).

        • Zorgon says:

          Not just Irish or Jews. Hell, Asians can be Schroedinger’s Whites when it suits the purposes of the person doing the yelling.

          • Aapje says:

            @Zorgon

            Asian-Americans are a huge problem for many narratives. They both undermine the case for white superiority, but also the case for oppression of non-whites by white people.

        • Lumifer says:

          Kinda like how we white people decide who is white

          I don’t know about that. The counterexample would be the black people deciding that Asians are white. This is also basically the position of a lot of university admission offices (as well as people yelling about the lack of minorities in Silicon Valley).

    • utilitarian troll says:

      I’ll just chime in and say although I lean right wing, I appreciate reading intelligently argued left wing perspectives and I would love for all the left wingers to stick around.

    • Alex says:

      I have a question for our blue tribe and otherwise liberal/left-leaning commenters.

      I think this is unfortunate wording. I very strongly indentify as blue tribe, not because of blue tribe’s relative merits but because I think it’d be counterproductive to deny the way I’m socialized. I think, even if I wanted, I never could make the red tribe accept me as one of theirs. This, however, does not imply that I consider myself particularly left-leaning. Conversely, I would classify many of the obviously right-leaning commenters as blue tribers nonetheless.

      I’ve seen several complaints over the last couple of months about liberal views being severely underrepresented in the SSC comment section,

      This surprises me as a complaint. Like minded people flock together and a quota to equally represent different views strikes me as totally unrealistic in the context of an internet community.

      and claims that liberal views get a significantly more hostile reception on SSC than comparatively conservative views would get on a otherwise liberal forum.

      If this is true, standards really have changed. By internet standards, I think our host has pretty much succeeded in creating a pleasant space for discussions. One might discuss the price at which this comes but that is besides the point. Whatever there is of residual noise is far below the my filter threshold as calibrated by other places on the internet. I wonder, were people claiming disproportional hostility have calibrated their filters.

      Then again, this has been a known problem for at least 20 years:
      http://www.mit.edu/~jcb/tact.html

      • Mercer says:

        My filter for hostility is also pretty high, but it makes me wonder if maybe because my filter is set so high I’ll ignore an actual steady increase in the level of hostility

        When I saw Zombielicious’ post in this open thread critiquing the quality of some posters, my gut reaction was “none of this seems bad enough to care about to me”. But maybe I’m the one missing a legitimate rise in poor quality comments because it all just comes across as “residual noise”

      • HeelBearCub says:

        @Alex:
        I haven’t argued for some precise balance, but rather an acknowledgement of what I perceive to be facts on the ground.

        Otherwise, people don’t under stand that sometimes what they are hearing are echoes.

    • Chalid says:

      In addition to the above, I’d add that if you say anything nice about a mainstream left politician, or even defend them against unfair attacks, you’re likely going to get a lot of pushback. I’ll link the thread starting with this as an example, not because it was particularly bad (it wasn’t!) but because it involved the two of us. If defending Clinton in the most trivial way is going to predictably escalate into multiple rounds of back-and-forth with multiple posters then it becomes easy to decide not to bother.

      • Anonanon says:

        Say something negative about Ted Cruz and see if you get any responses more positive than “well at least he’s not a plague rat”.
        And you probably shouldn’t have linked that thread as an example, considering it consisted of high quality and well-cited policy arguments about a SCOTUS case, rather than “LOL Hillary a bitch”.

        • Chalid says:

          I said “defending Clinton in the most trivial way is going to predictably escalate into multiple rounds of back-and-forth with multiple posters.” The thread linked is precisely that.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            Defending Trump has gotten me multiple rounds of back-and-forth with multiple posters too, though. I’m pretty sure I’ve engaged in same with people supporting Cruz. Is this just an effect of being in an election year?

          • Chalid says:

            Sure, it happens on all sides, and is exacerbated by the fact that it’s a US election year. I’m rather strongly under the impression that it happens more strongly to leftist politicians and political parties but of course I have no statistics to back up that claim.

    • Corey says:

      To summarize the summary of the summary, people are a problem:

      I think if SSC wants to be friendlier to liberal commenters, it should explicitly declare a Republican local tribal reality. I think the D-R reality distance is too far and on too many topics to have a forum try to stay “neutral”. And until this thread, I didn’t know that actual Republican tribal reality is so widely accepted on purpose (I figured people could have been not noticing their embrace of it, and/or trolling).

      With this, lefties will at least know before they talk that, as was said of HeelBearCub several OTs ago, they *will* end up being the Colmes to a 50-headed Hannity.

      I think the local tribal reality has to be Republican, because otherwise it won’t be able to maintain its anti-SJ stance. Once some parts of a tribe’s reality start sounding good, one ends up falling into the other positions and before long one’s accepted [insert whatever you think is craziest about the Republicans here]. Likewise I don’t think it’s feasible to accept all of Democratic tribal reality except for SJ – it’s too deeply interwoven.

      • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

        I’m not sure how one’s views on Global Warming relate to the patriarchy, but sure, let’s do that.

        • Corey says:

          We men tend to be more flatulent (my wife jokes about capping and trading me).

          Another way of talking about partisan “reality bubbles” that might help:

          Start with the LW view that reality is entangled – beliefs need to be consistent with one another or trouble ensues. (See the seminal philosophy text “Three’s Company” for details).

          When we talk about Democrats and Republicans having disjoint realities, we can think of that as a belief-entanglement graph with two regions that are densely connected within each other, but only lightly connected across.

          So if you want to adopt a belief from the other region, you have to either compartmentalize it (which rationalists tend to be bad at and intentionally try to get worse at), or eventually accept the densely-entangled beliefs over there, abandoning the old ones.

      • dndnrsn says:

        Is it really a Republican affiliation? I don’t see many I would consider mainstream Republicans here.

        The median SSC commenter appears to be:

        -liberal or libertarian economically
        -liberal socially
        -anti-SJ but more on a meta than an object level
        -pro free speech

        And there’s definitely been a shift to the right on some things, if being anti-SJ can be considered being right. But saying someone is a Republican carries a lot of connotations that don’t seem to fit here.

        The outgroup here is SJ types, not Democrats.

        • Nornagest says:

          Outgroup homogeneity.

        • Corey says:

          That’s pretty much the consensus from upthread, entirely possible that I’m misreading it (it’s certainly more people talking *about* the tribalism than raising their hands and declaring “I Am A Republican Partisan”).

        • brad says:

          The outgroup here is SJ types, not Democrats.

          Maybe so. But SJ, which is defined pretty broadly around here, is part of the Democratic coalition. The level of vitriol towards them at least implies something not too great about people that would choose to associate in any way with them.

          Think about it this way–there aren’t that many Trump supporters on here. Some sure, but not a majority of even the right leaning regular posters. Yet when someone like Jill comes along and makes a ridiculous statement about Trump supporters it gets a lot more people’s back up than just the Trump supporters. There’s plenty of people that are close enough to feel insulted by proximity.

          • Lumifer says:

            Yet when someone like Jill comes along and makes a ridiculous statement about Trump supporters it gets a lot more people’s back up than just the Trump supporters.

            Yes — and that’s not because plenty of people here are sympathetic to Trump, but because plenty of people here are allergic to ridiculous statements.

          • brad says:

            See my answer to The Nybbler below. That’s an insufficient explanation.

          • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

            There’s plenty of people that are close enough to feel insulted by proximity.

            Or maybe defending Trump is a much more fun position than saying “Yeah, he’d probably be a bad president”.

          • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

            But SJ, which is defined pretty broadly around here, is part of the Democratic coalition.

            In America, perhaps. But SJ is a thing in other countries where the political configuration is not quite the same, to say nothing of the Internet’s archipielago (where the stakes are admittedly lower).

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Brad – ” Yet when someone like Jill comes along and makes a ridiculous statement about Trump supporters it gets a lot more people’s back up than just the Trump supporters.”

            Yes, it does. But when John Schilling makes pretty much exactly the same substantive arguments, up to more or less calling me a Nazi, but in as reasonable a manner as possible and without all the absurdly unsupportable claims, the pushback doesn’t happen and in fact we get a productive and informative discussion out of it.

          • Luke the CIA stooge says:

            The big thing where I see the social justice left losing out on SSC is that SSC rewards logical consistency at the expense of emotional sensitivity which is… problematic, for the social justice left since they have very explicitly endorsed the Care foundation of morality over enlightenment commitments to truth, and the market place if ideas (for most SJWs this is defacto since their ideas compel this line of thinking although they have never explicitly made the commitment). You can draw a direct line between the post ww2 post-structuralist critique of reason and science as a system of control through post-modernism to social justice explicit rejection of the market place of ideas and open discourse.

            The entire rhetoric of social justice: institutional oppression, man splaining, no platforming, the criticism get of dissenting ideas not as logically or factually inconsistent but as “problematic” all continues the Frankfurt school/countercultural/postmodern rejection of rational discourse as anything other than a system of oppresion.
            Simply put to point out that something goes against the interests of [victim group] is enough to refute it for social justice types, the same way pointing out something is factually wrong is enough to refute it for reasonable people (this seems the apropriate term.

            Needless to say this does not workout well for them on SSC.

            For more info read “the rebel sell” by Joseph Heath or visit Heterodox Academy and read their stuff on how Herbert Marcuse essentially set SJWism in motion.

          • Anonymous says:

            SSC rewards logical consistency at the expense of emotional sensitivity

            Maybe in WWII geekery but certainly not when the hated outgroup in involved. As others have pointed out in this thread, the sociology in the SSC comments section is a rationalism free zone. It’s all anecdotes, just so stories, and bald assertions.

        • The Nybbler says:

          @brad

          It’s not proximity to Trump supporters which make us upset with ridiculous arguments about them. It’s proximity to the person making the ridiculous argument.

          • brad says:

            I don’t think that’s true. Or at least it is only true about a few people, some of the time.

            FacelessCraven said this yesterday, and I think there’s a lot of truth to it:

            When I see nasty comments being made by right-wing people, I scowl in disapproval and scroll on. When I see them being made by left-wing people, I scowl and open the comment box. I think pretty much everyone here does this to some degree;

            I would hope that even the most fervent anti-SJ regulars in here would recognize that at least sometimes there are ridiculous anti-SJ arguments made. Yet despite the same proximity to the person making the ridiculous argument there’s rarely or never the ensuing dogpile.

            Which is totally understandable and I get it, but it means the analogy I made holds.

            If Trump supporters are “close enough” to get people to open up that comment box and start a dogpile, then it should be understandable when non-SJ democrats get annoyed by the over the top vitriol. And why “what, *you* aren’t the outgroup” isn’t an answer.

          • The Nybbler says:

            I would hope that even the most fervent anti-SJ regulars in here would recognize that at least sometimes there are ridiculous anti-SJ arguments made.

            I’m afraid you’ll have to find some examples. Certainly some anti-SJ arguments get pushback; when I claimed that SJ was anti-rational, there was argument.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ brad

            With respect to FacelessCraven’s observation, the thing is that most of anti-left sniping comes from the peanut anon gallery and I’m quite willing to believe that most drive-by barfings on SSC are anti-left and not anti-right. But that’s precisely the thing why I don’t have much incentives to hit the reply button: it’s just a drive-by and talking to it is pretty pointless.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Lumifer – “With respect to FacelessCraven’s observation, the thing is that most of anti-left sniping comes from the peanut anon gallery and I’m quite willing to believe that most drive-by barfings on SSC are anti-left and not anti-right.”

            Actually, I think the majority of right-wing sniping comes from people with consistent names, and takes the form of sarcastic, low-content one-liners. Left-wing sniping is definately majority-Anon. Neither generate dogpiles, because there’s very little to reply to. What I don’t see often is high-content, low-quality posts from naive right-wingers spouting, say, Fox News boilerplate. With apologies to posters here, I think the “GOP is run by blue tribe” was the best analogue to the sort of stuff brad is talking about in a while. It got a lot of replies, but a lot of right-wing posters chimed in to agree with the thesis, and the discussion stayed fairly civil at least. I think there’s pretty clearly a discrepency, but from where I sit it looks like the right-wingers instinctively lean more toward arguing at length than the left-wingers, and there doesn’t seem to be a way to fix that. If all the left-wingers here were as prolific as HeelBearCub, I think the imbalance might go the other way.

        • John Schilling says:

          Is it really a Republican affiliation? I don’t see many I would consider mainstream Republicans here.

          This is the libertarian blog hosted by the guy who wrote the anti-libertarian FAQ?

          I mean, that’s not right either, but it’s probaby less wrong.

      • Lumifer says:

        I don’t know if that’s going to work because a lot of locals belong to the Grey Tribe. Looking at myself, I am definitely not a Republican, and I’m definitely not a Democrat, so your proposal tries to impose some artificial to me separation.

        As to the lefties expectations, I think it should be beneficial for them to occasionally find themselves in the environment where their views are not the default views that all reasonable civilized people hold because how could it be otherwise.

        • Corey says:

          All well and good, but it’s useful to know that going in. Otherwise we might all be doomed to interminable flamewars as (metaphorically) each new person arrives to talk about a cool new paleo discovery and gets roasted by the creationists.

          • Lumifer says:

            Unfortunately the much more likely scenario over the next few months is that we’ll get a flow of bright-eyed bushy-tailed people who would drop in to inquire whether we all are doing absolutely everything we can to stop the fascist monster from taking over the US government and using it to construct baby-mulching machines for Muslim Mexicans.

            But, of course, you can petition Scott to hang out a big “WARNING: YOU MAY BE REQUIRED TO THINK” sign outside…

          • Agronomous says:

            @Corey:

            Gratuitously analogizing non-lefty SSC commentators to creationists is an unreliable tactic for avoiding flamewars.

          • Corey says:

            @Agronomous: Sorry.
            I had trouble coming up with an example of incompatible ideologies that would be an analogy (i.e. that doesn’t already have a significant base of support here), since that seemed *more* insulting. “Barbecue recipes” and “Muslims” occurred to me, but AFAIK Muslims don’t care if non-Muslims don’t follow their rules (ditto Jews).

            Hmmm. Maybe, on the outgroup/fargroup theme, different definitions of “barbecue” are a good example. As a North Carolinian, it would never occur to me that BBQ could be anything other than pork, for example.

          • Agronomous says:

            I think I see what you were thinking now. Apology accepted.

            On another note, why are the two localities most overrepresented on SSC Ireland and North Carolina? I even lived there for a short while (RTP).

      • FacelessCraven says:

        @Corey – “I think the local tribal reality has to be Republican, because otherwise it won’t be able to maintain its anti-SJ stance.”

        I voted for Obama the first time, then didn’t vote the second time because he was too much like Bush. I thought I was on board with SJ until it pushed too far past what I could even remotely justify; I’m currently way more red-tribe pretty much entirely due to backlash.

        • dndnrsn says:

          Is tribal affiliation something you can switch like that?

          The definition of red tribe was originally “guns and NASCAR”, not “right wing”. If you responded to perceived SJ excesses by developing a taste for country music, that’s one thing, but there’s an assumption here that anti-SJ = red = right wing.

          I think that this is a big stumbling block here, because someone will say something like “supporting tax cuts for the wealthy, how red tribe” or “social security is a blue tribe idea”.

          • Nornagest says:

            I’m starting to think that “Red” and “Blue” were bad labels for the tribes, because they invite conflation with politics when the whole point of “Outgroup” was that the tribes are a cultural phenomenon rather than a political one. One complication is that a lot of politically relevant memes really do propagate along tribal lines, but I wouldn’t put “tax cuts for the wealthy” or “social security” into that category: I’m talking more like “love it or leave it” (Red) or “male gaze” (Blue).

            But the answer is no, you can’t easily switch tribes. I am culturally Blue, although a grayish Blue raised in a largely Red area. My recent frustration with certain political tropes doesn’t change that.

          • Corey says:

            The relevant reality split is purely along Democrat-Republican lines, so that’s what matters most for having everyone not all talk past each other. I’d assumed (incorrectly, it seems) Red/Blue was interchangeable, with Gray being small-l-libertarian.

          • Nornagest says:

            The relevant reality split is purely along Democrat-Republican lines

            Strongly disagree. For one thing, a plurality of the country is neither. But more to the point, a character like Arnold Schwarzenegger, for all that he had an (R) by his name, has far more in common — in terms of culture, assumptions, friends, resources, all the stuff you’re calling “reality” — with Clinton or Sanders than he does with Bubba from East Texas. I’d even bet the same’s true for the Bushes, although I expect that’d be a harder sell.

            This gets obscured somewhat in national politics because national-level Republicans often try to perform a good-ol-boy act (Arnie is an exception for several reasons), but it becomes really obvious if you go somewhere like Northern Virginia and find yourself a family of Eisenhower Republicans.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Corey

            The relevant reality split is purely along Democrat-Republican lines

            Not at all and not even close. Try extracting your mind out of the election year clusterfuck.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Dndnrsn – “Is tribal affiliation something you can switch like that?”

            I was raised conservative Christian, conservative political outlook, supported republicans, homeschooled, spent middle school listening to the complete Rush Limbaugh program daily while thumbing through back-issues of Guns & Ammo magazine, pro-hunting, skeptical of environmentalism, enthusiastically pro-military and pro/military-industrial complex, favorite author was Tom Clancy. Second-favorite author was Solzhenitsyn, after reading Gulag Archipelago in my high-school years. Profoundly anti-communist/socialist/marxist. Anti-gay-rights, anti-abortion, Hated Clinton, thought his impeachment was a great idea, voted G W Bush in 2000. Pro-Israel, anti-Palestinian. Freshman year of college, I wrote a typical-clueless-freshman paper explaining how foreign aid should be reorganized around the imperialist model of taking dysfunctional foreign countries over for their own good. Red Tribe doesn’t seem very debatable.

            Got involved in a relationship with a very nice person from Canada who was very deeply blue-tribe. Lots of debates about politics. I saw the Invasion of Iraq as a test case of most of my beliefs, and pretty quickly concluded that they had failed catastrophically. Completely reversed all the above positions, with the exception of guns*, global warming**, and Marxism***. Started reading a whole lot more Zinn and Chomsky, reading up on revisionist history generally. Much more concerned about sexism and racism, saw them as serious, immediate problems that should be at the top of the agenda. Became an atheist. Very anti-Israel, very pro-Palestinian, convinced Bush was involved in 9/11, believed he intended to install himself as dictator, actually fled the country for Canada (then-wife was significantly more worried than I was, but I was pretty worried). Favorite comic in this era was Tim Kreider’s The Pain, When Will It End, which I identified with almost perfectly. For better or worse, seems pretty decisively blue-tribe.

            Marriage failed, came back to the states. Observed that Bush declining to go Full Hitler again amounted to worldview failure. Noticed that a lot of the deep-left media and social sources weren’t doing good things for my mental health. Ditched them all and got into video games, settled into a normal blue-tribe existence, watched Daily Show and laughed at the stupid, evil republicans. Voted Obama, but started drifting more libertarian as time went on. Would have voted for Ron Paul in 2012, but stayed home in disgust instead. Concluded Atheism had done nothing for me and was in fact worse than Christianity, so reconverted in 2013. Realized Social Justice had gone mad in 2015, and here I am now.

            …Looking over the above, an assessment of “scatterbrained jackass” seems not entirely inappropriate, but I think I’m an example of switching tribes at least twice. I would like to think I’ve gotten wiser over time, but I’m planning to vote Trump so who knows?

            * I’d read enough on Kellerman et al to be convinced that the anti-gun side was just flat-out wrong.
            **I was on board with all the rest of environmentalism, but saw the Carbon Markets as a scam drawing attention away from more immediate environmental problems like toxic pollution. Became very anti-corporation.
            ***Communism/Marxism never had the slightest appeal to me; old-school socialism gained a whole lot more appeal.

          • Agronomous says:

            I agree with Nornagest: Scott went wrong when he picked “Red” and “Blue” for the tribes. “Pickup” and “Prius” would have been much better.

            He is onto something, though: tribally, I’m so blue/Prius/urban that I actually prefer radicchio to arugula, would never think of moving out of a big city unless it was to a university town, don’t eat meat, can’t name a Country song later than Rhinestone Cowboy, wouldn’t care about NASCAR even if I did follow sports, and would totally get a Prius if only it had enough seats for half my kids.

            But politically, I’m anomalous: largely libertarian on economics and regulation (except for immigration, where I think doubling legal immigration would be plenty, and open borders would be insane), conservative on most of the social issues I can think of, and a big fan of all Ten Amendments.

            (Not that I expect to get much use out of the Third.)

            And, like a lot of people who were Republican six months ago, I can’t stand Trump, think he might actually be as bad a President as Clinton (though in different ways), and have never been so relieved that my vote doesn’t actually count (leaning “Libertarian for strategic reasons”).

          • dndnrsn says:

            @FacelessCraven: I’ve changed my political views one way, then the other, then to somewhere in the middle or perhaps elsewhere entirely … but my tribe hasn’t changed. I guess you experienced a stronger link between culture and politics than I do.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @dndnrsn – “I’ve changed my political views one way, then the other, then to somewhere in the middle or perhaps elsewhere entirely … but my tribe hasn’t changed. I guess you experienced a stronger link between culture and politics than I do.”

            hrm. I tried to cover this by giving a pretty wide spread of issues and even going into media consumed and religious beliefs and worldview. I’ve always been a pretty political animal, but given that, how do you see my tribe not changing in the above? What would actual tribe-switching have to involve?

          • Corey says:

            @Lumifer: Election 2004 clusterfuck has been gone a long time; that’s when I first noticed the separating realities making communication hard.

          • dndnrsn says:

            @FacelessCraven: I should have been clearer – you experienced a simultaneous cultural and political shift. I didn’t, and had assumed my experience to be typical, which was foolish of me.

          • Zombielicious says:

            For one thing, a plurality of the country is neither.

            A plurality self-identifies as independent (~42%), but most still lean one way or the other. Only around 12% are actually straight independents. (source)

            A lot of those who claim “independent” are effectively still partisan, in that they may be lukewarm towards one party, but they still hate the other guys, and it’s mostly a question of whether they bother to show up at the polls on any given year.

      • The Nybbler says:

        Likewise I don’t think it’s feasible to accept all of Democratic tribal reality except for SJ – it’s too deeply interwoven.

        You are incorrect. The easiest counterexample is the KotakuInAction subreddit in 2014 and 2015. Pretty solidly Blue and liberal, very much against SJ. It is a conceit of the Social Justice set that their beliefs are central to Democratic or liberal identity; they have convinced many others of it, but it is not true.

    • J Quenff says:

      Are silly tweets from silly people really a good way of starting an interesting discussion? Correct me if I’m wrong but this is just some random person on twitter?

      • Anonanon says:

        Well, he managed to state Scott’s entire essay in a single tweet, and there’s never a bad reason to relink a great post a lot of new readers probably haven’t read.

    • Pku says:

      Fair, but in the interests of symmetry I’ll add that this also explains Trump’s love and admiration for lack of enmity towards Putin.

      • Anonanon says:

        Surely that’s just because he obeyed the Reset Button.
        After all: “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because…the Cold War’s been over for 20 years”.

        • FacelessCraven says:

          second time I’ve seen this image. could I get some background?

          • hlynkacg says:

            The guy is Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister.

            I assume its a Photoshop making fun of Obama’s comments about resetting our relationship with Russia back in 08, when Romney was catching shit for saying that Russia and China were our chief global rivals.

          • Anonanon says:

            It’s not a photoshop. Remember the whole reset button prop thing when they were trying to make friends with Russia after the mess in Georgia?

            when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton greeted Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva Friday before sitting down to their working dinner, she was all smiles when she presented him a small green box with a ribbon.

            Lavrov opened it and, inside, there was a red button with the Russian word “peregruzka” printed on it.

            “I would like to present you with a little gift that represents what President Obama and Vice President Biden and I have been saying and that is: ‘We want to reset our relationship, and so we will do it together.’ …

            “We worked hard to get the right Russian word. Do you think we got it?” she asked Lavrov, laughing.

            “You got it wrong,” said Lavrov, as both diplomats laughed.

            “It should be “perezagruzka” [the Russian word for reset],” said Lavrov.”This says ‘peregruzka,’ which means ‘overcharged.’”

          • FacelessCraven says:

            huh. thanks for the background!

          • Lumifer says:

            It was a pretty epic fail when the United States utterly screwed up translating the word “reset” into Russian. The Russian word they picked means “overload”.

          • hlynkacg says:

            Well TIL.

            @ Lumifer.
            That’s one of the reasons I thought it was a Joke/Photoshop.

            Edit: Though in hindsight maybe I should have taken that as evidence of it’s authenticity.

          • CatCube says:

            That’s not a Photoshop. Our Illustrious Leader actually thought that giving a twee physical reset button to Russian leaders was a good idea.

            Edit: Sorry, didn’t realize this tab hadn’t been refreshed in a while.

          • Jaskologist says:

            Ok, I know the explanation was given already, but this is such a fun story that you really need to take in all the surrounding context, too. I’ve tried to link to period pieces to properly set the mood.

            So, flash back to 2009ish. America has been stuck in 2 deeply unpopular wars and our international image is in tatters. Where did we go wrong? Well, Bush and his stupid cowboy diplomacy had gone around alienating our allies and needlessly antagonizing our enemies. But ol’ Chimpy McFlightSuit is out now, and Obama and his super-qualified Secretary of State Hillary are in, and like any human who is definitely not a cylon, Hillary has a plan.

            That plan is “Smart power.” That is the name they chose for it themselves. Our problems came from Bush being dumb; we are not dumb, and so we will not have such problems.

            There were a lot of international relations to be repaired, so they had to tag-team it. Obama took care of the Muslim world with his Cairo speech, and Hillary was assigned to Russia.

            You already know our history with Russia. We had some unpleasantness back in the day, but as Obama would later point out to Romney, “the 1980s are calling to ask for their foreign policy back, because the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.” Russia is no longer a significant geopolitical threat, and it’s time to make nice with them.

            And so it was that the State department had a big red nuclear launch reset button made, which Hillary presented to her Russian counterpart. In the spirit of Smrt Diplomacy, it turned out that they got the translation wrong, and it really said “overcharged” on it.

            Awkward, but diplomats can smooth over such embarrassments. They both pressed the button, laughing.

            We don’t talk about Ukraine.

            Anyway, you should definitely vote for Hillary over Trump. because who knows how he might exacerbate tensions with Russia, one of our primary geopolitical foes. Vote for Hillary, who has much more in that area.

  10. Wrong Species says:

    Christians who believe in Evolution:

    Where do you draw the line between “The creation story wasn’t literally true” and “The rest of the Bible isn’t literally true”? What makes that specific story less likely to have actually happened compared to the rest?

    • caethan says:

      I recommend Augustine’s The Literal Meaning of Genesis for some reading on the subject. He starts off Volume 1 as follows:

      In all the sacred books, we should consider the eternal truths that are taught, the facts
      that are narrated, the future events that are predicted, and the precepts or counsels that are given. In the case of a narrative of events, the question arises as to whether everything must be taken according to the figurative sense only, or whether it must be expounded and defended also as a faithful record of what happened. No Christian will dare say that the narrative must not be taken in a figurative sense.

      and goes on to discuss the best way to interpret the Genesis creation story in the light of reason.

      One of my favorite passages from the book discusses how important it is to be well-read and knowledgable before trying to interpret Scripture:

      Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking non-sense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of the faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although “they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion.”

      • Anonanon says:

        That’s a delightful read, and unusually clearly translated. Most of the St. Augustine TLs we had to plow through in class were headache-inducing.
        Thanks!

      • Jaskologist says:

        Reading Augustine was key for me as well. It made clear that there was long tradition of interpreting the creation accounts in a metaphorical way long before there was any scientific pressure to do so. That his resulting insights into the nature of time earned Stephen Hawking’s stamp of approval was icing on the cake.

        This isn’t the case for things like the Gospels, which are anchored to a specific time, historical people, and eye-witness accounts.

        • Jiro says:

          You can find a long tradition within Christianity for lots of things, many of which are mutually exclusive. If creation had turned out to be correct, I’m pretty sure it would be possible to point to a long tradition of taking creation literally. You get the situation where no matter what the actual truth is, Christianity has had a “long tradition” of saying it.

          • Randy M says:

            Except that Christianity has a long tradition of declaring certain things heresy, like Jaskologists describes.
            If “day” is metaphorical, nothing changes. If “Jesus” is metaphorical, throw out the faith and sleep in on Sunday.

          • Jaskologist says:

            Eh, this would be a stronger objection if we were talking about, say, Origen. Augustine, on the other hand, is one of the most central Christian thinkers.

        • Julie K says:

          there was long tradition of interpreting the creation accounts in a metaphorical way long before there was any scientific pressure to do so.

          I think the main point of disagreement back then between the creation accounts and science concerned the Aristotelian theory of an eternal, unchanging physical universe, rather than one that had been created at a specific point in the past. (Of course, any attempts to reconcile the two would eventually be rendered obsolete by the theory of the Big Bang.)

      • Snodgrass says:

        Thank you for an excellent read. I suppose it’s not surprising that the Doctors of the Church come across as spectacular writers …

      • Bone Man with Shiny Hat says:

        It’s kind of depressing that we have recognizably the exact same problem now as when he wrote it 1600 years ago. And it’s not like any non-Orthodox denomination of Christians rejects St. Augustine: they all revere him, then some cheerfully go about their business as if he’d never said anything on the subject.

        Hopefully nobody’s going to be taking EY’s parables as literal truth 1600 years from now. Realistically, if they survive that long, someone surely will. Magic counting stones….

    • FacelessCraven says:

      the Bible contains a large amount of information. Internalizing this information and putting it to work requires an interpretation/compilation process; interpretation of what you read is impacted by what you think, and what you think is modified by what you read. The interpretation/compiling process results in outputs in your actual life, which give you feedback on how the whole process is working; this process is supposed to be unequivocally good for you, for instance.

      Not everything in the Bible is literally true. Jesus’ parables, The Psalms, Proverbs and Song of Solomon, the entire book of Revelation, possibly the entire book of Job, for instance. Figuring out which are which is an integral part of the above interpretation/compilation process. The starting assumption is that God is trying to communicate with you, and one reads in an effort to receive his message. Genesis is pretty clearly not intended as a scientific treatise, nor does a rigidly literalistic interpretation fit what I understand as the purpose of the story, which is to convey information to us about God and our relationship to him. Compare the genesis account to, say, the Sermon on the Mount, which is essentially the central core of the Christian faith, or the letters that make up the latter half of the New Testament; far less wiggle room there.

      tl;dr – Genesis appears to be one of the more abstractly-written parts of the bible, so not interpreting it as literal statements of fact seem reasonable. Other parts of the bible are written far less abstractly, so they should be interpreted more literally.

    • caethan says:

      Another note on Scriptural interpretation. The doctrine of Scriptural inerrancy doesn’t mean that a literal historical interpretation of Scripture is necessarily the correct one. It means that there exists a correct interpretation of Scripture. When we read a passage or a story, the goal is to figure out what the truths are to be gained from that passage. These can be historical (these people did these things at this time), moral (these acts are wicked or righteous), theological (this is some aspect of the nature of God) or some other kind. Insisting on a naive historical interpretation of all the disparate books of the Bible is rather foolish, both because there are books that were clearly not intended as histories – e.g., the Song of Songs or the book of Job – and because our own knowledge of the natural world tells us that such an interpretation is false.

      In my case, I have a doctorate in molecular biology and extensive experience in quantitative genetics and bioinformatics, and it is clear to me that a naively literal reading of the book of Genesis is incorrect. Humans descended at some point from non-human ancestors. So the question is then on what interpretation of Genesis is best supported by not only the reading of the text, but our knowledge of the world and its history.

      • Jiro says:

        and because our own knowledge of the natural world tells us that such an interpretation is false.

        That amounts to “if it seems to contain a mistake, we know that that’s one of the places that shouldn’t be taken literally”. This makes you unable to ever see mistakes.

        • caethan says:

          It doesn’t amount to that, it’s exactly that. It’s almost like Christians have some external reason to believe the Scriptures contain truth.

    • Julie K says:

      Additional questions:
      Was there a specific point in history when humans began to have souls?
      If Adam and Eve were not real people, what is the source of original sin?

  11. Lysenko says:

    I get the sense that a plurality, maybe even majority of the SSC commentariat more or less endorses some variant of Whig History. To-whit, that the history of the Human Race is the story of mankind’s halting and meandering but nonetheless basically steady progress out of barbarism and chaos and towards health, wealth, longetivity, and stability, with the prospect of an all-transforming transhuman/posthuman singularity as the inevitable endpoint barring unforseeable low-probability disasters like another massive meteor strike resetting the clock.

    Am I off the mark entirely? Partially?

    If I am, DO you see stable long-term trends or patterns in humanity’s development over the past few thousand years? If so, what?

    • Nornagest says:

      I see technological progress (broadly defined; procedures for doing things are also a kind of technology) as having had a generally upward slope through history, though not a monotonic one.

      My view of social and ethical progress, however, is much more guarded. I do think we’re doing better on those axes, on average, in the 21st century than in the 13th or the 2nd, but I think that’s more because the advances we’ve seen have been enabled by technological changes, or by the general prosperity they’ve led to. In contexts where we don’t see transformative technological advances, changes in moral fashion seem almost random, so I don’t think there’s anything in our ethical history itself that’s causing it to bend toward justice.

      I associate Whig history more with the latter concept, so my answer’s going to be no. But it’s a qualified no.

    • John Schilling says:

      Magic Eight Ball Says: Yes, definitely, on the past. Reply hazy, try again, on the future.

      • roystgnr says:

        Indeed. The pace of change and the relatively unconstraining limits to change mean there’s no way we’re going to see a stable modern-human society tens of thousands of years from now. But beyond that, I wouldn’t even bet on whether the future is carbon or silicon or ash.

    • Mercer says:

      I would say I agree that we’ve made progress, and may well be heading towards some transhuman event, but with the caveat that I’m not sure how much politics has actually had to do with it and that I’m reasonably confident it was not basically steady. This might be the lamest endorsement of Whig History of all time, and we could well have done even better without any of the Whigs.

    • Pku says:

      “The whigs must win this election”, Tom said notoriously.

    • Salem says:

      Why did the Whigs wear silk when Queen Anne died? Because the Tories were worsted. (Authentic 18th century joke!)

      Some things are pretty clear:

      – Ancient history is full of episodes of major decline in terms of technology, health and wealth.
      – Until fairly recently, the world was, roughly, in a Malthusian trap.
      – Europe has seen a consistent technological improvement for a thousand years.
      – The last 200 years (300 in NW Europe) have seen fast, consistent economic growth that has far outpaced population growth. This is an extraordinary and so-far unique event in human history.

      Yet even these obvious facts about the past are often treated as controversial. If we can’t even agree on the past, we have little chance of doing so on the future.

    • ChetC3 says:

      I see stable long-term trends in the development of terrestrial life over the past few billion years, but that doesn’t mean I endorse some variant of the Great Chain of Being.

    • Bone Man with Shiny Hat says:

      Material and moral progress might be analogous to evolution’s “progress” in creating more-complex life forms:

      In the beginning, there were prokaryotes. Then some prokaryotes ate some other prokaryotes, had digestive problems, and ended up as eukaryotes. Then some eukaryotes started working together. Then they started differentiating: multicellular organisms. Then multicellular organisms took a couple of routes to further complexity: plants and fungi and animals. Somewhere in there intelligence became a thing: primates and humans.

      But there are still a hell of a lot of prokaryotes around, and slime-molds, and annelids, and algae. Evolution has had time to explore many many routes, which means the overall set of things that exist includes a lot more complexity in later periods than in earlier ones (modulo gigantic asteroid strikes).

      Cultural evolution likewise started with hunter-gatherer primates, and has wandered in some very interesting directions that include freedom of speech and religion, massive consumer surpluses, and footprints on the Moon. But there are still hunter-gatherers around (not many, I admit), still poor subsistence farmers (lots of those), still people who think mankind peaked in the 7th Century, and still people who burn other people alive in iron cages.

      So I’d say that some cultures have figured out how to be more moral in a lot of ways (while regressing on a few dimensions), and seem to be blessed with the kind of material prosperity that either makes converts of people in other cultures or gives those in the prosperous countries the power to blow the ever-living shit out of the others or in some other way gives an advantage to those higher-complexity cultures.

      Anyway, that’s my explanation for why it seems like we’re making moral progress and simultaneously seems like we’re not. Note that on the cultural side of the analogy, I don’t expect the prokaryotes and annelids to last indefinitely.

  12. FacelessCraven says:

    posted here in an attempt not to pollute an otherwise productive thread. Also, could I ask that anyone not explicitly more blue-tribe/left-wing than Corey not post in this particular thread at all?

    @Corey – “Being charitable towards liberals here goes… less well. (E.g. someone cited Dworkin already this OT).”

    At the risk of being part of the problem, why is quoting Dworkin a bad or uncharitable thing? As I understand things, she’s never really been explicitly disavowed by feminism as a whole? I understand generally that her views fed into the feminist sex wars, but surely that implies that she is actually part of feminism, and as far as I understand that split is still ongoing, and hasn’t actually fractured the movement’s overall cohesion… I guess as an outsider I don’t understand why she’s supposed to be off-limits. She certainly seems like a very good example of everything that’s wrong with feminism, so I can understand why she comes up a lot and how frustrating that is, but wouldn’t the easy option be for the movement to disavow her outright?

    “I provided a list including global warming denial and got defenses of *that*.”

    I definately don’t think Science as a social system has any reliable connection to science as a process, so “scientists say” is pretty much meaningless to me in any context even remotely connected to politics. The medical science vs criminology fight over gun control introduced me to the idea, and I see the Replication Crisis as broadly confirming it. Is there a way to make this point without tribalism?

    • Anonymous says:

      How the fuck would feminism explicitly disclaim anyone or anything? There’s no pope or inquisition of feminism.

      This is same kind of double standard dumb shit the right wing is always pulling on Muslims and blacks. “Why don’t they denounce X”?!?

      • FacelessCraven says:

        @anonymous – “How the fuck would feminism explicitly disclaim anyone or anything? There’s no pope or inquisition of feminism.”

        …Maybe in those womens’ studies classes? Maybe in any of the feminist public commentary written any time in the several decades since? My impression, which I’m freely admitting might be completely wrong, is that Feminist theory still holds that Dworkin was an insightful and significant contributor to the movement, if perhaps not the most palatable one.

        As for double standards, my impression is that Buckley ran the John Birchers out of the conservative movement quite explicitly, for an example of what you’re saying isn’t possible to do. Everyone has to figure out what to do with the awful people on their own side. Expecting your outgroup to just ignore them is unlikely to go well. The Westboro Baptist Church was outgrouped by the vast majority of Evangelical Christians in America, despite the absence of a pope. I don’t see how this is supposed to be impossible.

        • Mercer says:

          If the Overton window is moving left over a given time frame, you’d expect to see right-wing groups throwing out potentially embarrassing allies while left-wing groups wouldn’t necessarily have to follow suit. On an anecdotal level I see more of a tendency to close ranks on the left, but that seems like a prime candidate to just be a personal bias.

          • Aapje says:

            I think that ‘left’ and ‘right’ are themselves fluid terms for groups that have their own evolving Overton windows. As such, your argument appears nonsensical to me.

            For example, in my country, it was the right that supported open borders in the 60’s to bring cheap workers in. Then the left adopted that, but for a different reason (to ‘save’ people). Nowadays, the globalist left and right are in favor and the isolationist left and right are against.

          • Mercer says:

            Yes, the trouble is people disagree on the precise meaning of left and right. This has to do with ideas clustering together when nothing in their content forces them to do so, which is discussed somewhere else in this OT. I am using what I understand to be left and right basically as cardinal directions.

            If a right wing party adopts a left wing idea (open borders), that doesn’t make open borders a right wing idea. It just makes it a lousy right wing party.

          • Aapje says:

            I disagree that open borders is an ‘winged’ idea at all. It is a method/solution. Many solutions can serve ‘left’- or ‘right’ wing ideas, depending on how people judge consequences of the solution.

            For example, some people want closed borders because they think that black people are genetically inferior. Some people want closed borders because they are against the flooding of the labor market with cheap labor. These goals are very different, yet the solution they choose is the same.

          • Mercer says:

            Open borders can be a strategic thing, but I think broadly the idea has a moral character that best fits it on the left

            One of progressivisms core values (feel free to dispute this) is a belief in fundamental human equality. If thats a sincere value, then the fact that some people get to be born and live in a prosperous society while others don’t has to be seen as an injustice. Perhaps a progressive understands the global open borders right this second might have serious negative consequences, but they’d still consider it as a moral endpoint worth striving towards

            If you think black people are genetically inferior, you’ve already violated the progressive value of believing in fundamental human equality. You can still agree with all progressivisms other core values, but I think other progressives would be very reluctant to keep your company.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Mercer

            If you think black people are genetically inferior, you’ve already violated the progressive value of believing in fundamental human equality.

            Careful here. “Equality” can mean three different things, often conflated with and without malice.

            There is equality in rights which few people object to. There’s equality is opportunities which is considerably more controversial. And finally, there’s equality in outcomes which not many people are prepared to argue for outright (a notable exception in the US is EEOC).

            The belief that, say, blacks have genetically-determined lower IQ (compared to whites) has compatibility problems only with the equality in outcomes.

          • Mercer says:

            You’ve got a point Lumifer, but if a person who believed in genetic IQ differences between races and defined equality as equality of opportunity and not more then self-identified as a progressive, would he be accepted as such?

          • Randy M says:

            If you think black people are genetically inferior, you’ve already violated the progressive value of believing in fundamental human equality.

            Ha! No, if you think any one person is genetically inferior, on net, you’ve violated the value of believing in human equality, haven’t you? What’s racial groups got to do with it?

          • Mercer says:

            I was just using racial groups because it was brought up in Aapje’s exampe about open borders being supported for different reasons. Of course you’re right, so if we’re going to maintain the notion of equality (assuming we aren’t satisfied at “of outcomes or of opportunities”) I do think it has to refer to something completely separate from our abilities/characteristics and more to something along the lines of “Soul”

          • Aapje says:

            I hindsight I should have said ‘genetically different,’ as my statement was basically poisoning the well and a blue tribe shibboleth.

            There is actually pretty strong evidence that different ethnic groups have different genes and that this affects IQ. My very speculative theory is that different cultures have selected on intelligence differently. For example, the Jewish people are known for valuing a high education very highly (see the Jewish doctor stereotype) and they do very well in IQ tests. Evolution theory would suggest that these are connected.

            However, such differences are merely true for the average and say very little about individuals. They only lead to discrimination if you believe in treating people based on their identity group, rather as an individual.

            As I don’t believe in that, nor in (fully) equal outcomes being a goal, the existence or non-existence of genetic differences is rather irrelevant to my political position. My non-dismissal of the possibility merely means that I don’t freak out if we improve access to education and then find out that some groups get (a bit) disproportionately more or fewer degrees.

            In any case, the best way to make this a non-issue is to have a ton of inter-ethnic sex. My door is always open…. 🙂

          • Mary says:

            “No, if you think any one person is genetically inferior, on net, you’ve violated the value of believing in human equality, haven’t you? What’s racial groups got to do with it?”

            ’cause people are bonkers.

            Yes, there are those who can admit that people vary in potential, but insist that the variation MUST BE orthogonal to race.

        • Corey says:

          Maybe the disavowal happened long ago (I actually don’t know), antifeminists didn’t notice, and since the only people who ever bring it up are unconvincable antifeminists nobody bothers.

          • Mercer says:

            This happens sometimes but I don’t think its happened in this specific instance.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            If someone is running around in a public space claiming that your movement is associated with some toxic figure, but your movement publicly disavowed them ages ago, why not just say so? New people are showing up all the time who aren’t familiar with the history. It takes very little effort to write “We disavowed her long ago, see [link]” and keep that misinformation from taking root in their heads.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Corey – “Maybe the disavowal happened long ago (I actually don’t know), antifeminists didn’t notice, and since the only people who ever bring it up are unconvincable antifeminists nobody bothers.”

            Here’s two obituaries for her from the Guardian. My reading is that one holds her up as a feminist icon, and the other recognizes that while she is a feminist icon, she’s done massive damage to the cause. For obvious reasons, I agree a lot more with the later position, but surely feminist icons with that level of influence are valid topics in a discussion of feminism?

            For what it’s worth, my understanding is that Dworkin’s ideas drove a fairly serious split in the movement (the Feminist Sex Wars), that the faction that sided with her is still a going concern in movement feminism, and that the feminists who oppose her ideas have more or less had to accept a fragile truce with them.

          • brad says:

            @13th lettter
            First, not everything is online. Second, it’s unclear what would be taken as sufficient proof by those making the claim that “feminism” hasn’t disavowed something. Any particular book or article could be rejected as unrepresentative. Finally, isn’t the onus on the person making the claim to have some strong basis for making it?

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            @brad

            Those are all valid points, but they don’t mean it’s pointless to make the trivial effort required anyway.

            If someone started claiming that National Review magazine loves John Birch, NR in response can take five seconds out of their day to point to William F. Buckley’s extensive disavowal of the John Birch Society. That’s not going to convince everyone, but you’re never going to convince every fanatic or bad-faith arguer and that’s not the point anyway. The point is to inform the people who don’t know any better and that’s always to your benefit.

          • Anonanon says:

            When both sides are operating under “no friends to the right, no enemies to the left”, the moderate right has a much easier time officially “disavowing” people.
            It’s very difficult for the left to attempt, and they may have difficulty grasping the concept (“why would I need to, anyway?”).

          • Mary says:

            That’s another reason to avoid being a feminist.

            If the movement is so incoherent and amorphous that you can’t figure out what is in it and what is out, what’s the point? At best, calling yourself a feminist will convey nothing; at worst, you are at the mercy of whatever stripe of feminism your listener is most familiar, and you’re calling yourself that.

            This is not helped by my experience with feminists who do not even retreat to the bailey, who praise such incoherence as “diverse” and seem to think it odd that women don’t want to join a movement that won’t tell them what it stands for. (I’ve run across those who do retreat to the bailey, too, but less frequently.)

        • Chalid says:

          Maybe in those womens’ studies classes? Maybe in any of the feminist public commentary written any time in the several decades since? My impression, which I’m freely admitting might be completely wrong, is that Feminist theory still holds that Dworkin was an insightful and significant contributor to the movement

          I’ve never taken a women’s studies class, but thinking a person is insightful, influential, and worth reading is completely compatible with also thinking that they are crazy and have abhorrent views. Think of the commentariat here and Moldbug, for example.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Chalid – Sure, but I don’t think it would be reasonable for a right-wing member of the commentariat here to say that left-wingers are being uncharitable when they bring him up as an example of the problems with right-wing thought.

      • wtvb says:

        The twitter mob acts a lot like a feminist inquisition and as long as they don’t have explicitly written rules, the people can only try to guess what the rules are from what the mob have previously done. Which, sometimes seems to align with her ideals.

        Also I want to point out “Why don’t they denounce X” isn’t strictly a right wing strategy, as people are usually reminded by MSM that “White America” needs to apologize for some things they had neither control on nor relation to.

        • FacelessCraven says:

          are you left-wing/blue tribe?

        • brad says:

          So you are claiming that, at the low end from the discussion below, 60 million Americans consider “the twitter mob,” whatever that means, to be authoritative on what feminism means?

          • Mary says:

            Words are generally defined by popular consensus.

            In particular, if people associate feminism with the “twitter mob”, that’s what it’s going to mean.

          • Anonymous says:

            People in general, don’t. People in general don’t even know what a “twitter mob” is. They think twitter is that thing that celebrities use to post selfies.

      • Anonanon says:

        They could disclaim her with the very same methods they use to universally disclaim and denounce the products of patriarchy?

        Edit: sorry, just saw the OP. I’ll claim to be left-wing via horseshoe theory, just for this post.

      • Aapje says:

        @Anonymous

        How the fuck would feminism explicitly disclaim anyone or anything?

        Prominent feminists could do so, as well as prominent feminist organizations. There is a difference between a movement not being strictly hierarchical and a movement being without leaders or other hierarchical elements. I believe that you are painting a false dichotomy between strictly hierarchical movements and completely anarchist movements, while pretty much all movements are somewhere in between.

        In my experience, Dworkin is admired by a group of (sex-negative) feminists and simply ignored by the others. The end result is very unsatisfactory IMO, as you get gushing, but without the criticism to balance this out.

        Perhaps examples are in order:

        https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/mar/30/andrea-dworkin-the-feminist-knew-teach-young-women

        This is a prominent British feminist (Julie Bindel) in a prominent British newspaper talking up Dworkin.

        https://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/jan/26/germaine-greer-female-eunuch-feminists-influence

        Here we have the famous Germaine Greer calling Dworkin a “defining voice in western feminism”

        IMHO, when prominent feminists like Bindel and Greer gush over Dworkin, but without any voices of disapproval (I’ve tried to find them in the Guardian, to no avail), it is the opposite of disapproval.

      • Bone Man with Shiny Hat says:

        @Anonymous:

        How the f— would feminism explicitly disclaim anyone or anything? There’s no pope or inquisition of feminism.

        That’s a good point: if there’s one thing I’ve never seen feminists do, it’s denounce anyone.

      • “How the fuck would feminism explicitly disclaim anyone or anything? There’s no pope or inquisition of feminism.”

        Feminism isn’t tightly centralized, but there are still average tendencies.

        Mary Daly is the reason I don’t identify as a feminist. I read some of her books back in the 70s. Even though there was some interesting material, the misandry was intense and pervasive. The only way I could stand her books was to assume that when she said women, she meant people, and when she said men, she meant evil boring robots that weren’t even conscious.

        Why read her at all? She was interesting about living with gusto, and she had some intriguing bits about language. The one that sticks with me is that “fix” includes repair, immobize, and punish.

        Anyway, back then, I decided that if she is a feminist, I am not a feminist. Still, it was amusing to watch someone relax when I said I wasn’t a feminist, and tighten up when I said “but I agree with many of their ideas”.

        After a while, Daly begins to acquire a bad reputation because she’s hostile to MtF trangendered people. No one seems to notice that her transphobia is directly connected to her misandry.

        Daly dies, and I read whatever is said about her that happens to cross my path, probably ten or twenty items. They’re split between enthusiastic eulogies and attacks because of her transphobia.

        If anyone’s got recommendations for feminist writing which attacks Daly for misandry, I’m quite interested in it, but meanwhile I’m not a feminist. I also don’t trust anyone who’s emphatically anti-feminist because I don’t trust them to not hate women.

        • Aapje says:

          After a while, Daly begins to acquire a bad reputation because she’s hostile to MtF trangendered people. No one seems to notice that her transphobia is directly connected to her misandry.

          IMO, it’s very telling which people ‘they’ excommunicate and which are tolerated. Some kinds of bigotry are clearly acceptable, while other kinds aren’t.

    • utilitarian troll says:

      As someone considerably to the right of Corey, I disagree with the rhetorical style you’re exemplifying right now, where if someone refuses to disavow someone on their “team”, they are guilty by association. You could make the same argument that since SSC commenters aren’t condemning Trump every other minute we’re all crypto Putin bots or something.

      Remember the goal is to maximize expected utility guys! Isn’t it exciting? Forget tribalism let’s maximize expected utility!

      • But fighting for your tribe against the hated enemy is fun.

        Especially in a high-trust environment, where no one actually expects it all to break down into actual violence.

      • Anonanon says:

        we’re all crypto Putin bots or something

        The Yankees know! Peregruzka!

      • FacelessCraven says:

        @Utilitarian Troll – I’m a Trump supporter and fairly pro-Putin. Trump is observably more pro-Putin than Obama or any of the other presidential candidates this year. I think pointing this out is a valid criticism of the Republican party and/or the American Right in general. I think it would be silly to argue that people who do point this out are being uncharitable to the right-wingers here who don’t support Putin or Trump.

        [EDIT] – I appreciate that this is obviously extremely frustrating to the right-wingers who aren’t on board the Trump train, but pretending the pro-Trump people don’t exist seems uncharitable to *them*, and pretending they do or don’t exist based on which is most convinient to the right-wingers is extremely uncharitable to the left.

        • Aapje says:

          In what sense are you pro-Putin? Do you believe that Russia has a right to control the various ex-USSR states? Do you admire the confrontational political model? Do you think the current Russian policies are good for the West/US?

          • FacelessCraven says:

            I think Putin is probably the best ruler Russia has had in a very long time. I think our foreign policy toward Russia has been needlessly hostile and provocative since the end of the Cold War, and that it is rational for Putin to see us as a dangerous enemy and to act accordingly. I think we exercise more or less uncontested influence in our region, and complaining that Russia does the same in its region is hypocritical and pointless; it will not stop Russia from exerting influence, but will actually cause a net increase in misery by fomenting discord by making Russia’s neighbors think they can shake off the yoke without consequence. I think the Russian expansionism is an obvious product of our policy of encirclement, and that the best solution available is to stop the confrontational policy rather than doubling down.

          • Aapje says:

            I think Putin is probably the best ruler Russia has had in a very long time.

            Well, that sure is a very low bar.

            I do agree that the West has sought to draw the ex-USSR nations into its sphere of influence, although primarily by soft means, to which those countries are mostly receptive due to their experiences with Stalinism. However, I disagree that this is automatically a threat to Russia, whose fears seem to be mostly based on paranoia and assumptions of bad faith.

            I also disagree that it is hypocritical to object to countries being coerced and/or occupied, when you yourself are merely enticing those countries. The West has not sent ‘little green men’ into Latvia, they freely chose to join NATO and the EU.

            I think the Russian expansionism is an obvious product of our policy of encirclement

            ‘Encirclement’ only makes sense if the West is blocking off resources from Russia. In what way is that being done? Russia is a mafia nation, with an elite that funnels as much wealth to itself, while coasting along on gas & oil income, until that well dries up. It needs the globalized world to buy it’s resources and sell goods back in return. There is no actual development of their own economy into something useful. Even Saudi Arabia works harder to achieve that.

            If Russia had an actual plan for an economy that is built on a different world order, I could understand their unhappiness at more and more countries being part of the Western neoliberal system. But they don’t, so their objections ring hollow.

            PS. IMO the US has royally f’ed up the transition from communism to post-communism, by trying to turn Russia into a clone of the US, with no understanding of how you build a nation (something that the US has been traditionally bad at, from 1783 forward).

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Aapje – “Well, that sure is a very low bar.”

            I’m a pessimist. He’s unquestionably less awful that Saddam Hussein, and I’m pretty sure toppling Saddam was the wrong choice.

            “I also disagree that it is hypocritical to object to countries being coerced and/or occupied, when you yourself are merely enticing those countries.”

            I think it’s hypocritical, because I think we would act similarly if the positions were reversed. I do not think we would accept Russian or Chinese encirclement of CONUS, and I do not think there is any real upper limit to what we would do to make sure it didn’t happen; certainly we have not been shy about punitive measures against neighbors who get too far out of line. The fact that we haven’t actually outright invaded any of them in the recent past has more to do with overwhelming military superiority than principles, in my opinion.

            “However, I disagree that this is automatically a threat to Russia, whose fears seem to be mostly based on paranoia and assumptions of bad faith.”

            I think our hostile intentions toward Russia have been fairly explicit for some time; certainly they seemed obvious to me as early as the beginning of the Obama administration, when I read a number of arguments that our encirclement policy was going to provoke Russia into an aggressive posture that we would then have no good way of dealing with. I understand that some elements of our government were in fact trying to act in good faith toward Russia, but your assessment of their incompetence seems accurate. When the people trying to harm have an excellent, practical plan and the people trying to help are basically clueless, the outcome is not in doubt.

            “‘Encirclement’ only makes sense if the West is blocking off resources from Russia.”

            Military encirclement is a thing as well; it interferes with Russia’s ability to project power in the region, which is something Russia thinks they have the right to do. I don’t think it’s worth it to try and stop them. Again, I think we’d do the same with Russian or Chinese bases in Canada or South America.

            In general, I am very pessimistic about our Foreign policy, which appears to me to be an unbroken string of disasters for at least the last two decades. I think the best, safest thing we can do for Russia and its neighbors both is to leave them the hell alone, to stop trying to fix or manage things and just let them figure things out themselves. I have no confidence we can improve the situation, and much worry we’ll make it much worse.

          • Aapje says:

            He’s unquestionably less awful that Saddam Hussein, and I’m pretty sure toppling Saddam was the wrong choice.

            There is a difference between being anti-regime change and being pro-Saddam. I was against that particular decision, but would never call myself pro-Saddam.

            Perhaps your definition of pro-Putin is very different from mine.

            it interferes with Russia’s ability to project power in the region

            “Project power” is just code for oppressing people. I don’t believe that any big country has the automatic right to do so. Then again, I’m from a small country, close to several big ones, so I am the oppressed in that scenario.

            You can make a good case for intervention to defend certain universal rights and in principle different cultures can have different definitions of universal rights. But again, Russia is not defending Ukrainians from getting slaughtered.

            Again, I think we’d do the same with Russian or Chinese bases in Canada or South America.

            Sure, but Canada isn’t actually under control of the US and yet the US doesn’t occupy them. Now that there is no threat of a global communist war, the US didn’t particularly care that Venezuela was going communist. The West tends to respond to actual threats.

            In general, I am very pessimistic about our Foreign policy, which appears to me to be an unbroken string of disasters for at least the last two decades.

            I think that it is defined by a lack of understanding of other cultures. As such, it fails in ways that are predictable to people who somewhat understand the world and yet utterly unpredictable to US leaders.

            That said, the exact same thing is true for Russia. They have a very strong tendency to choose actions that win the battle, but lose the war. For example, the recent military exploits have granted them control over a few shitty pieces of land (which are a net drain on their economy), yet much further reduced their influence over Eastern Europe. Furthermore, none of it solves the fundamental problem that Russia is fully dependent on the carbon economy and will face disaster if a renewable energy singularity happens (renewables becoming cheaper or close in cost to carbon). IMO, this is just a matter of time. Long term carbon investments are already having difficulty getting funding, because people see the singularity coming.

            The Arab oil nations really strongly believe that their conservative Muslim culture is better than Secular Western culture, but they know how to prioritize much better. Their primary focus is on diversifying their economy into something that survives the singularity. They project power, but relatively realistically, not by burning bridges with everyone.

            Ultimately, Russia very much has the same problem as France, it’s a mouse that thinks it’s a cat.

      • Anonymous says:

        Has Trump declared himself an SSC reader or an LW rationalist? If so, then outsiders would be very reasonable to assume we’re close to Trump in worldview, unless we disavow him up and down.

        Similarly nobody expected Trump to go through a laundry list disavowing Putin, the KKK, Satan and Mohammed as soon as he announced he’s running for president, but when one of the aforementioned figures takes an action that places them on his “team”, then it’s time to for him to disavow or be seen as endorsing them.

    • Corey says:

      Dworkin: The general tendency on both sides is to treat cranks as mainstream, and to be fair I’m not all that familiar with movement feminism. But anecdotally I can say I have never once witnessed a fellow liberal proclaim to believe that no woman’s sexual consent is freely given because men run everything (the sentiment for which she is most famous). (IMO that had a point back when women were property, obviously) (I’m sure everyone could come up with links, but you might just be running in more radical circles than I).

      In the mainstream, whenever anyone cites Dworkin or MacKinnon, eyes roll and the person is ignored as a probable troll – it’s only *ever* done in discussion by rabid antifeminists, so we know engagement is going to be unproductive. (Likewise with some keywords like SJW, cuck, …)

      • Orphan Wilde says:

        Alternative possibility: You’re in a bubble, and you confuse the fact that you don’t see very many people outside that bubble as your bubble being mainstream.

        In the mainstream of American society, only a relatively small percentage of people identify as feminist.

        • Chalid says:

          Who’s in the bubble?

          Almost half of Americans identify as “feminist” or “strong feminist”, which I would call a large fraction.

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            When polled by starting with a list of positive associations with feminism, yes. (Examine the poll and you’ll see what I mean) You can get that effect with regard to any belief system, political or otherwise.

            Asked more bluntly, without an effort to expand people’s short-term internal concept of “feminism”, and it’s closer to 20%.

          • Lumifer says:

            Not to mention that the so-called first-wave feminists and second-wave feminists are quite different and tend not to like each other.

          • Chalid says:

            When polled by starting with a list of positive associations with feminism, yes. (Examine the poll and you’ll see what I mean)

            No, I don’t see what you mean. Question 1 was how much people have heard about feminism, question 2 was a free response question about what people think of when they hear the phrase feminism, and question 3 was about whether they consider themselves feminist. Did you think that question 2 was multiple choice? (And included “lesbians” and “bra-burning” as options?)

            If you have a better poll, post a link.

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            Chalid –

            I can link you to the Huffington Post poll, if you’d like, but it’s literally the first poll referenced when you google “Percentage of people who identify as feminist”. There are other polls which have similar numbers.

            As for your poll, I will observe, in addition the way the survey is structured, that women outnumber men 2 to 1 in the poll sample (1,122 to 488), yet 48% of those polled identified as male versus 52% identifying as female. Something is seriously odd about the way that poll was conducted, quite simply.

          • Chalid says:

            OK. The poll that I linked was the first hit in my search (“americans percent identify as feminist”), I should have looked deeper and seen that there was disagreement among polls.

            I’d call even the low numbers a pretty big fraction of the population, but “big” and “small” are of course subjective and context-dependent.

          • Artificirius says:

            The one I remember seeing was where they asked people if they were feminists, and received really low affirmative responses, 10-20% or so. And then when informed that feminism literally meant equality between the genders, that number shot up to ~80%.

            Possible explanation. People largely think that gender equality of some stripe is a good goal. People largely do not think feminism is driving to this goal. They are also unwilling to disagree with feminists/feminism.

            Second explanation. People are strongly misinformed about feminism.

          • Randy M says:

            And then when informed that feminism literally meant equality between the gender

            Sure, if you mislead people you can get them to change their answers. Whatever “feminism” literally means is not perfectly connected to what people identifying with feminism propose.

            For a non-political example, ask how many people are scientists. Then tell them, science is literally just taking a look at the world around us. Now how many are scientists?
            But have you shown anything true about people’s beliefs if you tout the second number to claim an all-time high in the number of professional scientists?

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            Artificirius –

            “Strongly misinformed about feminism” is a curious notion.

            What is feminism, except what people think it is? Don’t confuse the label with the substance, or the map with the territory. “Feminism” is exactly what people think feminism is; there’s no “misinformed” there, except insofar as communication is concerned. Whatever thing they think “feminism” refers to, certainly exists – the issue is the fight over what thing, exactly, “feminism” refers to.

            I observe, as I did elsewhere here, that proponents of feminism universally want to define “feminism” to be that subset of things that “feminism” could refer to, which they happen to agree with. Those parts that they don’t agree with aren’t feminism, or are bad feminism.

            It’s like… that would be great, if feminists actually followed through on it; it would be a virtuous feedback cycle, in which the only feminists would be good feminists.

            Except I don’t actually see that happening. Feminists are exactly as flawed as everybody else; in some respects more so, because they think they’re the Good Guys, and nobody sins like a saint.

          • Aapje says:

            @Chalid

            The majority of polls seem very consistent, with a large majority being in favor of equal opportunity and about 20% identifying as feminist (women more often than men, but still a minority of women consider themselves feminist).

            The only way these numbers seem to change if people get primed with a certain definition of feminism.

            @Orphan Wilde

            A common claim by feminists is that ‘feminism just means equality’ or a rephrasing of that claim. However, in my experience the vast majority of feminists who make that claim turn out to believe in things that I consider non-egalitarian. I often question them whether they believe that feminists should work for male issues, upon which they generally respond that this should not be done until women stop being (more) disadvantaged, which combined with a lack of objective measures of the disadvantages, inherently leads to dogmatic judgments IMO.

            Furthermore, I simply don’t consider it egalitarian when you don’t help people in need, because you judge their group to be better off. It’s like a doctor refusing to treat your heart attack, because on average rich people have better health, so he chooses to treat the poor person with a yeast infection first. It makes some weird sense if you want to equalize the health of poor & rich people and merely care about group averages, rather than fairness to individuals. But I’m an individualist.

          • brad says:

            @Aapje

            about 20% identifying as feminist

            A common claim by feminists is that ‘feminism just means equality’ or a rephrasing of that claim. However, in my experience the vast majority of feminists who make that claim turn out to believe in things that I consider non-egalitarian.

            Are you sampling randomly from among that 20% of the population?

          • Nornagest says:

            Are you sampling randomly from among that 20% of the population?

            Every time I get into a representation argument, the other guy always ends up saying “well, all the $INGROUP I know smell of sunshine and flowers, and all the $OUTGROUP I’ve met reek of brimstone and wake up every morning yearning to abduct pet kittens from orphanages and make them into stew, which they never ever mention directly but look, here’s a dogwhistle”.

            It is true that your social group is not representative of anything except your social group, and that that can cause problems if you’re using it as a sample space. But in practice I think that horns/halo effects are by far the bigger driver of perceptions.

          • Aapje says:

            I am pretty sure that my sample is disproportionately dominated by more serious feminists, but I don’t exactly see that as a flaw. The most casual feminists merely like some feminist memes, but do no activism or really think for themselves (their interest in feminism is shallow).

            I do think that I’ve analyzed and talked to a rather wide range of more serious feminists, some of which are actually quite sensible. However, I believe that I have good arguments to consider them outliers when it comes to actual results, which is my primary reason to be opposed to the movement.

          • brad says:

            If you aren’t sampling randomly, then I guess getting a significant fraction of the population works. So if we take the 60 million number and then take the top 10% for the most serious, that’s 6 million serious feminists in the US alone. How many of those would you say you talked to get a feel for who is central and who is an outlier?

          • Artificirius says:

            Sure, if you mislead people you can get them to change their answers. Whatever “feminism” literally means is not perfectly connected to what people identifying with feminism propose.

            For a non-political example, ask how many people are scientists. Then tell them, science is literally just taking a look at the world around us. Now how many are scientists?
            But have you shown anything true about people’s beliefs if you tout the second number to claim an all-time high in the number of professional scientists?

            Exactly so.

            What is feminism, except what people think it is?

            I would say some of that, mixed in mostly with feminism being what the results of its proponents are doing. I largely think this points to feminism being largely non-egalitarian.

            @brad

            http://www.vox.com/2015/4/8/8372417/feminist-gender-equality-poll

          • anonymous says:

            “Every time I get into a representation argument, the other guy always ends up saying “well, all the $INGROUP I know smell of sunshine and flowers, and all the $OUTGROUP I’ve met reek of brimstone”

            Like 75% of your own commentary?

          • Nornagest says:

            I have a stalker anon! Now I know I’ve made it here.

          • Aapje says:

            @brad

            That’s not how I determine who is central and who is an outlier. I look at the narratives that are dominant in the media, the feminist narratives in politics and the laws & policies that this results in, the standpoints of major feminist organisations, etc, etc. Then I declare the feminists that hold these standpoints to be mainstream and thus central.

            Again, this sampling methodology may very well not result in ‘mainstream’ being identical to the median, but I consider this a feature, not a bug. My concern is about the actual effect of feminism on society. From that perspective, influence-weighting is perfectly valid.

          • brad says:

            @aapje
            For someone that’s criticizing the lack of scientific rigor in others there just doesn’t seem to be much science in your amateur social science. Just a whole lot of appeals to your own amorphous and undocumented expertise.

          • Aapje says:

            @brad

            My criticisms of feminism aren’t really about scientific rigor, but more on the level of logic and bias:

            – Making broad claims (‘feminism means equality’), while actually believing in a very specific kind of equality (equal outcomes), which is not made clear in the claim (which is therefor deceptive, IMO).
            – Using different terminology for things that are identical, except for who benefits (benevolent sexism vs male privilege); and using those semantic tricks as ‘proof’ of claims about one-sided nature of gender differences.
            – Cherry picking gender differences in weird ways, that happens to result in a much more one-sided conclusion than using a more sensible analysis (wage gap vs gendered workplace differences)
            – Defining unpleasant results away (rape is not forced intercourse, but forced penetration; where the former definition would result in a large number of male victims of female perpetrators no longer being ignorable as victims of a lesser crime).
            – etc, etc

            You seem to be implying that I’m being hypocritical for making claims about mainstream feminism without proving conclusively what mainstream feminism is, but my end goal is not to taint the label, but rather to make people aware of bias and bad logic that results in bad policy due to misinformation. I don’t want people to reflexively equate feminism with evil, I want them to recognize the flaws for themselves and actually understand why they are wrong.

            It’s not about replacing one meme with another, it’s about dissecting memes, so people start to wonder if the thing they have been told, but never truly examined, is actually true.

            People can see for themselves that politicians and the media talk about the wage gap. I don’t need to tell them that this narrative exists and who are behind it, they know. What they may not know is that alternative ways to look at that issue exist and that the the actual cause of the wage gap is not necessarily what some people claim or insinuate it is.

            PS. If you want proof for a specific claim, you can ask. This thread was more of a high level discussion, where it doesn’t seem appropriate to go ‘deep’.

          • brad says:

            You seem to be implying that I’m being hypocritical for making claims about mainstream feminism without proving conclusively what mainstream feminism is, but my end goal is not to taint the label, but rather to make people aware of bias and bad logic that results in bad policy due to misinformation.

            I’m accusing you of not even making the barest attempt at being less wrong on this subject. You have provided no evidence for any of your sweeping claims. Which, okay, this isn’t a wikipedia article, but you haven’t even hinted that you have used good methodology to arrive at your claimed knowledge.

            for example:

            A common claim by feminists is that ‘feminism just means equality’ or a rephrasing of that claim. However, in my experience the vast majority of feminists who make that claim turn out to believe in things that I consider non-egalitarian.

            What are exactly are we to take away from this exactly? You admit you haven’t talked to even a tiny fraction of feminists, much less the vast majority, nor have you used statistically valid sampling methods.

            So what it is it, just a flat out lie? Or does the “in my experience part” transform it from a lie to an utter irrelevance? Is that any better?

            I don’t need to tell them that this narrative exists and who are behind it, they know.

            Then why are you doing exactly that over and over and over again?

            This thread was more of a high level discussion, where it doesn’t seem appropriate to go ‘deep’.

            Is high level discussion a synonym for ‘baseless speculation where we ignore tools for knowing and instead restate our biases and throw just-so stories against the wall’?

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            brad –

            Isolated demand for rigor, much?

            Same problem here as in the other thread of conversation. You’re arguing over what “feminism” means.

            Argument-ending possibility, if you’re willing to try compassion instead of anger for a change: You’re both describing real things and real people that have personally mattered in your intellectual development.

            I’m male. I was raped, by a woman. I looked to feminists for guidance.

            Take half a second to guess how well that went for me. Take another half second to guess how I spent the next year or two emotionally reacting.

            If your guesses are “Horribly” and the emotional equivalent of “Obi Wan Kenobi cutting Anakin Skywalker in half while shouting ‘You were the chosen one!'”, you’d be right. I felt intensely betrayed by a movement that I had implicitly supported throughout much of my adult life.

            There’s no “truth” about what feminism is. Feminism is the experience people have of it. And a lot of people have absolutely terrible experiences. And if feminism, as a movement, would spend half as long dealing with the horrible behavior within itself as it does attacking the people complaining about the horrible behavior… well, maybe there wouldn’t be people complaining about the terrible behavior anymore.

          • Aapje says:

            @brad

            A common claim by feminists is that ‘feminism just means equality’ or a rephrasing of that claim. However, in my experience the vast majority of feminists who make that claim turn out to believe in things that I consider non-egalitarian.

            What are exactly are we to take away from this exactly? You admit you haven’t talked to even a tiny fraction of feminists, much less the vast majority, nor have you used statistically valid sampling methods.

            So what it is it, just a flat out lie? Or does the “in my experience part” transform it from a lie to an utter irrelevance? Is that any better?

            It’s hard to have a fair discussion when you are misrepresenting or misunderstanding my words. There is no claim about the majority of feminists in my statement. ‘A common claim’ merely means that it is not rare in discussions with feminists, nothing more. Such a statement doesn’t require a sampling of feminists, but rather a sampling of feminist discussions with critics. After all, my claim is not that feminists are walking around all day chanting ‘feminism just means equality,’ but rather that if you ask the subset of feminists who seek out debate what feminism stands for, a non-trivial number will give such an answer.

            Now, I don’t have the ability to perform surveys of the required quality, nor know of any surveys that asked this question. Furthermore, such a survey can suffer from priming effects depending on how the question was asked. So I consider a quantitative sampling of feminists from very different forums to be a reasonable method, which has the advantage that I wasn’t always asking the question, so there was a level of variance in the questions that a survey wouldn’t achieve. I especially consider this method reasonable, given the weakness of my claim and the purpose of my statement.

            The purpose was not for readers to draw negative conclusions about all feminists, but rather to instill a level of skepticism towards feminist claims of this sort: ‘feminism just means equality.’ So if readers talk to feminists, they will not take such words at face value, but will test their validity through further questioning. IMHO, this purpose doesn’t require more proof than I have provided, nor greater accuracy in my claims.

            I assumed that the readers of this forum would know better than to try and read generalized statements about a group into such weak claims and instead, would see the value of explaining that a critical approach to certain statements often yields a ‘crack’ in a narrative.

            IMO, it’s ‘less wrong’ try to make people more skeptical about subjective claims and to share information about weaknesses in narratives, so debaters may explore such an avenue in their own exploration of narratives through questioning of believers. I suggest that you do so if you are interested. If you want specific facts about objectively falsifiable feminist claims (which ‘feminism just means equality’ is not!) then I suggest that you ask for such, preferably in a new thread. IMO, this thread is not about specific feminist claims, but more of a higher level discussion, to which my comments were reasonable suitable, but your demand for scientific rigor was not.

          • Mary says:

            ” And then when informed that feminism literally meant equality between the genders, that number shot up to ~80%.”

            Thus showing the power of the motte-and-bailey fallacy.

            “Inform” me of that, OTOH, and I’m going to call you a sexist pig, because it contradicts altogether too much of what I’ve seen of feminism, and I prefer to make my own judgments. (In this case, that “feminist” is rapidly becoming useless.)

      • Anonanon says:

        Do you want links to “there’s no such thing as consensual sex in our patriarchal society, because consent can’t happen in a power differential” articles? How many would you need to see to change your mind? Written when?
        Would evidence help in any way?

        • Corey says:

          Actually what would change my mind would be a reasonably-scientific poll on what percentage of Americans (or some smaller subgroup) agrees with that or a similar statement. I’m tempted to use John Rogers’ 27% Crazification Factor as a threshold, but to be charitable, let’s say over 20% of all Americans or over 33% of self-identified feminists. I declare that I have not done any research as to the real number before picking these thresholds.

          Anyone can find an arbitrarily large number of Internet articles claiming any position. I can find whole sites worth of pro-Nazi articles, doesn’t mean those views are mainstream in any useful sense. There’s a Voluntary Human Extinction Movement, after all (the alt.suicide.holiday FAQ went way downhill when they took it over).

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Corey – “Actually what would change my mind would be a reasonably-scientific poll on what percentage of Americans (or some smaller subgroup) agrees with that or a similar statement. ”

            I would argue that any version that has impact on actual policy deserves attention, regardless of what the public thinks, since the public is not very well informed on most issues. I could be wrong, but I think Dworkin’s ideas live on in the affirmative consent movement, arguably in pushes like Listen and Believe, and generally in the more extreme versions of the Patriarchy framework.

            …Also, my apologies. The “only leftists comment in this thread” thing appears to have failed spectacularly.

          • anonymous says:

            Proving what you’re desperate to disprove.

          • Jiro says:

            You can find a site full of Nazi articles, but it wouldn’t be a widely read site. Feminist articles of the type referred to here are common at popular sites.

        • FacelessCraven says:

          @Anonymous – “Proving what you’re desperate to disprove.”

          Nope.

    • Corey says:

      Global warming: Unpacked as “human fossil-fuel-burning activity has already increased atmospheric CO2 concentrations enough to materially change the world climate compared to a counterfactual where humans burned no fossil fuel, and the effects are compounding as humans keep de-sequestering CO2”.

      To disbelieve that, one needs to handwave away a *lot* of evidence from multiple lines of inquiry, and to believe the evidence is all faked requires some seriously conspiracy-theorist mind-twisting. (Three people can keep a secret if two are dead, and for some reason nobody’s claimed the fame and fortune waiting for them by blowing the lid off the conspiracy between every climatologist, astronomer and physicist on the planet). I don’t know if anyone disbelieves the core point (we’re de-sequestering CO2 a million or so times faster than it sequestered) but it wouldn’t surprise me.

      Just because something’s a political point of contention doesn’t mean it’s automatically invalid – the left wants to disbelieve HBD probably more than the right wants to disbelieve GW, but does that make HBDers go “this science is Tainted With Politics, so let’s not trust it?”

      Now the common follow-on point is much less clear: that total costs of mitigation plus mitigated GW are less than the total costs of unmitigated GW (also distributional effects). For that we turn to economics and macros is in such bad shape that reasonable people can have completely disjoint opinions. Mine comes from witnessing 2008 – a small decline in US property values triggered a major world recession, so what happens when land-use patterns shift within a lifetime? (e.g. can’t grow corn in Iowa, can’t get clothes made in Bangaladesh because it’s gone, etc.)

      • Orphan Wilde says:

        The issue isn’t with the question of whether or not we’ve released enough CO2 to cause a change to the planet. ANY amount of CO2 released is enough to cause a change. Considering your objections to people weakmanning liberalism, you should seriously consider how badly the global warming debate weakmans the skeptic side of the equation.

        The substantive question isn’t whether we should expect a change, but how much of a change should we expect. And the evidence is pointing, very strongly, to “A lot less of a change than propagandists have been claiming for the past thirty years”. Their predictions have been falsified OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER again, and then they turn around and make exactly the same claims, only changing the year in which it will happen. Whether or not the current situation is “weather” or “climate change” is dependent entirely on whether it supports or contradicts their claims.

        The strongest position, given the current evidence, is the lukewarmist position – the idea that there has been, and will be, warming, but not very much (and mostly raising temperature minimums, not maximums), and that much of the warming over the past few centuries would have happened even without human intervention (that is, a substantial portion of the warming signal was/is natural). But this claim is treated as equivalent to denying that human-caused warming is happening at all.

        • Mercer says:

          I enjoyed this series on the lukewarmist position. At the very least, Corey, you’ll see the distinction between the strawman version of climate skepticism that gets batted around all the time and what thoughtful skeptics actually claim.

          http://www.coyoteblog.com/coyote_blog/2016/03/denying-the-climate-catastrophe-1-introduction.html

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            Warren Meyer is the only blogger I’ve continued to read consistently. I don’t agree with everything he writes, but at least he hasn’t gone off the deep end *coughCaptainCapitalismcough*.

          • Corey says:

            I’ll take a look, thanks.
            Edit: Looked. Generally sound, and has decent epistemic hygiene up until the end (mentions of “Solyndra” and “virtue signalling” are clues of course).
            There’s a few typical denier points included that are hard to swallow: cherry-picking 1998 as a comparison year to today to claim a pause, claiming the urban heat island effect is uncorrected for (it’s not, plus he had a bit of bonus conspiracy-theorizing in there), and nutpicking the most alarmist case he could find to argue against. (The IPCC middle-ground model is on *much* less tenuous ground in the graphs). The prior two will get you insta-ignored in any mainstream discussion.
            I do like his tendency to not jump on “the Sun is hotter”, and he makes very good points about media sensationalizing of science (a problem in every field – e.g. everything both causes and prevents cancer).
            I actually agree with most of the policy prescriptions – Pigouvian carbon taxes are great, crank up nuclear (I missed if he suggests solving the waste problem with new reactor designs that fission the waste; I’m for that as well). Likewise, I think we should give some reactors to the developing world (worried about uranium theft? Guard ’em – America is good at guarding stuff).
            I don’t see what it hurts to subsidize clean energy research and usage (someone’s gotta pay for research after all, or it never gets done) but *shrug*.

          • Corey says:

            Edit: Replied in the wrong place, godsdammit.

        • Corey says:

          “propagandists” is doing heavy lifting there – are your sources nutpicking?

          Part of the problem is probably unfalsifiability due to the long timescales – sufficiently motivated people can claim “it’s natural variation!” for literally any amount of warming.

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            Ah. I see. You haven’t studied the subject in any depth.

            Look – “I defer to experts” isn’t an argument. It’s fine for you to say “I trust the experts more than I trust some rando on the Internet”, that’s a fine sentiment for you to express.

            But don’t pretend it’s an argument, because it isn’t, and it’s a joke that anybody thinks it is.

      • John Schilling says:

        Global warming: Unpacked as “human fossil-fuel-burning activity has already increased atmospheric CO2 concentrations enough to materially change the world climate compared to a counterfactual where humans burned no fossil fuel, and the effects are compounding as humans keep de-sequestering CO2”.

        To disbelieve that, one needs to handwave away a *lot* of evidence from multiple lines of inquiry,

        True, but all you’ve done is describe the Motte. People are routinely denounced as Deniers, the moral equivalent of the Holocaust variety with often explicit claims that they should be rounded up and locked away, unless they also cede the Bailey: that the “material change” in climate is at least 3C of temperature increase per doubling of CO2, that the effects of this will be catastrophic within a few decades, that averting this catastrophe is one of the highest priorities of global civilization, and that this can only be accomplished by forcible reduction in the use of fossil fuels by the industrialized West.

        The science on that is far less settled than Blue Tribe would like to claim, and it does not require literal conspiracy theories to recognize this.

        • Corey says:

          Well, the modal response is usually “We’re not warming! And the warming is natural! And the Sun got hotter! (it didn’t) And volcanoes! (not overwhelming) And Al Gore makes money on carbon credits! (on Counter-Earth: ‘Hypocrite Al Gore doesn’t even invest in the technology he evangelizes!’)” So most things get eye-rolled away, and deniers do indeed have a high bar to clear to be considered amenable to reason.

          The costs of disruption are likely to be quite high, but econ is scrod and you can’t make anyone agree on it, so whatevs. Suggest a tax increase and it’s all “whoa there, that might hurt GDP!” Suggest widespread land-use changes could hurt GDP worse and you get “eh”

          If you’ve got a good solution for the feedback effects of permafrost ceasing to be so (due to increased minimum temperatures), or burning fossil fuels without adding to atmospheric CO2, step up and claim your Nobel Peace Prize!

          • Lumifer says:

            Well, the modal response is usually “We’re not warming!

            Haven’t you been complaining about how people strawman and weakman views they don’t agree with? Here, have a mirror.

          • Fahundo says:

            And the Sun got hotter! And volcanoes!

            I’ve met plenty of people who with utter sincerity say things like “It snowed last week. Global warming must be a lie” but I’ve never seen anyone make claims like those.

          • Tyrant Overlord Killidia says:

            “Haven’t you been complaining about how people strawman and weakman views they don’t agree with?”

            Probably talking about this guy

          • Aapje says:

            @Fahundo

            I’ve seen people claim that sun activity caused temporary warming.

          • Bone Man with Shiny Hat says:

            @Corey:

            Do you understand that every time you say “denier” it’s a slander that pisses off a lot of people whose minds you’re ostensibly trying to change?

            As John Schilling pointed out, rhetorically and politically it’s inextricably linked with Holocaust deniers. It seems like a stretch to connect people arguing against a historical event with literally millions of witnesses with people arguing against a possibly future event prediction of which depends to a large degree on the outputs of computer code written by climate scientists. (Hint: think major surgery undertaken by Nobel Prize-winning physicists.)

            To get to the political endpoint of, “We must treat preventing further climate change as the most important national and international goal,” you need to accept a long chain of logic. It starts with CO2 being a greenhouse gas (I do), gets to humans pumping out enough to make a noticeable difference to climate (probably), proceeds through climate models being good at prediction (this is where I get off the bandwagon) even though we’re kind of hazy on the feedback effects of water in the atmosphere, then to what the catastrophe-related effects are (weren’t we supposed to get a lot more hurricanes, not fewer?), whether there will be a large/sudden effect on agricultural output, when Manhattan will sink beneath the waves, what we can do in our own countries, what we can make other countries do, and finally how much all this will cost to deal with vs. how much it will cost to head off (David Friedman points out that one of the proponents of action on global warming, economist William Nordhaus, puts a price tag on inaction that turns out to be quite small).

            Note that to convinced of the need for major anti-climate-change interventions now, you have to be on board through the entire chain of reasoning. And that chain crosses a couple of disciplinary boundaries. I think there’s a lot more enthusiasm than clear-headed thought going on in most climate-change policy discussions.

          • Nornagest says:

            Hint: think major surgery undertaken by Nobel Prize-winning physicists.

            This is a little uncharitable. These days it’s almost harder to find a branch of science that doesn’t require cutting code than one that does.

            Code written by scientists or mathematicians is usually terrible, of course, but for other reasons than the correctness of the algorithms. And it doesn’t matter much if a computer model of the cloud layers in Venus runs a thousand times slower than it should, as long as it reproduces (and matches the data the probes have returned).

          • John Schilling says:

            Code written by scientists or mathematicians is usually terrible, of course, but for other reasons than the correctness of the algorithms.

            That’s not the criticism, or it shouldn’t be. Code written by scientists is terrible for reasons other than the correctness of the algorithms, and it’s terrible because of the correctness of the algorithms.

            And it doesn’t matter much if a computer model of the cloud layers in Venus runs a thousand times slower than it should, as long as it reproduces (and matches the data the probes have returned).

            Which it usually only does if you are allowed to tweak the code after you’ve seen the data.

            We don’t have an algorithm for modeling reality, other than reality. To make a model of reality computationally tractable, we have to use approximations, fudge factors, and lookup tables, and we have to toss out almost all of what we know is true because we think it’s too small to be important to this problem.

            Engineers can’t help noticing, on account of all the stuff that doesn’t work even though the computer said it should, that each of these concessions to practicality has to be validated against experimental data within the range of interest, before you can trust the code to predict a damn thing. And then revalidated when you step into a new regime.

            The better sort of scientists understand this as well. The more common sort, tend to greatly overestimate the extent to which their personal judgment can substitute for experimental validation. And when some experiment or observation gives different results than the code predicted, tend to apply a patch that retropredicts that outcome and declare the code sound again.

            Unfortunately, the better sort of scientists usually have better things to do with their time than write, debug, and validate computational models, and so that gets left to the common sort. The models really do kind of suck, across most of science.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Nornagest

            Code written by scientists or mathematicians is usually terrible, of course, but for other reasons than the correctness of the algorithms

            The problem isn’t that scientists are bad coders, the problem is that they are bad statisticians. That’s especially problematic in sciences which aspire to be physics but are actually not (e.g. climatology).

            As a very crude way of putting it, in physics-like situations your goal is to fit the model as closely to the data as possible. You aim to have a full and complete explanation and reduce the noise in your model to being negligible and insignificant. Overfitting is almost never a problem because there is an inexhaustible source of data and the process which generates this data does not change.

            However if you transfer this approach to modeling into non-physics-like situations (e.g. medicine), it is a disaster for reasons which should be obvious. I think climatology fell into such a trap pretty hard.

          • Corey says:

            @Corey:
            Do you understand that every time you say “denier” it’s a slander that pisses off a lot of people whose minds you’re ostensibly trying to change?

            Actually I assume nobody’s minds are ever changed, which is a habit I should probably unlearn around here.

            The thing that would be useful is to find a way to tell apart knee-jerk deniers, lukewarm skeptics, and rogue-but-qualified climatologists without having to engage too terribly deeply first. That’s something probably worthy of its own thread: how do you differentiate knee-jerk trolls from people worth engaging? I might post a new subthread on that generalized problem.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Corey

            how do you differentiate knee-jerk trolls from people worth engaging?

            It’s just a special case of “how do you identify idiots online”. The usual answer (which works well) is experience : -D

          • Cerebral Paul Z. says:

            I don’t have a complete scheme for differentiating knee-jerk trolls from people worth engaging, but I’ve long suspected that not assuming from the outset that they’re one big group may have something to do with it.

          • Garrett says:

            Some years ago, Eric Raymond noted (sorry, can’t find the post) that he was setting up an associate with a (for the time) powerful computer. Their goal was to take the released climate modelling code and data and run them. The first step in model validation is to make sure that you can get the same results with the same code and the same inputs.

            Despite major efforts, they were unable to get the code to compile. It was a mess. It’s not that the climate change conclusions are wrong, it’s that they aren’t even wrong.

          • Nornagest says:

            Despite major efforts, they were unable to get the code to compile. It was a mess. It’s not that the climate change conclusions are wrong, it’s that they aren’t even wrong.

            I’m not at all surprised; I’ve had to port code written by academics before, and it’s a nightmare. Especially if it was written twenty years ago for a specific mainframe system and now you’re trying to get it to compile in x86 on a modern Linux or MacOS, which is… a lot more common than you’d think.

            But I don’t want to overweight this kind of reasoning. Sure, 90% of the climate models out there are probably shit, because 90% of everything is shit. It is still kind of worrying if 98% are spitting out numbers in the same range, no matter how hard it is to get any particular one to reproduce.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Nornagest

            It is still kind of worrying if 98% are spitting out numbers in the same range

            That’s just survival bias : -/

            The model spitting out different numbers is declared to be unfit and is sent back to Procrustes to persuade it to change its mind.

          • Nornagest says:

            That is a reasonably plausible story, but I’ve never seen anything to say that it’s more than a story.

      • Lumifer says:

        Global warming: Unpacked as “human fossil-fuel-burning activity has already increased atmospheric CO2 concentrations enough to materially change the world climate compared to a counterfactual where humans burned no fossil fuel, and the effects are compounding as humans keep de-sequestering CO2”.

        Are you familiar with the motte-and-bailey method of arguing? You should be, you just constructed a very nice motte.

        • Corey says:

          Really? Half the counter-arguments *in this thread* are that most of the variation is not because of human activity, which does not fit this “motte”.
          ETA: if not clear, I use “material” in the legal sense, of “an important part” or “nontrivial”.

          • Lumifer says:

            Yes, really. Show me these “half the counter-arguments”. Show me where they explicitly deny that “human fossil-fuel-burning activity has already increased atmospheric CO2 concentrations enough to materially change the world climate”.

            You’ve been offered a link to a reasonable (“lukewarmer”) approach. People like him continue to be vilified even though they are not arguing against the motte. But people like him are a threat to the bailey.

          • Corey says:

            @Lumifer: OK. If you read the lukewarmer link he explicitly says that human contribution is small.
            As for in this thread, what counts as counterarguments against the motte:
            – 389495: simple restatement that it’s a motte/bailey; doesn’t count
            – 389526: orthogonal
            – 389499: link to the lukewarmist position claiming humans are little of the problem: counts
            – 389484: Explicitly says “much of the warming over the past few centuries would have happened even without human intervention”: counts

            That’s 2/3 for this sub-thread, let me look at the other places we’ve been arguing AGW in this OT: (Turns out there aren’t any, this sub-thread is it)

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Corey

            That link to the lukewarmist position, have you read it? It explicitly says:

            OK, am I a “man-made climate change denier?” No again. I know very few people, except perhaps for a few skeptics of the talkshow host variety, that totally deny any impact of man’s actions on climate. Every prominent skeptic I can think of acknowledges multiple vectors of impact by man on climate, from greenhouse gas emissions to land use.

            Sorry, nope (unless you want to pull out a magnifying glass and start separating the hairs in the definition of “material”).

            But let me ask, are you claiming that this motte is your bailey? If I agree to this creed, do I get an “approved” sticker, can I then freely suggest that the scale of the impact makes many if not most of the proposed remedies cost-ineffective, sometimes wildly so? Or will this suggestion lead to me being tarred-and-feathered as one of those Neanderthal deniers who don’t believe in science, anyway?

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            Corey –

            Oh. Wow.

            A thousand internet points for making me realize you’ve implicitly included me on your side, and it’s only my own categorization that is putting me on a different side than you.

            But seriously – that’s not how most people divide everybody out.

          • Corey says:

            @Lumifer: Yep, I missed that, I conflated “it’s natural” with “let’s ignore all feedback”, so the lukewarmist argument doesn’t count against the motte.

            I have to say that it’s still not terribly convincing, given the ignoring of feedback, the good old 1998-cherry-pick pause, and the urban heat island stuff. Given that, I’ve no idea why he agrees with most of my policy prescriptions.

            Anyway, that’s probably all the productive discussion that can take place on GW. I formally concede and you may freely consider my arguments discredited.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Corey

            Thank you for the graceful ending of this subthread.

      • Pku says:

        In general, global warming is a good way to tell if someone with a lot of controversial opinions has them because he’s thought things through and has interesting ideas, or because he just enjoys being contrarian or tribalistic.
        I can’t easily think of anything analogous for the left – there are a lot of left-wing ideas I disagree with, and some that misuse social science, but I can’t think of anything on the left that misuses hard physical science like this. I’d guess this is because scientists are generally on the left’s ingroup, so they aren’t motivated to look for or play up points of disagreement.

        • Corey says:

          There’s a lot of naturalistic-fallacy stuff (e.g. anti-GMOs), but that probably counts more as ignoring science than misusing it.

    • arbitrary_greay says:

      1) A large number of the most egregious Tumblr teens won’t even recognize her name. Most of them don’t know any names to cite. Some might, at best, know Roxane Gay. Most of them are learning their ideals from digests of digests of summaries of reviews of a meme stemming from a blog post that was screenshotted on Tumblr that they saw a reblog of.
      A few more that are a little bit more educated will tend to differentiate between 2nd, 3rd, and modern waves of Feminism, with the implication that they don’t subscribe to older models of thought.

      2) I’d say Dworkin is disavowed about the same amount as rationalists shuffle Yudkowsky off into the “embarrassing older relative” corner.
      (That is, the amount varies depending on what part of the diaspora you frequent)

      • FacelessCraven says:

        @Arbitrary_greay – “A large number of the most egregious Tumblr teens won’t even recognize her name.”

        A lot of the people teaching Women’s Studies and setting policy in universities do, I think, and they are culturally upstream of the Tumblr teens.

        “I’d say Dworkin is disavowed about the same amount as rationalists shuffle Yudkowsky off into the “embarrassing older relative” corner.”

        Agreed, but I think bringing up Yudkowsky in a general critique of the rationalist movement isn’t proof of uncharitably either.

        I mean, I get the idea of a weakman argument, but when the weakman actually has direct influence on what’s going on, that sort of needs to be addressed, right?

        • arbitrary_greay says:

          At this point, I think we have to figure out what faction of SJ/Feminism is to be prioritized in critique, in order to determine if citation/disavowal of someone like Dworkin is a relevant action for them to take, if the academic figures and primary texts are driving the harms done in their name.

          The only time I ever encountered Sontag was in the context of appropriating bits of her text that none of really understood for the purposes of our own mangled arguments, during high school competitive debate.
          The majority of SJ ideals I encountered were through the filter of pop culture, where the main SJ issue of the field is representation. Dworkin was never mentioned, same with any of the increasingly political Tumblrs I follow for various geek fandoms, even in their most political posts. Name one primary text or author in the Ghostbusters discourse. Just one.

          The sites where I saw more “boots on the ground” experience was on sites for queer ladies, lifestyle and not just pop culture. There were a disproportionate number of writers with activist and academic X-studies experience, but no professors, and just as many writers and readers amen-ing who had never touched a primary or secondary text in their life, still with their own second-hand 101 and tutorial posts on the subjects. There was a focus on WOC, which meant that Dworkin was generally mentioned as a prelude to complaining about white feminism. It was a very pro-trans space, so TERFs and radfems were disavowed. And it was a site that frequently discussed how minorities were impacted financially, which meant that the likes of campus protests and figures were given much less attention than street violence and stats on health and finance outcomes.

          Dworkin and primary texts were not cited in the Scott Aaronson incident, not the Elevator incident, nor with Justine Sacco, nor with Eich, nor with LambdaConf. Ask any of the participants there, where the terms privilege, and systemic, and ism=prejudice+power, and the like come from. They won’t know. They learned from somewhere online? It’s 50/50 if they even know that it was pro-SJ activists who first coined the term SJW as a pejorative, much less know who/which blog to cite for them. Even the “my feminism will be __(some intersectionality variant) or it will be bullshit” meme comes from a blog article that doesn’t cite any academia.

          One frequent variant anti-SJ here tends to be associated with Ant/Puppy sentiment. That goes back to the pop culture-filtered SJ further up. A search for “Dworkin” provides no results on Mattie Brice’s website. The only result on Leigh Alexander’s site is from a short story, about a fictional book with no relation to Andrea. Unknown if either of them did X-studies. The Feminist Frequency folks probably did X-studies (Anita has a relevant MA), but very few of the choir they’re preaching to are actually learning any ideals first-hand from their stuff, and I don’t think their videos cite X-studies figures, or even 2nd/3rd wave feminists. (but I haven’t watched said videos, so)

          The anti-SJ complaints here that I take seriously tend to be testimonials about how their personal workplace is so hostile to non-syncophants that they have to self-censor. The main fear is of the mainstream mass working against an industry individual, of harassment online and off, SWATing, character assassination, etc. The offending actors for those types of actions are the Twitter/Tumblr/Facebook mob, and therefore mostly those who have culturally osmosed their ideals, and have no interest in academia. “Disavow who?”

          As for the Yudkowsky comparison, just look at the kerfuffle and defensiveness over Basilisk. Was the book uncharitable for conflating the movement with these specific guys, and their specific quirks? Rationalists say stuff like “I disagree with this part of the Sequences” all of the time, and we are, after all, holding this discussion on SSC instead of LW.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @arbitrary_greay – very good response, and thank you for making it. I am not convinced but I’m not sure I can articulate my disagreement in a meaningful way, so the above seems like valuable insight.

            With that said, an attempt to articulate my disagreement:

            The problem I have with Feminism, in a nutshell, is that I think it contains ideas that are wrong, harmful, and off-limits to questioning or critique. Dworkin seems like a good example of this: she seems to me to be a fairly central example of a Feminist thought leader (long career, very famous, multiple obituaries in the Guardian, with both supporters and opponents saying she was enormously important to the movement), her views appear to have been highly influential, obviously false, and appallingly awful. I could be wrong, but I think her influence lives on in the current Feminist approach to rape in particular, as well as its broader problem with rampant misandry. She is the poster-child for how Feminism rejects its egalitarian ideals and surrenders to its own worst impulses. In that context, the Marcottes and the Tumblrites are part of a wider problem going back a generation or more, not something new.

            I’m aware that pushback against Dworkin does actually exist, but as far as I’m aware the Feminist Sex Wars are still smoldering, and while criticism flows freely for TERFs, there doesn’t seem to be much interest in addressing the misandry that gave rise to the attitudes against Trans people in the first place.

            It seems to me that feminists attempt to solve their Dworkin problem by whitewashing her as much as possible, and attacking anyone who brings her up as a bad faith actor. Criticism happens internally within the movement, but ranks close when outsiders become involved. Again, I think this mirrors how Feminism approaches criticism of any of its faults generally, so it seems like a relevant example and not bad faith to bring her up.

            As for Yukowski, no clue what kerfuffle you’re referring to, but I think if the LWers are going to put him on a pedestal, his foibles are fair game. That’s sort of how pedestals work, isn’t it?

  13. Orphan Wilde says:

    Warning: This is an Anti-Democrat comment.

    So: Does everybody remember the part in their history lessons where in the 19th century, politics was a spoils system, in which the two parties were competing over who could get their people employed in the government?

    Does anybody remember how we “fixed” this problem by making government jobs careers which weren’t subject to getting replaced whenever a new administration came in?

    The modern Democratic party is, in large part, the party of Government Employees and Welfare Recipients. It is the modern Spoils party. And given the general liberal bent of modern education, I’m wondering if the shift to careers for government employees was not, in fact, an end to the Spoils system, but merely the party in control at the time mandating that the Spoils continue to accrue to its people forever.

    Note: I think the Sanders vs. Clinton split was fundamentally a division between the Spoils part of the party (Clinton), and the part of the party which actually gave a shit about what the party claimed to be about.

    Another note: I expect the “Spoils” party to abruptly switch over to the Republicans sometime in the next decade if the BLM movement continues with any vigor. The police union will be the first to switch over, and then, as the Republicans become more public-union friendly, the others will follow suit.

    • Lumifer says:

      where in the 19th century, politics was a spoils system

      What do you mean, “was”? Politics still is a spoils system, very much so.

      • Orphan Wilde says:

        Yes, but writing as if everybody already agrees with me doesn’t change anybody’s minds.

    • Anonanon says:

      the party of Government Employees

      And before we look too hostile to the left, let’s remember that New Right intellectuals generally blame conservatives for foolishly becoming the “if government employees support us, they’ll liquidate their own jobs” party.
      Great idea guys! Way to make sure everyone in the corridors of power opposes us!

      • Orphan Wilde says:

        It’s a perverse system, to be certain – there’s a threshold past which it becomes impossible to get elected if you don’t support expanding government, because those who will benefit from an expanding government are an absolutely necessary constituency.

        In a major sense, economic growth is necessary just to offset this process. It’s not capitalism which requires constant growth – capitalism doesn’t give a shit, it’s just an evolutionary process – it’s Democracy.

        • Anon. says:

          there’s a threshold past which it becomes impossible to get elected if you don’t support expanding government, because those who will benefit from an expanding government are an absolutely necessary constituency.

          That is an excellent sentence.

    • Tyrant Overlord Killidia says:

      I don’t know where you get the idea that government employees are left/blue tribe. Unless you restrict your sample to the DC Beltway, from my vantage point as a government employee the majority of .gov and .mil email address holders are right wing/reds.

      • Winfried says:

        Close friend works for the police in a medium sized city. Officers are red for the most part, everyone in the office is blue.

        • Not Particularly Anonymous says:

          Government employees are blue tribe, except those who regularly handle firearms? This seems consistent with my experience in the military contrasted with a civilian state-level office, and also seems to map to Democrat/Republican spending priorities.

      • Earthly Knight says:

        Federal employees are no more likely to be democrats than the nation at large.

        Food stamp recipients break democrat at a ratio of about 5:2.

        Republicans also operate a spoils system through tax cuts.

        • Orphan Wilde says:

          Republicans primarily operate their Spoils system through Defense spending, less so through “tax cuts”, which is an inversion of the concept.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            How is “vote for me and I’ll take money from government programs for the poor and needy and put it right in your pocketbook” not a spoils system?

          • Nornagest says:

            Because “spoils system” refers to a specific type of patronage, and that’s not it?

            You can say that tax cuts disproportionately reward certain demographics. You can even call them a form of patronage, although in most cases I think you’d be wrong to do so. But they are not, in any sense, political spoils.

            (Welfare’s a stretch too, though.)

          • Earthly Knight says:

            Yeah, if we’re being strict about what counts as a spoils system, Orphan Wilde’s argument doesn’t get off the ground. So, presumably, we’re not, in which case tax cuts qualify as well.

          • Nornagest says:

            Well, I still think tax cuts are more of a stretch. The essence of a spoils system is “support my campaign, and I’ll make sure you find a place in the new government”. Classically, this meant that large supporters would be rewarded with desirable appointments. That’s illegal post-Pentleton except for a few posts (which aren’t numerous or lucrative enough to matter), but administrations still have leverage over the shape of the civil service, so we could imagine a quasi-spoils system with the beneficiaries being civil service sectors or unions rather than individuals. And that’s half of Wilde’s proposal.

            Welfare’s the other half, and there we’re no longer speaking about a place in government, but we are still talking about allocating government resources towards a group of consistent electoral supporters. With tax cuts, though, that support gets a lot less reliable (outside the lowest quintile, differences in party affiliation by income are narrow), and you’re on shakier ground calling it “allocating government resources”, too.

            More targeted changes in tax policy, like agricultural subsidies, you could make a better argument for.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            But as we’ve seen, the first half of Wilde’s proposal is based on an error of fact. Federal employees are not a democratic constituency. This means his case stands or falls with the claim about welfare (is this supposed to include just TANF? Food stamps? Medicaid? Medicare?). And the parallels between welfare programs and tax cuts are pretty straightforward– the most reliable democratic bloc benefits the most from welfare spending but is shut out by tax cuts. Support for republicans, moreover, increases close to monotonically with income.

          • Agronomous says:

            How is welfare functionally different from a no-show government job? I’m serious: you get the benefits of steady (if low) pay, and the benefit of not being obligated to work for it.

            (I guess technically if you’re on some forms of welfare you’re not allowed to moonlight; that’s worse than a literal no-show job where you are allowed to.)

            I still don’t think it literally counts as the spoils system, but it’s close. Much closer than cutting taxes (i.e. taking away only as much of your money as we did forty years ago) is.

            (Yes, you accidentally reward the wrong voters with one, but to a similar degree with the other.)

          • Earthly Knight says:

            A single person in 1976 paid federal income taxes of 40% or higher on (nominal) income over $22,000. The marginal tax rate on the top bracket was 70%. For comparison, the marginal tax rate on the top bracket today is 39.6%. How did you come by the strange delusion that tax rates have been going up for forty years?

          • Agronomous says:

            @Earthly Knight:

            How did you come by the strange delusion that tax brackets determine what actual rate of income tax you’re paying? You really think rich people were paying at their top marginal rates? Do you not remember tax shelters?

            Somebody making $22,000 then was equivalent to somebody making $110,00 today—well-off enough to hire an accountant to advise them on how not to pay 40% on their last thousand of income.

            (Didn’t we all agree not to call people delusional at some point? Or am I imagining that?)

            Question for everyone, not just EK: What would a charitable response to my point look like?

          • Earthly Knight says:

            $22,000 in 1976 was the equivalent of $93,195.71 today.

            I would like to see evidence that no one in 1976 paid a penny in taxes on income over $22,000, which is what would be needed to make your initial claim true.

          • Agronomous says:

            (God damn you, xkcd 386.)

            $22,000 in 1976 was the equivalent of $93,195.71 today.

            Yes, because there is exactly One True Deflator that accurately and uniquely tells us exactly what a 1976 dollar is worth in 2016. My dastardly trick of using a nice, round number like 5 has been exposed by your superior epistemic virtue—no longer shall the good townsfolk of SSC be taken in by it, or the point it supported, which now lies in a veritable shambles (see below). But you made one fatal mistake: the 1976 dollar would be as of July 1, 1976, and we’re already at July 29! So the real number is $93,718.42.

            I do completely concede the point that, at a mere $93,718.42 (7/29/2016 equivalent), no one could possibly hope to engage any sort of accountant or tax advisor, and would be completely at the mercy of the tax table in the back of their 1040EZ.*

            I would like to see evidence that no one in 1976 paid a penny in taxes on income over $22,000, which is what would be needed to make your initial claim true.

            I’m afraid you’re going to need to show your work here. I have no idea how you get here from what I wrote.

            (*Come on, take the bait… take the bait! You know you want to! 1982, right? Say 1982!)

            (Everyone who’s not EK: there’s an eventual point to all this, I promise.)

          • Earthly Knight says:

            I do completely concede the point that, at a mere $93,718.42 (7/29/2016 equivalent), no one could possibly hope to engage any sort of accountant or tax advisor, and would be completely at the mercy of the tax table in the back of their 1040EZ.*

            There are easier ways to say that you made a mistake, you know.

            We began with your claim that people paid less in taxes 40 years ago. In light of the fact that in 1976 all income over $22,000 was taxed at a higher rate than today’s top marginal rate, this claim comes out looking pretty ridiculous. Do you have any evidence to support it? Not speculation about how everyone and their mothers had accountants and tax shelters back then– actual evidence?

            Here is total government revenue from individual income taxes as a percentage of GDP. In the transition quarter in 1976 it was 8.2%, while in 2015 it was… 8.2%. This depends on lots of other factors besides income tax rates, but there’s clearly been no significant increase from 1976 to the present day.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Earthly Knight

            You can simply look up statistics at the BEA website. I think we’re talking about the ratio of personal taxes to personal income. In 1976 personal taxes constituted 11.5% of the personal income (in total). The estimated numbers for 2016 are that personal taxes constitute about 12.2% of the personal income. Because it’s a ratio we don’t have to worry about deflators.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            You’ll have to provide a link. Bear in mind, though, that the richest Americans take up a larger and larger share of the country’s income each year, which means that more of it is being taxed at the top marginal rates today than forty years ago. What we want to know is whether a guy making $x today would, on average, pay less or more in taxes than a guy making $inflation-adjusted-x in 1976, for various values of x.

          • Agronomous says:

            @Earthly Knight:

            There are easier ways to say that you made a mistake, you know.

            [Note to self: double-thick sarcasm not getting through; try laying it on triply thick?]

            You wrote:

            We began with your claim that people paid less in taxes 40 years ago

            …referring to what I wrote:

            Much closer than cutting taxes (i.e. taking away only as much of your money as we did forty years ago) is.

            If I had to make one, overarching point, it would be that context matters. In the context of the argument, we’re talking about Republicans doing a spoils-system-like rewarding of their voters by means of tax cuts. In the context of the argument, that constrains how we interpret and judge the claim.

            It can’t just be a claim that people in general paid less in taxes forty years ago, or that people in total paid less in taxes forty years ago. It certainly can’t be that individual people are paying less now than they were 40 years ago: nobody currently under 40 was paying any taxes before they were born. It has to be that Republican-voting people paid less in taxes, or at least broad classes of people who tend to vote Republican paid less.

            So even if I could pull up some data showing that, in 1976, individuals paid 7.4% of GDP in income taxes, whereas in 2016 they (were projected to have) paid 8.7% of GDP in income taxes, you could still come back and say, “Yeah, but how do we know Democrats aren’t shouldering a larger part of the burden in 2016? If Republican voters aren’t the ones paying more, then it doesn’t count toward your tax-cuts-as-spoils-system thesis.”

            (Oh, hey, look at that: we both used the same link! And yet got it to say opposite things about overall personal-income-tax trends. Huh.)

            [Note to self: is quadruply-thick sarcasm too thick?]

            You pointed out:

            A single person in 1976 paid federal income taxes of 40% or higher on (nominal) income over $22,000.

            OK, that’s pretty specific, for reasons I can only guess at. But there’s a difference between being in a 40% bracket and actually paying a 40% rate on that income, which lots of people conflate—including, above, you.

            So I pointed that distinction out:

            Somebody making $22,000 then was equivalent to somebody making $110,00 today—well-off enough to hire an accountant to advise them on how not to pay 40% on their last thousand of income.

            I used a nice, round 5x deflator, because the point is not the exact number in 2016 dollars, but the broad point that it’s a middle or upper-middle income, so you’d expect some tax planning that would actually reduce the tax bite. If the number were $90,000 or $130,000, the point would still stand. If the number were $30,000, the tax-planning argument would have serious troubles, since that’s more of a scraping-by income than a hiring-an-accountant income.

            Your response focused on the number:

            $22,000 in 1976 was the equivalent of $93,195.71 today.

            Again, context: the whole point is it’s enough to hire an accountant. The secondary point is that there is no one perfect deflator which works for all questions and situations. I gave you a link to a site that gives many different ones (in a range that comfortably includes $110,000, by the way).

            You then threw out a claim that I asked you to clarify; you dropped it.

            But you did double-down on stated-rates-are-the-same-as-actual-rates:

            In light of the fact that in 1976 all income over $22,000 was taxed at a higher rate than today’s top marginal rate, this claim comes out looking pretty ridiculous.

            So, an analysis of the argument on the meta-level:

            At each step, you’ve seized on and disputed a point which is either not central to the argument being advanced, or is central but your correction does not stop it from supporting the argument. The colloquial term for this is “nit-picking”. The local term is probably “lacking charity”.

            If you continue to argue in this mode, you’ll end up the kind of bitter, sarcastic loner who stays up until 1:00 AM on a Friday night batting minutiae of macroeconomic metrics back and forth with people he doesn’t even know. From personal experience, I can assure you that you would regret it.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Earthly Knight

            Here
            , you’re welcome.

          • Lumifer says:

            @ Agronomous

            The colloquial term for this is “nit-picking”.

            This is a bit more specific: it’s a very persistent attempt to ignore the point he has just lost and instead find some vaguely related side path on which he can continue to argue.

            A discussion with such people is like nailing jelly to the tree. It can be done, but it takes time, effort, and a LOT of nails.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            @ Agronomous

            It has to be that Republican-voting people paid less in taxes, or at least broad classes of people who tend to vote Republican paid less.

            Whatever. Do you have any evidence that a Republican making (say) $22000 in 1976 paid, on average, a smaller share of his income in taxes than a Republican making $93,195 in 2015? Let me be clear: you made a dodgy claim which is inconsistent with the information we have available, and, when asked for evidence, followed it up with a lot of useless verbiage instead. I would like to see the evidence, not the verbiage.

            I used a nice, round 5x deflator, because the point is not the exact number in 2016 dollars, but the broad point that it’s a middle or upper-middle income, so you’d expect some tax planning that would actually reduce the tax bite.

            Actually, the exact figure matters. You’re asking us to make an intuitive judgment of how likely it is that someone making a certain figure would hire an accountant to try to squirrel away some of their income some they can avoid paying taxes on it. But the expected value of doing so increases with income, which means that your claim is more plausible for someone making $110,000 than for someone making $93,195.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            @ Lumifer

            The “personal current taxes” line in the BEA’s table is not restricted to federal income taxes. This makes it approximately worthless for our purposes. Maybe be less snotty and more careful?

          • Loyle says:

            Actually, the exact figure matters. You’re asking us to make an intuitive judgment of how likely it is that someone making a certain figure would hire an accountant to try to squirrel away some of their income some they can avoid paying taxes on it. But the expected value of doing so increases with income, which means that your claim is more plausible for someone making $110,000 than for someone making $93,195.

            Now, I don’t have a pony in this race, but by deciding to do more math, you’ve managed to not do nearly enough.

            The likelihood of hiring an accountant to lower you tax rate depends on whether the cost of the accountant doesn’t offset the amount saved, with some deviation whether the individual is smart enough to realize this, and the culture of whether or not they are expected to have an accountant. So in order to make this argument, you’d kinda need to prove the 93k income would be operating at a loss if hiring an accountant. It’s a matter of “can I afford this?” rather than “Oh boy I have a bit more money, might as well burn it”

          • Loyle says:

            I should clarify that just because the numbers happen to look different, doesn’t mean people will see them as different.

            100,000 plus and/or minus 10,000 isn’t going to be seen as significant unless there is a reason. Especially when you’re talking about how people are reacting to a third number it’s supposed to be representative of.

          • Chalid says:

            Somebody making $22,000 then was equivalent to somebody making $110,00 today—well-off enough to hire an accountant to advise them on how not to pay 40% on their last thousand of income.

            I don’t really know much about 1970s taxes, but I doubt that people earning ~$100k (or even ~$500k) in salary today can do very much to reduce their tax burdens. They’re rich enough to hire an accountant, sure, but the accountant just isn’t going to save them very much.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            The likelihood of hiring an accountant to lower you tax rate depends on whether the cost of the accountant doesn’t offset the amount saved, with some deviation whether the individual is smart enough to realize this, and the culture of whether or not they are expected to have an accountant.

            Surely it depends to some degree on how much the accountant will save you, yes? But, other things being equal, hiring an accountant will be a more profitable venture for a man making $110,000 than a man making $93,000. The first guy has a stronger incentive to try to reduce his taxes.

          • Glen Raphael says:

            @Chalid:

            I don’t really know much about 1970s taxes, but I doubt that people earning ~$100k (or even ~$500k) in salary today can do very much to reduce their tax burdens. They’re rich enough to hire an accountant, sure, but the accountant just isn’t going to save them very much.

            People forget that the 1980s tax rate lowering was combined with a massive elimination of “loopholes” used at the time to evade then-high tax rates.

            To give you an example: in 1980, my father was a manager at Hewlett-Packard so he had a “company car”.

            See, HP has a bunch of office locations and sometimes people at one office need to go to another or pick up a client at the airport or some such. So it makes perfect sense the company should need to buy and maintain some nice clean cars – it’s an appropriate business expense, right? And they only need these cars during business hours so why not let your employees “borrow” the company-owned car after hours or on weekend so long as they bring them back in the morning?

            So pretty soon that becomes a standard perk – everybody with a salary above $X gets full use of a brand new car. The company leases the car, insures it, repairs it, cleans it, might even put gas in it. In theory the company could use your car during the day for other purposes while you’re at work but in practice they rarely actually do so. So it’s a free car. Instead of the company giving out a $200k salary and no car, they give a $100k salary and the use of a car better than you could have afforded with an extra $100k after paying an 80% marginal tax rate on it.

            So one effect of ludicrously high tax rates is that people have artificially low stated salaries and instead of money they get paid in stuff they would otherwise have to buy with after-tax dollars. The “three martini lunch” is another example.

            (See also: “clothing allowances”. Or fancy resort vacations disguised as “training seminars”)

            The upshot is that in a high-tax world one usually evades taxes on a $500k income by turning it into a much smaller declared income (with lots of perks), not by turning it into a declared $500k income which you somehow magically don’t have to pay taxes on.

          • Mary says:

            I doubt that people earning ~$100k (or even ~$500k) in salary today can do very much to reduce their tax burdens.

            Emphasis mine.

            The deal was that in return for lowing the rates, the loopholes would be shut.

            The number of people who paid the top tax rates was vanishingly small. (That actors got hit hard, lacking many of the loopholes, may have been a factor in the change. 0:)

    • FacelessCraven says:

      @Orphan Wilde – “Warning: This is an Anti-Democrat comment.”

      I think this sort of thing was not great when Jill was doing it, and while you’re not framing it in as snide a way, I think it bears mentioning that it might not be a super-great idea when someone on my own side does it either.

      • sweeneyrod says:

        I presumed it was a snide reference to what Jill was doing, and hence slightly more annoying.

      • Orphan Wilde says:

        I framed it that way for a reason.

        The goal isn’t to make you believe literally what I write, but to grok the idea behind what I write. Clearly the Democrats don’t “own” the spoils system in this country, but they’re the easier example to point to – and Democrat-friendly people will immediately be tempted to respond by pointing out that the Republicans do it, too. Once they do so, however, they’ve forfeited the idea that we don’t live in a spoils system.

        • Aegeus says:

          No, arguing that both Democrats and Republicans benefit would indicate that it’s not a spoils system.

          Your original argument was “Federal employees are mostly Democrats. Federal employees are hard to fire, therefore the Democrats have rewarded their party by locking them into cushy government jobs, which is a spoils system.”

          If you change that to “Federal employees are both Democrats and Republicans,” then locking in your fellow Democrats will lock in equally many Republicans, which means it’s not much of a political tool. You’re no longer describing a “spoils system,” you’re describing a “government employees exist and get paid” system.

          If you want to say “we should drastically cut the number of civil service jobs,” then just argue for that, instead of trying to do this weird “I want to bait you into arguing for something so I can call it something it’s not” argument. Being hard to fire does not automatically mean you got your job as a political reward.

          • Mary says:

            Actually, most of the arguments I have heard revolve around the government employees’ unions and where they donate. This is not so even-handed.

            And a real problem, if their own members don’t agree with them.

  14. Tadrinth says:

    Can anyone recommend any good Behavioral Activation self-help books? Bonus points for also recommending Dialectical Behavior Therapy-based self-help books.

    I’ve read through some of the Feeling Good Handbook, which is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy-based, but if Behavioral Activation is the useful subset of CBT, then I’d rather go straight to the good stuff.

    If BA is not expected to work well in self-help form for some reason, that’d also be useful to know.

  15. Justis says:

    I’m going to EAGlobal next week.

    I’m not particularly rich or well connected. I give 10% and am interested in the movement.

    From past attendees or people very used to post-high school conferencegoing: any advice on how to get the most out of the experience?

    • utilitarian troll says:

      General conferencegoing advice: if the talks are going to be hosted online as videos, consider watching the videos later and focusing on having conversations with people.

    • Agronomous says:

      Go to White Castle in the morning and get a big bag of little hamburgers. This way, you can snack on them during the presentations, and have extras to offer people in the hallway. (Kidding! Kidding!)

      More seriously: the Official Program at most conferences is partly a head-fake. You’re going to get at least as much out of conversing with people in the hallways.

      Don’t mob the celebrity speakers. If you find a non-celebrity speaker interesting, mob that one. Us non-celebrity speakers* are so flattered by attention that we’re likely to keep conversing with you right up until the start of the next session. Try not to monopolize the person; let other people join the discussion, then you can discuss things with them after the speaker disengages.

      Do pay attention to the keynotes: these are kind of a common-knowledge generation scheme. They get everyone to think (at least a little bit) about a common set of themes, some of them about the subject matter, and some about the community itself—and at this early stage, the EA community needs to think about itself some.*

      Do have some sort of small group that gets together in the middle and at the end; some conferences build this in. This way, you can spit up and go to different simultaneous talks, covering more ground.

      Do keep a small notepad or set of index cards (or maybe one of those tablet things the kids use these days) to write down ideas you have (and if the conference is any good, you’ll have a lot), actions you want to take, personal goals for the conference, contact info for interesting people, and directions to the after-party.

      Ask people about resources: books, web sites, organizational infrastructure, regional groups.

      You might want to seek out people from your geographic locality. Conference attendance can help form social links that will be useful in getting things done in your (possibly new) local group.

      If any speaker ever says that you’re all individuals, shout, “We are all individuals!”

      (* I’m a not-very-well-known speaker in my professional field, not in EA.)

      (** My thought: DON’T SERVE FOOD AT YOUR CONFERENCE, MORONS!)

      • ThirteenthLetter says:

        My thought: DON’T SERVE FOOD AT YOUR CONFERENCE, MORONS!

        That’s a mug’s game. People who are going to freak out about the menu are going to find something to freak out about no matter what you do. It lets them feel important.

  16. http://www.foxnews.com/health/2016/07/15/philadelphia-conducting-experiment-to-save-gunshot-victims.html

    During the study, paramedics treating adults who have been shot or stabbed in the torso will, on a random basis, not insert a tube down a victim’s throat or administer intravenous fluids – two traditional life-saving techniques some doctors say may actually harm such patients.

    Normally, paramedics intubate patients to keep their airway open, and give IV fluids to counteract a drop in blood pressure. But supporters of the study say that for victims who are bleeding through an open wound, these procedures may cause an increase in blood pressure that can accelerate blood loss and death.

    Philadelphians who don’t want to participate in the study if they are ever wounded can opt out by wearing wristbands indicating their wishes. They can obtain a wristband by filling out a form online or on paper.

    I’m taking the liberty of posting something which isn’t about politics, race, or gender, and the gamble of posting it before I’ve caught up on the thread, though I did try a couple of word searches.

    • Jiro says:

      “You consent if you don’t opt out” seems to contradict the idea of informed consent.

      • John Schilling says: